Weaver, Thomas closing in on career win mark at FALS

by Darlene Miller

Kevin Weaver and Rick Thomas inched ever closer to the top in career wins on a full moon Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Fithian’s Roger Long currently holds the top spot with 66 victories. Dwight’s Thomas notched No. 64 and Gibson City’s Weaver won his 62nd feature on a beautiful night for racing.

may21-lmJay Morris grabbed an early lead over the pack in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Just two laps into the race, McKay Wenger and Weaver were even at the stripe for first place. Weaver took the slight lead with 26 laps to go followed closely by Wenger and Mike Spatola. Weaver and Wenger kept the battle brewing when both of them edged each other at the line several times. Wenger kissed the wall in turn two with 11 to go and was passed by a hard charging Scott Bull and Spatola. A caution flag flew for debris in turn four and bunched the field with five circuits to go. Weaver jumped to the top side while Bull stayed low battling back and forth. Weaver held on to win the race by a car length. Bull, Spatola, Wenger, and Mike Glasscock completed the top five. Joe Godsey, Joe Harlan, Dan Flessner, Brian Lynn, and Steve Thorsten followed in the next group of five to the finish line. “It was a fun race and exciting. I went up to the top, but wished I would have stayed at the bottom,” said Weaver, who seemed to have his car hooked up for the bottom of the track. Weaver, Harlan, and Morris were heat winners and Morris also had fast time with a 13.314 second trip.

may21-mdIn the Modified feature, it was an eye-blink finish between Steven Brooks and Jay Ledford. The pair started on the front row and after several cautions, the two began to pull away from the pack. Several drivers tried the top shelf to try and catch the leaders but no one could make a serious challenge. Brooks led the entire race until the lap that counts most - the last one - as Ledford went to the top side in the last turn and edged Brooks at the line. 

“It was exciting following Brooks. He slowed a little and I went to the top and held him off and caught him at the line. It was a lot of fun,” said Ledford. Mike McKinney took third, followed by Brian Lynn and hard charger Jeff Curl, who started 13th. Vince Cooper, Tommy Duncan, Lance Dehm, Jeffrey Ledford, and Lukes Gash completed the top 10. Heat winners were Brooks, Cooper, and Jay Ledford. Brooks set fast time at 14.120 seconds.

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The caution plagued Sportsman feature saw Lake Nichoalds bring home his second feature win of the season. Bryant Frechette and Steve Mattingly began on the front row but Nichoalds soon took the lead and won by a car length. “I want to thank everyone. It was a fun race,” said the winner. Frechette, Tim Dick, 11th starting Richard Craven, and Rod Rusher made up the rest of the top five. Mattingly, Brian Albus, Scott Williams, Richie Rich, and Brandon Pralle rounded out the top 10. Frechette and Mattingly were heat winners.

may21-ssThomas began the night of features in the Street Stock division by starting on the pole next to Barry Sauder and established an early lead over his competitors. Sauder dropped back to third when A.J. Meiferdt grabbed the second spot and began to challenge Thomas but could not make pass attempts stick. Thomas held on for a two-car length win. Sauder finished third, followed by Curtis Radke and Eric Gaus. The second five was comprised of Kyle Anderson, Josh Hetherington, Valerie Hurt, Kraig Hughes, and Robert Turner. “I want to thank everyone and especially the fans. I appreciate everybody,” said Thomas. Thomas and Sauder were heat winners and Thomas had the fast time at 15.903 seconds.

By virtue of his heat race win, Mason Duncan started on the pole and held off his competitors to win the Hobby Mod feature. He was followed by Tim McGuire, Mike Petersen, Jason Brandt, Gregg Pierce, and Makinzi Semmens.

Krick Hangs On for Hubert Memorial Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Although cold weather conditions forced track officials to move the racing program up an hour, fans flocked to the Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday as 106 cars entered the pit area.

West Lebanon, Indiana driver, Ian Keller paced 41 other UMP DIRTcar Street Stocks for the 43-lap, Earl J. Hubert Memorial race, with a fast time of 15.487 seconds. The four heat race wins went to Scott Hufford, Keller, Jerrad Krick, and A.J. Meiferdt. Terry Miller and Eddie Wolf won the two semi-features to set the 20 car field. Meiferdt and Keller led the field to the green flag. Both drivers ran side by side before Meiferdt took over the lead on lap three. Krick was able to overtake Keller for second, but Keller moved to the top groove and reclaimed second. After a lap nine caution, Meiferdt, Krick, and Keller went three wide for the lead. may14-ssMeiferdt held a slight edge as the drivers raced past the flag stand, but Krick snuck by Meiferdt on the next lap for the lead. After a lap 13 caution, Krick extended his lead, while Rick Thomas took over second, as Keller, running the top, scraped the wall. Krick, the current UMP DIRTcar Street Stock national points leader, held a straightaway lead at the halfway mark, with Thomas, Keller, Mike McKinney, and Meiferdt running in the top five. On the restart after a caution on lap 28, McKinney took over third and pressured Thomas for second. With the second thru fifth place cars looking to move up in the race, Krick led by 10 car lengths. A caution fell on the field with four laps to go and set the stage for an exciting finish. Krick stuck his car to the bottom, as Thomas tried to hold off the challenge from Keller. Keller got by Thomas and made a valiant effort to take over the lead. Keller was able to pull alongside of Krick in the corner, but Krick had the horses down the stretch. At the checkers, Krick took the win by a car length over Keller, followed by Meiferdt, Matt Dillon, Kyle Miner, Eddie Wolf (hard charger, started 16th), Curtis Radke, Peter Odell, Scott Hufford, and Joe Hillman. After taking his first career FALS win and over $2,000, Krick commented, “Keller is a master at the high side. I struggle up there. I am so glad the bottom came in. It’s more of my driving style. Fairbury is one of the best tracks around. We are lucky to go home with the win.”

may14-lmHometown driver McKay Wenger, the current UMP DIRTcar Late Model national points leader, helped his cause by winning the 30-lap Late Model race. After a brief challenge from Joe Harlan and Jay Morris, Wenger checked out from the field. One caution and slower traffic did little to stop Wenger on this night. Harlan held on for second over Scott Bull (hard charger, started 12th), Don Hammer, Dan Flessner, Bill Hough, Nick Kurtz, Steve Thorsten, Morris, and Glen Thompson. “We have a new car and motor tonight. We made the right choice on tires and gear,” said an excited Wenger. “We have to have first or second place runs in order to do the national points. I have to thank my crew for all their hard work.” Wenger took fast time over 19 other drivers at 13.278 seconds and also won his heat race, while Morris took the other heat win.

Mike McKinney got the jump on polesitter Jeffrey Ledford to take the lead at the start of the 20-lap UMP DIRTcar Modified race. may14-mdThe Plainfield native proved to be too strong for his competitors on this night as he took his second career FALS Modified feature win. “My dad and I have been busting our butts to get back to victory lane here”, said an exhausted McKinney. “Some of the top Modified drivers race here at Fairbury and to beat them is awesome.” Jay Ledford, Jeff Curl, Vince Cooper, Lance Dehm, Nick Allen, Nick Clubb, Zeke McKenzie, Tommy Duncan, and Dave Dulceak rounded out the top ten. Kyle Cooper started 17th and finished 12th to win hard charger honors. Jay Ledford turned back 23 other competitors in qualifying with a 14.081 second lap. Allen, Jeffrey Ledford, and McKinney won heat races, while Kory Maurice was the semi-feature winner.

may14-spBeing out front might have been the safest place to be in the 15-lap, UMP DIRTcar Sportsman race. Six cautions marred the race, as defending track champion Richie Rich led flag to flag in securing his second win of the year. Brian Albus (hard charger, started 7th) avoided trouble to finish second, followed by Lake Nichoalds, Anthony Craven, Rod Rusher, Tim Dick, Brandon Pralle, Bryant Frechette, Amber Crouch, and Scott Williams. Craven and Rich took heat race wins, while Nichoalds was the fastest of the 15 cars at a 14.867.

In the Hobby Modified race, legendary softball and basketball coach, Tim McGuire took the win over Mike Petersen, Graham Jackson, Jason Brandt, Gregg Pierce, Makinzi Semmens, and Mason Duncan. Duncan was the heat race victor.

Pierce Charges to FALS Frenzy Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Saturday night’s “FALS Frenzy 50“ certainly lived up to its moniker thanks to a stout field of Late Models, and the run by Bobby Pierce. Running in the sixth position with 20 laps to go in the 50 lap featured race, Oakwood’s Pierce picked through the competition, overtaking Jacksonville, Florida’s Earl Pearson Jr. with four laps to go, and won the $10,000 first prize.

Bloomington’s Jason Feger led 41 other drivers in qualifying with a time of 12.939 seconds. Pearson, Springfield, Mo.’s Jeremy Payne, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, and Batesville, Ark.'s Billy Moyer won heat races, while Michael Kloos and Adam Bowman took semi feature wins.

Payne and Pearson led the 25 car field to the green flag. Payne took the lead, with Pearson, Moyer, Erb, and Feger following. Shannon Babb started in the 16th spot and by lap five was challenging for the fifth position. Pearson overtook Payne for the lead on lap nine and stretched his lead. Moyer moved into second on the 14th circuit and with Pearson contending with slower traffic, Moyer was able to close in on Pearson. As Moyer looked to take the lead, a red flag fell on the field as Feger rolled his car in turn four.

may7-pierceThe restart had Pearson leading, Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, Payne, and Erb followed. The restart proved to be beneficial to Pierce as he started on the outside, in sixth position. Erb was able to get by Payne for fourth and Pierce followed. Moyer fell back to third on lap 39, as Erb was on the move. One lap later, Pierce on the outside, moved by Moyer and had his sights on the front running duo. Pearson, Erb, and Pierce brought the fans to their feet in the final 10 laps, as each looked to take the win. Pierce went to the inside of Erb to take second on lap 43, and pressured Pierce for the top spot. Pierce slid by Pearson for the lead with four laps to go, pulling away for his second win of the year and fourth career win at Fairbury. Pearson, Erb, Sheppard, Moyer, Mike Mullen, Payne, Tony Jackson Jr., Babb, and Scott Schmitt completed the top ten.

“The track was really great tonight,” commented Pierce. “I really didn’t think we would be able to pull it off after where we were starting. It’s such a tight race track. The red flag helped us out. I was able to start on the outside and it helped a ton.”

Debuting a new Impressive Race Car, Buffalo’s Jeff Leka has put on an impressive performance in the early stages of the season. After a brief battle with Jay and Jeffrey Ledford, Leka took the lead on the second lap and recorded the win in the 25 lap, $1,000 to win Modified race. “We got us a good hot rod here,” explained Leka. “We will just have to stay on top of it.” Mike McKinney, Vince Cooper, Tommy Duncan, Jay Ledford, Jeffrey Ledford, Lance Dehm, Dave Dulceak (hard charger, started 15th), Jared Cagley, and Kevin Hastings completed the top ten. Jay and Jeffrey Ledford took heat wins, while Jeffrey Ledford lead the way in time trials with a 14.147 second lap.

In the 15 lap, $400 to win Street Stock feature, polesitter A.J. Meiferdt took command on the start and was never threated for the lead, in spite of a caution with one lap remaining. “The car was really hooked up tonight. I have to thank Calvin Coleman and Rick Thomas for their help,” commented Meiferdt. Darrell Dick, Curtis Radke, Dennis Wernle, Andrew Funk, Rick Thomas (hard charger, started 20th), Lon Franks, Josh Griffith, Barry Sauder, and Don Hilleary rounded out the top ten. Dick and Meiferdt took heat race wins.

The racing action ended with a 15 lap, $400 to win Sportsman race. Richie Rich took the early lead, as Lake Nichoalds and Bryant Frechette ran side by side for second. After a caution on the sixth lap, Nichoalds was able to get by Rich for the lead and take his first ever feature race win. “I am speechless,” spoke Nichoalds. “My dad raced here but never got a win. To get the families first feature win, I am so excited.” Anthony Craven got by Rich on the last lap to take second, with Rod Rusher (hard charger, started 11th), Tim Dick, Scott Williams, Brandon Pralle, Steven Mattingly, Blake Reid, and Eric Legner taking the top ten positions. Frechette and Rich won heat races.

New Northside Bleachers Reserved Seating On Sale Now

frontstretch-stands-tnReserved seats for the four major events of the season in the new northside bleachers are on sale now. You can reserve your seat for only $5.00 per event. You will buy the general admission portion of your ticket at the gate the day of the event. The four major events are: May 7th FALS Frenzy, June 25th UMP Summer Nationals, July 29th & 30th Prairie Dirt Classic (your seat will be good for both nights), and the September 3rd Casey's Modified Nationals. -- Fairbury Speedway Tickets