Spatola Dominates in Allen Memorial Race
By Rocky Ragusa
Fairbury, Ill. (6/9/18) Racing returned to the Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night, with the 22nd annual “Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial”. The race for the Late Model class paid $2000 to the winner. Also on the program were the Modified, Street Stock, Sportsman, Hobby-Modified, and a special appearance by the Kid Modz Racing Series.
Four Kid Modz drivers took part in their 10 lap race. Dominic Mertzke (Highland) won the lone heat race, as four cars were in attendance. Starting third in the feature, the 15 year old Mertzke, went to the front at the wave of the green flag, and never looked back in taking the win. Jerremy Sebens, Rayce Mullen, and Ben Melchers completed the finish.
Amber Crouch took fast time honors over 14 other Sportsman drivers at a 15.253. Richard Craven and Timmy Dick were the winners of their heat races. Following two caution periods on the opening lap, Timmy Dick (Monticello) got the jump on Richard Craven for the lead, with Brandon Pralle in third. The trio quickly separated themselves from their competitors. The yellow flag came out with five laps to go. On the restart, Dick pulled away from the field for his first ever Fairbury win. Richard Craven held off Brandon Pralle for second, with AJ Meiferdt, Bryant Frechette, Amber Crouch, Michael Ledford, Anthony Craven, Steve Mattingly, and Matt Ramer in the top ten.
“We finally made it 15 laps here at Fairbury,” an excited Dick spoke. “The cushion was real smooth at the start, but it did start breaking up. This is the only track we have raced at and hadn’t won at feature, so we had a good night.”
The race of the night had to be the Street Stock feature. 16 drivers toured the speedway with Lance Evans recording a 16.198. Jason Maier and Justin Van Drunen took heat race wins. Jason Maier put his hot rod on the top side of track and built a commanding lead. Behind him, Matt Maier, Evans, AJ Meiferdt, and Rick Thomas had the fans on their feet, in a race for second. Thomas and Matt Maier broke away from the field, and began to close in on Jason Maier. Matt Maier took second from Thomas with two laps to go and began to reel in his older brother. A caution dropped with one lap left in the 15 lap race, bunching up the field for a green, white, and checker flag. On the restart, Matt Maier (Rantoul) showed the nose of his car to older brother, Jason. As the Maier brothers entered turns three and four, both drivers were side by side. Jason on the top side, bobbled his car enough for Matt to edge ahead and take the win by a car length.
“I hated it for Jason,” Matt Maier said. “We will have all week to talk about it in the shop. The track was in great shape. Our car could run anywhere.”
The rest of the top ten were Thomas, Meiferdt, Joe Brown, Evans, Tanner Sullivan, Don Hilleary, Nick Seplak, and Cody Clubb.
14 Late Model drivers qualified for the 35 lap, Allen Memorial and Myles Moos turned heads by posting fast time at a 13.153. Mike Spatola and Kevin Weaver won their respected heat races. Spatola took a healthy lead at the start, with Scott Schmiit, Weaver, Billy Drake, and Derek Chandler trying to keep up with the race leader. After an early caution period, Spatola lead as Weaver took second from Schmitt and Chandler got by Drake for fourth. As the track began to take rubber, drivers ran single file on the top. Caution fell on lap 21. With Spatola safely in the lead, Schmitt snuck by Weaver for second. Debris caused another yellow flag on lap 24. The restart saw Weaver reclaim second from Schmitt and Moos
take fifth from Chandler. After a final caution on lap 29, Spatola left his competition and took his third win of the year at Fairbury and second Allen Memorial race.
“We didn’t expect the track to rubber up like it did,” spoke Spatola. “The car was a little free. I think we made the wrong call on tires, but it was still good. This car is amazing. No matter where I want to go, I am able to put it there. The car is everything I could hope for.”
The remainder of the top ten were Weaver, Schmitt, Drake, Moos, Bill Hough, Steve Thorsten, Chandler, Jeff Curl, and Glen Thompson.
The nights racing ended with a 20 lap race for the Modified class. Nick Clubb led the eight drivers in time trials with a lap of 14.191. McKay Wenger was the heat race winner. McKinney took the lead at the wave of the green flag and never look back in taking his fourth win of the year. Wenger, Jamie Lomax, Clubb, Alan Stipp, Dave Lilja, and Eric Vaughan completed the finish. Jay Ledford dropped out in the heat race with a broken driveshaft and was finished for the night.
“We had a good car tonight,” said McKinney. “We plan to run the Summer Nationals this week and see how it goes.”
A regular night of racing is planned for this Saturday night in five classes. Gates open at 3, with hot laps at 5:50, followed by qualifying, and all the racing action.