Dehm Scores Topless 2O Win; Friedman, McKinney also Victorious on Fair Night

Jimmy Dehm won for the seventh time this season as the sportsman drivers battled for $450 in the Topless 20. Richard Craven was second, Dustin Mounce came in third, Scott Hatzer took fourth and Rick Thomas was fifth. Completing the top 10 were Troy Dodson, Paul Graf, Jeffrey Ledford, Ryan Huddleston and Matt Mills. Heat winners were Dehm, Bailey and Mounce. Dehm also won the Fast Five Dash after starting fifth. Ledford was the hard charger for moving up eight spots from his 16th starting position.

Daren Friedman closed the gap on points leader Scott Bull after winning the late model feature. Friedman overtook Joe Harlan for second place to put himself in position to make a run at Bull. Friedman was on the outside of the front row when he started the UMP Late Model feature. He was able to outlast the field and fend off all comers for his third victory of the season. Torin Mettille came in second and was followed by Bull, McKay Wenger and Eric Smith in the top five. Making up the second five were Dan Flessner, Steve Thorsten, Harlan and Jay Morris. Friedman and Wenger won heat races while Smith set the fast time at 12.94 seconds. Flessner moved up 10 spots from his starting position to earn hard-charger honors.

Mike McKinney scored his first modified feature win. Like Friedman in the late model, McKinney started in the front row and used that to his advantage. Steven Brooks came in second while current points leader Jeff Curl placed third. Jeb Friedman, who had the pole, and Jim Farris were also in the top five. Dave Porth led the second group. Following were Andrew Funk, Phil Line, Kevin Hastings and Joe Gillespie. McKinney, Friedman and Cory Schwengel were heat winners while Tommy Duncan took the semi-feature. Brooks was the hard-charger starting 14th and finishing second.

Sheppard, Curl, Miller Pick Up Wednesday Fair Wins

by Darlene Miller

Brandon Sheppard, who became the youngest UMP Summer Nationals champion this year, was able to get past Daren Friedman to claim the late model feature Wednesday on opening night of the Fairbury Fair. Friedman led most of the race but Sheppard was able to get an opening and got past the leader with two laps remaining to score his first-ever Fairbury win. After experiencing problems at FALS in previous appearances, Sheppard said, “It felt great … now I like Fairbury.” Friedman came in second and Jason Feger was third. Derek Chandler and McKay Wenger completed the top five while Donny Walden, Jay Sparks, Scott Bull, Ryan Unzicker and Torin Mettille rounded out the top 10. Winning heat races were Chandler, Wenger and Friedman. Brian Dunn won the semi-feature.

Jeff Curl may have secured his second consecutive points championship after claiming his sixth FALS victory in the modified feature. He led Lance Dehm by 59 points entering the evening’s action. Curl did not face much adversity after holding the lead for most of the race. Jeb Friedman came in second with Tommy Duncan, Jay Ledford and Nick Allen finishing in the top five. Kevin Hastings led the second group and was followed by Nick Wallrich, Jim Farris, Allen Weisser and Jared Cagley. Dehm finished 13th. Hastings was named the race’s hard charger. Duncan and Curl won heat races. “We’ve had an awesome year this year and it was nice to win on fair night,” Curl said.

Terry Miller of Lincoln took home the checkered flag in the street stock finale. Points leader Rick Thomas took second with Matt Maier coming in third. Finishing out the top 10 were Don Hilleary, Darrin Kohler, Brandon Kessinger, Alex Clubb, Justin Nelson, Calvin Coleman and Lee Hall. Hall was also the hard charger and Kessinger and Hilleary won heat races.

Shirley’s Gamble Pays Off for ALMS Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Brian Shirley’s gamble on a tire selection paid off as he captured the American Late Model Series $2,000 to win special at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway Saturday night.

Shirley took the lead at the start of the 30 lap feature with Jason Feger, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard, and Kevin Weaver following. On the next lap, Feger slowed on the backstretch and pulled into the infield with a broken rear end on his car. On the restart, Shirley jumped out to a 10 car length lead over Heckenast, Sheppard, Weaver, and Joe Harlan. Caution came out on the fifth lap as Phil Ausra’s engine let go and sprinkled the track with debris. On the restart, the top four cars ran in single file formation as Harlan, Scott Bull, and Eric Smith went three wide for fifth while Daren Friedman kept the foursome in sight. Heckenast stuck the nose of his car under Shirley several times to take the lead but Shirley hung on to first. Shirley, Heckenast, and Sheppard in spite of the race for first, pulled away to a straight away lead over Weaver. The top side of the track proved to be dominate as the first three drivers set a torrid pace. With ten laps to go, slower traffic looked to become a factor. 

Shirley, with Heckenast and Sheppard stuck to his bumper, ran next to the wall dicing by the slower cars. Heckenast pulled alongside Shirley coming off of turn four for the lead but Shirley was able to hang on. With three laps remaining, Shirley tried to lap Glen Thompson, made contact, but Shirley got away and led the final laps for the win.

Heckenast, Sheppard, Weaver, Bull, Harlan, Brandon Thirlby, Ryan Unzicker, Smith, and Friedman rounded out the top ten. Unzicker was the race’s hard charger. Bull bested 25 other drivers in qualifying at a 12.995. Shirley, Heckenast, and Feger won heat races; while Unzicker took the semi. Taking his fourth win of the year, Shirley spoke following the win, “We gambled on tires. They had harder tires on than us. The left rear is about gone. It all paid off. We were able to get the jump on them at the start. I knew Frankie would be good with three hard tires on. We knew what we had to do. It was good enough to get the win. Thanks to Aaron and Albie for their hard work. The Pro Power motor ran great. Thanks to all the fans, you have great support here. Fairbury is a good place to race."

Bull Schools Fairbury Competition

by Rocky Ragusa

Given the nickname “Bus Driver” because he’s taking the competition to school, Fairbury’s Scott Bull led flag to flag in picking up his second win in the 30-lap UMP Late Model feature race Saturday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

Bull started the race in the second position and took the lead at the start with Jay Morris, Daren Friedman, Donny Walden, and Torin Mettille following. On the fourth lap, Friedman dove to the bottom to challenge Morris for second. The two drivers drove side by side allowing Bull to open a ten car length lead. Following two cautions on the eighth lap, Friedman overtook Morris for second, with Mettille taking fourth from Walden. Two cautions came out on the 12th lap with the second involving Walden as a chain reaction crash with Dan Flessner and Steve Thorsten ended Walden’s night. The restart found Friedman diving to the bottom in an attempt to move into first place but Bull withstood the pressure. With the track cleaned after a caution on the 18th lap for debris, Mettille, who got by Morris for third, challenged Friedman for second as caution fell on the 19th lap. The restart had Bull in command with Mettille in second and Joe Harlan quietly making his way into third with Friedman and Mike Mullvain following. After a caution on the 27th circuit, Bull jumped out to the lead as Friedman went to the top side of the track in a “go for broke” effort to take second from Mettille. Friedman jumped the cushion, stalled on the track, and brought out another caution. On the restart, Mettille tried to overtake Bull for the lead but Bull was able to hang on for the lead. Another caution on the white flag lap gave the field another shot at Bull but Bull powered his way to the win. With nine cautions the race felt like the previous week’s 100 lapper. Bull addressed the crowd following the win, “What was going on back there? I needed the race to go green because we had a 40 on the right rear. I was afraid all those cautions would cool the tire down. It was a great track and fun night.” Trailing Bull to the line were Mettille, Harlan, Mullvain, Aaron Ricketts, Morris, Wes Steidinger, Steve Thorsten, Dan Flessner, and Friedman. Thorsten was the race’s hard charger. Morris’s time of a 12.635 bested 22 other drivers. Morris, Bull, and Friedman won heat races while Thorsten won the semi.

Babb Tops McDowell & Pierce In Memorable Prairie Dirt Classic Battle To Finish

by Kevin Kovac & Darlene Miller

Shannon Babb battled and battled and battled....and finally came out on top of a Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main for the ages on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

The 39-year-old star from Moweaqua, Ill., thrilled his home-state crowd, outdueling Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., down the stretch to win a 100-lap race that was arguably the most dramatic of the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series campaign.

For a driver who since 2008 has tried so hard – but continually fallen just short – to score a signature WoO LMS triumph in the Illini 100 at nearby Farmer City Raceway, mastering another bullring in his backyard to the tune of a $20,050 first-place check holds extra significance.

"This ranks right up there with the Illini 100 to me," said Babb, who previously won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2002 and 2006. "Twenty-grand (to win a dirt Late Model race) right here in Illinois is unheard of, and I'm just tickled to death (to win it).

"Having this many people here, a 100-lapper at Fairbury, $20,000 to win and all the Outlaw guys here – it was cool. It's something that's hard to get."