Nichoalds captures Eden-Piercy Memorial

by Darlene Miller

A full moon and more than 100 drivers led to some exciting heat and feature races on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Highlighting the evening’s events was Lake Nichoalds with his victory in the Eden-Piercy Memorial Sportsman feature. Also taking the checkered flag were Mike Spatola (Late Model), Steven Brooks (Modified), and AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock).

The big race of the night was the Sportsman feature named after Gary Eden and Curt Piercy, two drivers who were past champions at FALS. Eden captured the 1983 Six-Cylinder title while the 1992 Street Stock title went to Piercy. Flanagan’s Eden, 54, passed away in 2006 after fighting cancer. Piercy of Normal died at 41 in 2004 in a plane crash.

jul08-spNichoalds of Onarga has been on a roll this season and added the 25-lap, $1,000 feature to his tally. “We were very fortunate to win. We have had a good year,” Nichoalds said after winning his seventh FALS feature. Monticello’s Tim Dick and Nichoalds led the field to the green flag, but a caution flag flew before a lap was completed. The field was slowed and when the flag flew again, Dick rode the bottom and Nichoalds ran up top and the two pulled ahead of the field. The pair ran close together until, with seven laps to go, Nichoalds established the lead. However, Nichoalds did not get far because hard-charger Steve Mattingly (who started eighth), Brandon Pralle and Dick began to close the gap. Then, with two laps to go, Nichoalds finally blew off the competition and won by 10 car lengths. Mattingly came in second with Dick taking third. Pralle and Richard Craven followed. Bryant Frechette led the second five with Amber Crouch, Dustin Mounce, Rick Roedel, and Patrick Hawkins in tow. Nichoalds won the dash and a heat race. Dick won the other heat race and was top qualifier with a lap of 14.514 seconds.

jul08-lmSpatola of Manhattan started on the pole of the 30-lap Late Model feature and went on to score his second win of the season by holding off El Paso’s Ryan Unzicker, Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver, and Fairbury’s Scott Bull at the line. With 20 laps down, Spatola and the group were lapping the field and 12 of the 20 starting cars were already down a lap. “We’ve been struggling a bit and tonight we tried some more stuff,” said Spatola. “I just kept digging and came home with this win.” Dan Flessner of Roberts was fifth and Ken Rumble, Jay Sparks, Mike Mataragas, Steve Thorsten, and hard-charger Mark Rose (started 19th) rounded out the top 10. Heat wins went to Mataragus, Spatola, and Unzicker. Torin Mettille won the semi-feature while Flessner topped the charts by turning a 13.067-second circuit in prelims.

jul08-mdIn the 20-lap Modified feature, Plainfield’s Mike McKinney took the quick lead on the high side but would see his night end with a flat tire with 14 laps to go. With McKinney pulling off the track the caution flag flew and a new group of racers fought for the lead. Steven Brooks, Jeffrey Ledford, and newcomer to the track Brian Wolfmeier were now fighting for the lead. The group ran almost flawless laps, but they just missed catching Brooks at the line. “That was a good win. I hated to see McKinney get a flat,” said Brooks. Wolfmeier was next and Bob Pohlman Jr., Ledford, Jeff Curl (in a backup car) followed. Nick Clubb led the second group with Donovan Lodge, Jason Hastings, 17th starter Jimmy Dehm, and Travis Kohler following. Brooks, McKinney, Pohlman Jr., and Wolfmeier brought home heat wins, while Dehm won the semi-feature. Brooks had top hot lap time of 14.110 seconds.

jul08-ssMeiferdt of Coal City took off in the 15-lap Street Stock feature and moved quickly away from Rick Thomas of Dwight and Chebanse's Lukes Gash. A couple of caution flags flew slowing the field and allowing Gash and competitors Ian Keller and Curtis Radke to join in the battle for the top spot. With the group breathing down his neck, Meiferdt held on by a half car length. “I thought I heard them coming. I knew I had to stay smooth and keep it cool tonight,” said Meiferdt, the current points leader, on his seventh win of the FALS schedule. Gash took second followed by Keller, Radke, Thomas, and Jim Ransom in the top five. 17th starter Peter Odell, Joe Brown, Michael Schomas, and Kyle Anderson completed the top 10. Meiferdt, Keller, and Thomas were heat winners. Meiferdt had the fast time with a 15.380-second trip.

jul08-hmFifth starter Brendan Patterson of Spring Bay picked up the Hobby-Mod feature win. He was followed by Graham Jackson, Makinzi Semmens, and Macy Vaughan. Mike Petersen and Thad Gee won the heat races.

Burger, Cook, Hughes Earn First FALS Wins

by Rocky Ragusa

Six classes of racing, including the Vintage Racing of Illinois Series, was held Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Taking the checkered flag were Kevin Weaver (Late Model), TD Burger (Modified), AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), Lake Nichoalds (Sportsman), Dawson Cook (Hobby-Modified), and Kraig Hughes (Vintage Cars).

jul01-lm14 drivers made qualifying attempts for the I Beam Sliding Doors 30-lap Late Model race. Daniel Flessner set fast time with a 12.651 second lap. Kevin Weaver and Mike Spatola took the heat race wins. Weaver, in a Jay Morris owned car, led at the start with Spatola, Ryan Unzicker, Steve Thorsten, and Flessner following. As Weaver was running the bottom groove, Unzicker changed his line and went to the top side. Unzicker got by Spatola for second and closed up on Weaver. Unzicker took the lead on the 13th lap, but Weaver came back to reclaim the lead on lap 18. Once in the front, Weaver pulled away and picked up his first win of the year. “We have been struggling with our car this year and I have to thank Jay for letting me use his car tonight,” Weaver said. “Ryan got by me and I knew I had to get back up on the wheel.” Unzicker, Spatola, Thorsten, Donny Walden, Don Hammer, Flessner, Bill Hough, Scott Bull, and Glen Thompson completed the top ten.

jul01-md23 Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers were on hand for their 20-lap show. Jason Hastings was the night’s fast qualifier at 14.106 seconds. Hastings, Jeffrey Ledford, and TD Burger claimed heat race wins. Hastings led Burger, Ledford, Jeff Curl, and Jimmy Dehm before a caution fell on the second lap. On the restart, Burger was able to squeeze by Hastings for the lead with Curl following. Burger was able to open a five car length lead over Curl, but Curl was on Burger’s tail in the corners. Vince Cooper was on the move getting by Hastings for third, with Nick Clubb and Nick Lueth in a tight pack. Following a lap 11 caution, Burger and Curl hugged the bottom groove as Jimmy Dehm went to the top side to move into fourth as he raced Hastings for third. Dehm took third with six laps to go and looked to have the fastest car. Burger drove a fine line on the bottom as Curl looked for any opening to take the lead, but Burger held steady and took his first career Modified win at FALS. “It doesn’t matter how many wins we have, after cutting my teeth here it feels good to get this Fairbury win,” spoke Burger.” I knew Jeff was there so I had to hug the tires and thankfully we held on.” Curl, Dehm, Hastings, Clubb, Lueth, Cooper, Eric Vaughan, Derick Doerr, and Kaleb Wood rounded out the top ten.

jul01-spScott Williams set quick time at 14.656 seconds for the 10 CR Towing Sportsman cars. Lake Nichoalds won the lone heat race. Nichoalds took the lead at the start of the 15-lap race, with Brandon Pralle and Williams in check. After a lap two caution, Nichoalds led Pralle as Amber Crouch moved into third. Pralle stuck to Nichoalds bumper following a caution on the eighth circuit but was not able to make the pass. At the finish, points leader Nichoalds recorded his sixth win of the year. Pralle took second as Richard Craven rallied for third. Crouch, Williams, Eric Legner, Tyler Roth, Patrick Hawkins, Steven Mattingly, and Anthony Craven completed the field.

jul01-ssCurtis Radke bested 21 other Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers in time trials with a 15.400 second trip. AJ Meiferdt, Pete Odell, and Jim Ransom were the heat race winners. After two early cautions, Meiferdt was able to fend off the challenges from Radke winning his sixth race of the season and stretching out his points lead. Meiferdt commented after the race, “It’s been an incredible year and I just hope we can keep rolling.” Radke, Joe Brown, Rick Thomas, Ransom, 14th starter Dustin Mounce, Mitch Hahn, Don Hilleary, Nick Seplak, and Tanner Sullivan completed the top ten.

jul01-hmDawson Cook and Mike Petersen were the heat race winners for the 11 Hobby-Modified cars on hand for their 12-lap race. Cook, a third-generation driver and the son of the late, great Gary Cook Jr., was the class of the field leading flag-to-flag for the win. “I have to thank my crew. They put so many hours into this, along with Mike Spatola for his help, “said Cook. Petersen, Brendan Patterson, Tim Mullins, Graham Jackson, Jason Brandt, Makinzi Semmens, Macy Vaughan, Bryan Saner, and Haley Jones trailed.

jul01-vtThe Vintage Cars of Illinois Series brought 14 cars to test the ¼ mile dirt oval. Valerie Hurt and Justin Rutledge took heat race wins. Kraig Hughes made it three wide with three laps to go and hung on for the 15-lap feature win. “This is my first ever feature win,” Hughes said. “We haven’t had the best of luck with our Street Stock. I want to thank Matt Ramer for letting me race one of his Vintage cars tonight.” Hurt took second followed by Robert Mitchell and John Ryan.

Babb Rolls To Flag-To-Flag Summer Nationals Victory

by Darlene Miller

The Summer Nationals roared into Fairbury American Legion Speedway for the 10th leg of the 29-race tour on Saturday night. The “Moweaqua Missile” Shannon Babb dominated the 50-lap Late Model feature for the $10,000 win. Highland’s Mike Harrison took home the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals $1,500 prize, and Coal City’s AJ Meiferdt continued his FALS hot streak as he won the $800 Midwest Street Stock Championship race, his fifth Street Stock feature win of the season.

jun24-lmFairbury’s McKay Wenger and current series points leader Bobby Pierce of Oakwood brought the 22-car field to the green flag and it took only a moment for fourth place starter Babb to grab the lead. Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville quickly moved to the second position after starting sixth. The caution flag flew with just four laps in for Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., and after the restart the pair found themselves in lapped traffic just nine laps into the feature. Another yellow flag flew with 28 laps down for Pierce and Troy's Tim Manville in turn two. On the green, Babb, Erb, and Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, pulled away from the group behind them. Babb, running the middle, felt constant pressure from Erb who was relentless running the low groove. But Babb held him off at the finish line for his second win of this year’s tour. “I got by Pierce and I knew I had to do it early in the race,” said Babb. “The car was excellent. We made a good call on the car (setup). This is awesome. Thanks to all the fans.” Erb Jr. was second, followed by Simpson, Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., and Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., in the top five. The second five included Trenton's Michael Kloos, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Matt Furman of Portland, Ore., Pierce, and Bloomington's Jason Feger. Heat winners were Babb, Pierce, Simpson, and Wenger. Chatham's Brian Shirley won the “C” main, while Mike Spatola of Manhattan won the semi feature. Dan Flessner of Roberts was quickest in his qualifying group with a 12.822 second lap, while Moyer Jr. was tops in his group with a 13.075 clocking.

jun24-mdPlainfield's Mike McKinney and Mike Harrison were in the front row of the 25-lap Modified feature. The pair battled back and forth for the lead in the first three laps before the yellow flag came out. McKinney and Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford battled for the lead on the restart. Soon, Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., got past Ledford to take over second. Harrison, riding the top side, was in third after also getting past Ledford. Harrison grabbed the lead from Hoffman with 18 laps complete but a caution flag flew for an incident that almost collected the new leader. The battle again flared up between Harrison, Hoffman, and McKinney but Harrison held on to win by a car length. “We put on a show,” said Harrison. “The top felt right off the start. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like the top, but I found a good rhythm up there.” Kewanee's Ray Bollinger was fourth followed by Jeff Curl of Fairbury. Leading the second group of five was Buffalo's Jeff Leka, Lucas Lee of Paris, Tenn., Levi Kissinger of Mt. Vernon, Ind., Peoria's Allen Weisser, and Ledford. Harrison, Hoffman, Ledford, and McKinney were heat winners. Weisser picked up the semi-feature victory. Bollinger had the top speed of 13.958 seconds in the first group of qualifying, while McKinney was fastest in the second group with a 13.835 second lap.

jun24-ssMeiferdt and Ian Keller of West Lebanon, Ind., led the field to the green in the 20-lap Street Stock feature with Meiferdt setting the early pace. Wilmington's Joe Brown, Jerrad Krick of Earl Park, Ind., and Dwight’s Rick Thomas battled for the second position, with Thomas taking command of the second spot with five laps to go. “My car was awesome and unreal. It is cool to get in victory lane tonight,” Meiferdt said. Krick was third and was followed by Brown, Keller, Chebanse's Luke Gash, Curtis Radke of Milford, 15th starter Peter Odell of Streator, Lovington's Jeremy Nichols, and Michael Schomas of Ottawa in the top ten. Heat winners were Brown, Keller, Krick, and Meiferdt. Meiferdt also won the dash and had fast time with a 15.299 second trip. Chad Rockefeller of Monee won the semi feature.

Ledford, Nichoalds, Meiferdt win before Mother Nature shortens racing

by Darlene Miller

Mother Nature’s lightning show put an early end to racing at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night, but not before two features were completed and one ended early after the halfway mark. Coal City’s A.J. Meiferdt (Street Stock) and Lake Nichoalds of Onarga (Sportsman) were winners along with Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford (Modifieds).

jun17-mdThe Modified feature started with Ledford and New Lenox’s Steven Brooks on the front row. Two caution flags slowed the field with 18 laps to go in the 20-lap feature. Another caution flew with 14 to go as Ledford strongly continued to show the way. The race made it to halfway and then with five laps to go another caution flag flew and the race was called. “With all the incoming weather heading our way, we made the best decision as possible to get all the race teams loaded up and fans off the grounds before storms hit, and with the help of our staff we were able to accomplish that; very impressive with over 70 race teams in the pits Saturday night,” said Race Director Matt Curl. Brooks brought home second followed by Jimmy Dehm, Travis Kohler, Eric Vaughan, Chris Gaither, Nick Lueth, Kevin Schrodt, Brian Kidder, and Billy Puckett. Ledford was the quickest in qualifying at 14.047 seconds. Brooks and Ledford were heat winners.

jun17-spThe 15-lap Larry Crouch Memorial Sportsman race saw Lake Nichoalds pad his points lead and take home his fifth win of the season. Nichoalds dominated the nine-car field and won by over 12 car lengths. Richard Craven, Brandon Pralle, Scott Williams, and Amber Crouch completed the top five. Tyler Roth, Steve Mattingly, Anthony Craven, and Bryant Frechette rounded out the field. Nichoalds also won the lone heat race, and Richard Craven topped the charts in qualifying at 14.985 seconds.

jun17-ssAJ Meiferdt won his fourth Street Stock feature of the season riding in the middle of the track while missing wrecked and lapped cars. Joe Brown, who started on the pole, finished second followed by Luke Gash, Curtis Radke, and Dane Arvin. Peter Odell led the second five with Chad Rockefeller, Andy Thompson, 19th starter Matt Hammond, and Michael Schomas in tow. Odell had fast time with a 16.137 second lap, while Meiferdt and Brown were heat winners.

The Late Model and Hobby Mod features were canceled for the evening and will be made up at a later date. Fans will be treated to double Late Model features for the price of one on the rescheduled date.

Unzicker drives to victory in Allen Memorial

by Rocky Ragusa

The 21st annual “Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial” race took place Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Gracing victory lane were Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Lake Nichoalds (Sportsman), Andrew Funk (Street Stock), Mike Petersen (Hobby-Modified), and Dominic Mertzke (KidModz).

jun10-LM22 drivers took to the track for the 30-lap I Beam Sliding Doors Late Model race. After a brief battle for the lead, Ryan Unzicker survived through several caution periods and kept a 10 car length lead for the remainder of the race as he added his name to the list of “Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial” race winners, taking $2,000 to the bank.  “It’s good to add my name to the trophy as a winner of the Allen Memorial race. I tried to hang on to the top side but it was getting a little rough. We appreciate the support Fairbury gives us racers on having these special races,” commented points leader, Unzicker. Kevin Weaver, Scott Bull, McKay Wenger, Steve Thorsten, Daniel Flessner, Jay Morris, Bill Hough, Matt Shannon, and Cole Swibold took the top ten positions. Bill Giannetti was the races hard charger as he finished 13th after starting 22nd. Wenger, Unzicker, and Jay Sparks were heat race winners. Weaver was quickest in qualifying with a 13.658 second lap.

jun10-MD20 Varsitee Screen Printing Modifieds checked in for their 20-lap race. Steven Brooks clipped a 14.406 for quick time honors. Brooks and Mike McKinney took heat race wins. McKinney got the jump on Brooks at the start of the feature and put his car on the top side. McKinney was the class of the field and stretched his lead to pick up his second win of the season. “Dad had the car hooked up tonight. We have been on a good roll the past few weeks,“ an exhausted McKinney spoke. “I feel we will have some momentum heading into the Summer Nationals.” Points leader, Jeff Curl, took second after a hard-fought battle with Jeffrey Ledford. Nick Clubb had a season best fourth, followed by Jimmy Dehm, Collin Alexander, Nick Lueth, 17th starter Jay Ledford, Billy Puckett, and Jeb Friedman.

jun10-SP

10 CR Towing Sportsman cars lined up for their 15-lap race. Points leader, Lake Nichoalds, took the second position from Brandon Pralle with seven laps to go and pressured Amber Crouch for the lead. Running the top side, Nichoalds got by Crouch for the lead with four laps to go and hung on for his fourth win of the year. “Amber has been really good racing on the bottom,” commented Nichoalds. “I knew if I wanted to get by her I had to get up on the top and not mess up.” Trailing Nichoalds to the line were Crouch, seventh starter Dustin Mounce, Timmy Dick, Pralle, Steven Mattingly, Anthony Craven, Scott Williams, Tyler Roth, and Bub Cool. Mattingly was the night’s fast qualifier at a 14.904. Pralle won the heat race.

jun10-SSMichael Schomas bested 19 other Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock drivers in time trials with a 15.414. AJ Meiferdt and Rick Thomas were the heat race victors. Defending UMP National Champion, Andrew Funk, overtook points leader Meiferdt on the fifth lap and took his first Fairbury win of the year. “After taking a couple weeks off, it’s good to be back here. The track was nice and smooth on the bottom and came in for me. AJ had to make me work for it,” spoke Funk. Curtis Radke, Meiferdt, Pete Odell, Luke Gash, Mounce, Matt Hammond, 16th starter Ed Janke, Joe Brown, and Tanner Sullivan completed the top ten.

jun10-HMMike Petersen lined up on the pole position for the 12-lap Hobby-Modified race after taking the heat race win. Petersen led the race until a caution fell with three laps to go. On the restart, Brendan Patterson took the lead with Petersen on his bumper. On the final lap, Patterson lost the handle on his car allowing Petersen to regain the lead and take his first win of the year. Brian Deavers, Patterson, Graham Jackson, Makinzi Semmens, and Macy Vaughan followed.

jun10-KMDThe KidModz Series was on hand with a 10-lap race for the youngsters. After winning his heat race, Dominic Mertzke shook off an early challenge from Mikey Ledford to take the win. Following Mertzke to the flag were Ledford, Jerremy Sebens, Rayce Mullen, and Tanner King.