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In the 16 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts driver Justin Grant has made for Sam McGhee Motorsports, they've earned an average feature finish of 3.7. In 2017 alone, that average has peaked to its current 2.3 through six starts, which includes a season-opening victory at "Winter Dirt Games" in Ocala, Florida and last Friday's victory in Plymouth, Indiana.
(Gene Crucean Photo) 



 
GRANT AND McGHEE STAY ON A TEAR
WITH EARLY SEASON ROLL


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Since Justin Grant and Sam McGhee Motorsports joined up in August of 2016, the pair has seen their level of success soar to a new stratosphere.

When the two knocked down a non-sanctioned win in their first race together at Bloomington Speedway eight months ago, then followed it up with two-straight top-three finishes at the Badlands, you just had the feeling this was a dream pairing in the making.

When their formation resulted in a dominating performance at Eldora Speedway's "4-Crown Nationals" last September, you just knew this dream was becoming a reality.

In the 16 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts the 26-year-old Grant and McGhee, the 17-year-old mechanical prodigy, have teamed up, they've earned an average finish of 3.7. This year alone, that average has peaked to its current 2.3 through six starts, which includes a season-opening victory at "Winter Dirt Games" in Ocala, Florida.

Without a single finish outside the top-four and no signs of letting up just yet, 2017 has thus far been a season that could turn out to be simply magical. The magic continued Friday night at northern Indiana's Plymouth Speedway where the USAC National Sprint Cars made their first ever pilgrimage.

Early on in a downright chilly and wind-soaked evening, Grant's run of success took on a bit of a turn for the worse on his ProSource Qualifying run when he stumbled in turn four coming to the green. He took a mulligan, turning it around before giving lap number a second shot. In turn three, he proceeded to almost dump it before setting it down and going on to salvage a respectable eighth on his second go-around.

Two top-six qualifiers missed the invert by not transferring through their heat, providing Grant a seat on the outside of the front row, which he took full advantage of by racing to the lead up top as polesitter Thomas Meseraull slid up the track in turn two. That allowed Grant to breakaway to a substantial advantage right off the bat.

By lap three, Grant was ahead by a half-straight. By lap five, the lead was a full-straightaway. And 10 laps into the 30-lapper, Grant had packed his suitcase, bought an airline ticket and checked out to a staggering half-lap lead as he began to negotiate lapped traffic.

Though he possessed a suffocating stranglehold on all those who followed, Grant's lead would begin to shrink mightily through the second half of the event as the lappers ran high, low, top and bottom as they engaged in their own battles for position ahead of Grant.

Each lap, Boespflug chomped a significant chunk out of the interval between he and race leader Grant. With six laps remaining, Boespflug pulled even with Grant in turn one. The two Californians were separated by a single car length as they battled down the back straight with the lapped car of Aaron Pierce just in front of them. Grant decided this was the time to get aggressive and took a chance, splitting between Pierce and Jarett Andretti to separate himself for good.

Meanwhile, 18th starting Tyler Courtney seemingly came out of nowhere, shooting around the top to zip by Thomas Meseraull for third with 3 laps remaining and ran down Boespflug on the white flag lap with a sweet outside, inside move off the second turn, beating him to turn three to grab the second position.

By then, though, Grant was long gone once again where he would pull away for a commanding three-and-a-half second victory over KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Tyler Courtney and Chad Boespflug.

Grant established the 30-lap mark in caution-free fashion at 7 minutes, 36 seconds in a race that saw all 22 starters finish.

Additionally, team owner Sam McGhee revisited Plymouth Speedway victory lane for the first time in six seasons, but this time, in a different role. The now 17-year-old McGhee raced to a USAC Ford Focus Young Guns Midget feature at Plymouth in 2011 when the track was pavement.

Justin Grant remains at the top of the standings after winning his second series feature of the season. Yet, Chad Boespflug actually closed the gap to a single point after collecting valuable ProSource Qualifying and Heat Race points throughout the night. Chris Windom remains third ahead of Chase Stockon and Jarett Andretti.

 

Justin Grant pulls the front wheels up Friday night at Plymouth (Ind.) Speedway.
(Ryan Sellers Photo)
 


 
GRANT BREATHES EASY WITH VICTORY
IN USAC SPRINTS' FIRST PILGRIMAGE TO PLYMOUTH


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

 
Plymouth, Indiana.........Early on in Justin Grant's sprint car racing career, a fellow competitor told him that he wouldn't last more than eight laps without consciously remembering to breathe while he was racing.

Justin heeded that advice, and a handful of years later, the Ione, California native is finding the greatest success of his driving career. He could breathe easy after all was said and done Friday night after holding off a late-race charge from Chad Boespflug while mired in lapped traffic to collect his second series victory of the season in the first ever visit by the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship to Indiana's Plymouth Speedway.

The win came as a sigh of relief to Grant after a breathtaking moment in ProSource Qualifying that almost ended his night before it even began.

"I tried to end our night pretty early on during qualifying," Grant said with a grin. "I was coming to the green (flag) and about spun out. I went ahead, turned around and went back and tried to gain a little composure. I took a breath, came back and restarted my qualifying attempt. I went down into (turn) three on the first lap and all but turned over. Getting into three, my speed and the calculations I was running in my head, I figured I was going to go ahead and make it over the fence. It went ahead and sat down and I was able to salvage a respectable time on the second lap. Fortunately for me, a couple guys missed the transfer through the heat races and that put us on the front row."

Grant took full advantage of his seat on the outside of the front row, racing to the lead up top as polesitter Thomas Meseraull slid up the track in turn two, allowing Grant to breakaway to a substantial advantage.

By lap three, Grant was ahead by a half-straight. The lead had grown to the length of a straightaway with just five laps down as Meseraull, Chris Windom, Boespflug and Shane Cottle scrambled for positions two through five. Ten laps into the 30-lap event, Grant held a staggering half-lap lead as he began to negotiate lapped traffic.

"I felt like our car was pretty good," Grant said. "It was launching down the straightaways pretty fast. I was going as fast as I was comfortable going through the holes. I didn't know we had a straightaway lead or anything like that, but I thought we had a buffer. I couldn't hear anything. Normally, you can hear a guy behind you, but I couldn't hear anybody."

Though he possessed a suffocating stranglehold on all those who followed, Grant's lead would begin to shrink mightily by the halfway point as the drivers near the tail end of the field were running high, low, top and bottom as they engaged in their own battles for position ahead of Grant's black and red No. 11.

"Getting into lapped traffic, they were all two-wide for three or four rows in front of me," Grant recalls. "I was really just trying to keep myself calm, stay patient and wait for holes to open up so I could pick my way around those guys and not get caught up in something I didn't need to get caught up in."

Each lap, Boespflug chomped a significant chunk out of the interval between he and race leader Grant. On lap 23, Grant found himself entering turn three as he sought to overtake Aaron Pierce. Boespflug attempted to capitalize on the bottom to no avail as Grant clung to the lead by the cuticles of his fingernails. Grant then found his second wind, disposing of Pierce and Jarett Andretti to set himself free of the mounting pressure from Boespflug.

"I knew we had slowed down a ton in that group of lapped cars. I knew somebody was going to be coming pretty quickly. I was just kind of hoping things would open up. I saw Boespflug poke a nose under me in the middle of (turns) one and two. When I saw him, I decided I had to start taking some chances and be a little more aggressive. I kind of moved our way by a few of those guys and was able to open up a few lanes where I could start sliding guys and move around. As soon as I started clicking a couple lapped cars off, I felt comfortable and confident that we'd be alright."

Meanwhile, 18th starting Tyler Courtney seemingly came out of nowhere, shooting to the top around Boespflug in turn two with just a pair of laps remaining to grab second. By then, though, Grant was long gone once again where he would pull away for a commanding 3.5 second victory over Courtney, Boespflug, Meseraull and Stevie Sussex.

Grant's victory in the Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco was his first since the season-opening "Winter Dirt Games" in Ocala, Florida. His sixth career score ties him with the likes of Jac Haudenschild, Jan Opperman, Tom Sneva, George Snider and Dick Tobias on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list.

Additionally, team owner Sam McGhee revisited Plymouth Speedway victory lane for the first time in six seasons, but this time, it was in a different role. The now 17-year-old McGhee drove to victory lane after winning a USAC Ford Focus Young Guns Midget feature at Plymouth in 2011 when the track was pavement.

Back to Grant, though, who established the 30-lap mark at Plymouth Friday night during a caution-free, green-to-checker feature finish in a time of 7:36.34 that saw all 22 starters finish. By Grant's estimation, 30 laps non-stop in a sprint car doesn't take long, but it can, without a doubt, be taxing on the mind.

 
Plymouth winner Justin Grant (middle) in victory lane along with second-place finisher Tyler Courtney (left) and third-place finisher Chad Boespflug (right).
 
(Gene Crucean Photo)
 

 

"A sprint car race is 30 laps, but they're 30 intense laps," Grant explains. "Things are happening so fast and everybody's so quick, if the race gets away from you, you're not getting it back. It's mentally challenging and you just really have to try and make sure to breathe and that's the biggest thing, especially when the track's rough. You actually have to tell yourself to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out to just keep some oxygen going and to stay focused."

After four-straight sub-top-ten performances to begin the season, Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney bounced back in just about the most spectacular way imaginable, driving from the outside of the ninth row to finish second without the aid of a single yellow flag in his TOPP Motorsports/TOPP Performance Race Parts - Custom Pump & Controls/Maxim/Claxton.

"This is what we all needed, not only for me as a driver, but as a team," a proud Courtney beamed. "We struggled at the beginning of the year. We changed a few things this week and it worked out. Our car was the best it's been in a while. We screwed up in qualifying on a tough racetrack and that put us deep in the field. It makes it pretty hard to win races from that far back, especially with the caliber of guys we have running in the series. You can't slouch off at any point in the night. Getting behind the eight-ball is tough, but we rebounded to get a podium here in front of a hometown crowd for my car owner who grew up here in Plymouth."

"I knew we were good from the start," Courtney continued. "I was hoping we weren't too good too early, but I was able to find a different line than everybody out there through (turns) one and two, which is where I passed a bunch of guys. I knew once I started seeing Chad (Boespflug), Thomas (Meseraull), Chris (Windom) and those guys, I had to be getting close to the front, but I still couldn't see Justin. I knew I hadn't passed him yet, so I knew it was still a long row to hoe. We needed a yellow, but we didn't quite get one. To get second, I'll take it. This is the best second has ever felt!"

Third-place finisher Chad Boespflug briefly clamped down on Grant for the race lead late in the going Friday night at Plymouth, yet he also closed to within one-point of Grant for the series point-lead in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton heading into Eldora Speedway's "LetsRaceTwo" on May 12-13.

"I just started to really hone in on my line when I got to Justin (Grant) in lapped traffic there," Boespflug replays. "I tried to roll the bottom a few times and realized I was a little freer than I had been all night. Come to find out, we had a bleeder stick in the right rear, or actually shut off. We just grew too much pressure in the right rear. We got to Justin's rear bumper there, kind of, and it was just time to try and make some moves. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out for us tonight. We slipped back to third there at the end, but overall, great night again.

Contingency award winners Friday night at Plymouth Speedway include Chase Stockon (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Stevie Sussex (Indy Race Parts Semi Winner), Tyler Courtney (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Landon Simon (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).

------------------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 21, 2017 - Plymouth, Indiana - Plymouth Speedway

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.016; 2. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.195; 3. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-13.254; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.284; 5. Tyler Hewitt, 97x, One More Time-13.364; 6. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-13.369; 7. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.417; 8. Thomas Meseraull, 00, SC-13.448; 9. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-13.462; 10. Colten Cottle, 1RL, Lambertson-13.511; 11. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-13.531; 12. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-13.613; 13. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.625; 14. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.630; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-13.691; 16. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-13.712; 17. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.715; 18. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.741; 19. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-13.746; 20. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-13.879; 21. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-13.933; 22. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-13.961; 23. Josh Spencer, 66J, Spencer-14.000; 24. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-14.017; 25. Chad Wilson, 14, Wilson-14.724; 26. Lee Underwood, 24L, Underwood-14.254; 27. Ethan Barrow, 15, Barrow-14.320.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Short, 3. Grant, 4. Andretti, 5. Windom, 6. C.Cottle, 7. Goodnight, 8. Wilson, 9. Farney. 2:16.91

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Darland, 3. Leary, 4. Meseraull, 5. Spencer, 6. Robbins, 7. Underwood, 8. Pierce, 9. Hewitt. NT

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. Courtney, 3. S.Cottle, 4. Chapple, 5. Simon, 6. Sussex, 7. Stanbrough, 8. Smith. 9. Barrow. 2:22.50

INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Sussex, 2. Hewitt, 3. Stanbrough., 4. Robbins, 5. C.Cottle, 6. Pierce, 7. Farney, 8. Wilson, 9. Underwood, 10. Barrow, 11. Goodnight, 12. Smith. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Chad Boespflug, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Stevie Sussex, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Jon Stanbrough, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11. Brady Short, 12. Colten Cottle, 13. Landon Simon, 14. Kyle Robbins, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Aaron Pierce, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Tyler Hewitt, 20. Aaron Farney, 21. Isaac Chapple, 22. Josh Spencer. 7:36.34
----------------------------
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Grant

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (18th-2nd).

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Landon Simon

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-445, 2-Boespflug-444, 3-Windom-386, 4-Stockon-364, 5-Andretti-297, 6-Courtney-282, 7-Leary-239, 8-S.Cottle-234, 9-Hunter Schuerenberg-230, 10-Simon-228.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 12-13 - Rossburg, Ohio - Eldora Speedway - "#LetsRaceTwo"

 




 
IRACING PARTNERS WITH USAC TO BRING
AMSOIL SPRINT CAR RACING SIMULATION

 

The buzz around the racing world with the recent introduction of dirt tracks to iRacing.com has now arrived at the United States Auto Club as the two announced an agreement Thursday to create an online racing series that features the cars of the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
.
It all begins Monday, April 24 when the USAC Sprint Cars first hit the tracks on the premier online racing simulation.  A computer, controller and a broadband internet connection is all you need to join the community of racing enthusiasts that number in the tens-of-thousands.

A special discount code is available to USAC fans who join iRacing on Monday.  By using the promo code PR-USAC, you will receive a three-month membership for just $5 and begin competing virtually behind the wheel in a USAC Sprint Car event in the most accurate racing simulation available.

"We're excited to partner with USAC in creating official iRacing series for our 410 and 360 non-winged sprint cars," said Steve Myers, Executive Vice President and Executive Producer for iRacing.com.  "The USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship is rightly known for some of the most competitive racing to be found on dirt - or any surface for that matter.  I'm sure sim racers everywhere will be eager to sling some dirt in iRacing's non-wing USAC sprint cars."

"Joining forces with iRacing enables us to make an exciting new dimension in racing available to our fans in the United States and around the world," says USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller. "We're thrilled with the opportunity and look forward to participating in the rapidly-growing sim racing community in the months and years to come."

The initial phase of the USAC and iRacing's partnership focuses on sprint cars, but future plans are in place to introduce additional USAC series on famed dirt track such as Indiana's Kokomo Speedway, Ohio's Eldora Speedway and the Belleville High Banks in Kansas.

iRacing, a leader in the field of e-sports and simulation, organizes, hosts and officiates races on virtual tracks all around the world for casual gamers as well as professional drivers who use the simulation for training.  iRacing uses the latest in technology to accurately recreate its continuously-expanding portfolio of cars and race tracks, including intricate details such as changes in the handling of the car and varying track conditions throughout the night.

See the new iRacing / USAC trailer below:

 

 

 

Brookston, Indiana's Aaron Farney in action last Friday night
at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.

(David Nearpass Photo) 


 


 
USAC SPRINTS TAKE ON NEW TERRITORY
THIS WEEKEND AT PLYMOUTH AND MONTPELIER


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Both of this upcoming weekend's USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car stops take place on a pair of Hoosierland tracks that have been a witness to over a century and a half of auto racing history.

However, Plymouth Speedway and Montpelier Motor Speedway have only played host to a combined one lone USAC Sprint Car event. A new opportunity arises and a there's new land to claim. It all lies ahead this Friday and Saturday when a new generation of USAC stars including Justin Grant, Chad Boespflug and Chris Windom vie to take their piece of the pie.

First up is Plymouth Speedway this Friday night, April 21st where, in the past, the USAC National Midgets have made their home not only the pavement, but also on the dirt. But this will be the first foray for the USAC Sprint Car division at Plymouth on either surface.

Last June, C.J. Leary picked up the unsanctioned "Tony Elliott Tribute" at Plymouth, defeating a number of USAC regulars who are looking to get off the schneid.

Leary himself set ProSource/B & W Auto Mart Fast Qualifying time last weekend at Bloomington, but the Greenfield, Indiana native is looking to recreate the magic he found last August when he captured night number two in the "Sprint Car Smackdown" at Kokomo Speedway.

Jarett Andretti is one of the few who has past pavement and dirt experience at Plymouth. The Mooresville, North Carolina driver is having a standout 2017 season in which he sits fifth in the series standings and earned his first career fast qualifying time last Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway.

Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr. is the most recent winner of a USAC National event at Plymouth when he claimed "Midget Maynia" in May of 2015. KTJ has been solid over the last couple of weeks in a sprint car, including a 20th to 5th place run last Friday night at Bloomington.

Tyler Courtney, out of Indianapolis, Indiana, has yet to crack the top-10 thus far in the early season, but don't count him out just yet as he and his potent TOPP Motorsports ride hope to hit their stride at Plymouth, which is located just down the road from the team's headquarters in Rochester.

In his great career, Kokomo, Indiana's Shane Cottle has been a winner in USAC's Silver Crown, National Sprint and National Midget divisions. He's also been a winner the last two seasons when the MSCS Sprints have visited Montpelier Motor Speedway, home of this Saturday's USAC National Sprint Car stop.

Cottle took fourth in last year's first USAC appearance at the quarter-mile. Finishing one spot ahead of him in third was USAC's winningest National Sprint Car driver, Triple Crown champ Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana, who seeks to continue his record streak of consecutive years with at least one USAC National win to a quarter century.

Darland led the first 11 laps of the 2016 feature, but in a three-lap stretch, eventual series champion Brady Bacon drove from fourth to the front, resulting in a near dead heat at the start/finish line before claiming the lead from Darland just moments later in turn one.

With seven to go, Cummins got his right front wheel inside of Bacon's left rear in turn two, nearly making contact, but was unable to make it stick, falling back roughly four car-lengths before a caution came out, providing Cummins with another shot.

Cummins was looking to gain an inch, a yard, anything that would give him an opportunity to gain valuable ground on Bacon at the end, but he was never close enough to mount a serious challenge in the final laps as Bacon never blinked, distancing himself from Cummins to take the victory in front of an electric, standing-room only crowd.

Plymouth's gates open at 4pm on Friday night with cars set to hit the track at 6pm. Adult General Admission tickets are $25. General admission tickets for children age 6-12 are $10. Children Age 5 and Under are FREE with a paid adult. Pit passes: $35.

The front gates swing open for this Saturday's event in Montpelier at 3pm with cars set to begin on-track activities at 5pm. Adult general admission tickets are just $20. Children age 12 and under are FREE with a paid adult. Pit passes are $30.

Fans who miss the action in-person this weekend at Plymouth and Montpelier can watch flag-to-flag coverage of each race a day after the event on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.
 

 

Chad Boespflug (white) and Chris Windom (orange) battle for the lead at Haubstadt, Indiana's Tri-State Speedway in Saturday night's Spring Showdown.
(Neil Cavanah Photo) 



 
THE CHAD AND CHRIS SHOW:
USAC'S NEWEST RIVALRY PUTS ON A SHOWCASE
AT BLOOMINGTON AND TRI-STATE 

 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Throughout its history, the United States Auto Club has been a party to a multitude of intense rivalries. None are more revered than the "Gary and Larry Show" that took the USAC Sprint Car division by storm between 1968 to 1971.

In that four-year stretch, Gary Bettenhausen and Larry Dickson dominated the series like never seen before or since. In fact, the duo won nearly half the series races run in that span and took turns alternating series titles, with Larry winning in 1968 and 1970 with Gary taking the crown in 1969 and 1971. Each year that Gary or Larry was the champ, the other finished as runner-up in the standings.

Perhaps there has been no match that compares to the prolonged run of the "Gary and Larry Show" over the past five decades, but this past weekend, this generation's greatest USAC Sprint Car rivalry was on full display - Chad Boespflug versus Chris Windom.

We were witnesses to the "Chad and Chris Show" in October of 2016 when the two battled lap-after-lap-after-lap, unofficially exchanging the lead an astronomical 26 times in 30 laps at Indiana's Terre Haute Action Track. Windom had the upper hand on that night when he disposed of Boespflug using a monster run down the back straightaway on lap 28, then fended him off for the final two laps to capture the "Jim Hurtubise Classic."

If the "Chad and Chris Show" was born that night, that must mean that the rivalry took its first steps and spoke its first words this past weekend at Bloomington and Tri-State Speedways where the two would put on a pair of classic duels that indicate the ringing in of a new era of USAC heroes.

On a restart two-thirds of the way into Friday night's 30-lap USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Bloomington Speedway, Chad Boespflug found himself playing defense.

Some say defense wins championships - at least in stick and ball sports - but after seeing his lead slip away on the 22nd lap, Boespflug had to go on the offensive. His opportunity to regroup and recharge came a lap later when third-running Dave Darland blew a left rear tire at the start/finish line.

When action resumed with eight laps remaining, Windom got a solid jump on Boespflug. With seemingly nothing to lose down the stretch, Boespflug attacked the topside and went after Windom, instigating a compelling, hair-raising, wheel-to-wheel showdown in which the two were locked into a non-stop, side-by-side battle.

Little-by-little, Boespflug drew closer and, with only five laps remaining, was side-by-side with the 2016 Silver Crown champ. Lap-after-lap, the two appeared as if they were engaged in a game of slot car racing, both smooth on the rail, running distinctive lines with neither able to budge ahead by much more than a few feet or so at any particular point.

Windom clung to a scant lead at the line time and again, but Boespflug was still wide open on the outside, a move that would pay large dividends as he raced around Windom to grab the lead by inches coming to the white flag.

On the final lap, Windom made one final, last ditch effort, but it wouldn't be nearly enough as he slid up behind Boespflug off the final corner as Boespflug darted under the checkered flag to take his first victory for the Hoffman family and became the fourth different winner in as many races ahead of Windom and Chase Stockon.

Chris Windom wouldn't let opportunity escape his grasp once again a night later in the "Spring Showdown" at Haubstadt, Indiana's Tri-State Speedway, co-sanctioned by USAC and MSCS.

However, an average finish of 12th over 13 career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts at Tri-State didn't bode well for Windom's odds coming into the event at the quarter-mile paperclip in southern Indiana.

But stats are just that. Stats. And the next day always presents the next opportunity for one to make their mark.

Windom would start the 30-lap main event from the outside of the second row, staring directly at the tail tank of Boespflug's car at the start. And right from the get-go, continuing the previous night's theme, Boespflug and Windom immediately took ownership of the top-two positions exiting turn two on the opening lap.

On the fourth lap, Windom saw an opening and went for it as he put a slider on Boespflug for the lead entering the first turn. Windom made slight contact as he slid up in front of Boespflug off turn two as they hit the back straight running nose-to-tail.

In a reversal of roles from the night before, Windom took the middle to high route while Boespflug zipped along the bottom. Boespflug unloaded the chamber as he repeatedly fought to reclaim ownership of the top spot, pulling even to the inside of Windom multiple times on both ends of the racetrack.

Boespflug momentarily willed his way to the lead with a turn one slider when action resumed, but Windom, as well as Justin Grant, held the momentum and were able to blast by to take first and second, respectively as they hit turn three. Although, Grant's newfound position would be short-lived as Boespflug snuck back underneath for second when Grant drifted high.

After Donny Brackett walked away from a harrowing lap nine barrel-roll, Boespflug consistently poked his nose under Windom through much of the middle stage of the race. Every single time, Windom's drive off the second and fourth corners was adequate to hold Boespflug at bay.

Boespflug closed on Windom with 12 to go when Windom met up with a logjam of lapped cars. Windom was forced to alter his line to the bottom, allowing Boespflug to peel away several layers of Windom's one-plus second lead over the next eight laps, to less than a half-second.

When third-running Kyle Cummins' car went up in smoke on lap 27, collecting Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple in the process, Windom was up to the challenge, mastering the course as he bolted away from Boespflug on a restart with four laps to go and was on his way to a surefire victory.

However, a Landon Simon and Brandon Morin turn three tangle would set up yet another stress test for Windom to endure - a one-lap free-for-all between he and Boespflug for the win!

Once again, though, Windom answered the bell when he stood on the loudpedal and passed under Tom Hansing's green and white flags on the lap 30 restart. Distancing himself to a half-second advantage, Windom passed the exam with flying colors to become the first repeat winner on the USAC National Sprint Car tour in 2017 over Boespflug and Grant.

Those same three occupy the top three spots in the latest standings as well. Grant and Boespflug have yet to finish outside the top-four positions in any of the five races, and are separated by just two points entering next week's double-dip at Indiana's Plymouth and Montpelier Motor Speedways. The surging Chris Windom is now third in front of Chase Stockon and Jarett Andretti.

 

"Spring Showdown" winner Chris Windom (middle) is joined by second-place finisher Chad Boespflug (left) and third-place finisher Justin Grant (right) in victory lane Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana.
(David Nearpass Photo)
 


 
WINDOM TURNS THE TIDE, TAMES BOESPFLUG
TO TAKE TRI-STATE'S SPRING SHOWDOWN


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Haubstadt, Indiana.........One night after victory slipped through his fingers and into the hands of Chad Boespflug during a spectacular late-race duel at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, Chris Windom wouldn't let opportunity escape his grasp once again in Saturday night's "Spring Showdown" at Tri-State Speedway, co-sanctioned by USAC and MSCS.

However, an average finish of 12th over 13 career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts at Tri-State didn't bode well for Windom's odds coming into the event at the quarter-mile paperclip in southern Indiana.

But stats are just that. Stats. They are simply numbers that tell of what has occurred in the past, but are not the be-all, end-all figurative crystal ball that foretells what the future holds.

Windom reversed his fortunes in more ways than one Saturday night, taking the present into his own hands on a breakout night at a venue that has stuck in his craw and served as a thorn in his pride for much of the past decade.

By the fourth lap, he had swiped the lead from Boespflug, then fended off each proceeding challenge for the remaining 26 laps to take his 16th career USAC National Sprint Car feature victory, equaling Damion Gardner and moving him into the top-30 on the series' all-time win list.

Neither lapped traffic nor repetitious restarts nor even a one-lap shootout could stay this driver from the swift completion of his appointed goal of taming Tri-State Speedway, which he had long yearned to tame. This was a piece of redemption that would elude him no more. Drastic changes were not a necessity. A measured approach, and confidence to boot, can go a long way in knocking down barriers.

"We've tried to stick to our guns all year," Windom said. "We've kept everything the same. We haven't had the best results here in the past, but we didn't come down here and try to change everything. We just kept everything like we had been and we've been running well. If you would've told me in the last three years that I'd win a race here, I would have said you were crazy. I can't thank Derek (Claxton) enough for what he's been doing for me, and Billy (Grace) also. They've had this car so good. It's a winning car every single night. It's just really up to me to go out and get the job done."

And get the job done he did. Though, he would start the 30-lap main event from the outside of the second row, directly behind Boespflug. Right from the get-go, and as a continuation from the previous night's proceedings, Boespflug and Windom were practically attached at the hip as the duo immediately took ownership of the top-two positions exiting turn two on the opening lap.

On the fourth lap, Windom saw an opportunity as he put a slider on Boespflug for the lead entering the first turn. Windom made slight contact as he slid up in front of Boespflug as the pair hit the back straightaway nose-to-tail at the exit of turn two, but the early-race lead was his, a feat his experience told him was of utmost importance at Tri-State.

"I knew it was tough to pass and, when I saw an opening, I went for it," Windom admits. "Chad (Boespflug) went to the top and I threw a slider on him. I got into him a little bit, so I told him I was sorry after the race. I felt a little bad about that. But, this is one place you want to get to the lead as quickly as possible. I just wanted to be in command of the race and that's what we did."

In a reversal of roles from the night before, Windom took the middle to high route while Boespflug zipped along the bottom. Boespflug unloaded the chamber as he fought to reclaim ownership of the top spot, pulling even to the inside of Windom multiple times on both ends of the racetrack until a yellow for Josh Hodges reshuffled the deck, putting Boespflug in line behind race leader Windom on the ensuing restart.

Boespflug momentarily willed his way to the lead with a turn one slider when action resumed, but Windom as well as Justin Grant held the momentum and were able to blast by to take first and second, respectively. Although, Grant's newfound position would be short-lived as Boespflug got back around for second by the time they hit the third turn.

On lap nine, the most harrowing incident of the night came when Donny Brackett rode over a wheel of another car and barrel-rolled several times down the front straight before coming to a rest on all fours. The toll on Brackett's ride was substantial, but he was fortunate to walk away from the wreckage.

On each restart through the middle stages of the race, Boespflug consistently poked his nose ahead of Windom on multiple occasions on the bottom line. Yet, every single time, Windom's drive off the second and fourth corners was adequate to hold Boespflug at bay.

With 12 to go, Windom met up with a logjam of lapped cars at the tail end of the field. Windom was forced to alter his line to the bottom which, in turn, allowed Boespflug to peel away several layers of Windom's one-plus second lead over the next eight laps, to less than a half-second. That's when third-running Kyle Cummins' car went up in smoke on lap 27, coasting to a stop in turn four before collecting past "Spring Showdown" winner Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple.

Under yellow with four laps remaining and a crucial restart looming, Windom discovered himself in an uncanny position to the one he was in at Bloomington. A mixture of factors raced through his mind as he tried to avoid a moment of personal deja vu.

"I was pretty nervous," an unabashed Windom admitted. "Normally, I'm not, but I'm not used to restarting a race out front here. I honestly wasn't sure where the best spot to restart was. It just seemed like every time I'd get rolling, a caution would come out. I didn't feel that great the first or second lap after a restart, so it was starting to make me feel a little nervous at the end. I knew if I could just hold my line around the bottom, it would be tough to go around the outside of us."

 
"I knew it was tough to pass and, when I saw an opening, I went for it. Chad (Boespflug) went to the top and I threw a slider on him. I got into him a little bit, so I told him I was sorry after the race. I felt a little bad about that. But, this is one place you want to get to the lead as quickly as possible. I just wanted to be in command of the race and that's what we did."
"Spring Showdown" winner Chris Windom
(Neil Cavanah Photo)
 


Windom was up to the challenge, mastering the course when he bolted away from Boespflug and was on his way to a surefire victory. After taking the white flag and hitting his marks in turns one and two for what he anticipated would be the last time, Landon Simon and Brandon Morin tangled in turn three. That, in turn, set up yet another stress test for Windom to endure - a one-lap free-for all between he and Boespflug for sprint car racing glory.

Once again, though, Windom answered the bell when he stood on the loudpedal and passed under Tom Hansing's green and white flag on the lap 30 restart. Distancing himself to a half-second advantage, Windom passed the exam with flying colors to become the first repeat winner on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour in 2017 over Boespflug, Grant, B & W Auto Mart/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Brady Short (from 20th) and Carson Short.

Windom led a top-three across the line that consisted of the first three drivers in series points. Though Windom suffered a couple of setbacks in the season-openers at Ocala, Florida in February that stifled his point accumulation, he has since gone on a tear with 1st, 2nd and 1st place finishes in his last three runs, a fact that has his him excited of what lies ahead.
 

"It's exciting when we can all go the track and have this much confidence," Windom explains. "It's a long season. Chad (Boespflug) and Justin (Grant) seem to run second and third every night I win, so that makes it hard to catch up. As long as we keep sticking with what we're doing, we'll be just fine."

Chad Boespflug has been a model of consistency to begin his campaign for the Hoffman Auto Racing team. The Hanford, California native has racked up finishes of 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 1st and 2nd to start the season and just narrowly missed becoming the third-straight driver in as many weeks to sweep the full slate of USAC National events during a single weekend. He led the opening three laps of the event before, ultimately, earning a solid second-place run in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton.

"We're just continuing to put good nights together," Boespflug said. "Chris (Windom) and I dueled it out last night and I thought we were going to get him again there in lapped traffic tonight. It was a great night overall to come back with a second and be back on the podium, especially here. The three of us up here on the podium have never run worth a darn here. We were talking before the feature how we're never any good here. For us three to be standing up here is pretty cool."

Likewise, Justin Grant of Ione, California has his Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco rolling where he continues to lead the points by three markers over Boespflug after finishes of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 3rd to begin the season.

"This place has historically not been very good to me," Grant concedes. "I'm usually pretty slow here, but Sam's car actually gets around here really well. I'm just happy to come out of here with a podium and move on to the next one."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway include Jarett Andretti (B & W Auto Mart/ProSource Fast Qualifier), Chase Stockon (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Chris Windom (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Brady Short (KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Tyler Courtney (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

--------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 15, 2017 - Haubstadt, Indiana - Tri-State Speedway - "Spring Showdown" co-sanctioned by MSCS

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.383; 2. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.400; 3. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.425; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.447; 5. Carson Short, 21, RCM-13.458; 6. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.511; 7. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2, Motsinger-13.582; 8. Max McGhee, 4J, 4J Motorsports-13.610; 9. Dave Darland, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.661; 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 44, Pace-13.746; 11. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-13.763; 12. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.784; 13. Chet Williams, 38, Williams-13.788; 14. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-13.797; 15. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-13.803; 16. Clinton Boyles, 98, Boyles-13.864; 17. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-13.884; 18. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-13.884; 19. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.893; 20. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-13.939; 21. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-14.043; 22. Brandon Morin, 98x, Morin-14.066; 23. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-14.221; 24. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.274; 25. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.520; 26. Tyler Rust, 10T, Rust-14.595; 27. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.774; 28. Brian Wallace, 27, Wallace-14.976; 29. Jim Shelton, 41, Shelton-15.766; 30. Donny Brackett, 4B, Brackett-(Time of 14.031 disallowed); 31. James Lyerla, 11L, JL-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. C. Short, 3. Andretti, 4. Williams, 5. B. Short, 6. Schmidt, 7. Darland. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Gentry, 3. K. Thomas, 4. Brackett, 5. Farney, 6. Cummins, 7. Morin, 8. Rust. 2:16.58

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Grant, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Sussex, 5. Jackson, 6. Mattox, 7. Hodges, 8. Lyerla. 2:19.01

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Simon, 3. McGhee, 4. Courtney, 5. Boyles, 6. Chapple, 7. Wallace. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Cummins, 2. Hodges, 3. B. Short, 4. Farney, 5. Darland, 6. Boyles, 7. Chapple, 8. Mattox, 9. Jackson, 10. Morin, 11. Lyerla, 12. Rust, 13. Schmidt, 14. Wallace. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Brady Short, 5. Carson Short, 6. Jarett Andretti, 7. Aaron Farney, 8. Max McGhee, 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Chase Stockon, 12. Stevie Sussex, 13. Tyler Courtney, 14. Chet Williams, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Landon Simon, 18. Brandon Morin, 19. Kyle Cummins, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Clinton Boyles, 22. Aric Gentry, 23. Dakota Jackson, 24. Donny Brackett, 25. Josh Hodges. NT
----------------------------
**Rust flipped during the semi. Brackett flipped on lap 9 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Boespflug, Laps 4-30 Windom.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Brady Short (20th to 4th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Tyler Courtney

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-369, 2-Boespflug-367, 3-Windom-330, 4-Stockon-295, 5-Andretti-259, 6-Schuerenberg-230, 7-Hodges-212, 8-Courtney-208, 9-Leary-206, 10-Cummins-191.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 21 - Plymouth, IN - Plymouth Speedway

 

Eventual winner Chad Boespflug (white) and Chris Windom battle for the lead in the closing laps of Friday night's USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.
 
(Travis Branch Photo)
 



 
BOESPFLUG BESTS WINDOM
IN CLASSIC BATTLE OF BLOOMINGTON

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

 
Bloomington, Indiana.........On a restart two-thirds of the way into Friday night's 30-lap USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, Chad Boespflug found himself playing defense on Chris Windom.

Some say defense wins championships, but in auto racing, a driver has to be on the offensive. And that's exactly what the Hanford, California native did after seeing his lead slip away on the 22nd lap. Down the stretch, Boespflug attacked the topside and went after Windom, instigating a compelling, five-lap, hair-raising wheel-to-wheel showdown in which the two were locked into a constant side-by-side battle.

After ripping off lap-after-lap that appeared as if he was on a single-car qualifying run, Boespflug emerged ahead of Windom on the white flag lap, leading the final two circuits to take his first career Bloomington victory and first as a driver for the legendary Hoffman Auto Racing/Dynamics, Inc. team.

"It's awesome to drive for the Hoffmans," Boespflug exclaimed. "To have the success we've had with so far with a fourth, two seconds and now a win, it's extra special all the way around. It's just a great group effort. Everybody works so hard when we get to the track. They don't complain or anything; they just do what's needed to be done and it shows every night when we get to the racetrack. It's an honor to get a win for Mean Green, the Hoffmans and everybody involved."

A lightning quick racing surface was prepared for the series' first visit to the southern Indiana staple in 2017. New 10-lap and 12-lap records were established during the preliminary events, setting the course for an action-packed main event.

At the start of the feature, outside front-row starter Boespflug asserted himself to grab the race lead from polesitter Dave Darland entering the first turn where he immediately settled in on the rim of the quarter-mile red clay oval.

A lap three caution for Hunter Schuerenberg fell after the sixth-place-running driver came to a stop on the wrong side of the banking between turns one and two, but that only momentarily put a clamp on Boespflug's run. On the ensuing restart, Darland held the low line while Boespflug occupied the top, which he used to pull away and extend his advantage in the early sequence.

Meanwhile, Windom, the series' most recent winner at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway two weeks prior, was on the move. After blitzing from sixth to third on the opening lap, Windom made his next move when he disposed of Shane Cottle and Dave Darland for the second position on lap eight and now had only race leader Boespflug to contend with.

However, Windom still trailed Boespflug by more than a second at the moment, but he unrelentingly kept digging on the bottom while Boespflug remained up top when the two came upon lapped traffic. Most of the lappers occupied the low line, forcing Windom to migrate to the top where he and third-place Darland followed in hot pursuit.

A pair of yellows for the stopped cars of Josh Hodges and Max McGhee brought about a pair of yellow flags, thus creating a clear track ahead of the leaders when racing resumed. Yet, the clear track didn't signal a utopian path to victory for Boespflug. Not only did he have to contend with Windom hot on his tracks, the uncontrollables began to enter his mind, though he let them slide to the back of his mind as he kept his thoughts focused on what he could control - the race at hand.

"About halfway through, the car got really soft on the right rear," Boespflug explained. "I wasn't sure if I had a tire going down or a shock broke. I had to rally through and not worry about that. I just had to worry about my race."

The lap 21 restart, in particular, was beneficial to Windom as Boespflug took a lower than usual line into turn one, entering the middle of the track which presented Windom an opportunity he refused to let slip through his fingers. Boespflug fought to gain a foothold in the middle, but by then, Windom was wheel-to-wheel underneath Boespflug. Boespflug quickly got back to the cushion and was able to nip Windom by the narrowest of margins at the flagstand on lap 21, but a lap later, Windom hit his marks perfectly on the bottom to jump out front and officially take the lead on the 22nd go-round.

"When Chris got around me there, I was overprotecting more than anything," Boespflug remembers. "I was racing behind me instead of in front of me. That allowed him to get around me."

At that moment, Darland, hanging in contention and running third, blew a left rear tire at the start/finish line, ending on this night a bid to extend his record-streak of USAC National features to 25 consecutive years.

When action resumed with seven laps remaining, Windom got a solid jump that spurted him out to a five-car-length lead ahead of Boespflug. With seemingly nothing to lose, Boespflug ventured back to the high side and put it all on the line.

Little-by-little, Boespflug drew closer and, with only five laps remaining, was side-by-side with the 2016 Silver Crown champ. Lap-after-lap, the two appeared as if they were engaged in a game of slot car racing, with both smooth on the rail, running distinctive lines with neither able to budge ahead by more than a foot or so at any particular point.

Lap 26, 27 and 28 all resulted in Windom clinging to a scant lead at the line, but Boespflug was still wide open on the outside, a move that would pay large dividends as he raced around Windom to grab the lead coming to the white flag.

On the final lap, as Boespflug inched away, Windom took one final, last ditch effort, but it wouldn't be nearly enough as he slid up behind Boespflug off the final corner, as Boespflug darted under the checkered flag to take his first series victory of the season and became the fourth different winner in as many races in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton, ahead of Windom, Chase Stockon, Justin Grant and B & W Auto Mart/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Kevin Thomas, Jr.

 
"It's actually better when you're racing somebody because you forget about everything you're thinking about.  You just drive the hell out of the racecar, really. You're just focusing on what you have to do and hitting your marks. Chris (Windom) raced me as clean as can be and I felt I did the same thing.
He ran the bottom and I ran the top for five laps,
side-by-side and didn't touch each other at all."

 
- Bloomington winner Chad Boespflug -
(Collin Markle Photo)
 

 

"Chris stayed on the bottom and I thought, 'well, here's my shot," Boespflug said. "Right before that last yellow, I was hanging with him there a little bit. I just had to stand up on the wheel and, when I saw that white flag, I didn't lift for the entire last lap. I just held her to the floor!"

It was a reversal of fortunes for Boespflug who finished second to Windom last October at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in a fierce battle that was reminiscent of Friday night's Bloomington classic. At Terre Haute in the Fall of 2016, the two swapped the lead 26 times, unofficially, without banging wheels or turning a wheel wrong.

Running out front and continuously hitting your marks is something that takes an enormous amount of concentration, but Boespflug believes when you race wheel-to-wheel in the situation he did, it allows you to take your mind off the methodical aspects of driving, and just race.

"It's actually better when you're racing somebody because you forget about everything you're thinking about," Boespflug said. "You just drive the hell out of the racecar, really. You're just focusing on what you have to do and hitting your marks. Chris raced me as clean as can be and I felt I did the same thing. He ran the bottom and I ran the top for five laps, side-by-side and didn't touch each other at all."

Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois, came up just short of becoming the series' first repeat winner of 2017, finishing second after leading seven laps in his Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving - AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton.

"We were pretty good on the top and bottom," Windom said. "I felt like we were a little stronger on the bottom and I was kind of committed to it. I didn't want to be switching from the top to the bottom because it's easy to miss your marks doing that. I got to the lead and it just started to slick off a little too much. With five to go, I felt like I had to slow down a little too much. By the time I realized I needed to get back to the top, Chad was already next to me with two or three laps to go. He ran three or four perfect laps there on the top and it was just enough to get back by us."

Fort Branch, Indiana's Chase Stockon is still trying to piece his season back together after a series of setbacks on and off the track. A late February tornado swept through Fort Branch, damaging his home, shop, toterhome, trailer and pickup truck. His first race following the tornado resulted in an opening lap flip at Lawrenceburg. Despite the stressful times, Stockon was able to put it all together Friday night for a solid third-place run in his 32 TBI Racing/Superior Tank & Trailer - Crescent Electric Supply/DRC/Fisher.

"We fought issues with this thing," Stockon admits. "This is the same car we had at Lawrenceburg. We straightened it up and Joe (Devin) fixed it. We've had motor issues, bent butterflies and trying to get it to idle right. We finally got it fixed this morning, then loaded up and came straight here (to Bloomington). The way things have been going, we're definitely relieved. It makes it that much sweeter."

Contingency award winners Friday night at Bloomington Speedway include C.J. Leary (B & W Auto Mart/ProSource Fast Qualifier & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Brent Beauchamp (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Tyler Thomas (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner).

--------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 14, 2017 - Bloomington, Indiana - Bloomington Speedway

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-10.771; 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-10.830; 3. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-10.891; 4. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-10.924; 5. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-10.963; 6. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-10.975; 7. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-10.995; 8. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-10.995; 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2, Motsinger-11.001; 10. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-11.023; 11. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-11.030; 12. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-11.033; 13. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-11.034; 14. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-11.056; 15. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-11.100; 16. Jeff Bland Jr., 38, Bland-11.100; 17. Brent Beauchamp, 34, Olson-11.121; 18. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-11.153; 19. Max McGhee, 4J, 4J Motorsports-11.165; 20. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-11.169; 21. Clinton Boyles, 98, Boyles-11.182; 22. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-11.190; 23. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-11.206; 24. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-11.249; 25. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-11.254; 26. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-11.264; 27. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-11.276; 28. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-11.286; 29. Michael Koontz, 17x, Koontz-11.506; 30. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-11.556; 31. Dakota Jackson, 66w, Waltz-11.560; 32. Brandon Morin, 98x, Morin-11.574; 33. Shelby VanGilder, 22v, VanGilder-11.853; 34. Dylan Shaw, 12K, Meneely-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Beauchamp, 2. Boespflug, 3. Boyles, 4. Schuerenberg, 5. Leary, 6. Chapple, 7. Goodnight, 8. Koontz, 9. VanGilder. 1:51.92

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Andretti, 3. Darland, 4. Windom, 5. Hodges, 6. Farney, 7. Simon, 8. Swanson, 9. Shaw. 1:53.02

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. K.Thomas, 2. McGhee, 3. Cottle, 4. Grant, 5. Bilbee, 6. Short, 7. Jackson, 8. Mattox. 1:51.72 (New Track Record)

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. T.Thomas, 2. Coons, 3. Bland, 4. Cummins, 5. Stockon, 6. Stanbrough, 7. Sussex, 8. Morin. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Leary, 3. Short, 4. Bilbee, 5. Hodges, 6. Stanbrough, 7. Farney, 8. Sussex, 9. Jackson, 10. Simon, 11. Swanson, 12. Chapple, 13. Goodnight, 14. Koontz, 15. VanGilder, 16. Mattox, 17. Morin. 2:20.84 (New Track Record)

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chad Boespflug, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Brady Short, 7. Jeff Bland Jr., 8. Kyle Cummins, 9. Brent Beauchamp, 10. Nick Bilbee, 11. Tyler Thomas, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Shane Cottle, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Tyler Courtney, 17. Jon Stanbrough, 18. Dave Darland, 19. Isaac Chapple, 20. Max McGhee, 21. Clinton Boyles, 22. Landon Simon, 23. Jerry Coons Jr., 24. Hunter Schuerenberg. NT
----------------------------
**Morin flipped during the fourth heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Boespflug, Laps 22-28 Windom, Laps 29-30 Boespflug.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Kevin Thomas Jr. (20th-5th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: C.J. Leary

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-294, 2-Boespflug-291, 3-Windom-249, 4-Stockon-246, 5-Schuerenberg-201, 6-Andretti-192, 7-Hodges-186, 8-Cottle-175, 9-Courtney-166, 10-Cummins-157.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 15 - Haubstadt, IN - Tri-State Speedway (Co-sanctioned by MSCS) - "Spring Showdown"

 

Defending "Spring Showdown" winner Chase Stockon in action
at Haubstadt, Indiana's Tri-State Speedway in 2016.

(David Nearpass Photo) 



 
USAC SPRINTS TREK TO SOUTHERN INDIANA FOR BLOOMINGTON AND HAUBSTADT ACTION
 

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Two of the most popular venues on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship calendar reside in the heart of southern Indiana. Bloomington Speedway's lush, green hillside provides a welcoming ambience to nearly a century of enthralling racing theater on the quarter-mile oval of radiant red clay. Deeper south is Haubstadt, Indiana's Tri-State Speedway where crowds come in droves, annually filling up both sides of the racing arena to cheer on their racing heroes.

Coming into this weekend's USAC National Sprint Car events on Friday, April 14th at Bloomington Speedway and Saturday, April 15th's "Spring Showdown" at Tri-State Speedway, co-sanctioned by MSCS, only four active drivers have mastered both Bloomington and Haubstadt during their USAC National Sprint Car driving careers. You can count Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr. among them. KTJ recently returned to the USAC wars, picking up 8th in his season debut two weekends ago at Lawrenceburg for the Pace Brothers team. The winningest non-wing sprint car driver in the country in 2016 continues to find his stride as, just last weekend, he scored a pair of top-five finishes in a midget at the "Kokomo Grand Prix."

Sikeston, Missouri's Hunter Schuerenberg began the year in winning fashion by taking the Saturday night portion of Winter Dirt Games in Ocala, Florida. At Lawrenceburg, Schuerenberg was flat-out fast again until he rode out a harrowing ride while running second.

Though he resides just a stone's throw away in Bedford, Indiana, Bloomington Speedway has been home-sweet-home to Brady Short over the past decade-plus. Short, a six-time Bloomington Sprint Car track champion earned his first career USAC win there in 2006. Tri-State Speedway has been kind as well to the "Bedford Blaster," where he captured a pair of USAC National Sprint Car victories in 2015.

Jon Stanbrough needs just one more victory to surpass Rich Vogler for sole possession of 10th place all-time on the USAC National Sprint Car win list. What better place to do it than this coming weekend at Bloomington and Haubstadt? Stanbrough, who announced his intentions to step away from full-time racing at the end of the year, is riding a high after a solid 4th place run at The Burg on the first of April.

Ironically, each of the four drivers have exactly three wins apiece at this weekend's two tracks, mirroring each other with a single win at Bloomington and a pair of victories at Tri-State. However, there will be a stacked field on hand to disrupt any notions those four have of adding another tally mark to their southern Indiana dirt track scorecard.

They will have to contend with the likes of series point leader Justin Grant of Ione, California, Hanford, California's Chad Boespflug, who occupies second in the standings, plus additional top-10 points residents Jarett Andretti of Mooresville, North Carolina, Tijeras, New Mexico's Josh Hodges, Kokomo, Indiana's Shane Cottle, and Tipp City, Ohio's Landon Simon, plus a bevy of others who can and will contend this weekend.

USAC National racing is in the midst of a streak of sweeps. Just last weekend, Brady Bacon dominated both nights of the "Kokomo Grand Prix" in a midget and, two weeks ago, Chris Windom began the flourish by winning the National Sprint Car Midwest season opener at Lawrenceburg, then followed that performance one night later with a victory in the Silver Crown series' "Sumar Classic" at the Terre Haute Action Track.

This weekend provides another opportunity for a Windom sweep. He was a winner at Bloomington in the Spring of 2011, but Tri-State has proved troublesome throughout his career. In 13 starts at the quarter-mile paperclip, he possesses an average finish of 12th. The tide seems to be turning as three of his four most recent starts at Tri-State have resulted in top-10 finishes.

Last April at Bloomington, Bryan Clauson continued his dominance there by leading the final 12 laps to take his fourth-straight USAC National Sprint Car victory at the track. Prior to him, no driver had even won two-straight USAC Sprint races at Bloomington!

One night later, Chase Stockon from nearby Fort Branch, Indiana picked his way past Thomas Meseraull on lap 12, then owned the final 19 laps of the feature for his first USAC triumph at his home track in Haubstadt.

Pit gates for Friday night's round at Bloomington open at 4:30pm with spectator gates set to open at 5:30pm. Cars are scheduled to hit the track at 6:30pm. All times eastern. Adult general admission is just $20 while children 12 and under are FREE with a paid adult. Pit passes are $30.

Tri-State Speedway's opening event on Saturday gets underway with ProSource Qualifying at 6:30pm and racing scheduled to begin at 7:30. All times central. Adult general admission is $25. General admission tickets for students age 13-18 are $20. Tickets for kids age 12 and under are FREE.

All around the globe, fans who are unable to make the trek to Bloomington and Tri-State this Friday and Saturday can watch flag-to-flag coverage of each race a day after the event on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

Brady Bacon and crew celebrate after winning Sunday night's USAC National Midget "Kokomo Grand Prix" at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.
 
(Travis Branch Photo)
 


 
BACON BRINGS HIS BROOM,
SWEEPS KOKOMO GRAND PRIX

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Kokomo, Indiana.........The month of April has quickly become the "sweeps" period for USAC's national series as Brady Bacon became the second driver in as many weeks to complete an undefeated weekend by capturing both nights of the "Kokomo Grand Prix" at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway.

One week after Chris Windom claimed victories in consecutive nights at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car and Silver Crown action, respectively, it was Bacon's turn to do a little spring cleaning of his own as he cleared out space in his cabinet to bring home a pair of brand-new trophies earned this weekend in USAC National Midget competition.

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native took the lead from Tanner Thorson just shy of the midway point of the 30-lap affair after starting from the outside of the fifth row, then promptly dominated the second-half to grab his fifth-career USAC National Midget feature win, and third at Kokomo.

Sunday night was nearly identical to Saturday night for Bacon. For the second straight evening, he entered the Midget feature just after posting a runner-up finish in the Kokomo Sprint Car main event. Yet, it would take Bacon just a little bit longer to reach the point as opposed to the night prior, but not by that much.

Polesitter Chad Boat would control the pace early on as he slid up to the top to grab the lead in turn one on the opening lap. Outside second-row starter Tanner Thorson would instantly pose a threat as he took a peek to the inside of Boat off turn two on laps three and four.

On the sixth circuit, Thorson made his charge on the bottom, but Boat was able to hold onto his advantage by the skin of his teeth, more accurately the circumference of a single front wheel. One lap later, Thorson duplicated the same move, but this time was able to get enough of a run off turn four to propel him to the lead by a single wheel over Boat.

Boat wouldn't accept this fate without a fight and, instead, worked his way back around the topside to retake the lead from Thorson on the eighth lap. However, the move was negated due to a yellow for the turned-around car of ProSource Fast Qualifier Justin Grant, which reverted the running order back to the last completed lap.

Meanwhile, lurking in the shadows was third-running Bacon who had already overtaken seven positions in the first seven laps. After the green flag dropped for the restart, Thorson led the way on the bottom as Boat stayed true to the top. Bacon followed Thorson's lead and used the low line to motor past Boat for second.

The chase was on as Thorson led a train on the bottom with Bacon in tow as he aimed to escape the rapid pursuit of the previous night's winner. On the 13th lap, with little room for error and Bacon ready to pounce, Thorson left the door cracked open at the exit of turn four, which was just enough daylight for Bacon to squeeze through to snare the race lead away.

Just as it was the night before, Bacon put his Bob East-wrenched, FMR Racing/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions - Black Watch Farms/Beast/Toyota anywhere he pleased, running the bottom between turns one and two and using a diamond pattern on the other end of the racetrack in which he'd enter on the cushion in turn three and exit turn four on the bottom.

The interval between he and Thorson continued to expand in the final laps, growing to a substantial 4.5 second margin as Bacon took the checkered ahead of Thorson, Tyler Courtney, Rico Abreu (who charged from 22nd to 4th after flipping earlier in the night during time trials) while Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Bacon's victory puts him in an exclusive club of drivers who've tallied at least three USAC National Midget wins at Kokomo, joining Rich Vogler (7), Mel Kenyon (6), Jimmy Davies (3) and Bob Wente (3). Bacon's monumental weekend has given him a healthy early-season point cushion where he stands with a 30-point lead in the standings as the series takes an extended break before returning May 19 at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.

 
Tanner Thorson (#67) battles eventual race winner Brady Bacon during
Sunday night's "Kokomo Grand Prix" feature at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.

 
(Bill Miller Photo)
 

 

"We had to work a little harder tonight," Bacon remarked. "We were able to get to the front really quickly and then the track changed quite a bit. It got pretty treacherous with some holes on the bottom. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time every time and made some good decisions. I'm just glad to have a car I can be confident moving around in, especially here. You've got a lot of options and there's a big difference between the top and bottom. The car worked great wherever it went. We've worked so hard and, last year, we got our package together and we're finally getting the results to show for all that hard work."

Minden, Nevada's Tanner Thorson followed up a third-place run the night before with a second-place finish Sunday night in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio - TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota, getting back into the groove after a tough opening to the season in Du Quoin, Ill. back in March.

"We just took what it gave us tonight," Thorson stated. "We've had a pretty good car here the last two days. We definitely wanted to win that one, but Brady just beat us. He was better through the holes tonight, but we'll back and we'll come to the next race even stronger."

Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney took a wild tumble while running third in Saturday night's feature at Kokomo. Sunday night, the team rolled out the backup car for Courtney and took a well-earned third-place finish in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/Driven 2 Save Lives - Indiana Donor Network/Spike/Stanton SR-11.

"After the start I've had this year in the midget and sprint car, to get a podium here is a pretty good confidence booster," a rejuvenated Courtney exclaimed. "Hopefully, moving forward from here will be just a little smoother sailing than the start of the year. I can't thank everybody who came to the shop last night and busted their butts. We found out just last night that our car was junk and they finished putting this backup car together, came back to the track and kept faith in me. I've got all the faith in the world in them and their racecars and what they do in the shop. I think it showed tonight."

Contingency award winners Sunday night at Kokomo Speedway include Justin Grant (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Alex Bright (Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher), Jake Neuman (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Race Winner) Tanner Carrick (Chalk Stix Third Heat Race Winner), Tyler Thomas (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner) and Rico Abreu (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger).

---------------------------

USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 9, 2017 - Kokomo, Indiana - Kokomo Speedway - "Kokomo Grand Prix"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.081; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7B, Brown-13.199; 3. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.246; 4. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.247; 5. Dave Darland, 11, Gray-13.347; 6. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.350; 7. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.385; 8. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.402; 9. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13.452; 10. Davey Ray, 33, Team RAYPRO-13.530; 11. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.554; 12. Shane Golobic, 17w, Clauson-Marshall/Wood-13.574; 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 25, Petry/Goff-13.577; 14. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.625; 15. Tanner Carrick, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.626; 16. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.658; 17. Alex Bright, 77, Bright-13.690; 18. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-13.804; 19. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.828; 20. Tyler Nelson, 88T, Nelson-13.869; 21. Ryan Greth, 4R, Lesher-13.981; 22. Chase Jones, 22, Petry/Goff-13.992; 23. Kyle Schuett, 9K, Schuett-14.114; 24. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-14.118; 25. Anton Julian, 44, Pace-14.167; 26. Bear Wood, 8JR, LW Racing-14.516; 27. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-14.603; 28. Ray Seach, 2, Seach-14.664; 29. Rico Abreu, 21, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-NT; 30. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bright, 2. Abreu, 3. Grant, 4. Greth, 5. Coons, 6. Klaasmeyer, 7. Darland, 8. Julian. 2:19.35

COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Neuman, 2. Ray, 3. Robinson, 4. Shelton, 5. K. Thomas, 6. Jones, 7. Wood, 8. Walker. 2:18.80

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Carrick, 2. Bayston, 3. Bacon, 4. Courtney, 5. Windom, 6. Shane Cottle (#9K), 7. Dickerson. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. T. Thomas, 2. Thorson, 3. Boat, 4. Golobic, 5. Nelson, 6. Lynch, 7. Seach. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. K. Thomas, 2. Darland, 3. Windom, 4. Coons, 5. Jones, 6. Nelson, 7. Cottle, 8. Lynch, 9. Dickerson, 10. Wood, 11. Klaasmeyer, 12. Julian, 13. Seach. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Rico Abreu, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Spencer Bayston, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Shane Golobic, 9. Ryan Robinson, 10. Holly Shelton, 11. Davey Ray, 12. Jerry Coons, Jr., 13. Alex Bright, 14. Tyler Thomas, 15. Tyler Nelson, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Brayton Lynch, 18. Ryan Greth, 19. Chad Boat, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Chris Windom, 22. Chase Jones, 23. Tanner Carrick. NT
----------------------------
**Abreu flipped during qualifying. Klaasmeyer flipped during the semi. Julian flipped during the semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Boat, Laps 7-12 Thorson, Laps 13-30 Bacon.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Rico Abreu (22nd to 4th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Alex Bright
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-216, 2-Bayston-186, 3-Thorson-175, 4-Coons-169, 5-Grant-168, 6-Golobic-151, 7-Neuman-125, 8-Darland-120, 9-Courtney-113, 10-Robinson-113.

NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 19 - Granite City, Illinois - Tri-City Speedway

 

Brady Bacon captured night one of the "Kokomo Grand Prix"
Saturday night at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway,
the site of his first career USAC National Midget victory in 2006.

(Ryan Sellers Photo)
 



 
BACON BACK IN KOKOMO VICTORY LANE;
TAKES GRAND PRIX NIGHT 1


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Kokomo, Indiana.........Brady Bacon entered Saturday night's USAC Midget National Championship feature as the only driver in the field to have previously won a race in the series at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway.

After 30 laps were complete, the story remained the same as Bacon outdueled Spencer Bayston in the waning laps to take his fourth career series win and second at Kokomo, the site of his very first USAC National win in 2006.

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native pulled double-duty Saturday on night one of the "Kokomo Grand Prix." Moments after finishing in the runner-up spot to Justin Grant in the Kokomo Sprint Car portion of the program, Bacon lined up outside the second row at the start of the Midget feature.

Wasting no time, Bacon found his way to the front of the field, slipping under Chad Boat for the race lead exiting turn two on the opening lap. Bacon worked the middle while Boat climbed the ladder up to the top side as the pair locked down the top two positions in the opening third of the event.

After a caution for a Tyler Nelson spin, the ensuing lap 10 restart witnessed the most frightening incident of the evening. Third-running Tyler Courtney biked his way into the first turn, then proceeded to flip nose-to-tail several times before coming to a rest on top of the hood of Clauson/Marshall Racing teammate Justin Grant's car just short of the turn one concrete. Courtney would climb out of the car under his own power, though his night was finished. Grant would restart from the tail and, by race end, would claw his way back to a sixth-place finish.

On the second lap 10 restart, Boat's right foot was cocked and locked as he fired past Bacon into turn one. Bacon responded by diving underneath Boat, outpacing him to regain the lead at the exit of turn two.

Meanwhile, ProSource Fast Qualifier Bayston entered the fray and, after getting by Boat for second, two laps later he was in position to grab the lead. A Bayston turn three slider momentarily put him in front before Bacon countered by slipping back under to retake the lead at the stripe. Bayston kept his foot in it and hit the topside where he powered by Bacon to take the top spot on the 13th lap.

Bayston quickly separated himself from the field, but Bacon stayed in touch, reeling Bayston back in to challenge him for first with less than ten laps remaining. With seven to go, the two battled wheel-to-wheel with Bacon pulling the front wheels to the sky as he rallied to the lead. Bayston got back by to reclaim the position at the head of the pack, though Bacon put his foot down and possessed the spot for good after charging past Bayston one final time in turn four.

From that point forward, Bacon ripped the high-side between turns one and two and the middle in three and four where nobody else was able to lay a finger on him in the waning laps as he took the victory by a little over a half-second in his FMR Racing/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions - Black Watch Farms/Beast/Toyota over Bayston, Thorson, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Jerry Coons, Jr.

 
"It was tough; we bounced around on the cushion a couple times.  (Spencer Bayston) did the same thing. I got pretty close to the wall of (turn) four a couple times. Once we got a few laps and the tires got hot and got some air in them, it was a little easier. It was a little hairy a couple times, but you got to drive hard if you want to win these races, especially here." - Brady Bacon
 

 

"I knew the top was probably going to come in," Bacon remembers. "I felt the bottom slowing down. When you're in the lead, it's hard to really know what to do. I knew I was going to be tight after that red (flag). I was afraid that hole in (turn) one was going to get me if I moved up too early. Once (Bayston) got by me, I moved up and got some speed back up and he started freeing up in (turns) three and four. We were able to get the diamond pattern going over there and got a really good run off of four, and that's how we got by him."

"It was tough; we bounced around on the cushion a couple times," Bacon continued. "(Bayston) did the same thing. I got pretty close to the wall of (turn) four a couple times. Once we got a few laps and the tires got hot and got some air in them, it was a little easier. It was a little hairy a couple times, but you got to drive hard if you want to win these races, especially here. I didn't want to give up. I didn't want to move up until somebody proved to me the top was faster. Bob (East) gave me a car good enough that I could move up there and still go fast."

Five drivers competed in both the midget and sprint features Saturday night, including Bacon. The differences between the two disciplines are stark, but Bacon was able to master the challenge, finishing first and second in the respective features.

"The top is faster in the sprint car," Bacon explains. "There were things I didn't even notice in the sprint car when I got out there in the midget. I was like, 'Man, that hole looks a lot bigger now that in in a midget!' Sprint cars go through the bumps a little better. Midgets are a little more sensitive to it. You don't have the horsepower in a midget, so you have to be careful and it might be too far around the top at the beginning. The track was great as usual. It's nice to get a good racetrack, somewhere you can really open it up and race on. Hopefully, we get that again tomorrow and can put on another good show."

Lebanon, Indiana's Spencer Bayston came up just short of his second career USAC National Midget victory, instead having to settle for his fifth second-place finish dating back to 2016 after leading 11 laps in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Curb Records - TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota.

"I got out front and Brady found the bottom in (turns) three and four better than I did," Bayston conceded. "We had a really good racecar. I just thought we were better in (turns) one and two than he was, but he was just killing me so much in three and four, he got me.

"The first time I came here, I didn't finish the race and the time after that, I don't think I even made the A-main," Bayston added. "We've made a lot of progress. It's all thanks to the people around me who gave me the opportunity and taught me as much as they have."

Defending series champion Tanner Thorson overcame an early-race skirmish with Tyler Courtney that shuffled him from fourth to seventh, but persevered to take third in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio - TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota.

"We had a great car all night," Thorson praises. "Al (Scroggins) worked his butt off to try and get this thing better and better throughout the night. The track was a little bit tricky tonight, but we'll get back to the shop, get everything cleaned up and try again tomorrow."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Kokomo Speedway include Spencer Bayston (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner), Tyler Thomas (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Race Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Justin Grant (Chalk Stix Third Heat Race Winner), Tyler Courtney (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner) and Gage Walker (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).

---------------------------

USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 8, 2017 - Kokomo, Indiana - Kokomo Speedway - "Kokomo Grand Prix"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.318; 2. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.320; 3. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.326; 4. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.346; 5. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13,382; 6. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.486; 7. Justin Grant, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.499; 8. Davey Ray, 33, Team RAYPRO-13.507; 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7B, Brown-13,595; 10. Tanner Carrick, 71k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.609; 11. Holly Shelton, 67k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.616; 12. Jerry Coons Jr., 25, Petry/Goff-13.630; 13. Dave Darland, 11, Gray-13.652; 14. Shane Golobic, 17w, Clauson-Marshall/Wood-13.719; 15. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.722; 16. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-13.742; 17. Shane Hollingsworth, 85, Hollingsworth-13.750; 18. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.796; 19. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13,802; 20. Ryan Greth, 4R, Lesher-13.918; 21. Alex Bright, 77, Bright-13.948; 22. Billy Wease, 12w, Wease-13.949; 23. Anton Julian, 44, Pace-13.991; 24. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-14,023; 25. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-14.100; 26. Ray Seach, 2, Seach-14.102; 27. Tyler Nelson, 88T, Nelson-14.116; 28. Brayton Lynch, 1k, RKR-14.263; 29. Kyle Schuett, 9k, Schuett-14.297; 30. Scott Orr, 88, Orr-14.520; 31. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-14.521; 32. Bear Wood, 8jr, LW Racing-14.568; 33. Cole Fehr, 15F, Live Loud-14,578; 34. Chase Jones, 22, Petry/Goff-14.747; 35. Brad Kraus, 6B, Kraus-15.052.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bayston, 2. Darland, 3. K.Thomas, 4. Robinson, 5. Bright, 6. Walker, 7. Schuett, 8. Fehr, 9. Hollingsworth. 2:19.06

COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. T.Thomas, 2. Golobic, 3. Thorson, 4. Boat, 5. Wease, 6. Jones. 7. Carrick, 8. Orr, 9. Seach. NT

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Klaasmeyer, 3. Windom, 4. Bacon, 5. Shelton, 6. Nelson, 7. Julian, 8. Kraus, 9. Dickerson. 2:18.59

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Coons, 3. Newman, 4. Ray, 5. Greth, 6. Lynch, 7. Wood. 8. DiMattia. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Shelton, 2. Bright, 3. Walker, 4. Carrick, 5. Nelson, 6. Greth, 7. Schuett, 8. Julian, 9. Wease, 10. Jones, 11. Lynch, 12. Kraus, 13. Dickerson, 14. Wood, 15. Fehr, 16. Seach. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Justin Grant, 7. Chris Windom, 8. Tyler Thomas, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Ryan Robinson, 11. Chad Boat, 12. Holly Shelton, 13. Gage Walker, 14. Alex Bright, 15. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Tanner Carrick, 18. Brayton Lynch, 19. Tyler Nelson, 20. Shane Golobic, 21. Ryan Greth, 22. Kyle Schuett, 23. Tyler Courtney, 24. Davey Ray. NT
----------------------------
**Courtney flipped on lap 10 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-12 Bacon, Laps 13-23 Bayston, Laps 24-30 Bacon.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Thomas (20th to 8th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Gage Walker

NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-140, 2-Grant-133, 3-Coons-129, 4-Bayston-120, 5-Thorson-98, 6-Golobic-97, 7-Neuman-86, 8-Boat-76, 9-Walker-76, 10-T.Thomas-67.

 
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 9 - Kokomo (IN) Speedway - "Kokomo Grand Prix"

 


 


KOKOMO GRAND PRIX SHIFTS TO SATURDAY/SUNDAY SCHEDULE


 
This weekend's "Kokomo Grand Prix" featuring the USAC Midget National Championship at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway has been shifted to Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9.

A forecast calling for chilling temperatures on the originally-scheduled Friday date prompted the move to Saturday and Sunday, which will feature complete shows for both the midgets and Kokomo Sprint Cars.

A deep field is anticipated for "Kokomo Grand Prix," including Justin Grant who, just last month, captured his first career USAC National Midget victory indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin. It was a history-making feat as he became the first to win the USAC National Sprint and National Midget openers in the same season. His run thus far for Clauson/Marshall Racing has been nearly flawless, and he looks to continue his run of success at a track he has mastered 10 times behind the wheel of a sprint car.

Grant will have to contend with a number of racers who are eager to put their stamp on the early part of the 2017 season. His CMR teammate, Shane Golobic, finished right behind him at Du Quoin. Arizona's Jerry Coons, Jr. and Indiana's Dave Darland are two of the most decorated drivers in the history of the United States Auto Club and both know their way around Kokomo in any type of car they get behind the wheel of.

Defending series champion Tanner Thorson got off to a rough start in Du Quoin with a 21st place result, but hopes to rebound at Kokomo along with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammates Spencer Bayston and a trio of first-time win-seekers Ryan Robinson, Holly Shelton and series rookie Tanner Carrick.

Oklahoma's Brady Bacon got his first career USAC National Midget win at Kokomo way back in 2006 while Arizona's Chad Boat led much of the series' most recent appearance at the track in June of 2016.

Another driver who has found his groove early on in 2017 is Chris Windom. The Canton, Illinois native swept a pair of event's last weekend in USAC's AMSOIL National Sprint Car and Silver Crown divisions at Lawrenceburg, Ind. and Terre Haute, Ind., respectively. Windom won the most recent Midget feature at the track, a Midwest Regional event, at last October's "Kokomo Klash."

Pit and spectator gates open on both Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Drivers meeting will take place at 5pm. Cars hit the track at 5:30.

Adult general admission is just $20 each night. Kids 10 and Under are FREE with Paid Adult. Pit passes are $35 each night.

Fans worldwide who are unable to make it to Kokomo Speedway in-person this Saturday and Sunday can witness the "Kokomo Grand Prix" LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. And the following day, you can catch the race on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

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UPCOMING USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT:

DATE: Saturday & Sunday, April 8-9, 2017

SERIES: USAC Midget National Championship

TRACK: Kokomo Speedway (Kokomo, IN) - 1/4-Mile, High-Banked Dirt Oval

EVENT: "Kokomo Grand Prix" featuring the USAC Midget National Championship and Kokomo Sprint Cars

STARTING TIMES:
Saturday, April 8
Pit and spectator gates open at 3pm. Drivers meeting: 5pm. Cars on track: 5:30.
 
Sunday, April 9
Pit and spectator gates open at 3pm. Drivers meeting: 5pm. Cars on track: 5:30.

TICKETS: General Admission: $20.00; Pit Pass (All Ages): $35.00. Kids 10 & Under FREE with Paid Adult (General Admission Only)

TRACK ADDRESS: 2455 N. Davis Rd., Kokomo, IN, 46901

TRACK PHONE: (765) 459-3877

MEDIA COVERAGE: Live stream each night on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. Live updates on https://www.facebook.com/usacracing/ and https://twitter.com/USACNation, plus available on the Race Monitor app on your phone. Watch the race one-day later at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

#11 Dave Darland and #97 Spencer Bayston battle for position at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway during 2016 Indiana Midget Week.
(Jeremey Rhoades Photo)
 



 
USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS HEAD FOR TWO STRAIGHT NIGHTS AT KOKOMO GRAND PRIX APRIL 7-8

Richie Murray - USAC Media

USAC Midgets and Kokomo Speedway: a partnership that dates to a bygone era of no cages and short-sleeve t-shirts serving as firesuits. And over the past six decades, the track has delivered the goods when it comes to USAC Midget racing on the quarter-mile dirt oval located a little over an hour north of Indy. It's the only venue, in fact, from USAC's initial National Midget season of 1956 that remains on the series' calendar to this day.

Jimmy Davies, Bob Tattersall, Mel Kenyon, Sleepy Tripp, Rich Vogler, Tony Elliott, J.J. Yeley, Bryan Clauson and Kyle Larson are among the names you'll find on the track's USAC Midget winners' list. For the 74th and 75th time this coming weekend, another name, another racing hero will etch his or her name as the latest to make their mark, their signature, at Kokomo Speedway.

The indoor midget racing season has gone by the wayside and it's time to head to the great outdoors and into the wild where dirt is the playground and the throng of Midwest race fans come out of hibernation to get their racing fix.

As the USAC National season transitions into full-swing, one of the most popular stops on the tour for any driver awaits the USAC Midget National Championship this coming Friday and Saturday, April 7th and 8th at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway for the "Kokomo Grand Prix."

As if one night isn't enough, the action will be packed into two straight nights as the series hits the outdoors for the first time in 2017. Just last month, Justin Grant captured his first career USAC National Midget victory indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, making history by becoming the first to win the USAC National Sprint and National Midget openers in the same season. His run thus far for Clauson/Marshall Racing has been nearly flawless, but can he continue his run of success at a track he has mastered 10 times behind the wheel of a sprint car?

Grant will have to contend with a number of racers who are eager to put their stamp on the early part of the 2017 season. His CMR teammate, Shane Golobic, finished right behind him at Du Quoin. Arizona's Jerry Coons, Jr. and Indiana's Dave Darland are two of the most decorated drivers in the history of the United States Auto Club and both know their way around Kokomo in any type of car they get behind the wheel of.

Defending series champion Tanner Thorson got off to a rough start in Du Quoin with a 21st place result, but hopes to rebound at Kokomo along with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammates Spencer Bayston and a trio of first-time win-seekers Ryan Robinson, Holly Shelton and series rookie Tanner Carrick.

Oklahoma's Brady Bacon got his first career USAC National Midget win at Kokomo way back in 2006 while Arizona's Chad Boat led much of the series' most recent appearance at the track in June of 2016.

In that 2016 race, Rico Abreu's late-race magic included sliding teammate Christopher Bell for third simultaneously as second-running Spencer Bayston got sideways between turns three and four. Abreu banged wheels with Bayston, ricocheting in front of Bayston and into second-place with ten laps to go.

A yellow for debris in turns three and four closed the gap between first and second, providing Abreu a lifeline and a chance by placing him right on Boat's tail tank for the restart. At the drop of the green, Abreu rode the razor's edge up against the wall as Boat matriculated the middle groove. Abreu continued to grind and grind as he pressured Boat, ultimately pulling alongside Boat in a drag race that resulted in a near dead-heat at the start/finish line on lap 22.

Abreu was seemingly shot out of a cannon each time at the exit of turns two and four, distancing himself from Boat in the waning laps to take the victory ahead of Bayston and Boat. Meanwhile, Bryan Clauson was crowned "Indiana Midget Week" champion for his performance throughout the five-race mini-series.

ProSource qualifying for Friday night's program begins at 6:30pm with racing set for 7:30pm. On Saturday night, the action gets underway a half-hour earlier with qualifying at 6pm and racing at 7pm. Pit and spectator gates open both days at 3pm.

Adult general admission is just $20 for both nights of racing that feature USAC National Midgets and Kokomo Sprint Cars. Kids 10 and Under are FREE with Paid Adult. Pit passes are $35

Fans worldwide who are unable to make it to Kokomo Speedway in-person this Friday and Saturday can witness the "Kokomo Grand Prix" LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. And the following day, you can catch the race on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

2017 "Sumar Classic" top-three finishers. Winner Chris WIndom (middle), 2nd place finisher C.J. Leary (right) and 3rd place finisher Kody Swanson (left).
(David Nearpass Photo)
 

 

 
WINDOM WINS THE SUMAR,
COMPLETES WEEKEND SWEEP

Richie Murray - USAC Media

Terre Haute, Indiana.........Chris Windom picked up right where he left off in a number of ways Sunday night at the Terre Haute Action Track.

One night after celebrating a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car score at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, Windom was back in the familiar setting of victory lane at the 17th running of the "Sumar Classic."

"It's pretty special getting the win last night and then to come out here with a brand-new team, I really don't know what to say. I met a lot of these guys for the first time today. Gene Kazmark gave me the opportunity and gave me a great racecar to come out here and win tonight."

Incredibly, this was Kazmark's first entry into a Silver Crown event as an owner since the "Hoosier Hundred" in September of 2001 with driver Ricky Shelton. However, the car itself was a familiar commodity to Windom as it was the same car he drove to victory in his most recent series' win at Eldora Speedway's "4-Crown Nationals" for the Fred Gormly/RPM Auto Enterprise team in September 2016. But, a new team means new surroundings, and Windom and the crew quickly adapted to their new environment.

"I'm pretty familiar with the car," Windom admits. "It's pretty much the same exact car we won Eldora with last year. That definitely gave us a head start coming in. The guys working on it busted their tails all winter long to maintain and rebuild it and keep it as good as it was last year. It's pretty special to be able to come out here and do this. I didn't know exactly what my expectations were coming here since I didn't know the guys very well, but we jelled right from the first practice session."

Windom became just the fifth driver in the history of the USAC Silver Crown series to follow up a win in the previous season's final race with a victory in the season opener the next year. The only other drivers to accomplish that feat are Al Unser (1974), Tom Bigelow (1976), Jerry Coons, Jr. (2011) and Kody Swanson (2015).

In fact, dating to the 2016 "Ted Horn 100" at Illinois' Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, Windom has been victorious in three-straight Silver Crown events, the 10th driver in the history of the series to do so.

The Canton, Illinois native also became the fourth defending Silver Crown champ to capture the following season's opening race, joining Al Unser (1974), Dave Steele (2006) and Kody Swanson (2015).

The three most recent "Sumar Classic" winners coming into Sunday, Shane Cockrum (2015), C.J. Leary (2016) and Kody Swanson (2014) owned the lead in the first half of the 100-lap event, but by the midway point, Windom had steadily worked his way to the front from his ninth starting position, utilizing the bottom of the racing surface to make his way through the pack.

By the 50th lap, Windom chomped into Swanson's lead. The two series champs worked the bottom after Swanson moved his line between turns three and four from the top to the bottom. Windom stuck a nose under Swanson entering turn three, inching along the inside guardrail until the exit of turn four where he was able to clear Swanson to take the top spot by a car-length at the start/finish line as flagman Tom Hansing displayed the crossed flags.

Windom had opened up a near full-straightaway lead over new second-place runner Leary with two-thirds of the race in the bag, while Swanson occupied third. With 18 to go, though, Windom's lead had grown to seven seconds and the insurmountable advantage seemed unattainable for second on back until eighth-running Bill Rose slowed with an apparent driveline issue to bring out the caution.

With the field bunched up, Windom's lead was now gone and he would have to contend with defending race winner Leary in the closing laps. However, Windom was able to get a solid jump with the lapped cars of Johnny Petrozelle and Joe Liguori standing between the front two on the lap 83 restart, thus allowing Windom to break away as Leary fought his way around the two to give chase.

Windom and Leary worked the bottom lap-after-lap as Leary slowly, but surely chipped away at the gap. By lap 92, Leary had sliced Windom's advantage to under a half-second and was still closing.

It was at this juncture one year ago when Leary made the race-winning move for the win, but this year's lap 93 did not work in his favor as he began to lose valuable ground and Windom started to distance himself from Leary once-and-for-all.

Windom had withstood the challenge, taking the victory by just a tad under two seconds over Leary, Swanson, top-rookie finisher Hunter Schuerenberg and Jerry Coons, Jr.

 
"I don't think our momentum could be much better right," Windom acknowledges. "It's awesome to be able start the year like this. I've never had a year quite this good this early." - Chris Windom
 
(Dennis Krieger Photo)
 

 

It was Windom's sixth career Silver Crown victory, which moves him into the top-20 on the series' career win list. Meanwhile, he also continued a streak of different "Sumar Classic" winners each year going back to 1999.

"I knew I found something on the bottom," Windom recalls. "I couldn't hit it twice in a row for a while, but I finally hit my marks on entry to where I could hit it on the exit. That's where I'd gain on him off the corner. I didn't want to show him a nose. I wanted to be able to pass him cleanly so he couldn't take my line away. We got to traffic and it kind of played in my favor. A low and slow race takes a lot out of you trying to hit your marks like that every single lap."

"I don't think our momentum could be much better right," Windom acknowledges. "It's awesome to be able start the year like this. I've never had a year quite this good this early."

Greenfield, Indiana's C.J. Leary continued his impressive runs at Terre Haute over the past three seasons by scoring his third-straight top-two result with a second-place finish in his Chuck & Tammi Leary/Leary Construction - Gray Auto/DRC/1-Way Toyota.

"I think it's this DRC Silver Crown Car," Leary humbly attributes for his recent run of success at Terre Haute. "Joe (Devin) and I have been working really well together on this deal. Terre Haute is really not one of my better tracks, but in the Silver Crown car here, two seconds and a win is pretty awesome. I think we picked the wrong tire tonight, though. We went with a 25 instead of a 20 thinking it was going to rubber up early, but it never did."

"Chris (Windom) and I were about the same speed," Leary explains during the final run to the checkered. "Every time he'd make a mistake, I seemed to make the same mistake. I figured I could catch him, but I didn't know if we could pass him. It felt kind of like deja vu from last year. I thought we might able to pull off the upset, but that's racing. We'll load up, go back to the shop and try to make it a little bit faster."

Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, California grabbed third in his DePalma Motorsports/Radio Hospital - Hampshire Racing Engines/Maxim/Hampshire Chevy.

"You really don't want to get too far back at Terre Haute behind guys like Shane (Cockrum) and C.J. (Leary), both former Sumar winners," Swanson said. "I knew I had to figure out how to get around them early on and the top of (turns) three and four seemed to be holding. If you're going to get to the lead doing it, you got to be the first one to try it. You have to stick your neck out and make something happen. This crew works hard for me and I was going to work hard for them to make sure I got us back to the lead. I did everything I could do to put us in a position to win. I chased it higher and higher; there were so many cars on the bottom throwing the marbles out and, when the moisture went away, you just couldn't keep doing it anymore and I had to come to the bottom."

"This team's a pleasure to race for," Swanson continued. "We went in with what we thought was going to happen and it just didn't tonight. We never quit. We gave it everything we had and we're disappointed because these guys are good and we want to win, but tonight we just missed a little bit. We'll come back and try again. There's no one else I'd rather come back to the races with."

Contingency award winners Sunday night at the Terre Haute Action Track included Kody Swanson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Dave Darland (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Patrick Bruns (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

---------------------------

USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 2, 2017 - Terre Haute, Indiana - Terre Haute Action Track - "Sumar Classic"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-23.599; 2. Casey Shuman, 55, Bateman-23.794; 3. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-23.881; 4. Shane Cockrum, 71, Hardy-23.925; 5. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-23.990; 6. Brady Bacon, 48, Martens-24.063; 7. Justin Grant, 91, Carli/Hemelgarn-24.119; 8. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-24.382; 9. Chris Windom, 92, Kazmark-24.809; 10. Steve Buckwalter, 53, SET-24.857; 11. Hunter Schuerenberg, 120, Nolen-24.953; 12. Johnny Petrozelle, 08, Cornell/Petrozelle-25.021; 13. Dakota Jackson, 201, Nolen-25.066; 14. Joe Liguori, 4, Liguori-25.127; 15. Patrick Bruns, 95, Full Throttle-25.148; 16. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-25.195; 17. Mark Smith, 54, Lane-25.382; 18. J.C. Bland, 5, Bland-25.509; 19. Bill Rose, 75, Rose-25.551; 20. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-25.565; 21. Shane Cottle, 81, Williams-25.596; 22. Joss Moffatt, 32, Williams/Wright-25.886; 23. Austin Nemire, 16, Lesko-25.981; 24. Dave Darland, 27, Phillips-26.032; 25. Korey Weyant, 99, Weyant-26.064; 26. Terry Babb, 42, Babb-26.323; 27. Damion Gardner, 6, Klatt-26.486; 28. Jacob Wilson, 07, WBR-26.707; 29. Kenny Gentry, 18, Gentry-27.284; 30. Chris Fetter, 89, Fetter-NT; 31. David Shain, 7, Hardy-NT.

LAST CHANCE RACE: (15 laps) 1. Smith, 2. Cottle, 3. Gardner, 4. Darland, 5. Rose, 6. Moffatt, 7. Nemire, 8. Bland, 9. Babb, 10. Wilson, 11. Weyant, 12. Berkheimer, 13. Fetter, 14. Gentry. 5:51.67

FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Kody Swanson, 4. Hunter Schuerenberg, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Damion Gardner, 9. Dakota Jackson, 10. Joss Moffatt, 11. Johnny Petrozelle, 12. Joe Liguori, 13. Patrick Bruns, 14. David Byrne, 15. Austin Nemire, 16. Bill Rose, 17. Steve Buckwalter, 18. Shane Cockrum, 19. Mark Smith, 20. Aaron Pierce, 21. Shane Cottle, 22. Justin Grant, 23. J.C. Bland, 24. Casey Shuman. NT
------------------------------
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-18 Cockrum, Laps 19-25 Leary, Laps 26-49 Swanson, Laps 50-100 Windom.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Dave Darland (20th to 7th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Patrick Bruns

NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Windom-70, 2-Swanson-70, 3-Leary-69, 4-Schuerenberg-61, 5-Coons-58, 6-Bacon-56, 7-Darland-52, 8-Gardner-49, 9-Jackson-46, 10-Moffatt-43.

NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 29 - Phoenix (AZ) International Raceway - "Phoenix Copper Cup"

 

Chris Windom was victorious in Saturday night's
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship Midwest season opener
at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.

(Ryan Sellers Photo) 



 
NO MORE SECOND THOUGHTS;
 
WINDOM FINALLY HITS THE WIN COLUMN AT THE BURG

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Lawrenceburg, Indiana.........Chris Windom knows how to win. His 15 career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car wins certainly attest to that. Of those 15 wins, though, one place that had eluded him over the past decade was southeastern Indiana's Lawrenceburg Speedway.

In almost a cruel way, Windom had finished second on five different occasions during his career in USAC competition at the three-eighths-mile dirt oval, including last Fall's most recent stop on the tour.

On Saturday night, the Canton, Illinois native would shed the label of perennial Lawrenceburg runner-up by leading all 30 laps on his way to victory in the 2017 Midwest season opener for the series.

After a rough February patch in the first two races to begin the season down south in Ocala, Fla., Windom came back to the Midwest eager to pick up right where he left off last season in his Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving - AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton. After picking up a non-sanctioned sprint car win a week ago in Mansfield, Ohio, Windom followed up by claiming his first USAC victory at Lawrenceburg, one that was a long time in the making.

"I've been fast here a lot over the years," Windom recalls. "I know I've finished second quite a few times here, but I've never been able to click off a win. But we've been fast all year; we just had a little misfortune down in Florida, but it's nice to come back up here and get the momentum going early here in the Midwest."

Windom began the 30-lap feature from the outside of the front row alongside polesitter Chad Boespflug. By the time the field reached turn one just after taking the green flag, mayhem ensued as both occupants of the third row were wiped out in a frightening double-flip involving Dave Darland and Chase Stockon. Both drivers were able to walk away, but their respective races were over just as they had begun.

On the complete restart, Boespflug initially held the advantage as he and Windom went side-by-side into turn one, but Windom used a big run down the banking off turn two to blast around the outside of Boespflug to grab the lead. Each time during the first two circuits Boespflug stuck a nose underneath, Windom always had an answer. Once clear, Windom shot away to a substantial advantage, holding a full-straightaway lead by the time the caution fell for the slowing car of Carson Short on lap nine.

With the lead erased and the field reset for the ensuing restart, Hunter Schuerenberg began to make his charge, slipping underneath Boespflug for second into turn three. Schuerenberg's chase was aimed at running down Windom for the lead, but the pursuit would end abruptly when he biked it in turn one, sending him into a violent series of barrel-rolls before coming to a rest near the turn two wall. Schuerenberg was able to climb out of his battered machine and walk away from the breathtaking accident.

The lap 10 restart saw Boespflug once again trying to gain any foothold he could on the bottom, but the undaunted Windom kept his foot in it and drove around the outside of Boespflug to maintain his lead.

"I knew I just had to have a good first and second lap on those restarts because Chad could slide up in front of me there," Windom explained. "It was hard to hit my marks consistently running the line I was running. I knew I had to hit those laps and we'd be able to pull away from him."

Just past the halfway point, Windom neared the tail end of the field. As Windom weaved his way through the lapped traffic, a trail of sparks began to stream out of the rear of the orange No. 5. With the brake rotor glowing red hot and Windom mired in a logjam, Boespflug was able to shrink the deficit somewhat. But, by lap 24, Windom was in the clear as he lapped all the way up to 10th place.

"I was hoping my brakes weren't going out because they were sparking pretty early in the race," Windom recalls. "I tried to lay off them a little bit, but it was kind of hard to since I didn't know how close anybody was to me. I figured I would run as hard as I could and if they went, they went out. I never lost the brakes, though, but I was on them hard. I could see the sparks flying up in front of my eyes going into the corner. I had to get on the brakes pretty hard to enter the way I was because of the holes getting into turns one and three."

 
"I knew we had a really fast car, but it was a tough track to run 30 consistent laps.  I started concentrating as hard as I could to hit my marks. You had to be very careful about where you chose to hit your marks. We were able to hold it together and come away with a win." - Chris Windom
 
(Ryan Sellers Photo)
 

 

However, with Shane Cottle coming to a rest backwards on the inside of turn four with five laps remaining, the yellow flag would fly and bunch up the field for one final run to the checkered.

As Windom ventured up to the top of turn one on the lap 26 restart, Boespflug made one last go of it as he tried to slide up in front of Windom between turns one and two. Rinse-and-repeat, the second, third and fourth verses were the same as the first when Windom stood up in his seat, never flinching and never batting an eye, as he cruised right around the outside of Boespflug off turn two to take the advantage for good, distancing himself from Boespflug by 1.371 seconds at race end. Justin Grant was third followed by Jon Stanbrough and a career-best performance for Landon Simon.

Windom's first ever April USAC triumph was his 15th overall in the series, tying him with Bobby East, Cory Kruseman, Jud Larson and Brian Tyler for 31st all-time. His earliest season victory before Saturday night was a May 20th win in 2011 at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.

Though Windom led the entire distance from his front row starting spot, his road to victory was anything but smooth and steady. It required precision and laser-sharp focus on every centimeter of the track for 30 laps. Something that a fast racecar alone cannot overcome.

"I knew we had a really fast car, but it was a tough track to run 30 consistent laps," Windom admitted. "I started concentrating as hard as I could to hit my marks. You had to be very careful about where you chose to hit your marks. We were able to hold it together and come away with a win."

The string of consistent runs Hanford, California's Chad Boespflug has posted in the first three races have resulted in a fourth and a pair of runner-up finishes, including Saturday night at Lawrenceburg in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton.

"This is huge for us. I haven't been very good here the last few years, so I'm happy to get a podium here tonight," Boespflug exclaimed. "We were fighting some throttle issues about midway through the race, going down into the corner and had to pick the throttle pedal up. It wasn't wanting to return. Little things like that can screw with your head and make you focus on too many other things rather than what you need to be focusing on. Overall, it was a great night. The car was fantastic all night and we'll carry this momentum on to Bloomington and Haubstadt in a couple weeks."

Ione, California's Justin Grant retained the series point lead after finishing third in his Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco. It was his third top-three finish in as many starts to begin the season after a win and a second-place finish in February in Ocala, Fla.

"As treacherous as the track was tonight, I'm happy to come away with a podium finish," Grant said. "I'll call it a solid points night. We'd obviously like to win it, but Chris (Windom) was in his own race. Our car was really good, but we just didn't have enough for them. I'm excited to keep racing with Sam McGhee and the No. 11 sprint car. They give me a great car every night and it's a joy to drive it. Hopefully, we can climb up a little higher on the podium next time."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway include Justin Grant (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Nick Bilbee (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chase Stockon (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Jeff Bland, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Shane Cottle (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Shane Cottle (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Tyler Thomas (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

----------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 1, 2017 - Lawrenceburg, Indiana - Lawrenceburg Speedway

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.251; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.385; 3. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-13.387; 4. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.562; 5. Shawn Westerfeld, 89, Westerfeld-13.685; 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-13.686; 7. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-13.703; 8. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.710; 9. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.742; 10. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2, Motsinger-13.782; 11. Josh Hodges, 74, Hodges-13.858; 12. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.886; 13. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.986; 14. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-14.072; 15. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-14.113; 16. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.150; 17. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-14.167; 18. Max McGhee, 4J, 4J Motorsports-14.177; 19. Cody Gardner, 9G, APPCO-14.177; 20. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-14.207; 21. Nick Nilbee, 17N, Bilbee-14.219; 22. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-14.245; 23. Jeff Bland Jr., 17GP, Dutcher-14.280; 24. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-14.289; 25. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-14.298; 26. Garrett Abrams, 32A, Abrams-14.304; 27. Joss Moffatt, 5J, Moffatt-14.308; 28. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.318; 29. Travis Hery, 21H, Hery-14.428; 30. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.492; 31. Dallas Hewitt, 16, Kaser/Seeling-14.511; 32. Michael Fischesser, 44s, Fischesser/Owen-14.599; 33. Riley VanHise, 96, VanHise-15.630; 34. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-NT; 35. Cooper Clouse, 14, Clouse-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bilbee, 2. Andretti, 3. Boespflug, 4. Westerfeld, 5. Grant, 6. Robbins, 7. Goodnight, 8. Hery, 9. VanHise. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. McGhee, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Swanson, 5. K.Thomas, 6. Gentry, 7. Abrams, 8. Chapple. 1:52.49

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bland, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Hodges, 4. Hewitt, 5. Simon, 6. Gardner, 7. Moffatt, 8. Smith. 1:59.14

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Short, 3. Windom, 4. Darland, 5. Courtney, 6. T.Thomas, 7. Leary, 8. Fischesser. 1:58.06

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Grant, 3. K.Thomas, 4. Smith, 5. T.Thomas, 6. Simon, 7. Chapple, 8. Robbins, 9. Leary, 10. Abrams, 11. Gentry, 12. Moffatt, 13. Gardner, 14. Goodnight, 15. Fischesser, 16. Hery, 17. VanHise. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Landon Simon, 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Shawn Westerfeld, 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9. Jarett Andretti, 10. Shane Cottle, 11. Dallas Hewitt, 12. Tyler Courtney, 13. Tyler Thomas, 14. Corey Smith, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Jeff Bland Jr., 17. Max McGhee, 18. Kody Swanson, 19. Nick Bilbee, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Carson Short, 22. Dave Darland, 23. Chase Stockon. NT
----------------------------
**Clouse flipped during qualifying. Goodnight and VanHise flipped at the start of the semi. Darland and Stockon flipped on the first lap of the feature. Schuerenberg flipped on lap 10 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Windom

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Shane Cottle (21st-10th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Tyler Thomas

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-228, 2-Boespflug-214, 3-Stockon-175, 4-Schuerenberg-173, 5-Windom-172, 6-Andretti-152, 7-Hodges-145, 8-Cottle-134, 9-Brady Bacon-128, 10-Simon-128.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 14 - Bloomington (IN) Speedway

 


 


 
SPEED SHIFT TV TO STREAM SUMAR CLASSIC
 
LIVE FROM TERRE HAUTE ON SUNDAY

 
For the first time ever, the "Sumar Classic" from the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track featuring the USAC Silver Crown Championship will be streamed LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/ this Sunday, April 2.

The 17th running of the event hits the half-mile with 35 drivers already entered for the 100-lapper, making it the largest "Sumar" field in nearly two decades!

The entry list includes some of the most decorated racers in USAC history as well as one of the strongest fields top-to-bottom seen in several seasons. Among them are USAC Triple Crown champs Dave Darland and Jerry Coons, Jr., plus additional past Terre Haute Silver Crown victors Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner Leary, who continued a streak of different "Sumar" winners last April that dates back to 1999.

Defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom begins his title defense in 2017. He was the most recent USAC winner last October in an AMSOIL National Sprint Car event. Reigning USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon eyes his first Silver Crown series victory Sunday. Past Silver Crown series winners also make up the bulk of the "Sumar" driver lineup, including Aaron Pierce, David Byrne and Shane Cottle.

Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Order the live stream now at https://www.speedshifttv.com/order/ for just $24.95.

Race fans can watch the "Sumar Classic" on-demand one day after the event at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

Justin Grant celebrates his season-opening USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory in Ocala, Fla. in February of 2017.
(John DaDalt Photo)
 



 
JUSTIN GRANT ON THE BRINK OF HISTORY 
THIS SUNDAY AT TERRE HAUTE


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Whether one uses the eye test, the victory lane photos or the point standings to determine how well Justin Grant's 2017 season has begun, the fact of the matter is that his performance thus far has already rewritten the record books.

Simply put, Grant has gotten off to one of the finest starts any driver has had in the history of the United States Auto Club. So fine, in fact, that he became the first driver in the history of the venerable club to capture feature victories in both the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car and USAC National Midget season openers in the very same year.

Though he has already made his mark in 2017, on Sunday, April 2 at the Terre Haute Action Track in western Indiana, Grant could stand all alone as the only driver to win all three USAC National series season-openers in the same season.

A number of milestones are on the line for Grant this Sunday. No driver in USAC has won at least one feature in the Silver Crown, National Sprint and National Midget divisions earlier than April 28, a mark set by the late Dave Steele in 2002.

Speaking of Steele, he is the only driver to win a USAC Silver Crown and National Midget season-opening feature in one season, a feat he accomplished twice in 2002 and 2006. Steele is also just one of three drivers to have won a USAC Silver Crown and National Sprint season-opener in a year, doing so in 2005. Pancho Carter did the deed in 1978 along with Jim Keeker in 1992.

On Sunday at the "Sumar Classic" in Terre Haute, Grant's opportunity to join these exclusive clubs is right within his reach.

One year ago, Grant nearly pulled off the "Sumar" victory after leading the first 93 circuits of the 100-lapper, but had to settle for second at the checkered behind C.J. Leary. After a strong third-place points showing in 2016 and consistent runs at the front, Grant will certainly be one of the favorites come Sunday to win his first career Silver Crown event on famed half-mile.

After blasting from the launching pad in February down in Ocala, Fla. for a "Winter Dirt Games VIII" victory, Grant followed it up one night later by taking the runner-up spot behind Hunter Schuerenberg. In March, the storybook beginning continued onto the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin where the 26-year-old Ione, California native tallied USAC National Midget victory number one.

As a result, Grant now leads both the USAC National Sprint and National Midget standings heading into April as the beginning of the USAC Silver Crown season is set to unfold this Sunday, April 2 at the Terre Haute Action Track in western Indiana.

Admittedly, it's obviously way too early to anoint Grant as the next single-season USAC Triple Crown champ when the season is just getting into the month of April, but maybe it's not that far-fetched. At press time, Grant is the only driver to possess full-time rides to chase a championship in each of USAC's three national divisions, leaving him as the sole hope to join Tony Stewart in 1995 and J.J. Yeley in 2003 to grab all three titles in a single-season.

The prelude to Grant's coming weekend begins this Saturday, April 1 at southeastern Indiana's Lawrenceburg Speedway for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars' season debut in the Midwest aboard the Sam McGhee Motorsports No. 11.

One day later, Grant makes his debut at the wheel of the combined Silver Crown team effort between Hemelgarn Enterprises and Chris Carli Motorsports at the Terre Haute Action Track for the 17th running of the "Sumar Classic."

Pit gates open for Lawrenceburg at 3pm while the front gates open at 5. Cars hit the track for hot laps at 6pm with opening ceremonies set to get underway at 7. Adult admission is $25. Kids 7-12 are $7. Children 6 and under are free! Pit passes are 30 bucks.

Pit gates for the Sunday, April 2 "Sumar Classic" open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for Terre Haute can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

For fans who are unable to make the trip to Terre Haute in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. Race fans can watch on-demand one day after the event at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

The Mal Lane-owned #54 for USAC Silver Crown rookie Mark Smith. 


 
SILVER CROWN ROOKIES EAGER TO IMPRESS
IN SUNDAY'S SUMAR CLASSIC AT TERRE HAUTE


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

As a new season embarks, a new crop of rookies has emerged to take on the task of racing in the USAC Silver Crown Championship in 2017. In this Sunday's season-opening "Sumar Classic" at Indiana's Terre Haute Action Track, twelve rookies have entered to compete on the legendary half-mile dirt oval.

To be designated as a rookie in Silver Crown, a driver must not have competed in more than four main events in the series during their career.

Three drivers have full intentions of running the schedule of races on both the dirt and the pavement this year including five-time USAC/CRA AMSOIL Sprint Car champion Damion Gardner. Gardner, the most heralded of the 2017 Silver Crown rookie class, has been a mainstay in USAC's national and western divisions for much of the past two decades, yet he has only competed in a single Silver Crown race: the 2008 "Copper on Dirt" at the defunct Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. The Concord, Calif. native will compete for the Klatt Enterprises team with Bob East Dave Brzozowksi on the wrenches.

Columbus, Indiana's Joss Moffatt is new to the Silver Crown scene with car owners Williams & Wright Racing, but he has earned plenty of accolades for his driving achievements over the course of his career, which includes Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway Sprint Car track titles in 2007, 2009 and 2015. Meanwhile, Travis Welpott of Pendleton, Ind. makes his first foray into Silver Crown with his own team after racing after a couple decades competing in midgets and sprint cars. The driver of the familiar No. 18 is the 1993 UMRA TQ Midget champ as well as the 2000 NAMARS Midget titlist.  In 1998, Welpott finished eighth in the USAC National Midget point standings.

Hunter Schuerenberg has already found USAC victory lane once this year, back in February's "Winter Dirt Games VIII" AMSOIL National Sprint Car season-openers in Ocala, Fla. The Sikeston, Missouri native owns nine career USAC Sprint victories, but aims to tally one this season in the Silver Crown series in which he owns just one career start, less than a year ago in June of 2016 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. The veteran racer is one of two series rookies a part of the Gene Nolen Racing stable along with Elizabethtown, Indiana's Dakota Jackson. Jackson possesses just three Silver Crown starts, including one in 2016 and a pair in 2014. Jackson made his series debut at Terre Haute's "Sumar Classic" in 2014. His USAC Sprint Car successes include a third in the "Haubstadt Hustler" at Indiana's Tri-State Speedway in September of 2015.

Tyler Courtney burst onto the scene in last season's USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season, including a comeback victory from the 24th position to win his first career series race at Gas City I-69 Speedway during "Indiana Sprint Week" in July of 2016. After making a couple starts in 2015, Courtney returned to Silver Crown action in the final race of last year's season in the "4-Crown Nationals" at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. The Indianapolis, Ind. resident, who will wheel a Hans Lein-owned machine on Sunday, racked up ProSource Fast Qualifying time on his way to career-best third-place finish.

Mark Smith is a highly-accomplished racer in the world of 360 Sprint Car racing has twice taken the honor of "King of the 360s." Smith's returns to the series aboard Mal Lane's new orange No. 54 at Terre Haute. Smith's Silver Crown career began in 2003 on the pavement at Nazareth (PA) Speedway before making a triumphant return last season where he made two successful starts in which he was the highest "rookie" finisher: a ninth in the "Hoosier Hundred" at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and a sixth at the "Horn/Schindler Memorial" at Pennsylvania's Williams Grove Speedway. Another Keystone State racer, Super Sportsman veteran Dave Berkheimer, made two Silver Crown starts in 2016 at his home track of Williams Grove and the season-finale at Eldora and returns once again this season in his own No. 31.

Springfield, Illinois driver J.C. Bland has the most experience of the Silver Crown rookie contingent, making four Silver Crown starts over the last couple of seasons in the Bland Brothers Enterprises No. 5. Fellow Springfield racer Korey Weyant eyes his first Silver Crown start Sunday in the No. 99 at Terre Haute. Weyant, a veteran sprint car and midget racer himself, comes from a racing lineage that includes his grandfather, Chuck, a four-time Indianapolis 500 starter, 10-time USAC National Midget feature winner and a AAA Midget victor at Terre Haute in 1955.

Meanwhile, a couple drivers are looking to make their first ever appearance in a USAC National event. Johnny Petrozelle, a versatile veteran from Denton, North Carolina has logged many laps in winged sprint cars, midgets, modifieds, stock cars, you name it, but his first adventure in a Silver Crown car comes this Sunday at Terre Haute. Petrozelle's team, Cornell Racing Stables, has long cemented its place in the USAC National Midget record books by virtue of their eight feature victories between 1967 and 1979 with drivers Bob Hare, Roger West, Gary Ponzini and Rich Vogler.

Additionally, the Hardy Boys Racing team, who won the "Sumar Classic" with Shane Cockrum in 2015, will field a second car for David Shain of Sullivan, Ill. Shain has extensive experience in UMP Modifieds and has traditionally run well on the one-mile dirt tracks over the years. Shain is the nephew of former Silver Crown competitor Steve Adams.

Over the years, 15 different drivers have won a race and gone on to win the Silver Crown "Rookie of the Year" award in the same season, but none since Chris Windom in 2013. The others include Keith Kauffman (1982), Jeff Swindell (1987), Eric Gordon (1990), Stevie Reeves (1991), Jim Keeker (1992), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1994), Jimmy Kite (1997), Kasey Kahne (2000), Aaron Fike (2001), Josh Wise (2005), May Neely (2006), Cameron Dodson (2007), Bryan Clauson (2010) and Kyle Larson (2011).

Does a new rookie winner emerge this Sunday, April 2 at the Terre Haute Action Track? It'll be interesting to see how it plays out with the biggest "Sumar Classic" field since 1998 expected to sign-in. Thirty-five drivers and cars are on the list of for this year's 100-lap showdown in Terre Haute. The list includes some of the most decorated racers in USAC history as well as one of the strongest fields top-to-bottom seen in several seasons. Among them are USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr., plus additional past Terre Haute Silver Crown victors Bud Kaeding (2006), Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner Leary, who continued a streak of different "Sumar" winners last April that dates back to 1999.

Defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom begins his title defense with the return of Kazmark Racing, who is fielding a car in the series for the first time since 2001. Reigning USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon eyes the addition of one of the few missing pieces to his racing resume: a victory in the Silver Crown series. Past Silver Crown series winners also make up the bulk of the "Sumar" driver lineup, including Aaron Pierce, David Byrne and Shane Cottle.

Pit gates for the Sunday, April 2 "Sumar Classic" open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for the event can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

 
The Terre Haute Action Track is located at 3901 South US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47807.

For fans who are unable to make the trip in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. Race fans can watch on-demand one day after the event at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

 

The Phillips Motorsports #27 for 1997 USAC Silver Crown champ Dave Darland.
(Jeremey Rhoades Photo)
 



 
DARLAND, GRANT AND COURTNEY FILE ENTRIES FOR SUNDAY'S SUMAR CLASSIC AT TERRE HAUTE
 

A trio of USAC's most popular stars are the latest to file their entries for this Sunday's "Sumar Classic" USAC Silver Crown season opener at western Indiana's Terre Haute Action Track.

The addition of Dave Darland, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney to the April 2nd race brings the field to 35 entries in what is expected to be the largest field for the event in nearly two decades.

Lincoln, Indiana's Darland, a 2008 "Sumar Classic" winner, will join the field for his first ride in the Phillips Motorsports No. 27. Darland has had substantial success with the Phillips' sprint car in recent years, racking up 17 wins with the team between 2013 and 2015. Darland is one of just six members of the USAC Triple Crown club in which a driver has won the title in each of the club's three national divisions during their career: Silver Crown, AMSOIL National Sprint and National Midget. Darland is tied for sixth on the all-time Silver Crown win list with 14 victories.

Justin Grant nearly won the "Sumar Classic" one year ago after leading the first 93 circuits of the 100-lap event, ultimately finishing second behind C.J. Leary. The Ione, California native seeks redemption on Sunday as he aims to notch his first career series win. Grant has gotten off to an incredible start thus far in the 2017 season after collecting season-opening wins in USAC's National Sprint (Ocala, Fla.) and National Midget divisions (Du Quoin, Ill.), the first driver ever to accomplish the feat. Grant's Silver Crown team sports a new look, taking the No. 91 this season as car owners Chris Carli and Ron Hemelgarn have teamed up with Grant for a run at the series title.

Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney takes the wheel of Hans Lein's No. 97 for Sunday's "Sumar." Courtney has made just a handful of starts in the Silver Crown division, but his most recent run in a champ car at last fall's "4-Crown Nationals" at Eldora Speedway resulted in a career-best third-place finish after qualifying for the pole position. Courtney was also a winner in the AMSOIL National Sprint Car series in 2016 after storming to the front from the 24th spot to capture his first career USAC National win during "Indiana Sprint Week" at Gas City I-69 Speedway.

Thirty-five drivers and cars are on the list of expected competitors for this year's 100-lap showdown on the famed half-mile dirt oval. The list includes some of the most decorated racers in USAC history as well as one of the strongest fields top-to-bottom seen in several seasons.

USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. is entered for the event along with additional past Terre Haute Silver Crown victors Bud Kaeding (2006), Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner Leary, who continued a streak of different "Sumar" winners last April that dates back to 1999.

Defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom begins his title defense with the return of Kazmark Racing, who is fielding a car in the series for the first time since 2001. Reigning USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon eyes the addition of one of the few missing pieces to his racing resume: a victory in the Silver Crown series. Five-time and defending USAC/CRA AMSOIL Sprint Car titlist Damion Gardner plans to make his first Silver Crown feature start since 2008.

Past Silver Crown series winners also make up the bulk of the "Sumar" driver lineup, including Aaron Pierce, David Byrne and Shane Cottle.

The event, which debuted with Donnie Beechler's 1995 score, could see some history made as the expected turnout will likely result in the first qualifying race for the series since the 2008 "4-Crown Nationals" at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. The qualifying race will be 15 laps, with the top-8 finishers transferring to the final four rows of the 24-car main event.

The first ever Silver Crown event held at Terre Haute was in 1980 when Gary Bettenhausen drove the Delrose-Holt Racing machine to the victory. This will be the 17th edition of the "Sumar Classic."

Pit gates open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for the "Sumar Classic" can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

 
The Terre Haute Action Track is located at 3901 South US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47807.

For fans who are unable to make the trip in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. Race fans can watch on-demand one day after the event at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.
 

"SUMAR CLASSIC" ENTRY LIST (35 CARS)
07 JACOB WILSON/Crawfordsville, IN
08 JOHNNY PETROZELLE/Denton, NC
2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL
4 JOE LIGUORI/Tampa, FL
5 J.C. BLAND/Springfield, IL
6 DAMION GARDNER/Corona, CA
7 DAVID SHAIN/Sullivan, IL
14 ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH
18 KENNY GENTRY/Henderson, KY
20 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN
27 DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN
30 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA
32 JOSS MOFFATT/Columbus, IN
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI
42 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL
48 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA
54 MARK SMITH/Sunbury, PA
55 CASEY SHUMAN/Tempe, AZ
63 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA
71 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL
75 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN
81 SHANE COTTLE/Kokomo, IN
89 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
92 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL
97 TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN
99 KOREY WEYANT/Springfield, IL
118 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN
120 HUNTER SCHUERENBERG/Sikeston, MO
201 DAKOTA JACKSON/Elizabethtown, IN

 

Last April's Lawrenceburg USAC Sprint winner Dave Darland.
(Al Steinberg Photo)
 



 
USAC NATIONAL SPRINTS MAKE MIDWEST DEBUT SATURDAY AT LAWRENCEBURG

 
March may have come in like a lion, but the hugely-anticipated month of April truly delivers the roar to the contingent of Midwest fans and drivers who have eagerly awaited this moment for the past six months. It's the return of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing to the state of Indiana, which arrives this Saturday night, April 1 at southeastern Indiana's Lawrenceburg Speedway.

Ione, California's Justin Grant has been dominant in the early part of the season after picking up the victory in the USAC National Sprint Car opener at "Winter Dirt Games VIII" in Ocala, Florida. He followed that up one night later by finishing second to Hunter Schuerenberg and, by virtue, stands at the top of the series standings heading to the Burg.

Grant's early season success would not cease and desist at that moment. Less than a month after Ocala, Grant scored the USAC National Midget season opener in February's "Shamrock Classic" at Du Quoin's Southern Illinois Center. The feat made him the first driver to win both the USAC National Sprint and National Midget season openers in the same season.

Grant's odds just might be in his favor as two of his five career USAC Sprint wins have come at the high-banked three-eighths-mile oval in Lawrenceburg!

Hanford, California's Chad Boespflug, the 2011 Lawrenceburg track champion, finished a strong second and fourth in the two Ocala races and sits third in points. Tied for seventh in the series standings are C.J. Leary and Jarett Andretti, who each have a Lawrenceburg track championship under their belt: Leary in 2013 and Andretti in 2016.
Chase Stockon, a Lawrenceburg winner in the fall of 2012, is fourth in the standings. Brady Bacon took the checkered at Lawrenceburg in the summer of 2015 and is fifth in points. Thomas Meseraull, a Burg winner in the fall of 2015, sits sixth while 2010 winner Jerry Coons, Jr. is tied for ninth. Hunter Schuerenberg (second) and Chris Windom (tied for ninth) are each seeking their first USAC win at Lawrenceburg.

In last year's Midwest opener at Lawrenceburg, it was a war of attrition as car after car fell by the wayside on a chillingly cold and blustery day. But, in the end, the veteran Dave Darland conserved his machine from the wear and tear, surviving the 30-lapper to extend his miraculous streak of USAC National victories to 24 consecutive seasons.

Lawrenceburg has played the host of several April USAC National Sprint Car stops on-and-off since 2006. Previous April Lawrenceburg winners include Jon Stanbrough (2006), Levi Jones (2007), Josh Wise (2009), Jerry Coons, Jr. (2010), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2013), Grant (2014), Logan Jarrett (2015) and Dave Darland (2016). Darland leads all drivers with seven career USAC National Sprint Car wins at Lawrenceburg and is the only driver to win a series race there in three different decades.

Pit gates open for Lawrenceburg's season opener at 3pm while the front gates open at 5. Cars hit the track for hot laps at 6pm with opening ceremonies set to get underway at 7. Adult admission is $25. Kids 7-12 are $7. Children 6 and under are free! Pit passes are 30 bucks.

 




 
NEW LOOK TEAM HAS GRANT EYING REDEMPTION IN SUNDAY'S SUMAR CLASSIC AT TERRE HAUTE

 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Justin Grant remembers the heartbreak from the 2016 "Sumar Classic" all too clearly.

After setting fast time in qualifying, Grant dominated the first 93 laps from the pole position and appeared to be on his way to his first career USAC Silver Crown victory.

However, as he rode the rail on the bottom between turns three and four, one little mistake was all it took for a near-perfect afternoon to slip through his fingers as he missed the rubber, slid up the racetrack and allowed C.J. Leary to slip by underneath at the exit of turn four. Leary would glide his way to victory that day at the Terre Haute Action Track while Grant held onto second and was left to wonder what could've been.

Grant remains as hungry as ever as the Silver Crown series returns to the western Indiana half-mile dirt oval this Sunday, April 2 for the 17th running of the "Sumar Classic." Despite the memories that linger from twelve months prior, Grant feels he has unfinished business to complete and that the key resides in him putting together a complete, 100-lap performance.

"I don't think anywhere owes you anything," Grant begins. "We were fast there last year and I let the race get away. I think we will be fast again this year; I just need to finish the deal this time."

A betting man would be wise to lay down some coin on Grant who's been the hottest driver in the early stages of USAC's AMSOIL National Sprint Car and National Midget seasons. Grant kicked off the year with a win and a second-place finish in consecutive nights at "Winter Dirt Games VIII" in Ocala, Fla. for the USAC Sprint season openers back in February. In March, the success continued as he followed that performance with his first career USAC National Midget feature triumph indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.

By doing so, he became the first driver in USAC history to win season-opening points races in both the National Sprint and National Midget series in the same year. He leads both series' point standings and, with the scalding-hot start and sky-high confidence, it would seem unwise to bet against the Ione, California native from pulling off the trifecta by capturing Sunday's "Sumar Classic."

"The start to this year has been incredible," Grant admits. "I'm fortunate to be with some really good teams and the Silver Crown team is no different. Being able to win both the sprint and midget openers was awesome. Being able to win all three would be amazing, but I'm trying not to think about it too much. I'm just trying to focus on showing up and doing my job."

Grant's Silver Crown operation will have a slightly new look for the 2017 season after his team owner Chris Carli combined forces with the Hemelgarn Racing team to attack the season championship. Among the changes for Grant is a switch from the No. 8 to Hemelgarn's familiar No. 91, which was driven the past two seasons by Austin Nemire. The Carli/Hemelgarn team will utilize Carli's cars and Hemelgarn's engines while veteran mechanic Dennis LaCava will oversee the operation at Hemelgarn's shop. Otherwise, it's business as usual for Grant, which so far in 2017 has been better than even he could've imagined.

Thirty-five drivers and cars have entered the "Sumar Classic" at the Terre Haute Action Track on Sunday, April 2, including former race winners Dave Darland (2008), Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner C.J. Leary as well as Silver Crown champs Jerry Coons, Jr. (2008) and Chris Windom (2016).

Pit gates open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for the "Sumar Classic" can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for passive pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

The Terre Haute Action Track is located at 3901 South US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47807.

For fans who are unable to make the trip in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/ Watch the race on-demand the next day on http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.
 

 

  


 
Dave Steele poses during a USAC National Sprint Car event
at Indiana's Salem Speedway in 2001.
(John Mahoney Photo)
 



 
DAVE STEELE, TWO-TIME USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP, PASSES AWAY AFTER FLORIDA SPRINT CRASH

 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Dave Steele, a two-time USAC Silver Crown champion and one of the United States Auto Club's most accomplished drivers during the 1990s and 2000s, died Saturday night, March 25 after a crash on the opening lap of a Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series-sanctioned event at Bradenton, Florida's Desoto Speedway. He was 42 years old.

Steele ranks 14th on USAC's national win list with 60 victories between 1996 and 2007. The Tampa, Florida native was dominant on the pavement tracks, which accounted for all 60 of his USAC National wins. Despite only competing in half the races, or less, on the schedule throughout most of his career, Steele's win totals rank in the top echelon of USAC's record book. His 16 Silver Crown wins are the third most all-time while his 26 Sprint Car victories rank 15th and his 18 Midget wins put him 35th on the list.

"It's hard to put the loss of Dave Steele into words," USAC series director Levi Jones stated. "He was a once-in-a-lifetime talent on the track, but even more impressive was the man, the dad and husband he was. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

In both 2004 and 2005, Steele ran the full USAC Silver Crown schedule and would reach the pinnacle of the sport by capturing back-to-back series titles. Steele was victorious in three consecutive Silver Crown races during the summer of 2005 at Virginia's Richmond International Raceway, Colorado's Pikes Peak International Raceway and the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin. To this day, he is the last driver to accomplish that feat in a single season.

Steele burst onto the national scene when he relocated to the Midwest prior to the start of the 1996 season where he became an instant success. His first USAC National Sprint Car start at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas resulted in a complete sweep of the night's program after posting the fastest qualifying time, winning his heat and leading the final 14 laps to take his first career USAC victory.

From that point forward, Steele gained a reputation as the man to beat on the pavement. He won a staggering 12 USAC features at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1 Silver Crown, 6 Sprint, 4 Midget and 1 Midget special event) during his career. His first USAC National Midget win came during the "Night Before the 500" at the .686-mile oval in 1998. In 2002, Steele put on one of the most memorable performances in USAC history when he won two National Midget features in one night at IRP. After winning the first feature, Steele started the second event from the 22nd position. Quickly cutting his way through the field, Steele took the lead by lap 12 and, by the end of the 25-lap feature, was $50,000 richer. He remains the most recent driver to win two USAC National Midget points races in a single day.

Steele stands behind only Jack Hewitt and Brian Tyler on the USAC Silver Crown career win list. Yet, no driver has led more laps or owns more pavement wins (16) in the series than does Steele. The first of which came in the grand opening at the Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park in 1998, but it was the tricky one-mile Phoenix International Raceway that became Steele's personal ATM. Miraculously, he captured the Silver Crown portion of the "Copper World Classic" five consecutive years from 2002 to 2006! In addition, Steele scored a "Copper World" Midget feature victory in 2002, 2006 and 2007.

The accolades for Steele within USAC are nearly endless. He was a two-time winner of the "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in 2001 and 2003. He was a force on the Indiana high banks, winning eight Sprint features at Winchester Speedway and three times at Salem Speedway. He captured three Silver Crown races at Richmond, Va. in a four-year span between 2002 and 2005.

Steele won at least one race in all three of USAC's national divisions in the same season on six occasions (1998, 2001-2005), the most in club history. His last USAC-sanctioned victory came in the 2009 "Little 500" Sprint Car race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, a grueling 500-lap event that he also won in 1996. Additionally, he was a five-time pole sitter for the race and finished in the runner-up spot in the two most recent editions in 2015 and 2016. The 2014 "Little 500" Hall of Fame inductee finished in the top-five in 10 of his 16 starts and led a total of 1,589 laps (third all-time).

Steele was a three-time Tampa Bay Area Racing Association Sprint Car champ in 2005, 2009 and 2013. He also made his way into other racing avenues with the Indy Racing League, where he made three starts in 1998, as well as NASCAR's Busch Grand National Series (now Xfinity Series) in which he made a pair of starts during the 2000 season.

USAC extends its heartfelt condolences to Dave Steele's family and friends.

Information on funeral services and where you can make contributions to the Steele family will be announced soon.

 

#30 C.J. Leary battles Kody Swanson for position
during the 2016 "Sumar Classic" at Terre Haute.

(David Nearpass Photo)
 


 
DEFENDING WINNER C.J. LEARY AIMS FOR REPEAT SUCCESS IN APRIL 2ND SUMAR CLASSIC AT TERRE HAUTE

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

In May of 1997, back when C.J. Leary was just a year old, the Leary family reached USAC Silver Crown victory lane for the first time.

Chuck Leary, C.J.'s father, scored a prestigious win in the "Hoosier Hundred" at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for his first and only career USAC National triumph. It may have just been a single victory, but oh, what a victory it was in the most-storied race on the series' calendar.

Zip forward nearly two decades later and the setting is slightly different, just a tad less than an hour and a half drive to the west from the Indy Mile to the Terre Haute Action Track where the Leary Construction No. 30 once again raced its way into the record books, this time with C.J., as he joined his dad as the first father/son duo to capture USAC Silver Crown series wins in their careers.

Not only was it meaningful to C.J. to become a USAC winner, he accomplished the feat with his dad as his spotter, making it an extra-special Sunday afternoon for the Leary family.

"Winning the 'Sumar Classic' is a huge accomplishment, especially for me being only 20-years-old and how hard 100-lap races are to win," Leary admitted. "Guys race their whole careers and may never win a Silver Crown event. It was definitely a special moment for my dad and I at Terre Haute last year. He spotted for me the whole race and kept me informed on where the rubber was on the track and kept me focused. We've come a long way as a father/son team. Not only is he my father, he's my best friend and it's really cool to be the first father/son to win a Silver Crown event."

Chuck himself made 37 Silver Crown starts in his career, along with 1995 series Rookie of the Year honors. C.J. took his father's experienced advice to heart and conserved early on as he kept pace with Justin Grant after starting outside the front row. The sunbaked surface provided a tricky set of circumstances for C.J., who was accustomed to running under the lights on the half-mile.

"All day, my car was extremely fast and I knew we were going to be competing for the win," Leary recalls. "Once we took the green flag, I just kept pace with Grant and I tried to be as easy on my tires as I could without losing much time to him. On the radio, my dad kept me from overdriving the car too early in the race. We had the yellow (flag) with 11 laps to go and, prior to the yellow, (Brady) Bacon and I battled for second. Bacon really helped me find the fastest line on the track. Once we went back green, Grant went straight back to the top and I went for the rubber. Once he missed the rubber, we were in the clear. The rubber on the track was just so much faster and I had already run down there and made adjustments to my shocks for the rubber. My dad kept telling me to hit my marks and stay in the rubber; Grant couldn't get past us."

It was quite a breakthrough performance for the Greenfield, Indiana driver who, one year earlier, had finished a close second to Shane Cockrum in the 2015 "Sumar Classic." Terre Haute has been one of those tracks that seems to be hit or miss for C.J., but in the Silver Crown car, it appears as if he and his crew have the place figured out.

"I don't know what it is, but our DRC Chassis just works really well on the half miles," Leary feels. "I feel like I do a really good job at conserving the racecar until the timing is right, then we make our move to the front. I'd say Terre Haute is one of my toughest tracks in the sprint car, but I make it look like my best track in the Silver Crown car."

There would be an encore performance in August of 2016 when C.J. captured his first career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway, surpassing the hurdle that had stood in his way during his first five seasons. Now, C.J. has sights set on new heights and capturing those accomplishments that have eluded him thus far. Now just 20 years of age, future victory lane scenes could see a lot of C.J. Leary in them, especially a certain victory lane that would mean the world to he and his father.

"Last year had a lot of ups and downs for me," Leary acknowledged. "I drove for three different teams and had success with each of them, but I'm excited this season to be back in the family-owned No. 30 with new 1 Way Technologies power plants and Jeff Walker on the wrenches. We're obviously looking for a championship in the sprint car series and wins. I'd love to win back-to-back 'Sumar Classics,' but there isn't a race I want to win more on the schedule than the 'Hoosier Hundred.' It would be the 20-year anniversary of my dad winning it back in 1997."

Thirty-four drivers and cars have already been entered for the 17th running of the "Sumar Classic" at the Terre Haute Action Track on Sunday, April 2, including former race winners Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner C.J. Leary as well as Silver Crown champs Jerry Coons, Jr. (2008) and Chris Windom (2016).

Pit gates open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for the "Sumar Classic" can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for passive pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

 
The Terre Haute Action Track is located at 3901 South US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47807.

For fans who are unable to make the trip in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/.

Meanwhile, the 63rd "Hoosier Hundred" is just around the corner and will take place on Thursday, May 25 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The event is part of the "Week of Indy," which features three-straight nights of USAC racing leading up to the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500: the "Tony Hulman Classic" featuring the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship on Wednesday, May 24, the "Hoosier Hundred" on Thursday, May 25 and the "Carb Night Classic" at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. for the USAC Silver Crown Championship on Friday, May 26. An advanced, discount "Superticket" for these three events can be purchased now at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-week-of-indy.

 

Two-time USAC Silver Crown champ Kody Swanson at speed
during the 2016 "Sumar Classic."
(David Nearpass Photo) 

 


 
LARGEST SUMAR CLASSIC FIELD IN TWO DECADES EXPECTED AT TERRE HAUTE APRIL 2ND!

 
The largest car count for the "Sumar Classic" in nearly two decades is expected for the USAC Silver Crown season opener Sunday, April 2 at western Indiana's Terre Haute Action Track.

Thirty-three drivers and cars are on the list of expected competitors for this year's 100-lap showdown on the famed half-mile dirt oval. The list includes some of the most decorated racers in USAC history as well as one of the strongest fields seen in several seasons.

USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. is entered for the event along with additional past Terre Haute Silver Crown victors Bud Kaeding (2006), Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner C.J. Leary, who continued a streak of different "Sumar" winners last April that dates back to 1999.

Defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom begins his title defense with the return of Kazmark Racing, who is fielding a car in the series for the first time since 2001. Reigning USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon eyes the addition of one of the few missing pieces to his racing resume: a victory in the Silver Crown series. Five-time and defending USAC/CRA AMSOIL Sprint Car titlist Damion Gardner plans to make his first Silver Crown feature start since 2008.

Past Silver Crown series winners also make up the bulk of the "Sumar" driver lineup, including Aaron Pierce, David Byrne and Shane Cottle.

The event, which debuted with Donnie Beechler's 1995 score, could see some history made as the expected turnout will likely result in the first qualifying race for the series since the 2008 "4-Crown Nationals" at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. The qualifying race will be 15 laps, with the top-8 finishers transferring to the final four rows of the 24-car main event.

The first ever Silver Crown event held at Terre Haute was in 1980 when Gary Bettenhausen drove the Delrose-Holt Racing machine to the victory. This will be the 17th edition of the "Sumar Classic."

Pit gates open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 2pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.

Tickets for the "Sumar Classic" can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15! Adult grandstand tickets are $25 while children age 11 and under are FREE! Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.

The Terre Haute Action Track is located at 3901 South US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47807.

For fans who are unable to make the trip in-person, the "Sumar Classic" will be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/.
 

"SUMAR CLASSIC" ENTRY LIST
07 JACOB WILSON/Crawfordsville, IN
08 JOHNNY PETROZELLE/Denton, NC
2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL
4 JOE LIGUORI/Tampa, FL
5 J.C. BLAND/Springfield, IL
6 DAMION GARDNER/Corona, CA
7 DAVID SHAIN/Sullivan, IL
14 ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL
18 KENNY GENTRY/Henderson, KY
 
20 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN
30 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA
32 JOSS MOFFATT/Columbus, IN
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI
42 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL
48 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA
54 MARK SMITH/Sunbury, PA
55 CASEY SHUMAN/Tempe, AZ
63 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA
71 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL
75 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN
81 SHANE COTTLE/Kokomo, IN
89 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO
92 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL
97 BUD KAEDING/Campbell, CA
99 KOREY WEYANT/Springfield, IL
118 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN
120 HUNTER SCHUERENBERG/Sikeston, MO
201 DAKOTA JACKSON/Elizabethtown, IN
TBA JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
 

 

"Last summer, I was sitting on the couch.  I wasn't doing much racing. I couldn't beg my way into a racecar. From then 'til now, it's just incredible. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up from a dream and it's not going to be real."
 
Shamrock Classic winner Justin Grant
 



 
GRANT GETS USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WIN #1
AT SHAMROCK CLASSIC

Du Quoin, Illinois.........Thus far, USAC's 2017 season has already become the year of Justin Grant.

The record books were rewritten in Saturday night's "Shamrock Classic" USAC Midget National Championship season-opener at the Southern Illinois Center as Grant became the first driver in the 62-year history of the organization to record season-opening feature victories in both the National Sprint and National Midget divisions in a single year.

Now, the Ione, California driver finds himself in an envious early-season position: sitting atop the standings in both the USAC National Sprint and National Midget series. It's a remarkable accomplishment for Grant, a driver who readily admits that his racing career was floundering less than a year ago.

"Last summer, I was sitting on the couch," Grant recalls. "I wasn't doing much racing. I couldn't beg my way into a racecar. From then 'til now, it's just incredible. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up from a dream and it's not going to be real."

The dream is now reality for the 26-year-old Grant as he gladly accepted a fortuitous bout of Irish luck with 17 laps remaining when Christopher Bell saw his chance of winning fade into the haze as the lapped cars of Korey Weyant and Chris Andrews tangled in front of him on the high side of turn four. Bell became trapped in a box with the two stalled cars and the outside retaining wall surrounding him as he looked for an escape.

Just moments before, second-running Grant had decided to take his shot at Bell and the race lead. Just seconds later, the move proved to be a wise one as he avoided the mayhem and came away with the lead on the ensuing restart.

"It was just kind of a chance deal," Grant believes. "I'd been kind of shadowing him, waiting and waiting for lapped traffic to try and take a shot at him. I thought the top was slowing down enough that I could maybe make a move on the bottom if he caught some lapped traffic on the top. As soon as we caught that pack of cars on the top, I dove to the bottom in turn three to try and take a shot and capitalize. It just happened to work out for me with those guys crashing right in front of him. I don't know why I picked that lap to do it or why it worked out that way, but I'll take it."

On the lap 34 restart, a new, but familiar member joined the fray at the front of the field in the name of defending "Shamrock Classic" winner Shane Golobic.

Golobic, originally beginning the 50-lap feature from the 14th spot, busted his way from fifth to second in quick fashion when action resumed. Soon enough, Golobic was right on the tail of Grant for the lead with 12 laps to go until clipping the berm on the inside of turn two. That dropped Golobic back a bit as Grant began to create a bit of separation between he and his CMR teammate.

In the final five circuits, Golobic had reeled Grant in as the two weaved their way through the tail-end of the field. The two dipped and dove between the lapped cars of Weyant and Daniel Adler as the pair threaded through the eye of a needle in a game of racing limbo to see who could be the first to get the lowest on the racing surface.

"I caught sight of Shane (Golobic) off the middle of (turns) three and four. I kind of got a run back around him off the cushion of (turn) four. I knew he started real deep and if he'd come from that far back on the bottom, I knew I needed to get back to the bottom in a hurry. I had just enough to get back by him off (turn) four and shut him down on the bottom getting into (turn) one. From there on out, it's about not missing the bottom and not getting caught up on the berm. Once it started laying rubber, I knew if I didn't get out of the rubber, he wasn't going to be able to get by me. Catching lapped cars and rubber is highly frustrating. You can't get out of it to get around him and they're not going to get out of it. You just have to settle in, follow, stay in it and hope you're not a sitting duck."

Grant never flinched an inch as Golobic swarmed Grant's tail tank coming to the checkered flag to no avail, providing Grant his first career USAC National Midget victory in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/Driven 2 Save Lives - Priority Aviation/Spike/Stanton SR-11 over Golobic, Jerry Coons, Jr., Brady Bacon and Brent Beauchamp.

 
"They're (Clauson-Marshall Racing) racecars are fast.  They were fast at the Chili Bowl. They're fast here. They've clearly got this place figured out. I've been racing a long time now and I've never been this quick. It's obviously the car I'm sitting in. Tim and Tyler do such a good job. They're so good at what they do and it's such a pleasure to drive for them."
 
Shamrock Classic winner Justin Grant
 

 

The spirit of Bryan Clauson was prominent throughout the event, which was promoted by Bryan's fiancée Lauren Stewart. The winner's share of the purse was $3900 in honor of Bryan who drove the No. 39 to consecutive USAC National Midget titles in 2010 and 2011. Grant's drive was reminiscent of Bryan's magnificence throughout the years as he piloted Bryan's father's, Tim Clauson's, car to victory lane Saturday night.

The combination of the Southern Illinois Center, plus Tim Clauson and Tyler Ransbottom on the wrenches has proven to be an unstoppable equation since the first USAC-sanctioned midget race at the one-sixth-mile indoor oval in December of 2015. Since then, the pairing has earned four-straight victories with four different drivers: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Shane Golobic, Tyler Courtney and, the latest, Justin Grant.

"They're racecars are fast," Grant exclaimed. "They were fast at the Chili Bowl. They're fast here. They've clearly got this place figured out. I've been racing a long time now and I've never been this quick. It's obviously the car I'm sitting in. Tim and Tyler do such a good job. They're so good at what they do and it's such a pleasure to drive for them."

Shane Golobic has yet to finish outside the top-two in his three Southern Illinois appearances since his inaugural "Shamrock Classic" victory in March of 2016. On Saturday night, he collected a close second behind his teammate in his Clauson-Marshall/Matt Wood Racing/Elk Grove Ford - Driven 2 Save Lives/Spike/Stanton SR-11.

"I don't know if it's me who's got this place figured out or if it's the team. I'm thinking it's the team," a humble Golobic said. "The team's won the last four here and I've finished second the last two times and won the time before that. This team's obviously got this place figured out and it's made it very easy for me to get the track figured out. I think if we could've gotten a little further up on Justin before he changed lanes, it might've been a different story. He switched lanes at just the right time just like the veteran that he is. If I'm going to be beaten by anybody, I'm glad it's by a teammate."

"I kind of had the bottom figured out," Golobic continued. "I was catching a little bit of rubber on the bottom. As I was reeling Justin (Grant) in, I really just needed to get to the point where I could get wheel-to-wheel with him. I just couldn't quite get there. If he wasn't my teammate, I might have had a little different mindset getting into (turn) three when he shut the door down there. I might've shoved the car in there a little bit harder, but I lifted and hoped to get another opportunity in traffic. That opportunity never showed up; Justin never made a mistake."

Jerry Coons, Jr. equaled his best finish of a year ago at the Belleville (Kans.) High Banks with a third-place run Saturday night in his Petry-Goff Motorsports/Petry Excavating - Gray Auto/Spike/Stanton Toyota.

"I started off the race a little too tight on the right rear," Coons explained. "It kind of came to us and got better midway through the race. I thought we were pretty good until the early yellow came out and we got smoked on the bottom. I went down there, it was a little free and I made a bunch of adjustments on the shocks. Then, the rubber really started laying down and I got too tight. I was going back on the shock adjustment. The car was really good all throughout the night. Hopefully, we can go on to the next one and keep piling up top-threes.

Contingency award winners include Brent Beauchamp (Simpson Race Products First Qualifier Winner), Billy Wease (CSI Second Heat Winner), Justin Grant (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Christopher Bell (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Shane Golobic (KSE Racing Products/Elliott's Custom Trailers Winner) and Gage Walker (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher Winner).

-----------------------------------------

USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: March 18, 2017 - Du Quoin, Illinois - Southern Illinois Center - "Shamrock Classic"

FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Tyler Thomas (#91T Thomas), 2. Daniel Robinson (#57D McCreery), 3. Christopher Bell (#21 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Andy Malpocker (#22 Malpocker), 5. Mark Chisholm (#56x Fifty6x), 6. Tim Siner (#15 Siner-Cyliax), 7. Shane Golobic (#17w Clauson-Marshall-Wood), 8. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson-Marshall), 9. Robert Bell (#71-1/2 Bell). NT

SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Justin Grant (#39BC Clauson-Marshall), 2. Josh Most (#92M Most), 3. Justin Peck (#7k Irwin), 4. Tyler Nelson (#91 Harris), 5. Chad Boat (#84 Tucker-Boat), 6. Ryan Robinson (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Shane Morgan (#15M Morgan), 8. Kyle Cummins (#5 Briscoe), 9. David Budres (#31 Manic). NT

THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Colten Cottle (#5c Cottle), 2. Jake Neuman (#3N Neuman), 3. Tanner Thorson (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Gage Walker (#7 Walker), 5. Derek Hagar (#9jr Hagar-Proctor), 6. Holly Shelton (#67k Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Isaac Chapple (#52 Chapple), 8. Kellen Conover (#2 Baue). NT

FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Jerry Coons Jr. (#25 Petry-Goff), 2. Brent Beauchamp (#11B B & B), 3. Jeff Zelinski (#68 SFH), 4. Tony DiMattia (#50 DiMattia), 5. Kory Schudy (#28 Sawyer), 6. Tanner Carrick (#71k (Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Cole Fehr (#15F Live Loud). NT

FIFTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Matt Veatch (#56v Fifty6x), 2. Brady Bacon (#76m FMR), 3. Joe B. Miller (#51B Grogan), 4. Daniel Adler (#50A Adler), 5. Chris Andrews (#91A Thomas), 6. Mitchell Davis (#15s Morgan), 7. Chris Urish (#77u Pollock), 8. Kyle Schuett (#9k Schuett). NT

SIXTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Tony Roney (#1T Roney), 2. Billy Wease (#12w Wease), 3. Korey Weyant (#9 Allen), 4. Terry Babb (#88 Babb), 5. Spencer Bayston (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Chris Baue (#35 Baue), 7. Brayton Lynch (#1k Kunz), 8. Alex Bright (#77 Bright). NT

ALSO AT THE TRACK: Dave Darland (#11 Gray).

LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Bright, 3. Schuett, 4. Cummins. 5. Budres, 6. Fehr, 7. Bell, 8. Chapple. NT

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Beauchamp, 2. Coons, 3. Most, 4. Malpocker, 5. Andrews, 6. Bacon, 7. R.Robinson, 8. Davis, 9. Zelinski, 10. Baue. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Wease, 2. Miller, 3. Thorson, 4. DiMattia, 5. Neuman, 6. Bayston, 7. Nelson, 8. Morgan, 9. Veatch, 10. Lynch. NT

CHALK STIX THIRD QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Weyant, 3. Roney, 4. Adler, 5. Peck, 6. Shelton, 7. Urish, 8. Chisholm, 9. Babb, 10. Siner. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Bell, 2. Walker, 3. Golobic, 4. Cottle, 5. Boat, 6. Schudy, 7. Thomas, 8. Carrick, 9. D,Robinson, 10. Hagar. NT

B-MAIN #1: (15 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Adler, 3. Andrews, 4. Chisholm, 5. Malpocker, 6. Boat, 7. Hagar, 8. Schuett, 9. Lynch, 10. Courtney, 11. Veatch, 12. Zelinski, 13. Davis, 14. Thomas, 15. Schudy, 16. Nelson. NT

B-MAIN #2: (15 laps) 1. Golobic, 2. Miller, 3. Bayston, 4. Peck, 5. Siner, 6. R.Robinson, 7. Babb, 8. Bright, 9. Morgan, 10. Cummins, 11. Urish, 12. DiMattia, 13. Carrick, 14. Shelton, 15. D.Robinson, 16. Baue. NT

FEATURE: (50 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Shane Golobic, 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Brent Beauchamp, 6. Tony Roney, 7. Josh Most, 8. Jake Neuman, 9. Billy Wease, 10. Christopher Bell, 11. Colten Cottle, 12. Spencer Bayston, 13. Gage Walker, 14. Tanner Carrick, 15. Daniel Adler, 16. Korey Weyant, 17. Chad Boat, 18. Chris Andrews, 19. Mark Chisholm, 20. Justin Peck, 21. Tanner Thorson, 22. Joe B. Miller. NT
----------------------------
**Conover flipped during the third heat. Fehr flipped during the fourth heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Grant, Laps 2-33 Bell, Laps 34-50 Grant.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/ELLIOTT'S TRAILERS HARD CHARGER: Shane Golobic (14th-2nd)

NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS: 1-Grant-70, 2-Golobic-67, 3-Coons-64, 4-Bacon-61, 5-Bayston-39, 6-Walker-37, 7-Carrick-35, 8-Boat-29, 9-Thorson-23, 10-Darland-10.

NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: April 7-8 - Kokomo (IN) Speedway - "Kokomo Grand Prix"

 

2016 USAC National Midget champion Tanner Thorson begins his quest
for a second straight title this Saturday night, March 18
at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.

(Travis Branch Photo)
 



 
THORSON EYES REPEAT
OF USAC MIDGET TITLE SEASON IN 2017


 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

In the 61-year history of the United States Auto Club, repeating as a national series champion has proven to be one of the ultimate litmus tests of determining the greats in the sport. Though, certainly not unprecedented in the history of the series, the list of drivers who have repeated as a USAC National Midget is chock full of drivers who defined their eras.

In 2017, Tanner Thorson has an opportunity to take a big step toward joining that list that includes a variety of established hall of famers and future hall of famers, among them are Shorty Templeman, Jimmy Davies, Mike McGreevy, Mel Kenyon, Sleepy Tripp, Stevie Reeves, Tony Stewart, Jason Leffler, Dave Darland, Jerry Coons, Jr. and the most recent back-to-back series champ Bryan Clauson in 2010 and 2011.

Thorson will begin his fifth season with the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team in 2017 this Saturday, March 18 at the second running of the "Shamrock Classic," held indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin. As the most experienced member of the team, Thorson has seen much of what the series calendar has to offer, which lends an advantage to the Minden, Nevada driver. Yet, with a stacked field of competitors returning for a title run this season, the competition will be stiff and the challenge grand in becoming the 12th driver to accomplish the feat.

"I think the biggest challenge of repeating a USAC championship is the stiff competition," Thorson explained. "You have so many great cars and teams, it makes everything you do a little more tricky."

There isn't an ounce of exaggeration when Thorson explains the tests he will face at each event in 2017, with drivers like his teammate Spencer Bayston as well as Brady Bacon, Chad Boat, Dave Darland, Jerry Coons, Jr., plus the Clauson/Marshall Racing lineup of Tyler Courtney, Shane Golobic and Justin Grant, in addition to numerous other challengers that make this the deepest lineup from top-to-bottom in the USAC Midget National Championship in a number of years.

"I think the competition this year is awesome and it will be great for the sport," Thorson said. "All of those guys will be tough this year. Bacon and Boat were always right there. I think those two guys are going to come back even stronger this year."

With his experience, Thorson is looked to as a leader by teammates Bayston, Ryan Robinson, Holly Shelton and Rookie of the Year contender Tanner Carrick. Though, it is not simply a process of strapping into the seat and standing on the gas that gets a driver to victory lane. It takes a team effort, and over the past several seasons, no team has consistently run up front more than the Kunz/Curb-Agajanian team.

"The people you are surrounded by are huge in everything you do in racing," Thorson acknowledged. "Having a good team at the track is huge, but I think having a good team at the shop is more important. We all get along pretty well, yet we all have our own beliefs and think differently on things, but that all comes from being in competition with each other. We are all teammates, but there comes a point when you do what's best for yourself and that goes for all of us. We all want to win!"

The quest for Thorson begins this Saturday on the indoor bullring in Du Quoin. Thorson has found success under the roof at the "Chili Bowl Midget Nationals" in recent years, including a fourth-place finish in the Saturday night A-Main in Tulsa, Okla. two months ago. The challenges are aplenty, but Thorson is up to the task.

"The biggest challenge of indoor racing compared to the rest of them are that usually the tracks are smaller, which makes almost everyone somewhat fast," Thorson said. "There is absolutely no room for mistakes, and if you do make a mistake, you know the rest of the field is right there."

Saturday's race-day schedule begins with pits opening at 8am. Spectator gates open at 1pm. A public drivers' meeting open to all race fans starts at 3:00 pm while hot laps get under way at 4pm with racing set for 5:30pm. Fans who are unable to attend the event in-person can view the race LIVE on http://www.speedshifttv.com/.

Purchase your reserved seats now at http://www.usactickets.com/.
 

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