By Billy Rock – Burlington, Iowa (April 21, 2018) – For the second time in the young 2018 season, Moweaqua, IL driver Shannon Babb was able to get out front early and distance himself from the field en-route to a win with the Lucas Oil MLRA. Saturday nights 10th annual “Slocum 50” presented by Roederer’s Pit Stop, would attract a total of 37 drivers all vying for the $10,555 top prize.
In a rare time-trial qualifying event for the MLRA at the 34 Raceway, it would be Chad Simpson and Shannon Babb setting fast times in their respective sessions. Those two drivers would carry that mojo into the feature event as Simpson rolled off on the DirtonDirt.com pole with Babb to his outside.
When the green flag dropped however, it would be Chris Simpson making the first bold move of the race from his fourth starting spot. As the pair of front row starters slipped up slightly exiting turn two, Chris Simpson was able to pin his Longhorn Chassis to the bottom and take the early lead with a methodic three wide pass on lap one.
Simpson’s time at the point however would be short lived as the events first caution would appear on lap two. With Chris Simpson out front for the restart, the actual upper hand appeared to belong to Babb as he was quickly able to search the multiple grooves of the speedway for a way back around the early leader Simpson.
In the annual race honoring the life of former late model driver Brent Slocum, it was only fitting that Babb would make his move for the lead on the races fifth lap–the same car number of Slocum. Once out in front, Babb would maintain a consistent margin between himself and Simpson and hold on for the win, surviving a deep drive into lapped traffic.
An excited Babb commented in the Andy’s Frozen Custard Victory Lane by saying, “It was awesome that they re-worked the track before our feature, they just made it great from top to bottom for the first half of the race and gave us all a chance. We were going three wide and I didn’t know where to run at, but once we got the top going in three and four I was able to make the pass.”
The events final 41 laps went caution free which kept the race leaders buried in lapped traffic for most of the race. Babb said of his battle in traffic, “It was getting tough in traffic at the end. I knew where we were and just needed to stay there. I didn’t know if they would try to give me a slide job or not but they treated me right.”
Chris Simpson would come home in second and in doing so takes over the points lead where his worst finish in his last three MLRA starts is 2nd. Regarding Babb’s early pass for the lead Simpson said, “It’s hard to leave the bottom when you take the lead on the bottom. He (Babb) just found the black of the racetrack before I did.”
Simpson, who picked up the $5,000 MLRA win on Friday in Davenport commented, “Anytime you can run top 3 or 4 with these guys it’s a good night.”
Finishing off Saturdays podium positions was 2014 MLRA Champion Chad Simpson, who for the second straight night spent much of the race battling his brother for position. Friday nights action in Davenport saw the driver of the “Duece-Nickel” sidelined after making contact with the turn two wall while running in the top three. For Chad, Saturday nights result was a welcome finish to their weekend that will give them momentum heading into next weekend’s MLRA southern swing.
Chad Simpson spent the entire second half of the main event lurking behind brother Chris for the runner up spot. He said of the great battle, “The lap cars were holding him(Chris) up a little bit and they were helping me to where I could catch him a little bit. There were a couple of spots I was better but then there was a couple he was better at than me, so it was just a trade off in the end.”
Rounding out the top five was Billy Drake and Dave Eckrich. The nights hard charger went to Decorah, IA’s Tyler Bruening who came home in 12th after taking a provisional and starting 25th.
The MLRA Series will be back in action for another two-day swing next weekend at a pair of southern venues. Friday night April 27th will mark the return of the series to the “Historic 1/2 Mile” of Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, OK with action getting underway at 8pm.
Saturday night the series will make their only stop of the year at the Legit Speedway Park in West Plains, MO for an event that is co-sanctioned with the COMP Cams Super Dirt Series. Racing action is slated for a 7:00 PM start time as drivers will be battling for a $3,000 top prize.
34 Raceway Contingencies 4/21/18
Andy’s Frozen Custard Victory Lane – Shannon Babb
Casey’s General Store’s “Hard Charger of the Race” – Tyler Bruening
DirtonDirt.com “Pole Award” – Chad Simpson
Hooker Harness “11th Place Finisher” – Brian Shirley
Malvern Bank “Most Laps Led” – Shannon Babb
Midwest Sheet Metal “Points Leader Spoiler Challenge” – Chris Simpson
Mittler Brothers Machine and Tool “Crew Chief of the Race” – Pat Dempsey
Performance Bodies “Performer of the Race” – Shannon Babb
Sunoco “Rookie of the Race” – Payton Looney
Wehrs Machine – Jeff Roth
RacingJunk.com “Hard Luck Award” – Jordan Yaggy
Allgaier Motorsports Racing Shocks Award – Dave Eckrich
Lucas Oil Racing TV A Feature (50 Laps): 1.Shannon Babb 2.Chris Simpson 3.Chad Simpson 4.Billy Drake 5.Dave Eckrich 6.Ryan Unzicker 7.Will Vaught 8.Jesse Stovall 9.Payton Looney 10.Mason Oberkramer 11.Brian Shirley 12.Tyler Bruening 13.Tony Jackson, Jr. 14.Spencer Diercks 15.Mitch McGrath 16.Tad Pospisil 17.J.C. Wyman 18.Rob Toland 19.Jake Neal 20.Jason Feger 21.Cole Wells 22.Jeremy Grady 23.Jeff Roth 24.Joe Godsey 25.Jordan Yaggy 26.Kolby Vandenbergh 27.Frank Heckenast, Jr.
Hoosier Racing Tires B Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1.Brian Shirley 2.Joe Godsey 3.Jake Neal 4.Raymond Merrill 5.Rich Bell 6.Jeremy Grady 7.James Wilson 8.Justin Zeitner 9.Jeff Roth 10.Reid Millard
Rugged Radios B Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1.Spencer Diercks 2.Rob Toland 3.Kolby Vandenbergh 4.Tyler Bruening 5.Rickey Frankel 6.Cole Wells 7.Austin Siebert 8.J.C. Wyman 9.Jonathan Brauns 10.Mark Burgtorf 11.Dave Wada
Swift Springs Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1.Chad Simpson 2.Will Vaught 3.Jesse Stovall 4.Mason Oberkramer 5.Joe Godsey 6.Raymond Merrill 7.Jeff Roth 8.James Wilson 9.Justin Zeitner
Chix Gear Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1.Dave Eckrich 2.Mitch McGrath 3.Payton Looney 4.Tad Pospisil 5.Brian Shirley 6.Jake Neal 7.Rich Bell 8.Jeremy Grady 9.Reid Millard
Casey’s General Stores Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1.Shannon Babb 2.Billy Drake 3.Jordan Yaggy 4.Tony Jackson, Jr. 5.Spencer Diercks 6.Kolby Vandenbergh 7.Rickey Frankel 8.J.C. Wyman 9.Jonathan Brauns 10.Dave Wada
Malvern Bank Heat 4 (10 Laps): 1.Chris Simpson 2.Ryan Unzicker 3.Frank Heckenast, Jr. 4.Jason Feger 5.Rob Toland 6.Tyler Bruening 7.Austin Siebert 8.Cole Wells 9.Mark Burgtorf
Time Trial Qualifying Group “A”: 1.Chad Simpson (15.715) 2.Dave Eckrich (15.764) 3.Jesse Stovall (15.852)
Time Trial Qualifying Group “B”: 1.Shannon Babb (15.722) 2.Chris Simpson (15.797) 3.Billy Drake (15.830)
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.