(Article by Rocky Ragusa)
Fairbury, Ill. (7/20/19) The Fairbury Speedway hosted a weekly FALS Cup program on Saturday night. Mike Spatola (Late Model), Allen Weisser (Modified), Justin VanDruen (Street Stock), Michael Ledford (Sportsman), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified) bested the competition in their respected classes.
The Late Model class saw 20 drivers make qualifying runs for their 30 lap, $2500 to win race. Manhattan’s Mike Spatola blistered the 1/3 dirt oval with a fast time of 12.768. Spatola and Scott Schmitt (Tonica) were the heat race winners.
Spatola jumped out to the lead at the start, as Schmitt, Kevin Weaver, Ryan Unzicker, and Rich Bell vied for second. The yellow flag fell on the sixth lap and on the restart Spatola wasted little time in opening a 10 car length lead. Schmitt had his hands full as Weaver looked to move into second. Weaver saw his opportunity on lap 12 as Schmitt’s car got into the crumbs in turn one, allowing Weaver to take second. After a lap 16 caution, Weaver offered Spatola a brief challenge for the lead, but Spatola was able to hold a 10 car length lead over Weaver and take his second FALS Cup trophy of the season.
“It’s a lot of work keeping these cars on the racetrack,” Spatola said. “Me and my crew all have day jobs and then spend three to four hours a night in the shop. We all have families and kids. It can be tough. So I thank my guys for their commitment. “
With his win, Spatola trimmed Unzicker’s lead in the battle for the track title to eight points. Weaver took second, with Schmitt earning a hard fought third over Bell, and Donny Walden (hard charger) in fifth. The remainder of the top ten were Jason Feger, Unzicker, McKay Wenger, Derek Chandler, and Paul Stubber.
Photos from Saturday Night (Rocky Ragusa Photos)
Making the long haul from Brighton, Jacob Rexing was the fast qualifier at a 13.952, as 18 drivers went thru the chute. Allen Weisser (Peoria) and Jeff Leka (Buffalo) took heat race wins.
On race day, the Weisser team changed the engine out of one car and put it into his other car which he felt comfortable with. The difference worked as Weisser, losing a heartbreaker the previous week, dominated the 25 lap race from green to checker. For Weisser, it was his fifth feature win of the year at Fairbury.
Trailing Weisser to the line were, Steven Brooks, Ryan Thomas, Dan Rork, Nick Clubb, Rexing, Alan Stipp (hard charger), Matthew Mitchell, Jeffrey Ledford, and Eric Vaughan.
Point leader, Nick Seplak (Coal City) set the pace in Street Stock qualifying at a 15.811 with 18 cars in attendance for their 15 lap feature. Pete Odell (Streator) and Justin VanDruen (Crown Point, Ind.) earned heat race wins.
VanDruen took the lead as Odell hounded the leader throughout the race. Odell was able to take the lead on lap 13, but VanDruen reclaimed the lead on the next lap and take his first career Fairbury win in a hard fought battle.
“This has been a dream come true to get this win,” Van Druen said. “I can’t thank my dad, sponsors, and fans enough for their support.”
Odell settled for second, as Tanner Sullivan, Seplak, Robert Cottom, Zach Zuberbier, Michael Schomas, Eric Boudreau, Cody Clubb, and Josh Hetherington completed the top ten. Moe Tholen was credited with 13th and was the race’s hard charger.
Eight CR Towing Sportsman drivers took time trials for their 15 lap race. 14.867 earned fast time for Tommy Duncan (Metamora). Duncan was also the heat race winner.
Duncan and Michael Ledford ran side by side for the lead on the start. The 14 year old wheelman ran the top side like a grizzled pro, maintaining a five car length lead over point leader, Duncan. For Ledford, it was his second win of the year, after turning in a second place performance in the Modified the previous night at Farmer City.
“I knew that starting second, that I wanted to be on the topside at the start,” stated Ledford. “It was a little treacherous, but we held on for the win.”
Duncan, Lyndon Whitfill (hard charger), Amber Crouch, Matt Ramer, Blake Reid, Alex Wilson, and Steve Mattingly completed the finish.
16 Hobby-Modified drivers qualified for their 12 lap race. Mason Duncan (Metamora) sizzled the track at a 14.897. Two heat races saw Duncan and Macy Vaughan (Fairbury) taking the wins.
Duncan continued took be the class of the field in leading all the way for his fifth win.
“We work on this car day in and day out. I can’t thank my dad enough for all that he does,” Duncan said. “We had a fast track and fast car.”
Jason Brandt, Troy Ricketts, Thad Gee, Austin Lipe, Makinzi Semmens, Chris Burton, Darren Christensen, Derrick Deford, and Payton Semmens completed the top ten.
This Friday and Saturday the speedway will welcome the Morton Buildings World of Outlaw Late Model Series. Many of the top drivers from around the country will seek the $30,000 prize in the 30th edition of the Bank of Pontiac Prairie Dirt Classic.
Friday will have hot laps and qualifying for Late Models and Modified teams. Four showdown races in each class will have Late Models compete in 25 lap races for a $2500 prize and Modifieds duke in out for $500 to win and 20 laps.
On Saturday, 100 laps will be the distance in one of the premier events of the year. The Summit Modified Summer National title will be decided in a 40 lap, $5000 to win race. There will also be a 25 lap shootout for Late Model teams that didn’t qualify for the Prairie Dirt Classic. The winner will have the option of taking the $2000 check or start in the main race.
All reserved seating and camping has been sold out. Unreserved seats under the grandstands will be available. For both days, hot laps will start at 6, with time trials, and racing to follow.