Unzicker Leads the Way on Fan Appreciation Night
By Rocky Ragusa
Fairbury, Ill. (6/1/19) A near capacity crowd was on hand for Fan Appreciation Night at the Fairbury Speedway on Saturday night. 110 car in six classes participated, which saw Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Allen Weisser (Modified), Matt Hammond (Street Stock), Tommy Duncan (Modified), Mason Duncan (Hobby-Modified), and Matt Ramer (Vintage) carrying the checkered flag.
26 Late Model driver were on hand for their 30 lap feature race. Manhattan’s Mike Spatola turned a lap of 13.360 for quick time. Ryan Unzicker, Myles Moos, and Scott Schmitt took heat race wins. Jason Feger advanced to the feature race by winning the B-Main.
At the drop of the green flag, pole sitter Unzicker took command while McKay Wenger and Schmitt had a see-saw battle for second. Following a caution on lap six for early contender Moos, Wenger made several bids for the lead before Unzicker went to the top side of the track and opened up a 10 car length lead. A caution fell with nine laps to go, giving Wenger another chance to move to the front, but Unzicker proved to be much stronger on this night, giving El Paso’s Unzicker his first FALS Cup win of the year.
“The track was racy on the top and bottom”, Unzicker spoke. “I am glad we were able to start on the front row because there was a lot of tough competition here tonight”.
Wenger settled for second, followed by Kevin Weaver, Spatola, Schmitt, Feger (hard charger), Donny Walden, Derek Chandler, Mike Provenzano, and Spencer Diercks.
In Modified time trials, Peoria’s Allen Weisser paced the 27 drivers at a 14.152. Weisser, Randy Shuman, and Steven Brooks claimed heat race wins. Nick Clubb was the winner of the B-Main.
Pole sitter Weisser got the jump on the field at the start of the 25 lap race. Weisser held a straight away lead by the eighth lap, as Brooks and Jeffrey Ledford raced for the second position. Drivers had to pick their lines as a rut had developed at the bottom of the track in turn one. With tens laps to go, Ledford, running the top, overtook Brooks for second, and began his chase of Weisser. A caution fell on the 22nd lap, giving Ledford the chance to overtake Weisser. On the restart, Ledford made several attempts to take the lead, but Weisser held on and edged Ledford by a car length for his third straight win.
“It’s always awesome to race against the Ledford’s, especially Jeffrey”, an excited Weisser spoke. “My crew guy told me he was coming, so I had to go to the top in turns 1-2. You couldn’t ask for a better track”.
Following Weisser and Ledford to the stripe were, Shuman, Brooks, Devin Wright, Nick Neville, Trevor Neville, Mike Learman, Bradley Jameson, and Dan Rork. Nick Clubb finished in the 12th position and was the races hard charger.
Fairbury’s Tyler Roth earned his first fast time of the season with a lap of 15.357 as nine CR Towing Sportsman drivers looked to take the trophy in their 15 main race. Metamora’s Tommy Duncan was the heat race victor.
Duncan led Amber Crouch, Michael Ledford, Anthony Craven, and Roth as the green flag waved. After a lap five caution, Ledford moved to the top side, overtaking Crouch for second. Ledford made a game
effort to catch the leader, but Duncan drove a smooth, steady line on the bottom, for his second straight win.
“I can’t talk enough about my crew”, said Duncan. “They are on it now. They know what we need and know what we need to do”.
Ledford, Roth, Craven, Lyndon Whitfill (hard charger), Steve Mattingly, Brian Albus, Crouch, and Matt Ramer completed the field.
24 of the best Street Stock drivers in the region were signed in for a 15 lap feature race. A newcomer to Fairbury, Kingston’s Zackary Zuberbier took fast time at a 15.584. Matt Hammond, Nick Seplak, and Justin VanDruen took the wins in their heat races.
Bourbonnais’s Hammond led the start of the caution plagued race. VanDruen, Seplak, and Tanner Sullivan put on a show in a race for second and each challenged Hammond for the lead, but this night belonged to Hammond after finally ending his long Fairbury drought and taking his first Fairbury win.
“This year has been nothing but seconds and thirds”, an emotional Hammond said. “We have been so close and to get my first one here is awesome”.
Seplak, Zuberbier, Sullivan, VanDruen, Kory Kohler (hard charger), Eric Boudreau, Peter Argianas, Megan Erwin, and Kyle Miner took the top ten positions.
Fairbury’s Mike Petersen topped 16 Hobby-Modified drivers in qualifying at a 15.396. Mason Duncan and Tyler Sebby earned heat race wins.
Not to be outdone by his father, Duncan put on a clinic in dominating the 12 lap race. Thad Gee, Austin Lipe, Troy Ricketts, Brendan Ramer, Albie Perez, Macy Vaughan, Petersen, Sebby, and Jake Green completed the top ten.
Making their lone appearance of the year, saw eight Vintage Racing of Illinois Series cars in attendance. In the 15 lap race that saw plenty of side by side racing, Matt Ramer was able to pull away at the halfway mark for the win. Ramer’s son, Brandon was second, with Andy Thompson, Tyler Sebby, John Ryan, Kyle Davis, Mark Davis, and Jim Beaty completing the field.
“ I can’t believe I finally got a win year”, an excited Ramer commented. “The car was a handful. I would turn it one way and it would go the other. With five laps to go, I could smell something burning, but just glad to hang on for the win”.
Tuesday night at the Fairbury Speedway, the Greatest Show on Dirt returns as the speedway welcomes the World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series. The ultra-quick winged demons will race for a $10,000 payday in a 40 lap feature. NASCAR star Kyle LARSON will be on hand to race and fans will have the chance to meet him at 4:30 before the program. Joining the Sprint Cars will be the Modified class in a 25 lap feature event. Hot laps will start at 6:30, with qualifying and racing at 7:30.
Saturday night will feature the Bob and Pappy Allen Memorial race as the Late Model winner will receive a $2500 check in the prestigious event. The KidModz Series will also return, plus action in all of the regular weekly classes.