McKinney, Hoffman Score Casey's Modified Nationals Victories; Heckenast Jr. Captures AELMT Win

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury Speedway welcomed the American Modified Series and the American Ethanol Late Model Tour for three 40-lap, $5,000 to win feature races on Saturday night. Picking up the big checks were Mike McKinney and Nick Hoffman in the Modified class, while Frank Heckenast Jr. took the Late Model win.

65 Modified teams were broken up into two groups for their time trials, heat races, semi-features, and feature races. Curt Spalding led group one qualifiers, while Nick Hoffman paced the field in group two. Frank Marshall, Victor Lee, Rodney Standerfer, Kyle Hammer, Hoffman, Tyler Nicely, Michael Long, and track points champion Allen Weisser were the heat race winners. A pair of semi-features saw Ryan Ayers and Brandon Roberts earning their way into the feature races.

hoffman mdIn the first main event of the night, outside front row starter Nick Hoffman took a commanding lead at the start, as Frank Marshall, Michael Long, Trent Young, and Rodney Standerfer trailed. After a lap nine caution, Long and Young moved into the second and third positions, while Curt Spalding charged into the fourth spot. Hoffman sliced his way past the slower traffic at the halfway mark keeping a straightaway lead over his competitors. Hoffman’s lead evaporated as a caution flag fell with three laps to go. On the restart, Hoffman was able to pull away from the field and pick up his second AMS win of the year. 10th starter Young rebounded from Friday night’s DNF at Farmer City to take second, while Josh Harris made a late race charge for third. The remainder of the top ten were Long, David Stremme, Spalding, Danny Schwartz, Derek Losh, Marshall, and Standerfer.

mckinney mdIn the second race, Tyler Nicely and Victor Lee raced for the lead before a caution fell on the fourth circuit. Nicely took the front position on the restart, with Lee, Allen Weisser, Mike McKinney, and Kenny Wallace following. Holding a ten-car length lead, Nicely soon encountered lapped traffic. McKinney had made his way into second and began to reel the race leader in. McKinney was able to catch Nicely and took over the front position. After three straight yellow flags and with McKinney leading, Nicely and Lee made repeated bids to move into the lead, but McKinney was able to pull away in the closing laps to take his first AMS win of the season. Series points leader Nicely held off Lee for second, with Jeffrey Ledford in fourth. Weisser finished fifth, followed by Wallace, Steven Brooks, Jeff Leka, Kyle Hammer, and Brody Pompe.

heckenast lmA field of 37 Late Model drivers were on hand for their feature race. Frank Heckenast Jr. was the fast qualifier for the night. Travis Stemler, Brian Shirley, Mike Spatola, and Heckenast Jr. were the heat race winners. A pair of semi-features had Mike Mataragas and Allen Weisser advancing into the feature. Heckenast Jr. took over the lead on lap 11 after a back and forth duel with Shirley for the first 10 laps. The caution flag was displayed on lap 12 as a light rain began to fall. Cars circled the track in an attempt to dry the speedway out. After a 10 minute delay, racing resumed. Heckenast led as Jimmy Mars moved into the second position. Last week’s race winner Tim Manville brought out a caution on lap 15 and dropped out of the race. Heckenast held a commanding lead on the restart before the yellow flag came out for the third place running car of Shirley. Heckenast once again built a large lead over the field on the restart, as Mars and Jason Feger attempted to keep pace. Heckenast was able to cruise to his second feature win of the year at Fairbury. After finishing second the previous night at Farmer City, Mars was once again the bridesmaid, with Feger in third. 15th starter Bobby Pierce rallied to take fourth in the closing laps. Donny Walden finished fifth, with Weisser, Brandon Thirlby, Rich Bell, Jay Morris, and Stemler completing the top ten.

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