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A highly competitive and successful season of exciting racing came to a close at Spoon River Speedway last Saturday night, with Champions being determined in all divisions, and a UMP Modified feature thriller that summed up the whole year.
Champions for 2014 include: Allen Weisser in the Perkins Seed House UMP Modifieds; Nick Bauman in the Monical’s Pizza UMP Pro Late Model Division, Todd Bates in the Farmington Locker UMP Pro Modified Division, and Derrick Deford in the Fulton FS UMP Hornet Division.
Weisser had the Modified crown sewed up before the season finale, and he and his crew took the opportunity to run at a big show near St. Louis Saturday night. But that didn’t prevent the quality field on hand from putting on a good show.
Saturday night’s racing at Spoon River Speedway was outstanding from start to finish, despite a smaller-than-normal field, and in the end the drivers in Husqvarna Victory Lane after each division’s feature were guys who’d been there several times before.
Allen Weisser won his division-leading 7th feature of the year in the Perkins Seed House Modified Division, controlling the race from the high side of the speedway and holding off a late charge from Matt Goulden – in his last race – for the win.
Earlier in the night, Goulden surprised the crowd, crew, and fellow drivers with the announcement that this would be his last night of racing as he was retiring and “selling the whole operation”. The quiet, classy young veteran driver said it hit him and he got “a little emotional” during the announcement at intermission.
In the first 16 years of the UMP Modified Fall Nationals at Spoon River Speedway, three drivers (Scott May, Jimmy Hibser, and Gary Cook, Jr.) combined to win 10 of those. But in the seven most recent events, seven different drivers each won their first Fall Nationals Championship.
Michigan’s Jacob Poel increased that streak to eight, holding off four previous champions to put his name on the list of big-name UMP Modified drivers who have won the Spoon River Speedway Fall Nationals, one of the preeminent Modified races in the country.
But it wasn’t easy, as Poel survived a wild, hotly contested race that saw four different cars lead at one point, and five lead changes overall in the 50-lap race, a testament to a perfectly prepared race track that allowed for multiple effective grooves for the drivers to choose from.
The Tuff 50 Features for Modifieds and Pro Late Models took center stage at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night, and 90 degree temps with high humidity at race time just added to the toughness.
With the race track ultra smooth and drivers able to drive successfully in a number of grooves, the lead in both 50 lappers changed several times throughout the night, making it a great and unpredictable show for the good sized crowd on hand at the high-banked oval.
And as with all longer-than-normal races, patience and equipment care paid off for both winners, Nick Bauman in the Monical’s Pro Late Model Division and Allen “A-Dog” Weisser in the Perkins Seed House Modified feature.
August in the Midwest is a month where everyone realizes the dirt track racing season is winding down, but the lateness of the season has still been a month of firsts at Spoon River Speedway.
Two weeks ago it was Jose Parga in the Monical’s Pizza Pro Late Model Division picking up his first-ever feature win on the smooth, fast, high-banked 3/8-mile oval, and this past Saturday is what another young gun, Mike Chasteen, Jr., earning his first feature win in the Perkins Seed House Modified Division on the speedway at which he started his driving career. For good measure on Chasteen’s big night, Parga went ahead and added another feature win to his resume. And even though Glasford’s Richie Biswell has visited Victory Lane at Spoon many times, his win in the Farmington Locker Pro Modified Feature was his first of the season in that division, and first time in over a month he’d been able to smile for the photos reserved for the winner.
After a week filled with cloudy skies and rain showers, and with the threat of more rain on Saturday, no one knew what kind of show, if any, would happen at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night.
“I was a little worried about the track being rough,” said Promoter and Track Prep ace Brad Denney during the intermission of the program, “I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time on it this week as I usually do…but it looks like it turned out okay.” That was an understatement, to be sure, on a night when two, three and even four-wide racing happened throughout the night on a smooth, multi-groove racing surface.
Springfield area UMP Modified drivers Matt Goulden and Kelly Kovski are good friends off the track, and race each other hard but clean on the track. Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway, the two buddies put on a show at the front of the field on the high-banked 3/8-mile oval, on a night when the track was the fastest it’s been all season. Almost too fast, if you ask Goulden.
“I love this track, it’s always so smooth and fast,” he said in Husqvarna Victory Lane after holding off Kovski in the thrilling 20-lap feature. “But tonight, it was almost too fast,” he added with a chuckle. “I had to just focus on not making mistakes, because I could see both of them [Allen Weisser, who finished third and challenged for the lead mid-race, and Kovski] and I knew the only way they would be able to pass me was if I made a mistake.”
Both Kovski and Weisser pressured Goulden in hopes of that mistake that never came, and even though Kovski was able to nose in front in turns 1 and 2 a couple of times in the late stages of the race, Goulden was able to hold him at bay and officially lead every lap to claim the first of the four Poker Chip Lottery races.
Allen Weisser was happy with his win in the Perkins Seed House UMP Modified Feature Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway, but he might have been happier with second place. The young star figured to finish second as he watched his dad Butch Weisser pull away to a big lead late in the 20-lap main event, and he would have been cool with that.
“I’d really have rather seen him win it, his car was so good, and I would have been happy with second” said Allen in the Husqvarna Victory Lane after he inherited the lead with only one lap to go when Butch Weisser’s car suddenly slowed on the back stretch of the 3/8 mile high banked oval and then disappeared over the top of turn 3 to avoid causing a pileup behind him, as mechanical failure in the rear of the machine cost the veteran a victory that was almost certainly his.