Another night of racing is in the books at Lebanon I-44 Speedway and this past weekend’s event kept the excitement factor at the max. The Missouri Modified Showdown and Military Appreciation Night at the Races is always a night that fans and drivers circle on their calendars. To have the opportunity to exercise our freedom in front of those who serve our great nation is a privilege. It is our way of saying thanks to the men and women who sacrifice everything so we can race and have fun right here in the United States. All five classes, plus a few go kart classes, put on great shows for our military personnel and fans.
The first class to take center stage was the Hornet division. The Albright brothers, Chris and Jeffery, have been locked into a grueling Championship battle all season long. In the heat race, Nick Bradshaw started on the pole and dropped the hammer as he led the first three laps. Jeffery Albright was then able to sneak passed and take the lead as Mason Mundy followed him into second. A few laps later, Mundy made his move and stole the lead away. Mundy held onto the lead for the remaining laps and came away with the heat race win. Chris Albright was able to pass his brother Jeffery for second while Jeffery rounded out the top three. In the feature, Mason Mundy now started on the pole with Jeffery Albright to his outside. The green flag waved, and Mason Mundy took off. Jeffery Albright held onto the second position and while Nick Bradshaw tucked into third. Jeffery Albright was doing his best to stay with the leader of Mason Mundy while his brother, Chris Albright, had moved into second and was applying pressure on big brother. Everyone continued to battle until Jeffery Albright was forced to the pits with a mechanical issue. Chris Albright was now in second, but Mundy was still hitting his marks up front. At the checkered flag, it was all Mason Mundy picking up his first win of 2019 with Chris Albright coming home second and extending his points lead and Nick Bradshaw rounded out the top three with a solid run. Chris Albright now holds a 16-point lead over his brother Jeffery.
Next up was the Street Stock division. The Street Stocks were out in full force on Saturday night with several new drivers including Chris Countryman who made his first start ever. Familiar faces such as Aaron Wilke returned to High Banks this weekend as well. In the first heat race, Steve Shaw started on the pole with Trevor Icenhower to his outside. After the first lap, Icenhower had grabbed the lead and never looked back as Tony Johnson made his way to a second-place finish with Steve Shaw rounding out the top three. In heat race number two, Matt Pilant started on the pole with Breken Johnson to his outside. Pilant dropped the hammer and took the early lead. Johnson was able to maintain her second spot while Aaron Wilke ran third. At the line, Pilant picked up the heat win with Breken Johnson second and Alex Shaw, who was able to make the move on Wilke, came home third. In the feature, Trevor Icenhower started on the pole with Breken Johnson to his outside. The green flag waved, and Icenhower took the early lead. Tony Johnson, who started second row inside, followed Icenhower passed Breken Johnson to take over the second position. Matt Pilant made a ton of moves in the early stages of the race, coming from last to third in just two laps. By lap four, Pilant was now in second trying to work on Trevor Icenhower for the lead. This is also the battle for the Championship. On lap eight, Pilant made the pass stick until lap 10 when disaster struck. Matt Pilant engine expired forcing him to the pits and ending his night. Alex Shaw, Steve Shaw, Aaron Wilke, and Charles Appleby all had mechanical issues on lap 10 as well forcing them all to the pits. The full moon definitely brought out the mechanical gremlins in the street stock division on Saturday night. When the green flag came back out, Icenhower continued to lead with Tony Johnson second and Breken Johnson third. That is the order that they would finish in as well as Icenhower picked up his fourth win of the season and has now taken over the Championship points lead from Pilant. Only 10 points separate the two of them as we enter the final night of the 2019 racing season.
Big 10 Late Models
Next up was the Big 10 Late Model division. Following one of the closest finishes we have had in several years last race, the Big 10 Late Model drivers were looking to entertain once again last Saturday night. In the first heat race, Justin Blake started on the pole with Rookie, Devon Russell, to his outside. Blake took the green flag and never looked back as his went on to grab the first heat race win while Devon Russell held onto the second spot throughout the heat race with JC Newell rounding out the top three. In the second heat race, last week’s feature winner, Dylan Bates, started on the pole with Chris Albright to his outside and last year’s Champion, Jimmy Fohn, starting right behind him. Bates took the early lead, but three laps in Jimmy Fohn dove to the inside and was able to come out with the lead and went on to pick up the heat race win with Bates second and Chris Albright third. In the feature, Justin Blake was on the pole with Jimmy Fohn to his outside. These two drivers were separated by one point entering the feature and both drivers knew that whoever won was going to be the points leader entering the final night of racing next weekend. The green flag waved and Jimmy Fohn was able to keep his momentum up around the top and grab the early lead. Justin Blake tucked into the second spot with Devon Russell in third. Fohn continued to lead with Blake hot on his heels waiting for a mistake. Behind them, Dylan Bates, who started last, had made his way into the third spot and was working on running down the leaders. Bates had caught the leaders around lap 18 while Justin Blake was making his move to the inside of Fohn for the lead. Blake was able to make the pass stick as Bates now tried to make his move on Fohn for the second spot. One lap later, the caution flag was displayed for debris in turn four which restacked the field. On the restart, Blake fired off with the lead, until Fohn was able to work back to the inside of Blake and reclaim the lead. While these two battled for the lead. Dylan Bates brought out the caution with a flat right rear tire which took him out of the battle for the lead. Three laps remained when the green flag came out and Fohn was able to hold onto the lead and come away with his third win of the season after a hard-fought battle with Justin Blake who came home second. Aaron Douglas worked his way from the back quietly and grabbed a solid third place finish after missing his heat race. Fohn now holds a four-point lead over Justin Blake entering the final night of racing. A bit of a rivalry has stirred up between the Championship front runners which will make this battle for the Championship that much better next Saturday night.
Next, the mighty Modifieds took to the racetrack for the Missouri Modified Showdown! In heat race number one, Brian Brown started on the pole with Chris Nichols to his outside. Brian Brown hammered down when the green flag dropped and took control of the lead. Richard Lewis followed him passed Chris Nichols to take over the second spot. Brown and Richard Lewis went on to finish first and second in the heat race with Chris Nichols in third. In the second heat, Chris Johnson started on the pole with Michael Juergenson on his outside. Johnson grabbed the early lead and never looked back as Brian Lewis followed him passed Juergenson to take the second spot. At the checkered flag, it was Chris Johnson, Brian Lewis, and Michael Juergenson rounding out the top three. In the feature, Brian Brown started on the pole with Chris Johnson to his outside. Brown jumped out to the early lead while Chris Johnson tucked into second place. Brown did his best to get away from the pack while Richard Lewis worked on Chris Johnson for second. Lewis was able to make the pass, but Brown had about a five or six car length lead at this point. Richard Lewis dropped the hammer and was able to catch Brown and the two went to battle. For the remaining 20 laps, Lewis was trying to find a way around Brown, but Brown was not having any of it. Brown continued to roll the bottom of the racetrack, right where Lewis wanted to be. Lewis was able to get to the inside of Brown a few times, but Brown would keep his momentum up around the outside to maintain the lead. Behind them, Brian Lewis and Chris Johnson were battling hard for the third position. Brian Lewis was able to make the pass to claim the third position. Richard Lewis continued to search for a way around Brown, but Brown held on strong and was able to grab his second win of the season. Richard Lewis had a solid points night coming home in second and maintained a 25-point lead over Brown in the Championship. Richard’s father, Brian Lewis, rounded out the top three after a hard wreck two weeks ago.
Pro Late Models
Finally, the Pro Late Models took to the track. In the first heat race, the winner of the last two features, Steve Holt, started on the pole with Tim Swearengin to his outside. Holt grabbed the early lead while Swearengin tucked into second. Swearengin was lurking behind Holt throughout the heat but wasn’t close enough as Steve Holt went on to pick up the heat win with Tim Swearengin second and Ryu Taggart third. In heat race number two, the 2018 World of Outlaw Late Model Champion, Mike Marlar, making his asphalt debut started on the pole. Brennon Willard started to his outside. At the drop of the green, Marlar hammered down and took the lead. Terry Limberopolous followed him passed Willard to take the second spot and that is how they remined throughout the rest of the heat race. Marlar picked up the heat win with Limberopolous second and Willard third. In the feature, Tim Swearengin started on the pole with Mike Marlar to his outside. Marlar fired off strong on the outside and grabbed the early lead. Swearengin tucked into second and tried to challenge Marlar for the lead. Behind them, Brennon Willard was making moves through the pack as he worked his way from sixth place to second place by lap 12. Willard then went to work on the leader of Mike Marlar and was able to complete the pass on lap 15. Willard went on to lead the remaining 10 laps while Swearengin and Marlar battled again, but this time for second place. At the line, it was all Brennon Willard picking up his second win of the season with Mike Marlar coming home second din his first ever asphalt start, and Tim Swearengin rounded out the top three. Brennon Willard now has a six-point lead over Terry Limberopolous heading into the final night of racing. Two Champions will be crowned in one race on September 28th as the weekly Pro Late Model Championship and the Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Championship will both be on hand. You won’t want to miss it!
The next race at Lebanon I-44 Speedway will be held on Saturday, September 28th. The Ozark’s Asphalt Late Model Series will be on hand competing for $2,000 and the first ever Championship title for this new series. Be on the lookout for more details on our website at i44speedway.net! Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook as well to keep up with daily track updates!
By Dylan Bates