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O'Neal Snaps Babb's Winning Streak at 4 With Summer National Win at Farmer City
Jeffrey A. Bayless
 
  Farmer City, IL (July 1) The second week of DIRT Motorsports UMP Summer Nationals kicked off at Farmer City Raceway with a $10,000 top prize on the line in front of a standing room only crowd.  Farmer City Raceway has one of the largest weekly Late Model car counts in the area normally drawing 30 plus contestants each week and tonight was no exception as 51 contestants signed in, the largest car count of the 2005 Summer Nationals to date, to try their hand at topping the stellar field.  Martinsville, IN native "The Real Deal" Don O'Neal proved to be the best on this night piloting his Jay Dickens owned and powered Mastersbilt to victory.  O'Neal's sponsors include A-1 Auto Salvage, The Living Room Center, Allstar Performance, O'Neal Wood Products, and Well Pict Berries.
 
     The 9 car 9 lap dash began the festivities as Shannon Babb held off a determined effort by Don O'Neal to grab the victory and the feature pole position.  Dennis Erb Jr., Jimmy Mars, fast qualifier Billy Drake, and Rodney Melvin also transferred to the feature through the dash.  Next up would be the four heat races, each transferring 3 to the main event.  In the first heat, Randy Korte jumped to the early lead as the field would go three and four wide behind him battling for position.  Korte would go on to score an impressive win with Brian Shirley, 7th starting Wes Steidinger, and Darren Miller coming home behind him.  Roger Long would grab the early lead in the second heat, but things would get dicey toward the end as things heated up at the front of the pack.  On the last lap Joe Ross Jr. would make the pass and score the win over Long, as Richie Hedrick would also make a last lap pass to secure the final transfer spot over Mark Voight.  The third heat was a three car battle from the drop of the green as Ryan Dauber, Brian Birkhofer, and Kevin Weaver would flash across the stripe 3 wide to complete the first lap.  At the checkers it would be Dauber followed by Birkhofer, Weaver, and a distant Gary May.  The final heat was arguably the best race of the night as 8th starting John Gill made a late race charge storming to the front to secure the win ahead of Joe Harlan who edged past race long leader Jr. Shickel at the line to grab second.  The track point leader Eric Smith would score 4th in the heat.  Two conciliation races would transfer 1 each to the main event and 1 provisional would be added to complete the field.  In the first conci it would be Darren Miller over Jason Feger, Chris Dick, and Gary May.  The second would see Mark Voight beat Brady Smith, Jeep VanWormer, and Daren Friedman.  Jeep VanWormer would be awarded the provisional.
 
     O'Neal and Babb would charge into the first set of turns door to door at the onset of the main event with O'Neal grabbing the point at the other end of the speed plant with Erb following him past Babb to make the top 5 O'Neal, Erb, Babb, Mars, and Melvin.  O'Neal and Erb would power away from the field and with 5 laps scored O'Neal with Erb glued to his bumper would have a 5 car length lead over the trailing trio of Babb, Mars, and Melvin.  O'Neal would slowly creep away from Erb over the next several laps until the leader reached the back markers on the 13th circuit allowing Erb to close back in quickly.  Erb would stay with O'Neal for several laps looking for a way to get past the winningest Late Model driver in the nation over the last 3 seasons, but would not find the needed path on the increasingly tough to pass racing surface.  Erb would eventually get tied up behind the battle of Miller and Weaver after O'Neal cleared the veteran racers allowing O'Neal to gain some breathing room as Babb, the winner of the last 4 events, would quickly close in.  Erb and Babb would eventually clear this traffic and storm back towards O'Neal who was trying to find away around another group of slower vehicles.  With 5 laps to go O'Neal, Erb, and Babb would all be in contact with each other, but O'Neal would clear the traffic and come home 5 car lengths ahead of his adversaries.  Erb, Babb, Mars, Melvin, Korte, 16th starting Hedrick, Drake, Gill, and Shirley would round out the top 10.  With this victory O'Neal would become the second driver in the history of the Summer National touring series to score 30 career wins.  The first to do it was Billy Moyer, who stands atop the list with a whopping 60 Summer National feature wins.  In victory lane Don O'Neal gave some insight on his strategy for the event of getting out front quickly by saying "I figured the race would be won in the first few laps as it sort of got one lane towards the end.  Lapped traffic figured in there a bit towards the end, but it all worked out." 
 
     Round 9 of the DIRT Motorsports UMP Summer Nationals takes the touring series west to Kenny Schrader's I-55 Speedway in Pevely, MO for another $10,000 to win event on July 2nd.
 
Race Notes
     Don O'Neal, the 2004 UMP Summer National champion, decided at the last minute to continue with his quest for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Car Series crown instead of defending his Summer National title and hit as many of the Summer National events that did not conflict with that schedule.  His original plans were to compete in as many as 20 of the 29 scheduled Summer National events.  His plans were hampered this week as his semi suffered mechanical problems forcing him out of several of the races he had originally planned on attending.
    
     With 51 cars on hand it is inevitable that several top flight machine/driver combinations be left out of the festivities.  Brady Smith, a nationally known competitor failed to make the event as well as Summer National regulars Patrick Sheltra and Jordan Bland, and weekly feature winners at Farmer City Eric Smith, Michael Bradley, and Mike Mullvain.
 
     Surprising absent on the evening was Terry English who at the last minute dropped out of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Car Series to chase the Summer Nationals.  English was solidly in the top 10 in points in the Summer Nationals but failed to appear at Farmer City.  Other first time absentee's from the series were Rohn Moon and Frank Heckenast Jr.
 
RESULTS
UMP LATE MODELS
51 Cars
Fast Time:  9 Billy Drake 13.297
 
Dash (9 laps 6 transfer)
1. 18 Shannon Babb (1)
2. 71 Don O'Neal (4)
3. 28 Dennis Erb Jr. (2)
4. 28 Jimmy Mars (7)
5. 9 Billy Drake (3)
6. 27 Rodney Melvin (5)
7. 00 Randy Korte (9)
8. 36 Roger Long (8)
9. 15B Brian Birkhofer (6)
 
Heat 1 (10 laps 3 transfer)
1.  00 Randy Korte (1)
2. 3S Brian Shirley (2)
3. 1S Wes Steidinger (7)
4. 32D Darren Miller (3)
5. 25 Jason Feger (8)
6. 20 Ed Barth (9)
7. 4 Cody Bauman (4)
8. 16 Shane Allen (12)
9. 99 Johnny Johnson (6)
10. 61JR Bruce White (11)
11. 5S Steve Sheppard Jr (5) DNF
12. 82 Roger Brickler (10) DNS
 
Heat 2
1. 15 Joe Ross Jr. (3)
2. 36 Roger Long (1)
3. 0 Richie Hedrick (6)
4. 30 Mark Voight (5)
5. 55 Jeep VanWormer (7)
6. 2 Brady Smith (8)
7. 89 Daren Freidman (2)
8. 1W Donnie Walden (4)
9. 23 Patrick Sheltra (9)
10. DC3 Don Cisco (10)
11. 15 Lisa Shickel (11)
 
Heat 3
1. 64 Ryan Dauber (2)
2. 15B Brian Birkhofer (1)
3. B12 Kevin Weaver (4)
4. 45 Gary May (5)
5. 22 Chris Dick (7)
6. 7 Jay Sparks (3)
7. 12 Jordan Bland (6)
8. F15 Jeremy Conaway (8)
9. T33 Tim O'Donnell (10)
10. 7 Butch Smith (9)
11. 22 Cory Rolfe (11)
 
Heat 4
1. 75 John Gill (8)
2. Z Joe Harlan (2)
3. S10 Jr Shickel (1)
4. 9 Eric Smith (5)
5. 4 Mike Mullvain (3)
6. 7M Michael Bradley (6)
7. 21E Caley Emerson (7)
8. 35 Larry Rossio (9)
9. 007 Jason Cecil (11)
10. 24 Ryan Unzicker (4) DNF
11. 5D Rick Haley (10)
 
Conci 1 (12 laps 1 transfer)
1. 32D Miller (1)
2. 25 Feger (3)
3. 22 Dick (4)
4. 45 May (2)
5. 4 Bauman (7)
6. 99 Johnson (11)
7. 16 Allen (9)
8. T33 O'Donnell (12)
9. 82 Brickler (17)
10. 12 Bland (8)
11. 22 Rolfe (16)
12. 61JR White (13)
13. F15 Conaway (10) DNF
14. 20 Barth (5)
15. 5S Sheppard (15)
16. 7 Smith (14)
17. 7 Sparks (6)
 
Conci 2
1. 30 Voight (1)
2. 2 Smith (5)
3. 55 VanWormer (3)
4. 89 Freidman (7)
5. 1W Walden (9)
6. 9 Smith (2)
7. 4 Mullvain (4)
8. 23 Sheltra (11)
9. 5D Haley (16)
10. DC3 Cisco (13)
11. 15 Shickel (15) -1 lap
12. 007 Cecil (12) -2 laps
13. 35 Rossio (10) DNF
14. 24 Unzicker (14)
15. 21E Emerson (8)
16. 7M Bradley (6) DNS
 
Feature (40 laps $10,000 to win)
1. 71 O'Neal (2)
2. 28 Erb (3)
3. 18 Babb (1)
4. 28 Mars (4)
5. 27 Melvin (6)
6. 00 Korte (7)
7. 0 Hedrick (16)
8. 9 Drake (5)
9. 75 John Gill (10)
10. 3S Shirley (11)
11. 15B Birkhofer (13)
12. 1S Steidinger (15)
13. 15 Ross (8) -1 lap
14. 32D Miller (19)
15. B12 Weaver (17)
16. S10 Shickel (18)
17. 64 Dauber (9)
18. 55 VanWormer (21)
19. Z Harlan (14) DNF
20. 36 Long (12)
21. 30 Voight (20)
Lap Leaders:
1-40 71 O'Neal
Cautions:  0
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

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