“It’s always tough to beat the boys from Illinois, so yeah, this one feels good,” said Greg Satterlee of Indiana, Pennsylvania Sunday evening at Spoon River Speedway. Satterlee spoke from Perkins Seed House Victory Lane after he hauled in a $5,000 check and a big trophy to go with it for winning the 40-lap Mother’s Day ALMS/MARS Super Late Model Special at the 3/8-mile high banked track outside of Canton.
The “boys from Illinois” he was referring to were some of the best Super Late Model drivers in the nation, like Bobby Pierce, Shannon Babb, Ryan Unzicker, and Jason Feger, all Illinois based and all former winners of big shows at the legendary oval.
Satterlee jumped out front from the opening lap of the Main Event and led until getting caught up in traffic on lap 13, when Pierce ducked inside Satterlee’s #22 and grabbed the lead.
“I knew Bobby was right there and I kinda got hung up trying to pick my way through there,” Satterlee said, “but I knew we had a good car and hoped I’d get a shot at getting back by him.”
After a caution bunched up the group on lap 14, the old saying “cautions breed cautions” came into play, as it started a 10—lap stretch filled with short green flag runs and cautions for action in the middle or rear of the field. When the cars finally got loose on a green flag run, Satterlee went to the outside of Pierce to regain the lead and never looked back.
He was asked about running different lines and searching for the quickest way around. “Yeah, the track was good and we had choices, so I was able to up and outside to get around him. It started to rubber up right where I was running towards the end, so I moved a little and it worked good enough,” he said.
Pierce stayed glued to the bottom and finished a solid second, followed by Billy Moyer, Jr., Moweaqua’s Shannon Babb, and Billy Moyer to round out the top five. Satterlee and Pierce started on the front row together and ran either first or second all night, while the Batesville, Arkansas-based Moyers battled each other for most of the event for third, joined by Babb for a thrilling three-car battle in the late stages of the race. Several times Babb shot in the middle of the two Moyer machines, but wasn’t able to clear them both. He finally got around the elder Moyer on a late restart to finish fourth after starting ninth.
The rest of the top 10 were: Ryan Unzicker of El Paso; Arkansas racer Timothy Culp seventh – he set a new track record for Super Lates in qualifying with a blazing 13.59 second lap; Rich Bell of Sheffield, near Kewanee; Bloomington’s Feger and Caleb Ashby from Cunningham, Tennessee. The field of 28 featured drivers from 10 states.
There were three heats in the division, won by Pierce, the elder Moyer, and Satterlee.
Also on the card were the UMP Modifieds, and 23 machines were on hand to go after the $1,000 first place check.
After several weeks of bad luck in the “redraw” to determine starting order for the feature races, Kewanee’s Ray Bollinger finally pulled a #1 out of the jar, on a night when he was in line for a $500 bonus offered by promoter Brad Denney if any driver could pull a double on the weekend and win both the Saturday and Sunday mains. After winning Saturday night, Bollinger was the guy with a shot at the extra $500, and was not looking forward to the redraw.
“I actually get more nervous before the redraw than I do before the racing now,” he laughed in Victory Lane. “Finally pulled a #1 tonight, though, and that’s just what we wanted.” He backed up that draw with a green-to-checkered run out front, and pocketed the $1,500 with bonus.
“This track, so smooth, so perfect, man, that’s why we love it here so much,” he said, effusively praising the track prep of the Denney’s, Brad and his father Morey. “It was smooth and after those late models nice and slick, just how we like it.”
The smooth slick track, noted as a “driver’s track”, is thought by many as the great equalizer in power and equipment, putting the emphasis on the driving, and the Mods put on their usual display of outstanding driving and racing throughout the field.
Nothing came easy for Bollinger, even from the pole, as Indiana’s Josh Harris and Peoria’s Allen Weisser kept pressure on throughout the 25-lap event. They settled for 2nd and 3rd, ahead of Quincy’s Michael Long and Canton’s Todd Bates, who made impressive back-to-back top five runs over the weekend as he returns this year to Open Mods after several years running the “E-mods” at the track.
“We’ve raced Josh (Harris) a lot, we know how good he is, and of course Allen (Weisser) and Michael (Long) are as good as it gets, so to win against a field like this is also special,” said Bollinger. The deep field also included Mike Chasteen, Jr. – a feature winner already this year at Spoon - who won his heat early in the evening and ran sixth, along with Mason City’s Flyin’ Brian Lynn (7th), NASCAR driver/TV commentator/dirt track barnstormer Kenny Wallace, who finished 8th. Jason Frankel and Brandon Roberts rounded out the top 10.
Along with Chasteen, Jr., heat race wins went to Frankel and Bollinger.
The UMP Hornets were also on hand Sunday, with Normal’s David Lauritson getting around heat race winner Shane Kelley in the feature to take the win, his first of the season. Rick DeFord finished third followed by Jimmy Dutlinger and Tyler Carlyle.
Back to Ray Bollinger to wrap up the night’s events:
“One more thing,” he said over the public address in Victory Lane before heading back to the pits, ”I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the stands and in the pits, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their support and for allowing all of us drivers to come out here and play in the dirt every weekend. Thank you to all Moms, this is your day!”