Kyle Donahue showed why he is the current NASCAR Whelen All American Series Missouri State Rookie leader as the 14 year old took command from leader Jimmy Vanzandt on lap 16 Saturday night. This was Donahue’s first O’Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Model feature victory and happened on Whelen Engineering Night at the “High-Banks” of the Lebanon I-44 Speedway. Donahue is now the 7th different winner in 9 features during the 2014 season.
For the 2nd straight week, Jimmy Vanzandt grabbed the opening lead with Leawood, Kansas driver Brian Woods following closely along with Steve Holt, Payton Lucas and Donahue. By lap 3, Vanzandt had powered ahead of the pack as Woods and Holt were swapping the runner-up spot. With fast paced action in the pack, Holt moved into the 2nd place spot on lap 4 as young Donahue followed while they gave chase to the leader. The field would bunch-up as the yellow waved on lap 8 when rookie Austin Johnson broke a drive plate in the rear end and spun off turn 4.
On the restart, Donahue made a power move around Holt to only find it voided as Terry Limberopoulos was involved in a spin in turn 2 bringing all other competitors back to their previous lap positions. As the green waved again, Holt made a move on the leader Vanzandt but Jimmy fended off the surge. Again Vanzandt was setting a quick pace as point’s runner-up JC Newell and current point leader Kaleb Allison were trying to move up the leader board. On Circuit 13, Donahue made a move even with Holt as the duo went side by side with Donahue grabbing the 2nd place spot. At the 15 lap mark, Donahue had caught Vanzandt and put on the pressure with Holt quickly following as Jimmy went high and they both went to the low side of the race leader. Holt would put several attempts on the new race leader, but Donahue was able to hold off the veteran driver. As the lead duo pulled away, Vanzandt found both Newell and Allison putting on heavy pressure while Joe Ross and Payton Lucas were also in the pack for positions. On lap 19, Allison was able to use Vanzandt as a pick as he pulled even with Newell and then shot by both drivers to capture 3rd place spot while up front, Donahue was opening up another 4 car lengths lead on Holt. As the feature stayed green, Allison started to reel in Holt in the race for 2nd place while Newell, Ross, Brennon Willard, Vanzandt and Lucas were in a tight pack for 4th and back. Up Front it was all Donahue tonight as he crossed the stripe with his 1st ever Pro Late Model win while Allison gave chase to Holt, but Holt secured the runner-up spot followed by Allison, Newell and Ross.
“My dad had the car set-up great for long runs and tonight it played out for us. My brother’s car is close to being ready after the wreck last week so tonight he was on the radio with me and helping me to set-up the passes. The competition is very tough and both Steve and Jimmy gave me a lane to race with. We have been struggling lately, but tonight the car was like it was early in the season making it easy to drive.” Heat race wins were claimed by Vanzandt and Newell
Current Budweiser Modified point leader Stephen Counterman took the lead from Joe Bunkers on lap 4 and then had to fend several challenges from Tim Swearengin during the race in grabbing his 2nd feature win of the season. The feature event went caution free as Joe Bunkers jumped out to the opening lead with Chris Johnson and Brian Lewis in tow. Bunkers staying on the top side would find a 3 wide battle early behind him as Counterman, Swearengin and Richard Lewis took the race 3 wide for 3rd place for 2 straight laps. Counterman would power ahead of that tight pack and quickly closed in on Bunkers. Out in front Swearengin who is the former 3-time Late Model champion at I-44, kept the leader well within his sight as it was bumper to bumper action. While the lead duo were mixing it up, The Icenhower brothers Roderick and Ricky moved into the top 4 by lap 7 and began to close the gap. With fast paced lap’s ticking off, Ricky made a pass by younger brother Roderick on lap 18 after starting 11th in tonight’s feature event. On lap 20, Counterman was able to open-up a three car advantage over Swearengin as the 14 car was beginning to show some smoke while Icenhower had closed-up the distance and was trying to take 2nd place. Counterman used this to his advantage and pulled away a few more car lengths to secure his 2nd win of the season while Swearengin withstood the challenges of Icenhower to hold on to 2nd with Ricky Icenhower, Roderick Icenhower and Chris Johnson following. Counterman and Ricky Icenhower grabbed the heat race wins.
Monster Energy point leader Paul Jepsen grabbed his 7th feature win of the season after a race long duel with Justin Blake. Blake jumped out to the early command with Jepsen and JC Newell wheel to wheel. Blake was setting a quick pace early as the 2013 Road Warrior Champion was looking for his 1st win of the season. On lap 8, Jepsen pulled even with Blake as the duo were side by side until lap 12 when Jepsen would make the winning pass. Blake started to close-up some ground on lap 15, but scrapped the backstretch wall slowing his forward momentum. JC Newell would finish in 3rd spot. Jepsen took home the heat race win.
For former Pro Late Model driver Crispin Beaver, the Keyser Manufacturing Road Warrior feature, would be the 1st time in over 3 seasons he was behind the wheel of a race car in feature action. Beaver drove his cousin Geoff Ledford’s number 45 and became the 4th different feature winner this season. Beaver took the lead on the start and withstood several charges by point leader Carl Harlow in grabbing the win. The race started and then went yellow quickly as points runner-up Les Mallard spun in turn 1 with Michael Juergensen making contact sending Mallard to the pits for repairs. On the restart, Tony Johnson jumped to the opening lead with Beaver and Rick Sharp in tow. Beaver wasted no time in leading the 1st circuit as point leader Harlow was quietly moving up in the field. With Beaver setting a smooth pace, Harlow started to close the gap at the halfway point and was making it a tough race. Mallard was charging through the field and had caught teammate Rick Sharp for 3rd place by lap 8 while Tony Johnson was in the middle of the pack racing his way through. With 3 laps to go, Harlow tried the high line several times but Beaver was holding his own with the points leader. With 1 lap to go, Harlow was looking for the low groove move in turn one, but Beaver never bobbled and held him off for the win with Harlow, Sharp, Mallard and Johnson completing the top 5. Les Mallard captured the heat race win.
Defending Coca-Cola Charger Champion Jimmy Poindexter took his 2nd win of the season by overtaking leader Jason Walls on lap 2 and never looked back in the caution free event. Walls jumped to the opening lead from his outside front row starting spot as Poindexter followed. With Walls running the high groove, Poindexter kept the hammer down in the middle lane to make the pass as Jordan Nisbett and Lauren Buhr closed-in on Walls. Poindexter was never to be touched leaving the race for 2nd place. On lap 5, Buhr pulled even with Walls and the race was on. By lap 7, Buhr made the pass to secure the runner-up spot as Walls was holding a solid 3rd. Crossing the stripe at the finish was Poindexter, Buhr, Walls, Jordan Nisbett and John Hunn. Current point leader and last week’s winner Ben White suffered problems in the heat race and was a scratch for the feature leaving an extremely tight points battle with only eight weeks remaining in the season. Poindexter took home the heat race win.
Mark Bartley overtook Texas driver Eddy Legan on lap 4 and then had to withstand a late race caution. Legan’s late race surge in the Baby Grand/Legend Car Challenge led to great racing with David Jennings finishing in third and Steven Legan in fourth.
Action continues Saturday Night with YMCA Night at the races along with a kids ride along were kids 10 and under get to receive a lap in an actual racecar at intermission. Everybody through the gates gets a free 7 day pass to their local YMCA to experience the entire family friendly environment. Action features the O’Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models, Budweiser Modifieds, Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors, Monster Energy Sportsman and Coca-Cola Chargers competing in the Monster Energy Championship Chase and NASCAR Whelen All-American Track points with gates to open at 5 and racing at 7PM sharp.
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