Shirley’s Gamble Pays Off for ALMS Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Brian Shirley’s gamble on a tire selection paid off as he captured the American Late Model Series $2,000 to win special at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway Saturday night.

Shirley took the lead at the start of the 30 lap feature with Jason Feger, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard, and Kevin Weaver following. On the next lap, Feger slowed on the backstretch and pulled into the infield with a broken rear end on his car. On the restart, Shirley jumped out to a 10 car length lead over Heckenast, Sheppard, Weaver, and Joe Harlan. Caution came out on the fifth lap as Phil Ausra’s engine let go and sprinkled the track with debris. On the restart, the top four cars ran in single file formation as Harlan, Scott Bull, and Eric Smith went three wide for fifth while Daren Friedman kept the foursome in sight. Heckenast stuck the nose of his car under Shirley several times to take the lead but Shirley hung on to first. Shirley, Heckenast, and Sheppard in spite of the race for first, pulled away to a straight away lead over Weaver. The top side of the track proved to be dominate as the first three drivers set a torrid pace. With ten laps to go, slower traffic looked to become a factor. 

Shirley, with Heckenast and Sheppard stuck to his bumper, ran next to the wall dicing by the slower cars. Heckenast pulled alongside Shirley coming off of turn four for the lead but Shirley was able to hang on. With three laps remaining, Shirley tried to lap Glen Thompson, made contact, but Shirley got away and led the final laps for the win.

Heckenast, Sheppard, Weaver, Bull, Harlan, Brandon Thirlby, Ryan Unzicker, Smith, and Friedman rounded out the top ten. Unzicker was the race’s hard charger. Bull bested 25 other drivers in qualifying at a 12.995. Shirley, Heckenast, and Feger won heat races; while Unzicker took the semi. Taking his fourth win of the year, Shirley spoke following the win, “We gambled on tires. They had harder tires on than us. The left rear is about gone. It all paid off. We were able to get the jump on them at the start. I knew Frankie would be good with three hard tires on. We knew what we had to do. It was good enough to get the win. Thanks to Aaron and Albie for their hard work. The Pro Power motor ran great. Thanks to all the fans, you have great support here. Fairbury is a good place to race."

Bull Schools Fairbury Competition

by Rocky Ragusa

Given the nickname “Bus Driver” because he’s taking the competition to school, Fairbury’s Scott Bull led flag to flag in picking up his second win in the 30-lap UMP Late Model feature race Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

Bull started the race in the second position and took the lead at the start with Jay Morris, Daren Friedman, Donny Walden, and Torin Mettille following. On the fourth lap, Friedman dove to the bottom to challenge Morris for second. The two drivers drove side by side allowing Bull to open a ten car length lead. Following two cautions on the eighth lap, Friedman overtook Morris for second, with Mettille taking fourth from Walden. Two cautions came out on the 12th lap with the second involving Walden as a chain reaction crash with Dan Flessner and Steve Thorsten ended Walden’s night. The restart found Friedman diving to the bottom in an attempt to move into first place but Bull withstood the pressure. With the track cleaned after a caution on the 18th lap for debris, Mettille, who got by Morris for third, challenged Friedman for second as caution fell on the 19th lap. The restart had Bull in command with Mettille in second and Joe Harlan quietly making his way into third with Friedman and Mike Mullvain following. After a caution on the 27th circuit, Bull jumped out to the lead as Friedman went to the top side of the track in a “go for broke” effort to take second from Mettille. Friedman jumped the cushion, stalled on the track, and brought out another caution. On the restart, Mettille tried to overtake Bull for the lead but Bull was able to hang on for the lead. Another caution on the white flag lap gave the field another shot at Bull but Bull powered his way to the win. With nine cautions the race felt like the previous week’s 100 lapper. Bull addressed the crowd following the win, “What was going on back there? I needed the race to go green because we had a 40 on the right rear. I was afraid all those cautions would cool the tire down. It was a great track and fun night.” Trailing Bull to the line were Mettille, Harlan, Mullvain, Aaron Ricketts, Morris, Wes Steidinger, Steve Thorsten, Dan Flessner, and Friedman. Thorsten was the race’s hard charger. Morris’s time of a 12.635 bested 22 other drivers. Morris, Bull, and Friedman won heat races while Thorsten won the semi.

Babb Tops McDowell & Pierce In Memorable Prairie Dirt Classic Battle To Finish

by Kevin Kovac & Darlene Miller

Shannon Babb battled and battled and battled....and finally came out on top of a Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main for the ages on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

The 39-year-old star from Moweaqua, Ill., thrilled his home-state crowd, outdueling Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., down the stretch to win a 100-lap race that was arguably the most dramatic of the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series campaign.

For a driver who since 2008 has tried so hard – but continually fallen just short – to score a signature WoO LMS triumph in the Illini 100 at nearby Farmer City Raceway, mastering another bullring in his backyard to the tune of a $20,050 first-place check holds extra significance.

"This ranks right up there with the Illini 100 to me," said Babb, who previously won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2002 and 2006. "Twenty-grand (to win a dirt Late Model race) right here in Illinois is unheard of, and I'm just tickled to death (to win it).

"Having this many people here, a 100-lapper at Fairbury, $20,000 to win and all the Outlaw guys here – it was cool. It's something that's hard to get."

Illinois Drivers Shine On Opening Night Of Prairie Dirt Classic Weekend

by Kevin Kovac & Darlene Miller

The Illinois boys came to play Friday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

Defending their home-state turf in impressive fashion, drivers hailing from the Land of Lincoln kicked off the historic 24th annual Prairie Dirt Classic weekend by winning four of the six 15-lap heat races that highlighted a high-energy qualifying program.

Weaver Rallies, Dehm Takes an Emotional Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Prior to Saturday night’s “Alkota Keep It Clean” series race, the Fairbury American Legion Speedway family paused to remember Fairbury Fair-Speedway president, Jim Schahrer. Before the feature races all race cars came out onto the speedway and did a polish victory lap in honor of “Griz”.

Kevin Weaver overtook Derek Chandler on the 10th lap to win the 30-lap UMP Late Model feature. While working thru lapped traffic, Ryan Unzicker and Scott Bull challenged Weaver several times for the top position, but Weaver held on for his second win of the year. In victory lane Weaver commented, “I want to thank my crew. We have been working on our Bill West car and it’s getting better. The motor is a little weak but we will probably bring our Bob Pierce car next week. I have to thank Jay Morris and Jimmy Johns. We get a lot of support from them. Last week we ran the top and tonight I was on the bottom, except the last ten laps." Unzicker, Bull, Torin Mettille, Joe Harlan, Eric Smith, Mike Mullvain, Derek Chandler, Daren Friedman, and Mike Glasscock rounded out the top ten. Jay Morris finished 13th to win the race’s hard charger. Chandler bested 22 other drivers in qualifying with a 13.023. Chandler, Smith, and Mettille won heat races.