Michael Juergensen II
Michael Juergensen II

Michael Juergensen II
Lebanon, MO

Steve Holt Returns to Victory Lane at Lebanon I-44 Speedway


Lebanon I-44 Speedway

Steve Holt Returns to Victory Lane at Lebanon I-44 Speedway

Last Saturday, July 21st, the 2018 racing season continued on the High-Banks of Lebanon I-44 Speedway. There were several thrilling races throughout the night with many drivers picking up their first wins of the season. The night was sponsored by Emerson-Copeland Climate Technologies from right here in Lebanon Missouri. The company brought several employees to the race track who got to experience great side by side racing! Emerson-Copeland also provided our trophy for the Pro Late Model division which was a unique compressor that was painted for the occasion. One deserving driver was able to claim his first win of the season and take home this exclusive trophy.
Before the premier Pro Late Models hit the track, the night started out with the Charger division on the 1/5-mile track! In the heat race, Lebanon native Crystal Blake, led the field to the green flag. Shannon Geller and his No. 71 Pontiac Grand Prix made short work of the field and took the lead early in the going. When the checkered flag was displayed it was all Geller with his brother, Will Garner, in the number two spot and Chris Albright rounding out the top three. The field was now set for the feature. Crystal Blake and Shannon Geller made up the front row, but by the time the first lap was over the No. 7D of Will Garner passed both of the leaders and took control. With Garner setting the pace, Chris Albright, who started shotgun on the field, made his move into the second position. The caution flag flew for Crystal Blake who took a wild ride though the grass that ultimately ended her night. The green flag waved, and Albright did everything he could to pass Garner but was not able to make it happen. Garner brought home the win with Albright in second and Shannon Geller in third.
Big 10 Late Models
Next up was the new Big 10 Late Model division. In the heat race, J.C. Newell and Nick Cherry took the green flag side-by-side and held formation for the first few laps until the caution was displayed for a spin coming out of turn four. The caution also collected your point leader Jimmy Fohn and Justin Blake. Blake was able to continue but Fohn unfortunately had to leave the race track behind the tow truck. The green flag came back out with J.C. Newell in the lead and Dylan Bates in the number two spot. Bates held the bottom of the race track for several laps and finally was able to clear Newell for the lead on lap five. Bates led the remaining three laps picking up the heat race win with Newell in second and Justin Blake in third. In the feature, Newell and Cherry led the field to green again with Blake and Bates directly behind them. The top four ran two-by-two for several laps until Justin Blake and Dylan Bates were able to make their way to the front. Blake set the pace for the remainder of the feature while Bates did everything he could to get around him. Late in the race, Bates tried one last time to get to the inside of Blake but came up a hair short making contact with Blake’s door. The two gathered their cars back up and ended up finishing nose to tail at the line in one the most exciting races of the night. This was Justin Blake’s first win of the 2018 season which means that there have now been four different winners in the Big 10 Late Model division and only three points separate Fohn and Bates for the Championship. It should be noted that Blake had a very eventful night after a trailing arm mount broke in hot laps, Blake welded the mount back on and still was able to pick up the win. Jimmy Fohn did an excellent job at salvaging points this weekend by starting the feature in a borrowed street stock after his crash in the heat race.

Street Stocks
Next onto the track were the always exciting Street Stocks. In the first heat race, the father-son duo of Alex and Steve Shaw made up the front row, but it was all Trevor Icenhower who made a strong move for the lead early in the going picking up the heat race win with Tony Johnson and Steve Shaw in-tow. In the second heat race, Ben Johnson and Jordan Nisbett took the green flag side-by-side but Nisbett was able to make the move and take the lead away from Ben Johnson. Nisbett picked up the heat win with Ben Johnson in second and Chris Johnson in third. The field was now set for another great feature. The green flag waved and at the end of the first lap, Ben Johnson had the lead with the point-leader, Jordan Nisbett, knocking on his door. Behind them the No. 24 of Trevor Icenhower and the No. 00 of Tony Johnson were duking it out. Tony was able to get around Icenhower near the halfway point but still needed two more spots to pick up the win. The top four were all within a few car lengths of each other the whole race which allowed Tony Johnson in the No. 00 to pass both Nisbett and Ben Johnson in the same lap and take the lead with five laps remaining. Ben Johnson was trying to play both offense and defense for the remainder of the race as he tried to get back around Tony Johnson while Jordan Nisbett was making attempts to take the number two spot from him. When the checkered flag was displayed on lap 15, it was all Tony Johnson as he picked up his second career Street Stock win and second win in a row! Ben Johnson ended up second and Jordan Nisbett had a solid points night hanging onto his Championship lead with a 3rd place finish.
Then the ground-pounding Modifieds took over the High-Banks. In the heat race, Chris Johnson and Michael Juergenson brought the field to the green flag. Johnson took command of the race at the green flag while Juergenson tucked into the number two spot until the yellow flag was brought out for him at the halfway point. By default, this put the point leader, Ricky Icenhower, into the number two spot. Chris Johnson was able to hold him off for the rest of the race picking up the heat win with Icenhower in second and Richard Lewis in third after passing his father, Brian Lewis, on the last lap. In the feature, Riley Sharp in the No. 33 led the field to the green with Juergenson to his outside. Juergenson was credited with the lead on the first lap while Sharp was hot on his heels in the second position. Juergenson and Sharp ran one and two as they slowly put a small gap on the rest of the field, but last week’s winner, Ricky Icenhower was slowly making his way through the field being patient with each driver. On lap 12, Icenhower had made his way around Brian Lewis and moved into the top three. He then set his eyes on Riley Sharp who was still holding down a season best second position. Icenhower got to the inside of Sharp on lap 15 and was able to clear him for second. Only five laps remained for Icenhower to run down Juergenson. Icenhower completed his mission of coming from last to first on lap 18 when he took the lead picking up another win and extending his points lead. Juergenson ended up second and Riley Sharp finished a season best 3rd place after he held off Richard Lewis in the closing laps of the race.
Pro Late Models
Finally, the Pro Late Models rolled onto the race track. In the first heat, Ryu Taggart led the field to the green flag, but it was Terry Limberopolous who was credited with the lead on the first lap. Limberopolous went on to win the first heat race and it looked like Jimmy Vanzandt was going to finish second after passing Taggart, but Taggart mounted a charge and got back around Vanzandt for second. Joe Ross also made a move on Vanzandt and finished 3rd in heat number one. In heat number two, Steve Holt led the field to the green and never looked back just like Limberopolous. Point leader Tim Swearengin held onto to a solid second place in the heat with dirt Late Model driver, Jeremy Kelley rounding out the top three. In the feature, Ryu Taggart brought the field to green just like he did in his heat race, but this time with Steve Holt to his outside. Holt laid down a solid first lap and was in control of the race at the end of lap one. Ryu Taggart was now running second, but it looked as if Terry Limberopolous was gaining on him until a rocker arm broke in Limberopolous’s engine ending his chances of a win. Steve Holt continued to pull away from the field as Jimmy Vanzandt made a move around one of 2018 feature winners, Kennie Dickinson. Holt continued running a blistering pace up while Ryu Taggart held onto the second position over Vanzandt. With two laps to go, Dickinson reeled Vanzandt back in and got back around him for the third spot. With more than a straightaway’s lead, Steve Holt brought home his first win of the 2018 season and his first win since 2016! After a rough 2017 season, a weight was lifted off of Holt’s shoulders as he cruised into Victory Lane. Behind him, 2018 Rookie, Ryu Taggart, finished a season best second place with Kennie Dickinson rounding out the top three. The 2018 Pro Late Model points battle is shaping up to be one of the best in many years. After last Saturday’s race only one point separates Tim Swearengin and Kennie Dickinson. Steve Holt has now put himself into a position to be a Championship spoiler after claiming the Emerson-Copeland compressor trophy.
We hope to see all of you at our next event on August 4th to witness this exciting Championship battle for yourself! The August 4th event will also feature the 2nd annual RCW Speedway Slam with live wrestling between races and a special appearance from wrestling legend, Tracy Smothers! The gates will open at 6:00pm and racing will start at 7:30pm, don’t forget that kids 10 & under are free! Until then, head over to our Facebook page or website at i44speedway.net for track news and updates!
By Dylan Bates

Article Credit: Dylan Bates

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