With Shiverfest pushed back from Saturday to Sunday, I made alternate plans and attended the Larry Phillips Memorial race held at the Springfield Raceway in Springfield, Missouri Saturday afternoon. Classes in action included late models, modifieds, sportmods, and bombers. The pit area was packed with good car counts in every division.
The first feature to be run would be the sportmods. Steve Muilenburg paced the field early from his pole start, but he would give up that lead three laps later when David Kirkland used the high side to snag the lead away. Muilenburg would continue to lose spots as Billy Street and Dean Willie advanced one spot each. Street would lose the third spot when he bobbled and allowed Willie to drive around him. Muilenburg's car came alive as he persistently ran the bottom groove on his way back to the front. He passed Willie for the runner up spot with three laps to go before pulling even with Kirkland on the final lap. Muilenburg got the advantage exiting turn four and took the checkers ahead of David Kirkland, Dean Willie, Billy Street, and JC Morton.
Late models hit the track next with veteran drivers Terry Phillips and Bill Frye sitting on the front row. The two ran side by side at the line on lap one before Phillips got the edge on lap two. That didn't last long as Frye muscled his machine around the top groove and grabbed the lead on the next circuit. Phillips would make the pass back before the leaders caught up to the back of the field, but a caution flag would realign the lapped cars to the tail. Phillips got a great restart and moved ahead by nearly five car lengths and eventually a full straight away advantage. He would go on to take the win from there, but the battle was shaping up behind him. Jeremy Payne closed in on second-place runner Frye, and on the final set of corners Payne drove into the left rear of Frye and spun him out. Payne crossed the line in second, but when he drove around on the cool-down lap, Frye blasted over the front nose of Payne's machine in turn four. The crowd cheered as a result, and later Payne would be disqualified for rough driving. Brad Looney, Justin Wells, Eric Turner, and Tony Jackson Jr. would then round out the top five of the Larry Phillips Memorial.
Twenty modifieds were next on the card. Johnny Fennewald jumped out to the early command and set sail on the rest of the field. Erik Maggard and Rex Merritt swapped the runner up spot early on, but Merritt claimed that spot when the checkers waved. Fennewald was never challenged despite several caution flags throughout the race as he took home the top prize. Merritt was second, Maggard third, Jody Tillman fourth, and Jamie Ragland completed the top five.
With a long trip to Donnellson ahead of me on Sunday, I opted not to stick around for the bomber feature. The racing action seen at Springfield was top notch for a late October special. One late model heat race saw three cars battling three-wide for several laps for the lead. The trip to Springfield was my fourth in two years, but unfortunately it was only the second complete show I've witnessed. A USMTS show last year was cancelled before it started while last year's Turkey Classic was cancelled after hot laps when the rains came.
The Springfield Raceway will hold one more race yet this year before dropping the curtains on the year. The annual Turkey Classic is set for Saturday, November 28th where late models, modifieds, sportmods, and legends will be in action. Check out the track website at www.springfieldraceway.com for more information.
- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!