By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Kokomo, Indiana (July 21, 2021)………All C.J. Leary needed was a little luck on his side during the Kokomo Speedway round of Indiana Sprint Week last year.
Following an incident the night before at Gas City, the 2019 Indiana Sprint Week champ found lady luck at Kokomo with just three laps remaining when race leader Tyler Courtney spun.
From thereon after inheriting the lead, Leary was fully en route to winning time as he dashed away to the victory. It was an encounter by Leary and his former team owner during the post-race at Gas City that, as it turned out, may have provided a little bit of that good fortune for Leary that night at Kokomo.
“Last night, I went over and talked to (team owner) Andy (Reinbold) after the race. I was like, ‘man we should’ve won this one last year and now you guys won it this year for some redemption. You guys got all the luck. I’m going to pit next to you tomorrow and steal some of that luck.’ (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports crew chief Tyler Ransbottom) came over after tonight’s race and said, ‘don’t ever pit next to me again,’” Leary said at the time, with a laugh.
Leary enters this Saturday’s, July 24, second round of NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint by AMSOIL as the reigning race winner. The 2015 Kokomo track champ earned his first career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature win there during Smackdown weekend of 2016. The 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion also finished 3rd in 2019 and also booked top-ten runs of 8th in 2017, 9th in 2018 and 10th in 2014.
Leary will be joined in the field by previous Kokomo Indiana Sprint Week winners: 2016 track champion and 2017 ISW titlist Kevin Thomas Jr. from Cullman, Alabama, who was the 2013 Kokomo ISW winner. Princeton, Indiana’s Kyle Cummins won his first ever USAC National Sprint Car race during the 2016 Kokomo ISW round. San Jose, California’s Thomas Meseraull scored back-to-back ISW Kokomo wins in 2017-18. Canton, Illinois’ USAC Triple Crown champion, 2010 & 2018 Kokomo track champ, and twice an ISW champion in 2011 & 2018, Chris Windom, raced to a Kokomo ISW score in 2019.
Four more wheelman, Chase Stockon, Robert Ballou, Justin Grant and Logan Seavey have each tasted the sweet nectar of victory in USAC National Sprint Car competition at Kokomo over the years.
Reigning Indiana Sprint Week champion Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) won at Kokomo in 2015 during a Smackdown prelim night as did 2015 ISW king Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.). Grant, the 2017 and 2019 Kokomo track champ from Ione, Calif., garnered a Smackdown belt in 2018. Seavey snared his first career USAC National Sprint Car triumph during Smackdown 2019.
Veterans of Indiana Sprint Week at Kokomo who are vying for first-ever ISW wins at the track include 2004-05-07-11 track champion Shane Cottle from Kansas, Ill. (4th in 2010); Marion, Illinois’ Carson Short (2nd in 2017); and the unrelated Brady Short of Bedford, Ind. (2nd in 2010).
Also on hand will be Marion, Indiana’s Scotty Weir, the 2008 & 2012 Kokomo Sprint Car track champ (4th in 2006 & 5th in 2019); Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Jason McDougal (11th in 2019); Penngrove, California’ Chase Johnson (11th in 2020); Buckeye, Arizona’s Charles Davis Jr. (12th in 2003); Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (15th in 2020) and Pittsboro, Indiana’s Critter Malone (16th in 2003), who scored his first USAC National Midget feature victory at Kokomo in 1993.
Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson (16th in 2018) has nearly pulled off a first USAC National win this season as has Worthington, Indiana’s Jadon Rogers (19th in 2020). They’re joined by Apollo Beach, Florida’s Anthony D’Alessio (20th in 2019) and Fairland, Indiana’s Brent Beauchamp (23rd in 2014).
A lengthy list of talented drivers eye their first ever Kokomo Indiana Sprint Week feature start, including top USAC Rookie, Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson, who captured a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature win at Kokomo in 2020.
To the list, add on the 10th ranking USAC National Sprint Car driver in points, Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.), plus three-time USAC National Midget feature winner Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.), Stevie Sussex (Mesa, Ariz.), Brandon Long (Wichita Falls, Texas), Korbyn Hayslett (Troy, Ohio), Braydon Cromwell (Lone Jack, Mo.), Zack Pretorius (Yorktown, Ind.), Piqua, Ohio’s Ryan Barr and Bloomington, Indiana’s Jordan Kinser, who hopes to become the first Kinser to start a Kokomo ISW feature since Bob Kinser and Sheldon Kinser Jr. did so in 1995.
USAC CRA Sprint Car invaders Chris Gansen (Verdemont Heights, Calif.) and Eddie Tafoya Jr. (Chino Hills, Calif.) are making the trek out to the Hoosier state to compete at Kokomo as are Garrett Aitken (Paris, Ill.), Sterling Cling (Tempe, Ariz.), Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.), Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.), David Hair (Indianapolis, Ind.), Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.), Brayden Fox (Avon, Ind.), Chase Jones (Greenwood, Ind.) and Max Guilford (Auckland, N.Z.).
Except for a few years in the mid-2000s, Kokomo Speedway has been a staple of the NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week by AMSOIL schedule from day one in 1988. Twenty-nine previous installments of ISW at the ¼-mile have taken place over the years. Dave Darland is the all-time winningest sprint car driver in track history and also owns the most ISW wins (4) and total USAC National Sprint Car victories (9) at Kokomo.
Kokomo’s NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week by AMSOIL event features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship vying for the $6,000 winner’s share and are joined by the Thunder Cars.
On Saturday, pits open at 3pm EDT, front gates open at 3pm, drivers meeting at 6pm with cars on track at 6:30pm and qualifying/racing immediately following.
General admission tickets are $30, kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
Every lap of all seven USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week by AMSOIL races will be aired live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr
2021 USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK SCHEDULE:
Friday, July 23: Gas City I-69 Speedway | Gas City, IN
Saturday, July 24: Kokomo Speedway | Kokomo, IN
Sunday, July 25: Lawrenceburg Speedway | Lawrenceburg, IN
Wednesday, July 28: Terre Haute Action Track | Terre Haute, IN
Thursday, July 29: Lincoln Park Speedway | Putnamville, IN
Friday, July 30: Bloomington Speedway | Bloomington, IN
Saturday, July 31: Tri-State Speedway | Haubstadt, IN