Perseverance Pays Off for Meiferdt with Spring Nationals Win

by Rocky Ragusa

120 race cars jammed the pit area Saturday night as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway played host to the Eighth Annual “DIRTcar Street Stock Spring Nationals, in Memory of Earl J. Hubert.” Visiting the winners circle were AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Danny Schwartz (Modified), Amber Crouch (Sportsman), and Josh McKendrick (Hobby-Modified).

may06-ssJoe Brown was the fast qualifier over 48 other Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers. Brown, Dane Arvin, Jerrard Krick, AJ Meiferdt, and Jeremy Nichols won heat races. Justin Hamm and Jim Ransom won semi features. Arvin took an early lead in the 43-lap event with Nichols, Meiferdt, Krick, and Darrell Dick following. Meiferdt moved into the lead on lap 14 followed by Krick and Nichols. Although cautions were a problem during the course of the race, Meiferdt held a 10 car length lead by lap 25, with Nichols fighting an ill handling car but kept Meiferdt within distance. When the field went back to green after a lap 29 caution, Rick Thomas stuck his car in the middle groove to take the lead with Nichols and Meiferdt trailing. Nichols moved to the point with six laps remaining as the top three separated themselves from the field. Meiferdt pulled alongside of Nichols with three laps to go to reclaim the lead and become the eighth winner in the prestigious race. Winning over $2400, including lap money, Meiferdt commented in victory lane, “Perseverance was the name of the game. The cautions were killing me. I saw Nichols go by me on the high side and went back to work.” Nichols, Thomas, 18th starter Curtis Radke (hard charger), Brown, Mike Behm, Andy Thompson, Ransom, Krick, and Andrew Funk rounded out the top ten as only six cars were left on the track at the finish.


Hometown driver, McKay Wenger, set fast time at a 12.770 as 25 I Beam Sliding Doors Late Model drivers attempted to qualify for the 30-lap race. Heat races were won by Wenger, Kevin Weaver, and Ryan Unzicker. Wenger’s car bobbled at the start of the race allowing Unzicker to take a lead he never relinquished. Unzicker quickly pulled away from the competition as Scott Bull took over second. Bull worked through slower cars and made a valiant effort to close in on Unzicker just after the halfway mark. In the closing stages of the feature, Derek Chandler, sticking to the bottom of the track, took over second but Unzicker, a former UMP National Champion, was the class of the field and took the win. “This is our first win of the year and hopefully they keep coming. We have a pretty good car and we will just keep tweaking on it,” commented Unzicker. Chandler earned the race’s hard charger award with a second-place finish after starting 11th. He was followed by Weaver, Rusty Schlenk, Bull, Wenger, Daniel Flessner, Bob Gardner, Jason Wagner, and Mike Glasscock.

may06-md25 Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers made qualifying attempts with Jeffrey Ledford the quickest at a 13.986. Ledford, TD Burger, and Danny Schwartz were heat victors. When the field went back to green after a caution on the first lap, Ledford suddenly slowed in turn one and was collected by Nick Clubb, Vince Cooper, and Jimmy Dehm. On the restart, Burger, Schwartz, and Mike McKinney raced three wide for the lead before Schwartz laid claim to the top position. Schwartz held a straightaway lead by the sixth lap. After a caution on lap 13, McKinney made a brief charge for the lead but Schwartz had too strong of a car on this night. Burger stayed with McKinney but wasn’t able to make the pass. Schwartz, a second generation driver, was able to take his first Fairbury feature win. “This was the first night out on a new car for us. I am just glad to get this win,” Schwartz said. McKinney, Burger, Travis Kohler, Jeff Curl, Jimmy Dehm, 16th starter Alan Stipp (hard charger), Michael Mennel, Logan Rogers, and Eric Vaughan completed the top ten.

may06-sp14 CR Towing Sportsman lined up for their 15-lap feature after Scott Williams and Lake Nichoalds took their respective heat race wins. After contenders Williams and Steven Mattingly dropped out with mechanical problems, Nichoalds led with Anthony Craven, Rick Thomas, Tyler Roth, and Amber Crouch following. Craven made several attempts to take the lead, but Nichoalds was able to hold him off. Following a caution flag, drivers were told on their raceceiver that the race would end after the final restart. When the race went back to green, Craven got under Nichoalds to take the lead. As the drivers approached the final turn, Nichoalds jumped the cushion and Craven’s car got loose exiting turn four. Amber Crouch was able to capitalize and drove the final 50 yards to her first career win and became the first female to earn a feature win in the history of the track’s 71 years. An emotional Crouch spoke in victory lane, “It was a crazy race. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the hard work by my crew.” Thomas, Craven, 12th starter Bryant Frechette (hard charger), Dustin Mounce, Richard Craven, Nichoalds, Roth, Eric Legner, and Gregg Paul completed the top ten.

may06-hmRacing ended with a 10-lap Hobby Modified race. Josh McKenrick won the seven-car heat race and was able to run away from the field for the feature win. “We blew our motor at the first race of the year. We just got the motor back this week and the crew scrambled to get it back in,” spoke McKenrick. Mike Petersen and Albie Perez trailed at the line.

Kloos, Nicely, Meiferdt, Nichoalds, Brandt Take Opening Night Wins

by Rocky Ragusa

A large crowd braved cold temperatures as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway opened their 72nd year of racing action. Taking feature wins were Michael Kloos (Trenton), Tyler Nicely (Owensboro, Ky.), AJ Meiferdt (Coal City), Lake Nichoalds (Onarga), and Jason Brandt (East Peoria).

apr22-lm27 I Beam Sliding Doors Late Models vied for a starting position in the 30-lap feature race. Jay Morris set quick time with a 13.058. Ryan Unzicker, Dan Flessner, and Kevin Weaver won their respective heat races, and Scott Bull was the B-Main winner. The final ten circuits had the fans on their feet as Michael Kloos rode the bottom of the track, while Ryan Unzicker and Jason Feger tried different grooves to move into the lead. Kloos weaved and dodged lapped traffic in the closing laps, in a race that was not decided until Jim Whittington waved the checkered flag. Feger held on for second, followed by early race leader, Unzicker. Mike Spatola, Scott Schmitt, Jordan Bauer, Taylor Scheffler, 16th starter Scott Bull (hard charger), Chad Zobrist, and Rich Bell rounded out the top ten. Kloos, preparing for a big racing weekend in early May, commented in the winner’s circle, “That was a fun race when you can go two-three wide with the caliber of these drivers. We came up on lap traffic and I had to make a decision on where to go. Luckily, it worked out.”

apr22-mdA stout field of Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers were on hand for a 20-lap feature race. Steven Brooks topped 29 other drivers with a 14.008 time in qualifying. Heat race wins went to Tyler Nicely, Jeffrey Ledford, and Chad Bauer. Nick Clubb took the B-Main. Nicely has struggled thus far in the 2017 campaign with DNFs and several top fives to show for his results. Making the haul from Kentucky, Nicely held the field in check to post his first win of the year. Jeffrey Ledford shook off a brief challenge from Brooks, but wasn’t able to pose a threat to Nicely and settled for second. Jay Ledford, Brooks, and Bauer took the first five positions. The rest of the top ten were 11th starter Jeff Curl (hard charger), Jamie Lomax, Jimmy Dehm, TD Burger, and Rich Dawson.


Infrequent visitor, Joe Brown, turned back 20 other drivers in qualifying for the Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock 15-lap contest at a 15.835. Brown, Michael Clark, and Dane Arvin won heat races. Brown led over Clark early in the race, as eighth starter AJ Meiferdt picked off cars and found himself in second by lap seven. A caution came out on the eighth lap, and Meiferdt took advantage to move by Brown for the lead. Clark took over second and made a brief run at Meiferdt, but on this night Meiferdt proved to be too strong for his competitors. Meiferdt (hard charger), Clark, Brown, Curtis Radke, Arvin, Barry Sauder, Peter Odell, Mitch Hahn, Ryan Anderson, and Chad Sauder were the top ten finishers. Meiferdt commented following his win. “We started out slow in the heat race and threw the kitchen sink at the car for the feature. I don’t know what worked, but it took off in the feature.”

apr22-spTen cars signed in for the CR Towing Sportsman 15-lap feature race. Lake Nichoalds was the heat race winner. Nichoalds drove a smooth, steady race and pulled away from his competition for the triumph. Rick Thomas held off the persistent challenges from Amber Crouch for second. Anthony Craven, driving his father’s car, was fourth, and hard charger Steven Mattingly finished in fifth after starting eighth. Rounding out the top ten were Tyler Roth, Brandon Pralle, Scott Williams, Eric Legner, and Dustin Mounce. Speaking in the winner’s circle, Nichoalds spoke of the hard work by his crew. “I didn’t know it, but after the heat race we found a broken tie rod. I have to thank my crew for getting me back out for the feature.”

apr22-hmThe Hobby-Modified has been designed to introduce people with aspirations to experience racing and possibly moving on to different classes. Thad Gee took the heat race win for the eight cars on hand. In the 12-lap feature, Gee led until dropping out on the third lap with mechanical issues. Jason Brandt assumed the lead and held a five-car-length lead over Mike Petersen for the remainder of the race. Brendan Patterson, Makinzi Semmens, and Bryan Saner completed the top five. “It’s good to be back in victory lane,” Brandt said. “We did a lot of work on the car in the off season. I think we will be in good shape.”

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