spotlight young cornellSixteen-year-old Kaeden Cornell of Willard finished third in the Ozark Golf Cars B-Mod division points in 2016 at Lucas Oil Speedway and was ninth in the season-opening feature last month. (Kenny Shaw photo)

Wheatland, Missouri (May 11, 2017) - Widely considered a fast-rising talent in the USRA B-Modified division, Kaeden Cornell is scheduled to take a major next step in his dirt-track career this Saturday at Lucas Oil Speedway.

The 16-year-old from Willard is set to debut in a Late Model when he climbs behind the wheel of a Rick Hoover-owned Rocket in the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA division.

"It's a pretty cool deal. I'm excited about the opportunity," said Cornell, who is the Tailgate Guys Radio Spotlight Driver of the Week at Lucas Oil Speedway. "This deal kind of came together in a hurry. I'm excited about it."

Cornell is wrapping up his sophomore year at Willard High School and he will be doing double duty at the speedway. He's scheduled to continue driving his family owned B-Mod and continue pursuing the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod points chase at Lucas. He was third in points standings in 2016.

The youngster has impressed veteran drivers with his poise and driving style said he's long dreamed of getting behind the wheel of a Late Model. His Hoover Motorsports teammate is Aurora's Shane Essary, a veteran of the division.

"I'll be able to learn a lot from him," Cornell said of Essary. "He's been racing as long as I've been alive."

Cornell tested the Late Model on Sunday at Springfield Raceway, estimating he turned about 50 laps on a dry and slick surface. Not surprisingly, he found it a different - but valuable and fulfilling - experience.

Staying open-ended about his expectations in the bigger car going into Saturday, Cornell said his primary goal is to learn all he can. Final exams might be finishing up at school, but a brand-new racing education about to commence.

"I've gotten into a few A Mods before and the motor screwed with me a little bit coming out of a B-Mod," Cornell said. "I was pretty worried about that. But I think having bigger tires helped that.

"At the beginning of the test session, I have to say I wasn't that great. You have to drive those things so much harder than you do a B-Mod. I didn't know you could drive a race car that hard."

Cornell said he found throttle control to be vitally important and he's going to "have to be really good with my feet" in the Late Model.

"I learned quite a bit in the laps that i turned - probably more in one day than I've ever learned in a race car. It was a pretty fun day. I had a blast, one of the most fun days I've ever had in a race car."

Cornell said Hoover is supportive of his desire to keep driving the B-Mod, where he's received support from Modified veteran Mike Striegel and Outlaw Race Bodies. Doubly duty will make preparation during the week and race night more hectic, but Cornell said he doesn't anticipate any problems with making it work.

Hid dad, Aaron Cornell, does most of the mechanical upkeep and grandpa Glen Cornell, who used to do mechanical work for some ARCA teams, supplies helpful advice. A host of other friends volunteer to help out on race nights.

"Rick was really cool about all of that," Cornell said. "He told me whatever I wanted to do with the B-Mod was up to me. It's pretty cool for him him to give me an opportunity like this.

"I think it'll work out all right. When I used to run go-karts, at the big shows, we'd run seven classes in a day. Laps are laps. The more laps you turn, the better I think you're going to be."

The Tailgate Guys Radio Show with co-hosts Lyndal Scranton and Steve Koehler can be heard each Saturday from 11:05 a.m.-noon on KICK 92.3 FM, 1340 AM or online at 923kick.com. To learn more about the show, visit the Tailgate Guys Radio Facebook page.

Action at Lucas Oil Speedway resumes this Saturday with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series firing back up. NMI/VMG Marketing Group and Wild Animal Safari team up to present this week's program, featuring all four Weekly Racing Series classes - the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models, the Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, the Big O Tires Street Stocks and the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods.

The Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds will be running a special 25-lap, $750-to-win feature.

Gates open at 5 p.m. with hot laps at 7 and racing at 7:35. A limited number of suites are available. Contact admissions director Nichole McMillan (417) 282-5984 by via email Nichole@Lucasoilspeedway.com for more information.

Ticket prices:
Adults (16 and up) $12
Seniors (62 and up)/Military $9
Youth (6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family Pass $25
Pit Pass $30

Camping:
Reserved with Electric and Water- $35/Night (Limited Availability)
Reserved Dry Spots- $20/Night (Limited Availability)
Dry Camping- $10/Night

For for information on NMI/VMG Marketing Group visit ViettiMarketing.com and Wild Animal Safari of Strafford go to AnimalSafari.com.

A limited number of three-day passes for the 25th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com remain on sale. Call McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com for more information.

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