By Kristopher Blankenship
The annual Fayette County Fair race is always held mid-week with the fair activities, and along with racing from Friday, July 11, the track has seen a lot of good racing.
Craig Kern has become red hot, B.J. Deal has started to flex his muscles and Eric Harris has emerged as a new challenger in the Street Stock class.
Wednesday, July 16
The annual midseason Fair race is always held on Wednesday night during the fair. With the county fair in full swing, the speedway was again alive and full of energy.
An intermission event brought an air ambulance to the track for display. Air Evac flight team No. 28, based in Effingham, landed in the infield, and the Brownstown volunteer firefighters brought in the rescue truck and primary fire truck for show.
The kids' club and fans were able to come down onto the race track and meet with the flight crew and area firefighters to get a close-up look at the community’s life-saving equipment and resources.
The activities added to an already exciting show, and was well-received by the kids in attendance.
On track, the racing was fast and competitive as usual.
The night began with Micheal Meyer flexing his muscles in Heat No. 1, and local Michael Bolyard winning Heat No. 2; Bolyard ran away in the dash.
The No. 28 car of Bolyard again proved fast in the feature. He is well-known for his smooth, mistake-free driving style that generally keeps him racing up front.
Running a lane in the top groove, he initially drove away from the rest of the field.
Suddenly, late in the race, Craig Kern found some traction in an extremely-high groove and quickly ran him down, but he was having a difficult time making the pass.
When the pair took the white flag, it looked as if Bolyard had Kern covered for the win, but an uncharacteristic bobble by Bolyard in turn two was all Kern needed to maneuver around the leader and squeak out another win.
Kern has been the track’s hottest driver in the middle of the year, and has started to fulfill the high expectations placed on him going into the season.
The top five was rounded out by Aaron Draege, Meyer and Larry Anderson.
The B-mod class produced a different winner in every race Wednesday night.
Opening the night was Jason Maxey, who came out of retirement, picking up a heat race win. Maxey competed regularly in the early 2000s and had a rivalry with B.J. Deal. He had been out of the sport for several years, but recently purchased a quality turn key racing operation and hit the track.
In his first race out, he found himself right back where he left off – battling with Deal for the win.
Heat No. 2 was taken by Jimmy Cummins, and Deal slipped by Maxey for the dash win.
In the feature, Ryan Eilers jumped out front early, but late in the race, Deal gained ground on the leader.
After taking the white flag, Eilers got tangled up with a lapped car, and when they came to the finish line, Deal narrowly edged Eilers.
But as the dust settled, everyone realized there was a crash on the back stretch, and the flagman was waving the caution flag instead of the finish flag.
The crew reset the field for a one-lap dash to the finish.
Deal didn't get lucky again, and Eilers easily rounded the last corner for another victory.
Cummins was in the midst of this battle and took second, while Deal finished third.
Jacob Rexing took the win in Heat No. 1, and Tony Walker picked up the win in Heat No. 2.
In the feature, Rexing jumped out to a big lead from his front-row starting position, so the battle was for the second spot.
Tony Walker fell victim to early contact with a flat tire, while Brent Weaver, Kris Blankenship, Eric Harris and Dan Pilkington all raced hard for the runner-up spot. Each was using a different line around the speedway.
Rexing easily got away as the dogfight behind him continued. Last-lap contact between Blankenship and Weaver shook up the finish.
Pilkington slipped through the melee for the second spot, Harris continued to work the bottom for third, Jacob Tompkins took fourth and Weaver crossed the line in fifth. Blankenship didn't make it to the finish.
Jeremy Reed is challenging Craig Kern for the title of hottest driver.
Dallas Lugge won Heat No. 1, and Jeremy Reed took Heat No. 2
In the feature, Reed smoothly drove away for his second win in two weeks.
The back-to-back winner has his eye set on a national championship, and is strictly business right now, collecting wins as he tears through the season.
Ricky Carriker finished second and Jay Gordon took third.
Friday, July 11
Veteran Rob Timmons and Craig Kern took wins in the heat races, and Kern grabbed the dash.
Kern ran away early in the feature, but Larry Anderson found some dangerous traction in a very high line and began to run down Kern.
But Anderson was flirting with disaster, and it bit him when he jumped the cushion and made hard contact with the turn four wall, ending his charge.
Kern cruised to victory and was followed by Chad Evans, Rob Timmons and Zach Schantz.
The battle between B.J. Deal and Ryan Eilers continued.
The pair both took heat wins, along with Caleb Miller, and the dash was all Eilers, who earned a commanding victory.
The feature started with Deal leading, but Eilers found a fast line around the middle groove and charged by.
A late caution allowed Deal a chance to get aggressive. As the two battled for the lead, a poised Jeff Buss was waiting for any mistake by the top two.
No mistakes were made, however, and Deal gradually pulled ahead for his second win at his home track on the season.
The Street Stocks were all on track to do battle, with Jacob Rexing and Dan Pilkington each taking wins in the heat races.
The pair paced the cars to the start of the feature, and began to fight for the race lead right away.
A savvy Eric Harris, who has mastered the bottom line this season, went to work “cat-fishing,” methodically working the bottom line.
He quickly overtook the two hard-charging drivers up front, and walked away with his second win of the season.
Rexing took second, and Pilkington picked up third-place money.
The hornet class was again packed with competition.
Rusty Snider and Jeremy Reed earned heat wins.
In the feature, Reed raced a smooth, fast race, and kept his car clean and out front.
Though chased by Michael Bolyard, Bolyard wasn’t able to catch Reed as he walked away with the win. Jason Bolyard took the third spot.
There will be a week off this Friday night, and action returns on Aug. 1, with a regular program.
For more information, visit www.fayettecospeedway.com, or like the track on Facebook.
By Kristopher Blankenship