FAIRBURY, Ill. — Two-thirds of the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals field for the 31st Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway has been set.
Sixteen drivers have punched their ticket in by way of the four Showdown Features Friday night – the rest will be seeded into one of two Last Chance Showdown events on Saturday.
A grand total of 63 Summit Modifieds packed the pit area for Hot Lap/Qualifying and were then divided into four 20-lap qualifying Showdown Features, taking the top-four finishers to Saturday’s main event.
The first feature on the freshly groomed Fairbury Speedway was the speediest of all Showdowns, won by Frank Marshall.
Marshall set fast time in Group 1 Qualifying, putting him on the pole for the 20-lap event. When the green dropped, Marshall took off immediately, opening up a small gap over the field and continued to add to it with every lap he clicked off.
In all, the caution-free race took just over 13.5 minutes to complete. Tyler Nicely had been running Marshall down the entire race and came to within a half-second of him in the final laps, but was unable to make a move for the win. Marshall crossed the stripe first to secure a spot in Saturday’s redraw and his first career Summit Modified victory.
With the No. 25 of Nicely hot on his tail, the veteran racer Marshall never buckled under the pressure and got the job done.
“We know they’re there, but we feel like we’ve got a few good years left in us. We’re kinda veterans here, but it’s fun racing with these guys,” Marshall said.
Curt Spalding cashed-in big time Friday night at FALS, winning his second career Summit Modified Feature after holding off one of the best and youngest drivers on the roster.
Spalding grabbed the lead from the pole and opened up a solid gap in traffic before a caution with three-to-go restacked the field. On the restart, third-running Brandon Bollinger wound it up on the top side and went after 16-year-old Hunt Gossum for second. At the stripe, Bollinger nipped Gossum by .150 to claim the final spot in the redraw while Spalding celebrated in victory lane.
“The first 10 laps, I felt really good. I thought we were slowing down, and the track was changing a little bit,” Spalding said. “It got technical, where you had to move around a little bit. About that time was when I started hearing the boys catching me. I knew they’d be coming.”
He won the Summit Modified show at FALS earlier in the year for his fifth win in five starts. Since then, Nick Hoffman has won 18 of the 19 races he’s entered, adding the 18th Friday night in the third Showdown.
The three-time and defending Summit Modified champion cooked up the exact same recipe he used to win here in June and served it again Friday night to claim his 56th career tour victory – smooth and steady, right through the middle.
“Track got pretty momentum’d up through the middle, which is where I’ve been best,” Hoffman said. “I won the Summit Modified race here [in June] the same way, just kinda running the same line about midway to three-quarters of the way up the racetrack. Just carrying a lot of speed, and it’s just where we shine.”
Hoffman was never seriously challenged for the lead and finished nearly 7 seconds ahead of runner-up Mike Harrison. However, Hoffman did turn some heads with a fifth-place finish in the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Showdown Feature No. 2.
“I ran the exact same line in both cars. That was probably one of the best Late Models I’ve ever drove through the middle of the racetrack. It drove exactly how I’d want it to with my Modified,” Hoffman said.
After winning the Gator Championship night at Volusia this past February, Justin Allgaier was determined to get back into the seat of his UMP Modified and compete with the best of the best again. Friday night at FALS, he not only competed with them, he beat them, scoring his first career Summit Modified victory in the fourth and final Showdown.
“I feel like this style of race track is probably our worst, so to be able to come out here and put an Elite Chassis in Victory Lane more than once, and to race with some Elite Chassis out there in that race was really cool,” Allgaier said.
Allgaier initially did not get the jump at the drop of the green he was hoping for, as polesitter Chris Arnold led the field into turn one and down the backstretch. Allgaier crossed over underneath him heading into turn three and got a smooth exit off turn four to take the lead as Arnold bobbled up high.
After that, it was all defense for No. 7, which Allgaier handled with no issues. Several cautions littered the 20-lapper, but Allgaier’s restarts were on-point as he cruised to the $500 victory.