|USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. has won twice at Terre Haute in 2013 and 2017. (Neil Cavanah Photo)
THE TERRE HAUTE ACTION TRACK;
A LEGENDARY PLACE FOR LEGENDARY RACERS
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Terre Haute, Indiana………The Terre Haute Action Track is complete with legends. But, perhaps even more so, it’s those drivers who make the Terre Haute Action Track a legend itself.
After all, the drivers who’ve won on the Terre Haute half-mile make up the top-16 on the list of all-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winners. That inherently means that these drivers get the job done pretty much anywhere they go regardless of the track and it’s the racing heroes who’ve made the Action Track spectacular over the past six decades.
Terre Haute is the home of the next stop on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car schedule this Friday, October 12, for the “Wabash Clash.” The 160th points race for the series at Terre Haute will feature today’s USAC racing heroes, ones who have established their track record of success at the famed western Indiana venue.
You can even trace all the way back to 30th in all-time USAC National Sprint career victories – Jerry Coons, Jr. and Bud Kaeding. Yep, they’ve both won at Terre Haute. But none have reached victory lane here more than Gary Bettenhausen and Jack Hewitt with eight apiece. Unsurprisingly, both reside in the top-eight in all-time USAC Sprint wins. Bettenhausen is eighth with 40 wins and Hewitt fourth after notching 46 victories.
All the drivers in between in terms of all-time wins – Dave Darland, Tom Bigelow, Tracy Hines, Larry Dickson, Pancho Carter and Bryan Clauson – have won at Terre Haute too.
Among the drivers expected to compete Friday at Terre Haute, nobody owns more victories in the seat of a USAC Sprint Car than Canton, Ill. driver Chris Windom with four scores. All those victories have come in the Baldwin Brothers Racing No. 5, with a pair in 2011 and another two tacked on to his tally in October of 2016 and September of 2017.
There’s five of who have won twice apiece at Terre Haute, including Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla., who just won there at the most recent visit in September. He has a shot to become the second driver this season to win two-straight USAC Sprint Car races at Terre Haute, equaling what Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, Ind. did during May and July of this year for his first two career triumphs at the famed track. There have never been multiple repeat winners within a single season of USAC Sprint Car racing at Terre Haute.
Lincoln, Indiana’s Dave Darland has an interesting attribute in that his two career USAC Sprint Car wins at Terre Haute came 21 years apart from each other (1993-2014). No other driver has even come close to equaling that record of success, endurance and longevity.
It took a while for series point leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. of Cullman, Ala. to return to Terre Haute victory lane once again at Terre Haute last October, four years following his breakthrough in 2013 in which he engaged in a wild late-race duel with Darland to get the win. Chase Stockon also took a four-year gap between his two, first coming in 2012 and then again in the summer of 2016 for the Fort Branch, Indiana driver at the track he considers home sweet home.
None of these are a given to win this Friday. The unpredictability of racing is a big reason of why we love this stuff. In fact, 19 drivers have earned their first career USAC National Sprint Car victory at Terre Haute including Jim Hurtubise (1961), Bobby Marshman (1963), Gary Bettenhausen (1968), Jim McElreath (1970), George Snider (1971), Joe Saldana & Mel Cornett (1973), Sheldon Kinser (1974), Chuck Gurney (1976), Chet Johnson (1982), Rusty McClure (1992), Darland (1993), J.J. Yeley (1997), Tony Jones, Jerry Coons, Jr. & Terry Pletch (1999), Richard Griffin (2000) and Aaron Farney (2015).
Additionally, you have those current established stars who’ve yet to have their breakthrough at Terre Haute in USAC National Sprint Car competition, including C.J. Leary and Justin Grant, both of whom have won in a Silver Crown car there, plus Carson Short and Kyle Cummins among others.
Perhaps a new hero of the Action Track will emerge. Perhaps it will be one from a crop of drivers who’ll reaffirm their position as an Action Track hero of today. Either way, the storyline writes itself as it has time and time again – 159 times before.
The fourth and final appearance of the year for the series at the Terre Haute Action Track begins Friday, October 12, with pits opening at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm and hot laps at 6:30pm.
General admission grandstand tickets are $25 for adults while general admission infield tickets are $15. General admission tickets for children age 11 and under are FREE. Reserved grandstand tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children 11 and under.
Two-day passes that also include the Saturday night, October 13 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car event at Terre Haute are $50 for adult grandstand general admission ($60 reserved & $30 infield). Children 11 and under grandstand general admission tickets are FREE ($20 reserved & FREE infield).
ALL-TIME TERRE HAUTE USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS:
(8) Gary Bettenhausen & Jack Hewitt
(6) J.J. Yeley, Bubby Jones & Sheldon Kinser
(5) Jim Hurtubise, Jon Stanbrough, Levi Jones & Rich Vogler
(4) Bud Kaeding, Chris Windom & Roger McCluskey
(3) Cary Faas, Daron Clayton, Don Branson, Jay Drake, Jerry Coons, Jr., Joe Saldana, Pancho Carter, Rick Hood, Steve Butler & Tracy Hines
(2) Brady Bacon, Bruce Walkup, Chase Stockon, Cory Kruseman, Dave Darland, Dick Tobias, Greg Weld, Johnny Rutherford, Kevin Thomas, Jr., Robert Ballou, Rollie Beale, Tom Bigelow & Tyler Courtney
(1) A.J. Foyt, Aaron Farney, Andy Linden, Billy Cassella, Bobby Marshman, Bobby Unser, Brad Sweet, Bryan Clauson, Charlie Masters, Chet Johnson, Chuck Gurney, Doug Kalitta, Ed Elisian, Eddie Leavitt, Eddie Sachs, Frankie Kerr, George Snider, James McElreath, Jan Opperman, Jim McElreath, Jim McWithey, Kevin Thomas, Larry Dickson, Larry Rice, Mel Cornett, Richard Griffin, Robbie Stanley, Ron Shuman, Rusty McClure, Sam Sessions, Steve Chassey, Steve Kinser, Terry Pletch, Tommy Hinnershitz, Tony Elliott, Tony Jones & Tray House