by Rocky Ragusa | Live Updates
The 2016 race season came to a close with the Fourth Annual Casey’s Modified Nationals paying $10,000 to the winner, sanctioned by the American Modified Series. Late Models were also on the program with a $3,000 to win race.
69 Modifieds were on hand, seeking a starting position in the lucrative event. Dean Hoffman (Troy) was the fast qualifier in group one time trials at a 14.234, while Chad Kinder (Newton) turned in the fastest lap in group two with a 14.393. Winners of the six heat races went to Mike Harrison (Highland), Kinder, Levi Kissinger (Mount Vernon, IN), defending race winner Clayton Miller (Elkton, KY), Kenny Wallace (Arnold, MO), and Trent Young (Hopkinsville, KY). Matt Cooper (McKenzie, TN), Jeff Curl (Fairbury), Jeff Leka (Buffalo), and David Stremme (Davidson, NC) won the semi-features.
24 cars lined up for the 50-lap feature. Kinder took the lead for the first two laps, before Harrison led the third lap. Kinder came back to lead the next two laps. After a lap six caution, Harrison reclaimed the lead. After a brief battle with Kinder, Harrison opened up a straightaway lead. Working slower traffic by the halfway mark allowed Brent Mullins (Litchfield) to close the margin. Two cautions fell in the final five laps, but Harrison was too strong and became the first repeat winner of the race. After the race Harrison commented, “Hats off to Fairbury. It’s one of the best tracks. They put on these races for us Modified drivers and they know we put on a good show. We haven’t had the best year. We have been beating our brains against the wall to catch up with these drivers and get faster. This is our biggest win.” Mullins, Kinder, 23rd starter Mike McKinney, AMS points leader Young, Steven Brooks (New Lenox), Curl, Josh Harris (Owensboro, KY), Leka, and Miller completed the top ten.
For Modified drivers not making the main event, Mullins Race Engines sponsored a 20-lap shootout race. Allen Weisser (Peoria) was on his way to the win until breaking on the 19th lap. Chris Smith (Highland) took over the lead and held off Frank Marshall (Valparaiso, IN) for the win. Jeffrey Ledford (Pontiac), Nick Clubb (Coal City), Jared Cagley (Fairbury), Bob Pohlman Jr. (Oak Lawn), John Clippinger (Evansville, IN), Bradley Jameson (Logansport, IN), Todd Riley (Benton, KY), and Scott Heeron (Forreston) rounded out the top ten.