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A huge field of 108 cars filled the pits at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night for the inaugural Greg Gilmore Memorial. Greg Gilmore raced at Spoon River Speedway in Modified and E-Mod Classes for many years, and passed away unexpectedly this past winter. Gilmore’s family and friends, in conjunction with Spoon River Speedway, put together several special events and purse bonuses, along with presentations of Gilmore Memorial Trophies to the winners in the two different Modified classes Saturday.
The first big check and trophy went to Will Krup, up from Mt. Carmel, Illinois, not far from Evansville, Indiana. Krup and his crew said they had heard how great the track and the racing was at Spoon River Speedway, so they made a trip to the Spoon for Opening Night a few weeks back. After a successful night, and with many tracks in their area having trouble getting shows in due to weather, they made the decision to head back to Spoon this past week, and it turned out to be the right one.“This place is fast, it’s wide, and you can race anywhere on it,” said Krup when asked what he liked about Spoon River after his win in the 30-lap feature. “I’m pretty new here, so I don’t know a lot of people, but I thank the Gilmore Family for being so good to us here, this is a win we’ll always remember.” Krup said he felt like he had a good car early in the race while Josh Allen dueled with Ray Bollinger and later Dave Weitholder. About 1/3 of the way into the race, Krup turned up the wick, bolting from 3rd to 1st coming off turn four and dominated the rest of the way during a long green flag run that saw the leaders catch the rear end of a deep field of cars and have to work their way through thick traffic. One of the observers in Victory Lane noted the K19 car “didn’t have a scratch on it” afterwards, as Krup and his fellow modified drivers put on a blazing fast, well driven race. Josh Allen fought of the rest of the field for a runner up finish, followed by Weitholder, Brandon Roberts, and Bollinger.
There were four modified heats due to the big 28-car field on hand, heat race wins went to Mark Anderson, Krup, Weitholder and Kelly Kovski. The B-main was won by Trey Harris. Fast time in qualifying was set be Anderson.
In the E-Mod division, Fink continued his early season domination, charging to a victory worth a nice $500 check and the cherished trophy. “I want to dedicate this win to Greg Gilmore,” he said afterwards, “I was too young to ever have raced against him, but I used to sit up there in those stands and watch him race, I always liked watching him run.”Fink and the 242 Team have their car dialed in, no matter where the driver needs to run. “This car is working so good, I can move around if I need to,” he said, “the guys have it set up perfect and I just try not to make any mistakes.” No mistakes were made Saturday, as Fink won for the second time in two outings at the Spoon. Josh Smith drove to an impressive 2nd place finish, followed by Steve David and rim-riding Austin Becarra, who had his car scraping the wall off turn 4 lap after lap. Clint Young finished fifth.
Heat races in the 26-car field were won by Young, Todd O’Niell, Fink and Smith, after Dustin Branch had set fast time in qualifying. Grabbing a spot in the main by way of winning the B-main was Kyle Girard.
In the Pro Late Model Division, Denny Woodworth got the win in dominant fashion, making up for a runner up finish after leading most of the race opening night. As the race neared the close, the car of Tucker Finch got messed up over the top of turn 4, but Finch kept it moving, driving it down the front stretch before exiting at the top of turn one, which allowed the race to stay under green and finish, something Woodworth appreciated. “You never want to see a late caution when you’ve got a nice lead, and that driver did the absolute professional thing right there, kept the car moving and got off the track safely while not bringing out a yellow,” the veteran Woodworth said, “Believe me, that is appreciated and if ever needed the favor will be returned.” Woodworth has quickly become a force at Spoon River since starting to visit regularly last year. “I love this place for how wide it is and how perfectly the track is always prepared. You can race hard, you can race without beating and banging, there’s great competition, and you can pick and choose all kinds of different lines. I love it,” he said in Victory Lane. Woodworth was followed across the line by Brandon Eskew, Aaron Heck - the Opening Night winner, Logan Moody and Michael Marden. Heck had spun the car of Colby Eller very early in the race as the two battled into turn one, went to the back of the pack with no complaints and drove back through the field for his 3rd place finish.
Woodworth and Heck were the heat winners.
In the Speed 2 midget division, Mason City’s Andy Baugh won his second straight feature at Spoon this year, but not until after swapping about 6 textbook “sliders” with Adam Taylor as the two put on a show for the large crowd on hand. “I said to Adam before the race, you wanna have some fun tonight?” said Baugh, “and we both decided we’d put on a show and throw some slide jobs on each other. It was a blast.” Taylor jumped the berm late in the race and fell back, as Baugh drove to a relatively easy win after that. Mark McMahill continued his strong start to 2019 with a runner up finish, followed by Tyler Roth, Taylor, and Tracy Hull. Dave Baugh and Shane Morgan both went over during the feature, Baugh a half-roll to avoid a stopped machine and Morgan took a tumble in nearly the same spot, rolling twice in turn four. Both drivers were okay, Baugh was able to continue his race, Morgan was forced to retire for the night.
Jake Momper dominated the big Hornet field of 21, winning his second straight of the year at Spoon River Speedway, ahead of David Lauritson, Eric Smith, Mike Foster, and Brett Pratt.
Racing action returns to the Spoon Saturday night May 11th. Check out their FaceBook page and website for additional information about up coming races