PEORIA, Ill. — Defending Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley claimed his first victory of the six week-long tour Monday night after completing a daring last-lap pass on leader Mike Spatola exiting turn two en route to capturing the checkered flag at Peoria Speedway.
Shirley, of Chatham, Ill., started on the pole of the 40-lapper alongside Spatola and charged out to an early lead, but the quarter-mile track proved to be tricky, as Shirley hopped the cushion on lap 16 letting Spatola around him for the lead.
Shirley and Spatola continued to swap the lead back-and-forth for most of the race before Spatola finally pulled away on lap 30. Once again, though, the track bit the leader, this time getting Spatola and allowing Shirley and points-leader Brandon Sheppard to join the battle for the win.
The bobble by Spatola proved costly as Shirley moved into position to make a pass with just two laps to go. Shirley made his move coming to the white flag as he almost pulled even with the leader, but he couldn’t edge ahead until exiting turn two. Shirley held the final to turns to capture the $5,000 checkered flag at Peoria for the second consecutive year and the third time in his career.
“That was a long 40-lap race,” said Shirley, as he claimed the 12th Summer Nationals victory of his career. “There was a couple times I gained on Mike there and he’d pull me. We just kept digging and I started to gain on him. I knew I had to hold it wide open, so I just gave it one last Hail Mary.”
Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce and Billy Drake rounded out the top five.
Heat race winners included Mike Spatola, Brian Shirley and Bobby Pierce.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour continues in its final week of action on Wednesday night at Brushcreek Motorsports Park located in Peebles, Ohio.
Brian Shirley, Mike Spatola, Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce, Billy Drake, Scott Schmitt, Brian Divley, Kevin Weaver, Jason Jaggers, Tim Lance, John Gardner Jr., Dustin Griffin, Mike Mullvain, Steve Lance Jr., Jeff Riddell, Adam Mefford, Todd Bennett, Russ Adams, Lyle Zanker, Shannon Babb, Randy Korte, Bob Gardner.