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Lebanon-I-44-Speedway(LEBANON, Missouri)   Tyler Scott of Nixa, Missouri outmaneuvered a field of 15 ASA Modified stock cars to claim a hard-fought victory in the annual ‘Hillbilly 50’ at Lebanon I-44 Speedway on Saturday night.  Scott, who turned 18 in March, held back repeated challenges from veteran Fair Grove campaigner David Bates – a seven time Modified champion at both the I-44 and Bolivar paved tracks – in the 50-lap contest, which was slowed six times by caution flags for spins and accidents on the 3/8-mile asphalt oval.

“I want to thank my family, especially my Dad, and everyone on this race team who has worked so hard to make it possible for me to be in Monster Energy Victory Lane tonight”, said Scott, claiming his second Modified class win of the 2011 season.  “And I have to give a shout out to all the I-44 Speedway fans that came out tonight and supported us – you’re the best!”

Bates faded a bit after lap 40, but still managed to finish second, with Lebanon’s Mike Coryell third and last week’s Modified winner Jason Otto of Richland a close fourth.  ‘Rocket’ Rod Icenhower of Fair Grove bested his brother Ricky, the 1992 NASCAR Sunbelt Region Champion, to complete the top five finishers in the 2011 edition of the ‘Hillbilly 50’.

On a very busy night of racing where track management kept a wary eye on an impending thunderstorm from the north, the Pro National Series made their 2011 I-44 debut in 2/3-scale stock-appearing racecars powered by 4-cylinder motorcycle engines.  Originally known as the ‘Baby Grand’ series, where drivers as young as 11 years are eligible to compete, Saturday night’s 40-lap national championship race saw a fierce duel among two youngsters, Ronnie Binkley of Hendersonville, Tennessee and Brad Stiffler of Washington Courthouse, Ohio, with Stiffler finally victorious and 11-year old Austin Johnson from Inola, Oklahoma passing Ronnie Binkley for second place on the penultimate lap.

The popular ASA feature division Late Model stock cars, while not the headline event on ‘Hillbilly 50’ night, nevertheless put on a great show for the large, enthusiastic I-44 Speedway crowd.  Fair Grove veteran Dale Roper, Jr. visited Monster Energy Victory Lane for the second time in his 2011 season, but not before battling for many circuits with young Grant Sharp of Conway in the 30-lap main event.  While the racing was intense, the duo raced close but clean, with Roper finally driving under starter Leo Morgan’s checkered flag.  Nixa’s Robert Baltzell was third, with Camdenton veteran Ken Dickinson fourth and 2010 Late Model Champion Mike Slone of Rolla rounding out the top five.

The ASA Sportsman stock cars were also in action on Saturday night, blistering the asphalt in a 15-lap contest that saw Rolla’s Kevin Crider win his second feature in as many races, followed closely by Ozark’s Toby Harden in second and previous class winner Aaron Douglas of Lebanon in third.  With Strafford’s Chuck Hidgon coming home fourth and Stoutland teenager JC Newell finishing in the top five, three time 2011 Sportsman main event winner Rick Sharp of Fair Grove barely made one lap before retiring from the race with engine problems.

The ‘fun’ classes – subcompact, 4-cylinder Chargers and full-size, steel-body Road Warrior stock cars – were in highly competitive form in separate Saturday night feature races, to the delight of the largest I-44 Speedway crowd of 2011.  The Belle, Missouri father-son team of Shawn and Casten Jones staged what may have been one of the most intense duels of the evening, with son Casten besting his dad in the Charger feature, while season-long rivals Mike Scott and Steve Shaw – both hailing from Rogersville, and good friends off the track – put on a ‘racer’s clinic’ in a see-sawing battle to the checkered flag.  Shaw prevailed for his third victory of the season, while Scott – the other three-time Road Warrior main event winner – was a half car length back in second place.

Next Saturday night, June 25, is slated as ‘Central Bank Night at the Races’ at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, and will feature all five ASA stock car racing classes, plus another round of Outlaw Mini Stock racing and an on-track autograph session with all the stars and cars of the ‘Kickin’ Asphalt’ show.  Gates will open at 5 pm, with racing beginning at 7:30.  Additional information about upcoming events, racecar construction rules and championship points is available online at www.i44speedway.net.



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