Anticipation is high for one of the top Dirt Late Model races in the country as the 27th Annual Prairie Dirt Classic, presented by the Bank of Pontiac, will run the weekend of July 29th & 30th. The two-day $27,000 to win World of Outlaws sanctioned event will play host to the top drivers in the country paying a strong $1,500 to start with a full payout of $90,000 for the 100-lap feature event. Fairbury officials are excited to announce the continued partnership with the Bank of Pontiac as title sponsor for the Prairie Dirt Classic weekend. The relationship between the Bank of Pontiac and the Fairbury Speedway will allow the PDC to reach an even higher level for fans, drivers, and crews.
by Rocky Ragusa
After a two-year wait due to Mother Nature, the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget Series finally took to the Fairbury American Legion Speedway Saturday night. The series drew 22 drivers from eight states. Three heat races were held in which the winner of the 30-lap feature race would take home a $3,000 top prize. Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson, Pocahonta’s Zach Daum, and Lemoore, California’s Carson Macedo would take their respective heat wins.
At the start of the feature, Thorson took the lead with Daum in second. Thorson, the current series points leader, and Daum, a two-time national champion, had the fans on their feet exchanging slide jobs and changing the lead lap after lap. On the 18th lap, Thorson was trying to put a slower car a lap down. Thorson got into the back of the car, flipping several times, and collected Macedo and Justin Peck. Macedo was the only driver to continue in the race. Daum resumed as the race leader, stretching his lead, only to be foiled by two cautions in the closing laps. A caution fell on the last lap. On the restart, with Daum safely in command, Garrett Aitken was racing with Spencer Bayston for second. Bayston shot by Aitken and held on for the runner up position. Daum recorded his 15th career POWRi feature win and spoke in victory lane. “This place is awesome. I have been looking forward to racing here since they put it on the schedule. The track is real racy. Tanner and I slid each other countless times and we had a lot of fun. We raced each other clean, hard, and with respect.” Bayston, Aitken, Macedo, Jake Neuman, Brayton Lynch, Holly Shelton, Kyle Schuett, Dalton Camfield, and Daniel Robinson completed the top ten.
by Darlene Miller | Photos by Rocky Ragusa
Hard work, perseverance, and a little luck helped end the long winner’s circle drought for El Paso’s Joe Harlan as he took the Late Model feature win at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night. Mike McKinney, Richie Rich, Andrew Funk, and Mason Duncan captured the other features.
Harlan had not won a feature at FALS since June 18, 2011, and would not let this win get away from him. He started on the pole next to Steve Thorsten in the 30-lap feature and the pair battled back and forth for the first few laps before current points leader Kevin Weaver began to flex his muscle and enter the fray. Three caution flags flew before nine laps had passed with the last flag claiming Weaver as he pulled off to the infield with mechanical issues. Fairbury’s McKay Wenger and Scott Bull soon began to challenge Harlan and Thorsten for that top spot. Wenger, who started ninth, was on the high side with 19 laps left and in second place and closing in fast on Harlan. Thorsten had dropped to fourth. The pair of Harlan and Wenger began to reach lap traffic and Wenger grabbed the lead with 14 trips to go. Wenger’s lead would not last as, with nine laps to go, he suffered problems and pulled to the infield. Harlan assumed the lead again but soon faced a tough challenge from Pontiac’s Derek Chandler running on the top side. Harlan fought him off and won by two car lengths. Chandler followed with Bull, Mike Spatola, and Thorsten in the top five. Dan Flessner, Nick Kurtz, Allen Murray, Jay Morris, and John Gardner Jr. made up the second five. “We had luck on our side tonight. It feels like the first time since I have been here, (winner’s circle),” said Harlan. Harlan along with Bull and Thorsten won the heats and Spatola topped the clock at 12.638 seconds. Spatola was also the hard charger starting 19th to finish in the fourth spot.
Mike McKinney won his second Modified feature of the weekend by holding off Chatsworth’s Lance Dehm and Pontiac’s Jay Ledford. McKinney, who started on the pole in the 20-lap feature, took the early lead but could not pull away from the challengers. A few yellow flags flew but McKinney was able to hold off Dehm by a car length for the win. Ledford placed third followed by Jeff Curl and Nick Clubb. Steven Brooks led the second group of five across the line with Jeffrey Ledford, Travis Kohler, Nick Lueth, and Dustin Mounce in tow. “I never thought we could do this (win) my dad and I,” said McKinney who has ten wins on the season overall and five at FALS. Heat winners were Dehm and McKinney, who also qualified first with 14.021 seconds.
In the Sportsman race, Pontiac’s Richie Rich started on the pole but at first could not get away from the pack as four caution flags flew early in the 15-lap feature. With six laps to go, problems began to slow up Rich but not enough for the current points leader to take the win over Lake Nichoalds by four car lengths. “It feels good to be back in victory lane” said Rich. Taking third was Richard Craven with Bryant Frechette, Troy Medley, Steve Mattingly, Anthony Craven, Tim Dick, Brandon Pralle, and Amber Crouch completing the top 10. Rich and Nichoalds won heats and Rich posted fast time with 14.432 seconds.
Dwight’s Andrew Funk won his 18th feature of the season overall and fifth at FALS in the 15-lap Street Stock feature. Funk started on the pole and faced small challenges from Kyle Miner early in the race and A.J. Meiferdt later on but held off the pack to win by seven car lengths. “This has been a dream season so far,” said Funk. Meiferdt was second followed by 15th starter Don Hilleary, Eric Gaus, Al Gray, Chad Rockefeller, Curtis Radke, Ryan Anderson, Peter Odell, and Mitch Hahn. Funk, Miner, and Radke were heat winners and Meiferdt was fastest in qualifying with 15.557 seconds. Dwight’s Rick Thomas won his 64th career checkered flag in the Street Stock make-up feature from the May 28th rainout. Hilleary, Hahn, Odell, and Funk completed the top five.
Mason Duncan won the Hobby Mod feature from the pole after he won the heat race. Mike Petersen, Tim McGuire, Macy Vaughan, and Makinzi Semmens followed Duncan to the checkers.
by Rocky Ragusa
Five classes of racing action took place at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night with the Sportsman class featured in a 20-lap, $500 to win Topless Special sponsored by CR Towing and Recovery of Joliet. Richard Craven took the win, while Kevin Weaver, Mike McKinney, Andrew Funk, and Mason Duncan also visited victory lane.
The Sportsman class took to the speedway as the cars ran without tops and spoilers were optional. Points leader Richie Rich set fast time at a 14.379. Lake Nichoalds and Richard Craven were the heat race victors. As Craven led the first lap, a caution fell on the field. The restart had Craven running the bottom, Nichoalds on the topside, followed by Steve Mattingly, Rich, and Brian Albus. Nichoalds pressured Craven repeatedly for the lead as Mattingly trailed closely. After two cautions, Nichoalds pulled alongside of Craven with nine laps to go but Nichoalds was caught in the Fairbury cushion, giving Craven some breathing room. Mattingly was able to move into second with seven laps remaining. After two cautions, Nichoalds snuck by Mattingly to retake second. Nichoalds looked to take the lead from Craven after a caution on lap 15 but Craven stood his ground. Suddenly with two laps left Nichoalds had a left rear tire go flat to end his bid. Craven was able to score his third win of the year and 30th career feature win at Fairbury. “The car felt awesome all night,” commented Craven. Mattingly, Rod Rusher (started 14th), Rich, Troy Medley, Bryant Frechette, Amber Crouch, Nichoalds, Brandon Pralle, and Eric Saltzman rounded out the top ten.
In the Late Model division, Kevin Weaver was the night’s fast qualifier with a 12.587. Weaver and Mike Spatola won heat races. Spatola held a small advantage over Weaver with McKay Wenger, Scott Bull, and Joe Harlan following. After a caution on lap nine, Spatola and Weaver continued their duel. Weaver, running the bottom, was able to lead on the 11th lap but Spatola came back to lead the following circuit. Bull, driving a smooth and consistent race, closed up on the two front runners. Bull overtook Spatola for second on lap 16 but Weaver was able to use slower traffic to distance himself from the competition. On the white flag lap, Spatola slammed the front stretch wall to end his night. With one lap to go, Weaver stuck his car to the bottom and turned back Bull for the win. “The car was good on the bottom and I felt it was the faster way around,” said Weaver. Don Hammer, Harlan, Boom Briggs, Jay Sparks (started 15th), Jay Morris, Steve Thorsten, Kolby Vandenbergh, and Glen Thompson completed the top ten.
Jay Ledford was the fast qualifier at a 13.855 for the 20-lap Modified race. Ledford, Lance Dehm, and Jacob Poel were heat race winners. Ledford led the field at the start with Poel, Jeffrey Ledford, Dehm, and Nick Lueth following. Two cautions came out on the second lap. With the track cleared, Ledford was hounded by Poel for the lead, with Jeffrey Ledford, Dehm, Lueth, and Mike McKinney fighting for third position. As Poel looked to take the lead a caution came out on the fourth lap. Jeffrey Ledford, running the top groove of the track, was able to run down the leader and take second on lap 10. After a caution on the 12th lap, Jeffrey Ledford overtook his dad Jay for the lead. The Fairbury cushion bit Jeffrey in turn two causing an accident and ended the young Ledford’s bid for a feature win. The restart had Jay Ledford leading McKinney, Lueth, Collin Thirlby, and Poel. McKinney tried a slide job on Ledford in turn three and exiting turn four and was able to take the lead with five laps to go. Ledford made several attempts to retake the lead but McKinney was too strong on this night. “The top was awesome for us tonight,” an excited McKinney spoke. "This is a testament to what my dad and I are doing. We are a low budget team competing with these guys and having a lot of fun.” Ledford settled for second followed by Lueth, Thirlby, Poel, Travis Kohler, Matt Maier, Nick Clubb, Dustin Mounce (started 16th), and Chris Gaither.
Al Gray was the fastest qualifier among the 18 Street Stock drivers on hand for their 15-lap race with a time of 15.656 seconds. Gray and A.J. Meiferdt won heat races. Gray led the first lap in the feature before surrendering the lead to Meiferdt, with Rick Thomas, Peter Odell, and Andrew Funk in a tight battle for third. Two cautions fell on lap four, including one for Gray. On the restart, Meiferdt led Funk, but Thomas dropped out with mechanical issues. Funk ran side by side with Meiferdt for the lead before taking over on lap eight. Funk was able to extend his lead to ten car lengths as the checkered flag waved giving him his fourth win of the season. “It was easy on the bottom and I knew I had to run hard,” spoke Funk. “The track was tacky and the car stuck.” Meiferdt, Eric Gaus, Curtis Radke, Darrell Dick (started 14th), Josh Hetherington, Valerie Hurt, Gray, Don Hilleary, and Ryan Anderson completed the top ten.
Mason Duncan and Tim Mullins won heat races for the 12-lap Hobby Mod race. Duncan led at the start with Tim McGuire and Mike Petersen in a spirited duel for second followed by Mullins and Macy Vaughan. Duncan had a comfortable lead on the field before Petersen overtook McGuire for second and narrowed Duncan’s lead. Petersen was able to take the lead on the 10th circuit but Petersen and Duncan got together and Petersen’s bid for the win came to an end. McGuire moved into the lead as four cars remained on the lead lap. McGuire led the field and Duncan wasted little time to take second. As the leaders rounded turn four on the final lap Duncan was able to edge ahead of McGuire in an exciting finish. “That was an interesting race,” Duncan said. “I want to apologize to Tim for getting into him.” Completing the top ten were Mullins, Vaughan, Brendan Patterson, Gregg Pierce, Makinzi Semmens, Petersen, Brandon Post, and Jason Brandt.