Spatola Scores Victory in DIRTcar Summer Nationals Opener at Kankakee County Speedway

Mike Spatola
Mike Spatola



KANKAKEE, Ill. – June 16, 2011 – Mike Spatola doesn’t have much experience in a Dirt Late Model but that didn’t prevent him from winning the opening night of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour’ Thursday at Kankakee County Speedway.

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The driver affectionately known as “Opie” to his friends and fans claimed the first Hell Tour win of his career, worth $5,000, by holding off fellow front row starter Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, and third place finisher Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill.

Spatola, who has raced regularly at Kankakee, had a strong start to his night by earning quick time honors in his qualifying group, which he parlayed into a heat race victory and a front row starting spot in the 40-lap A-Main.

Overall quick timer Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., finished fourth while Waterville, Ohio, driver Matt Miller rounded out the top five.

DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour Statistical Report; Kankakee (Ill.) County Speedway; June 16, 2011

A-Main (40-Laps ): 1. Mike Spatola ($5,000), 2. Chad Simpson, 3. Brian Shirley, 4. Ryan Unzicker, 5. Matt Miller, 6. Scott James, 7. Dennis Erb Jr., 8. Shannon Babb, 9. Brandon Sheppard, 10. Greg Johnson, 11. Bret Sievert, 12. Donny Walden, 13. Bobby Pierce, 14. Jack Sullivan, 15. Billy Moyer Jr., 16. Jason Feger, 17. Rusty Schlenk, 18. Aaron Ricketts, 19. Keith Piano, 20. Brandon Thirlby, 21. Jay Morris, 22. Sean Toczek, 23. Scott Schmitt. Last Chance Showdown (B-Main) winner: Feger. C-Main winner: Ricketts. Provisional starters: Sullivan, Schmitt, Schlenk, Thirlby, Ricketts.

Heat 1 : Brandon Sheppard, Matt Miller, Dennis Erb Jr., Keith Piano, Donnie Walden, Kent Robinson, Dillan White, Brandon Thirlby, Aaron Ricketts, Alan Gendusa.

Heat 2: Chad Simpson, Ryan Unzicker, Scott James, Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Rusty Schlenk, Joe Jankowski, Gary Christain, Torin Mettille.

Heat 3: Brian Shirley, Bret Sievert, Billy Moyer Jr., Bobby Pierce, Kevin Weaver, Jack Sullivan, Scott Schmitt, Joseph Hughes, Steve Thorsten.

Heat 4: Mike Spatola, Sean Toczek, Jay Morris, Greg Johnson, Jim Moon, Russ Adams, Brian Dunn, Mike Provanzano. Scratch: Glen Thompson.

Time trials
First group
Aaron Ricketts (95), Fairbury, Ill., 14.8
Brandon Sheppard (5B), New Berlin, Ill., 14.833
Matt Miller (7), Waterville, Ohio, 14.94
Dillan White (54) Crofton, Ky., 14.974
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 15.051
Keith Piano (21p), Oglesby, Ill., 15.16
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.166
Donnie Walden (1w), Towanda, Ill.), 15.35
Brandon Thirlby (m14), Traverse City, Mich., 15.506
Alan Gendusa (42a), New Lenox, Ill., 15.816

Second group
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 14.59
Chad Simpson (25s), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 14.818
Scott James (81), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 14.866
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 14.92
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 14.963
Joe Jankowski (6j), Columbus, Ind., 15.19
Rusty Schlenk (91), Jackson, Mich., 15.563
Gary Christain (58x), Broken Bow, Okla., 15.611
Torin Mettille (116), Cullum, Ill., 16.179

Third Group
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.221
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 15.252
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.308
Bret Sievert (5), New Berlin, Wis., 15.319
Scott Schmitt (10), Tonica, Ill., 15.339
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.35
Jack Sullivan (1), Greenbrier, Ark., 15.413
Joseph Hughes (7h), Springfield, Ill., 15.779
Steve Thorsten (7t), Chebanse, Ill., no time

Fourth group
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 15.027
Greg Johnson (49), Bedford, Ind., 15.149
Sean Toczek (05), Griffin, Ind., 15.283
Jay Morris (77m), Pittwood, Ill., 15.718
Russ Adams (74), Princeville, Ill., 15.868
Mike Provanzano (m27), Marseilles, Ill., 15.982
Jim Moon (1m), Zionsville, Ind., 16.231
Brian Dunn (5d), Fairbury, Ill., 16.444
Glen Thompson (14), Herschel, Ill., no time

2011 DIRTcar Summer Nationals “The Hell Tour” Schedule


Date Track Location Winner (Cars)
June 15 Brownstown Speedway Brownstown, Ind. PPD Rain
June 16 Kankakee County Speedway Kankakee, Ill. Mike Spatola (37)
June 17 Cedar Lake Speedway Cedar Lake, Wis.
June 18 Cedar Lake Speedway Cedar Lake, Wis.
June 20 LaSalle Speedway LaSalle, Ill.
June 21 Spoon River Speedway Canton, Ill.
June 22 Highland Speedway Highland, Ill.
June 23 Fayette County Speedway Brownstown, Ill.
June 24 Tri-City Speedway Pontoon Beach, Ill.
June 25 Fairbury American Legion Speedway Fairbury, Ill.
June 26 I-96 Speedway Lake Odessa, Mich.
June 28 Lincoln Park Speedway Putnamville, Ind.
June 29 Belle Clair Speedway Belleville, Ill.
June 30 Clay Hill Motorsports Park Atwood, Tenn.
July 1 Paducah International Raceway Paducah, Ky.
July 2 I-55 Raceway Pevely, Mo.
July 3 Lincoln Speedway Lincoln, Ill.
July 4 34 Raceway Burlington, Iowa
July 6 Peoria Speedway Peoria, Ill.
July 7 Macon Speedway Macon, Ill.
July 8 Farmer City Raceway Farmer City, Ill.
July 9 Clarksville Speedway Clarksville, Tenn.
July 10 Tri-State Speedway Haubstadt, Ind.
July 12 Brownstown Speedway Brownstown, Ind.
July 15 Attica Raceway Park Attica, Ohio
July 16 Oakshade Raceway Wauseon, Ohio

The DIRTcar Summer Nationals is brought to fans by many important sponsors and partners including Hoosier Racing Tires, GM Performance Parts, ASI Racewear, Comp Cams, Intercomp Racing, JE Pistons, QuarterMaster, Superflow, Wix Filters, Wrisco Aluminum, the University of Northwestern Ohio, R2C Performance, VP Racing Fuels, Racing Electronics, ButlerBuilt, MSD Ignition, Chizmark Larson Insurance, Vicci Apparel, Beyea Custom Headers, Fusion Graphics & Sign Company, Dyer’s Rods, and Ohlins Shocks.