Dirt track racing

    A large crowd braved cold temperatures as the Fairbury American Legion Speedway opened its 72nd year of racing action. Taking feature wins were Michael Kloos, Tyler Nicely, AJ Meiferdt, Lake Nichoalds and Jason Brandt.
    The hobby-modified class has been designed to introduce people with aspirations to experience racing and possible moving on to different classes.
    Thad Gee took the heat race win for the eight cars on hand. In the 12-lap feature, Gee led until dropping out on the third lap with mechanical issues. Brandt of East Peoria assumed the lead and held a five-car length advantage over Mike Petersen for the remainder of the race.
    Brendan Patterson, Makinzi Semmens, and Bryan Saner completed the top five.
    “It’s good to be back in victory lane,” Brandt said. “We did a lot of work on the car in the off season. I think we will be in good shape.”
    Ten cars signed in for the CR Towing Sportsman 15-lap race. Nichoalds of Onarga was the heat race winner. He then drove a smooth, steady race and pulled away from his competition for the triumph in the feature.
    Rick Thomas held off the persistent challenges from Amber Crouch for second. Anthony Craven, driving his father’s car was fourth, and the hard charger while Steven Mattingly finished in fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Tyler Roth, Brandon Pralle, Scott Williams, Eric Legner and Dustin Mounce.
    Speaking in the winner’s circle, Nichoalds spoke of the hard work by his crew. “I didn’t know it, but after the heat race, we found a broken tie rod. I have to thank my crew for getting me back out for the feature.”
    Infrequent visitor Joe Brown turned back 20 other drivers in qualifying for the Tool’s Auto Sales Street Stock 15-lap contest witth a 15.835-second trip. Brown, Michael Clark and Dane Arvin won heat races.
    Brown led over Clark early in the feature race as eighth starting Coal City’s Meiferdt picked off cars and found himself in second by the seventh lap. A caution came out on the eighth lap and Meiferdt took advantage to move by Brown for the lead.
    Clark took over second and made a brief run at Meiferdt, but Meiferdt proved to be too strong for his competitors on this night. He also earned the hard-charger award. Clark, Brown, Curtis Radke and Dane Arvin made up the top five. Barry Sauder led the second five, which included Peter Odell, Mitch Hahn, Ryan Anderson and Chad Sauder.
    “We started out slow in the heat race and threw the kitchen sink at the car for the feature,” Meiferdt said. “I don’t know what worked, but it took off in the feature.”
    A stout field of Varsitee Screen Printing Modified drivers were on hand for a 20-lap feature race. Steven Brooks topped 30 other drivers with a 14.008-second lap time in qualifying. Heat race wins went to Nicely of Owensboro, Ky., Jeffrey Ledford and Chad Bauer. Nick Clubb took the B Main.
    Nicely has struggled thus far in the 2017 campaign with DNF’s and several top fives to show for his results. Making the haul from Kentucky, Nicely held the field in check to post his first win of the year. Ledford shook off a brief challenge from Steven Brooks, but wasn’t able to pose a threat to Nicely and settled for second. Jay Ledford, Brooks and Bauer completed the first five positions. The rest of the top ten were Jeff Curl (hard charger), Jamie Lomax, Jimmy Dehm, TD Burger and Rich Dawson.
    The preliminary for the main event of the night had 27 registered in the I Beam Sliding Doors Late Model, which was a 30-lap feature. Jay Morris set quick time at 13.058 seconds. Ryan Unzicker, Daniel Flessner and Kevin Weaver won their respected heat races and Scott Bull was the B main winner.
    The final 10 circuits of the big race had the fans on their feet as Trenton's Kloos rode the bottom of the track while Unzicker and Jason Feger tried different grooves to move into the lead. Kloos weaved and dodged lapped traffic in the closing laps, in a race that was not decided until Jim Whittington waved the checkered flag.
    Feger held on for second, followed by early race leader, Unzicker. Mike Spatola and Scott Schmitt. The second five were Jordon Bauer, Taylor Scheffler, Scott Bull (hard charger), Chad Zobrist and Rich Bell.
    Kloos, preparing for a big racing weekend in early May, commented in the winner’s circle, “ That was a fun race when you can go two-three wide with the caliber of these drivers. We came up on lap traffic and I had to make a decision on where to go. Luckily it worked out.”
    This Saturday night will be another regular night of racing with the second of the Alkota “Keep it Clean” series points on the line.