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McKinney Scores $3,000 Modified Victory

Results | PointsStory & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

At the conclusion of time trials for Saturday’s racing program at the Fairbury Speedway, an isolated rain shower fell on the track. Roger Stryker and his track prep crew went to work and made the speedway race ready. Bobby Pierce took a hard-fought win in the Late Model feature, while Mike McKinney closed out the night with the win in the Modified race.

As part of Illinois Speedweek, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series made their first-ever appearance at the ¼ mile dirt oval for the Spring Shootout paying $30,000 to the race winner. Driving the Rocket Chassis house car, Hudson O’Neal led the first group of qualifiers with a lap of 12.794 seconds. The “Newport Nightmare” Jimmy Owens' time of 12.870 seconds paced the second group. Four eight lap heat races had O’Neal, last year’s Dirt Track World Championship winner Garrett Smith, Fairbury’s opening night winner Shannon Babb, and a former Modified winner at Fairbury, Mississippi’s Spencer Hughes taking the wins. 2014 Prairie Dirt Classic winner and two-time Lucas Oil Series champion Tim McCreadie and second-generation driver Gordy Gundaker moved into the 60-lap main event by winning their respective semi feature.

erb lm28 drivers lined up for the Titan Industries sponsored race. Outside front row starter Babb got the jump on O’Neal and led the field as fifth starting Dennis Erb Jr. quickly moved into second. As the two Illinois wheelmen dueled for the lead, Babb got crossed up on the frontstretch giving Erb the lead on lap five. Five-time World 100 winner Jonathan Davenport brought out the first caution on lap 10 with damage to his car. On the restart, Erb opened a straightaway lead as Babb and O’Neal raced side by side for second with Bobby Pierce and Smith following. Pierce took over fourth on lap 15 and quickly joined in on the battle for second. Boom Briggs brought out the second caution on lap 25 as he tagged the frontstretch wall nearly collecting Babb. When the green flag waved, Pierce, running the top side of the track, pulled away from Hughes and moved past Babb for third on lap 28. The third yellow fell on lap 35 for Garrett Alberson as he slowed on the backstretch. Erb led on the restart with O’Neal, Pierce, Hughes, and Babb following. O’Neal broke away from Pierce and had a good run on Erb. As they approached turn one on lap 36, O’Neal dove to the inside of Erb. The two drivers made contact. Erb got sideways and Babb, with nowhere to go, got into Erb. Babb’s race was done and Erb was forced to the back of the field.

pierce lmThe restart moved O’Neal to the front with Pierce, Daulton Wilson, Hughes, and Brandon Overton in the top five. The top three drivers exited turn two three-wide on the restart. Pierce, on the bottom, moved into the lead. Pierce and O’Neal ran nose to tail before Erb stopped on the track with mechanical problems. Pierce led on the restart as Tar Heel state driver Wilson briefly challenged for the lead. Ricky Thornton Jr., racing in sixth, slammed the frontstretch wall to bring out a yellow on lap 46. O’Neal challenged Pierce for the lead on the restart, but the caution came out on lap 48 for debris on the track. Pierce led Wilson, O’Neal, Overton, and Brandon Sheppard on the restart. O’Neal took over second and quickly battled Pierce for the lead. Pierce changed his line to the top side of the track and halted O’Neal’s momentum. With two laps to go, O’Neal’s car climbed the wall in turn one bringing out the caution. O’Neal, the Lucas Oil Series points leader, had significant damage to his car and was done for the night. Wilson, in his first-ever appearance at Fairbury, ran the bottom and raced Pierce for the lead. Pierce turned back a strong performance from Wilson and was able to secure his 13th career Lucas Oil Series victory.

“I messed up yesterday (at Farmer City) and my team didn’t give up," said Pierce with 14 career FALS Late Model wins. “They said to get back in that car and drive it. I have to give a huge thanks to them. I went home and relaxed. They got the job done on the car.” Wilson tied his best career Lucas Oil Series finish as he took second, with Sheppard, 21st starter Overton, and Owens completing the top five. The remainder of the top ten went to Hughes, 24th starter Devin Moran, Gundaker, Tyler Bruening, and Max Blair.

Shannon Babb

Shannon Babb

Michael Long

Michael Long

Long Overtakes Steffens for MARS Modified Win

Results | PointsStory & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

With a cold wind blowing and threatening weather conditions, 94 drivers made their way to the Fairbury Speedway on Saturday night for the season opener. Moweaqua’s Shannon Babb was the winner of the MARS Late Model Series race, while Fowler’s Michael Long claimed victory in the MARS Modified Series special on a night that had Varsitee Screenprinting and Aftershock Decals & Design as the presenting sponsors. Rain showers forced officials to cancel the Sportsman and Stock Car races.

babb lmIn time trials for the 40-lap, $5,000 to win Late Model race, McKay Wenger toured the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.862 seconds for quick time in group one. Brian Shirley topped the second group at 13.011 seconds as 32 drivers made qualifying runs. Wenger, Ryan Unzicker, Shirley, and Bob Gardner were heat race winners. Jake Little and Tommy Sheppard advanced to the feature by winning their respective consolation races. Starting in the fifth position, Babb overtook Shirley for the lead on lap 19. Following a yellow flag with 16 laps to go, Brandon Sheppard moved past Frank Heckenast Jr. to take fourth. Sheppard wasted little time in overtaking Unzicker (in third) and Shirley (in second). Babb held a half straightaway lead with less than 10 laps to go. As the white flag was displayed, Sheppard was on Babb’s rear but slower traffic held up Sheppard’s momentum giving Babb the win. Prior to the feature races, the track crew went to work and revamped the speedway. Babb, in his post-race interview, gave props. “FALS put on a hell of a race tonight. The track was just spot on. You know they put in that extra effort to put on a good show for the fans right there by reworking it, pressured by the rain, and everything else.” Trailing Babb and Sheppard to the line were Shirley, Pennsylvania’s Drake Troutman, Unzicker, Jason Feger, and Heckenast Jr., Gardner, 22nd starter Taylor Scheffler, and Mike Harrison.

long md41 MARS Modified drivers vied for a starting position in their 30-lap, $2,000 to win race. Indiana’s Zeke McKenzie led group one qualifiers with a time of 13.980 seconds. Kentucky’s Josh Harris paced group two with a time of 13.944 seconds. McKenzie, Kyle Steffens, Harris, and Michael Long won their respective heat races. Charlie Mefford and Jared Thomas took the semi-feature wins. Steffens paced the field for 14 laps until the Missouri driver was caught behind traffic as he exited turn two. Long was able to capitalize and jumped into the lead. Once in front, Long went to the top side of the track as he opened his lead and earned the win at the checkered. Steffens held off Harris for second. Mike McKinney came home in fourth, and Allen Weisser was fifth. Brian Shaw, McKenzie, Dillon Nusbaum, Curt Spalding, and 16th starter Caden McWhorter followed.

After the Modified race, the rain began to fall and the remainder of the program was canceled.

The Fairbury Speedway will celebrate its 77th season opener with the much-anticipated new MARS Championship Tours hitting the track on Saturday night, April 29th.  The $5,000 to win, $500 to start MARS Late Model Series, presented by FK Rod Ends, will open a new era of regional racing throughout Illinois on its opening weekend for the 2023 campaign.  Along with the Late Models, the new MARS Modified Championship, presented by Summit Racing Equipment, will hit the track for a $2,000 to win, $250 to start main event which will bring drivers from all over the region to America’s Dirt Track for their season opener.

All updated payouts, track rules, tire rules, schedule, event guides, and more can be found on the Fairbury Speedway website at www.fairburyspeedway.com.  Some updated news and notes for the upcoming 2023 race season:

  • Season passes are on sale on the FALS website for $250. This will include all races except the Prairie Dirt Classic.  Fans are also welcome to stop by the new office complex before the season opens to purchase their season passes.
  • Prairie Dirt Classic renewals will expire on March 31st at 12:01 a.m. which means all fans will need to process their carts before the end of the day on March 30th. PDC reserved camping is SOLD OUT for 2023.  Reserved tickets that are not renewed from 2022 will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 8th.
  • Lucas Oil Late Model Spring Nationals presented by Titan Industries and the DIRTcar Summer Nationals presented by Rhino Ag & Dixie Choppers reserved seats are available for purchase online at www.fairburyspeedway.com. Reserved camping for the Lucas show is SOLD OUT.  Camping is still available for the Summer Nationals, very limited spots available.
  • Fairbury Speedway will host a “Practice Day” on Saturday, April 22nd from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. All divisions of cars racing on the schedule in 2023 are welcome to practice.
  • Hobby Mods have been removed from the schedule for opening night April 29th. Double Hobby Mod features will open their season on Saturday, May 6th.
  • Country superstar Lee Brice will go “Dancin’ on the Dirt” on Saturday night, May 20th. Tickets are on sale online at www.fairburyspeedway.com. (No racing that night.)
  • Dave’s Supermarket Driver Meet~N~Greet is set for Saturday, June 3rd (1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.)
  • KidModz have been added to the schedule for Saturday night, June 10th.

New for 2023, the “Top Shop” Mini Series presented by Fairbury Fastener and Supply will continue the traditional series within a series which will take the place of the Alkota ‘Keep it Clean” Series.  The Top Shop Series will give away more than $7,500 in prizes including over $6,000 to the champion of the mini-series in 2023.  The top prize will include a package of new shop tools including a huge tool chest designed to handle any shop experience.  This unique series, which is in its 11th year at the Fairbury Speedway, is structured to include all four DIRTcar weekly classes.  Each driver will contend in a points battle throughout the season on non-special events marked on the schedule. Drivers accumulate points for passing cars in the feature as well as their feature finishing position. The Top Shop Series of races presented by Fairbury Fastener and Supply is scheduled for 10 nights throughout the summer.  “I am very excited about our new partnership with Darrel & Tanner Ifft from Fairbury Fastener and Supply,” conveys FALS owner Matt Curl.  “They have stepped up in a huge way to support or local drivers.”  Race teams and fans can check out Fairbury Fastener and Supply at www.fairburyfastener.com.  The Top Shop Series will open its schedule on Saturday night, May 6th.


lee briceThe Fairbury Speedway is excited to announce the lineup for the 2nd Dancin’ on the Dirt event, to be held Saturday, May 20, 2023, at the Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois.

Headlining this year is a GRAMMY nominee, CMA and ACM award winner, and he's taken nine radio singles to Number One including, "A Woman Like You," "Hard to Love," "I Drive Your Truck," "I Don’t Dance," "Drinking Class," “Rumor," “I Hope You’re Happy Now," “One of Them Girls,” and “Memory I Don’t Mess With.” Lee Brice will be at the Fairbury Speedway on Saturday, May 20, 2023!

The concert, premium parking, and camping tickets are on sale now. Concert tickets will range from $40 - $50 with two sections available. Tickets are available at www.fairburyspeedway.com.

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