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Prairie Dirt Classic
Fairbury Speedway | Fairbury, Illinois
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Race Recap  

RICKY’S CLASSIC COMEBACK: Ricky Thornton Jr. Scores Thunderous Prairie Dirt Classic Win, Earns $62,000

Ricky Thornton Jr. has found his way to Victory Lane in almost every way this year. But the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway presented a new challenge.

After a broken crank trigger almost ended his night on Lap 81, he stormed from sixth to first in six laps, passing Bobby Pierce with 13 laps to go en route to the $50,000 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models Feature win – plus $12,000 in lap money ($62,000 overall on Saturday).

Outside pole-sitter Ryan Gustin took the early lead in the 100-lap crown jewel, sliding in front of Pierce as they reached Turn 2. The Marshalltown, IA driver’s lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Pierce thundered past him in Turn 4 to grab the lead on Lap 5.

Thornton was behind the two drivers in third when the first caution came out on Lap 8 for debris in Turn 2. On the next restart, Thornton used the outside lane to get around Gustin and take over second.

Several cautions allowed Pierce, from Oakwood, IL, to stay in clean air for the first 50 laps. But as the race hit its halfway point, the “Smooth Operator” found himself in lap traffic, allowing Thornton and Gustin to close in.

Bobby Pierce and Ricky Thornton Jr.
Bobby Pierce and Ricky Thornton Jr. battle for the lead/Jacy Norgaard photo

“RTJ” and Gustin traded second again in traffic until the #20RT pulled away on Lap 53 with his sights set on Pierce. That’s when Thornton, who was running the middle lane, switched to the top.

Thornton rode the cushion, quickly closing on Pierce as the leader tried to find a line to stay ahead. He made his first challenge for the lead on Lap 62, sliding him in Turns 1 and 2. But Pierce’s momentum was too strong as he kept his Longhorn Chassis ahead.

Eventually, Thornton’s perseverance paid off, crossing Pierce over in Turn 4 and taking the lead for the first time on Lap 72. However, eight laps later, the race almost slipped away.

As he entered Turn 3 on Lap 81, Thornton said he broke a crank trigger. That led to him slowing on the front stretch with cars going by and bringing out the caution. However, powered returned as the caution came out, allowing him to continue but found himself restarting sixth.

With 19 laps to go, his quest for $50,000 appeared to be over. But Thornton had other ideas.

He quickly returned to the cushion, needing one lap to return to the top five. Then on Lap 87, he dove to the middle, splitting Gustin and Hudson O’Neal in Turns 1 and 2. By the time they hit the backstretch, Thornton had cleared them both, sliding in front of O’Neal in Turn 4 and readying himself for another shot at Pierce.

On Lap 88, like his pass for the lead earlier in the race, Thornton nosed ahead of Pierce in Turn 4 to retake the lead. But a bobble on the cushion by Thornton in Turns 1 and 2 allowed Pierce to retake the lead on the backstretch.

With another crossover in Turns 3 and 4, Thornton powered past the #32 for good, leading the final 13 laps to score the win, and earned his total of $62,000 by leading 24 laps.

Thornton said he used his adversity as motivation in the final 20 laps.

“We broke a crank trigger there in Turn 3, and I’m freaking flipping switches and everything else, and finally, it came back to me,” Thornton said. “I didn’t think I was that far back, but I used it as motivation. After that, I said screw it. I was either going to win or tip it over.”

Ricky Thornton Jr. at the bank
Ricky Thornton Jr. celebrates his Prairie Dirt Classic win at Pontiac Bank/Jacy Norgaard photo

While Thornton has scored multiple wins paying $50,000 or more in 2023, it’s his first crown jewel victory with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models. He thanked his crew in Victory Lane and said they make it easy for him to drive every night.

“We’ve got a good enough car where I don’t have to ride hard the whole time,” Thornton said. “Bobby was really good there, but once we got to traffic, I felt like I was better. I just knew once we got to traffic and had a really long run, I’d have a shot, and it worked out for us.”

Pierce finished second, falling one spot short for the second time in three years. Despite his runner-up finish, he knew what it meant for the chase for the World of Outlaws title.

“We’re happy with it,” Pierce said. “We couldn’t get through the corners like [Thornton] did. I wasn’t going to cowboy up and do that with points on the line. I’m leading these points, so I have to focus on that.

“He was getting down those straightaways better than I did too. So if I would’ve pushed the issue, I don’t think I would’ve had anything for him. He was getting down the straightaways really good. He’s a heck of a wheelman, so congratulations to him on the win.”

Despite a second-place finish, Pierce earned $57,000 after leading 74 laps. He also extended his points lead over to 68 over Gustin, who finished third.

It’s Gustin’s second straight top-five in the event after finishing fifth in 2022.

“It’s definitely not what we wanted, but we’ll take it,” Gustin said. “I felt like I got going on the bottom and they kept knocking the tires back out on the yellows. That definitely didn’t help us. I kind of wanted to go up top there, but I went up there one lap and bounced real bad, and I knew we needed to finish for this point deal.”

Sheppard also snuck by O’Neal on the final lap to finish fourth, while O’Neal rounded out the top five.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Models head to Iowa for the next stop Summer of Money stop, the $15,000-to-win Hawkeye 50 at Boone Speedway.


If you can’t make it to the tracks, you can watch every World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model race live on DIRTVision.

CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Feature (100 Laps): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[3]; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce[2]; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin[1]; 4. B5-Brandon Sheppard[10]; 5. 1-Hudson O’Neal[6]; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley[5]; 7. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[8]; 8. 9-Nick Hoffman[18]; 9. 40B-Kyle Bronson[23]; 10. 96V-Tanner English[14]; 11. 11R-Josh Rice[13]; 12. 44-Chris Madden[4]; 13. 18D-Daulton Wilson[19]; 14. 97-Cade Dillard[15]; 15. 22-Chris Ferguson[12]; 16. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr[17]; 17. 25-Shane Clanton[24]; 18. 25F-Jason Feger[27]; 19. 89-Mike Spatola[25]; 20. 11-Gordy Gundaker[28]; 21. 18B-Shannon Babb[11]; 22. 1T-Tyler Erb[21]; 23. 1M-Mike Mataragas[16]; 24. 26H-Kyle Hammer[20]; 25. 32S-Chris Simpson[22]; 26. B12-Kevin Weaver[26]; 27. 19M-Wil Herrington[7]; 28. 33-Mike Harrison[9] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Kyle Bronson [+14]

Prairie Dirt Shootout (25 Laps): 1. 25F-Jason Feger[1]; 2. 24-Ryan Unzicker[5]; 3. 99-Jeff Larson[6]; 4. 84-Myles Moos[4]; 5. 58-Garrett Alberson[18]; 6. 89-Mike Spatola[10]; 7. 15-Justin Duty[7]; 8. 1ST-Johnny Scott[8]; 9. 31-Kye Blight[14]; 10. 5-Brandon Overton[13]; 11. 33H-Bill Hough[21]; 12. 81-Jason Riggs[11]; 13. 11-Gordy Gundaker[15]; 14. 27-Michael Lake[9]; 15. 18-Chase Junghans[12]; 16. B1-Brent Larson[3]; 17. 12-Doug Drown[2]; 18. (DNS) 25-Shane Clanton; 19. (DNS) 14G-Trevor Gundaker; 20. (DNS) 157-Mike Marlar; 21. (DNS) 42-Mckay Wenger

[Read More]
Feature Results
13+220RTRicky Thornton Jr.1000.00024Running150$50,000
22032Bobby Pierce 100-6.03074Running146$20,000
31-219RRyan Gustin 100-7.1014Running144$12,000
410+6B5Brandon Sheppard 100-7.315Running142$7,500
56+11Hudson O'Neal 100-7.403Running140$6,000
65-13SBrian Shirley 100-7.968Running138$5,000
78+128Dennis Erb Jr100-9.213Running136$4,750
818+109Nick Hoffman 100-9.877Running134$4,500
923+1440BKyle Bronson 100-11.631Running132$4,250
1014+496VTanner English 100-12.396Running130$4,000
1113+211RJosh Rice 100-12.990Running128$3,900
124-844Chris Madden 99-1 LapsRunning126$3,800
1319+618DDaulton Wilson 99-1 LapsRunning124$3,700
1415+197Cade Dillard 99-1 LapsRunning122$3,600
1512-322Chris Ferguson 99-1 LapsRunning120$3,500
1617+199JRFrank Heckenast Jr99-1 LapsRunning118$3,400
1724+725Shane Clanton 99-1 LapsRunning116$3,300
1827+925FJason Feger 98-2 LapsRunning114$3,200
1925+689Mike Spatola 98-2 LapsRunning112$3,100
2028+811Gordy Gundaker 85-15 LapsDNF110$110
2111-1018BShannon Babb 61-39 LapsDNF108$3,060
2221-11TTyler Erb 60-40 LapsDNF106$3,040
2316-71MMike Mataragas 58-42 LapsDNF104$3,020
2420-426HKyle Hammer 57-43 LapsDNF104$3,000
2522-332SChris Simpson 55-45 LapsDNF104$1,000
26260B12Kevin Weaver 38-62 LapsDNF104$3,000
277-2019MWil Herrington 36-64 LapsDNF104$3,000
289-1933Mike Harrison 36-64 LapsDNF104$3,000
FOX Factory Hard Charger: Kyle Bronson
Last Chance Showdown Results
12+199JRFrank Heckenast Jr150.00015Running0$0
24+226HKyle Hammer 15-4.876Running0$0
31-225FJason Feger 15-5.127Running0$0
411+784Myles Moos 15-5.810Running100$700
58+315Justin Duty 15-6.342Running100$475
610+489Mike Spatola 15-6.952Running0$0
713+65Brandon Overton 15-7.221Running100$400
83-525Shane Clanton 15-7.881Running0$0
96-314GTrevor Gundaker 15-10.605Running100$110
107-33Dale Markham 15-11.031Running100$110
1116+566CMatt Cosner 15-11.414Running100$110
129-36MDona Marcoullier 12-3 LapsDNF100$110
1315+2B12Kevin Weaver 9-6 LapsDNF0$0
145-98SKyle Strickler 2-13 LapsDNF100$110
1512-314WDustin Walker 2-13 LapsDNF100$110
1614-2Z61Alex Wilson 2-13 LapsDNF100$110
Last Chance Showdown 2 Results
1109Nick Hoffman 150.00015Running0$0
23+11TTyler Erb 15-1.802Running0$0
32-112Doug Drown 15-4.643Running100$300
45+124Ryan Unzicker 15-5.825Running100$1,000
56+11STJohnny Scott 15-6.479Running100$450
64-281Jason Riggs 15-6.832Running100$350
79+231Kye Blight 15-8.723Running100$425
87-1157Mike Marlar 15-9.397Running100$110
98-142Mckay Wenger 15-9.524Running100$110
1010030Todd Cooney 15-11.897Running100$110
1111010SScott Schmitt 14-1 LapsRunning100$110
1216+410Paul Parker 14-1 LapsRunning100$110
131309ZLyle Zanker 14-1 LapsRunning100$110
1415+179WGreg Wagner 14-1 LapsRunning100$110
1514-17Drake Troutman 0-15 LapsDNS100$0
1612-400Richie Stephens 0-15 LapsDNS100$0
Last Chance Showdown 3 Results
11018DDaulton Wilson 160.00016Running0$0
23+132SChris Simpson 16-0.486Running0$0
32-1B1Brent Larson 16-1.388Running100$300
415+1199Jeff Larson 16-1.559Running100$800
510+527Michael Lake 16-1.968Running100$300
64-218Chase Junghans 16-2.119Running100$300
714+711Gordy Gundaker 16-2.277Running0$0
813+558Garrett Alberson 16-2.468Running100$600
95-433HBill Hough 16-3.728Running100$375
1011+1T2Todd Bennett 16-4.930Running100$110
117-438Thomas Hunziker 15-1 LapsRunning100$110
129-32MMatt Mickelson 15-1 LapsRunning100$110
136-7J12Jason Wagner 14-2 LapsRunning100$110
1412-2130Chase Osterhoff 11-5 LapsDNF100$110
158-740BKyle Bronson 11-5 LapsDNF0$0
Hot Laps Results
1042Mckay Wenger Fairbury, IL12.7480.000
2018Chase Junghans Manhattan, KS12.817-0.069
30157Mike Marlar Winfield, TN12.827-0.079
4084Myles Moos Lincoln, IL12.830-0.082
5040BKyle Bronson Brandon, FL12.875-0.127
605Brandon Overton Evans, GA12.892-0.144
708SKyle Strickler Mooresville, NC12.902-0.154
8058Garrett Alberson Las Cruces, NM12.905-0.157
909Nick Hoffman Mooresville, NC12.910-0.162
10032SChris Simpson Oxford, IA12.911-0.163
11025Shane Clanton Zebulon, GA12.938-0.190
12099JRFrank Heckenast JrFrankfort, IL12.966-0.218
13033HBill Hough Thomasboro, IL12.980-0.232
14011Gordy Gundaker St. Charles, MO12.981-0.233
15081Jason Riggs College Grove, TN13.036-0.288
16012Doug Drown Wooster, OH13.046-0.298
17018DDaulton Wilson Fayetteville, NC13.074-0.326
1809ZLyle Zanker Rockford, IL13.077-0.329
19031Kye Blight Katanning, WAU13.086-0.338
20066CMatt Cosner Ridgeley, WV13.090-0.342
2101STJohnny Scott Las Cruces, NM13.117-0.369
22025FJason Feger Bloomington, IL13.126-0.378
2306MDona Marcoullier Houghton Lake, MI13.154-0.406
24026HKyle Hammer Clinton, IL13.170-0.422
25099Jeff Larson Freeport, IL13.182-0.434
26024Ryan Unzicker El Paso, IL13.187-0.439
270130Chase Osterhoff Kankakee, IL13.192-0.444
28027Michael Lake Uniontown, PA13.194-0.446
290J12Jason Wagner East Peoria, IL13.209-0.461
300T2Todd Bennett Peoria, IL13.209-0.461
310B1Brent Larson Lake Elmo, MN13.212-0.464
32015Justin Duty Mulino, OR13.226-0.478
33089Mike Spatola Manhattan, IL13.227-0.479
3403Dale Markham Maple Park, IL13.242-0.494
3501TTyler Erb New Waverly, TX13.274-0.526
36030Todd Cooney Des Moines, IA13.296-0.548
370B12Kevin Weaver Gibson City, IL13.338-0.590
38014GTrevor Gundaker St. Charles, MO13.343-0.595
39010Paul Parker Kaukauna, WI13.414-0.666
40014WDustin Walker Polk, MO13.503-0.755
41079WGreg Wagner Polo, IL13.732-0.984
420Z61Alex Wilson Chenoa, IL13.940-1.192
4302MMatt Mickelson Keokuk, IA14.021-1.273
King of the Hill Results
11025FJason Feger 250.000Running0$0
25+324Ryan Unzicker 25-0.096Running0$0
36+399Jeff Larson 25-1.030Running0$0
44084Myles Moos 25-1.623Running0$0
518+1358Garrett Alberson 25-3.441Running0$0
610+489Mike Spatola 25-5.331Running0$0
77015Justin Duty 25-5.427Running0$0
8801STJohnny Scott 25-5.498Running0$0
914+531Kye Blight 25-5.818Running0$0
1013+35Brandon Overton 25-6.628Running0$0
1121+1033HBill Hough 24-1 LapsRunning0$0
1211-181Jason Riggs 19-6 LapsDNF0$0
1315+211Gordy Gundaker 11-14 LapsDNF0$0
149-527Michael Lake 10-15 LapsDNF0$0
1512-318Chase Junghans 8-17 LapsDNF0$0
163-13B1Brent Larson 4-21 LapsDNF0$0
172-1512Doug Drown 1-24 LapsDNF0$0
1816-225Shane Clanton 0-25 LapsDNS0$0
1919014GTrevor Gundaker 0-25 LapsDNS0$0
2017-3157Mike Marlar 0-25 LapsDNS0$0
2120-142Mckay Wenger 0-25 LapsDNS0$0
Lock-In Hot Laps Results
10-13SBrian Shirley 00.000Running0$0
20-219RRyan Gustin 0-0.075Running0$0
30-3B5Brandon Sheppard 0-0.117Running0$0
40-432Bobby Pierce 0-0.284Running0$0
50-597Cade Dillard 0-0.365Running0$0
60-696VTanner English 0-0.504Running0$0
70-711RJosh Rice 0-0.805Running0$0
80-820RTRicky Thornton Jr.0-0.831Running0$0
90-928Dennis Erb Jr0-0.833Running0$0
100-101Hudson O'Neal 0-0.839Running0$0
110-1118BShannon Babb 0-0.932Running0$0
120-1233Mike Harrison 0-1.014Running0$0
130-1344Chris Madden 0-1.021Running0$0
140-1422Chris Ferguson 0-1.034Running0$0
150-1519MWil Herrington 0-1.189Running0$0
160-161MMike Mataragas 0-1.780Running0$0
DIRTVision Highlights  
Event Info  

Prairie Dirt Classic
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Fairbury Speedway
600 South Third Street
Fairbury, Illinois 61739 

Event Description
The highly anticipated Prairie Dirt Classic returns to the schedule in 2023, again paying $50,000-to-win. Some of the best drivers in Late Model racing will make the trek to Central Illinois to try to win one of the most prestigious races of the season.

This event also caps off the Summit Modified Nationals Hell Tour with $500 features on Friday and $5,000-to-win on Saturday, followed by the crowning of a champion.

Series Racing
World of Outlaws Late Model Series

To Win Amount

Event Schedule
2PM Pit Gates open
5PM Grandstand Gates open
6:30PM Hot Laps/Qualifying
7:30PM Opening Ceremonies

Overflow Camping: Opens at 11 a.m., Wednesday July 26th, 2023.
Reserved Camping: Opens at 1 p.m., Wednesday July 26th, 2023.
Tent Camping: Opens at 3 p.m., Wednesday July 26th, 2023.
With limited space to maneuver around the grounds, ALL campers must be parked in their spots by 2 p.m. on
Friday July 29th. Any questions can be directed to the track at [email protected].

For more information visit
*All times Central

Event Hashtag

Ticket Options  
Options And Prices
Weekend General Admission Wristband - $60
Weekend Pit-Pass Wristband - $80
Friday Only General Admission - $25
Friday Only Pit-Pass - $40
Saturday Only General Admission - $40
Saturday Only Pit-Pass - $50
Overflow FALS Camping - $55
FALS Tent Camping - $25
Golf Cart Registration - $25Adult General Admission ticket, Friday July 26th $25, Saturday July 27th $35, General 2-day Weekend Admission $55 | Pit Passes $15 (in addition to General Admission Ticket) | Kids 12 & under - General Admission - free with paying adult (seats in reserved sections must purchase a reserved seat) | Kids 12 & under Pit Pass $15

Grandstand Type
Bleachers - No backs

Reserved Seating
Back stretch: sections A through I; front stretch: sections R, S, T, U.

Handicapped Seating Location
In front of main covered grandstands on front stretch and a few select handicap spots on the first row of bleachers. Please email [email protected] to request accessible seating at least one week in advance.

Pit Age Requirement
No Age limit - All minor's require proper waiver

Pit Gate Location
3rd Street entrance

Parking Cost

Handicapped Parking Location
Near the main front grandstands

Camping Availability
non-electric, offsite, onsite

Camping Cost
Available day of race only

Frequently Asked Questions  
To Win Amount

Reserved Seating
Back stretch: sections A through I; front stretch: sections R, S, T, U.

Type of Grandstand
Bleachers - No backs

Stadium Seating
Stadium seats are not allowed

Handicapped Seating
In front of main covered grandstands on front stretch and a few select handicap spots on the first row of bleachers. Please email [email protected] to request accessible seating at least one week in advance.

Handicapped Parking
Near the main front grandstands

Pit Age Limit
No Age limit - All minor's require proper waiver

Pit Gate Location
3rd Street entrance

Personal Coolers
They are allowed on the grounds, but NOT in the bleachers or grandstands.


Alcohol Sales
Alcohol is available to purchase at the track. Only FALS purchased cans and alcohol allowed in the bleachers or grandstands. Alcohol is prohibited in the pit area until the races are over for the evening.

Smoking Policy
No smoking or vaping in the bleachers or grandstands at any time.

Parking Cost

Camping Availability
non-electric, offsite, onsite

Camping Cost
Available day of race only

Track Info  

Fairbury Speedway
600 South Third Street
Fairbury, Illinois 61739 

Track Phone
(815) 692-3222

Track Email
[email protected]

Track Type
0.250; Semi-banked

Late Model Track Record
12.143 seconds by Kyle Strickler on 9/15/20

Closest Airport
Bloomington, IL (BMI / KBMI) Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal

Other Airport
Champaign, IL (CMI / KCMI) University of Illinois Willard Airport

Pit Gate Location
3rd Street entrance

Track Map
Competitor Info  
Competitor Downloads

Tire Rules
Left Front, Left Rear & Right Front Tire: Hoosier (90) NLMT2, (90) NLMT3 Right Rear Tire: Hoosier (92) NLMT3, (92) NLMT4 **Grooving & Siping will be allowed**

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