Ray Bollinger of Kewanee continued adding to his victory total in his quest for the UMP National Modified Points Championship Saturday at Spoon River Speedway, holding off Allen Weisser, himself in the hunt for the National Title, to win the Zane’s Auto Service Modified 25-lap feature and the $1,000 check to go with it.
The track hosted races for the first time since July 16th, after having to cancel two programs due to extreme weather conditions, and taking the annual planned break for the Fulton County Fair at the end of July, and it turned into a wild and wacky night of racing in all divisions.
Early in the Modified feature, Bollinger and Zac Oedewaldt, running 2nd and 3rd behind leader Brandon Roberts, got together coming down the front straight, with Oedewaldt’s car climbing the retaining wall but coming back down without rolling over before coming to a stop at the top of turn one, broken and done for the night. The closely matched field behind didn’t have much room or time to avoid, and the cars of Derrick Carlson and Zane Oedewaldt were also collected in the incident.
After the track was cleared, Bollinger was able to power past Roberts, who later said on social media his tires gave up on his #35, and grab the lead. Allen Weisser made his way around Roberts as well, and started to hunt down Bollinger, drawing up to his rear bumper before making several attempts to pass the Kewanee driver by diving low and hoping to slide up in front of Bollinger.
Each effort came up inches short, and Weisser would settle back into second to give it another go. Bollinger planted his car at the top the track and was barely able to hold off Weisser on several of those occasions to ultimately claim the win. Bollinger ended the month of July sitting fifth in the National standings, while Weisser is in third. Every race from here on to season’s end is important, and it should make for some great racing down the stretch in August and September.
Roberts held on for third, finishing just ahead of Butch Weisser, back in his Open Modified for the first time since early spring and looking to be in mid-season form right out of the gate, with Mark Johnson rounding out the Top 5. Bollinger set fast time early in the evening and also won the first heat, while Allen Weisser won the second heat. Weisser then drew a number in the redraw that inverted 7 cars in the field, putting himself and Bollinger mid-pack to start the feature, from where they both drove to the front.
In the Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model Division, season long tension between competitors AJ May and Evan Fink boiled over after the 20-lap feature concluded, won by May. Midway through the race, Fink, trapped down low trying to lap a slower car, moved quickly from the inside to the outside coming off turn four in front of May, running second. The two cars made enough contact that Fink’s right rear tire went flat heading into turns one and two, and May was able to drive by on the inside to take the lead, with Nick Bauman right on his tail moving into second as the trio entered turns three and four.
Fink’s crew was able to get the tire replaced and get him back out for the restart. May drove away from Bauman for the victory, Bauman finishing second, followed by Jake Little. Fink came back through the field for fourth, just ahead of Matt Beadles, early leader Maverick Piller, and Bill Kettering, Jr.
After the race Fink weaved his way through the slowed field to run into May’s car at the end of the front straight, and as both drivers made their way to the post race weigh in, May exited his car and whacked the roof of Fink’s car to express his frustration. Both crews rushed to the scales to keep the drivers separated as Fink exited his car and the altercation ended shortly thereafter without turning into a baseball-like brawl.
May was credited with the Victory, but was suspended one week for his actions post race in a decision finalized by the track owners and promoter on Sunday. Fink was also suspended, his suspension being two weeks for not only hitting May’s car under the post race caution on the track, but for exiting his car and making contact with May in the infield. Heat race wins went to May and Bauman, May set quick time at the start of the night with a blistering lap of 14.18, second-fastest ever in the division behind Jose Parga’s 14.11 earlier this season.
In the Farmington Locker E-mods, Richie Biswell of Glasford picked up his second feature win in a row, winning from the outside pole. Biswell battled mid-race with Mark Anderson for the lead, and then Kevin Morrow later in the event, holding them off for the win. Morrow finished second, Manito’s Matt Dobey, who set quick time in qualifying, took third, followed by Anderson and young Mason Duncan, son of Metamora modified driver Tommy Duncan.
Heat races went to Dobey and Mark Ross of Havana, with the first heat being a precursor to the night’s events after Biswell and Canton’s Todd Bates, starting together on the second row, with Bates on the inside, made contact from the drop of the green flag as they raced for the first turn, Bates car ending up way down on the inside of the front stretch but still going the right way. After Dobey, Morrow, Biswell and Bates races without incident after that and crossed the line in that order, Bates expressed his displeasure with Biswell and banged into the Biswell car from behind. The post race contact under yellow also yielded the rest of the night off for Bates.
In the Six-shooter feature, Ellie Vogel claimed her first-ever feature win, outlasting Mark Williams, Sr. and Mark Williams, Jr. Williams, Sr. had a flat tire in the heat and that malady repeated itself in the feature, and Williams, Jr. suffered the same fate later. Vogel came around to the checkered flag, then to Victory Lane where she gladly posed with the checkers for photos.
Between the big supply of backpacks donated by the track and those additional backpacks donated by track crew and drivers, dozens of kids got free loaded book bags for back to school. Over 20 drivers donated book bags to the annual giveaway, as every grade schooler in attendance was a winner and received a bag.
Next week, along with the regular classes, the Speed 2 USAC/IMRA Midgets return, and they’ll be making up their postponed Summer Sizzler event with a $500 to win purse. It will also be the second and final Lawn Mower races of the season, open to all riding lawn mowers. Go to spoonriverspeedway.com for info, or like Spoon River Speedway on facebook for updates.