Kankakee County Speedway
Kankakee-ruling rookie gets first ALMS victory
KANKAKEE, Ill. (May 20) — Division rookie Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Ill., fought off former series champion Rusty Schlenk of Jackson, Mich., on Friday at Kankakee County Speedway to capture his first-ever victory on the Sunoco American Late Model Series.
Spatola, who has four victories overall in 10 career Late Model starts, earned $2,000 in what became the series opener after four races were postponed or cancelled by rain.
Schlenk settled for second with polesitter Mike Provenzano of Marseilles, Ill., in third after leading the first 15 laps. First-time Kankakee visitor Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, and Dillan White of Crofton, Ky., rounded out the top five at the 3/8-mile oval south of Chicago.
Three of Spatola's four victories have come in his last six starts, and he's a perfect 3-for-3 at Kankakee in his rookie season.
Provenzano took command at the outset of the 40-lapper while the seventh-starting Spatola took second from Henry on the ninth lap. Spatola moved by Provenzano on the 16th lap and a pair of cautions for Michigan drivers Alan Vochaska and J.R. Hotovy gave him clean racetrack.
Schlenk moved into second on the 24th lap and challenged Spatola before a lap-30 caution, which set up a dash to the checkers. Spatola won the side-by-side duel after the frontrunners battled over the final six laps.
Notes: Spatola's Pierce Race Car has a Rhyne Competition Engine and sponsorship from Chicago Heights U-Pull-It, Pic-A-Part, Big Daddy Scrap and Modern Carriage Werks. ... The track's Late Model division is sponsored by Court Street Ford. ... Spatola leads the division's points over Mike Provenzano. ... Devin Shiels of Britton, Mich., was the event's hard charger, improving from 22nd to 12th. ... Twenty of 25 starters were running at the finish. ... Spatola is the third consecutive first-time winner on the series; Brian Shirley and Ryan Unzicker ended last season as back-to-back first-time series winners. ... The event drew 36 drivers from six states and Canada. ... Among drivers failing to make Friday's main event: Steve Sheppard Jr., Andrew Reaume, Jay Morris, Steve Thorsten and Keith Piano. ... ALMS competitors head to Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway on Saturday for a co-sanctioned event with the Northern Allstars Late Model Series.
ALMS @ Kankakee: (1) Mike Spatola, (2) Rusty Schlenk, (3) Mike Provenzano, (4) Jon Henry, (5) Dillan White, (6) Bret Sievert, (7) Scott Schmitt, (8) Brian Ruhlman, (9) Sam Epling, (10) Casey Noonan, (11) Jeep Van Wormer, (12) Devin Shiels, (13) Rich Bell, (14) Shawn Toczek, (15) J.R. Hotovy, (16) Aaron Ricketts, (17) Phil Ausra, (18) Curtis Roberts, (19) Randy Manos Jr., (20) Glen Thompson, (21) Steve Dimmick, (22) Guy Volk, (23) Alan Vochaska, (24) Kerry Mathew, (25) Ryan Vanderveen. Fast qualifier (among 36 cars): Sievert, 15.345 seconds. Heat race winners: Van Wormer, Roberts, Henry, Sievert. Consolation winners: Hotovy, Ricketts. Provisional starters: Toczek, Mathew, Manos, Ausra, Shiels.