With the 2nd Annual Mercy Masters of the Pro's 144 approaching quickly, top Pro Late Model drivers from all around the country continue to file entries in the $8,000 to win 144 lap feature on Saturday May 17th. The latest entries filed will put the expected entry list to 35 plus trying to make the 28 car field.
Garrett Jones-North Carolina-Carrying the number 88 for this 14 year old charger, Garrett captured the 2013 5 Flags Speedway Pro Late Model Championship along with being named the UARA Rookie Of The Year. A regular at 5 Flags, Mobile and the North Carolina area, Garrett will make his 1st venture to Missouri and comes fresh off a feature win last Saturday in the Pro Late feature at 5 Flags having to come from the back of the tough weekly field.
Kaleb Allison-Mexico, Mo.-Entering his 2nd season of Pro Late Model Racing, 15 year old Kaleb won the opening night feature at the Lebanon I-44 Speedway and is the current track point leader while being listed as 2nd in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Missouri State Championship chase. Allison has showed great patience so far this season in saving his car for the latter parts of the feature. Last season it took a 14.70 lap to make the top 20 and Kaleb has consistently been turning those laps in practice and race set-ups. A Pathfinder Chassis this season along with a season under his belt has the little guy with a big right foot becoming a crowd favorite.
Josh Nelms-Lockport, ILL.-Coming from the tough Chicago Land Wars of Stock Car Racing, Nelms qualified last season for the Mercy in 13th and finished 9th on the lead lap. His season started rough in Springport, Michigan by timing in 16th fastest, but climbed up the ladder to salvage a 5th place finish. Always a threat to be in the winner's circle, Nelms could be considered a favorite for the 2014 CRA/JEGS Championship and could be considered the next Chicago Land Zero Hero for the number carried on his car.
Matt Wallace-Concord, N.C.-The 2012 and 2013 Points runner-up at the Lebanon I-44 Speedway and a five time feature winner last season, Matt will be making his 1st start of 2014. Last season Matt won a last chance race and was climbing up the ladder when the Ignition went bad resulting in a 16th place finish. Wallace, the son of Nationwide regular Mike Wallace purchased the car that he drove for the past 2 seasons and is running a selective schedule this season. Known for being around at the end of the race and easy on equipment, Wallace could make this homecoming event a big payday for the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Missouri State runner-up.
TJ Reaid-Ga.- One of the Hot Shoes in Super Late Model Racing in the Southeast, Reaid and his familiar number 41 is looking to get the Green Jacket and keep the Trophy in Georgia as Chase Elliott took the honors last season. Reaid was 3rd in a PLM feature last weekend at Gresham, he had the honor of being a wheelman for Kyle Busch Racing in the CRA/ARCA Super Series and already has captured a win at Anderson. Reaid was a driver for Bill Elliott Racing in 2012, but returned home to the family operation later despite many top finishes in Super Late Model Events.
Jake Griffin-Quincy, ILL.-A former regular on the CRA/JEGS tour, Griffin is the youngest driver to ever win a Pro Late Model feature at the "High-Banks" of Lebanon I-44 Speedway. This season young Jake will be in a different number than his familiar 08. Driving this weekend for former CRA/JEGS Champion Daniel Hemric, Jake will be behind the wheel of the 54 Jack Links Machine.
Dave Gentile, Jr.- Joliet, ILL.-Qualifying 4th fastest last season and finishing 5th, Dave is looking forward to a return trip to I-44 Speedway in his number 6. A front runner at the tough Grundy County Speedway on the 1/3rd mile, Dave always brings his A game against tough competition. He was the US Pro Champion in 2008 and won the famous Appleton Memorial in 2011.
Joe Ross-Kansas City, Mo.-Joe is a veteran of the Asphalt wars and is taking small steps in 2014. A damaged trailer on his way home from Nashville earlier this season has placed him behind schedule, but last Saturday night at I-44, they found something in the car and placed in the top 5 in a very tough NASCAR Whelen All American Series event. Joe knows how to get around I-44 and his team are some of the hardest working crew members around. Joe wants to be able to make the top 20 in qualifying and then get ready for 144 laps of action in his number 27 Toyota Bodied Left-Hander.
Derrick Griffin-Indiana-A last minute entry from Scott Neal Racing, Derrick was the 2011 CRA/ARCA Super Series Champion and Rookie of the Year. He will be in a team car to Rookie Contender Dakota Armstrong. A driver who knows how to get around the tracks, Griffin could be the dark horse in a field of top talent.
Tony Jackson Jr.-Lebanon, Mo.- Jackson, the 2013 Dirt MARS and Lucas Oil MLRA Champion made history by winning both Series titles in the same year. The 2001 I-44 Sportsman Point Champion and 2002 Rookie of the Year In Pro Late Models. He won the "High-Banks" 100 which ended the 2012 I-44 season, was not happy with his performance at the Mercy last season. While keeping on top of his Dirt Late Model Cars, Jackson and team were getting the Asphalt car ready, but motor problems hampered him all weekend last year. Jackson has this race in his backyard marked on the calendar to make a strong return to asphalt.
Many of the I-44 regulars are playing the waiting game so it will be exciting to see who shows up Friday afternoon to get some laps with some of the best in the country.
The Speedway will hold a special Friday evening practice session on May 16th with the track being hot from 4-8PM.
Grandstand, Party Deck and Tier Parking Gates will open Saturday May 17th at 2PM with Boyne Machine Qualifying set for 5PM. A Special Autograph Session for the JEGS/CRA ALL-STARS will get underway approx. at 5:45 with NASCAR's Jeff Burton the Grand Marshall to be on hand along with 2-Time Daytona 500 Winner Sterling Marlin. Racing action starts at 6:30 PM. Action will also feature the NASCAR Budweiser Modifieds and Coca-Cola Chargers competing for track point honors.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Health care in Lebanon, Missouri and surrounding communities has always been built upon a cornerstone of serving the needs of the area residents. The Mercy Health Foundation Lebanon continues this same commitment of providing for the medical needs of the community members. Mercy Health Foundation Lebanon is led by a volunteer board of community leaders and served by an active group of committee volunteers. Since 2004, the Foundation has continued to grow because of a need for more medical services and the generous spirit of the people of this community. For more information visit www.mercy.net
Champion Racing Association (CRA) sanctions four different nationally and regionally recognized short track racing tours. Founded in 1997, CRA tours include the ARCA/CRA Super Series for Super Late Models, the JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour presented by Chevrolet Performance for Pro Late Models, the Top Speed Fabrication/CRA Late Model Sportsman, and Stealth Trailers/CRA Street Stocks. For more information on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour or CRA Racing, visit their site at www.cra-racing.com. Fans and teams can find even more news and discussion on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CRARacing or on Twitter at @CRARACING.
For more information visit WWW.I44Speedway.Net or WWW.CRA-RACING.COM . Additional information can be found at WWW.SPEED51.COM