Russell grabs ULMA Late Model headliner as Morton, Fuqua, Hendrix also win at Lucas Oil Speedway “Thursday Thunder”
WHEATLAND, Missouri – Jason Russell led the final 21 laps, but needed a flawless restart with two laps remaining to earn the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Model feature victory in the headliner of “Thursday Night Thunder” at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Russell, of Eugene, Mo., earned $1,000 courtesy of Rains Ice as he fought off Johnny Fennewald and Midseason Champion Aaron Marrant for his first victory of the season.
Other feature winners in the program Presented by KY3 and Casey’s included JC Morton (Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods), Darron Fuqua (Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds) and David Hendrix (Big O Tires Street Stocks).
Another highlight of the evening was the annual Kids’ Night with 104 bicycles awarded, during intermission, to members of the Frog’s Signs Junior Fan Club. The bikes were donated by drivers, sponsors, fans and area businesses.
Russell made the most of a rare appearance at Lucas Oil Speedway as 31 Late Models checked into the pits for the special Thursday program to celebrate the July 4th holiday.
“I love coming down here,” Russell said. “You’re going to race against the best in every class when you come down here. It’s good to come out on top.”
Fennewald got the jump from his pole-position starting spot and led the first four laps before surrendering the point to Russell coming out of turn four to complete lap five.
Meanwhile, sixth-starting Marrant was gradually working his way through the field and got past Fennewald and into second by lap 16.
As Marrant and Fennewald dueled behind him, Russell was able to open up about a 10-car-length lead. Marrant finally was able to shed Fennewald and mount a charge, pulling onto Russell’s back bumper with three laps to go.
On lap 23, Marrant slid past Russell and into the lead in turn two, but Russell returned the favor coming out of turn four and regained the lead coming to the start-finish line. A caution then waved before the white flag flew, setting up a two-lap shootout between the leaders with Fennewald and Kaeden Cornell right behind.
Russell got a great restart and went on to earn the victory with Marrant slipping back to fourth on the final lap. Fennewald beat Cornell to the line for second.
“Marrant and Johnny and those guys are real good drivers and top competition,” Russell said. “I just have to thank my guys for (working) hot nights through the week. We wouldn’t be sitting in victory lane without them.”
After the leaders took the checkers, a wild, multi-car crash occurred on the front stretch. Cole Henson wound up on his roof near the flag stand, but neither he nor any other drivers were injured.
Morton scores first in B Mods: JC Morton of Springfield moved into the points leads the last outing at Lucas Oil Speedway and he earned his first feature victory of the season Thursday night.
Morton took over the lead when front-running Kris Jackson spun out with a big lead, eight laps from the finish.
“There early Jackson got out into the lead and had a straightaway on us. I was just trying to maintain and hope for a yellow,” Morton said.
Jackson started on the pole and drove to a straightaway-margin lead by lap seven and was extending it further when he spun in turn one on lap 12 to bring out the caution.
“I was trying to watch the lapped cars and I saw (Jackson) jump the cushion a little bit,” Morton said. “That’s just part of racing.”
It sent Jackson to tailback and elevated Morton into the lead with Andy Bryant and Shawn Strong second and third.
Morton withstood several runs by Bryant and four restarts after caution flags over the final eight laps to earn the victory.
Bryant finished second with Strong in third. Jackson passed 11 cars over the final eight laps, working his way back into ninth at the finish.
Fuqua wins his sixth: Make it a six pack of Pitts Homes USRA Modified feature wins at Lucas Oil Speedway this season for Darron Fuqua. This one might have been the hardest-earned yet as Fuqua, of Mayetta, Kansas, got past Jon Sheets on the final circuit.
“I’m just thrilled and tickled to death,” Fuqua said after the thrilling finish, in which he actually made the last-lap pass twice. The first was wiped out by a caution flag.
The 10th-starting Fuqua worked his way into second place, behind Sheets, by lap 10 when another caution waved.
Those two ran 1-2 until the white-flag lap when Fuqua used a slide job to get past Sheets going into turn three, for an apparent race-winning move. But a spinning car ahead of them brought out a caution and leaving restart consistent of a a one-lap sprint.
Fuqua this time used the high side to gain momentum and pass Sheets coming out of turn two. He held on to take another victory and leave Sheets with his second runner-up finish of the season.
“I showed him the bottom enough that he would probably stop down there and keep that lane blocked,” Fuqua said. “I had one more shot and thought if I could beat him on the outside by the back straightaway, I can win this deal. I got a run, got beside him and it worked out.”
Terry Schultz finished third with Mike Striegel fourth and Chad Lyle was fifth.
Make it another for Hendrix: It was also a familiar sight in victory lane in the Big O Tires Street Stocks division as David Hendrix of Waynesville, Mo., made it six straight feature wins.
Hendrix took over the lead from Brian Schutt on lap three and appeared on his way to an easy win, opening a big lead when third-place Burl Woods spun to bring out a caution with five laps to go.
Hendrix sped away after the restart and relegated Schutt to his third runner-up finish of the season. Francisco Escamilla edged out Johnny Coats for third.
“I’m just thankful. My car owner Jay (Prevete) is here tonight and he’s let me drive it this year,” Hendrix said. “We’ve been working our butts off on it and couldn’t do it without him.
“I don’t know. It’s been a good year. That’s six in a row and I don’t know what to say, really.”
Diamond Nationals Next: Racing resumes on Saturday, July 14 with the 12th annual CMH Diamond Nationals featuring the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series going after a $12,000 feature prize and diamond ring. Josh Richards captured the event in 2017. The Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds also will be in action, with a $1,000-to-win feature.
For ticket information on all events at Lucas Oil Speedway in 2018, contact admission director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or by email at nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets for any event on the 2018 schedule.