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Erb heats up the Thaw Brawl at La Salle Speedway

Dennis Erb, Jr.  -- Jim Denhamer Photo

Dennis Erb, Jr. -- Jim Denhamer Photo

By: Betty Glynn

La Salle, IL – Thirty two UMP Late Model teams stormed the Illinois Valley area for La Salle Speedway’s opening day on Saturday night. The Thaw Brawl proved to not be a challenge for Dennis Erb Jr. who claimed the Easter weekend title.

UMP Late Models:
Bret Sievert scored the fastest lap overall with a time of 13.272. Four heat race line ups were determined based on the group qualifying results. Sievert and Jason Feger took their spots on the front row of the first heat contest. Sievert took charge early with Feger making his way up to his driver door by the fourth lap but he faded back a few car lengths quickly. Sievert pulled into a comfortable lead leaving Feger and Ryan Unzicker to battle for second. Sievert took the checkers with Unzicker beating Feger to the line for the second place finish and Jay Morris earned the final transfer spot.

Erb was uncontested from start to finish beating Brian Shirley, Shawn Toczek, and Rich Bell in the second heat. Frank Heckenast Jr. won the third heat from the front row outside over fourth place starter Brian Birkhofer, Steve Dimmick and Russ Scheffler. Brandon Sheppard held off a strong run by Tyler Reddick to capture the final heat victory. Kevin Weaver and Shannon Babb finished behind them.

Gary Schalmo and Scott Bull each won the B-Main’s.

Sheppard and Sievert topped the grid on the lead row in front of Heckenast and Erb. Unzicker and Shirley were behind them in row three. When the green flag dropped, Sievert was in command with Sheppard lower on the track. During the sixth circuit, Erb was working on passing Sheppard and eyeing the leader. Two laps later, he effortlessly took charge of the pack.

Erb generated a great deal of real estate and outdistanced the competition by Lap 11. Sievert was holding his own in the runner up position while Heckenast and Sheppard duked it out for third.

At the half way point of the race, Erb was leading by nearly half a track. His only challenge was lapped traffic that seemed to stall his smooth operation. With seven laps remaining, seventh place starter Birkhofer moved to the outside of Heckenast for the second place running position. Two laps later, Erb appeared to be a sitting duck as Birkhofer was able to reel him in a bit closing the gap.

Erb’s ride looked seamless from the first lap to the fortieth en route to his $5,000 payday. The former La Salle champion earned the Thaw Brawl title with complete ease. He was dead on with car set up and tires for the drier than normal conditions of the high banks. Birkhofer claimed an impressive second over Babb, Unzicker, Sievert and Shirley.

UMP Open Wheel Modified’s:
Forty six contenders in the Open Wheel Modified class offered up stiff competition for the twenty five lap main special paying $1,000 to the winner.

Former regular at La Salle, Ray Bollinger earned the pole next to Dave Porth with Jamie Lomax and Donovan Lodge in the second row. Porth shot off to a quick lead with Bollinger close behind him. Bollinger worked hard to take control but Porth seemed to have his car dialed in exactly where he wanted it. The running order stayed the same much of the race as Bollinger couldn’t gain momentum enough to challenge the leader. A couple late race restarts opened the door for him to give Porth a better run for his money but the leader had the stronger machine. At the finish line, it was Porth winning over Bollinger, Lomax, Lodge, Jacob Poel, Milo Veloz, Weisser, Gary Cook, Kevin Hastings, Phil Line and Scooter May.

UMP Street Stock’s:
Mike McKinney swept the Street Stock class taking home both the heat and feature victories. The car count on opening night was a little low for the class with only eleven drivers in attendance. McKinney won over Jake Miller, Mike Hughes, Joe Brown, Nick Sell, Matt Ramer, Matt Hennchs, and Wayne Orrick.

UMP 4 Cylinder Hornet’s:
Michael Gosselt claimed the top honors for the 4 Cylinder division beating out Peter Hayes, Jake Greensly, Shane Kelly, Bryce Garnhart, Jerry Legner, Tom Happ, Freddy Thatcher, Don Slover, and Josh Miller.

Next Week:
April 14 – Weekly Super Show for all divisions

1 Dennis Erb Jr.
2 Brian Birkhofer
3 Frank Heckenast Jr.
4 Shannon Babb
5 Ryan Unzicker
6 Bret Sievert
7 Brian Shirley
8 Kevin Weaver
9 Brandon Sheppard
10 Tyler Reddick
11 Rich Bell
12 Shawn Toczek
13 Scott Bull
14 Jay Morris
15 Russ Scheffler
16 Jason Feger
17 Mike Spatola III
18 Mike Provenzano
19 Tim Demmick
20 Torin Mettlle
21 Gary Schalmo

Semi #1:
1 Gary Schalmo
2 Mike Spatola III
3 Jeff Larson
4 Jason Jaggers
5 Mike Fryer
6 Aaron Ricketts
7 Lake Knutti
8 Jeff Small

Semi #2
1 Scott Bull
2 Torin Mettlle
3 Bobby Pierce
4 Daren Friedman
5 Jerry Lierly
6 Jay Sparks
7 Mike Provenzano
8 John Small

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