Spatola, McKinney, Sullivan, Miller, Gebhardt Pick Up FALS Cup Wins

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

On Fan Appreciation Night presented by Popejoy Inc., patrons to the speedway witnessed another action packed night of racing. Displaying a refuse to lose mentality, Mike Spatola (Late Model) and Mike McKinney (Modified) scored their respective feature wins. Landen Miller (CR Towing Sportsman) and Luke Gebhardt (Hobby Mod) claimed their first career wins, while Tanner Sullivan (Stock Cars) shook the monkey off his back in picking up his win.

spatola lmMcKay Wenger’s lap at 13.144 seconds gave him fast time with 21 Late Models on the grounds. Wenger, Mike Provenzano, and Jeffrey Ledford were heat race winners. Wenger led early in the race, while Provenzano, Spatola, Ledford, and Eric Smith diced for second. After a lap seven caution flag, Spatola was able to take the second position as Wenger held a straightaway lead. Smith fell from contention with a flat tire as the yellow flag came out on lap 12. Spatola was able to stay with Wenger on the restart as both drivers maneuvered the Fairbury cushion. On the restart after a caution with three laps to go, Spatola dove under Wenger for the lead as they entered turn one. Spatola’s lead stuck and he claimed his second win of the season at Fairbury. “That was one of the most treacherous cushions that I have ever raced,” commented Spatola. “I hope that slider on McKay wasn’t too dirty. He’s a hell of a wheelman on a cushion like this. I knew he would be the driver to beat. I am just fortunate that caution came out and we were able to capitalize on that.” A dejected Wenger settled for second with Ledford, Kevin Weaver, and Provenzano in the first five positions. 16th starter Ryan Unzicker, Jay Sparks, Smith, Donny Walden, and Torin Mettille completed the top ten.

mckinney mdEric Vaughan and Mike McKinney recorded the same time at 14.350 seconds to lead the 15 Modified drivers on hand. Two heat races saw Nick Clubb and Michael Ledford come out on top. The 25-lap feature race was a wild and wooly affair. Ledford raced out to a commanding lead as Allen Weisser, Steven Brooks, and Clubb had a fierce battle for second. Running the top side of the track, Ledford began picking his way through slower traffic by lap eight. 12th starter McKinney worked his way to the front, and by the 14th lap, he was racing in the second position. The cushion took its toll on the cars as sheet metal was frailing from the Ledford machine. McKinney caught a break as a caution fell with four laps remaining for debris on the track. McKinney dove under Ledford on the restart to take the lead. Ledford got caught in the cushion allowing Weisser to sneak past. McKinney was able to open a three second lead in the final circuits and take his second win of the year at Fairbury. For McKinney, it was his 35th career win at “America’s Dirt Track” with 34 of his wins coming in the last five seasons. “We had a poor performance in the heat race,” McKinney explained. “I told Dad I was going to knock the rear clip off the car to win this race.” The remaining top ten positions saw Weisser, Ledford, Clubb, Brooks, Nick Seplak, Alan Stipp, Vaughan, Mike Mosier, and Mark Brucker finish in that order.

sullivan scA time of 15.634 seconds gave Tanner Sullivan fast time with 14 Stock Cars in attendance for their 15-lap tussle. Sullivan and Eric Boudreau were the heat race winners. Sullivan and Adam Williams swapped the lead before Sullivan took command on the third circuit. After two back-to-back cautions on lap three, Sullivan pulled away to take the win. It was Sullivan’s first win of the year at Fairbury and third career feature victory. “We have battled all sorts of issues this year,” Sullivan said. “The last couple of races things are falling into place. I can’t thank Cody Roberts at Bullet Chassis enough. He built me a heck of a car. I could put it anywhere on the track.” Williams emerged ahead of Terry Reed in a battle for second, with Cody Clubb, Zane Reitz, Josh Hetherington, Michael Schomas, James Williams, Don Hilleary, and Boudreau completing the top ten.

miller spThe CR Towing Sportsman class saw first year driver and former area kart racer Landen Miller taking fast time with a lap of 15.309 seconds. Tommy Duncan was the heat race winner. Looking to pick up his first win of the year, Steven Mattingly took the lead at the start as Duncan contended with Anthony Craven for second. Last week’s winner Austin Friedman dropped out on the second lap to bring out the yellow flag. As Mattingly raced to a 10 car length lead, Miller turned up the wick and took the third spot on lap seven. Miller got by Duncan for second on lap 12, and as the white flag was unfurled, overtook Mattingly for the lead. An exciting finish saw Miller take the first win of his young career. “Being in victory lane here is better than I can imagine,” Miller said. “After the way I ran in the heat race, I decided I was going to win the race or wreck trying, so I went out there and let it rip.” Mattingly, Duncan, Lyndon Whitfill, Tyler Roth, Craven, Makinzi Semmens, Friedman, and Thad Gee rounded out the field.

gebhardt hmA time of 16.070 seconds gave Luke Gebhardt fast time of the 12 Hobby Mods on hand for their 12-lap race. Gebhart and Ty Stutzman claimed heat race wins. Once the track was cleared after two consecutive red flag situations, Gebhardt drove like a season pro leading flag-to-flag in winning his first career feature. Gebhardt, who cut his teeth at the area kart tracks, had a smile on his face from ear to ear in the winner’s circle. “This is only my fifth race in the big cars,” Gebhardt said. “I thought the track was good. We went out there and were able to get the job done.” Kirby McCormick raced back and forth with Jordan Walker before McCormick took the second position. Walker, Mike Petersen, and Jake Green took the first five positions. The remainder of the top ten were Ryan Kohler, Darren Kerrins, Brian Deavers, Bryce Cunningham, and Stutzman.

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