Shirley Scores Hell Tour Win #2 at Spoon River

Brian Shirley in Victory Lane Thursday Night at Spoon River (Addison Blair Photo)

The Summer Nationals tour invaded Spoon River Speedway for the third race of the Hell Tour. After many rainouts, Thursday was a clear, warm day where racing was finally going to occur. It would be the defending Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley who would take the checkers first to win a $5,000 paycheck and get his second win of the 2019 tour.

35 cars were on hand at the high banked track in Canton, Illinois. Shirley would set fast time in Group A qualifying with a lap of 13.064 seconds. New Waverly, Texas driver “Terbo” Tyler Erb would set the overall fast time and break the track record with a 12.995 second lap around the speed plant.

There would be four Heat races with the top four finishers in each heat race locking themselves into the 40-Lap, $5,000 to win feature. Shirley would win Heat Race 1 over Allen Weisser, Ryan Unzicker, and Billy Moyer. Heat Race 2 would be won by 4-Time Summer Nationals champion Shannon Babb from Moweaqua, Illinois. Rodney Melvin, Rusty Schlenk, and Kolby Vandenbergh would also lick themselves into the feature. Heat Race numbed 3 would be won by new track record holder Tyler Erb as he would beat out Frank Heckenast Jr., Kyle Bronson, and “The Flatland Flash” Kevin Weaver who was piloting a Rocket Chassis owned by Jay Morris. Benton, Kentucky driver Tanner English would win the final heat race of the evening beating Jason Feger, Billy Drake, and Walker Arthur to the line.

Three time Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce would win the lone B-Main of the evening advancing to the feature along with second place finisher Bob Gardner. Paul Stubber, Rusty Griffaw, Mike Glasscock, and Chuck Hummer would all gain provisionals and complete the full 22 car field.

The $5,000 to win, 40-lap feature would be underway and the yellow would fly five seconds later as top ten starters Kyle Bronson and Ryan Unzicker would collide and get together in Turn 1 on the opening lap. Billy Moyer also collected heavy right rear damage to his car. All three drivers were able to continue. However, Moyer pulled off the track on Lap 3.

Shirley would take the lead on the outside on the second start attempt after the caution and lead Lap 1 over Babb, Erb, English, and Heckenast Jr. with Billy Drake pulling off the track after completing only one lap. Heckenast Jr. and Allen Weisser would have a good battle for fifth during the first few laps until Heckenast grabbed the position away from Weisser on Lap 5 and hold onto it. Shirley would set a fast pace around the track and enter lapped traffic early on ten laps in. Jason Feger would creep up into the field as he got around Weisser for sixth on Lap 13.

Shirley would have a straightaway lead over Babb until the second and final caution of the race would come out on Lap 19 as second place running Shannon Babb would suffer a flat right rear tire and jump the cushion in Turn 2, impacting his good run. Babb would restart at the tail end of the lead lap after being able to continue. On the restart, Shirley would easily hold the lead over Erb, English, Heckenast Jr., and Feger. On the ensuing restart, Shirley would easily hold on to his lead over Erb and English. On Lap 21, third place running English would slide up the track in Turns 1 and 2 allowing both Heckenast Jr. and Feger to get around him. By Lap 24, 17th starting B-Main winner Bobby Pierce would find himself taking the sixth position away from Weisser. Three laps later on Lap 27, English was able to regain fourth place over Feger. Feger then lost the fifth position to Pierce on the next lap. On Lap 29, Feger would pull off the track experiencing engine issues while having a strong top five car. With ten laps to go, Shirley would still have a healthy lead over Erb and Heckenast Jr. who were battling for second. Heckenast Jr. took the second spot from Erb at the line on Lap 32 but Erb gained it back and held onto the position for the remainder of the race one lap later. With two laps to go, Rodney Melvin would charge around Pierce for fifth place. Shirley would easily maneuver through lapped traffic and still set a fast pace around the track en route to capturing his second Summer Nationals victory of the year leading all 40 laps. Tyler Erb and Frank Heckenast Jr. would round out the podium. Tanner English would take fourth and Bobby Pierce would beat Rodney Melvin at the like to finish fifth. Rounding out the top ten was Melvin, Allen Weisser, Rusty Schlenk, Kevin Weaver, and Ryan Unzicker.

Spoon River Speedway Feature Finish:

1.3s Brian Shirley- Chatham, IL

2.1 Tyler Erb- New Waverly, Texas

3.99jr Frank Heckenast Jr.- Frankfort, IL

4.96 Tanner English- Benton, KY

5.32 Bobby Pierce- Oakwood, IL

6.33 Rodney Melvin- Benton, IL

7.25 Allen Weisser- Peoria, IL

8.CJ1 Rusty Schlenk- McClure, OH

9.77m Kevin Weaver- Gibson City, IL

10.24 Ryan Unzicker- El Paso, IL

11.40B Kyle Bronson- Brandon, FL

12.15 Kolby Vandenbergh- Ashland, IL

13.18 Shannon Babb- Moweaqua, IL

14.4G Bob Gardner- Washington, IL

15.31AUS Paul Stubber- Bunbury, Western Australia

16.16 Rusty Griffaw- Featus, MO

17.25 Chuck Hummer- Northpoint, IL

18.25F Jason Feger- Bloomington, IL

19.30 Mike Glasscock- LeRoy, IL

20.87 Walker Arthur- Forest, VA

21.21 Billy Moyer- Batesville, AR

22.75 Billy Drake- Bloomington, IL