Babb Tops McDowell & Pierce In Memorable Prairie Dirt Classic Battle To Finish At Fairbury American Legion Speedway
Illinois Star Thrills Packed House, Keeps $20,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Prize From Leaving State
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
FAIRBURY, IL – July 27, 2013 – Shannon Babb battled and battled and battled….and finally came out on top of a Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main for the ages on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.
The 39-year-old star from Moweaqua, Ill., thrilled his home-state crowd, outdueling Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., down the stretch to win a 100-lap race that was arguably the most dramatic of the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series campaign.
For a driver who since 2008 has tried so hard – but continually fallen just short – to score a signature WoO LMS triumph in the Illini 100 at nearby Farmer City Raceway, mastering another bullring in his backyard to the tune of a $20,050 first-place check holds extra significance.
“This ranks right up there with the Illini 100 to me,” said Babb, who previously won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2002 and 2006. “Twenty-grand (to win a dirt Late Model race) right here in Illinois is unheard of, and I’m just tickled to death (to win it).
“Having this many people here, a 100-lapper at Fairbury, $20,000 to win and all the Outlaw guys here – it was cool. It’s something that’s hard to get.”
After watching the 16-year-old Pierce use the inside groove to march forward from the 17th starting spot and take the lead on lap 29, Babb stuck to his preferred outside line around the high-banked, quarter-mile oval and reached second place on lap 48. Babb then relentlessly chased Pierce for the remainder of the distance, nosing ahead to lead briefly on lap 80 and laps 89-90 before gaining full command on lap 93 and holding off both Pierce and McDowell, 47, over the final circuits.
Babb, Pierce and McDowell ran three-wide at times during the last five laps, igniting the packed house that turned out for the biggest event in Fairbury’s storied history. The trio came off turn two close together on the final lap, but Pierce and McDowell vied for the same real estate in turn three and lost momentum, allowing Babb to vault away to the checkered flag in his Victory Circle car.
McDowell settled for second place in his Team Dillon MasterSbilt machine, 0.730 of a second behind Babb. Pierce registered a career-best WoO LMS finish of third in a car built by his father Bob.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., quietly rallied from a lap-39 pit stop for a left-rear tire change to finish fourth in the Sweeteners Plus Warrior, reaching the position with just four circuits left in the 100. He used a WoO LMS points provisional to start 24th and actually went a lap down early in the race but was reinstated to the lead lap by the tour’s ‘Outlaw Pardon’ rule when a caution flag flew on lap 39.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., placed fifth in the Kennedy Motorsports Capital Race Car after climbing as high as third from the 11th starting spot. He regained second place in the WoO LMS points standings from Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who was never a factor while finishing two laps down in 19th place.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., remained atop the WoO LMS points standings with a sixth-place finish after starting 20th.
Babb, who started sixth, worked hard for his 11th career WoO LMS victory but first since Sept. 18, 2010, at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.
“It felt like we was in a hornet’s nest the whole race,” said Babb, who ran inside the top five virtually from start to finish. “Nobody got away from everybody. Little Bobby got out there on us a little bit (midway through the PDC) – he was soft on tires and was real slow on the bottom – but the top here is always just as equal as the bottom and we got rolling up there.”
After swapping the lead with Pierce five times from lap 81 to 93, Babb found some extra speed to keep both Pierce and McDowell behind him during the race’s final frenetic laps.
“I tried not to step it up as hard as I could till five (laps) to go,” said Babb. “You get your tires hot (running hard) and then you start shoving the nose, so I was rolling along there about 90 percent. Then when that flagman gave me five to go I stepped it up a little bit and started using the center of the berm to shove me off and get a little bit of a run off the corner.”
The PDC remained in doubt until the final lap when Babb made a strategic move that ultimately proved decisive. He altered his entry into turn three, preventing the low-running Pierce and middle-occupying McDowell from mounting challenges.
“When you’re going down to the last lap you’re gonna get a slide-job if you drive in to three too high, park and leave room for ’em,” said Babb. “Somebody’s gonna do it if you open the door. I would do it to somebody – it’s $20,000, you know.
“So I drove into turn three, went low, drifted out and caught the cushion off (turn four). You just have to protect yourself on the last lap and that’s what I did.”
McDowell, who started second and led laps 1-28 but nearly fell out of the top 10 midway through the race, had his forward progress slowed ever-so-slightly by Babb’s lane change. Pierce attempted to fill the gap underneath McDowell in a last-ditch bid to become the youngest A-Main winner in WoO LMS history, but contact between the two ended their hopes of unseating Babb.
“The last lap Shannon was protecting the bottom like I would’ve, so I checked up and Little Bobby got in there,” said McDowell, who made his first-ever appearance at Fairbury and was looking for his first WoO LMS win since Sept. 23, 2005, at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway. “We all got to beating and banging a little bit for the win. I was just trying to get to the flag.
“We just feel pretty fortunate to come home second. I really got lost on the racetrack when (a lap-43 scrape with Babb in turn three) happened and it took me awhile to get back in a rhythm and find that middle (lane).”
Pierce, meanwhile, was a dejected teenager after flirting with the biggest victory of his budding career. The soon-to-be high-school junior stayed glued to the extreme inside of the track to reach the front of the pack and battled toe-to-toe with Babb and McDowell, but he couldn’t quite finish the job.
“I think my left-rear (tire) was going away there at the end and theirs were coming in,” said Pierce, who lost second place to McDowell on lap 97. “Shannon was getting going really good on the top, and once I saw him there I knew it was gonna be a really good race because he doesn’t like to give up.”
Pierce admitted in Victory Lane that he was “just pretty mad right now” over two factors that he felt contributed to his heartbreaking loss. According to Pierce, the repositioning of marker tires on the inside of the turns by track crews during caution periods left him unable to run the precise low line he used in his charge to the front and the last-lap get-together with McDowell effectively finished off his chances at victory.
Finishing in positions 7-10 was Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., who sat third when the race’s final caution flag flew on lap 83 for debris; Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who earned a $500 bonus for capturing the DirtonDirt.com ‘Bullring Bonus’ for being the DIRTcar UMP regular with the best combined finishes in the Illini 100 and PDC; polesitter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.; and Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.
Four caution flags slowed the event, none for serious incidents. Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., slowed with a blown right-rear tire on lap five; Tyler Reddick of DuQuoin, Ill., fell off the pace on lap 39; and Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg, Manitoba, spun in turn one on lap 64.
Sheppard and Richards began Saturday night’s racing program by scoring victories in the 20-lap B-Mains.
WoO LMS regular Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., failed to qualify for the PDC – he finished seventh in a B-Main and was not eligible to use a tour emergency provisional – but he salvaged his visit to Fairbury by winning the 30-lap Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race that capped the evening’s action. His triumph over Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., was worth $2,000 – more than last-place paid in the 100.
The WoO LMS will remain in the Midwest for the next week for events at two tracks in Wisconsin and one in Iowa. The tour moves on to Shawano (Wis.) Speedway on Tues., July 30, before contesting the 26th annual USA Nationals on Aug. 1-3 at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., and a mid-week show on Mon., Aug. 5, at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ’24th Annual Prairie Dirt Classic’ at Fairbury American Legion Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (6) Shannon Babb/100 $20,050
2. (2) Dale McDowell/100 $10,050
3. (17) Bobby Pierce/100 $6,500
4. (24) Tim McCreadie/100 $5,650
5. (11) Shane Clanton/100 $4,550
6. (20) Josh Richards/100 $3,700
7. (7) Brian Shirley/100 $2,750
8. (19) Brandon Sheppard/100 $3,000
9. (1) Billy Moyer/100 $2,500
10. (15) Chub Frank/100 $2,800
11. (5) Mike Spatola/100 $1,900
12. (25) Scott Bull/100 $1,800
13. (8) Tyler Reddick/100 $1,750
14. (13) Kyle Logue/100 $1,700
15. (10) McKay Wenger/100 $1,600
16. (3) Derek Chandler/100 $1,580
17. (27) Eric Wells/98 $910
18. (23) Rick Eckert/98 $2,190
19. (21) Darrell Lanigan/98 $2,170
20. (12) Eric Smith/98 $1,500
21. (4) Kevin Weaver/76 $1,500
22. (26) Joe Harlan/69 $1,500
23. (18) Randy Korte/62 $1,500
24. (9) Ricky Weiss/62 $1,525
25. (22) Tim Fuller/55 $2,050
26. (14) Billy Drake/38 $1,500
27. (28) Bub McCool/28 $660
28. (16) Aaron Ricketts/25 $1,500
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 43 Mins., 49.357 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.730 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (laps 5, 39, 64, 83)
Lap Leaders: McDowell (1-28); Pierce (29-80); Babb (81); Pierce (82-88); Babb (89-90); Pierce (91-92); Babb (93-100)
Provisional Starters: Eckert, McCreadie (WoO points); Bull, J. Harlan (track); Wells, McCool (WoO emergency)
Rookie of the Race: Wells ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Pierce ($500)
B-Main No. 1 (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Darrell Lanigan, 3. Torin Mettille, 4. Daren Friedman, 5. Eric Wells, 6. Morgan Bagley, 7. Clint Smith, 8. Mike Mullvain, 9. Ryan Unzicker, 10. Tim McCreadie, 11. Joe Harlan, 12. Jay Morris, 13. Steve Thorston, 14. Snooke Dehm, 15. Bub McCool, 16. John Mason, 17. Eric Vaughan
B-Main No. 2 (20 laps – Top 2 Transfer): 1. Josh Richards, 2. Tim Fuller, 3. Rick Eckert, 4. Frankie Heckenast, 5. Steve Sheppard Jr., 6. Jimmy Mars, 7. Dillon Wood, 8. Kent Robinson, 9. Donny Walden, 10. Daniel Flessner, 11. Brian Dunn, 12. Tom Thoennes, 13. Rich Harlan, 14. Scott Bull, 15. Mike McGuire, 16. Scott Schmitt
Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race Finish (30 laps): 1. Clint Smith ($2,000); 2. Kent Robinson ($1,200); 3. Daren Friedman ($900); 4. Dillon Wood ($800); 5. Ryan Unzicker ($700); 6. Frankie Heckenast ($600); 7. Scott Schmitt ($575); 8. Mike Mullvain ($550); 9. Torin Mettille ($525); 10. Steve Thorston ($500); 11. Tom Thoennes ($475); 12. Donny Walden ($450); 13. Jay Morris ($425); 14. Daniel Flessner ($400); 15. Rich Harlan ($375); 16. Snookie Dehm ($350); 17. Steve Sheppard Jr. ($325); 18. Eric Vaughan ($300); 19. Brian Dunn ($300); 20. Mike McGuire ($300)
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners (awards presented to noted finisher/qualifier or next highest displaying decal:
Ohlins Shocks ($50 cash to fast qualifier): Billy Moyer
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner): Torin Mettille/Josh Richards
VP Race Fuels ‘Nice Jugs’ Award: (One VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main): Torin Mettille
Wrisco Aluminum (3 sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner only): Shannon Babb
Armor All (One case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main): Shannon Babb
Comp Cams ($50 certificate to A-Main winner): Shannon Babb
QuarterMaster ($100 certificate to A-Main winner, $50 certificate to 5th-place finish): Shannon Babb/McKay Wenger
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner): Shannon Babb
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main): Dale McDowell
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Roush Yates ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main): Josh Richards
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 5th-place finisher in A-Main): Josh Richards
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
American Race Wheels ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main): Billy Moyer
VP Race Fuels ($50 cash to 8th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
Edelbrock Manifolds ($50 cash to 9th-finisher in A-Main): Billy Moyer
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main): Chub Frank
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 11th-place finisher in A-Main): Ryan Unzicker
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main): Tyler Reddick
JRI Shocks ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main): Bub McCool
Super Flow Dynos ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main): Kyle Logue
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 16th-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Eric Wells
Klotz Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Wells
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 18th-place finisher in A-Main): Rick Eckert
QuarterMaster ($50 certificate to 19th-place finisher in A-Main): Eric Smith
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 certificate to 20th-place finisher in A-Main): Ricky Weiss
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher in A-Main, redeemable w/next purchase of set): Randy Korte
Roush Yates ($50 gift card to 22nd-place finisher in A-Main): Randy Korte
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main): Ricky Weiss
XS Power ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Shannon Babb
Roush Yates ($25 gift card to driver who leads most laps in the A-Main): Bobby Pierce
Reliable Painting Award (one free tire): Eric Wells
2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 27 – 30 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Josh Richards 4226
2. Shane Clanton 4186 (-40)
3. Darrell Lanigan 4162 (-64)
4. Rick Eckert 4080 (-146)
5. Tim McCreadie 3926 (-300)
6. Eric Wells 3866 (-360)
7. Tim Fuller 3856 (-370)
8. Chub Frank 3796 (-430)
9. Morgan Bagley 3768 (-458)
10. Bub McCool 3766 (-460)
11. Clint Smith 3610 (-616)
12. Scott James 1958 (-2268)
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: American Racing Custom Wheels (Official Custom Wheel), Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), KMC (Official Custom Truck Wheel), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing Fuel (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award) and McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award); in addition to contingency sponsors: Butlerbuilt, Cometic Gasket, Comp Cams, Dominator Race Products, Edelbrock, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, JRI Shocks, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, QuarterMaster, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Superflow Dynos, Wrisco Aluminum and XS Power Racing Batteries; along with manufacturer sponsors Capital Race Cars, Integra Shocks, GRT Chassis, Jake’s Carts, Racing Electronics, Rocket Chassis, TNT Rescue, and Warrior Chassis.
LIVE UPDATES 7/27: World of Outlaws Late Model Series Prairie Dirt Classic At Fairbury American Legion Speedway
FAIRBURY, IL – July 27, 2013 – The World of Outlaws Late Model Series Prairie Dirt Classic weekend concludes tonight at Fairbury American Legion Speedway with a grand finale topped by a 100-lap A-Main paying $20,000 to win.
Tonight’s program features two 20-lap B-Mains, the Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race and the huge Prairie Dirt Classic 100. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. CT.
For live blog-style updates including news, notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ button below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to read the latest information.
Cat Daddy salvages night
12:30 a.m. – WoO LMS regular Clint Smith failed to qualify for the Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main, but he soothed his disappointment with a lucrative victory in the 30-lap Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race that capped Saturday night’s action.
Smith charged forward from the sixth starting spot to score a triumph worth $2,000 — more than last place paid in the 100-lap feature.
Kent Robinson finished second, followed by Daren Friedman, Dillon Wood and Ryan Unzicker.
Prairie Dirt Shootout Non-Qualifiers’ Race Finish: 1. Clint Smith, 2. Kent Robinson, 3. Daren Friedman, 4. Dillon Wood, 5. Ryan Unzicker, 6. Frankie Heckenast, 7. Scott Schmitt, 8. Mike Mullvain, 9. Torin Mettille, 10. Steve Thorston, 11. Tom Thoennes, 12. Donny Walden, 13. Jay Morris, 14. Daniel Flessner, 15. Rich Harlan, 16. Snookie Dehm, 17. Steve Sheppard Jr., 18. Eric Vaughan, 19. Brian Dunn, 20. Mike Vaughan
Babb wins a classic
11:15 p.m. CT – Shannon Babb battled and battled and battled….and finally came out on top of a Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main for the ages.
After watching 16-year-old Bobby Pierce use the inside groove to march forward from the 17th starting spot and take the lead on lap 29, Babb stuck to his preferred outside line around the quarter-mile oval and reached second place on lap 48. Babb then relentlessly chased Pierce for the remainder of the distance, nosing ahead to lead briefly on laps 80 and 89-90 before gaining full command on lap 93 and holding off both Pierce and Dale McDowell over the final circuits.
Babb, Pierce and McDowell ran three-wide at times during the last five laps, igniting the packed house that turned out for the biggest event in Fairbury’s storied history. The trio came off turn two close together on the final lap, but Pierce’s last-ditch bid for the victory entering turn three caused him and McDowell to lose momentum, allowing Babb to vault away to the $20,000 checkered flag.
McDowell settled for second place, 0.730 of a second behind Babb. Pierce registered a career-best WoO LMS finish of third, while Tim McCreadie quietly rallied from a mid-race pit stop to finish fourth and Shane Clanton placed fifth.
Prairie Dirt Classic Finish: 1. Shannon Babb, 2. Dale McDowell, 3. Bobby Pierce, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Shane Clanton, 6. Josh Richards, 7. Brian Shirley, 8. Brandon Sheppard, 9. Billy Moyer, 10. Chub Frank, 11. Mike Spatola, 12. Scott Bull, 13. Tyler Reddick, 14. Kyle Logue, 15. McKay Wenger, 16. Derek Chandler, 17. Eric Wells, 18. Rick Eckert, 19. Darrell Lanigan, 20. Eric Smith, 21. Kevin Weaver, 22. Joe Harlan, 23. Randy Korte, 24. Ricky Weiss, 25. Tim Fuller, 26. Billy Drake, 27. Bub McCool, 28. Aaron Ricketts
Billy on the pole
8:50 p.m. CT – Five-time Prairie Dirt Classic champion Billy Moyer drew the pole position for the 100-lap A-Main just moments ago, putting him in the catbird’s seat for his bid to sweep this year’s two century-grind WoO LMS events in the state of Illinois. In April, he inherited the victory in the Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway after apparent winner Jason Feger was disqualified because a tire he ran that weekend failed a laboratory test.
Dale McDowell, who is racing at Fairbury for the first time this weekend, will start from the outside pole. Derek Chandler drew the No. 3 position, with 1991 Prairie Dirt Classic winner Kevin Weaver picking fourth, Mike Spatola taking fifth and two-time PDC winner Shannon Babb picking the sixth spot.
UMP Modified consolations are nearing completion, setting the stage for the Prairie Dirt Classic. The 28-car field will be rolling onto the track for driver introductions after the Fairbury track crew completes a reconditioning of the racing surface; it’s estimated that the track work will be completed by approximately 9:20 p.m. CT.
Follow the WoO LMS on Twitter for in-race updates of the 100-lapper….
Prairie Dirt Classic Lineup:
Row 1: Billy Moyer/Dale McDowell
Row 2: Derek Chandler/Kevin Weaver
Row 3: Mike Spatola/Shannon Babb
Row 4: Brian Shirley/Tyler Reddick
Row 5: Ricky Weiss/McKay Wenger
Row 6: Shane Clanton/Eric Smith
Row 7: Kyle Logue/Billy Drake
Row 8: Chub Frank/Aaron Ricketts
Row 9: Bobby Pierce/Randy Korte
Row 10: Brandon Sheppard/Josh Richards
Row 11: Darrell Lanigan/Tim Fuller
Row 12: Rick Eckert/Scott Bull
Row 13: Tim McCreadie/Joe Harlan
Row 14: Eric Wells/Bub McCool
7:50 p.m. CT – Shane Clanton turned the fastest lap in the practice session for last night’s 18 Prairie Dirt Classic qualifiers, circling the quarter-mile in 13.796 seconds. Bobby Pierce was second-fastest at 13.944 seconds, followed by Brian Shirley (13.990), Mike Spatola (14.222) and Billy Moyer (14.224).
The UMP Modifieds are currently on the track for heat-race action. At the conclusion of the open-wheel prelims, last night’s six heat winners — Dale McDowell, Derek Chandler, Billy Moyer, Mike Spatola, Shannon Babb and Kevin Weaver — will gather in front of Fairbury’s packed covered grandstand to redraw for the top-six starting spots in the Prairie Dirt Classic 100.
B-Shep, Richards grab wins
7:40 p.m. CT – Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards earned hard-fought victories in the pair of 20-lap Last Chance Showdowns.
In the first B-Main, Sheppard overtook Darrell Lanigan for the lead on lap 12 and march on to the checkered flag. Lanigan held on to finish second, earning the final transfer spot to the A-Main.
Richards, meanwhile, captured the second B-Main after a torrid battle with Tim Fuller. Fuller passed Richards for the top spot on lap 14, but coming to the white flag Fuller got hung up behind Rich Harlan between turns three and four, allowing Richards to slip back in front to score the win. Fuller hung on to finish second over Rick Eckert, who made a late charge to challenge for the transfer position.
WoO LMS points provisional starting spots in the 100-lapper were claimed by Eckert and Tim McCreadie, while Scott Bull and Joe Harlan received the track provisional spots. Eric Wells and Bub McCool, meanwhile, are eligible for WoO LMS emergency provisionals, which require them to forfeit their start money ($1,500).
B-Main No. 1 Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Darrell Lanigan, Torin Mettille, Daren Friedman, Eric Wells, Morgan Bagley, Clint Smith, Mike Mullvain, Ryan Unzicker, Tim McCreadie, Joe Harlan, Jay Morris, Scott Thorston, Snookie Dehm, Bub McCool, John Mason, Eric Vaughan
B-Main No. 2 Finish: Josh Richards, Tim Fuller, Rick Eckert, Frankie Heckenast, Steve Sheppard Jr., Jimmy Mars, Dillon Wood, Kent Robinson, Donny Walden, Daniel Flessner, Brian Dunn, Tom Thoennes, Rich Harlan, Scott Bull, Mike McGuire, Scott Schmitt
6:35 p.m. CT – Judging by the just-completed hot laps for B-Main cars, the Fairbury surface is clearly faster tonight.
Last night Frankie Heckenast was the lone driver in time trials to break into the 12-second bracket (12.986 seconds), and Billy Moyer was the only sub-13-second clocker in heat action (12.888 seconds). But tonight’s first practice session for Late Models (the 18 drivers who qualified last night will hot-lap later) saw 14 drivers break into the 12-second realm, led by Josh Richards’s circuit of 12.476 seconds.
Jimmy Mars, who lost the third and final transfer spot in last night’s sixth heat on the last lap, was second-fastest on the practice speed charts at 12.551 seconds. Tim Fuller was third-fastest (12.655), local Torin Mettille was fourth (12.784) and DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brandon Sheppard was fifth (12.804).
UMP Modifieds are on the track now for a single lap of qualifying, and then the two WoO LMS B-Mains will hit the speedway.
4:55 p.m. CT – The competition will be fierce in tonight’s two 20-lap B-Mains, which will transfer just two drivers from each to the Prairie Dirt Classic.
With nine of the 11 current WoO LMS regulars scheduled to run B-Mains — six in the first, three in the second — the touring racers will have plenty of pressure on them. Darrell Lanigan (outside pole in the first B-Main) and Tim Fuller and Josh Richards (front row in the second B-Main) are in the best position to transfer to the A-Main, but nothing is certain on a quarter-mile bullring that is foreign territory to all the World of Outlaws travelers. The only WoO LMS regular who raced at Fairbury before this weekend is Lanigan — and he said his visit to the track came years ago, probably “sometime in the ’90s.”
There are a total of four provisional starting spots available for the Prairie Dirt Classic 100. Two will go to the non-qualifiers who sit highest in the WoO LMS points standings, and two are reserved for Fairbury regulars.
WoO LMS regulars who fail to qualify through a B-Main and miss out on one of the tour’s two points provisionals will also have the option to start the A-Main at the rear using an ’emergency provisional,’ which means they must forfeit last-place money ($1,500). Both Clint Smith and rookie Morgan Bagley are already out of emergency provisionals for the season, however, so their only option is to finish among the top two in a B-Main — a tall order indeed for both, with Bagley starting eighth and Smith starting 14th in the first B-Main.
B-Main No. 1 Lineup:
Row 1: Daren Friedman/Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Torin Mettille/Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: John Mason/Eric Wells
Row 4: Bub McCool/Morgan Bagley
Row 5: Mike Mullvain/Tim McCreadie
Row 6: Snookie Dehm/Eric Vaughan
Row 7: Ryan Unzicker/Clint Smith
Row 8: Jay Morris/Steve Thorston
Row 9: Joe Harlan
B-Main No. 2 Lineup:
Row 1: Tim Fuller/Josh Richards
Row 2: Jimmy Mars/Scott Schmitt
Row 3: Frankie Heckenast/Kent Robinson
Row 4: Daniel Flessner/Dillon Wood
Row 5: Rick Eckert/Brian Dunn
Row 6: Scott Bull/Donny Walden
Row 7: Steve Sheppard Jr./Tom Thoennes
Row 8: Mike McGuire/Rich Harlan
4:40 p.m. CT – Fans are streaming into the cozy fairgrounds that house Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Track officials are expecting a packed house of fans, many of whom are currently visiting with drivers at an autograph session behind the backstretch grandstands.
3:55 p.m. CT – After afternoon showers caused a delay in the start of last night’s qualifying program, today’s weather is much improved, albeit a bit fall-like. The skies are partly cloudy and temperatures are in the 60s, giving fans and racers almost ideal conditions for the 24th annual Prairie Dirt Classic.
A driver autograph session at the t-shirt trailers and a tent in the backstretch souvenir area is scheduled to start at 4 p.m CT. The drivers’ meeting will begin at 5:15 p.m. CT.