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Miller Captures Waite Jr. Memorial; English Takes Allen Memorial

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

Race fans were treated to a diverse group of race cars Saturday night at the Fairbury Speedway. Making their lone appearance of the season, the 410 Winged Sprint Car feature went to Millersville, Missouri driver Joe B. Miller. Taking the checkers in the Late Model race was World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year contender Tanner English of Benton, Kentucky. Making his first victory lane appearance of the season in the Modified division was defending track champion, Plainfield’s Mike McKinney.

miller sprThe Interstate Racing Association teamed up with the Midwest Open Wheel Association in presenting the 10th Annual Bill Waite Jr. Memorial race. A field of 36 racers were on hand for their 30-lap, $6,000 to win race. A time of 11.586 seconds gave Anthony D’Alessio of Apollo Beach, Fla., fast time honors. Oswego’s Blake Nimee, Kevin Thomas Jr. of Cullman, Ala., Scotty Thiel of Sheboygan, Wis., and Morton’s Ryan Bunton took the four heat race wins. Joe B. Miller was the winner of the B-main. Hanna City’s Jake Blackhurst and Thomas Jr. claimed the Dash wins. Starting in the 21st position, Miller found something running the Fairbury cushion. Miller was able to wrestle the lead away from Bunton with five laps remaining and pulled away to earn his first-ever IRA feature race win in the caution-plagued event. “The cautions fell our way,” commented Miller. “Those guys were committed to running the bottom. I thought it was slowing down. I started ripping it around the fence, and it got pretty good up there.” Thiel finished in second, followed by Zane Devault, Jake Neuman, and Bunton. The remainder of the top ten had Russel Borland, Scott Neitzel, D’Alessio, Jordan Goldesberry, and Dave Uttech finish in that order.

english lmThe Fairbury Speedway continued their tradition of remembering the legacy of Pappy and Bob Allen in the 26th Annual Allen Memorial race for the DIRTcar Late Models. Mike Spatola timed in with a lap of 13.049 seconds for quick time as 19 drivers looked to add their name to the list of Allen Memorial race winners. Two heat races saw Kevin Weaver and Derek Chandler coming out on top. As the green flag waved, Weaver took the lead with Tanner English moving into the second spot. After two lap four caution periods, English overtook Weaver for the lead and was able to open up a straightaway lead over the competition. Spatola moved into second and quickly cut into English’s lead. Spatola got within a car length of the Bluegrass chauffeur as a caution fell with five laps to go. Ryan Unzicker took over the second position on the restart and looked under English for the lead. English flexed his muscle and pulled out to a ten-car length lead as the checkered flag waved giving English the $5,000 first prize. Electing not to run Eldora’s Million and Dream races, English chose to prepare for the upcoming Summer Nationals and Prairie Dirt Classic events. “We had a free weekend, and I wanted to race at Fairbury,” English said. “The track was fast, which was expected with the rain we got tonight. This is usually a track that I am not good at. It’s a track that Spatola or someone that likes to bang the cushion does well at. I figured out a line where I could stay off the cushion and still take advantage of it.” Ninth-starter Unzicker settled for second. Spatola finished in third, Weaver was fourth, followed by Tommy Sheppard Jr. Rich Bell claimed sixth, with Justin Reed, Scott Schmitt, Jake Little, and Glen Thompson completing the top ten.

mckinney md18 DIRTcar Modified drivers were featured in their 20-lap, $1,500 to win race. A time of 14.020 seconds gave Mike McKinney fast time. McKinney and first-year Modified racer Lyndon Whitfill won their respective heat races. McKinney took the lead at the start, as Michael Ledford overtook Mason Duncan for second on the fourth lap. After two cautions on lap nine, McKinney raced out to the lead, as Ledford had to contend with Kyle Steffens and Trevor Neville in a battle for second. Ledford was able to break away from the duo and worked into McKinney’s lead. A yellow flag was displayed several times in the final five laps, but McKinney turned back the challenge from Ledford to record his first Fairbury feature win of the season. “First, hats off to the Fairbury staff for getting the track back into racing shape after that rain,” said McKinney. “Our car was a little tight in the feature. I changed my line to the bottom of turns one and two and ran the top in turns three and four. It allowed me to carry more speed in turn one, and it allowed me to free up my entry.” Ledford made a run at McKinney but fell just short and finished second. Steffens finished in third. Alan Stipp took the fourth spot with two laps to go, and Trevor Neville was fifth. The rest of the top ten saw Matt Mitchell, Whitfill, Jared Thomas, Eric Vaughan, and Dawson Cook finish in that order.

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