by Rocky Ragusa
Several brief rain showers could not stop the Fairbury American Legion Speedway from holding their sixth race of the season on Saturday night. The track crew worked diligently giving drivers a great racing surface, and fans were treated to an outstanding night of races. Taking feature wins were Mike Spatola (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), AJ Meiferdt (Street Stock), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified).
Manhattan’s Mike Spatola was the fast qualifier of the 14 Late Model drivers on hand at a 12.601. Spatola and Ryan Unzicker took their respective heat races. Spatola pulled out to a commanding lead in the 30 lap feature as Unzicker, Scott Schmitt, Kevin Weaver, and Brandon Thirlby followed. At the halfway mark, Unzicker distanced himself from second and looked to run down Spatola. After a caution with six laps to go, Spatola sped away from his competition. Thirlby was able to take third and pressure Unzicker for second. As points leader Spatola took his second win of the year, Thirlby was able to edge Unzicker for second, with Weaver, Schmitt, Allen Murray, Taylor Scheffler, Steve Thorsten, Jeff Curl, and Billy Hough in the top ten. “We finally beat Unzicker,” commented Spatola. “Anytime you can beat Ryan at Fairbury, it’s a good night. I feel we have a good car and this was a good weekend for the team.”
Chevy Miller took fast time at a 13.851 over 15 Modified drivers. McKay Wenger and Mike McKinney won heat races. McKinney took the lead in the 20 lap feature as Wenger, Collin Thirlby, Dave Porth, and Miller trailed. Wenger claimed second after two early cautions and closed on McKinney. Wenger jumped the cushion and Thirlby was able to capitalize, taking over second. Thirlby hunted McKinney down and led the white flag lap. With lapped traffic ahead, McKinney was able to retake the lead for his third feature win of the season. “I saw Collin on the bottom and had to put the car back on the top, McKinney said. “He really made me work for this win.” Thirlby, Wenger, Porth, Miller, Mark Grosvenor, Alan Stipp, Nick Clubb, Dave Lilja, and Kyle Parker placed in the top ten.
Matt Hammond was the fastest qualifier at a 15.764 of the 12 Street Stock drivers on hand. Heat race wins went to Hammond and AJ Meiferdt. Looking to end Meiferdt’s winning ways, Hammond edged ahead of Meiferdt at the start of the 15 lap race. Meiferdt stuck with Hammond before moving to the point on lap four. As Meiferdt extended his lead, Hammond had to contend with Pete Odell and Tanner Sullivan. Sullivan was able to pull alongside of Hammond several times but Hammond stood strong. Meiferdt, with a comfortable lead, took the checkered flag as Hammond nipped Sullivan for second. Odell, Joe Brown, Justin Van Drunen, Nick Seplak, Michael Schomas, Kraig Hughes, and Bailey Aukland rounded out the field.
Richard Craven turned in the fastest lap in qualifying for the CR Towing Sportsman with a time of 14.665. Amber Crouch and Steve Mattingly claimed heat race wins. Mattingly got the jump on Crouch and led at the start of the 15 lap race. Mattingly put his #7 machine on the top shelf of the track and pulled away from the field. Race contender Crouch’s night came to an unfortunate end on lap five with mechanical issues. Craven, Brandon Pralle, and Bryant Frechette had a race for the second position with sheet metal being exchanged on several occasions. In the closing laps, Frechette was about to take second from Craven but a caution stopped his bid. Another caution with two laps to go gave Craven another chance to move into first. Craven was able to pull alongside of Mattingly, but Mattingly, on the top side, proved to be quicker this night and took the win. “First, I want to thank the Craven’s for all they do for the Sportsman class,” said Mattingly. “I wouldn’t have expected to be in victory lane three times this year after never winning a race.” With his win, Mattingly and Craven are tied in the Sportsman track point standings. Craven ended up second, with Frechette, Pralle, Tyler Roth, Matt Ramer, Valerie Hurt, Anthony Craven, Dan Coit, and Crouch completing the field.
12 Hobby-Modified drivers were on hand for their 12 lap feature race. With the threat of rain at Spoon River Speedway, Metamora’s Mason Duncan made the trip to Fairbury. Duncan set quick time at a 15.391, won his heat race, and led flag to flag for the feature win. Previously unbeaten, Brendan Patterson took second, followed by Mike Petersen, heat race winner Macy Vaughan, Bryan Saner, Brendan Ramer, Darren Kerrins, and Cathy Crego.