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.