Sheppard Covers Field at Spoon Rivermars
Photo: Brendon Bauman
Banner, IL (May 30, 2021) – Round eight of the Mars Racing Series took place at the Spoon River Speedway to close out the Memorial Day weekend. Twenty-eight late models checked in for a shot at the $5,000 to win event.
In Allstar Performance qualifying Ryan Unzicker, the driver from El Paso, IL laid down the fastest lap with a time of 14.032 seconds. Qualifying set up three heat races that would see the top five drivers transfer on the nights main event.
It was an exciting finish during the Arizona Sport Shirts Heat Race #1. Brain Shirley spent the entire race chasing the 24 of Ryan Unzicker. On the final lap as the drivers approached the final corner Shirley took advantage of a lap car and was able to pin Unzicker behind the lap car to pick up the win. It left the race fans in a roar after the race was finished. Gordy Gundaker, Jordan Bauer and Dewayne Keifer where the other drivers who moved on to the feature event.
Heat Race #2, brought to you by Dirt Track Bank, Tanner English took advantage early on and got the race lead. He would hold on for the heat race win over Brandon Sheppard. Donny Walden, Mike Chasteen Jr and Matt Sandel were the cars moving on to the main event.
In the final heat race presented by O’Riley Auto Parts the One Man Band of Dennis Erb Jr took the win over Jason Feger. Paul Kuper, Trevor Gundaker and Blaze Burwell were the transfer cars to the A-main.
It took one B-Main to complete the field for the $5,000 to win event. Washington, IL driver Bob Gardner pulled off the win. Kolby Vandenbergh, Jeremy Conway, Brett McKinnon and Paul Parker all moved on to start at the back of the 40 lap feature event.
At the drop of the green flag Tanner English got out front and took the early lead. Brian Shirley and Ryan Unzicker all battled early on for the top three spots. Then the B5 of Brandon Sheppard came into the picture as lap after lap he picked off each one in front of him until he took the race lead on lap 9. From then on it was all Sheppard out front. Ryan Unzicker tried to work through lap traffic better than Sheppard but to no avail as the lead grew. Ryan would hold on and finish in second behind Sheppard. Tanner English who slid back after leading early was nipping on the heals of Unzicker as they crossed the finish line. Dennis Erb Jr and Gordy Gundaker rounded out the top 5. Kolby Vandenbergh who started back in the 17th spot was the hard charger of the night and came home in 6th.
In victory lane Sheppard shared with the crowd how fun it is to race close to home in the family B5 with close friends and family working on the car. Unzicker was pleased with his second place finish stating that anytime you can run second to Brandon its a good day, especially after we have struggled some lately. Tanner English rounded out the podium with his sixth podium finish of the year. Every Mars event he has entered in 2021 he has finished in the top 3. He stated in post race how fun it is to run up here on the tracks he has a liking to and looks forward to the Summer Nationals starting up in a couple of weeks.
The Mars Racing Series will take a nearly two month hiatus to make room for the DIRTcar Summer Nationals that will kick off in June and run into August. The July 27th date will be the next for the tour at Davenport Speedway. It is a Tuesday night event on the quarter-mile for those drivers on their way home from I-80 and in route to the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway.
Stay informed on all the news, events and schedule for the MARS Racing Series at www.marsracingseries.com.
Feature Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Ryan Unzicker, Tanner English, Dennis Erb Jr., Gordy Gundaker, Kolby Vandenbergh, Brian Shirley, Jason Feger, Bob Gardner, Jordan Bauer, Tevor Gundaker, Donny Walden, Mike Chasteen Jr., Blaze Burwell, Brett McKinnon, Paul Kuper, Jeremy Conway, Matt Santel, Devin Mclain, Paul Parker, Dewayne Keifer, Logan Moody
B-Main: Bob Gardner, Kolby Vandenbergh, Jeremy Conway, Brett McKinnon, Paul Parker, Devin Mclain, Logan Moody
Heat 1: Brian Shirley, Ryan Unzicker, Gordy Gundaker, Jordan Bauer, Dewayne Keifer, Bob Gardner, Brett McKinnon, Paul Parker, Alex Wilson, Tucker Finch
Heat 2: Tanner English, Brandon Sheppard, Donny Walden, Mike Chasteen Jr, Matt Santel, Kolby Vandenbergh, Jeremy Conway, Jason Wagner, Jeffery Ledford,
Heat 3: Dennis Erb Jr, Jason Feger, Paul Kuper, Trevor Gundaker, Blaze Burwell, Mark Voight, Logan Moody, Devin Mclain, Shane Kelley
Overall Fast Qualifier: Ryan Unzicker 14.032 seconds
Allstar Performance Fast Time Award: Ryan Unzicker
VP Fuel Award from Git Sideways: Brandon Sheppard
Swift Springs Opposing Fast Time Award: Tanner English
Keyser Manufacturing Hard Charger Award: Kolby Vandenbergh
Wilwood Tough Brake Award: Dewayne Keifer
Ultrashield Non-Transfer Award: Devin Mclain