by Rocky Ragusa
Race teams and fans withstood the hot days of summer and were treated to another outstanding night of racing on Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Scott Schmitt (Late Model), McKay Wenger (Modified), Tanner Sullivan (Street Stock), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), and Bryon Ray (Hobby Modified) took feature wins in their respective classes.
Mike Spatola, at a 12.510, was the Late Model fast qualifier as 16 drivers were seeking to carry the checkered flag in their 30 lap race. Scott Schmitt and Jay Sparks were the heat race winners. Schmitt led on the start with Ryan Unzicker, Spatola, Steve Thorsten, and Sparks in tow. The top side was the preferred line as the top three drivers were able to pull away from the rest of the field. Unzicker changed his line and went to the bottom groove at the halfway mark. Unzicker slowly reeled in Schmitt and took the lead on lap 24. Caution fell with four laps to go. On the restart, Schmitt put his car on the cushion, moved back into the lead, and earned a hard fought win. “We weren’t sure if we made the right choice on the right rear tire,” Schmitt said. “That caution at the end saved us. We weren’t very good at LaSalle on Thursday. We took the car to the shop and found a few things wrong.” Unzicker settled for second, with Spatola, Kevin Weaver, Sparks, Chris Osborne Jr., Dan Flessner, Bill Hough, Freddie Carpenter, and Glen Thompson rounding out the top ten.
15 Modified drivers qualified for their 20 lap race. Steven Brooks posted fast time at a 14.371. Derick Doerr and Jay Ledford took the heat race wins. A caution waved on the initial start for an accident on the track. When the green flag waved, Ledford took the lead as Doerr and McKay Wenger raced for second. Wenger was able to break free from Doerr and tracked Ledford down. Wenger got under Ledford on the frontstretch to take command on the 10th lap. Wenger quickly pulled away and opened a 10-car-length lead over the field before a caution fell with two laps to go. Wenger, looking for his first win at FALS in two years, jumped out to the lead and took his second win of the weekend. “It has been so hard for us to win a race here,” Wenger said. “It feels good to finally get that monkey off our back.” Completing the top ten were Ledford, Brooks, Doerr, Nick Lueth, Jason Hastings, Jeffrey Ledford, Alan Stipp, Garrett Jameson, and Neil Martin.
Due to a special race at Shadyhill Speedway in Indiana, the Street Stock class drew six entries. Tanner Sullivan set quick time at 16.539. The heat race went to Don Hilleary. Sullivan got the jump on Hilleary to take the lead at the start of the 15 lap race. While Sullivan was able to build his lead to a straightaway, the battle was behind him. A blanket could have been thrown over the quartet of Hilleary, Nick Seplak, Pete Odell, and Al Gray as they fought for position in hopes of tracking down Sullivan. Hilleary broke away in the closing laps but the laps had ran out as Sullivan nabbed his first Fairbury feature win. “I am glad to finally get my first win at Fairbury,” Sullivan said. “This has been my most accomplished win to date.” Hilleary, Odell, Gray, Seplak, and Sean Leatherman completed the finish.
10 CR Towing Sportsman drivers were on hand tuning up for the upcoming Eden-Piercy race. Points leader Steve Mattingly turned a lap of 14.815 for fast time. Mattingly and Amber Crouch took heat race wins. After a lap three caution, Mattingly fended off a brief challenge from Brandon Pralle before pulling away and taking his fifth win of the year. “This has been an unbelievable year for our team,” spoke Mattingly. “Getting that first win was special but I would not have thought I would have five now.” Pralle took second, with Amber Crouch, Dustin Mounce, Tyler Roth, Michael Ledford, Matt Ramer, Anthony Craven, Valerie Hurt, and Eric Saltzman following.
First time visitor Bryon Ray was the fast qualifier over 12 other Hobby Modified drivers in attendance at a 15.990. Ray and Brendan Ramer won their respective heat races. In the 12 lap feature race, Roy took the lead with Bryan Saner, Thad Gee, Macy Vaughan, and Darren Kerrins following. The caution flag waved on lap four and saw contender Gee parking his car. On the restart, Roy was able to pull away from the field and held a straightaway lead at the finish. Saner held off the challenge from Vaughan for second, with Makinzi Semmens, Justin White, Austin Lipe, Graham Jackson, Mike Petersen, Kerrins, and Cathy Crego the remainder of the top ten.