Bull, Harrison Big Winners as Season Concludes

by Darlene Miller

Scott Bull and Mike Harrison were big winners as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway came to an exciting end of its 2014 season on Saturday night with the Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series drivers, the American Late Model Series drivers, plus FALS regulars in a 40-lap feature.

Three-time defending FALS points champion Scott Bull picked up the victory to put an exclamation point on his outstanding season while also pocketing $3,000. Meanwhile, Highland’s Mike Harrison picked up the 2nd annual Casey’s American Modified Series Nationals race taking home $5,000. Richard Craven and Matt Maier were the winners of the Sportsman and Street stock features, respectively.

El Paso’s Ryan Unzicker and Dan Flessner of Roberts led the Late Models to the 40-lap feature and quickly set a fast pace. An early caution flag flew just one lap into the feature.

Unzicker led the group back to the flag bringing along Oakwood’s Bobby Pierce, Flessner, and New Berlin’s Brandon Sheppard. Four more caution flags flew before the group settled into some green flag racing with 33 laps to go. Pierce wrestled the lead away from Unzicker with 23 circuits to go. Pierce, on the bottom, Unzicker and Sheppard both running high, began to feel the presence of Bull charging forward from his seventh starting spot. A caution flag flew with seven laps to go, and on the restart Pierce jumped and was put in second place following Sheppard and one spot ahead of Bull, who was now in third place.

Bull of Fairbury grabbed the lead with six laps to go as another caution flag flew after Pierce and Sheppard made contact. Pierce was done for the evening. Bull continued showing the way and with four to go Sheppard pulled to the infield. Bull held off Unzicker and Daren Friedman of Forrest for the big win. “We’ve been working on our car and had been struggling a little,” Bull said. “Tonight the car felt good on the top or bottom. This is back where we need to be and I am looking forward to next year.” Rounding out the top 10 were Eric Smith, Jason Utter, Spencer Diercks, Mike Spatola, Joe Harlan, Ryan Vanderveen, and Jay Morris. Heat winners were Flessner, Unzicker, and Sheppard.

Points champion Jay Ledford of Pontiac and Chatsworth’s Lance Dehm sat up front for the 40-lap Modified feature. After a quick caution, Dehm took the lead while Ledford faced a tough challenge from Buffalo’s Jeff Leka. Dehm continued his domination of the field until a caution flag flew with 11 circuits to go. Harrison, after starting 17th, moved up quietly and rapidly through the field and grabbed the lead from Dehm with 10 trips remaining. Jeff Curl got around Dehm and made it a two-driver battle with four to go. Harrison held off Curl for the win.

Harrison Charges to Casey’s AMS Modified Nationals Victory

by AMS

The Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series returned to action on Saturday evening at Fairbury’s American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, IL for the 2nd Annual Casey’s Modified Nationals and Mike Harrison of Highland, IL would charge from the 18th starting position and score the $5,000 victory aboard his Rinderer Farms/Kreke’s Performance/FlexiCorps.com Racing/Aggressive Graphics/All Purpose Erectors/Steve Schmitt Chevrolet/Broadway Bar and Grill sponsored #24H Impressive Race Car powered by a Performance Race Engine.

A two car pile-up would bring back the initial start, but when action got underway, Lance Dehm would jump to the race lead, while Jay Ledford and Jeff Leka would begin what would be a very entertaining battle for the second spot, while Jeff Curl and Matt Mevert would ride fourth and fifth. Dehm would motor away from the field and would begin the process of working slower traffic on lap 12, while Ledford and Leka would trade the runner-up spot on numerous occasions in a great door-to-door battle. Meanwhile, Mike Harrison would start to flex his muscles and start charging through the pack and would make his way into the top five on lap 22.

Harrison would take fourth on lap 24 and would settle into a three-wide battle for the runner-up slot with Ledford and Leka, with Harrison taking second on lap 27. Dehm’s large lead would be erased by a lap 30 caution for a slowed Jared Cagley in turn two. The double-file restart would see Harrison take the race lead exiting turn two and lead the lap, only to have the final caution of the race fly for a spin by Victor Lee one circuit later. The restart would see Harrison stave off the charges of Jeff Curl in the final few laps and pull away a bit in the final four trips to pick up the win. Curl would finish second, with Leka claiming the third position. Dehm and Ledford would round out the top five.

The remainder of the top ten at the completion of the Casey’s Modified Nationals would be Jimmy Dehm, Steven Brooks, Devin Gilpin, Tanner Wilson, and Matt Mevert. The 40 lap, $5,000 to win event would be slowed by three caution periods.

Pierce, Ledford, Gash victorious on Championship Night; Bull, Ledford, Kessinger Crowned Champions

by Rocky Ragusa

The final night of points racing saw the crowning of the track champions and another exciting night of racing action.

Returning from a little vacation and looking to pick up national points, current UMP national points leader Bobby Pierce returned to Fairbury on Saturday night. Pierce started on the outside of the front row in the 30-lap UMP Late Model feature.

At the drop of the green flag, Pierce wasted little time, jumping out to a commanding lead to post his second win of the season at Fairbury. Mike Spatola ran alone in second, while it was an intense battle for third. Eric Smith, Daren Friedman, Kevin Weaver, and Dan Flessner raced hard for the position, sometimes going four wide. Weaver’s night ended on the 20th lap after dropping the driveshaft. Friedman broke away from the pack and got by Spatola with two laps to go to finish second. Spatola, Flessner, Joe Harlan, Smith, Steve Thorsten, 2014 Track Champion Scott Bull, Mike Mullvain, and Jay Morris rounded out the top ten. In victory lane Pierce commented, “I love Fairbury’s cushion, even though it was a little treacherous. It’s a different track and you got to drive it like an animal. Thanks to Daren for giving me plenty of room on the start and congrats to Scott on his championship.” Friedman was the race’s fast qualifier at a 12.710. Friedman, Pierce, and Smith took heat race wins.

With his first ever track title locked up, Jay Ledford added icing on the cake. Ledford took the lead from Jimmy Dehm on the 13th lap after Dehm jumped the cushion. Ledford led the rest of the way in the 20-lap UMP Modified race and took his fourth win. After his miscue, Dehm got under Ledford several times but Ledford was able to hang on. “We had to be aggressive with the track tonight. I had to stay up on the wheel. I just hope I didn’t get into anyone,” said Ledford. Following Ledford and Dehm in the top ten were: Jeb Friedman, Jeff Curl, Jim Farris, Cullen Breeden, Collin Alexander, Dan Rork, and Cory Schwengel. Lance Dehm took fast time honors at a 13.888, while Jimmy Dehm and Curl won heat races.

Starting the season strong at Fairbury picking up three feature wins, Lukes Gash suddenly saw the racing gremlins bite back. Troubled with a variety of mechanical problems, Gash never gave up. Gash took the lead on the start of the 15-lap UMP Street Stock feature and held off Andrew Funk to earn a hard fought win. “I don’t know what happened the last couple weeks. Tonight we dropped the ball. I was a little nervous. I just wanted to run and finish the race,” said Gash. Funk, Jason Maier, Terry Miller, Rick Thomas, 2014 Track Champion Brandon Kessinger, A.J. Meiferdt, Nick Clubb, Eric Gaus, and Don Hilleary completed the top ten. Thomas was the fast qualifier at a 15.774. Miller and Gash won heat races.

Craven Grabs Topless 2O Win; Ledford Clinches Sportsman Championship

by Darlene Miller

A longtime term paper for students at the beginning of the school year has been, “What I did for my summer vacation.” Writing that paper would be easy for 15-year-old sophomore-to-be Jeffrey Ledford. But keeping it to length may be difficult. Ledford, who attends Pontiac Township High School, would write about winning the sportsman points championship at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Wednesday night. And he doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet.

The 20-lap Topless Sportsman race started the action on the first night of the Fairbury Fair. The feature got one lap in before driver Dustin Mounce of Flanagan crashed coming out of turn four and collected most of the field up in the melee. The race was red flagged as Amber Crouch, one of the drivers involved in the incident, had to be cut out of her car. She was conscious but was taken to a hospital. The feature was shortened to 15 laps as Richard Craven led the remaining cars to the green flag. Craven, who was sitting nine points behind Ledford at the beginning of the race, pulled to a quick lead followed closely by Ledford. Craven pulled away with five laps to go to win by three car lengths but Ledford won the championship by four points.

“This feels good,” said Ledford, who finished second in the race. “I want to congratulate Ledford,” said Craven. “It was a blast racing this year with him. It was fun and this is an awesome win.” Craven and Mounce were heat winners.

In the 20-lap modified feature, Jeffrey’s dad, Jay, padded his points lead by taking the race wire-to-wire. A late caution flag bunched the field but Ledford was able to hold on for the win over Mike McKinney and Lance Dehm, who currently sits second in points. “I will be glad when this is over (the points chase),” said Ledford. “It is a good track and my crew worked hard to get my car ready.” Ledford, McKinney, and Chenoa’s Jimmy Dehm were heat winners.

The 30-lap late model feature saw New Berlin’s Brandon Sheppard take a quick lead over his fellow competitors. Caution flags bunched the field. On a restart with 11 laps to go, it was ruled that Sheppard jumped the gun and was put in second place behind Tonica’s Scott Schmitt. The green flag flew and Schmitt held off a charging Sheppard and El Paso’s Ryan Unzicker for the win. “I made some mistakes toward the end of the race but I took my time and held on for the win,” Schmitt said. Heat winners were Schmitt, Sheppard, and Kevin Weaver.

Sheppard scores ALMS win, Harrison picks up Modified Nationals Victory

by Rocky Ragusa

Six feature races were held Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway, highlighted by the American Late Model Series and the Summit Modified Nationals races.

Brandon Sheppard overtook Bobby Pierce on lap 17 and pulled away for the $2,000 to win American Late Model Series win. “The car was real good tonight. My grandpa made some changes and they seemed to help. I could race anywhere on the track, “said Sheppard. Pierce, Ryan Unzicker, Scott Bull, Scott Schmitt, Daren Friedman, Jay Sparks, Dan Flessner, Kevin Weaver, and Jay Morris took the top ten positions. In group qualifying, Friedman (12.621) and Bull (12.677) led each group. Pierce and Bull took heat wins.

In the $1,500 to win Summit Modified Nationals race originally scheduled for June 21, series champion Mike Harrison dominated the 30 lap race and took his seventh win on the tour. Completing the top ten were: Jeff Leka, Lance Dehm, Jay Ledford, Levi Kissinger, Mike McKinney, Dave Porth, Cory Schwengel, Jeb Friedman, and Jared Cagley. “Fairbury has a tough group of drivers. It’s always hard to get a win here," spoke Harrison.

Lance Dehm used slower traffic to his advantage in the regular Modified race. Dehm was behind race leader Mike Harrison when they came upon traffic with four laps to go in the 20 lap feature. Harrison, with nowhere to go, slowed and Dehm found a hole to squeeze by for the lead. Dehm pulled away and scored his fourth win of the year. A jubilant Dehm commented in victory lane, “I had to get up on the wheel. The horseshoe fits now and I’m ready to leave it there. I know lapped traffic played into it. I thought that was the only opportunity and you know what, win or wear it. I haven’t been this excited in a long time. It was a heck of a run.” Harrison, Jeb Friedman, Jeff Curl, Steven Brooks, Jay Ledford, Levi Kissinger, Jeff Leka, Mike McKinney, and Jared Cagley completed the top ten. Friedman took fast time honors at a 13.818. Friedman, Ledford, and Dehm won heat races.

The Street Stock class held two features including their June 21 make up race. In the regularly scheduled race, following a caution on the 13th lap, Matt Maier raced side by side for the lead with Rick Thomas. Maier was able to pull to a slight advantage and nip Thomas at the line for his second win of the year. “Those late race cautions killed me. I had harder tires on than Rick. He could run the bottom better,” said Maier. Jason Maier, Brandon Kessinger, Calvin Coleman, Andrew Funk, Terry Miller, Darrell Dick, Nick Clubb, and Eric Gaus completed the top ten. Coleman was the race’s fast qualifier at a 15.409. Jason Maier and Kessinger took heat race wins.

After a crash eliminated point contenders Jeffrey Ledford and Richard Craven and caused damage to Richie Rich’s car, Dustin Mounce running on the ragged edge took his first feature win of the season. A somber Mounce spoke following the win. “It’s awesome to get the win; unfortunately I do need to apologize. I did get loose coming off of the corner. It’s the last thing I wanted to do is tear anyone up. I apologize to all the drivers and fans. The high side was very hard to run tonight. I’m happy to get the win but it’s not the way I wanted to get it.” The remainder of the top ten were: Paul Graf, Rod Rusher, Scott Hatzer, Tyler Roth, Matt Mills, Anthony Craven, Eric Legner, Bryant Frechette, and Richie Rich. Ledford was the night’s fast qualifier at a 14.287 and was a heat race winner along with Mounce.

In the Street Stock make up race, Don Hilleary lived up to his nickname, “the Highside Hillbilly”. Starting in the fourth position, Hilleary moved by Lukes Gash on the second lap and used the top side to his advantage. Hilleary pulled away from the field to pick up his first win of the year. “We have been struggling this year after having a dominating season last year. We finally got it back to where it’s right,” spoke Hilleary. Thomas, Clubb, Funk, A.J. Meiferdt, Matt Maier, Jason Maier, Kessinger, Gaus, and Nathan Lyday rounded out the top ten.