by Rocky Ragusa
Debuting a new race car before an enthusiastic crowd, Richard Craven got the hat trick Saturday night by setting fast time, winning his heat race and then taking the $800-to-win feature at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Craven, the defending sportsman track champion, missed the first two races at FALS because he was preparing the new race car for competition.
Pole sitter Craven raced side by side for five laps with Jimmy Dehm before taking sole possession of the lead. While working slower traffic on the 11th lap, Craven made contact with the slower car of Michael Maestes to bring out a caution flag. After the track was cleared, Dehm made several attempts to overtake Craven but Craven was able to pull away. Dustin Mounce and Richie Rich trailed the leaders by 10 car lengths before Mounce was able to break away from Rich and close the margin on Dehm. With five laps to go, Craven held a half-straight away lead and Mounce had caught up to Dehm. Mounce went to the top of the track to get by Dehm on the 18th circuit but time ran out as Craven cruised to the win.
“Everything on this car is brand new,” Craven said after the feature victory. “The guy that built my car had been in the hospital and I didn’t want to race without him. The car was awesome.” Mounce, Dehm, Jim Felker and Rich made the top five while Troy Dodson, Paul Graf, Timmy Dick, Ryan Huddleston and Scott Hatzer completed the top 10. Dehm and Rich joined Craven as heat race winners and Hatzer was the race’s hard charger.