FAIRBURY, Ill. – Frank Heckenast Jr. battled both the competition and the weather to bank his first career American Ethanol Late Model Tour win during the Casey’s General Store Nationals at Fairbury American Legion Speedway on Saturday night.
Heckenast led the field to green alongside local favorite Brian Shirley. For the first 10 laps, Heckenast and Shirley were the show of the field, running side-by-side flawlessly as they reeled in back markers.
While the field was slicing and dicing, and some minor errors were made, the race felt like it could go all the way, caution free – until Mother Nature, again, showed herself.
With rain falling on the speedway, Tour officials elected to slow the field down with the first caution flag of the evening. After just over a 10 minute interruption, during which all drivers stayed on the surface to help keep it in raceable condition, the field was restacked, and ready to do battle for 28 more laps.
Just one lap later, the field was slowed again, when fifth place running Tim Manville suffered mechanical failures, and spun in the middle of the field in turn two.
Somehow, everyone avoided him.
On the next restart, Heckenast again jumped out to the lead, but something was clearly off with the Chatham, Illinois driver’s No. 3s machine.
Shirley struggled to hold his position in the top five, when suddenly he went off the pace exiting the fourth turn with just 20 laps to go. The caution flew as he continued around the Speedway at a slow pace, with what turned out to be a flat right rear tire.
The issue would eventually end his night.
On what would be the final restart of the night, Heckenast held of a charge from Jimmy Mars and Jason Feger. Mars and Feger would wage war on each other for the runner up position until Feger’s car fell off slightly.
Suddenly a four car battle for the top five was on, and it was soon Bobby Pierce who used the extreme outside of the speedway to find himself another top five finish.
Heckenast held on for the win ahead of Mars, Feger, Pierce and Donny Walden.
Frank Heckenast Jr., Jimmy Mars, Jason Feger, Bobby Pierce, Donny Walden, Allen Weisser, Brandon Thirlby, Rich Bell, Jay Morris, Travis Stemler, Mkay Wenger, Mike Spatola, Logan Arntz, Kolby Vandenbergh, David Jaeger, Brian Shirley, Tim Manville, Scott Schmitt, Billy Moyer, Mike Mataragas, Kevin Weaver.