Poel, Craven take Memorial Races

by Darlene Miller

Jacob Poel, Scott Bull, Richard Craven, and Jason Maier were all winners as the American Modified Series made its second stop of a three-day Memorial race weekend at Fairbury American Legion Speedway Saturday night. The track honored some of their own with memorial races.

The Gary Cook Jr. inaugural modified race honored the four-time champ at the speedway who lost his battle to cancer last year. Pontiac’s Jay Ledford led the field to the green flag and quickly established the lead. However, the field was not going to let him run away as Chatsworth’s Lance Dehm took over the lead with 22 laps to go in the feature. Dehm began to feel pressure from Matt Mevert, who grabbed the lead near the halfway point. The duo ran door to door and Poel began his move to the top. Poel got around Dehm to take second and put pressure on Mevert. As the pair were heading out of turn two, Mevert bobbled on the high side and Poel took the lead and never looked back for his second win in as many nights. He won Friday night’s race at Farmer City.

“I am so blessed to be here and what a race,” said Poel. “I knew Mevert slipped on the cushion and I got around him.” Ledford brought home second followed by Steven Brooks, Jeff Leka, and Dehm. Dehm, Mevert, Poel, and Ledford were heat winners. Poel brought home $2,064 for the win. Semi's went to Jim Farris and Mike McKinney.

Craven won the memorial sportsman race that honored former FALS champ Gary Eden and racer Curt Piercy. Craven took an early lead in the 15-lap feature over last week’s winner Jeffrey Ledford and Richie Rich. Ledford took back the lead with five laps to go but saw his night come to a screeching halt as he hit the cushion and went up the turn four wall.

He came back on the track but collected Rich and Dustin Mounce. All three were OK but done for the evening. On the restart, Craven again took the lead but Amber Crouch, who graduated from high school the night before, came close to Craven several times. She just could not get around him and finished second. Tim Dick, Paul Graf, and Jim Bailey rounded out the top five. Craven, Ledford, and Rich were heat winners.

“I just lost my uncle this past Tuesday and it means a lot to me to win this race,” an emotional Craven said. “My uncle was a big part of my racing and I raced against Curt Piercy for a long time.”

Bull weaved his way in and out of the traffic and held off Daren Friedman by a car length to win the 30-lap late model feature. “I am starting to figure out my car,” said Bull. “Lap traffic made it a little hairy.” Friedman, Scott Schmitt, Derek Chandler, and Jay Morris rounded out the top five. Heat wins went to Bull, Friedman, and Morris.

The final feature of the night went to Jason Maier, who won his first feature of the season at FALS. Lukes Gash and Rick Thomas were the early frontrunners but a caution flag bunched the field and they made it four wide on the restart. Maier wrestled the lead away and held on to win by a car length over Thomas. Brandon Kessinger, Gash, and Eric Gaus completed the top five.

“The track was very slick and I was on pins and needles,” said Maier. Gash and Kessinger were heat winners.