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It was just like old times Saturday at Spoon River Speedway, as the annual “Quick Draw” event returned for the night. The Quick Draw is an event that eliminates the heats for the night, instead running races in segments, with a redraw at the end of the segments that could invert the finishing order for the following segment, depending on what was spun on the “Wheel Of Invert!”. This year’s event was modified to make each division run two segments instead of three, meaning just one spin on the wheel, but the chances of starting “straight up” were limited by the odds on the wheel. Sure enough, the three top divisions of racing at the track all ended up inverting the entire field from the first segment, meaning the top finishers had to go all the way to the back of the pack and fight their way through the field to earn enough points to win the Quick Draw.
The evening started with Segment one of the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model class, and that division set the tone for the night with a thrilling battle that saw the first 18 laps fire off under green before the first caution came out. Josh Jackson grabbed the early lead from his pole spot and held it until Evan Fink flew around him on the outside. Fink wasn’t able to hold off Iowa driver Tommy Elston, however, who took the lead and won segment one going away, ahead of AJ May, Allen Weisser, Fink and Jackson, May and Weisser both charging hard at the end to grab 2nd and 3rd respectively. Elston then spun the wheel, and inverted the field, much to his chagrin. “I haven’t been drawing well anywhere lately,” he said, “and now I have my work cut out for me because this is always a strong field here at Spoon River.”
Next up came the Fulton FS E-mods for 15 laps. The cautions were more frequent than in the Pro Late Model event, with several cars dropping out early, including the red hot #81K of Trent Ross. Mason Duncan, Jake Montgomery, and several other good cars also took early exits. Mark Anderson, from his 5th starting spot in the 18 car field, took the win ahead of Kevin Morrow, who started sixth, followed by Branson Blackshear, Brad Willis, Jr., and Steve Jones. Anderson was next to spin, and sure enough, inverted the field. “I think the wheel is broken,” yelled a fan from the bleachers. Anderson nodded that it must be. But, he took his medicine and headed back to the pits to prepare for segment two.
The Zane’s Auto Service Modifieds came out next for their 20 lap segment 1. Jim Ippensen grabbed the early lead in only his third night of racing so far this year. Well, 2 1/2 nights, as he told crew members he had raced “one and a half times” so far this year prior to the event. Ippensen held firm for a few laps as the hard chargers started to make
their way towards him.
Tommy Duncan grabbed the lead midway through the event and powered his way to the win in Segment 1, followed by Allen Weisser, Zane Oedewaldt, Brandon Roberts and Todd Bates. In keeping with the pattern of the night, Duncan spun a full field invert.
Rick DeFord won the first Farmington Locker Hornet Division segment, ahead of Kyle Dearing and April Holt, and drew a 3, meaning for the first time all night a winner would not have to start at the complete tail of the next segment.
So back to the Pro Late Models in went, first out of intermission, for 25 laps. Early excitement came when young Melissa Hansmeyer, starting on pole, had the tail of her car get out from underneath in turn 3 before completing the first lap, with the field taking evasive action. A second attempt resulted in the Canton youngster going around, this time, however, with help, which sent Mavrick Piller to the back of the field for the third attempt at a start. Over the next few laps, the field sorted itself out, with Elston making a couple of slick moves to slide towards the front of the pack and eventually take the lead and sweep the night. Talking about his home track, Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa, Elston said, “that’s a flat track and more my style, I don’t like high banks much…except this one. The track is perfect, you can tell they know what they’re doing here, the facility is mowed and clean, it’s just a great place to come and race, well worth the drive.”
The E-mods mimicked the Pro Lates in that they had a little trouble getting sorted out, but with some very fast cars who had poor first segments making repairs and getting back out for Segment 2, the front of the field had the likes of Mason Duncan, Trent Ross and Jake Montgomery, meaning the guys charging from the back had even less time to get to the front, and less laps, too, with 15 compared to the 25 of the Pro Lates and Mods. Mark Anderson worked his way through the other top finishers of the first segment and was telling himself he was getting closer and closer to the front, only to realize he still had work to do.“I was thinking we were moving up pretty good, then I look up and there’s like five laps to go and still I’m only 5th on the board,” he said, shaking his head in Perkins Seed House Victory Lane, “so we just stuck to it. I knew early I had to get ahead of [Kevin] Morrow if I had a chance, he was going to be fast, but then when I got up to 5th, it’s like nothing but fast cars left.” As the young Duncan, son of Modified Driver Tommy and just a teenager himself, set a blistering pace, it looked for awhile as if Anderson and the rest of the field would have to settle for battling for second behind him. But on the final lap, Duncan’s car let go from underneath him, and the youngster had to watch helplessly as the field roared by. “Man, that’s tough for Mason, he was doing a great job,” Anderson said after taking the checkers first and sweeping the two segments, earning him the Quick Draw crown, “I’ve been there and know how that feels.”
Branson Blackshear ended up second overall in the E-mod points on the night’s two segments, followed by Morrow, Steve Jones, and Matt Dobey.
The third and final inverted field rolled out, as Zac Oedewaldt, who left early in segment one, started on the pole and proved to be hard to catch. Allen Weisser and Brandon Roberts, from their 13th and 11th starting positions, respectively, worked their way through the field, but not before having a whale of a battle with the likes of Todd Bates, Zane Oedewaldt, Mike Brooks and Jason Frankel as they all battled for spots behind Zac Oedewaldt. Weisser eventually got around the younger Oedewaldt and held him and Roberts off for the win, and in so doing earning enough points to be the overall Mod champion on the night as Duncan could do no better than 7th in the second segment. “Some guys don’t like these, I didn’t used to,” said Weisser, “but they really are fun. Lots of chances to pass and race guys for position, it is always a blast to go side by side like that with Brandon Roberts, he always races so clean, and Zac and Zane were tough all night, too. Lot of fun!”Roberts took second overall on the night, followed by Duncan, Zane Oedewaldt and Bates. Weisser also praised the track, “I could run pretty much anywhere, track was smooth and equal for everybody in all grooves, I like it smooth and slick like this.”
DeFord repeated his first segment win to sweep the Hornet class to close the night.
The track hosts two events this weekend, a regular night of racing Saturday with a Kid’s Candy Dash at intermission, and a Street Stock special Sunday in honor of Gerald Denney, the Spoon Burger 40, as Street Stock cars return to Spoon River for the first time in many years with an event expecting to have 35-40 street stocks in attendance, E-mod sand Mods will also run, that’s Sunday with race times the same each night. Go to spoonriverspeedway.com for more info and prices.