Sheppard Earns Hard Fought Summer Nationals Win; Kinder Claims Modified Nationals Win

Story by DIRTcar | Photos by Rocky Ragusa

LM-jun25It was not an easy win, but Brandon Sheppard held tough and fought back challenges Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway to claim his first Summer Nationals victory of the season.

Sheppard started the feature on the outside pole with veteran Billy Moyer next to him. Moyer jumped out to an early lead. Sheppard got around him on lap three but Moyer battled back. He cruised through the next 20 laps with Sheppard glued to the high-side of the track and fighting to maintain his second place position, which he lost briefly at the midpoint of the feature.

Sheppard found another opening on lap 26 and held the top spot for two laps but Moyer again battled back to the lead. This time, Shannon Babb was on the move and took the top spot from Moyer – but again, only briefly. On a lap 35 restart, Sheppard, who at that point was in fourth, blasted forward retaking third from Jimmy Mars, then second from Moyer. Using that high line, Sheppard then fought past Babb to retake the lead. It was smooth sailing to the end.

“I knew I just had to hit my marks and not bobble,” Sheppard said. “The cushion was like a one-foot brick wall all the way around the top. It was really hard. And the tire rule that we’re on, my left-rear (tire) would die after about five laps and I’d just have to run sideways all the way around the corner and hope not to push, because my right-front wouldn’t steer either. We just tried to hit our marks and keep everything together, and we did.”

Moyer finished second and Jimmy Mars in third. Bobby Pierce, who finished eighth, continues to hold a strong points lead over second place Mike Marlar.

Weaver Garners $2,OOO Allen Memorial for Fourth Time

by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury American Legion Speedway played host to the 20th Annual “Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial" race on Saturday. The race honors the legacy of a father and son that shared the love of motorsports in Illinois through their parts business and owning race cars with a variety of drivers. Taking wins were Kevin Weaver, Mike McKinney, A.J. Meiferdt, Richard Craven, Graham Jackson, and Ryan Hamilton.

Spatola picks up $1,OOO Pro (Crate) Late Model Win during busy Saturday at FALS

by Darlene Miller

History came to life on a hot Saturday night as Fairbury American Legion Speedway played host to seven features and six different winners.

CLM-jun11Manhattan’s Mike Spatola also tried to make history by winning two of those features only to come up one spot short in the Late Model race. Spatola started out the night capturing the makeup $1,000 to win Pro (Crate) Late Model feature. Jose Parga, Dakota Ewing, Brandon Eskew, and Torin Mettille rounded out the top five. Spatola also was victorious in the regular show over Ewing, Eskew, Parga, and Tom Knippenberg. Spatola and Mettille were heat winners while Spatola set fast time at 14.404 seconds. “It was a one night deal. I had a good car and it worked out well,” said Spatola, who sits in second place in Late Model track points.

LM-jun11Fairbury’s McKay Wenger and Spatola led the field to the green flag in the Late Model feature. Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver split the pair rather quickly and took the top spot. He moved down to his familiar low side on the track. The cagey veteran, Weaver later had to move up to the top side to weave through traffic. He slammed the turn two wall with two laps to go in the 30-lap feature. Weaver, who was denied the night before while leading at Farmer City, was able to hold on and capture the win. The win ties Weaver with Dwight’s Rick Thomas with 63 feature wins as they both chase “The Racing Farmer” Roger Long (66) for the most career feature wins at FALS. “It was hot out there and there was a lot of tension. I knew I had to go up top if we were to get the win,” said Weaver. Spatola brought home a close second followed by Wenger, Scott Schmitt, Scott Bull, and Joe Harlan in the top five. Mike Provenzano led the second five and was followed by Kolby Vandenbergh, Dan Flessner, and Lyle Zanker Jr. Spatola and Wenger were heat winners and Schmitt had fast time with a fast lap of 13.643 seconds.

MD-jun11Pontiac’s Jay Ledford took another step toward capturing another Modified title after barely holding off Steven Brooks for the victory in the division's feature. The pair were fighting back and forth for the lead the entire race before Ledford was able to hold off Brooks by a car length at the line. “I had a good race car,” Ledford said. “I got into a rhythm after I finally got around Steven.” Mike McKinney, Vince Cooper, and Jeff Leka completed the top five. Lance Dehm, Nick Clubb, Nick Lueth, Tommy Duncan, and Joe Gillespie rounded out the top 10. Ledford and Brooks won their heats and Brooks set fast time with a time of 14.560 seconds.

SP-jun11Yellow was the color of the night in the Sportsman division as seven cautions flew in the 15-lap feature. Richie Rich and Brian Albus started on the front row but Richard Craven grabbed the lead with 12 laps to go over Rich and held on. “It is good to be back in the winner’s circle,” Craven said. Albus was third with Steve Mattingly and Anthony Craven (hard charger, started 11th) in the top five. The second five was comprised of Amber Crouch, Brandon Pralle, Scott Williams, Eric Saltzman, and Blake Reid. Albus and Rich were heat winners and Rich had a 14.919 second lap for quick time.

SS-jun11Dwight’s Andrew Funk won the Street Stock event by 10 car lengths over Peter Odell. Coming in third was Darrell Dick with A.J. Meiferdt, Curtis Radke, Tim Dick (hard charger, started 11th), Michael Schomas, Terry Miller, Don Hilleary, and Valerie Hurt in tow in the top 10. “It feels good to win tonight,” said Funk. Funk and Odell won their heats and Funk set quick time at 15.950 seconds.

Youngster Mason Duncan won the feature in the Hobby Mods. Tim McGuire, Gregg Pierce, Mike Petersen, and Macy Vaughan completed the top five. Jason Brandt was the heat race winner.

Makeup Dates from May 28 Rain Out Features Announced

July 9
Street Stocks will run a regular show along with the May 28th makeup feature. The lineup is set for the makeup feature and no new entries will be allowed for that race. Any new cars will run in the regular show only. Points will be awarded for both features. Eligible drivers will receive pay for both features.

Spatola, McKinney, Rich, Funk, Perez, Wilson capture Fan Appreciation Night Wins

by Rocky Ragusa

Despite threatening weather early in the afternoon, Mother Nature was kind and gave the Fairbury American Legion Speedway a perfect night of racing on Fan Appreciation / Nostalgia Night at the track.

jun4-LM17 UMP DIRTcar Late Models were on hand for their 30 lap race. Mike Spatola was the night’s fast qualifier at a 13.128. Spatola and Scott Schmitt took the heat race wins. Spatola used his front row starting position to quickly open a ten car length lead over McKay Wenger, Schmitt, Kevin Weaver, and Mike Glasscock. After a lap 12 caution, Spatola pulled away to a commanding lead as Schmitt got by Wenger for second, followed closely by Glasscock and Weaver. Schmitt, Wenger, and Weaver waged a tremendous battle for second as Glasscock dropped out of the race. Spatola soon encountered slower cars enabling Wenger, who broke away from Schmitt, and Weaver to narrow the margin on Spatola. With five laps to go, Wenger was on Spatola’s bumper as both drivers fought the treacherous Fairbury cushion. Wenger made repeated attempts with a slide job on Spatola but Spatola held his ground to pick up his first win at Fairbury since 2014. “The car was really loose coming off the cushion,” spoke Spatola. “I wasn’t watching my crew giving me signals and had no idea that McKay was that close. He made me get on the wheel and I appreciate him racing me clean.” Wenger, Schmitt, Jay Morris, and Dan Flessner (hard charger, started 16th) completed the top five, followed by Mike Provenzano, Scott Bull, Joe Harlan, Steve Thorsten, and Kevin Weaver, who dropped out on the final lap.

jun4-MD

28 UMP DIRTcar Modified drivers time trialed seeking to start the 20 car feature race. Jay Ledford set fast time at a 14.198. Ledford, Steven Brooks, and Mike McKinney won heat races, while Jimmie Haager took the semi feature. At the green flag, McKinney took a straightaway lead as Brooks, Ledford, Lance Dehm, and Vince Cooper trailed. After three cautions in the first six laps, Brooks gave pursuit of McKinney as Dehm followed closely. McKinney had his hands full running the top side and Brooks making repeated attempts to claim the front spot. Brooks managed to briefly lead on lap nine but McKinney fought back on the next lap to retake the lead. In the closing laps, Brooks stuck his car under McKinney several times in the turns but McKinney was able to pull away down the stretch and take his second win of the year. “We were good at the beginning,” McKinney said. “I knew Brooks would be there. I just put the pedal to the floor and let it bang off the walls.” Dehm, Ledford, Jamie Lomax, Dave Crawley Jr., Tommy Duncan, Vince Cooper, Jeff Curl, and Nick Clubb (hard charger, started 17th) rounded out the top ten.

jun4-HMFairbury’s new entry level class drew eight cars for the Hobby Mod division. Jason Brandt took the heat race win. Brandt led the feature until spinning out on the sixth lap. Mason Duncan led until a caution fell on the following lap. On the restart, Albie Perez pressured Duncan and got under Duncan as the leaders approached the flag stand on the eighth lap. Perez stuck to his race line and was able to hold off Duncan and Nolan Gunderson for the win, driving the Jeff Semmens owned entry. “This was a lot of fun,” spoke an excited Perez. “This is a great class for anyone looking to start. I have to thank Jeff and Makinzi for letting me race their car. I also want to dedicate this win to Ronnie Bohm.” Trailing the trio to the line were Tim McGuire and Macy Vaughan.

The Vintage Racing of Illinois Series brought their group of drivers and cars to Fairbury on Nostalgia Night. Ron Wilson from Pekin, a former driver at Peoria and Spoon River Speedway, drove his 1957 Chevy to the 15 lap feature win over a field of 14 cars. Wilson spoke in victory lane. “I actually retired this year and sold the car to Matt Ramer. He gave me the chance to drive it tonight. This is fantastic to get a win here.”

jun4-SPLake Nichoalds set fast time (14.961) over 15 other UMP DIRTcar Sportsman drivers for their 15 lap race. Nichoalds and Scott Williams took heat race wins. After a caution flag on lap two, current points leader Richie Rich got his car under Brian Albus for the lead and pulled away for his third win of the season. “It’s unfortunate that Lake Nichoalds and Timmy Dick had their bad luck,” an exhausted Rich spoke. “We did a lot of work in the shop this week and it paid off.” Albus, Rod Rusher, Bryant Frechette, Steve Mattingly, Tim Dick (hard charger, started 12th), Anthony Craven, Amber Crouch, Williams, and Eric Legner completed the top ten.

jun4-SS18 UMP DIRTcar Street Stocks took time trials with Peter Odell from Morris leading the way with a 15.772. Two heat races were held with Rick Thomas and Barry Sauder taking the wins. Andrew Funk pestered Thomas for several laps before moving to the point on lap four. Following a caution on lap ten, Thomas moved his line to the top of the track and tried to reclaim the lead but Funk was too much and pulled out to a ten car length lead. A.J. Meiferdt stayed with Thomas and made a last lap pass to take the second position as Funk scored his first Fairbury win of the year. “It’s about time. We have had a lot of bad luck here. I ran the middle because I knew Rick would move to the top. It worked out for me,” Funk said. Funk was followed to the checkered flag by Meiferdt, Thomas, Sauder, Terry Miller, Odell, Chad Rockefeller, Curtis Radke (hard charger, started 15th), Darrell Dick, and Josh Hetherington.