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.
Minutes later in the feature, Goulden worked his way past a few cars from his 5th starting spot to challenge Weisser late, but ran out of laps, and afterwards said it wouldn’t have mattered.
“No, we wouldn’t have been able to get by him, Allen had us covered tonight,” Goulden said, “he was in conservation mode there late in the race and if I would have got up to him he would have turned it up.”
Goulden hit the scales first after the race and was asked to come to Victory Lane for one last salute from the crowd. Weisser followed him up to the winner’s circle after crossing the scales, and he and Goulden met in front of Weisser’s car, shook hands, and hugged, congratulating each other on the night and most certainly on all the side-by-side racing they’ve done for the last five years.
“He’s a great, great guy,” said Weisser, “we’re going to miss him being around. And he’s a great driver. I want to wish him all the best.” For his part, the always-calm Weisser was pleased with his night, “track was good, the high side was working, and the car was just right.”
Rounding out the Top Five in the 20-lap feature were Donovan Lodge, Brandon Roberts, and Dale Munson. Earlier in the night, Goulden set quick time in qualifying at 14.90, and division heats were won by Butch Weisser and Goulden.
In the Monical’s Pizza Pro Late Model Division, Mt. Vernon’s Aaron Heck bounced back from the previous week when his frustrations boiled over to win the 20-lap feature, holding off Brad Denney and Nick Bauman for the win.
“I know my emotions got the better of me last week,” Heck said in Victory Lane, referring to his anger and reaction to an on-track call by the track officials the previous weekend, “I just want to thank the Denneys, Brad and Morey, for their patience with me and for allowing me to come back. I truly love this race track and want to keep coming back and racing with these guys.”
Heck took the lead from the drop of the green flag, as Denney, starting on the inside pole, dropped into second and then went straight to the top of the track where his car was working best. The two aces stayed in that order in a quick-paced, caution free first two thirds of the event. Nick Bauman eventually worked underneath Denney to grab second at the checkers, followed by Denney, Kolby Vandenbergh, and Jose Parga. Vandenbergh and Denney were the division heat race winners, and Vandenbergh set fast time in qualifying with a blistering 14.50 second lap.
Pekin’s Kevin Morrow won his 4th Farmington Locker Pro Modified feature of the year, putting him right behind Mark Anderson (6) and Todd Bates (5) on the season. Morrow hugged the bottom to hold off Anderson and Josh Smith for the win.
Morrow couldn’t point to just one thing when asked why he was so dominant on the type of surface the Pro Mods ran in the feature: “I don’t really know, the car just really drives off the corners well when there’s lots of rubber down there,” he said. Part of that equation, of course, is a driver with a smooth touch on the gas and brake pedals, and Morrow drove splendidly to hold off the hard charging Anderson.
Smith had another strong run to finish third, followed by Todd Bates and Matt Parrott. Morrow and Bates won the heats .
Even with all those multi-time winners before him, the most impressive streak in any division at Spoon River Speedway this year is the current one by Fulton FS Hornet driver Derrick DeFord.
DeFord won his seventh straight feature (and 12th of the season) in the 10-lap nightcap, jumping to an early lead and then staying smooth throughout to keep the field well in his wake. Steve Jones, himself a 4-time feature winner this year, came home second, followed by Robert Mendenhall, Dave Lauritson, and Dallas Strauch. Earlier in the evening, Jones won the Hornet Division heat race over DeFord.