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Mike Spatola

Mike Spatola

Allen Weisser

Allen Weisser

Justin VanDrunen

Justin VanDrunen

Michael Ledford

Michael Ledford

Mason Duncan

Mason Duncan

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury Speedway hosted a weekly FALS Cup program on Saturday night. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Allen Weisser (Modified), Justin VanDrunen (Stock Car), Michael Ledford (Sportsman), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified) bested the competition in their respective classes.

spatola lmThe Late Model division saw 20 drivers make qualifying runs for their 30-lap, $2,500 to win race. Manhattan’s Mike Spatola blistered the ¼ mile dirt oval with a fast time of 12.768 seconds. Spatola and Scott Schmitt were the heat race winners. Spatola jumped out to the lead at the start, as Schmitt, Kevin Weaver, Ryan Unzicker, and Rich Bell vied for second. The yellow flag fell on the sixth lap, and on the restart, Spatola wasted little time in opening a ten-car-length lead. Schmitt had his hands full as Weaver looked to move into second. Weaver saw his opportunity on lap 12 as Schmitt’s car got into the crumbs in turn one allowing Weaver to take second. After a lap 16 caution, Weaver offered Spatola a brief challenge for the lead, but Spatola was able to hold a ten-car-length lead over Weaver and take his second FALS Cup trophy of the season. “It’s a lot of work keeping these cars on the racetrack,” Spatola said. “Me and my crew all have day jobs and then spend three to four hours a night in the shop. We all have families and kids. It can be tough. So, I thank my guys for their commitment.” With his win, Spatola trimmed Unzicker’s lead in the battle for the track title to eight points. Weaver took second, with Schmitt earning a hard fought third over Bell and Donny Walden. The remainder of the top ten were Jason Feger, Unzicker, McKay Wenger, Derek Chandler, and Paul Stubber.

weisser mdMaking the long haul from Brighton, Jacob Rexing was the fast qualifier at 13.952 seconds, as 18 drivers went through the chute. Allen Weisser and Jeff Leka took heat race wins. On race day, the Weisser team changed the engine out of one car and put it into his other car. The difference worked as Weisser, losing a heartbreaker the previous week, dominated the 25-lap race from green to checkered. For Weisser, it was his fifth feature win of the year at Fairbury. Trailing Weisser to the line were Steven Brooks, Ryan Thomas, Dan Rork, Nick Clubb, Rexing, 18th starter Alan Stipp, Matthew Mitchell, Jeffrey Ledford, and Eric Vaughan.

vandrunen scPoints leader Nick Seplak set the pace in Stock Car qualifying at 15.811 seconds with 18 cars in attendance for their 15-lap feature. Pete Odell and Justin VanDrunen earned heat race wins. VanDrunen took the top spot at the start as Odell hounded the leader throughout the race. Odell was able to take the lead on lap 13, but VanDrunen reclaimed the lead on the next lap and took his first career Fairbury win in a hard-fought battle. “This has been a dream come true to get this win,” VanDrunen said. “I can’t thank my dad, sponsors, and fans enough for their support.” Odell settled for second, as Tanner Sullivan, Seplak, Robert Cottom, Zach Zuberbier, Michael Schomas, Eric Boudreau, Cody Clubb, and Josh Hetherington completed the top ten.

ledford spEight CR Towing Sportsman drivers took time trials for their 15-lap race. 14.867 seconds earned fast time for Tommy Duncan. Duncan was also the heat race winner. Duncan and Michael Ledford ran side by side for the lead at the start. The 14-year-old wheelman ran the top side like a grizzled pro, maintaining a five-car-length lead over points leader Duncan. For Ledford, it was his second win of the year. “I knew that starting second that I wanted to be on the topside at the start,” stated Ledford. “It was a little treacherous, but we held on for the win.” Duncan, Lyndon Whitfill, Amber Crouch, Matt Ramer, Blake Reid, Alex Wilson, and Steve Mattingly completed the finish.

duncan hm16 Hobby-Modified drivers qualified for their 12-lap race. Mason Duncan sizzled the track at 14.897 seconds to claim quick time honors. Two heat races saw Duncan and Macy Vaughan taking the wins. Duncan continued to be the class of the field in leading all the way for his fifth win. “We work on this car day in and day out. I can’t thank my dad enough for all that he does,” Duncan said. “We had a fast track and a fast car.” Jason Brandt, Troy Ricketts, Thad Gee, Austin Lipe, Makinzi Semmens, Chris Burton, Darren Christensen, Derrick DeFord, and Payton Semmens completed the top ten.



Steven Mattingly

Steven Mattingly

Ryan Unzicker

Ryan Unzicker

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

Peter Odell

Peter Odell

Mason Duncan

Mason Duncan

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

After thunderstorms cancelled last week’s racing action at the Fairbury Speedway, the track resumed Saturday night with a FALS Cup weekly program. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), Pete Odell (Stock Car), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified) claimed feature wins.

mattingly spThe annual Eden-Piercy Memorial race for the Sportsman class had 19 cars on hand for their 25-lap, $1,550 to win special. Fairbury’s Tyler Roth toured the speed plant at 14.560 seconds for quick time. Wes Odell and Steve Mattingly took heat race wins. A trophy dash was held for the six fastest qualifiers and Rick Roedel took the win. Odell led the first three laps before surrendering it to Mattingly with Michael Ledford following. Cautions plagued the early going keeping the cars in tight formation. Mattingly, running the top side to perfection, kept a five-car-length lead over Ledford, with Odell, Tommy Duncan, and Dustin Mounce trailing. Following a caution on lap 18, Ledford made an attempt for the lead, but mechanical failure ended his bid as he struck the wall on the next lap. Mattingly stretched his lead in the final laps and was able to claim his second straight win of the year, two consecutive Eden-Piercy trophies, and with lap money, $1,600 richer. “It was pretty easy driving,” Mattingly said. “There were a couple of times I messed up on the top. I got a little nervous but calmed back down. The car got junked at the first race of the year. Brian Dunn reclipped it and I have to give him a lot of credit.” The rest of the top ten went to Odell, Duncan, Mounce, 16th starter Dennis Vandermeersch, Roedel, Blake Reid, Brian Albus, Matt Ramer, and Scott Williams.

unzicker lmEl Paso’s Ryan Unzicker secured fast time honors with a lap of 12.984 seconds as 25 Late Model drivers made qualifying attempts for their 30-lap feature. Allen Weisser, Ohio’s Kody Evans, and Billy Drake took heat race wins, while Bill Hough was the semi-feature winner. Polesitter Weisser took the lead on the start with Drake, Evans, Unzicker, and Dan Flessner following. Unzicker picked cars off working his way to the front. On the 16th lap, Unzicker did a slide job on Weisser to move to the lead. Unzicker was able to open up his lead before encountering slower cars. Weisser was able to close in on Unzicker and took the lead on lap 24 before Unzicker reclaimed the top spot. Unzicker, with a fast cat, stretched his lead in the waning laps to pick up his second win of the year. “We started off the first five races finishing in the top three and then we struggled a bit,” Unzicker said. “Now we got our groove back.” Weisser took second, with Drake, Evans, McKay Wenger, Flessner, Kevin Weaver, Mike Spatola, Scott Schmitt, and Mike Mataragas completing the top ten.

mckinney mdPontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford turned the track at 13.774 seconds with 27 Modified cars in attendance for their 25-lap race. Ledford, Allen Weisser, and Mike McKinney won heat races, with Kenny Carlson taking the semi-feature. Starting on the outside front row, Weisser led McKinney, Jim Farris, Ledford, and Steven Brooks on a lightning fast track. After a caution on lap three, McKinney got by Weisser to lead a lap before Weisser moved back to the front. Weisser had a ten-car-length lead over McKinney before a yellow flag was waved on the 10th lap. McKinney was able to stay within striking distance of Weisser before things got hairy with a lap to go. As the pair approached a slower car, McKinney found the momentum running the top to get by Weisser as the two drivers made contact exiting turn four with the checkered flag in sight. McKinney, in dramatic fashion, edged Weisser for his third feature win. “I have a lot of respect for Allen. We go hard and race hard,” explained McKinney. “After they prepped the track, I was expecting it to be flooded and we were wide open. I had a groove up top. Allen was rolling the middle and we had a heck of a run.” Weisser settled for being the bridesmaid on this night, while Ledford, Brooks, Farris, Nick Neville, Alan Stipp, Nick Clubb, Mark Grosvenor, and Trevor Neville rounded out the top ten.

odell scA time of 15.604 seconds earned Streator’s Pete Odell fast time over 14 other Stock Car drivers for their 15-lap show. Points leader Nick Seplak and Tanner Sullivan were the heat race victors. Starting fourth, Odell charged to the front on the second lap. Odell, running the bottom, ran a silky smooth line. Never threatened, Odell took his first win of the year. “I didn’t know what the track would be like after the track was prepped,” Odell said. “I thought it would be slicker than it was. We took a guess on the setup and it worked out. Ever since I started racing on dirt my Dad has been along for the ride helping to make the car fast. Thanks Dad.” Zach Zuberbier, Seplak, Justin VanDrunen, Michael Schomas, Sullivan, Eric Boudreau, Josh Hetherington, Justin Thomas, and Kraig Hughes completed the top ten.

duncan hmMetamora’s Mason Duncan completed the trifecta, setting fast time (15.044), winning his heat race, and dominating the 12-lap Hobby-Modified race for his fourth win of the year. ‘It has been a tough two weeks with getting my Dad’s car and mind back together,” Duncan said. “It’s good to be back in victory lane.” Chris Burton, Macy Vaughan, Jason Brandt, Thad Gee (heat two winner), Darren Christensen, Austin Lipe, Troy Ricketts, Darren Kerrins, and Makinzi Semmens rounded out the top ten.


Dennis Erb Jr.

Dennis Erb Jr.

Spencer Hughes

Spencer Hughes

Tanner Sullivan

Tanner Sullivan

Steven Mattingly

Steven Mattingly

Mike Petersen

Mike Petersen

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

Despite unruly weather conditions at race time, Mother Nature played kind in the end, allowing the Fairbury Speedway to complete another Saturday night of racing. Dennis Erb Jr. (Late Model), Spencer Hughes (Modified), Tanner Sullivan (Stock Car), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), and Mike Petersen (Hobby-Modified) were the big winners of their respective class.

erb lmWith the World of Outlaws Late Model Series having a rare Saturday off, several of the traveling stars checked in at Fairbury to gear up for the upcoming Prairie Dirt Classic. 24 Late Models were on hand for their 30-lap, $2,500 to win race. Tonica’s Scott Schmitt clipped a lap at 13.267 seconds for fast time. Two heat races saw Schmitt and Canada’s Ricky Weiss earning their way into the feature. Early in the feature race, race leader Weiss led Mike Spatola and Dennis Erb Jr. The trio, running bumper to bumper, distanced themselves from fourth place Kevin Weaver and Ryan Unzicker in fifth. On the 18th lap as Weiss approached lapped traffic, the leader went to the top of the track. Spatola was on the bottom and made contact with the slower car and Weiss got into both cars. Weaver had nowhere to go and was also involved. The wreck knocked out Weiss, Weaver, and Brandon Pralle. Spatola moved into the lead with Erb, Chase Junghans, Unzicker, and Mike Glasscock following. After a caution on lap 22, Erb was able to pull alongside of Spatola for the lead. Both drivers ran side by side before Erb inched ahead on the white flag lap and hung on for the win. “The car was working good on the bottom,” said Erb. “Once I stuck my nose under Mike, he started driving me and I was able to sneak by.” The rest of the top ten went to Spatola, Junghans, Unzicker, Donny Walden, 16th starter Bill Hough, Glasscock, Jeff Curl, Lyle Zanker, and Greg Wagner.

hughes md27 Modified drivers made qualifying runs for their 25-lap, $1,500 to win race. Peoria’s Allen Weisser turned a lap at 14.642 seconds for fast time. Making his first-ever appearance to the track, Meridian Mississippi’s Spencer Hughes took the first heat race. Odell’s Jim Farris and Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford were the other heat winners. Farris led the first lap before Hughes pulled ahead. Ledford got by Farris on the eighth lap and cut into Hughes’s lead. Mike McKinney quickly charged through the field and followed Ledford. Ledford got by Hughes to lead lap 12, before Hughes reclaimed the lead. Hughes began to distance himself from the field as Ledford had to contend with McKinney. McKinney overtook Ledford on the 21st lap. McKinney tried several slide jobs in the closing laps, but Hughes was able to upset the Fairbury regulars and earned a FALS Cup trophy. “It’s been an amazing opportunity for our team this week,” Hughes said. “We have been on the road all week. I can’t thank David Stremme enough for building such an awesome race car.” McKinney, Ledford, Steven Brooks, Farris, Nick Clubb, Nick Lueth, Mark Grosvenor, 21st starter Steve Jones, and Travis Kohler completed the top ten.

sullivan scPontiac’s Tanner Sullivan and Bourbonnais’s Matt Hammond took heat race wins for the 15-lap Stock Car race, as 20 entries were on hand. Sullivan was able to lead the distance and earn his first feature win of the year. Becoming choked up in victory lane, Sullivan spoke, “This has been a tough year for our team. My high school wrestling coach always fight thru adversity. Tonight our team showed it.”

mattingly spTwo heats were held for the 13 Sportsman drivers for their 15-lap race. Chenoa’s Steven Mattingly and rookie Lyndon Whitfill of Fairbury took the heat wins. Mattingly led early with Tommy Duncan, Whitfill, Anthony Craven, and Michael Ledford following. Ledford was on the move and soon overtook Duncan for second on the 11th lap. While running the top, Ledford tagged the wall causing damage to his car, ending his night. After a caution with two laps to go, Duncan challenged Mattingly for the lead. Duncan was able to lead the white flag lap, but as the two looked to take the checkered flag, Mattingly (on the bottom) and Duncan (on the top) made contact at the finish line sending Duncan’s car end-over-end. Mattingly took his first win of the year, while Duncan emerged dejected, but uninjured in third. Whitfill took second, Craven in fourth, followed by Blake Reid, Dan Coit, Ledford, Amber Crouch, Matt Ramer, and Tyler Roth.

petersen hmMetamora’s Mason Duncan earned fast time honors at 17.207 seconds for the 16 Hobby-Modified drivers on hand. Duncan and Cropsey’s Mike Petersen won heat races. Duncan looked to be on his way to another feature win until four laps to go when his car suffered mechanical problems and his race came to an end. Petersen led the remaining four laps to take his first win of the year. “It’s great to be back in victory lane,” spoke Petersen. “If the guys at Petersen’s can get me here, just think what they can do for your car.” Thad Gee, Macy Vaughan, Troy Ricketts, Austin Lipe, Tyler Sebby, Graham Jackson, Makinzi Semmens, Brendan Ramer, and Duncan completed the top ten.


Brian Shirley

Brian Shirley

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Harrison Rides Cushion to $2,000 DIRTcar Summit Modified Nationals Victory

Results | Story by Ruben Mireles/DIRTcar & Rocky Ragusa | Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

shirley lmTwo-time and defending DIRTcar Summer Nationals Champion Brian Shirley is on a roll, but Saturday night in the 30th Summer Nationals event at Fairbury Speedway Frank Heckenast Jr. kept the pressure on him. Shirley, of Chatham, IL, was able to fend off Heckenast to win his 22nd all-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals feature and get his second win at Fairbury Speedway in tour history, this one worth $10,000.

The 50-lap feature started with outside pole sitter Kyle Bronson leading early as Shirley gave chase. Bronson surged to a straightaway lead until he jumped the cushion in turn four on Lap 13. Bronson had a big enough lead to remain out front, but Shirley closed the gap, trying every groove on the speedway to get around Bronson. Their battle for the lead allowed Gordy Gundaker to inch closer and make it a three-car battle for the lead. Eventually, on Lap 18, Shirley went to the top to get around Bronson, then Gundaker went to the bottom to slide past Bronson into second. As Shirley continued to pound the cushion, Gundaker was fast on the bottom and it looked as if he would get Shirley, but a lapped car held him up. Once a caution flew, it cleared the traffic and Gundaker couldn't capitalize on the restart with Shirley proving the top was fastest.

Frank Heckenast Jr. later jumped to second after getting around Shannon Babb, Tanner English and Gundaker. Shirley continued his march on the top, but left the door open a couple times as he moved to the bottom. Heckenast ramped up the pressure and caught Shirley’s #3s machine and attempted slide jobs in turns three and four in the closing laps, but it wasn't enough as Shirley took the checkers for his third DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature victory this season. “My crew told me to run the bottom the last 15 laps,” an exhausted Shirley said. “I tried to run it after that caution. Frankie was good on the bottom and about got me. I just put it to the floor and do what I did on the highside and we were able to come out on top.”

harrison mdDIRTcar UMP Modified legend Mike Harrison started fourth on Saturday night in Fairbury Speedway’s DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature, fought his way to the front in the 30-lap race and held off Nick Hoffman down the stretch for the $2,000 checkered flag.

Early on it looked like the battle to win would be between Mike McKinney and Nick Hoffman, who looked untouchable in the opening stages of the race before a caution erased his lead. Hoffman ran the bottom all night allowing McKinney to get by on the top, but Hoffman didn't surrender the lead easily. Finally, Harrison joined the party to make it three-wide for the top spot. Harrison grabbed the lead on the top while Hoffman continued to roll the bottom, where he drove to a runner-up finish. Tyler Nicely made a late surge for a top-three finish but faded just a bit after his rear quarter panel rubbed on his tire. Harrison, the six time and defending DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Champion, won for the first time on tour in 2019, making it the fourth different winner through four races. “We come out and focus on our equipment, our night, and let the finishes fall into place with the points,” said Harrison, of Highland, IL. “Fairbury, you have to live or die by the cushion and nine times out of ten, I live by it. We have been struggling with this car. We have been working and working on it and hopefully, I think we have found something. The Modified class is tough. Every win you have to cherish like it could be your last win. You just never know."

duncan spThe 15-lap CR Towing Sportsman race drew 15 entries for their $400 to win special. Points leader Tommy Duncan toured the track at 15.052 seconds for fast time. Michael Ledford and Tyler Roth won their respective heat races. Polesitter Ledford took the lead at the drop of the green flag, followed by Roth, Duncan, Wes Odell, and Brian Albus. After a caution on the third lap, Duncan showed his muscle on the restart and quickly wrestled the lead away from Ledford. Duncan wasted little time and pulled away from the field. With four laps to go, Roth overtook Ledford for second and was able to gain on the race leader. As Jim Whittington waved the checkered flag, Duncan secured his fourth straight feature win. “My car has been great all year and I can’t thank my crew and sponsors enough. We have gotten lucky a few times, but it’s been a good year,” said Duncan. Following Duncan to the line were Roth, Ledford, Albus, Steve Mattingly, Amber Crouch, Lyndon Whitfill, Odell, Matt Ramer, and Scott Williams.


Mike Spatola

Mike Spatola

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

Matthew Hammond

Matthew Hammond

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Thad Gee

Thad Gee

Results | Story and Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

97 cars in six classes signed in Saturday night at the Fairbury Speedway for the 23rd running of the Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial race. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Matt Hammond (Stock Car), Tommy Duncan (Sportsman), Thad Gee (Hobby-Modified), and Jerremy Sebens (KidModz) were all feature winners.

spatola lmA lap of 12.835 seconds by Fairbury’s McKay Wenger earned him fast time honors over 27 combatants. Wenger, Mike Spatola, and Scott Schmitt won their respective heat races. Derek Chandler was the winner of the B-Main. Starting on the front row, Manhattan’s Spatola jumped out into the lead for the 30-lap race. Facing constant pressure from Wenger and Ryan Unzicker, Spatola kept his poise while working lapped traffic. Spatola was able to pull away in the closing laps for his first win of the year and third Allen Memorial race win. “I am worn out now,” said Spatola. “The topside of the track was treacherous. I was being conservative and ran the middle groove when I could. We have been doing everything to get a win and finally got it.” Wenger settled for second, followed by points leader Unzicker, Kevin Weaver, Mike Glasscock, 16th starter Chandler, Donny Walden, Schmitt, Luke Goedert, and Steve Thorsten.

mckinney mdPeoria’s Allen Weisser toured the speedway at a lap of 13.985 seconds for quick time as 22 Modified drivers took time trials. Weisser, Mike Harrison, and McKinney won heat races. Weisser led early in the 25-lap race with Harrison, McKinney, and Jeffrey Ledford dueling for second. Weisser was slowed by a lapped car on the 14th lap, and McKinney took advantage, moving into the lead. Weisser’s night came to an end on the next lap when his left front caught a corner tire and ended his night. Following the yellow flag, Harrison ran the ragged edge looking to take the lead, but a slower car held up Harrison in the closing stages giving Plainfield’s McKinney his second win of the year. “This car is really finicky,” McKinney said. “We are just trying to figure where we need to be with it.” Harrison took second, with points leader Ledford in third, followed by Jim Farris, Steven Brooks, Jason Hastings, Mark Grosvenor, Jacob Steinkoenig, Dan Rork, and 19th starter Billy Puckett.

hammond scBourbonnais’s Matt Hammond clipped a lap of 16.136 seconds as 16 Stock Car drivers made qualifying runs. Cody Clubb and Tanner Sullivan earned heat race wins. While several of the early race leaders became impatient with each other in the 15-lap, caution-filled race, Hammond maintained his bearings and took the lead with two laps to go for his second straight feature win. “I knew the cars in front of me would be playing ping pong with each other,” Hammond spoke. “I was able to avoid the wrecks and it paid off.” Current points leader Nick Seplak was second, followed by Clubb, Justin VanDrunen, 13th starter Josh Hetherington, Don Hilleary, Bailey Aukland, Steven Lisewski, Zach Zuberbier, and Sullivan completed the top ten.

duncan spPontiac’s Michael Ledford clipped a lap of 15.081 seconds for fast time, as 12 Sportsman drivers made qualifying runs. Ledford and Metamora pilot Tommy Duncan were winners of their respective heat races. After an early race challenge from Ledford, points leader Duncan was able to pull away from the field in taking his third straight feature win. “Michael gave me a run for the money,” commented Duncan. “The track was a little dusty in the middle. I had to keep the car straight and try not to spin the wheels. I want to thank Roger Friedman for the power and the Craven’s for all they do for our class.” The remainder of the top ten were Ledford, Tyler Roth, Scott Williams, 12th starter Jeb Friedman, Matt Ramer, Steve Mattingly, Anthony Craven, Dan Coit, and Dustin Mounce.

gee hm16 Hobby-Modified drivers signed in for their 12-lap race. Metamora’s Mason Duncan was the night’s fast qualifier at 14.901 seconds. Duncan and Macy Vaughan claimed heat race wins. Mechanical problems on the pace lap ended Duncan’s night before the green flag waved. Brendan Ramer and Thad Gee put on a thrilling contest, racing side by side, as each driver looked to take the checkered flag. Gee was able to pull ahead in the final laps and pick up his first win of the year. “My car ran great on the outside,” stated Bloomington’s Gee. “Brendan gave me all I needed. It was a good, clean race.” Ramer, Travis Roe, Jason Brandt, Vaughan, Billy Shoemaker, Payton Semmens, Troy Ricketts, Graham Jackson, and Austin Lipe were the rest of the top ten.

Jerremy Sebens was the heat race winner and followed that up by winning the KidModz Series race. Audrey Gerberding and Ben Melcher completed the field.


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