Simpson's Tri-City win gives him first $10,000
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
PONTOON BEACH, Ill. (June 21) — Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, overtook Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., on lap 18 of Friday’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals feature at Tri-City Speedway and cruised through the remainder of the 40-lap race to earn $10,000 for the first Summernationals victory of his career. Complete Summernationals coverage
The fourth-starting Simpson ran third for the race’s first 10 laps before switching up his driving line and mounting his charge. He grabbed the second spot from polesitter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., on lap 11 and soon reeled in Smith at the front of the field.
After taking multiple looks under Smith, Simpson finally completed the pass when Smith slipped high exiting turn two on lap 18. Simpson cruised from there, cruising through the second half of the race, which served as round sixth of the 31-race Summernationals tour.
“I jumped up to the top early there and wasn’t too good,” said Simpson, who drove a MB Customs car formerly driven by third-place finisher Brian Birkhofer. “So I just ran that momentum line. I bought this car from Brian Birkhofer and I’ve watched him win a lot of races running that line. It worked for us tonight.”
Starting from the outside pole, Smith outdueled Shirley during the race’s first two laps and appeared to have the car to beat early during the early going. But he began to fade as Simpson picked up the pace, and ended up settling for second.
“We would love to win the race, but Chris did a great job,” said Smith, who was the runner-up for the second straight time at Tri-City after also claiming a second-place finish in his most recent visit during the Budweiser 50 on May 26. “We’ll take second; we gave it all we had.”
Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, rallied from the 14th starting spot to finish third, while Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., finished fourth and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., rounded out the top five after starting from the 18th position.
Series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., ended his bid for a third straight Summernationals victory on lap 33 when suspension issues forced him to slow from a top five spot.
The first of the race's four cautions waved with four laps complete when Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., slowed on the back straightaway. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., gave up a top-10 spot when he retired under the caution.
Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., caused the second on lap nine when he tagged the wall on the back straightaway then came down the track into the side-by-side duo of Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., causing the Mars and Weaver to make contact that resulted in Mars' car climbing the hood of Weaver’s.
Shirley continued running to maintain the second spot, while top-five runs for both Weaver and Mars came to an early end. Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., slowed under the caution, giving up a top-10 spot.
Jason McBride of Carbondale, Ill., slowed with 14 laps complete to cause the race’s third caution, while the fourth and final caution waved when Sheppard slowed on lap 33.
Notes: Simpson drives a MB Customs machine owned by Kevin and Cindy Trca with a Pro Power engine and sponsorship from Five Star Shop Service, GearWrench, Advance Machine & Tool, King Farms and Christner Concrete. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., was scheduled to start fifth in the main event but scratched due to medical issues. ... Summernationals competitors move to Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway Saturday for another $10,000-to-win event.
UMP @ Tri-City: (1) Chris Simpson, (2) Brady Smith, (3) Brian Birkhofer, (4) Mark Burgtorf, (5) Shannon Babb, (6) Brian Shirley, (7) Ryan Unzicker, (8) Tyler Reddick, (9) Jack Sullivan, (10) Billy Faust, (11) Dustin Griffin, (12) Jason McBride, (13) Brandon Sheppard, (14) Scott Weber, (15) Jason Perry, (16) Kevin Weaver, (17) Jimmy Mars, (18) Randy Korte, (19) Bobby Pierce, (20) Craig Smith, (21) Michael Kloos. Scratch: Billy Moyer. Fast qualifier (among 43 cars): Sheppard, 14.804 seconds Heat winners: Shirley, Simpson, B. Smith, Weaver. B-main winner: Faust. C-main winner: Billy Laycock. Provisional starters: McBride, Kloos, Weber, Griffin.
Blog-style reports of Friday's preliminaries:
Redraw and notes
Billy Moyer has scratched from the main event. He was scheduled to start fifth. ... After a redraw among the four heat winners, Brian Shirley will start from the pole of tonight's 50-lap main event. Brady Smith will join Shirley on the front row with Kevin Weaver and Chris Simpson sharing row two. ... Jason McBride and Dustin Griffin will use series provisionals to start the main event, while Scott Weber is the track provisional and Michael Kloos is the UMP points provisional.
Top two transfer to main event
Top 10: Billy Faust, Tyler Reddick, Jim Moon, Dustin Griffin, Jason Krohn, Scott Weber, Tim Manville, Tim Lance, Jason McBride, Wendell Wallace.
Kevin Weaver turned back Jack Sullivan's late charge in grabbing a flag-to-flag victory in the fourth and final heat race. Weaver pulled away early in the race, but late restarts allowed Sullivan to make a bid late. Sullivan looked under Weaver on lap seven, but he couldn't keep up in a final two-lap dash after a restart with eight laps complete. Sullivan settled for second with Mark Burgtorf third. Shannon Babb topped Dustin Griffin for the fourth and final transfer spot. The race was slowed by two cautions midway through and was red-flagged with eight laps complete when Todd Frank hit the wall and rolled over in turn three. Frank wasn't injured.
Finish: Kevin Weaver, Jack Sullivan, Mark Burgtorf, Shannon Babb, Dustin Griffin, Jason McBride, Brant Kehrer, Chris Fetter.
Fourth-starting Brady Smith raced around polesitter Jimmy Mars on lap eight and won after pulling away 10-lapper's in the final two circuits. The low-running Mars controlled the majority of the distance, but Smith jumped to the high side midway through and chased down the leader. Mars settled for second with Jason Perry third. Craig Smith claimed the fourth and final transfer spot after Tim Manville gave the position up when he nearly spun on the final lap.
Finish: Brady Smith, Jimmy Mars, Jason Perry, Craig Smith, Jim Moon, Tim Manville, Chad Zobrist, Roger Brickler, Paul Bailey.
Taking advantage of Brandon Sheppard's last-lap miscue, Chris Simpson raced ahead of the pole-starting Sheppard down the back straightaway on the final lap and held off Sheppard and Bobby Pierce in a three-wide photo finish. Sheppard got the jump on second-starting Simpson on the race's initial start and seemed to be headed for his third prelim victory in as many nights. But he jumped cushion getting into turn one on the final lap, allowing Simpson to pull even. Simpson slid high entering turn three as he pulled ahead of Sheppard, allowing Sheppard to cross back underneath with Pierce entering the mix with an even lower run through the corner. Simpson won the race down the front straightaway as all three drivers bumped and banged their way to the finish. Sheppard was just ahead of Pierce with Brian Birkhofer a distant fourth to also transfer to the feature.
Finish: Chris Simpson, Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce, Brian Birkhofer, Billy Faust, Rickey Frankel, Wendell Wallace, Billy Laycock, Michael Kloos, Ryan Little, Walker Arthur.
Second-starting Brian Shirley raced around fellow front-row starter Billy Moyer through the first corner and turned back Moyer's repeated challenges in claiming the caution-free 10-lapper in a photo finish. Shirley stayed just ahead of Moyer for most of the distance, but Moyer looked under Shirley on each of the final two laps. Moyer pulled even with Shirley through the final corners, but Shirley out-raced him to the flag stand in winning by just a few feet. Randy Korte was third with Ryan Unzicker grabbing the fourth and final transfer spot.
Finish: Brian Shirley, Billy Moyer, Randy Korte, Ryan Unzicker, Tyler Reddick, Jason Krohn, Scott Weber, Tim Lance, Chris Shelton, Mike Hammerle.
Continuing his summer hot streak, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., posted a lap of 14.804 seconds around Tri-City Speedway to top 43 qualifiers during Friday’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals time trials.
Sheppard, who leads the Summernationals points after back-to-back victories Wednesday and Thursday, will continue his quest for his third straight series victory when he starts from the pole of one of four heat races coming up at Tri-City’s 3/8-mile oval. Other heat race polesitters after group qualifying: Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.; Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis.; and Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, Ill.
Each 10-lap heat race will transfer the top four finishers into the night’s 50-lap main event, with the heat winners all redrawing for their starting spots. The top four finishers from the C-main will transfer to the B-main, which transfers two more drivers into the main event. Four provisional starters will round out the 22-car starting field.
With back-to-back victories Wednesday at Spoon River Speedway in Banner, Ill., and Thursday at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., leads the series standings with 360 points. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is second with 293 points followed by Shannon Babb (284) of Moweaqua, Ill., Ryan Unzicker (262) of El Paso, Ill., and Randy Korte (259) of Highland, Ill. ... A number of drivers have rejoined the tour for tonight and Saturday’s event at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway. Billy Moyer, Jimmy Mars, Brian Birkhofer, Brady Smith, Jack Sullivan and Chris Simpson are among the non-series regulars planning to compete in both races. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., the tour’s all-time winningest driver, won last year’s event at Tri-City. Four of Moyer’s 81 Summernationals victories have come at Tri-City with the Hall of Famer also winning in 1989, 1996 and 2008. ... Tyler Reddick has abandoned plans to follow the entire Summernationals tour, but he will compete tonight. After blowing an engine Thursday at Belle-Clair, Reddick will run a 5-year-old engine tonight that he last ran in the Lucas Oil Series event at Tri-City nearly a year ago. He has also switched to the car he sat on the pole with at Eldora earlier this month. Reddick hopes to race tonight and Saturday at FALS, but said he likely won’t go to Sunday’s race at I-96 Speedway in Michigan. ... Shannon Babb won the most recent special event at Tri-City, claiming a $10,000 victory in the UMP-sanctioned Budweiser 50 on May 26. Babb has two Summernationals victories at Tri-City with back-to-back victories in 2004-05. ... Modified ace Jason Krohn of Slayton, Minn., is another driver rejoining the tour for the weekend. After fourth-place finish in just his second Late Model start at Cedar Lake’s Summernationals event, Krohn is visiting Tri-City for the first time. “It’s a place I’ve always wanted to race. I’ve heard a ton of good things about it,” he said. ... Brian Shirley, the defending Summernationals champion who’s serving as crew chief for Tim Lance instead of chasing this year’s title, will drive Lance’s backup car tonight. Shirley drove Lance’s car to a third-place finish at Cedar Lake in his only Summernationals start so far. ... Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., finished second at the Bud 50 in his most recent visit to Tri-City. ... Tri-City has hosted 14 previous Summernationals races. It was one of seven tracks on the inaugural tour in 1986 and hosted races until 1989. The track hosted a one-off race in 1996 before appearing on the tour’s schedule every year since 2004.
Qualifying results (unofficial)
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 14.844
Brian Shirley (48x), Chatham, Ill., 14.955
Randy Korte (81), Highland, Ill., 15.001
Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 15.051
Jason Krohn (7k), Slayton, Minn., 15.175
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 15.202
Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 15.202
Scott Weber (92), Fetus, Mo., 15.254
Chris Shelton (16s), Paducah, Ky., 15.945
Pete Parker (10), Kakauna, Wis., 16.155
Mike Hammerle (16), St. Charles, Mo,. 16.821
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 14.804
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 14.841
Brian Birkhofer (15b), Muscatine, Iowa, 14.910
Bobby Pierce (32) Oakwood, Ill., 14.932
Rickey Frankel (33F), Quincy, Ill., 15.075
Billy Faust (92), Lebanon, Ill., 15.148
Michael Kloos (6K), Trenton, Ill., 15.153
Wendell Wallace (33), Batesville, Ark., 15.170
Billy Laycock (82), Marine, Ill., 15.477
Walker Arthur (87), Forest, Va., 15.877
Ryan Little (38c), Springfield, Ill., 16.092
Jimmy Mars (28m), Menomonie, Wis., 15.023
Jason Perry (27), Payson, Ill., 15.106
Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., 15.117
Craig Smith (8), Godfrey, Ill., 15.347
Paul Bailey (81), Pocahontas, Ill., 15.532
Brady Smith (2), Solon Springs, Wis., 15.813
Chad Zobrist (78), Highland, Ill., 15.813
Roger Brickler (82), Springfield, Ill., 15.902
Jim Moon (1m), Indianapolis, Ind., 16.175
Steve Lance Jr. (25), Cuba, Ill., 16.454
Billly Hough (33), Thomasboro, Ill., 16.543
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill., 15.061
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 15.195
Mark Burgtorf (7b), Quincy, Ill., 15.214
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.214
Jack Sullivan (1s), Greenbrier, Ark., 15.332
Brant Kehrer (92), New Memphis, Ill., 15.371
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 15.605
Todd Frank (21), Mellen, Wis., 15.651
Adam Tischhauser (T4), Greenville, Ill., 15.762
Chris Fetter (15), Troy, Mo., 16.717