by Rocky Ragusa
Race fans and teams braved the cold temperatures as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway hosted their second event of the 2018 season on Saturday. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Joe Brown (Street Stock), Richard Craven (Sportsman), and Brendan Patterson (Hobby-Modified) graced victory lane.
16 Late Model drivers were on hand for their 30 lap race. Mike Spatola took quick time with a 12.884. Michigan invader Nick Kurtz and Spatola won heat races. Spatola lead at the start with Kurtz, Kevin Weaver, Scott Schmitt, and Taylor Scheffler trailing. After two cautions in the first ten laps, Weaver went to the top of the track and pulled alongside Spatola but Spatola was able to fend off the challenge. Schmitt, running the bottom, overtook Weaver for second with 12 laps to go. With 10 laps left the top three put their cars on the top side of the speedway as another caution fell. On the restart, Weaver was able to retake second from Schmitt while Spatola held off Weaver for the win. Schmitt, Kurtz, Jay Sparks, Scheffler, Dan Flessner, Chad White, Phil Line, and Dan White followed. “The track was tricky tonight,“ commented Spatola. “A driver had to know the history of FALS to know where to be on the track. I knew eventually we would have to go to the top but didn’t know when. I heard Weaver out there. I knew if he got a nose under me I was done. Once I cleared him I saw the bottom was starting to shine. I am just thankful to get the win.”
13 Modified drivers were on hand for their 20 lap feature. Former asphalt driver Nick Neville was the fast qualifier at a 14.303. Heat race wins went to Nick Clubb and Mike McKinney. Clubb gave McKinney all he could handle for the first quarter of the race before McKinney was able to pull out to a ten-car-length lead, with Jeffrey Ledford, McKay Wenger, and Nick Lueth following. After a caution on the 10th lap, Wenger vaulted into second place on a bottom dominate surface. Ledford tried valiantly to make something happen on the top side of the track but wasn’t able to gain any distance. Another caution fell with five laps to go and ended a good run by Dave Porth. The restart saw McKinney keep a safe distance over Wenger for the win, with Clubb, Lueth, Chevy Miller, Jim Farris Jr., Neville, Ledford, Eric Vaughan, and Alan Stipp rounding out the top ten. “It’s good to be back at FALS,” commented McKinney. “We have been trying new things on the car to improve our program. Nick Hoffman has been a tremendous help.”
Joe Brown turned back 15 competitors in time trials for the Street Stock race with a 16.620. Brown and Josh Griffith won their respective heat races. In the 15 lap feature, Brown lead Griffith, Jason Maier,Matt Hammond, and AJ Meiferdt as the top five ran bumper to bumper. Following a lap five caution, Brown and Griffith pulled away from the field while Hammond and Meiferdt had a heated duel for fourth. In the closing stages Brown was able to open a five-car-length lead over Griffith and the defending Kankakee Speedway Track Champion picked up the hardware. “My car wasn’t that good last week,” said Brown.” The crew worked hard on it all week. I want to also thank AJ Meiferdt. He made us work hard, whipping us last year. It made us get better.” Jason Maier, Meiferdt, Hammond, Al Gray, Matt Maier, Cody Clubb, Lance Evans, and Pete Odell completed the top ten.
Richard Craven took fast time with a 15.146 for the Sportsman class. Amber Crouch was the lone heat race winner. Steven Mattingly got the hole shot at the start of the 15 lap race, as Crouch, Craven, Matt Ramer, and Tyler Roth trailed. After a caution period, the top three drivers were able to distance themselves from the field. Crouch made several attempts to overtake Mattingly for the lead, but Mattingly had the power down the stretch to hold off Crouch. With five laps to go, Mattingly bobbled in turn three and Crouch was able to capitalize for the lead. As a slower car was pulling into the infield Crouch got into the car’s back end and Mattingly hit the back stretch wall, ending his night. When the track went back green Craven got by Crouch for the lead as it became apparent the Crouch car sustained suspension damage. Craven took the win and with that became the all-time Sportsman feature winner with 33 wins. Roth, Michael Ledford, Crouch, Ramer, Mattingly, Anthony Craven, Valerie Hurt, and Scott Williams completed the field. “It’s not the way I wanted to win the race,” spoke Craven. “Amber was really good. I felt so bad on what happened to her.”
Jason Brandt was the fast qualifier for the 10 Hobby-Modified drivers on hand for their 12 lap race. Thad Gee and Brendan Ramer took heat race wins. Gee took the lead at the start with Patterson, Brandt, Macy Vaughan, and Mike Petersen following. Patterson moved to the front on the second lap and wasted no time by opening up a lead. Gee spun out on the next lap and collected Brandt, ending both drivers night. Patterson, winner of the opening night race, survived two cautions on the night and outclassed the field for the win. Vaughan posted a career best second followed by Petersen, Ramer, Darren Kerrins, Makinzi Semmens, Austin Lipe, Gee, Brandt, and Graham Jackson.