Unzicker, Ledford, Nichoalds, Radke, Deavers Capture Fair Night Wins; Unzicker, Curl, Nichoalds, Meiferdt Clinch Track Championships

Late Model Results | Modified Results | Sportsman Results | Street Stock Results

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.

aug19-lmDonny 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”.

aug19-md21 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.”

aug19-spBrandon 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.”

aug19-ss24 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.”

aug19-hmBrian 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.”

Unzicker, Bollinger, Moos take Thursday Night Thunder wins

Late Model Results | Modified Results | Pro Late Model Results

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.

aug17-lm19 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.”

aug17-mdBollinger 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.

aug17-plmThe 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

Late Model Results | Modified Results | Sportsman Results | Street Stock Results

by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury American Legion Speedway played host for the second time this year to the MARS/ALMS co-sanctioned Late Model series. Track points leader, Ryan Unzicker, took the feature win. Mike McKinney (Modified), AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), Richard Craven (Sportsman), Mike Petersen and Brendan Patterson (Hobby-Modified) also graced victory lane.

aug12-lm23 I Beam Sliding Doors Late Models took time trials with Jason Feger leading the way at a 12.864. Feger, Mike Mataragas, and Tony Jackson Jr. picked up heat race wins. Outside front row starter and current points leader for the MARS series, Jackson Jr., took the lead with Mataragas on his heels, followed by Feger, Unzicker, and Derek Chandler. Mataragas led the next lap before Jackson led for two laps. Jackson pounded the infamous Fairbury cushion looking to extend his lead but Mataragas hung tough. The duo swapped the lead as Feger and Unzicker followed closely, with Scott Bull leading a host of drivers in fifth. At the halfway mark of the 40-lap race a four car pileup brought out the caution. On the restart, Unzicker, running the bottom of the track, was able to move into the lead. Two laps later, another yellow flag fell for Jackson who was bitten by the cushion. On the restart, Unzicker stuck to the bottom groove and was able to pull away from the field. Mataragas, Chandler, and Bull waged a furious battle for second, followed by Joe Godsey and Kevin Weaver. Jackson was able to rally to seventh before pulling off the track with ten laps to go. Unzicker went uncontested for the remainder of the race and took $3,000 for his third win at Fairbury. Mataragas, Bull, Godsey, Weaver, 19th starter Jeff Roth, Chandler, Mason Oberkramer, Donny Walden, and Jay Sparks completed the top ten. “The track was pretty good tonight, maybe a little bottom dominate but that’s the way I like it,” said Unzicker. “When the track slows down my car seems to come alive. My guys have worked hard on the car. It’s all a team effort.”

aug12-mdJason Hastings led 30 other Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers in qualifying at a 13.894. Nick Lueth, Jeffrey Ledford, Nick Clubb, and Jeff Curl won their respective heat races, while Brent Gregory took the semi feature. In the 20-lap feature, Jeffrey Ledford led as eighth starter, Mike McKinney, quickly moved into the second position. Trailing the two “young guns”, Travis Kohler and Curl raced for third, with Lueth hanging on to fifth. McKinney was able to take the top position on the 10th lap, as Ledford tried to reclaim the lead. McKinney was able to hold on for his fifth win of the season. Ledford, Curl, Kohler, Hastings, Clubb, 14th starter Jay Ledford, Lueth, Dave Lilja, and 18th starter Logan Rogers rounded out the top ten. “With Jeffrey starting second I knew he was going to be tough. On the opening laps everyone was running on the bottom,” commented McKinney. “I went to the top and had to wait for my tires to heat up. It was a good race.”

aug12-spSteven Mattingly was the fast qualifier at a 14.778 in the CR Towing Sportsman class. Richard Craven was the heat race winner. Track champion, Lake Nichoalds, and Craven had their own personal battle in the 15-lap contest. Craven took the lead from Nichoalds with six laps left and scored his first win of the year. Nichoalds, Brandon Pralle, Mattingly, Eric Saltzman, Anthony Craven, and Amber Crouch completed the running order. “It was a fun race. The only thing we changed was my wife. She hadn’t been to the races in about a year. I told her she had to go to the races with us,” laughed Craven.

aug12-ssIan Keller was the night’s fast qualifier among the 24 Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers with a 15.601 second lap. Keller, track champion AJ Meiferdt, and Joe Brown won heat races, with Cody Clubb earning the semi-feature win. Meiferdt held a 10 car length lead early in the 15-lap feature, as Keller, Brown, Rick Thomas, and Pete Odell followed. Odell was on the move, picking off cars until a caution came out on the seventh lap. Odell took second as Keller dropped out. A caution with four laps to go gave Odell an opportunity to unseat Meiferdt, but Meiferdt had a little too much, taking his eighth Fairbury win and helping his cause in the national points race. Odell, Curtis Radke, Don Hilleary, Thomas, 13th starter Dane Arvin, Brown, Kyle Anderson, Michael Schomas, and Clubb completed the top ten. “This is our 12th win of the year,” an excited Meiferdt spoke. “Now we have to focus on the national points. We have to replace all the bad nights and keep doing what we are doing.”

aug12-hmThe Hobby-Modified class held two feature races with the second race a makeup from June 17th. In the opener, Jason Brandt, who was the heat race winner, and Mike Petersen pulled away from their competitors while the rest of the field had their own race for third. Brandt led until the seventh lap, surrendering the lead to Petersen. Brandt continued to hound Petersen but Petersen was able to pick up the win. Brandt, Tim McGuire, Macy Vaughan, Bryan Saner, Haley Jones, Thad Gee, Brendan Patterson, and Makinzi Semmens rounded out the field. Gee led the first seven laps of the second race before tagging the wall on the front stretch. After the caution, Patterson took the lead from Petersen and pulled away for his second win of the year. Petersen, Saner, Vaughan, Gee, and Semmens completed the running order.

Schmitt, Spatola, McKinney, Nichoalds, Thomas, Gee grab checkers

by Darlene Miller

Yellow caution flags and a full moon made for an interesting racing combination on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Enjoying the conditions was the quintet of Scott Schmitt, Mike Spatola, Mike McKinney, Lake Nichoalds, and Rick Thomas who all found victory lane.

aug05-lmIn the first Late Model feature of the night, Fairbury’s McKay Wenger and Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver led the field to the green flag. Four caution flags in the early laps of the 30-lap feature made the racers and crowd anxious to get this one going. Weaver held a slight lead over Wenger and Spatola in the early going. With 18 laps to go, Wenger got past Weaver and was trying to hold off a charging Schmitt, who had started fifth in the 20-car field. A battle then ensued as both kept switching leads with each one of them leading a lap with under four to go. Schmitt pulled off the win by two car lengths over Wenger for his first win of the 2017 season. “With four to go, I got lucky and got past Wenger,” said Schmitt. El Paso’s Ryan Unzicker came in third with Weaver and Fairbury’s Scott Bull making up the rest of the top five. Spatola led the second five with Jeremy Conaway, Dan Flessner, Bill Hough, and 16th starter Doug Hammer in tow. Spatola, Weaver, and Wenger were heat winners, while Hammer won the semi feature. Flessner set fast time with 12.747 seconds around the quarter-mile track.

aug05-lm2In the 30-lap Late Model make-up feature from June 17, Weaver started on the pole flanked by Flessner. They exchanged the lead for a few laps before Spatola came into the picture and got around Flessner with 21 circuits to go. A caution flag flew with 19 to go as Flessner spun in turn 2 in front of the field. Luckily, all drivers were able to get around him. Two more caution flags flew before Spatola was able to find himself in the lead. Spatola and Wenger showed the way until another caution flag flew for a turn three incident with nine laps to go. As Spatola started pulling away, a three-pack of drivers — Wenger, Bull, and Weaver — were fighting for the second spot. Spatola was able to hold off the group for the win. “This is for all the teamwork we did. We did a lot of replacement parts and worked hard. It was nice to come back and win,” Spatola said. It was the third win for Spatola this season. Schmitt, who in hot laps for this race on June 17 rolled his car, started 13th and finished fifth. Jay Morris, Steve Thorsten, Glen Thompson, Flessner, and Ron Donaldson rounded out the top 10.

aug05-mdPlainfield's McKinney and Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford were in the top two starting positions in the Modified race. Four caution flags flew before three laps were completed in the 20-lap feature. McKinney and Ledford battled constantly for the lead with McKinney holding a slight advantage in the waning laps. McKinney held off Ledford by a car length for his fourth win of the 2017 season. “It was fun running against Jeffrey. I can’t count him out. It was a fun night of racing,” McKinney stated. Finishing third was Coal City’s Nick Clubb with Scott Heeren of Forreston in fourth and Fairbury’s Jeff Curl taking fifth place. Fairbury’s Jimmy Dehm led the second five with Bob Pohlman Jr., Jason Hastings, Dave Lilja, and Billy Puckett following. Heat winners were Clubb, Ledford, and McKinney. Ledford had fast time of the evening for the Modifieds with 13.741 seconds. Alex Graf won the semi feature.

aug05-spAlthough there were only seven cars for the Sportsman division, there was still some great racing despite four caution flags in the 15-lap feature. Onarga’s Nichoalds captured his eight win in the 2017 campaign and his sixth in a row. Chenoa’s Steve Mattingly and Nichoalds started with a one-two punch. Mattingly held a lead with 13 to go but soon found himself spinning in turn two and relinquished the lead to Nichoalds. Three more cautions didn’t phase the winner as he won by three car lengths over Brandon Pralle, Amber Crouch, Anthony Craven, Mattingly, Dustin Mounce, and Scott Williams. “It has been an unbelievable season” Nichoalds commented.

aug05-ssDwight’s Rick Thomas returned to victory lane for his 65th win of his career and his first win this season in the Street Stock group. Thomas took the lead from Curtis Radke and Joe Brown on the first lap but a caution flag would fly with just one lap into the 15-lap feature. Radke and Brown did not let Thomas get away and Radke took the lead from Thomas on the second lap before Thomas took it back with eight to go. Another caution flag drew the field closer to Thomas, but he took off from the group and won by a car length. Radke was second and following were Brown, Dane Arvin, Don Hilleary, Cody Clubb, Andy Thompson, 20th starter Michael Schomas, Matt Cleary, and Nick Seplak. “It just feels good to be here,” the 60-year old Thomas said. Brown, Matt Hammond, and Thomas were heat winners. Valerie Hurt won the semi feature, while Brown set fast time with 15.521 seconds.

aug05-hmThad Gee of Bloomington started on the pole and went on to score the Hobby Mod feature win. Mike Petersen was second, Brendan Patterson third, Makinzi Semmens fourth, and Haley Jones fifth. Macy Vaughan, Aaron Murphy, Jason Brandt, and Bryan Saner completed the field. Gee also took the heat race win.

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

pdc-logo17Late Model Results | Modified Results

by Darlene Miller

Consistency and patience were the big keys as 29 drivers took to the Fairbury American Legion Speedway for the 28th Annual Prairie Dirt Classic Saturday night. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin used these traits to capture the $30,000 in the 100-lap feature and keep the big money in Illinois. The last Illinois driver to do this was in 2013 when Shannon Babb of Moweaqua took the prize. The World Of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series and DIRTcar Summit Modified Nationals drivers also did not disappoint the overflow crowd. Mike Harrison, the “Highland Hornet,” won the $5,000 purse in the Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature that also secured the championship of the SRE Nationals tour.

The top two finishers out of Friday night's Showdown races redrew for starting positions before the Late Model feature on Saturday. The “Georgia Bulldog” Shane Clanton, who started third, grabbed the quick lead over pole-sitter Devin Moran of Dresden Ohio when the green flag dropped. The first caution flag did not take long to come out as eight drivers were caught up in a crash just one lap in. Collected in the melee were Oakwood driver Bobby Pierce, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and Fairbury’s Scott Bull.

jul29-lmClanton grabbed the top spot again when the green flag waved again, followed closely by El Paso's Ryan Unzicker, Sheppard, and Moran. The foursome quickly encountered lapped traffic on the 10th lap. The crowd went crazy when Unzicker muscled into the lead from Clanton with 79 laps to go. Unzicker and Sheppard began to switch up the lead with 63 trips to go and Sheppard, riding the top side, finally got around Unzicker for the top spot. A caution flag came out with 57 laps to go slowed the field. Pierce and Owens had worked their way back up after the first lap incident to 11th and 12th.

Bloomington driver Jason Feger, who started fifth, made his presence felt as he got around Unzicker with 55 laps to go for the second spot. Three more cautions scrambled the field and new player Chris Simpson of Oxford, Ia., was now sitting in second. With 28 circuits remaining, the leaderboard showed Sheppard, Simpson, Feger, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and Unzicker in the top five. Then, with 25 laps to go, Moran who had faded back to the sixth spot, was back on the move. Moran, getting stronger with every lap, put his machine in second with 16 to go. The wild scramble was on with five laps to go as Unzicker was back up to third. With just under four to go, Unzicker, on the low side, was sitting in second behind Sheppard. Sheppard was able to hold off the tough competitors by two car lengths for the win.

“This car is ready to go when we take it out of the box,” said a happy Sheppard. “We have been consistent all year, this was an awesome race. My crew keeps working hard every night. I knew if we stayed consistent and do our job every night, the wins would come.” Unzicker, who finished second said, “Even though we were running second, it felt like a win tonight with these guys. I am thankful to be up front.” Third-place finisher Moran added, “We were not patient enough. We were playing catch up. It is our first time at FALS, and we’re proud of our car.”

Feger brought home fourth followed by Brian Shirley of Chatham, Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Simpson, Clanton, Marlar, and Pierce. Martinsville, Ind., driver Don O’Neal won the $2,000-to-win Prairie Dirt Shootout and turned down the money “to race in the PDC.” O’Neal finished 18th in the big race. Semi-Feature wins went to Rick Eckert, Cody Mahoney, and Frank Heckenast Jr.

jul29-mdBefore the Modified feature, the top two finishers from Friday night redrew for position. Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford and Steven Brooks of New Lenox led the 26 drivers to the green flag in the 40-lap race. Ledford quickly established the top spot followed closely by fifth-place starter Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C. Caution flags were flying with just over 30 laps in the race as Harrison, who started 17th, had moved up to eighth place. Harrison then found himself in the fourth spot with 20 circuits to go as Hoffman took the lead from Ledford. Harrison got around Ledford with 17 laps to go and was in a clear battle with Hoffman. The pair were even with 12 trips to make and Harrison moved into the lead with 11 to go, holding off another charger in 10th starter Mike McKinney of Plainfield to take the win and tour title.

“We had a hard night (Friday) night and had to run the last-chance race,” said Harrison. “Give me little high side and I will make it work. I knew if I stayed out of trouble and bided my time, the win would come.” McKinney took second, Hoffman was third, with Brooks and 21st starter Ashley Newman of Ripley, Tenn. completing the top five. Josh Rice of Verona, Ky., led the second five with Ashmore's Danny Schwartz, Jacob Poel of Spring Lake Mich., Fairbury’s Jeff Curl, and Tyler Nicely of Owensboro, Ky., in tow. Harrison, Lucas Lee of Paris, Tenn., and Buffalo's Jeff Leka were semi-feature winners.

 

Sheppard Tops Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury

LM Story by WoO

The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series and the team at Fairbury American Legion Speedway made history on Saturday night during the 28th annual Prairie Dirt Classic as the highest paying race to ever take place in the state of Illinois with a $30,000 payout. Brandon Sheppard wheeled his way to victory on Saturday night ultimately breaking a three-year winless streak for Illinois-drivers at the event.

The two-day show saw 65 of the nation’s best Dirt Late Model drivers compete on the Fairbury, Ill stage. The standing room only crowd nearly tripled the size of the all-American city as fans traveled from far and wide to experience one of the most anticipated Dirt Late Model events of the year.

The 28th annual Prairie Dirt Classic did not disappoint as the semi-banked quarter-mile dirt oval produced multiple lanes of racing every time cars hit the track. The 100-lap feature event was no exception, as three different drivers took command of the lead during the race including Shane Clanton, Ryan Unzicker, and eventual winner, Brandon Sheppard.

“This car is awesome every night we take it out of the box,” said Sheppard on his 11th win with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series. “I have to thank my crew Dan, Austin, Joel, Mark, little Brian, everyone at Keyser Manufacturing, Durham Racing Engines they all keep this thing going night in and night out. I have to also thank my Dad and my Grandpa. I wouldn’t have a racing career if it wasn’t for them.”

Sheppard led 69 laps of the 100-lap event, taking total control over the lead on lap 40. He was even able to defend his lead after three restarts.

Several cars juggled positions behind the Rocket1 often battling four-wide for the final two podium positions including Unzicker, Clanton, Devin Moran, Jason Feger, Chris Simpson, Brian Shirley, and Mike Marlar.

The fight for second and third came down to the last lap as Unzicker passed Moran on lap 99 to finish second in the 29-car feature.

“I tell you what, this feels freaking awesome running second to these guys,” said Unzicker. “It feels like I’m winning a million.”

Earlier in the day during the redraw, Unzicker was explaining to Series Announcer, Rick Eshelman, that he would be satisfied with a top-five finish because he had not made the show the past three years he entered into the Prairie Dirt Classic.

“This thing ran great tonight,” said Unzicker. “I was just thankful to be up there and running with these guys. Our car was pretty decent but these guys are damn good. It was a hell of a racetrack and it was ‘falsy’.

Devin Moran finished two spots shy of sweeping the weekend. On Friday, Moran turned the fastest lap during qualifying with a 12.627-second lap. The Rookie of the Year Contender then went on to lead every lap of the first of four Showdown Features to claim the win, ultimately placing him in the redraw for the 100-lap main event. Moran’s luck continued on Saturday as he pulled the no. one wrench from the Craftsman tool box putting him on the pole for his first time at the Prairie Dirt Classic.

Moran was passed on the first lap by Clanton who started directly behind him in third. Clanton led the first 23-laps of the 100-lap feature before getting passed by relentless track-regular, Unzicker. Within the first six-laps Moran had fallen outside of the top-five but the long-distance race granted him time to find his way back to the front of the pack.

“I wasn’t quite patient enough,” said Moran. “I kind of blew the deck out of it there at the end but congrats to [Sheppard and his crew] they’ve been on their own speed level this year and we are still just trying to play catch up. We got close there tonight but we just fell back too far early in the race and that just killed us. It’s our first time at FALS so we will definitely take a third-place finish.”

Highland's Mike Harrison rallied from deep in the field to capture the $5,000 DIRTcar Summit Modified Nationals finale. With the win, Harrison overtook Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., to claim the Modified Nationals title by three points. Mike McKinney of Plainfield was second, Hoffman third, New Lenox's Steven Brooks fourth, and 21st starter Ashley Newman of Ripley, Tenn., rounded out the top five.