by Darlene Miller
Three 2015 championship drivers began the defense of their titles by winning the first race of the season at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night. Many caution flags and restarts were needed during the night as drivers tried to get the kinks out of their cars and other drivers took to the ¼-mile track for the first time.
Late Model veteran driver Kevin Weaver of Gibson City took off where he ended by bringing home the victory by six car lengths. Weaver led the group to the green flag and despite lap traffic weaved his way around and only faced a slight challenge from Scott Schmitt with four laps to go. But Schmitt’s challenge was to no avail, as Weaver held the low side tight for the win. “The car started out good and then got really great,” said Weaver as he hauled in his 63rd win at FALS. Finishing in the top 10 were Schmitt, Mike Spatola, Derek Chandler, McKay Wenger, Joe Harlan, Jay Morris, Kyle Hammer, Scott Bull, and Charlie Olson. Heat winners were Weaver and Schmitt. Weaver had fast time of 12.772 seconds.
In the Modified division, Jay Ledford of Pontiac had a tougher title defense race. Ledford and his son Jeffrey (on the pole) started the race at the front of the field. It took Lance Dehm five laps to catch and pass the duo for the lead. Lap traffic came in to play with 10 circuits to go. Dehm was fine at first, but with five to go, a couple of cars got together in turn four and Dehm was caught up in the mess with nowhere to go and his strong night was over. Jay Ledford took the lead and then held off a hard charging Vince Cooper for the win. “It’s a hard way to win (talking about Dehm’s wreck). I dedicate this race to a friend of mine, Ron Bohm who passed away recently. This is for Ronnie,” said an emotional Ledford.
Jeffrey Ledford was third followed by Jeff Leka, Brian Lynn, Cullen Breeden, Nick Clubb, Lukes Gash, Matt Maier, and Eric Vaughan. Heat winners were Jay and Jeffrey Ledford and Cooper. The semi feature was won by Kevin Hastings. Jeffrey Ledford was at the top of the chart in qualifying with a 13.819 second lap.
The Sportsman race was filled with crashes causing only 10 cars to be running at the end of the feature. Richie Rich of Pontiac took the win to start his title defense. Tim Dick, Brian Albus, Scott Williams, and Bobby Crego rounded out the top five. Rich and Dick were heat winners. Rich had the fastest lap in qualifying at 14.607 seconds.
The Street Stock title is up for grabs as last year’s champ Lukes Gash has moved up the Modified division. Peter Odell led the group to the green flag and held the lead for three laps until Barry Sauder got around him and never looked back for the win. “It was amazing,” said Sauder as he credited Gash with pointers. Sauder finished 10 car lengths ahead of Joe Hillman, Odell, Al Gray, and Lon Franks. Heat wins went to Odell, Franks, and Sauder. Darrell Dick captured the semi feature, while Joe Brown had fast time of 15.523 seconds.
Mason Duncan was the Hobby Modified feature winner. He was followed by Mike Petersen, Tim McGuire, Jason Brandt, Brandon Post, Makinzi Semmens, and Emily Bohm. Petersen took the heat race win.