Special Thursday racing event at Fairbury Speedway
FAIRBURY – Fairbury Speedway had a Thursday night special with late models and an All Star Circuit of Champions-Interstate Racing Association Winged Sprint Car combined race. Both races paid out $ 5,000 to the winner, which saw Frank Heckenast Jr rally to the victory of the latest model and Tyler Courtney go from thread to thread to claim the sprint car function.
The All Stars, making their first appearance at Fairbury since 1995, saw 32 drivers in attendance for a 30-lap race. Scotty Thiel clocked a lap of 11.310 seconds for quick time. Lan Madsen, Travis Philo, Courtney and Parker Price-Miller won the qualifying race. Cap Henry won the B-main. Courtney and Paul McMahan won their respective dash races to determine the top 10 starting positions.
Nicknamed “Sunshine”, Courtney established himself as the driver to beat at the start. Courtney got into motion early with Balog and Rico Abreu keeping the pace. As Courtney worked his way through slower traffic, he was able to distance himself from his competition.
A warning two laps from the finish set up a wild finish. Balog’s failed sliding job to take the lead allowed Abreu to sneak up to second place. Points leader Courtney was able to claim his fourth victory of the year.
“I should have started a little lower on that last reboot,” Courtney said. “I expected a slider, but Balog gave me just enough room so I had to go. We just needed to get a little better on that reboot and give the guy a hard time, but I led the turn that counts.
Courtney, Abreu and Balog took the podium with Madsen, Giovanni Scetzi, Thiel, Hunter Schuerenberg, Henry, Spencer Bayston and McMahan completing the top 10.
Shannon Babb’s time of 13.022 seconds gave her the fastest time as 20 late model drivers attempted to advance to their 40-lap race. Three qualifying races were held with Kevin Weaver, Babb and Ryan Unzicker winning.
Weaver took the lead for the start of the big-ticket event with Babb, Dennis Erb Jr., Unzicker and Eric Smith following. After two warnings on the second lap, Babb went to the top of the track and took the lead from Weaver in the first row on the ninth lap.
Unzicker passed Weaver on lap 16 and started to knock Babb down. Unzicker went to the top of the trail and approached Babb. As Unzicker looked to take the lead, he slipped into the first corner, giving Babb the opportunity to extend his lead.
McKay Wenger marked the wall for a warning with 11 laps to go. On the restart, Unzicker had to face Frank Heckenast Jr. Running alongside Unzicker, Heckenast came second with seven laps to go. As the white flag waved, Heckenast tried slide work and made contact with Babb. Babb slowed down enough for Heckenast to take the lead and claim the win.
“I feel bad for Babb,” Heckenast said apologetically. “He was my hero growing up and I would never make him run like that. I had Babb set up here and he pushed really hard in the threes and fours and stopped. It killed my momentum and I thought it was here. We were going to lose the race or go.
A downcast Babb settled for second, with Eric Smith, Unzicker, Weaver, Rich Bell Jr., Gordy Gundaker, Trevor Gundaker, Jeffrey Ledford and Mike Provenzano completing the top 10.
This Saturday night, Popejoy Inc. will host the annual Fan Appreciation Night. Five dollars will get you access to the gate while another weekly FALS Cup program takes place.