Updated: May 7, 2019
Photos Courtesy Rocky Ragusa
By Rocky Ragusa, Rocky Ragusa Multi Media
Fairbury, Ill. (5/4/19) When it was announced that the Fairbury Speedway was raising the race purses race teams and fans eagerly anticipated opening night. 112 drivers from seven states looked to carry the checkered flag in the five FALS Cup weekly racing program. Kent Robinson (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Andrew Funk (Street Stock), Tyler Roth (Sportsman), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified) came out victorious in a new era for the ¼, dirt oval.
Defending UMP Late Model champion, Rusty Schlenk earned fast time (13.623) for the 33 Late Models in attendance for their 30 lap, $2500 to win race. Robinson, Ryan Unzicker, Jason Feger, and Chad Finley took heat race wins, while Michael Kloos and McKay Wenger advanced to the feature by winning B-Mains. Polesitter Robinson took the lead at the start with Unzicker, Scott Schmitt, Kyle Bronson, and Feger trailing. Bronson moved by Schmitt for third on the seventh lap and pressured Unzicker for second. Robinson from Bloomington, Indiana ran the bottom groove and held a straight away lead by the halfway mark. Bronson, a regular competitor on the Lucas Oil tour, pressured Unzicker for second before moving by with 10 to go. Robinson was able to slice his way thru lapped traffic in the closing laps and kept a safe margin as he recorded his first ever win at Fairbury.
“In the past I was never a huge fan of the track”, said Robinson. “I think it’s because I never ran well here. I think my opinions changed tonight. “
Bronson from Brandon, Fla. took second and was the races hard charger. Unzicker, David Mielke, Schmitt, Feger, Schlenk, Scott James, Mike Spatola, and Brian Shirley placed in the top ten.
Kentucky’s Tyler Nicely bested 26 other Modified drivers (14.489) in qualifying. Nicely, McKinney, Mike Harrison, and Randy Shuman won heats. Steven Brooks was the B-Main victor. Nicely took the lead for the start of the 20 lap, $1500 to win race, as McKinney pressured Nicely. McKinney went to the top side of the track and overtook Nicely for the lead on the fourth circuit. McKinney was able to hold a three car length lead over Nicely for the remainder of the race and earn a hard fought win.
“We finished up the car this morning and to get the win on the first night is pretty cool,” commented Plainfield’s McKinney. “I saw the FALS Cup trophy at the drivers meeting and knew I had to get one”.
Allen Weisser, Jeffrey Ledford, Harrison (hard charger), Shuman, Jay Ledford, Levi Kissinger, Nick Clubb, and Austin Lynn rounded out the top ten.
The 15 lap Street Stock race drew 25 racers for their race. Justin VanDruen’s time of 15.832 would take quick time honors. The heat races were held with Zackery Zuberbier, Pete Odell, and Megan Erwin taking the wins.
Outside front row starter, Odell moved to the lead for the start as Zuberbier, Erwin, Funk, and Cody Clubb battled for second. After a caution on lap five, Funk and Zuberbier challenged Odell for the front position. On the eighth lap, Funk edged Odell for the lead as the two driver’s exited turn two. Funk went the rest of the way uncontested to take the win.
“It was a tough battle with our new car,” spoke Funk. “It kept getting faster and faster”.
Odell, Erwin, Clubb, Jerrad Krick, Nick Seplak, Josh Griffith, Al Gray, Josh Hetherington, and Dustin Pruitt completed the top ten. Eric Boudreau finished 11th and was the race’s hard charger.
The 15 lap, CR Towing Sportsman race was a wild affair. Quick time went to Steven Mattingly over 10 other drivers with a lap at 15.632. Mattingly and Amber Crouch won their heat races.
On the restart after a caution flag, Crouch lead, Tommy Duncan, Mattingly, Mikey Ledford, and Tyler Roth following. As Crouch held a five car length lead, Duncan slowly reeled in Crouch. Going down the backstretch Duncan moved to the inside of Crouch and the two drivers made contact, blocking the track. With nowhere to go, Mattingly and Ledford both became involved in the melee. Of the four cars, Crouch was the only one able to continue. Roth, being in the right spot at the right time, took over as the race leader and sped to a very popular and fist career win.
“This is a brand new car and I have to thank Jay Ledford for his help,” expressed a jubilant Roth. “Honestly, I had a fifth place car, but it is what it is”.
The remainder of the top ten went to Matt Ramer, Lyndon Whitfill (hard charger), Crouch, Val Hurt, Duncan, Mattingly, Ledford, Scott Williams, and Anthony Craven.
A large field of 16 Hobby-Modified drivers were on hand for their 12 lap race. Mason Duncan claimed fast time at a 15.249.Duncan and Troy Ricketts came out ahead in their heat races.
Duncan, known as the “Mini Missile” rocketed into the lead and was never threatened. Thad Gee, Macy Vaughan, Tyler Sebby, Makinzi Semmens, Ricketts, Chris Burton, Graham Jackson, Darren Kerrins, and Jason Brandt rounded out the top ten.
This coming Saturday night will be the FALS Frenzy with $10,000 going to the winner of the MARS/ALMS sanctioned race. Modified drivers will have a $2000 to win race, and Sportsman driver will battle for a $400 to win payday. Gates will open at noon, qualifying at 6:15 , and racing at 7.