by Rocky Ragusa
Saturday night’s “FALS Frenzy 50“ certainly lived up to its moniker thanks to a stout field of Late Models, and the run by Bobby Pierce. Running in the sixth position with 20 laps to go in the 50 lap featured race, Oakwood’s Pierce picked through the competition, overtaking Jacksonville, Florida’s Earl Pearson Jr. with four laps to go, and won the $10,000 first prize.
Bloomington’s Jason Feger led 41 other drivers in qualifying with a time of 12.939 seconds. Pearson, Springfield, Mo.’s Jeremy Payne, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, and Batesville, Ark.'s Billy Moyer won heat races, while Michael Kloos and Adam Bowman took semi feature wins.
Payne and Pearson led the 25 car field to the green flag. Payne took the lead, with Pearson, Moyer, Erb, and Feger following. Shannon Babb started in the 16th spot and by lap five was challenging for the fifth position. Pearson overtook Payne for the lead on lap nine and stretched his lead. Moyer moved into second on the 14th circuit and with Pearson contending with slower traffic, Moyer was able to close in on Pearson. As Moyer looked to take the lead, a red flag fell on the field as Feger rolled his car in turn four.
The restart had Pearson leading, Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, Payne, and Erb followed. The restart proved to be beneficial to Pierce as he started on the outside, in sixth position. Erb was able to get by Payne for fourth and Pierce followed. Moyer fell back to third on lap 39, as Erb was on the move. One lap later, Pierce on the outside, moved by Moyer and had his sights on the front running duo. Pearson, Erb, and Pierce brought the fans to their feet in the final 10 laps, as each looked to take the win. Pierce went to the inside of Erb to take second on lap 43, and pressured Pierce for the top spot. Pierce slid by Pearson for the lead with four laps to go, pulling away for his second win of the year and fourth career win at Fairbury. Pearson, Erb, Sheppard, Moyer, Mike Mullen, Payne, Tony Jackson Jr., Babb, and Scott Schmitt completed the top ten.
“The track was really great tonight,” commented Pierce. “I really didn’t think we would be able to pull it off after where we were starting. It’s such a tight race track. The red flag helped us out. I was able to start on the outside and it helped a ton.”
Debuting a new Impressive Race Car, Buffalo’s Jeff Leka has put on an impressive performance in the early stages of the season. After a brief battle with Jay and Jeffrey Ledford, Leka took the lead on the second lap and recorded the win in the 25 lap, $1,000 to win Modified race. “We got us a good hot rod here,” explained Leka. “We will just have to stay on top of it.” Mike McKinney, Vince Cooper, Tommy Duncan, Jay Ledford, Jeffrey Ledford, Lance Dehm, Dave Dulceak (hard charger, started 15th), Jared Cagley, and Kevin Hastings completed the top ten. Jay and Jeffrey Ledford took heat wins, while Jeffrey Ledford lead the way in time trials with a 14.147 second lap.
In the 15 lap, $400 to win Street Stock feature, polesitter A.J. Meiferdt took command on the start and was never threated for the lead, in spite of a caution with one lap remaining. “The car was really hooked up tonight. I have to thank Calvin Coleman and Rick Thomas for their help,” commented Meiferdt. Darrell Dick, Curtis Radke, Dennis Wernle, Andrew Funk, Rick Thomas (hard charger, started 20th), Lon Franks, Josh Griffith, Barry Sauder, and Don Hilleary rounded out the top ten. Dick and Meiferdt took heat race wins.
The racing action ended with a 15 lap, $400 to win Sportsman race. Richie Rich took the early lead, as Lake Nichoalds and Bryant Frechette ran side by side for second. After a caution on the sixth lap, Nichoalds was able to get by Rich for the lead and take his first ever feature race win. “I am speechless,” spoke Nichoalds. “My dad raced here but never got a win. To get the families first feature win, I am so excited.” Anthony Craven got by Rich on the last lap to take second, with Rod Rusher (hard charger, started 11th), Tim Dick, Scott Williams, Brandon Pralle, Steven Mattingly, Blake Reid, and Eric Legner taking the top ten positions. Frechette and Rich won heat races.