Friedman Bull’s Way to Front

by Rocky Ragusa

Driving a Longhorn Chassis, Daren Friedman overtook Joe Harlan with two laps remaining to win the 30 lap, UMP Late Model feature Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Infrequent visitor, Shawn Toczek led the field to the green flag, leading the first lap. Derek Chandler made it three wide on the back stretch to take command on the second lap. Toczek, along with Daren Friedman stayed in contention for the lead, as Chandler moved his line to the top groove of the track and set a blistering pace. On the 11th lap, Joe Harlan worked his way by Toczek to take second, with Kevin Weaver and Friedman in pursuit. Chandler encountered slower traffic, allowing Harlan to close the margin. Harlan moved to the front on lap 14 and a caution flag came out one lap later. On the restart, Harlan led as Chandler began to lose positions on the track. Weaver, Friedman, and Mike Spatola moved ahead to challenge Harlan for the lead. Friedman moved his car to the top and took over the second position, setting his sights on Harlan. A caution fell with five laps to go. On the restart Harlan led Friedman, Weaver, Spatola, and Dan Flessner. As Friedman exited turn four with two laps to go, his momentum allowed him to take the lead and the win. “Thanks to the guys at Longhorn, they have been helpful. We have figured some things on our own. Hopefully, this will be a rolling factor into next week. Thanks to Joe for racing me clean. This was for Mark Schahrer. It has been a year today. I think he was watching over us,” commented Friedman. Completing the top ten were Harlan, Weaver, Spatola, Toczek, Flessner, Chandler, Eric Vaughan, Jay Morris, and Don Hilleary. Toczek took fast time honors at a 12.700 and won the first heat race. Chandler and Friedman also won heat races. Spatola was the race's hard charger.

In the 20 lap UMP Modified feature, Jeff Curl and Jay Ledford paced the field, with Curl leading the first lap. Ledford came back on the next lap, to emerge as the new race leader, with Steven Brooks, Jimmy Dehm, Mike McKinney, and Lance Dehm in a tight pack. Ledford, running the top, and Curl sticking his guns on the bottom, set a rapid pace in the race. Brooks, trailing by five car lengths, had to contend with Jimmy Dehm and Lance Dehm, as McKinney faded from the top five. Curl showed the nose of his machine to Ledford several times, but Ledford was able to turn back the challenge. On the 10th lap, Curl pulled ahead of Ledford to take the lead and pull to a ten car length lead. Dan Rork and Cory Schwengel tangled on the 14th lap to bring out a caution flag. On the restart, Curl led Ledford, Brooks, and Lance Dehm. As Curl pulled away from his competitors, Dehm overtook Brooks and Ledford for second place. Dehm made a dauntless effort to track down Curl, but Curl held on for his first FALS win of the year. “It’s good to be back home, after traveling up and down the highways. We have learned a lot about this race car. We had carburetor problems and Roger Friedman got us going. We had a good effort in the Summit Modified Nationals and are leading the American Modified points, but there is nothing better than winning at home,” spoke Curl. Rounding out the top ten were Lance Dehm, Brooks, Ledford, Jimmy Dehm, McKinney, Jeb Friedman, Cullen Breeden, Dave Porth, and Chris Gaither. Kevin Hastings finished 11th and was the hard charger winner. Brooks was the fast qualifier at a 13.764. Jimmy Dehm, Curl, and Ledford took heat wins, while Jamie Kuntz was the semi feature victor.

Eric Gaus took the lead in the 15 lap UMP Street Stock contest. Outside front row starter Jason Maier came back to claim the lead on lap three and wasted no time in building a ten car length lead. With Maier comfortably in the lead, Gaus had to contend with Brandon Kessinger, Terry Miller, Darrell Dick, and A.J. Meiferdt. Caution fell on the ninth lap, as Nick Clubb stopped on the track with a flat tire. On the restart, Kessinger looked to take the lead, but Maier was able to hang on. With the top two locked in a race for first, Miller and Meiferdt soon joined in the shootout. In the waning laps, Maier put some distance between himself and the competitors and picked up his second FALS win of the year. “It’s been a good week with two firsts and a second place. Thanks to all my sponsors. The track was great,” said a jubilant Maier. Kessinger, Miller, Meiferdt, Dick, Darrin Kohler, Matt Maier, Gaus, Justin Nelson, and Rick Thomas completed the top ten. Meiferdt won the hard charger of the race. Gaus was the night’s fast qualifier at a 15.436. Gaus and Maier took heat wins.

The UMP Sportsman division ran two feature races, with the second race from the June 21 rain out. Jeffrey Ledford held a slight lead over Richie Rich in the first 15 lap race. Cautions set the tone for both Sportsman races as five fell in the first race, keeping drivers from establishing any type of rhythm. After the last caution on lap nine, Rich opened up his lead as Ledford had to contend with Dustin Mounce. Rich went the rest of the way to pick up his second win of the season. “Roger Friedman has helped me a lot this year. We have finally got the car figured out,” said Rich. Following Rich to the line were Ledford, Mounce, Richard Craven, Matt Mills, Scott Hatzer, Tyler Roth, Rod Rusher, Anthony Craven, and Eric Legner. Rusher won the hard charger award. Ledford set the pace in time trials at a 14.445. Ledford and Rich won heat races.

In the second race, three cautions fell on the second lap. Jeffrey Ledford dropped out with mechanical problems, while a six car pileup on the front stretch eliminated several contenders. After the cleanup, five cars remained on the track. Richard Craven led Richie Rich, Anthony Craven, Jim Bailey, and Eric Legner. Craven held a ten car length led as Rich’s car wasn’t hitting on all cylinders. Anthony Craven was able to take over second, but with eight laps to go Craven got loose and fell back to fourth. Rich moved back to second place and had to contend with Bailey. With two laps to go, Bailey took over second, but Craven had checked out on the contenders and won his third race of the year. “After the first race, I didn’t think I would ever win another race. My crew went to work, changed a few things, and it was on a rail,” said Craven. Bailey, Rich, Anthony Craven, Legner, Tyler Roth, Matt Mills, Amber Crouch, Paul Graf, and Dustin Mounce completed the top ten.