Shannon Babb's train just kept
a`rollin' through LaSalle Speedway Wednesday night as the Decatur, Ill. ace put Frank Heckenast, Jr. (99) away
and notched his sixth win of the Summer Nationals tour. (Mike
Nationals: Babb’s slick track preference at La Salle leads
to third in a row
Ill. – July 13. Nature has robbed race enthusiasts of their need for speed on far too many occasions this
season at La Salle Speedway, but the Wednesday night
make-up of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals was finally a reality with
29competitors from seven states and two countries rolling into the
Illinois Valley’s largest sports complex. Shannon Babb, one of
the 17 Illinoisans, took home the biggest prize of all as he
works to clinch the coveted, and profitable, tour title.
Shannon Babb's chief
pursuer in Summer Nationals points, Scott James found himself behind the eight ball with a provisional start
after he got bounced around in his heat race and backed into the wall. (Below) Bret Sievert gets a "What's up
with that?" from James after the incident. (Mike Ruefer)
Perfect weather conditions set the stage for a perfect night
of racing. Group qualifying, three heat races, a C Main, and four provisional positions decided the feature grid.
Pole sitter Babb, dubbed the "Moweaqua Missile", coasted into his spot
next to Frank Heckanast, Jr. on the front of the grid while Kevin Weaver and Bret Sievert were in row two. Ryan
Unzicker and Donny Walden were in the third row over Mike Glynn and Jack Sullivan.
Perennial Illinois competitor Kevin Weaver (12) of
Gibson City checks in on the Babb/Heckenast duel before getting by Heckenast for second at LaSalle.
Once the four-wide salute was done and the green flag waved,
it was Heckanast taking charge of the field as he drove into a good lead by the sixth lap. Babb looked faster in the corners, but Heckanast had a good run on the straights, enough to
pull away. The two battled back and forth with Babb powering up to the leaders door in the turns, but Heckanast was
fast on the top side. Babb was heavy on the gas to force a side by side duel for the point. The two battled back
and forth during the early laps trading places until the 16th circuit, when
Babb used a lower line to grab the lead.
Matt Miller sizes up #1 Jack Sullivan before advancing
past Sullivan and Frank Heckenast, Jr. for third at LaSalle. (Mike Ruefer)
“Me and Frankie had a heck of a great race going on early,”
Babb told the crowd during an infield interview.
The battle early on was the only racing action Babb would be
challenged with other than cruising behind lapped cars who were battling for position. The
40-lap main event finished in just over 18 minutes, the same number as the
“I loved it,” Babb said when asked about the track surface.
“It was slick and we had put ourselves in a position up front.”
Jack Sullivan gets a challenge for
his fifth spot from #24 Ryan Unzicker at LaSalle. (Mike Ruefer)
Babb’s victory circle visit is the third in a row for the
current Summernationals points leader. The chase is coming to a close and it
looks as though the trifecta finish boosted Babb into a secure lead en route to the $25,000 top
Gibson City’s Weaver ran a strong second place for much of the race finishing runner up to Babb over Matt
Miller, Heckenast, and Jack Sullivan.
July 13 - Summer Nationals at LaSalle Speedway
1. Shannon Babb, 2. Kevin Weaver, 3. Matt Miller, 4. Frank Heckenast,
Jr., 5. Jack Sullivan, 6. Ryan Unzicker, 7. Bret Sievert, 8. Donny Walden, 9. Ryan Dauber, 10. Dennis
Erb Jr., 11. Mike Spatola (prov.), 12. Mike Provenzano, 13. Dillan White, 14. Rich Bell, 15. Jeep Van
Wormer, 16. Scott James (prov.), 17. Brandon Sheppard, 18. Nathan Balensiefen (prov.), 19. Scott
Schmitt (prov.), 20. Mike Glynn, 21. Pete Parker, 22. Dan Schlieper, 23. Keith Piano
Fast Time (29 entries): Weaver; Heat winners: Weaver, Babb, Heckenast. Consolation
John Vass photo