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Jason Feger

Jason Feger

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

Jose Parga

Jose Parga

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

McKinney Captures $2,000 MARS Modified Win; Parga, Duncan Also Victorious

Results | Points | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

121 race teams from 13 states and Australia were on hand at the Fairbury Speedway Saturday night. The MARS Championship Series featuring the Late Model and Modified divisions were joined by the Big 10 Pro Late Models and Sportsman class as part of the Memorial Day weekend. Jason Feger (MARS Late Model), Mike McKinney (MARS Modified), Jose Parga (Big 10 Pro Late Model), and Tommy Duncan (Sportsman) were the race winners on Fairbury Fastener and Supply night.

feger lm22 MARS Late Model competitors laced up their gloves for their $5,000 to win, 40 lap main event. Outside front row starter Tommy Sheppard Jr. took the lead on the start with fourth starting Shannon Babb taking second from Kevin Weaver. Sheppard and Babb raced side by side for the lead as Weaver held third over Jason Feger and Mike Harrison. Babb went to the top side in turns three and four. With his momentum coming off the turn, he was able to take the lead on lap 11. The first caution came out on lap 14 for Paul Parker spinning out on the backstretch. On the restart, Feger, running in fifth at the time of the caution, moved past Harrison and Weaver. Feger moved his mount to the top, and at the halfway point, got past Sheppard for second. Feger quickly tracked down Babb and was able to take the lead on lap 28. Feger wasn’t able to shake off Babb. Feger slowed enough for Babb to be credited with leading lap 33. Feger retook the lead from Babb and went on to take his second MARS win of the year. It was a satisfying win for Feger and his team as it was his first win at Fairbury since winning the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2012. Taking over the MARS points lead with his win, Feger commented in victory lane. “We have had some really good cars here at Fairbury. It has been a long time since we have won here, and boy it feels good to get the monkey off our back. It is always great to race with Shannon. We are good buddies, and he is a heck of a driver. I always know he is going to race you hard but clean.” Babb finished in second with Sheppard third. Billy Moyer took fourth and Ryan Unzicker finished in fifth. Weaver, Billy Moyer Jr., Harrison, Bob Gardner, and Payton Freeman completed the top ten. 37 cars made qualifying runs. Australia’s Kye Blight led the first group with a time of 12.766 seconds. Freeman’s time of 12.976 seconds led group two. Feger, Weaver, Babb, and Sheppard won their respective heat races. Two B mains had Mike Mataragas and Frank Heckenast Jr. winning.

mckinney md$2,000 awaited the winner of the 30-lap MARS Modified Series race. Starting on the pole position, Michael Long took the lead on the start with Mike McKinney right behind. Long put his car up on the top side of the track. On the fourth lap, Long slipped up on the Fairbury cushion in turn two allowing McKinney to take the lead. Long raced side by side with McKinney. Long was credited for leading lap eight. The caution fell on lap 10 for debris on the track. Long wasn’t able to shake off the bid for the lead by McKinney as the two raced nose to tail. On the backstretch of the 18th lap, McKinney had a good run on Long and reclaimed the lead. The yellow flag appeared with five laps to go as Lyndon Whitfill was punted from behind and stopped in turn two. The restart saw McKinney run the bottom and go on to win his first career MARS Modified win. “This Longhorn Chassis has been really good,” said McKinney. “The car would roll out of the bottom and the middle the best it ever has. We didn’t need to make a lot of adjustments for the feature, and I have to thank the guys at Longhorn.” Long settled for second, followed by Dillon Nusbaum, MARS points leader Tyler Nicely, Josh Harris, Alan Stipp, Kyle Steffens, Cole Falloway, Caden McWhorter, and Jared Thomas. A field of 44 Modifieds took time trials. Austin Friedman led group one with a time of 14.008 seconds and Jared Thomas turned a time of 13.949 seconds to lead group two. Four heat races saw Harris, Long, McKinney, and Nusbaum taking the wins. Michael Ledford and Steven Brooks were the B-main winners.

parga plmMaking their first of two appearances at Fairbury this season, the Big 10 Pro Late Models drew 31 drivers for a 20-lap, $1,000 to win special. Three-time Pro Late Model National Champion Jose Parga got the lead on the start and turned back challenges from Dakota Ewing to take the win. Devin McLean took third with Matt Hammond, Braden Johnson, Timmy Dick, Billy Knippenberg, Jammie Wilson, Colby Sheppard, and Amber Crouch rounding out the top ten. Timmy Dick’s time of 13.691 seconds gave him fast time honors. Parga, Torin Mettille, and Johnson won their respective heat races. Gary Schalmo was the semi-feature winner.

duncan spLanden Miller turned a lap at 14.533 seconds as nine Sportsman drivers were on hand for their 15-lap feature race. Tommy Duncan won the lone heat race to start on the pole position. At the green flag, Duncan, running the bottom of the track, raced out to a 10 car length lead as Steven Mattingly, on the top side, and Landen Miller, on the bottom, dueled for second. Mattingly was able to pull away from Miller and closed in on Duncan. With three laps remaining, sparks and smoke appeared from under Mattingly’s car. Mattingly slowed in the third turn to bring out the caution flag. Duncan took command on the restart and went on to take the win. For Duncan, winner of three straight Sportsman titles, it was his 26th career Sportsman win at Fairbury. “It is nice to start off the year with a win,” Duncan said. “We had a good setup and made it work. I can’t thank all my sponsors for the support.”

Bobby Pierce

Bobby Pierce

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

McKinney Scores $3,000 Modified Victory

Results | PointsStory & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

At the conclusion of time trials for Saturday’s racing program at the Fairbury Speedway, an isolated rain shower fell on the track. Roger Stryker and his track prep crew went to work and made the speedway race ready. Bobby Pierce took a hard-fought win in the Late Model feature, while Mike McKinney closed out the night with the win in the Modified race.

As part of Illinois Speedweek, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series made their first-ever appearance at the ¼ mile dirt oval for the Spring Shootout paying $30,000 to the race winner. Driving the Rocket Chassis house car, Hudson O’Neal led the first group of qualifiers with a lap of 12.794 seconds. The “Newport Nightmare” Jimmy Owens' time of 12.870 seconds paced the second group. Four eight lap heat races had O’Neal, last year’s Dirt Track World Championship winner Garrett Smith, Fairbury’s opening night winner Shannon Babb, and a former Modified winner at Fairbury, Mississippi’s Spencer Hughes taking the wins. 2014 Prairie Dirt Classic winner and two-time Lucas Oil Series champion Tim McCreadie and second-generation driver Gordy Gundaker moved into the 60-lap main event by winning their respective semi feature.

erb lm28 drivers lined up for the Titan Industries sponsored race. Outside front row starter Babb got the jump on O’Neal and led the field as fifth starting Dennis Erb Jr. quickly moved into second. As the two Illinois wheelmen dueled for the lead, Babb got crossed up on the frontstretch giving Erb the lead on lap five. Five-time World 100 winner Jonathan Davenport brought out the first caution on lap 10 with damage to his car. On the restart, Erb opened a straightaway lead as Babb and O’Neal raced side by side for second with Bobby Pierce and Smith following. Pierce took over fourth on lap 15 and quickly joined in on the battle for second. Boom Briggs brought out the second caution on lap 25 as he tagged the frontstretch wall nearly collecting Babb. When the green flag waved, Pierce, running the top side of the track, pulled away from Hughes and moved past Babb for third on lap 28. The third yellow fell on lap 35 for Garrett Alberson as he slowed on the backstretch. Erb led on the restart with O’Neal, Pierce, Hughes, and Babb following. O’Neal broke away from Pierce and had a good run on Erb. As they approached turn one on lap 36, O’Neal dove to the inside of Erb. The two drivers made contact. Erb got sideways and Babb, with nowhere to go, got into Erb. Babb’s race was done and Erb was forced to the back of the field.

pierce lmThe restart moved O’Neal to the front with Pierce, Daulton Wilson, Hughes, and Brandon Overton in the top five. The top three drivers exited turn two three-wide on the restart. Pierce, on the bottom, moved into the lead. Pierce and O’Neal ran nose to tail before Erb stopped on the track with mechanical problems. Pierce led on the restart as Tar Heel state driver Wilson briefly challenged for the lead. Ricky Thornton Jr., racing in sixth, slammed the frontstretch wall to bring out a yellow on lap 46. O’Neal challenged Pierce for the lead on the restart, but the caution came out on lap 48 for debris on the track. Pierce led Wilson, O’Neal, Overton, and Brandon Sheppard on the restart. O’Neal took over second and quickly battled Pierce for the lead. Pierce changed his line to the top side of the track and halted O’Neal’s momentum. With two laps to go, O’Neal’s car climbed the wall in turn one bringing out the caution. O’Neal, the Lucas Oil Series points leader, had significant damage to his car and was done for the night. Wilson, in his first-ever appearance at Fairbury, ran the bottom and raced Pierce for the lead. Pierce turned back a strong performance from Wilson and was able to secure his 13th career Lucas Oil Series victory.

“I messed up yesterday (at Farmer City) and my team didn’t give up," said Pierce with 14 career FALS Late Model wins. “They said to get back in that car and drive it. I have to give a huge thanks to them. I went home and relaxed. They got the job done on the car.” Wilson tied his best career Lucas Oil Series finish as he took second, with Sheppard, 21st starter Overton, and Owens completing the top five. The remainder of the top ten went to Hughes, 24th starter Devin Moran, Gundaker, Tyler Bruening, and Max Blair.

mckinney mdSteven Brooks led group one with a time of 14.642 seconds, and Drake Troutman set the pace in group two with a time of 14.203 seconds as 43 Modified drivers vied for a starting position in their 30-lap, $3,000 to win race. Brian Shaw, Mike McKinney, Troutman, and Mike Harrison were the heat race winners. Brooks and Caden McWhorter advanced to the feature after winning their respective semi features.

Shaw led McKinney, Harrison, Troutman, and Jared Thomas as the caution came out on lap one for Alan Stipp’s spinout. Shaw and McKinney, both on the bottom groove, pulled away from the competition on the restart. McKinney was able to squeeze past Shaw on lap 11 to inherit the lead. McKinney was able to go uncontested for the rest of the race and post his second win of the season and 43rd career Fairbury Modified win. “It’s been a heck of a week,” McKinney said. “This new Longhorn Chassis has so much speed, and I haven’t had so much confidence in a while.” Shaw settled for second. Ryan Thomas held off Michael Long for third, and Trevor Neville came home in fifth. Allen Weisser, Zeke McKenzie, Thomas, Austin Friedman, and Brooks completed the top ten.

Pierce Rules Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Debut at Fairbury

Story by Lucas

Bobby Pierce took the lead after a lap 37 restart and lead the last 23 laps of the FALS Spring Shootout Presented by Titan Industries on Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway.

Pierce became the tenth different winner this season on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series - pocketing $30,000 for the win.

Pierce, who started eighth held off Dalton Wilson and Brandon Sheppard for the win. Completing the top five were Brandon Overton and Jimmy Owens. With his fourth-place finish Overton is the new point leader in the Big River Steel Chase for the Championship presented by ARP.

Shannon Babb grabbed the lead at the start of the race as he dueled it out with Dennis Erb Jr. who rode the bottom from fifth to take the lead from Babb on lap six.

The first caution of the race came out with ten laps scored for Jonathan Davenport. On the restart Erb led Babb and Hudson O’Neal, who had slipped back to third after starting from the pole. O’Neal took second from Babb on lap 18 and then started to close the gap on Erb as was encountering heavy traffic in front of him.

A restart on lap 36 would see Erb and O’Neal complete one lap before contact between the two in turn one. With Erb’s driver side door facing the field a caution immediately flew for safety concerns, with Babb also coming to a stop trying to avoid the incident. Erb would have to restart on the tail of the field after being charged with the caution. Erb’s night would come to an end three circuits later with a broke driveshaft.

On the restart O’Neal would be the race leader but before he would officially lead a lap Pierce nipped him at the scoring line to take the lead for the first time in the race with 37 laps in the record books. Wilson, who started 11th showed his strength on the bottom-side as he and O’Neal would go at it for second. With ten laps to go it was Pierce, Wilson and O’Neal in a battle for the race lead.

Wilson came close to sneaking by Pierce at the scoring loop as O’Neal went to the outside to regain the second spot on lap 52. O’Neal didn’t give up on Pierce as he started to reel him in. O’Neal would drift high in turn two with two laps to go, but O’Neal’s night would end shortly thereafter as he climbed the wall inflicting front end damage to his car.

A green-white-checkered restart would see Pierce hold off Wilson by 0.471 seconds at the finish.

In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the 13th time in his career Pierce showed his exuberance after exiting his race car. “It’s redemption from last night at Farmer City for sure. I just messed up yesterday and my team told me to get back in the car and drive it. I have got to give a huge thanks to them. I went home last night, and they got the job done on the car. We won with a Longhorn at Fairbury on the cushion. It was an awesome night. I was pumped there. It was exciting to run the bottom or the top. It was super difficult up top. The whole race I really didn’t know where to go on the track. I figured if someone was going to pass me let it be on the top. If I could slide them and pass them back, then that’s what I was going to do. I was just trying to find out where I was best at.”

Wilson in his second full season with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series earned $15,000 for his runner-up finish in only his second-ever appearance at Fairbury. “We have been busting our tails lately. About 3 hours ago we were in trailer with straps on this thing and the door shut. We thought it was done after the rain. To even get this race in tonight was amazing. We had a really good car. We have had some real good speed here lately. We are getting better. I hope this shows we are here, and we finally put a whole night together.”

Sheppard came from tenth to round out the podium in third. “I didn’t know if I had a chance at the end with two to go. The last two laps they were two-wide in front of me so there wasn’t anywhere to go. My car was really good. I wasn’t very good at the beginning of the race. I didn’t know if I was a little too hard on tires of what. It really took me until halfway to get rolling. Once we got going, I was just kind of waiting for someone to make a move in front of me and go the opposite direction of which way I wanted to go so I could make a pass.”

Shannon Babb

Shannon Babb

Michael Long

Michael Long

Long Overtakes Steffens for MARS Modified Win

Results | PointsStory & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

With a cold wind blowing and threatening weather conditions, 94 drivers made their way to the Fairbury Speedway on Saturday night for the season opener. Moweaqua’s Shannon Babb was the winner of the MARS Late Model Series race, while Fowler’s Michael Long claimed victory in the MARS Modified Series special on a night that had Varsitee Screenprinting and Aftershock Decals & Design as the presenting sponsors. Rain showers forced officials to cancel the Sportsman and Stock Car races.

babb lmIn time trials for the 40-lap, $5,000 to win Late Model race, McKay Wenger toured the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.862 seconds for quick time in group one. Brian Shirley topped the second group at 13.011 seconds as 32 drivers made qualifying runs. Wenger, Ryan Unzicker, Shirley, and Bob Gardner were heat race winners. Jake Little and Tommy Sheppard advanced to the feature by winning their respective consolation races. Starting in the fifth position, Babb overtook Shirley for the lead on lap 19. Following a yellow flag with 16 laps to go, Brandon Sheppard moved past Frank Heckenast Jr. to take fourth. Sheppard wasted little time in overtaking Unzicker (in third) and Shirley (in second). Babb held a half straightaway lead with less than 10 laps to go. As the white flag was displayed, Sheppard was on Babb’s rear but slower traffic held up Sheppard’s momentum giving Babb the win. Prior to the feature races, the track crew went to work and revamped the speedway. Babb, in his post-race interview, gave props. “FALS put on a hell of a race tonight. The track was just spot on. You know they put in that extra effort to put on a good show for the fans right there by reworking it, pressured by the rain, and everything else.” Trailing Babb and Sheppard to the line were Shirley, Pennsylvania’s Drake Troutman, Unzicker, Jason Feger, and Heckenast Jr., Gardner, 22nd starter Taylor Scheffler, and Mike Harrison.

long md41 MARS Modified drivers vied for a starting position in their 30-lap, $2,000 to win race. Indiana’s Zeke McKenzie led group one qualifiers with a time of 13.980 seconds. Kentucky’s Josh Harris paced group two with a time of 13.944 seconds. McKenzie, Kyle Steffens, Harris, and Michael Long won their respective heat races. Charlie Mefford and Jared Thomas took the semi-feature wins. Steffens paced the field for 14 laps until the Missouri driver was caught behind traffic as he exited turn two. Long was able to capitalize and jumped into the lead. Once in front, Long went to the top side of the track as he opened his lead and earned the win at the checkered. Steffens held off Harris for second. Mike McKinney came home in fourth, and Allen Weisser was fifth. Brian Shaw, McKenzie, Dillon Nusbaum, Curt Spalding, and 16th starter Caden McWhorter followed.

After the Modified race, the rain began to fall and the remainder of the program was canceled.

The Fairbury Speedway will celebrate its 77th season opener with the much-anticipated new MARS Championship Tours hitting the track on Saturday night, April 29th.  The $5,000 to win, $500 to start MARS Late Model Series, presented by FK Rod Ends, will open a new era of regional racing throughout Illinois on its opening weekend for the 2023 campaign.  Along with the Late Models, the new MARS Modified Championship, presented by Summit Racing Equipment, will hit the track for a $2,000 to win, $250 to start main event which will bring drivers from all over the region to America’s Dirt Track for their season opener.

All updated payouts, track rules, tire rules, schedule, event guides, and more can be found on the Fairbury Speedway website at www.fairburyspeedway.com.  Some updated news and notes for the upcoming 2023 race season:

  • Season passes are on sale on the FALS website for $250. This will include all races except the Prairie Dirt Classic.  Fans are also welcome to stop by the new office complex before the season opens to purchase their season passes.
  • Prairie Dirt Classic renewals will expire on March 31st at 12:01 a.m. which means all fans will need to process their carts before the end of the day on March 30th. PDC reserved camping is SOLD OUT for 2023.  Reserved tickets that are not renewed from 2022 will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 8th.
  • Lucas Oil Late Model Spring Nationals presented by Titan Industries and the DIRTcar Summer Nationals presented by Rhino Ag & Dixie Choppers reserved seats are available for purchase online at www.fairburyspeedway.com. Reserved camping for the Lucas show is SOLD OUT.  Camping is still available for the Summer Nationals, very limited spots available.
  • Fairbury Speedway will host a “Practice Day” on Saturday, April 22nd from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. All divisions of cars racing on the schedule in 2023 are welcome to practice.
  • Hobby Mods have been removed from the schedule for opening night April 29th. Double Hobby Mod features will open their season on Saturday, May 6th.
  • Country superstar Lee Brice will go “Dancin’ on the Dirt” on Saturday night, May 20th. Tickets are on sale online at www.fairburyspeedway.com. (No racing that night.)
  • Dave’s Supermarket Driver Meet~N~Greet is set for Saturday, June 3rd (1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.)
  • KidModz have been added to the schedule for Saturday night, June 10th.

New for 2023, the “Top Shop” Mini Series presented by Fairbury Fastener and Supply will continue the traditional series within a series which will take the place of the Alkota ‘Keep it Clean” Series.  The Top Shop Series will give away more than $7,500 in prizes including over $6,000 to the champion of the mini-series in 2023.  The top prize will include a package of new shop tools including a huge tool chest designed to handle any shop experience.  This unique series, which is in its 11th year at the Fairbury Speedway, is structured to include all four DIRTcar weekly classes.  Each driver will contend in a points battle throughout the season on non-special events marked on the schedule. Drivers accumulate points for passing cars in the feature as well as their feature finishing position. The Top Shop Series of races presented by Fairbury Fastener and Supply is scheduled for 10 nights throughout the summer.  “I am very excited about our new partnership with Darrel & Tanner Ifft from Fairbury Fastener and Supply,” conveys FALS owner Matt Curl.  “They have stepped up in a huge way to support or local drivers.”  Race teams and fans can check out Fairbury Fastener and Supply at www.fairburyfastener.com.  The Top Shop Series will open its schedule on Saturday night, May 6th.


lee briceThe Fairbury Speedway is excited to announce the lineup for the 2nd Dancin’ on the Dirt event, to be held Saturday, May 20, 2023, at the Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois.

Headlining this year is a GRAMMY nominee, CMA and ACM award winner, and he's taken nine radio singles to Number One including, "A Woman Like You," "Hard to Love," "I Drive Your Truck," "I Don’t Dance," "Drinking Class," “Rumor," “I Hope You’re Happy Now," “One of Them Girls,” and “Memory I Don’t Mess With.” Lee Brice will be at the Fairbury Speedway on Saturday, May 20, 2023!

The concert, premium parking, and camping tickets are on sale now. Concert tickets will range from $40 - $50 with two sections available. Tickets are available at www.fairburyspeedway.com.

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