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Pierce Cruises to FALS Super Nationals Win; Strickler Wheels Cushion to Modified Victory

Bobby Pierce

Bobby Pierce

Kyle Strickler

Kyle Strickler

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

Saturday night’s FALS Super Nationals event saw 98 cars register for the 10th Annual Modified Nationals and MARS Late Model Series event. $10,000 each would go to the race winners presented by First Student, Hot Rod Septic, Wehrs Machine, and Mullins Race Engines.

pierce lmStarting on the outside of the front row, Bobby Pierce took the lead at the start of the 50-lap feature race and never looked back. Following two caution periods in the first five laps, Pierce stretched his lead to a straightaway over Frank Heckenast Jr. Further back, Donny Walden, Jake Little, and 10th starter Brian Shirley raced for the third position. As Shirley took the third spot by lap eight, MARS points leader Ryan Unzicker and Shannon Babb also moved into the top five. In the closing laps, Pierce sliced his way past lapped traffic as Shirley had to contend with Unzicker and Babb. Unzicker took the second spot with ten laps to go, and Babb got by Shirley for third. Four laps later, Babb, running the bottom, slipped by Unzicker for second. As Pierce crossed the finish line, the “Smooth Operator” held a six-second lead over his closest competitor. Ending a streak of four consecutive second place finishes, Pierce commented in victory lane. “The track was really slick. It was tricky and it felt like Macon. Macon gets that thick cushion right up on the wall. I didn’t know if Unzicker and Babb were coming on the top, middle, or wherever they were. I know those guys probably had moments where they were fast. I was trying to stay way ahead of them so I wouldn’t have to worry about them.” 16th starter Babb took second with Unzicker in third. Shirley held on for fourth. 20th starter Jason Feger came home in fifth followed by Heckenast Jr., Chris Simpson, Jeffrey Ledford, Myles Moos, and Walden. 42 Late Models went under the clock in time trials. In Group A, Scott Schmitt led the way with a time of 12.994 seconds, and Pierce’s time of 12.936 seconds led Group B. Steven Roberts, Jay Sparks, Pierce, and Heckenast Jr. took heat race wins. The two B-mains went to Ryan Vanderveen and Rich Bell.

strickler mdPolesitter Cole Falloway raced out to the lead in the 50-lap Modified feature race. Kyle Strickler, running the top side, and Mike Harrison, on the bottom, dueled for second. Harrison moved into second on the ninth circuit and changed his line to the top groove. As Falloway was working his way thru lapped traffic, Harrison was able to cut into Falloway’s lead. After the first caution on lap 21, Harrison got by Falloway on lap 23 for the lead, but it was short lived. In the middle of turns one and two, Harrison tagged the wall breaking the J-bar to end his night. After the yellow flag, Falloway moved back into the lead. Kyle Stricker, working the cushion, motored past Falloway on lap 28 with 16th starter Josh Harris following. The two wheelmen put on a classic race for the lead. The two racers exchanged the lead seven times in the final 22 laps. Strickler took over for good with five laps to go and took his first win of the year and first career Fairbury win. Overcome with emotion, Strickler, the Late Model qualifying track record holder at Fairbury, spoke after the race. “I finally got my mojo. I love to come back and play in the Modifieds. I wanted to come out here and race with Nick Hoffman. He had that terrible accident. This win goes out to him and all the Hoffman family. It’s not the same without him here. This helps my confidence getting back into the Late Model.” 56 Modified drivers made time trial runs. Group A was paced by Falloway with a time of 13.815 seconds. Derek Losh’s time of 13.907 seconds led Group B. Falloway, Harrison, Austin Friedman, Losh, Strickler, and Ethan Dotson won their respective heat races. Three B-mains went to Allen Weisser, Alan Stipp, and Ethan Weber.


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