Heckenast Jr. Snares FALS Frenzy Win
By Rocky Ragusa
Fairbury,Ill. (10/9/21) The Fairbury Speedway concluded their 2021 racing season with the annual “FALS Frenzy'' presented by Edelman Inc. 132 cars in three classes journeyed to America’s Dirt Track looking to add their name as a feature race winner. Frankfort’s Frank Heckenast Jr. (Late Model), Michael Long from Fowler (Modified), and New Berlin’s Jose Parga (Pro Late Model) were able to take the big checks and accolades in their respective divisions.
Heckenast Jr. admitted at one time to having a dislike for Fairbury, preferring the bigger ⅜ and ½ mile tracks, but in the last four years of racing at Fairbury on a limited basis the 33 year old has added six wins. Saturday night was the biggest paying win of his career as he took the lead from Gordy Gundaker on lap 34 and pulled away to win the $15,000 first prize.
“ This place is so hard to win at”, Heckenast Jr. said. “ Matt Curl does a great job and everyone that works here. This place has been building up for years. This is one of the races that I have wanted to win. I would rather win this than $20,000 just because of the prestige of this race and place”.
World of Outlaw point leader, Brandon Sheppard got by Gundaker with three laps to go to finish in the runner up position and Gundaker settled for third. Ryan Unzicker came home in fourth, followed by Tanner English, McKay Wenger, Garrett Alberson, Ryan Gustin, Jason Feger, and Trevor Gundaker.
Wenger led group one qualifiers with a time of 12.541 and Sheppard paced group two with a time of 12.488 as 43 drivers looked to make the starting grid in the 50 lap race.
Gundaker, Feger, Sheppard, and Heckenast Jr. won heat races, while Mike Mullen and Dennis Erb Jr. were the B-main winners.
54 Modifieds took time trials for their 30 lap, $3000 to win race. Group one had Allen Weisser turn a lap at 13.783 and for the fourth time in his seven races, Austin Friedman led group two with a time of 13.924.
Weisser, Kyle Steffens, Mike McKinney, Friedman, Mike Harrison and Timmy Hill won their heat races. Will Bennett and Trevor Neville earned their way into the feature by winning the two semi features.
In a race that saw the lead change hands eight times among four drivers, Michael Long came out on top for his first ever Fairbury feature race win. Running the top side of the speedway, Long made it look as if he were out on a Sunday drive and took the lead from Weisser with nine laps remaining to pick up the win.
“ We have raced here quite a bit, off and on, and finally got one here”, an excited Long commented. “ The car was good. I started in seventh and was able to get up to the front. As a driver, I am married to the top and made it work. It was easy on the top side as the race went on”.
Weisser led on four occasions for ten laps and finished in second, with track champion McKinney in third. Timmy Hill led two laps and finished in the fourth spot. St. Louis area hotshoe Steffens led one lap and took fifth place. Victor Lee, Dillion Husbaum, Alan Stipp, Michael Ledford, and Friedman completed the top ten.
35 Pro Late Model drivers made their second appearance of the year for a 25 lap, $1000 to win race. Spoon River Speedway track champion, Brandon Eskew led group one qualifiers with a time of 13.984. 13.891 was tops as Devin McLean led group two.
Aaron Heck, Eskew, McLean, and Bob Gardner won their heat race, while Roben Huffman came out on top in the semi feature.
Starting in the sixth position, Jose Parga took the lead from Heck on lap eight and for the 24th time this year, the DIRTcar National Champion came out ahead of the competition.
“ Fairbury is one of my favorite tracks,” the second generation driver from New Berlin said. “ We have had a good year and this tops them all. We try to race against the best competition and we proved to ourselves we are the best”.
Heck finished in second, followed by McLean, Eskew and Gardner. The second five had Matt Hammond, Amber Crouch, Blake Damery, Billy Knippenberg Jr., and Michael Marden finish in that order.
Friday night's program was a wash out. The next event on the schedule will take place at the Walton Centre in Fairbury on November 13 for the awards banquet.