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December 1, 2020

Lucas Oil Speedway Championship Spotlight: ULMA's Henson makes winning top 2021 priority

Cole Henson celebrates his Lucas Cattle Company ULMA Late Model championship earlier this fall at Lucas Oil Speedway. Henson had 12 top-five finishes and was top-10 in all 14 races. (GS Stanek Racing Photography)
WHEATLAND, MO. (Dec. 1, 2020) - During the two months since clinching the Lucas Cattle Company ULMA championship - to go along with his Lucas Oil Speedway title earned a few weeks earlier - Cole Henson has been tearing down his race car in typical postseason fashion.
What he’s found during the process is validation to the kind of season the 25-year-old driver from central Missouri had.
“Really good. Everything’s been in pretty good shape,” Henson said. “We had a really good, consistent year and didn’t tear up anything. One of the last races, we found a shock that was bad, and we fixed that. We were very fortunate. Our parts are good because we didn’t rough up the car.”
Henson and his team used remarkable consistency to win both the track championship - ending Johnny Fennewald’s title streak at three - and the ULMA national crown. Henson did not win a feature, but in 14 races never finished outside the top 10 and had 12 top-fives to go along with four runner-up finishes.
“It was awesome to accomplish what we did this year,” Henson said. “At the beginning of the season, one of my goals was to win one or the other and we were fortunate enough to win both championships.
“I’m a man of goals. In (2019) we won Rookie of the Year in ULMA and we won the Lake Ozark Speedway championship. This year, we topped it even better. It’s awesome having my name on the list of ULMA and Lucas Oil Speedway champions. When you can put those championships on your resume, that catches people’s eye.
“Now we can look forward to setting our next goal and going on and chasing more.”
Henson, from Russellville, Missouri, is part of a racing family. His dad drove race cars until 2006 with Cole and his older brother, Derek, picking it up after that. Cole spent four years in Street Stocks before moving into Late Models.
Named after Cole Trickle from the movie Days of Thunder, Cole said his nickname of “The Hammer” is partially derived from a scene from the film when Cole Trickle said it was time to “drop the hammer” and chase down the leaders.
Derek Henson, who’s been mostly in Street Stocks, is known as “The Hitman” ever since ending a driver’s long winning streak at a central Missouri track a few years ago.
Goals for “The Hammer” in 2021 are to visit victory lane more often, even if that means risking consistency. Cole Henson said he and car owner Rob Schlup have talked it over and decided to be more aggressive in that regard and worry less about points racing.
“We’re gonna try to run every (ULMA) race we can and if it comes down to it at the end of the year, and we’re in the points, we’ll battle for it,” Henson said. “We just won’t chase them as hard from the start. When you’re points racing, you have to finish good every night. You have to have top-fives.
“Now that we have those championships out of the way, we maybe can drive a little more aggressive. It’s like ‘we did it, now let’s go win.’ ”
Henson said he’s hopeful that the championships will help him in pursuit of additional sponsors, joining his 2020 lineup that includes Superior Power Custom Homes, Windy Ridge Landscaping, Cedar Ridge Taxidermy, Scott Farms, Heidbrener Foundation Service, and Hatfield Racing Engines. Veteran racer and car builder Tony Jackson Jr. also has been an important mentor to Henson.
Someday, regularly driving against Jackson and other open Late Model drivers is something that appeals to Henson.
“We ran with the MLRA boys a couple of times last year and you can learn a lot from racing with them,” he said. “If we could go open Late Model racing in the future, that would be great. I’d love to try out an open motor, but it’s a lot of money to do that.”
Season passes, gift cards available: Season passes for the 2021 season are available now and those who had them in 2020 can renew at a $50 discount through the end of the year. Contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email her at for more information.
Meanwhile, Lucas Oil Speedway gift cards also are available, in any dollar amount. They can be redeemed in any department at the speedway or used toward tickets for any event on next year’s schedule.
The renewal rate with the $50 discount is available through Dec. 31, 2020.
Season Pass renewal by Dec. 31 will cost the following:
Dirt Track: Adults (ages 16-61) $450; Seniors (62 and over) $350.
All-Events: Adults (ages 16-61) $550; Seniors (62 and over) $450.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, Season Passes will cost the following:
Dirt Track: Adults (ages 16-61) $500; Seniors (62 and over) $400.
All-Events: Adults (ages 16-61) $600; Seniors (62 and over) $500.
Each season pass holder is entitled to one reserved stadium-style seat, complete with high backs and armrests located in the top six rows of the main grandstand of the dirt track.
Danny Lorton
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984