Story By: RUBEN MIRELES – WAUSEON, OH – Chris Keller dominated on Saturday night at Oakshade Raceway in the DIRTcar Summer Nationals season finale for his first win of the season, but Brian Shirley had the biggest celebration of the night as his fifth-place finish was good enough to lock up his third championship on the grueling month-long tour.
Keller, of Adrian, MI, had to fend off fast qualifier Kent Robinson and former champion Jason Feger, but once he cleared traffic, Robinson and Feger had no chance to catch him as he drove off to the $10,000 victory.
Shirley, of Chatham, IL, started ninth and stayed smooth throughout the 50-lap Feature to capture his third DIRTcar Summer Nationals title, defending his championship from last year. He also won in 2012. Shirley joins Shannon Babb, Scott Bloomquist, Dennis Erb Jr., Billy Moyer and Bobby Pierce as the only drivers to win at least three Summer Nationals titles. Moyer is a six-time champion while Babb has won four crowns.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of sleepless hours,” Shirley said. “It’s just one of those things, you grind it out and now we get to go home. … Sometimes the momentum goes up and down, and there for a couple of races Bobby (Pierce) was as good as we were, and we were swapping the lead back and forth night after night.”
In the end, it was Shirley who found the momentum when it mattered most as he won two of the final four events to take the $25,000 championship prize home to Illinois.
DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature (50 Laps) – 1. 67-Chris Keller ; 2. 25F-Jason Feger ; 3. 7R-Kent Robinson ; 4. 2S-Travis Stemler ; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley ; 6. 55-Jeep VanWormer ; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, ; 8. 51-Devin Shiels ; 9. 42-Chad Finley ; 10. 77-Steve Kester ; 11. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 12. 52-Ryan Kent ; 13. 88-Andrew Reaume ; 14. 23-Brad Wade ; 15. O6-Jake Rendel ; 16. 53-Hillard Miller ; 17. 31AUS-Paul Stubber ; 18. 49-Brian Ruhlman ; 19. CJ1-Rusty Schlenk ; 20. 23V-Ryan VanderVeen ; 21. 50-Ryan Missler ; 22. X3-Dan Wallace ; KSE Hard Charger Award: 77-Steve Kester[+10]