Former Lebanon I-44 Speedway and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville track champion Cole Williams won his first race of the 2019 season Saturday night in the caution-free Roper Classic 110-lap feature at Lebanon I-44 in Missouri. The win was special for the Borden, Indiana driver as it was his first win since the passing of his grandfather in May.
The win came at the track where he first made a name for himself as a 17-year-old when he won the Lebanon I-44 Speedway track championship in 2013. Coincidentally, his car number matched the year of what would’ve been his grandparents’ anniversary.
“It was definitely an emotional weekend,” Williams told Speed51.com. “I actually didn’t know until going into the weekend that it was my grandparents’ 46th anniversary, so that was kind of a coincidence. The 46th anniversary and I run the number 46 and the number means so much to us.”
Saturday night’s win moved Williams into a tie for second in the Ozark Pro Late Model points standings with two races left for the class, just twenty-four points out of the lead. With racing a different car for the longest race of the year at the Missouri track, he couldn’t have asked for a better day at the track.
“Going into the weekend, we just wanted to have a solid race car and we’ve been working really hard,” he said about Saturday night’s race. “We ran a different car than we usually do there and getting this car set up perfect for this place, especially with it being the longest race for the year. It means a lot, especially having a really good race car, it was a really smooth weekend for us overall.”
After climbing out of the car in victory lane, Williams stood on his NO. 46 machine and pointed toward the sky. What has become his signature move throughout his career had an extra special meaning on Saturday night.
“It’s always been my signature thing,” he stated. “I always point to the sky to give all the glory to the Lord. Without God, none of this will be possible and I’ve been blessed with a lot of achievements in my racing career. That’s always the first thing I do when I get out of the car and win, I always thank the good man above. That’s the reason I do that and of course pointing up there just to remember my grandpa is a cool deal.”
His passion for the sport of auto racing was fueled by his grandfather while growing up. As he looked back on his triumph Saturday night, something his grandfather told him just before his passing stood out in his head, and it made his win all the more special.
“The last time I got to see him before he passed away he said, ‘Don’t let this change your passion for racing and make sure you go out there and kick everyone’s butt as much as you can.’ I know how passionate he was for racing,” he said. “He was one of the reasons I became so passionate for racing. To do that and go out there and win was just awesome.”
Williams will head to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville next to start his chase for a third championship at the historic 5/8ths mile oval. With the first win of 2019 out of the way, the Indiana driver is set to chase after two championships in his grandfather’s honor.
“The next race is on June 22 at Nashville Fairgrounds, which is basically our first race there for the season,” he said. “We’re running a whole new package from what we usually run there. The plan is to run for the championship but we ended up missing the first one because of Mother’s Day and my grandpa’s passing but they’re supposed to be giving one drop out for the season. We’ll be ready for it and we’ll go back and forth between Nashville and I-44.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Lebanon I-44 Speedway