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Nichols Rallies from Early Spin to Win Hubert Memorial; Heckenast Jr., Weisser, Ledford, Duncan also Victorious

Jeremy Nichols

Jeremy Nichols

Frank Heckenast Jr.

Frank Heckenast Jr.

Allen Weisser

Allen Weisser

Michael Ledford

Michael Ledford

Mason Duncan

Mason Duncan

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

Despite afternoon thunderstorms, the Fairbury Speedway officials were able to get the track in shape for an exciting night of racing Saturday night. Taking home the hardware were Frank Heckenast Jr. (Late Model), Allen Weisser (Modified), Jeremy Nichols (Stock Car), Michael Ledford (Sportsman), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified).

stock carThe 10th annual Hubert Memorial race attracted 36 of the finest Stock Car racers for a shot at the $2,000 payday. Bourbonnais native Matt Hammond toured the track at 15.691 seconds for fast time honors. Hammond, Jeremy Nichols, Jason Maier, and Rudy Zaragoza won heat races, with Robert Cottom and Justin VanDrunen advancing to the 43-lap feature by winning their semi-features. Hammond took an early race lead as Maier and Nichols battled for second. On the next lap, Nichols got sideways in turn one losing several positions. Maier, working the top of the track, took the lead from Hammond on the 15th lap and soon found himself with slower cars in his path. The race’s lone caution period fell with 20 laps to go as Nichols found his way back to the third spot. Maier led on the restart, as Nichols worked over Hammond for second. Nichols, running the bottom, drove a smooth race and took second with 15 laps to go. Nichols quickly closed on Maier and moved into the lead with 12 laps to go. Nichols, always a front runner at Fairbury, but the victim of misfortune, finally took his first ever win at Fairbury. “I spun myself out early in the race and I thought it was over for us,” an excited Nichols said. “This was a stout field of cars. I saw Hammond and Maier’s cars pushing up in the center and that was my opportunity. It is really great to finally get a win here.” Maier held off Hammond for second with Jeff Hartzell, Nick Seplak, Bobby Beiler, Jerrad Krick, Pete Odell, 16th starter Cody Clubb, and Zaragoza in tow.

late modelFrankfort’s Frank Heckenast Jr. bested 21 other Late Model drivers in qualifying at 12.934 seconds for their 30-lap feature. Mike Glasscock, Mike Spatola, and Ryan Unzicker took heat race wins. On the initial start, Jay Sparks was bounced around with contact from several drivers to bring out the caution flag and end his night. The restart had Spatola leading Glasscock, Heckenast, Unzicker, and Brian Shirley before another yellow flag on lap two. The restart had Spatola in the lead as Glasscock received a challenge from Heckenast. Heckenast and Unzicker both worked their way by Glasscock and began chasing down Spatola. Heckenast broke away from Unzicker and closed the gap on the race leader. With 18 laps to go, Heckenast pulled alongside of Spatola. Slower traffic was ahead of the race leader and hampered Spatola. Heckenast was able to get by Spatola for the lead and open up a ten-car length lead. After a caution with 10 laps to go, Heckenast ran the bottom as Spatola ran the top in pursuit of the leader. Behind the duo, Unzicker and Shirley had a spirited race for third, as Donny Walden closely followed. Heckenast was able to hold off Spatola and take the $2,500 check. “It is really awesome what they are doing here,” spoke Heckenast. “It takes a lot of guts to pay this locally. This was a little tune up for the PDC. Hopefully we can run with those guys.” Taking his second win ever at Fairbury, Heckenast was followed to the line by Spatola, Unzicker, Shirley, Walden, Glasscock, McKay Wenger, Taylor Scheffler, Scott Schmitt, and Derek Chandler.

modified

Plainfield’s Mike McKinney turned a lap of 14.396 seconds to earn fast time for the 22 Modified pilots on hand for their 20-lap affair. McKinney, Allen Weisser, and Steven Brooks won their heat races. McKinney and Weisser led the field to the green flag with Weisser taking the top position. Three cautions in the first five laps kept Weisser from establishing any momentum. After a caution on lap five, Weisser stuck his car on the bottom of the speedway and opened up his lead, while McKinney and Jeffrey Ledford dueled for second, followed by Brooks and Daniel Breymeier. At the halfway point, Weisser held a straightaway lead over his competition. McKinney finally got by Ledford and began to close the gap on the race leader. As Weisser worked his way by lapped traffic, McKinney was on Weisser’s bumper with two laps to go. On the white flag lap, McKinney worked the high side as Weisser was on the bottom with a slower car in his path. Weisser was able to move up a lane with McKinney by his side. As the checkered flag was waved, Weisser nipped McKinney as Ledford squeezed by for second at the line. “That lapped car on the bottom was messing me up,” said Weisser. “He didn’t want to get out of my lane, so I had to go to the top. McKinney stuck his nose down there, but we had a good run and held on for the win.” The remainder of the top ten went to Brooks, Devin Wright, Breymeier, Allan Stipp, Eric Vaughan, Kevin Morrow, and 17th starter Trevor Neville.

sportsman12 Sportsman drivers were on hand for their 15-lap race. Rookie competitor Lyndon Whitfill of Fairbury took fast time honors at 16.082 seconds. Heat race wins went to Michael Ledford and Steve Mattingly. Ledford took the lead as the green flag was unfurled. The 14-year-old Ledford drove like a grizzled veteran as Mattingly, Tommy Duncan, and Amber Crouch raced for second. Pontiac’s Ledford stuck his car on the bottom and held a half straightaway lead before Duncan broke away from the pack and gained on Ledford. With two laps to go, Duncan tried valiantly to overtake Ledford for the lead, but the young teenager stood his ground and earned his first career win. “It was great to bounce back after being involved in that wreck on opening night,” Ledford said. “I want to thank Dad, Daniel Flessner, and Michael Verdun for getting the car back together.” Duncan settled for second, with Crouch, Whitfill, Mattingly, Matt Ramer, Val Hurt, Brendan Patterson, Scott Williams, and Dan Coit rounding out the top ten.

hobby modThe Hobby-Modified class drew 18 entries for their 12-lap feature. Brendan Ramer and Mason Duncan took the checkered flag in their heat races. Duncan, normally a dominator in the class, had his hands full. Derrick DeFord, a regular at Peoria Speedway, hounded Duncan for the lead as Darren Christensen followed closely. DeFord got by Duncan for the lead, but with two laps left Duncan retook the top spot and scored his second win of the year. “That was some hard racing. I hit that hole down in turn two and it messed me up a couple of times, but we came back and got the win,” Duncan said. Duncan was followed closely by DeFord, Christensen, Thad Gee, Ramer, Troy Ricketts, Chris Burton, Jason Brandt, Makinzi Semmens, and Tyler Sebby.


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