by Darlene Miller
After a few weeks of rain-shortened races and race cancellations, everyone was ready for a great night of racing at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday. Daren Friedman ended his almost yearlong winless streak in the late model division, but it was far from easy for the Forrest driver. Friedman and three-time FALS champ Scott Bull led the drivers to the green flag and Friedman stayed on the top side, followed by Fairbury’s Bull and Tonica’s Scott Schmitt. The top three encountered lap traffic with 10 trips into the 30-lap feature. Bull and Schmitt soon felt pressure from Jay Morris and Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver. A caution flag flew with 13 circuits to go as Roberts’ Dan Flessner stopped in turn one. At the restart, Friedman pulled away from the three and four-wide battle behind him and Morris and Weaver soon began to move up on the leader.
Another caution flag flew and the three were bunched and ready for the shootout but it was Friedman who left the duo behind and he won by just over two car lengths. “We have been working hard and have had a slow start. The track was great and slick. I hope this is a start of a roll,” said Friedman, who last visited victory lane in July 2014. Following Friedman to the line were Morris, Weaver, Bull and Derek Chandler in the top five. McKay Wenger, Schmitt, Donny Walden, Joe Harlan and Mike Spatola made up the second five. Weaver was the hard charger finishing third after starting 11th. Heat winners were Bull, Friedman and Schmitt, while Mike Spatola won the semi-feature. Bull set fast time with a time of 14.882 seconds.
Pontiac’s Jay Ledford increased his drive for a second modified title by “surviving” the first four laps of the 20-lap feature. Jacob Poel and Mason City’s Brian Lynn started in front. Trouble soon found Poel as he spun out in turn four of the first lap causing the first caution. Poel was relegated to the back and Lynn assumed the lead. Trouble soon found Lynn, as well, as he spun in about the same place as Poel. It was not good for Lynn and a group of drivers who were caught up in the red flag melee. Steven Brooks and Lynn were done for the evening. Ledford led the field to the green when trouble found Gardner’s Dave Porth as he spun entering turn three and a lot more competitors were done for the evening as another red flag stopped action.
Another caution came out with 16 to go before the field settled down. Ledford was riding low while being followed by Jeff Curl, Lance Dehm and Mike Learman. Ledford held off the trio by over five car lengths. “This feels great, I went to the top and it was a lot faster for me,” said Ledford. Poel recovered from moving to the back to place fifth. He was followed by Dustin Mounce (the hard charger by moving up 10 positions), Cullen Breeden, Nick Clubb, Jeffrey Ledford and Jeb Friedman. Lynn and Poel were heat winners and Poel set fast time with a 15.068 lap.
In the 15-lap sportsman feature, newcomer Brian Albus held off Richard Craven by a nose for his first win at FALS. Craven and his son Anthony set the early pace. The younger Craven had problems early and began to fall back. Bryant Frechette and Scott Williams moved up to second and third, respectively. Albus got around Williams and Frechette to take second and close the gap on Craven. Craven was running the low side and felt the pressure from Albus in the middle of the track and the crowd had to wait as the pair finished almost even but Albus claimed the win. “The low side had a lot of ruts and that is where I could catch him,” said Albus. Craven, Frechette, Williams, Eric Legner, Richie Rich, Steve Mattingly, Amber Crouch, Austin Williams and Anthony Craven rounded out the top 10. Heat wins went to the Cravens. Anthony Craven had fast lap time at 15.411.
A.J. Meiferdt held off a hard charging “Highside Hillbilly” Don Hilleary to win the 15-lap street stock feature. Lukes Gash and Andrew Funk led the early part of the race until Gash left his suspension behind him in turn one on the fourth lap. Funk took the top spot followed closely by Rick Thomas. Matt Maier brought out the next flag as he stopped on the track with seven laps to go. Hilleary took a slight lead with five to go before Meiferdt got around Funk and Thomas. Meiferdt took the lead with three laps remaining and won by three car lengths over Hilleary. Thomas, Funk, Barry Sauder, Darrell Dick, Eric Gaus, Justin Nelson, Doug Berbaum and Darrin Kohler followed. Funk, Gash and Maier were heat winners and Gash had fast time with a 15.636 lap. In the Sportsman make-up feature, Pontiac’s Richie Rich brought home the checkered flag.