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August 18, 2020
Shirley Doubles Down in Week Four of Summer Nationals
Leads Championship Standings into Final Week
CHILTON, Wis. (08/18/20) – Brian Shirley wrapped up Week No. 4 of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals with five podium finishes, including two wins, in six nights.
Shirley drove his Bob Cullen Racing No. 3s Hoker Trucking/ Thomason Express/ J&J Ventures Gaming/ Rocket Chassis/ Durham Racing Engine Super Late Model to victory at Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway and Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill.
The action kicked off Tuesday night at Sycamore Speedway in Maple Park, Ill. against a field of 29 DIRTcar Late Models. Shirley set QuickTime in Group B and went on to win his heat race.
Starting the $5,000-to-win feature from the pole position, Brian led the first four circuits before ultimately finishing third in the caution free 40-lap affair behind Brandon Sheppard and Jeremiah Hurst. Frank Heckenast Jr. and Jason Feger completed the Top-5.
Shifting to Fairbury Speedway Wednesday, Shirley was one of 37 entries set to chase a $5,000 top prize. Brian timed in third in his qualifying group and followed up with a 10-lap heat race victory.
Starting the 40-lap main event in third, Shirley rode in the podium spot for much of the race, biding his time for the right opportunity to make a move. On lap 31, Brian took second from Heckenast and made a run on Sheppard on the inside for the lead.
Squeezing Sheppard in behind a lapped car, Shirley grabbed the top spot with just eight laps remaining. Sheppard made an attempt to regain the position on the final lap, but Shirley was too strong on the inside. Brian crossed the finish line 0.090 seconds ahead of Sheppard, Heckenast, Ryan Unzicker, and Allen Weisser for his fifth Summer Nationals win of 2020.
“I was a little confused because I passed those guys right in the middle and I felt like my car was pretty good and I got nervous ‘cause I was out there riding in the middle,” said Shirley. “So I went back down to the bottom and I knew Sheppy would be up on that top. And then when we got to them lapped cars, I was creeping and creeping and not really getting as much grip as I wanted to be.
“On that last lap, I was just … I needed to stick with what got me there and that middle got me there. And I knew where the lapped cars was, no one could really get me on the inside. I just had to worry about Sheppy on the outside.”
Against a stout field of 41 DIRTcar Late Models at Fayette County Speedway Friday, Brian qualified third in Group A and notched another heat race win to earn the pole position for the $10,000-to-win feature.
Taking command at the onset, Shirley fended off challenges from Sheppard, Heckenast, and Babb throughout the second half of the 50-lap contest to pick up his sixth DIRTcar Summer Nationals win of the year. Completing the Top-5 were Babb, Dennis Erb Jr., Heckenast, and Rodney Melvin.
“It’s one of those things where we were lucky; better to be lucky than good,” Shirley said in Victory Lane. “In the Heat Race, [Shannon] Babb got in the wall, let us get by, and then we drew the pole and had a good enough car to hang on.”
The Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. hosted the DIRTcar Summer Nationals on Saturday for another $10,000-to-win program. After struggling in qualifying and only managing a third-place finish in his heat race, Shirley would start the 50-lap A-Main in 11th.
Wrapping up a busy week Sunday at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway, Shirley recorded a disappointing 22nd place outing after getting caught up in a melee in the opening laps of the feature that left him with too much damage to continue.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour is off Monday night before the final week of competition begins on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at Kankakee County Speedway in Kankakee, IL.