By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Haubstadt, Indiana (September 16, 2022)………After a record four career Haubstadt Hustler victories, it’s hard to fathom that Kevin Thomas Jr. once considered himself to be “lapped traffic” at Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway.
Three years removed from his last moment of exuberance at the Haubstadt, Indiana quarter mile dirt oval, the all-time leader in Haubstadt Hustler victories was back on top in the 2021 edition of the 40-lap event.
Now, the 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2021 race winner will attempt to do something only he has previously done – win the Haubstadt Hustler in back-to-back years this Saturday night, September 17, at the $12,000-to-win main event co-sanctioned by the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Series.
The return to glory was a welcome sight for the Cullman, Ala. driver who, in five USAC starts between 2019-2020, finished better than 14th just once. But after veering away from the normal things they had used to find their initial success, KTJ and crew went back to the drawing board and found the magic touch once again.
Four past Haubstadt Hustler winners are among the expected contenders for Saturday’s prize with Kyle Cummins, Chase Stockon and Brady Short joining Thomas and a whole host of others in the event which will utilize the MSCS format of group qualifying to set the heat race lineups. All USAC licensed drivers and entrants will receive 50 points across the board for the event.
Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) is the only four-time winner of the Haubstadt Hustler and his six overall USAC Sprint Car feature wins at Tri-State rank tied for first all-time with Cummins. Thomas also collected a 2nd at the Hustler in 2015, plus a 4th in 2016 and a 7th in 2012. He’s already reached Tri-State victory lane this season with MSCS during June’s Summer Shootout.
Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) owns a resume at the Haubstadt Hustler that is top-notch. His two victories in the event came in 2016 and 2019. He was also 2nd in 2017, 3rd in 2010 and 2014, and was 5th in 2013. He was also the fastest qualifier for the Haubstadt Hustler in 2020. Earlier this August, he captured the MSCS Hoosier Sprint Nationals at Tri-State.
Chase Stockon, from nearby Fort Branch, Ind., was the 2020 Haubstadt Hustler king, his second career TSS USAC Sprint score after winning initially in the Spring of 2016. Besides his win, Stockon’s Haubstadt Hustler stat sheet displays constant consistency with 10 top-tens in total to go along with four 5th place runs in 2014-15-16-21.
Short (Bedford, Ind.) notched a victory in the 2015 Haubstadt Hustler, one of his two career USAC Sprint wins at “The Class Track.” He’s also recorded runner-up finishes in the inaugural edition of the event in 2008 and again in 2013, as well as a 3rd in 2009, a 7th in 2017 and 2021 in which he led 12 laps, plus a 9th in 2019.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) captured his first career Tri-State USAC National Sprint Car feature win in July of 2021 during the Indiana Sprint Week closer. Grant was the fastest qualifier at the 2019 Haubstadt Hustler but his best final placement at the “Hustler” came in 2021 where he finished as the runner-up. In 2016, he collected an 8th followed by a 10th in 2017.
Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), charged from 14th to 2nd in his first Haubstadt Hustler start in 2020 which remains his best career series finish in USAC National Sprint Car competition. The 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year has won twice at Tri-State with MSCS this season with victories in the Memorial Weekend Classic and the Summer Shootout.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) scored a Tri-State win in a thrilling USAC National Midget A-Main during the 2019 season. In his first career Haubstadt Hustler start in 2018, the two-time USAC National Sprint Car feature winner earned his best finish in the event, a 3rd, followed by a 9th in 2021. He was the Haubstadt Hustler fast qualifier in 2021 and, in June, he snared an MSCS victory at the track.
Veteran Critter Malone (Pittsboro, Ind.) has annually made the haul to TSS. At the 2020 Haubstadt Hustler, the two-time USAC National Midget feature winner turned in his best career USAC National Sprint Car feature finish with a 4th. The son of former longtime USAC Chief Starter Shim Malone was also 6th at the Haubstadt Hustler in 2019, 7th in 2010 and 10th in 2011. He tallied an MSCS triumph at Tri-State back in May on Memorial Day Weekend.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) looks to make his first Haubstadt Hustler start since 2017. Meseraull won his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature at Tri-State in October 2020 and has also won with the series in 2021 and 2022. He finished 3rd in the inaugural Haubstadt Hustler in 2008 and equaled that performance with another 3rd in 2017.
Robert Ballou and Brady Bacon have prior USAC National Sprint Car wins at Tri-State but are seeking a first Haubstadt Hustler triumph this Saturday.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) is the most recent victor at the track, scoring the Indiana Sprint Week round in July and, earlier, won the 2014 Indiana Sprint Week finale. He’s come close to taking home the top honors at the Haubstadt Hustler, finishing 2nd in 2014 and 3rd in both 2012 and 2020. The 2015 USAC National Sprint titlist notched the fastest qualifying time at the 2018 Haubstadt Hustler.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), meanwhile, won at TSS in early 2015. The four-time USAC National Sprint champ’s Haubstadt Hustler record has on it a 3rd in both 2013 and 2021, a 4th in 2015 and a 5th in 2011. Back in 2012, he was the winner of the USAC National Midget Hut 100 at TSS.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) is more than ready to breakthrough for a first Tri-State USAC National Sprint Car win after four previous triumphs in MSCS competition at the track. The 2019 USAC National Sprint Car titlist led 44 total laps over the 2018 and 2019 installments of the Haubstadt Hustler that led to finishes of 2nd and 3rd, respectively, which serve as his two best performances. He also took home an 8th in 2020, plus 9th place results in 2015 and 2017.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) will be making his first career Haubstadt Hustler appearance this Saturday. He set fast time during qualifying for the Indiana Sprint Week round at TSS in August of 2020, and his first ever USAC Sprint Car ride at Tri-State resulted in a 3rd place finish in the Spring of 2018. In his lone USAC TSS appearance this year in July, he was 5th.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) made a solid Haubstadt Hustler debut in 2021 with a 10th place result. He’s joined in the event by Haubstadt Hustler veteran Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) who finished a career-best 10th in the 2020 race. Kendall Ruble (Vincennes, Ind.) punched in a career best 4th with USAC during the 2019 Haubstadt Hustler.
Returning combatants to the Haubstadt Hustler lineup are 2021 feature starters by the likes of Locust Grove, Oklahoma’s Daison Pursley (8th in 2021), who will be making his debut in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports sprint car. Mix in Norman, Oklahoma’s Koby Barksdale (12th), leading series Rookie, Franklin, Indiana’s Emerson Axsom (17th), Owensboro, Kentucky’s Collin Ambrose (19th), Littleton, Colorado’s Carson Garrett (21st), Bloomington, Indiana’s Cindy Chambers (22nd), Loomis, California’s Max Adams (23rd) and Robards, Kentucky’s Aric Gentry (24th).
USAC National Sprint Car feature winners Mitchel Moles and Matt Westfall are among those in this year’s Haubstadt Hustler Rookie class. Both competed in this summer’s Indiana Sprint Week round at Tri-State with Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) recording an 8th place result while Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) notched a 17th.
USAC and MSCS have co-sanctioned the event since 2011. The first three events held in 2008-09-10 came under the MSCS banner solely. Jeff Bland Jr. was victorious in the inaugural Haubstadt Hustler in 2008.
The Midwest Mini Sprint Association will also be in action on Saturday night at Tri-State. The pits open at 3pm Central, grandstands at 4pm and hot laps at 6:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $30, students (ages 13-18) are $20 and 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
Saturday’s event from Tri-State can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3OivVbj.