by Rocky Ragusa
Six classes of racing, including the Vintage Racing of Illinois Series, was held Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Taking the checkered flag were Kevin Weaver (Late Model), TD Burger (Modified), AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), Lake Nichoalds (Sportsman), Dawson Cook (Hobby-Modified), and Kraig Hughes (Vintage Cars).
14 drivers made qualifying attempts for the I Beam Sliding Doors 30-lap Late Model race. Daniel Flessner set fast time with a 12.651 second lap. Kevin Weaver and Mike Spatola took the heat race wins. Weaver, in a Jay Morris owned car, led at the start with Spatola, Ryan Unzicker, Steve Thorsten, and Flessner following. As Weaver was running the bottom groove, Unzicker changed his line and went to the top side. Unzicker got by Spatola for second and closed up on Weaver. Unzicker took the lead on the 13th lap, but Weaver came back to reclaim the lead on lap 18. Once in the front, Weaver pulled away and picked up his first win of the year. “We have been struggling with our car this year and I have to thank Jay for letting me use his car tonight,” Weaver said. “Ryan got by me and I knew I had to get back up on the wheel.” Unzicker, Spatola, Thorsten, Donny Walden, Don Hammer, Flessner, Bill Hough, Scott Bull, and Glen Thompson completed the top ten.
23 Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers were on hand for their 20-lap show. Jason Hastings was the night’s fast qualifier at 14.106 seconds. Hastings, Jeffrey Ledford, and TD Burger claimed heat race wins. Hastings led Burger, Ledford, Jeff Curl, and Jimmy Dehm before a caution fell on the second lap. On the restart, Burger was able to squeeze by Hastings for the lead with Curl following. Burger was able to open a five car length lead over Curl, but Curl was on Burger’s tail in the corners. Vince Cooper was on the move getting by Hastings for third, with Nick Clubb and Nick Lueth in a tight pack. Following a lap 11 caution, Burger and Curl hugged the bottom groove as Jimmy Dehm went to the top side to move into fourth as he raced Hastings for third. Dehm took third with six laps to go and looked to have the fastest car. Burger drove a fine line on the bottom as Curl looked for any opening to take the lead, but Burger held steady and took his first career Modified win at FALS. “It doesn’t matter how many wins we have, after cutting my teeth here it feels good to get this Fairbury win,” spoke Burger.” I knew Jeff was there so I had to hug the tires and thankfully we held on.” Curl, Dehm, Hastings, Clubb, Lueth, Cooper, Eric Vaughan, Derick Doerr, and Kaleb Wood rounded out the top ten.
Scott Williams set quick time at 14.656 seconds for the 10 CR Towing Sportsman cars. Lake Nichoalds won the lone heat race. Nichoalds took the lead at the start of the 15-lap race, with Brandon Pralle and Williams in check. After a lap two caution, Nichoalds led Pralle as Amber Crouch moved into third. Pralle stuck to Nichoalds bumper following a caution on the eighth circuit but was not able to make the pass. At the finish, points leader Nichoalds recorded his sixth win of the year. Pralle took second as Richard Craven rallied for third. Crouch, Williams, Eric Legner, Tyler Roth, Patrick Hawkins, Steven Mattingly, and Anthony Craven completed the field.
Curtis Radke bested 21 other Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers in time trials with a 15.400 second trip. AJ Meiferdt, Pete Odell, and Jim Ransom were the heat race winners. After two early cautions, Meiferdt was able to fend off the challenges from Radke winning his sixth race of the season and stretching out his points lead. Meiferdt commented after the race, “It’s been an incredible year and I just hope we can keep rolling.” Radke, Joe Brown, Rick Thomas, Ransom, 14th starter Dustin Mounce, Mitch Hahn, Don Hilleary, Nick Seplak, and Tanner Sullivan completed the top ten.
Dawson Cook and Mike Petersen were the heat race winners for the 11 Hobby-Modified cars on hand for their 12-lap race. Cook, a third-generation driver and the son of the late, great Gary Cook Jr., was the class of the field leading flag-to-flag for the win. “I have to thank my crew. They put so many hours into this, along with Mike Spatola for his help, “said Cook. Petersen, Brendan Patterson, Tim Mullins, Graham Jackson, Jason Brandt, Makinzi Semmens, Macy Vaughan, Bryan Saner, and Haley Jones trailed.
The Vintage Cars of Illinois Series brought 14 cars to test the ¼ mile dirt oval. Valerie Hurt and Justin Rutledge took heat race wins. Kraig Hughes made it three wide with three laps to go and hung on for the 15-lap feature win. “This is my first ever feature win,” Hughes said. “We haven’t had the best of luck with our Street Stock. I want to thank Matt Ramer for letting me race one of his Vintage cars tonight.” Hurt took second followed by Robert Mitchell and John Ryan.