by Darlene Miller
Maybe it was in anticipation of next week’s Summer Nationals rolling into Fairbury American Legion Speedway as all four feature races came down to the last lap on Saturday night.
Manhattan’s Mike Spatola won the $2,000 Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial 40-lap late model feature over a charging Scott Bull. A photo finish decided what Maier brother would take home the street stock feature as Matt edged Jason. The Ledford family brought home two trophies as Jay and son Jeffrey won the modified and sportsman features, respectively. The KidModz also raced with Ryan Hamilton bringing home the checkered flag.
In the late model feature, Joe Harlan and Torin Mettille led the group to the green flag. Mettille jumped out to a quick lead followed closely by Harlan and Spatola after a complete restart as a car stopped coming out of turn 2. Spatola got around Harlan and put his sights on Mettille nine laps into the featured event. Eric Smith got around Harlan three laps later and began to put pressure on the top two. Lap traffic came into play and ended Mettille’s night. He went around the top side of Bill Hough and the pair made contact coming into turn three with 11 laps to go. Left front-end damage would force Mettille off the track. Spatola, running the high side, assumed the lead over Smith while Bull was fighting his way into the action. Bull got around Smith with three laps to go and was making a push, but Spatola held on to win by less than a car length.
“This is awesome, I can’t be happy enough with this win,” Spatola said. “I knew I had to run up top because of my soft tires.” Smith was third, followed in the top five by McKay Wenger and Kevin Weaver. Derek Chandler led the second five with Daren Friedman, Harlan, Jay Sparks, and Dan Flessner in tow. Heat winners were Harlan, Mettille, and Bull.
The modified feature turned into a four-driver engagement for the early lead as Jimmy Dehm and Jay Ledford were in front and trying to hold off Jeff Curl and Jacob Poel. Ledford took the lead with Poel and Curl running tight with nine laps to go in the 20-lap feature. Ledford felt pressure as Poel came within inches of him with one to go. Ledford led coming out of turn four to win by a nose over Poel.
“It is working out for us this year,” said Ledford, who won his third feature of the FALS season. “It is pretty sweet that my son won, too.” Curl, Jeb Friedman, and Lance Dehm were in the top five. Jimmy Dehm, Cullen Breeden, Cody Daugherty, Brandon Maciejewski, and Tommy Duncan rounded out the top 10. Ledford and J. Dehm were heat winners.
Heat winners Richard Craven and Dustin Mounce led the sportsman pack to the green flag. Craven quickly took the lead with Jeffrey Ledford on his heels. Mounce found himself in the lead with five laps to go in the feature but a caution flag on the next circuit bunched the field. Fighting back for the lead, Craven caught a tire in turn four and had to go the back of the field after stopping on the track. Mounce was in the lead over Ledford and Richie Rich with three laps to go. Mounce and Ledford battled back and forth and Ledford clipped Mounce at the line for his fourth feature win of the FALS season.
“It was a fun race,” said Ledford. “I tore the cushion up and shoved my nose in hard. I made it work.” Tyler Roth finished third flanked by Rich, Jim Bailey, Matt Mills, Bryant Frechette, Craven, Amber Crouch, and Scott Williams.
David Hurst took the early lead in the street stock feature and pulled away from the field. Hurst soon found himself sitting in the infield as his left front tire let go going into turn three with nine laps to go in the 15-lap feature. Jason Maier soon felt the pressure as his brother Matt and Andrew Funk were making a push. After rolling his car in the heat, Funk looked like the one to beat but the Maier brothers were able to hold him off for the top two spots.
“It was a finish to close for comfort,” said Matt Maier. Funk, Lukes Gash, and A.J. Meiferdt completed the top five. Eric Gaus, Brandon Kessinger, Justin Nelson, Joe Dynek, and Nathan Lyday finished out the top 10.