Shirley Completes Weekend Sweep at Peoria

Shirley Completes Weekend Sweep at Peoria

Burbank, IL (August 29, 2020) – Saturday night the Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel invaded the Peoria Speedway for round four of the 2020 season with the Illinois State Championship.

Thirty-two late models registered for Mars Racing Series competition on Saturday night for the Illinois State Championship race. The rich history of this event runs deep at the Peoria Speedway and an event the Speedway always looks forward to each year.

In qualifying Ryan Gustin laid down the overall fastest lap at 12.229 seconds in A & B group qualifying. This set the stage for 4 heat races to start setting the field for the 50 lap feature event paying $5,000 to win.

Heat race number one was quiet the show for the race fans who had come out to watch the Mars Racing Series. Ryan Gustin started on the pole but Jason Feger and Brian Shirley battled with Gustin during most of the way. In the closing laps Shirley was able to get the lead and put himself in the redraw. Frank Heckenast Jr was the fourth car to transfer from heat one.

In heat race two local Peoria driver Todd Bennett was the class of the field. Todd had won the feature event the week before and that speed had carried over to the State Championship night. Defending Peoria track champion Mike Chasteen Jr came home second and was the other driver to go to the redraw from this heat. Lincoln, IL driver Myles Moos and Ryan Unzicker also transferred to the main event.

During heat race three action the crowd saw Dennis Erb Jr get out front and pull away from the rest of the field. Early on Bob Gardner and Jeremiah Hurst battled for the runner up spot. But in the middle stages of this race the two got together in turn two and the two ended up cutting through the infield and back onto the track down the backstretch. Before they could rejoin the field, Charles Hess was able to scoot by and take over the runner up spot. The four drivers all moved on the feature event.

Heat race four went to Festus, MO driver Jeff Herzog. Shannon Babb got around Jason Papich in the final laps to grab a spot in the redraw. Rich Bell held on the fourth spot and advanced on to the nights main event.

A pair of B-Mains was needed to set the remaining spots for the Illinois State Championship. Billy Drake and Kolby Vandenbergh picked up those wins with runner ups Roger Rebholz and Matt Murphy also making a spot in the 50 lap main event. The final two spots were provisionals given to Curtis Radke and Blaze Burwell.

In the 50 lap feature event Brian Shirley who started on the pole after drawing the one in the redraw ran away and hid dominating the Saturday night event. Jeff Herzog the outside front row starter and Dennis Erb Jr battled a few times for the runner up spot but Herzog was able to hold on for second. Dennis came home rounding out the podium in third. The track began to take rubber by the halfway point and drivers had to follow the bottom line in the second half to protect their position. Few drivers made any attempts to get out of line to try and find a groove to try to make up spots on the track.

Brian Shirley made it a weekend sweep and tied series points leader Frank Heckenast Jr coming out of the weekend. Brian commented in victory lane he was thankful to get out front early and how it felt good to win another Illinois State Championship. Jeff Herzog commented in post race interview how good it felt after struggling on Friday night to run up front with the likes of Brian Shirley and Dennis Erb Jr. Dennis commented that he just had to stay in line, he tried to peek his nose up in the middle groove a couple times but the bottom was the place to be after the runner took.

Brian Shirley drives down the back straight away at Peoria Speedway. (Addison Blair Photo)

Feature Finish:

1 Brian Shirley (3s)

2 Jeff Herzog (11)

3 Dennis Erb Jr (28)

4 Todd Bennett (T2)

5 Jason Feger (25F)

6 Shannon Babb (18)

7 Charles Hess (40)

8 Ryan Gustin(r) (19R)

9 Mike Chasteen Jr (2)

10 Jeremiah Hurst (58)

11 Myles Moos (84)

12 Frank Heckenast Jr (99jr)

13 Jason Papich (91P)

14 Ryan Unzicker (24U)

15 Blaze Burwell (44)

16 Matt Murphy(r) (8)

17 Bob Gardner (4G)

18 Kolby Vandenbergh (15)

19 Roger Rebholz (10)

20 Billy Drake (75)

21 Curtis Radke(r) (61)

22 Rich Bell (28M)


Heat Race #1: 1) Brian Shirley (3s) 2) Jason Feger (25F) 3) Ryan Gustin(r) (19R) 4) Frank Heckenast Jr (99jr) 5) Billy Drake (75) 6) Austin Simpson (35) 7) Cole Swibold (98) 8) Brandon Lance (48B)

Heat Race #2: 1) Todd Bennett (T2) 2) Mike Chasteen Jr (2) 3) Myles Moos (84) 4) Ryan Unzicker (24U) 5) Roger Rebholz (10) 6) Brayton Wallace(r) (B6) 7) Allen Howard Jr(r) (4U) 8) Tegan Evans (T22)(DNS)

Heat Race #3: 1) Dennis Erb Jr (28) 2) Charles Hess (40) 3) Jeremiah Hurst (58) 4) Bob Gardner (4G) 5) Kolby Vandenbergh (15) 6) Blaze Burwell (44) 7) Scott Geaschel (4E) 8) Tim Lance Jr(r) (48)

Heat Race #4: 1) Jeff Herzog (11) 2) Shannon Babb (18) 3) Jason Papich (91P) 4) Rich Bell (28M) 5) Curtis Radke(r) (61) 6) Matt Murphy(r) (8) 7)Russ Adams (74) 8) TJ Bolen (24) (DNS)

B-Main #1: 1) Billy Drake (75) 2) Roger Rebholz (10) 3) Austin Simpson (35) 4) Cole Swibold (98) 5) Brayton Wallace(r) (B6) 6) Allen Howard Jr(r) (4U) 7) Brandon Lance (48B)

B-Main #2: 1) Kolby Vandenbergh (15) 2) Matt Murphy(r) (8) 3) Blaze Burwell (44) 4) Scott Geaschel (4E) 5) Russ Adams (74) 6) Tim Lance Jr(r) (48) 7) Curtis Radke(r) (61) 8) Tegan Evans (T22) (DNS) 9) TJ Bolen (24)(DNS)

Fast Qualifier Group A: Ryan Gustin 12.229 seconds

Fast Qualifier Group B: Dennis Erb Jr 12.442 seconds

The Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel will be in action next weekend at Farmer City Raceway on Thursday and Friday September 3rd and 4th. Saturday night for round seven of the 2020 Season at Fairbury Speedway.

For more information and news concerning the Rip it Energy Fuel Mars Racing Series, please visit us at