Heckenast Picks Up $15,000 FALS Frenzy Win

Long, Parga Also Victorious in Season Finale

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury Speedway concluded their 2021 racing season Saturday night with the annual “FALS Frenzy'' presented by Edelman Inc. 130 cars in three classes journeyed to “America’s Dirt Track” looking to add their name as a feature race winner. Frankfort’s Frank Heckenast Jr. (Late Model), Michael Long of Fowler (Modified), and New Berlin’s Jose Parga (Pro Late Model) were able to take the big checks and accolades in their respective divisions.

heckenast lmHeckenast admitted at one time to having a dislike for Fairbury, preferring the bigger ⅜ and ½ mile tracks. However, in the last four years of racing at Fairbury on a limited basis, the 33-year-old has added six wins. Saturday night was the biggest paying win of his career as he took the lead from Gordy Gundaker on lap 34 and pulled away to win the $15,000 first prize. “This place is so hard to win at,” Heckenast said. “Matt Curl does a great job and everyone that works here. This place has been building up for years. This is one of the races that I have wanted to win. I would rather win this than $20,000 just because of the prestige of this race and place.” World of Outlaws points leader Brandon Sheppard got by Gundaker with three laps to go to finish in the runner-up position, while Gundaker settled for third. Ryan Unzicker came home in fourth, followed by Tanner English, McKay Wenger, Garrett Alberson, Ryan Gustin, Jason Feger, and Trevor Gundaker. Wenger led the first group of qualifiers with a time of 12.541 seconds, while Sheppard paced the second group with a lap of 12.488 seconds as 41 drivers looked to make the starting grid in the 50-lap race. Gundaker, Feger, Sheppard, and Heckenast won their respective heat races, while Mike Mullen and Dennis Erb Jr. were the b-main winners.

long md54 Modifieds took time trials for their 30-lap, $3,000 to win race. The first group had Allen Weisser turning a lap at 13.783 seconds, and Austin Friedman led the second group with a time of 13.924 seconds. Weisser, Kyle Steffens, Mike McKinney, Friedman, Mike Harrison and Timmy Hill won their respective heat races. Will Bennett and Trevor Neville earned their way into the feature by winning the two semi features. In a race that saw the lead change hands eight times among four drivers, Michael Long came out on top for his first-ever Fairbury feature win. Running the top side of the speedway, Long made it look as if he were out on a Sunday drive and took the lead from Weisser with nine laps remaining to pick up the win. “We have raced here quite a bit, off and on, and finally got one here,” an excited Long commented. “The car was good. I started in seventh and was able to get up to the front. As a driver, I am married to the top and made it work. It was easy on the top side as the race went on.” Weisser led on four occasions for ten laps and finished in second, with track champion McKinney in third. Timmy Hill led two laps and finished in the fourth spot. St. Louis area hot shoe Steffens led one lap and took fifth place. 17th starter Victor Lee, 22nd starter Dillon Nusbaum, Alan Stipp, Michael Ledford, and Friedman completed the top ten.

parga plmThe Pro Late Model class made their second appearance of the season with 35 drivers on hand for their 25-lap, $1,000 to win race. Jose Parga led the first group of qualifiers with a time of 13.890 seconds. Devin McLean led the second group. Aaron Heck, Brandon Eskew, McLean, and Bob Gardner won their respective heat races, while Roben Huffman came out on top in the semi feature. Starting in the fifth position, Parga took the lead from Heck on lap eight, and for the 24th time this year, the DIRTcar Pro Late Model National Champion came out ahead of his competition. “Fairbury is one of my favorite tracks,” the second-generation driver said. “We have had a good year and this tops them all. We try to race against the best competition, and we proved to ourselves we are the best.” Heck finished in second, followed by McLean, Eskew, and Gardner. The second five had Matt Hammond, Amber Crouch, Blake Damery, Billy Knippenberg Jr., and Michael Marden finish in that order.

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