Unzicker Takes Win On Fairbury Opening Night
By Rocky Ragusa
Fairbury, Ill. (5/1/21) The season opening race at the Fairbury Speedway drew 108 entries in five divisions looking to capture the checkered flag. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Mike Harrison (Modified), Joel Funk (Street Stock), Tommy Duncan (Sportsman), and Thad Gee (Hobby-Modified) each earned feature wins in their respective class.
Defending track champion, McKay Wenger turned a lap of 13.315 to take fast time as 25 drivers looked to grab a FALS Cup trophy in the Late Model class.
Three heat races were held with Wenger, Mike Spatola, and Ryan Unzicker taking the wins. Derek Chandler advanced to the 30 lap race by winning the semi-feature.
At the start of the 30 lap race, Spatola jumped out to a commanding lead as Wenger, Jeremiah Hurst, Unzicker, and Myles Moos dueled for second. Unzicker was able to take the position on lap six and methodically reeled in Spatola. As Spatola was working his way past slower traffic, Unzicker dove in low in turn three to move into the lead with seven laps remaining. Spatola made several attempts to retake the lead, but Unzicker was able to hold off the Challenge.
After going winless in Late Model competition in 2020, El Paso’s Unzicker scored the win in his new MB Custom chassis.
With a smile on his face extending from Fairbury to El Paso, Unzicker commented from victory lane. “ It was an exciting race from my seat. I can’t imagine what it was like for the fans. Mike is a tough competitor. The car would work on the bottom and middle of the track”.
Spatola took second, with Jason Feger (hard charger), Garrett Alberson, and Eric Smith in the top five. The remainder of the top ten saw Myles Moos, Jeremiah Hurst, Wenger, Jeffrey Ledford, and Adam Tischhauser completing the top ten.
Highland’s Mike Harrison toured the ¼ mile track at a time of 14.120 to take quick time as 33 Modified drivers were on hand for their 25 lap, $1500 to win race.
Harrison, Will Krup, Bradley Jameson, and Nick Clubb won heat races, while Levi Kissinger took the semi.
Harrison took the lead at the wave of the green flag as two cautions fell in the first ten laps. Behind Harrison, Allen Weisser, Mike McKinney, Krup, and Kyle Hammer had a fierce race for second. McKinney took over the second spot on lap 12 and ran the top and bottom, closing in on the race leader. Harrison proved to be to much for the competition as he took his 20th career feature win.
“ We have a new Hughes race car, “ spoke Harrison. “ It just keeps getting better and better. I love coming to Fairbury and putting on a show for the fans.”
McKinney settled for the runner up spot, followed by Krup, Hammer, Weisser, Steven Brooks, Levi Kissinger (hard charger), Bradley Jameson, Travis Kohler, and Trevor Neville.
15.540 gave Andrew Funk fast time as 25 drivers vied for a starting position in the 15 lap Street Stock race.
Kyle Anderson, Jim Ransom, and Justin VanDrunen won heat races.
Anderson led the first 11 laps of the race before the yellow flag fell on the field. On the restart, Andrew and Joel Funk both got by Anderson, as his tires began to fade. Joel was able to hold off Andrew took take the race win.
“ Holy smoke. I didn’t know if I had enough in me after that, “ Funk said. “ The 23 car wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Rick Thomas”.
Younger brother Andrew ended the race in second, with Anderson, Zach Zuberbier, Michael Schomas, Josh Hetherington, Pete Odell, Dustin Pruitt, Adam Williams, and Brice Slavens (hard charger) completing the top ten.
Defending track champion Tommy Duncan’s lap of 14.827 gave him fast time in the 15 lap, CR Towing Sportsman race.
Two heat races saw Duncan and Tyler Roth taking the wins.
Duncan proved to be the class of the field on this night as he led flag to flag for the win.
“ We have a good car to work with this year, Duncan said. “ It helped to start on the front row with the track being slick”.
Fairbury’s 2020 rookie of the year winner, Austin Friedman (hard charger) finished second, with Roth, Anthony Craven, Lyndon Whitfill, Matt Ramer,Landon Miller, Makinzi Semmens, Brandan Ramer, and Austin Lipe completing the field.
A field of 15 Hobby-Modified drivers saw Bryce Cunningham and Thad Gee winning heat races for their 12 lap race.
In a wild, caution plagued race, Gee avoided the mishaps to take the win. Luke Gebhardt, Jordan Walker, Wes Ricketts, Scott Brown (hard charger), Jake Green, Reid Gall, Cunningham, Ryan Kohler, and Ty Stutzman rounded out the top ten.
Racing will return this Saturday with another FALS Cup weekly program.