Lebanon, MO (March 25, 2013) – With the NASCAR season a little over a month away at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, track officials were excited to announce Monday that 19-year-old Ross Kenseth, son of 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, has committed to race in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars' Mercy 'Masters of the Pros' 144 on Saturday, May 18. The touring series visits Missouri's only asphalt oval and only NASCAR facility for a jaw-dropping minimum $8,000 to win, $600 to start late model showcase highlighted by the winner receiving a signature green jacket similar to the one donned by the champion of golf's The Masters event in Augusta, Ga.
"When we put this event together, this type of talent was what we were hoping to attract," Lebanon I-44 Speedway promoter Kevin Greven said. "Ross is an extremely talented and likable young man who will be gunning for a huge payday in mid-May. Everyone's excited to see him commit to race with us, and it only adds to the prestige of what is already becoming one of our most-anticipated events in some time."
Greven noted that even more well-known drivers were considering throwing their hat into the ring and attempting to win the highest-paying event of its class during the 2013 season.
Ross Kenseth has followed in the footsteps of his famous father, jumping into a late model in 2007 at the age of 14 and recording a Big 8 Series championship in just his third season. Since then, the Clemson University student has moved into the super late model ranks and out of his father's shadow, garnering ASA Midwest Tour rookie of the year honors in 2010 and notching eight wins during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, including the prestigious Red, White and Blue State Championship at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wis., the same speed plant where his father cut his teeth growing up.
Kenseth has a strong chance to be in the running for the green jacket at the end of the race, boasting wins in several high-powered events during the 2012 season including the All-American 400 in Nashville, Tenn., the Winchester 400 in Winchester, Ind., and the Red Bud 300 in Anderson, Ind. With his victories at the Winchester 400 and All-American 400, Kenseth became just the second driver in history to post wins in the races held on back-to-back weekends, joining Midwest racing legend Butch Miller.
While Kenseth remains focused on earning his degree in mechanical engineering at Clemson, the third-generation driver has expressed interest in making the leap to the big leagues of NASCAR much like his father did in the mid-'90s. The rising star will pilot his signature No. 25 Blain's Farm & Fleet Toyota super late model 25 times during the 2013 season, adding former NASCAR driver and fellow Wisconsin touring star Kelly Bires to his Generation 3 Motorsports team as crew chief.
"The Kenseth names carries a lot of respect within Midwest, and national, racing circles," Greven said. "Adding a well-respected third-generation driver like Ross to our field helps provide motivation for local drivers to show their worth for this event, while offering incentive to other pro late model stars to join the field for our inaugural Mercy 'Masters of the Pros' 144. This event is going to get our 2013 season off to a quick start."
Greven said that with the rules package that the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour employs, local late model drivers will be able to enter the event and defend their home track. Around 35-40 cars, including 20 or so series regulars, are expected for the pro late model showcase.
The series will be running in conjunction with two Lebanon I-44 Speedway NASCAR Weekly Racing classes. Greven is currently in the process of finalizing the 2013 schedule for release and will be announcing those divisions soon.
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.
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.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway is located four miles east of the Lebanon city limits on Historic Route 66 and Missouri's only NASCAR sanctioned facility. Patrons using Interstate 44 may take Exit 135 and then drive approximately one mile east on Route 66 to the track's main entrance. Additional information about this event, including a full schedule of events, the rules being enforced, and a purse distribution, will be released on the facility's official website, www.i44speedway.net in the coming weeks. Keep up with news about Lebanon I-44 Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lebanon-I-44-Speedway, and on Twitter (@i44Speedway).
About Lebanon I-44 Speedway
Lebanon I-44 Speedway is Missouri's only weekly Asphalt Racing Oval settled nearly 300 miles from any other and is Missouri's only NASCAR sanctioned facility. Located in Lebanon, Missouri, along Interstate 44 adds easy access from any direction. Just about 45 minutes to the West of Springfield, Missouri on I-44 and just 2 hours East of St. Louis on I-44 as well as just 30 minutes south of Lake of the Ozarks.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway has a history of producing great racecar drivers, and some of the biggest stars in American motorsports honed their skills on our tracks high banked 3/8-mile asphalt oval. Legends such as the great Larry Phillips, the only 5-time national champion in NASCAR's weekly racing series, along with NASCAR stars like Mike Wallace, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, the late Tony Roper and Tony Stewart have either won races or even track championships over the years.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway has perhaps the smoothest racing surface of any weekly racing facility in the nation along with new aluminum backed Monster Energy grandstand seating, Budweiser "Wild Side" tier parking that you can pull up in your car or tailgate in your pickup and enjoy all of the racing from a great view, the new Central Bank VIP Suites in the middle of the front stretch and entering turn one is the newest addition, the Budweiser Party Patio.
Lebanon I-44 Speedway runs many special events throughout the race season as well as an exciting NASCAR weekly show that consists of Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Sportsman, Road Warriors and the Chargers with special appearances by the United States Super Truck Series, Pro National Baby Grand Cars, NASCAR racing special events and various Concerts.