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Gundaker Charges From 14th to Claim $10k in FALS Thriller

Gordy Gundaker

Gordy Gundaker

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

McKinney Wins $2k Last-Lap Showcase vs. Weisser at FALS

Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

With a severe thunderstorm quickly moving into the area, lightning struck in the closing laps of the 50-lap Late Model Summer National race. Second generation driver Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., running the bottom groove, threaded his way to the front after starting 14th and took the lead with four laps to go as he captured the $10,000 to win feature. In the companion Summit Modified 30-lap race, Mike McKinney and Allen Weisser continued their season-long war. McKinney was able to win the battle on this night after a thrilling side by side race with Weisser.

gundaker shirleyThe Late Model race drew 37 entries as Brian Shirley, with a time of 12.525 seconds, led group one qualifiers, while Mike Spatola’s time of 12.599 seconds topped group two. Shirley, Ryan Gustin, Spatola, and Frank Heckenast Jr. won their respective heat races. Allen Weisser and McKay Wenger took the B-Mains. Starting in the second position, Shirley took the lead at the start and quickly opened a straightaway lead over Heckenast. By the ninth circuit, Shirley caught up with the rear of the field as Heckenast, Shannon Babb, Rick Eckert, and Gustin followed. Babb moved into the second position on lap 15 and erased Shirley’s lead. After the halfway flags were displayed, Babb pressured Shirley for the lead. Caution fell on lap 32 as Spatola broke. On the restart, Babb got by Shirley for the lead with Eckert closely following. With under 10 laps remaining, Gundaker turned up the wick and moved into fourth. Running a smooth line, Gundaker made short order of Eckert and Shirley with Babb lying ahead. The front two ran side by side before Gundaker moved into the lead on lap 46. Gundaker opened a five-car length lead and took his first ever Fairbury win. “We were so good, I was just biding my time,” an excited Gundaker spoke. “I know last year I felt we gave this race away. We just got rolling and the yellow came out at a perfect time. It was awesome!” Driving for Allen Murray, Eckert took second, with Babb, Shirley, and defending track champion Ryan Unzicker in fifth. Jason Feger, Heckenast, Bobby Pierce, Tyler Carpenter, and Johnny Scott rounded out the top ten.

mckinney weisser27 Summit Modified drivers timed for their $2,000 to win event. Kyle Hammer’s lap of 14.543 seconds led group one, Allen Weisser paced group two with a time of 14.151 seconds, and Mike McKinney turned a lap of 13.886 seconds to head group three. Nick Allen, Weisser, and McKinney took heat race wins, while Caleb DeMoss won the last chance race. Weisser took the lead on the green flag sticking his car on the bottom of the track. McKinney drove the top side and moved by Weisser to take the lead on lap three. As the two encountered lapped traffic, Weisser reclaimed the lead on lap 12. McKinney slide jobbed Weisser for the lead in turns 1-2 and Weisser returned the favor in turns 3-4. McKinney took the white flag and as the duo drove into turns 3-4, Weisser tried a slide job making contact with McKinney. Weisser slowed enough and McKinney was able to hold on for the win. Weisser, Mike Harrison, Kyle Hammer, and David Stremme took the first five positions, while Dan Rork, Hunt Gossum, Levi Kissinger, Nick Clubb, and Michael Ledford completed the top ten.

Tommy Duncan was the heat race winner for the Sportsman class but with the storm approaching, the feature race was scrapped for the night. 

Story by Jordan DeLucia | Pictures by Jim DenHamer, Terry Page, & Brendon Bauman

gundaker babbIn one of the most exciting runs to the front seen all year in a DIRTcar Late Model, Gordy Gundaker dazzled the crowd Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway, coming all the way from 14th to score his fourth career Summer Nationals victory.

Defending tour champion Brian Shirley jetted out to a commanding lead in the early going, but company was coming fast behind him. Shannon Babb found the fast groove right through the middle and had taken second by Lap 13.

A caution on Lap 32 re-stacked the field and gave Babb the shot he needed to grab the lead, which he did, hammering the cushion in Turns 3-4 to Shirley’s outside.

By this time, Gundaker had just made the pass for sixth. With one of the smoothest lines of anyone on the very bottom of the track, G-Man advanced to fourth on Lap 40, third on Lap 42, second on Lap 44 and finally underneath Babb for the lead on Lap 46.

From seemingly out of nowhere, Gundaker had shocked the field and picked up the $10,000 payday from his 14th starting spot.

“We were so good, I was just kinda biding my time,” a pumped-up Gundaker said in Victory Lane. “I know last year, I felt like we gave this race away. We just got rolling and the yellow came out at a perfect time. It was awesome!”

Punctuated by an epic display of fence-climbing after his backwards parade lap around the track, the St. Charles, MO-pilot soon arrived in FALS Victory Lane to a sea of applause and gave this memorable quote to his fans and those watching on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

“You fans are badass, I love every single one of you! Let’s party, let’s drink beer, we won, baby!”

Pennsylvanian Rick Eckert climbed from ninth to finish second – his second consecutive podium finish after a third-place result on Friday night. Shannon Babb was able to hold on for third while Shirley and Ryan Unzicker rounded out the top-five.

mckinney weisser1Just when the Fairbury Speedway fans thought there wasn’t a way to top the excitement in the DIRTcar Late Model Feature they had just seen, the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds found a way to do exactly that.

Mike McKinney and Allen Weisser battled side-by-side for nearly every one of the 30 Feature laps Saturday night, putting on an exciting display of hard racing in the closing laps that ended with contact between the two out of Turn 4 and McKinney in Victory Lane for the second time in three races.

Weisser, of Peoria, IL, led the opening circuits using the bottom lane of the smooth Fairbury racing surface, while McKinney, of Plainfield, IL, rode the top side momentum to the lead on Lap 3. As the two dug into lapped traffic, the door opened back up for Weisser to slide by on the bottom as McKinney was pinned behind slower cars on Lap 12.

The battle raged on in lapped traffic as the laps wound down to just two to-go. McKinney threw a first slider for the lead in Turns 1-2, Weisser countered down low to deny him but McKinney did it again in Turns 3-4 and made it stick. He saw the white flag and charged into Turn 1 with a full head of steam, throwing it up top once more as Weisser crept down low.

McKinney moved down to the middle groove into Turn 3 and Weisser slid up towards him as they made contact coming out of Turn 4, banging wheels down the front stretch. Weisser’s momentum was slowed by the contact as McKinney bounced off the outside wall, giving him the boost he needed to cross the stripe ahead of Weisser by just .76 seconds.

Late Model Results

Feature (50 Laps) 1. 11-Gordy Gundaker [14]; 2. O-Rick Eckert [7]; 3. 18-Shannon Babb [5]; 4. 3S-Brian Shirley [2]; 5. 24-Ryan Unzicker [13]; 6. 25-Jason Feger [9]; 7. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, Jr. [1]; 8. 32-Bobby Pierce [10]; 9. 28-Tyler Carpenter [8]; 10. 1ST-Johnny Scott [11]; 11. 25W-Allen Weisser [17]; 12. 4G-Bob Gardner [21]; 13. 48-Tim Lance [24]; 14. 30-Mike Glasscock [15]; 15. 6-Daryn Klein [20]; 16. 89-Mike Spatola [3]; 17. 10S-Scott Schmitt [23]; 18. 18L-Jeffrey Ledford [12]; 19. 19R-Ryan Gustin [4]; 20. 42-McKay Wenger [18]; 21. 21-Billy Moyer [6]; 22. 111L-Matt Lux [16]; 23. T4-Adam Tischhauser [22]; 24. 9-Eric Smith [19] Hard Charger: 11-Gordy Gundaker[+13]

Qualifying Flight-A 1. 3S-Brian Shirley, 12.525; 2. 19R-Ryan Gustin, 12.55; 3. 25-Jason Feger, 12.603; 4. 11-Gordy Gundaker, 12.654; 5. 18-Shannon Babb, 12.672; 6. B12-Kevin Weaver, 12.719; 7. 24-Ryan Unzicker, 12.722; 8. 21-Billy Moyer, 12.759; 9. 84-Myles Moos, 12.792; 10. 32-Bobby Pierce, 12.855; 11. 77M-Jay Morris, 12.889; 12. 9-Eric Smith, 12.976; 13. 25W-Allen Weisser, 12.996; 14. 11T-Trevor Gundaker, 13.147; 15. M27-Mike Provenzano, 13.215; 16. 76-Titus Sneed, 13.277; 17. 73-Ryan Weistart, 13.547; 18. 5-John Provenzano, 13.734; 19. 48L-Tim Lance,, 14.431

Qualifying Flight-B 1. 89-Mike Spatola, 12.599; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, Jr., 12.633; 3. 6-Daryn Klein, 12.778; 4. 4G-Bob Gardner, 12.837; 5. 1ST-Johnny Scott, 12.862; 6. 18L-Jeffrey Ledford, 13.027; 7. 35-Derek Chandler, 13.038; 8. 28-Tyler Carpenter, 13.04; 9. O-Rick Eckert, 13.073; 10. T4-Adam Tischhauser, 13.118; 11. 30-Mike Glasscock, 13.159; 12. 12-Jeff Curl, 13.246; 13. 10S-Scott Schmitt, 13.269; 14. 111L-Matt Lux, 13.29; 15. 48-Tim Lance, 13.41; 16. 42-McKay Wenger, 13.453; 17. 33H-Billy Hough, 13.622; 18. 18M-Jimmy Miller, 14.206

Heat #1 – Flight (A) (10 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 3S-Brian Shirley [1]; 2. 18-Shannon Babb [3]; 3. 25-Jason Feger [2]; 4. 24-Ryan Unzicker [4]; 5. 84-Myles Moos [5]; 6. 25W-Allen Weisser [7]; 7. 77M-Jay Morris [6]; 8. M27-Mike Provenzano [8]; 9. 73-Ryan Weistart [9]; 10. 48L-Tim Lance, [10]

Heat #2 – Flight (A) (10 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 19R-Ryan Gustin [1]; 2. 21-Billy Moyer [4]; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce [5]; 4. 11-Gordy Gundaker [2]; 5. 9-Eric Smith [6]; 6. 5-John Provenzano [9]; 7. B12-Kevin Weaver [3]; 8. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [7]; 9. 76-Titus Sneed [8]

Heat #3 – Flight (B) (10 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 89-Mike Spatola [1]; 2. O-Rick Eckert [5]; 3. 1ST-Johnny Scott [3]; 4. 30-Mike Glasscock [6]; 5. 35-Derek Chandler [4]; 6. 6-Daryn Klein [2]; 7. 33H-Billy Hough [9]; 8. 48-Tim Lance [8]; 9. 10S-Scott Schmitt [7]

Heat #4 – Flight (B) (10 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, Jr. [1]; 2. 28-Tyler Carpenter [4]; 3. 18L-Jeffrey Ledford [3]; 4. 111L-Matt Lux [7]; 5. 42-McKay Wenger [8]; 6. 4G-Bob Gardner [2]; 7. T4-Adam Tischhauser [5]; 8. 12-Jeff Curl [6]; 9. 18M-Jimmy Miller [9]

Last Chance Showdown #1 (12 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. 25W-Allen Weisser [3][-]; 2. 9-Eric Smith [2][-]; 3. M27-Mike Provenzano [7][-]; 4. 5-John Provenzano [4][-]; 5. 76-Titus Sneed [10]; 6. 73-Ryan Weistart [9]; 7. 48L-Tim Lance, [11]; 8. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [8]; 9. 84-Myles Moos [1]; 10. 77M-Jay Morris [5]; 11. B12-Kevin Weaver [6]

Last Chance Showdown #2 (12 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. 42-McKay Wenger [2][-]; 2. 6-Daryn Klein [3][-]; 3. 4G-Bob Gardner [4][-]; 4. 33H-Billy Hough [5][-]; 5. 12-Jeff Curl [8]; 6. 10S-Scott Schmitt [9]; 7. T4-Adam Tischhauser [6]; 8. 18M-Jimmy Miller [10]; 9. 48-Tim Lance [7]; 10. 35-Derek Chandler [1]

Modified Results

Feature (30 Laps) 1. 96M-Mike McKinney [3]; 2. 25W-Allen Weisser [1]; 3. 24H-Mike Harrison [6]; 4. 45-Kyle Hammer [4]; 5. 35-David Stremme [8]; 6. 7R-Dan Rork [10]; 7. 99-Hunt Gossum [9]; 8. 8K-Levi Kissinger [14]; 9. 22C-Nick Clubb [15]; 10. 37L-Michael Ledford [7]; 11. 5-Steven Brooks [17]; 12. 21A-Nick Allen [2]; 13. 77-Ray Bollinger [12]; 14. 24-Zeke McKenzie [5]; 15. O-Travis Kohler [13]; 16. 79D-Caleb DeMoss [16]; 17. 7L-Jay Ledford [18]; 18. 36-Eric Vaughan [21]; 19. 17H-Scott Hauge [22]; 20. 9H-John DeMoss [11]; 21. 69SR-Jim Farris, [20]; 22. 80-Rich Dawson [19] Hard Charger: 8K-Levi Kissinger[+6]

Qualifying Flight-A 1. 45-Kyle Hammer, 14.543; 2. 21A-Nick Allen, 14.559; 3. 37L-Michael Ledford, 14.616; 4. 69SR-Jim Farris,, 14.704; 5. 7R-Dan Rork, 14.716; 6. O-Travis Kohler, 14.758; 7. 32-Mason Duncan, 14.899; 8. 64-Dawson Cook, 15.013; 9. 56P-Patrick Parsons, 16.138

Qualifying Flight-B 1. 25W-Allen Weisser, 14.151; 2. 35-David Stremme, 14.33; 3. 24-Zeke McKenzie, 14.462; 4. 7L-Jay Ledford, 14.497; 5. 9H-John DeMoss, 14.553; 6. 36-Eric Vaughan, 14.564; 7. 8K-Levi Kissinger, 14.577; 8. 5-Steven Brooks, 14.636; 9. B27-Ryan Bildilli, 16.101

Qualifying Flight-C 1. 96M-Mike McKinney, 13.886; 2. 24H-Mike Harrison, 14.136; 3. 77-Ray Bollinger, 14.261; 4. 80-Rich Dawson, 14.307; 5. 99-Hunt Gossum, 14.394; 6. 22C-Nick Clubb, 14.582; 7. 79D-Caleb DeMoss, 14.735; 8. 17H-Scott Hauge, 14.783; 9. 5R-Billy Roberts, 14.971

Heat #1 – Flight (A) (10 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 21A-Nick Allen [2]; 2. 45-Kyle Hammer [1]; 3. 37L-Michael Ledford [3]; 4. 7R-Dan Rork [5]; 5. O-Travis Kohler [6]; 6. 69SR-Jim Farris, [4]; 7. 64-Dawson Cook [8]; 8. 32-Mason Duncan [7]; 9. 56P-Patrick Parsons [9]

Heat #2 – Flight (B) (10 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 25W-Allen Weisser [1]; 2. 24-Zeke McKenzie [3]; 3. 35-David Stremme [2]; 4. 9H-John DeMoss [5]; 5. 8K-Levi Kissinger [7]; 6. 5-Steven Brooks [8]; 7. 7L-Jay Ledford [4]; 8. 36-Eric Vaughan [6]; 9. B27-Ryan Bildilli [9]

Heat #3 – Flight (C) (10 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 96M-Mike McKinney [1]; 2. 24H-Mike Harrison [2]; 3. 99-Hunt Gossum [5]; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger [3]; 5. 22C-Nick Clubb [6]; 6. 79D-Caleb DeMoss [7]; 7. 80-Rich Dawson [4]; 8. 5R-Billy Roberts [9]; 9. 17H-Scott Hauge [8]

Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps) – Top 3 Transfer 1. 79D-Caleb DeMoss [3][-]; 2. 5-Steven Brooks [2][-]; 3. 7L-Jay Ledford [5][-]; 4. 80-Rich Dawson [6]; 5. 69SR-Jim Farris, [1]; 6. 36-Eric Vaughan [8]; 7. 17H-Scott Hauge [12]; 8. 64-Dawson Cook [4]; 9. 32-Mason Duncan [7]; 10. B27-Ryan Bildilli [11]; 11. 5R-Billy Roberts [9]; 12. 56P-Patrick Parsons [10]


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