A funny thing happened on the way to Shannon Babb's cakewalk to a fifth UMP Summer Nationals "Hell Tour" title.
Along came Brian Shirley.
And to be fair, some bad luck, too.
Babb lost what was once a comfortable points lead a few days ago when in back-to-back features he had a wheel break in one race and was then caught up in a crash the ensuing night. By that time, Shirley had passed him in the points pursuit.
Going into Friday night, Shirley held a 958-934 points lead over Babb, who won Hell Tour championships in 2014, 2011, 1006 and 2005. Shirley, who won the title in 2012, is a longtime rival of Babb. Shirley is from the Springfield, Ill., area, while Babb's compound is not far away in Moweaqua, Ill.
Those two drivers and a couple of dozen other late model hotshoes will be at Quincy Raceways on Sunday for the tour's annual stop at 8000 Broadway.
The Summer Nationals were scheduled for Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway on Friday night and Highland (Ill.) Speedway on Saturday before rolling into Quincy.
The tour continues through July 14, when it winds up in Wauseon, Ohio. The Summer Nationals sojourn opened in early June and will have crisscrossed seven states by the time the final checkered flag falls.
Support series Sunday night will be the UMP modifieds and IMCA sport mods. Racing is scheduled to start at 7 p.m..
Once upon a time, the Deery Brothers Summer Series was the biggest race of the year in Quincy. Those were the days when the Broadway Bullring was an IMCA track.
The closest Deery Brothers race now is at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, and judging from Tuesday's running the series is alive and well. The Deery event drew a healthy field of 37 late models. It will be interesting to see how that compares to Sunday's Hell Tour count in Quincy.
Ryan Dolan won Tuesday's race at West Burlington, leading a top five that also included Tyler Bruening, Darrel DeFrance, Rob Toland and Matt Ryan.
Lee County update
Tommy Elston, a semi-regular among the crate late models at Quincy, is the points leader in that division at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa.
Elston (309) holds a slim lead over Sam Halstead (300) and Gunner Frank (289). Both Halstead and Franks also show up in Quincy on occasion.
Sport compact driver Barry Taft, who has dominated the series this season in Quincy, also leads that division at Lee County. Taft owns a 310-305 advantage over Kim Abbott, who also trails Taft in Quincy 253-240.
A pair of Quincy residents who do not race locally, Jeff Waterman and Bob Cowman, are enjoying success at Lee County. Waterman leads the modified division, while Bob Cowman is runner-up to Brandon Dale in the sport mods.
Here are the midseason points leaders at 8000 Broadway:
Crate late models: Denny Woodworth 271, Vance Wilson 204. Feature wins: Woodworth 2.
Modifieds: Dave Wietholder623, Shawn Deering 481. Feature wins: Wietholder 5, Ray Bollinger 2.
Sport mods: Brandon Lennox 391, Adam Birck 366. Feature wins: Austen Becerra 4, Lennox 2, Birck 2.
Stock cars: Michael Larsen 320, Jake Powers 312, Jerry Jansen 303. Feature wins: Huls 5, Beau Taylor 2.
Sport compacts: Barry Taft 253, Kim Abbott 240. Feature wins: Taft 5, Darin Weisinger Jr., 2.