By Kenny Clark
Mother Nature pushed opening day to a Sunday and really what more of a better day to open with 4-10 being the date to bring in 39 410 sprints to make for an outstanding field.
This would setup 5 heats taking the top 3 and 2 B mains taking the top 3 to see who could make the 21 car field. All 5 heats had some great battles and were loaded with talent. Heat 1 was won by the new pilot of the 04 Burton team car Geoff Ensign over Jake Scott and Max Adams. Heat race 2 was won by another new pilot in the 24P Tye Mihocko over Travis Berryhill and Jackson Slone running a strong 3rd. Heat race 3 was won by the new pilot of the 47BC Clauson/Marshall entry Emerson Axsom over Jesse Vermillion and Gabriel Gilbert. Heat 4 was won by a new Dutcher 17GP pilot Kyle Shipley over Jake Swanson and Harley Burns. The final heat saw another new pilot in the Amati entry 66 Shane Cockrum over Jadon Rogers and Ben Knight. As you can see it was a new season with a lot of new pilots taking the checkers in their new rides.
Also a joy for the great fans of LPS in that rundown was an outstanding field loaded with talent. There were many other great teams that didn't make the top 3 which setup 2 b mains that were also loaded. The first B main had Isaac Chapple taking the win over Alec Sipes and Cole Bodine. The second B main had Brian Hayden winning over Brayden Fox and Zack Pretorious. This was the return of the famous 2H in the sprint car ranks that was great to see and we will talk about his run in the A later wow what a return. This setup the A main which would have Ensign and Mihocko on the front row to lead the field to the first 25 lap A main of the 2022 season.
The first 2 starts were rough and it lead to Axsom getting a flat and the 77 of Berryhill suffering front end damage. Hopefully it was just night 1 anxious jitters up front and everything will smooth out. Axsom went to the work area and would restart at the back. On try number 3 we got a good green flag and the 04 led for the first 4 laps. By lap 5 things were getting real interesting up front and Shane Cockrum would take the lead after coming from 5th to the front. The bottom to middle groove was the place to be on Sunday but there were some drivers up on the cushion trying to get some momentum. By the halfway point we had guys that started back in 17th thru 20th that were already getting into the top 10. Up front with just 10 to go Jake Swanson had came from 9th to 3rd and looked like he was going to be a player for the win.
By lap 17 it was on with Cockrum about to get a full on challenge from "The Bull" Mihocko in the 24P which Shane knows is a top notch car that he sat in and won many nights with. Sure enough Tye was throwing a slider on Shane in the famous turn 3 and looked to take the lead almost on lap 18. This got the whole crowd on the edge of their seats because the next 4 laps were ran with the 66 and 24p inches apart. On lap 22 Tye jumped the cushion with all of his speed and unfortunately caught the right rear in the turn 4 wall ending his night. He definitely deserved and ovation thought because he gave the 66 all it could handle for sure. This setup a 3 lap shootout but Shane Cockrum would hold off Jake Swanson, Kyle Shipley, Brian Hayden(from 17th) and Cole Bodine(from 20th). An outstanding 25 laps and no doubt another great show by our favorite traditional sprint cars without the wings . Thanks to all the 39 teams that put on an outstanding show to get us started in 2022.
The UMP modified field was 20 strong and it was another loaded field. The 2 heats were won by Jordan Wever and Derek Losh. This setup the 20 lap A main event with Wever and Losh making up the front row. This was another great battle because if either driver missed their marks in Turn 1 they would wash up into the high part of Turn 2 and give up the lead. Losh led most of the early part of the race but there was 2 instances at least where he gave up the lead to Jordan but then would get the lead back if the 29J missed his mark. Both of them were hard on the throttle battling it out to the end. Losh took the win over Wever, Nusbaum, Shuman, Wright and Loughmiller.
The Bomber division had a strong 22 cars for opening day. Track Champ Jordan Almanza had to jump in the 42 car for the heats after the 14J had a problem during hot laps. Jordan would win heat 1 in the Albert Orr entry. Heat 2 was won by Megan Cavaness and heat 3 was won by David Bumgardner. All the new wraps and paint jobs really looked great in all 4 divisions but our bomber division had some bright new colors that really stood out. This would setup an epic battle for the 15 lap feature. Jordan would take an early lead but not for very long as the 5C got the middle groove to really work and Megan would take over the top spot. Megan would hold off David Bumgardner who had a couple runs on the high side of Turn 2 that came close. Megan took the win over David Bumgardner, Jordan Almanza, Josh Foxworthy and Corey Anstead.
An outstanding first day at LPS and we would like to thank all of the teams and fans for your support on a Sunday to start the season. Don't forget next Saturday is the big one. The Indiana Open Wheel Racing Fest with a huge Fireworks display also. Thanks again to all the 109 teams that joined us Sunday you put on a great show!!