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Simpson Holds off Pierce for $10,000 DIRTcar Summer Nationals Win

Chris Simpson

Chris Simpson

Nick Hoffman

Nick Hoffman

Tanner Sullivan

Tanner Sullivan

Hoffman Scores $2,000 Summit Modified Nationals Victory

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury Speedway played host to the fifth stop on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour Saturday night. Oxford, Iowa’s Chris Simpson got his second win earning $10,000 in the featured race that was presented by Rhino Ag. Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., continued his domination by winning the Summit Modified Nationals race, and Pontiac’s Tanner Sullivan came out ahead in the Stock Car feature.

simpson lm49 drivers made qualifying attempts that saw Commerce, Georgia’s Payton Freeman blistering the track with a lap at 12.702 seconds to take overall quick time honors. Brian Shirley, Tanner English, Frank Heckenast Jr., Preston Luckman, and Chris Simpson topped their respective qualifying groups. Six heat races had first-year Late Model driver, Nick Allen, Shirley, English, Max Blair, Mike Mataragas, and Simpson taking the wins. Trevor Gundaker and Shannon Babb were the two consolation race winners. They earned a spot in the Last Chance Showdown that was won by Jason Feger. Allen got the jump on Simpson at the start of the 50-lap race as Simpson, English, Blair, and Shirley trailed. Allen was able to hold a half straightaway lead over the competition as English took over second. Tour points leader Bobby Pierce, who started in the 22nd position, charged through the field and was in fifth as the field slowed on a lap 23 yellow flag. On the restart, Simpson and English went three-wide with Allen on the frontstretch. Simpson emerged as the race leader as English and Dennis Erb Jr. followed. Simpson led for three laps before Erb took over to lead laps 28 and 29. Simpson and Erb raced side-by-side for the lead, while Pierce and English went toe-to-toe for third. Simpson, Erb, Pierce, and English began to distance themselves from fifth running Shirley. English’s night came to an end on lap 41 as he made contact with the backstretch wall. The restart had Simpson leading Pierce, Erb, Ryan Unzicker, and Blair. Simpson held a five-car length lead over Pierce during the waning laps and took his second Summer Nationals win of the week. “I knew Pierce would charge to the front,” Simpson said. “They said at Davenport that I didn’t earn that win. Tonight, I earned this one.” Pierce had to settle for second with Erb in third and Unzicker following in fourth. The remainder of the top ten saw Blair, Shirley, 21st starter Ryan Gustin, McKay Wenger, Derek Chandler, and Kevin Weaver finish in that order.

hoffman mdForrest driver Austin Friedman was the overall fastest qualifier for the 25-lap, $2,000 to win Summit Modified Nationals race with a time of 13.683 seconds. Kyle Steffens and Michael Long were quickest in their respective qualifying groups. The heat races saw Steffens, tour points leader Nick Hoffman, and Long taking the wins. Hoffman took the lead at the start as Long, Steffens, Michael Ledford, and Chad Bauer followed. Hoffman opened up a lead, but the caution flag would come out to erase his advantage. Following a lap 11 yellow, Long looked to the inside of Hoffman for the lead, but the defending Summit Modified Nationals champion closed the door and pulled away. Ethan Weber experienced mechanical problems in time trials and in his heat race that had him start last in the 22-car field. Weber had the fans cheering wildly, running the bottom of the track, and moved into the top five with ten laps to go. Hoffman went on to remain unbeaten on the tour to win the $2,000 prize. “The car was pretty good,” said Hoffman. “The track began to rubber up toward the end of the Late Model race. I started playing the lane where the rubber was at until it started to rinse off. Once it did, I was able to charge pretty hard.” Weber had a career-best finish in second. Steffens finished third with Ledford in fourth. Trevor Neville finished fifth. Friedman, Bauer, Bob Pohlman Jr., Alan Stipp, and Eric Vaughan completed the top ten.

sullivan scThe night ended with a 15-lap, $500 to win Stock Car feature. A time of 15.693 seconds gave Zane Reitz quick time honors. Reitz and Ian Keller won their respective heat races. Keller put his car in the lead for the first four laps before Tanner Sullivan took over and began to distance himself from the field. Sullivan went on to snap a long drought and take the win. “I have been struggling lately,” said Sullivan. “I like it when the track has a nice cushion and dry slick.” Reitz held off Braiden Keller for second. Ian Keller was fourth, with Devin Hoskins, Don Hilleary, Brice Slavens, Brandon Tracy, Eric Legner, and Jeff Czemske completing the top ten.

Two-For-32: Simpson Holds Off Pierce, Erb At FALS For Second Hell Tour Win In Three Days

Pierce charges 22nd-to-second after electrical issues in Qualifying, extends points lead

Story by Jordan DeLucia

Two starts, two wins. Chris Simpson has been hotter than the Hell Tour this week.

Thursday night in his home state of Iowa, he won. Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway in Illinois, he did it again, besting a stacked field of 48 other drivers to stake claim to the second $10,000 check of the 37th DIRTcar Summer Nationals season.

Simpson set Quick Time in the sixth and final group of Qualifying before going on to win his Heat Race and redrawing the pole for the Feature. Outside polesitter Nick Allen got the jump at the drop of the green and led the race through the first 23 laps with several restarts along the way, until Simpson and the rest of the top-five got the jump on him.

Simpson, of Oxford, IA, threw his Longhorn Chassis #32 to the outside into Turn 1 as fourth-starting Tanner English did the same to Allen’s inside. By the time they came back around to the stripe, Simpson had the upper hand and control of the race with one half left.

Simpson held strong out front until Erb brought his A-game with him to the low groove, moving past him with 15-to-go. But that lead didn’t last long. Simpson stuck to the high line and wound-it-up on the banking, then uncorked a slide job to take the lead back with 10-to-go.

“[Erb] kept getting under me and I kept getting a run off of Turn 2 where I’d get back ahead of him,” Simpson said. “I went down in front of him to try and slow him down, and then he ended up getting by me and the top started cleaning up really good.

“I got a run down the front-stretch and he kept going way out wide. I got a run off of Turn 2 and went down into 3 and slid him, got in front of him, and a lap later the caution came out.”

The yellow was indeed displayed, twice more, both with an extra bit of pressure coming back on Simpson for the restarts.

Behind him, an epic climb through lapped traffic for reigning champion Bobby Pierce. After suffering electrical issues in Qualifying and his Heat, Pierce took a provisional and started 22nd on the grid.

Five laps in, he was 15th. Fifteen laps down, he had cracked the top-10. He cracked the podium on Lap 31, using his signature high-side to make the moves, and topped it off with a pass for second on Lap 41.

Under caution for the last couple restarts, Simpson got the idea he was getting closer by the lap.

“I could hear them say on the [one-way driver radio] that 32 was in fifth, then third, and then second,” Simpson said.

But Simpson hung tough through the restarts to bag his second Feature win in two starts.

“I got the best crew help I’ve ever had,” Simpson said, reflecting on the weight of his two Hell Tour victories this week after going nearly seven years since his previous one. “I got the best crew chief – my crew chief Chad Simonson. I’ve told this to my sponsors the last four years… I said, ‘Listen, I have the best help I’ve ever had.’ There’s no reason I can’t go out here and win these races.”

Four Sure: Hoffman Keeps Win Streak Alive With $2K Win At FALS

Story by Jordan DeLucia

Nick Hoffman continued reign of terror through the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals schedule Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway with his fourth-straight trip to Victory Lane.

In what was likely his smoothest route to victory thus far, the Mooresville, NC-driver dominated, leading all 25 laps unchallenged en route to his 61st career victory on the tour.

“As long as you don’t have any issues and you get on a streak like this, it feels like everything’s going your way and you’ve just gotta ride the high,” Hoffman said.

Local standout Ethan Weber, of Fairbury, IL, drove an impressive run from 22nd to finish second, swiping the runner-up spot away from Kyle Steffens on the final lap. Steffens crossed third, Michael Ledford in fourth and Trevor Neville rounded out the top-five.

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