For Chelsea, Oklahoma youngster Austin "Grasshopper" Fullerton 2013 was a breakout season with 2 late season event wins in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models. On Saturday night Fullerton kept the momentum up as he showed a lot of patience after a race long battle with leader Brennon Willard and made the winning pass with only 10 laps left in the 30 lap feature. Austin took his first win of the 2014 Monster Energy Cup Championship Chase at the "High-Banks" of the Lebanon I-44 Speedway in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action.
The O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Model feature had Blake Sanford of St. Charles jumping to the opening lead with Brennon Willard and Kevin Donahue following. Caution flew on lap 4 as Donahue went around going into turn 1 bunching the field even tighter. On the restart, Willard shot around Sanford to take the lead with Fullerton following quickly. The top 3 placed a little distance from the tight action behind them including Jim Reaves, Steve Holt, Terry Limberopolous and 5 others. As the long green flag run saw Willard picking up the pace up front Fullerton stayed glued to the leader. The 2nd and final caution waved on lap 11 as Sanford went around in turn 2, again bunching the field-up. Willard would quickly pull ahead by 3 car lengths, but Fullerton would close the gap. The race for third was even tighter as Reeves, Holt, points runner-up 14 year old Kyle Donahue, rookie Austin Johnson and point leader Kaleb Allison were swapping spots. During the long green flag run, Fullerton would look inside of Willard several times in turn 2, but Willard would carry the speed on the banking and could pull away. Fullerton kept applying the pressure and on lap 20 would make the winning pass. The pack began to close quickly on runner-up Willard as his car seemed to be getting tighter the longer the race went. Up front, Fullerton then began to place some distance and cruised to his 1st win of the season. The battle for second kept everyone guessing as the younger Donahue made a last lap pass to gather home the runner-up spot while Willard, point leader Allison and Steve Holt completed the top 5 in a very tight pack with side by side racing.
"Our car was really good on the long runs and I could see Brennon's car was having a little problems coming off the corners the longer we ran. My spotter told me be patient and keep the pressure on. While it looked like turn 2 was the place, it was entering turn 3 that really won us the race. We got a long season ahead of us and this season the field is very close together. Each night is going to be tough so savor each win." Qualifying heat wins went to Jimmy Van Zandt and Kaleb Allison with plenty of action in each.
The Budweiser Modifieds rolled out and showed the crowd how you go 25 laps Green, White, and Checkered. For former 3-time I-44 Late Model Champion Tim Swearengin it had been over 10 years since he made a start after last week's wreck in the heat delayed his first feature run. Current point leader Terry Taylor quickly jumped out to the opening lead over pole sitter Joe Bunkers while Swearengin shot from his 6th starting spot to grab second as Stephen Counterman followed quickly. With Taylor keeping glued to the bottom of the Speedway, Swearengin was playing it cool keeping a few car lengths back with Counterman following as all eyes were on the battle between opening night winner David Bates and former NASCAR Regional Champion Ricky Icenhower making his first start of the season in his new car.
Up front with Taylor setting a quick pace, Swearengin began to reel the leader in while Counterman was keeping them in his sight. It wasn't until lap 12 that Swearengin after several attempts down low found the high lane to move around Taylor and take the lead. On lap 14, Swearengin had pulled away to a 5 car length advantage while Icenhower was closing in on the cars ahead of him. By lap 16, the Iceman disposed of Counterman and set his sights on Taylor with Swearengin still up front. With 5 to go, Icenhower moved around Taylor and began to close the distance on himself and leader Swearengin. As the white flag flew, Swearengin's lead was down to 4 car lengths as Icenhower was coming fast. The final 3/8ths of a mile Swearegin found some extra push and opened up some distance and grabbed his first win in over 10 years. Icenhower, Early leader Taylor, Counterman and last week's winner Bates completed the top 5.
"This is great and I've got a lot of people to thank" quoted Swearengin. The fans have been great and the Lewis family is fielding 3 cars this season for the Modifieds. We secured Shane Fessler Engines in St. Louis for the motor and it really ran well. This was well worth the wait." "If we would have had a yellow, the outcome might have been different as the crew told me Ricky was coming fast. When he moved into second I picked-up my pace just a tick more, but who knows what would have happened because this class is tough. "A lot of Championships, a lot of wins and good hard racing throughout this entire class" said Swearengin. The heat race wins went to Counterman and Icenhower.
For the Coca-Cola Chargers week in and week out they are becoming a crowd favorite with 3 wide racing at the start and all feature long. This week Ben White grabbed the opening lead from his 4th place starting spot with rookie Japheth Nisbett and Adam Prine following. On lap 2, the current point leader in Jordan Nisbett, moved from 7th to second place while the pack behind was swapping spots back and forth. The only caution flew on lap 3 as Larry Hunter, Lauren Buhr and Japheth Nisbett went 3 wide going into turn 3. Only Hunter came out without spinning around closing the field together tight. On the restart, point leader Jordan Nisbett made a smooth move around White to take the race lead as Hunter was putting pressure on White for second and late arriving rookie John Hunn was in the hunt. Out front Nesbitt wasted no time in stretching the top spot leaving a great battle for second place. White had his hand full as last week's winner Jason Walls made a late race pass to secure the runner-up spot with White, Hunter and Hunn completing the top 5. The qualifying heat win went to 18 year old Lauren Buhr who passed-up Prom to compete this evening.
For the Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors, a very spirited 3 car battle up front saw Mike Funcannon jump to the opening lead with points leader Carl Harlow and Les Mallard close behind. These 3 cars kept all eyes up front as Funcannon was trying to get that first ever feature win. On lap 10 of the 15 lap feature, Harlow was able to make a low groove pass in turn 2 and then hold off a 2 lap surge from both Funcannon and Mallard in taking his first win of the season while Nick Cherry and Gary Ball completed the top 5. A broken hub forced opening night winner Geoff Ledford out of action during the heat race and front runner Riley Sharp lost a motor in the last lap of his heat. Harlow won the heat race by nipping Mallard at the line.
The Monster Energy Sportsman feature saw the only repeat winner from opening night as Paul Jepsen took the lead from leader Jake Piel on lap 3 and never looked back in the 20 lap feature event. While Jepson was long gone, the battle between Piel, point leader Toby Harden and JC Newell was tight. Harden was finally able to get around Piel on lap 6 to secure second place money and points while the young Piel and veteran Newell went side by side the entire distance with Piel securing third place spot with Newell following. Jepsen made it a clean sweep as he pulled off a last lap pass in the heat race.
Action continues Saturday Night May 10th with RoadTech Military Appreciation Night as NASCAR driver and TV personality Kenny Wallace will be on hand to compete with the O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models. All active and retired Military and their families with Photo ID will be admitted in the Grandstand Free. Action will feature round 3 of the Monster Energy Chase for the Championship Cup with O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models, Budweiser Modifieds, Monster Energy Sportsman, Coca-Cola Chargers and the Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors with gates opening at 5 and racing action at 6:30.
Coca-Cola Chargers - Heat
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1111 Lauren Buhr Neosho, Mo. 2210 Jason Walls St. James, Mo 335 Jimmy Poindexter Willard , Mo 4895 Jordan Nisbett Lebanon , Mo 5774 Larry Hunter Laquey , Mo 6551 Japheth Nisbett Rolla, Mo. 71044 Benjamin White Rolla , Mo 8640 Mark Glorfeld Springfield , Mo 9428 Adam Prine Springfield, Mo 1097 Amanda Anderson Lebanon , Mo
Coca-Cola Chargers - Feature
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1795 Jordan Nisbett Lebanon , Mo 21010 Jason Walls St. James, Mo 3444 Benjamin White Rolla , Mo 4674 Larry Hunter Laquey , Mo 51115 John Hunn Rolla , Mo 685 Jimmy Poindexter Willard , Mo 7911 Lauren Buhr Neosho, Mo. 8551 Japheth Nisbett Rolla, Mo. 9340 Mark Glorfeld Springfield , Mo 10228 Adam Prine Springfield, Mo. 1117 Amanda Anderson Lebanon , Mo
Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors - Heat
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 117 Carl Harlow Exeter , Mo 2621 Leslie Mallard Fair Grove, Mo 3299 Riley Sharp Fair Grove, Mo 4838 Mike Funcannon Cassville , Mo 5327 Nick Cherry Springfield, Mo- 640 Anthony Johnson Lebanon , Mo 7700 Michael Juergensen Lebanon , Mo 8545 Geoffrey Ledford Neosho , Mo 9935 Gary Ball Lebanon , Mo
Keyser Manufacturing Road Warriors - Feature
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 157 Carl Harlow Exeter , Mo 2338 Mike Funcannon Cassville , Mo 3421 Leslie Mallard Fair Grove, Mo 4227 Nick Cherry Springfield, Mo. 5635 Gary Ball Lebanon , Mo 610 Anthony Johnson Lebanon , Mo 7700 Michael Juergensen Lebanon , Mo DNF 8845 Geoffrey Ledford Neosho , Mo DNS 9999 Riley Sharp Fair Grove, Mo DNS
Monster Energy Sportsman - Heat
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1544 Paul Jepsen Rolla , Mo 221 Toby Harden Ozark, Mo. 3376 Jake Piel Webster Grove, Mo. 4484 James Newell Decaturville , Mo 5616 Daron Fuqua Mayetta, Kansas 6115 Justin Blake Lebanon , Mo
Monster Energy Sportsman - Feature
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1544 Paul Jepsen Rolla , Mo 241 Toby Harden Ozark, Mo. 3376 Jake Piel Webster Grove, Mo. 4284 James Newell Decaturville , Mo 5116 Daron Fuqua Mayetta, Kansas 6748 Jimmy (james) Fohn Eldridge , Mo DNF 7615 Justin Blake Lebanon , Mo DNS
Budweiser Modifieds - Heat 1
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1225 Stephen Counterman Fair Grove, Mo 2614 Tim Swearengin Springfield, Mo. 3591 David Bates Fair Grove, Mo 4111 Mark Riddle Springfield , Mo 5366 Terry Taylor Fair Grove, Mo 649 Brian Lewis Willard , Mo
Budweiser Modifieds - Heat 2
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 127 Ricky Icenhower Fair Grove, Mo 2500 Christopher Johnson Lebanon , Mo 3619 Brian Webster Richland, Mo. 440 Christopher Kerperien Fort Leonard Wood, Mo 5110 Joe Bunkers Harrisonville , Mo 636 Richard Lewis Willard , Mo DNF
Budweiser Modifieds - Feature
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1614 Tim Swearengin Springfield, Mo. 297 Ricky Icenhower Fair Grove, Mo 3266 Terry Taylor Fair Grove, Mo 4825 Stephen Counterman Fair Grove, Mo 51091 David Bates Fair Grove, Mo 6126 Richard Lewis Willard , Mo 7519 Brian Webster Richland, Mo. 8700 Christopher Johnson Lebanon , Mo 9411 Mark Riddle Springfield , Mo 1030 Christopher Kerperien Flint, Mi, Mo 11110 Joe Bunkers Harrisonville , Mo
12 12 9 Brian Lewis Willard, Mo DNS
O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models - Heat 1
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1167 Jimmy Vanzandt Fair Grove, Mo 222 Kyle Donahue Wildwood , Mo 3322 Austin Johnson Inola , Ok 4520 Austin Fullerton Chelsea , Ok 573 Brennon Willard Sleeper , Mo 6417 Josh Woody Waynesville , Mo 7607 Terry Limberopoulos Cuba, Mo 8815 Jc (james) Newell Stoutland , Mo
O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models - Heat 2
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1547 Kaleb Allison Mexico, Mo. 2318 Jim Reaves Strafford , Mo 3735 Steve Holt Strafford , Mo 467 Kevin Donahue Wildwood , Mo 545 Blake Sanford St Charles, Mo. 6123 Chad Walter Clarence , Mo 7266 Brian Woods Leawood , Ks DNS
O'Reilly Auto Parts Pro Late Models - Feature
FinishStartCarDriverHometown 1520 Austin Fullerton Chelsea , Ok 292 Kyle Donahue Wildwood , Mo 333 Brennon Willard Sleeper , Mo 41347 Kaleb Allison Mexico, Mo. 5835 Steve Holt Strafford , Mo 61018 Jim Reaves Strafford , Mo 7722 Austin Johnson Inola , Ok 81167 Jimmy Vanzandt Fair Grove, Mo 967 Kevin Donahue Wildwood , Mo 101207 Terry Limberopoulos Cuba, Mo 1145 Blake Sanford St. Charles, Mo. 12117 Josh Woody Waynesville , Mo 13223 Chad Walter Clarence , Mo 141415 Jc (james) Newell Stoutland , Mo DNF 151566 Brian Woods Leawood , Ks DNF