Spatola First in Allen Memorial

Photo Credit: Rocky Ragusa

Fairbury, Ill. (6/8/19)

97 cars in six classes signed in Saturday night at the Fairbury Speedway for the 23rd running of the “ Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial” race. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Matt Hammond (Street Stock), Tommy Duncan (Sportsman), Thad Gee (Hobby-Modified), and Jerremy Sebens (KidModz) were all feature winners.

A lap of 12.835 by Fairbury’s McKay Wenger earned him fast time honors over 27 combatants. Wenger, Mike Spatola, and Scott Schmitt won their respected heat races. Derek Chandler was the winner of the B-Main.

Starting on the front row, Manhattan’s Spatola jumped out into the lead for the 30 lap race. Facing constant pressure from Wenger and Ryan Unzicker, Spatola kept his poise while working lapped traffic. Spatola was able to pull away in the closing laps for his first win of the year and third Allen Memorial race win.

“I am worn out now,” said Spatola. “The topside of the track was treacherous. I was being conservative and ran the middle groove when I could. We have been doing everything to get a win and finally got it.”

Wenger settled for second, followed by point leader Unzicker, Kevin Weaver, Mike Glasscock, Chandler (hard charger), Donny Walden, Schmitt, Luke Goedert, and Steve Thorsten.

Peoria’s Allen Weisser toured the speedway at a lap of 13.985 for quick time as 22 Modified drivers took time trials. Weisser, Mike Harrison, and McKinney won heat races.

Weisser led early in the 25 lap race with Harrison, McKinney, and Jeffrey Ledford dueling for second. Weisser was slowed by a lapped car on the 14th lap and McKinney took advantage, moving into the lead. Weisser’s night came to an end on the next lap when his left front caught a corner tire and ended his night. Following the yellow flag, Harrison ran the ragged edge looking to take the lead, but a slower car held up Harrison in the closing stages, giving Plainfield’s McKinney his second win of the year.

“This car is really finicky,” McKinney said. “We are just trying to figure where we need to be with it.”

Harrison took second, with point leader Ledford in third, followed by Jim Farris Sr., Steven Brooks, Jason Hastings, Mark Grosvenor, Jacob Steinkoenig, Dan Rork, and Billy Puckett (hard charger).

Bourbonnais’s Matt Hammond clipped a lap of 16.136 as 16 Street Stock drivers made qualifying runs. Cody Clubb and Tanner Sullivan earned heat race wins.

While several of the early race leaders became impatient with each other in the 15 lap, caution filled race, Hammond maintained his bearings and took the lead with two laps to go for his second straight feature win.

“I knew the cars in front of me would be playing ping pong with each other,” Hammond spoke. “I was able to avoid the wrecks and it paid off.”

Current point leader Nick Seplak was second, followed by Clubb, Justin VanDruen, Josh Hetherington (hard charger), Don Hilleary, Bailey Aukland, Steven Lisewski, Zach Zuberbier, and Sullivan completed the top ten.

Pontiac’s Michael Ledford clipped a lap of 15.081 for fast time, as 12 Sportsman drivers made qualifying runs. Ledford and Metamora pilot, Tommy Duncan were winners of their heat races.

After an early race challenge from Ledford, point leader was able to pull away from the field in taking his third straight feature win.

“Michael gave me a run for the money,” commented Duncan. “The track was a little dusty in the middle. I had to keep the car straight and try not to spin the wheels. I want to thank Roger Friedman for the power and the Craven’s for all they do for our class.”

The remainder of the top ten were Ledford, Tyler Roth, Scott Williams, Jeb Friedman (hard charger), Matt Ramer, Steve Mattingly, Anthony Craven, Dan Coit, and Dustin Mounce.

16 Hobby-Modified drivers signed in for their 12 lap race. Metamora’s Mason Duncan was the race’s fast qualifier at a 14.901. Duncan and Macy Vaughan claimed heat race wins.

Mechanical problems on the pace lap ended Duncan’s night before the green flag waved. Brendan Ramer and Thad Gee put on a thrilling contest, racing side by side, as each driver looked to take the checkered flag. Gee was able to pull ahead in the final laps and pick up his first win of the year.

“My car ran great on the outside,” stated Bloomington’s Gee. “Brendan gave me all I needed. It was a good, clean race.”

Ramer, Travis Roe, Jason Brandt, Vaughan, Billy Shoemaker, Payton Semmens, Troy Ricketts, Graham Jackson, and Austin Lipe were the rest of the top ten.

Jerremy Sebens was the heat race winner and followed with the win in the KidModz Series race. Audrey Gerberding and Ben Melcher completed the field.

The Saturday night will feature another weekly race program in five classes. Hot laps start at 5:45, time trials at 6, and racing at 7.

Content and photography by Rocky Ragusa, contributor to Racing Performance Media.