Kankakee, IL -- The Kankakee County Speedway owns a very special place in Frank Heckenast Jr’s trophy cabinet. It was the site of his very first DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model victory back in 2015.
Five years later, and The Frankfort Flyer has done it again. This time, in dominating fashion.
Heckenast put a whooping on the Summer Nationals field Tuesday night in the tour’s 32nd visit to Kankakee, leading every lap en route to his fourth career Hell Tour victory in front of a great deal of his family, friends and sponsors. Racing just over 30 minutes away from his home in Frankfort, IL, Heckenast showed lots of appreciation for those that came out to see him in Victory Lane.
“I love this place. They changed the track a bunch. This is our second time here with it being that different. I’m just so happy everyone’s here. We’ve got a hundred people in our pit area,” Heckenast told Summer Nationals announcer Ruben Mireles.
Put simply, this was one of the most dominating victories seen all year on the tour, if not the biggest. Heckenast lapped up to sixth place in the running order and crossed the finish line 6.85 seconds ahead of runner-up Jason Feger. He also set fast time in Qualifying and won his Heat Race, setting him up for a pole position spot on the Feature starting grid.
At the drop of the green, Heckenast took off and never looked back once throughout the 40-lap event. With only one caution flag flying early on in the Feature, he was able to pull away early, lapped traffic never once slowing his pace.
In his own words, his first win since July 23 at Springfield Raceway came with a whole new approach to driving.
“I race other people how I how I want to be raced, and I never get the same respect. So, from now on, I just drive the [crap] out of this thing, drive them like they drive me. What a difference,” Heckenast said.
Among the other notable drivers was former Modified pilot Ryan Gustin, making his first Summer Nationals start since the first week of the tour back in July. The Marshalltown, IA-native started seventh and picked his competition off one by one as the laps clicked off, resulting in a solid third place – his best career finish with the tour.
The rough going for current points leader Brian Shirley continued Tuesday night after Sunday’s DNF at Lincoln, as the Bob Cullen Racing #3S started up front and was contending for a podium spot early, but soon faded back to sixth – the final car on the lead lap, almost a whole lap behind Heckenast. The team will now head to Michigan, holding onto a big advantage in points as they look to secure their fourth Summer Nationals championship.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model action continues Wednesday night, Aug. 19, with the first of four races in the state of Michigan – starting with the tour’s debut at Butler Motor Speedway in Quincy. Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr ; 2. 25-Jason Feger ; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin ; 4. 91-Rusty Schlenk ; 5. 4-Travis Stemler ; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley ; 7. 19X-Cody Bauer ; 8. 18L-Jeffrey Ledford ; 9. 5-Mike Provenzano ; 10. 48-Tim Lance ; 11. 77M-Jay Morris ; 12. B12-Kevin Weaver ; 13. 14-Glen Thompson ; 14. 89-Mike Spatola ; 15. 12-Jeff Curl ; 16. 7-Drake Troutman ; 17. 1W-Donny Walden ; 18. 48L-Tim Lance Jr ; 19. 5X-Bryant Dickinson ; 20. 4G-Bob Gardner  Hard Charger: 14-Glen Thompson[+6]
DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals
Make it four consecutive victories now for The Thrill from Mooresville.
Nick Hoffman put another flag-to-flag victory together Tuesday night at Kankakee County Speedway, going 25 straight laps untouched for the 36th DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals victory of his career.
“Things are going really, really well for me, Mike [McKinney], Will [Krup] – anybody that’s been running our cars. Hunt Gossum the other night… This thing’s been really good. On any track condition, but when it’s like this, polished-up and slick, this is where we’re the best,” Hoffman said.
It’s true – the Elite Chassis clan of Hoffman, Mike McKinney, Will Krup and even 15-year-old Hunt Gossum have been turning in some stellar finishes since the tour began, sometimes filling the podium. They almost did the latter again Tuesday night, with McKinney running second and Krup placing fourth.
Perhaps the most eye-opening run of the night came from New Lenox, IL’s own Steven Brooks. Brooks came all the way from the 11th starting spot, gradually advancing his position until he cracked the podium on Lap 15 with a pass on Krup. He held the spot all the way back to the checkers, fending off Krup’s challenges from behind.
The Summit Modified field will now head to Michigan for four consecutive races as the precursor to championship weekend at Cedar Ridge Speedway in Kentucky, Aug. 28-29. Lots of new cars are expected to join the roster in Michigan, and Hoffman is ready to take on the challenge of two new tracks new to him – Butler Motor Speedway and Tri-City Motor Speedway.
The DIRTcar Summit Modified action continues Wednesday night, Aug. 19, with the first of four races in the state of Michigan – starting with the tour’s debut at Butler Motor Speedway in Quincy. Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
Feature (25 Laps) 1. 7-Nick Hoffman ; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney ; 3. 5B-Steven Brooks ; 4. K19-Will Krup ; 5. 21-Derek Losh ; 6. 22C-Nick Clubb ; 7. 35H-Jason Hastings ; 8. 24-Zeke McKenzie ; 9. 8K-Levi Kissinger ; 10. 3W-Dylan Woodling ; 11. 37L-Michael Ledford ; 12. 45-Kyle Hammer ; 13. 48-Adam Pockrus ; 14. 27-Beau DeYoung ; 15. 12-Richard Craven ; 16. 1W-Bob Pohlman ; 17. 19C-Travis Cooley ; 18. J1JR-Dale Jackson ; 19. 11S-Nick Seplak ; 20. A34-Dustin Hume ; 21. 12M-John McClure ; 22. 5-Curt Spalding ; 23. 88-Daniel Flessner ; 24. 23-Dylan Caldwell ; 25. O-Travis Kohler  Hard Charger: 3W-Dylan Woodling[+10]
-DIRTcar Racing Press Release
-Photo Credit: Jim DenHamer