Dillard’s Trouble, Spells Glory For English

Tanner English (Jacy Norgaard photo)

LEWISTOWN, Ill. — Tanner English was in the right place at the right time to win Thursday night’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals feature at Spoon River Speedway.

Cade Dillard had led 37 laps in his No. 97 late model when he pulled to the infield with a broken drive shaft yoke.

“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Dillard said.

This handed the lead over to English, who encountered a fierce challenge to his outside from a high-flying Bobby Pierce in the final two laps, but held on for his third career Summer Nationals victory.

“I thought [Dillard] thought the race was over, I didn’t really know,” English recalled. “I saw the green flag come out, and that meant two-to-go, and then he pulled down. I didn’t know what had happened.

“I just hate it for him, because I’ve been there.”

English celebrated in Summer Nationals Victory Lane for the first time since his win at Tri-City Speedway last year after a charge from 10th on the starting grid. He made crucial, quick passes toward the end of the race that set him up to be in position when Dillard broke at the end and get the win.

“I had to go where they weren’t; they were kinda all over the place,” English said of his late passes for position. “Some were on the top, some were on the bottom. A lot of times, if they were on the bottom, I just had to wait for them to make a mistake and I could take advantage of it.”

After starting fourth, Pierce came back from as deep as seventh at one point to finish second.

Max Blair crossed in third for the third-straight time this week. Ryan Unzicker was fourth and Brian Shirley completed the top five.

The finish:

Feature (40 laps): 1. 81E-Tanner English[10]; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce[4]; 3. 111V-Max Blair[8]; 4. 24-Ryan Unzicker[14]; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley[11]; 6. 25-Jason Feger[3]; 7. 11-Gordy Gundaker[1]; 8. 36-Logan Martin[6]; 9. 28-Dennis Erb Jr.[7]; 10. 86-Kyle Beard[15]; 11. F1 Payton Freeman[12]; 12. 18-Shannon Babb[21]; 13. 44-Blaze Burwell[17]; 14. 14G-Joe Godsey[9]; 15. 26M-Brent McKinnon[5]; 16. 77-Preston Luckman[20]; 17. 0-Deshawn Gingerich[13]; 18. 97-Cade Dillard[2]; 19. 14R-Jeff Roth[19]; 20. 30-Mark Voigt[18]; 21. 15-Justin Duty[16]; 22. 80-Rich Dawson[22]

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