by Rocky Ragusa
The CR Towing and Recovery Sportsman class took center stage with the running of the Eden-Piercy Memorial Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Chenoa’s Steve Mattingly took the exciting race, with Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver (Late Model), Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford (Modified), Crown Point, Indiana's Kyle Anderson (Street Stock), and Bloomington’s Thad Gee (Hobby-Modified) taking feature wins.
19 drivers vied for the $1100 to win Eden-Piercy race for the Sportsman drivers. Amber Crouch turned a 15.048 to lead the way in qualifying. Crouch, Steve Mattingly, and Dennis Vandermeersch took wins in their respective heat races, while Brandon Pralle was the trophy dash winner. Crouch led the field to the green and stuck her car to the bottom groove, while Mattingly ran the top, followed closely by Pralle, Vandermeersch, and Richard Craven. Crouch, Mattingly, and Pralle went three wide for the lead into turn one, with Mattingly moving to the point on lap seven. Crouch stuck with Mattingly and Craven followed. A caution fell on the 13th circuit and ended Crouch’s night along with contender Mikey Ledford. The races' restart had Mattingly, Craven, and Pralle pull away from the remaining cars. Richard Craven, running the bottom, got by Mattingly on the 18th lap and looked to add another Eden-Piercy trophy to his collection. After a caution with six laps to go, it was a drag race on the restart. Craven led before Mattingly moved back into the lead with four laps to go. Mattingly opened his lead and continued his magical season winning the biggest race of the year for the Sportsman class. Richard Craven, Pralle, 12th starter Anthony Craven, Bryant Frechette, Valerie Hurt, Tim Bedinger, Ken Kelley, Eric Saltzman, and Scott Williams took the top ten positions. “I think the tire might have come in on that last restart,” said Mattingly. “I had to do something. I just put the car back on the top side and it all worked out.”
18 Late Model drivers took time trial runs for their 30 lap feature. Mike Spatola turned a lap of 12.863 for quick time. The two heat race wins went to Kevin Weaver and Jay Morris. Five cautions plagued the first 15 laps as Weaver led Spatola, Mike Provenzano, Scott Schmitt, and Morris. Following a lap 15 caution, Provenzano, in second, gave Weaver a challenge for the lead, but Weaver held his ground and pulled away. Spatola moved back to second with nine laps left and closed the gap on Weaver. Weaver, on the top, was pounding the cushion and banging the wall with Spatola waiting to capitalize on a mistake by Weaver. The current points leader Weaver was not to be denied and ended his drought with his second win of the year. Completing the top ten were Spatola, Provenzano, Morris, Schmitt, Joseph Hughs, Dan Flessner, Curtis Radke, Mitch Hahn, and Glen Thompson. “We brought our Bob Pierce car back out,” Weaver said. “I raced it in a couple of Summer National races and it felt comfortable. We tried some things on it that I use in the Longhorn car and it seemed to work.”
Points leader McKay Wenger paced 17 other Modified competitors in qualifying at a 14.088. Wenger and Jeffrey Ledford took heat race wins. At the drop of the green flag, Ledford put his car on the top side of the track with Wenger, Dan Rork, Mark Grosvenor, and Nick Clubb looking to keep pace with Ledford. Caution fell on lap six and eight. On the restart, Wenger, who had been running the bottom, changed lanes to the top. Rork, running the bottom, offered a challenge to Wenger for second, but Wenger was able withstand the pressure. With Ledford safely in command, the yellow flag waved with two laps to go. Wenger went back to the bottom on the restart, but Ledford’s car proved to be too strong as he picked up his second Fairbury win of the year. Wenger took second, while Mike Learman got by Rork on the last lap for third. The rest of the top ten went to Jim Farris Jr., Clubb, Grosvenor, Kevin Morrow, Alan Stipp, and Joey Iliff. “This week we dropped the rearend and went through everything,” Ledford spoke. “It paid off. I could drive the car anywhere on the track.”
Rick Thomas circled the track in 15.782 seconds to lead the 13 Street Stock drivers on hand for their 15 lap race. Heat race wins went to Kyle Anderson and Matt Hammond. Anderson took the lead as Tanner Sullivan, Cody Clubb, Thomas, and Hammond had a heated battle for second. After a lap four caution, Anderson was able to put some distance on the field while Sullivan and Thomas raced for second. Clubb came into play the final five laps and took third from Thomas with three laps to go. Clubb got by Sullivan for second on the white flag lap, but Anderson was safely in charge to earn his first career win at Fairbury. Clubb, Sullivan, Thomas, Nick Seplak, Ryan Anderson, Hammond, Kory Kohler, Kevin Anderson, and Josh Hetherington rounded out the top ten. As an enthusiastic team celebrated, Anderson commented in the winner’s circle. “We have waited five years for this moment. This is the best track and the toughest drivers to race against."
11 Hobby-Modified drivers were in attendance for their 12 lap race. Mike Petersen was the fast qualifier at a 15.645. Travis Roe and Makinzi Semmens won their respective heat races. Roe led the field to the green flag with Petersen, Macy Vaughan, Gee, and Darren Kerrins following. As Petersen and Vaughan raced for second, Gee soon joined in the hunt. Gee was able to take second on the fourth lap. On lap five, Roe was overtaking a slower car and contact resulted in Roe’s machine heading to the pit area. The restart had Petersen and Gee leading the field. Gee was able to take the front position, open a straightaway lead, and take his first ever Fairbury feature win. Jason Brandt, Kerrins, Vaughan, TJ Bolen, Semmens, Cathy Crego, Petersen, and Roe completed the field. “This is big. I announced that this would be my last season”, said Gee. “It is amazing to finally get to victory lane after the rough year we have had.”