(LEBANON, Mo.) - Tony Jackson, Jr. Jumps into the History Books as the Inaugural King of the ‘High Banks 100′ while Mike Slone Locks Up the ASA Late Models Crown at Lebanon I-44 Speedway.
Mike Slone came into the night leading the O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models point standings by 185 markers with double points on the line and Matt Wallace nipping at his heels; Tony Jackson, Jr. arrived at Lebanon I-44 Speedway with something to prove and the fastest car on the property. By night’s end, both drivers had done something special as Slone rolled to a runner-up finish and locked up his second title in three seasons at Missouri’s only asphalt oval while Jackson, Jr. survived a wild mid-race dual with Wallace en route to a wire-to-wire win in Mid-Missouri’s biggest racing event in over a decade.
“Winning this event is huge and there’s no selling it short,” said an emotional Jackson, Jr. afterwards. “To become the first winner of this special event at I-44 is a real team effort.”
On a wild evening that wrapped up an exhilarating 2012 season at I-44, Ricky Icenhower continued his winning ways with a dominant victory in the Budweiser Modifieds while Robert Reeves ended his campaign with an eye-popping eighth win in the Hardee’s Sportsman main event. George Buhr kept the family name in victory lane with a triumph in the Coca-Cola Chargers while Hardee’s Sportsman track champion Lil’ J.C. Newell got his feet wet and notched a trophy in the Hoosier Tire Road Warriors.
It was fast qualifier Tony Jackson, Jr. jumping out front as the green flag waved on the inaugural ‘High Banks 100′ presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. As the race settled into a rhythm, 16-year-old Matt Wallace muscled his way into the second position as the top two machines broke away from the rest of the 24-car-field. As Jackson, Jr. encountered lapped traffic for the first time, Wallace closed up to his back bumper and began pressuring the long-time I-44 racer for the top spot.
The first caution of the night flew for an unfortunate solo trip through the spin cycle by contender Blake Sanford with 87 laps remaining. After Sanford dropped to the back of the pack for bringing out the caution, racing resumed with Jackson, Jr. out front. Wallace wasted no time returning to the left rear quarter panel of the leader, pressuring his veteran counterpart as the North Carolina driver tried for the lead. The top two made contact on consecutive corners before settling back into a holding pattern out front.
Cole Williams eased into the picture and made it a three-car fray for the lead as the race soldiered on toward the mandatory competition caution at the halfway mark of lap 50. With the front four of Jackson, Jr, Wallace, Williams, and I-44 points leader Mike Slone half a straightaway ahead, Budweiser Modifieds victor Ricky Icenhower continued to charge through the field. Icenhower scored a top-five spot as the caution waved with 61 circuits to go after contact between Jimmy Vanzandt and Dale Roper, Jr. sent Roper, Jr. shooting off the track in turn four.
When racing resumed, Jackson, Jr. maintained his role out front, but the young Wallace pushed the issue and made an attempt at the lead, easing ahead of Jackson, Jr. The veteran, however, was having none of it as he returned the favor and nudged the teenager out of the way in turns three and four. As Wallace tried to recover his momentum and stay ahead of fellow young gun Cole Williams, lapped car Ted Minor came up too fast forcing Wallace to squeeze down into Williams as mayhem ensued. Wallace’s machine rode up the front end of Minor’s car and went airborne, spinning in front of the field as Williams and Minor went for a harrowing ride through the pit-road entrance.
When the dust settled and the red flag waved with 56 laps remaining, Williams, Minor, Icenhower, and Brian Brown were also involved with Wallace, who saw any longshot hopes at stealing the track championship dashed in a matter of seconds. All five drivers had their nights end early as the lengthy delay halted proceedings as track officials cleaned up debris on the racing surface.
After the mandatory competition caution paused the proceedings for 15 minutes, action resumed with Tony Jackson, Jr. pacing the dwindled field of 16 cars to the green flag. After the earlier incident, veteran Mike Slone inherited the runner-up spot as the top two drivers broke away from the rest of the pack as the laps ticked off at a swift pace. After a period of 29 green-flag laps, the caution waved with just 27 circuits to go after Brian Woods and Rodney Phillips made contact on the frontstretch and slammed into the outside retaining wall. Both drivers were unharmed in the incident as Jackson, Jr’s lead was erased.
The top two once again broke away from the field when the green flag waved as Blake Sanford worked his way up to third with consecutive moves around Grant Sharp and Ken Dickinson. Another caution with 13 laps to go tightened up the field and allowed Sanford to close up behind the leaders. Despite the caution, Jackson, Jr. once again slipped away to a three car-length cushion over Slone. With the laps winding down, Slone managed to close to within a car length but it wasn’t enough as Tony Jackson, Jr. held on for his first win of the season, becoming the inaugural king of the ‘High Banks 100′ with a wire-to-wire triumph.
“This is big, really big,” said a choked-up Jackson, Jr. in the winner’s circle. “If you want to pavement race around Mid-Missouri, this is where you kinda have to run. And to go out there and fight some demons in the car to win this race in that fashion, it’s just a really cool deal.”
Slone locked up the track championship, fending off Wallace’s late-season charge with his runner-up finish and collecting a second title in three years at Missouri’s only asphalt oval.
“We had a goal of taking home the title and we really did it,” said Slone afterwards. “During the offseason, I made the decision to commit to winning a title here and I knew I had a bit of a cushion and had to finish something like 12th to lock it up tonight. Matt ended up taking care of that for me tonight and I’m really happy to have another championship. Next year, we’ll be here on-and-off but I’m looking forward to hitting the road and touring.”
Young Blake Sanford grabbed a podium spot in third after recovering from his incident earlier in the race. ‘Flash’ Grant Sharp edged out Ken Dickinson for fourth in the closing laps.
The early edge in the Budweiser Modifieds 25-lap main event went to Terry Taylor as track champion Tyler Scott and Ricky Icenhower jostled for the second spot right behind him. With Scott on his inside, Icenhower rode around the high side of the 3/8th-mile oval, zooming into the bridesmaid’s position with ease. Heavy contact between JD Kelly and Chris Johnson brought out the caution with seven laps in the books as Kelly took a wild ride into the frontstretch wall.
When the green flag waved, Icenhower jumped to the inside of Taylor and got a nose ahead of the veteran on the entrance to turn one, racing to the top spot with little trouble on the backstretch. Icenhower’s lengthy edge was erased by another caution with eight circuits remaining. The ‘Iceman’ kept his cool on the restart, though, easing away from the field and hitting his marks on the way to his fifth triumph of the season. Taylor held on for the runner-up spot as Scott settled for a hard fought third.
Robert Reeves rolled to the early lead in the 15-lap Hardee’s Sportsman feature and quickly built up a lead over the bridesmaid’s position. The elder statesman of I-44, J.C. Newell tried to grab the second spot from Randy Besser but couldn’t get it done, losing the back end of his machine at the halfway mark and dropping back in third. While Besser and Newell duked it out for second, Reeves rolled to a comfortable margin, never looking back en route to his eighth win of the season. Besser fended off Newell for the second spot at the checkered flag.
Craig Amptmeyer asserted himself as a contender in the opening portion of the 15-lap Hoosier Tire Road Warriors feature, grabbing the top spot when the green flag waved and immediately coming under fire from Lil’ J.C. Newell. A three-car pileup in turn one with 10 laps remaining brought out the yellow and halted the proceedings. When racing resumed, Newell nabbed the top spot from Amptmeyer and was leading when Amptmeyer looped around for a solo spin on the frontstretch and brought out another yellow. Newell survived the restart to collect his first win in the division on the same night he celebrated his Hardee’s Sportsman crown. Division champion Dustin Reeves ended his storybook season with a runner-up effort as Amptmeyer scored a podium spot in third to cap off a solid debut.
George Buhr burst into the early lead when the green flag waved on the final 10-lap Coca-Cola Chargers main event of 2012. Buhr raced away from the field and grabbed a solid margin out front and from there, the hotshoe making his season debut rolled to an easy win. Buhr kept his family name out front just two weeks after his daughter, Lauren, raced past track champion Paul Jepsen into the winner’s circle. On this night, it was father George proving triumphant as Ben White collected second and Caston Jones rounded out the top-three in third.
While racing will return next spring for the 2013 season at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, drivers and crew members can look forward to the annual banquet honoring champions and award winners in the coming months. An announcement about the specific whereabouts and date for the banquet will be released soon as will more information on next season’s racing action at Missouri’s only asphalt oval.
For more information on Lebanon I-44 Speedway, including the final 2012 point standings and more, visit the track website at www.i44speedway.net or visit the track’s Facebook and Twitter pages online.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway – September 22, 2012
O’Reilly Auto Parts ASA Late Models
Heat 1: 1 (35) Holt, 2 (66) Woods, 3 (98) Smith, 4 (15) Newell, 5 (21x) Phillips,6 (12) R. Sharp, 7 (31) Minor, 8 (1) Harden
Heat 2: 1 (7) Icenhower, 2 (2) G. Sharp, 3 (21) Dickinson, 4 (14) Deuser, 5 (10) Roper,6 (54) Reaves, 7 (3) Willard, 8 (9) Cory
Heat 3: 1 (51) Jackson, 2 (46) Williams, 3 (6) Wallace, 4 (77) Slone, 5 (27) Ross,6 (02) Brown, 7 (67) Vanzandt, 8 (5) Sanford
‘High Banks 100′: 1 (51) Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, MO, 2 (77) Mike Slone, Rolla, MO, 3 (5) Blake Sanford, St. Charles, MO, 4 (2) Grant Sharp, Conway, MO, 5 (21) Ken Dickinson, Camdenton, MO, 6 (35) Steve Holt, Strafford, MO, 7 (67) Jim Vanzandt, Springfield, MO, 8 (14) Cory Deuser, Lanesville, IN, 9 (98) Terry Smith, Belton, MO, 10 (54) Jim Reaves, Strafford, MO, 11 (12) Rick Sharp, Fair Grove, MO, 12 (66) Brian Woods, Leawood, KS, 13 (21x) Rodney Phillips, Kansas City, MO, 14 (10) Dale Roper Jr., Fair Grove, MO, 15 (27) Joe Ross, Kansas City, MO, 16 (3) Brennon Willard, Sleeper, MO, 17 (15) JC Newell, Stoutland, MO, 18 (6) Matt Wallace, Concord, NC, 19 (46) Cole Williams, Sellersburg, IN, 20 (7) Ricky Icenhower, Fair Grove, MO, 21 (02) Brian Brown, Springfield, MO, 22 (31) Ted Minor, Weatherford, TX,23 (9) Tucker Cory, Quincy, IL, 24 (1) Aaron Harden, Ozark, MO.
Heat 1: 1 (81) D. Bates, 2 (1) Rash, 3 (00) Johnson, 4 (51) Kelley, 5 (10) Bunkers,
Heat 2: 1 (66) Taylor, 2 (57) Scott, 3 (25) Counterman, 4 (7) Icenhower, 5 (12) Allen
Feature: 1 (7) Ricky Icenhower, Fair Grove, MO, 2 (66) Terry Taylor, Fair Grove, MO3 (57) Tyler Scott, Nixa, MO, 4 (25) Stephen Counterman, Fair Grove, MO, 5 (1) Rocky Rash, Elkland, MO, 6 (12) Scotty Allen, Urbana, MO, 7 (10) Joe Bunkers, Harrisonville, MO,8 (00) Chris Johnson, Lebanon, MO, 9 (15) Tim Lott, MO, 10 (51) JD Kelley, Walnut Grove, MO,David Bates DNS
Heat 1: 1 (6) Reeves, 2 (84) Newell, 3 (1) Harden, 4 (25) Owen, 5 (21) Besser
Feature: 1 (6) Robert Reeves, Camdenton, MO, 2 (21) Randy Besser, Branson, MO,3 (84) JC Newell, Decauterville, MO, 4 (1) Aaron Harden, Ozark, MO, 5 (25) Daren Owens, Halfway, MO
Hoosier Tire Road Warriors
Heat 1: 1 (40) Amptmeyer, 2 (00) Juergensen, 3 (21) Sharp, 4 (7) Jones, 5 (26) Cherry
Heat 2: 1 (15) Newell, 2 (6) Reeves, 3 (90) Shaw, 4 (38) Funcannon
Feature: 1 (15) JC Newell, Stoutland, MO, 2 (6) Dustin Reeves, Lebanon, MO, 3 (40) Craig Amptmeyer, Lake Ozark, MO, 4 (90) Steve Shaw, Rogersville, MO, 5 (00) Michael Juergensen, Lebanon, MO, 6 (7) Shawn Jones, Belle, MO, 7 (26) Nick Cherry, Springfield, MO, 8 (21) Riley Sharp, Republic, MO, 9 (38) Mike Funcannon, Cassville, MO
Ozark Coca-Cola Chargers
Heat 1: 1 (11) Buhr, 2 (5) Poindexter, 3 (44) White, 4 (74) Hunter, 5 (34) Jones, 6 (6) Lewis
Feature: 1 (11) George Buhr, Neosho, MO, 2 (44) Ben White, Rolla, MO, 3 (34) Caston Jones, Belle, MO 4 (74) Larry Hunter, Laquey, MO, 5 (5) Jimmy Poindexter, Willard, MO, 6 (6) Richard Lewis, Willard, MO.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway is located four miles east of the Lebanon city limit on Historic Route 66. Patrons using Interstate 44 may take Exit 135 and then drive approximately one mile east on Route 66 to the track’s main entrance. Additional information about the track’s 2012 ‘Kickin’ Asphalt’ racing schedule may be found on the facility’s official website, www.i44speedway.net, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lebanon-I-44-Speedway, and on Twitter (@i44Speedway).