The Sprint Mania FALS Classic is set to take center stage on October 6th & 7th for what will be an unforgettable weekend of Sprint Car racing at the legendary Fairbury American Legion Speedway. FALS and POWRi officials are excited to announce all the event details for the Sprint Mania Weekend!
by Rocky Ragusa
Highland’s Mike Harrison held off a stout field of Modified competitors to win the Fifth Annual Casey’s Modified Nationals race Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Lucas Lee of Paris, Tenn., was the winner of the Mullins Race Engines Non-Qualifiers Shootout, while Bloomington veteran racer Billy Drake took the Late Model feature.
67 Modified drivers representing 10 states were on hand for the $10,000 to win American Modified Series race featuring some of the top open wheel drivers in the country. Qualifying was broken down into two groups that saw Buffalo’s Jeff Leka earning fast time honors at a 13.646 in group one, while Lucas Lee was quickest in the second group with a 13.755. Six heat races were held that saw the top two finishers advancing to the feature race. Ray Bollinger (Kewanee), Mike McKinney (Plainfield), Mike Harrison, Brian Shaw (Robinson), Danny Schwartz (Ashmore), and Dylan Woodling (Warsaw, Ind.) taking the wins. Four B-Mains gave drivers one last chance to move into the prestigious event. Ryan Unzicker (El Paso), David Stremme (Mooresville, N.C.), Tyler Deibert (Highland), and Zach Hoffman (Troy) earned their way into the 50-lap main event.
Bollinger and Harrison led the 24-car field to the green flag. Harrison led with Bollinger, Schwartz, Allen Weisser, and Brent Mullins following. Bollinger was able to keep pace with Harrison as the top two drivers in the national points held nothing back. Bollinger, running the bottom groove, took over the front position on lap nine. Harrison came back at Bollinger to lead on laps 14 and 15, while Weisser joined the mix for the lead. Weisser was able to take the lead on lap 16 and opened a 10 car length lead as Harrison and Bollinger battled for second, followed by Schwartz and McKinney. Bollinger’s race came to an end on the 23rd lap as he dropped out with suspension problems, drawing the first caution of the night. Weisser led on the restart, but on lap 28 a light rain began to fall. After a 10 minute delay, track crews went to work and soon had the track ready to race. Weisser lost his lead to Harrison on the restart, but Weisser was relentless in his bid to reclaim the lead. Behind the duo, four cars put on a show as Schwartz, Mullins, Unzicker, and McKinney swapped the third spot. Cautions fell on lap 34 and 35 with Weisser taking over on the 35th circuit. Weisser’s car began to misfire and his dreams of taking the big check vanished as he had to park his car in the infield with motor problems. Harrison moved back into the lead and after another brief rain delay, and Mullins’s attempt to take over the lead, Harrison pulled away to claim his third Casey’s Modified race, fourth A.M.S. race of the year, and 32nd feature win of the season. Mullins, Unzicker, 19th starter Devin Gilpin, 18th starter Levi Kissinger, McKinney, 23rd starter Jeff Curl, Michael Long, Stremme, and Schwartz completed the top ten in a race that saw six lead changes among three drivers. A jubilant Harrison commented after the race. “I ran as hard as I had to. Allen started to pull away and I had to get back at it. I hated it for Ray and Allen’s misfortune. I felt the rain showers benefited me, but those guys were still tough on the bottom. The last 20 laps I drove my heart out for my team and the fans.”
by Rocky Ragusa
On Driver Appreciation Night, where the Fairbury American Legion Speedway recognized the top ten drivers in each class, the racers returned the favor by presenting an intense night of racing on the 1/4 mile, dirt oval. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Jay Ledford (Modified), Brandon Pralle (Sportsman), AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), and Jason Brandt (Hobby-Modified) wheeled their machines to victory lane.
22 I Beam Sliding Doors Late Models qualified for their 30-lap feature and Ryan Unzicker was the quickest at a 12.474. Unzicker, Scott Schmitt, and McKay Wenger won their respective heat races. Polesitter Unzicker took the lead on the start, as fifth starter Mike Spatola quickly moved into second, with Wenger, Schmitt, and Bill Hough following. The drivers set a lightning quick pace and were lapping traffic by the fifth circuit. By the halfway point of the race the top four drivers separated themselves from the competition running the top side of the track. On the restart after a lap 20 caution, Spatola slowed on the speedway for another caution. Unzicker led on the ensuing restart as Wenger got by Schmitt for second. Wenger attempted several times to overtake Unzicker, but Unzicker held his ground. Another caution fell on lap 25 for an incident with Donny Walden and Cole Swibold. On the restart, Schmitt took over second. Schmitt tried to slide job Unzicker, but Unzicker was too strong on this night and took his fourth straight win at Fairbury. “Behind me was a good show,” said Unzicker. “I could see someone on my inside and I was waiting for a slide job. We were just a tic good enough to stay upfront.” Schmitt, Jay Morris, Wenger, Kevin Weaver, Glen Thompson, Paul Stubber, 14th starter Scott Bull, Walden, and Swibold rounded out the top ten.
Bradley Braves freshman, Jeffrey Ledford, topped 29 other Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers in time trials with a 13.660. Ledford, Jay Ledford, and Jeff Curl earned heat race wins. Jimmy Dehm advanced to the 20-lap feature by claiming the semi-feature. Caution fell on the initial start of the race as Nick Lueth was hit from behind causing his car to become airborne. Lueth lost control of his car and Billy Puckett, Joey Iliff, and Mark Grosvenor got caught up in the accident. After the track was cleared, Jeffrey Ledford held a slight lead over his father, Jay, Steven Brooks, Curl, and Mike McKinney. The elder Ledford schooled the younger Ledford on the fourth lap for the lead, with Brooks, McKinney, and Josh Allen moving into fifth. Brooks slowed on the eighth lap to bring out a caution. Jeffrey Ledford looked under Jay for the lead but the ole man stood tough. McKinney began making noise and joined the Ledford’s in a race for first. McKinney took the second spot on lap 11 and immediately made Ledford aware of his presence. Caution fell on the 13th lap setting up an exciting finish. Ledford led, running the top, with McKinney following. McKinney tried setting Ledford up for a slide job in the waning laps but Ledford had enough to take his second straight feature win. “I have to thank Mike for running me clean,” spoke Ledford. “My car was a little tight on entry into the turns and I had to run a different line.” Following Ledford to the checkered flag were McKinney, Jeffrey Ledford, Curl, Allen, Travis Kohler, Dehm, 18th starter Grosvenor, Vince Cooper, and Jimmy Farris Jr.
by Rocky Ragusa
Drivers scrambled to secure a place in the point standings, and for several drivers they held the checkered flag for their first time. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Jay Ledford (Modified), Curtis Radke (Street Stock), Lake Nichoalds (Sportsman), and Brian Deavers (Hobby-Modified) collected the hardware on the final points night of the season on Saturday at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway.
Donny Walden was the night’s fast qualifier over 23 other I Beam Sliding Doors Late Model drivers with a 12.920. Scott Bull, Kevin Weaver, and 2017 track champion Ryan Unzicker won their heat races. In the 30-lap feature, Bull led the opening laps before Weaver took over on the third lap. Bull, looking for his first win of the year, had his car working on the bottom and reclaimed the lead on lap four. Unzicker worked his way by Weaver and pressured Bull for the front position. Unzicker looked to take the lead on lap nine but a caution kept Bull in the front. Trailing the duo were Weaver, Jay Sparks, and McKay Wenger who had fans on their feet in an exciting race for third. Unzicker was able to take command after a lap 11 caution and soon had to contend with slower traffic. Unzicker threaded his way and maintained a comfortable margin over Bull. 11th starter Mike Glasscock joined in the race for a top five spot. A caution came out with four laps to go giving Unzicker’s competition a chance to dethrone the champion. Unzicker was able to hold a five car length lead over Bull for the rest of the race as he claimed his fifth Fairbury win of the year. Bull took second, Weaver held on to third over Sparks, followed by Glasscock, Wenger, Charlie Olson, Scott Schmitt, Billy Hough, and 18th starter Curt Spalding. “This car has worked great since the Summer Nationals,” Unzicker said.” We have been fine tuning it and doing what we can do for the track surfaces. Last week the track was totally different from this week. Hats off to the Fairbury crew along with my crew and sponsors. Winning the track championship means a lot to me and my guys. Hopefully we can chase down Rusty Schlenk for the national title”.
21 Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers checked in for their 20-lap race. In time trials, Nick Lueth set fast time at a 14.532. Lueth, Jay Ledford, and 2017 track champion Jeff Curl earned heat race wins. At the drop of the green flag Ledford overtook Lueth for the lead and set a rapid pace early in the race. Nick Clubb, Curl, and Jimmy Dehm duked it out for third in a battle that saw none of the trio backing down. Several cautions kept Ledford from walking away from his competitors early in the race. Curl was able to move into second as Bobby Stremme joined in the hunt. Curl was able to cut into Ledford’s lead and had a opportunity to take the lead from the “racing farmer” as a caution waved with six laps to go. On the restart, Ledford quickly pulled away from his combatants and registered his first Fairbury win of the season. Curl, Lueth, Dehm, Stremme, 12th starter Michael Thayer, Clubb, Dave Lilja, Travis Kohler, and Joey Iliff followed. “Congrats to Jeff on his championship,” spoke Ledford.” I have to thank my crew. We have been struggling lately. Some of it has been my own fault with the nuts and bolts. But tonight everything worked out.”
Brandon Pralle captured the pole for the CR Towing Sportsman 15-lap race. 2017 track champion Lake Nichoalds took the heat win. Nichoalds, running his patented high side, took the lead at the start as Pralle stayed even running on the bottom, followed by Bryant Frechette, Amber Crouch, and Steve Mattingly. As Pralle pressured Nichoalds for the front spot the caution flag waved. The restart had Nichoalds changing his line to the bottom while Crouch got by Frechette for third. Crouch spun out on the sixth lap relegating her to the rear of the field. On the restart, Nichoalds led as Frechette overtook Pralle for second. The first three drivers ran the bottom while Mattingly ran on the top. Nichoalds opened a five car length margin in the waning laps and recorded his ninth win of the season. Frechette took second followed by Pralle, Crouch, who battled back for fourth, with Mattingly, Anthony Craven, and Eric Saltzman completing the running order. “It has been a dream season,” said Nichoalds. “I am really blessed. I have to thank my dad for all the work he puts into this car plus the rest of my crew, sponsors, and friends.”
24 Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers were in attendance with Joe Brown pacing qualifying at a 16.618. Brown, Curtis Radke, and Matt Hammond took heat race wins. In the 15-lap feature, pole sitter Brown dropped out before a lap was completed handing the lead to Hammond. Radke and Rick Thomas stayed glued to Hammond’s bumper early in the race as 2017 track champion AJ Meiferdt quickly moved into fourth position. Following a yellow flag on lap seven, Radke had a good restart and pulled alongside of Hammond. As the two exited turn two Radke used his momentum to take the lead. Two cautions fell in the closing laps keeping the top five positions up for grabs. As the field took the green flag on the 11th lap, Thomas was able to take the second spot from Hammond and close in on Radke. Radke stuck his car to the bottom, holding strong, for his first ever feature win. Thomas, Meiferdt, Hammond, Mitch Hahn, Valerie Hurt, Dane Arvin, Kyle Anderson, Michael Schomas, and Tanner Sullivan completed the top ten. After a hard fought race an exhausted Radke spoke, “First I have to thank my crew chief, Shannon Gross. I couldn’t have done it without you. Six years now and finally got my first feature win at the best track in America.”
Brian Deavers took the heat race win in the Hobby-Modified race and was on the pole for the 12-lap race. He took command of the race with Mike Petersen running in second. On the sixth lap, Deavers lost control of his car handing the lead to Petersen. Deavers fought back and regained the lead on lap 10. Deavers, a former Pontiac Rt. 66 kart racer, pulled away in the end for his first ever win in a Modified. Brendan Patterson, Makinzi Semmens, Macy Vaughan, and Haley Jones followed. Excited, Deavers commented after the race, “It hasn’t been easy coming from the Hornet class. I have learned a lot. Thanks to my crew and sponsors for their help.”
by Rocky Ragusa
After a brief absence, Thursday night racing returned to the 141st Fairbury Fair at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Ray Bollinger (Modified), and Myles Moos (Pro Late Model) were the night’s feature winners.
19 Late Model drivers took to the track for qualifying with Bob Gardner setting fast time at a 12.714. Unzicker and Kevin Weaver were the heat race victors. Unzicker was on a rail, manhandling the top groove to perfection in the I Beam Sliding Doors 30-lap feature. Weaver and Scott Schmitt made several attempts to take the front position but Unzicker held his ground. A red flag fell on the 21st lap as the lights in turn one went out. After a 20-minute delay, the drivers went back to business. Unzicker was able to withstand the pressure from Weaver and McKay Wenger to take the race win and only needs to start Saturday’s race to wrap up his first-ever Fairbury track championship. Wenger took second over Weaver, with 13th starter Scott Bull in fourth and Schmitt placing fifth. Current UMP national point leader Rusty Schlenk came in sixth with Rich Bell, Mike Spatola, 19th starter Jay Sparks, and Jose Parga following. “We ran the car on the top tonight,” said Unzicker. “It looked like it would be the fastest way around. Weaver and Wenger both did a heck of a job.”
Bollinger was looking to rack up UMP national points and posted the fast time over 23 other Varsitee Screen Printing modified competitors with a 14.505. Bollinger, Jason Hastings, and Jeffrey Ledford took heat race wins. In the caution-plagued event, Bollinger, running the top groove, held a slight edge over Ledford through the first 11 laps of the 20-lap race. Ledford snuck by Bollinger to lead the 12th circuit, but Bollinger came back to reclaim the lead. Ledford and Bollinger separated themselves from the field as Allen Weisser and Mike McKinney battled for third. Ledford led Bollinger after a caution with three laps to go, but Bollinger was running the top and took over the top spot. Ledford refused to give up and stuck the nose of his car under Bollinger several times. Bollinger was able to hang on for his third Fairbury win. Ledford was next with McKinney, Weisser, Jeff Curl, 13th starter Travis Kohler, Jimmy Dehm, Dave Lilja, Hastings, and 19th starter Billy Puckett in tow. “I can’t say enough about Jeffrey,” an excited Bollinger said. “He sticks his car on the bottom. I didn’t have anything for him there. I just had to put it on the top and bang the wall.” Only six points separate Curl and Ledford with one night of points remaining.
The Pro Late Model class returned for its second appearance of the year in a 20-lap race bringing in 18 cars. Chad Osterhoff set a new track record in time trials with a 14.024-second clip. Osterhoff and Myles Moos won their heat races. Moos took the lead at the start, putting his car on the top, and opened up a 10-car length lead. Torin Mettille and Mike Spatola traded the second position several times early in the race while Jake Little and Allen Weisser followed. With three laps to go, Mettille looked to take the lead but a caution fell on the track spoiling Mettille’s bid. Moos got a good restart and was able to pull away and take the win. Spatola took second on the last lap, followed by AJ May, Mettille, and Weisser. Jay Morris led the second five and was followed by Osterhoff, Derrick Hufford, Jeremy McLaughlin, and Brian Crebo. “I don’t normally run the top side but tonight it was the fastest way around,” Moos said.
- Unzicker Scores Summer Shootout Win
- Schmitt, Spatola, McKinney, Nichoalds, Thomas, Gee grab checkers
- Sheppard Cashes in on $3O,OOO Payday as he picks up his first PDC Victory; Harrison Rallies from 17th to win Modified Nationals Finale and Championship
- Moran, Clanton, Sheppard, Marlar Capture Showdown Wins on Opening Night of PDC; Davenport, Miller, Bollinger, Hoffman Take Modified Nationals Victories