By Jordan Kuehne
(LEBANON, Mo.) – Just call him “Rainman.” After bouts of bad luck and unfortunate mishaps cost Steve Holt chances at victory earlier in the season, the veteran driver managed to fend off charges from multiple competitors – including points leader Mike Slone – and kept his O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Model facing the right direction as the rain began to fall at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. With the checkered flag in the air, Holt crossed the finish line ahead of the field for his first win of 2012 as the skies opened up above.
Prior to Holt’s dramatic triumph, Robert Reeves returned to victory lane in the Hardee’s Sportsman while standings leader Tyler Scott made a bold maneuver to get around David Bates on his way to another win in the Budweiser Modifieds. Paul Jepson notched another win in the Coca-Cola Chargers while Michael Juergenson broke through for his first win of 2012 in the Hoosier Tire Road Warriors.
A wild start shook things up in the 30-lap O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models main event. Steve Holt powered past Terry Smith for the early edge as points leader Mike Slone sliced and diced his way through the 14-car field as he pushed his way into the second position.
Slone was setting up a pass for the lead when a multi-car accident in turn three brought out the first yellow with 25 laps remaining. Brian Brown got together with Terry Smith and turned the Kansas City-area driver in the wrong direction. A majority of the field managed to avoid the mayhem before Tucker Cory spun into the front end of Smith’s machine as both drivers saw their nights end early.
On the restart, Holt slipped away to a comfortable edge as Slone slipped back to third behind young gun Matt Wallace. The 16-year-old North Carolina hotshoe got loose on the exit of turn two and somehow managed to keep his fishtailing car pointed in the right direction as Mike Slone was forced to check up to avoid crashing into the side of Wallace’s machine. After a solo spin brought out a caution with 18 circuits to go, racing resumed with Holt out front and veteran Dale Roper, Jr. turning up the heat on his back bumper.
Slone dropped back to ninth place on the restart as his stretch of troubling results continued. Up front, 16-year-old Cole Williams nabbed third from Jim Reaves as Wallace followed him into fourth. The Louisville-area driver looked for second from Roper, Jr. but the veteran nudged him aside and relegated him to fourth. Williams inherited third from Wallace when the young gun blew up right in front of him with nine laps to go.
None of that mattered to Steve Holt as the longtime I-44 veteran earned himself the title of ‘Rainman,’ dodging the raindrops and multiple challenges from young guns and venerable veterans alike on the way to his first feature win since Missouri’s only asphalt oval returned to a paved surface in 2010.
“I thought about pulling off there because the clutch was going out,” said Holt in the winner’s circle as the skies opened up and the rain began falling in earnest. ”It feels so good to get back to the winner’s circle after not running our greatest the last couple of years. I had to back it down a bit when the rain started falling to keep it going the right way but it all worked out for me in the end.”
Roper, Jr. matched his season-best effort with a runner-up finish while Cole Williams managed a podium finish with his third place result. Brian Brown held on for fourth as Grant Sharp returned to I-44 and rounded out the top-five in fifth.
Payton Lucas landed the lead in the early stages of the 20-lap Budweiser Modifieds main event as veteran hotshoe David Bates quickly closed in the second spot. Bates burst into the top spot and brought points leader Tyler Scott with him into the runner-up position on the fourth circuit, setting up a heated duel for the win. The ‘Nixa Nightmare’ found solid footing on the high banks of I-44, making his move to the inside of Bates and grabbing the lead on the exit of turn four as the race hit the halfway mark. Scott never looked back from there, surviving a late-race caution and hitting his marks as flashes of lightning served as a fitting metaphor for the victor’s speed. The teenager extended his points lead on the way to his seventh victory of the 2012 campaign. David Bates held on to come home in the bridesmaid’s position while Jay Bates rallied to finish third.
A wild start to the 12-lap Hardee’s Sportsman headliner allowed Aaron Harden to slip away to a comfortable four car-length advantage up front. Robert Reeves broke through the pack and set his sights on the leader, erasing the deficit and challenging Harden for the top spot before a caution slowed proceedings with ten circuits to go. When racing resumed, Reeves stuck his nose on the inside of Harden and kept his machine on the straight and narrow en route to the lead. Lil’ J.C. Newell made his way to the bridesmaid’s position and immediately began to track down the leader. While the 16-year-old points leader worked his way to Reeves’ back bumper, he couldn’t overtake the wily veteran as Robert Reeves scored a hard-fought sixth win of the year. Lil’ J.C. Newell scored a second place finish while the elder J.C. Newell made it a family affair on the podium with his third place result.
The first of two 12-lap Coca-Cola Chargers features got off to a fast start as Jimmy Poindexter raced to the early edge. Poindexter held the top spot for the first four laps before Richard Lewis utilized the low line to snag the lead. Paul Jepson made the move of the race on the fifth circuit when he made it three-wide in the middle of turn three and managed to keep his car going in the right direction, emerging with the top spot ahead of Lewis. While Lewis got alongside Jepson and kept the pressure squarely on the back bumper of the leader, it wasn’t enough as Jepson held on by a nose to score his fifth feature win of the season and take the points lead in the process. Lauren Buhr notched a strong runner-up effort as Richard Lewis held on for a third place finish.
Michael Juergensen broke away to the early lead in the 15-lap Hoosier Tire Road Warriors feature while points leader Dustin Reeves quickly worked his way from the back of the field to third. Reeves rode around in third behind Steve Shaw, testing the high line on multiple occasions before making a power move with six laps to go and taking the lead away from Juergensen on the high side. After taking the lead, Reeves looked like he was on his way to a track-high tenth victory before suddenly pulling off the 3/8th-mile oval and into the pits. The benefactor of Reeves’ shocking troubles was Juergensen who inherited the lead and held on for his first victory of the season. Shaw brought it home second while Les Mallard managed a solid third place effort.
Racing returns to Missouri’s only asphalt oval this Saturday night, August 11, as the United States Super Trucks’ second visit of the season headlines the 14th “Kickin’ Asphalt” program of the season at I-44. An action-packed undercard includes the O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models, Budweiser Modifieds and the Hardee’s Sportsman as well as the track’s entry-level class, the Coca-Cola Chargers, who will be running two features to make up for last night’s rained out event. 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 – August 4, 2012
ASA Late Models
Heat 1 Heat 2
1. 46 C. Williams 1. 77 M. Slone
2. 98 T. Smith 2. 02 B. Brown
3. 9 T. Cory 3. 6 M. Wallace
4. 20 A. Fullerton 4. 67 J. Vanzandt
5. 2 G. Sharp 5. 10 D. Roper Jr.
6. 35 S. Holt 6. 45 C. Beaver
7. 18 J. Reaves 7. 14 C. Dueser
1. 35 Steve Holt Strafford
2. 10 Dale Roper Jr Fair Grove
3. 46 Cole Williams Sellersburg, IN
4. 02 Brian Brown Springfield
5. 2 Grant Sharp Conway
6. 18 Jim Reaves Strafford
7. 77 Mike Slone Rolla
8. 67 Jim Vanzandt Springfield
9. 45 Crispen Beaver `Joplin
10. 14 Corey Dueser
11. 6 Matt Wallace Concord, NC
12. 98 Terry Smith Belton
13. 9 Tucker Cory Quincy, IL
DNS 20 Austin Fullerton Chelsea, OK
Heat 1 Heat 2
1. 81 J. Bates 1. 57 T. Scott
2. 00 C. Johnson 2. 26 P. Lucas
3. 1 R. Rash 3. 25 S. Counterman
4. 91 D. Bates
1. 57 Tyler Scott Nixa
2. 91 David Bates Fair Grove
3. 81 Jay Bates Fair Grove
4. 25 Stephen Counterman Fair Grove
5. 00 Chris Johnson Lebanon
6. 1 Rocky Rash Elkland
7. 26 Payton Lucas Fair Grove
1. 6 R. Reeves
2. 15 Lil JC Newell
3. 25 D. Owens
4. 1 A. Harden
5. 36 J. Higdon
6. 84 JC Newell
1. 6 Robert Reeves Camdenton
2. 15 Lil JC Newell Stoutland
3. 84 JC Newell Decauterville
4. 1 Aaron Harden Ozark
5. 25 Darin Owens Strafford
6. 36 Jon Higdon Strafford
Heat 1 Heat 2
1. OO M. Juergensen 1. 6 D. Reeves
2. 38 M. Funcannon 2. 21 L. Mallard
3. 7 S. Jones 3. 90 S. Shaw
4. 11 B. Allen
1. OO Michael Juergensen Lebanon
2. 90 Steve Shaw Rogersville
3. 21 Les Mallard Fair Grove
4. 38 Mike Funcannon Cassville
5. 7 Shawn Jones Belle
6. 6 Dustin Reeves Lebanon
7. 11 Bill Allen Urbana
Heat 1 Heat 2
1. 55 S. Coverdell 1. 6 R. Lewis
2. 42 J. Nisbett 2. 44 P. Jepsen
3. 30 B. Taylor 3. 11 L. Buhr
DNS 7 J. Poindexter 4. 34 C. Jones
DNS 27 N. Cherry 5. 5 J. Poindexter
1. 44 Paul Jepsen Rolla
2. 11 Lauren Buhr Neosho
3. 6 Richard Lewis Willard
4. 5 Jim Poindexter Willard
5. 34 Caston Jones Belle
6. 42 Jordan Nisbett Lebanon
7. 27 Nick Cherry Springfield
8. 55 Shawn Coverdell
9. 30 Billy Taylor Willard
DNS 7 Jesse Poindexter Willard
Lebanon I-44 Speedway
24069 Route 66
Lebanon, MO 65536
Track (417) 532-2060
Cell (417) 399-5756
Fax (417) 532-7624
ASA Kickin’ Asphalt Every Saturday Night!