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Threatening skies and a lingering sprinkle had everyone in a hurry trying to “beat the weather” to get to see the post race fireworks show Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway, and no one turned out to be in a bigger hurry that UMP Modified driver Allen Weisser and UMP Pro Late Model driver and defending National Pro Late Champion Jose Parga, who both pulled off sweeps in their respective divisions.
Parga got the evening’s festivities going in fast fashion during Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model qualifying, destroying the previous Pro Late Model track record with a 14.11 second lap. Parga turned out to be one of three drivers to break the previous division record on a the lightning-fast track Saturday, as AJ May turned a 14.25 and Mavrick Piller a 14.33 in their qualifying efforts.
Weisser set fast time for the Zane’s Auto Service Modified division a few minutes later, and both drivers earned pole positions in the first heat for their respective classes, which they both then won.
The first feature of the night was the Pro Late Model event, and after the redraw at intermission, Parga had to start fifth, alongside the winner of the other heat in the division, AJ May, who drew the six spot. From the drop of the green, Springfield drivers Matt Taylor and Guy Taylor battled up front with Jake Little and Nick Bauman as Parga and May tried to pick their way through the top four.
Parga eventually found the middle groove to his liking and his car rocketed into the middle between cars on the outside and inside on more than one occasion as he bolted towards the front, eventually taking the lead and pulling away for the win. Parga’s car was noticeably faster than the rest of the field through the corners, and the young star said it was all set up in Victory Lane.
“My dad [Joe, his crew chief] nailed this setup tonight, the car was perfect,” Parga said, “ I can’t thank him enough for everything he does, and for this car tonight. It worked perfect no matter where I put it.”
The defending National Champion said it was too early to think about repeating.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” he laughed, when asked about it “and just trying to focus on having good runs. That’s a long ways away yet. We just have to stay consistent and have more good weekends like this.” The win Saturday went with a feature win at Farmer City, IL, on Friday night.
Guy Taylor finished second ahead of Matt Taylor in the Pro Late feature, with May, Bauman, Evan Fink, and Jake Little in tow.
Weisser’s weekend was almost a mirror image of Parga’s, as he, too, won at Farmer City Friday night and was looking for a weekend double. And, just like Parga, Weisser’s redraw resulted in a 3rd row start in the feature Saturday. Mark Johnson won the other Mod heat, and drew a 3 for the main. But the driver that drew the #1, Floyd Jordan, Jr., couldn’t make the call as the crew discovered a problem that could not be fixed in time, so the inside row slid forward and Johnson started from the pole.
He promptly grabbed the lead and held it through the early part of the race, ahead of Kyle Steel and Zac Oedewaldt. Kelly Kovski started to move forward as he found some bite on the bottom of the speedway, and eventually worked his way to second behind Johnson as Weisser made his way to third.
Weisser got a great run off of turn two shortly after a midrace caution had bunched the field, and shot by Johnson for the lead, which he never relinquished.
“The car was very fast, but so were those other guys at first,” said Weisser, who credited his crew and his dad Butch for the setup. When asked how much different it is having his dad in the infield helping with strategy instead of racing against him, the younger Weisser beamed. The elder Weisser continues to drive the #61 E-mod for Chris Osborne, but has stepped out of his modified car, giving him the chance to watch Allen race from a different perspective.
“I know it’s one less great driver I have to compete with out there,” he said with a laugh, “but yeah, it really helps having him make calls on the setup and the race strategy.”
Kovski brought his hot rod home second, followed by Johnson, Derrick Carlson and Zane Oedewaldt.
A wild first few laps highlighted the NuTech Seed Midget feature, with a couple of scary moments involved. The first took out the Baugh family. Dave Baugh’s #7B got sideways and then airborne, rolling a couple of times in the middle of turns 3 and 4 to bring out a red flag. As the cars slowed to a stop under red, on the other end of the track Andy Baugh’s #6B swerved to avoid a slower car and contacted a third machine, the #1 of Aaron Schock, and Baugh’s car ended up on its lid. All drivers were okay as the sturdy midget roll cages did their job.
Shortly after the restart Jeff Mallonee clipped the heavy mine tire denoting the inside of turn 1, destroying the entire left front suspension assembly. Mallonee climbed out unhurt as well. From there, teen driver Chase McDermand grabbed the lead and looked to complete a weekend double of his own, having won a feature in Indiana Friday. But Mitchell Davis had other ideas, sweeping under McDermand and grabbing the lead, ultimately having to hold off hard charging Austin Archdale for the win.
Archdale closed to within a car length, as he worked the high side, but he blew the berm at the top of the track with less than two laps to go and finished fifth. He did get Davis’ attention, though.
“I saw him coming up there out of the corner of my eye,” said Davis of Archdale, “I knew I just had to focus and try to get through the turns a little quicker, but then (after he slipped off the high side) I didn’t see him anymore. Chase was fast one groove off the bottom, that let me get to the very bottom and we made it work. I love racing here, such a great track. We have a blast every time we’re here.”
Havana’s Gedd Ross got around McDermand late for second, McDermand was third, followed by Brent Burrows and Archdale. Heat race wins went to Broc Hunnell, Mallonee and Davis. 23 midgets were in attendance.
In the Farmington Locker E-mod Division, Mark Anderson patiently picked his spots from a #4 starting spot, waiting for the right time to go for passes , made a pretty and perfectly timed pass on early leader Richie Biswell for the lead, did the same to Kevin Morrow after that, and pulled away for the feature win ahead of Morrow, Butch Weisser, Biswell and Todd Bates. Anderson said later his car wasn’t that good, so he needed to be sure he could complete his passes when he made the moves.
Weisser and Morrow had earlier won their heats, and Weisser set quick time just ahead of Matt Dobey in qualifying.
Mark Williams, Jr. dominated the six-shooter/hornet feature in his six-cylinder Pontiac, and Michael Fromm was the top finishing Hornet. Williams, Jr. also won the heat.
This Saturday is the Gerald Denney Memorial, featuring “Topless” racing. Teams in both Modified Divisions, and the Pro Late Model divisions, are encouraged to take the tops off their race car so the fans can see the drivers working the wheel in the annual event. Visit Spoon River Speedway’s facebook page throughout the week for updates.