by Rocky Ragusa
Drivers scrambled to secure a place in the point standings, and for several drivers they held the checkered flag for their first time. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Jay Ledford (Modified), Curtis Radke (Street Stock), Lake Nichoalds (Sportsman), and Brian Deavers (Hobby-Modified) collected the hardware on the final points night of the season on Saturday at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway.
Donny Walden was the night’s fast qualifier over 23 other I Beam Sliding Doors Late Model drivers with a 12.920. Scott Bull, Kevin Weaver, and 2017 track champion Ryan Unzicker won their heat races. In the 30-lap feature, Bull led the opening laps before Weaver took over on the third lap. Bull, looking for his first win of the year, had his car working on the bottom and reclaimed the lead on lap four. Unzicker worked his way by Weaver and pressured Bull for the front position. Unzicker looked to take the lead on lap nine but a caution kept Bull in the front. Trailing the duo were Weaver, Jay Sparks, and McKay Wenger who had fans on their feet in an exciting race for third. Unzicker was able to take command after a lap 11 caution and soon had to contend with slower traffic. Unzicker threaded his way and maintained a comfortable margin over Bull. 11th starter Mike Glasscock joined in the race for a top five spot. A caution came out with four laps to go giving Unzicker’s competition a chance to dethrone the champion. Unzicker was able to hold a five car length lead over Bull for the rest of the race as he claimed his fifth Fairbury win of the year. Bull took second, Weaver held on to third over Sparks, followed by Glasscock, Wenger, Charlie Olson, Scott Schmitt, Billy Hough, and 18th starter Curt Spalding. “This car has worked great since the Summer Nationals,” Unzicker said.” We have been fine tuning it and doing what we can do for the track surfaces. Last week the track was totally different from this week. Hats off to the Fairbury crew along with my crew and sponsors. Winning the track championship means a lot to me and my guys. Hopefully we can chase down Rusty Schlenk for the national title”.
21 Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers checked in for their 20-lap race. In time trials, Nick Lueth set fast time at a 14.532. Lueth, Jay Ledford, and 2017 track champion Jeff Curl earned heat race wins. At the drop of the green flag Ledford overtook Lueth for the lead and set a rapid pace early in the race. Nick Clubb, Curl, and Jimmy Dehm duked it out for third in a battle that saw none of the trio backing down. Several cautions kept Ledford from walking away from his competitors early in the race. Curl was able to move into second as Bobby Stremme joined in the hunt. Curl was able to cut into Ledford’s lead and had a opportunity to take the lead from the “racing farmer” as a caution waved with six laps to go. On the restart, Ledford quickly pulled away from his combatants and registered his first Fairbury win of the season. Curl, Lueth, Dehm, Stremme, 12th starter Michael Thayer, Clubb, Dave Lilja, Travis Kohler, and Joey Iliff followed. “Congrats to Jeff on his championship,” spoke Ledford.” I have to thank my crew. We have been struggling lately. Some of it has been my own fault with the nuts and bolts. But tonight everything worked out.”
by Rocky Ragusa
After a brief absence, Thursday night racing returned to the 141st Fairbury Fair at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Ray Bollinger (Modified), and Myles Moos (Pro Late Model) were the night’s feature winners.
19 Late Model drivers took to the track for qualifying with Bob Gardner setting fast time at a 12.714. Unzicker and Kevin Weaver were the heat race victors. Unzicker was on a rail, manhandling the top groove to perfection in the I Beam Sliding Doors 30-lap feature. Weaver and Scott Schmitt made several attempts to take the front position but Unzicker held his ground. A red flag fell on the 21st lap as the lights in turn one went out. After a 20-minute delay, the drivers went back to business. Unzicker was able to withstand the pressure from Weaver and McKay Wenger to take the race win and only needs to start Saturday’s race to wrap up his first-ever Fairbury track championship. Wenger took second over Weaver, with 13th starter Scott Bull in fourth and Schmitt placing fifth. Current UMP national point leader Rusty Schlenk came in sixth with Rich Bell, Mike Spatola, 19th starter Jay Sparks, and Jose Parga following. “We ran the car on the top tonight,” said Unzicker. “It looked like it would be the fastest way around. Weaver and Wenger both did a heck of a job.”
Bollinger was looking to rack up UMP national points and posted the fast time over 23 other Varsitee Screen Printing modified competitors with a 14.505. Bollinger, Jason Hastings, and Jeffrey Ledford took heat race wins. In the caution-plagued event, Bollinger, running the top groove, held a slight edge over Ledford through the first 11 laps of the 20-lap race. Ledford snuck by Bollinger to lead the 12th circuit, but Bollinger came back to reclaim the lead. Ledford and Bollinger separated themselves from the field as Allen Weisser and Mike McKinney battled for third. Ledford led Bollinger after a caution with three laps to go, but Bollinger was running the top and took over the top spot. Ledford refused to give up and stuck the nose of his car under Bollinger several times. Bollinger was able to hang on for his third Fairbury win. Ledford was next with McKinney, Weisser, Jeff Curl, 13th starter Travis Kohler, Jimmy Dehm, Dave Lilja, Hastings, and 19th starter Billy Puckett in tow. “I can’t say enough about Jeffrey,” an excited Bollinger said. “He sticks his car on the bottom. I didn’t have anything for him there. I just had to put it on the top and bang the wall.” Only six points separate Curl and Ledford with one night of points remaining.