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Vanzandt Vaults into Victory Lane on a Wild Night at I-44 Speedway

Lebanon-I-44-SpeedwayBy Jordan Kuehne

(LEBANON, Mo.) – After fending off bad luck and at times, a plain bad race car, Jimmy Vanzandt doesn’t really mind the way he scored his first victory of 2012 in the O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models at Lebanon I-44 Speedway as much as he enjoys the result. Despite taking the checkers behind Jim Reaves, Vanzandt emerged victorious after Reaves’ machine failed post-race inspection and was later disqualified.

In other feature action at Missouri’s only asphalt oval, Lil’ J.C. Newell and Robert Reeves split the ‘Lucky 21’ doubleheader for the Hardee’s Sportsman while Tyler Scott scored another victory in the Budweiser Modifieds. Paul Jepson rolled to a comfortable win in the Coca-Cola Chargers and tightened the points race up in the process while Les Mallard snapped Dustin Reeves’ stranglehold on the Hoosier Tire Road Warriors with his first career win in the division.

The 30-lap O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models main event got off to a wild start as an early caution slowed the 14-car field on the third lap after Brian Woods went for a solo trip through the spin cycle in turn two. Robert Baltzell fended off a strong restart from Jim Reaves and assumed command of the top spot when racing resumed.

As the top three drivers broke away from the pack, action picked up in the middle of the field as points leader Mike Slone put the pressure on Ken Dickinson for the fourth position. After a heated battle for the spot, Slone surged into fourth at the halfway mark. Another caution slowed proceedings with 11 circuits remaining after Steve Holt did a 360 on the frontstretch.

As the green flag waved, Slone fell off the pace as his miserable month of July came to an end in the same fashion that it started. That string of bad luck extended to the leader as Baltzell made contact with Reaves on the entrance to turn three with three laps remaining and spun around, ending his bid for his first career win. Reaves was allowed to maintain his position and survived the restart to take the checkered flag first. Jim Vanzandt would later be awarded his first victory of the 2012 season, however, after Reaves’ car failed post-race inspection and was disqualified.

Ken Dickinson returned to I-44 after a brief hiatus and scored a second place finish while Joe Ross notched a season-best with a third place result. Matt Wallace maintained his momentum with a top-five in fourth and Brian Brown brought his machine home in fifth.

In the first of two Hardee’s Sportsman ‘Lucky 21’ headliners, veteran J.C. Newell jumped to the early lead as Robert Reeves gave chase in second. It didn’t take Reeves long to overtake the ‘Gentle Giant’, utilizing the high line on the entrance to turn one to complete a pass for the lead with 16 laps remaining. Points leader Lil’ J.C. Newell set his sights on second and his grandpa but the young gun couldn’t outsmart his wily mentor and had to settle for third. Out front, it was all Robert Reeves as the Camdenton hotshoe ran away with his fifth feature win of the season and proclaimed that he had “plenty more in the tank” for the second headliner.

Lil’ J.C. Newell wasted little time rolling to the front of the second Hardee’s Sportsman ‘Lucky 21’ headliner, working his way around Rick Sharp for the top spot on the third circuit of the event. The caution flew with 17 laps remaining after a solo spin in turn two. When racing resumed, Newell eased away from Sharp and back into a comfortable advantage as Robert Reeves moved into the top-three at the halfway mark. Reeves’ run to the front came to a grinding halt with eight laps remaining as Newell saw his top competitor make an early exit to the pits with a mechanical issue. The 16-year-old had little trouble extending his points lead and answering the earlier win by his rival as Newell notched his fourth victory of the season. Aaron Harden held on for second while Sharp settled for third.

Mike Scott surged to the early edge in the extended 21-lap Hoosier Tire Road Warriors Brawl. Dustin Reeves, the division points leader and the most dominant driver at Missouri’s only asphalt oval this season, started at the tail end of the field and lagged behind for the opening portion, riding around in fifth half a track behind. Up front, an intense battle for the lead emerged as Les Mallard muscled his way past Scott for the top spot with eight laps to go. Mallard had enough left in the tank to fend off Scott’s crossover move as he collected his first career win and snapped Reeves’ streak. Mike Funcannon edged Scott at the line to secure a season-best runner-up finish.

After taking last weekend off for a family vacation, points leader Tyler Scott quickly reasserted himself as the man to beat in the 20-lap Budweiser Modifieds main event, blowing past Terry Taylor and into the top spot with 12 circuits remaining. Scott was able to slip away from the pressure of Ricky Icenhower with an assist from lapped traffic as the “Nixa Nightmare” rolled to his sixth win of the year and extended his points lead in the process. Icenhower was forced to settle for the bridesmaid’s position a week after scoring his first feature win of the season while Payton Lucas continued his solid 2012 campaign with a podium effort in third.

The Coca-Cola Chargers got off to a wild start as the faster drivers kept slicing-and-dicing through the field and tipped off a chain reaction accident that sent Amanda Page barrel-rolling through the turn two grass before her wild ride came to a stop just shy of the backstretch wall. Page walked away unharmed and after a lengthy delay, racing resumed with Paul Jepson jumping to the front of the field. From there, it was lights out for the field as Jepson rolled to a comfortable win, his fifth of the season, and tightened up the championship race with Caston Jones while he did it. Richard Lewis landed in second while Lauren Buhr came home in third.

Racing returns to Missouri’s only asphalt oval this Saturday night, August 4, as the O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models headline the 13th “Kickin’ Asphalt” program of the season on “Coca-Cola Night at the Races” at I-44. An action-packed undercard includes the Budweiser Modifieds and the Hardee’s Sportsman as well as the track’s two entry-level classes, the Hoosier Tire Road Warriors and the Coca-Cola Chargers, who will be partaking in “Charger Mania.” Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m. with the green flag set to wave at 7:30 p.m. sharp on the evening’s jam-packed slate of racing action.

For more information on Lebanon I-44 Speedway, including a full 2012 schedule and more, visit the track website at www.i44speedway.net or visit the track’s Facebook and Twitter pages online.


Lebanon I-44 Speedway – July 28, 2012

Race Results

ASA Late Models

Heat 1                                     Heat 2

1.  16  Baltzell                         1.  77  Slone

2.  35  Holt                              2.  O2  Brown

3.  67  Vanzandt                     3.  21  Dickinson

4.  27  Ross                             4.    6  Wallace

5.  18  Reaves                          5.  54  Scott

6.  66  Woods                          6.  10  Roper

7.  20  Fullerton                       7.    9  Cory



1.         67        Jim Vanzandt                          Springfield

2.         21        Ken Dickinson                                    Lebanon

3.         27        Joe Ross                                  Kansas City

4.         6          Matt Wallace                           Concord,  NC

5.         02        Brian Brown                           Springfield

6.         66        Brian Woods                           Leawood,  KS

7.         54        Tyler Scott                              Nixa

8.         9          Tucker Cory                            Quincy

9.         10        Dale Roper Jr.                         Fair Grove

10.       16        Robert Baltzell                                    Nixa

11.       20        Austin Fullerton                      Chelsea,  OK

12.       35        Steve Holt                               Strafford

13.       77        Mike Slone                              Rolla

DQ      18        Jim Reeves                              Springfield



Heat 1                                     Heat 2

1.  66  Taylor                           1.  25  Counterman

2.  OO  Johnson                      2.    7  Icenhower

3.  64  Ross                             3.  57  Scott

4.    1  Rash                             4.  26  Lucas

5.  95  Harris



1.         57        Tyler Scott                              Nixa

2.         7          Ricky Icenhower                     Fair Grove

3.         26        Payton Lucas                          Fair Grove

4.         1          Rocky Rash                             Elkland

5.         64        Joe Ross                                  Kansas City

6.         OO      Chris Johnson                          Lebanon

7.         95        Norm Harris                            Marshfield

8.         66        Terry Taylor                            Fair Grove

9.         25        Stephen Counterman              Fair Grove



Heat 1                                     Heat 2

1.  84  Newell                          1.    6  Reeves

2.  10  Sharp                            2.  15  Newell

3.  25  Owens                          3.  36  J. Higdon

4.  63  C. Higdon                    4.    1  Harden


Feature 1

1.         6          Robert Reeves                         Camdenton

2.         84        JC Newell                               Decauterville

3.         15        Lil JC Newell                          Stoutland

4.         10        Rick Sharp                              Fair Grove

5.         1          Aaron Harden                         Ozark

6.         25        Darin Owens                           Halfway

7.         36        Jon Higdon                             Strafford

8.         63        Chuck Higdon                                    Strafford


Feature 2

1.         15        Lil JC Newell                          Stoutland

2.         1          Aaron Harden                         Ozark

3.         10        Rick Sharp                              Fair Grove

4.         84        JC Newell                               Decauterville

5.         36        Jon Higdon                             Strafford

6.         25        Darin Owens                           Halfway

7.         6          Robert Reeves                         Camdenton

DNS    63        Chuck Higdon                                    Strafford


Road Warrior


Heat 1                                     Heat 2

1.  33  Scott                             1.    6  Reeves

2.  OO  Juergensen                  2.  21  Mallard

3.  35  Ball                               3.  38  Funcannon

4.    7  Jones                            4.  32  Sharp



1.         21        Les Mallard                             Fair Grove

2.         38        Mike Funcannon                     Cassville

3.         33        Mike Scott                              Rogerville

4.         OO      Michael Juergensen                 Lebanon

5.         6          Dustin Reeves                         Lebanon

6.         32        Riley Sharp                             Republic

7.         7          Shawn Jones                           Belle

8.         35        Gary Ball                                 Lebanon




Heat 1                                     Heat 2

1.  42  Nisbett                         1.  44  Jepsen

2.  27  Cherry                          2.  11  Buhr

3.  74  Hunter                          3.  34  Jones

4.    5  Poindexter                    4.    1  Page

5.  30  Taylor                           5.    6  Lewis



1.         44        Paul Jepsen                              Rolla

2.         6          Richard Lewis                         Willard

3.         11        Lauren Buhr                            Neosho

4.         74        Larry Hunter                           Laquey

5.         34        Caston Jones                           Belle

6.         5          Jim Poindexter                        Willard

7.         42        Jordan Nisbett                         Lebanon

8.         27        Nick Cherry                            Springfield

9.         30        Billy Taylor                             Willard

10.       1          Amanda Page                          Republic





Jordan Kuehne
I-44 Speedway Public Relations Director
I-44 Speedway Writer/Trackside Announcer

Racing Online Columnist

Contact me at…
speedwayjordan@yahoo.com (E-mail)
(815)601-5673 (Cell)

jordo99 (Twitter)

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