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LASALLE, IL - It was only a matter of time before the reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian "The Squirrel" Shirley scored his first win of the season.
On Wednesday night at LaSalle Speedway, he did just that, leading all 40 laps green-to-checkered for his 34th career Hell Tour victory. With this win, Shirley has now won the last three tour visits to the quarter-mile oval.
But as dominant as the drive was, Shirley reflected on some of his recent performances and struggles in his Victory Lane interview and made it a point to show his determination for the rest of the races heading forward.
"I feel like we've been a little bit off, and this is definitely nothing to get excited about," Shirley said. "We're gonna grind this week out - it's in our backyard and we need to get some wins."
To do it, Shirley was forced to work his way through lapped traffic and hold off a hard-charging Garrett Alberson for 40 non-stop laps. Shirley jetted out to the lead at the drop of the green and opened up a sizable advantage over second-place Billy Moyer Jr.
Alberson had been gaining on Moyer through the first half of the race, and as he began to fade slightly just past the halfway point, Alberson cracked the whip on the bottom lane, made the pass underneath for second and set his sights on leader Shirley.
Out front, Shirley was moving through traffic well, but was having to sweat for it.
"I was a little nervous because I didn't know how much they could catch me, as far as when I got stuck behind them guys," Shirley said. "There were times when I had to make my own lane, and then when I got to guys running as good as me, it was a little tougher."
The race then became a similar situation to the previous DIRTcar Late Model race contested at LaSalle earlier in the year, where Alberson passed Shirley for the $12,000 victory in the 10th annual Thaw Brawl. But this time, Shirley was not to be denied.
Alberson closed the gap to Shirley by one second in the final laps, but it was not enough to catch the Bob Cullen Racing #3s. Shirley crossed the stripe with plenty of room to spare for his first $5,000 check of the season over Alberson, Ryan Unzicker, Moyer Jr. and Chris Simpson who rounded out the top-five.
Ashton Winger had a great rebound night after barrel rolling his car in Qualifying, crossing the stripe in eighth with a backup car. Points leader Bobby Pierce also had a rough start to his night but finished strong, being forced to take a provisional after blowing a tire in his Heat Race. The three-time champion advanced 10 spots over 40 laps to go 19th-to-ninth.
The Summer Nationals Late Model action continues Thursday night at the high banks of Spoon River Speedway for Round #8 of the 2021 Hell Tour campaign. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 3S-Brian Shirley; 2. 59-Garrett Alberson; 3. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 4. 21JR-Billy Moyer Jr; 5. 32S-Chris Simpson; 6. 74-Mitch McGrath; 7. 81E-Tanner English; 8. 12-Ashton Winger; 9. 32-Bobby Pierce; 10. B12-Kevin Weaver; 11. 25-Jason Feger; 12. 97-Cade Dillard; 13. 4G-Bob Gardner; 14. 48-Tim Lance; 15. 29-Spencer Diercks; 16. 14G-Joe Godsey; 17. 30-Mark Voigt; 18. 21B-Rich Bell; 19. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 20. 1M-Mike Mataragas; 21. 18-Shannon Babb
RECORD BREAKER: Hoffman Wins at LaSalle for Sixth Consecutive Triumph |Three-time champ breaks his own record of five-straight from last year
Few times in the motorsports world do drivers find themselves with a chance to write a new chapter in the record books. Nick Hoffman did just that Wednesday night at LaSalle Speedway and cashed-in on it, winning his sixth-straight DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature.
Once again, Hoffman had yet another perfect night. Setting fast time in Qualifying, winning his heat race and leading all 25 laps of the Feature for another $1,500 check. The win broke his own record for the longest win streak in tour history at five.
"Hot rod's just been really good. Nothing's really gone wrong, it's just all going our way right now," Hoffman said in Victory Lane. "We're going to one of my best racetracks tomorrow . . . just trying to keep the streak alive,"
Last week, the three-time champion had some terrific competition come for his hot streak and denied them all, barring Mike Harrison, Curt Spalding and others from Victory Lane as he sailed to five-straight wins. On Wednesday night, Hoffman saw some more tough customers in Mike McKinney and Allen Weisser, but they were turned away as well.
McKinney started to Hoffman's outside and pressured him through the first half of the race, but never could mount enough of a charge to make a move. Hoffman drove away in traffic for his 44th career tour victory over McKinney and Weisser. He's now only eight shy of tying Harrison for most wins All-Time.
From his point of view, Hoffman didn't feel much of the pressure behind him at all. He and the Elite Chassis #2 were smooth sailing the whole way through.
"I come out here and do the same thing every single night," Hoffman said. "Me and Shawn [crew guy] worked our butts off today, had a couple of issues earlier, but we smoothed it all out."
The Summit Modified action continues Thursday night, June 24, at the high banks of Spoon River Speedway for Round #8 of the 2021 Hell Tour campaign. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (25 Laps) 1. 2-Nick Hoffman; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger; 5. T6-Tommy Sheppard Jr; 6. 292-Josh Allen; 7. 57-Tim Hamburg; 8. 7-Kelly Kovski; 9. 57A-Andrew Hamburg; 10. 1-Nash Hilmes; 11. 0-Travis Kohler; 12. 9H-John Demoss; 13. 1W-Bob Pohlman; 14. 61-Chris Osborne Jr; 15. 45-Kyle Hammer; 16. 88C-Marshall Call
DIRTcar Summer Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), Summit Racing Equipment, and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, MSD, Quarter Master, Summit Racing Equipment, VP Racing Fuels, and Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum).
Summit Modified Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: Summit Racing Equipment, Arizona Sport Shirts/Gotta Race, Chevy Performance, DIRTVision (Official Live Broadcast Partner), FireAde, Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), Indiana Decal Company, Intercomp, iRacing, Racing Electronics, SIS Insurance (Official Insurance Provider), and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel). Contingency sponsors include: ARP (Automotive Racing Products), Bassett Racing Wheel, Bell Helmets, Beyea Custom Headers, COMP Cams, Drydene, Fast Shafts, Fox Factory, Hoosier Racing Tire, Jerovetz Motorsports Shock Service, K1 Race Gear, KSE Racing Products, MSD, Mulit FireX, Schoenfeld Headers, Summit Racing Equipment, Velocita USA, VP Racing Fuels, Wrisco (Exclusive Racing Aluminum), and Xceldyne.
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