On Saturday, August 18th, Lebanon I-44 Speedway payed tribute to our nation’s military personnel with an eventful night of short track racing. Any veteran or active military personnel was admitted into the races for free, along with children K-12 and Boy and Girl Scouts to celebrate the last weekend of summer break for area public schools. All five of our weekly racing classes put on a great show with action-packed races from start to finish.
It all started with the Charger division. The new Charger/Hornet series between Dallas County Speedway and Lebanon I-44 Speedway brought out several new competitors last Saturday night. With the extra cars, the Chargers got the opportunity to race extra laps which created great racing with a lot of passing and battles all over the 1/5-mile inner track. In the heat races, the brothers, Shannon Geller and Will Garner, each picked up a heat race win but neither win came easy. Geller had to hold off the No. 14 of Mollie Eades as she charged through the pack from last to second. In Garner’s heat race, the battles continued. Point leaded Crystal Blake took the early lead as Will Garner and Chris Albright battled behind her. Albright’s engine expired on lap five allowing Garner to set his focus on Blake. With two laps to go Garner made the pass for the win. In the feature, the No. 15 of Mason Mundy jumped out to the early lead with Will Garner in 2nd. Garner spun around on lap 6 bringing out the caution and sending him to the rear of the field. With five laps to go contact was made between Blake and Geller sending both of them tailback. On the same lap, the leader, Mason Mundy, blew a tire and ended his night. The green flag came back out and Mollie Eades now found herself in the lead with five to go. Hard-charging Will Garner had now made his way back from last to second and was looking to make a challenge for the lead, but it was too late. In her first start at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, Mollie Eades picked up the win after a wild feature event. Will Garner finished 2nd and another new name, Dolton Clough, rounded out the top 3.
Big 10 Late Models
Next up was the new Big 10 Late Model Division. In the heat race, Nick Cherry and JC Newell led the field to the green flag. At the end of the first lap, JC Newell was in control of the race. On lap three, Jimmy Fohn made his way around Newell for the lead and tried to pull away from the pack. Throughout the remaining 5 laps, JC Newell, Dylan Bates, and Justin Blake battled hard for the number two spot but Newell was able to hold onto second when the checkered flag flew with Bates in third and Justin Blake in a close 4th. In the feature, Cherry and Newell made up the front row once again and after lap one Newell was in control of the race. By the end of lap three Fohn made his move to the lead. Newell was now in 2nd with Justin Blake right behind him. On lap 6, Blake was able to clear Newell for second position. Fohn and Blake were now first and second, while Bates and Newell were racing behind them. Bates was able to pass Newell on lap 11 for third position. Blake and Bates tried to run down Fohn during the remaining 9 laps but could not make it happen. Fohn took home his fourth victory of the season, Blake finished 2nd and Bates rounded out the top 3 and managed to hold onto the Championship lead by two points. The Big 10 Late Model Series is now the closest Championship battle of all five divisions. There have been four different winners this season and “The Gentle Giant” JC Newell, who is no stranger to Victory Lane, has been leading several laps during the last few races. Will he be the next driver to capture a win in the new Big 10 Late Model Series?
Next onto the race track were the mighty Modifieds. In the first heat race, Chris Kerperien and Chris Johnson made up the front row. As the two took the green flag, Johnson jumped out to the early lead. Behind him, Ricky Icenhower worked his way around Brian Lewis and then Kerperien. Next on his list was Johnson. Icenhower passed Johnson and went on to take another heat race win. Chris Nichols, who started tailback, managed to pass for second on lap 7 and took second place while Chris Johnson rounded out the top 3. In the second heat race, Riley Sharp was the polesitter with Michael Juergenson to his outside. Juergenson jumped out to the early lead and never looked back taking the win in heat number two. Riley Sharp finished in second after a nice battle with Richard Lewis in the No. 6 car. The field was now set for the feature with Kerperien and Sharp on the front row. The green flag waved, and Riley Sharp took control of the race. Michael Juergenson was running second with Chris Johnson in third. Juergenson began reeling in Sharp and made the pass on lap 6. Juergenson tried to get away from the field in hopes of cashing the bounty by beating Ricky Icenhower, but Icenhower was not far behind. On lap 8, Icenhower passed for the lead and the Iceman never looked back. Icenhower took the win and Juergenson finished second. The battle for third was an exciting one as Brian Lewis worked his way through the field. Brian passed Chris Johnson for 3rd with two laps remaining capturing a podium finish. The Modifieds have been putting on great shows this season with Icenhower winning every feature but one. Who has what it takes to dethrone the Iceman?
The Street Stocks has been nearly the most thrilling race of the night all season long and they put on another great race last weekend. In the first heat race, Alex Shaw and Brecken Johnson led the field to the flag, but somehow Ben Johnson rocketed around the whole field on the back stretch and went straight to the lead. On lap two, Breken Johnson made hard contact with the outside wall, ultimately ending her night. Ben Johnson went on to take the win with Jordan Nisbett in second and Alex Shaw in third. In the second heat, Ben’s brother, Brock Johnson, and Alex Shaw’s father, Steve Shaw, brought the field to the green. Brock used the inside line as an advantage and took the early lead. Tony Johnson moved up from fourth, to second on the first lap and put on a great show as he raced Brock for the lead. Tony took the lead with two to go taking the heat win with Brock Johnson in second. Trevor Icenhower managed to pass Steve Shaw on the last lap for the third position. In the feature, Alex Shaw was on the pole with Brock Johnson to his outside. Alex Shaw took the lead early and his father, Steve Shaw was in second. The father son duo had a great battle with Trevor Icenhower for the lead until lap 6 when contact was made between all three drivers. Steve Shaw and Icenhower were sent to the rear of the field after Icenhower changed a tire in the hot pit. This put Alex Shaw in control of the next restart until he spun around, Alex Shaw mentioned that he was racing without power steering which is a great challenge in these heavy Street Stocks. Now Ben Johnson was in control with half the race remaining. Ben held off Tony Johnson for the last 10 laps and went on to take the feature win. On the last lap, Steve Shaw was able to come from the rear and pass Tony Johnson on the last lap for second shuffling Tony back to third. Trevor Icenhower showed great speed this weekend until a cut tire moved him to the rear. The rookie has won a heat race, but is yet to win a feature, does the Ice-chip have what it takes to pick up the victory next weekend?
Pro Late Models
Finally, the feature event of the night, the Pro Late Models. In heat race number one, Terry Limberopolous and Jimmy Vanzandt sat on the front row. Limberopolous took the early lead with Vanzandt in second. The two cars set a fast pace as Joe Ross made his way around Steve Holt at the halfway point. At the checkered flag it was all Limberopolous, with Vanzandt in second, and Ross in third. In heat number two, last week’s winner, Jake Piel, was on the pole with Tim Swearengin to his outside. Swearengin took the early lead showing that he hasn’t missed a beat after blowing his engine just one race before. Swearengin went on to take the heat win while Piel held on to second with the Championship leader, Ken Dickinson, hot on his heels. The field was now ready to go to battle for 30 laps. Your heat race winners started first and second. At the drop of the green, Limberopolous took the lead and Swearengin was in second. Jimmy Vanzandt managed to pass Swearengin to take away the number two ride. The 16-year-old Ryu Taggart made his move into the top three and it looked like a challenge for the lead was brewing. Vanzandt passed Limberopolous on lap 10 and tried to pull away, but Taggart made his move around Limberopolous just two laps later and set his eyes on Vanzandt. Taggart looked as if he were the car to beat until a spin sent him to the rear. This grouped the field back up for a 12-lap shootout. Dickinson was now in second behind Vanzandt until Steve Holt snuck-up on the leaders. Holt passed Dickinson on lap 19 and then stole the lead from Vanzandt on lap 21. Steve Holt started in the 9th position. His patience showed as he drove through the field. Holt went on to win his second feature of 2018 with Vanzandt in a solid second and Ken Dickinson in third padding his Championship leading. Although, Vanzandt did make up a few points on the Championship leader this weekend. Is there enough time left for Vanzandt to reel in Dickinson for the Championship? What about Steve Holt, will he be the first driver to win three races in the Pro Late Models this season?
Find out the answer to these questions at our next race on Saturday, September 1st! The Big 10 Late Model Division will be going to battle for 50 laps around the high-banks in the Hardworkin’ 50! All other divisions will be in attendance as well along with two-time Daytona 500 winner, Sterling Marlin, who will be competing in the Pro Late Model division! For more information visit our website at i44speedway.net! We hope to see all of you on September 1st!
By Dylan Bates