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USAC Sprints Take On Tri-State Saturday

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Haubstadt, Indiana (May 9, 2024)………Ring the bell!  The Class (Track) is in session.

The USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship shoots southbound to Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway for the Spring Showdown this Saturday night, May 11.

Defending Spring Showdown winner Justin Grant leads a stellar field into the event in which he swept from start to finish one year ago. He’ll be joined by the only two-time Spring Showdown victor, Kevin Thomas Jr., as well as past “Showdown” winners Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon, Kyle Cummins and many more vying for their piece of the prize.

Spring into the action with six storylines for Saturday!

SWEPT OFF YOUR FEET BY GRANT

Since USAC’s debut in 1956, there have been 115 sweeps in USAC National Sprint Car history. Only one has occurred at Tri-State Speedway. That was performed by Justin Grant during the Spring Showdown in 2023 when he set fast time, won his heat, then captured the feature victory by a car length over Kevin Thomas Jr.

The “sweeping” performance by Grant was the first of his career and was the first such performance on a 1/4-mile dirt track with the USAC National Sprint Cars since Kevin Thomas (no relation to Jr.) did the same 27 years ago in 1996 at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway. In the entirety of USAC’s 69-year history, there have only been three USAC Sprint Car sweeps on a 1/4-mile track with the first of its kind coming in 1995 at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and orchestrated by Jack Hewitt.

Grant now owns two career USAC Sprint victories at Tri-State with the first coming during the summer of 2021. Now, he seemingly has the place figured out after heeding the advice of his late father-in-law Bubby Jones in terms of torsion bar selection, shock settings, and executing the feat in a chassis built to Ol Bub’s specifications. All of those aspects converged to help Grant become the most recent Spring Showdown victor.

THESE GO TO 11 FOR BACON

Four-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon’s most recent USAC National Sprint Car victory came right at Tri-State Speedway back in September of 2023 during the $20,000-to-win Haubstadt Hustler. This spring, he collected his second consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victory at Haubstadt.

Back in 2015, Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) scored his lone Spring Showdown triumph to date after blazing by both Tracy Hines and Kyle Cummins for the lead early in the opening laps, and from there, was never headed.

However, the 2024 USAC season hasn’t been as kind. In nine series starts, he has just four top-10 results and is mired back in seventh in the standings. It’s the furthest into a season he’s gone without a win in quite a while. Nonetheless, there is a certain numerology that indicates Tri-State might prove to be a breakthrough.

Over the previous 10 seasons, the longest Bacon has gone at the start of a USAC Sprint season without a win is 10 races. He won in his 11th start in both 2013 and 2017. This Saturday’s Tri-State event just so happens to be race number 11 of the 2024 campaign. Things that make you go hmmm.

7UP FOR KTJ & CUMMINS?

There’s been little separation when it comes to Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins at Tri-State Speedway, and the same goes for the stat chart. Both drivers are tied for the all-time lead in USAC National Sprint Car feature victories at Tri-State with six apiece and each will try to top each other for the record this Saturday night.

Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) is the lone two-time winner of the Spring Showdown, which began back in 2012. KTJ won the event in both 2013 and 2018, and in 2023, came home a close second to Grant at the checkered. Later in 2023, he scored another runner-up result in USAC competition at Tri-State, this time to Bacon. Thomas now drives for the winningest USAC Sprint team at Tri-State, which has won eight times with Hunter Schuerenberg (1), Daron Clayton (1) and Kyle Cummins (6).

Meanwhile, Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been synonymous with success at Tri-State, and he finally racked up his first victory in the Spring Showdown with a pass for the lead four laps from the finish line in 2021. One year ago, he was right in line behind Grant and Thomas as the third-place finisher in the Spring Showdown.

SALUTE YOUR SHORTS!

For the first time ever, Brady Short and Carson Short will be teammates. The unrelated Shorts will drive a pair of Randy Edwards owned cars this Saturday night at the Spring Showdown.

Both drivers own previous USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature wins at Tri-State. Brady won twice in 2015 while Carson captured his lone USAC victory thus far in 2016. However, a Spring Showdown victory is not a part of either driver’s resume yet. With that said, the Edwards No. 61m did win the Spring Showdown in 2020 with Stephen Schnapf as the driver.

It is worth noting that it’s not the first time the Shorts have worked together. Brady once served as Carson's crew chief when Carson drove the Chase Briscoe Racing No. 5 back in 2018.

Don’t sell them short. This is a pair to watch this Saturday night.

BECK KNOWS WHERE IT’S AT

Dustin Beck may be a relative unknown to many sprint car fans nationwide, but at Tri-State Speedway, he is a hot commodity. New to the sprint car world within the last couple of years, Beck (Petersburg, Ind.) was a hot shoe in a modified, and has won his share over the years at Tri-State.

Late in 2023, in a sprint car, he strung together a pair of third place finishes late in the season at Tri-State, then finished on the podium with a third-place result with USAC in last September’s Haubstadt Hustler.

Now he’s looking to become USAC’s first first-time National Sprint Car winner since Jadon Rogers at – you guessed it – Tri-State Speedway in September of 2022.

In 53 USAC Sprint Car appearances at Tri-State, there have been six drivers who notched their first USAC win at the track: Daron Clayton (2006), Hunter Schuerenberg (2008), Blake Fitzpatrick (2010), Carson Short (2016), Stephen Schnapf (2020) and Jadon Rogers (2022).

A DOABLE DOUBLE?

The Bloomington/Tri-State weekend has become a staple of the USAC National Sprint Car schedule over the past two decades. The two tracks have contested events on consecutive nights on 20 occasions dating back to 2006. In that time frame, no driver has swept both events in the same weekend.

Fourteen drivers have triumphed at both tracks in their USAC Sprint careers: Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins, Dave Darland, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Tracy Hines, Rick Hood, Cory Kruseman, Hunter Schuerenberg, Brady Short, Jon Stanbrough, Kevin Thomas Jr., Chris Windom and J.J. Yeley.

Furthermore, only three individuals have won at both tracks within the same season: J.J. Yeley (2003), Kevin Thomas Jr. twice (2017 & 2021) and Dave Darland (2018). Only one of those won at each place within the same week (Yeley), but none have done so within the confines of the same weekend.

Four more in this Saturday’s field have won a USAC Sprint Car race at Tri-State, but a win has eluded them thus far at Bloomington. Among that group are Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), reigning series champion Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) and Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.). Conversely, C.J. Leary has won twice with USAC at Bloomington, but a Tri- State victory has not been in the cards to this point. They all aim to change that stat this Saturday night.

RACE DETAILS

Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana will host the 11th running of the Spring Showdown this Saturday night, May 11, at its 1/4-mile, high-banked dirt oval, and culminates with a 30-lap, $5,000-to-win feature event.

The Spring Showdown features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship plus the Midwest Mini Sprint Association.

Pits open at 3pm Central, grandstands at 4:30pm, drivers meeting at 5:15pm and cars get on track at 6pm followed immediately by qualifying and racing.

Adult general admission tickets are $30, students (ages 13-18) are $20 and children age 12 and under free.  Pit passes are $35 (all ages).

If you’re unable to make it to the track, you may also watch this Saturday’s event LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/usac

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