If former Major League Baseball catcher Yogi Berra was watching Dennis Erb Jr. Saturday night, he’d probably repeat his famous line, “It’s like Déjà vu all over again.”
Along with winning for the second straight night at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 to sweep the inaugural St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff, Erb also pulled the same move he did Friday night to win Saturday.
This time the Carpentersville, IL driver used the same move in Turns 3 and 4 to take the lead from Jason Feger and drive away with the $20,000 payday.
Erb went unchallenged in the final 27 laps to best the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models and DIRTcar Summer Nationals fields for the second straight night with Bobby Pierce, in second, and Jason Feger, in third, rounding out the podium.
“We were just riding out there and following [Feger] for a little bit,” Erb said. “I knew we were starting to get into traffic, and I was trying to watch him and see how he was entering the corner. He just went in there and gave me enough room to sneak up underneath him.”
Erb’s win is his fourth World of Outlaws CASE Late Models victory of the season – the most of all drivers. It’s also his 13th overall career Series triumph and his 25th DIRTcar Summer Nationals win.
While Erb was able to move past Feger for the lead early in the race, he was still left with having to maneuver through traffic in the remaining 27 laps. He stated that being aggressive was important, knowing the caliber of drivers behind him.
“I knew we had a good group behind me there, so there was no time to relax,” Erb said. “We just had to make our marks and watch the cars in front of us. You just really can’t back off because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Erb extended his points lead for the second consecutive night—144 points ahead of Max Blair, who finished 11th.
Feger, who led the first 27 laps, was passed by Pierce for second and had to settled for third. The Bloomington, IL driver stated he couldn’t get the car to stick to the bottom the way he wanted, allowing Erb and Pierce to slip by.
“I just felt like I was too tight to keep it down there,” Feger said. “I couldn’t get rotated. I couldn’t like, enter in on the bottom and get rotated.
“I kind of based everything off of [Friday] night and how the track raced. I thought there’d be enough speed to go there, which there was, but instead of all the lap cars being on the bottom, they were in the middle. So, it just kind of made it hard to pass, and [Bobby Pierce] and Dennis could rotate the bottom better than I could.”
Pierce made his way to second from eighth. He snuck by Feger on the bottom late in the 55-lap Feature but didn’t have enough time to catch Erb. The “Smooth Operator” tried multiple lanes throughout the first 30 laps before settling on the inside line.
“I was searching a little bit, and the top wasn’t really there like it normally is in the past,” Pierce said. “It’s not even like the bottom had that much moisture. The top was just so slick and crumbly. There wasn’t enough bite up there to really get anything going, so it is what it is.
“But hey, coming from eighth to second, catfishing like that and scraping the inside wall, we’ll take it any day.”
Pierce also extended his DIRTcar Summer Nationals points lead, beating out Ryan Unzicker, who finished ninth.
Shannon Babb crossed the line fourth, climbing as high as third before fading in the race’s late stages. The Moweaqua, IL driver was happy with his car and enjoyed racing against his Midwest rivals.
“Overall, it was a really good race,” Babb said. “Running around the inside wall with Bobby and Feger and Gordy [Gundaker] and everybody. So, I consider it a pretty good race.”
Gundaker rounded out the top five, his third World of Outlaws CASE Late Models top five of the season.
“I just missed a little bit on the setup, and that’s the way it goes,” Gundaker said. “When you run fifth in a crowd of 47 race cars and a bunch of really, really good guys are here, there’s nothing to hang your head about.
“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs so far this year, and this is definitely an up. So, we’re going to take this weekend in stride and hopefully keep the momentum going.”
The highly-anticipated faceoff between the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models and the DIRTcar Summer Nationals ended with Erb proving why he’s one of the most successful drivers in both series, further solidifying that with a sense of Déjà vu.
Feature (55 Laps): 1. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce; 3. 25F-Jason Feger; 4. 18-Shannon Babb; 5. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 6. 81E-Tanner English; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 8. B1-Brent Larson; 9. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 10. 97-Cade Dillard; 11. 111V-Max Blair; 12. 11H-Jeff Herzog; 13. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 14. 25-Shane Clanton; 15. 99B-Boom Briggs; 16. 36-Logan Martin; 17. 10-Daryn Klein; 18. 1-Josh Richards; 19. F1-Payton Freeman; 20. 14G-Joe Godsey; 21. 16G-Rusty Griffaw; 22. 3S-Brian Shirley; 23. 10J-Jordan Bauer; 24. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 25. 23-Paul Roider; 26. 6K-Michael Kloos