By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Terre Haute, Indiana (September 29, 2021)………In the long, storied history of the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track, few drivers have had the amount of success that Chris Windom has accrued in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition at the half-mile dirt oval.
The only four-time winner of the Jim Hurtubise Classic presented by Terre Haute Chevrolet will attempt to make it a high-five this Friday night, October 1, in the 22nd running of the event at western Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.
In September of 2020 at Terre Haute, Windom pounced early, shooting to the lead on the opening lap from his starting spot inside the second row, then carved his way through a gridlock of traffic to gain a comfortable lead. Even a late-race restart was unable to deter Windom who forcefully put his foot down and ended all thoughts of being beaten on this occasion.
That victory allowed Windom to become the first four-time winner of the Jim Hurtubise Classic, surpassing the three accumulated by Jack Hewitt in 1990-91-95. Windom had previously won the Hurtubise Classic in 2011-16-17, the latter of which came during his USAC National Sprint Car championship season.
“With how good he was here, that’s pretty special.” Windom reflected on Hurtubise and his 2020 victory. “I honestly didn’t know that could be broken, so that was really cool to find that out after the race. This place has been so good to me throughout my whole career. I love coming here and racing. We’ve always had a fast car here all those years.”
Windom’s lone victory of the 2021 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship came at Terre Haute during May’s Tony Hulman Classic, which was his seventh series victory at the track. Windom stands at seven Terre Haute USAC Sprint triumphs, just one behind Gary Bettenhausen and Jack Hewitt for the most all-time.
The Canton, Ill. native has procured seven top-fives in his Hurtubise Classic career with four wins, plus a 2nd in 2015, a 3rd in 2018 and a 4th in 2019, the same night he also notched the fastest qualifying time and is one of five past Jim Hurtubise Classic winners who’ll be in this Friday night’s field: Brady Bacon (2014 & 2018), Chase Stockon (2012), Robert Ballou (2015) and Justin Grant (2019).
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) leads the point standings in pursuit of his fourth career series championship. Bacon’s Hurtubise Classic prowess shows five more top-ten results in addition to his two victories in 2014 and 2018, a 2nd in 2013, a 5th in 2020, a 7th in both 2016-17 and a 9th in 2015.
Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.), along with Windom, are the only two drivers to win the Tony Hulman Classic, the Don Smith Classic and the Jim Hurtubise Classic USAC Sprint events at Terre Haute in their careers. Stockon bagged a Hurtubise victory late in the 2012 season. He’s finished inside the top-10 of the Hurtubise Classic in nine consecutive seasons with a 4th in 2016, 5th in 2014, 6th in 2017, 7th twice in 2015 & 19, 8th in 2018 & 2020 and 9th in 2013. He was also the fastest qualifier in 2016 and recently notched an MSCS win at THAT on August 15.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) has been behind the wheel of some of those spectacular moments at Terre Haute. He’s been a fast qualifier for the Hurtubise Classic on three occasions in 2010-17-18. The 2015 USAC National Sprint Car champ has also finished as the runner-up in the event three times in addition to his victory; he was 2nd in 2012-14-18 and also had a top-five ride in 2020 with a 4th, plus a pair of 5th place results in 2010-11.
Grant (Rocklin, Calif.) won the Hurtubise Classic in 2019 and is the only driver to finish on the “podium” in each of the last two runnings of the event after earning 3rd in 2020. He added a second USAC Sprint win at Terre Haute during Indiana Sprint Week in late July of 2020. Grant had experienced the Hurtubise Classic top-five on just one other occasion prior to 2019, a 4th in 2017.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) is the most recent USAC National Sprint Car feature winner at Terre Haute, scoring July’s Indiana Sprint Week round at the famed half-mile dirt oval. In his Jim Hurtubise Classic debut in 2020, Seavey was forced into a backup car due to mechanical troubles in qualifying. After that misfortune, Seavey’s night turned around after charging from the back of his heat race to transfer, then advanced from his 22nd starting spot to finish 9th in the feature to score KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) finished as the runner-up in the 2019 Hurtubise Classic, which was his best career finish in his nine starts in the event. The two-time Terre Haute USAC Sprint winner in 2013 and 2017 has won both the Tony Hulman Classic and the Don Smith Classic in his career but will try to add the Jim Hurtubise Classic to his “Big Three” win total on Friday. He ran 5th at the “Hurtubise” in 2018 and was also 6th in 2015, 7th in 2020 and 10th in 2012. He was also the fastest qualifier in 2013.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), the 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ, has had top-five results in the Jim Hurtubise Classic on two occasions, taking 4th in 2018 and 5th in 2019. He did have a string of top-tens in the event that had been five years running with an 8th in 2015 as well as 9th in 2016 and 2017. However, his string was ended when a first lap incident knocked him out of the race in 2020 after earlier setting quick time. Leary is a past Sumar Classic USAC Silver Crown winner at Terre Haute in 2016.
Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) owns four career top-ten finishes at the Hurtubise Classic with a 4th as his best in 2014 along with a 6th in both 2018 and 2020 and a 7th in 2010. Meanwhile, Nick Bilbee (Indianapolis, Ind.) earned his best Hurtubise Classic run of 8th in his last start in 2019. Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) has made five previous Hurtubise Classic starts, but is looking for his first top-10 performance in the event after a 20th place result in 2020. He finished 5th with MSCS in August at Terre Haute.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has made two Jim Hurtubise Classic starts, both of which have resulted in top-10 finishes, a 10th in 2018 and 6th in 2019, and was also 3rd in an MSCS show at Terre Haute on Aug. 15. Gas City’s track champion from 2020, Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.), scored an 11th at the “Hurtubise” in 2019.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) is having one of the finest Rookie seasons in the history of the division with five wins this year. Friday will mark his debut appearance in the Hurtubise Classic following 11th and 8th place finishes in his two previous Terre Haute starts in May and July of 2021.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) will make his second Jim Hurtubise Classic appearance following a 15th place finish in 2020. Finishing one spot behind in that event was 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), who took 16th as he also intends to make his second start in the event.
The race honors the late, great Jim Hurtubise, the 1993 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee who achieved what seemed nearly impossible, winning five consecutive USAC National Sprint Car feature events at Terre Haute between 1960 and 1962.
Hurtubise, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., stood the racing world on its ears in 1960 when he flirted with the 150-mph barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he was that year’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. National Championship wins for Hurtubise came at Sacramento, Calif., Langhorne, Pa. and Springfield, Ill. (twice), before suffering serious burns in an accident at Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1964.
He was the last driver to wheel a front-engine car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1968. A spectacular Sprint Car racer, he won 14 USAC features and was also an accomplished stock car racer, having won the 1966 Atlanta 500 NASCAR Cup race.
Friday’s 22nd running of the Jim Hurtubise Classic presented by Terre Haute Chevrolet features both the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the Schaeffer’s Oil Indiana RaceSaver Sprints.
Pits open at 3pm EDT, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:45pm & hot laps at 6:30pm with qualifying and racing to follow. Adult general admission tickets are $25. Infield admission is $15. Kids 11 & under are FREE.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-2456, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-2385, 3-Justin Grant-2344, 4-C.J. Leary-2188, 5-Tanner Thorson-2172, 6-Chris Windom-2107, 7-Jake Swanson-1989, 8-Robert Ballou-1886, 9-Chase Stockon-1601, 10-Logan Seavey-1263.