Speeding out of Turns 1-2 and down the backstretch with the lead, Shannon Babb was only a half-lap away from a record seventh DIRTcar Summer Nationals win Sunday at Tri-State Speedway. And then, disaster.
As Babb entered in on the high side of Turn 3, two lapped cars got into each other, sending the 23NZ of Mick Quin washing up the track, directly in front of a full-speed Babb coming to collect the checkered flag. Instead, Babb collected with Quin between Turns 3-4, roughly 50 yards from the finish line.
Right on Babb’s heels getting into Turn 3 was Dylan Thompson – the veteran racer from Paducah, KY – who entered the corner a full lane lower than Babb. As Babb collided with Quin on the top, Thompson sailed it through the middle groove, right underneath the wreck and took the lead out of Turn 4.
The flagman waved the checkered flag in the air as Thompson sped across the finish line to steal the win, completing the last-lap, last-corner pass in dramatic fashion and score his first career Hell Tour victory.
“Coming out of Turn 2 on the last lap, coming down the backstretch, I watched it happen,” Thompson said. “I stood on that damn thing and turned it to the bottom. I looked over and thought, ‘Well, I see the lapped car, I do not see Shannon, and I see the checkered flag.’
“Then they said [over driver radio communication] ‘99 to scales and droop check,’ and I thought, ‘We literally just won.’ It’s still not sinking in, really.”
Babb’s perspective further detailed the situation and how fast it all went down in front of him.
“As soon as we entered Turn 3, I saw the two get together,” Babb said. “There’s just no way I can get down and avoid it. The big opening closed-up really quick. I got on the brakes really hard to keep from getting into [Quin] and had to come to a dead stop.”
Though Babb led most of the 40-lap main event, Thompson led the one and only lap that truly mattered. He said he didn’t expect to be there at the end when the green flag dropped but was glad it worked out how it did.
“I told my guys when we pulled on the track, I said, ‘I just want to finish.’ That was my goal,” Thompson said.
“We finished first.”
Despite the big contact coming to the checkers, Babb was able to gather it back in and take home a runner-up finish. He took the lead from the outside pole in the opening laps and was soon met with heavy pressure from Rusty Schlenk, who took the lead from him on Lap 17 with a big slide job through Turns 1-2.
Babb stayed with it, however, and retook the lead with a slide job of his own on Lap 29.
“I had confidence I could pass [Schlenk] back; my car was really good,” Babb said. “I just started driving harder. I was only doing about three-quarters. Once he got by me, I just turned the week up and ran a little harder.”
Thompson had been stalking both of them from the third position throughout the battle and made the pass on Schlenk to get into position behind Babb on Lap 30. Coming to the white flag, Thompson was only a single car length back, and was there to capitalize on Babb’s misfortune to get the win in the end.
Further back in the field, Jason Feger had advanced to the seventh spot from ninth on the grid, finishing right behind Ashton Winger in the running order. Feger came into the night up 22 points on Winger in the hunt for the Week 4 points championship and retained the advantage at the checkered flag, earning him another $10,000 points fund check after capturing the Week 2 title earlier this season.
The Summer Nationals Late Models take Monday and Tuesday off before returning to action in the final week of the 38th annual Hell Tour on Wednesday, July 12 at Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, IN. Tickets will be on sale at the gate; streaming available at DIRTVision.com.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (40 Laps): 1. 99-Dylan Thompson; 2. 18-Shannon Babb; 3. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 4. 91-Rusty Schlenk; 5. 4G-Bob Gardner; 6. 12-Ashton Winger; 7. 25-Jason Feger; 8. 15-Clayton Stuckey; 9. 22-Skyller Lewis; 10. 1-BJ Robinson; 11. 44-Blaze Burwell; 12. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 13. 17-Lee Williams; 14. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 15. 15T-Cliff Tooley; 16. 27M-Rodney Melvin; 17. 4D-Doug Tye; 18. 17W-Greg Williams; 19. 7-Steven Reinacher; 20. 4-Jason Suhre; 21. 11-Robby Moore; 22. 18M-Jimmy Miller; 23. 78S-Steve Stultz; 24. 16-Brandon Tibaldi