by Rocky Ragusa
Derek Chandler wrestled the lead away from Scott Bull with nine laps to go and pulled away from the field to claim the 30-lap, UMP Late Model feature as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway opened their 68th season.
Pole sitter Bull led the field to the green as Chandler followed. Chandler, running the top side of the track, used his momentum to take the point on the third circuit, but Bull came back to reclaim the lead on lap four. Bull was able to open a five car length lead over Chandler, but never was able to distance himself from the field. Jay Morris charged by Joe Harlan and Daren Friedman to take third in the early portion, but the front two cars had a straight away lead over the competition. Chandler slowly etched his way back to Bull’s bumper and moved into the lead with ten laps to go. Following a caution with seven laps remaining, Chandler, Bull, and Morris went three wide into turn one for the lead. Chandler showed the power and pulled away to a ten car length lead, as Morris showed Bull the nose of his car. Bull was able to keep Morris at bay, but in the end, Chandler took his second straight season opening win at the American Legion track. Defending track champion, Bull took second, with Morris, Harlan, Friedman, Steve Thorsten, Dan Flessner, McKay Wenger, Torin Mettille, and Don Hilleary completing the top ten. Wenger set fast time at a 12.603. Bull and Chandler took heat race wins.
Indiana invader, Nick Allen took advantage of Jimmy Dehm’s miscue to take the lead on the second lap and pick up the win in the 20-lap, UMP Modified feature. Dehm took the lead at the start and opened up a five car length advantage over Allen, but on the second lap, Dehm looped his car in turn four. Jay Ledford with nowhere to go clipped Dehm and both cars were eliminated. On the restart, Allen vaulted to the lead, as Jeff Curl and Jim Farris raced for second. Farris got by Curl on the fourth lap and closed the distance on Allen. Farris kept Allen in his sights but could not mound a challenge for the lead. Allen took the win, with Farris, Curl, Derek Losh, Nick Wallrich, Devin Wright, Jared Cagley, Kevin Hastings, Tommy Duncan, and Nick Kurtz rounding out the top ten. Defending track champion Curl was the fast qualifier at a 13.976. Jay Ledford, Jimmy Dehm, and Allen won the heat races.
In a caution marred 15-lap, UMP Sportsman race, Richard Craven moved into the lead on lap four to pick up the feature win. Five caution periods plagued the early part of the race, as drivers had difficulty completing more than a lap. On the fifth attempt, Ledford running the high side of the track took the lead as Craven, Dustin Mounce, Paul Graf, and Tyler Roth followed. With smoke trailing from his car, Craven moved into the lead on lap four and kept Ledford to a car length advantage.
After two cautions on the ninth lap, the field went to a single file restart. Craven was able to pull away from Ledford and pick up the win. Mounce, Graf, Eric Legner, Chris Anderson, Anthony Craven, Ryan Moore, Tyler Roth, and Bryant Frechette took the top ten positions. Ledford won the fast time award with a 14.637. Richie Rich and Richard Craven took heat wins.
Controversy marred the 15-lap, UMP Street Stock contest. After a lap 14 caution, Joel Funk led the field to the restart. Funk moved into command and looked to be on his way to the win. Track officials said Funk had jumped the restart and penalized him. Brandon Kessinger was scored the race winner, as Funk argued his point, but to no avail. In spite of the incident, Funk and Kessinger exchanged the lead throughout the race, with no clear cut winner until the checkered flag. Eric Gaus, Jason Maier, Darrell Dick, Nick Clubb, Lee Hall, Nathan Lyday, Justin Nelson, and Kevin Anderson rounding out the top ten. David Hurst was the night’s fast qualifier at a 15.596. Kessinger and Funk took the heat race wins.