The Kamikaze Kid is the Show on Night #2 at Gateway

Dirt Late Models took to the Dome at America’s Center for two flights of features on Friday night. Over 80 drivers took part in the second preliminary night for the Gateway Dirt Nationals, with six drivers clinching their spots into Saturday night’s finale and one driver stealing thes how.


The features were kicked off with a thriller. Fairbury American Legion Speedway track champion Ryan Unzicker would lead most of the race from the pole before West Virginia’s Tyler Carpenter came charging through the field. The two would trade slide jobs several times over the course of a few laps before “The Kamikaze Kid” would take the lead for good and go on to score the thrilling win.


Earlier in the night, Carpenter mentioned on the broadcast that he, “Didn’t come here to f— around” after scoring a heat win in a hard race. After the feature win, he was just as pumped up.


“Hot damn, what can you say man. Exciting’s an understatement, look at this f——- crowd,” Carpenter said in victory lane. “I had no idea I’d ever come to a place like this or an event with all you people, and for somebody like me to be in victory lane. I did it. I didn’t think I could win it, I was running that damn thing like I wasn’t going to live tomorrow. I knew if I wasn’t going forward, someone else was going to.”


The win carries extra special meaning for Carpenter, whose niece Mannon is suffering from the rare genetic disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He used the national stage to speak in part of Mannon’s Miracle, a GoFundMe set up to help cover medical expenses for the family.


“That’s one of the saddest things a human being can look at. We’ve got this fundraiser going on and it’s sad. You’ve got a little month or two-month old baby that’s doesn’t have a shot at life because of a decline of insurance. Her dad had killer insurance but for some ungodly reason, this high-dollar insurance everybody’s got to pay for ain’t worth s—. She’s a poor little baby.”


“I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t ask for money, it either comes or it doesn’t. But there’s no way I can come up with $2.2 million dollars for this little girl,” he added. “That’s what we’re traveling for, we’re trying to make a statement and get publicity for this little baby. Even if it isn’t my own kid, I see every kid as my kid. I’ve got four girls of my own and a boy, I love kids.”


To donate to Mannon’s Miracle, click here:


In the second Late Model A-Main, it was a familiar face to the Gateway Dirt Nationals and the area visiting victory lane. ‘The Moweaqua Misslie’ Shannon Babb earned his third win in Gateway Dirt Nationals preliminary action in four years, continuing his perfect weekend after having set fast time overall in qualifying on Thursday and winning his heat race.


The Illinois driver started on the outside front row and rode behind polesitter Patrik Daniel until driving around him just before halfway. From there, he went unchallenged the rest of the way to score the win.


“I don’t even know who the hell the guy was on the pole but he was fast, never met him before. He was really good, I thought I’d just let him lead it for a while and see what his line was going to be,” Babb said. “It’s really demanding to run twenty laps out there. I can’t say enough about this Rocket race car.”


Lapped traffic came into play late in the twenty-lap event, with a rough racetrack adding an extra layer to the challenge.


“Everybody’s cars were turning them in all different directions,” he said. “That’s Mike Glasscock, I know him pretty well, I could see his driveshaft and oil pan a couple different times and he had the same idea I did, I just had to find a different way around him and went to the top above the holes and had to get it on there the last five laps. This dome is awesome, it’s been great to me. I love the fans, Dirt in December is unreal.”


Illinois drivers Ryan Unzicker and Mike Spatola, Ohio native Rusty Schlenk, and Texas driver Patrik Daniel have also locked their way into Saturday night’s 40-lap main event paying $30,000 to win.


Race fans can find on-demand updates and photos from Friday’s event by visiting Speed51’s Race Day now coverage. A live broadcast of this weekend’s action can be viewed on


Late Models – Feature #1 Results:
1. Tyler Carpenter
2. Ryan Unzicker
3. Mike Spatola
4. Tanner English
5. Scott James
6. Billy Moyer
7. Bobby Pierce
8. Brandon Sheppard
9. Chad Zobrist
10. Jeremiah Hurst
11. Bob Gardner
12. Mike Fryer
13. Jason Welshan
14. Matt Shipley
15. Robbie Stuart
16. David Seibers
17. Vance Wilson
18. Myles Moos
19. Rusty Griffaw
20. Jason Feger


Late Models – Feature #2 Results:
1. Shannon Babb
2. Rusty Schlent
3. Patrik Daniel
4. Jonathan Davenport
5. Gordy Gundaker
6. Jason Wagner
7. Kevin Smith
8. Blair Northdurft
9. Joey Coulter
10. Jadon Frame
11. Erick Hickerson
12. Mike Glasscock
13. Allen Weisser
14. Greg Kimmons
15. Mick Schulte
16. Kip Hughes
17. Ricky Thornton
18. Matt Henderson
19. Duane Chamberlain
20. Scott Ward


-Story by: Koty Geyer, State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter; @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit:

The Kamikaze Kid is the Show on Night #2 at Gateway