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McKay Wenger

McKay Wenger

Austin Friedman

Austin Friedman

Nick Clubb

Nick Clubb

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Wes Ricketts

Wes Ricketts

Paul Patterson

Paul Patterson

Results | Points | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

It was Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday at the Fairbury Speedway as part of the 147th annual Fairbury Fair. McKay Wenger (Late Model) and Tommy Duncan (Sportsman) won their respective feature races. They were joined by four first-time feature winners in Austin Friedman (Modified), Nick Clubb (Stock Car), Wes Ricketts (Hobby-Modified), and Paul Patterson (Hobby-Modified), as TKS Concrete and Smith Material presented a thrilling night of racing on the quarter-mile dirt oval.

wenger lmMike Mataragas and McKay Wenger raced side-by-side for the top spot in the 30-lap Late Model race before Mataragas took over on lap five. Mataragas threaded his way past lapped cars as Mike Spatola took over second. On a restart with 14 laps to go, Wenger moved past Mataragas for the lead as Kevin Weaver followed. Weaver moved past Wenger and was running like a scalded dog. It was heartbreak city for Weaver as he jumped the cushion and hit the wall with two laps to go. Wenger moved back into the lead and was able to take his second win of the weekend. Spatola, Jason Wagner, Mataragas, and fast qualifier Lyle Zanker completed the top five.

friedman mdFast qualifier Austin Friedman raced side-by-side with Michael Ledford before pulling ahead in the 25-lap Modified feature. Jared Thomas raced Ledford for second and took the position with 20 laps to go. Thomas closed in on Friedman as the yellow flag was displayed with 14 laps left. Friedman was able to go the remaining laps, and two caution periods, to claim his first Fairbury Modified feature win. Thomas turned back Mike McKinney for second, with Bobby Stremme, and Ledford following.

clubb scA feature winner at both dirt and paved tracks in the area, Nick Clubb was finally able to park his car in Fairbury’s victory lane. Kyle Anderson paced the field with Joe Brown and Clubb heading a pack of cars. The caution waved with ten laps to go as Brown’s car dropped out with mechanical issues. On the restart, Clubb saw an opening in turn one to take the lead from Anderson. Clubb opened a five-car length lead over the field to pick up a much-deserved win. Anderson held off Cody Clubb for second, with Kirby McCormick and Brandon Tracy completing the top five. “Little brother beat me last weekend, and I couldn’t have it again tonight,” Clubb said. “Nick and Ken Seplak, along with myself, built everything on this car. We took what we learned from the Modified and put it into the Stock Car.”

duncan spTommy Duncan and Steve Mattingly went toe-to-toe for the first five laps of the Sportsman race before the four-time track champion put some distance between himself and the field. Mattingly and Landen Miller put on a show for the fans in the race for second before Mattingly edged ahead. Josh Hetherington was fourth and Doug Carls picked up his first top five finish by placing fifth. Reclaiming the lead in the track point standings, Duncan spoke in victory lane. “It was a really big night, and the car was good. We had a real racy track, and Steve raced me with courtesy.”

ricketts hmdIn the first Hobby-Modified race, Wes Ricketts turned back a strong challenge from Lucas Boulton in the final seven laps to pick up his first career feature win. After a red flag with two laps remaining, Ricketts was able to open a two-car length lead over Boulton and take the win. Hudson Dick was third, followed by Nathan Lynch, and Meara Tilstra. “This has been a work in the making,” spoke the Fairbury native. “Between dad’s car and mine, it's a job. We have put our blood, sweat, and tears into this. I also wanted to dedicate this win to my Grandpa who passed away last week.”

patterson hmdPaul Patterson wrestled the lead away from Jake Bachtold on the third lap and never looked back to earn his first career Fairbury win in the second Hobby-Modified race. Starting last, Dylan Turpin charged through the field to take second. Bachtold held off Patrick Fatigato for third, and Payton Semmens was fifth. “We are just fighting a little at a time,” said Pattterson. “We have some homework to do. I thank Fairbury for having this class.”



Ryan Unzicker

Ryan Unzicker

Michael Long

Michael Long

Cody Clubb

Cody Clubb

Landen Miller

Landen Miller

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Dylan Turpin

Dylan Turpin

Ryan Kohler

Ryan Kohler

Ryan Kohler

Ryan Kohler

Long Claims $2,000 Modified Win; Clubb, Miller, Duncan, Turpin, Kohler Also Victorious

Results | Points | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The 12th race of the season at the Fairbury Speedway saw another FALS Cup weekly program presented by Popejoy Inc. In addition to track and DIRTcar points, the Fairbury Fastener & Supply Top Shelf Series points were also up for grabs.

unzicker lmThe 30-lap Late Model race saw 19 drivers looking to take the $5,000 first place prize, along with the prestigious FALS Cup trophy. After five cautions fell during the first six laps of the feature, everyone calmed down, and fans were treated to an exciting race. Ryan Unzicker wrestled the lead away from Jason Feger with 20 laps to go. Feger tried the top and bottom groove looking to reclaim the lead, but Unzicker was able to turn back the DIRTcar points leader. Fast qualifier Myles Moos brought out the yellow flag with nine laps remaining as the FALS cushion got the best of his car. When the field went back green, Unzicker and Feger ran side by side for the lead before Unzicker took control with five laps to go. Unzicker pulled away to take his first Fairbury win of the year. “Anytime you can win at FALS it's good,” Unzicker said. “I don’t care if it’s a regular night or a special, it is hard to win here. I love coming here. We tried something that MB Customs said would work and it did help.” Feger took second with Brandon Eskew finishing in third. Defending World of Outlaws champion Dennis Erb Jr. took fourth, while 11th starter Rich Bell was fifth. McKay Wenger led the second five followed by track points leader Mike Spatola, Mike Mataragas, Dale Markham, and Lyle Zanker.

long md.jpgMichael Long went uncontested in winning the 25-lap, $2,000 to win Modified race. Five yellow flags and a red flag situation plagued the early going of the race. Long was in his own zip code as he was never threatened during the course of the race. Track points leader Michael Ledford did make things a little interesting in the closing laps, but Long turned up the wick to post his second win at Fairbury since the season opener. “Ever since we got this car out two weeks ago, it’s been good,” commented Long. “ We have had some bad luck early in the year, but we are pretty good now.” Ledford held off Austin Friedman for second, with Steven Brooks and 11th starter Trevor Ringle following. Eric Vaughan rebounded to finish in sixth, with Alan Stipp, Lyndon Whitfill, Marshall Call, and Victor Strong completing the top ten.

clubb scStock Car points leader Cody Clubb led flag-to-flag in winning his second race of the year. Cody’s brother, Nick started in fifth and took over second with nine laps to go in the 15-lap race. Both ran the bottom lane of the track with Nick glued to Cody’s bumper hoping to capitalize on a mistake to take the front spot. Cody was able to take a two-car length win over Nick. “I knew he (Nick) was back there. I could see it on the scoreboard,” explained Clubb. “I was like, man if I get beat by him, I am never going to hear the end of that. So, I kept it glued to the bottom and hoped for the best.” Trailing the Clubb brothers were current DIRTcar points leader Megan Erwin and heat three winner Tim Loomis. 19th starter Don Hilleary took fifth. Zach Zuberbier, Kirby McCormick, Nick Seplak, Michael Schomas, and Brandon Tracy rounded out the top ten.

miller spDouble features were held in the Sportsman class with triple features in the Hobby-Modified division. In the first Sportsman race, fast qualifier Tommy Duncan set the pace before jumping the cushion and Steve Mattingly led the next lap. Landen Miller took the lead with eight laps to go and never looked back. By the end of the race, Miller held a straightaway lead in recording his third win of the year. “I saw Duncan mess up and I thought I had it,” said Miller. “Mattingly slid me and I was going to try it on the outside. I panicked at the last second, but it was a fun race.” Mattingly took second, with Duncan, Tyler Roth, and Josh Hetherington in fifth. The remainder of the top ten had Eric Saltzman, Doug Carls, Aaron Reid, Makinzi Semmens, and Roy Magee in that order.

duncan spEric Saltzman led the field for the first two laps of the second Sportsman race before Tommy Duncan assumed command. Duncan ended a winless streak since June 3rd and was able to win his third race at Fairbury. “I haven’t had any luck this last month,” Duncan said. “The first feature the power steering belt broke, and I didn’t have any power steering. You have to have luck sometimes.” New track points leader Landen Miller was second and Tyler Roth took third. The rest of the top ten was Josh Hetherington, Aaron Reid, Eric Saltzman, Makinzi Semmens, Roy Magee, Robert Saltzman, and Doug Carls.

turpin hmdIn the first Hobby-Modified 10-lap feature, Dylan Turpin took the lead at the wave of the green flag and led the distance in earning his third win of the year. Wes Ricketts took second. Lucas Boulton held off Scott McDonald for third, and Reid Gall was fifth. Hugging the bottom line of the track and running a smooth line, Ryan Kohler has shown he is the man to beat in the Hobby-Modified class. Kohler checked out on his competitors to take his fourth win of the season in the second feature. Jake Green finished in second. Jace Gall, Brooke Wagner, and Paul Patterson followed.

kohler hmdFollowing a lap one caution, Kohler moved past Turpin for the lead in the third feature and repeated his performance from the second race. The caution came out with five laps to go, but on this night, Kohler ruled the class for his fifth win. Turpin came home in second. Lucas Boulton was third. Scott McDonald, Reid Gall, Jake Green, Wes Ricketts, Jace Gall, Mike Petersen, and 23rd starter Scott Brown completed the top ten.


Ricky Thornton Jr.

Ricky Thornton Jr.

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Harrison Survives Multiple Duels for Third Prairie Dirt Classic Modified Win

Results | Story by Mike Warren | Pictures by Rocky Ragusa & HighSide Race Shots

thorntonRicky Thornton Jr. has found his way to Victory Lane in almost every way this year. But the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway presented a new challenge. After a broken crank trigger almost ended his night on Lap 81, he stormed from sixth to first in six laps, passing Bobby Pierce with 13 laps to go en route to the $50,000 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models Feature win – plus $12,000 in lap money ($62,000 overall on Saturday).

Outside pole-sitter Ryan Gustin took the early lead in the 100-lap crown jewel, sliding in front of Pierce as they reached Turn 2. The Marshalltown, IA driver’s lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Pierce thundered past him in Turn 4 to grab the lead on Lap 5. Thornton was behind the two drivers in third when the first caution came out on Lap 8 for debris in Turn 2. On the next restart, Thornton used the outside lane to get around Gustin and take over second. Several cautions allowed Pierce, from Oakwood, IL, to stay in clean air for the first 50 laps. But as the race hit its halfway point, the “Smooth Operator” found himself in lap traffic, allowing Thornton and Gustin to close in.

pierce thornton 1“RTJ” and Gustin traded second again in traffic until the #20RT pulled away on Lap 53 with his sights set on Pierce. That’s when Thornton, who was running the middle lane, switched to the top. Thornton rode the cushion, quickly closing on Pierce as the leader tried to find a line to stay ahead. He made his first challenge for the lead on Lap 62, sliding him in Turns 1 and 2. But Pierce’s momentum was too strong as he kept his Longhorn Chassis ahead. Eventually, Thornton’s perseverance paid off, crossing Pierce over in Turn 4 and taking the lead for the first time on Lap 72. However, eight laps later, the race almost slipped away. As he entered Turn 3 on Lap 81, Thornton said he broke a crank trigger. That led to him slowing on the front stretch with cars going by and bringing out the caution. However, power returned as the caution came out, allowing him to continue but found himself restarting sixth.

With 19 laps to go, his quest for $50,000 appeared to be over. But Thornton had other ideas. He quickly returned to the cushion, needing one lap to return to the top five. Then on Lap 87, he dove to the middle, splitting Gustin and Hudson O’Neal in Turns 1 and 2. By the time they hit the backstretch, Thornton had cleared them both, sliding in front of O’Neal in Turn 4 and readying himself for another shot at Pierce. On Lap 88, like his pass for the lead earlier in the race, Thornton nosed ahead of Pierce in Turn 4 to retake the lead. But a bobble on the cushion by Thornton in Turns 1 and 2 allowed Pierce to retake the lead on the backstretch.

pierce thornton 2With another crossover in Turns 3 and 4, Thornton powered past the #32 for good, leading the final 13 laps to score the win, and earned his total of $62,000 by leading 24 laps. Thornton said he used his adversity as motivation in the final 20 laps. “We broke a crank trigger there in Turn 3, and I’m freaking flipping switches and everything else, and finally, it came back to me,” Thornton said. “I didn’t think I was that far back, but I used it as motivation. After that, I said screw it. I was either going to win or tip it over.”

While Thornton has scored multiple wins paying $50,000 or more in 2023, it’s his first crown jewel victory with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models. He thanked his crew in Victory Lane and said they make it easy for him to drive every night. “We’ve got a good enough car where I don’t have to ride hard the whole time,” Thornton said. “Bobby was really good there, but once we got to traffic, I felt like I was better. I just knew once we got to traffic and had a really long run, I’d have a shot, and it worked out for us.”

Pierce finished second, falling one spot short for the second time in three years. Despite his runner-up finish, he knew what it meant for the chase for the World of Outlaws title. “We’re happy with it,” Pierce said. “We couldn’t get through the corners like [Thornton] did. I wasn’t going to cowboy up and do that with points on the line. I’m leading these points, so I have to focus on that. “He was getting down those straightaways better than I did too. So, if I would’ve pushed the issue, I don’t think I would’ve had anything for him. He was getting down the straightaways really good. He’s a heck of a wheelman, so congratulations to him on the win.” Despite a second-place finish, Pierce earned $57,000 after leading 74 laps. He also extended his points lead over to 68 over Gustin, who finished third.

gustinIt’s Gustin’s second straight top-five in the event after finishing fifth in 2022. “It’s definitely not what we wanted, but we’ll take it,” Gustin said. “I felt like I got going on the bottom and they kept knocking the tires back out on the yellows. That definitely didn’t help us. I kind of wanted to go up top there, but I went up there one lap and bounced real bad, and I knew we needed to finish for this point deal.” Sheppard also snuck by O’Neal on the final lap to finish fourth, while O’Neal rounded out the top five.

 

Harrison Survives Multiple Duels for Third Prairie Dirt Classic Win

Results | Story by Nick Graziano | Pictures by Jacy Norgaard

harrison mdStanding atop the roof of his DIRTcar UMP Modified, Mike Harrison’s cheers were drowned by the emphatic celebration resonating from a sea of fans encompassing Fairbury Speedway. Helping bring the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals 2023 season to an epic conclusion, Harrison fended off a series of onslaught attacks to score his third Prairie Dirt Classic victory (2017, 2018, 2023) in Fairbury, IL Saturday night. “It’s pretty important,” said Harrison, of Highland, IL, about winning his third Prairie Dirt Classic in his home state. “Every win here at Fairbury is special, just because of the atmosphere. Especially the PDC here, to do it in front of this many fans. Ultimately, that’s who we do it for.”

Harrison started off the weekend as the fastest driver, setting Quick Time Friday night. Then, he went on to win one of the four Showdown Features to lock himself into Saturday’s 40-lap, $5,000-to-win, Feature and the redraw. Drivers in the first four rows drew for their starting position, leading to Nick Allen on the pole, Charlie Mefford second, Mason Duncan third, Ethan Dotson fourth, Michael Ledford fifth, Harrison sixth, Drake Troutman seventh and Trent Young eighth.

When the Feature commenced, Allen held the lead on the start while Medford had to battle with Dotson for second. The #00 of Dotson was a force in the early laps, taking second on Lap 3 and then the lead on Lap 5. However, the next lap, Dotson jumped the cushion and slammed his right rear into the Turn 4 wall. Fortunately, for him, the first caution of the race came out at the same time, allowing him to regroup. Able to continue, Dotson led the field back to green but soon found himself in a fierce battle with Harrison, who was making a steady climb from his sixth starting position. The veteran slid his car ahead of Dotson and rocketed ahead once he found grip in the top lane. After Dotson lost the lead, he continued to fall, losing second to Allen. Another caution fell on Lap 12, helping put Allen on the back of Harrison’s bumper. However, Allen’s hopes of dethroning Harrison ended on the restart after he jumped the cushion and slowed. His downfall led to Mefford getting his shot at Harrison.

Mefford gave Harrison his first scare, running side by side with the veteran for multiple laps, nosing ahead at times. But another caution killed his battle. Then, when the race resumed, Ledford bested Mefford on the restart and took his turn at trying to run down Harrison. The 18-year-old – looking for his first PDC crown – gave Harrison another fight, running side by side with Harrison’s #24H, lap after lap. However, another caution plagued Ledford’s chances. When the race resumed, Harrison made consistent laps around the top, leaving Ledford to duel with Kyle Steffens for second. The two went back and forth for multiple laps with Steffens eventually securing the spot.

After a caution on Lap 25, Michael Long made his presence known – on a charge from his 19th starting position. Ripping the top, he went from fifth to third on the restart and then ran down Steffens to take second on Lap 31. Three more cautions hindered Long’s chances of trying to build enough of a run to challenge Harrison before the checkered flag, forcing him to settle for second. However, after racing from 19th to second in the Last Chance Showdown to transfer into the Feature, and then go from 19th to second in the main event, he’s still leaving satisfied. “The beginning of the night, I thought my chances were way slim,” Long said. “In the Feature, I knew we always have a good car here when the Feature time rolls around, to just be patient on that cushion. I was really good on the bottom and was able to work my way up through there and had a few cautions where I gained spots on most of the cautions, and everything worked out and got to second with 10 to go. “I needed just a long green flag, I think, to have something for [Harrison]. I was just a little bit too tight on the restarts. All in all, I can’t complain about this at all. I need to go buy a lottery ticket.”

steffens nicely mdSteffens also had a good showing, finishing third after starting 14th. “We kind of just bought our time and raced our way through,” Steffens said. “Put ourselves in position. We were second for a long time. The top just got so gnarly, and my car was too soft in the right rear. We kind of had to roll the middle to the top and we ended up P3. It’s our best PDC yet. I’m really thankful.”

Tyler Nicely, who was crowned the 2023 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals on Friday, finished fourth. Dotson rounded out the top five.

In Victory Lane, climbing out of his car to a roar of cheers, Harrison had the checkered flag in one hand and his third Prairie Dirt Classic trophy in the other. And while he scored the win with more than a second lead, Harrison wasn’t sure he was going to make it to the end. “I got something broke in the back end,” Harrison said. “My god, that was a handful of laps… I seen the 18 (of Long) on the board. Michael Long, he’s a fierce competitor just like I am. He’ll do whatever it takes to get it done on that cushion. I knew that I couldn’t screw up. I knew I had to be spot on and make the right decisions. “When you have these guys throwing everything at you, you can’t back off and just ride. You have to go to get a little gap to where you can make the laps you think you need to make… It’s always fun coming here and winning, especially at the Prairie Dirt Classic in front of these fans. It’s quite an accomplishment.”


Bobby Pierce

Bobby Pierce

Chris Madden

Chris Madden

Ryan Gustin

Ryan Gustin

Ricky Thornton Jr.

Ricky Thornton Jr.

Ethan Dotson

Ethan Dotson

Trent Young

Trent Young

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Michael Ledford

Michael Ledford

Dotson, Young, Harrison, Ledford Take Modified Wins During Opening Night of Prairie Dirt Classic

Results | Story by Mike Warren | Pictures by Rocky Ragusa, Brian Walker, Allyson Bane

Four drivers took a step toward Fairbury Speedway’s history books Friday night. Bobby Pierce, Chris Madden, Ryan Gustin, and Ricky Thornton Jr. earned $5,000 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Prairie Dirt Showdown wins, and locked themselves into the first two rows of Saturday’s Prairie Dirt Classic. Twelve other drivers also punched their tickets into the 100-lap finale, while more than 40 others will try and earn the final spots in Saturday’s Feature through Last Chance Showdown’s and the Prairie Dirt Shootout.

Showdown 1

pierce lmSeries points leader Bobby Pierce’s momentum continued Friday at Fairbury, needing only four corners to take the lead in the first Prairie Dirt Showdown. The Oakwood, IL driver, who started third, snuck past both Simpson Performance Products Quick Time Award winner Brandon Overton and defending Series champion Dennis Erb Jr. to lead Lap 1. From there, the “Smooth Operator” went untouched to earn the $5,000 prize. Pierce, who’s never won the 100-lap finale, said he’s relieved he’s starting up front, knowing the difficulty of winning the Prairie Dirt Classic. “We always struggle starting up front in the PDC,” Pierce said. “Every year, it’s either driver error or something goes wrong. It feels awesome to start up front. We don’t have to scratch and claw our way through the field like we normally do. “It feels awesome. We got a lot of momentum. Fairbury’s treated me very well lately, so hopefully, we can get the job done tomorrow.” Erb finished second and joins Pierce in the redraw. Mike Harrison finished third, and Josh Rice grabbed the final transfer spot.

Showdown 2

madden lmLike Pierce, Chris Madden led every lap of his Prairie Dirt Showdown. However, the Gray Court, SC driver, had to ace several restarts during the 25-lap event. “Smokey” pulled away from the field each time, turning away potential challenges from Brian Shirley and Tanner English to earn his first Showdown victory. Madden said he’s thrilled to be in the top two rows for Saturday’s Feature and looks forward to the long-distance race with $50,000 on the line. “I think we’re pretty balanced,” Madden said. “It would take us four or five circuits to get going, so those restarts kind of hurt me there. We would build a lead and then have a caution. I think we got a pretty good hot rod right here, so maybe we can get it done in a hundred circuits tomorrow.” Shirley crossed the second, while four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard finished third after starting ninth. English finished fourth, earning the Showdown’s final transfer spot.

Showdown 3

gustin lmMyles Moos seemed destined to score his first Prairie Dirt Showdown victory. But a caution on the final lap for Garret Alberson changed everything. Bad luck hit the Lincoln, IL driver on the green-white-checkered restart as his right rear wheel fell off the car, ending his chances at the $5,000 prize. That handed the lead to McKay Wenger, from Fairbury, IL, who battled with Moweaqua, IL driver Shannon Babb when the race resumed. But, like Moos, things turned sour for Wenger. Matt Mickelson spun in front of the flag stand as the two Prairie State drivers battled for the lead. That’s when Wenger realized he had a right rear flat tire, relinquishing the lead to Babb and moving Ryan Gustin into second. The two drivers thundered into Turns 1 and 2 on the final lap, with the “Reaper” nosing ahead down the backstretch as Babb lost momentum. That was all Gustin needed as he earned his second Prairie Dirt Showdown victory. “I knew we were pretty there good early,” Gustin said. “We were running the bottom and the top; it didn’t really matter. I hate that for Myles and McKay, but that’s how it goes. “This one is here for my guys. They’ve been working their ass off, and they have this thing pretty good. Hopefully, we can be here again Saturday.” Wil Herrington snuck by Babb to finish second, relegating the Illinois driver to third. Cade Dillard rounded out the top four.

Showdown 4

thornton lmA last lap slide-job earned Ricky Thornton Jr. his first taste of Fairbury Speedway glory in Friday’s final Prairie Dirt Showdown. Hudson O’Neal pulled away from the field until he jumped the cushion in Turn 3, allowing Thornton to close in the final 10 laps. The two Martinsville, IN drivers, fought wheel to wheel on the final lap as Thornton slid in front of O’Neal’s Rocket Chassis in Turn 2 to take the lead. O’Neal made one last gasp in Turn 4, sliding in front of Thornton. But Thornton’s momentum on the crossover carried him down the front stretch, reaching the checkered flag first. It’s Thornton’s first Prairie Dirt Showdown win, as he puts himself in position for another potential $50,000 victory. “With about 10 to go, I watched [O’Neal] about flip in Turn 3,” Thornton said. “I figured if I slowed down and saved my left rear for the end, I could try to make a run at him. Really, I didn’t think I was going to get to him, but he really struggled to get by that one lap car. “Everything just worked out for us. It was elbows up, but it was pretty fun. I feel like I always suck here early in the night, and tonight we kind of turned it around. It was a really good night for us.” O’Neal settled for second, while Chris Ferguson and Mike Mataragas grabbed the final two transfer spots.

Dotson, Young, Harrison, Ledford Take Modified Showdown Wins During Opening Night of Prairie Dirt Classic

Results | Story by Nick Graziano

The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals opened the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic with four edge-of-your seat Showdown Features. Sixty-three of the best Modified drivers gathered at Fairbury Speedway Friday night to set the stage for the Series’ 2023 season finale on Saturday. Mike Harrison took the early advantage in the night, scoring overall Quick Time. He and the rest of the field were then split into four 20-lap, $500-to-win, Showdown Features. The top four from each transferred to Saturday’s 40-lap, $5,000-to-win, Feature, and the top two go to the redraw. In Saturday’s redraw will be Ethan Dotson, Trent Young, Mike Harrison, Michael Ledford, Mason Duncan, Nick Allen, Charlie Mefford and Drake Troutman.

Showdown 1

dotson mdEthan Dotson, of Bakersfield, CA, took advantage of his pole position, launching ahead of the 16-car field. Behind him, Michael Long and Frank Marshall warred for second. Long stole second on the first lap, but Marshall stayed tight to his bumper and reclaimed second on Lap 3. The first yellow flag of the night flew on Lap 5 for Dalton Lane slowing on track. When the race resumed, Dotson rocketed ahead of the field once again while Long had an issue and fell. Mason Duncan, who initially started 10th, had maneuvered his way to fourth on Lap 2 and then snuck into second after Long faded. Marshall held third, but after suffering his own issue, Kissinger found his way into the podium spot. However, on a restart with eight laps to go, Kissinger bobbled through the first corner and allowed Josh Harris to slide into third. Four laps later, McKenzie threw his car under Harris and officially took third with three laps to go. Dotson sailed to the victory, leading all 20 laps with Duncan second, McKenzie third and Harris fourth. “I felt really good,” Dotson said. “I hadn’t been in a [Modified] in a while. I was super excited to race it and get to work with Cameron this weekend… Hopefully we can get it done tomorrow.”

Showdown 2

young mdWhen Showdown #2 commenced, Trent Young, of Crofton, KY, took the early lead from pole position as chaos ensued behind him. Austin Friedman and Brian Shaw dueled side-by-side in the opening lap before Friedman got the advantage. After Shaw lost second, he fell again the next lap with Nick Allen passing him for third. The first caution of the race fell on Lap 7 for a car slowing on track. When the race resumed, Young and Friedman distanced themselves from the field, leaving Allen to try and fend off a hard charging Tyler Nicely – crowned the 2023 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Friday afternoon. Nicely took third on Lap 8 and then passed Friedman for second on Lap 9. Young was next. Each lap, Nicely inched closer and closer to Young’s rear bumper. With eight laps to go, Nicely dove under Young into Turn 1. However, Young had the better run around the outside and powered ahead of Nicely down the backstretch. They repeated their dance for another lap before the third caution of the race. This one for Nicely, who spun in Turn 1. With the 2023 champion no longer breathing down his, Young cruised to the win. Allen finished second, Mike Chasteen finished third and Caden McWhorter in finished fourth. “I really didn’t expect it to chop up tonight,” Young said. “In Qualifying and everything it was smooth. We haven’t seen a track where the Late Models dug it out a lot more than I expected. But Fairbury is awesome no matter what the conditions are. You don’t get to come here very many times a year, so pretty excited to be in Victory Lane.”

Showdown 3

harrison mdSix-time DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion Mike Harrison, of Highland, IL, entered the night looking to pave a path to his third Prairie Dirt Classic triumph. He started off on the right foot scoring Quick Time and then continued that momentum into a Showdown win. For most of the race, it looked to be an easy win for the veteran, pulling ahead of the field with no competition behind him. But when the caution fell a lap before the checkered flag, everything changed. Charlie Mefford brought fans to the edge of their seat by sneaking around Harrison to steal the lead on the restart with Ryan Unzicker looking to follow in his footsteps. Under pressure, Harrison kept the throttle to the floor and powered around the outside of Mefford to reclaim the lead and steal back the win. Mefford had to settle for second with Unzicker third and Kyle Steffens fourth. “It’s pretty rough down there on the bottom, you know, it’s nobody’s fault, just circumstances from the weather we had last night,” Harrison said. “I was just trying to stay out of that wet stuff but I know on those restarts everyone wants to go gung ho. So, I’m trying to tip toe on the edge of the ruts and just caught one wrong and it sent me sideways and then it was full send mode after that.”

Showdown 4

ledford mdMichael Ledford, 18, of Pontiac, IL, is a step closer to trying to be the youngest Prairie Dirt Classic victor after winning Showdown #4 Friday night. Will Krup started pole for the final Showdown of the night but wasted the opportunity after spinning in front of the field in the first corner. That handed the front row to Ledford and Drake Troutman. When the race resumed, Ledford and Troutman ran wheel-to-wheel, lap after lap. Neither giving an inch. However, Ledford was able to prevail on Lap 4, officially taking the lead. Once out front, he found another gear. Ledford pulled away to a three second victory over Troutman in second and Matt Fabrizius in third. Krup raced his way back through the field to finish fourth and score the final transfer spot. “Fun race with Troutman there in the first few laps,” Ledford said. “There was just so much traction there on the bottom and I was able to get by him. So, glad to get the win.”


Kyle Bronson

Kyle Bronson

Michael Ledford

Michael Ledford

Braiden Keller

Braiden Keller

Steven Mattingly

Steven Mattingly

Ryan Kohler

Ryan Kohler

Braiden Keller

Braiden Keller

Results | Points | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

A late Friday night/Saturday morning rain cloud saw one inch of rainfall in Livingston County. At the crack of dawn, Roger Stryker, Chad Bauman, Steve Ricketts, and a host of others made preparations for Saturday night’s FALS Cup weekly program presented by CIT Trucks. Race teams and fans were treated to a well-groomed track with the last feature being concluded at 9:57 p.m. Five classes were in action, including twin Stock Car features, that saw Kyle Bronson (Late Model), Michael Ledford (Modified), Braiden Keller (Stock Car), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), and Ryan Kohler (Hobby-Modified) grace victory lane.

bronson lmRanked sixth in the World of Outlaws Series point standings, Brandon, Florida’s Kyle Bronson came to town to prepare for the Prairie Dirt Classic in two weeks. Polesitter Myles Moos raced out to a straightaway lead in the 30-lap race. Moos quickly found himself looking at the back of the field. Bronson was able to close in on Moos, and the two traded slide jobs on several occasions, with Moos holding his own. After two cautions on lap nine and ten, Bronson was able to overtake Moos for the lead with 19 laps to go. Bronson stretched out his lead to a straightaway at the finish and scored his first-ever Fairbury feature win. “It’s nice to take a little money here every now and then,” Bronson said as he debuted a new Rocket chassis. “The car was pretty good. It was a little tighter than we needed it to be. We came here to get ready for the PDC. I think we learned a few things.” Making his first appearance of the year, Moos settled for second. In an exciting battle for third, MARS Series points leader Jason Feger took third over track points leader Mike Spatola, Scott Schmitt, and Jake Little. Donny Walden, Kevin Weaver, Bill Hough, and Chase Osterhoff completed the top ten.

ledford mdMike McKinney and Michael Ledford ran side by side for the first four laps of the 25-lap Modified feature. Following a lap four caution, Ledford raced out to a 10-car length lead as McKinney, Austin Friedman, Mason Duncan, and Ray Bollinger battled for third. After a lap ten caution, Ledford kicked it into high gear and pulled away from his competition. For the Pontiac driver, it was his third Fairbury win and personal best ninth feature win of the year. “This is the best that we have run up to the PDC,” spoke the current track points leader. “Hopefully, races like this will give us some momentum.” McKinney finished in the runner-up position, with Bollinger, Duncan, and Allen Weisser in the top five. The rest of the top ten saw Zeke McKenzie, Friedman, Alan Stipp, Caden McWhorter, and Steven Brooks.

keller scThe Stock Car class ran two feature races. Joe Brown led the first five laps of the first 15-lap event with Nick Clubb and Braiden Keller tucked behind. Keller worked his way past Clubb and closed in on Brown. The two drivers traded slide jobs over the course of the next seven laps before Keller claimed the front spot and went on to take the win. “I love racing with Joe,” Keller said. “The engine hasn’t been running right, so hopefully we can find the problem.” Clubb settled for third, with Kyle Anderson, Cody Clubb, Andy Thompson, Michael Schomas, Randy Schoener, Brandon Tracy, and Tim Loomis rounding out the top ten. The second race saw Keller lead flag-to-flag in taking his eighth win of the year. “This is crazy,” the Indiana hot shoe said. “I have to thank my dad. We got torn up last night, and he busted his butt to get it ready.” Brown finished in second, with track points leader Clubb in third. Anderson, Schoener, Tracy, Thompson, Bailey Downey, and Brixton Downey rounded out the field in the makeup race from April 29th.

mattingly spLanden Miller looked to be on his way to his second win of the year in the 15-lap Sportsman race. Racing out to a half straightaway lead, smoke began to bellow from under the hood of the Miller car on lap five and ended his night. Steve Mattingly moved into the lead with Tommy Duncan in second. The two rivals staged a classic duel racing side by side and never touching. Mattingly, running the top, used his momentum and was able to fend off Duncan for his second win of the season. “I want to thank Tommy for racing me clean,” the Chenoa wheelman said. “He is a great guy to race with. The car worked great tonight, and I have to thank the crew and sponsors.” Duncan took second, followed by Josh Hetherington, Eric Saltzman, Makinzi Semmens, Doug Carls, and Miller.

kohler hmdThe night ended with a 12-lap Hobby-Modified race. Ryan Kohler saw an opening and shot past Wes Ricketts on the fifth lap in a race marred by caution flags. The smooth driving second generation driver from Chebanse was able to pick up his third win of the year. Ricketts and Reid Gall turned in fine performances, finishing in second and third. Lucas Boulton took fourth with Jake Green in fifth. The rest of the top ten went to Meara Tilstra, Scott Williams, Coltin Grace, Payton Semmens, and Cameron Pierce.


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