Babb Continues Domination With 10th Summer National Win at Kokomo
Jeffrey A. Bayless
  Kokomo, IN (July 9)  Round 16 of the 29 scheduled events of 2005's DIRT Motorsports UMP Summer Nationals rolled into the recently reconfigured Kokomo Speedway for a $10,000 to win event.  In the end, the scenery may have changed, but the story remained the same as Moweaqua, IL native "The Moweaqua Missile" Shannon Babb claimed yet another Summer National event in his J&J Steel, Car City, G&C Enterprises, Platinum Motors, Watters Autoland, and Petroff Towing sponsored Jay Dickens powered CJ Rayburn race car.
     The 9 car 9 lap dash began the evening's festivities as Brian Birkhofer powered to the early lead.  However, Birkhofer bobbled coming out of 4 on the second lap as he jumped the cushion allowing Shannon Babb to pull along side and commence a side by side waltz that would last until the 5th lap when Babb would secure the lead and go on to victory with Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, fast qualifier Billy Drake, Steve Hillard, and Dennis Erb Jr. crossing the stripe in the other 5 transfer positions.  Two heats would transfer 6 each to the main event with 1 conciliation race sending 2 more to the feature to complete the 20 car field.  In the first heat Frank Heckenast Jr., driving his sister Sherri's car, powered to the early lead but was over come by the wily veteran Kevin Weaver on the second lap who would lead the rest of the way.  Heckenast, Ted Loomis, Shane Cottle, Brian Shirley, and Guy Volk would claim the other transfer spots.  The second heat was a wild affair as Brett Seivert took the early lead as Jeep VanWormer, Jordan Bland, and Darren Miller went three wide for second right behind him.  VanWormer would break free of this battle down the back stretch and pulled even with Seivert going through three and four and crossed the stripe to complete the first lap side by side.  This shootout would continue door to door for 7 laps before VanWormer would slide into the uncontested top position and go on to victory with Seivert, and Miller coming home behind him.  The rest of the field was in for a wild ride on the last lap as Dan Walden would try a slide job on 4th running Mark Voight coming out of the last turn only to fail and take both vehicles into the front stretch retaining barrier allowing Bland to claim 4th with Jason Feger squeaking out 5th before Voight skidded across the line in 6th.  The conciliation race would see Walden, 3rd row starting Glenn Bradley, and Randy Woodling slug it out for the point on the first lap with Walden eventually settling into the  lead to take the victory with Bradley, Woodling, and Elvin Herschberger coming across behind him.  The field was now set for the 40 lap main event.
     The initial start was negated when Erb would hit a rut in the 3rd and 4th turns completing the first lap getting out of shape and bottling the field up behind him resulting in several bent fenders, some flat tires, and retiring Darren Miller from the competition before a lap was completed.  The next attempt at starting the field would go off without a hitch as Babb would rocket away from the field with Birkhofer, the battling duo of Mars and Hillard, and Erb in tow.  The first of 4 cautions would appear on the 3rd lap when Walden would spin in the 4th turn collecting Cottle in the process.  When the field returned to green Mars would attempt to conquer the high side but would slide backwards in a hurry as Hillard, Erb, and Weaver would all dance by on the hub before the field would cross the stripe again.  Meanwhile in the front of the field Babb would open a 5 car length lead by the 10th lap and would be encountering slower traffic.  Babb's pace would be slowed enough in traffic to allow Birkhofer to close in on his bumper as Erb, Weaver, and Hillard diced it up for 3rd.    The second caution would appear on the 18th lap when Volk would coast to a stop in turn 4 and would set the stage for some exciting action in the top 5.  On the restart, 16th starting Feger moved from his 7th spot to take 5th and would have 4th wrestled away from Weaver by the 25th lap.  Back at the front of the pack, Babb was looking for racing room in heavy lapped traffic as Birkhofer and Erb quickly closed the gap on the leader.  By the 30th lap Shirley was following in Feger's tire tracks as he was coming hard from his 15th starting position to bypass Weaver and claim 5th.  As heavy racing action raged mid pack, Babb was not enjoying the comfort he had earlier in the evening as Birkhofer was camped out a car length or less behind him as traffic was once again playing a huge roll in this event.  But just when it appeared that there might be a lead change in store the field would once again come under yellow as Shirley and Weaver tangled in the second turn bringing out the caution and clearing the traffic from in front of Babb and ending the night of both drivers involved in the accident.  Once back under Green, Babb would coast away to victory as Birkhofer held off a determined challenge from Erb to claim second.  Feger, Loomis, Hillard, Glenn, Seivert, Volk, and Heckenast would round out the top 10.  Babb's victory would mark his 10th in the first 15 contested events in the 2005 Summer National whirl wind tour and his 30th career Summer National victory, the third ever to reach that mark in excellence.
     The next stop for the traveling speed showcase will be Hartford MI, at the 1/2 mile Hartford Speedway Park as the Summer Nationals are in it's third week of competition.
     Shannon Babb's 2005 Summer National conquests will likely earn him a spot in the record books.  With his 10th win in 15 contested events he sits 2 behind the all time mark of 12 wins in a season set by Billy Moyer in the 1999 season.  If Babb continues to win at his current rate he would rack up 9 more wins obliterating that mark.
     The greatest distant traveled for a Summer National event normally means coming from a couple of states away, but not this event.  Craig Richards crossed oceans to participate in only his second ever Late Model event coming from New Zealand.
     A couple of Kokomo regulars stepped into a Late Model for this event, both making the feature.  Shane Cottle, the reigning non winged sprint car champion at the track, placed 12th in the feature as street stock stalwart Glenn Bradley placed an impressive 7th in Late Model action in the event.
     Rodney Melvin suffered another set-back in his quest for the Summer National crown as for the second time in the 2005 series he suffered engine problems in the dash and had to scratch for the remainder of the events on the evening.
     The Summer National tour is noted for taking it's toll on both man and machine.  With 13 events left on the schedule only 9 drivers of the multitude that set out to run the entire series are still active with making an appearance at every show.
     Late Model star Jimmy Mars started the series off strong racking up 13 consecutive top 10 finishes to start the grind.  However, his luck is turning for the worse as the last two stops have resulted in DNFs for the veteran hot shoe.
25 Cars
Fast Time:  9 Billy Drake 13.88 (new track record; 1st late model race on new configuration)
Dash (9 laps 6 transfer)
1. 18 Shannon Babb (3)
2. 15B Brian Birkhofer (2)
3. 28 Jimmy Mars (1)
4. 9 Billy Drake (4)
5. 34 Steve Hillard (5)
6. 28 Dennis Erb Jr. (7)
7. 27 Rodney Melvin (9)
8. B12 Kevin Weaver (6)
9. 5 Brett Seivert (8)
Heat 1 (10 laps 6 transfer)
1. B12 Kevin Weaver (2)
2. 99JR Frank Heckenast Jr. (3)
3. 23 Ted Loomis (4)
4. 8 Shane Cottle (7)
5. 3S Brian Shirley (5)
6. V77 Guy Volk (9)
7. 3W Randy Woodling (8)
8. 7H Elvin Herschberger (6)
9. 14 Glenn Bradley (10)
10. 27 Rodney Melvin (1) DNS
Heat 2
1. 55 Jeep VanWormer (4)
2. 5 Brett Seivert (1)
3. 32D Darren Miller (3)
4. 12 Jordan Bland (2)
5. 25 Jason Feger (5)
6. 30 Mark Voight (6)
7. 25W Dan Walden (7)
8. 74NZ Craig Richards (8)
9. 15G Dean Gaerte (9) -1 lap
Conci (10 laps 2 transfer)
1. 25W Walden (2)
2. 14 Bradley (5)
3. 3W Woodling (1)
4. 7H Herschberger (3)
5. 74NZ Richards (4)
6. 15G Gaerte (6) DNF
7. 27 Melvin (7) DNS
Feature (40 laps $10,000 to win)
1. 18 Babb (1)
2. 15B Birkhofer (2)
3. 28 Erb (6)
4. 25 Feger (16)
5. 23 Loomis (11)
6. 34 Hillard (5)
7. 14 Bradley (20)
8. 5 Seivert (10)
9. V77 Volk (17) -1 lap
10. 99 Heckenast Jr. (9)
11. 25W Walden (19) -2 laps
12. 8 Cottle (13) -3 laps
13. B12 Weaver (7) DNF
14. 3S Shirley (15) DNF
15. 12 Bland (14) -6 laps
16. 28 Mars (3) DNF
17. 55 VanWormer (8)
18. 9 Drake (4)
19. 30 Voight (18)
20. 32D Miller (12)
Lap Leaders:
1-40 18 Babb


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