Tuesday, July 4, 2017

B Shepp OnTop in Return to Quincy

After no racing on Sunday night, Quincy Raceways welcomed the UMP Summernationals to town on Monday night. 34 high powered late models were complimented by 28 UMP Summit tour modifieds and 20 sport mods on a hot, humid July night. The evening began with group qualifying, with local standout Michael Long breaking the modified track record at 14.189 seconds. Florida hot shoe Kyle Bronson, in his first ever visit to QR paced the late models with a blistering lap of 12.942seconds around the .29 mile oval in his #40B. Minnesota driver Brent Larson dropped his drive shaft in qualifying putting him behind the eight ball all night, and he eventually used a series provisional to start the 40 lap $5,000 to win main event. The four late model heat races were won from the front row, a problem with the " straight up" by qualifying times format. Bronson grabbed heat one over Bob Gardner, Gordy Gundaker, and Billy Moyer Jr. Heat two went to Brandon Sheppard ahead of Brian Shirley, Rusty Schlenk, and Quincy legend Mark Burgtorf, out for the first time in his new #5. Shannon Babb captured the third ten lapper, besting Bobby Pierce,Rickey Frankel and Rob Toland. The last heat went to Texan Tyler Erb followed by Ryan Unzicker, Rodney Sanders, and Dustin Griffin. At least eleven of these drivers are previous feature winners at QR. Only two drivers transferred from the 18 car B-main, which was won by Justin Reed, back in a #11JR car after blowing up his #1ST earlier this season. The final spot went to Austin Theiss. Two series provisionals and two track provisionals filled out the 22 car starting grid, with Larson, Dustin Nobbe, Denny Woodworth, and Jason Perry getting those spots. With the fields set, the 25 lap modified feature was up first. The front row had former QR winner Ray Bollinger alongside national standout Nick Hoffman, with Long in row two, all heat race winners. As the car made their final parade lap, Hoffman suddenly came to a stop in turn two, and just like that his night was over. This moved Teas driver Phil Dixon to the outside pole for the start. Bollinger led lap one, with the caution coming out at the end of the lap. Back to racing, Bollinger ran the inside line while Long pounded the cushion. As lap six was scored the pair crossed the line side by side. Long was the leader at the end of lap seven, but Bollinger retook the spot coming out of turn two. Traffic came into play on lap nine, and Bollinger slowed with a flat tire. Former Nascar pilot Kenny Wallace had been lurking in third after starting in row three, and he took advantage of the slowing #77 to take over the lead. With Bollinger pitting and returning to the track with fresh rubber, the battle was now between Wallace and Long. As Wallace ran the low line, Long was following him in turns one and two, then taking the high line in three and four. Meanwhile, track points leader Dave Weitholder used the top side to charge from a row six start to enter the top five. The final caution came with seven laps remaining, and those final circuits saw the front duo side by side, with Wallace holding a slight advantage. But Long was able to get a run on the final lap, and he used that high side momentum to edge Wallace at the line, as the huge crowd rose from their seats. Dixon took third, while Bollinger rebounded all the way to fourth, just ahead of Weitholder. NASCAR Craftsman Truck series champ Matt Crafton was on hand in a black #88 machine, but was not a factor in the outcome. It was now late model time, With Sheppard and Babb on the front row. Babb led the first trip around, with third starting Bronson in tow. Babb was riding the cushion, Bronson down low when the first caution waved for a slowing Shirley. Back under green, Shirley ducked back to the infield as Sheppard was able to clear Babb for second on lap seven, with Bronson now in command. Bronson began to open a lead, catching slower traffic on lap 13. But the leader bobbled on the high side on lap 15, with Sheppard vaulting to the top spot. As the lap was scored, fourth running Erb smacked the front stretch wall hard, ending his run. Babb cleared Bronson on the single file restart, and it was soon a four car battle, with Sheppard and third running Bronson up top, and Babb and now fourth Pierce on the bottom. The caution waved at the half way mark for Schlenk needing a tire change. Babb regained the lead back under green, but Sheppard fought back to retake the spot. Pierce advanced to third on lap 24, with Bronson fighting back before a yellow on lap 25. One final caution came out on lap 29, following the restart, Sheppard stumbled, but held the lead. Pierce was now the man on the move on the high side. But he suffered a broken shock, slowing his momentum. Babb was a shadow to Sheppard for the final eleven circuits, and again everyone was on their feet as he made one final charge coming to the checkers. But the big check went to Sheppard. Babb and Pierce grabbed podium finishes. Gundaker came from ninth to fourth, with Bronson completing the top five. Unzicker drove a steady race to claim sixth ahead of Gardner,Toland,19th starting Larson, and Moyer Jr. Reed and Nobbe were the final two cars running at the checkers. The sport mod finale paid a cool $500 to win. Brandon Lennox was the first to cross the stripe on lap one, with tanner Klingele in hot pursuit. It was a two car scrum before a lap seven caution. Back under green, Austen Becerra now began to pressure Klingele for second. After another caution period, the two swapped the second spot. One final yellow came with three laps to go, and the field was not set in single file order. Lennox cruised to the flag to flag win ahead of Klingele, Becerra, Justin Ebbing, and Billy Deroy. Although a long night of racing in warm temps, it was an action packed event, the highlight of 2017 thus far at Quincy Raceways! Happy July 4, and thanks for reading!

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