FAIRBURY, Ill.– All eyes are on Central Illinois this weekend for one of the highly anticipated events on the World of Outlaws Late Model schedule.
The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet return to Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois, for the 32nd running of the Prairie Dirt Classic, July 29-30.
For the second straight season, the 100-lap event will pay $50,000-to-win. However, each lap also pays $500, meaning if a driver leads every lap, they’ll walk away with $100,000 from the 1/4-mile bullring.
The event kicks off on Friday, July 29, with My Place Hotels Qualifying, followed by four 25-lap, $3,000-to-win Prairie Dirt Showdowns to help set Saturday’s field.
On Saturday, July 30, drivers who haven’t transferred to the 100-lap finale will run in three Last Chance Showdowns.
Drivers who don’t transfer from those Last Chance Showdowns have one more chance in the 25-lap Prairie Dirt Shootout, where the winner can take home $2,500 or start the Prairie Dirt Classic.
The 100-lap, $50,000-to-win finale will cap off the night as drivers hope to etch their name into Fairbury Speedway’s history.
Joining the World of Outlaws Late Models for the weekend are the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals, who will finish their summer tour with a 40-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online or through the DIRTVision App.
Here are the top storylines this weekend:
ERB’S TIME TO SHINE: Dennis Erb Jr. is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s reached Victory Lane five times in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models competition, along with 14 top-fives and 21 top-10s in 26 races.
The Carpentersville, Illinois-driver has previously found success in the Prairie Dirt Classic, winning the event in 2004. He’s also found success on bullrings in 2022. Erb won at Marion Center Speedway with the World of Outlaws and at Spoon River Raceway, another Illinois bullring in May.
Erb enters the weekend with a 186-point lead over second-place Max Blair in the chase for the World of Outlaws championship.
ENGLISH LESSON: World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year contender Tanner English may have a leg up on his competition heading into the Prairie Dirt Classic.
The Benton, Kentucky driver already found Victory Lane at Fairbury this season, winning the Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial at the 1/4-mile bullring in June. If he can find Victory Lane again at the Illinois facility, it would be a career-defining moment for the Bluegrass State competitor.
He’s also closing the gap on Max Blair in the battle for Rookie of the Year—only eight points behind the Centerville, PA driver entering the weekend.
OPERATING FOR VICTORY: Bobby Pierce has won some of dirt Late Model racing’s most notable events. However, one event has eluded the Oakwood, IL driver — the Prairie Dirt Classic.
The “Smooth Operator” has knocked on the door to Victory Lane twice in the previous two events, finishing second to Kyle Larson last year, and finishing third after a thrilling battle with Brandon Sheppard for the win in 2019.
A Prairie Dirt Classic win would also be the sixth win for the Pierce family, as his dad Bob has won the event five times.
If Pierce wins at Fairbury this weekend, it’ll be his third World of Outlaws win of the season — his last coming on June 3 at Tri-City Speedway (IL).
THE STARS OF FAIRBURY: When the World of Outlaws Late Models head to the Prairie Dirt Classic, they’re battling some of the best drivers Late Model racing has to offer and also a stout field of Fairbury track regulars.
Ryan Unzicker currently leads the track’s points standings entering the weekend and already has a World of Outlaws top five this season (Tri-City). Unzicker has three wins at Fairbury in 2022 so far.
A couple of drivers battling Unzicker who have also won at Fairbury in 2022 are hometown driver McKay Wenger and Mike Spatola, who scored a World of Outlaws victory last season at Farmer City Raceway.
Along with those three names is veteran campaigner Kevin Weaver in his patented #B12 car. The Gibson City, IL driver won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 1991.
BEWARE OF ILLINOIS: While Fairbury Speedway boasts a stout field of drivers, that’s not all Illinois has to offer.
An Illinois driver has won 16 of the 31 Prairie Dirt Classics, most recently Brandon Sheppard in 2019.
Out of the Prairie State drivers projected to run this weekend’s event, Shannon Babb has more wins than any other driver, with three. Sheppard, who makes his return to World of Outlaws Late Models competition with Rocket1 Racing this weekend, has won the event twice.
Jason Feger has also won the event, finding Victory Lane in 2012.
DAVENPORT’S DOMINANCE: Perhaps no driver enters the Prairie Dirt Classic with more momentum than Jonathan Davenport.
The Eldora Million winner has already won $73,000 this week, including his $20,000 Hawkeye 50 triumph at Boone Speedway.
“Superman” has also found success at Fairbury, winning the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2015. A win on Saturday would be his fourth World of Outlaws Late Models Feature win of the season.