FAIRBURY, IL – The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals opened the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic with four edge-of-your seat Showdown Features.
Sixty-three of the best Modified drivers gathered at Fairbury Speedway Friday night to set the stage for the Series’ 2023 season finale on Saturday.
Mike Harrison took the early advantage in the night, scoring overall Quick Time. He and the rest of the field were then split into four 20-lap, $500-to-win, Showdown Features. The top four from each transferred to Saturday’s 40-lap, $5,000-to-win, Feature, and the top two go to the redraw.
In Saturday’s redraw will be Ethan Dotson, Trent Young, Mike Harrison, Michael Ledford, Mason Duncan, Nick Allen, Charlie Mefford and Drake Troutman.
Ethan Dotson, of Bakersfield, CA, took advantage of his pole position, launching ahead of the 16-car field. Behind him, Michael Long and Frank Marshall warred for second. Long stole second on the first lap, but Marshall stayed tight to his bumper and reclaimed second on Lap 3.
The first yellow flag of the night flew on Lap 5 for Dalton Lane slowing on track. When the race resumed, Dotson rocketed ahead of the field once again while Long had an issue and fell. Mason Duncan, who initially started 10th, had maneuvered his way to fourth on Lap 2 and then snuck into second after Long faded.
Marshall held third, but after suffering his own issue, Kissinger found his way into the podium spot. However, on a restart with eight laps to go, Kissinger bobbled through the first corner and allowed Josh Harris to slide into third. Four laps later, McKenzie threw his car under Harris and officially took third with three laps to go.
Dotson sailed to the victory, leading all 20 laps with Duncan second, McKenzie third and Harris fourth.
“I felt really good,” Dotson said. “I hadn’t been in a [Modified] in a while. I was super excited to race it and get to work with Cameron this weekend… Hopefully we can get it done tomorrow.”
Summit Racing Equipment Showdown Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 00-Ethan Dotson; 2. 32-Mason Duncan; 3. 24Z-Zeke McKenzie; 4. 22-Josh Harris; 5. 8K-Levi Kissinger; 6. 77-Ray Bollinger; 7. 63-Dustin King; 8. 8L-Jimmy Lennex; 9. 12-Skylar Marlar; 10. 1-Nash Hilmes; 11. 82-Dalton Lane; 12. 71T-Troy Ricketts; 13. 28M-Frank Marshall; 14. 18L-Michael Long; 15. 96M-Mike McKinney; 16. (DNS) 5S-Owen Steinkoenig
When Showdown #2 commenced, Trent Young, of Crofton, KY, took the early lead from pole position as chaos ensued behind him.
Austin Friedman and Brian Shaw dueled side-by-side in the opening lap before Friedman got the advantage. After Shaw lost second, he fell again the next lap with Nick Allen passing him for third.
The first caution of the race fell on Lap 7 for a car slowing on track. When the race resumed, Young and Friedman distanced themselves from the field, leaving Allen to try and fend off a hard charging Tyler Nicely – crowned the 2023 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Friday afternoon.
Nicely took third on Lap 8 and then passed Friedman for second on Lap 9. Young was next.
Each lap, Nicely inched closer and closer to Young’s rear bumper. With eight laps to go, Nicely dove under Young into Turn 1. However, Young had the better run around the outside and powered ahead of Nicely down the backstretch.
They repeated their dance for another lap before the third caution of the race. This one for Nicely, who spun in Turn 1.
With the 2023 champion no longer breathing down his, Young cruised to the win. Allen finished second, Mike Chasteen finished third and Caden McWhorter in finished fourth.
“I really didn’t expect it to chop up tonight,” Young said. “In Qualifying and everything it was smooth. We haven’t seen a track where the Late Models dug it out a lot more than I expected. But Fairbury is awesome no matter what the conditions are. You don’t get to come here very many times a year, so pretty excited to be in Victory Lane.”
Allstar Performance Showdown Feature 2 (20 Laps): 1. 10Y-Trent Young; 2. 21A-Nick Allen; 3. C40-Mike Chasteen Jr; 4. 14-Caden McWhorter; 5. 5CS-Curt Spalding; 6. 25-Tyler Nicely; 7. 777-Trevor Neville; 8. 24T-Trevor Ringle; 9. 94-Tom Pasek; 10. 89-Austin Friedman; 11. 45H-Chase Holland; 12. 21-Lyndon Whitfill; 13. 463-Daniel Sanchez; 14. 36V-Macy Vaughan; 15. 1S-Brian Shaw; 16. 54-Zachary Hawk
Six-time DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion Mike Harrison, of Highland, IL, entered the night looking to pave a path to his third Prairie Dirt Classic triumph. He started off on the right foot scoring Quick Time and then continued that momentum into a Showdown win.
For most of the race, it looked to be an easy win for the veteran, pulling ahead of the field with no competition behind him. But when the caution fell a lap before the checkered flag, everything changed.
Charlie Mefford brought fans to the edge of their seat by sneaking around Harrison to steal the lead on the restart with Ryan Unzicker looking to follow in his footsteps. Under pressure, Harrison kept the throttle to the floor and powered around the outside of Mefford to reclaim the lead and steal back the win.
Mefford had to settle for second with Unzicker third and Kyle Steffens fourth.
“It’s pretty rough down there on the bottom, you know, it’s nobody’s fault, just circumstances from the weather we had last night,” Harrison said. “I was just trying to stay out of that wet stuff but I know on those restarts everyone wants to go gung ho. So, I’m trying to tip toe on the edge of the ruts and just caught one wrong and it sent me sideways and then it was full send mode after that.”
HotRod Septic Treatment Showdown Feature 3 (20 Laps): 1. 24H-Mike Harrison; 2. 13-Charlie Mefford; 3. 124-Ryan Unzicker; 4. 8-Kyle Steffens; 5. 21M-Willy Myers; 6. 98-Zac Harris; 7. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum; 8. 21D-Danny Schwartz; 9. 25W-Allen Weisser; 10. 88S-Alan Stipp; 11. 43-Jared Thomas; 12. 20-Brian Skaggs; 13. 16C-John Clippinger; 14. 18S-Jarrett Stryker; 15. 35-Ethan Weber; 16. 130-Chase Allen
Michael Ledford, 18, of Pontiac, IL, is a step closer to trying to be the youngest Prairie Dirt Classic after winning Showdown #4 Friday night.
Will Krup started pole for the final Showdown of the night but wasted the opportunity after spinning in front of the field in the first corner. That handed the front row to Ledford and Drake Troutman.
When the race resumed, Ledford and Troutman ran wheel-to-wheel, lap after lap. Neither giving an inch. However, Ledford was able to prevail on Lap 4, officially taking the lead. Once out front, he found another gear.
Ledford pulled away to a three second victory over Troutman in second and Matt Fabrizius in third. Krup raced his way back through the field to finish fourth and score the final transfer spot.
“Fun race with Troutman there in the first few laps,” Ledford said. “There was just so much traction there on the bottom and I was able to get by him. So, glad to get the win.”
Collisions Concepts Showdown Feature 4 (20 Laps): 1. 37-Michael Ledford; 2. 5T-Drake Troutman; 3. 0F-Matt Fabrizius; 4. K9-Will Krup; 5. 83-Kasey Schrock; 6. 18-Ryan Sutter; 7. 3-Mike Brooks; 8. 757-Bradley Jameson; 9. 5-Steven Brooks; 10. 7-Tim Nash; 11. 0J-Garrett Jameson; 12. 45-Don Hammer; 13. 121-Deece Schwartz; 14. 36-Eric Vaughan; 15. 0-Travis Kohler
UP NEXT: The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals concludes its 2023 season during the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic finale on Saturday, July 29, with a 40-lap. $5,000-to-win, Feature. For tickets, CLICK HERE.