Mattingly Repeats for Eden-Piercy Win
By Rocky Ragusa
Fairbury, Ill. (7/13/19) After thunderstorms cancelled last week’s racing action at the Fairbury Speedway, the track resumed Saturday night with a FALS Cup weekly program. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Mike McKinney (Modified), Steve Mattingly (Sportsman), Pete Odell (Street Stock), and Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified) claimed feature wins.
El Paso’s Ryan Unzicker secured fast time honors with a lap of 12.984 as 25 Late Model drivers made qualifying attempts for their 30 lap feature. Allen Weisser (Peoria), Kody Evans (Camden, Ohio), Billy Drake (Bloomington) took heat race wins, and Bill Hough (Thomasboro) was the semi-feature winner.
Pole sitter Weisser took the lead on the start with Drake, Evans, Unzicker, and Dan Flessner following. Unzicker picked cars off working his way to the front. On the 16th lap, Unzicker did a slide job on Weisser to move to the lead. Unzicker was able to open up his lead before encountering slower cars. Weisser was able to close in on Unzicker and took the lead on lap 24 before Unzicker reclaimed the lead. Unzicker, with a fast cat, stretched his lead in the waning laps to pick up his second win of the year.
“We started off the first five races, finishing in the top three and then we struggled a bit,” Unzicker said. “Now we got our groove back.”
Weisser took second, with Drake, Evans, McKay Wenger, Flessner, Kevin Weaver, Mike Spatola (hard charger), Scott Schmitt, and Mike Mataragas completing the top ten.
Pontiac’s Jeffrey Ledford turned the track at a 13.774 with 27 Modified cars in attendance for their 25 lap race. Ledford, Weisser pulling double duty, and Indianapolis resident, Mike McKinney won heat races, with Kenny Carlson (Hobart, Ind.) taking the semi-feature.
Starting on the outside front row, Weisser led McKinney, Jim Farris, Ledford, and Steven Brooks on a lightning fast track. After a caution on lap three, McKinney got by Weisser to lead a lap, before Weisser moved back to the front. Weisser had a 10 car length lead over McKinney before the yellow flag was waved on the 10th lap. McKinney was able to stay within striking distance of Weisser before things got hairy with a lap to go. As the pair approached a slower car, McKinney found the momentum running the top to get by Weisser as the two drivers made contact exiting turn four, with the checkered flag in site. McKinney, in dramatic fashion, edged Weisser for his third feature win.
“I have a lot of respect for Allen. We go hard and race hard,” explained McKinney. “After they prepped the track, I was expecting it to be flooded and we were wide open. I had a groove up top. Allen was rolling the middle and we had a heck of a run.”
Weisser settled for being the bridesmaid on this night, while Ledford, Brooks, Farris, Nick Neville, Alan Stipp, Nick Clubb, Mark Grosvenor, and Trevor Neville rounded out the top ten. Justin Gregory placed 12th and was the race’s hard charger.
The annual Eden-Piercy Memorial race for the Sportsman class had 19 cars on hand for their 25 lap, $1550 to win special. Fairbury’s Tyler Roth toured the speed plant at a 14.566 for quick time. Springfield’s Wes Odell and Chenoa’s Steve Mattingly took heat race wins. A trophy dash was held for the six fastest qualifiers and Shelbyville’s Rick Roedel taking the win.
Odell lead the first three laps before surrendering it to Mattingly with Michael Ledford following. Cautions plagued the early going, keeping the cars in tight formation. Mattingly, running the top side to perfection, kept a five car length lead over Ledford, with Odell, Tommy Duncan, and Dustin Mounce trailing. Following a caution on lap 18, Ledford made an attempt for the lead, but mechanical failure ended his bid, as he struck the wall on the next lap. Mattingly stretch his lead in the final laps and was able to claim his second straight win of the year, two consecutive Eden- Piercy trophies, and with lap money, $1600 richer.
“It was pretty easy driving,” Mattingly said. “There were a couple of times I messed up on the top. I got a little nervous, but calmed back down. The car got junked at the first race of the year. Brian Dunn reclipped it and I have to give him a lot of credit.”
The rest of the top ten went to Odell, Duncan, Mounce, Dennis Vandermeersch (hard charger), Roedel, Blake Reid, Brian Albus, Matt Ramer, and Scott Williams.
15.604 earned Pete Odell (Streator) fast time over 14 other Street Stock drivers in their 15 lap show. Nick Seplak (Coal City) and Tanner Sullivan (Pontiac) were the heat race victors.
Starting fourth, Odell charged to the front on the second lap. Odell, running the bottom, ran a silky smooth line. Never threatened, Odell took his first win of the year.
“I didn’t know what the track would be like after the track was prepped,” Odell said. “I thought it would be slicker than it was. We took a guess on the setup and it worked out. Ever since I started racing on dirt, my dad has been along for the ride, helping to make the car fast. Thanks dad.”
Zach Zuberbier, Seplak, Justin VanDruen (hard charger), Michael Schomas, Sullivan, Eric Boudreau, Josh Hetherington, Justin Thomas, and Kraig Hughes completed the top ten.
Metamora’s Mason Duncan completed the trifecta, setting fast time (15.044), winning his heat race, and dominating the 12 lap race for his fourth win of the year.
‘It has been a tough two weeks, with getting my dad’s car and mind back together,” Duncan said. “It’s good to be back in victory lane.”
Chris Burton, Macy Vaughan, Jason Brandt, Thad Gee (heat two winner) Darren Christensen, Austin Lipe, Troy Ricketts, Darren Kerrins, and Makinzi Semmens rounded out the top ten.
This Saturday night will feature another FALS Cup weekly program with all classes in action. Hot laps will start at 5:45, time trials at 6:15, and the green flag waves at 7.