Lebanon, Mo / April 11, 2014 - The battle for the 2014 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Monster Energy Chase for the Cup class championships are completely anyone's guess this coming season as currently only 2 of the 5 Class Champions will be back in the same class to defend their 2013 titles.
O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models-The Tier 1 division at the High Banks of the Lebanon I-44 Speedway will be wide open for the 2014 season. In 2013, it was the season of the Teenagers as Indiana Speedster Cole Williams and North Carolina 17 year old Matt Wallace took the title chase to the very final night. Williams prevailed to become the youngest ever Pro Late Model track champion at I-44 and gathered over $6,000 in earnings by capturing the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Missouri State Title along with the Lebanon I-44 Speedway Track Championship and State Rookie of the Year. For 2014, Both Williams and Wallace will be running some traveling schedules and will also be making some I-44 events.
2012 Monster Energy Sportsman Champion JC Newell of Stoutland finished his 2013 Rookie season 3rd in the final standings and captured 2 feature wins along the way, but late in the season former I-44 Rookie of the Year Austin Fullerton of Chelsea, Oklahoma came on strong. While these 18 year old Speedsters are keeping their focus on the title there will be many others in the hunt.
Veteran drivers Joe Ross of Kansas City, Jimmy Van Zandt of Springfield, Brennon Willard of Sleeper, Steve Holt of Strafford and Terry Limberopolous of Cuba will keep the features action packed. Another young driver 15 year old Kaleb Allison of Mexico, Missouri really showed some muscle late last season and has purchased a newer chassis this season. Many others are still getting things together such as Tucker Cory, Phil Harris, Jim Reaves, Mark Remboldt, Cole Rouse former I-44 Champion Mike Slone and Terry Smith as the class continues to grow in numbers and quality.
The Pro Late Model Rookie class will have some outstanding talent as Oklahoma's Austin Johnson will make the move from Sportsman to Late Models after coming on strong late last season plus the 15 year old has pitted beside the 2013 Champion Williams along with competing with Williams in Baby Grand racing developing a strong friendship. Fair Grove Modified front runner and 3 time feature winner Peyton Lucas has announced his move to the Pro Late Model class. Coming from the Winged Sprint division, Peyton has competed in Street Stock and Modified Divisions while being a front runner in all. Known as "The Kid", The Lucas family is one of the hardest working and well liked teams in the area. They have purchased a Howe Chassis that has run up front at the Speedway in the past. Josh Woody of Laquey is coming off the Dirt Modified Circuit and purchased a car from Tony Jackson Jr. Josh who competed on the Asphalt in the Street Stock Class in 2001 and 2002 is a popular figure in the area with especially the younger fans. Other new comers to the Pro Late Model class in 2014 expect to be Chad Walter from the Moberly, Missouri area, Casey Chappelle from Siloam Springs, Brian Woods from Lenexa, Kansas, Kevin & Kyle Donahue from the St. Louis area and Steve Mahannah Golden, Missouri.
Budweiser Modifieds-For the past 3 seasons, "The Nixa Nightmare" Tyler Scott has been the top gun, but off season rumors have Scott sitting out of racing this season leaving the Tier 2 Class Ground Pounders to have a new champion. Veteran Chassis builder Scotty Allen returned the Asphalt oval this season and found himself point racing, something Scotty normally doesn't do as he checks in to have some fun and win races. Scotty finished the season as the runner-up and had perfect attendance for 2013. If not for a couple of late season incidents, the title could have been his.
Regrouping this season the "Little Charlotte" area known as Fair Grove racers Davis Bates, Ricky Icenhower and Steven Counterman are stepping their programs up after very disappointing 2013 seasons by their standards. Bates and Icenhower have new Chassis in the shops and Counterman is getting back to basics for this season. Terry Taylor is expected to return again and contend for wins every week as well.
Willard's Richard Lewis is expecting to field a 3 car team this season with Richard and father Brian wheeling the single digit car numbers while the 3rd car will have a long time I-44 favorite and former 3 times Pro Late Model Track Champion in Tim Swearengin back behind the wheel of a racecar. The Springfield veteran and 2000-2002 Pro Late Model Champion has been out of racing for several seasons, but is happy to be returning to the High-Banks.
Local resident Chris Johnson is looking to rebound after a rough 2013 season. Kansas City area drivers Joe Bunkers, Lendal Alexander, Phil Harris, Robert Baltzell, Shane Roach, Roderick Icenhower and Kevin Hunt will compete as the schedules allow while Davis Strode, Chris Kerperien and Mark Riddle are planning on a full season of racing. Richland's Brian Webster has purchased David Bates 2013 car and the former Dirt Modified racer will make his rookie season on the pavement while car counts continue to rise with registered drivers.
Monster Energy Sportsman-Veteran Branson driver Randy Besser only captured 2 wins last season, but showed consistency and hard work in capturing the 2013 title in the this class. Besser plans to defend the title in 2014 as this class is showing a lot of interest with racers as it features a different look with Stock Appearing Bodies and the Outlaw Wedge Type Bodies.
2013 Sportsmanship award winner and fan favorite "The Gentle Giant" JC Newell could give Besser a strong challenge with a run for the full season. Lebanon's Aaron Douglas has been working hard on his car and plans on going after his first ever championship title. Jimmy Fohn of Lebanon has one season under his belt and finished the season strong. Class newcomer and 2012 Charger Champion Paul Jepson could turn several heads in this class and Ozark's Toby Harden plans on getting back in the driver's seat. Justin Allen will sport a sharp number 12 in the field and with his dad Scotty helping, it could be an interesting season. Jake Piel will be back this year along with a driver who has a lot of experience from years past in ben Newell. Last season's Road Warrior Champion Justin Blake will move up and contend for the title also plus several other newcomers in Larry Turner, Keith Buckley, Mike Bartig, Brian Burkes, Ronnie Hartford, Mark Bartley, Eric Caudell, Jay Shaffer, Bobby Ingram & Miles Deselms.
Hoosier Tire Road Warriors-Lebanon's Justin Blake dominated this class last season with 9 wins but in 2014 he is moving up to the Sportsman Class. This will really take the class to a competition level equal to the Pro Late Models and Modifieds. Neosho's Geoff Ledford finished runner-up in the standings and grabbed 3 feature wins and would be considered the favorite. With Les Mallard, Caston Jones, Steve Shaw, Carl Harlow, Aaron Wilke, Lebanon's Michael Juergensen, Gary Ball and 2010 champion Mike Scott returning to the class along with other possibilities such as Tony Johnson, Gary Barrows, Chris Shetler, Dusty Ball, Greg Cherry, Nick Cherry, David Jennings, Caston Jones, Riley Sharp, Alex McCubbin, Andy McCubbin, Johnny Cates, Sonny Bryan, Tim Lott and Mike Funcannon expected to compete, the most improved class last season will keep the fans guessing every night. Several new cars are also being built and registered such as Lebanon's Zack Morgan.
Coca-Cola Chargers- The exciting entry level class at I-44 saw Jimmy Poindexter take his first ever track championship and when asked if he would be back to defend it, the answer was "Well it will be hard as his son Jesse is wanting to compete also and I want him to do good as well".
Returning front runners Jason Walls of St James and Laquey' s Larry Hunter, Lebanon's Jordan Nesbitt, Rolla's Ben White, and Neosho's Lauren Buhr provide a strong foundation of competitors every week while second season drivers Amanda Anderson of Lebanon and St Robert resident Jary Hudson make the field stronger racing under the new Hoosier spec tire.
Springfield's Mark Glorfeld and Amanda's husband Ryan Anderson will look to compete on a regular basis along with other expected newcomers such as Matt Johnson, John Hunn, Adam Prine, Charles Appleby, Tony Dean and Dillon Borths add to the interest in this 4 wide side-by side class.
The Speedway will be hosting open practices on Saturday Afternoon April 12th and April 19th while the first points event will be held Saturday April 26th with a 6PM starting time.
For more information visit the website at www.i44speedway.net and be sure to visit and like the ever growing Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for updated information as drivers from Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Illinois compete each Saturday Night.