Babb, who started sixth, worked hard for his 11th career WoO LMS victory but first since Sept. 18, 2010, at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.
“It felt like we was in a hornet’s nest the whole race,” said Babb, who ran inside the top five virtually from start to finish. “Nobody got away from everybody. Little Bobby got out there on us a little bit (midway through the PDC) – he was soft on tires and was real slow on the bottom – but the top here is always just as equal as the bottom and we got rolling up there.”
After swapping the lead with Pierce five times from lap 81 to 93, Babb found some extra speed to keep both Pierce and McDowell behind him during the race’s final frenetic laps.
“I tried not to step it up as hard as I could till five (laps) to go,” said Babb. “You get your tires hot (running hard) and then you start shoving the nose, so I was rolling along there about 90 percent. Then when that flagman gave me five to go I stepped it up a little bit and started using the center of the berm to shove me off and get a little bit of a run off the corner.”
The PDC remained in doubt until the final lap when Babb made a strategic move that ultimately proved decisive. He altered his entry into turn three, preventing the low-running Pierce and middle-occupying McDowell from mounting challenges.
“When you’re going down to the last lap you’re gonna get a slide-job if you drive in to three too high, park and leave room for ‘em,” said Babb. “Somebody’s gonna do it if you open the door. I would do it to somebody – it’s $20,000, you know.
“So I drove into turn three, went low, drifted out and caught the cushion off (turn four). You just have to protect yourself on the last lap and that’s what I did.”
McDowell, who started second and led laps 1-28 but nearly fell out of the top 10 midway through the race, had his forward progress slowed ever-so-slightly by Babb’s lane change. Pierce attempted to fill the gap underneath McDowell in a last-ditch bid to become the youngest A-Main winner in WoO LMS history, but contact between the two ended their hopes of unseating Babb.
“The last lap Shannon was protecting the bottom like I would’ve, so I checked up and Little Bobby got in there,” said McDowell, who made his first appearance at Fairbury and was looking for his first WoO LMS win since Sept. 23, 2005, at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway. “We all got to beating and banging a little bit for the win. I was just trying to get to the flag.
“We just feel pretty fortunate to come home second. I really got lost on the racetrack when (a lap-43 scrape with Babb in turn three) happened and it took me awhile to get back in a rhythm and find that middle (lane).”
Pierce, meanwhile, was a dejected teenager after flirting with the biggest victory of his budding career. The soon-to-be high school junior stayed glued to the extreme inside of the track to reach the front of the pack and battled toe-to-toe with Babb and McDowell, but he couldn’t quite finish the job.
“I think my left-rear (tire) was going away there at the end and theirs were coming in,” said Pierce, who lost second place to McDowell on lap 97. “Shannon was getting going really good on the top, and once I saw him there I knew it was gonna be a really good race because he doesn’t like to give up.”
Shannon Babb, Dale McDowell, Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Shane Clanton, Josh Richards, Brian Shirley, Brandon Sheppard, Billy Moyer, Chub Frank, Mike Spatola, Scott Bull, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Logue, McKay Wenger, Derek Chandler, Eric Wells, Rick Eckert, Darrell Lanigan, Eric Smith, Kevin Weaver, Joe Harlan, Randy Korte, Ricky Weiss, Tim Fuller, Billy Drake, Bub McCool, Aaron Ricketts.