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TUNE UP THE BAND: Erb scores first win of 2021 at Circle City

Dennis Erb Jr. wins at Circle City

Any time a driver steps into the cockpit, they know racing is about peaks and valleys. Veteran racer Dennis Erb Jr. climbed the mountain Friday at Circle City Raceway to earn his first World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Feature win of 2021.

While the Carpentersville, IL driver was $10,000 richer at the end of the night, he was forced to climb back up after losing the lead.

Erb led the first 25 laps of the Feature before Ryan Gustin powered around him on the outside for the top spot. But when it looked like Erb’s shot at Victory Lane was gone, a yellow flag gave “The One-Man Band” new life.

Erb Jr. and Gustin battled for the victory
Erb Jr. and Gustin battled for the victory at Circle City Raceway/Jacy Norgaard Photo

Erb and Gustin raced side-by-side for four laps on the restart, wrestling back-and-forth for the lead. That’s when Erb slid up in front of Gustin coming out of Turn 4 and reclaimed the lead for good with eight laps to go.

He was relieved in Victory Lane after battling through 40 laps.

“Everything held together,” Erb said. “We lost the lead for a little bit, but I knew I could get right back in it. We had a good car going through the [track] but man we had to work for it.”

It’s the seventh Morton Buildings Feature win of Erb’s career, tying him for 20th all-time with Brian Birkhofer and Jonathan Davenport.

Gustin, the top rookie of the race, crossed the line third after losing a spot to three-time and defending champion Brandon Sheppard on the final restart with six laps left.

Even though “The Reaper” was frustrated with the outcome, he knows re-starts are part of the sport.

“We really didn’t need that caution because we didn’t take off very well,” Gustin said. “But you live and die by [restarts] and that’s part of racing. Eventually the win’s going to come so we have to just keep digging.”

Gustin’s misfortunes on restarts played into Brandon Sheppard’s favor. The reigning champion took advantage of the inside lane to earn a second-place finish.

Sheppard races with Gustin and Max Blair
Sheppard used a late race restart to get to 2nd place/Jacy Norgaard Photo

“I knew [the outside] was about done up there,” Sheppard said. When [Gustin] chose the top, I knew I had to hit my marks and stay down there as good as I could, and I hung on for second.”

Sheppard extended his point lead with his runner-up finish—40 points ahead of Chris Madden, who finished ninth.

Pennsylvania driver Max Blair crossed the line fourth, and Frank Heckenast Jr. finished fifth.

UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet travel to Plymouth Speedway in Plymouth, IN on Saturday, June 5. The Series will run a 40-lap, $10,000-to-win Feature for the second straight night.

Morton Buildings Feature (40 Laps)-1. 28-Dennis Erb [2][$10,000]; 2. 1-Brandon Sheppard [4][$6,000]; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin [5][$3,500]; 4. 111-Max Blair [6][$2,800]; 5. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [7][$2,500]; 6. 99B-Boom Briggs [3][$2,300]; 7. 0E-Rick Eckert [9][$2,200]; 8. 21-Billy Moyer [1][$2,100]; 9. 44-Chris Madden [12][$2,050]; 10. B1-Brent Larson [20][$2,000]; 11. 16-Tyler Bruening [13][$1,600]; 12. 32-Bobby Pierce [10][$1,400]; 13. 93-Pancho Lawler [11][$1,200]; 14. 7-Ricky Weiss [17][$1,100]; 15. 97-Cade Dillard [8][$1,050]; 16. 21N-Logan Nickerson [14][$1,000]; 17. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain [16][$1,000]; 18. C9-Steve Casebolt [15][$1,000]; 19. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [18][$1,000]; 20. 11H-Spencer Hughes [22][$1,000]; 21. 24-Ryan Unzicker [19][$1,000]; 22. 24B-Jared Bailey [21][$1,000] Hard Charger: B1-Brent Larson[+10]

Qualifying Flight-A –1. 99B-Boom Briggs, 13.254; 2. 21-Billy Moyer, 13.309; 3. 20RT-Ricky Thornton, 13.358; 4. 97-Cade Dillard, 13.443; 5. 0E-Rick Eckert, 13.48; 6. 93-Pancho Lawler, 13.488; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, 13.626; 8. 7R-Kent Robinson, 13.651; 9. 83-Scott James, 13.654; 10. C9-Steve Casebolt, 13.67; 11. 16-Tyler Bruening, 13.741; 12. 24B-Jared Bailey, 13.833; 13. 24-Ryan Unzicker, 14.069; 14. 13-Brayton Laster, 15.611; 15. 43-Kody Marsee, 15.727; 16. 7-Ricky Weiss, NT; DNS. 42-Chad Finley, NT

Qualifying Flight-B-1. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 13.282; 2. 157-Mike Marlar, 13.302; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin, 13.348; 4. 28-Dennis Erb, 13.414; 5. 21N-Logan Nickerson, 13.447; 6. 111-Max Blair, 13.524; 7. 32-Bobby Pierce, 13.643; 8. 44-Chris Madden, 13.834; 9. 11T-Trevor Gundaker, 13.981; 10. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain, 13.984; 11. B1-Brent Larson, 14.12; 12. 11H-Spencer Hughes, 14.59; 13. 14W-Quentin White, 14.966; 14. 1CJ-Casey White, 15.781; 15. 14B-Britan Godsey, 21.834; DNS. 11-Gordy Gundaker, NT

Mike Warren

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