Jake Griffin, the young speedster from Quincy, Illinois, saved the best for the end as he passed leader JC Newell on lap 21 in becoming the 5th different O’Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Model winner in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the “High-Banks” of the Lebanon I-44 Speedway Saturday Night.

Kansas City hard charging veteran Joe Ross jumped to the opening lead from the outside front row with Terry Limberopoulos in tow. Ross would set the pace for the opening 4 laps before Limberopoulos took the lead on lap 5 just as the caution flew for Brennon Willard’s spin giving Ross the top spot back. On the restart, Limberopoulos grabbed the lead as a 4 car battle for second involving Ross, Jake Griffin, JC Newell and current point leader Kaleb Allison. Limberopoulos would set the pace for the next 4 laps as Newell began to close in on the leader. Caution waved on lap 8 as Jim Reaves went for a ride in turn 2.

On the restart, Newel shot to the lead and started to pull away from the tight pack behind. On lap 11 Griffin moved into the second place spot, with Allison following close behind as Newell looked to become the 1st repeat winner in Pro Late Models for 2014. With the race staying Green the rest of the night, Griffin inched forward each lap until he made the winning pass out of turn 2 and pulled away in taking home the win as current NASCAR Missouri State and I-44 track point leader. Allison grabbed the runner-up spot with Newell, early leader Limberopoulos and Steve Holt completing the top 5.

“The motor started to develop a miss after the last restart, but we were able to keep up the speed in the corners and gain ground on the leader.” Griffin explained in the winner’s circle.” I saw JC getting a little bit loose and figured it was time we went to the front. Kevin Crider and the crew gave me a great handling car tonight and I could put it about anywhere on the track. We knew we had a car for the end of the race and the long green run helped us out.” For Griffin, who became the youngest driver in the history of I-44 to win a Pro Late Model feature last year at the age of 14 learned a lot about saving the car for late in the race as he competed last season in the JEGS/CRA All-Star Series and finished 3rd in the Rookie Of The Year Standings.

A wild ending in the Budweiser Modified feature had everyone in shock as sometimes it is better to be lucky than the fastest car of the night. David Bates pulled off a last lap final turn victory as leader Ricky Icenhower developed a flat tire on the final lap to grab his second win of the season and career pavement Modified win 101.

The start of the feature had current point leader Stephen Counterman jump to the early lead from the outside front row with Richland’s Brian Webster following. Counterman was setting the rapid pace early as point’s runner-up Chris Johnson was in a tight battle with David Bates, Icenhower and 2 time winner Tim Swearengin. On lap 5, Icenhower moved into second place and began his charge to the front leaving Bates, Johnson, Swearengin, Richard Lewis and 3 time and defending champion Tyler Scott to battle. With Icenhower closing the gap on Counterman, the experience of Icenhower overcame the Young Gun Counterman’s fast pace on lap 11 as Icenhower shot to the top side out of turn 4 and pulled off the pass while getting into lapped traffic. On lap 12, Counterman would spin in turn 4 bringing out the only caution of the feature while running 2nd. Icenhower pulled away from David Bates on the restart and had opened up almost a full straight away advantage. As the white flag was displayed, the action played out on the backstretch. Icenhower started to slow up heading into turn 3 as Bates was making a mad dash to catch the slowing leader. Coming out of turn 4, Bates went top side taking the win as Icenhower limped home with the runner-up spot followed by Swearengin, Tyler Scott making his first start of 2014 and Richard Lewis. Harrison’s Joe Bunkers added to the action packed final lap as he took a wild ride going into turn 3 and bounced off the backstretch wall. Bunkers was able to walk away.

“Ricky had the best car tonight and we were fighting for a second place finish. A flat tire on 7 car gave us this win but we have been in that bad luck situation before as well so we will take the good luck this Saturday night. This class is getting more competitive every week so you need every break you can get” said a smiling David Bates in I-44 winners circle.

For The Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors, veteran Les Mallard used his experience and took a chance that the race between leaders Carl Harlow and Geoff Ledford would play out. Mallard got the lead with only 3 laps to go and held off Rick Sharp and a fast moving Aaron Wilke to grab his first win in over 2 seasons.

Wilke in the Big Mopar jumped to the opening lead and set the pace for 2 laps. Ledford shot to the lead on lap 3 as Wilke and Lebanon’s Michael Juergensen were in a side by side battle for position. Current point leader Carl Harlow started his charge to the front on lap 3 after starting tonight in the 9th spot. By lap 5 Harlow had moved into 2nd place and was closing in on Ledford . Caution waved on lap 6 as Wilke and Juergensen got together in turn 3. Wilke continued as Juergensen’s night was finished. On the restart, Harlow tried several attempts to overtake the top spot, but young Ledford would inch ahead as Mallard was riding in a solid 3rd place. On lap 10, Harlow made the pass to take the lead as Ledford kept the pressure on. Heading into lap 12, Harlow drifted in turn 4 and Ledford made a charge to get the top spot back. Going side by side, the leaders made contact and both went spinning around as caution flew. This placed Mallard in the top spot with Sharp and a fast moving Wilke following. On the restart, Mallard got a great restart and would pull away to secure the victory with Sharp, Wilke, Harlow and Ledford quickly moving up at the finish.

“This win was for the friends, family, and sponsors who have helped us this past 2 seasons. We still don’t have the fastest car, but I will take the victory tonight and build on it going forward. We have had some great support and I’m so happy many of those are here tonight” Malard explained in I-44 winners circle.

Emotion is a very big part of Short-Track Racing in many different ways and for defending Coca-Cola Charger Champion Jimmy Poindexter, his 1st win this season was dedicated to the loss of a family member who left him with a special gift.

The Chargers took the Caution Free Feature with points runner-up Jason Walls grabbing the opening lead but Poindexter who started 3rd on the grid, wasted no time in taking command on the backstretch and driving a flawless feature. Once out in front Poindexter left the real race for second place as Ben White, Walls, John Hunn to all swapped spots throughout the entire feature. With 2 and 3 wide racing in the pack, Poindexter was not going to be denied tonight as White withstood several attempts by Hunn to secure the runner-up spot and Walls held off point leader Jordan Nesbitt for the 4th paying position.
For Poindexter, “This season has been fun and we have had to work really hard. My son Jesse rolled his car on opening night and we have had to keep fine tuning the car all season. The Class is great and so much fun. We knew tonight it was our night as last November we lost our daughter to an illness. She was always buying little things for the family. I had a wrapped package at the house from her she got for me just before she passed away. It was a cap as she knew I always have one around. This is my new lucky cap and I have had it on almost all week long especially working on the car in some spare time. Tonight she was riding with me.” said a very emotional winner who is always known as a very soft spoken and quiet person.

In Monster Energy Sportsman action, Paul Jepsen captured his 3rd win of the season after overcoming contact with then leader Justin Blake. Veteran JC Newell took the opening spot as Blake followed in tow. On lap 2, Blake, the 2013 Road Warrior Champion would put his car into the lead with Jepson following close behind. While battling for the lead on lap 5, Jepsen made contact with Blake sending him spinning with a flat left rear tire. This gave the lead to Newell, but on the restart, point leader Toby Harden quickly took over. Coming from the rear, Jepsen moved around the leader Harden as the duo went wheel to wheel. By lap 14, Jepsen began to put some distance between himself and the field as Blake was on the move to challenge Harden. On lap 18 Blake took over the runner-up spot with Harden and Newell following.

Up next the popular Our Town Your Town Celebration will be at the I-44 Speedway on Saturday June 21st featuring a Full NASCAR Whelen Monster Energy Stock Car Program with Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Chargers, Road Warriors and Sportsman.

Gates will open at Noon and admission is only $10 per car load in the Budweiser Party Deck, Monster Energy Grandstand and Budweiser Wild Side. Over 30 different vendors will be in the Midway area for fans to visit early. The Speedway and Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce have set-up a special “Hit The Pits” tour starting at 1PM so fans get to go into the pits before action gets underway and hot air balloon rides will be offered late that afternoon. The racing program starts at 6PM and then at Approx. 9:30 PM Graven Chrysler Dodge of Lebanon will present Nashville recording artists Joel Crouse and Ben Bradford. For all of those that would like infield stage level lawn chair and blanket seating special wrist bands can purchased at the chamber office or at the event for only $10 per person while supplies last.

For more information visit the website at www.i44speedway.net or join the thousands that have liked our Lebanon I-44 Speedway Facebook Page.

RESULTS
CHARGER – HEAT 1
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 6 11 Lauren Buhr Neosho, Mo. 25.00
2 4 74 Larry Hunter Laquey , Mo 20.00
3 5 51 Japheth Nisbett Rolla, Mo 15.00
4 2 37 Jary Hudson Edgar Springs, Mo 10.00
5 1 7 Amanda Anderson Lebanon , Mo 8.00
6 3 40 Mark Glorfeld Springfield , Mo

CHARGER – HEAT 2
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 1 15 John Hunn Rolla , Mo 25.00
2 5 95 Jordan Nisbett Lebanon , Mo 20.00
3 2 44 Ben White Rolla , Mo 15.00
4 3 5 Jimmy Poindexter Willard , Mo 10.00
5 4 10 Jason Walls St. James, Mo 8.00

CHARGER – FEATURE
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 4 5 Jimmy Poindexter Willard , Mo 100.00
2 6 44 Ben White Rolla , Mo 96.00
3 8 15 John Hunn Rolla , Mo 92.00
4 2 10 Jason Walls St. James, Mo 88.00
5 11 95 Jordan Nisbett Lebanon , Mo 84.00
6 10 11 Lauren Buhr Neosho, Mo 80.00
7 7 51 Japheth Nisbett Rolla, Mo 76.00
8 9 74 Larry Hunter Laquey , Mo 72.00
9 5 37 Jary Hudson Edgar Springs, Mo 68.00
10 1 40 Mark Glorfeld Springfield , Mo 64.00
11 3 7 Amanda Anderson Lebanon , Mo 0.00 DNS

ROAD WARRIOR – HEAT
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 5 7 Carl Harlow Exeter , Mo 25.00
2 4 21 Les Mallard Fair Grove, Mo 20.00
3 6 45 Geoffrey Ledford Neosho , Mo 15.00
4 1 00 Michael Juergensen Lebanon , Mo 10.00
5 7 5 Rick Sharp Fair Grove, Mo- 8.00
6 8 8 Aaron Wilke Bridgeton, Mo. 6.00
7 2 27 Nick Cherry Springfield, Mo. 5.00
8 3 38 Mike Funcannon Cassville , Mo 5.00
9 9 0 Tony Johnson Lebanon , Mo

ROAD WARRIOR – FEATURE
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 5 21 Les Mallard Fair Grove, Mo 100.00
2 2 5 Rick Sharp Fair Grove, Mo. 96.00
3 1 8 Aaron Wilke Bridgeton, Mo. 92.00
4 9 7 Carl Harlow Exeter , Mo 88.00
5 4 45 Geoffrey Ledford Neosho , Mo 84.00
6 6 27 Nick Cherry Springfield, Mo 80.00
7 7 38 Mike Funcannon Cassville , Mo 76.00
8 8 0 Tony Johnson Lebanon , Mo 72.00
9 3 00 Michael Juergensen Lebanon , Mo 68.00

SPORTSMAN – HEAT
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 3 44 Paul Jepsen Rolla , Mo 25.00
2 4 1 Toby Harden Ozark, Mo 20.00
3 2 84 James Newell Decaturville , Mo 15.00
4 1 15 Robert Blake Lebanon , Mo 10.00
5 5 7 Aaron Douglas Lebanon , Mo 0.00

SPORTSMAN – FEATURE
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 3 44 Paul Jepsen Rolla , Mo 100.00
2 4 1 Toby Harden Ozark, Mo. 96.00
3 1 15 Robert Blake Lebanon , Mo 92.00
4 2 84 James Newell Decaturville , Mo 88.00

MODIFIED – HEAT 1
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 6 66 Terry Taylor Fair Grove, Mo 25.00
2 8 57 Tyler Scott Nixa, Mo. 20.00
3 3 10 Joe Bunkers Harrisonville , Mo 15.00
4 4 11 Mark Riddle Springfield , Mo 10.00
5 2 9 Brian Lewis Willard , Mo 8.00
6 5 19 Brian Webster Richland, Mo 6.00
7 7 27 Kevin Hunt Spring Hill, Ks 5.00
8 1 0 Christopher Kerperien Lebanon Mo

MODIFIED – HEAT 2
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 3 7 Ricky Icenhower Fair Grove, Mo 25.00
2 1 6 Richard Lewis Willard , Mo 20.00
3 4 91 David Bates Fair Grove, Mo 15.00
4 6 14 Tim Swearengin Springfield, Mo 10.00
5 2 00 Christopher Johnson Lebanon , Mo 8.00
6 5 25 Stephen Counterman Fair Grove, Mo 6.00
7 7 64 David Strode Independence , Mo 0.00 DNS

MODIFIED – FEATURE
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 6 91 David Bates Fair Grove, Mo 100.00
2 10 7 Ricky Icenhower Fair Grove, Mo 96.00
3 13 14 Tim Swearengin Springfield, Mo 92.00
4 9 57 Tyler Scott Nixa, Mo 88.00
5 8 6 Richard Lewis Willard , Mo 84.00
6 4 00 Christopher Johnson Lebanon , Mo 80.00
7 11 66 Terry Taylor Fair Grove, Mo 76.00
8 2 25 Stephen Counterman Fair Grove, Mo 72.00
9 12 27 Kevin Hunt Spring Hill, Ks 68.00
10 3 9 Brian Lewis Willard , Mo 64.00
11 5 11 Mark Riddle Springfield , Mo 60.00
12 7 10 Joe Bunkers Harrisonville , Mo 56.00
13 1 19 Brian Webster Richland, Mo 52.00
14 14 0 Christopher Kerperien Lebanon Mo 48.00

LATE MODEL – HEAT 1
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 4 35 Steve Holt Strafford , Mo 25.00
2 6 8 Jake Griffin Quincy , Il 20.00
3 5 07 Terry Limberopoulos Long Beach,, Mo 15.00
4 2 22 Austin Johnson Inola , Ok 10.00
5 3 67 Jimmy Vanzandt Fair Grove, Mo 8.00 DNF
6 1 26 Payton Lucas Fair Grove, Mo 6.00

LATE MODEL – HEAT 2
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 2 15 Jc (james) Newell Stoutland , Mo 25.00
2 4 3 Brennon Willard Sleeper , Mo 20.00
3 5 47 Kaleb Allison Mexico, Mo – 15.00
4 3 20 Austin Fullerton Chelsea , Ok 10.00
5 1 18 Jim Reaves Strafford , Mo 8.00
6 6 27 Joe Ross Kansas City, Mo 6.00

LATE MODEL – FEATURE
Finish Start Car Driver Hometown Points
1 5 8 Jake Griffin Quincy , Il 100.00
2 7 47 Kaleb Allison Mexico, Mo – 96.00
3 8 15 Jc (james) Newell Stoutland , Mo 92.00
4 3 07 Terry Limberopoulos Long Beach,, Mo 88.00
5 6 35 Steve Holt Strafford , Mo 84.00
6 9 3 Brennon Willard Sleeper , Mo 80.00
7 4 18 Jim Reaves Strafford , Mo 76.00
8 2 27 Joe Ross Kansas City, Mo 72.00
9 1 22 Austin Johnson Inola , Ok 68.00
10 10 26 Payton Lucas Fair Grove, Mo 64.00

Lebanon I-44 Speedway Release.  Photo Credit: Austin Miller Photography

Five Weeks and Five Different Winners at Lebanon I-44