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In what might be a momentum changing night, AJ May, driver of the #A9 entry in the Spoon River Speedway Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, charged to a big win Saturday ahead of three of the other Top 5 Pro Late Models in the nation, and served notice that he is ready for the stretch run of the season as he tries to defend his 2016 National Championship. May pulled way late in an entertaining 20 lap feature to pick up his first win in a few months at Spoon River, and was guardedly optimistic afterwards in Victory Lane.
“We’ve been in a slump, so the main thing was to get the win, and we needed it,” he said, adding “it’s too early to start worrying about the National Points, besides, to win that you have to win races and we haven’t been doing that.” That all changed with the win Saturday and May, who entered the weekend with a slim 20-point lead over Allen Weisser in the national standings, did what he had to do to maintain that lead after Weisser won at the Farmer City track Friday night. When asked how he seemed to find another gear to pull away in the final five laps, May said, “the car was good down low, but I guess the guys on top were better than me, because my crew signaled me before the last restart to move to the top, and that was the place to be in those last five laps. ”Four of the top five in the UMP DirtCar National Point Standings were all at one track Saturday…Spoon River Speedway…to do battle head to head. Myles Moos, running 5th in National points, finished second behind May, while Iowa’s Tommy Elston took third…the same position he holds in the DirtCar standings. Weisser took fourth, and Evan Fink, who through the middle of the race was the first to find the top, drove from a 10th place starting spot to finish fifth. Earlier in the evening, Elston and May both won heat races.
In the Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Division, Ray Bollinger was the last man leading when the checkers flew, as he engaged in a thrilling three car battle at the front for most of the race with Allen Weisser and Josh Allen, coming off his first win at Spoon in an open Mod the week before. After finally coming out on top and nipping Allen at the checkereds, Bollinger was happy with the win and hoped another feat was accomplished. “At summer nationals here, we had that thing with Josh at the end and I didn’t want that to happen again,” he said about the June race that Bollinger won after contact with Allen on the final lap, “so I was making sure we all had plenty of space to race and I wanted to make sure that those guys (Josh Allen and Allen Weisser) know that I want to race‘em fair and clean, because I like racing with them and they are just such talented drivers, they are tough to beat. Hope the fans liked that show! ”When told it actually became a four car race at the end as Zane Oedewaldt caught the lead pack and was charging for more, Bollinger deadpanned, “Good thing there wasn’t any more laps, then! We needed this win.”
Behind the front four of Bollinger, Allen, Weisser and Zane Oedwaldt came Brandon Roberts and Todd Bates in fifth and sixth. Heat race wins in the class went to Bollinger and Weisser.
In the Fulton FS E-Mod Division, Mark Anderson won his fourth straight feature, charging from his sixth starting spot to eventually take the lead with a pass on the outside of Mark Ross about 2/3rds into the 15 lap race. “The car was terrible in qualifying and in the heats, we had to try something completely different in the feature and it worked,” said Anderson, who was then asked about the quality of competition in the growing division. “I predicted about five years ago this would become the biggest class with the most guys having a chance to win on any given night, and it looks like we are getting there,” the veteran driver said. “There’s a whole bunch of guys capable of winning features right now, which makes it a lot of fun but a lot of hard work to stay up in front,” he said. And as far as his prediction, the 22 cars in the E-mod class Saturday night was the largest car count in any single class. Behind Anderson in the feature were Mark Ross, Kyle Girard, Steve Jones and Kevin Morrow. Morrow was running second but fell way off pace on the final lap and coasted around to finish as high as he could, first Girard and then Jones charging around him on the final turn. Jones came from a 10th starting spot to earn his fourth place finish. Ross, talented teen Mason Duncan, and Morrow won the three heats in the division.
Kyle Dearing took the win in the Hornet division ahead of John Pace. Dearing also triumphed in the heat.
The track takes the weekend off and encourages fans to visit the Fulton County Fair, and will return to action the first Saturday in August which will be St. Judes Night at the track. Spoon will donate $1 for every front gate admission ticket to give to this great cause. All track info is at the Spoon River Speedway Facebook page, or www.spoonriverspeedway.com.