by Rocky Ragusa
Winged 410 Sprint Cars made their first appearance to the Fairbury American Legion Speedway Saturday night in nearly 15 years. A large crowd was on hand as California’s Carson Macedo (Sprint Car), Frank Heckenast Jr. (Late Model), and Mike McKinney (Modified) grabbed the hardware.
The Interstate Racing Association and Midwest Open Wheel co-sanctioned Sprint Car race drew 39 drivers to the 1/4-mile dirt oval. Twelve drivers broke the old track record in qualifying as Carson Macedo turned a 11.219 to earn fast time honors. Four heat races were held as Macedo, Kody Kinser, Dave Uttech, and Jeremy Schultz advanced to the 30-lap feature. Bret Tripplett was the winner of the B-Main. In the $3,000 to win race, Schultz took an early lead with Tayler Malsam and Scotty Thiel following. Macedo started fifth and was on the move. He quickly moved in to second and executed a slide job on Schultz to take the top position on the 11th lap, as Thiel followed. In the waning laps, Bill Balog looked to have the fastest car on the track. Using slower traffic, Balog worked his way by Thiel but ran out of laps in his bid to catch Macedo. After taking the win the previous night at Lincoln, Macedo commented in victory lane. “This track reminds me of one back home. You have to get up there on the curb and let it rip around there. I can’t say enough about my team. They give me a car that can win about every single night. It’s all I can ask for.” Following Macedo to the line were Balog, Thiel, Paul Nienhiser, Schultz, Malsam, Blake Nimee, Tripplett, Kinser, and Kris Spitz.
After the World of Outlaws race was rained out in Brainerd, Minnesota, Frankfort’s Frank Heckenast Jr. made the journey to Fairbury to tune up for the upcoming Prairie Dirt Classic. Engaging in a see-saw battle with his cousin, Mike Spatola, Heckenast was able to capitalize on Spatola’s misfortune on the last lap of the 30-lap, I Beam Sliding Door Late Model $2,000 to win race. With the checkered flag in sight, Spatola cut a tire down as the two roared down the backstretch giving Heckenast the lead and his first career win at Fairbury. “This place is awesome,” spoke Heckenast. “I always enjoy racing here when I can. Mike definitely had the better car. Running with the World of Outlaws I have learned you have to be there at the end and stay up on the wheel.” Spatola hung on for second, followed by Daniel Flessner, McKay Wenger, Mike Mataragas, 11th starter Jay Morris, Donny Walden, Kevin Weaver, Rickey Frankel, and Mike Glasscock. Heckenast was the night’s fast qualifier and took one heat race, while Mataragas was the other heat race winner.
In the Varsitee Screen Printing 25-lap $1,000 to win Modified race, Plainfield’s Mike McKinney found a groove that worked for his car and was able to pick up his third win of the year. In a race-long battle with Steven Brooks and Jeffrey Ledford that saw the trio use every inch of the track, McKinney was able to open up a ten car length lead after a caution with eight laps to go, holding off Ledford and Brooks for the win. Logan Rogers, Jeff Curl, Derick Doerr, Jimmy Dehm, Alan Stipp, Michael Mennel, and Dave Lilja completed the top ten. “I had to work for that one,” said McKinney. “It wore me out racing with Jeffrey and Steven. In these conditions, it was pretty tough, but I stuck to the middle groove and the car worked.”