- Sept. 18 - I-55 Raceway - World of Outlaws Late Model Series by Sam Holbrooks

Shannon Babb (right) and an admirer who just got aced by his former protege' at I-55 Raceway. (Jimmy Dearing)
World of Outlaws: Babb Triumphs Over Moyer In Breathtaking "Pepsi Nationals"Battle At I-55

PEVELY, Mo. - Sept. 18. Shannon Babb finally reached the Promised Land in a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at I-55 Raceway.

And the 36-year-old from Moweaqua, Ill., did it in breathtaking fashion, outdueling the red-hot Billy Moyer in a classic battle to capture Saturday night's 28th annual "Pepsi Nationals".

Shannon Babb - Darrell Lanigan - World of Outlaws at I-55 Raceway

Shannon Babb battles #29 Darrell Lanigan at I-55 but it was an epic battle with Billy Moyer later in the race that would bring the crowd to its feet.   Polesitter Lanigan led two stretches of racing during the event, only to slip to fourth at the finish. (Drew England) 

Turning around a moribund season with dramatic flair, Babb used the inside groove to vault from eighth to third on a lap 29 restart and went on to wrestle

the lead from Batesville, Ark.'s Moyer on lap 48 of the 55-lap A-Main. The two-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion earned $10,000 for his 10th career victory on the WoO LMS but first since March 21, 2009, at Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas.

The triumph brought a joyful end to Babb’s string of close-but-no-cigar runs in WoO LMS competition at the one-third-mile, high-banked oval. He entered Saturday’s action as the only driver with a top-five finish in the national tour’s three previous visits to I-55 after placing a hard-charging second in 2007 and fifth in both 2005 (he lost the lead to eventual winner Moyer late in the distance) and 2008.

Shannon Babb - Pepsi Nationals winner at I-55 Raceway
Mr. and Mrs. Shannon Babb after his hard-won victory in World of Outlaws action at I-55 Raceway. (Drew England)

Adding even more significance to Babb's breakthrough was his defeat of Moyer, who had been victorious in all three of his previous appearances this season at I-55, and was just one week removed from winning an unprecedented sixth career "World 100" at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

"That was really cool,"”Babb said of a race that ranked as one of the most memorable of the 2010 WoO LMS campaign. "That guy (Moyer) has been unbeatable all this year and I don't even know when the last time was that I won a race - that's why I'm so happy."”

Moyer, 52, settled for a second-place finish, 0.411 of a second behind his protégé at the checkered flag. He nosed ahead to lead laps 26 and 43, but couldn't maintain command of the event, which featured six lead changes among four drivers.

Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who started 13th, was closing on the leaders in the final circuits, but had to be content with a third place finish. Polesitter Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., slipped to fourth at the finish after leading laps 15-25 and 27-41, and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., advanced from the 11th starting spot to place fifth, registering his fourth top-five run in the last five WoO LMS events.

Lanigan's fourth-place finish moved him back into the WoO LMS points lead by two points over defending champion Josh Richards, who started and finished sixth. Just three events remain in the chase for the tour's $100,000 points title - all at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C., which hosts the World of Outlaws Late Model Shootout on Oct. 13 and the World Finals on Nov. 4-6.

Babb, who started ninth in a Donley Trucking/Petroff Towing Rocket car that he debuted one month ago, waited until just after the race's halfway point to make his move. He had advanced just one position when two of the A-Main's three caution flags flew on lap 29 - the first for the ambulance to leave the infield and the second for a slide-and-stop by outside polesitter Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who led laps 1-14 and was still running second when he lost control of his car on the inside of turn four.

Billy Moyer - Darrell Lanigan - Drew England

Billy Moyer races past a fading Darrell Lanigan (#29) on his way to second at Pevely. (Drew England)

On the second restart, Babb found traction on the extreme inside of the track and passed five cars in the span of a lap. One circuit later he overtook Moyer for second and almost immediately began to challenge Lanigan for the lead.

"It surprised me,"”Babb said of his sudden surge into contention. "Our car seemed to be good right from the start, but it was so competitive out there I didn't know what I was gonna do at the beginning. I moved around top-to-bottom so I knew that bottom was there, but you can't keep up when the top's as good as it was."

"I had to wait for the middle and top to slow down. Once that happened, I moved down and the bottom was the place to be for the last 30 laps."”

Babb praised the I-55 racing surface, which produced three-wide racing for the lead - early with Lanigan, McCreadie and Moyer, and later with Babb replacing McCreadie in the pacesetting trio that had the crowd standing and cheering.

"(Ray) Marler and (Ken) Schrader (who co-own the speedway outside St. Louis) put an awesome racetrack together tonight,"”said Babb. "They went the extra mile and worked the racetrack really good (just prior to the start of the A-Main). All the way to the end we were battling - that's probably the best racing surface I've seen here."”

Moyer, who started third, thought he was in position to win the race several times during the frenetic late-race struggle but simply couldn't get his Victory Circle chassis through lapped traffic well enough to beat Babb. The former WoO LMS champion nevertheless seemed energized by his race with Babb, who received a hearty congratulatory handshake from Moyer in Victory Lane.

"The fans had to love that race,"”said Moyer, who over the past three months won Northeast All-Stars, Summer Nationals and MARS DIRTcar Series events at I-55. "That was fun.

Finishing in positions 6-10 was Richards, who climbed as high as fourth; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who ran fifth for much of the race's first half; a rallying McCreadie, 19th-starter Chub Frank, and 2010 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del.

Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., faded to an 11th-place finish after starting fourth and running in the top five until nearly the halfway mark.

Chub Frank - Ricky Frankel - I-55 Raceway World of Outlaws

Frank n' Frankel. Pennsylvania's Chub Frank moves by last week's local winner, Ricky Frankel (#33) en route to a ninth place finish after winning a B-Main event. (Drew England)

The Pepsi Nationals served as the seventh leg of the LaCrosse Extreme Tough Challenge, a unique mini-series that awards points to the top-five fulltime WoO LMS and Sprint Car Series drivers in 16 selected events - eight Late Model and eight Sprint Car - and will earn the champion of the combined standings a $5,000 bonus from a $15,000 points fund. Lanigan earned five points for being the highest-finishing WoO LMS regular, while Clint Smith (four), Richards (three), Francis (two) and McCreadie (one) also collected points.

Lanigan and Richards ended the night tied for the lead in the LaCrosse Extreme Tough points standings with 19 points each, one point ahead of WoO Sprint Car star Donny Schatz. The WoO Sprint Car racers, however, have three LaCrosse events remaining while the Late Model contingent has just one, on Nov. 5 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

The A-Main was run under the threat of approaching thunderstorms, but while lightning danced in the sky throughout the 55-lapper the precipitation held off until nearly a half-hour after the checkered flag.

WoO - I-55 Raceway "Pepsi Nationals"
1) Shannon Babb, 2) Billy Moyer, 3) Brady Smith, 4) Darrell Lanigan, 5) Clint Smith, 6) Josh Richards, 7) Steve Francis, 8) Tim McCreadie, 9) Chub Frank, 10) ) Austin Hubbard, 11) Wendell Wallace, 12) Rick Eckert, 13) Tim Fuller, 14) Jason Feger, 15) Shane Clanton, 16) Ricky Frankel, 17) Bobby Pierce, 18) Chris Hall, 19) Jill George (prov.), 20) Russell King, 21) Ken Schrader, 22) Scott Weber, 23) Matt Miller, 24) April Farmer (prov.)
Fast Time (31 entries): Francis (12.768; Heat winners: Francis, Richards, Moyer; B-Main winner: Frank
Shannon Babb hd - I-55 World of Outlaws

Jimmy Dearing photo


Updated 11/30/10

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