by Darlene Morris
Special, big-money races tend to draw drivers coming from all over as they look to pick up that special payday. Such was the case this past weekend at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Saturday night drew some top drivers from the Midwest for the $1,200-to-win modified special. Former UMP champs Rusty Griffaw of Festus, Mo., and Mike Harrison of Highland were on hand to try and capture the prize. But it was Saunemin’s Jeb Friedman who grabbed the victory from a field of more than 20 drivers.
Harrison and Friedman, known as “The Cobra,” led the starting field to the green flag and both put on a show of their driving talents. Neither was able to assume the upper hand. Harrison decided to take chances on the high side but that did him in eventually. He broke in a turn with 12 laps to go and his evening was done. But that did not give Friedman an easy run to the line. Immediately on his heels were current American Legion Speedway point’s leader Jeff Curl of Forrest and Pontiac’s Jay Ledford. A caution flag with 10 circuits to go bunched the field and another caution for debris in turn four with two laps remaining put the heat on Friedman. Friedman was able to hold on for the win with Curl chasing about three car lengths behind. It was Friedman’s first FALS victory of the season.
“We found something in our setup a few weeks ago and the track tonight was good. We were waiting for it to get slick,” said Friedman. Ledford was third with Lance Dehm of Chatsworth and Buffalo’s Jeff Leka completing the top five. Gardner’s Dave Porth, Griffaw, Steven Brooks, Jim Farris of Odell and Kevin Hastings made up the second five. Heat winners were Curl, Harrison and Friedman. Dwight’s Andrew Funk won the semi feature. The fast time was set by Forrest’s Cullen Breeden with a 14.024 second run.
Friedman was a popular name in the winner’s circle. Earlier in the evening, in the late model division, Daren Friedman of Forrest brought home the victory. Kevin Weaver of Gibson City and Friedman started in the first row of the feature. The pair switched leads back and forth throughout most of the race. Lap traffic held up the leaders with four laps to go. Friedman handled it better by riding the high side to take the lead and win by half a car length. “Staying up top is where we were running good,” Friedman said. Weaver, the “Flatland Flash,” was second followed by Fairbury’s McKay Wenger, Kent Robinson and El Paso’s Joe Harlan. Pontiac’s Derek Chandler led the second five across the line. Fairbury’s Scott Bull, Jay Morris, Torin Mettille, Mike Mullvain and Steve Thorsten were also in the top 10. Heat winners were Weaver, Wenger and Friedman. Weaver had fast time with a clocking of 12.812 seconds.
Jimmy Dehm of Lexington took the win in the sportsman race. Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford led the early laps of the race as he and Scott Williams switched the top spot back and forth. A caution flag flew with six laps to go with Ledford in the lead — but not for long. Taking advantage of the restart, Dehm took the lead one lap later and never looked back to take the checkered flag. “It was a great track tonight. I did not know what the water would do to it, but it worked out great for us,” Dehm said. The track was prepped before the sportsman race. Jim Bailey came home second followed by Flanagan’s Dustin Mounce, Ledford, Scott Hatzer, Paul Graf, Troy Dodson, Richie Rich, Eric Legner and Williams.
Don “The Highside Hillbilly” Hilleary won the street stock feature over Matt Maier, who led the early part of the race. Hilleary took the lead with two laps to go and won by five car lengths. “It was awesome tonight. I liked running the top,” Hilleary said. “We put it up there and nailed it to the floor.” Maier, Darrin Kohler, Rick Thomas and Alex Clubb followed in the top five while Nick Clubb, Ron Donaldson, Jeff Semmens, Wayne Orrick and Robert Turner finished in the top 10. Thomas and A.J. Meiferdt won the heats.