Harrison Rolls To Second Modified Nationals Victory

by Rocky Ragusa | Live Updates

The 2016 race season came to a close with the Fourth Annual Casey’s Modified Nationals paying $10,000 to the winner, sanctioned by the American Modified Series. Late Models were also on the program with a $3,000 to win race.

69 Modifieds were on hand, seeking a starting position in the lucrative event. Dean Hoffman (Troy) was the fast qualifier in group one time trials at a 14.234, while Chad Kinder (Newton) turned in the fastest lap in group two with a 14.393. Winners of the six heat races went to Mike Harrison (Highland), Kinder, Levi Kissinger (Mount Vernon, IN), defending race winner Clayton Miller (Elkton, KY), Kenny Wallace (Arnold, MO), and Trent Young (Hopkinsville, KY). Matt Cooper (McKenzie, TN), Jeff Curl (Fairbury), Jeff Leka (Buffalo), and David Stremme (Davidson, NC) won the semi-features.

sep3-md24 cars lined up for the 50-lap feature. Kinder took the lead for the first two laps, before Harrison led the third lap. Kinder came back to lead the next two laps. After a lap six caution, Harrison reclaimed the lead. After a brief battle with Kinder, Harrison opened up a straightaway lead. Working slower traffic by the halfway mark allowed Brent Mullins (Litchfield) to close the margin. Two cautions fell in the final five laps, but Harrison was too strong and became the first repeat winner of the race. After the race Harrison commented, “Hats off to Fairbury. It’s one of the best tracks. They put on these races for us Modified drivers and they know we put on a good show. We haven’t had the best year. We have been beating our brains against the wall to catch up with these drivers and get faster. This is our biggest win.” Mullins, Kinder, 23rd starter Mike McKinney, AMS points leader Young, Steven Brooks (New Lenox), Curl, Josh Harris (Owensboro, KY), Leka, and Miller completed the top ten.

sep3-md2For Modified drivers not making the main event, Mullins Race Engines sponsored a 20-lap shootout race. Allen Weisser (Peoria) was on his way to the win until breaking on the 19th lap. Chris Smith (Highland) took over the lead and held off Frank Marshall (Valparaiso, IN) for the win. Jeffrey Ledford (Pontiac), Nick Clubb (Coal City), Jared Cagley (Fairbury), Bob Pohlman Jr. (Oak Lawn), John Clippinger (Evansville, IN), Bradley Jameson (Logansport, IN), Todd Riley (Benton, KY), and Scott Heeron (Forreston) rounded out the top ten.

Spatola, Wallace, Albus, Sauder, McKenrick grab checkers as Champions were Crowned

by Rocky Ragusa

The track champions for the 2016 season were introduced to the crowd Saturday night along with the top ten in each of the four divisions. Kevin Weaver picked up his third Late Model track title, Richie Rich captured his second straight Sportsman championship, while A.J. Meiferdt (Street Stock), and Mike McKinney (Modified) both claimed their first track titles.

aug27-lmManhattan’s Mike Spatola got by Kevin Weaver with three laps to go and took his fourth win in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Rusty Schlenk also snuck by Weaver but ran out of time to make a bid for the lead as he settled for second. Weaver, Jay Morris, Joe Harlan, Mike Mullvain, Steve Thorsten, Jason Wagner, 16th starter Snooky Dehm, and Jon Small finished in the top ten as attrition took its toll on the 18 car field. Spatola set quick time at a 13.165. Harlan and Weaver won the heat races.

aug27-mdFormer NASCAR star, Kenny Wallace has been on a hot streak this past week. Wallace took the $1,000 to win race at Lincoln beating Mike Harrison in a photo finish on Thursday, dethroning perennial Kankakee favorite Mike McKinney for another grand on Friday, and tuned up for next week’s $10,000 to win show at FALS by winning his first ever feature at Fairbury in the 20-lap Modified race. Wallace moved to the lead on lap 12 after McKinney’s car lost a driveshaft. Wallace had to hold off a determined bid by Lance Dehm in the final laps until Dehm jumped the cushion with two laps to go. Wallace, always an exuberant person, spoke after the win, “This whole weekend has been inspired by the late Bryan Clauson. I know his family pretty well. When we left his celebration of life in Kokomo, Indiana, Quality Aviation one of my sponsors told me, “Herman, go park it. That’s a lot of pressure. To park it three straight nights in a row, is the first time this has ever happened to me. Thanks to my crew and all the fans for showing up. I will be back next week for the $10,000 to win race.” Ray Bollinger, Dehm, 16th starter Mike Learman, Jeff Curl, Vince Cooper, Tommy Duncan, Travis Kohler, Nick Clubb, and Nick Lueth rounded out the top ten. McKinney was the fastest qualifier of the 34 drivers on hand at a 14.047. Steven Brooks, Curl, McKinney, and Wallace won heat races. Dave Dulceak and Kevin Weaver won the semi features.

aug27-sp13 drivers were on hand in the Sportsman class. Bryant Frechette and Scott Williams took heat race wins. Lake Nichoalds took the lead from Scott Williams on the eighth lap and looked to be on his way to another win in the 15-lap race. On the restart after a lap 13 caution, Nichoalds car stalled at the exit of turn two bringing out a caution and ending his night. Brian Albus inherited the lead and took his second win of the season. “Lake was going to be hard to beat,” said Albus, who started 11th. “I didn’t think I could catch him and I was fine with finishing second. It’s too bad his night ended like that.” Frechette, Amber Crouch, Brandon Pralle, Eric Saltzman, Anthony Craven, Tyler Roth, Nichoalds, Blake Reid, and Williams completed the top ten.

aug27-ssStarting the season as he began it, Barry Sauder of Creve Coeur was the class of the field in the 15-lap Street Stock race. Taking the lead from A.J. Meiferdt on the third lap, Sauder sped away for his second win of the year. Meiferdt was the main competition for Sauder but dropped out with two laps to go due to mechanical problems. “Thanks to my dad and Mike Chasteen Jr. for their help tonight,” spoke Sauder. “I have taken a few weeks off to help Mike with his car. It feels good to get back behind the wheel. That was an exciting race.” Trailing Sauder to the line were Rick Thomas, Peter Odell, Don Hilleary, 20th starter Joel Funk, Mitch Hahn, Josh Hetherington, Kaleb Wood, Andy Thompson, and Robert Cottom. Hahn, Meiferdt, and Sauder won heat races for the 23 Street Stock drivers.

aug27-hmThe Hobby Mod class had a season high 14 entrants. Josh McKenrick and Mason Duncan scored wins in their heat races. McKenrick of Bellevue took the lead from Jason Brandt with two laps to go and won his first ever race at Fairbury. “After Peoria rained out tonight, we decided to come here. This is my first time racing here. What an awesome night,” said an excited McKenrick. Brandt, Tim McGuire, Thad Gee, Steven Ranfroe, Makinzi Semmens, Scott Brown, Mike Petersen, Duncan, and Brendan Patterson completed the top ten.

Gardner Takes ALMS Win; Weaver Makes History

by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury American Legion Speedway held six feature races Saturday night. Bob Gardner from East Peoria took the $2,000 to win American Late Model Series special to open the racing program, and Gibson City chauffeur Kevin Weaver took the nightcap Late Model race, becoming the all-time winningest FALS driver.

aug13-lm22 Late Model drivers took to the track for qualifying and Bob Gardner turned in fast time at a 13.433. Scott Schmitt, Derek Chandler, and John Gardner Jr. won heat races. Chandler led early in the race as Schmitt, Mike Spatola, Gardner Jr., and Gardner fought for position. After a caution on the eighth lap, Gardner moved into second and closed the margin on Chandler. Caution again fell on the 12th lap. Schmitt moved to the topside of the track on the restart and edged ahead of Gardner and Chandler for the lead. Treacherous track conditions resulted in drivers trying various lines to avoid the ruts created due to the rain the area had received the previous night. After Weaver tagged the wall and left debris on the speedway for a caution on lap 15, Gardner caught a break on the restart. Gardner was able to overtake Schmitt on the 19th lap and pulled out to a straightaway lead in the waning laps. Schmitt, Chandler, Rich Bell, and Spatola fought tooth and nail for track position. Bell took over second with three laps to go but the laps ran out as Gardner registered his first ALMS win and first ever at Fairbury. “This is a huge win,” spoke Gardner. “We got this car two weeks before the Summer Nationals. We had a decent tour. We knew if we kept getting top three's and qualifying well, the wins would come.” Bell, Spatola, Schmitt, Chandler, Jay Morris, Joe Harlan, ALMS points leader Rusty Schlenk, 21st starter Jay Sparks, and Gardner Jr. completed the top ten. Weaver has a 43-point cushion heading into the final night for track points.

aug13-ss22 Street Stock drivers were on hand for a $500 to win special, sponsored by Tools Auto Sales. Darrell Dick, who last week took the LaSalle Speedway title, turned in fast time with a 15.488. Chad Rockefeller, UMP national points leader Andrew Funk, and FALS points leader A.J. Meiferdt won heat races. Funk took a commanding lead in the 20-lap race as Rockefeller, Meiferdt, Rick Thomas, and Don Hilleary followed. Meiferdt moved into second at the halfway mark and briefly challenged Funk for the lead. Funk was able open a straightaway lead in the closing laps and scored his seventh win at FALS. Funk spoke following his win. “It’s been a heck of a year. I knew the bottom was there and the middle came in a little. I thought it would slick off and enough moisture came up to make it a fast track.” Meiferdt, Thomas, Dick, Hilleary, Rockefeller, Josh Hetherington, Peter Odell, 19th starter Chris Dick, and Curtis Radke followed. Meiferdt has wrapped up the track championship with an insurmountable 129-point lead entering the final points night.

aug13-mdMaking a switch to an Impressive Chassis about a month ago, Lance Dehm and his crew had to deal with getting accustomed to the new car. FALS points leader Mike McKinney was the fast qualifier at a 14.177 over 20 other drivers. McKinney, Dehm, and Jay Ledford won the night’s heat races. Dehm took the lead at the start of the 20-lap race, tackling the high side, and reminding fans that he is one of Fairbury’s most dominate drivers on the FALS cushion. Ledford, McKinney, and Levi Kissinger sometimes ran three-wide for position behind Dehm, hoping to track him down. Ledford and McKinney broke away from the rest of the field as they waged their own battle for position and the track title. On lap 15, Ledford made contact with a slower car, tagging the wall, and bringing his night to an end. After the caution and the track was clear, Dehm changed his line to racing the top in turns 1-2 and bottom in 3-4, but McKinney stayed right on Dehm’s heels. With two laps to go, McKinney jumped the cushion, cutting a tire down, to bring out a caution. As the field went back green, Vince Cooper gave Dehm his best shot, but Dehm hung on for his first FALS win since August 9, 2014. An excited Dehm spoke following his win, “After not winning last year, I wasn’t sure if we would get back here. We had a good night. Thanks to Matt Rhyne, the motor was awesome.” Following Dehm to the stripe were Cooper, Kissinger, Jeff Curl, Nick Lueth, Dale Lueth, Brandon Maciejewski, Jared Cagley, 19th starter Jeffrey Ledford, and Nick Clubb. Only 17 points separate McKinney and Ledford as they head into the final night for points.

aug13-sp13 Sportsman drivers took time trials with second generation driver Scott Williams leading the way at a 14.649. Williams and Lake Nichoalds were the heat race winners. Williams took the lead at the start as Richie Rich and Nichoalds pressured him. Following a caution on the fourth lap, Rich moved to the outside and overtook Williams for the lead. Rich, Williams, and Nichoalds pulled away from their competitors and set the stage for an exciting finish. Nichoalds drove a smooth race, overtaking Williams just past the halfway mark. With three laps remaining, Nichoalds overtook Rich and scored his fourth win of the year. “It was nice to see our class race more than two laps without a yellow flag,” commented Nichoalds. “Thanks to my crew, sponsors, and fans. I couldn’t do it without your support.” Nichoalds trails Rich by 66 points with one points night remaining. Rich, Williams, 10th starter Anthony Craven, Rod Rusher, Amber Crouch, Bryant Frechette, Tyler Roth, Brandon Pralle, and Brian Albus rounded out the top ten.

aug13-hmThad Gee, who won the heat race, led the 12-lap Hobby Mod feature early, with Petersen, Jason Brandt, Brandon Post, and Mike McGuire following. After a caution on the third lap, Petersen moved to the point, with Gee and Brandt pulling away. Brandt took the second position and challenged Petersen lap after lap for the lead, before taking over after the white flag was waved. Brandt led the final 50 yards to take his first win of the year. “It’s been a tough year for us. We got a couple of heat wins, but couldn’t hang on for a feature. The car worked great tonight,” Brandt said. Petersen, Gee, McGuire, Post, Brendan Patterson, Makinzi Semmens, Macy Vaughan, and Emily Bohm rounded out the field.

may28-lmThe night ended with a rescheduled Late Model race from May 28th. Kevin Weaver was able to lead all the way in claiming his seventh win and 67th career FALS victory, making him the winningest driver in the history of Fairbury, surpassing Roger Long. “The car ran good. The track was sketchy, but it’s not anything I haven't ran before,” said Weaver. “It’s awesome to get the win and the record. I can say I got it for at least awhile.” Mike Spatola held off a hard charging Derek Chandler for second, followed by Joe Harlan, Bob Gardner, Scott Bull, McKay Wenger, Jay Morris, Glen Thompson, and Snooky Dehm.

Date Set for 2O17 Prairie Dirt Classic

Mark your calendars now as the date has been set for the 2017 Prairie Dirt Classic. The 28th running of the PDC weekend will be held on July 28 and 29, 2017. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series will again sanction the event for the fifth consecutive year.