Shannon Babb knocked the wall down, quite literally, on his way to setting fast time in Dirt Late Model qualifying for the 4th Annual Arizona Sport Shirts Gateway Dirt Nationals Thursday night at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.
“It seems like the car is pretty fast,” Babb told Speed51 after qualifying. “It really seems that the track is a little different than it was last year, but it seems for the better. It looks like it’s a little bit more top dominant right now, but I’m sure once the heat races get out there it’ll all pan out a little bit better. I think it’s going to be pretty good racing.
“More than anything you just have to not make any mistakes and stay ahead of everybody. It’s really easy to hit a hole wrong here and get turned into a different direction, let some guys get by you, or just take yourself out.”
Freddie Carpenter turned some heads by qualifying fastest out of Group A and is feeling pretty positive about his chances to make the big show on Saturday night.
“I’m pretty excited,” Carpenter told 51. “I just hope we can keep it up and stay up front. I just gotta get through the first few laps without getting tore up or getting shuffled back. I think we gotta get out to the lead and we’ll have it from there.”
Mike Spatola qualified second on the board in Group A, Starting the weekend up front is something new for his crew, and that gives them some positive momentum going into the big show.
“I’m glad we had a good qualifying lap,” Spatola said. “That’s huge here. Starting up front definitely helps. It’s been hard to pass in years past. We never really qualified good and always had to work our way up through there so we know how important it is to start up front going into the weekend.”
While things are going positive for Spatola, like Babb, he knows that one wrong move could end his chances early Friday night during qualifying heats.
“During hot laps the track was pretty smooth and I thought this place could get pretty racey, you know. But in qualifying it got really rough. Them holes add a lot of character to this racetrack here and that’s what makes it interesting. That’s all part of being in a dome at a small racetrack. You hit a hole a wrong way, guys are going every which way, and it’s harder to dodge it. So that’s the goal, get out front, and hopefully we can try to bounce our way around the holes and stay out front.”
Fans can follow Speed51’s Race Day Now coverage for all the up to the minute updates from the Gateway Dirt Nationals throughout the weekend. A live broadcast of the event can be viewed on DirtonDirt.com.
– Story by Allick Jorgensen, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @AJorgensen24
-Photo credit: Speed51
Unofficial Group 1 Qualifying Results:
|12||11||Buddy Isles Jr.||11.569|
|31||51||William Stile Jr.||12.152|
Unofficial Group 2 Qualifying Results:
|13||99RT||Ricky Thorton Jr.||11.781|
|17||61||Chris Osborne Jr.||11.810|