WHEATLAND, Missouri (October 24, 2019) – One of the lasting memories of the 2019 season at Lucas Oil Speedway always will be the severe storm that blew into Wheatland late at night on May 20th, ripping apart the grandstands at the Off Road track and leaving damage throughout the complex.
Two of the season’s major events – the 27th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com and the 3rd annual GEICO Off Road Shootout Presented by General Tire – had to be cancelled due to the storm damage. They’ll return in 2020.
After the extensive cleanup, Lucas Oil Speedway bounced back for another strong season with plenty of on-track memories. Here’s a look back at 12 memorable races from the 2019 season:
12 – Schudy prevails in spring Open-Wheel thriller
Kory Schudy passed Korey Weyant on a restart with two laps remaining to capture the May 4th POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprint Car feature victory at the 8th annual Impact Signs Awnings & Wraps Open Wheel Showdown at Lucas Oil Speedway.
It was something of a home-track triumph for Schudy, as he pulled off the win just an hour from home in Springfield, Missouri.
“All I can say is God is good,” an excited Schudy said in victory lane. “I have to thank everybody that helps out.”
11 – Gustin returns to Late Models with a bang
Veteran Modified ace Ryan Gustin returned to Late Models for the first time in 2019 and made it a winner – even after being involved in a nine-car, first-lap feature pileup in the opener of the Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals in mid-October.
Gustin, who started 10th, took the lead just past the mid-point of the 50-lap feature. The Marshalltown, Iowa driver earned $5,000 for his first MLRA win since 2015. He outlasted runner-up Tyler Bruening, third-place Chad Simpson and MLRA points champion Will Vaught.
10 – Closest finish of season goes to Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson only led about 150 yards of the June 29th headliner of the Big Adventure RV Racing Series at Lucas Oil Speedway. That was all he needed.
Johnson, of Archie, Missouri, used a dramatic turn-four pass of Justin Johnson on the final lap to capture the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Model feature win. The two dueled side by side through most of the final five laps of the 25-lap main event before Matt Johnson finally prevailed. The margin between the top two was a scant 0.150 seconds.
9 – Action resumes after the storm
For the first time in nearly a month, following a rainout and then cleanup from the May 20 severe storm, the noise of race engines and cheering fans resumed on June 8 with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series.
Kris Jackson won a pair of Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod features, holding off Andy Bryant both in the headliner of the program and a makeup feature from a rainout from May 11. A total of 107 cars, including 52 B-Mods, checked into the pits. Other feature winners were Kaeden Cornell (Warsaw Marine & RV ULMA Late Models), Toby Ott (O’Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks) and Tyler Wolff (Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds).
8 – Davenport takes Diamond Nationals finale
The official statistics will show that Jonathan Davenport led the final 50 laps, but his drive to victory in the finale of the 13th annual CMH Diamond Nationals was anything but easy.
Davenport, of Blairsville, Georgia, held off a late challenge from veteran Mike Marlar for a nail-biting $15,000 triumph, earning his ninth victory of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season.
“We finally got some speed back in this thing,” the series points leader and reigning series champ said after his second Diamond Nationals win, going with one in 2015. His winning margin over Marlar – in his first trip to Wheatland – was three-tenths of a second.
7 – Owens savors more Wheatland success
Jimmy Owens returned to a familiar place – victory lane at Lucas Oil Speedway – as he captured Night One of the expanded CMH Diamond Nationals. It was the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series’ return to the speedway after cancellation of the Show-Me 100.
Owens, of Newport, Tennessee, earned his eighth career victory at the track in front of a big crowd. He earned $15,000 for his fourth CMH Diamond Nationals win and 63rd career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph as he finished about a straightaway ahead of runner-up Earl Pearson Jr. in the 60-lap event.
6 – Sanders drives to USMTS Show-Me Shootout triumph
In what’s become an early August tradition, the United States Modified Touring Series returned for the 10th annual USMTS Slick Mist Show-Me Shootout. Rodney Sanders took command midway through the 40-lap feature and went on to earn the $3,000 top prize.
Sanders, of Happy, Texas, held off Dereck Ramirez and Terry Phillips in a two-lap shootout after a pair of late cautions wiped out his big lead. It was the long-time series regular’s 91st career USMTS win, but his first triumph in a Modified at Lucas Oil Speedway.
5 – Fennewald makes it three straight track titles
Johnny Fennewald beat Aaron Marrant and Kaeden Cornell on the final night of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series regular season in a three-way battle for the track championship for the second straight year. That gave Fennewald his third straight Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Model track championship.
Fennewald, of Appleton City, led flag-to-flag in a caution-free feature. He finished 1.57 seconds in front of Marrant and a razor-close three points in front of him in the final standings.
4 – Stovall takes Larry Phillips Memorial over Vaught
Jesse Stovall grabbed the lead on lap 12 and held it the rest of the way to win the Labor Day-weekend 50-lap Lucas Oil MLRA Larry Phillips Memorial Presented by Rugged Radios.
Stovall held off MLRA points leader Will Vaught to earn $5,075 for capturing a race that honors the late Larry Phillips, a five-time NASCAR Short Track National Champion and former MLRA champion from Springfield.
Stovall, of Billings, finished 1.345 seconds in front of Vaught. Afterward, the two hard-driving, emotional drivers and fan favorites had some heated words for one another on the front straightaway.
“This is huge,” Stovall said of what the race win meant to him. “We’ve been trying to win it like, I don’t know, we’ve had it won two or three times and it just slipped out of our pockets.”
3 – Big Buck 50 is a big win for Peyton Taylor
In a tale of overcoming adversity, Peyton Taylor found victory at the 6th annual Big Buck 50 Presented by Whitetail Trophy Hunt at Lucas Oil Speedway. He had to change an engine on qualifying night and kept fine-tuning throughout the weekend.
It all paid off as Taylor, of Batesville, Arkansas, took the lead from David Hendrix just past the halfway point of the 50-lap feature and went on to claim the $10,000 first prize and free hunt into the Whitetail Trophy Hunt later this fall, valued at another $3,000.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks three-day event attracted 107 entries and Taylor, the veteran racer from Batesville, Arkansas, called it one of America’s biggest for the division.
2 – B-Mod Clash of Champions to Jackson
Kris Jackson dominated all season at Lucas Oil Speedway, earning the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod track championship. But his biggest win came in October when he captured the B-Mod Clash of Champions II, worth $3,000.
It was far from easy for the Lebanon driver, especially with worry about a motor that was sputtering over the final dozen laps. He also spent much of the race fighting off runs by Andy Bryant and Ryan Gillmore.
Jackson, who started fifth, made an inside pass for the lead coming to the finish of lap nine. He remained out front, as Gillmore and Bryant gave chase with the three separated by less than a second as the trio worked through slower traffic during a lengthy green-flag run.
Jackson finished ahead of Bryant, surviving a restart with six laps to go, by about six car lengths.
1 – After late tangle, Hahn takes Hockett/McMillin Memorial
Blake Hahn finished off a memorable three-night 9th annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial by winning the $10,000 Lucas Oil ASCS Winged Sprint finale.
Hahn and Dylan Westbrook made contact coming out of turn four while battling for the lead with four laps to go. As the leaders weaved through lapped traffic, they touched wheels in turn four and Westbrook wound up on his top and Hahn made a fishtailing save.
“I hate to see anybody turn upside down,” Hahn said. “I was trying to get underneath some lapped cars and got into the slop down on the bottom and just pushed up in front of him. It was my fault.”
Hahn, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, made it two wins in three nights after never visiting victory lane before at Lucas Oil Speedway.
“This is probably one of the biggest wins of my career,” Hahn said. “I’ve always wanted to win here at Lucas Oil, but I’ve also always wanted to get the Hockett Memorial. I looked up to Jesse … he was a big hero of mine and I’m very fortunate to be able to win this awesome race.”
*1A – Shockwave puts on a show to remember
It wasn’t a race, but the season finale last weekend – the O’Reilly Auto Parts Outlaws Monster Truck Show – thrilled a big crowd. The highlight was “Shockwave,” the Peterbilt with three jet engines putting out 21,000 pounds of fire and thrust.
What a way to end the season. Look for the tentative 2020 Lucas Oil Speedway schedule to be released soon.