Sept. 17, 2012

by Jordan Kuehne

(LEBANON, Mo.) - With their final points race of the season washed away on a rainy September Saturday evening, four new champions have joined the ranks of ASA track titlists at Lebanon I-44 Speedway. It's time to take a look back at how each champion raced into the record books during a scintillating 2012 campaign at Missouri's only asphalt oval.

BUDWEISER MODIFIEDS: Tyler Scott (2775 points)

Tyler Scott has been anointed with the 'Nixa Nightmare' moniker at I-44 - this season, he lived up to it, haunting several of his competitors en route to his second consecutive title at the 3/8th-mile high-banked oval. The fiery driver raced out of the gates, grabbing multiple wins in the opening month of the season and building up a comfortable advantage before the midseason mark. Scott got off to a great start to the second half of the season, notching another victory, before overcoming adversity toward the latter part of the season when he temporarily lost his ride and had to pilot a dirt-modified. The Nixa native also overcame a week off for a family vacation on the way to the championship, grabbing the title by 205 markers over young Payton Lucas.

HARDEE'S SPORTSMAN: Lil' J.C. Newell (3045 points)

Lil' J.C. Newell had a major coming out party at I-44 this season, dominating the Hardee's Sportsman class on the way to a commanding final 565 point advantage over rival Robert Reeves, scoring his first title in the division in style. The 16-year-old was the only driver to reach the 3,000 point threshold (so far) at the facility and admitted that his plans revolve around reaching NASCAR within the next five years. With a season that featured multiple victory laps, a number of battles with his mentor, grandfather J.C. Newell, and the sweet taste of a title, the teenager can look back on his 2012 accomplishments with pride. For this young gun, it's just the beginning.

HOOSIER TIRE ROAD WARRIORS: Dustin Reeves (2990 points)

Nobody was hotter than Dustin Reeves over the first half of the 2012 season at I-44. The Camdenton, Mo. native rolled to nine wins in his first 11 feature events and built up a commanding 400-plus marker edge over Les Mallard. Reeves' second half was much less notable, pockmarked with rough nights of mechanical failures and relatively pedestrian - by his standards, at least - podium finishes. When the season came to a close, Reeves had done enough to collect his second straight title in the division, claiming the championship by 350 points over Mallard. With next season in his sights, Reeves hopes to move up to a higher class at I-44 and potentially race a Sportsman with his father, Robert.

COCA-COLA CHARGERS: Paul Jepson (2970 points)

Paul Jepson didn't have a tale of two halves, like many drivers on this list. Rather, Jepson had the story of his opening month - when he struggled to find consistency and was mired well behind Caston Jones in points - and the turnaround that ensued as the veteran rolled to a 170 point edge over Jones in the final standings. Jepson notched numerous wins over the June and July months, trading the points lead with Jones off the track and swapping paint with his rival on the racing surface. Ultimately, it was Jepson that prevailed, notching enough trophies to score his first championship at I-44.

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