Shirley Wins at Peoria, Closes Gap on Point Leader Heckenast

Shirley Wins at Peoria, Closes Gap on Point Leader Heckenast


Burbank, IL (October 10, 2020)


Burbank, IL (October 10, 2020) – Friday night the Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel kicked off a three day race weekend at Peoria Speedway with a $5,000 to win event. The race started the Championship weekend for the 2020 Mars Racing Series campaign. Going in Frank Heckenast Jr had a 33-point lead over second place Brian Shirley in the season long points battle.

Forty-two late models signed in for Mars Racing Series competition on Friday night chasing the $5,000 payday in Peoria. It was the third time this season the tour had visited the speedway. With big figure paydays on the weekend slate many of the top drivers in the nation have invaded the Land of Lincoln.

In qualifying Frank Heckenast Jr, the current Mars Racing Series points leader, broke the track record that was previously held by Bobby Pierce. Heckenast’s lap of 11.438 seconds was quickest in Group A qualifying. Oxford, IA driver Chris Simpson was quickest in group B at 11.569 seconds. Qualifying set the stage for the four heat races to start setting the field for the nights 40 lap main event.

Frank Heckenast Jr broke the Peoria Speedway track record in qualifying with a lap of 11.438 seconds. (Addison Blair Photo)

In heat race number one it was Ryan Unzicker who got out front early and never looked back. Unzicker held off Frank Heckenast Jr who came home in the runner up spot. Those two advanced into the nights redraw for the feature event. Taylor Scheffler and Peoria Speedway regular Todd Bennett nabbed the last two transfer spots.

During heat race two Brandon Sheppard drove to the win. Surprise entrant Jesse Stovall moved up and finished runner up. After a subpar qualifying effort Bobby Pierce was able to move up and finish third. The fourth and final transfer spot went to Jason Feger.

Heat race number three was an exciting one. Chris Simpson, fast qualifier from group B had his hands full with Dennis Erb Jr but was able to pull out the win. Veteran Wisconsin driver Jimmy Mars finished in the third position. Mars regular Jake Miller came home in fourth and transferred as well to the feature event.

The final heat race of the night went to DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champ Brian Shirley. He was in a different time zone and won by more than a straightway over previous Mars Racing Series Champion Tanner English. Rich Bell was the third-place finisher and Rusty Schlenk nabbed the final spot to move on to the night’s main event.

The redraw was a friend to Ryan Unzicker as he drew the pole after his heat race win. Brian Shirley pulled out the 2 and got the outside front row starting position. Brandon Sheppard got the three and Chris Simpson the four to make up the front two rows of the feature event.

In B-Main number one veteran driver Billy Drake picked up the 12-lap event win. Peoria area driver Bob Gardner got the second transfer spot into the nights feature event. In the second B-Main event Wisconsin driver Brett Swedberg drove away with the win. After a late race restart Peoria Speedway’s own Roger Rebholz was able to get around Logan Roberson to get the final transfer to the A-main. The last two spots in the field was filled by provisionals Brayton Wallace and Mike Chasteen Jr.

Brian Shirley who started on the outside of the front row took the lead on lap one. Shirley never looked back after that in his dominate 40 lap performance in Peoria, IL. During a couple of restarts in the middle stages of the event Dennis Erb Jr and Brandon Sheppard tried everything they had to get around Shirley. Brandon Sheppard got alongside Shirley on the last restart but after a couple laps Shirley was able to slip away and build up an over three second lead at the checkers. Dennis Erb Jr came home third with Jason Feger and Bobby Pierce rounding out the top five.

Mars points leader Frank Heckenast Jr came home in the seventh position and gave up some of his points lead on Brian Shirley. Going into the last points night for the series Frank holds just a six-point lead over Shirley. This will make the race Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway even more important on top of the $15,000 payday that is up for grabs. The Mars Racing Series will honor their 2020 top five in points Sunday during the season finale and Championship Night at LaSalle Speedway.

Saturday night action will get underway at 5:15pm with hotlaps. If you can’t make it you can watch LIVE at or Follow along on our social media pages Saturday night as we will have exclusive coverage of the final points night.

A Feature (40 Laps) 1) Brian Shirley 2) Brandon Sheppard 3) Dennis Erb Jr 4) Jason Feger 5) Bobby Pierce 6) Ryan Unzicker 7) Frank Heckenast Jr 8) Tanner English 9) Rusty Schlenk 10) Jesse Stovall 11) Brett Swedberg 12) Bob Gardner 13) Roger Rebholz 14) Rich Bell 15) Jake Miller 16) Mike Chasteen Jr 17) Taylor Scheffler 18) Todd Bennett 19) Billy Drake 20) Brayton Wallace 21) Chris Simpson 22) Jimmy Mars

B Feature 1 (12 Laps) 1) Billy Drake 2) Bob Gardner 3) Brett McKinnon 4) Kevin Weaver 5) Jordan Bauer 6) Cole Swibold 7) Tegan Evans 8) Myles Moos 9) Jeff Robertson 10) Mike Chasteen Jr 11) Terry Bolin

B Feature 2 (12 Laps) 1) Brett Swedberg 2) Roger Rebholz 3) Logan Roberson 4) Spencer Dierks 5) Brayton Wallace 6) Russ Adams 7) Turk Letizia 8) Curtis Radke 9) Dan Dozard 10) Scott Robertson 11) Brandon Lance 12) Tim Lance Jr.

Heat 1 (10 Laps) 1) Ryan Unzicker 2) Frank Heckenast Jr 3) Taylor Scheffler 4) Todd Bennett 5) Kevin Weaver 6) Bob Gardner 7) Myles Moos 8) Jeff Robertson 9) Terry Bolen 10) Brett McKinnon 11) Scott Stevens

Heat 2 (10 Laps) 1) Brandon Sheppard 2) Jesse Stovall 3) Bobby Pierce 4) Jason Feger 5) Billy Drake 6) Cole Swibold 7) Mike Chasteen Jr 8) Jordan Bauer 9) Shawn Mudd 10) Tegan Evans

Heat 3 (10 Laps) 1) Chris Simpson 2) Dennis Erb Jr 3) Jimmy Mars 4) Jake Miller 5) Brett Swedberg 6) Logan Roberson 7) Brayton Wallace 8) Curtis Radke 9) Scott Robertson 10) Turk Letizia

Heat 4 (10 Laps) 1) Brain Shirley 2) Tanner English 3) Rich Bell 4) Rusty Schlenk 5) Roger Rebholz 6) Spencer Dierks 7) Russ Adams 8) Tim Lance Jr 9) Dan Dozard 10) Brandon Lance

Qualifying Group 1 (2 Laps)  1) #99jr Frank Heckenast Jr 11.438 (NEW TRACK RECORD) 2) #B5 Brandon Sheppard 11.499 3) #24U Ryan Unzicker 11.524 4) #75 Billy Drake 11.617 5) #15s Taylor Scheffler 11.634 6) #00 Jesse Stovall 11.681 7) #33 Bob Gardner 11.707 8) #25F Jason Feger 11.738 9) #84 Myles Moos 11.752 10) #32 Bobby Pierce 11.820 11) #B12 Kevin Weaver 11.876 12) #2 Mike Chasteen Jr 11.877 13) #26m Brent McKinnon 11.881 14) #10J Jordan Bauer 11.938 15) #T2 Todd Bennett 11.973 16) #98 Cole Swibold 12.290 17) #P3 Jeff Robertson 13.749 18) #T22 Tegan Evans 13.893 19) #20S Scott Stevens 13.971 20) #M80 Shawn Mudd 14.281 21) #42 Terry Bolen 14.998

Qualifying Group 2 (2 Laps)  1) #32s Chris Simpson 11.569 2) #81c Tanner English 11.653 3) #3s Brian Shirley 11.681 4) Dennis Erb Jr 11.692 5) Jimmy Mars 11.705 6) #91 Rusty Schlenk 11.808 7) #19 Logan Roberson 11.830 8) #21B Rich Bell 11.967 9) Brett Swedberg 12.047 10) #29 Spencer Diercks 12.222 11) Turk Letizia 12.251 12) #10 Roger Rebholz 12.298 13) #B6 Brayton Wallace 12.338 14) #74 Russ Adams 12.443 15) #40 Charles Hess 12.482 16) #48 Tim Lance Jr 12.682 17) #61 Curtis Radke 12.720 18) #35 Dan Dozard 12.861 19) #28M Jake Miller 13.154 20) #48B Brandon Lance 14.272

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