(Macon, IL) For the 73rd time in consecutive years, Macon Speedway opened up its dirt track racing season. It was chilly and windy but fans braved the cold conditions to fill the grandstands with a huge crowd and drivers who have been itching to get back into their seat to spin laps showed up in full force with nearly 100 cars. Six racing classes plus an attraction of Spectator Drag Racing at intermission gave fans plenty to enjoy.
Dennis Vandermeersch has been racing at Macon Speedway for the last 30-plus years and after winning the first race of the season in the Sportsman group, he said it never gets old. “It’s just as much fun for me as it was my first night.” The multi-time track champion sits in the lead during the points chase on the first night.
Macon Speedway fans have been very familar with the name Tim Hancock as it involves B-Modified feature races. Hancock was once again the center of attention as he challenged for the lead along with the runner-up of the 2017 B-Modified track championship Cody Stillwell. Stillwell led all 20 laps but did so having to run the perfect race knowing Hancock was right behind him. “I knew he was there,” said Stillwell in the racer interview during victory lane. Stillwell stayed low the entire race while Hancock gave his run at the top.
Jeremy Nichols felt something wasn’t quite right with his Street Stock during the Big Ten Series Street Stock event but he kept pressing on and kept ahead of the competition en route to the checkered flag. Nick Macklin closed in during the final 10 laps but wasn’t able to make the move to pass the leader. A strong field of cars showed up for the first race in the ten-race Midwest Big Ten Series for the Street Stock division. Nichols won the series in 2017.
The 2017 Pro Late Model Track Champion made a change to open 2018, he got a Billingsley Elite Wash Modified. Tommy Sheppard, Jr., who looks to have his Pro Late Model ready later in the season, hopped behind the wheel of his Modified and wheeled his way to a 20-lap feature victory.
While Tommy Sheppard, Jr. was winning in the Billingsley Elite Wash Modifieds, Guy Taylor made his return to race in the Decatur Building Trade Pro Late Models class and dominated the field in the 20-lap race. Taylor finished a solid half-lap ahead of second place finisher Jeremy Nichols and was passing and lapping nearly everybody who was on the track. Taylor sat out most of 2017 but returned to his 2016 form.
Jeremy Reed went back and forth with St. Louis native Andrew Dudash for the lead and ended up coming away with the win. The Missouri driver held onto the lead until the green flag came out and Reed undercut Dudash for the final pass of the race to claim the final checkered flag of the season opener.
Macon Speedway’s season is officially off the ground and really takes off next week with the Lucas Oil Late Model Series event, the 5th Annual St. Louis-U-Pic-A-Part 100 featuring the Super Late Models of the Lucas Oil Late Model Series and the $12,000-to-win event. Billingsley Elite Wash Modifieds and B-Modifieds are on the schedule to make up one of the biggest shows in the early part of the season.
Sportsman–Dennis Vandermeersch (Arlington), 2. Tim Bedinger (Taylorville), 3. Scott Landers (Taylorville), 4. Scott Williams (Leroy), 5. Ty Nation (Taylorville), 6. Brad Bedinger (Taylorville), 7. Ethan Schnapp (Springfield), 8. Randy Dickman (Troy, MO)
B-Modifieds–1. Cody Stillwell (Godfrey), 2. Tim Hancock (Mount Olive), 3. Kevin Crowder (Argenta), 4. Jerry Thompson (Troy), 5. Clint Young (Ava), 6. JR Wiltermood (Windsor), 7. M. Smith, 8. Ricky Smith (Alton), 9. Tim Riech (Petersburg), 10. Jeramie Fowler (Decatur)
Street Stocks–1. Jeremy Nichols (Lovington), 2. Nick Macklin (Argenta), 3. Chris Dick (Deland), 4. Darrell Dick (Monticello), 5. Terry Reed (Decatur), 6. Rudy Zaragoza (Jacksonville), 7. Billy Nail (Decatur), 8. Brian Dasenbrock (Decatur), 9. Justin Crowell (Lincoln), 10. Kevin Lewis (Decatur)
Billingsley Elite Wash Modifieds–1. Tommy Sheppard, Jr. (New Berlin), 2. Dave Crawley, Jr. (Decatur), 3. Tim Hancock, Jr. (Mount Olive), 4. Blake Thompson (Troy), 5. Joe Strawkas (Buffalo), 6. Danny Smith (Argenta), 7. Cody Stillwell (Godfrey), 8. Guy Taylor (Springfield), 9. Brian Lynn (Mason City), 10. Curt Rhodes (Taylorville)
Decatur Building Trades Pro Late Models–1. Guy Taylor (Springfield), 2. Jeremy Nichols (Lovington), 3. Kyle McMahon, 4. Dakota Ewing (Warrensburg), 5. Roben Huffman (Midland City), 6. Jeff Ray (Springfield), 7. Cody Maguire (Carlinville), 8. Colby Eller (Taylorville), 9. Kyle Van Dorn (New Berlin), 10. Patrick Younger (Decatur)
Hornets–1. Jeremy Reed (Decatur), 2. Andrew Dudash (St. Louis, MO), 3. Mike Eskew (Springfield), 4. Jared Matherly (Decatur), 5. Caleb Branch (Hammond), 6. Jared Cochran (Bethalto), 7. Cook Crawford (Lincoln), 8. Marty Sullivan (Decatur), 9. Steve Stine (Stonington), 10. Corey Hulbert (Terre Haute, IN)