by Rocky Ragusa
After a brief absence, Thursday night racing returned to the 141st Fairbury Fair at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Ray Bollinger (Modified), and Myles Moos (Pro Late Model) were the night’s feature winners.
19 Late Model drivers took to the track for qualifying with Bob Gardner setting fast time at a 12.714. Unzicker and Kevin Weaver were the heat race victors. Unzicker was on a rail, manhandling the top groove to perfection in the I Beam Sliding Doors 30-lap feature. Weaver and Scott Schmitt made several attempts to take the front position but Unzicker held his ground. A red flag fell on the 21st lap as the lights in turn one went out. After a 20-minute delay, the drivers went back to business. Unzicker was able to withstand the pressure from Weaver and McKay Wenger to take the race win and only needs to start Saturday’s race to wrap up his first-ever Fairbury track championship. Wenger took second over Weaver, with 13th starter Scott Bull in fourth and Schmitt placing fifth. Current UMP national point leader Rusty Schlenk came in sixth with Rich Bell, Mike Spatola, 19th starter Jay Sparks, and Jose Parga following. “We ran the car on the top tonight,” said Unzicker. “It looked like it would be the fastest way around. Weaver and Wenger both did a heck of a job.”
Bollinger was looking to rack up UMP national points and posted the fast time over 23 other Varsitee Screen Printing modified competitors with a 14.505. Bollinger, Jason Hastings, and Jeffrey Ledford took heat race wins. In the caution-plagued event, Bollinger, running the top groove, held a slight edge over Ledford through the first 11 laps of the 20-lap race. Ledford snuck by Bollinger to lead the 12th circuit, but Bollinger came back to reclaim the lead. Ledford and Bollinger separated themselves from the field as Allen Weisser and Mike McKinney battled for third. Ledford led Bollinger after a caution with three laps to go, but Bollinger was running the top and took over the top spot. Ledford refused to give up and stuck the nose of his car under Bollinger several times. Bollinger was able to hang on for his third Fairbury win. Ledford was next with McKinney, Weisser, Jeff Curl, 13th starter Travis Kohler, Jimmy Dehm, Dave Lilja, Hastings, and 19th starter Billy Puckett in tow. “I can’t say enough about Jeffrey,” an excited Bollinger said. “He sticks his car on the bottom. I didn’t have anything for him there. I just had to put it on the top and bang the wall.” Only six points separate Curl and Ledford with one night of points remaining.
The Pro Late Model class returned for its second appearance of the year in a 20-lap race bringing in 18 cars. Chad Osterhoff set a new track record in time trials with a 14.024-second clip. Osterhoff and Myles Moos won their heat races. Moos took the lead at the start, putting his car on the top, and opened up a 10-car length lead. Torin Mettille and Mike Spatola traded the second position several times early in the race while Jake Little and Allen Weisser followed. With three laps to go, Mettille looked to take the lead but a caution fell on the track spoiling Mettille’s bid. Moos got a good restart and was able to pull away and take the win. Spatola took second on the last lap, followed by AJ May, Mettille, and Weisser. Jay Morris led the second five and was followed by Osterhoff, Derrick Hufford, Jeremy McLaughlin, and Brian Crebo. “I don’t normally run the top side but tonight it was the fastest way around,” Moos said.