The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series traveled to Fairbury American Legion Speedway (FALS) for the 29th annual Prairie Dirt Classic (PDC) presented by Bank of Pontiac. Racing action kicked off on Friday, July 27 with four 25-lap World of Outlaws Showdown Qualifier Features paying $2,500 to win and $200 to start apiece, setting part of the field for Saturday’s 100-lap, $30,000-to-win main event of the weekend.
The 61 teams on the property, the highest car count of the season, were split into four Showdown Qualifier Features based on qualifying times, with the top four finishers in each race transferring to the 100-lap headliner on Saturday, July 28, while the top two from each go to the redraw on Saturday for their starting positions in the first four rows of the PDC. Chris Simpson, defending Series Champion Brandon Sheppard, reigning Rookie of the Year Devin Moran, and three-time PDC winner Shannon Babb all collected $2,500 apiece for winning their respective Showdowns.
In the Dyers Top Roads Showdown Qualifier Feature #1, PFC Brakes Fast Qualifier (13.188) Bobby Pierce and Chris Simpson brought the field down to the green flag. The 34-year-old Simpson jumped out to the early race lead and the Oxford, IA driver paced the field the rest of the way in his #32 Cheap Cars / Longhorn Chassis / Durham Racing Engines machine to score the win. Kyle Bronson finished second to make it into the Redraw, while former PDC winner (2004) Don O’Neal, who started 11th, and Paul Parker, who started 14th, completed the transfer cars. Another former PDC winner (2003) was on the outside looking in as he finished fifth, the first spot out of a transfer position.
The Pontiac RV Showdown Qualifier Feature #2 was next as current points leader Mike Marlar and second in points Chris Madden started on the front row. Marlar led the way for the first 15 laps until defending Series Champion and defending PDC winner Brandon Sheppard slid past. From there, it was all Sheppard as the 25-year-old driver of the Seubert Calf Ranches / Rocket XR1 Chassis / Durham Racing Engines ride from New Berlin, IL drove away to the victory. Madden finished second to get into the Redraw, while Billy Drake, who started ninth, and Marlar completed the transfer positions. Jimmy Owens completed the top five.
2017 Rookie of the Year Devin Moran and Scott Schmitt, who is third in weekly DIRTcar Super Late Model points at FALS led the field to the green flag for the FK Rod Ends Showdown Qualifier Feature #3. The 23-year-old Moran shot out into the lead from the drop of the green and the Dresden, OH pilot in his #9 Tommy Pope Construction / Rocket XR1 Chassis / Clements Racing Engines machine never looked back en route to the checkered flag. Defending FALS Track Champion, Ryan Unzicker finished in second to earn himself a spot in the Redraw while 2011 Series Champion, Rick Eckert and Michael Kloos, who was involved in a first lap incident and clawed his way back towards the front, completed the transfer cars. Tyler Erb completed the top five finishers.
The final race of the night would be the Summit Racing Equipment Showdown Qualifier Feature #4, 2015 PDC winner Jonathan Davenport and three-time PDC winner Shannon Babb would start on the front row. Babb would jump out into the early lead with 2018 DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour Champion Brian Shirley following him around Davenport for second. Soon the trip was joined by 2017 MARS Super Late Model Series Champion Tanner English, and the quartet put on a battle for the ages with position constantly swapping back and forth. With nine laps to go, Shirley slipped past Babb for the lead, but coming down for the checkered, Babb inched back out ahead to score the popular triumph. Shirley settled for second but made it into the Redraw. English was third as Davenport was the last car to transfer into the show. Gordy Gundaker finished off the top five.
The 29th annual Prairie Dirt Classic continues Saturday, July 28 with three Last Chance Showdowns that will take the top two out of each and lock them into the 100-lap main event. There will also be spots reserved for two World of Outlaws and two FALS Provisionals that will round out the 26-car starting field for the PDC. One more starter could come from the 9th annual Prairie Dirt Shootout presented by Summit Racing Equipment for non-qualifiers. The winner will have the option of taking the $2,000 prize money or the 27th starting spot in the 100-lap Sears Craftsman Feature, paying $30,000 to win.
Davenport, Arnold, Harrison, Hawkins Win on Quadruple Features Night
The Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals have had some time off since their last race back on July 14 at Oakshade Raceway (OH). With a well-deserved 13-day break complete after competing in 23 events during the months of June and July, the cars and stars of the DIRTcar Modified world were back in action as part of the 29th annual Prairie Dirt Classic presented by Bank of Pontiac at Fairbury American Legion Speedway (FALS). Friday, July 27 was “Quadruple Feature Night” as four Features set the field for Saturday’s headliner paying $5,000 to win. Tait Davenport, Chris Arnold, Mike Harrison and Jacob Hawkins walked away with the victories.
A whopping 61 teams on the property were split into four Qualifier Features based on qualifying times with the top four finishers in each race transferring to the 40-lap main event on Saturday, July 28 and the top two going to the redraw on Saturday for their starting positions in first four rows of the main event. The four Features were also the 16-19th races in Summit Modifieds history at Fairbury, the most all-time in the eight-year history of the tour with the milestone 20th event scheduled for the following night.
In the Summit Racing Equipment Qualifier Feature #1, Tait Davenport and Steve Stevenson led the field to the green flag, with Davenport showing the way early in the race. The Benton, KY driver made no mistake the entire event and scored his second straight Friday PDC Quad Feature win in two years. Derek Losh finished second to earn a spot in the Redraw, while Lucas Lee and David Shain completed the transfer positions. Former two-time Track Champion Jeff Ledford completed the top five.
Allen Weisser and Chris Arnold started on the front row of the Wehr’s Machine & Racing Qualifier Feature #2, with Arnold edging by Weisser heading into the first corner to take the early lead. Arnold, who made the trip from Matoaca, VA, started his weekend off right by leading all 20 laps to win his first career Summit Modified Nationals Feature. Weisser finished second to grab the second Redraw spot, while current FALS points leader, McKay Wenger, and 2017 Gateway Dirt Nationals winner, Ray Bollinger, also transferred into the main event. Steven Brooks finished on the outside looking into a transfer spot and rounding out the top five.
Danny Schwartz and five-time and defending Series Champion Mike Harrison led the field to the start of the Allgaier Racing Shocks Qualifier Feature #3. Harrison, the six-time and defending DIRTcar Modified National Champion, grabbed the point from the get-go, and the Highland, IL standout collected his 43rd career Summit Modified Nationals Feature win and seventh of the 2018 racing season. Schwartz was second and got the second Redraw position, while Mark Lamont and Kyle Strickler were the remaining transfer cars. Current Summit Modified Nationals points leader Mike McKinney finished fifth and will have to come through one of the Last Chance Races on Saturday.
The final race of the night for the DIRTcar Modifieds was the Deke Trucking Qualifier Feature #4 with Jacob Hawkins and Matt Cooper in the front row. Hawkins shot out to the lead as soon as the green flag came out, and the Fairmont, WV driver, who won the DIRTcar Modifieds portion of the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway (OH) just nine days ago, led all 20 laps to score his first career Summit Modified Nationals Feature victory. Logan Moody was second and earned the final Redraw position. Dan Rork and 2012 Series Champion Kenny Wallace were the final transfer cars. Wallace and fifth place finisher Brent Weaver collided coming out of turn four for the checkered flag with Wallace coming out on top and Weaver settling for fifth.
Coming into the weekend, McKinney led Harrison by just four points in the chase for the 2018 Summit Modified Nationals Championship. After Friday night’s action, McKinney and Harrison are tied for the points lead, and Harrison, the all-time career wins leader in the eight-year history of the Summit Modified Nationals, must win on Saturday to clinch a sixth title. If he does not win the Feature, McKinney will clinch his first career Summit Modified Nationals title.
Saturday, July 28 will conclude the 2018 racing season for the Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals, beginning with the Redraw for the top two finishers from the Qualifier Features the previous night. Three Last Chance Showdowns will then take the top two out of each and lock them into the Feature. Four Summit Modified Nationals Provisionals will complete the 26-car field. Then the 20th-ever Summit Modified Nationals Feature at Fairbury American Legion Speedway, the 40-lap, $5,000-to-win main event, will crown the 2018 Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Champion after 28 events in 2018.