Lebanon I-44 Speedway
Sparks Flew in a Dramatic Salute to 75 at Lebanon I-44 Speedway
Now that the Independence Day festivities are coming to a close, it’s time to recap one of the best nights of racing that Lebanon I-44 Speedway has seen in several years! Last Wednesday night, July 3rd, two drivers picked up their first wins of 2019, a huge Hornet field battled it out for $1,000, and a new rivalry was formed in the Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Series! The cliché statement of “fireworks on and off the track” was considered an understatement for this wild night of racing!
The Hornet division kicked off the night with a one-off, big-money event. This class raced for $1,000 and no entry fee for 30-laps around the 1/5-mile inner track. The Blue Collar Dirty 30 was a great way to get the fans excited for the show they were about to see. Brian Brown, Modified racer and short track racing advocate, helped put this race together and it was everything that he had hoped for! Drivers chose their starting position by random poll draw, so the field was mixed up from front to rear. Last year’s Hornet Champion, Will Garner, drew the lowest number which put him on the pole for the 30-lap feature with Tyson Moore on his outside. Garner took the early lead and did his best to check out while the other 15 drivers went to war behind him. Dustin Atkinson was on the move after starting in the 7th position. By lap 10 he was already in the battle for the lead between Will Garner, and the Albright brothers. Atkinson and Jeffery Albright were able to sneak by Garner to claim first and second place. Then a big bottle neck in the lead group brought out a caution. Jeffery Albright had to retire to the pits after taking some damage. The green flag came back out and Atkinson maintained his lead. Chris Albright had taken control of second place and was applying pressure to the leader. Behind them, the battle of a lifetime ensued between the rest of the field. At the checkered flag it was Dustin Atkinson picking up the win and the $1,000 paycheck with Chris Albright in second and Rob White in 3rd after charging from 12th place.
In the heat race, Trevor Icenhower started on the pole with Matt Pilant on his outside. On the first lap, Matt Pilant made contact with the outside wall and ended his heat race. Aaron Douglas also had some issues on the first lap and made his way to the pits. On the restart, Trevor Icenhower lost power which forced him into the pits. After all of the gremlins plagued the field, Tony Johnson inherited the lead and took the heat win with Crystal Blake second, and Breken Johnson third. In the feature, Breken Johnson and Michael Juergenson led the field to the green. Juergenson stole the lead early and did all he could to get away from the field. With 5 laps remaining, Aaron Douglas took a spin which brought out the caution regrouped the field. Trevor Icenhower was able to take advantage of the restart and take the lead for the remaining 5 laps and picked up his second win of the season and claimed the points lead. Icenhower and Pilant have each won two features this year and right now Icenhower holds a 6-point lead over the No. 67 of Pilant.
In the heat race, Michael Juergenson started on the pole with Richard Lewis on the outside. Lewis took the early advantage while Juergenson did his best to apply pressure in second. At the halfway point, Ricky Icenhower managed to find a way around Juergenson and take the number two spot. At the checkered flag, it was Richard Lewis picking up the win with Icenhower second and Michael Juergenson third. In the feature, Michael Juergenson was once again on the pole with Chris Nichols on his outside this time. Juergenson hammered down when the green flag dropped and took the early lead. Brian Brown followed him around Chris Nichols to take second place and he began to go to work on Juergenson. By lap 3, Brian Brown had made his way around Juergenson and took the lead. Behind him, Michael Juergenson was holding down second with Richard Lewis and Ricky Icenhower hot on his heels. With two laps to go, Lewis and Icenhower were able to shuffle Juergenson back to fourth place while Icenhower took over second and Lewis back to third. At the checkered flag it was all Brian Brown picking up his first win of 2019 and his first win in a modified in many years. Ricky Icenhower came home second and Richard Lewis rolled across the line in third after snapping a driveshaft coming out of turn 4.
Big 10 Late Models
In the first heat, JC Newell brought the field to the green with Jordan Nisbett on his outside. Newell took the early lead with Justin Blake coming from the second row inside and locked down the second spot. At the halfway point, Blake was able to make the pass and on Newell and went on to take the heat win with Newell second and Nisbett third. In the second heat, Keith Buckley started on the pole with Jimmy Fohn on his outside. After the first lap, Fohn had taken the lead and Dylan Bates moved into second. Bates applied the pressure to Fohn the whole race but couldn’t complete the pass. Fohn went on to take the heat win with Bates second and Kennie Dickinson third. In the feature, Jordan Nisbett started on the pole with Dylan Bates on his outside after the two-row invert. At the drop of the green, Bates took control of the lead while Jimmy Fohn followed him into second and Kennie Dickinson third. Bates continued to lead while Fohn applied the pressure. The caution flew on lap 10 and regrouped the field. Bates was still the leader, Fohn second, Dickinson third, and Justin Blake, who started in 12th, was now up to 4th place. For the last 10 laps, Bates was able to hold off Jimmy Fohn after a great battle and went on to take the win in his first Big 10 Late Model race of the year. Jimmy Fohn came home in second and Ken Dickinson third.
Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Series
In single car qualifying, Cole Williams set quick time with a 14.739. Tim Swearengin and Ryu Taggart both had great qualifying runs as they timed in second and third place. After the invert, Tony Jackson Jr. led the field to the green flag for the highly anticipated Salute to 75! Jackson Jr. took off with the early lead, but Terry Limberopolous was looking to lead a few laps himself. At the drop of the green, Jackson Jr. and Limberopolous were already battling hard for the lead! The two drivers swapped the lead for 5 laps straight until Jackson Jr. was able to get to the front and put a little bit of distance between him and Limberopolous. Cole Williams had now moved into the third spot and was looking to make the move on Limberopolous as well. Williams was able to get by, but on lap 20 the two of them continued to battle hard which resulted in Limberopolous cutting a tire and going around in turn 3 bringing out the first caution. Jackson Jr. continued to lead with Williams second and Jimmy Vanzandt in third. Throughout the next green flag run, the battle for third on back was on. Vanzandt was holding onto third with Tim Swearengin right behind him and Dylan Bates and Brennon Willard who were waiting to capitalize if one of them slipped up. Jackson Jr. was still holding the lead over the No. 46 of Cole Williams, but then behind them a huge wreck out of turn 2 brought out another caution. Vanzandt and Swearengin collided off of turn 2 and turned head on into the outside wall. Both drivers were uninjured, but their cars were unable to continue. This set us up for a 6-lap shootout that will go down in the history books at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. Jackson Jr. had the lead, Williams second, Dylan Bates third and Brennon Willard 4th. The green flag dropped, and the four drivers went to war. Contact was made at the drop of the green between Jackson and Williams. For the next two laps, the two drivers were bouncing off of each other fighting for position while Bates and Willard were side by side behind them for third. On lap 73, Williams was able to lead a lap, but on lap 74 in turn 1 and 2 Jackson was able to slide back past him. Williams dove back to the bottom in three and they exchanged the lead again coming to the white flag. Although this time when Williams passed Jackson Jr, Brennon Willard was able to sneak by on the inside of Bates and Jackson and take second while Jackson and Bates were side by side. Then contact between the No. 1 of Dylan Bates and the No. 56 of Tony Jackson Jr. sent the two drivers flying off the end of turn 1. The No. 14R of Ryu Taggart was also involved in the accident. After Jackson Jr. went and had some words with Cole Williams, the cars were pulled apart. Jackson Jr. and Taggart were done for the night. While Bates’s car had heavy damage to the right front, he was able to climb back in for the one lap shootout that remained. Williams was the leader, Willard in second and Bates third. The green and white flag were displayed at the same time and Williams was able to fend off Willard and pick up his second win of the season and his second Salute to 75 title. Willard came home second and Bates was able to maintain third. The last 6 laps of this race was one of the best races that Lebanon I-44 Speedway has seen since the track went back to asphalt and the jam-packed crowd would agree! The crowd was cheering on these drivers the whole way! Only one race remains for the Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Series and Tony Jackson Jr. maintains a 10-point lead over the Indiana native, Cole Williams. A new rivalry has developed between these two drivers which will make the final race for the Championship a race you absolutely won’t want to miss!
Our next race at Lebanon I-44 Speedway will be on July 27th. The Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Series will have the week off, but the other 5 weekly racing divisions will be on hand as well as another special Hornet race! The hornets will be competing on the Roval course for the first time ever! We hope to see you there! For more information, visit our website at i44speedway.net or find us on Facebook!
By Dylan Bates
Article Credit: Dylan Bates
Submitted By: Lebanon Speedway