Sun shines on Courtney in USAC National Sprint Car win
Saturday, July 7, 2018
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – The weekend’s action at Lincoln Park Speedway proved to be a fitting memorial celebration in memory of Bill Gardner, who meant so much to so many. The annual Bill Gardner Sprintacular race featured some of the best sprint car racing the country had to offer following the Independence Day holiday. Gardner, who created one of the most popular racing forum sites going, IndianaOpenWheel.com, was a fixture in the Indiana racing community for years before his passing following a long battle with cancer. The yearly Sprintacular has proved to be a popular destination amongst fans and drivers, who visit Lincoln Park Speedway. This year’s edition featured the USAC National Sprint Car Series on Friday evening followed by the Midwest Sprint Car Series on Saturday as well as a full card of modified, super stocks and bombers.
On Friday evening, Tyler Courtney captured the USAC National Sprint Car Series win over 36 other competitors, who unloaded at LPS.
Courtney is no stranger to the Putnamville oval as his grandparents, Mike and Verla Farrar, owned and operated the track from 1981 to 1996. He had been knocking on the door of victory lane at Lincoln Park with a runner-up finish in his debut USAC appearance back in 2013 and another last summer. However, Friday night the cards fell in his favor as Kevin Thomas Jr. flipped after leading the first 22 laps of the 30-lap main event. Courtney, running second at the time, assumed the lead and would not relinquish the top spot as AJ Hopkins ran second ahead of hard charger Jason McDougal, who raced forward from a 22nd-place start.
Thomas took the lead over pole sitter Jordan Kinser on the opening circuit, but the early stages of the A-main were marred by a caution and a flip by Brent Beauchamp, who walked away uninjured. As the field went green, Thomas opened up a significant gap over the field, but quickly found himself in lapped traffic a third of the way through the feature.
Courtney was able to battle his way past Hopkins for the second spot on lap 17 and set his sights on Thomas. The duo was trying to keep Thomas within sight when the Alabama native made contact with the turn two cushion and darted right before rolling over and finishing on all four tires. He would head to the pits before returning at the tail of the field. Courtney assumed the top spot and had the benefit of several lapped cars between himself and Hopkins for the lap 23 restart. Courtney got a strong start and opened up enough of a gap before Hopkins got by the lappers to reach victory lane for the 11th time in his USAC National Sprint Car career.
Chris Windom charged up to place fourth after starting 21st and Kinser rounded out the top-five.
Morgantown’s Richie Lex has made the most of his return to the track after a two-month hiatus. Lex survived a caution with one lap remaining to hold off Cole Parker and James Walters in a mad dash for the UMP Modified top prize on Friday evening.
Parker held down the top spot for the bulk of the laps as Walters ran a distant second early on. However, Walters began to creep into contention by lap 10 as Lex was able to edge past Jake Leitzman for the third spot with Tyler Loughmiller and Travis Shoulders battling for fifth position. A caution on lap 12 re-set the field and Walters closed within striking distance. However, Lex did as well as he joined a side-by-side battle with Parker for the top spot on lap 15. Lex ripped around the top side of the 5/16th mile oval and made his pass stick down the stretch. Lex edged ahead of Parker and captured his second consecutive feature win at LPS. Parker, Walters, Loughmiller and Shoulders rounded out the top-five.
In the UMP Super Stock feature, Wes McClara piloted his No. 45m machine into victory lane for the fifth time this season, leading wire-to-wire.
McClara was able to open up a solid lead by lap five over Doug McCullough before a caution came out and bunched up the field once again. On the re-start, McClara got a good run out of turn four to hold onto the top spot and would not relinquish it over a couple of mid-race cautions. McCullough held off challenges from Bryce Shidler down the stretch as Larry Raines roared forward to take fourth after starting 16th. Dale Hayes came home fifth in the field.
In the final main event of the evening, the leaders in the bomber feature were able to stay clear of a turn two pileup that claimed several front runners, including multi-time feature winner Josh Litton as well as Jim Litton and David Wallen and Chad Casassa.
Neal jumped out front and had his hands full with Jeff Beggs after getting past Gary Hayden for the outright lead. Beggs claimed the second spot and stayed within striking distance of Neal, but ultimately couldn’t not overtake him over the final five laps. Jordan Almanza and Hayden fought for the third spot, but Hayden would hold off the advances for the spot at the checkered flag. Ethan Litton took the fifth spot.
This weekend will feature the sprint car mid-season championship along with modifieds, super stocks and bombers.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Bill Gardner Sprintacular – Opening night
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SERIES
(30 laps – starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney(5), 2. A.J. Hopkins (4), 3. Jason McDougal (22), 4. Chris Windom (21), 5. Jordan Kinser (1), 6. Thomas Meseraull (13), 7. Dave Darland (20), 8. Brandon Mattox (12), 9. Robert Ballou (17), 10. Josh Hodges (9), 11. Brady Bacon (6), 12. C.J. Leary (10), 13. Carson Short (7), 14. Kody Swanson (8), 15. Chase Stockon (11), 16. Kevin Thomas Jr. (2), 17. Isaac Chapple (23), 18. Mario Clouser (19), 19. Justin Grant (15), 20. Tony DiMattia (3), 21. Tim Creech (14), 22. Brent Beauchamp (16), 23. Colten Cottle (18).
1. Richie Lex, 2. Cole Parker, 3. James Walters, 4. Tyler Loughmiller, 5. Travis Shoulders, 6. Derek Groomer, 7. Rob Brickert, 8. Jake Leitzman, 9. Dan Lewellen, 10. Sydney Landes, 11. Aaron Zellers, 12. Chris Schepper, 13. James Grider, 14. Michael Wesselman, 15. Tanner Reed, 16. Broc Burton
Heat winners: Loughmiller, Walters
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Wes McClara, 2. Doug McCullough, 3. Bryce Shidler, 4. Larry Raines, 5. Dale Hayes, 6. Paul Wright, 7. Scott Ricketts, 8. Matt Jordan, 9. Hayden Rogers, 10. Austin Phelps, 11. Edward Freeman, 12. Michael Clark, 13. Chris Harcourt, 14. Michael O’Conner, 15. Shelburn Meeks Jr., DNS Joey Archer, DNS Jonny Newgent
Heat winners: McClara, Newgent
1. Tyler Neal, 2. Jeff Beggs, 3. Gary Hayden, 4. Jordan Almanza, 5. Ethan Litton, 6. Megan Cavaness, 7. Corey Anstead, 8. Glen Ogden, 9. Joseph Raber, 10. Matt Raber, 11. Keivan Clodfelter, 12. David Bumgardner, 13. Justin Bumgardner, 14. Cody Wright, 15. Bob Farris, 16. Mark Dickerson, 17. Chad Casassa, 18. Josh Litton, 19. Jeff Allen, 20. Albert Orr, 21. Devin Wallen, 22. Travis Heramb, 23. David Wallen, 24. Tom Cox, 25. Justin Litton
Heat winners: Hayden, Neal, Litton