LASALLE, Ill. — With temperatures in the 30s, Dennis Erb Jr. warmed up by capturing the $15,000-to-win third annual Thaw Brawl 75-lap late model special at LaSalle Speedway Saturday night.
The second generation driver from Carpentersville., Ill., nailed down his second Thaw Brawl victory, scoring a previous win during the inaugural event in 2012.
Starting on the outside of the front row of the 22-car starting field after winning one of the four earlier heat races, the 41-year-old Erb roared into the lead at the start with Brian Shirley giving chase during the early stages.
A total of seven caution periods slowed the action on the high-banked quarter-mile dirt oval, which became treacherous at times, giving a beating to both cars and drivers as the race went on. Second place-running Shirley and fastest qualifier Kevin Weaver were among the victims.
Iowa’s Matt Furman moved his way into second place only to see a flat left rear send him to the pits for a replacement. Dirt track superstar Scott Bloomquist now was in second place, but seemingly was no match for Erb’s performance. Bloomquist had to duck into the pits twice during the late stages of the contest.
At the checkered flag, it was Erb over Bobby Pierce, who rebounded after a pit stop. Among the top five all night, Ryan Unzicker finished third, followed by Bloomquist, Jason Riggs and Billy Drake.
“You really had to survive and get through the holes (in the track) the best you could,” said Erb. “It’s early in the year and cold out and there ain’t much they (track preparers) can do there. We tried to stay as smooth as we could. It worked out and thank God everything held together.”
Nick Allen of Wheatfield, Ind., won the special $1,500-to-win modified headliner.