FAIRBURY, Ill. — The quest for 100 DIRTcar Summer Nationals wins just got one race closer for Shannon Babb.
Babb found a sudden burst of speed late in the race around the bottom lane of Fairbury Speedway Saturday night and blew by his opponents for a $10,000 grand prize and his 99th career DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature win.
“It’s special right here at Fairbury. $10,000-to-win Summer Nationals always meant a lot to us. Growing up, it was everything. These are big races,” Babb said.
While it was a big win at a big race, it was also special to Babb on a personal note. Six years ago, he came into Fairbury after the birth of his daughter Finnlee and captured his 90th career Hell Tourvictory. His 99th victory Friday night came six years to that date, at the very same track.
Babb’s second appearance of the season with the tour put him in a similar situation to the previous night at Tri-City Speedway — starting the 50-lap feature from the third row. But it didn’t all play out in exactly the same way.
Babb quickly made his way up to third from sixth but decided to switch lanes en route to catch the leaders, which ended up sending him all the way back to eighth. He rode there several laps, just before the halfway mark, when his car came to life.
“I was the first one to hit the bottom, and when I hit the bottom, I ran back about eighth or ninth… But it came in for us,” Babb said.
Indeed, his Team Zero Race Cars chassis No. 18 did come in. It only took 11 laps for the four-time Summer Nationals champion to pass every car ahead of him.
The Moweaqua Missile launched off the bottom lane of the quarter-mile and moved underneath Tanner English for the lead on lap 35.
Within 10 laps, Babb had opened up a gap of over two seconds and pushed it to over three seconds by the time he took the checkered.
English held off Devin Moran for second while Frank Heckenast Jr. and Bobby Pierce completed the top five.
Feature (50 Laps) 1. 18B-Shannon Babb; 2. 81E-Tanner English; 3. 9M-Devin Moran; 4. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 5. 32-Bobby Pierce; 6. 42-Mckay Wenger; 7. 3S-Brian Shirley; 8. 6M-Dona Marcoullier; 9. 89-Mike Spatola; 10. 12W- Ashton Winger; 11. 32S-Chris Simpson; 12. 48-Tim Lance; 13. 9-Eric Smith; 14. B12-Kevin Weaver; 15. 25-Jason Feger; 16. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr; 17. 14G-Joe Godsey; 18. 4G-Bob Gardner; 19. 84-Myles Moos; 20. 2-Mike Chasteen Jr; 21. 18-Jeffrey Ledford; 22. 24-Ryan Unzicker