Jason Russell and Chris Hawkins Victorious as ULMA Season Begins!

ULMA - United Late Model AssociationSam Stoecklin
ULMA Public Relations
April 8, 2012

ULMA’s first weekend of competition is now in the rearview mirror and Jason Russell and Chris Hawkins were the first drivers to visit victory lane for the 2012 season. The first ULMA race of the year at Callaway Raceway drew fourteen competitors, eight of whom are ULMA member drivers. Jason Russell was the first driver to make a bid for the season title by claiming the victory in the Callaway main event. Behind him at the finish were Chris Lapp and Jake Griffin. ULMA member Justin Russell finished fourth with former ULMA champion Vance Wilson completing the top five. Zeke Langley, Chris Cox, Ashley Lancaster, Alan Westling and Trace Westling, all ULMA member drivers, completed the top ten at the finish. Week two at Callaway Raceway gets underway this Friday at the track, be sure to visit the official track website at www.callawayraceways.com for all race day details.

For the first time in several years, Kansas City-area race fans witnessed ULMA late model racing right in their own backyard as competitors made a welcomed and triumphant return to Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri last Saturday night. With fourteen drivers on hand, twelve of which were ULMA members, it took two qualifying heat races to set the stage for the 25-lap main event, which served as the night cap for the speedway’s race program that saw 86 cars sign in to compete. Among late model competitors on hand were three former track late model champions and the overall 2008 ULMA champion.

Jon Binning appeared to be on his way to victory in the opening heat; however, a brush with the high side entry of turn two proved to be costly as eventual winner Kevin Coyne and Brett Wood were able to slip by at the finish, relegating Binning to third. Jason Bodenhamer, the 2008 ULMA overall champion was a threat to win the heat race until he side-swiped the back stretch wall, ending his bid for the win. Heat race two had veteran driver Dale Eaton starting from the pole alongside Lane Ehlert, all the way from the St. Louis area starting to his outside. Eaton grabbed the early lead but another long-distance traveler, Chris Hawkins, from Neosho, Missouri had this heat race easily covered as he claimed the victory. Eaton hung on for second with seventh-starting Jimmy Morris, a former Valley Speedway late model track champion in third. Veteran racer Gary Billings made his return to racing with a fourth-place run in the heat race.

The evening’s top qualifiers started the main event at the front of the field and with the fans wave of approval; Coyne and Hawkins took the first Valley Speedway late model green flag of the year. Hawkins quickly asserted himself as the man to beat and advanced to a three-car lead ahead of Coyne, also a former track champion at the speedway. The first four laps were furious with Coyne, Morris, and Wood doing everything they could to reel in the leader, unfortunately Ehlert’s night ended early as he pulled to the infield. On lap four, Billings also experienced mechanical problems as his night came to an end while. At the same time, James McMillin experienced a scary moment between turns one and two when his car suddenly veered to the right, leaving the speedway at a high rate of speed. Luckily, McMillin halted the car before making contact with the outer guardrail and continued the race.

Just after the race resumed, Morris found his way around Coyne for the second position while around the same time Eaton’s night ended with an early exit to the pit area. By this time, eleventh-starting Bodenhamer was picking off cars each lap and made his way to third ahead of Coyne by lap nine. Bodenhamer raced hard with his brother-in-law Brett Wood and Coyne for the next few laps as the trio fought for the third position during some of the best racing action of the night’s program. Finally, Bodenhamer edged ahead and set out to catch Morris for second place. By lap seventeen McMillin’s night came to an early end just as Wood took over third from Morris with Coyne advancing to fourth a few laps later. Morris later slipped back in the field after a group of lead-lap cars encountered a front-stretch challenge maneuvering around a lapped car.

Bodenhamer inched closer to Hawkins through the closing stages of the race but after eighteen straight laps of solid racing, the caution waved for Wood, who experienced mechanical woes while running in third. On the restart, it was Hawkins, Bodenhamer, Coyne, Binning, and former track champion Steve Clancy inside the top five. With the white flag waving, Bodenhamer began showing Hawkins his nose using the topmost portion of the track, especially coming off of turn four, bringing the fans to their feet for an exciting finish. Meanwhile, Binning and Coyne battle closely for third just behind the lead duo. Bodenhamer stalked the leader on the final lap as he and Hawkins raced cleanly down the back straight and into the final turns. Hawkins’ car stuck like glue to the middle lane as Bodenhamer gave it all he had in one final attempt for the win. At the line, Hawkins claimed the victory by no more than three feet over Bodenhamer. Jon Binning had a nice run to finish third with Coyne, Clancy, and Bob King finishing third thru sixth. Behind them, Morris, Nathan Cates, Wood, and McMillin rounded out the top ten.

Throughout the season, ULMA will appear on several occasions at the quarter-mile track, with most of the races falling on Friday evenings. The next appearance for ULMA at Valley Speedway is Friday, May 11. If you are a fan of late model racing, be sure to add Valley Speedway to your list of tracks to visit and be sure to pass on to the speedway staff that you enjoy seeing late model racing up-close and personal at the speedway. You may log onto the track’s official website at www.valleyspeedway.com for the track’s event schedule and information regarding fan-friendly upgrades while enjoying all of the exciting track action.

Although regular season points-earning events have not begun at Lucas Oil Speedway, several drivers have the intention of competing at the facility this weekend during the Midwest Late Model Racing Association’s (MLRA) event. This year, MLRA and ULMA have partnered at several events, including this weekend’s race at Lucas Oil Speedway. Two ULMA drivers will earn provisional starting positions for the MLRA main event. ULMA competitors will earn full ULMA points for competing. “In addition to bringing in the top drivers from the MLRA, track officials have partnered with the ULMA Late Model sanctioning group to count this as a ULMA point race. ULMA drivers who do not race their way into the feature can qualify through these provisional starts.”

Lucas Oil Speedway will award their provisional start to the highest finishing driver in Lucas Oil Speedway Late Model Track Championship points in 2011, who does not transfer to the main event. ULMA will award its provisional start to the highest finishing driver in ULMA Championship Points from 2011 who does not transfer to the main event through normal qualifying. All competing ULMA cars must be in compliance with ULMA rules and all drivers must be active 2012 ULMA members, no exceptions! Complete details are located online at www.lucasoilspeedway.com. Once again, only paid ULMA members are eligible for the provisional starting positions at this and other partnered MLRA/ULMA races!

In less than two weeks, drivers will return to the ‘Historic Half Mile’ in Sedalia, Missouri, marking a rare appearance for ULMA drivers to compete at the speedway. The track is hosting the first round of the “Kasey Kahne Challenge,” a race for the World of Outlaw sprint cars. This event takes place on Friday, April 20th when ULMA will serve as the support class for this event. Midland Printing Company took up the association’s offer to partner up for the race and will provide a mystery finisher with an extra $100 bonus. Additional information on this special event may be found at www.slspromotions.com. It’s not too late for additional business partners at this prestigious race, contact us at unitedlatemodelassociation@hotmail.com for more details.
Visit www.ulmaracing.com for race results, rules, general rules, and update on point standings later in the week, and the 2012 schedule. Like us on FaceBook to stay current on the latest racing developments leading up to and after all ULMA racing activity. Driver membership forms are easily accessible on the association’s website under the Drivers link. Season membership dues are $100, membership is mandatory at Lucas Oil Speedway, Callaway Raceway and upon the third time competing at Valley Speedway. As previously stated in this press release, only drivers who have joined the association are eligible for provisional starting positions at all MLRA races in which ULMA has been awarded provisional starting positions.
This year’s affiliated sponsors include Imhoff Construction, Rod End Supply, Buyraceparts.com, Racingjunk.com, and Photographics by Shelly Payne. ULMA is a proud supporter of Homes for Our Troops. To join the team, simply contact ULMA at unitedlatemodelassociation@hotmail.com.

Upcoming racing:
Friday, April 13 – Callaway Raceway, Fulton Mo
Saturday, April 14 – Lucas Oil Speedway, Wheatland Mo (MLRA race in which 2 provisional starts are up for grabs)
Friday, April 20 – Missouri State Fair Speedway, Sedalia Mo
Friday, April 20 – Callaway Raceway, Fulton Mo
Saturday, April 21 – Lucas Oil Speedway, Wheatland Mo
Friday, April 27 – Callaway Raceway, Fulton Mo
Saturday, April 28 – Lucas Oil Speedway, Wheatland Mo

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