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Kelly Kovski, Ray Bollinger and Allen Weisser certainly didn’t get together before the race and make plans to put on a show, but they sure did once the green flag flew on the Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Feature Race Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway.
Racing for $1,000 to win the 5th Annual Randy Test Memorial Modified Feature, named for the longtime Spoon River Speedway modified car builder and owner, the three Modified Hot Shoes used every inch of the high banked super smooth oval to thrill the nice crowd in attendance under a full moon on a picture-perfect spring evening.
Bollinger held the lead throughout the first 17 laps, maybe not so much in dominating style, but certainly in a way that everyone involved knew would be hard to top. A caution came out as the leaders were working through lapped traffic, allowing Kovski and Weisser to draw back on the tail of Bollinger with a clean track ahead of them for the restart.
Weisser flew around the outside of Bollinger coming out of turn two shortly after that restart, and the talented youngster took his turn in the lead spot. After using the high side to pass, Weisser quickly dropped his racing line in the next couple of laps to protect the lead and undoubtedly to check the capability of the bottom groove, but he quickly moved back up.
It was then that Kovski, his car setup on this night to stay dedicated to the bottom, made his move, powering off the low side to grab the top spot and keep it to the checkers. Bollinger found something again up top, and was able to slip past Weisser once again to finish second, his two-race winning streak at Spoon River snapped by his good buddy Kovski. Weisser followed with Josh Allen and Rodney Bowman rounding out the top five, those two racing side by side and having a great battle of their own for fourth and fifth throughout the event.
Kovski posed with Randy Test’s children for photos in Perkins Seed House Victory Lane, and was gracious in accepting the Test Trophy for the first time. “Nothing better than this track and this field of cars. When you win hear against guys like Bollinger and the Weisser’s, and all the other top drivers that come here, it means a lot,” Kovski beamed.
When asked what thoughts go through a driver’s mind as he looks at the names on the lineup sheet at the beginning of the night, he said, “you know that you have to be on your game, in the pits and on the track, or you’re not going to finish up front, that’s for sure.”
Fittingly, based on the feature, the top three in the Main event also won the three Mod heats after Bollinger had set quick time on the night.
Just prior to the Modified thriller, the NuTech Seed D2 Midgets, after narrowing their huge field of 32 machines down to 20 for feature, took to the track and turned lightning-quick laps with few incidents, as Andy Baugh eventually came out on top for his second feature win in two appearances at Spoon this spring to remain unbeaten.
Gedd Ross challenged late on the inside, but Baugh hit his marks lap after lap on the treacherous thin cushion of the top of the racing surface, and was able to hold off the hard charging Ross. Jeff Mallonee finished third, continuing his streak of top five finishes that include one win, followed by Hunter Lane and Austin Archdale with impressive runs.
Early leader Patrick Bruns, who made the trip across the state for the first time since winning on Opening Night, was the early leader, but with Baugh trying to run him down something broke on Bruns’ # 10b and his night was over Mid-race. Bruns had earlier won one of the four D2 Heats, the others going to Dave Anderson, Gedd Ross and Baugh. Bruns broke the track record in this first season of D2 racing at The Spoon, with a blistering 14.39 second lap.
In the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, AJ May set quick time, won the first heat, and bolted away from pole position in the feature to win his second in a row and third in four tries at the Spoon. Along with a win a couple of weeks back at Farmer City, May said, “this car is 4 for 6, and we’ll definitely take that.”
May was asked if his Modified experience helped him handle the slick bottom groove in a Late Model car. “Those Mods have twice the horsepower and half the tire,” he said, “so it definitely helps make you try to stay smooth, and these Late Models with the big tires are really fun to drive.”
The second gen star took home $500 for his win, followed across the line by Evan Fink, Nick Bauman, Jose Parga (driving back through the field after a second lap spin sent him to the rear) and newcomer Jeff Guengerich. A season-high field of 17 Pro Late Models battled through the evening, with heat wins going to May, Parga, and Bauman.
Butch Weisser, driving the Chris Osborne #61jr in the Farmington Locker E-mod division, dominated that class’ feature event from the pole after winning the first of two heats, rocketing forward on the start and each restart to win in the class and that car for the first time. Weisser thanked Scott Test for his Trophy as he picked up the winner’s share of a bumped-up E-mod purse for the event.
Mark Anderson got around Richie Biswell, who started outside front row, and put a firm grasp on second, where he finished, followed by Kevin Morrow, Biswell, and Derrick Tassart, last year’s E-Mod top rookie, with his best run yet. Weisser and Biswell earned the front row with their heat race wins.
In the Fulton FS Hornet Division, Dave Lauritson topped the field in his first visit to Spoon River this season, and in the Spoon River Six-shooter Division, Marty Williams won the heat race and his second straight feature.
Next Saturday night the track will be silent, as the races for Memorial Day weekend will be on Sunday evening. The UMP Mods will run the Third Annual Gary Cook, Jr. Memorial, with the field running for a $2,064 first prize. Along with the Mods, the UMP Super Late Models will be on hand for running for $1,500, along with the Pro Late Models and the USAC/IMRA Speed 2 Midgets. Racing will run on it’s normal schedule, ticket and pit pass prices and more info available at www.spoonriverspeedway.com, and also visit Spoon River Speedway’s facebook page for more updates throughout the week.