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Long, Harrison Take Illinois Dirt Shootout Opening Night Wins

Michael Long

Michael Long

Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Results | Story & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

The Fairbury Speedway and MARS Racing Series saw 123 Modified drivers sign in for night one of the inaugural “Illinois Dirt Shootout". Popejoy Inc. and HOTROD Septic Treatment presented the Memorial Day special with participants from 12 states and Canada.

Qualifying, heat races, last chance showdowns, and feature races used a point system emphasizing “every-lap-matters.” The format rewarded points based on a driver's finishing position in each category. Quick Car Racing Products and MultiFire High Performance Spark Plug Wires fast time honors went to Mike McKinney (Group A - 13.664 seconds), Nick Allen (Group B - 13.885 seconds), Landen Miller (Group C - 13.925 seconds), and Austin Friedman (Group D - 13.823 seconds).

There were twelve 10-lap heat races with the top two finishers in each race advancing to one of the night’s two features. McKinney, Michael Long, Brian Skaggs, Michael Ledford, Frank Marshall, Brad DeYoung, Miller, Kyle Hammer, Mike Chasteen Jr., Friedman, Tyler Nicely, and Josh Harris won their respective heat races. Eight 12-lap Last Chance Showdowns saw Charlie Mefford, Austen Becerra, Curt Spalding, Allen Weisser, Ed Roley, Kyle Strickler, Levi Kissinger, and Mike Harrison lead the way with the top three finishers in each race moving into the feature.

longIn the first 25-lap, $1,500-to-win feature, Long took the lead at the start as sixth starter Ledford moved into second by lap two. Long began to distance himself from his competitors before the yellow flag came out on the 13th lap. McKinney, in third position at the caution, got by Ledford with 11 laps to go. McKinney cut into Long’s lead as the white flag was displayed. McKinney dove under Long in turn three, but the Fowler native prevailed for his seventh win of the year and second at FALS. “The car was good, and the track was great,” Long said. “Getting this win on the first night helps the rest of the weekend.” McKinney settled for second as Ledford took third. Becerra, who started 14th, finished in fourth and Marshall was fifth. Cole Falloway, DeYoung, Mefford, Dean Hoffman, and Spalding completed the top ten.

harrison nicelyStarting on the outside front row of the second race, Nicely led as sixth starter Friedman quickly moved into second by lap two. Harrison, who started in the 16th position, threaded his way through the field and was in ninth place by lap 10. With ten laps to go, the caution came out with the top five at that point being Nicely, Friedman, Harrison, Hammer, and Zeke McKenzie. As Harrison entered turn one, he dove under Friedman and took second with eight laps to go. Harrison rapidly cut into Nicely’s lead, and with seven laps remaining, performed a slide job entering turn three to take the top position. Caution fell on the track with four laps to go and Harrison pulled away for his first win of the year. “The crew and I have been tuning on the car and finally got it to my liking,” said Harrison. “They got me comfortable in it, and here we got the end results.” Nicely settled for second, and McKenzie overtook Friedman on the final lap for third. Josh Harris was fifth followed by Chasteen and Mason Duncan. 19th starter Derek Losh was eighth, with Miller and Lyndon Whitfill rounding out the top ten.


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