Spatola Wins Summer Nationals Opener

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Mike Spatola won Thursday night's DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals opener at Kankakee (Ill.) County Speedway. (Gary Gasper photo)
Mike Spatola won Thursday night's DIRTcar UMP Summer Nationals opener at Kankakee (Ill.) County Speedway. (Gary Gasper photo)

KANKAKEE, Ill. — Mike Spatola doesn’t have much experience in a Dirt Late Model but that didn’t prevent him from winning the opening night of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour Thursday at Kankakee County Speedway.

The driver affectionately known as “Opie” to his friends and fans claimed the first Hell Tour win of his career, worth $5,000, by holding off fellow front row starter Chad Simpson and third-place finisher Brian Shirley.

Spatola, who has raced regularly at Kankakee, had a strong start to his night by earning quick time honors in his qualifying group, which he parlayed into a heat race victory and a front row starting spot in the 40-lap A-Main.

Overall quick timer Ryan Unzicker finished fourth while Matt Miller rounded out the top five.

The finish:

Mike Spatola, Chad Simpson, Brian Shirley, Ryan Unzicker, Matt Miller, Scott James, Dennis Erb, Jr., Shannon Babb, Brandon Sheppard, Greg Johnson, Bret Sievert, Donny Walden, Bobby Pierce, Jack Sullivan, Billy Moyer, Jr., Jason Feger, Rusty Schlenk, Aaron Ricketts, Keith Piano, Brandon Thirlby, Jay Morris, Sean Toczek, Scott Schmitt.