by Rocky Ragusa
Kevin Weaver, McKay Wenger, AJ Meiferdt, and Steve Mattingly were officially recognized as the 2018 Fairbury American Legion Speedway track champions on Saturday night. Feature race wins went to Mike Spatola, Mike McKinney, Rick Thomas, Mattingly, and Cody Wisher.
A field of 19 Late Models took part in the night’s featured division with Kevin Weaver turning a lap of 12.881 for fast time. Scott Schmitt and Mike Spatola were the heat race winners. Schmitt put his car on the top to take the lead at the start with Spatola hot on his heels. On the fourth lap, Schmitt went to the bottom of the track and enabled Spatola to pull alongside of him. Spatola took over the lead and checked out on his competition for his sixth win of the season. Weaver was second, with the remainder of the top ten consisting of Donny Walden, 13th starter Dan Flessner, Jay Morris, Greg Wagner, Curtis Radke, Glen Thompson, Lyle Zanker Jr., and Jeff Curl. “I got a shock when Schmitt gave me the top,” Spatola said. “I thought the track would be top dominate and he moved down. I didn’t want to get next to him because I didn’t know when he would go back to the top, but it worked out in our favor.”
37 Modified teams looked to tune up for next Saturday's $10,000 to win special. Allen Weisser earned fast time with a 13.932. Weisser, Josh Allen, Mike McKinney, and Mike Chasteen Jr. won their respective heat races. Two semi-features were held as Matt Mitchell and Alan Stipp took wins and advanced to the 20-lap feature. Going down the frontstretch, McKinney pulled beside race leader Weisser. As the two drivers entered turn one, Weisser did a slide job on McKinney. McKinney came back at Weisser as the two exited turn two for his own slide job. McKinney was able to make it stick for the lead. Weisser never trailed McKinney by more than five car lengths but had to contend with McKay Wenger. McKinney completed his weekend sweep with his seventh Fairbury win and 20th overall. Weisser held on for second over Wenger, with Donovan Lodge, Nick Allen, 12th starter Curt Spalding, Dylan Woodling, Allen, Chasteen Jr., and Dan Rork rounding out the top ten. “I can’t lie that I was pretty nervous before the race, “McKinney said. “I knew Allen would be on the bottom and my choice was to get to the top. I don’t think I lifted for the entire race.”
18 strong Street Stock drivers were on hand for their 15-lap race. Tanner Sullivan clipped a lap of 16.774 for quick time honors. Heat race wins went to Rick Thomas and Justin Van Drunen. Thomas put his car on the bottom of the track for the lead as fifth starter AJ Meiferdt worked his way to Thomas’s bumper with eight laps to go. With the aid of slower cars, Thomas was able to fend off the challenge from Meiferdt taking his second win of the year and close in on the all-time win record held by Kevin Weaver. Rookie wheelman Van Drunen took third, with Sullivan, Michael Clark, Nick Seplak, Megan Erwin, Doug Berbaum, Michael Schomas, and Darrin Kohler completing the top ten.
14 Sportsman drivers made qualifying efforts for their 15-lap race. First year driver Mikey Ledford set the pace with a 14.898. Steve Mattingly and Brandon Pralle won heat races. Mattingly finished the year as he started taking his eighth win of the year. After a caution with four laps to go, Pralle looked to take the top position but Mattingly was able to take a five car length win. Pralle was followed closely by Ron Wilkes, Amber Crouch, Ledford, Dustin Mounce, Jim Farley, Matt Ramer, Richie Rich, and Valerie Hurt. “I have to thank my dad and Terry Worth for their help all year,” spoke Mattingly. “This has been an unbelievable year for our team.”
Cody Wisher clocked a 15.770 in Hobby-Modified qualifying as 15 drivers looked to be first in their feature race. Wisher and Darren Kerrins took heat race wins. Modified driver Tommy Duncan decided to reward crew member Cody Wisher for all his hard work throughout the year. Wisher got behind the wheel of Mason Duncan’s proven winning car. Wisher put on a dominating performance leading all 12 laps to take the win. Kankakee I-Mod champion Chris Tippit gave Wisher a brief battle for the lead but settled for second. Brian Ray was third, with hard charging Kerrins taking fourth, followed by Mike Petersen, Macy Vaughan, TJ Bolen, Jason Brandt, Makinzi Semmens, and Cathy Crego. “I had a lot to live up to,” commented Wisher. “Mason has a good car. This is my first ever race in a Modified and the first time I have raced at Fairbury. I have to thank Tommy and Mason for giving me this opportunity.”