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.