by Darlene Miller
The “Flatland Flash” proved on Saturday that eight can be great, especially when $10,000 is the take home prize. Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver achieved that feat of winning eight races this season at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Lukes Gash also hit that magic number in the street stock feature.
Weaver did not have an easy time of it after starting 11th at the drop of the green flag. Tonica’s Scott Schmitt and Menomonie, Wisconsin driver Jimmy Mars set a torrid pace in the 50-lap late model feature. The pair battled back and forth in the early laps until Schmitt was able to take the lead.
The top drivers were beginning to lap the field by the seventh circuit with Schmitt still in command. Chatham’s Brian Shirley joined the duo for the top spot with 33 laps to go and found himself in second place. Shirley finally grabbed the top spot on the next lap riding the high side. A caution came out for debris in turn four with 29 trips to go and bunched the field.
On the restart the trio were three-wide coming across the line until Schmitt took the lead back from Shirley, who started to fade. Weaver, who had been stalking in the middle of the pack, started making his move to the front. He got around Shirley for the third spot with 16 laps to go. The crowd kept cheering Weaver on as he reeled in Mars and was in second with 10 laps remaining. Three trips later Weaver moved past Schmitt for the lead.
Schmitt and Mars did not make it easy on the new leader as they stayed in the hunt. The trio brought the crowd to its feet down the stretch as Weaver was able to hold off the challengers by a car length for the big payday. “That was a lot of fun and a good time,” said Weaver. “It was awesome. My setup was tight at first and then I could run good on the bottom. The top finally came in and I let it hang out. I was glad my equipment held on.”
Schmitt came in second and was followed by Mars, Jason Feger, who started fifteenth, and Scott Bull in the top five. Fourteenth starter McKay Wenger led the second group of five with Shirley, Joe Harlan, Eric Smith, and Justin Reed in tow. Heat winners were Derek Chandler, Mars, and Schmitt. Rich Bell had fast time with a 12.725 second lap.
Crossville’s Mark Lamont received an A-plus for his “test” and took home $1,000 from the modified race. Lamont came to FALS “to do some testing” for the upcoming Casey’s Modified Nationals $10,000-to-win race in September.
Lamont and Ray Bollinger led the field to the green flag with Bollinger taking the quick lead. A couple of caution flags flew in the first two laps before Lamont wrestled the lead away from Bollinger for the top spot in the 25-lap feature. The caution flag flew several times and two red flags slowed the field down. A multi-car crash, coupled with Jeff Winterland’s car flipping four times, brought out those red flags. Winterland was OK as he climbed out of his car.
Finally, the flags were held in check and Lamont won by three car lengths. Bollinger took second and was followed by Pontiac’s Jay Ledford and Jeffrey Ledford, Vince Cooper, Jeb Friedman, Chris Gaither, Lance Dehm, Dave Porth, and Collin Alexander. Lamont, Bollinger, and Jay Ledford were heat winners. Bollinger had quick time with a lap of 13.989 seconds.
Gash also won his eighth race of the season in the street stock feature. Gash and Rick Thomas were in the hunt for the win until, with five laps to go, the pair got tangled in turn one and Thomas’s night was over. Caution was flying in the wind numerous times before Gash was able to hold off Jason Maier and Barry Sauder to garner the checkered banner. “It was an incredible, nerve wracking race,” said Gash. “What a great year.” A.J. Meiferdt, Matt Maier, Darrin Kohler, Billy Wicker, Al Gray, Josh Hetherington, and Chad Rockefeller rounded out the top 10. Gash and Thomas were heat winners.
In the first caution-filled feature of the evening, Richie Rich held off all challengers to increase his season points lead in the sportsman division. Brian Albus, Amber Crouch, Steve Mattingly, and Richard Craven were in the top five. Scott Williams, Eric Legner, Bryant Frechette, Anthony Craven, and Austin Williams rounded out the finish.
Scott Melvin picked up the hobby mod win.