Grayville,IL — June 13, 2009 — The first week of the 22nd edition of the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals “Hell Tour” has been everything fans could want: Exciting features on high-banked bullrings with some of the greatest Dirt Late Model drivers who have ever raced on dirt.
Weather Wins on Tuesday: The race scheduled to run today (Tuesday, June 16) at Highland Speedway has been rained out, and will replace the event originally scheduled to run on July 1 at Morgan County Speedway. The Hell Tour will continue on Wednesday, June 17, at Belle Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill.
On Track: Over the past two UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals, Dennis Erb has been the tour’s image of consistency that has resulted in his back to back championships on the month-long “Hell Tour”. Last year Erb finished out of the Top 10 only once as a result of a broken oil cooler, and he still salvaged a 12th place finish. Early in this year’s tour it seems as if the native of Carpentersville, Ill., native is using the same motivation and consistency.
“We started this deal and were real excited because you have a bunch of tracks you run really well at close to home,” commented Erb. “We’ve had our stuff pretty good here so far.” Indeed Erb has definitely been on his game so far capturing one win at Quad City, as well as a runner up finish at the tour’s opener at Brownstown Speedway which has him sitting 2nd in Summer Nationals points only seven markers back of Kevin Weaver of Gibson City,IL.
Erb will admit it’s tough to stay focused on the overall goal of winning a “Hell Tour” with all of its distractions. “You kind of lose your focus when you’re sitting around with everyone arguing,” said Erb.
At the same time, Erb also realizes that the Summer Nationals is a test over 27 days instead a single night, and how important it is to prepare. “When you run this deal for a whole month anything can happen,” he said. “I’ve always said if we stay up towards the front we can get some more wins out of this deal, and if we do that we’ll be alright.”
Stomping Grounds: In 2005, a young standout from Moweaqua, Ill., blistered the Midwest during the Summer Nationals tour, capturing his first title with a tour record 15 wins. That young driver was Shannon Babb, and much to the anticipation of fans across the Midwest, Babb has returned somewhat to his roots running in the first week events during the 22nd edition of the Summer Nationals Tour.
“I like this Midwest racing,” Babb said. “I always have enjoyed these little bullrings.” Babb who claimed titles in 2005 and 2006 during the Hell Tour has recently run with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series where he had already captured a win early this year at Battleground Speedway in Texas.
Although life on the road with the premier Dirt Late Model touring series is tough, Babb also knows what the Summer Nationals tour is no cake walk in comparison.
“It’s definitely a little tougher racing with beating and banging,” said Babb. “But that’s how I grew up and learned to race.”
With Babb’s future plans on the tour still being somewhat of a mystery, fans and drivers alike surely know what the young driver is capable of on a tour where everyone knows to expect the unexpected.
New Faces: The lure of racing night after night for a month is definitely an intriguing concept for any professional racer. Such is the case during the 2009 edition of the tour as many drivers have decided to attempt to follow the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals. Scott James, Terry Casey and Justin Ratliff are all relatively new to the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour, but all share excitement when considering the task ahead.
“It’s really fun,” said Casey, who registered a Top 15 performance in the 2007 tour while racing a few select events. “These guys are a lot of fun to race with, its good ol’ boys racing.”
Ratliff, a Kentucky native, who at 22 already has seven years of racing under his belt, meets a month of racing on the road as a thrilling prospect. “Yeah it’s a lot of racing in 30 days so it’s a little crazy,” he said. “You just have to go out there do your best.”
James, who’s affectionately known by his fans as the “Silver Shark”, suggests a racer can prepare somewhat for a grueling month of racing. “Speedweeks in Florida can prepare you a little bit,” James said. “The big difference is you’re traveling every night so you have your stuff tied down and be ready to go racing.”
James is thankful to be able to race for a living, but realizes that a month on the road for a racer can be more difficult that what he encounters on the track. “Most people go to work every day and there’s a lot of people that would like to be doing what we’re doing out here,” he said. “The only thing I don’t like is that my wife can’t be with me every night.”
What to watch for: This week the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour features tracks of every type as well as a strong local contingent of UMP DIRTcar Late Model competition. The first two stops feature quarter-mile Highland Speedway as well as fifth-mile Belle Clair Speedway, which in 2008 produced a first-time “Hell Tour” winner in Will Vaught of Crane, Mo. Other tracks include a 3/8-mile Charleston Speedway that leads into a trifecta of banked quarter mile action to round out the week with Farmer City Speedway in Illinois, Clarksville Speedway in Tennessee, and Tri-State Speedway in Indiana.
Points Update: The 2009 UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour will allow drivers the opportunity to throw out their worst performance on the tour no matter how many starts they make over the course of the month-long series. This creates a slim safety net for any competitor who might have an off-night during the grueling schedule.
For more information on the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals Tour fans can visit http://www.thehelltour.com
Fans can now receive news, updates and other behind-the-scenes information about the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals by following the tour’s official feed on Twitter, the internet’s fast-growing social-networking and micro-blogging website.
Fans can view the latest text posts and subscribe as “followers” of the Summer Nationals Tour at http://twitter.com/SummerNationals .
2009 UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals Schedule
|06/11/09||Brownstown Speedway – Brownstown, IN – $6,000 (Jeep VanWormer – 43)|
|06/12/09||Kankakee Motor Speedway – Kankakee,IL – $10,000 (Billy Moyer – 51)|
|06/13/09||Kamp Motor Speedway – Boswell, IN – $10,000 (Eric Smith – 44)|
|06/14/09||Quad City Raceway – East Moline, IL – $6,000 (Dennis Erb – 31)|
|06/16/09||Highland Speedway – Highland, IL – $6,000 – RAIN|
|06/17/09||Belle-Clair Speedway – Belleville, IL – $6,000|
|06/18/09||Charleston Speedway – Charleston, IL – $6,000|
|06/19/09||Farmer City Raceway – Farmer City, IL – $10,000|
|06/20/09||Clarksville Speedway – Clarksville, TN – $10,000|
|06/21/09||Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, IN – $6,000|
|06/23/09||I-57/I-64 Speedway – Mt. Vernon, IL $6,000|
|06/24/09||Tri-City Speedway – Pontoon Beach, IL $6,000|
|06/25/09||Clay Hill Motorsports Park – Atwood, TN – $6,000|
|06/26/09||Paducah International Raceway – Paducah, KY – $10,000|
|06/27/09||Fairbury Speedway – Fairbury, IL – $10,000|
|06/28/09||Lincoln Speedway – Lincoln, IL – $6,000|
|06/30/09||Peoria Speedway – Peoria, IL – $6,000|
|07/01/09||Highland Speedway – Highland, IL – $6,000|
|07/02/09||Macon Speedway – Macon, IL – $6,000|
|07/03/09||Quincy Raceway – Quincy, IL – $10,000|
|07/04/09||I-55 Raceway – Pevely, MO – $10,000|
|07/05/09||Vermillion County Speedway – Danville, IL – $6,000|
|07/07/09||Shepp Speedway – Alexandria, IL – $6,000|
|07/08/09||Spoon River Speedway – Canton,IL $6,000|
|07/09/09||LaSalle Speedway – LaSalle, IL – $6,000|
|07/10/09||Waynesfield Motorsports Park – Waynesfield, OH – $10,000|
|07/11/09||Oakshade Raceway – Wauseon, OH – 10,000|
The UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals is brought to race fans by many important sponsors and partners, including: VP Racing Fuels, CJ Rayburn Race Cars, Hoosier Racing Tire, Quarter Master, Just Plugs, Special Olympics, Wrisco Aluminum, Eibach Springs, and Integra Racing Shocks.