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Back-to-back Babb wins $5,000 at Jacksonville

July 3, 2013, 5:58 pm
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
Shannon Babb (18) won $5,000 at Jacksonville. (Jim DenHamer)
Shannon Babb (18) won $5,000 at Jacksonville. (Jim DenHamer)

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (July 3) — After performing below his usual standards for most of the first half of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals tour, Shannon Babb is hoping he’s getting hot at the right time.

With the month-long tour officially reaching its halfway point Wednesday night at Jacksonville Speedway, Babb, the three-time series champion of Moweaqua, Ill., bagged his second victory in as many night’s, earning $5,000 at the tight quarter-mile oval for his third victory on this year’s tour. | Complete Summernationals coverage

Babb took the lead in Wednesday’s 40-lap main event when race-long leader Rusty Schlenk of Weston, Ohio, slowed with nine laps remaining and led the remaining distance in claiming the 79th Summernationals victory of his career.

“I finally feel like I got my act together. We’ve got a program that’s really working,” said Babb, who also won Tuesday night’s Summernationals event at Quincy (Ill.) Raceway. “The car’s really good. I’m really happy with it.”

The fourth-starting Babb pressured Schlenk for much of the race and inherited the lead when Schlenk suffered a flat right-front tire to bring out the race’s only caution just after the leaders completed lap 31.

Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., and series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., each took turns chasing Babb in the race’s closing laps, but neither could keep pace as Babb pulled away to the victory.

Sheppard topped Unzicker for second with Steve Sheppard Jr., the runner-up’s father, fourth and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., fifth.

While the performance helps Babb build momentum as he chases Sheppard entering the second-half of the tour, he knew it was Schlenk’s misfortune that paved the way for victory.

“I think he was gonna stay right where he was at,” Babb said of Schlenk’s rough but fast high line around the racetrack. “He was running a real good race against the traction, and I was probably looking at second. I hate it for him, but things happen.”

The race served as the 14th leg of the 31-race Summernationals schedule, which has been shortened to a planned 28 points races due to a pair of rainouts and a cancellation. The series moves to La Salle (Ill.) Speedway Thursday for another $5,000-to-win event.

Notes: Babb’s Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by Petroff Towing, Donley Trucking, Allstar Performance and PRC. ... Sheppard, racing at his home track, finished second in Jacksonville’s Summernationals event for the second straight year. ... Series officials on Wednesday announced the July 15 makeup date for Peoria (Ill.) Speedway’s rainout and the cancellation of the tour’s July 18 event at Twin Cities Raceway Park in North Vernon, Ind.

UMP @ Jacksonville: (1) Shannon Babb, (2) Brandon Sheppard, (3) Ryan Unzicker, (4) Steve Sheppard Jr., (5) Bobby Pierce, (6) Jason Jaggers, (7) Brian Shirley, (8) McKay Wenger, (9) Frank Heckenast Jr., (10) Mark Burgtorf, (11) Dewayne Kiefer, (12) Tyler Reddick, (13) Terry English, (14) Tanner English, (15) Dustin Griffin, (16) Randy Korte, (17) Joseph Joiner, (18) Rusty Schlenk, (19) Matt Taylor, (20) Jason Perry, (21) Kevin Weaver, (22) Jason McBride. Fast qualifier (among 39 cars): Shirley, 12.331 seconds. Heat winners: Wenger, Babb, Jaggers, Schlenk. B-main winner: Reddick. C-main winner: Furman. Provisional starters: Korte, Weaver, Taylor, McBride.

Blog-style reports of Wednesday's prelims:

Redraw and notes

Looking for his first Summernationals victory, McKay Wenger will lead the 22-car starting field to green in tonight's 40-lap main event. Wenger drew the pole in a redraw among heat race winners while Rusty Schlenk, a two-time Summernationals winner, will start alongside him on the front row. Also looking to win his first series event, Jason Jaggers will start third with three-time series champion Shannon Babb starting fourth. ... Kevin Weaver's exit from the fourth heat race was due to a broken axle. His crew is working to make repairs. ... Brandon Sheppard's had to switch to his backup car after hot laps due to a blown engine in his primary car. The engine overheated during its last outing last week at Paducah, Sheppard said. ... There was a break in the program following the heat races to rework the track surface. ... Randy Korte will use a series provisional to the main event start from the 19th starting spot with Kevin Weaver using the UMP points provisional to start 20th. Track provisional Matt Taylor with start 21st with Jason McBride using the second series provisional to round out the 22-car starting field.

Consolation races

B-main (top two to feature): Tyler Reddick, Terry English, Richey Frankel, Tim Lance, Todd Frank, Matt Taylor, Jason Riggs, Greg Kimmons, Lake Knutti, Adam Mefford, Billy Hough, Roger Brickler.

C-main (top four to B-main): Matt Furman, Matt Taylor, Greg Kimmons, Billy Hough, Steve Lach, Ryan Little, Mike Hammerle, Terry Knutti, Cliff Powell, Kevin Weaver.

Fourth heat

Rusty Schlenk powered around the top of the first corner to take the lead over polesitter Joseph Joiner on the opening lap of the fourth and final heat and cruised through the remaining distance. Fourth-starting Steve Sheppard Jr. rallied on the high side to finish second, while Joiner held third at the finish. Dewayne Kiefer topped Rich Bell in a late battle for the fourth and final transfer spot. The race was slowed with one lap complete when Bell and Adam Mefford tangled in turn one. Third-running Kevin Weaver pulled off under the caution.

Finish: Rusty Schlenk, Steve Sheppard Jr., Joseph Joiner, Dewayne Kiefer, Rich Bell, Adam Mefford, Lake Knutti, Cliff Powell, Kevin Weaver.

Third heat

Second-starting Jason Jaggers pulled ahead when polesitter Jason Perry got loose in the first corner and led every lap of the caution-free third heat. Fourth-starting Frank Heckenast Jr. also got by Perry on the opening lap and chased Jaggers the entire distance to finish second. Perry was third at the finish. while Mark Burgtorf topped a four-car battle for the fourth and final transfer spot.

Finish: Jason Jaggers, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jason Perry, Mark Burgtorf, Terry English, Jason Riggs, Brian Diveley, Billy Hough, Mike Hammerle, Ryan Little.

Second heat

Shannon Babb got the jump on polesitter Brian Shirley and cruised in the second 10-lap heat race. Babb built nearly a straightaway lead in the caution-free race, while Shirley was comfortably in second at the finish. Tanner English was was third, while Bobby Pierce topped Tyler Reddick in a back-and-forth battle for the fourth and final transfer position.

Finish: Shannon Babb, Brian Shirley, Tanner English, Bobby Pierce, Tyler Reddick, Tim Lance, Randy Korte, Matt Taylor, Jason McBride.

First heat

Second-starting McKay Wenger outdueled polesitter Brandon Sheppard early in the first 10-lap heat race and later turned back Ryan Unzicker's late challenge in leading every lap of the caution-free race. After moving by Sheppard on lap three, Unzicker pulled alongside Wenger exiting the final corner but couldn't pull ahead in settling for second. Sheppard was just behind the two leaders in third with Dustin Griffin grabbing the fourth and final transfer spot.

Finish: McKay Wenger, Ryan Unzicker, Brandon Sheppard, Dustin Griffin, Todd Frank, Roger Brickler, Richey Frankel, Matt Furman, Steve Lach, Terry Knutti.

Time trials

Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., posted a lap of 12. 331 seconds around Jacksonville Speedway to top 39 qualifiers during time trials for the quarter-mile oval’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals event.

Shirley, the reigning series champion who’s only racing part time on this year’s month-long tour, will start from the pole of the second of four heat races coming up.

Series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., recovered from a blown engine in his primary car during hot laps to post the fastest time in the first qualifying group, while Jason Perry of Payson, Ill., topped group three and Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., topped the fourth group. They’ll join Shirley in starting on the pole of their respective heat races.

Each 10-lap heat race will transfer the top four finishers to the 40-lap main event with the heat winners all redrawing for their starting spots. Consolation races will transfer two more drivers to the main event with four provisional starters rounding out the 22-car field.

Pre-race notes

Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., continues to lead the series standings, but Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., continues to creep closer at 84 points back in second. After winning Tuesday’s event, three-time series champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is third, 108 points out of the lead. Ryan Unzicker (-112) of El Paso, Ill., and Randy Korte (-247) round out the top five. ...With his victory Tuesday night at Quincy Raceway, Babb joined Sheppard as the only drivers to win multiple events on this year’s tour. Sheppard has four victories. ... Jacksonville is hosting its fifth Summernationals event. The tour first visited the track in 2006 through 2008 and returned again last season. ... Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., won last year’s event at Jacksonville in a thrilling race-long battle with Brandon Sheppard and Brian Shirley. ... Other former Summernationals winners at Jacksonville: Wes Steidinger, Kevin Weaver and Jeep Van Wormer.

Qualifying order

First group
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 12.374
McKay Wenger (42), Fairbury, Ill., 12.449
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.522
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill., 12.596
Richey Frankel (33F), Quincy, Ill., 12.792
Todd Frank (21), Mellen, Wis., 13.033
Steve Lach (42), Brownstown, Ill., 13.118
Roger Brickler (82), Springfield, Ill., 13.147
Terry Knutti (07), Lanark, Ill., 13.355
Matt Furman (51), Columbus, Ohio, no time
Second group
Brian Shirley (48x), Chatham, Ill., 12.331
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill,. 12.332
Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 12.465
Tanner English (96), Benton, Ky., 12.533
Bobby Pierce (32) Oakwood, Ill., 12.582
Greg Kimmons (27), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 12.721
Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 12.801
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 12.863
Matt Taylor (24), Springfield, Ill., 12.972
Randy Korte (81), Highland, Ill., no time
Third group
Jason Perry (27), Payson, Ill., 12.447
Jason Jaggers (32), Wyanet, Ill., 12.483
Terry English (33), Benton, Ky., 12.609
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfurt, Ill., 12.692
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 12.966
Brian Diveley (11D), Springfield, Ill., 12.988
Mark Burgtorf (7b), Quincy, Ill., 13.104
Ryan Little (38c), Springfield, Ill., 13.150
Mike Hammerle (16), St. Charles, Mo., 13.433
Billy Hough (33), Thomasboro, Ill., 13.666
Fourth group
Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 12.527
Rusty Schlenk (91), Weston, Ohio 12.780
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.779
Steve Sheppard Jr. (5s), New Berlin, Ill., 12.941
Rich Bell (21), Sheffield, Ill., 12.998
Dewayne Kiefer (0), St. Genevieve, Mo., 13.068
Adam Mefford (7m), Jacksonville, Ill., 13.111
Lake Knutti (07), Lanark, Ill., 13.771
Cliff Powell (6c), Hannibal, Mo., 14.592

Feature lineup

Row 1: Wenger, Schlenk
Row 2: Jaggers, Babb
Row 3: Unzicker, Shirley
Row 4: Heckenast, S. Sheppard
Row 5: B. Sheppard, Ta. English
Row 6: Perry, Joiner
Row 7: Griffin, Pierce
Row 8: Burgtorf, Kiefer
Row 9: Reddick, Te. English
Row 10: Korte, Weaver
Row 11: Taylor, McBride

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