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Ray Bollinger of Kewanee, IL missed Opening Night at Spoon River Speedway two Saturdays ago, but made up for it this past weekend with a dominating win in the Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Division feature at The Spoon.
“I love this place,” an exuberant Bollinger said in Perkins Seed House Victory Lane, “we like to travel around a bit and can’t always make it, but I do love this track.” Bollinger picked up cool $1,000 for his victory Saturday, and said the track was a “driver’s track”.
“You had a choice of grooves here as usual tonight, and always smooth,” he said. “We changed gears about three times after the heat trying to decide if we wanted to run the top or the bottom. Thanks to my crew, they worked hard and they made the right call!”
To earn the win, Bollinger had to get around one of the early leaders and pole sitter Brandon Roberts, who, hugging the bottom, was the early man to beat and who finished second. Bollinger was forced to the high side after running low early to make the pass for the lead, and it stuck. Kelly Kovski led the races initial laps, but a mechanical issue forced him out of the lead and eventually out of contention. Josh Allen, in his second week running with the Open Mods full time, started 8th and drove to 3rd with an impressive run, followed by Allen Weisser and Rodney Bowman.
Following the Mod show, the NuTech Seed USAC/IMRA D2 Midgets took to the track, and pole sitter Jeff Mallonee of Davenport had his second straight strong showing at The Spoon as bolted out front early. A first lap incident in turns 3 and 4 wiped out the expected strong run for Dave Baugh, who won a heat and started fourth in the field. On the restart Andy Baugh, celebrating a birthday on the night, swept around 3 cars and set his sights on Mallonee, eventually making the pass coming out of turn two and never looking back.
“I love winning on this beast,” he said, looking around and motioning at the racing surface, “absolutely love this place. It’s smooth, these cars are fast on it, and it’s just fun.” The Mason City driver has experienced success in both Sprint Cars and Midgets at Spoon River, and when asked later, wouldn’t commit to which was more fun to drive on the track, but did say “for as cheap as you can run these D2 cars, this is the best deal. Fast and cheap and fun!”
Mallonee took the runner up spot, followed by Mitchell Davis, who put on a show riding the rim on the topside throughout. Dillon Morley and Bart Andrews rounded out the top 5. Brent Burrows, Andy Baugh and Dave Baugh won the three heats, and Davis set a new D2 record in qualifying with a lap of 14.80.
Speaking of quick laps, Allen Weisser bested Modified qualifying with a 14.89, the only driver to get below 15 seconds. He then went out and won the opening heat. Kovski took the second heat, and Zac Oedewaldt put a big move on Bollinger to win Heat #3 early in the night.
Defending UMP National Pro Late Model Champ Jose Parga picked up his first feature win of the year in the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, drawing pole position during the intermission redraw, and leaving no doubt in the Main Event. Nick Bauman and Evan Fink also pulled away from the field, but settled for second and third respectively. Week one winner AJ May took home fourth, followed by Austin Simpson. Heat races went to Fink and Parga, the former winning by a full straightaway, the latter driving deep into Turn 3 with a little over a lap left the heat to go three wide in the middle of May on the inside and Bauman on the outside. Parga completed the move and the double pass coming out of four, with all three drivers exhibiting their huge talent in close quarters, to take the win in the night’s most exciting race.
In the Farmington Locker E-Mod Division, Kevin Morrow was once again the man to beat…and did not let anyone do that, winning his second straight feature. Modified legend Butch Weisser, piloting Chris Osborne, Jr’s #61 E-mod, put on an impressive display to work all the way into second place before falling out of the top 5 late. Mark Anderson took second to Morrow, holding off Mark Ross in a good low/high battle. Josh Smith picked up fourth and Kyle Girard finished fifth.
E Mod heats went to Anderson and Morrow. The second heat saw the night’s scariest wreck, when Todd Bates, running side by side on the outside of Morrow and battling for the lead, had his car effectively totaled as the soon-to-be-lapped car of Vicky McClanahan got up in the loose clay on the high side of turn 4, went into a spin, and shot back down into the groove just as the leaders arrived, leaving Bates with nowhere to go and no time to react. Both Bates and McClanahan’s cars suffered heavy front end damage, but both drivers were okay.
Mark Williams won his second straight feature in the Fulton FS Six-shooter class, besting Austin Yerbic and Ellie Vogel for the win.
Next Saturday night is Autism Awareness Night at Spoon River Speedway, t-shirts in support are available now. Ordering info can be found at www.spoonriverspeedway.com, or visit Spoon River Speedway’s facebook page for more info.