Fairbury American Legion Speedway
Shirley takes advantage, grabs $5,000 at Fairbury
FAIRBURY, Ill. (Sept. 2) – Capitalizing on a scuffle between leaders Kevin Weaver and Jason Feger, Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., moved from third to first midway through Friday night’s Prairie Dirt Shootout at Fairbury American Legion Speedway and led the remainder of the 40-lap race to pick up a $5,000 payday. | Slideshow | Video
The victory marked Shirley’s second consecutive triumph in the UMP-sanctioned event, which kicks off the quarter-mile oval’s Prairie Dirt Classic weekend.
The third-starting Shirley was running behind Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., and Feger of Bloomington, Ill., when Feger attempted a slidejob on Weaver entering turn three. Weaver looked to pull back under Feger in turn four, but the two drivers made heavy contact with their race cars latching together down the front straightaway.
Shirley jumped at the opportunity, sneaking by both Feger and Weaver at the flag stand. He cruised the remaining distance and held a comfortable margin over Feger, who recovered to finish second. Defending Prairie Dirt Classic winner Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., was third while Weaver held on for fourth. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., rounded out the top five finishers.
The victory ended a frustrating skid for Shirley that’s saw him score just two special event victories in 2011. It also gives him extra momentum heading into Saturday night’s $10,000-to-win event, a race he finished third in last year.
“It’s definitely nice because we’ve had a couple of ‘em that we’ve kinda gave away ourselves,” Shirley said of his visit to victory lane. “It’s nice to get the return every once and a while. It lets you know you’re not always on the bad side of the hill.
“We were lucky enough to win it last year. It’s always nice to get the first night out the way. Tomorrow night is the same thing, just go out there; it’s a long race, just put in some laps.”
Feger, who had stalked weaver the entire distance after moving from fourth to second on the race’s opening lap, wasn’t happy with the outcome of the two drivers’ mid-race run-in.
“I had a nose on him getting into three and he knew I was gonna slide him,” Feger said. “I slid him clean; it’s not like I took off his nose or anything. He had plenty of room to turn and drive underneath me, but he tried driving in the back of me.”
Weaver admitted he may have made the wrong decision, adding that the incident cost him at least a second-place finish.
“Jason got up alongside me there and there’s so much dirt and crums in the middle of the racetrack, but I wasn’t gonna give up easy either,” Weaver said. “I guess it turned out I should have hit the brakes and let him go and should’ve run second.”
Notes: Shirley's Pierce Race Car is sponsored by Jayco Construction, Kim's Autobody, Skateland South, and Allstar Performance. ... Among the race’s cautions was a mid-race pileup that involved Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. Both drivers were knocked out of the race. ... Polesitter Billy Drake’s night came to an end when he climbed the turn-one wall while running fifth. ... Shirley’s previous special event victories came in Northern Allstars Late Model Series events at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway.
Prairie Dirt Shootout: (1) Brian Shirley, (2) Jason Feger, (3) Billy Moyer, (4) Kevin Weaver, (5) Shannon Babb, (6) Jimmy Mars, (7) Daren Friedman, (8) Jack Sullivan, (9) Eric Smith, (10) Joe Harlan, (11) Rodney Melvin, (12) Matt Furman, (13) Donny Walden, (14) Scott Bull, (15) Jimmy Dehm, (16) Billy Drake, (17) Brandon Sheppard, (18) Brian Birkhofer, (19) Rich Bell, (20) Dennis Erb Jr., (21) Torin Mettille. Fast qualifier (among 36 cars): Mike Spatola, 12.620 seconds. Heat race winners: Shirley, Weaver, Feger, Drake. Consolation race winners: Erb, Melvin.