EAST MOLINE — Keith Blum used the Quad City Speedway as a testing ground all season for one race. That race was Sunday Night's 50-lap, $1,701.01-to-win Ron Marks Jr. Memorial.|
All of the testing paid off as he was able to win in his fallen friend's name on Sunday night. He had proven himself to be a threat in the weeks leading up to the big race. Blum put together a three-week win streak in the Weber Auto Group Street Stocks earlier in the summer.
That made him an early race favorite, and he began the night with a win in the first of the street stock heats. Blum started sixth in the feature after the redraw. He strategically made his way through traffic and moved into the second spot on lap 10.
Leader Timmy Current already had built a big lead and looked great maneuvering through slower traffic. Unfortunately for the 12T of Current, traffic ended up hurting his night. Current led the opening 14 laps but was caught up in the race's first caution. Chris Hambright spun in Turn 4, and although Current tried to slow down and avoid him, it was too late.
He continued and held onto the lead through three restarts until Blum caught and passed him on lap 32.
"Me and Timmy were side-by-side, restart after restart," said Blum. "I was hoping that I could get ahead on the high side off (Turns) 1 and 2; I could dive it down below him. We just kept having restarts. I knew once I got by him, it was going smooth from there."
The two battled under the green flag for eight laps. It seemed as if everything moved in slow motion on the 41st circuit. Current reeled Blum back in but hooked the No. 21 in the left rear coming off of Turn 2. Blum went sideways all of the way down the backstretch and continued to slide, up into traffic in Turn 4.
Blum made the save, but Current's night ended after breaking an upper-ball joint. That was after he twisted the upper A-frame in the lap-15 crash with Hambright.
"That's what I'm here for; I like to put a show on," said Current, who has earned the nickname "Showtime." "It's always been checkers or wreckers for me, and (Sunday night), I was on the wreckers end."
Behind Blum at the finish were Steve Jackson, Chad Coyne and Jeremy Gustaf, with Dwayne Smith Jr. rounding out the Top 5. Jackson made a late charge to the runner-up spot after starting in 10th.
"Bridesmaid again," said Jackson, who noted that he has finished second at least eight times in 2014. "The brakes faded bad in the last four laps and the right-rear (wheel) was full of mud. It was a good track. I'll take second, but I'm going to get pretty sick of them pretty soon."
Milo Veloz started on the outside pole in the Toppert Services IMCA Modified 20-lap feature and led coast-to-coast for the race win. Brandon Durbin started ninth and finished a very close second, giving Veloz a run for his money in the final laps. Doug Curless, Rob Henry and Matt Werner rounded out the Top 5.
Four-cylinder rookie Steven Spiker got the first win of his career after leading the final 10 laps of the 12-lap Riverbend Pizza Place feature.
"I did it dad! This one is for you man," Spiker said in a heart-warming Facebook post.
Ray Castello led the opening two laps but was disqualified, driving the No. 48 of Aaron Hitt into the wall. Hitt was going for the lead and nearly had the pass made when the wreck ensued. Brandon Setser and Drew Wise were also podium finishers.
Mitchell Davis won the IMRA Midget Lite race with a last-lap pass off of Turn 4 on Austin Archdale. Archdale led the seven laps prior to the final one as he had the high line going. Davis led three laps in all. Archdale finished second, and Brian Rick was third.
Shon Sanders was victorious in the McDonald's Mod Lite 15-lapper. He and Bryan Brinker battled for the lead in the middle part of the race. Sanders led the opening eight laps before being passed by Brinker, who led the next four laps. Sanders reclaimed the lead with three laps to go and never looked back. Brinker came in second, and the 16P of Mike Pershy was a distant third.
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