by Rocky Ragusa
In search of his fourth straight Late Model track championship at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway, Scott Bull has dealt with the early season success of Kevin Weaver, Scott Schmitt, and recently Daren Friedman. Saturday night, Bull took the lead at the start of the 30 lap feature and cruised to his first win of the year.
Friedman led the 15 drivers in qualifying at a 13.040. McKay Wenger and Bull took the heat wins. In the feature, Bull got a good start over Wenger to take the lead with Friedman, Weaver, and Schmitt following. Bull, running the bottom of the track, was able to open up a straightaway lead as Wenger tried the top and bottom of the track looking to close the margin on Bull. After a caution on lap nine, Bull powered to a commanding lead while Weaver tried to take second from Wenger. By the halfway mark Bull had a straightaway lead over the competition. Schmitt began to fade and Dan Flessner moved into fifth. One lap later Friedman got by Weaver to move into the fourth position. While Bull stuck to running the bottom groove, the rest of the top five ran the top. No one was able to challenge Bull for the remainder of the feature race and Bull took the win in front of his hometown crowd. “It’s been a slow start for us,” said Bull. “We got some things figured out and hopefully it’s about to turn around.” Wenger, Friedman, Weaver, Flessner, Harlan, Schmitt, Joseph Hughs, Mike Glasscock, and the race’s hard charger, Steve Thorsten completed the top ten.
It’s never over till it’s over can best describe the finish of the Hobby Modified race. Jason Brandt broke away from the pack in the 10 lap feature and appeared to be on his way to his second win of the year. With two laps to go Brandt spun his car out in turn one handing the lead to Tim McGuire. McGuire was able to hold off Mike Peterson for the win, while Brandt made a game effort to retake the front position but tagged the front stretch wall at the checkered flag.
In the $450 to win Topless Sportsman Special, Richie Rich set fast time among the 12 drivers on hand with a 15.050. Richard Craven won the dash race and came back to win a heat race along with Rich. Rich started alongside Craven in the 20 lap contest. At the green flag Rich took an early lead but on the third lap pulled into the infield with a broken gear. Richard Craven assumed the lead and set a torrid pace lapping the back markers by the sixth lap. Craven had a straightaway lead over his son Anthony, with Eric Legner battling Steven Mattingly for third and Scott Williams in a duel with Brandon Pralle. A caution fell on lap 11 for Williams and Pralle. On the restart, Legner was able to take second from Anthony Craven, while Richard Craven had a healthy lead. In the closing laps Legner appeared to lose the handle on his car as he drifted high in the turns giving second back to Anthony Craven. At the checkered flag Richard Craven was able to pick up his fourth win of the year. “Richie was walking me like a dog at the start. I don’t know what happened to him, explained Craven. “My car was so tight. I was never so glad to see a caution flag. This old man is tired.” Anthony Craven took second with Mattingly, Legner, Williams, Amber Crouch, Eric Saltzman (hard charger), Austin Williams, Pralle, and Rich following.
Current Modified points leader Jay Ledford bested 23 other competitors in time trials with a 14.170 and won a heat race along with Lance Dehm and Jeff Curl. David Henderson was the semi-feature victor. A caution fell on the initial start of the 20 lap race. At the restart, Ledford led Dehm, Curl, Jeb Friedman, and Dave Porth as the top five ran in a tight formation on the bottom groove. Ledford changed his line running the top side in turns 1-2 and bottom in 3-4 putting some distance between himself and the drivers behind him. Dehm was able to pull away from Curl closing up on Ledford and was aided further with a caution on lap nine. Ledford led on the restart as Dehm and Curl resumed their race for second with Friedman and Porth close behind. With four laps to go Dehm pulled away from Curl and closed the margin on Ledford. A caution came out with two laps remaining for debris on the track. On the restart Dehm stuck the nose of his car under Ledford but the race leader was able to hang on for his fourth win of the season. “I have to give all the credit to my crew. They gave me a good car tonight,” said Ledford. Dehm, Curl, Friedman, Porth, Andy Sprague, Chris Gaither, Travis Kohler, Nick Clubb, and Alex Clubb (hard charger) rounded out the top ten.
Street Stock drivers had two feature races with the second a makeup race from June 20. In the first race 26 drivers were on hand and Michael Clark was the fast qualifier at a 15.359. Clark, Lukes Gash, and Andrew Funk won heat races while A.J. Meiferdt took the semi feature win. Clark led the first lap before Gash moved into the lead on the following circuit. Clark lost his position to Funk on the sixth lap with Rick Thomas following. After a yellow flag on lap nine, Gash held a three car length lead to the checkered flag over Funk, Thomas, Lon Franks, Billy Wicker, Don Hilleary (hard charger), Darrell Dick, Meiferdt, Clark, and Eric Gaus. “My car has been phenomenal all year long,” spoke Gash. “I saw Michael bobble in 3-4. I got under him and knew it would be a drag race back to turn 1.”
In the second feature Thomas took an early lead before Gash made an outside pass to claim the position on lap four. Meiferdt tried several times to get by Thomas but the savvy veteran held his ground. Gash was able to open a ten car length lead over the field before a red flag fell on the 11th lap as Darrell Dick rolled his car on the back stretch. Dick was carried to the hospital where it was learned he had a broken wrist. The restart had Gash extending his lead which he held to the checkered flag for his third win of the year. “Starting in eighth spot was the furthest back I have started and won,” said Gash. “The car would go wherever I wanted it to go.” Thomas, Meiferdt, Hilleary, Gaus, Darrin Kohler, Justin Nelson, Curtis Radke, Andy Thompson, and Matt Ramer completed the top ten.