Creve Coeur driver Mike Chasteen, Jr. grabbed the lead away from Zac Oedewaldt early in Saturday night’s Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Feature at Spoon River Speedway and then held off a hard-charging deep, talented field to take the win on the track’s second night of racing in 2017.
And it was a victory he did not take lightly.
“It is always a huge deal to come here and win at this great track and be able to beat who we did, lots of great cars” the younger Chasteen said in Perkins Seed House Victory Lane as his father, a guy who certainly knows his way around the legendary high-banked oval, proudly celebrated with him. Chasteen, Jr. used a low and middle line for most of the race, instead of his familiar location right around the top of the track, and made it work on a night where the track developed some extremely rare ruts in it’s normal silky smooth surface. Chasteen had no complaints.
“With all this rain we’ve had, that track was still a lot better than it should have been,” he said. He also refused to say it was rough. “Nah, it was a track with a lot of character, and you still had options all over the place of where to run. We found a good fast line down there and the car was really working well. I just want to thank Brad (Promotor Brad Denney) for giving us a track to race on, they always do a great job here.”
Chasteen’s ride was a rocket off the corners, grabbing bite coming off turn two in the middle of the track and launching down the back stretch each go round with ground shaking power. And it needed to be, with Ray Bollinger and Allen Weisser storming around the high side trying to make up ground. Bollinger set a new division record in qualifying with a blistering 14.301 second lap and was just as fast in the feature once he got up to second place from his sixth starting spot, a spot he drew after winning his heat.
Weisser worked several grooves throughout the race, searching for the sweet spot, and tailed Bollinger across the finish line for third, followed by his dad Butch Weisser and Josh Allen to round out the top five. Donovan Lodge, Todd Bates, Brandon Roberts, Derrick Carlson and Dave Weitholder rounded out the top ten. Both Bates and Weitholder charged from deep in the field after having to secure their feature spot through the B-main.
After setting fast time, Bollinger won the first of three heats, while Allen Weisser and Donovan Lodge on the other two. With a big field, a B-main had to be used to pare down the field for the feature, and Zane Oedewaldt blasted to the win on that one.
In the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, Allen Weisser was able to pick up the win on JB Hawks’ Night, with the discount tobacco retailer contributing to a nice payout for the Pro Late Models. Weisser had to work hard to get around early leader Samuel Halstead, and then work equally hard to stay in front of defending National UMP Champion AJ May and Evan Fink the rest of the way.
May and Fink had also slipped past Halstead as those front four drivers jockeyed for position in the early laps. Halstead held on for fourth, ahead of Mitch Caskey.
For Weisser’s part, driving a Pro Late Model for the first time this year, piloting one for Chris Osborne’s race team, has been a blast.
“These are really fun to drive,” he grinned in Victory Lane, “and I think it’s good to get more laps and more experience at these tracks and in these different kinds of cars, to see what makes each one work.”
He said he wasn’t tired after pulling double duty, after 61 racing laps, 4 qualifying laps, hot laps in both, and the numerous times climbing in and out, and in several cases, the short amount of time to do it.
“I knew there were good cars behind me tonight,” he said, “once I got out front, and just had to keep finding the best way through the turns and stay smooth. We’ll take it, good win!”
Heat race wins in the Division went to Weisser and Tommy Elston. Elston, considered a favorite in the feature, was unable to continue after an early incident that saw his car among several ending up pointing the wrong way, and was credited with a 15th place finish.
In the Farmington Locker E-mod division, Pekin’s Kevin Morrow bested a big field of 27 cars to make it two-for-two at Spoon River Speedway this spring. After his feature run, he hopped out grinning ear to ear and gave the roof of his #28 his now-trademark multiple roof slap.
“Oh, man, that was a good one!” he said. “We’re just really having fun. Lots of good cars out here, a big field, and we’re just really happy to be able to grab another one.”
Morrow had to hold off Canton’s Mark Anderson over the last half of the 15-lap main, with Mark coming fast on the high side. Matt Parrott, the early leader, finished third behind the two savvy Spoon vets, followed by Jake Montgomery and Josh Smith.
Anderson won heat 1 ahead of Morrow earlier in the night, after Morrow had broken the Spoon River Speedway E-mod qualifying record, turning an impressive 15.435 second lap. Parrott and Smith triumphed in the other two heats. The B-main went to Steve Jones, his first win in a Mod at Spoon River after moving up from the Hornet Division. Andrew Hamburg and Mason Duncan ran 2-3 in that one.
Shane Kelley dominated his heat and the Hornet Main Event until late, when David Lauritson made a late charge. But Kelley held him off for the win, Lauritson second, followed by Kyle Harper, Danny Oates and Luke Smith. The second hornet heat went to Brett Ragon. Mark Williams, Sr. was the winner in the Spoon River Six Shooters.
Next Weekend will see racing both Saturday and Sunday nights at Spoon. Saturday night will be Cancer Awareness night with the first 150 paying adults receiving a pink bracelet courtesy of Security Photo’s. It will also be the first night in 2017 that the Monical’s Pizza UASC/IMRA Speed 2 Midgets make an appearance at the track. Then on Sunday Night the UMP Super Late Models visit Spoon for the first of six specials scheduled throughout the year. The ALMS/MARS UMP Super Late Models will run 40 laps for $5000 to Win. Also running will be the UMP Modifieds for $1000 to Win both Saturday and Sunday nights. The UMP Hornet fill out Sunday nights card.