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Sparks, McKinney, Krick, Duncan, Kohler, Vandermeir Take FALS Cup Wins; Spatola, Ledford, Keller, Duncan Clinch Track Championships

Jay Sparks

Jay Sparks

Mike McKinney

Mike McKinney

Jerrad Krick

Jerrad Krick

Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan

Ryan Kohler

Ryan Kohler

Jason Vandermeir

Jason Vandermeir

Results | Points | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

There was the thrill of victory, agony of defeat, thrills, chills, and a few feel-good stories Saturday night at the Fairbury Speedway. It was championship night presented by Daikin Air Intelligence for the FALS Cup/Alkota weekly program with the crowning of track champions in four of the DIRTcar classes. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Michael Ledford (Modified), Ian Keller (Stock Car), and Tommy Duncan (CR Towing Sportsman) earned track championships in their respective divisions. In the night’s feature races, Jay Sparks (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Jerrad Krick (Stock Car), Tommy Duncan (CR Towing Sportsman), Ryan Kohler (Hobby-Mod), and Jason Vandermeir (Hobby-Mod) went home as victors.

sparks lmQuietly going about his business on race day with his wife and a crew member or two on hand, Metamora’s Jay Sparks has shown signs of a fast race car only to be snake bitten come feature time. 11th starter Sparks, running the bottom of the track, saw race leader and track champion Mike Spatola, also racing on the bottom, slide up enough to allow Sparks to slip by on the final lap and take his first-ever Fairbury feature win. A popular win, Sparks was greeted in victory lane by officials as fans gave a loud cheer of approval. “I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Sparks said. “We have had a good car all year. Ray Nelter has gotten us running pretty good. I probably laid on Spatola too hard, but I haven’t had a win and I wanted one.” Spatola would finish in second position, followed by contender Ryan Unzicker. Myles Moos took fourth and early race leader Kevin Weaver was fifth. The rest of the top ten had Donny Walden, Mike Provenzano, Derek Chandler, Bill Hough, and Brian Diveley. 23 Late Models made qualifying attempts that saw Spatola’s time of 12.549 seconds leading the way. Spatola, Chandler, and Unzicker took heat race wins. Bob Thoennes was the semi-feature winner.

mckinney md21 Modified competitors fine-tuned their cars for next week’s special event. Forrest’s Austin Friedman set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.680 seconds. Friedman, Mike McKinney, and Caden McWhorter won their respective heat races. Friedman checked out on the field at the wave of the green flag as McKinney and track champion Michael Ledford raced for second. McKinney tried the top and bottom groove after a lap five yellow flag, but Friedman was able to prevail. The caution came out on the eighth circuit, and on the restart, Friedman took a five-car length lead over McKinney. Ledford had his hands full with Jared Thomas, Alan Stipp, and Brandon Bollinger. McKinney got by Friedman after a caution came out on the 10th lap as Ledford moved into second. Bad luck struck Friedman on the 15th lap as his night came to an end. McKinney led the field to the green on the restart as Steven Brooks got by Ledford for second. In the final stages of the race, Brooks cut into McKinney’s lead but the laps ran out and McKinney took his fourth Fairbury win of the season. “I kind of played it patient,” McKinney said. “The top was a pretty far way around. The bottom had moisture left so I let it run in and let it come to me.” Brooks finished in second, followed closely by Jason Hastings. Thomas took fourth, as Ledford, Bollinger, Stipp, McWhorter, Ethan Weber, and 16th starter Wyatt Harms completed the top ten.

krick scIn the 15-lap Stock Car feature, Cody Clubb looked to be on his way to the win. Contact with a slower car in turn four abruptly brought his night to an end. Former DIRTcar national champion Jerrad Krick inherited the lead with four laps to go and held off Tim Loomis for the win. “I hated to see that happen to Cody,” Earl Park, Indiana’s Krick said. “He definitely had the best car tonight. I will take it any way I can get it. This place is never usually that good to me. I won the 2016 Hubert Memorial race once and haven’t been able to get back to victory lane. This feels pretty good.” Loomis had to settle for second. Early race leader Megan Erwin was third, followed by Andy Thompson, Jordan Smith, Brandon Tracy, Derrick Weiand, Jace Gall, Randy Schoener, and Devin Hoskins. 19 drivers were on hand tuning up for the upcoming Hubert Memorial race saw Krick’s time of 15.164 seconds lead the way in qualifying. Two heat races were held with Erwin and Clubb taking the wins.

duncan spLooking to avenge his loss two weeks ago, four-time CR Towing Sportsman track champion Tommy Duncan of Metamora went the distance in taking his eighth win of the year in the caution-marred 15-lap race. “I kept looking at the scoreboard and saw Miller and Mattingly were right there,” said Duncan. “I figured that I had to play defense on both.” Landen Miller turned back Tyler Roth for second, followed by newcomer Ron Wilkes. Jim Farley was fifth, with Doug Carls, Makinzi Semmens, Roy Magee, Aaron Reid, and Stefan Bedinger rounding out the top ten. Miller set the pace in qualifying with a time of 14.774 seconds as 13 cars took to the ¼ mile dirt track. Duncan and Steve Mattingly won their respective heat races.

kohler hmWith the growing popularity in the Hobby-Mod class and a new record of 28 cars in attendance, it was decided to hold two feature races. In the first race, Pontiac’s Trevor Ringle, a successful kart racer, led flag-to-flag for a convincing win. In a post-race inspection, Ringle’s car was deemed illegal and he was disqualified. The victory was awarded to Ryan Kohler, son of 2008 Stock Car track champion Darrin Kohler. Fans that know the tragedy the Kohler family has experienced makes the win a feel-good story. “It was definitely a stacked field,” the Chebanse native spoke. “I kept the car steady. This is really awesome. I have always dreamed of this.” Scott McDonald took the runner-up spot. Rick Thomas was third, followed by Dalton Deavers, Clay Wisher, Ryan Wilson, Reid Gall, Jake Green, J Thompson, and Kellen Arnold completing the top ten.

vandermeir hmIn the second race, Jason Vandermeir had to hold off Luke Gebhardt in taking his first win of the year. Channahon’s Vandermeir commented in victory lane. “The car didn’t run that good in the heat race. We worked on it and it came back to life.” Dylan Turpin finished in third, with Payton Semmens, Graham Jackson, Tim Wilson, Cameron Pierce, Michael Killion, Scott Compton, and coming out of retirement, the 1984 6-Cylinder track champion Lonnie Benedict completing the top ten. Ringle, Deavers, and Kohler were heat race winners.


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