Racing from FALS
Fans felt sweltering temperatures in the air, and also found hot racing action at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night. The hottest of the drivers proved to be Jeff Curl, who captured his first victory of the season on his home track.
Also making a trip to the winners circle on a regular race night with five classes were Allen Weisser (modified), Jason Maier (street stock), Steve Mattingly (sportsman) and Brendan Patterson (hobby- modified).
Late model drivers were tuning up for next week’s big race as 19 were on hand. Kevin Weaver was the night’s top qualifier at 12.938 seconds. Allen Murray and Allen Weisser claimed heat race wins.
Weisser led the first lap of the 30-lap feature race. Following a caution on lap one, Weisser’s car bobbled enough for Scott Schmitt to move out front. Caution fell on lap three with Schmitt, Weisser, Curl, Weaver and Steve Thorsten in the top five.
Curl, of Fairbury, was on the move and took second on lap six. Schmitt slowed on the backstretch for a caution, on lap eight, giving Curl the lead.
Thorsten, on the top side, got by the bottom running Curl to lead laps 12 and 13, but Curl retook the lead on lap 14.
Curl was able to pull out to a 10-car length lead as Thorsten made a determined bid to retake first. Behind the duo, Weaver, Weisser and Myles Moos had their own race for the third position.
Debris on the track brought out a caution on lap 19. Weaver saw an opening on the restart, but got into the back of Thorsten and Weisser was collected in the mayhem to end his night.
The field went single file for the remaining 11 laps. Curl stuck to the bottom and led the wall-banging Thorsten, with Moos, Weaver and Bill Hough in tow. Thorsten and Moos went back and front for second, exchanging several slide jobs, before Thorsten took second back with three to go.
As the race for second was unraveling, Curl was able to jump out to a straightaway lead and the late model rookie captured his first-ever late model trophy.
“I am way ahead of where I thought I would be after eight nights in a late model,” an excited Curl said following his win. “We have tried different things each week and I have to thank Mike Spatola and the Friedmans for their advice. We had not planned to race the late model next week, but it looks like we will be here for the Summer National race.”
Following Curl to the line were Thorsten, Moos, Weaver, Hough (hard charger), Collin Alexander, Cole Swibold, Curtis Radke, Austin McCarty and Weisser.
There were 12 hobby-modified drivers looking to carry the checkered flag at the end of their night. Darren Kerrins was the fast qualifier at a 15.497-second lap turn, while Brendan Patterson and Makinzi Semmens won their respected heat races.
Patterson (Springbay) took the lead for the start of the 12-lap feature, but due to the numerous cautions and a time limit, the race was stopped at three laps.
Taking his fourth win of the year, Patterson was happy, but dejected. “We had a good car, but I wish we could have gotten all the race in.”
Mike Petersen, Terry Bolen, Thad Gee, Kerrins, Semmens, Austin Lipe, TJ Bolen, Bryan Saner and Travis Roe completed the top 10.
Chenoa's Steve Mattingly set quick time for the 11 CR Towing Sportsman drivers on hand for their 15-lap race, with a 14.747-second trip. Mattingly and Amber Crouch took heat race wins.
Mattingly led at the start but a caution fell after the end of the first lap as contender Bryant Frechette dropped out with mechanical problems. On the restart, Mattingly stuck his car to the top side, with Crouch and Brandon Pralle in a heated battle for second. They were followed by Matt Ramer and Anthony Craven.
Laps five and six had the yellow flag waved, but on the restart, Mattingly ran the top groove to perfection and extended his lead. Crouch and Pralle went tooth and nail for second, but both drivers had their night cut short as Pralle got into the backstretch wall and Crouch cut a tire down.
For the final six circuits, Mattingly was able to pull away from the field and take his fourth win of the season. With the absence of point leader Richard Craven, Mattingly took over in the standings for the track championship.
“The top side was a little rough, but we were able to make it work out for us,” said Mattingly.
Placing behind Mattingly were Ramer (hard charger), Eric Saltzman, Tyler Roth, Michael Ledford, Valerie Hurt, Craven, Crouch, Pralle and Robert Saltzman.
Veteran wheelman Rick Thomas, at a turn of 15.681 seconds, led in time trials over 14 other street stock drivers. Heat races were won by Jason Maier (Thomasboro) and AJ Meiferdt.
Meiferdt took the lead for the start of the 15-lap race, with Jason Maier, Thomas, Matt Maier and Cody Clubb in pursuit.
After a lap five caution, Jason Maier overtook Meiferdt for the lead by running the top side. Meiferdt held on to second, as Thomas, Matt Maier, and Clubb followed.
On the restart after a caution on lap eight, Matt Maier squeezed by Meiferdt for second while Jason Maier checked out to a 10-car length lead.
In the closing laps, Meiferdt moved back into second as Jason Maier gained redemption from last week’s race and took the flag.
“I went to the high side of the track because AJ is always tough on the bottom,” Maier said.
The rest of the top 10 were Matt Maier, Thomas, Clubb, Al Gray, Nick Seplak, Justin VanDrunen, Andrew Alwood and Michael Schomas (hard charger).
Jeffrey Ledford paced the modified competition in qualifying with a 14.06-second qualifier. There were 12 drivers for the 20-lap race with Ledford and Allen Weisser (Peoria) posting wins in the heat races.
Weisser led the start of the feature and was followed by Ledford, McKay Wenger, Chevy Miller and Alan Stipp. Weisser pulled out to a 10-car length lead while Ledford and Wenger battled for second.
Wenger moved by Ledford for second at the halfway mark and moved to the topside in an effort to run down Weisser. Weisser proved to be the dominate force on this night and earned his first-ever win at Fairbury.
“We have raced here a few times, had our share of bad luck, along with some seconds. It is nice to finally get a win here,” Weisser said.
Wenger, Ledford, Stipp (hard charger), Austin Lynn, Jay Ledford, Miller, Vince Cooper, Eric Vaughan and Logan Roger took the top 10 positions.
This Saturday night will be the annual DIRTcar Summer National, presented by Rhino Ag of Gibson City, for late models. They will race 50 laps for a $10,000 payday. The Summit Modified Nationals will feature a $2,000-to-win special and street stock drivers have a $800-to-win race.
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua currently leads the Summer Nationals points tour with three wins. He is followed by Billy Moyer (one win), Brian Shirley, Jason Feger and Brandon Thirlby. El Paso's Ryan Unizicker currently sits in sixth place. Bloomington's Billy Drake also has a win on the tour.
Mike McKinney of Plainfield currently leads the Summit Racing Equipment Modified tour. McKinney has three victories and Mike Harrison of Highland has two wins.