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Kelly Kovski won his second straight Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Feature at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night, holding off Zac Oedewaldt and Allen Weisser in an exciting show of driving skill by all three racers.
From the drop of the green on a smooth, racey surface, fans knew they were in for a show, as cars moved to the inside, outside and middle grooves, all in an effort to find the fastest line. For the first 10 laps, it was as equal as can be, as Kovski on the low side and Oedewaldt up on the top stayed glued together in a battle for the lead, with Kovski controlling the scoreboard for the first six laps before Oedewaldt was able to nose ahead off of turn four for three straight laps. Weisser, who might have even been a tick faster than the leaders, darted back and forth between high, low and middle grooves looking for an opening as the three perfectly handling cars raced within inches of each other, but never touching.
On lap 15, Kovski started to stretch in out a little bit as the top groove finally lost a little grip, and he carried on for the win, besting Oedewaldt to the line by about a second, with Weisser settling for third just behind the Z1 of Oedewaldt.
“That was fun,” said an understated Kovski in Perkins Seed House Victory Lane. “I kept getting good bite coming off turn 2 early in the race, but Zac was fast off of turn 4. I just knew I had to keep hitting my spots because I could see and was hoping that the high side would slick off a little bit up there.”
That’s exactly what it did, allowing Kovski some breathing room at the end.
“It’s great racing with guys like Allen Weisser, Ray Bollinger when he’s here (Bollinger wrapped up his chase of the Summit Modified Tour last week and stayed in Ohio for a Saturday show, he has indicated he will be back at Spoon River this Saturday night), the Oedewaldts, Brandon Roberts, Josh Allen, and really the whole group here. Lot of respect and give and take out there, it’s just good racing that way. That’s why we love coming here as much as we possibly can,” Kovski said, motioning towards his Dad, celebrating with him in the Winner’s Circle.
The Modified car counts at all area tracks are down this last few weeks, possibly due to teams adjusting to a mid-season rule change in tires mandated by UMP, but the quality of the cars and of the racing at Spoon River Speedway remains second to none.
Behind the top three in the feature came Roberts, who said before the night started he needed his luck to start changing for the good, and apparently it did, and Josh Allen, with another Top 5 finish. Weisser set fast time in qualifying and won the first heat over Kovski, while Roberts topped heat two ahead of Zane Oedewaldt.
In the NuTech Speed 2 Midget Division, the Mason City Maniac, Andy Baugh, put his 6B up on the rim and rode it to victory in the 20 lap feature, holding off a great challenge by Mitchell Davis, driving a loaner car after his car was wrecked in a bizarre accident with a tow truck at another area track on Friday.
Davis tried mightily to put the move on Baugh as the final laps wound down, running the bottom and trying to make the pass for the lead coming off turn two. Baugh never let up.
“I saw him down there, and I saw him coming up. I just stayed in it and hoped for the best, wasn’t going to give up that top,” said a jubilant Baugh later. “Man, this track is awesome. It lets us go out there and race each other hard every week. I have to thank Mike Raymond, the owner of this car. I thought my season might be over (after his main car flipped at Spoon two weeks earlier), but Mike showed up at my place with this baby and said ‘let’s go race’. I can’t thank him enough!”
For his part, Davis went to the very top to follow Baugh and try to make one last effort to pass, but jumped the perilous berm with two laps left and fell back to 11th in the final order. Finishing behind Baugh were Dillon Morley, John Springer, Bruck Hunnell and Brent Burrows.
22 midget cars were in attendance, heat race wins went to Davis, Baugh, and Chase McDermand. The Midgets will be running four shows in four nights this week, ending at The Spoon with the big finale Sunday evening, part of a special two-day show at the legendary high banked oval.
In the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, Evan Fink drew the pole position in the Frisbee redraw at intermission, and thoroughly dominated the 25 lap feature, an extra 5 laps added when Tom Scott from Multi Fire, a parts supplier to the teams, gave the winning driver a $100 bonus. Fink was glad to get it.
“The car was just perfect, it could run anywhere, but I was getting so much bite coming off of the bottom on the turns I just stayed down there,” said Fink. “I want to thank all of my sponsors, some who’ve been with us for a few years now, for sticking with us. Can’t thank the crew enough, either, those guys nailed it tonight.”
Fink finished ahead of Jose Parga, Nick Bauman, AJ May and Maverick Piller in a race slowed by only a single caution. After caution closed the field, Parga was able to hang with Fink for the first two laps on the restart, but Fink eventually ended up winning by a half straightaway. Parga and May had earlier won the heats, with Parga setting fast time on the night.
Fink did double duty the previous week, driving the green and purple #242 E-mod for Richie Biswell, who was vacationing, and Biswell came back refreshed and fast, as he triumphed in the 15-lap Farmington Locker E-mod Main Event, his second win of the year at Spoon River.
“The car was really good tonight, and with a good track like we always have here, I was able to put it anywhere I needed to go,” Biswell said, echoing other winners in their ability to pick multiple grooves on the fast track. “I just wanted to keep it smooth and consistent.” That he did, driving a flawless race for the win, despite the race being slowed by several cautions back in the field.
Mark Anderson powered into second place early and stayed there throughout, followed across the finish line by Mark Ross, Kevin Morrow and Todd Bates.
Anderson and Ross won the division’s heat races, and Matt Dobey set quick time in qualifying.
Michael Fromm earned another win in the Fulton FS Hornet Division, and Jason Grant subbed for Mark Williams, Sr. in the #79W Pontiac to win the Spoon River Six Shooters.