Wenger, Friedman, Rich, Funk Take Fair Wins

by Darlene Miller

The “Reaper” held on to win the one “everyone wants to win” when he held off the “Flatland Flash” in the closing laps for the late model feature victory Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. McKay Wenger of Fairbury stopped Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver from winning his ninth race of the season but not the points championship. Jay Ledford (modified), Richie Rich (sportsman), and Lukes Gash (street stock) were also crowned champions at the Fairbury Fair on Saturday night.

Wenger and Jay Morris of Watseka led the field to the green flag. The pair were tight but just five laps in of the 30-lap feature, Morris found himself riding the turn three wall and his evening was done. That caution put Weaver in striking distance of Wenger. The duo moved away from the pack and with four laps to go found themselves in the mix of lap traffic. The lap traffic slowed both drivers as they had trouble maneuvering. Wenger was able to hold on to the wheel and win by two car lengths. “What a race. I have been wanting to win this one,” said Wenger, who took home $1,200. El Paso’s Joe Harlan was third followed by Daren Friedman and Scott Bull. Scott Schmitt, Lance Dehm, Steve Thorsten, Torin Mettille, and Charlie Olson made up the second five. Wenger and Morris were heat winners. Weaver set fast pace with a qualifying time of 12.675 seconds.

Mike McKinney and Jay Ledford started on the front row of the 20-lap modified feature, but neither of them would see the win come their way. The duo fought early for the lead but three caution flags bunched the field. A red flag flew with 11 trips to go as the “Outlaw” Dave Porth, in his last season of racing, found himself upside down in between turns three and four. Porth was OK and with that Ledford also pulled off the track with problems and his night was also done. Jeb Friedman and Jeff Curl followed McKinney before he stopped in turn one with fluid leaking from his car. Curl, Friedman, and Brandon Maciejewski were the top three and a war ensued. Friedman wrestled away the lead from Curl with two laps to go and won by a half car length. “I had a special feeling about tonight,” Friedman said in winning $650. “It was a good night and we go out with a bang.”

Weaver Races His Way from 11th to Win FALS Fan Frenzy

by Darlene Miller

The “Flatland Flash” proved on Saturday that eight can be great, especially when $10,000 is the take home prize. Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver achieved that feat of winning eight races this season at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Lukes Gash also hit that magic number in the street stock feature.

Weaver did not have an easy time of it after starting 11th at the drop of the green flag. Tonica’s Scott Schmitt and Menomonie, Wisconsin driver Jimmy Mars set a torrid pace in the 50-lap late model feature. The pair battled back and forth in the early laps until Schmitt was able to take the lead.

Lucky 7’s For Weaver, Ledford, and Gash

by Rocky Ragusa

Kevin Weaver, Jay Ledford, and Lukes Gash bagged their seventh feature wins at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night, while Jeb Friedman notched his first Modified win, Jason Brandt picked up his second win in the Hobby Mod class, and Richard Craven closed the gap in the Sportsman points with his victory.

In the 15 lap Sportsman feature, Richie Rich and Richard Craven started on the front row. As the green flag waved, Craven dove to the inside to try and take the lead, while Rich moved to the high side of the track. After two cautions on the fifth lap, Craven had to contend with Brian Albus in a race for second. The two drivers raced side by side before Craven was able to break away and set his sights on Rich. Craven got on the inside of Rich going down the backstretch at the halfway point and took the lead on the eighth circuit. Rich came back at Craven several times in the closing laps but Craven was able to hold off the persistent challenge from Rich. For Craven it was his sixth win of the year and he closed the points margin to 24 with two points races remaining. “I saw Rich bobble in the turn. He is trying to win a championship and I’m trying to take it away,” said Craven. Following Craven and Rich to the line were Anthony Craven (hard charger), Albus, Steve Mattingly, Rod Rusher, Amber Crouch, Eric Legner, Scott Williams, and Blake Reid. Rich was the races fast qualifier at a 15.120 and won the first heat race, while Richard Craven took the second heat race.

Following a caution flag with two laps to go, Jason Brandt pulled alongside of Tim McGuire. Racing side by side Brandt was able to edge McGuire for the win in the 10 lap Hobby Mod class. Starting last in the field Brandt commented in victory lane, “It was a tough race. We have a great group of guys in the class and I am glad to have the support from the track. Thanks to my dad, Gerry for all his help getting the car ready, and what he does for the class.” McGuire, Mason Duncan, Scott Melvin, and Graham Jackson completed the top five. Duncan was the heat race winner.

Lukes Gash, after a race for second with Barry Sauder, closed in on Rick Thomas in the 15 lap Street Stock race. Gash overtook Thomas on the sixth lap and pulled away from his competition taking the win and extended his lead in the divisions point standings. “I saw Barry’s line and it looked like the fast way around. It has been an unbelievable year,” spoke Gash. Thomas, Sauder, Andrew Funk, A.J. Meiferdt, Billy Wicker, Eric Gaus (hard charger), Darrin Kohler, Don Hilleary, Curtis Radke completed the top ten. Funk set quick time at a 16.138, while Thomas and Gash won heat races.

Kevin Weaver took an early lead at the start of the 30 lap Late Model feature as Scott Schmitt and Daren Friedman traded paint for second. Friedman got out of shape in turn two giving Schmitt possession of the runner up spot and rapidly closed in on Weaver. Steve Thorsten stuck the nose of his car under Friedman several times as he looked to advance his position. Weaver ran the infamous Fairbury cushion on the ragged edge and paid for it on the ninth lap giving the lead to Schmitt. Schmitt encountered slower cars and Weaver found himself back on Schmitt’s bumper. After a caution on the 14th lap, Schmitt and Weaver raced side by side for the first position. Weaver was able to edge ahead of Schmitt but looked like it could have changed anytime as Weaver worked the treacherous cushion. In the closing laps Weaver maneuvered through lapped traffic and was able to put some distance on the field. As the checkered flag waved Weaver took the win over Schmitt, Friedman, Thorsten, Bill Hough, McKay Wenger (hard charger), Scott Bull, Snooky Dehm, Kyle Hammer, and Blaine Hendrick. “I am glad I can still get it done, running the cushion,” commented Weaver. “I just try to hit my marks and be aggressive. If you slow down driving you can mess up."

The Modified class ran two feature events with the second race a makeup for the June 13 rainout. In the first race, Jay Ledford and Jeb Friedman led the field to the green flag. Ledford took the lead as Friedman looked under Ledford several times to move into the lead. On the fourth lap, Ledford was able to open up his lead, as Jeff Curl had overtaken Lance Dehm and Jeffrey Ledford for third. Curl was soon on the back bumper of Friedman and saw an advantage to move into second on lap 12. A caution dropped on lap 14 and the field went to a double file restart. Ledford took command, as Curl, Dehm, and Friedman diced for second. Curl was able to pull ahead and closed up on Ledford. Ledford was able to take the checked flag and put a little distance over his competitors in the race for the track championship. “I had Jeff on the bottom and Lance on the top,” spoke Ledford. “I had to block two lanes and it was tough to do.” Curl, Dehm, Friedman, Tommy Duncan (hard charger), Dave Porth, Chris Gaither, Jeffrey Ledford, Jimmy Dehm, and Richie Dawson completed the top ten. Ledford and Friedman won heat races, while Lance Dehm was the fast qualifier at a 14.181.

Two weeks ago at the Prairie Dirt Classic during one of the Modified heat races, Jeb Friedman and Lance Dehm got together. The results saw Friedman hit the tire as cars exit the track in turn three. Friedman’s car rolled over and he later went to the hospital for a checkup. Friedman, a little sore, got his car fixed and returned the next week. Friedman started on the pole in this week’s makeup feature. Grabbing the lead at the start, Friedman led all 20 laps and took his first win of the year. “It’s been a heck of a year trying to keep up with Jay Ledford, “said Friedman. “ I have to thank all my family and crew for supporting me and helping to get the car back together.” Trailing Friedman to the stripe were Jay Ledford, Lance Dehm, Jeff Curl, Tommy Duncan, Dave Porth, Cullen Breeden, Jeremie Johnson, Jeffrey Ledford, and Chris Gaither.

Points Leaders Bag Fairbury Wins

by Rocky Ragusa

Another night of racing at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway found divisional points leaders extending their point margins, plus the Illinois Lightning Sprint Series made an appearance for the Second Annual Willard Bess Memorial paying $2,000 to win.

Racing in the Street Stock class, Lukes Gash jumped out to a commanding lead in the 15-lap feature. Following a caution on the ninth lap, second running A.J. Meiferdt made a brief run at Gash before Gash was able to pull away. Meiferdt had his hands full as Rick Thomas stuck the nose of his car under Meiferdt several times. On the 13th lap, Meiferdt and Thomas tangled on the front stretch. Meiferdt’s car sustained significant damage and his race was done for the evening. On the restart, Thomas got under Gash in turns 3-4. Thomas made his presence known but Gash was able to hold on for his seventh win of the year. “I didn’t need that caution to come out with six laps to go,” said Gash. “I think one of my tires went away. I knew A.J. and Rick were back there. They pushed me hard. I had to earn this one.” Thomas, Barry Sauder, Eric Gaus, Billy Wicker, Curtis Radke, Don Hilleary (hard charger), Darrin Kohler, Al Gray, and Justin Nelson completed the top ten. Gash and Sauder won heat races.

In the 15-lap Sportsman race Richard Craven and Richie Rich raced side by side for two laps before Rich was able to take the lead. Rich moved to the top of the track and held a five car length lead over Craven before a caution fell with five laps remaining. The restart found Rich with a three car length lead over Craven but Craven reeled Rich in. Craven was able to pull alongside of Rich in the turns but Rich held a slight advantage on the straights. As the drivers came to the checkered flag Rich was able to edge out Craven by a foot for his third win of the year. “It was a good race. Thanks to Richard for racing me clean and all my sponsors,” spoke Rich. Trailing Rich to the finish were Richard Craven, Eric Legner, Calvin Coleman, Scott Williams, Brandon Pralle, Anthony Craven (hard charger), Austin Williams, Eric Saltzman, and Bryant Frechette. Craven and Frechette took heat wins.

Jay Ledford added another win in the 20-lap Modified feature race. Ledford had to earn it in picking up his sixth win of the year. A wreck on the opening lap ended the night for five drivers including Chris Gaither and Dustin Mounce. On the restart, Ledford pulled away with Brandon Maciejewski alone in second, followed by Steven Brooks, Jacob Poel, and Jeff Curl fighting for third. After two caution flags, Ledford led, but Maciejewski was freight trained, enabling Brooks, Poel, Curl, and Jeb Friedman to get by. Maciejewski put his car on the high side overtaking his competition and moving into second with 10 laps to go. Ledford held a five car length lead as Brooks looked under Maciejewski several times for second. Caution fell with five laps remaining for Nick Clubb. Ledford took the lead on the restart, as Brooks looked to take second from Maciejewski, followed by Curl and Friedman. Maciejewski pulled away from Brooks and closed the margin on Ledford. On the white flag lap Maciejewski tried a slide job on Ledford in turns 3-4 but Ledford was able to hang on for the win. “I watched Maciejewski in his heat race and I knew he would be tough,” stated Ledford. “He was good on the top. I want to thank Gator and all my crew. They gave me a great car tonight.” Maciejewski, Brooks, Curl, Friedman, Dave Porth, Vince Cooper, Mark Grosvenor, Poel, and Dave Lilja (hard charger) completed the top ten. Ledford was the night’s fast qualifier at a 13.796, winning a heat race, along with Brooks and Maciejewski.

McKay Wenger set a blistering pace in the 30-lap Late Model race. Taking an early lead, Wenger ran the ragged edge on the top side of the track, as Kevin Weaver ran alone in second, Daren Friedman and Mike Spatola dicing for third, and Scott Bull in fifth. Weaver cut into Wenger’s lead and was aided by a caution on the 16th lap. The restart had Wenger in command followed by Weaver, Friedman, Spatola, and Bull. Going into turns 1-2 with three laps to go, Wenger’s car shredded a right rear tire and tagged the wall. Weaver led the field for the last three laps to take his sixth win of the year. “It was pretty tricky on the cushion tonight,” commented Weaver. “I hate it for McKay. He drove a good race. I want to thank Jay Morris for loaning us a motor and all my sponsors.” Friedman, Spatola, Joe Harlan, Bull, Torin Mettille, Jay Morris, Bill Hough, Jon Small (hard charger), and Wenger completed the top ten. Friedman was the race’s fast qualifier at a 12.362. Weaver and Wenger were the heat race winners.

The 20-lap feature for the Illinois Lightning Sprint Series saw points leader Andy Baugh lead all the way with Austin Archdale and Don Harvey trailing.

Davenport Wins PDC Thriller with Last Lap Pass of Erb; Nicely Rolls to Modified Nationals Victory

LM Results MD Results | Race Updates

by Joshua Joiner, WoO LMS PR | Modified Nationals PR

Jonathan Davenport added another victory to his amazing 2015 campaign and added another chapter to the growing FALS legend in Saturday night's 26th annual Prairie Dirt Classic presented by Bank of Pontiac.

In another thrilling Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main at Fairbury American Legion Speedway, Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., advanced from his eighth starting spot and outdueled sixth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., in an epic back-and-forth battle through the second half of the 100-lap race before using a dramatic final-lap pass to score a $26,000 victory in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series event.

"You couldn't write this in a book any better," said Davenport, whose first WoO LMS triumph of the season gave him his 14 overall victory of 2015 and his fourth payday of $20,000 or more. "This is an awesome place. The facility, the staff, the fans, the way the racetrack races, man this place is awesome."

Fairbury's quarter-mile oval has indeed built a reputation of awe-inspiring racing, especially during the Prairie Dirt Classic. Sanctioned by the WoO LMS for the third consecutive season, the blockbuster event produced its third straight dramatic finish on Saturday in a race that featured eight official lead changes among three drivers.

In true FALS fashion, the event saw close action and building drama through the entire distance before ultimately being decided on the final lap. With a strong run exiting turn two, Davenport cut under Erb down the back straightaway, drove hard into turn three and muscled his way ahead through the final corner. Davenport edged away down the homestretch to a lead of 0.361 seconds as he took the checkered in his K&L Rumley Enterprises Longhorn Chassis.

Erb settled for second in his Black Diamond Chassis, while the Rocket Chassis driven by Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., narrowly edged 16th-starting Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who was fourth in the Rocket Chassis house car. Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., rounded out the top five in his Capital Race Car.

The race's early portions were controlled by polesitter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. Moyer, a five-time Prairie Dirt Classic winner, held a slight advantage over second-starting Mason Ziegler of Chalk Hill, Pa., through the first 20 laps before Erb took second and began challenging Moyer.

After a lengthy side-by-side battle, Erb cleared Moyer for the lead on lap 31 and held the spot until a resurgent Moyer swept passed on lap 50. But Moyer's second stint out front was much shorter than his first. He jumped the cushion on lap 52, handing the lead back to Erb.

The veteran Moyer ultimately saw his hopes of a sixth PDC victory dissipate entirely when he jumped cushion again on lap 56, tagged the wall and came to stop.

With Moyer out of the race, the remaining distance was left to Erb and Davenport to sort out. Picking up the pace against Fairbury's rugged cushion, Davenport stuck with the low-running Erb following the lap-56 restart before charging ahead on lap 65.

Erb recovered quickly, however, and pulled back out front on lap 66. The two leaders raced neck-and-neck through the next 20 laps before Davenport picked up his pace to make a serious bid for the lead.

Davenport used a slidejob through turns one and two on lap 91 to again get by Erb and had opened a slight lead until jumping the cushion on lap 94. Erb took advantage and charged back out front.

The race's final caution with 96 laps complete gave Davenport a chance to regroup for a late-race charge. He took advantage of the opportunity, using a lap-98 slidejob to pull ahead. But Erb crossed over and immediately pulled back out front.

Finally, as the leaders made their final circuit, Davenport charged off of the top of turn two, crossed over to the low groove as Erb drifted high and made contact with Erb as he raced ahead in the final corner.

Davenport certainly didn't hold back with the victory on the line, but he said some close calls with Erb during their back-and-forth battle led him to be extra aggressive in making the winning pass.

"Just like my mom always told me," Davenport said, "you gotta treat everybody else the way they treat you, and that's the way I done him."

Erb, however, wasn't pleased with the final-lap run-in.

"I think we had the best race car here tonight because nobody could run with us once we stayed green," Erb said. "He just got lucky there on the last caution and made a banzai move. I think we'd been alright if we'd had more laps because we were able to pull away the longer we went."

Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., was sixth at the finish after briefly racing into the top five from his 15th starting spot. After starting from the tail of the field in his backup car, Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, survived an early spin and recovered to finish seventh.

Tim McCreadie, the Watertown, N.Y., driver who held off Owens to win last year's Prairie Dirt Classic in dramatic fashion, ended up eighth in this year's event after a tangle with ninth-finishing Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., dropped both drivers out of the top five late in race.

Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., rounded out the race's top 10 finishers. He was also involved in a late-race tangle that left WoO LMS points leader Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., with a flat tire.

Preliminary action for the event was held on Friday, with Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., topping 64 qualifiers during time trials. Heat races were won by Junghans, Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., Erb, Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., and Billy Moyer.

Saturday's action also featured the 30-lap Prairie Dirt Classic Shootout non-qualifiers race. Hometown driver Mckay Wenger scored the $1,500 victory with a last-lap pass of Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill.

Tyler Nicely powered to victory in a flawless feature performance to win the final night of the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals and secure second place in the championship.

Nicely, of Owensboro, Ky., was smooth in every corner on the quarter-mile dirt oval while the field behind him was two- and three-wide trying to run him down in the 30-lap, $2,000-to-win season finale. The victory was Nicely’s first win of the 2015 tour, finally putting him over the top after he turned in four second-place finishes during the month-long season that ran primarily in conjunction with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals.

“I just kept hitting my marks right around the bottom so nobody could sneak underneath me,” Nicely said. “I knew if I didn’t make any mistakes I had a good enough hot rod. It’s huge, I’ve been wanting to win in Illinois, and Fairbury is the best track in America in my opinion. It’s awesome, and the fans make it even better. You just feel welcome here.”

There were 47 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds in competition at Fairbury, which also ran the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Prairie Dirt Classic, for a combined total of 106 cars in the pits on Saturday night. The event was delayed about an hour by rain that fell during the Last Chance Showdown.

Heat race winners included Lance Dehm, Curt Spaulding, Brandon Roberts and Tyler Nicely.

Mike Harrison earned the overall DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified championship with nine victories in 13 starts. Unfortunately in Saturday night’s finale, Harrison started 15th and was on the move when he was involved in a scary-looking crash on the frontstretch, leaving him with a 23rd-place finish.