Meseraull, Orr, Bishop and Headley Jr.
Earn 2019 Gas City I-69 Speedway Championships
Linda Mansfield, Restart Communications
GAS CITY, Ind., Nov. 7 — When asked why he likes to race at Gas City I-69 Speedway, Thomas Meseraull had a simple answer. He said he likes Gas City because he usually does well there.
That was certainly the case in 2019. The San Jose, Calif. native won seven non-wing sprint car features at the quarter-mile dirt oval in 2019 to earn the championship at the ultra-competitive track, which averaged 27.3 sprint cars for a regular Friday-night show and presented several features which were decided by mere inches.
A total of 105 drivers earned points in the non-wing sprint car division as the track continued its tradition of being one of the premier short-track motorsports entertainment facilities in the country. Despite running four or more divisions weekly on Friday nights, the well-run programs were usually completed around 11 p.m.
And remarkably in a year fraught with rainouts, Gas City lost only two shows to Mother Nature.
Meseraull, of Waveland, Ind., drove a sprint car owned by Tom Eades of Sharpsville, Ind. for six of his seven victories. Eades’ DRC chassis is powered by a Stensland-prepared engine and it’s sponsored by Physical Medicine Consultants of Fort Wayne, Ind. Allen Brown of Kokomo, Ind. is the team’s chief mechanic.
T-Mez’s other victory came in the Don Whitney Racing No. 00, which is a Hawk chassis sponsored by Ultracell and Physical Medicine Consultants. He led every lap of the second annual Jerry Gappens Sr. Memorial in June in that car.
Meseraull, 38, had three wins in May, one each in June and July, and two in August.
He also won Gas City’s track championship in 2010.
After finishing third in 2018, Tyler Hewitt of Marion, Ind. finished second in the championship in 2019. He scored his first career sprint victory in the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) non-wing sprint car feature on Aug. 9 and then took the top honors in the final regular non-wing sprint car feature of the year at the track on Oct. 5 during the first annual Fall Festival of Speed. John and Sherril Long of Albany, Ind. own the One More Time Motorsports Maxim he drives, which is powered by an Evan Jackson-prepped engine.
Cole Ketcham of Muncie, Ind. didn’t win a feature at Gas City in 2019 but he was often in the top five, which earned him third place in the track championship. Scotty Weir of Marion, Ind. wasn’t a feature winner at Gas City this year either but he placed fourth in the final point standings followed by defending track champion Clinton Boyles of Brownsburg, Ind., who had two feature victories in 2019.
Other winners of “regular” non-wing 410 sprint car features at the Grant County track in 2019 were Kevin Thomas Jr. of Avon, Ind.; Shane Cottle of Kansas, Ill.; Shane Cockrum of Benton, Ill., and Matt Westfall of Pleasant Hill, Ohio.
Cottle and Chris Windom of Canton, Ill. also won USAC AMSOIL national sprint car features at Gas City in 2019. Cottle won during Indiana Sprint Week in July while Windom was victorious in the second annual James Dean Classic in September.
Justin Grant of Avon, Ind. won the USAC NOS national midget race at Gas City in June as part of USAC Midget Week.
Sixteen-year-old Brayden Clark of Tipton, Ind. was the top rookie in the non-wing sprint car division and finished seventh in the final point standings, right behind Adam Byrkett of Burnettsville, Ind. Clark’s family-owned DRC uses an Evan Jackson engine and it’s sponsored by G&G Oil, Quality Pallet and State Farm. Clark is currently a junior at Tipton High School.
Anthony D’Alessio of Gas City; Westfall, and Tim Creech II of Indianapolis rounded out the top 10 for the season.
Scott Orr of Columbia City, Ind. won his fourth Gas City track championship for the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) modified division. The first of his two feature victories didn’t come until July, but his consistent top-five finishes paid off. His Orr Motorsports No. 88 is sponsored by Alexander’s Garage and Orr Custom Powder Coating.
Bill Griffith of Van Buren, Ohio finished second in the modified division, in which 97 drivers earned points. Andy Bishop of Gas City, who was also the track’s street stock champion, finished third in the UMP modified point standings.
Derek Losh of Rensselaer, Ind. won six features but placed fourth in the final point standings. Clayton Bryant of Fort Wayne, Ind., 29, finished fifth in the overall championship and won the Rookie of the Year honors for the division. He got his first feature victory in August and duplicated that feat at the season finale in October.
Besides Orr, Losh and Bryant, other UMP modified feature winners in 2019 at Gas City were 17-year-old Logan Kirkman of Richmond, Ind.; Dylan Woodling of Warsaw, Ind.; Zeke McKenzie of Claypool, Ind., and defending champion Dillon Nusbaum of Warsaw, Ind.
Bishop won eight street stock features enroute to that championship in the Thompson Trucking No. 14. Mike Fincher of Rochester, Ind. finished second in the final street stock point standings, while Larry Persinger of Jonesboro, Ind. placed third and also earned the Rookie of the Year honors. Veterans Ron Flaugh of Converse, Ind. placed fourth for the season and Ervin Turner of Marion, Ind. finished fifth out of 53 drivers.
Besides Bishop other street stock feature winners included Joey Spiewak of Merrillville, Ind.; David Short of Winamac, Ind.; Tim Wilber of Coldwater, Mich.; Justin Van Drunen of Crown Point, Ind. and James Headley of Marion, Ind.
The latter’s 15-year-old son, popular James (aka JimTom) Headley Jr. of Wabash, Ind., is the track’s 2019 hornet champion. He won seven features during the course of the year in the family’s No. 00, which is sponsored by Dudding’s Heating and Cooling, Garriott Electric, Edwards Automotive and TJR Trucking. He’s in the class of 2022 at Southwood Junior-Senior High School.
Two drivers from Columbia City, Ind. finished second and third in the hornet championship. Jacob Beard was second, while Randy Brommer placed third.
The champion’s father, James Headley, was fourth for the year in the hornets with six victories. In June he was also inducted into the track’s “Walk of Fame” for being the winningest driver in track history. Dustin Franks of Portland, Ind., 27, finished fifth in the hornet point standings out of 64 drivers and was the division’s Rookie of the Year.
Besides the two Headleys, other hornet feature winners in 2019 included Josh Gamlin of Kokomo, Ind.; Gage Allen of Warren, Ind., and Cardell Moore of Versailles, Ind.
In addition to these four main divisions, other types of race cars that were in action at Gas City I-69 Speedway in 2019 included winged 410, 360 and 305 sprint cars; vintage sprint cars; midgets; USAC SpeeD2 midgets; mini-sprints; micro-sprints; TQs; late models, super streets and tough trucks. There were even competitions for monster trucks, school buses, mini-vans, vehicles pulling trailers, and moms driving passenger cars.
The complete point standings are posted on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com. Fans can also follow it on Facebook (@GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas), Twitter (@GasCitySpeedway) and Instagram (@GasCitySpeedway). News about a championship banquet and the 2020 schedule will be posted in all those places and by the media as soon as that information is finalized.