Shirley Comes Out On Top At Lincoln Speedway Season Opener

(Lincoln, IL) Lincoln Speedway has officially fired up the 2021 racing season with the DIRTcar Nationals this past Friday, April 9 at the Logan County Fairgrounds in Lincoln, IL. At the end of the night, four drivers celebrated DIRTcar National victories with special trophies, bragging rights, and extra prize money.

The main attraction of the night was the $3,000 to win feature event for the DIRTcar Super Late Models. Benton, KY driver, Tanner English, bested a field of highly talented drivers in qualifying with a 12.549. English went on to win heat #1, while Central Illinois favorite, Brian Shirley won heat two to complete the front row starters for the feature event.

When the green dropped on the 30-lap feature event, it was Chatham, IL’s Shirley racing into the lead with English, Ryan Unzicker, Jake Timm, and Kolby Vandebergh in tow. While the top three remained unchanged from the early going, fans were watching Bobby Pierce come from the final starting spot to work his way into top five contention. At the checkered, it was Shirley claiming the dominant win, lapping over half the field. English took second, while Unzicker, Pierce, and Timm completed the top five.

Michael Long set overall fast time in the DIRTcar Modified class with Long, Ray Bollinger, and Allen Weisser taking the three heat race wins. In the $1,500 to win feature event, Bollinger took the early advantage over the 20+ car field with Long following closely. Disaster struck with 13 laps in, however, as Long’s car lost power on the exit of turn two. As the #18 car slowed abruptly, Kenny Wallace and Jeff Leka had no where to go and slammed into the ailing car, eliminating all three from action. Down the stretch, Bollinger held a comfortable lead and was never challenged seriously, claiming yet another win at the Lincoln track. Rick Conoyer took second, while Tommy Sheppard and Brandon Roberts took third and fourth. Chris Morefield had an impressive run, picking up 15 spots to take fifth.

Tommy Gaither led all DIRTcar Pro Mod drivers in qualifying with a 15.574, however, all eyes were on the #15c of Kevin Crowder when the cars hit the track for race action. Crowder took the win in heat #2 after Kyle Helmick took the first heat win. The 20-lap feature saw the Argenta, IL driver, Crowder, race into the early lead and go on to the impressive victory. Following him across the stripe were Helmick, Ryan Hamilton, Billy Knebel, and James Hileman.

Arguably, the most exciting feature of the night came in the Hornet class. The drivers put on a great show, especially at the front of the field as the top three or four competitors swapped positions while slicing their way through traffic. In the end, it was Kingston Mines, IL’s Kenny Butterfield taking the trophy. Erik Vanapeldoorn finished the race in second but rolled violently in turn two following the event. Fortunately, he walked away unscathed. Josh Starr, who made the trip from Iowa, Jay Mariuzza, and Michael McKay completed the top five.

The strong turnout of fans saw an entertaining evening of action with some of the top drivers in DIRTcar racing. In fact, many stayed until the last checkered flag fell a few minutes after 10:00 and they got their monies worth with the show the Hornets put on.

The track will be right back in action this coming Friday, April 16 with a full five division show featuring the first of three visits from the 305 Sprint Cars. The night will also feature the first race of the year for the Big Ten Pro Late Models and Simplot DII Midgets. The DIRTcar Modifieds and Hornets will also be in action.

For more information on the upcoming events, visit www.lincolnspeedwayil.com.

FEATURE RUNDOWNS (Top 10’s)

DIRTcar Super Late Models – 1. 3S-Brian Shirley[Chatham, IL]; 2. 81-Tanner English[Benton, KY]; 3. 24-Ryan Unzicker[El Paso, IL]; 4. 32-Bobby Pierce[Oakwood, IL]; 5. 49-Jake Timm[Winona, MN]; 6. 25-Jason Feger[Bloomington, IL]; 7. 32M-Cody Maguire[Carlinville, IL]; 8. 38J-Jake Little[Springfield, IL]; 9. (DNF) 15-Kolby Vandebergh[Ashland, IL]; 10. (DNF) 84-Myles Moos[Lincoln, IL]

DIRTcar Modifieds – 1. 77-Ray Bollinger[Kewanee, IL]; 2. 14C-Rick Conoyer[Wentzville, MO]; 3. T6-Tommy Sheppard Jr[New Berlin, IL]; 4. 35-Brandon Roberts[Ashland, IL]; 5. 10M-Chris Morefield[Edwards, IL]; 6. 82Q-Cole Queathem[Troy MO]; 7. 4M-Tim Monroe[Delphos, OH]; 8. 10-Curt Rhodes[Taylorville, IL]; 9. 19C-Carter Sinkhorn[Taylorville, IL]; 10. (DNF) 14-Brian Lynn[Mason City, IL]

DIRTcar Pro Mods – 1. 15C-Kevin Crowder[Argenta, IL]; 2. 27X-Kyle Helmick[Smithton, IL]; 3. 58R-Ryan Hamilton[Fairview Heights, IL]; 4. 52-Billy Knebel[Pocahontas, IL]; 5. 74-James Hileman[Granite City, IL]; 6. 787-Cody Zobrist[Highland, IL]; 7. 14G-Tommy Gaither[Alton, IL]; 8. 25-Dave Armstrong[Ste Genevieve, MO]; 9. 22K-Michael Kettler[Millstadt, IL]; 10. 17C-AJ Cline[Troy, MO]

DIRTcar Hornets – 1. 24-Kenneth Butterfield[Kingston Mines, IL]; 2. E77-Erik Vanapeldoorn[Clinton, IL]; 3. 8S-Josh Starr[Tipton, IA]; 4. 5-Jay Mariuzza[Pekin, IL]; 5. 26A-Michael McKay[Springfield, IL]; 6. 3H-Allan Harris[Chatham, IL]; 7. 28J-Jeremy Hancock[Peoria, IL]; 8. 28F-Mike Foster[Pekin, IL]; 9. 30J-Nick Johnson[Bartonville, IL]; 10. 86-Nick Clubb[Joliet, IL]

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