Fair Grove has a long history in Pavement Modified racing. They added to that Saturday night as Ricky Icenhower overcame an ill-handling car and overtook leader Stephen Counterman on lap 7 before he withstood a late race charge from younger brother and fast qualifier Roderick Icenhower to capture the KZNN Night at the races Budweiser Shootout. Icenhower took his 3
rd feature win of the season in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the “High-Banks” of the Lebanon I-44 Speedway.
The start of the 50 lap event quickly saw current point leader Counterman jump to the opening lap lead with Terry Taylor following. Caution waved on lap 2 as David Strode found himself sideways in turn 4 while running 5th where a broken trailing arm ended his night. Ricky Icenhower who had started 11th on the grid was wasting no time in making a charge to the front as he had moved up to 3rd at the caution. On the restart, Counterman attempted to pull away from Taylor as Icenhower was putting on pressure. With Counterman setting a quick pace, the action in the pack was tight as drivers were trying to position themselves for the halfway fuel break. On lap 5, Ricky made the move around Taylor to grab 2nd place and set his sights on leader Counterman while 15th starting Roderick Icenhower was wheeling his way through the field to move into the top 5. On lap 7, Ricky pulled the number 7 into the lead as little brother moved into the 2nd place spot on lap 12 and a seven car battle in mid pack involved Taylor, Richard Lewis, Brian Webster, Tim Swearengin, Tyler Scott, and David Bates.
With Ricky heading the field, Roderick was closing the gap during the long green run just as caution waved for debris on lap 22. On the restart, Roderick pulled to Ricky’s quarter panel as the leader went up the track in turn 2. Ricky gathered it back up and pulled 3 cars back into the lead. The competition yellow waved on lap 25 for fuel only with Ricky, Roderick, Richard Lewis, Taylor and Swearengin running in the top 5 with 10 of the 16 starters were on the lead lap.
After the break, Ricky again saw little brother show the nose, but Ricky pulled away out of turn 2. With Ricky setting a blistering pace during the long green run and different drivers swapping spots in mid pack the final caution waved on lap 47 as Richard Lewis spun in turn 1 while running in 4th spot and was collected by Brian Webster ending both drivers nights. For the final restart, Young Icenhower who was making his 1st start in over 2 seasons again pulled up to the leader in turn 1, but older brother Ricky made the car stick coming out of turn 2 to collect the win with Roderick Icenhower, Swearengin, Counterman and Tyler Scott completing the top 5.
“The car was completely junk when we unloaded tonight. We won the last time out with it, but tonight nothing was working during practice, time trials and the heat race. I was ready to load it on the trailer, but my crew kept thrashing headed by my brother Roderick. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at it and in the opening laps of the feature I could tell we had a strong car early. I can’t thank my crew and everyone who was helping enough as this win was for them.” quoted the feature winner. “We knew this would be the toughest to win because of the talent in this class. You have several drivers who know how to conserve for the last few laps”. Runner-up Roderick Icenhower he was happy with the 2
nd place finish. “Dad told us before we left for the track that it would be great to be 1-2 tonight and how it finished wouldn’t matter. I lost some stagger on the caution before halfway. The car was great all night and that allowed us to work on Ricky’s car to make it better. I want to thank Lee McGill for letting us run his car. We took it to the shop this last week and everyone worked hard getting it ready. During the long run early I could run Ricky down. I wonder what would have happened if we stayed green all the way.” “The 50 lap feature was fun as you had to drive and set-up the car differently.” Heat races were won by Terry Taylor and David Bates.
In O’Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models action, Stoutland’s JC Newell overtook race leader Jimmy Vanzandt on lap 18 and then withstood repeated challenges from point leader Kaleb Allison to record his 2nd win of the season. Vanzandt and Peyton Lucas brought the field to the green with Vanzandt looking to turn around the bad luck of his 2014 season. Vanzandt grabbed the early lead, Lucas settled into 2nd place as the leaders paced the field early. The red flag was displayed on lap 6 as Jim Reaves collected the turn four wall along with Kevin Donahue ending both driver’s nights. Van Zandt again jumped to the lead as NASCAR Missouri State Rookie contender Austin Johnson moved into 2nd place on lap 7 with leading Rookie Contender Kyle Donahue following. JC Newell had started in 10th but was quietly moving up the leader board and on lap 11 moved into 3rd place. On lap 13, Newell moved around Johnson and set his sights on the leader as Lebanon I-44 Speedway point leader Kaleb Allison followed as well. As Van Zandt was hitting stride, Newell closed the gap on lap 16 and began to apply pressure. On lap 18, Newell made the move to the front with Allison following. For the last 12 laps, Allison tried several times to make a pass for the lead, but Newell was stronger coming off the corners. As the white flag flew, Allison looked down low through turns three and four, but Newell kept the middle lane strong and came off the corner to take his 2nd win of the season with Allison, early leader Van Zandt, Johnson and Kyle Donahue completing the top 5. “I knew we had to be smooth as Kaleb is really quick in the corners. The crew worked hard all last week in getting the car ready for tonight and we think we might have found something that helped it.” Newell quoted in the winner’s circle. ” We had a couple of bad races early this season putting us behind the pack, but we think we can rebound for this 10 week stretch, but we have to be consistent as Allison is always there at the end.” Lucas and Allison captured the heat race wins.
The Coca-Cola Chargers had a rough going Saturday night as it took 3 times to complete the opening lap with tight racing finding everyone fighting for spots before the capacity crowd. The field took the green with 3 wide racing early but the red flew as Amanda Anderson got air born in turn 3 before landing at the wall area. Amanda was able to walk away from the damage. On the 2nd restart, front runners Larry Hunter and Japheth Nesbitt found the turn 4 wall causing severe damage and ending both nights early. The 3rd restart saw Rolla’s John Hunn take the early lead with point leader Ben White following. Hunn was looking for his 1st while setting a quick pace with White and defending champion Jimmy Poindexter in the shadows. The lead trio kept the crowd’s attention as Hunn was fending off the challenges of White and Poindexter both. On lap 10 of the 12 lap feature, White made the winning pass out of turn 4 and withstood a late surge from Hunn to take his 2nd straight win of the season with Hunn, Poindexter, Lauren Buhr and Jordan Nesbitt completing the top 5. Jason Walls and Buhr took the heat race wins.
Current Monster Energy Sportsman point leader Paul Jepsen overtook leader Toby Harden on lap 12 and held off a late race surge from Justin Blake to capture his 6
th feature win of the season. The race featured 4 different leaders as veteran JC Newell grabbed the opening lead from Jake Piel to set the pace for the opening 6 laps while Justin Blake, Piel, Harden and Jepsen were swapping spots every lap. On lap 7 Newell went high in turn 4 as Blake shot to the lead. Caution waved as Newell slowed in turn 1. On the restart, Harden shot to the top side and took over the lead on lap 8 with Jepsen close in chase. This side by side battle continued until lap 12 when Jepsen shot to the low side in turn 3. On lap 15, Blake moved back into 2nd place and slowly began to close the gap. As the white flew on lap 19, Blake closed the lead down to 2 car lengths but ran out of time as Jepsen grabbed the win with Blake, Harden, Piel, and Newell completing the action packed top 5.
Keyser Manufacturing Road Warrior point leader Carl Harlow moved around leader Rick Sharp on lap 12 and then held off Sharp’s late rally to grab his 5th win of the season. David Jennings grabbed the opening lap lead with Tony Johnson putting on pressure. On lap 2, Johnson moved to the lead as team mates Rick Sharp and point’s runner-up Les Mallard quickly followed. Johnson would set the pace until lap 5 when Sharp made the pass as Mallard was following along with Michael Juergensen and Harlow who started 12th tonight. With Sharp leading, Harlow moved around Mallard for 2nd place on lap 9 and began to run down the leader. After some close quarter racing, Harlow was finally able to get around Sharp to secure the win while Sharp, Mallard, Juergensen and early leader Johnson completing the top 5.
Racing continues Saturday July 26th for Whelen Engineering Night at the Races with all 5 classes in the Monster Energy Championship Chase competing along with the Baby Grands. Gates will open at 5pm with hot laps already on the track and racing is to start at 7pm.
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– I-44 Speedway Release. Photo Credit: I-44 Speedway