A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Adams Scores Redemption Win At Gas City
Friday, August 5 – It was a partly cloudy and very humid Friday and the sun was intense as we set out for the Gas City I-69 Speedway for our Friday fix of racing. On the way over we stopped in the lovely little town of Cicero which is on a lake at Big Dog's Smokehouse BBQ where my beef brisket was wonderful but Pat's pulled pork was not as good but it was still a neat place inside decorated well and worthy of a return visit.
I placed the blanket down high in the wooden grandstands in front of the announcing booth before returning to the car to stay out of the sun as long as possible. A small crowd turned out for the night of racing and the hot weather could have been the main factor. On tap tonight at Gas City was the non-wing sprint cars (24), UMP modifieds (11), street stocks (8) and hornets (8). The car count was also down tonight but the sprint car count was good enough to provide some good racing on the evening.
The first sprint car heat took the green flag at 7:35 and in the early going things happened quickly as Anton Hernandez behind the wheel of the Benic #2B challenged Matt Goodnight down low entering turn one with Hernandez at an odd angle with Goodnight reacting by turning to the right and into the side of Zack Pretorius with the two of them tumbling several times ending up in turn two. Neither driver was injured but both cars were done for the evening. Young Saban Bibent would go on to win heat one in a good run over Harley Burns, Anton Hernandez, Jadon Rogers and Brandon Morin. Colten Cottle would steer the famous Paul Hazen #57 to victory in heat two besting Kyle Shipley, Jack Hoyer, Sterling Cling and Dustin Ingle. Max Adams would claim heat three in the family owned #5X over Scotty Weir, Cole Bodine, Travis Hery and Tye Mihocko.
The street stocks and hornets would contest one heat each before the UMP modifieds ran two heats with Dylan Woodling and Derek Losh winning. The sprint car B main was next on the race card with seven entrants making the call and management making the call to wave off the B main and add all the entries to the starting field increasing the starting field to 22.
The 25 lap street stock feature would be the first feature of the evening and it turned out to be a good one even though there were only eight starters. Bill Lewis moved his white #14 out front early and never looked back and if he did he would have seen a fine battle for second involving four drivers. Lap eight saw Andy Bishop break up the party by charging to the inside of James Headley Jr. with James Headley also picking off his son for third. Lewis would flash under the checkered flag at 8:58 for his first win in a year and a half with Bishop second and Headley third in a good, competitive race.
Scotty Weir and Kyle Shipley would lead the 22 car starting field to the green flag at 9:10 with Weir wrestling away the early lead. Max Adams would quickly power by both Harley Burns and Kyle Shipley to take over second and put the pressure on Weir for the lead. Weir would pace the first ten circuits as the pair weaved through lap traffic in the good race for the lead. Adams would sneak by Weir to claim the top spot on lap eleven but it was not only by any stretch of the imagination. Adams would lead for the next seven laps until Colin Grissom looped it in turn four sitting on the top of the corner to bring out the first caution of the event on lap eighteen.
On the restart Weir made a challenge to Adams diving low in turn two to take the lead back but all hell broke loose on the backstretch when fourth running Anton Hernandez got sideways in front of the rest of the field with Kyle Shipley and Brayden Clark with no where to go piled into the sideways Hernandez with Brandon Morin joining the frackus moments later getting the worse of the pileup ramping over one of the cars and flipping over. Morin broke a driveshaft which hit his foot and caused some concern with Morin suffering an ankle injury which didn't require a hospital trip. Hernandez had turned into a one man wrecking crew on this evening!!
On the next restart Weir dove low in turn one on Adams & grabbed the lead but it was short lived as he biked his sprinter causing him to bounce three times like a beach ball on Beach Bash night and turn the lead and several other positions dropping to fifth at this point. Cole Bodine now running in the top three saw his race end prematurely when he caught the cushion wrong and flipped in turn four. Adams powered back to the lead on the ensuing restart with Saban Bibent and Colten Cottle in pursuit. Weir picked off Cottle for third on lap twenty three. Adams was not going to let this one slip away a second time and distanced himself by several car lengths from Bibent as the laps clicked off. Weir tried to pass Bibent numerous times over the remaining seven laps but the 17 year old high school student was up to the task holding off the current point leader to the finish. Max Adams crossed the finish line at 9:39 scoring the win, his first since suffering burns at Gas City last year and the road to redemption had been traveled as the happy winner celebrated in victory lane. Colten Cottle would place fourth with Tye Mihocko rounding out the top five. The second five consisted of Jadon Rogers, Sterling Cling, Harley Burns, Korbyn Hayslett from 22nd and Jack Hoyer.
A well run program giving you options to stay for more if you wanted or to leave and tonight we chose to leave as the almost two hour ride home leaving at that point gets us home before midnight. Derek Losh won the UMP modified feature after we left and Landon Arcaro scored the hornet win.
That's it until Monday as we head east on I-74 to Indianapolis where we are going to see wingless sprints and other divisions at the Circle City Raceway. Check back to read about our night there. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, items of interest and news can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and get well soon wishes to our friend, Jen Kelley, who is recovering from Covid.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Free Sprint Car & Midget Races At IRP Go To Tyler Roahrig & Kyle Larson
Monday, August 1 – What better way to start off the month of August than a free race to spectators covered by sponsor, Bald Spot Sports, at the 0.686 mile asphalt oval of the Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg. On tap tonight for the doubleheader of open wheel racing would be the 500 Sprint Car Tour and the USAC affiliated midgets taking on the just over a half mile speedway. The 500 Sprint Car Tour brought a good field of 26 cars for tonight's racing while the midgets were slightly down from previous appearances with only 20 making the tow to the Indianapolis area. It was a beautiful day to go racing with temperatures in the high 80's with partly cloudy skies but when the sun was fully out it was quite intense. After making the long walk from the parking area we settled out butts in Section 208 in the shade of the scoring tower and suites as a nice breeze passed across the grandstands.
Time trials would determine the lineups for the two 30 lap feature events but with a twist as an inversion pill would be drawn after qualifying which turned out to be the number 10. This would make for more exciting racing as the faster qualifiers would have to pass cars to get to the front. The sprint car qualifying was the normal two laps with the fastest of the two your time but the midget qualifying was your two laps combined to determine your time. Tyler Roahrig who has developed into one of the men to beat each and every time out knocked down the fastest lap with a time of 20.455 seconds around the fast oval. Chuck Gurney Jr. who continues to impress in his limited midget appearances had the combined fastest laps of 42.357 seconds.
While they prepared to line up the sprint car feature the man behind me asked what I was doing with the notes and so forth. I explained that we write a column for Hoseheads.com and we had a conversation in which I found out his name was Mike and he was an Indiana State Trooper. He also during the conversation kept referring to his friend that was with him and how he had raced midgets, sprints, Silver Crown and Indy Cars and I turned around to check his friend out. He looked very familiar and he commented on my Tracy Hines t-shirt and how he had raced as a teammate to Tracy on the Steve Lewis team. I asked him his name and it turned out to be veteran open wheel racer, Donnie Beechler, who raced all of the above in addition to winning the 1995 Chili Bowl and was a four time starter in the Indianapolis 500 with his highest finish being a 12th place finish. Beechler also finished third twice in IRL races at Phoenix and Kansas Speedways in 2000-1. We chatted and joked for a time before the sprint car feature was ready to go green at 7:36. This event was the 63rd running of the Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial which was run for years at the Salem Speedway.
Dakoda Armstrong stormed out to the early lead trailed by Kenny Schrader and Billy Wease. We would witness the first 22 laps stay green until Doug Fitzwater looped his sprinter in turn two to bring out the only caution of the race. In between the start and lap 22 we have some fierce racing among several drivers as they made their way to the front. Armstrong paced the field until Billy Wease charged by on lap 20 for the lead. Kody Swanson ran third for quite a while with Tyler Roahrig all over him looking for a way around with a couple of shots in the shorts for good measure. Roahrig got a run down the backstretch on lap 19 and cleared Swanson for third in turn three. As Wease moved out front on lap 20 Roahrig made a bold outside run on Armstrong through turns three and four to take second. Wease led at this point with Roahrig closing quickly. The Fitzwater spin brought Roahrig to Wease's tail tank as the green flag waved once again. The lead went back and forth between inches and several car lengths until the final lap when Roahrig pulled close to Wease down the backstretch and went to the inside entering turn three and squeezed by Wease to grab the lead as the pair raced through turn four and down the homestretch as the checkers waved at 7:51 with Roahrig scoring the big win from tenth with a disappointed Wease coming so close but not close enough. Kody Swanson would finish third after starting eighth with Bobby Santos III fourth and Dakoda Armstrong settling for fifth. Kyle Larson doing double duty this evening came home sixth with Tanner Swanson seventh, Kyle O'Gara eighth, Taylor Ferns ninth and CJ Leary edging out Kenny Schrader for tenth.
It was a very good race and we looked forward to seeing how the midgets ran their feature.
The initial start of the 30 lap midget feature took the green at 8:23 but it was called back twice as third starting Kyle Larson jumped the gun both times with the second time costing him having to restart fifth instead of third. Todd Bertrand took the early lead from Kyle O'Gara with Kody Swanson powering from sixth in second in one lap with Larson moving from fifth to third in that time frame also. Larson was wasting no time as he disposed of Swanson off turn four on lap two and caught and passed Bertrand in turn two for the lead on lap three.
Larson was off to the races at this point and by lap five had a half straightaway lead over Bertrand and Swanson. Bobby Santos III was cranked up and moving quickly passing Swanson for third on lap five and breezing by Bertrand into second on lap six. Santos began to whittle into the big lead of Larson as all eyes were focused up front to see if Santos could catch Larson. Santos was reeling in Larson slowly but surely as we pasted the ten lap mark. He drew even closer by lap sixteen only to see his mount slow dramatically on the homestretch and pulling his mount to the infield area out of the race. This would give Larson clear sailing from this point forward as Kyle O'Gara was a straightway behind in second at this point. Two notable marches forward were being made by Nick Hamilton in the Irwin #7K from 11th and Cole Carter from 14th.
When the checkers waved at 8:42 it was Larson by a country mile or over six seconds besting O'Gara with Hamilton claiming third, Carter notching fourth and Swanson holding on for fifth. Tanner Swanson also turned in an impressive drive after suffering problems that sent him pitside in the beginning but not losing any laps due to the two false starts claiming sixth with Dakoda Armstrong seventh after starting 15th, Todd Bertrand eighth, Jake Trainor ninth and Maria Cofer tenth after starting 17th. It was Larson's second midget win at IRP with the other coming way back in 2011.
It was later found that the Jerome Rodela #25 was DQ'd in post-race inspection due to the right rear wheel width was 5/16 of an inch too wide. Officials still awarded the win to Larson but the $5000 winner's share was forfeited by the winning team due to the infraction.
It was a real good night of racing at IRP with a good crowd and competitive racing in both divisions with plenty of passing and took us back to the days of Thursday Night Thunder and all the wonderful broadcasts from here. Hopefully the sprint and midget racing at IRP will continue to grow and the crowds will come out to support this iconic track.
That's it now until the weekend where it looks like we will stay local for our racing. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area while being safe and staying hydrated. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing you our “fan's perspective” of wherever we visit.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou Closes ISW22 With Wire To Wire Win At Tri-State, Grant ISW Champion
Saturday, July 30 – Weather wise you could not have asked for much better for round seven of Indiana Sprint Week as temperatures were in the mid 80's with plenty of sunshine which was intense but surely welcomed instead of the opening weekend weather for the series. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Vincennes for Friday through Sunday so we didn't have to worry about taking the nearly three hour trek northward to Crawfordsville after the racing at Tri-State Speedway on Saturday night which can make for a late night of driving as unfortunately we are not getting any younger. Before departing for Haubstadt we found a new eating place (at least for us) called the Pub 'N' Grub at 15 South 4th Street in Vincennes which was delightful with plenty of delicious grub and a mug of Peach Leinenkugel beer to wash it all down. The burgers were huge and very good tasting and the loaded fries were to die for. We were happy to have a frig back at the hotel to store the leftovers to take home on Sunday.
Then it was southward down Route 41 toward Haubstadt and our last stop on the ISW22 tour at the finely manicured Tri-State Speedway right next to the highway in Haubstadt. A good crowd of fans and a good field of USAC sprint cars (42) and MMSA mini sprints (21) were pitside to do battle on the final evening in southwestern Indiana. We settled into our backstretch seats three rows from the top toward turn three as the track crew groomed the banked ¼ mile black clay oval for tonight's racing.
USAC time trials started off the night commencing at 6:14 and early into qualifying Shane Cottle threw the Hodges #74X into turn three and biked his stead going up on his right side wheels and then end over end several times into one of the turn three advertising billboards denting it and almost clearing the fencing altogether. Cottle returned to the racing surface in a grinding thud as the safety crews rushed to his damaged sprinter. After a few anxious moments
Cottle was removed from his battered sprinter and transported to the hospital where it was reported later in the evening that he had been released with no broken bones nor a concussion. It was truly a wild and scary ride for Cottle and everyone who witnessed it and we will were relieved to hear that Shane was OK. Well, on a good note it happened again. Mitchel Moles scored his fifth quick time in seven rounds circling the ¼ mile bullring in a time of 13.442 seconds in an amazing time trial run in ISW22 only surpassed by Richard “The Gasman” Griffin who did it six times back in 1997.
The format would be the same as it has been the entire Indiana Sprint Week with four heats for the 43 USAC sprints on hand with the top four advancing directly into the 30 lap main event and the rest either running in the C or B mains. Robert Ballou made an impressive statement in heat one blasting from the third row to the lead in two laps on his way to winning the first heat over Critter Malone, Mitchel Moles and Emerson Axsom. Chase Stockon looked strong in heat two claiming the win over teammate, Jason McDougal, Kyle Cummins and Justin Grant. Kevin Thomas Jr. looked impressive in heat three and a contender for the evening scoring the win in this one over Logan Seavey, Shane Cockrum and Xavier Doney, the youngster from Missouri getting the opportunity to run one of the potent KO Motorsports machines. Heat four went to Thomas Messeraull in one of four KO Motorsports entries at their home track charging from sixth to a quick lead winning over CJ Leary, Dustin Beck making his first USAC National sprint car main event and Matt Westfall. With Brady Bacon not qualifying through the heat races Justin Grant clinched the ISW22 point crown and the sweet looking rocking chair that goes along with it.
The MMSA mini sprints would run three heats for their invitational race with 21 cars making the tow to Haubstadt. Heat winners were Brandon Deputy, Cody Knieriem and 14 year old female racer, Kayla Roell, who has a good following here at Tri-State where she scored her first feature win last year here.
Next on the agenda was the sprint car C main where Eddie Vancil got some air time flipping his sprinter in turn two which he emerged from unscathed. Sam Scott would prevail in this one edging Donny Brackett, Koby Barksdale and Travis Berryhill to move to the tail of the B main. Briggs Danner would capture the B main completing an impressive rookie ISW run having qualified for all seven rounds of ISW22. JJ Hughes who earlier had qualified 11th quickest came home second in this one outdistancing Brady Bacon in the process. Kendall Ruble, Jadon Rogers and Brody Roa rounded out the qualifiers which the impressive Texan, Dalton Stevens, coming up one spot shy of joining the 22 car starting field but the young Texan also had a good run in his rookie run in ISW22 and look forward to seeing his return in 2023.
The 20 lap MMSA mini sprint feature was run between the sprint C and B mains with Kayla Roell pulling off our second career win outrunning big winner, Brad Strunk, in the process to the delight of the large crowd who greeted the happy winner in victory lane with a loud round of applause. Brad Strunk and Brandon Deputy chased the 14 year old gal to the finish.
All that was left was the 30 lap USAC National sprint car feature with the front row of Justin Grant and Robert Ballou bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:03. Ballou motored into the early lead with Grant in his tire tracks as the lead duo opened some real estate between themselves and the rest of the pack. By lap eleven Ballou encountered lap traffic for the first time and maneuvered through with no difficulty even increasing his lead in the process. Shortly thereafter saw Kendall Ruble flip entering turn two with heavy damage to both ends of his #17 but the driver was OK after the hard ride.
On the ensuing restart Grant began to apply pressure to Ballou and pulled even with Ballou exiting turn four on lap fourteen as Thomas Meseraull zipped by Logan Seavey to take over third. The heavy favorite ever time the sprints visit Tri-State, Kyle Cummins, was beginning to march forward from fifth passing Seavey for fourth on lap 15 and storming past T-Mex for third exiting turn four on lap 17. Meseraull countered in turn two sliding under Cummins but getting slightly sideways causing Cummins to run up and over Meseraull's left front tire sending T-Mez into a spin collecting sixth running Kevin Thomas Jr. in the incident. Thomas would restart and manage a 12th at the finish but Meseraull was done for the evening.
On the restart Ballou slammed the loud petal to the floor and took off opening up a second and a half advantage over Grant and Cummins. Lap 22 saw Cummins edge by Grant for second exiting turn two and the race for the lead was on. Cummins began to cut into Ballou's gap as the laps clicked off but it looked like Ballou had enough of a lead to hang on but the caution flag waving changed all that as Dustin Beck slid and stopped in turn two on lap 28 to bunch things up for a green, white and checker run to the finish. The green waved once again and Ballou went to the bottom as he knew that Cummins likes to run the bottom at Haubstadt. Ballou was able to maintain about a two car length lead over the final two laps and breezed under the double checkers at 10:26 winning his first Indiana Sprint Week victory since 2017 holding off the six time USAC sprint car winner at Tri-State, Kyle Cummins, and Justin Grant, the 2022 ISW point champion for the first time in his career and the first time for TOPP Motorsports owner, Kevin Birchmeier. Chase Stockon would come home fourth with Logan Seavey notching fifth, CJ Leary sixth, Brady Bacon seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Critter Malone rounding out the top five. The win by Ballou was also his 36th career USAC National sprint car win tying him for 11th on the all time list with Kevin Thomas Jr. and also made it six winners in six races in ISW22.
That's it until Tuesday when we come back with a report from the pavement doubleheader of sprint cars and midgets from Indianapolis Raceway Park. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area of the country and be safe and stay hydrated. And thanks for reading our column and the emails that you send to us with words of encouragement and other things.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Second Half Run Secures Round Six Of ISW From 10th For Cummins At Bloomington
Friday, July 29 – The weather has turned for the better in the last few days for Indiana Sprint Week as today was sunny with temperatures in the mid 80's with the humidity level low. This brought out probably the largest crowd we have ever seen at the red hills of the Bloomington Speedway as both parking and seating was at a premium with people, motor homes and cars everywhere!! The gates opened slightly before five as the crowd piled into the grounds and we grabbed some real estate on the second tier of the hill overlooking turn one to watch 43 USAC sprint cars and 17 Racesaver winged 305 sprint cars perform their magic on the high banked red clay of the finely manicured facility on the southern edge of the university town of Bloomington. Tonight was dubbed the Kinser Memorial honoring the famed Kinser family of Bloomington and the ones who have left us much too soon.
Time trials for the USAC sprint cars was the first order of business with the first car taking the green at 6:53. Once again for the fourth time in six races the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ was fast time with Mitchel Moles at the controls clocking a time of 11.039 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. The Racesaver winged 305 sprinters hot lapped next before the USAC sprint cars returned at 8:05 to start the first of their four heat races with the top four transferring directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening.
The night ended much too early for Tye Mihocko battling up front for a transfer position when suddenly the Epperson #2E was airborne and turning end over end several times before landing in the grass outside of the turn four banking. Mihocko was OK after the wild ride but the same couldn't be said for the Epperson ride as their night was done. CJ Leary went on to score the victory in heat one over Jason McDougal, Brady Bacon and Mitchel Moles. Jadon Rogers who has been running well lately installed a new engine after last night's event at Lincoln Park and the new power plant took him to victory lane in heat two of the evening over Carson Garrett, Max Adams and Brandon Morin leaving Briggs Danner and Chase Stockon on the outside looking in. Kevin Thomas Jr. won heat three in the BGE Dougherty #15K besting Shane Cottle, Justin Grant and Emerson Axsom in a good affair. One of the pleasant surprises of ISW22 has been the performance of Surry, Texas driver, Dalton Stevens, who has qualified for half the races of the series to date and topped his surprising showing winning heat four in an impressive fashion passing Koby Barksdale late to win this heat. Robert Ballou and Matt Westfall trailed the other two to lock into the main event.
The Racesaver 305 sprints would contest two heat races with Bryce Norris winning heat one over Bradley Sterrett and Jordan Welch. The second heat was captured by Ethan Barrow turning back Rod Henning and Jeff Wimmenauer. It was right into the C main for the USAC sprints with Brody Roa taking down the C for the second straight night trailed by England's Tom Harris, Brayden Fox and Xavier Doney who might have wished he finished out of the top four after making contact with Davey Ray in the B main and flipping off of turn three shortly thereafter. Chase Stockon who tangled and spun in his heat race had to win the B main to qualify for the feature race with Kyle Cummins also making it in through the B with Brandon Mattox, Jordan Kinser in the Burton #04, Briggs Danner and Brody Roa punching their dance card into the big dance. Roa ran the alphabet from the C to the B to the A in a fine run edging Logan Seavey on the last lap in the B for the final qualifying spot. Seavey would have to use a provisional to tag the field making a 23 car starting field.
They dropped the hamma on the 23 car starting field at 10:03 with Brady Bacon jumping into the early lead over CJ Leary and Justin Grant with the front three going to the top in the early going. Bacon led the tandem around the ¼ mile bullring up to the halfway mark as the front runners began to encounter lap traffic as tenth starting Kyle Cummins caught the group and joined in the fun racing in fourth at that point. Leary closed the two second gap in the lap traffic to two car lengths and closing. Robert Ballou was using the low side to his advantage making up huge chunks of real estate charging from 14th to crack the top five and reeling in the front four. Lap eighteen saw Ballou go a little too low in turn three driving over the infield tire markers causing him to bounce like a ball several times in the middle of turns three and four and Ballou was clipped by Mitchel Moles turning him sideways and rolling over once in the process. His fine run was over even though he was able to return for the final 12 laps but was only able to salvage a 17th place finish at the end.
Kyle Cummins came to life as the race restarted choosing the middle groove to attempt to work his way past the top three and work it he surely did. He picked off Grant for third on lap 18 and Leary for second one lap later and went to school on Bacon at that point. Cummins cut the gap in a hurry by lap 20 and the lead pair raced side by side to the stripe for the next two laps with Bacon barely holding sway until Cummins was able to edge ahead of Bacon battling down the backstretch on lap 22. Logan Seavey's fine run from 23rd to 8th came to an abrupt end as he drifted off turn two and tried to save it only to be slightly clipped by ninth running Jadon Rogers causing him to stop off the turn. He restarted but would only manage to finish 18th after the stirring charge from the tail.
On the restart with seven to go Cummins hit the fast pedal and motored off to nearly a two second lead over the remainder of the distance and after having engine woes the previous night at LPS and down to their final motor he was able to score the big win tonight besting Brady Bacon with Justin Grant slipping into third, CJ Leary fourth and Jason McDougal turning in a fine ride also coming from 16th to fifth at the finish. Kevin Thomas Jr. finished sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jadon Rogers ninth and Emerson Axsom moving from 15th to claim tenth. This was Cummins sixth ISW career win to go along with his eleventh career USAC National sprint car win to boot.
It was a good race with many things to watch and everyone would go home talking about the run of Cummins in this one.
To allow the huge crowd to evacuate the parking lot we decided to sit tight and take in the 20 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature event. Ethan Barrow streaked from his first starting position into the early lead and never looked back in this one outdistancing second starting Bryce Norris and sixth starting Jeff Wimmenauer to score the popular win taking the final checker at 10:56 in a well run program on this Friday night. Bradley Sterrett and Rod Henning would round out the top five in this affair.
We move onto the final night of ISW22 traveling to southwestern Indiana to the fine speed plant of Tom and Loris Helfrich in Haubstabt with Justin Grant holding a 49 point lead based on his run of five straight top five in the five features contested in the six rounds of this year of competition.
So check back later in the day on Sunday to see how Indiana Sprint Week ends up in its 35 year of operation. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Any comments, news items, rumors or facts can reach us at email@example.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and the many emails you send us to let us know that you enjoy the write-ups as we try to give you the reports from a fan's standpoint and what we observe during the evening of racing.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Moles Gets Second Chance To Score Round 5 Of ISW At Lincoln Park
Thursday, July 28 – It was a nice day today in Indiana with temperatures in the 80's and sunny but a bit humid. On tap tonight was round five of the 35th Indiana Sprint Week which would be taking place at the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. We arrived just a tad past 4:30 and a long line of fans were waiting to purchase their tickets for tonight's racing. Lincoln Park is a fantastic place to view racing as the concrete grandstands with wooden planks have wide enough spaces between the rows to sit up your lawn chair and kick back to watch some good racing as there is not a bad seat in the house. Max and Suzie Niemann saved us a space in front of them so we could all chat easier as we settled in for a night of racing. Time trials were the first order of business and pushed off at 7:11. With just three cars left to time it started to rain as a cell of dark clouds moved over the speedway grounds and everything was halted. Over two hours later after a youman's job by the Lincoln Park track crew the time trials were started from the top as per USAC rules but in a good move USAC officials went to a two at a time format cutting the time for the 52 car field to only 20 minutes before time trials were completed at 10:03. One of the strangest events of the evening Thomas Meseraull arrived ready to drive the Jack Yeley #2 but upon arriving in the pit area he found Cactus Jack bolting in Anton Hernanadez's seat and T-Mez was without notification without a ride for the evening. I noticed on Twitter that Chase Briscoe sent a tweet to T-Mez about getting the band back together and his father, Kevin Briscoe, chimed in that he was in so it looks like the Briscoe #5B may be back for the last two events on the ISW schedule with T-Mez at the keyboard. Stay tuned for updates on this. What made this situation even more bizarre was that Kyle Cummins suffered a blown engine during the first time trial session and was assigned the Yeley #2 for round two of time trials making this probably one of the shortest stints in a mount for Hernandez. Brady Bacon by the way set fast time tonight with a spin around the 5/16's mile at 12.848 seconds to be at the top of the speed chart.
The first of four USAC sprint car heats took the green flag at 10:19 with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening. Dave Darland was able to fend off the constant challenges of Kevin Thomas Jr. to take heat one with Brent Beauchamp third and Brady Bacon coming home fourth. The second heat race went to Tye Mihocko in the Epperson #2E besting Jason McDougal, Emerson Axsom and Shane Cottle. Brayden Fox wired the field in heat three taking an easy win over Mitchel Moles, Robert Ballou and Mario Clouser who fed Texan Dalton Stevens a right rear in turn two a few laps from the finish to secure fourth at the finish. AJ Hopkins made the local folks happy capturing heat two back in the Burton #04 beating Jadon Rogers, Logan Seavey and CJ Leary.
The C main was quickly lined up and spun off with California driver, Brody Roa, taking this one over Scotty Weir in the Benic #2B again, Brandon Mattox and Xavier Doney. The top six would move on from the B main weaved into the starting field getting their times back to start further up in the lineup. Second quickest time trialer, Matt Westfall, made short order of the race up front holding off Ryan Timms, Chase Stockon, Justin Grant, Briggs Danner and Kyle Shipley the last man in after a superb battle between Shipley, Max Adams and Dalton Stevens for over half the race.
Letting no grass grow under their feet race officials had the cars on the track quickly and at 11:37 the front row of Jadon Rogers and Mitchel Moles led the 22 car field to Tom Hansing's green flag with Rogers taking the early lead. Rogers led lap one until turn one when Moles was able to dive low and race side by side with Rogers the entire length of the backstretch until edging ahead in turn three to secure the lead. The field raced around the juiced up oval without much passing occurring with Moles using the inside to fend off Rogers and KTJ. At the halfway mark the track began to widen and Moles chose to move his line to the top but after leaving the bottom open for three laps and with Rogers drawing alongside numerous times Moles decided to go back to the bottom. Meanwhile Brady Bacon began to march forward from sixth and settled into fourth behind Shane Cottle as the laps clicked off. Bacon was able to polish off Cottle for third high in turn two with two to go. Bacon was gaining momentum and as the group exited turn four coming for the white flag Rogers bumped Moles getting him out of sorts as Bacon pounced on the opportunity and raced high with the trio almost dead even entering turn one. Bacon surged by the pair exiting turn two and dove low when they reached turn three having the lead as the caution appeared when 8th running Kevin Thomas Jr. and 10th running Robert Ballou tangled in turn one and came to a stop negating the brilliant move by Bacon to grab the lead.
With a second chance to win Moles made no mistakes over the last two laps as he powered away to a several car length lead and crossed under the double checkers at 11:57 for his first career ISW victory and his second career USAC National sprint car victory of his career. Jadon Rogers finished a stout second with Bacon settling for third with Cottle fourth and Justin Grant completing a great race charging from 14th to place fifth at the end. CJ Leary claimed sixth with Briggs Danner from 12th to seventh with Brent Beauchamp eighth, Ryan Timms ninth and Dave Darland grabbing tenth.
It was an interesting enough of a race to keep your interest and we are all glad that they were able to get this one in with all the rain we have suffered through this ISW.
That's it for now but check back tomorrow to see what happens at round six of ISW from the Bloomington Speedway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our column and check back often to see where we end up.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Takes Torrid Battle In Round 4 Of ISW At Kokomo
Tuesday, July 26 - It was a cloudy, overcast day as we exited Crawfordsville on our way to Kokomo to attend round four of Indiana Sprint Week and we ran through some misty rain before finally running out of it. We arrived around 5:30 and found the front parking lot almost full but upon entering the frontstretch grandstands we were surprised that so many sections were sparsely occupied. Maybe it was because it was a Tuesday, a normal workday plus the weather was a little suspect but as the starting time drew closer the fans rolled in and filled the empty areas of both the front and backstretch grandstands to make the atmosphere feel more like an Indiana Sprint Week event.
By 7:02 the first of a strong 44 car field of USAC sprint cars went under the clock in the one division program of racing on the fast ¼ mile bullring located in Howard County. Everyone was wondering if Mitchel Moles would make it four straight fast times in ISW competition but when it was said and done Moles was only ninth fastest and tonight CJ Leary had established a new track record of 12.284 seconds that Dave Darland had held going back to 2014. It was also Leary's eighth fast time of 2022. Critter Malone was not so fortunate as he took a tumble in turns one and two during his qualifying run. He was OK after the incident.
Heat action was next on the dance card with four scheduled races for the 44 strong sprint car field in attendance commencing at 7:50 PM. Fireworks erupted early in heat one when Briggs Danner and Sterling Cling banged wheels in between turns one and two with Cling getting the worse of the contact sending him into the outside wall and flipping several times in the process. Cling was able to make repairs and return for the B main later in the evening. Ryan Timms driving the Keith Kunz #67 scored his first USAC sprint car heat win beating Mitchel Moles, CJ Leary and Tye Mihocko. Heat two was claimed by Jadon Rogers in a fine run holding off Brady Bacon the entire distance with Emerson Axsom third and Kevin Thomas Jr. riding home fourth. Heat three saw a very unusual occurrence as winner, Chase Stockon, after taking the checkered flag rolled over in turn four on the cool down lap. Stockon was OK and the crew was able to repair the damaged car for the feature. Stockon defeated Justin Grant, Matt Westfall and Robert Ballou in this competitive race. Kyle Cummins who has established himself as a favorite each time he shows up at Kokomo dominated heat four beating Shane Cottle, Jason McDougal and Cole Bodine grabbing the last qualifying spot on the last lap to the delight of his grandparents, Junior & Nola, who were sitting right near us. In the fourth heat Jake Swanson who was running second at the time suddenly veered toward the fourth turn wall hitting it hard and flipping into the catch fence while his throttle stuck for several seconds. He was taken from the car and went to the hospital with minor injuries but no broken bones. An updated Twitter from Jake today had the apparent cause of the accident being due to him being hit by a rock knocking him unconscious which might explain the stuck throttle being his foot on the gas pedal.
It was next into the C main where the starting front row was an all international affair with Australia's Todd Hobson and England's Tom Harris leading the field to the start. Both fell on misfortune as Hobson suffered a flat tire while Harris spun on the homestretch while running second. Harris was able to return and finished two spots out of moving to the B. Max Adams back in the Benic #2B for the second straight night took down the C main over Brody Roa, Brandon Mattox and Travis Berryhill. The B main would shortly follow with Kokomo Speedway point leader, Scotty Weir, wheeled the Petersen #4P plain Jane sprinter to victory in this one besting Logan Seavey, Briggs Danner, Jack Hoyer, Dave Darland and Brent Beauchamp at the finish. Brandon Mattox would use a provisional for the second straight race to join the starting field giving us 23 cars to start the main event.
Now the field was set for the 30 lap USAC National sprint car feature with the front row of Mitchel Moles and Robert Ballou bringing the 23 car field to the green flag at 9:50. Ballou bounded into the early lead of this one chased by Moles and others. Ballou would pace the field for the first seven laps with Justin Grant taking over second from Moles with a turn four pass on that lap. Two laps later the first caution of the race waved when third running Moles biked his mount in turn one contacting the outside wall and spinning around damaging both the front and rear ends of his machine ending his night prematurely.
Ballou led on the restart but Grant went to work and closed the gap several times until edging by Ballou exiting turn four on lap eleven for the lead. Lap thirteen saw Jason McDougal loop his mount in turn three to bring out the second caution. The action really heated up on the lap thirteen restart as Ballou dug deep and raced side by side with Grant over the next four laps edging ahead of each other in portions of the track but each time at the line Grant held sway by inches as the pair put on a crowd pleasing duel never touching each other in the intense battle. Ballou would lead at the line on lap sixteen but Grant led on lap seventeen as the war raged up front. Ballou led lap eighteen with Grant ahead on lap nineteen in the spirited tussle. Grant would lead laps nineteen and twenty but Ballou was not finished as he surged ahead off turn four to lead lap twenty one. Lap twenty two saw Grant grab back the lead for the seventh and final time but Ballou was still lurking right behind.
The leaders caught lap traffic on lap twenty five and Grant was able to open some ground on Ballou at this point. Lap twenty six saw Kyle Cummins make a late race surge to sweep by Ballou for second as he tried to reel in Grant for the top spot. Cummins was making things very interesting as he moved closer and closer to Grant and coming to the white flag Cummins was on Grant's bumper entering turn three but bobbled on the cushion in turn four costing him some ground and time to catch Grant. As the pair raced around the track for the final lap Cummins tried to reel in Grant but Justin was able to stave off the final challenge and raced under the black and white flag at 10:04 to score his fifth career USAC sprint car win at Kokomo by 0.155 seconds over Cummins, Ballou, Leary and Brady Bacon. Emerson Axsom led the second five finishing sixth with Ryan Timms notching seventh, Jadon Rogers a fine eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Briggs Danner rounding out the top ten after starting sixteenth.
It was a special win for Grant in many ways with one of them being the fact that the race was one of designated ten on the year in the Master of Going Faster named for his father in law, Bubby Jones, with many of the family celebrating in victory lane. Another special moment was when Grant was asked how special it felt to become the all time feature winner at Kokomo since the new track configuration in 2005 winning for the 25th time and passing two legends of Kokomo of Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough. That is some heady company and Grant was choked up to look back over the years when he first came here to Kokomo and saw Darland and Stanbrough dominating at the Howard County oval. The last two cherries on the sundae were that it was his sixth ISW win tying him for sixth all time with six wins in ISW history and it was his 32nd career USAC National sprint car win moving him into a tie with Rollie Beale for 15th on the list and passing Tyler Courtney in the process.
It was an excellent night of racing at Kokomo and will have everyone chomping at the bit to see the next round for all the right reasons.
Wednesday, July 27 – The news came around 11:30 that round five of Indiana Sprint Week was canceled and not to be rescheduled at the Action Track at Terre Haute as the massive storm that hit St. Louis yesterday also dumped 5 to 7 inches on both Terre Haute and Bloomington making the grounds at Terre Haute too saturated to allow them to run the event tonight.
That's it for now but check back Friday for the round five report from Lincoln Park Speedway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, tidbits and comments can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And get well soon Jake Swanson. Last but not least thanks for continuing to read our columns and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you as he try to write our reports in a fan's perspective so you can decide if you would want to attend any of the tracks that we report on.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Goes Up Top To Score ISW Win At Circle City
Monday, July 25 – Today was cloudy but no rain predicted so that was good for two reasons. First, cloudy helps keep the track from taking too much sun and drying out and two we were going to see a race after two nights of disappointment. So at 4:15 it was off to the Indianapolis area for round three of Indiana Sprint Week at the quarter mile dirt oval on the Marion County Fairgrounds called the Circle City Raceway. Pulling onto the grounds of the track area we found a decent crowd already on hand at 5:25 and many in the grandstands even though the scheduled gate opening on their website was 5:30. Oh, well we still found a good seating place in the higher aluminum grandstands added on to the original sections just to the right of the starter's stand and kept our eyes out for our friends, Max and Suzie Niemann, who would be sitting with us on this evening.
Indianapolis businessman, Kevin Garrigus, also the owner and operator of the Indianapolis Speedrome and others have done a fine job with renovating the facility with nice rest rooms, good concession stands (though a tad pricey), stone and pavement everything, a nice scoreboard and big screen on the backstretch and good seating and lighting just to name a few things. The big thing management needs to work on is the track surface itself. There are just too many rocks or stones of all shapes and sizes constantly pinging off the aluminum grandstands the entire evening. Some of them are larger ones which could do injury to spectators or worse. We would hate to see a lawsuit and legal problems for this facility after all that they have put into revitalizing the track. Just food for thought for management and probably will have to wait until the off season but surely needs to be addressed.
A fine field of 43 USAC sprint cars were joined in the turn three and four pit area by 19 UMP modifieds for tonight's racing program. The action began at 7:02 with USAC sprint car time trials and when they were all said and done by 7:37 it was none other than Mitchel Moles setting fast time for the third straight night with a new track record of 12.005 seconds around the quarter mile bullring. Three straight fast times has not been accomplished since 1997 when Richard “The Gas Man” Griffin from New Mexico pulled off the feat in that year. Following time trials for the sprints the UMP modifieds took to the track for two hot lap sessions before the sprint cars returned to contest their four heat races with the top four advancing to the big 30 lap main event.
CJ Leary drew first blood capturing the first heat race besting Jake Swanson, Kevin Thomas Jr. qualifying for his first ISW race of the series and Shane Cottle. Chase Stockon won heat two triumphing over Brady Bacon, Scotty Weir back in the Petersen #4P and Texan Dalton Stevens making his first USAC National sprint car feature holding off Cole Bodine in the process. Frankie Guerrini took a tumble on the homestretch in this heat after getting jumbled up with Justin Grant and others in a chain reaction. Robert Ballou claimed heat three over Kyle Cummins, young Ryan Timms also making his first USAC National sprint car feature driving the Keith Kunz #67 and Jason McDougal. Emerson Axsom nailed down the fourth heat over Briggs Danner who continues to impress, Brody Roa qualifying for his second straight ISW feature and Logan Seavey staving off the advances of Brent Beauchamp to finish fourth. Three UMP modified heats followed with Justin Gregory, Derek Groomer and Todd Sherman taking down wins.
After some track prep the sprint car C main was called to the post with the top four finishers moving to the back of the B main. Cole Bodine won this one over Brandon Mattox, Zack Pretorius and Sterling Cling. The B main would follow soon thereafter with fast timer, Mitchel Moles, winning and earning the 11th starting position for the main. Justin Grant, Brent Beauchamp, Matt Westfall, Dave Darland making his first ever Circle City start and Matt McDonald the last man in. Brandon Mattox would use a provisional to make it a 23 car starting field for the 30 lap feature race.
At the drop of the green flag Briggs Danner jumped to the early lead over fellow front row starter, Kevin Thomas Jr., leading the first seven laps of the contest. Brady Bacon passed Danner for the lead but it was negated when Scotty Weir swiped the cushion in turn four and came to a stop. One lap after the restart Bacon again made his move taking the lead down low in turns three and four on lap eight. CJ Leary who started eighth was working his way forward rising to third on lap nine and grabbing second from Danner slipping under him in turn four on lap twelve. Leary went to work on Bacon for the lead and almost moved out front at the start/finish line the next two laps around but was unable to pull the move off for the lead and tucked in behind Bacon on the low side. These two ran like this with Danner staying true to the top until lap twenty four when a flat left front caused seventh running Kyle Cummins to dig into the surface sending him on his lid with Brent Beauchamp, Mitchel Moles and Brody Roa with no where to go piling into the crash. All were able to continue with the exception of Cummins.
On the restart suddenly 12th starting Justin Grant was in the hunt sliding by Danner for third in turns one and two and committing to the high side to track down the two front runners. Danner snagged the cushion bouncing him all around and made contact with another car dropping him from fourth all the way back to fourteenth at the finish spoiling a fine performance by the young man from Allentown, PA making his first ISW week long appearance. Meanwhile Grant began to gain ground on Bacon and Leary using the high side and with five to go Leary made the decision to rather than follow Bacon on the bottom to take the challenge and move to the top to see if he could track down Bacon. With three to go Leary had the advantage at the line by inches and over the last two laps opened a several car length advantage over Bacon and flashed under the double checkers at 10:09 for his third win of 2022 in USAC competition and his sixth career USAC ISW win. It was also Leary's 19th career USAC National sprint car win of his career. Grant nipped Bacon for second at the wire with Bacon slipping back to third, Chase Stockon fourth and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Matt Westfall led the second five across the line after starting 16th with Shane Cottle rebounding from a lap two spin to march from 23rd to 7th with Jake Swanson eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Ryan Timms in his USAC sprint debut garnering tenth.
It was a good, competitive feature with plenty to watch and was entertaining right down to the finish.
As about half the crowd filed out we decided to let the traffic dispense some and settled in to watch the 25 lap UMP modified feature. At this point the track had slicked up so most of the drivers went to the huggy pole after Jordan Wever from third moved by Todd Sherman five laps into the event. Derek Groomer from fifth was able to sneak by Sherman for second as the laps ticked off. By 10:41 after six cautions slowed the action Jordan Wever received the checkered flag over Groomer, Sherman, Kentucky's Ben Harmon and Nick Richards.
That's it for round three of ISW, the 35th edition, and check back tomorrow to see what happens in round four of ISW where the action moves to the Kokomo Speedway, the baddest ¼ mile bullring in Indiana. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you are and be safe and stay hydrated. News, stories, comments and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And thanks as always for reading our efforts and we hope that you continue to enjoy the writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be kind.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Double Winner At Indiana Sprint Week
Saturday, July 23 – Early morning severe thunderstorms rolled across Northern Indiana and continued into the middle of the afternoon causing USAC and Kokomo Speedway to postpone round two of Indiana Sprint Week until Tuesday, September 26th which will be a standalone program with sprint cars only.
Sunday, July 24- After chatting with some Australian travelers in the hotel lobby before departing our Hampton Inn we loaded up the Rogue and pointed it south on Route 931 and 31 toward Westfield. We stopped in Westfield at I Love Mac & Cheese for lunch and both of us enjoyed our picks of Short Rib Philly and Bacon Cheeseburger selections. From there we hooked into I-465 south until connecting with I-74 west heading to our Sunday night destination of the Lawrenceburg Speedway for now what would be round two of Indiana Sprint Week.
We arrived early and filled up on $3.99 Sinclair fuel before heading over to the track grounds and sitting and reading for a while. We left at 2:30 to drive over to LaRosa's which was closed except for take out or delivery for renovations so we picked Maverick's instead for an early dinner. Returning to the fairgrounds we secured our parking spot and waited for the gates to open at five. I went in and placed our blanket down in Section G under the roof which would turn out to be a good location for two reasons as it turned out. One was because of the hot temperatures, our thermometer in the Rogue read 97 degrees in the afternoon, with the other reason coming later in the evening.
A good field of 42 sprint car entries graced the third and fourth turn pit area at Lawrenceburg for tonight's racing along with 14 UMP modifieds. The first order of business was time trials with two sprinters at a time touring the big 38 mile high banked dirt oval kicking off at 6:21. By 6:43 they were completed with Mitchel Moles recording his second straight fast time of ISW touring the high banks at 13.910 seconds. Up next after UMP modified hot laps were heat race qualifying for the USAC sprinters with the top four moving directly to the 30 lap main event. Mitchel Moles showed that he was the man to beat as he blasted from his sixth starting spot to cop the first heat besting Saban Bibent placing second with Jake Swanson back in the Team AZ #21AZ third and Sterling Cling, the current Lawrenceburg point leader, fourth. Heat two saw defending Lawrenceburg point champion, Nick Bilbee, holding down the locals turf claiming this one over Briggs Danner, Max Adams and Emerson Axsom in a hotly contested heat. Robert Ballou went fourth to first in one lap in heat three for the lead and the eventual win beating California driver, Brody Roa, Chase Stockon and Scotty Weir wheeling the Scott Benic #2B tonight. The fourth and final heat fell to Justin Grant in the TOPP Motorsports #4 turning back Kyle Cummins, CJ Leary and Jason McDougal. The UMP modifieds spun off two quick heats for their 14 car field before the sprint car C main was called to the track as everyone's eyes were divided between their cell phones tracking the weather and the racing on the track. Xavier Doney, the young driver from Missouri, pulled the upset in the C main passing Friday night's winner, Shane Cottle, late in the 10 lap contest to post the win trailed by Cottle, Texan Dalton Stevens and Brandon Mattox. Within ten minutes the B main was going green where Doney's fine run came to a halt when he flipped in turn three during the B. Logan Seavey would wheel the Baldwin/Fox #5 to the win over Brady Bacon, Joss Moffatt, Matt Westfall, Cole Bodine and Thomas Messeraull edging Tye Mihocko in a spirited battle for the last qualifying position. Jadon Rogers would elect to use a provisional to tag the field. The weather app was showing a good chance of rain by 9 PM as the 30 lap A main was ready to push off on the track at 8:18. A few minutes later it began a light rain and the starting field was waved off the track and back to the pit area to wait it out. As lightning flashed off the backstretch we waited it out for an hour and the rain picked up and just before 9:30 the remainder of the program was canceled with it being declared completed. All points earned from time trials, heat races and making the feature would be added onto the totals for the week with the purse divided equally between the feature starters.
It was a tough one to swallow but everything humanly possible was done to move the show along as quickly as possible but the rain unfortunately arrived about 45 minutes sooner than predicted and cost us all being able to watch the feature events. Rain ends up being the double winner on this weekend and hopefully does not add to his win total the remainder of the week. So we move onto round three later this afternoon at the Circle City Raceway in the Indianapolis area where we will pick up and move forward from.
Until tomorrow when the next installment of A Typical Weekend comes your way get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some racing at a track you have been waiting to attend. Either way, enjoy yourselves, stay hydrated and be safe out there. News, comments, words of wisdom and anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back often to see where the roads lead us to our next race.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Wild Night Of Racing With White Flag Pass For Win Goes To Cottle At Gas City
Friday, July 22 – On a day that CEO Vince McMahon announced his retirement from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) the first night of Indiana Sprint Week reminded you more of an WWE show than it did sprint car racing. Tumbles galore and flying drop kicks highlighted the evening of racing at Gas City I-69 Speedway for the opener of ISW #35. The villain, Robert Ballou, was involved in four separate incidents during the evening and did not make too many friends on the night. We will get to all the happenings in due time but for now we will regress to the start of the adventures.
Pat and I started out the travels on Thursday afternoon leaving our home in Crawfordsville and traveling to the Delaware County Fair in Muncie to take in an evening of autocross racing sitting in the large covered grandstand at the fair. It was entertaining and the slam bang style of racing carried over to the next night at Gas City. We drove over to Kokomo to stay at the Hampton Inn for the next three nights and left the hotel at 3 PM on Friday to make our way over to Gas City to find a parking spot and place down our blanket in the wooden grandstand as a large crowd filed in for the evening of racing on a sweltering day with temperatures in the 90's and bright and sunny. A fine field of 52 sprints were joined by 20 All Star TQ midgets to do battle on the ¼ mile bullring and do battle they did.
The action started off early with Pennsylvania's Austin Graby dumping his sprinter in turns three and four during hot laps. The tumbling continued in time trials as first Arizona's Kyle Shipley took the Michael Dutcher #17GP on a series of gyrations that would have made Hulk Hogan proud with the Arizona driver quickly climbing from the car OK after the wild ride. Next Kevin Thomas Jr. in the BGE Dougherty #15K, the defending ISW champion, biked his sprinter in turn three and went for a twirl rolling over once in the process. Both Shipley and Thomas (without brakes) returned to spin off one lap of time but the mishaps buried them deep in the time trial order (41st & 36th respectively) and made their nights even tougher. Mitchel Moles driving the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ clicked off his first career USAC sprint car fast time blistering the track with character to the tune of 11.927 seconds to set him up for a good evening.
Next up on the dance card were four heats for the 50 survivors from hot laps and time trials with the top four to advance to the 30 lap main event. Emerson Axsom won heat one on the last lap passing Logan Seavey for the win with Mitchel Moles managing third and young Jack Hoyer fourth making his first ever USAC National sprint car main. Heat two saw CJ Leary charging from fifth to claim this one over Jake Swanson, Scotty Weir and Chase Stockon. Jadon Rogers held off the thundering herd in heat three beating back Justin Grant, Kyle Cummins and Brady Bacon who recovered after tangling and spinning off turn four earlier in the heat to come back to qualify. Allentown, PA ISW rookie, Briggs Danner, made it look easy in heat four besting Matt Westfall, Robert Ballou and Jason McDougal. Ballou was involved in a multi-car tangle in this heat which ended Dave Darland's night early on the business end of a tow truck.
The Tony Stewart All Star TQ midgets would contest three heats for their 20 car field with Rylan Gray topping Kaylee Bryson and Matt Lux in heat one. Robbie Roland copped heat two over Dylan Powell and Tate Martz. Joey Paxson scored the win in heat three over John Heydenreich and Logan Prickett.
The sprint car C main was next on the agenda with Max Adams in one of the Goodnight stable cars winning over Kevin Thomas Jr., Koby Barksdale and Harley Burns. The sprint car B main was next with Tye Mihocko wheeling the Tony Epperson #2E taking this one over Shane Cottle, Brent Beauchamp, Thomas Meseraull, Cole Bodine and Chad Boespflug the last man in. Kevin Thomas Jr. came up two short of making the starting field after passing numerous cars on his way forward.
The 20 lap TQ midget feature would go next to give everything in the sprint car feature time to fine tune their mounts. Joey Paxson jumped to the early lead from first and began to power away. It would not be an easy victory as Kaylee Bryson motored her #34 from sixth into second and pressured Paxson over the stretch run but mechanical woes sent Bryson pitside with only a handful of laps remaining. Paxson would go on to score his fifth win of 2022 over Robbie Roland, Matt Lux, Cory Clay and John Heydenreich advancing from deep in the field to claim fifth at the end.
The USAC sprint car 30 lap feature went green at 10:33 with Robert Ballou outgunning Justin Grant into the early lead. Ballou would remain out front through the first half of the feature using the low side to retain command. Lap fourteen saw Grant make his move for the lead in turn three and complete it in turn four running up and over the front end of Ballou. In turn one Ballou countered Grant's aggressive with one of his own short sliding Grant with the two leaders hooking bumpers briefly with Ballou retaking the top spot. The caution flew shortly thereafter when a cone ended up on the homestretch and on the restart Ballou went back to work and so did Grant. Diamonding turns one and two Grant was able to squeeze by Ballou for the lead on lap sixteen. Meanwhile Shane Cottle was using the inside to perfection steadily working his way forward from his tenth starting spot cracking the top five as the race progressed. Lap nineteen saw the battle develop for second with Ballou, Brady Bacon and CJ Leary in a tight cluster with Leary off road racing over the turn two inside tires bouncing around as he attempted to make a move to pass the other two but he was able to recover without losing much ground. Lap twenty saw Bacon challenge down the backstretch on the high side racing into turn three where the pair banged wheels with Bacon getting the short end of the stick tumbling four times before coming to rest on all fours. Brady quickly exited the damaged machine, looked it over and proceeded to march across the infield to turn one where Ballou was parked on the track. An animated conversation followed but Bacon retained his composure and professionalism and after speaking his piece climbed on the front of an ATV for the ride back to the pit area. On the lap twenty one restart the battle raged as Grant led with Ballou and Cottle in tight formation entering turn three where the trio went three wide with Grant retaining the lead with Cottle slipping by Ballou down low for second. Grant continued to lead with Cottle and Ballou following until Leary made his move in turn one to take third away from Ballou. As the pair raced hard off turn four with Leary high and Ballou down low to the white flag Ballou slid high toward the wall and contacted Leary's stead on the homestretch sending Leary into the homestretch wall flipping over onto his roll cage and spinning in the middle of the track like a top. Luckily no one hit the upside down Leary and he quickly crawled from his wrecked sprinter and sprinted across the infield toward Ballou's sitting sprinter on the backstretch. With a prime WWE move Leary executed a flying drop kick into the cockpit of Ballou's car with Leary ending up on his rump on the race track. He scrambled to his feet and launched his left leg again into the cockpit of Ballou. In my opinion Ballou was at fault for the incident but the actions of Leary were over the top and USAC should sit Leary down for the next two rounds of ISW for his unprofessional actions.
We still had a race to finish and after things calmed down the field was realigned and the green waved once more on a green, white and checker scenario. On the restart Cottle dove low in edge in front of Grant in turn one with Grant countering in turns three and four to ike out the lead at the line with the white flag waving. Cottle again dove low entering turn one and went back out front and would race around the ¼ mile to complete the tenth to first charge at the line at 10:57 picking up the popular win like he did three years ago here at Gas City also with a last lap pass for the win. The 51 year old resident of Kansas, Illinois became the seventh driver over the age of 50 to win a USAC National sprint car race joining the likes of Bob Kinser (age 54), Terry Pletch (age 52), Dean Shirley, Hank Lower and Dave Darland (all age 51) in that exclusive club of winners. Also of Cottle's nine career USAC National wins six of them have occurred here at Gas City. Grant came across the line second and in a funny moment during his podium interview he felt like he scored a victory because he did not get taken out by Ballou in the feature!! Mitchel Moles edged Ballou at the line for third but we looked forward to hearing the reaction and interview if Ballou had placed third. Ballou rode home fourth with Chase Stockon rounding out the top five. Kyle Cummins finished sixth after starting seventeenth with Scotty Weir seventh, Tye Mihocko eighth after starting sixteenth, Jake Swanson from 20th to ninth and Emerson Axsom placing tenth.
It was a wild night of action and we look forward to tonight at Kokomo where the caravan travels to for night two of ISW #35.
That's it for this one but check back tomorrow to see what happen at Kokomo if they are able to run as severe thunderstorms roll through the area even as we type so hopefully we will see racing again tonight. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. Comments, news and other tidbits can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we appreciate the feedback that we receive from you all. Keep it coming and keep reading.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Tops MSCS Bob Darland Memorial At Kokomo
Saturday, July 9 – We slept in this Saturday morning before getting ready to leave the house and head toward Kokomo to attend the races that evening. We had three planned stops first though with stop one in Darlington to support a fund raiser for Emeree Wilcox, a 3 ½ year old little girl, battling a rare form of cancer and the community rallied around the family to help out with some of the associated medical costs for Emeree. Next up was Ollie's, a bargain store in Kokomo, to shop for some household items and some reading material. Success on both accounts. The third stop was to eat Italian food and our first choice Martino's in Kokomo was closed for vacation so he headed to the southern part of Kokomo to dine at PASTArrific which ended up being a very good choice also. The food was excellent and the prices were reasonable. Finally it was over to the Kokomo Speedway for our night of racing where the MSCS sprint cars would be racing for the first time along with the Racesaver 305 sprint cars in the Bob Darland Memorial honoring the father of Dave Darland who was a long time mechanic and car owner. A fine field of 38 MSCS non-wing sprints were in attendance along with 16 Racesaver 305 sprint cars.
The qualifying format for MSCS differs some the normal time trial format in that each heat group qualifies at the same time during hot laps. After the 38 sprints had finished hot laps Jason McDougal in the KO Motorsports #5M had turned the ¼ mile bullring in a time of 12.809 seconds. The Racesaver 305 winged sprints also ran hot laps/qualifying determining their starting positions in their heat races.
At 7:57 the first of four MSCS sprint car heats took to the track almost a half hour after the posted starting time. We are beginning to become concerned that it seems that Kokomo is being lax at their starting time and that is never good. The difference of starting on time and the races ending at a good hour (10 PM instead of 10:30) is a big deal if a person has a distance to travel or plans for the next day. Enough on that. Let's get to the racing.
The top four from the MSCS heats would advance to the main event with Critter Malone capturing the first heat besting Dave Darland, Carson Garrett and Chad Boespflug. Scotty Weir wheeled the plain Jane painted Petersen #4P to victory in heat two beating Jason McDougal, Max Adams jumping into one of the Goodnight stable cars and Kevin Thomas Jr. charging from eighth to fourth. Shane Cottle brought the Hodges #74 to the front in heat three for the win over Chase Stockon, Kyle Cummins and Zack Pretorius. Cole Bodine notched heat four over Colten Cottle, Mitch Wissmiller and Aaron Davis. The Racesaver 305 sprints would contest two heats with Bradley Galedrige winning heat one and Jordan Welch winning heat two.
The MSCS sprints would run both a C main and B main with four from each advancing one step closer to the main event. Ryan Thomas copped the C main to move to the B main along with Ryan Barr, Garrett Aitken and Corey Smith. The B main fell to Missouri invader, Wesley Smith, besting Aussie Todd Hobson, Sterling Cling and Jack Hoyer. All qualifying was done and all that was left were the two features.
The 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature would be the first called to the post with the 20 car field taking the green flag at 9:33. Scotty Weir who started first would out-drag Cole Bodine to take the early lead. Shane Cottle had the Hodges #74 on the prowl moving past Bodine for second on the backstretch on lap seven and went to work to catch Weir. Kyle Cummins who was on a rail passed Bodine for third after starting eleventh in turn three on lap 13. A caution waved shortly thereafter and on the restart Cottle charged by Weir to take the lead. Cummins worked his way by Weir also and took up the chase of Cottle. Cummins stalked Cottle for several laps and raced by Cottle as the pair raced to the line to complete lap 19. At the same time Jason McDougal was marching forward from sixth taking third on the same lap. Cottle who was running a great race in second saw his evening come to an abrupt ending when a hub or axle brought as he set up to slide into turn three with Cottle pounding the turn three wall twirling around in the air but never going over in the bone jarring incident. On the restart Critter Malone got sideways in turn two with Mitch Wissmiller with no where to go made contact causing Malone's sprinter to lightly roll over onto his roll cage. Both were finished for the evening. On the ensuing restart Cummins was quick on the loud pedal and sprinted away from McDougal with Kevin Thomas Jr. motoring from fourteenth to third by Wier in turn three. Cummins was in control of the race until lap 28 when Colten Cottle stopped the Hazen #57 with mechanical woes in turn three. One more restart and Cummins was up to the challenge pulling away over the last two laps and flashed under the double checkers at 10:02 beating McDougal, Thomas Jr., Weir and Bodine. Chase Stockon scored sixth with Max Adams seventh, Todd Hobson in his best US run from 18th to 8th with Dave Darland ninth and Wesley Smith with an impressive run from 17th to 10th. A good race with lots of passing and intrigue involved in this one.
The Racesaver 305 sprints still had their 25 lap feature to run with the initial green flag dropping at 10:22. Rod Henning took the lead on lap two off turn four and looked in command of this one until John Paynter Jr. found the top side to his liking and began to close the gap on Henning from his fifth starting position. Paynter passed Henning on the backstretch as the pair worked its way around lap traffic with Paynter using the high side as Henning went low on the lapper. Paynter was the new leader and now looked to be the man to catch but Henning never gave up the chase and with one to go he caught and passed Paynter in turn two to regain the lead and would go on to win the race at 10:32 with Paynter second and Jeff Wimmenauer moving from seventh to claim the last podium spot at the finish.
It was a good night of racing and looking back you wish that Friday had been a better night that they could have raced both nights with MSCS and we look forward to a return appearance from MSCS in 2023.
Plans are up in the air for where we will go next weekend but check back Saturday to see where we end up on Friday. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, rumors, comments and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for checking in with your thoughts at various times.
In a sad closing note we came across the passing of veteran open wheel driver, Terry Babb, who succumbed to an apparent heart attack while racing and leading the sprint car feature at St. Francois County Raceway in Missouri. He was able to pull to the pit area where emergency crews worked on him but he passed away. May God be with him and his family in this time of grief and sorrow and he will be sorely missed. Babb was 55.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant From Eighth Takes Bill Gardner Sprintacular Night Two At LPS
Saturday, July 2 – It was another hot day in the 90's in Indiana and after having a late breakfast at the Breakfast Company in Crawfordsville with Allan and Nancy Brown we headed south on Route 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville for night two of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular at the Lincoln Park Speedway. The co-sanctioned USAC/MSCS sprint car program would be USAC rules tonight with 52 cars signing in for the evening's events. They would be joined on the card tonight by the Midwest Mini Sprints (MMSA) who brought a good field of 30 cars and the Racesaver 305 winged sprints (15) for an all open wheel evening.
Time trials were the first order of business with the first car taking the green flag at 6:54. The 52nd and last car out for time trials, Chase Stockon, stopped the clock with a time of 12.944 seconds around the 5/16 mile high banked dirt oval, to set fast time to the delight of the large crowd on hand who showed their pleasure with a loud round of applause. It was Stockon's 29th career USAC sprint car fast time tying him with Don Branson for 14th on the all-time list.
The USAC sprint cars would contest four heats tonight with 13 cars in each heat race. This makes for heat racing with a purpose as only four would advance directly to the 40 lap, $10,000 to win main event. Emerson Axsom got the best of the boys in heat one scoring the win over Robert Ballou, Chase Stockon and Tye Mihocko edging out Brady Bacon sending the four time USAC champ to the B main. Jake Swanson took down heat two beating Zack Pretorius, Brent Beauchamp in his own #11 tonight and Brian Hayden. The People's Champ, Dave Darland, won a very popular heat three to a thunderous ovation over Kyle Cummins, Cole Bodine and Harley Burns holding off Jadon Rogers to capture the last qualifying position. The fourth heat fell to Justin Grant edging CJ Leary, Mitchel Moles and Brandon Mattox.
The MMSA mini sprints would take to the track next for their three qualifying heats with Cody Knieriem, Brad Strunk and Brandon Deputy winning their respective races. The Racesaver 305 sprints would run two heats for their 15 car field with Bryce Norris and Ethan Barrow the victors.
The USAC/MSCS C main fell to Evan Mosley over Aussie Todd Hobson, Sterling Cling and Alex Sipes with all four moving to the tail of the B main. Logan Seavey would rebound from a rather mundane heat race performance to capture the B main outrunning Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon , Shane Cottle, Jason McDougal and Jake Scott the last man in through qualifying. Four provisionals would be added, two each from USAC & MSCS with Jadon Rogers, Carson Garrett, Aric Gentry and Ryan Bond making it 26 cars to start the 40 lap feature race.
At the drop of the green flag at 10:27 on the 40 lap feature race CJ Leary jumped out to the early lead and led the first lap over fourth starting Kyle Cummins who was pounding the cushion. Leary would lead the first two laps until Cummins surged ahead in turn two just before the first caution appeared for Jake Scott who spun in turn two. Leary was placed out front for the restart but Cummins again passed him this time exiting turn three on the restart. Cummins looked like he was jet powered at this point extending his lead over the field to over three seconds as the race approached the halfway mark. On lap thirteen Austin Graby and Jake Scott tangled in turns one and two with Graby sliding sideways and coming to a halt. On the restart Cummins still led with Leary in second with eighth starting Justin Grant entering the picture in third. Grant caught and passed Leary for second down the backstretch and set his sights on Cummins. Grant pulled alongside Cummins in turns three and four on lap fourteen but Cummins held off that challenge. Lap seventeen saw Grant make another run for the lead between turns three and four and this time it worked and we had a new leader. The caution appeared one lap later for a three car jingle in between turns one and two involving Brady Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Dave Darland. Brandon Mattox was also involved clipping one of the cars on the way by and folding his front end and ending his night. Lap nineteen saw Logan Seavey bolt by Cummins in turn four to take second away after starting 11th. Emerson Axsom up from ninth slid by Cummins on lap twenty two in turns three and four to take third away. Cummins tussled with the cushion in turn one allowing Jason McDougal up from 12th to motor by to take fourth. Grant, Seavey and Axsom ran low in turns one and two and went up top in turns three and four as the laps ticked off. With four to go Tye Mihocko jumped the turn four cushion and went sideways but was able to continue but a quick caution slowed the action. On the restart Grant went to the point and used the cushion through turns three and four to retain the lead with Seavey in tow. Seavey attempted to go low in turn one to pass Grant but Justin took the line away at that point. Grant raced to the white flag with Seavey and Axsom behind. Axsom went real low to slide by Seavey for second coming off turn four for the white flag. Grant raced over the start/finish line at 10:49 counting his $10,000 as he passed by. Axsom finished second with Seavey third, McDougal fourth and Cummins rounding out the top five. Shane Cottle led the second five to the line after starting 14th with Robert Ballou seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and CJ Leary fading to tenth.
Next up was the 20 lap MMSA feature with Mike Larrison taking the early lead. Larrison would lead the first four laps until sixth starting Brad Strunk passed him on that lap. Strunk would not be headed the rest of the way and crossed the line at 11:21 winning over Larrison with Kayla Roell advancing from eighth to third, Brandon Deputy fourth and Cody Knieriem rounding out the top five.
There was still the Racesaver 305 sprints to run but we decided to call it a night and headed for the exits after the full night of racing.
That's it for now and check back next weekend as we are looking at a doubleheader with the MSCS sprint cars traveling to northeast Indiana for $5000 to win each night. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road and check out some racing in another part of this great country. Comments, news, racing stories or other things of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And thanks for your continued interest in this column as we enjoy bringing them to you for your reading pleasure or displeasure. Be safe and stay hydrated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Tops Night One Of Bill Gardner Sprintacular At Lincoln Park
Friday, July 1 – Tonight would be night one of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular honoring the founder of the Indiana Open Wheel website who passed away eight years ago of cancer and this is the eighth running of this event. The program would consist of MSCS/USAC sprint cars in a co-sanctioned event run with MSCS rules on this evening and would not be a USAC points paying show. It would be the 43rd time that USAC has run sprint cars at the 5/16 mile banked oval in its history and the 58 sprint cars entries were the most for a USAC sprint car event since the Western World held at Manzanita Speedway in 2008. On the racing card in addition to the three regular Saturday night divisions, the UMP modifieds (17), super stocks (26) and bombers (12) making for a grand total of 113 cars in the backstretch pit area for tonight's racing action.
With the MSCS rules in play tonight no individual time trials were run but instead six groups of group qualifying by heats with young Ryan Thomas setting overall fast time with a lap of 12.439 seconds. There would be six heat races for the sprints with only the top three moving directly into the main event. The remainder would run the alphabet starting with a D, C and B with four moving from each upward to the next one. The heat racing was fabulous with the first one a battle of #5's with Chase Stockon winning in the KO Motorsports #5S passing Logan Seavey late with Jason McDougal grabbing the last qualifying position off the final corner edging Brent Beauchamp at the finish. CJ Leary made a nifty move to get to the front in heat two Matt Westfall who had a race long battle with Jadon Rogers who ended up third. Heat three went to the grandson of recent USAC Hall of Fame inductee, Galen Fox, Brayden Fox who worked the inside expertly besting Kyle Cummins and Carson Garrett. Kevin Thomas Jr. notched heat four beating Tye Mihocko in the Eperson #2E and Justin Grant. Robert Ballou used the inside to win heat five and used the interview afterwards to criticize the preparation of the track surface turning back Dave Darland and Sterling Cling edging out Koby Barksdale. The sixth heat went to Brady Bacon over Shane Cottle and Jake Swanson in the Daming #5T.
The UMP modifieds would contest two heats with Jake Leitzman and Derek Groomer winning those. The super stocks would run three heats and would be the only other division besides the sprints to need a B main and the bombers ran two heats for their 12 car field.
The alphabet soup portion of the show was next with Seth Parker capturing the D main over Max Adams, Tony Helton and Jake Scott. Jesse Vermillion turned turtle in turn four during the D main and was OK after the spill. The C main would fall to Geoff Ensign beating Cody Trammell, a recent feature winner at Paragon, Cole Bodine and Blake Vermillion. Mitchel Moles in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ triumphed in the B main chased across the line by Brandon Mattox, Emerson Axsom and Koby Barksdale.
The 30 lap MSCS/USAC feature would take the green flag at 11:13 with Kevin Thomas Jr. bounding into the early lead. Exiting turn four on the first lap Thomas caught the cushion wrong and bounced his car every which way but loose dropping from the lead back to fourth. In the mayhem that ensued C J Leary dove low off turn four and powered by Thomas, Stockon and Robert Ballou to grab the lead. Robert Ballou recovered and drove low in turn one and took the lead off turn two from Leary at that point. A few laps later Thomas started to make a comeback picking off Stockon to take back third and went to work on Leary as Ballou opened a healthy lead. By lap twelve Thomas used the bottom line to slide by Leary for second and only Ballou was in front of him. Mitchel Moles brought out the caution spinning in turn three on lap fourteen to slow the action and regroup the field wiping out Ballou's four second lead. On the restart Leary changed lines and went higher and the top began to work for him. He passed Thomas for second on lap fifteen and one lap later caught and passed Ballou for the lead at the line. Leary now was the one pulling away and with six to go Ballou decided to try the high side and when Brady Bacon up from sixth nearly passed him on the top reverted back to the bottom to try to catch Leary. It was not to be as Leary maintained a two plus second advantage flashing under the checkered at 11:27 as all hell broke out behind him as second running Robert Ballou caught the turn four infield tractor tire and spun directly in front of third running Kevin Thomas Jr. who slid into him taking both cars out of a good finish which Ballou later apologized to Thomas on Twitter for referring to himself as a dumb ass in the process. Brady Bacon would inherit second with Kyle Cummins moving up to the last podium position with Chase Stockon claiming fourth and Shane Cottle advancing from 12th to 5th at the finish. Tye Mihocko came home sixth with Jake Swanson seventh, Justin Grant up from 16th to 8th, Logan Seavey ninth and Jadon Rogers settling for tenth. During the feature some raindrops fell but nothing to cause any alarm.
We decided to stay to watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature but also decided to pack up the folding chairs and sit on the benches for this one. It was a good thing that we did as a light rain began to fall around lap seven of the modified race. It could have been the cause of the tangle between turns three and four when the top two tangled and spun bringing out the caution. We all retreated up under the overhang for a few minutes as the cars ran around the track under caution. We all decided to head to the van parked out front and call it an evening and looking for the results today seemed to indicate that none of the other features were completed.
That's it for today's column and check back Monday to catch the report of night two of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular from Lincoln Park. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take your act on the road to take in one of your bucket list tracks. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our next typical weekend ends up. Take care, be safe and stay hydrated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Swanson, Swanson & O'Gara Score Thursday Night Thunder Wins At IRP
Thursday, June 30 – A beautiful day awaited us as we awoke with temperatures reaching the low 90's, sunny and with low humidity made for a very nice day. The plans for today were to head over to Brownsburg after Pat was finished working and to attend the Thursday Night Thunder Throwback at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. The race tonight was a triple-header featuring the 500 Sprint Car Tour (20), the Brown's Oil pavement midgets (20) and USAC Silver Crown (12) for a special shootout race for the grand old dames for 25 laps with only 10 starting and no points awarded. Also another big item was that IRP was offering free, yes I said free cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chips, Pepsi products, water and cookies!!! The cherry on the sundae was with your HARF membership card you received a $5 discount off the admission price allowing you all of the above for just $20. You can't beat that!!!
Management handed out a race schedule and they stuck right to it all evening long with only the last race of the night, the midget race starting later than the schedule indicated but a blown engine earlier in the evening took extra time to clean up and pushed things back a bit but still a very good night of racing completing before 10 PM (9:52 to be exact) making it a well run show on a week night and sending everyone away happy after witnessing some good racing and filling their bellys with food.
Sprint car time trials started off the evening and when they were all said and done, Mr. Fast Time, CJ Leary, had stopped the clocks with the fastest time of the evening at 20.536 seconds around the .686 mile asphalt oval. The Silver Crown cars were next up for their qualifying with 12 cars vying for 10 starting positions. In a different format after the two laps were added together the top 10 were established with the drivers on the outside looking in, Brian Tyler and Russ Gamester, having a second chance to bump someone from the starting field. Both drivers took up the challenge and promptly knocked Travis Welpott and Derek Bischak for the top ten. Welpott and Bischak would get the same opportunity with no one getting a third chance if the same four were involved in the bumping process. It happened this way and both Welpott and Bischak sent Tyler and Gamester packing. The midget time trials were next on the card with Bobby Santos III posting fast time with a lap of 20.998 seconds.
USAC held their Hall Of Fame inductions on the homestretch next before we went into the start of the feature event racing. It was good to see Galen Fox, Johnny Vance and Jay Drake inducted into the USAC Hall Of Fame.
The first of three main events would have the 500 Sprint Car Tour 30 lap feature taking the green flag from Tom Hansing at 8:15. Taylor Ferns, the female driver from Michigan, would take the early lead. Tyler Roahrig's evening came to an abrupt end when blow the engine in his machine in turn one and spun leaving a lot of fluid on the surface which needed to be cleaned up with kitty litter. On the restart Ferns went back out front but starting lap five she slowed in turn one and rolled around to the backstretch where she stopped ending our night prematurely also. Tanner Swanson in the Aaron Pierce #26 was the new leader with his brother, Kody, hot on his heels. They would run that way the rest of the race with Kody several times drawing close and even alongside on numerous occasions but never got the bite to pull by Tanner for the lead. At the double checkers at it was Tanner Swanson across the line first chased by Kody Swanson with Kyle O'Gara finishing third, Dakoda Armstrong notching fourth and fast timer, CJ Leary, advancing from tenth to fifth at the finish.
The 25 lap USAC Silver Crown Shootout feature was next on the dance card with the front row of Nick Hamilton and CJ Leary bringing the 10 car field to Tom Hansing's green flag. Kody Swanson who started third dove to the apron entering turn one and passed both members of the front row to take the lead in a ballsy move. Leary passed Hamilton to take second off turn two and took up the chase of Swanson. Swanson would lead Leary and Nick Hamilton through the first fifteen laps with Tanner Swanson making some aggressive moves advancing from ninth to fourth at this time. As the cars entered turn two sparks flew from the left rear of Leary's machine with a flat left rear tire causing the second place runner to spin and ruining his evening. On the restart it was Kody Swanson leading Nick Hamilton and now Tanner Swanson with tenth starting Bobby Santos III now in fifth. Tanner wasted no time disposing of Hamilton for second as they exited turn two on the ensuing restart and took up the chase of Kody. One lap later saw Santos use the same move on Hamilton to drop Nick to fourth. As the laps ticked off Kody Swanson pulled away from Tanner Swanson and Santos to a two second bulge. Taylor Ferns made a last lap, third turn pass of Hamilton to garner fourth at the finish. Kody Swanson flashed across the line first for the 14th time at IRP leaving him one behind the all-time IRP winner, Tracy Hines, who has 15. Tanner Swanson came home second with Bobby Santos III third, Taylor Ferns fourth and Nick Hamilton rounding out the top five.
We still have one more race to run with the 35 lap midget feature taking the green flag at 9:35. The mighty midgets would proceed to put on the best show of the entire evening over their 35 lap feature distance. Jake Trainor and Kyle O'Gara brought the 20 car starting field to the start at 9:35 with Kody Swanson jumping from third to pull alongside Trainor racing side by side with the youngster around the oval for the entire first lap with Trainor leading by a whisker at the start/finish line. Trainor would lead until turn one of lap two when Kody Swanson motored by to take the lead. Chuck Gurney Jr. moved from fifth to second passing Trainor for the spot in turn two on lap three. On lap later Trainor was shuffled back to fourth when Bobby Santos III made his pass. Meanwhile Kyle O'Gara who started second had been shuffled back all the way to fifth at this point. O'Gara started his comeback on lap five bumping Trainor back to fifth. O'Gara followed Santos until lap eleven when he edged by Santos for third. He continued his resurgence catching and passing Gurney in turn four for second on lap sixteen. He began to cut the deficit on leader Swanson lap by lap and at the line to start lap twenty one O'Gara streaked by Swanson to gain the lead. In the next several laps Gurney and Santos slipped by Swanson to take over second and third as it turns out Swanson's left rear was losing air with Cole Carter taking fourth in turn three on lap twenty eight. Two laps later the caution appeared for Todd Bertrand who stopped in turn three with Swanson diving onto pit road for the crew to take a look at the car. Swanson would not return to the race and ended up 15th in the final results.
On the restart O'Gara went back to the point with Gurney sticking his nose underneath O'Gara between turns one and two but O'Gara streaked down the backstretch fending off the brief challenge. O'Gara who over the past ten years had collected various podium finishes but never a first and tonight he was not going to let this one slip away. Over the remaining ten laps he pulled away to a comfortable margin and sailed under the double checkers at 9:52 for his first career win at IRP over an impressive Chuck Gurney Jr. who does not drive often but when he lays down the wrenches on the Keith Kunz stables he is a pretty good race car driver like his dad was. Buddy Kofoid who ran a steady, heady race advanced from tenth and had a crowd pleasing duel with Bobby Santos III the last several circuits with Kofoid edging Santos at the line to grab the last podium finish. Santos finished fourth and Jake Trainor rallied back to nail down fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Cole Carter with Nick Hamilton coming from 18th to 7th with Tanner Swanson eighth, Blake Brannon ninth and Dakoda Armstrong tenth. It was by far the best feature of the night with more passing in this one than probably the other two combined.
It was a very good night of racing and the free food was a real bonus and the $20 admission price was the topper. We enjoy dirt racing more than asphalt but this one was worth the time and effort and we recommend catching one of the programs coming up at IRP. You won't be disappointed.
That's it for this one and check back tomorrow for night one of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular featuring the USAC/MSCS sprint cars from the Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville where if you don't stay in line the prison is just down the road!!! Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, stories of interest, news and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Axsom Turns Around & Hits Lincoln Park To Take Win
Saturday, June 25 – We left the house around 10 AM to do some local sightseeing in our hometown of Crawfordsville. We have only lived here eight years and still had not visited the Rotary Jail and Lane Place, two of the sightseeing sites in our town. The Rotary Jail Museum is located on the main street running through town which is also Route 231. There were 12 built and it is the only one still in existence with an operating rotary. The gentleman who conducted the tour was very informative and we enjoyed finally seeing this attraction. Then it was off to Lane Place across from the municipal building in town. Lane Place was built by Henry Lane, a senator from Indiana who helped get Abraham Lincoln elected as president. He was governor for two days and realized this was not for him and turned the governorship over to the Lt. Governor and went back to the US Senate where he felt he could serve his state and country better. A student from Wabash College gave us a fine two hour tour of Lane Place showing us many artifacts collected over the years. It was truly enjoyable.
After lunch at Second City Cafe (very good meal) we returned home, gathered up our cooler and snacks and out the door we went headed south on Route 231 for Putnamville, the home of the Lincoln Park Speedway. What started out to be a four division program topped with fireworks turned into a six division (too many divisions) program with fireworks. Added to the program during the middle of the week were steel block sprint cars and hornets. With competition from Paragon on Saturday the Spikers are turning into back gate promoters trying to cover their bottom line. On this evening especially there was no need to add two divisions and 18 cars to the total as a very good crowd turned out for the evening of racing and fabulous fireworks.
The non-winged sprint cars would be the only division running three heats for their 20 car field while the steel block sprints (9), the UMP modifieds (17), the super stocks (13), bombers (12) and hornets (9) would only contest two heats each. The non-winged sprints would kick off the program at 7:29 and the action started early as Cole Bodine got loose up front and jammed up the cars behind him with Jake Scott ramping over Harley Burns' left rear sending Burns into a series of gyrations like a helicopter spinning numerous times in the air before finally touching down and turning onto his side. Burns was OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for his sprinter. The epitome of the phrase “Going from hero to zero” after winning his first career sprint car win the night before at Gas City. Cole Bodine would go on to win the first heat over Jake Scott, Tye Mihocko and Brandon Spencer. Heat two went to the popular AJ Hopkins besting Ryan Thomas, Zack Pretorius and visiting Riley Kriesel from Warshaw, Missouri. Emerson Axsom who earlier was headed north to the USAC sprint car race at Wilmot, Wisconsin which was rained out diverted to Lincoln Park and came home the winner of heat three. Alec Sipes chased him across the line with Brayden Fox third and Geoff Ensign fourth.
The steel block sprints were next on the agenda with Tony Helton scoring the win in heat one and Shayna Ensign, wife of Geoff Ensign, winning heat two. The UMP modifieds spun off two heat with Levi Kissinger and Matt Mitchell winning. Two heats were run for the super stocks, bombers and the hornets were all put into one heat of 9.
It was still too early to shoot off the fireworks so at 9:23 the 19 car starting field of wingless sprints took the green flag from Brian Hodde with Emerson Axsom advancing from third running side by side with AJ Hopkins took the lead at the line to lead lap one. Tye Mihocko was gobbling up huge chucks of real estate blasting from seventh to second off of turn four on lap two. They stayed green until lap seven when Ryan Thomas lost the handle in turn four and looped his #77 to bring out the caution. On the restart Axsom went back to the point trailed by Mihocko and Hopkins. The track was a little dry tonight as rain was predicted at 6 PM but never came so less water was added beforehand. This factor found the majority of the field going huggy pole on the inside with AJ Hopkins trying to make the outside work. Brayden Fox slipped by Hopkins for third on lap eight before Jake Scott brought out the second and final caution on lap ten spinning in turn four. Axsom scooted out front on the restart dogged by Mihocko and Fox. Hopkins briefly made his way back to third at the line to start lap fifteen but lost it again to Fox on lap eighteen. Axsom made no mistakes over the last seven laps and cruised under Brian Hodde's checkered flag at 9:36 to score the win over Mihocko, Fox, Bodine and Hopkins who never gave up on the top.
The steel block sprints were next up to run their 15 lap feature event taking the green flag at 9:47. Billy Winsemann, who organized the new steel block sprint division, bounded off the pole and would lead the entire distance in this five minute, non-stop race besting Shayna Ensign and Michael Clark.
The fabulous 20 minute firework display was next on the score card and was delightful to watch. This display has to be the best we have ever seen at any race track throughout the entire country. It is 20 minutes of non-stop action with fireworks being shot into the air one after another with an occasional ground display ending with a giant flaming boom from the last ground display.
The 20 lap UMP modified feature was just the opposite of the steel blocks as they suffered seven cautions throughout their 20 lap feature. Matt Mitchell would score the win beating Levi Kissinger, Jeff Deckard, Will Bennett and Rob Brickert with the checker waving at 10:20.
At this point with three features still to go and seeing the divisions we most wanted to see we packed up the gear and headed for the exits to take the short 40 minute jaunt back up Route 221 to Crawfordsville.
That's all we wrote in this installment and check back Friday as we have a Thursday night special on the dance card. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and keep hydrated. News, stories, comments and anything other tidbits of information can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and it was good hearing from you, Robert Altman, and your views on the Bloomsburg column. As always thanks to all that read our column and give their thoughts on various topics that we discuss. Keep reading and keep the emails coming. We enjoy it all.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou In Late Race Pass For MSCS Win At Terre Haute
Friday, June 24 – It was south on Route 47 past Turkey Run State Park and then south on Route 41 through Rockville and southward to the city of Terre Haute where we dined at Bandana's BBQ before heading over to the Vigo County Fairgrounds for a night of racing at the Terre Haute Action Track. On tap tonight was a program consisting of MSCS sprint cars, super stocks and UMP modifieds The car counts were lean at 17 sprint cars, 16 super stocks and 10 UMP modifieds but the track surface was in fine shape and would provide a good track to race on.
MSCS run hot laps which double as qualifying with Kevin Thomas Jr. in his new ride, the BGE/Dougherty #15K, as a teammate to Carson Garrett setting fast time with a lap of 20.017 seconds around the historic half mile. Each division would run two heats each with the MSCS sprints being first up with the KO Motorsports #5S of Chase Stockon having a spirited duel with Robert Ballou before turning back Ballou for the win with Brian Hayden and Brayden Fox making his first half mile start fourth. Kevin Thomas Jr. led the majority of laps in heat two before motor woes on the last lap ended his evening early with the other KO Motorsports entry, the 5M of Jason McDougal, scoring the win over Mitch Wissmiller, Riley Kreisel of Missouri and Aric Gentry. The super stock heats were captured by Austin Phelps and Kenny Carmichael Jr. while the UMP modified heats were taken by Kenny Carmichael Sr. and Everett Bradham with all qualifying completed by 8:44 after starting at 8:00.
The 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature would be the first one called to the post with Mitch Wissmiller and Robert Ballou bringing the 15 car starting field to the green flag at 9:18. Ballou took the early lead from Wissmiller in turn two but at the line to complete lap one fourth starting Chase Stockon powered by Ballou for the lead. Stockon led the first five laps with Jason McDougal slipping back early but moving back to fourth in turn four on lap five. McDougal slipped by Wissmiller for third on lap eight with Stockon and Ballou well out in front at that moment. Stockon continued to pace the field and maintain a comfortable lead until Ryan Bond brought out the only caution of the race on lap nineteen when he banged the wall in turn two and road the fence onto the backstretch to force the yellow.
On the restart Stockon bobbled in the middle of turn one allowing Ballou to throw the big slider underneath which he pulled off exiting turn two and we had a new leader. Ballou would pull away to a several car lengths over the remaining six laps and would race under the checkered flag at 9:31 winning over Stockon, McDougal, Wissmiller and Brian Hayden. It was a good, solid run for the field with some good racing up front.
Next up was the 15 lap super stock feature with Austin Phelps darting from the first starting position into the lead, one which he would not surrender the remainder of the distance in the non-stop feature. Kenny Carmichael Jr. chased Phelps the entire distance with Scott Ricketts coming home third, Tom Plotz fourth and Doug McCullough fifth at 9:59.
We decided to call it an evening at that point and head north toward Crawfordsville for a good night of sleep.
That's it for this installment but check back tomorrow to see where we ended up for our Saturday night racing fix. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, news, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as usual thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words sent our way by many.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Bookends Eastern Storm With Win At Bloomsburg
Sunday, June 19 – We made another leisurely drive up Rt. 15 along the Susquehanna River to the town of Selinsgrove where we stopped for lunch at one of our favorite Pennsylvania eating places, Skeeter's BBQ, where a good sized Father's Day crowd was on hand. After a delicious meal of pulled pork we crossed the Susquehanna River and continued up Rt. 11 to our Sunday night destination, the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway, smack dab in the middle of the town of Bloomsburg. When we say smack dab in the middle we are not kidding as only about 20 feet separate the fencing of the pit area and local resident's housing across the street. Here in lies the problem that management at Bloomsburg Fair Speedway has to work at to overcome. Usually running their races on Sunday night or during the week they need to become more of the good neighbor and run an efficient program completing at 10 PM at the latest and keep the dust to a minimum. They missed on both accounts with the second of three features ending at 9:51 with still one more to run so we don't know for sure as we exited after the SpeedSTR 20 lap feature but we can probably say without much doubt that they didn't complete the last feature in the remaining 9 minutes before the 10 PM mark. The second account, the dust factor, they sadly failed miserably on as the track showed signs of dust as the cars circled the track before the first green in hot laps and continued the entire evening with clouds of dust drifting out to the parking lots and we are sure into the nearby neighborhoods not making it any easier for management to be good neighbors. Yes, it was sunny and windy but the amount of dust that bellowed off the track surface was more due to lack of proper preparation of the surface rather than the other two factors. Enough of that, let's get on with the racing at hand.
After chatting with many friends both outside and inside of the grandstand area we settled into our seats toward turn one to watch the night of racing. The car count for all divisions was in the middle teens for tonight's racing with the USAC sprint cars having their lowest count of the week tonight with only 17 cars on hand as some headed home early and some just skipped the Sunday night racing. Also in the pit area were 16 SpeedSTR cars (think ugly version of a midget/Silver Crown cross breed) and 15 IMCA modifieds. Time trials commenced at 7:00 with two cars taking hard flips or rolls in turn one during the time trials. First Brandon Mattox flipped several times between turns one and two while a bit later in time trials Jadon Rogers backed his car into the turn one wall rolling over in the process. Both drivers would return for the feature event. Jake Swanson of Anaheim, California in the TeamAZ #21AZ set fast time with a lap of 15.993 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval.
Only two heats would be needed for the USAC sprint cars pushing off at 7:54 with Allentown, PA's own Briggs Danner in the Mike Heffner #5G taking down heat one besting Robert Ballou, Brady Bacon, Alex Bright and Logan Seavey. The second heat also went to a driver from Pennsylvania, Tim Buckwalter of Douglassville, winning over Thomas Meseraull back after a night off due to the Dyson operation focusing on their Silver Crown effort at Port Royal, Emerson Axsom, Chase Stockon and CJ Leary. The SpeedSTR's would also contest two heat races with Billy Pauch Jr. and SpeedSTR developer, Richie Tobias, winning the two heats. The IMCA modifieds followed with two heats and no B mains would be needed.
The first feature of the evening would showcase the USAC National sprint cars with the front row of Chase Stockon and Brady Bacon bringing the rest of the field to Warren Alston's green flag at 9:10. Bacon used the high side to take the early lead with Stockon nipping at his heels. Stockon challenged Bacon for the lead in turn two on lap five with the pair racing side by side down the backstretch into turn three where Stockon went high and Bacon dove low with Bacon retaining the top spot. The racing was tight behind the front two with Justin Grant and Logan Seavey battling it out for third as the race progressed. On lap eight Seavey jumped the curb in turn two with fifth running Jake Swanson almost launching himself skyward ramping over Seavey's tire. Swanson landed safely and the pair continued on none the worse for the wear. Grant found his way by Stockon for second in turn two on lap fourteen as Bacon began to check out from the rest of the field as the race remained green. Grant closed on Bacon as the race wore on and with five to go was within striking distance of the leader but Bacon again put the hammer down and pulled away to a comfortable margin. The checkered flags flew 10 minutes after the start in a caution-less feature event as the dust bellowed off the track surface making it difficult for everyone to see including the drivers as all three podium finishers commented on their difficulty of seeing during the race. Bacon ended up winning the first race and the last race of Eastern Storm but fell five points short of winning the Eastern Storm points championship which fell to third place finisher, Logan Seavey. Stockon came home fourth with Swanson rounding out the top five. That was career win #44 in USAC National sprint car competition for Bacon moving him within one win of tying the number 5 man, Larry Dickson on the list. Briggs Danner finished sixth and wrapped up a good Eastern Storm week with Robert Ballou seventh, Emerson Axsom eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and CJ Leary tenth. T-Mez was the Irvin King Hard Charger with a +3 increase. That might show you the lack of passing in this one!!!
Next up was the 20 lap SpeedSTR feature with the front row of Billy Pauch Jr. and Richie Tobias bringing the field to the green flag at 9:34. Pauch would bound into the early lead with Tobias in pursuit. Tobias slowed on lap four with a broken steering unit ending his night prematurely. Loudon Reimert took up the chase with Alex Bright right behind in third. Bright's car came up lame on lap 11 ending his night also too early. On the restart Pauch worked the bottom to perfection as Reimert and now Mike Bednar battled it out for second. Bednar slipped by Reimert into second with six to go and another caution allowed him to start alongside Pauch on the restart. Bednar raced side by side with Pauch but Pauch was able to edge ahead again. Pauch maintained the lead over the last five laps and raced under the double checkers at 9:51 with Bednar second, Reimert third, Dillon Steuer and the veteran Tom Mayberry nailing down fifth.
It was a disappointing night after coming off the high from Saturday at Port Royal where all the racing was superb and looking back from last year when we saw the USAC midgets run here and rated it our best PA midget week race. There is an alarming realization that if current management does not up their game and fix the various problems which are mainly the surface and time frame the future for racing at the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway does not look bright.
Check back Saturday for our next installment which will be local in Indiana as we stay closer to home after our week's adventure to Pennsylvania. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, other viewpoints, news and more can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and your feedback on our writings. It is appreciated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Seavey Doubles In Barn Burners At Port Royal
Saturday, June 18 – We started the day with a nice lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant in the Harrisburg area, Fiesta Mexico, before taking a leisurely drive along the Juniata River into the town of Millerstown where we turned west and crossed the Juniata River. About two miles outside of town on Rt. 17 we spotted a sign for Hall's Ice Cream just up the road on the left. We decided to stop and have some homemade ice cream and we are so glad we did. Hall's has been in business for 75 years and tasting the quality of the ice cream would could see why. It was delicious. I had a two scoop glass bowl of honey cinnamon and honey raspberry while Pat went with the old favorite, strawberry, and we enjoyed them both. Continuing on our drive we turned right on Rt. 74 marveling about the beauty all around us driving through a valley with mountain ranges on each side of us. Rt. 74 would take us up and over the one mountain range and eventually Rt. 75 which took us straight into the town of Port Royal. The Eastern Storm tour was making an appearance at the half mile dirt oval basically in the downtown area on the Juniata County Fairgrounds where the USAC sprint cars would be joined by the grand old dames of USAC, the Silver Crown series, and the regular winged 410 sprint cars for a dynamite triple header of open wheel racing.
The car counts are as follows: USAC sprint cars bringing 21, the winged 410 sprints with 25 and the USAC Silver Crown series showing up with 30 strong. Eleven drivers would pull double duty on the evening racing in both the USAC sprint cars and Silver Crown divisions. They were CJ Leary, Logan Seavey, Jake Swanson, Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon, Shane Cottle, Justin Grant, Matt Westfall, Dallas Hewitt, Mark Smith and Brian Ruhlman.
The USAC sprint cars would be the first to time trial starting at 6:35 with CJ Leary being interviewed by 6:49 after clicking off a lap of 18.617 seconds around the half mile. The USAC Silver Crown series were next up with their time trials running two at a time pushing off at 7:28 and completing their runs by 7:51 with CJ Leary for the second time tonight setting fast time with a lap of 21.402 seconds to capture the pole for tonight's 50 lap main event.
The USAC sprints would contest three heat races with the top five moving into the inversion draw. Brady Bacon put on a driving clinic in heat one racing all over the track using many different lines before zipping by CJ Leary late to capture this one. Justin Grant carded third with Alex Bright fourth and Chase Stockon coming home fifth. Logan Seavey motored out front in heat two and grabbed the win over Matt Westfall, Emerson Axsom, Brian Ruhlman and Shane Cottle. Mark Smith from nearby Sunbury nailed down heat three besting Robert Ballou, Briggs Danner, Jake Swanson and Steven Drevicki.
The winged 410 sprints would run three heats also for their 25 car field with the veteran Mike Wagner capturing the heat one win over Tyler Bear, Steve Buckwalter and Blaine Heimbach. Jeff Halligan triumphed in heat two beating Anthony Macri, Tyler Reeser and Trenton Sheaffer. Logan Wagner joined his dad as a heat winner taking the third heat over Michael Walter II, Jon Stewart and Kassidy Kreitz.
The Silver Crown cars would report to the track for their Last Chance Qualifier where the top eight finishers would advance to the 50 lap feature event. Chase Stockon in the new Pink Racing #69 won the 12 lap race chased across the line by Jimmy Light, Carmen Perigo, Mike Haggenbottom, Austin Nemire, Mark Bitner making his Silver Crown debut, Travis Welpott with the last man in being Tom Paterson.
With all qualifying completed it was time for some track prep before the first feature of the evening, the 30 lap USAC National sprint cars would be called to the post. Briggs Danner who has been showing signs of brilliance during Eastern Storm would blast into the early lead from first and control the opening two laps until bouncing off the turn two cushion on lap three and cracking his wheel cover pushing mud into the rim of the right rear tire and slowing to a halt to bring out the caution. He hustled to the work area changing a tire and returning to the action. CJ Leary inherited the lead and would hold the top spot when Brady Bacon made a challenge for the lead on lap four but dropped back with Emerson Axsom filling the void low in turn one and two scooting by Bacon to take second. The caution would wave on lap seven when Justin Grant had a right rear shoe go flat. Grant went to the work area where the tire was changed and he was back on the track but restarting at the tail of the field. He would not stay there long. On the restart Axsom led but Leary was ganged up on with Bacon, Logan Seavey and Shane Cottle blasting by dropping Leary from second to fifth in one fair swoop. Axsom would lead through lap twelve when Bacon closed to his rear nerf bar but not past the youngster. Seavey instead would throw a big slider on Bacon in turn one sliding by to take second. Jake Swanson moved into the mix on lap fourteen taking fourth while Justin Grant was cracking the top ten after restarting last from his flat tire. At the halfway mark Seavey passed Axsom for the lead. Suddenly Alex Bright was in the hunt using the low and middle grooves advancing from sixteenth to third passing Bacon for that position on lap eighteen and easing by Axsom one lap later for second. With ten to go Seavey had a straightway lead with Bright trying to close the gap. Seavey was on rails with Bright running the middle and maintaining a comfortable advantage over the rest of the pack as the laps wound down. With four to go all eyes were on Grant as he swept by Axsom for fourth on the fence in turn two and used a slider entering turn three on the final lap to take away third from Bacon. Seavey flashed under Warren Alston's double checkers at 10:11 with an amazing 5+ second lead beating Bright, Grant, Bacon and Axsom to the finish. It was Seavey's second win of Eastern Storm and his eighth career USAC National win in a dominating performance. Matt Westfall came home sixth with Robert Ballou seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Steven Drevicki ninth and Briggs Danner battling back from his troubles to finish tenth.
The 410 winged sprints would get their chance next to perform in front of the large crowd on hand taking the green flag at 10:27. Tyler Bear took the early lead but a Blaine Heimbach spin in turn two brought out a quick caution. On the restart Jeff Halligan moved from sixth to third while Logan Wagner charged from seventh into fourth. Logan's dad, Mike, came from fifth to trail leader Bear in the early going until Zach Newlin brought out the second caution on lap seven. On the restart the veteran Mike Wagner moved by Bear for the lead and was looking strong in this one. Lap nine saw Dylan Cisney turn turtle on the homestretch after contact with Justin Whittall bringing out the red flag. Jeff Halligan slipped by Bear for second on the restart with Anthony Macri making his presence known charging from eighth to storm by Bear for third also. With eight to go Macri passed Halligan for second and took off after Mike Wagner. With six to go Macri slid under Wagner for the lead exiting turn four with Wagner racing hard and driving alongside Macri on the homestretch before the pair banged wheels with Wagner spinning off the outside wall toward the infield fence ending his night with much disappointment. On the ensuing restart Logan Wagner was able to sneak by Halligan for second and attempted a slider between turns one and two which fell short allowing Macri to go top side and retain the lead. The final few laps were spun off with no more challenges with Macri breezing under the checkers at 10:53 copping his sixth win at Port Royal in 2022 besting Logan Wagner, Halligan, Ryan Taylor making a late march from 16th to 4th with Mike Walter II rounding out the top five.
Don't go away yet as we still had the big 50 lap USAC Silver Crown race to run with the green waving on the front row of CJ Leary and Brady Bacon at 11:25. Leary got the early jump and would lead the first 15 circuits with Bacon in tow. Shane Cottle cracked the top five on lap 12 moving the Hodges #74 by Kody Swanson at that point. Bacon made a run at Leary on lap 14 pressuring the Greenfield, IN driver as they moved down the backstretch. Bacon edged ahead briefly but Leary regained the top spot between turns three and four and led as the pair crossed the start/finish line to start lap 15. With the front two battling it out for the lead it allowed Matt Westfall to close ground on them. Lap 16 saw Westfall slip by Bacon for second using the low side in turn one and went to work on Leary pulling alongside as they crossed the start/finish line with Westfall motoring by as they entered turns one and two on lap 17. Three laps later on lap 20 Bacon slipped by Leary as the front runners worked their way through lap traffic. Westfall continued to pace the field with Bacon second and Leary third. Cottle moved into fourth on lap 24 and by lap 28 had caught and passed Leary to move into third. Lap 30 saw Justin Grant slow in turn two with suspension problems ending his evening prematurely. On the ensuing restart Logan Seavey lurking in fifth took it to the high side blasting from fifth to second but Bacon was able to re-pass Seavey and retain second. Lap 33 saw Seavey edge back by Bacon with some contact from the Macho Man showing his displeasure but Seavey retained the position. Seavey began to reel in Westfall using the Macri line up against the fence as they approached the 40 lap mark. With nine to go Seavey bouncing his mount off of turns one and two was able to still pass Westfall to take the lead in turn two with nine to go. As the leaders approached lap traffic with seven to go Jake Swanson running sixth at the time spun in turn three to bring out the caution. On the restart Seavey retained control but Westfall was right there pressuring him. With five to go Westfall dove low entering turn three and edged ahead with Seavey countering low in turn four with the pair racing side by side into turn one. Seavey slid a little on the low side allowing Westfall to power off turn two with the lead with four to go. Westfall powered away to a five car length lead and looked to be in charge. Seavey had other thoughts and the five car length lead closed to one as the pair entered turn two with two to go. Seavey not once, not twice but three times bounced his right rear off the wall causing the wheel cover to dislodge and fly into the air landing in the outside groove necessitating the yellow to wave and setting up a green, white, checker race to the finish. Westfall used the middle of the track to lead Seavey on the restart as the pair raced around the half mile oval with Seavey staying true to the high side as they crossed the line to begin the last lap. Seavey again bounced off the turn two wall several times but it enabled him to get a good run down the backstretch as Westfall led in the middle leaving the space between Westfall and the wall open to Seavey. Logan filled the space racing down the backstretch with the pair banging wheels about midway down the backstretch as the pair ran dead even at this point. Seavey cleared Westfall entering turn three and dove low to block Westfall's favorite line as they drifted through turns three and four with both slipping up the banking as they exited turn four in a race to the checkers with Seavey barely winning at the line over Westfall with Bacon third, Dallas Hewitt who ran a steady race all race long almost edging Bacon at the line for third with CJ Leary crossing in fifth. Shane Cottle finished sixth with Shane Cockrum seventh, Kody Swanson eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Carmen Perigo advancing from 19th to tenth at the finish.
As announcer Jeff Ahlum would say this one was “Wow, Wow and Wow!!!!!” What a race!!! This one was fabulous and when USAC decided to move some of the races to the half miles it turned out to be a great move with the first two dirt races on the dirt halfs being very good contest with the drivers running their Silver Crown machinery like they were racing sprint cars slinging them into the turns with reckless abandon. And the Speed Palace aka Port Royal did not disappoint delivering a grand night of racing in all three divisions with the only downside being the length of the program that extended almost to midnight. But the racing was second to none and was the best racing of USAC Eastern Storm and the overall best show we have seen all season long.
That's it for this report and check back tomorrow for Sunday's USAC Eastern Storm final held at the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway in Bloomsburg, PA. In the meantime plot your upcoming race schedule and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, pearls of knowledge and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. We hope you enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Wins Gnarly USAC Eastern Storm Race At Williams Grove
Friday, June 17 – A call from our Arizona friend, Steve Kimmel, a truck driver by trade in the early afternoon had us making arrangements to pick him up at the nearby Flying J truck stop at exit 77 on I-81 so he didn't have to drive his cab over to Williams Grove Speedway that evening. We dined at the Perkins at the truck stop and had our favorite dessert, Wildberry pie, to top off the meal. From there it was off to the Williams Grove Speedway, the historic half mile where the USAC sprints were on the schedule for the first time since 2018 with their first visit to the iconic oval way back in 1956 so these two entities have a long history together. Tonight would mark the third race of the Eastern Storm series as USAC lost their scheduled race Thursday at Selinsgrove due to a dismal forecast with tornado watches in several central Pennsylvania counties including Snyder where Selinsgrove is located. Safety is the number one precaution and people will not come out to support your race if the weather is so questionable and if promoters lose money they will not be in business for long and instead of racing at a track instead people will be greeted by locked gates and bemoan the fact that another race track has closed.
The race program at Williams Grove would consist of the USAC National sprint cars bringing 23 cars to the big dance while the regular winged 410 sprint cars would add 21 cars to the count assembled in the pit area to do battle this evening. USAC time trials would start the racing program off at 7:15 with two at a time timed laps for the sprinters and the action heated up quickly as the first two qualifiers entered turns one and two with Korbyn Hayslett, the college student from Ohio, entering turn one with a little too much speed biking his sprinter on the right side and going into a series of flips between turns one and two. Hayslett was fine after the tumble but was done for the evening leaving us with 22 cars to contest the heat races. Jake Swanson who had gone out first with Hayslett would establish the quick time which would stand up after another 21 cars toured the half mile with a lap of 20.065 seconds. Hot laps for the winged 410's would follow before the USAC sprints would return for their three heat races.
The first heat was a good battle between Robert Ballou and Brady Bacon swapping the lead back and forth before Bacon edged ahead and garnered the win over Ballou, Jake Swanson, Emerson Axsom and Chase Stockon. Reading, PA's Steven Drevicki surprised the field in heat two holding off Alex Bright, CJ Leary, Matt Westfall and Briggs Danner for the win. Justin Grant nailed down the heat three win besting Shane Cottle, Tim Buckwalter, Mark Smith and Logan Seavey.
The winged 410 sprints would do battle in three heats also with Jeff Halligan looking strong in heat one beating Chad Trout, TJ Stutts and Brent Shearer to the line. Lucas Wolfe powered to the front in heat two and claimed the win over Austin Bishop, Tim Glatfelter and Justin Whittall. Billy Dietrich claimed heat three over Chase Dietz, Kyle Moody and Dylan Norris. All qualifying was completed by 8:46 and neither division would need a B main so the feature events were all that were left on the docket to run.
By 9:21 the front row of Justin Grant and Matt Westfall brought the 22 car field to USAC's eastern starter, Warren Alston's green flag with Westfall taking the lead through the first two corners. Grant raced back to pull alongside Westfall through turns three and four and at the line to complete lap one Grant was scored the leader. Logan Seavey used the high side to take second away from Westfall on lap three and began the pursuit of Grant. The race was behind the high flying Grant as Ballou, Westfall, Leary, Bacon and Swanson swapped positions back and forth. By the halfway mark Grant's lead had increased to three seconds over Seavey as the Topps Motorsports #4 was cruising out front. In the meantime Alex Bright was making up ground coming forward from his 13th starting position entering the top five by the halfway mark and showing no signs of letting up. Bacon and Ballou resumed their heat battle in the feature with the pair sparring for the third spot as Bright closed on these two. Entering turn two Bright went low and pulled off a two for one pass taking third and scampering off to try to chase down Seavey and Grant.
With Grant still holding a comfortable lead even though he had pounded the cushion at both ends of the speedway on various occasions losing some momentum but still over two seconds ahead the caution waved on lap 25 when Dallas Hewitt spun in turn four and ended up with his tail tank against the turn four wall. On the restart the top three were three wide exiting turn two with Grant still on the point with Bright sliding by Seavey to take over second. With three to go Seavey regained second from Bright on the homestretch. Seavey and Bright duked it out for second with Bright back in second with two to go. Grant was going to win or be defeated on the high side and he almost suffered the latter. Grant jumped the curb in turns three and four with two to go lifting his sprinter completing off the racing surface for a moment but recovering after losing momentum and time with Bright and Seavey drawing closer. On the white flag lap racing through turns three and four Grant again pushed the gnarly cushion to the limit almost losing his total momentum off turn four with Bright diving low to try to out drag Grant to the line but Justin had enough to race under the double checkers at 9:41 only two tenths of a second to spare over Bright with Seavey third, Bacon fourth and Westfall rounding out the top five. Thomas Meseraull would come home sixth with Tim Buckwalter seventh, Briggs Danner eighth, CJ Leary ninth and Steven Drevicki tenth. Robert Ballou would free fall all the way back to 12th after running in the top five most of the race. This was Grant's first USAC sprint car win since February and his 30th career USAC sprint triumph tying him for 17th on the all-time list with Chris Windom. It was also his TOPPS Motorsports 22nd career win moving that team into the top twenty in owner wins. Grant loves gnarly tracks and his victory lane quote of “Sprint car racing is suppose to be gnarly” drove home his point of his love of pounding the cushion to the fullest.
We still had a 25 lap winged 410 sprint car feature to run with the green dropping on the field at 10:03. This one would go non-stop in just nine minutes with some good racing wrapped up like a package with a bow in between. Lucas Wolfe would jump to the early lead and hold sway for the first five laps until Jeff Halligan rallied back to take the lead in turn two. Billy Dietrich moved by Wolfe for second on the homestretch on lap seven and went to work on Halligan who looked like he might be on his way to his first career Williams Grove victory. Billy Dietrich had other plans in mind and went to the high side to snag the lead away from Halligan on lap sixteen. Chase Dietz would started sixth was on the move and passed Halligan for second on lap nineteen and closed in on Dietrich. Two laps later he took the lead from Dietrich in turn two and would stave off the challenges of Dietrich who was trying to make it the second Dietrich (brother Danny won with All Stars at Limaland) to win on the evening but it was not to be as Dietz raced under the checkered at 10:12 for his second straight win at Williams Grove in the Trone #39 trailed by Dietrich, Halligan, Wolfe and Tim Glatfleter advancing from eighth to fifth at the finish.
That's it for this column as we head north to beautiful Juniata County, the home of the Port Royal Speedway for another night of USAC Eastern Storm action where the USAC sprint cars are joined by the USAC Silver Crown series and the winged 410 sprint cars. In the meantime get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area or join us at the Speed Palace for a good night of racing. Either way be safe and stay hydrated and have fun. Comments, news or other relevant information can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy hearing from you all and this is what keeps us pounding the keyboard to bring you our perspective of what we see on the trail as we go here and there.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Seavey Scores USAC Sprint Win At Bridgeport
Wednesday, June 15 – The hot temperatures have arrived in the Northeast with the thermometer reaching into the 90's with plenty of sunshine. We left from our hotel in Pottstown and traveled southward to the Blue Route and across the Commodore Barry Bridge into New Jersey heading toward the Bridgeport Motorsports Park. But before we pulled into Bridgeport a side trip to Sewell, NJ was needed so we could dine at the Steak Out where they have some of the finest cheese steaks in the area. You have to understand that we love living in Indiana but they don't have cheese streaks like the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area we were visiting so a stop at Steak Out was a must. After filling our belly with cheese steaks and pepperoni cheese fries all washed down with unsweetened ice tea it was back down I-295 to the Repaupo Station Road exit and Floodgate Road where the 4/10 mile progressive banked dirt oval of the Bridgeport Motorsports Park is located. Doug Rose has remodeled the former 5/8 mile dirt oval to its current 4/10 mile configuration based on the Lawrenceburg Speedway but we must say it is a better version than the original model. The progressive banking makes for more racing grooves and better side by side racing than its counterpart in the state of Indiana.
It was a hot one today with the sun beating down on the large grandstand and we were thankful for the covered pavilion behind the main grandstands where we took shelter until the hot laps began. The entire facility is well maintained and the bathrooms are very nice which is a big plus especially for the females in attendance. There is also a nice playground area for the kids located next to the pavilion and good concession stands with a wide variety of selections. The grandstands are large and extend the entire length of the homestretch offering unobstructed views of the entire facility as there is also nothing in the infield area obstructing your vision lines and the lighting is very good also. The South Jersey oval nicknamed the Kingdom Of Speed has never looked better.
It was nice to sit in the shade of the official's tower and the luxury boxes out of the sun and with a nice breeze it made for an enjoyable day and night of racing thanks to Rich Rauser saving us seats.
The program for the evening would consist of two divisions, the USAC National sprint cars with 22 cars in town, up from 20 last night and the 602 sportsman modified type cars which brought a good field of 33 entries. The USAC sprint cars would push off for time trials beginning at 6:49 and wrap up by 7:04 with CJ Leary setting fast time for the second straight night with a lap of 14.779 seconds around the 4/10 mile high banked dirt oval which was a new track record in the process.
Next up would be three heat races for the 602 sportsman which were competitive contests with Tom Sherby, Craig Whitmoyer and Bob Lineman Jr. winning their respective heats. The USAC sprint cars would spin off three heats also with the top five finishers moving into the feature invert. Robert Ballou would capture the first heat win in his own #12 outdistancing CJ Leary, Tim Buckwalter, Thomas Meseraull and for the second night in a row Briggs Danner grabbing the last invert spot on the final lap. Heat two went to Jadon Rogers in the Engler #14 besting Matt Westfall, Alex Bright, Justin Grant and Alex Banales. Brady Bacon garnered the heat three win beating Chase Stockon, Brandon Mattox, Logan Seavey and Emerson Axsom. The 602 sportsman would be the only ones needing a consie with Travis Hill scoring the win.
The combination of hot temperatures and bright sunshine are not good friends of a dirt racing surface and some dust occurred during the evening which would be expected but the track crew did a great job massaging the track surface throughout the entire evening and the track stayed very racy the entire evening with minimal down time.
Next up would be the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature with the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Emerson Axsom bringing the rest of the 22 car starting field to the green flag at 9:24. Axsom took the early lead but that only lasted until turn three when Axsom drifted high in turn three and caught the wall rolling to a stop. Axsom went to the work area but would not return as brake line issues were discovered ending his night much too early. On the restart Meseraull went to the point with Logan Seavey running in second. Alex Banales would quickly bring out the red flag when he tagged the wall in turn three and flipped over several times. Banales was OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for the second Baldwin #5X as it was towed back to the pit area. On the restart Meseraull went out front but third starting Briggs Danner slid by Seavey for second in turn one and went to work on Meseraull. T-Mez continued to cruise out front in the Dyson #20M looking for his sixth win of the year in the sixth different car he has piloted. Lap 16 saw Korbyn Hayslett and Charles Davis Jr. get together and spin in turn two bringing out another yellow flag at that point.
On the restart Danner executed a slider entering turn one to take the lead but Meseraull was up to the challenge and counted taking the lead back in turn two. The veteran blocked Danner from executing another slider in turn three by turning low and remained on top of the field. Lap 19 saw the entire complexion of the race change when Meseraull suddenly slowed on the homestretch out of fuel after a new member of the Dyson team forgot to fill the tank before the start of the race. T-Mez went to the work area and would return and came back to notch eighth at the finish after letting one slip through his hands after a bizarre turn of events.
Briggs Danner would assume the lead on the restart and the USAC East Coast competitor was in prime position to pull off the upset and take down his first career USAC National sprint win. Danner pulled away on the restart with CJ Leary, Seavey and Robert Ballou right there to make it all interesting. Seavey suddenly found some extra traction up top and you could see the Baldwin #5 was going to be a car to watch. Seavey slid by Leary for second in turn three on lap 25 and closed the gap noticeably on Danner in the next two laps. Coming down the homestretch to complete lap 27 Seavey was on Danner's tail tank and looking for a way around. Seavey slid by Danner entering turn one on lap 28 and secured the lead for the first time. The caution would appear just as the lap was completed when eighth running Jake Swanson executed a 360 spin which is an automatic caution. On the lap 29 restart Seavey was the leader with Danner in second but Danner was not nose to tail as they came to the line which brought out another caution and cost Danner any chance at winning as he was docked one position for jumping. Chase Stockon would move to second ahead of Danner with Leary right behind the young Danner. Leary raced into the first two turns and passed Danner for third and that would be the way this one would end up at 10:00 with Seavey scoring the win by half a second over Stockon would captured another podium finish with Leary third, Danner fourth and Robert Ballou taking fifth after starting ninth. Jadon Rogers turned in another strong performance on night two finishing sixth with Alex Bright advancing from twenty second to seventh, Meseraull rebounding for eighth, Matt Westfall ninth and Brady Bacon a quiet tenth as he was never in contention for the win after scoring the victory the night before.
We debated watching the 602 sportsman feature event but the deciding factor was the two hour haul to the Harrisburg area where we would be setting up camp for the next four days winning out in this decision.
A good night of racing on a nicely prepared surface left us discussing much as he headed first north then west to the North Harrisburg area and a good night's rest.
As we write this column it has already been posted that night three of USAC Eastern Storm has been postponed at Selinsgrove because of rain overnight with more predicted for later in the afternoon causing management to pull the plug early enough to avoid any unnecessary driving and waste of expensive fuel to only get rained out.
So that's it for now and check back on Saturday for the next installment of A Typical Weekend when we travel to Williams Grove for another USAC Eastern Storm race. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch one of your bucket list tracks that you have always wanted to visit. Either way be safe and stay hydrated and enjoy yourself. Comments, words of wisdom, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our observations as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Opens Eastern Storm At Grandview With Win
Monday, June 13 – The adventure began on Monday afternoon when we left Crawfordsville heading eastward to Pennsylvania for USAC Eastern Storm week for the USAC National Sprints. Everything was proceeding along nicely as we closed on the city of Columbus, Ohio. Suddenly I looked down at the dashboard and the dreaded tire pressure light came on the rented Rogue from Enterprise. We are on I-70 and the shoulder was minimal due to road construction. We had snagged a nail in the left rear tire and the tire deflated rapidly. The best option was to drive on the tire to the nearest exit which was about 1 ½ miles away. Knowing that no travel service was going to attempt to change the tire on that area of the interstate it was the right way to go. Pulling into a BP parking lot the call was made to Enterprise Road Assistance which quickly dispatched a vehicle to our site. Within 30 minutes assistance arrived and in 10 minutes the donut tire had been installed and we were on our way to the John Glenn Airport in Columbus to hopefully exchange the vehicle for another one. That was not going to happen as they had no cars to spare with a line of about eight people waiting but the manager was able to give us good advice on what we could do the next day after driving to our hotel in Zanesville, 64 miles away. Enterprise has authorized dealers who service their vehicles with the dealer sending Enterprise the bill. I arose at 7:30 to be at the Firestone dealer by 8 but upon arrival found out that the storms that rolled through Zanesville knocked out the power in his area. He gave me a name of another tire dealer and off I went there. This one use to broker with Enterprise but not anymore but he was kind enough to give me the name of an assured Enterprise partner, National Tire Company, and off I went again. Upon arrival I was greeted by a nice man at the counter and he stated that they would take care of it as soon as possible. Less an a half hour later a new tire was mounted and I was on my way back to the hotel before 9 AM. Thanks Enterprise and National Tire for making a stressful situation much easier and smoother. So now after showering and packing the Rogue we were off to the Grandview Speedway for night one of the USAC Eastern Storm and below are the details.
Tuesday, June 14 – We pulled onto the parking area at Grandview at 5:30 PM, signed in at the pit booth greeted by Vicki Gehris and then off to find a parking space in the large parking area. We ran into many Eastern friends on our way to the front gate along with a few of our Indiana buddies also. By the time we entered the front gate hot laps were underway for the 358 modifieds (28) and the USAC sprint cars (20) for the Thunder on the Hill program promoted by Bob Miller and dubbed the Jesse Hockett Classic to honor the Missouri driver who died from electrocution around 10 years ago.
The night would start off with time trials for the USAC sprints cars starting at 7:26 and wrapping up at 7:38 with CJ Leary turning the quickest lap with a time of 13.713 seconds.
The USAC sprint car heats would be first on the dance card with three heats for the 20 sprinters on hand. While battling for position in heat one Emerson Axsom and Robert Ballou tangled with the result being both drivers backing into the wall with Axsom turning over in the mishap. Both drivers were OK but Axsom would be forced to go to a backup car for the feature and thus would start 20th and last. Arizona driver, Charles Davis Jr., would take down the first heat besting CJ Leary, Jadon Rogers and Brandon Mattox in the process. Ohio's Matt Westfall would capture heat two beating a late closing Justin Grant, Korbyn Hayslett and Chase Stockon. Thomas Meseraull in the Chris Dyson #20M tonight making the sixth different car he has wheeled in 2022 wining with the previous five and looking to make it six in the upcoming feature won the final heat. Shane Cottle in the local Hogue #39 claimed second with Brady Bacon third and Jake Swanson fourth.
The 28 car 358 modified field would contest three heats also with Timmy Buckwalter doing double duty, Eddie Strada and Alex Yankowski capturing heat wins. The 358's would be the only ones needing to run a consie or B main with Ron Kline nailing down that one.
The next event on the docket would be the 40 lap USAC sprint car Jesse Hockett Classic paying the winner $6000 to win. The front row of Jadon Rogers and Brady Bacon would bring the 20 car field to Warren Alston's green flag with Bacon getting the early jump into the lead bringing fourth starting Briggs Danner of nearby Allentown along in his draft. The two would run this way the entire distance with Danner never letting Bacon get too far away. The front two would stay this way until Bacon began to encounter lap traffic around lap 14. Entering turn one Bacon chose the low side to attempt to put a lap on Alex Banales while Danner remained on the top and pulled off the double pass of the two exiting turn two. Racing down the backstretch with Danner having the slight edge on Bacon but midway down the backstretch Danner caught the wall with his right rear which also turned his right front into the wall allowing Bacon to scoot back by. Bacon's second chance would not be in vain as the four time USAC champ would not make the same mistake twice and went back up high. Lap 21 saw the first caution appear when Shane Cottle came up lame in turn four and stopped. Bacon bolted out front on the restart and held a comfortable lead until lap 28 when the second and final caution appeared when Logan Seavey pulled up with a left front flat while running in fourth. He would return and end up a disappointing 13th at the finish. Bacon opened up over a second advantage on the restart and raced under the double checkers at 9:53 posting his fifth USAC win at Grandview after having a four straight streak snapped last year making him the king of USAC at Grandview. Danner raced home second with Chase Stockon third, Justin Grant from 11th to 4th and Robert Ballou finishing 5th after starting 12th, a row back after being late for the eight minute lineup horn earlier. CJ Leary ended up sixth with Thomas Meseraull seventh, Jadon Rogers eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and Emerson Axsom the Irvin King Hard Charger advancing from 20th to 10th at the finish.
We still had the 30 lap 358 modified feature to run with Billy Pauch Jr. and Eddie Strada bringing the 25 car starting field to the green flag. Pauch Jr. assumed command and look to be on his way to the win until the only caution of the race appeared on lap 19. This gave the crafty veteran, Craig VonDohren, the chance to challenge on the double file restart and passed Pauch in turn two to take the lead which he would hold until the end at 10:28. Pauch Jr. and Brian Kressley hooked up in a high, low duel over the final 11 laps with Kressley edging ahead with two to go. VonDohren came home first with Kressley second, Pauch Jr. third, Duane Howard fourth and Eddie Strada hanging on for fifth.
A good night of racing run in timely fashion and look forward to night two at the Bridgeport Raceway Park in New Jersey.
Check back tomorrow for the story on Bridgeport and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our efforts. Take hydrated and be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
McIntosh Breaks Through For USAC Midget Win At Kokomo
Saturday, June 11 – Another day, another dismal weather forecast. We monitored the weather on various weather sites and it didn't look promising for Kokomo but when you have people in for Indiana Midget Week you go to the race until they either run it or they pull the plug. The weather was dry when we arrived shortly after 5 and we sat in the backstretch parking lot for a while until the cars first came to the track to put heat into their engines. Everyone in our group took their gear including small umbrellas and rain coats and parkas and picked a row and settled in for the night of racing. After two sessions of hot laps for the wingless sprint cars it began to sprinkle. The intensity picked up and many headed for their vehicles including us. USAC and Kokomo kept at it working the track back into shape and the evening was ready to go at 9:16 with time trials for the 32 USAC midgets on hand. Cannon McIntosh toured the ¼ mile bullring spinning off a time of 13.115 seconds to set fast time for the evening with time trials coming to a close at 9:36.
After some track grooming the first of four USAC midget heats took the green flag at 9:57. Bryant Wiedeman would claim the heat one win on the juiced up track besting Mitchel Moles, Cannon McIntosh and Brenham Crouch. Dominic Gorden would pace heat two beating Justin Grant, Sam Johnson and Jace Park edging Logan Seavey for the last qualifying position after a spirited battle. Jacob Denney continues to be the emerging star shining in IMW pacing the field in heat three outrunning Jason McDougal, Buddy Kofoid and Kyle Cummins. Taylor Reimer notched heat four over Kaylee Bryson, Maria Cofer and Thomas Meseraull as the gals showed their speed in this one. The nineteen car sprint car field would contest two heats with the veteran Dave Darland showing no ill effects from his last Sunday flip here and his stroke from a year ago taking the win over Scotty Weir, Justin Grant, Zack Pretorius and Tyler Hewitt. Thomas Meseraull, back in the Cheney #42 tonight took down heat two over Cole Bodine, Emerson Axsom, Colten Cottle and Brandon Long.
The midget B main was next on the agenda with the top six moving into the 30 lap main event. Hayden Reinbold captured his first ever B main beating Ethan Mitchell, Logan Seavey, Kaidon Brown, Chance Crum and Chase McDermand.
Giving time for the B main cars to work on a few adjustments the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature was called to the post first. It was 11:02 when the first and only green flag dropped with Thomas Meseraull beating Justin Grant to the punch and grabbing the early lead. T-Mez was looking strong and paced the field through the early going on the fast track. Sixth starting Emerson Axsom had the Clauson/Marshall #47BC motoring as he charged into third racing out of turn three on lap eight. Meseraull was in control until lap sixteen when he messed up in turn one just as Justin Grant was setting up to throw a slider on him entering the turn and Grant was now the leader. Grant and Meseraull continued to pace the field with Axsom a distance behind but the youngster started to find some extra speed or a better line around the quick ¼ mile and began to close the gap on the front pair. With two to go Meseraull and Axsom threw some sliders at each other on both ends of the track with Meseraull retaining second until the last laps when Axsom found his way around T-Mez and would cross the line at 11:08 second behind winner, Grant. Meseraull finished third with Scotty Weir fourth and Cole Bodine a solid fifth.
As the USAC midget field was lining up for their 30 lap feature event the rain returned sending the midgets pit side and sending many people for the exits as they thought this one was over early. Well, about half the crowd missed the midget feature as they left either thinking it would not happen or it was too late to sit out another rain delay. We hung out in the grandstands with our umbrellas up until the rain let up and just 20 minutes later the field was back on the track taking the green flag at 11:51. Justin Grant who started second took the lead from first starting Jason McDougal on the start and would pace the field for the first eight laps with visions of sweeping the night on his mind. Some of the young guns had plans of their own with Cannon McIntosh from sixth and Jacob Denney from ninth coming forward with McIntosh catching Grant and taking the lead on lap nine in turn one. The red would appear on lap ten when Kaidon Brown caught the fourth turn wall and flipped. The Australian was OK after his tumble and was towed back to the pit area. On the restart Buddy Kofoid made a mad dash into turn one charging from fifth to third but caught the cushion wrong in turn two and gave the spots back to Jason McDougal and Jacob Denney.
McIntosh paced the field with Grant not far behind. McDougal was third but Denney cleared him on lap nineteen and went after Grant for second. Racing off turn four Grant and Denney touch wheels with Denney sliding sideways but retaining control and racing on. Mitchel Moles moments later slid sideways on the homestretch and spun to a halt on the inside bringing out the second and last caution of the race. With ten to go McIntosh's big lead was wiped out but on the restart he bounded back to the point. Denney continued to work the bottom to perfection and exiting turn four racing to lap twenty one he drove by Grant for second. Denney tried to close ground on McIntosh but Cannon was not going to let this one get away and maintained his advantage. At 12:07 McIntosh flashed under the double checkers winning his first IMW event along with his fourth career win in the division and first since September of 2020 at Gas City. It has been a tough IMW for McIntosh and his crew with mediocre finishes so far including a nasty flip at Lawrenceburg destroying one of their mounts. Tonight was redemption as the fast timer also claimed the win over Denney with Grant third, McDougal fourth and Kofoid rounding out the top five. Kaylee Bryson would pace the second five in sixth with Bryant Wiedeman seventh, Brenham Crouch eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and Taylor Reimer claiming tenth.
Credit goes to Kokomo and USAC for not throwing in the towel earlier and sticking it out ending the program at a not too bad time of just after midnight. We would like to see Kokomo management work on getting the scoreboard operational and work on the speaker system on the backstretch as you cannot hear the announcer even when the cars are not running. Don't think that is asking too much.
Sunday, June 12 – It was not to be today as the last race of Indiana Midget Week which was rained out on Wednesday was again rained out on Sunday at Circle City Speedway as the crappy weather continued in Indiana. If Crawfordsville was any indication of the rain that Circle City received on Sunday we can see why they canceled as it poured several times here during the day with Circle City pulling the plug around the noon time hour. It was an anti-climatic ending to IMW but sometimes there is just nothing you can do. Buddy Kofoid comes away with back to back USAC Indiana Midget Week titles outpointing Justin Grant by 36 points with Jacob Denney third with Kaylee Bryson fourth and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top five in IMW points. The USAC National midget points for the year are as follows: 1) Buddy Kofoid – 761; 2) Justin Grant – 715; 3) Bryant Misdemeanor – 581; 4) Mitchel Moles – 580; 5) Thomas Meseraull – 569. The next USAC National Midget race is July 8-10 at Usenet's Speedway in South Dakota.
That's it for now and check back Wednesday as we make our way East to take in the USAC Eastern Storm for the USAC sprints with the USAC Silver Crown series running at Port Royal on Saturday, July 18th. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and hope to see many of our Pennsylvania friends in our trip back to the Keystone State. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the nice comments from many of you. Take care, stay hydrated, be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Stops Indiana Midget Week Program At Gas City
Friday, June 10 – Today would be round five of USAC Indiana Midget Week and the venue was the ¼ mile bullring located in Gas City with the sprint car on a pole marking the entrance to the speedway. The weather would be a factor tonight as we knew beforehand that potential rain was predicted for the area starting around 9 PM. We hoped that management would push the program along quickly and beat the rain heading our way.
Time trials pushed off at 6:53 for the 35 USAC midgets on hand with the session wrapping up at 7:14 with Washington's Chance Crum posting his first ever fast time in USAC competition turning the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.087 seconds.
Management was moving things along nicely with the first of four heat races for the USAC midgets taking the green at the exact scheduled starting time if 7:30. Jacob Denney, last night's winner at Lincoln Park, made a great move to pass Dominic Gorden in the third turn on the last lap to capture heat one with Justin Grant third and Ethan Mitchell fourth. Mitchel Moles powered to victory in the second heat race besting Bryant Wiedeman, Taylor Reimer and Logan Seavey. Kaidon Brown took down heat three in fine fashion outrunning Mariah Ede, Kyle Cummins and Brenham Crouch. Jerry Coons Jr. continues to impress scoring the win in heat four and had some to the point constructive criticism for Kaylee Bryson's driving in the heat. Buddy Kofoid came home third with Jason McDougal nailing down fourth.
The wingless sprint cars would contest three heats for their 26 car field with Ohio's Matt Westfall winning heat one over Emerson Axsom, Brayden Fox, Jadon Rogers and Ricky Lewis. Cole Bodine edged out Korbyn Hayslett to win heat two with Scotty Weir third, Dave Darland fourth and Ryan Thomas fifth. In the final heat on the start Charles Davis Jr. made an ill advised dart to the inside on the start running up and over a competitor's wheel entering turn one and went for a tumble losing his tail tank in the gyrations that resulted. Davis was OK after the mishap. Thomas Meseraull driving the Cheney #42 tonight won this one over Sterling Cling, Dustin Ingle, Tyler Hewitt and Tim Creech.
At this point some drops began to drip from the sky as the midget semi was brought to the track. After running around under caution for several laps the rain picked up and the cars were sent back to the pit area. It never rained real hard but the forecast was not promising and by 9 PM the decision was made to cancel the remaining program. Walking to the car before the official rainout I figured we had dropped $60 and would not get to see the features but in a very nice gesture promoter, Larry Boos, had it announced that the rain checks would be good for any Gas City program the remainder of the year while the USAC release said the rain checks are good for Indiana Sprint Week and the James Dean Classic. Either way it was good will shown by management to honor rain checks for the faithful that showed up on this evening after all heat racing had been completed. They did not have to do so and we thank them for this great gesture.
Onto Kokomo for tonight which will now be round five of IMW where the weather is unstable once again and we can only hope and pray that any showers or rain miss us tonight. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe out there. Comments, news or any other items of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Denney Scores First Career USAC Midget Win At Lincoln Park
Thursday, June 9 – All the gathered clan at Crawfordsville (Dale, Bill, Judy, Pat and I) would make the short trip south on Rt. 231 to take in round 4 of USAC Indiana Midget Week at Joe Spiker's playground, the 5/16 banked clay oval in beautiful downtown Putnamville. A fine field of 38 USAC midgets (high for IMW so far) and 32 wingless sprint cars were joined by 4 mod lites for this evening of racing. Things started happening early when in hot laps for the sprints Nate McMillen flipped end over end several times in turn four which necessitated a ride to the hospital to have one of his legs checked out. We were delayed until a replacement ambulance could arrive about 20 minutes later but there is nothing you can do in such a situation.
Time trials would be the first order of business with the first car coming to the green flag at 7:18 and in between the start and end of time trials Ethan Mitchell on his time trial run dug his right side tires into the cushion resulting in him rolling over and having to be towed back to the pit area. Ethan would return for his scheduled heat race but with no time he was forced to start at the rear of the field for every event he raced in. The other big news from time trials was that the top four qualifiers were all females led by Jade Avedisian with quick time of 12.538 seconds and she was followed by Kaylee Bryson, Taylor Reimer and Mariah Ede. It certainly was girl's night out at LPS with the gals showing up their male counterparts!!!
The wingless sprint cars would frolic in the dirt first in heat action running four qualifying heats with the top four moving forward. Brady Bacon in the Longworth #410 claimed heat one over Thomas Meseraull tonight in the Tony Epperson #2E, Travis Berryhill and Zack Pretorius. Jake Swanson scored heat race two over Charles Davis Jr., AJ Hopkins and Geoff Ensign. Harley Burns continues to impress winning heat three over Brandon Spencer, Alec Sipes and Derek Crane down from Racine, WI. Jake Scott, the former Paragon champ, triumphed in heat four beating Brent Beauchamp, Brayden Fox and Emerson Axsom.
The USAC midgets would follow with four heats also with the top four moving into the 30 lap main event. Kyle Cummins in the Styres #3G powered to the heat one win over Jade Avedisian, Zach Daum in the second Bundy #9M and Jace Park. Kyle Jones making his first IMW start of the year staked claim rights on heat two outrunning Kaylee Bryson, Sam Johnson and Mitchel Moles. Brenham Crouch scored the win in heat three in one of eight Keith Kunz entries over Jerry Coons Jr. from nearby Greencastle in his first IMW start of 2022, Bryant Wiedeman and Thomas Meseraull. Buddy Kofoid, the defending USAC midget champion and current IMW point leader, in another Kunz car captured heat four over Logan Seavey, Justin Grant and Jacob Denney.
The midgets would need a C main where the top four would tag the tail of the B main with Ethan Mitchell coming from the tail to win this one over Jeff Schindler, Bryan Stanfill and Chett Gehrke in the Roell #4K. The sprint car B main would be next to the plate with the top four joining the rear of the twenty car starting field with Cole Bodine taking down the win over Ryan Thomas, Tye Mihocko and Brian Hayden the last man in. The midget B main was next on the dance card with the top six advancing into the 30 lap feature event. Cannon McIntosh having a rough IMW won this one over Taylor Reimer, Chase McDermand, Brady Bacon, Mariah Ede and Maria Cofer with Jason McDougal in the Reinbold/Underwood #19 not making the starting field.
The 30 lap USAC midget feature would get first honors to the track with Jacob Denney and Jerry Coons Jr. bringing the 24 car field with two provisional additions of Ethan Mitchell and Hayden Reinbold to the initial green flag. The race did not stay green for long as Mariah Ede was every which way but loose and somehow did not flip in turn three on the first lap straightened by Thomas Meseraull who slid into the incident. The complete restart saw Denney and Coons race side by side for the entire first lap with Coons edging ahead at the start/finish line to lead lap one. Lap three saw the second caution wave when fast timer, Jade Avedisian, clipped the turn four tractor tire and spun with Taylor Reimer running up and over Avedisian's left front wheel and continuing but Chase McDermand was collected in the aftermath of the incident slamming into the side of Avedisian's car. Avedisian and McDermand were done for the evening.
On the restart Coons powered out front again and began to distance himself from the rest of the field as the veteran was looking real good and had people wondering if he would be able to pull this one off. As the laps clicked off Coon's big lead began to dwindle as Denney was gaining ground and moving closer and closer. Entering turn three on lap 20 Denney was able to pull even with Coons using the low side which he was running the entire way so far. Exiting turn four Denney nosed in front passing Coons for the top position. Lap traffic was now in play and both front runners handled it well with Denney maintaining up front with an occasional surge by Coons but not enough to go back out front. Coons encountered some heavier traffic with three to go allowing Zach Daum to slip by him for second and take up the chase of young Denney. Daum closed the gap to about three car lengths as the pressure was on but time ran out for Daum to make a serious challenge and at 10:02 the 17 year old Ohio driver would cruise across the finish line for his first career USAC National midget win besting Daum, Coons, Brenham Crouch and Mitchel Moles. Brady Bacon came from 14th to finish 6th with Kyle Cummins seventh, Justin Grant up from 16th to 8th, Buddy Kofoid ninth and Kaylee Bryson ending up the top female taking down tenth at the end.
We still had a 25 lap sprint car feature to run with the green flying at 10:18 with Thomas Meseraull taking the lead in turn two from Charles Davis Jr. on the initial lap. Lap two saw Brian Hayden and Emerson Axsom tangle off turn four with Cole Bodine caught up in the incident also. Meseraull led when the race went back green with Davis in tow. Jake Swanson polished off Jake Scott for third in turn one on lap six and one lap later breezed by Davis to secure second. The second and final caution appeared on lap ten when Brayden Fox lost the handle in turn four. T-Mez would lead Swanson and Davis on the restart with Brent Beauchamp starting to make his presence known from his eighth starting position. Beauchamp moved by Davis for third on lap twelve and charged by Swanson for second racing down the backstretch on lap sixteen. Swanson battled back to retake second from Beauchamp on the homestretch on lap twenty three as Meseraull continued to pace the field. Over the remaining seven laps the top three remained the same and at 10:29 PM Thomas Meseraull raced under the checkered flag scoring his fourth win of 2022 (three in sprints & one in a midget) in his fourth different mount that he has driven in 2022. Swanson came home second with Beauchamp third, AJ Hopkins fourth after starting ninth with Brady Bacon rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom drove from the rear of the field to finish sixth with Davis seventh, Geoff Ensign 14th to 8th, Jake Scott ninth and Tye Mihocko from 19th to 10th.
It was a good night of racing on a nicely prepared surface (the best of the four times we have been there) ending in a decent time and was fun to watch if the grizzled vet was going to win or if the kid would pull it off. And it was nice to hear Jerry Coons Jr. praise the “kid”, Jacob Denney, in the podium interview as this young man knows how to run clean and with respect for his fellow competitors and show that it can be done but maybe it is because he runs for a smaller team and doesn't pay for his ride so the pressure to perform is not there. But no matter what the story is it is refreshing to see someone race respectfully and not run into others to advance to the front. Jacob Denney has a bright feature in the sport and good luck to him going forward.
That's it until tomorrow when we cover round five of Indiana Midget Week being run this evening at Gas City Speedway as the forecast improves and we hope that they are able to get this one in. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. And thanks for continuing to read our efforts and check back often to see what is new.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull Stops Kofoid's Streak At Four With Win At Tri-State
Sunday, June 5 – Today was round three of USAC Indiana Midget Week and the day was picture postcard perfect with temperatures in the middle 80's, sunny with a slight breeze. We left right from church and traveled down to Montgomery, Indiana and one of our favorite places to eat, Gasthof Amish Village, where the buffet is delicious and the price is right at $16.99. They have a good selection with the roast beef and the meatloaf the top choices for us today. From there we ventured the rest of the way over to Haubstadt and arrived around 3:30 Central time. We placed our blanket on the top row of the backstretch grandstand where the sun is at your back and upon exiting to go back to the car we ran into our new Pennsylvania friend, Mike, who invited us over to their truck where they had a tent set up to sit under. Around five Pat had a Lebanon bologna with cooper cheese, mustard and potato chips crunched on top brought straight from PA by Mike and his son, Austin. She was in heaven with the treat from Pennsylvania. I opted for a taco which was very good also. Two of our other friends from Pennsylvania that we were saving seats for tonight, Bill Burns and Gordy Killian, found us and shortly thereafter we ventured into the backstretch grandstands to watch hot laps before time trials began.
On tap tonight with the USAC National midgets (29) were the MSCS sprint cars (32). Action began at 6:49 with time trials for the USAC midgets with Buddy Kofoid setting fast time by 7:07 as he established himself the early favorite in this event as he tried to tie the USAC record of five in a row set by Rich Vogler as he has won the previous four USAC midget races.
The MSCS wingless sprints would be the first ones to contest their heat races with four scheduled for the 32 sprinters on hand. Jason McDougal in one of four KO Motorsports entries on the evening captured heat one with Jadon Rogers charging from ninth to second with Chase Stockon third and Nate McMillen fourth at the finish. Heat two went to Critter Malone, who had scored the last MSCS win at Tri-State and threw his helmet into the ring to make it two in a row. Carson Garrett, Harley Burns and Brandon Long trailed the high flying Critter. Sam Scott's sprinter lifted its front end powering off turn four in heat two and started flipping before landing back on the track. Scott was fine after his wild ride. The odds on favorite every time the sprints run at Haubstadt, Kyle Cummins, checkered first in heat three over Kendall Ruble, Aric Gentry and Brady Short. Emerson Axsom claimed heat four besting Brady Bacon, picking up a one off ride in one of the KO Motorsports #5B, with teammate Kent Schmidt third and Collin Ambrose coming home fourth.
The USAC midgets would contest three heats with the top five moving into the 30 lap main event. Brenham Crouch in one of seven Keith Kunz's steeds scored heat win one over Kyle Cummins, Buddy Kofoid, Taylor Reimer and Chase McDermand. Heat two was another Kunz victory with youngster Cade Lewis prevailing over Justin Grant, Mitchell Moles, Cannon McIntosh and Zach Daum. Thomas Meseraull broke up the Kunz juggernaut winning heat three in the RMS entry over Bryant Wiedeman, Chris Windom making his first start of the year in USAC midget competition in one of Chad Boat's car, Dominic Gorden and Ethan Mitchell.
Both divisions needed B mains to fill their fields with the sprint car tussle won by Koby Barksdale beating Dustin Beck, Ryan Bond and Brandon Mattox. The midget B main was captured by Jade Avedisian over Jason McDougal at the keyboard of the Reinbold/Underwood #19 with teammate, Hayden Reinbold, third, Kaylee Bryson fourth, Jacob Denney fifth, Mariah Ede sixth and Chris Baue seventh. No provisionals would be taken and Logan Seavey was one of the notables who would load the Malloy #25 early as he did not qualify.
The 25 lap MSCS sprint cars would be the first to test the newly reworked surface with Critter Malone getting the jump on Kyle Cummins on the start. Malone would lead until lap two when he hopped the cushion getting sideways and saving it but dropping back to around fifth before resuming. Cummins would now lead but it would be a short one as his mount pulled to the infield with mechanical woes shortly after. Jason McDougal would now be the leader and he started to pull away. Emerson Axsom took up the chase running in second but McDougal was cruising up front. Malone was elbows up working his way back to the front as the race went on as the black #7 was on rails. He caught Axsom in the late stages of the race to make his way back to second but did not have enough time to reel in McDougal and the Hutson John Deere #5M flashed under the checkers in the non-stop feature in six minutes with Malone finishing second, Axsom third, Chase Stockon fourth and Brady Bacon bringing the third of four KO Motorsports entries in for fifth. Kendall Ruble was next across the line in sixth with Jadon Rogers seventh, Brady Short eighth after starting 15th, Aric Gentry ninth and Carson Garrett placing tenth. It was a good, competitive race and was fun to watch especially Malone who made quite a run back to the front.
We still had the 30 lap USAC midget feature to run with Taylor Reimer and Thomas Meseraull bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:10. Meseraull would surge into the lead in turn two at the start and entering turn three Bryant Wiedeman challenged teammate Reimer for second forcing her up the banking where she lost valuable ground dropping back to eighth. In frustration Reimer stormed into turn one and slammed into Zach Daum sending both of them spinning and bringing out the first of nine cautions or reds in the feature. In the meantime Buddy Kofoid had positioned himself nicely advancing from sixth up to third by the first caution and on the restart disposed of Wiedeman making the pass on the backstretch and went after Meseraull. Kofoid made his first move for the lead on lap four throwing a slider on T-Mez in turn three with T-Mez countering off turn four. The top two continued to duke it out with Meseraull in command until the next important moment occurred on lap fourteen when Meseraull approached the car of Chris Baue as the pair raced down the backstretch. Meseraull went low to put a lap on Baue while Kofoid hammered the high side in turn three and edged ahead. Baue went high off turn four taking the lane away from Kofoid and allowing T-Mez to retain the lead as they raced into turn one. Baue's motor went up in smoke on lap seventeen and on the restart Kofoid pulled a slider in turn three taking the lead for an instant until Meseraull countered off turn four to go back to the point. Justin Grant began to make his presence known form the fifth starting position after a ding dong battle for third with Bryant Wiedeman before securing the position. Grant made up big chunks of real estate closing on the front two in the early 20's of the race. Lap twenty four saw Grant move by Kofoid in turn two but Kofoid moved back by in turn three with some slight contact. Jade Avedisian and Cade Lewis tangled between turns three and four on lap twenty six to bring out the caution and set the stage for an exciting finish. Kofoid threw the slider in turns three and four again on the restart but T-Mez was prepared and countered in turn four to retain the lead once again. Kofoid and Grant began exchanging sliders over the next two laps until Ethan Mitchell turned turtle in turn four with two to go. On the ensuing restart Kofoid and Grant went back to war racing down the backstretch with Grant cutting Kofoid off. Entering turn three Grant went high with Kofoid sliding low Grant attempting to diamond the turn to block Kofoid's slider with the two tangling with Grant flipping over while Kofoid bounced up and down but was able to keep going. Grant was able to restart and pulled alongside Kofoid to express his displeasure before joining the rear of the field where he would eventually finish ninth. Meseraull controlled the restart with Kofoid on his heels and as they exited turn four coming for the checkered instead the yellow waved again when Chris Windom, Cade Lewis and Brenham Crouch stopped for coffee in turn one. This would set up a green, white, checkered scenario. Meseraull went to the point with Kofoid attempting his favorite slider move in turns three and four as they raced to the white flag but T-Mez prevailed and entering turns one and two Kofoid bobbled for an instant on the cushion solidify Meseraull's lead as they raced down the backstretch. At 10:52 Meseraull flashed under the double checkers for his third straight USAC midget win at Tri-State snapping the four race win streak of Kofoid in the process. Kofoid would finish second with Mitchel Moles from 10th to 3rd, Kaylee Bryson in the most impressive run of the night driving hard but cleanly from 22nd to 4th and receiving the Irvin King Hard Charger Award with Kyle Cummins rebounding from an earlier mishap to come back for fifth. Zach Daum led the second five across the line in sixth with Taylor Reimer seventh, Chase McDermand from 16th to 8th, Justin Grant ninth and Dominick Gorden rounding out the top ten. It was an exciting race but it was not a good race with too many cautions and reds because too many drivers are driving above their heads.
After this race tonight we are really down on midget racing as there are too many kids running in midgets that have no fear and more importantly no respect for their fellow drivers. They are financed by their father and mother who are like the little league parents that expect their child to be the star and in this case are throwing money into the mix putting even more pressure on the kids to perform so they are driving over their heads and causing more and more wrecks. These kids are use to playing the racing video games and hitting reset after a crash but they need to realize this is real life, crashes can hurt or even kill people and mommy and daddy will get tired of digging into their pockets to finance this insanity. Don't get me wrong I am not saying all the kids are to blame as some of them are actually good such as Kaylee Bryson, Corey Day, Buddy Kofoid, Jacob Denney and Ryan Timms but the majority are out of control and need to have someone sit down with them and set them straight. The different racing organizations need to have some meetings with these youngsters and establish ground rules and set penalties or consequences for their out of control behavior. If you lose a few drivers and teams then so be it. It is better than losing the support of the fans who are getting sick and tired of watching this poor excuse of what midget racing has become.
That's it for now and check back Thursday as round four of USAC Indiana Midget Week rolls into the Marion County Fairgrounds outside of Indianapolis at the Circle City Raceway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. Comments, news, stories and other bits of information can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for the kind remarks on our writings. We enjoy doing it and don't get paid for it we just do it for the love of racing.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Hopkins On Top At Lincoln Park
Saturday, June 4 – We decided to step off the USAC Indiana Midget Week tour as two long trips in two days (Lawrenceburg & Haubstadt) was going to be too much for us with gas prices and ticket prices. So instead of 2 ½ hours one way to decided to drive 40 minutes one way down to beautiful downtown Putnamville and take in the show at the Lincoln Park Speedway where it was Fan Remembrance Night. Josh Boller's Indiana Pro Late Model carried photos of many of the LPS loyal fans who have passed on his roof and the second 50/50 winner received the roof at the end of the evening. Considering that Lawrenceburg and Paragon were also running a decent field of 24 non-wing sprints pulled into the pit area joined by 19 Indiana Pro Late Models, 19 UMP modifieds, 16 super stocks and 13 bombers for a grand total of 91 cars in the backstretch pits to present a Saturday night of entertainment.
Heat racing pushed off at 7:25 with three heats for the sprinters with Jake Swanson claiming heat one over Harley Burns, Mario Clouser, Jackson Slone and Garbiel Gilbert back in action after a flip on Friday at Bloomington. Heat two went to Charles Davis Jr. besting Evan Mosley, Geoff Ensign (his wife won the steel block sprints down the road at Paragon on this same evening), Brayden Fox and Brandon Spencer. Seth Parker ran a strong heat three holding off the advances of AJ Hopkins to win this one with Ivan Glotzbach, Travis Thompson and Brian Hayden. The Indiana Pro Late Models were next on the dance card and spun off three very competitive heat runs with brothers, Tory and Tyler Collins, winning two of them and Raymond Humphrey winning the other. Richie Lex, Brayden Watson and Rob Brickert scored UMP modified heats. The super stocks and bombers contested two heats each before the sprints returned for the only B main of the evening. Late arriving Kent Christian tagged the tail of the field and at one point had moved into qualifying position before dropping back a few positions. Trying to make up ground on the high side he jumped the turn one cushion and flipped over several times before stopping. Christian was OK after the tumble but was probably wondering why he rushed to get to the track and then had this happen!!! Zack Pretorius would triumph in the B main beating Ryan Thomas, Texan Brandon Long, Josh Hodge and John Sluss who had Davey Ray, Friday night's sprint victor at Bloomington turning the wrenches on his sprinter tonight.
The 25 lap Indiana Pro Late Model feature was the first feature called to the post with the green flying at 9:13. What ensued was a very good race with only two cautions and multiple position changes. It would be the best feature race of the evening. Tyler Neal battled hard from his eighth starting position to get to the front taking the lead late in the event. Neal would score his second win of the year staving off former LPS regular, Steve Peeden, with Tory Collins third, Tyler Collins fourth and Raymond Humphrey rounding out the top five at 9:27.
Next up on the program card would be the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature brought to the green flag by Harley Burns and Seth Parker. The green did not remain out long as Evan Mosley clipped an inside tractor tire which sent him flipping down the homestretch on the initial lap. Mosley was fine after the wild ride but the same could not be said for his damaged mount. On the restart young Burns would lead the first four laps before Seth Parker would go to the point. Jake Swanson and AJ Hopkins tangled exiting turn four with Hopkins' car bunny hopping through the turn with both cars continuing not losing any positions at that time period. One lap later saw Burns spin in turn one ruining his good early run. Parker led on the restart with Hopkins and Swanson in pursuit. Hopkins used the high side off turn four to pass Parker for the top spot on lap eight with Swanson working his way by Parker shortly thereafter for second. The top two would run closely pulling away from the pack behind. Lap twenty saw eighth starting Geoff Ensign moving by Paker on the homestretch to take down the last podium position. While all eyes were on the lead battle veteran Brian Hayden had made a steady march from 15th to catch Parker for 4th with only two to go. Hopkins was able to hold off Swanson to garner the win in the Sturgeon #77 at 10:10 with Ensign third, Hayden fourth and Parker hanging on for fifth in a good run. It was a decent enough feature run with a good race between Hopkins and Swanson the highlight.
We decided to stay for one more feature with the 20 lap UMP modified feature taking the green flag at 10:20. A good battle for the lead between Tyler Loughmiller and Will Bennett ensued with Bennett finally taking control in the middle of the race. Bennett would go on to win the feature with Brayden Watson coming home second with point leader, Rob Brickert, nailing down third with Loughmiller slipping to fourth and female competitor, Sydney Landes, taking down fifth at the finish at 10:41.
It was a good night of racing in beautiful downtown Putnamville and at that point we decided to call it a night as we had a long drive ahead the following day and decided to hit the sack hopefully before midnight.
That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow as we bring you round three of USAC Indiana Midget Week from the finely manicured facility in Southwest Indiana, the Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and commenting on them when we see you at the races. We enjoy giving you our perspectives on where we travel and hope it helps you all when you decide to go somewhere different.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Kofoid For Second Year In A Row Cops Indiana Midget Week Opener At Bloomington
Friday, June 3 – Finally a beautiful sunny day for race day here in Indiana with no chance of rain!!! Tonight would be opening night of the 18th Annual Indiana Midget Week with the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval of Bloomington Speedway hosting the opener. It never gets old as you climb the hill outside of turn one and reach the top and gaze upon the well manicured grounds with the green grass contrasting the red clay of Bloomington. We secured our lawn chairs in the main section of the grandstand in front of the concession stands sitting with our friends, Max and Susie Niemann, for the evening. Before the racing began we did some bench racing with our many friends in attendance before the hot laps began for the 32 USAC midgets and 22 wingless sprints that graced the backstretch pit area for tonight's racing along with six mod lites. As the buildings behind us shaded us from the sun it became more comfortable to sit and talk.
Time trials would start off the racing program for the USAC midgets at 6:50 with Thomas Meseraull suffering a broken rear end on his time trial attempt and leaving him with no time after the 32 cars clocked in. Meseraull was behind the eight ball before the night even began but repairs were made and he returned to tag the rear of the third heat of the evening. Justin Grant in the other RMS entry spun off fast time of 11.974 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. In effect for the whole week due to tire shortages is that all cars must run the same right rear tire the entire evening (harder compound) with a same compound used tire as a backup in case a flat or cut tire happens.
The USAC midgets would be the first class to take to the track for their four heat races with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event with the top six in time trials inverted for the starting lineup. Any of the top six time trialers that did not qualify through the heat races would be replaced by the next fastest qualifiers that did qualify in the heat racing. Cannon McIntosh scored the win in heat one in his dad's car besting Justin Grant, Kaylee Bryson and Brenham Crouch. Buddy Kofoid coming off a USAC midget victory last night at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois captured heat two in one of seven Keith Kunz entries on the evening beating Jason McDougal, Sam Johnson and Chance Crum in a very entertaining heat race. Ethan Mitchell brought his dad's entry home first in heat three over Mitchel Moles, Jacob Denney and Thomas Meseraull from eighth. The fourth and final heat fell to Logan Seavey in the Malloy mount staving off Kyle Cummins, Maria Cofer and Jade Avedisian for the win. Taylor Reimer took a scary ride over the turn one banking after wheel to wheel contact with another competitor which resulted in her turning sideways, digging in and flipping several times end over end landing upside down on the far side of the turn one banking. She was uninjured and returned to qualify later in the B main. All the heat races were very good as the drivers handled choppy track conditions well.
The wingless sprint cars would run three heats with everyone advancing to their 25 lap main event. Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC prevailed in heat one over AJ Hopkins, Brady Bacon in the Longworth #410 and Davey Ray. Geoff Ensign in the Burton #04 captured heat two winning over Jake Swanson, Brandon Spencer and Sterling Cling who went bank sliding earlier in the race and came back to qualify. Buckeye, Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. nailed down heat three over Harley Burns, Matt Thompson and Ryan Thomas who fed a right rear tire to Gabriel Gilbert sending him rolling over turn two in this one.
The midget B main was next on the dance card with the top six moving on into the 30 lap main. Jace Park in one of the Boat cars triumphed over Brady Bacon doing double duty, Taylor Reimer back from her wild ride, Rylan Gray, Bryant Wiedeman and Dominic Gorden the last man in by qualifying. Chase McDermand and Hayden Reinbold would use provisionals to join the field tonight.
At 9:25 the front row of Kyle Cummins and Chance Crum would bring the 24 car starting field to Brian Hodde's green flag with the front row going side by side almost the entire first lap before Crum edged out front. Chance was looking good out front pacing the field and he was beginning to look like he might score his first career USAC National midget win as he held off Cummins and Buddy Kofoid. The field was streaking around the high red banks in a blistering pace as Thomas Meseraull was also attacking the track moving forward from his 22nd starting position. At the halfway mark Kofoid charged by Cummins for second in turns one and two but just a lap later Kofoid gave the spot back as he stumbled on the turn one cushion with Cummins moving back by. With nine to go Cummins chose the high side in turn one with Kofoid using the low side to take second in turn two and closed on Crum. Lap traffic was now in play as the leaders dance above and below them as they raced for the lead. With seven to go Crum's low side path was hindered by Rylan Gray as Kofoid used the opportunity to pound the cushion in turn one and two to slip by Crum for the lead. With four to go Crum was not finished as he entered turn one low as Kofoid bobbled on the cushion and Crum was back out front. The lap car of Hayden Reinbold hit the turn three cushion causing him to spin before the lap was completed reverting the restart field to the previous lap and giving the lead back to Kofoid. On the restart Kofoid was like the rabbit bounding back out front and leading the remaining four laps to score his third straight win and leaving many to wonder “what if” the caution had not appeared would Kofoid have been able to re-pass Crum over the last four laps. The win for Kofoid was his 12th career USAC midget win and #125 for car owner, Keith Kunz. Crum would cross the line second with Cummins third, Kaylee Bryson fourth in a fine run by the young lady with Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Bryant Wiedeman would finish sixth after starting twelfth with Cannon McIntosh seventh, Jacob Denney eighth, Mitchel Moles ninth and the Irvin King hard charger award going to Thomas Meseraull finishing tenth after starting twenty second. A real good run for all the midget drivers and a well run event.
We still had the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature to contest with Harley Burns and Jake Swanson pacing the 22 car field to the green at 9:53. The top two ran side by side the entire first lap with Swanson edging Burns at the line for the race lead. The only stoppage of the race would occur on lap six when Brandon Morin became an innocent victim of two others tangling in turn two with Morin turning sideways and rolling over. Brandon was OK but done for the evening. The action up front on the restart was ferocious as none less than four drivers raced side by side through turns one and two before sixth starting Emerson Axsom powered to the lead. Axsom looked strong at this point but it was far from over. Axsom bobbled on the cushion in turn one allowing fourth starter, Charles Davis Jr. to slide under him in turn two for the lead. Axsom and Swanson battled back but Davis was now the leader. Axsom's night got worse on lap nineteen when he slid high in turn four and over the banking returning on the homestretch but in effect spoiling any chance to win this one. Tenth starting Davey Ray was methodically working the bottom side as he moved forward into contention as the race wore on. Ray caught Swanson for second with four to go and took up the chase of the high side running Davis. Ray caught Davis with two to go and they raced side by side over the final two laps with Davis holding the slight edge. Coming into turns three and four for the final time Ray stuck it to the bottom and pulled alongside Davis as they entered turn four. It was a drag race to the finish line with Ray pulling off the march edging Davis by scant feet at the line to record the popular win. Davis had to settle for second as it looked like the Arizona driver would win his first race at Bloomington but it was not to be. Jake Swanson came home third with Geoff Ensign rebounding to finish fourth and Matt Thompson in a fine ride advancing from ninth to fifth at the finish at 10:12. Axsom would end up sixth at the end. This one surely had the crowd buzzing and was one of the best sprint car features we have seen at Bloomington in quite a while. The sprint cars one upped the midgets on this night with that feature run.
If night one of Indiana Midget Week was any indication of what lie ahead we are in for a great seven nights of USAC midget racing!!!
Check back tomorrow as we go off the midget week tour for one day and conserve some gas and stay closer to home (40 minutes as opposed to 2 ½ hours one way) taking in the action at Lincoln Park Speedway tonight. Until next time get out there and support some good short track racing in your area, be safe and have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, news, short stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next on a typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Parks It At BC Indiana Double At Kokomo
Sunday, May 29 – Who would have thought it would be almost the end of May and we would be making our first visit of the season to Kokomo Speedway, our favorite dirt track in Indiana. Indeed it was as Kokomo has gone to a limited race schedule in the last few years and this year only have 14 events on their calendar and one of them is a monster truck show and two have already been rained out.
Our back-roads ride to Kokomo was interrupted by road construction on Rt. 28 (road was closed in both directions) so an alternate route was figured out and we continued on. We pulled into the backstretch parking area at 6 PM and found a parking spot before heading to the large aluminum backstretch grandstands to secure our seats for the evening. For the second straight evening we had the pleasure to be joined by friend and Wisconsin track/race chaser, Todd Shannon, after he had attended the Indianapolis 500 and make the trek northward. Tonight was the BC Indiana Double made famous by Bryan Clauson who raced in the Indianapolis 500 during the day and then came to Kokomo to run his wingless sprint during the evening. We hope the hour late start to the racing tonight was because of management allowing people attending the 500 to make their way up to Kokomo and is not the normal going forward. Even though most everyone had the following day off on Monday leaving the track at almost midnight is too long of an evening when you have driving ahead of you before arriving home.
The three division program of wingless sprint cars (41), UMP modifieds (24) and thundercars (21) were ready to go at 8:30 with the first of five heat races for the wingless sprint cars. The top three finishers would move into the 25 lap feature event and Matt Goodnight kicked off the racing evening with a victory in heat one over Dave Darland and Koby Barksdale. Heat two would fall to the Gray #81 of CJ Leary besting Max Adams and Ricky Lewis. Colten Cottle would steer the Hazen #57 to the win in heat three over Jake Swanson and Tye Mihocko in his own car after wrecking the Paul #24P last weekend. Sixteen year old Jack Hoyer in his nice looking #11 staved off the challenges of Shane Cottle to capture heat four with Sterling Cling claiming third. Hoyer in his rookie season in sprint cars after running 600 micros in the past was impressive in this one and looks to have a bright future in sprint cars. Alex Banales in the Baldwin Brothers #5X took down heat five after almost taking down the turn two fence on one circuit but recovered and held off Justin Grant and Cole Bodine for the win.
The UMP modifieds ran three competitive heats with Dillon Nussbaum, Jaime Lomax and Derek Losh scoring wins in their respective heat races. The thundercars ran three heats also before the sprints returned for their two B mains. Travis Berryhill nailed down B main 1 in a race which featured a double flip in turn two during the running of the event. Thomas Meseraull back in the Cheney #42 and GLSS traditional sprint car winner, Keith Sheffer Jr. from Michigan, grabbed the other two qualifying positions. Ohio's Korbyn Hayslett staked out the win in B main two over Scotty Weir and Parker Frederickson, the low buck operator out of Kokomo. Good to see both Sheffer and Frederickson made the starting field for the main event.
It was 10:33 when the front row of Matt Goodnight and CJ Leary brought the 21 car starting field to the green flag. The green would stay out only for a short while as Dave Darland ramped over the right rear wheel of Max Adams and flipped in turn four coming to complete lap one. Darland was OK after the scary ride. The race restarted with Leary again assuming the lead with Goodnight in tow. Shane Cottle would move the Hodges #74 into third on lap two in turn one. We would stay green until lap six when Max Adams caught the cushion and the turn two fence and went for a nasty tumble landing upside down. Adams was able to climb from the car uninjured in the mishap. One lap later Koby Barksdale jumped the turn two cushion, bounced off the wall and was tapped by another car from behind which caused him to lightly roll over before coming to rest on all fours. Racing resumed once again with Leary at the point with the field chasing. Justin Grant was the man on the move from his seventh starting position cracking the top five by lap seven with a turn four pass. Lap nine saw Grant take both fourth and third between turns two and three as the Ione, California native was coming to the front in a hurry. Grant grabbed second on the homestretch on lap twelve and went to work to reel in Leary. It seemed Grant was closing for a while but racing through lap traffic Leary was able to hold a few second advantage for the remainder of the distance and raced under the checkered at 11:09 scoring the big win over Grant with Cottle third, Jake Swanson from 8th to 4th and Tye Mihocko with a strong run from 14th to claim 5th. Cole Bodine finished sixth, Jack Hoyer a fine seventh, Scotty Weir eighth from 19th, Korbyn Hayslett ninth from 17th and Thomas Meseraull tenth from 18th.
The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda and went green at 11:18. Derek Losh got the early jump to the lead with Dillon Nussbaum and Jamie Lomax in pursuit. Losh opened a comfortable lead but there was real good racing behind him for positions two through six. Nick Allen broke through the pack and took over second from his fifth starting position. Allen made the race up front interesting as he closed on Losh in the latter stages of the race but Losh was able to fend him off and flashed under the checkered flag at 11:30 trailed by Allen, Nussbaum, Lomax and Bradley Jameson in a strong run.
We decided to take in the 15 lap thundercar feature and after a few hiccups in the beginning they went on to present a competitive feature run with Sheldon Oberle first across the line at 11:53 for the win. It was a long night of racing but all the features were enjoyable to watch as we discussed them on the ride back to Crawfordsville.
That's it for this installment of A Typical Weekend with Indiana Midget Week on the horizon starting Friday night at Bloomington Speedway as we look forward to attending as many as possible. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and take a moment to reflect on what Memorial Day means to each and every one of us as remember freedom is not free, a price was paid by many brave souls. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and hope you are still enjoy our views of the tracks and racing that we visit during the year.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain & Cummins Highlight Memorial Week So Far In Indiana
Wednesday, May 25 – Today was the annual start of what we call Memorial Week in Indiana as this whole week is filled with racing and Monday is Memorial Day where we honor the many brave souls who gave their lives for their country to allow us to remain free. We cannot say enough about these many man and woman who gave all serving the USA so others would not be under anyone else's rule. Thank You!!!
The weather again was a big part of the story as Wednesday dawned overcast with rain looking like to would begin at any time. During the day in Crawfordsville it rained several times but cleared later in the day. We decided to make the 40 minute drive over to the Marion County Fairgrounds to support Circle City Raceway and the USAC National sprint cars which would be running this evening. After arriving shortly after 6 PM and finding a parking spot the rain first appeared with a few drops but picked up momentum in the next few minutes just after the first hot lap session ended. We never left the Rogue as the rain continued for the next 45 minutes before letting up. The Circle City track crew went to work to try to work the track back into racing shape. A water truck broken axle sending the left rear tire flat to the racing surface did not help the situation. Finally around 8:45 PM with great difficulty bringing the track back around with the high humidity the decision was made to cancel the race for the evening.
Thursday, May 26 - After a night long rain extending into the late morning had the black flag waved before noon on night two of the USAC National sprint cars at Circle City. Another one bites the dust!!!
Friday, May 27 - Friday's forecast was a little better in areas but for the most part racing would not happen on this evening either. Bloomington's Josh Burton Memorial was one of the first to throw in the towel along with Farmer City to the west in Illinois after having Thursday evening rain into Friday morning. The only remaining option was Indianapolis Raceway Park with a four division open wheel extravaganza but the weather looked iffy there also. A 6 PM forecast of heavy rain played out and pushed the starting time back several hours until the asphalt track was dried out again. We decided to not go to Brownsburg but instead watched some TV shows until the USAC portion of the program came on Flo Racing. Both features were competitive events with Bobby Santos III winning both the midget 30 lapper and Silver Crown 100 in a spirited battle with Kody Swanson. Female driver, Taylor Ferns, came home third and became the highest finishing woman in Silver Crown history and a win could be in her future as she drove a hard and heady race. The Silver Crown 100 was over slightly before midnight on a cold evening where we were glad we only had to turn off the lights and head to bed instead of warming up on the 40 minute ride home probably arriving back in Crawfordsville around 1 AM.
Saturday, May 28 – Finally the weather broke and Saturday was beautiful with temperatures in the 70's with plenty of sunshine and lower humidity. Tonight's destination was the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, IN, just below Greencastle which for us is about a 35 minute commute. We left early to drive below Greencastle to Cloverale where we picked up four gallons of freshly picked strawberries for a steal. Sunday would be spent by Pat making some of them into strawberry jam and freezing the rest for later use. From there we stopped at Lou's Diner in Cloverdale and feasted on a double cheeseburger named the best burger in Putnam County on National Hamburger Day.
We arrived early at Lincoln Park, even before the gates opened and had a nice conversation with a gentleman parked across from us visiting for the 500 from Iowa. We showed some Hoosier hospitality and gave him a big hand full of strawberries to munch on. Upon entering the track and placing our chairs about three rows from the top we surveyed the track and noticed a small pond outside of turn two at the back against the fencing so we knew it was wet and spongy in turns one and two which would pose a problem the entire night. Wisconsin's Todd Shannon by chance sat in the row behind us and after a while noticed that we were sitting in front of him and said hello. We chatted off and one the rest of the evening. It would be a five division program on the evening with MSCS sprints with a fine field of 47 cars in the pit area losing one, Mario Clouser, after he lost an engine during hot laps. The MMSA mini sprints brought 33 to the big dance while the super stocks had 20 entries, the UMP modifieds also with 20 and the bombers adding 16 to the total for a grand total of 136. A huge field of cars were joined by a huge crowd close to Indiana Sprint Week figures. Unfortunately the unruly track and the large car count would make for a late evening in beautiful downtown Putnamville and though the crowd was large we don't think the out of towners will return next year with such a long show. Sometimes you have to prepare for the unexpected and perhaps on this night in the future only four divisions with the lowest car count of the four only running a feature would be more appealing to the out of towners. We noticed the Indy 500 attendees leaving long before any of them saw a feature event and that is not good. We understand there is nothing you can do about the terrible weather and amount of rain we have had this week and the track work was indeed necessary but in the long run the long night could hurt attendance in the future.
Racing got underway over an hour later than the scheduled starting time commencing at 8:05 with the MSCS sprints contesting five heat races with the top three moving on to the 25 lap, $2500 to win main event. Brayden Fox would capture the first heat outrunning Koby Barksdale and AJ Hopkins in this one. Evan Mosley looked strong in heat one which would carry over to the feature winning heat two besting Brandon Mattox and Brent Beauchamp. Kyle Cummins notched heat three turning back Jason McDougal and Thomas Meseraull. Jake Swanson claimed heat four over fellow California driver Frank Guerrini and Brady Short. The fifth and final heat fell to Shane Cottle over Chase Stockon and Kyle Shipley. The MMSA mini sprints would run four heats with Kayla Roell, Michael Larrison, Brandon Deputy and Sam Hinds capturing heat wins.
The 20 super stocks ran three heats before the sprint C main was run with Brian Hayden winning and advancing to the back of the B main along with Charles Davis Jr., Geoff Ensign, Brandon Spencer and Garrett Aitken. Justin Meneely took a nasty flip on the homestretch during the C main. The UMP modifieds spun off three heats next for their 20 car field with the bombers competing in two heats before the sprint car B main hit the track with the top five across the line joining the rear of the feature event. Alec Sipes had a strong run to take down the B win over Braydon Cromwell, Cody Trammell in a second Mosley entry, Zack Pretorius and Travis Berryhill beating out Dave Darland for the last qualifying position on the last lap. A B main for the MMSA mini sprints was needed before we would get into the first of the five feature events which would feature the wingless sprint cars.
The front row of Shane Cottle and Jake Swanson would bring the 21 car field to the green flag for the first and only time at 11:12 with Carson Garrett using a provisional to join the field. Cottle would bolt to the early lead with Swanson in second. Third starting Kyle Cummins would dispose of Swanson for second on lap two and took up the chase of Cottle. Cummins would track down and catch Cottle on the backstretch on lap four for the lead with Cottle returning the favor on the homestretch to start lap five. Cottle would lead two more circuits before Cummins would take the lead for the final time on lap six on the homestretch. Evan Mosley moved into fourth on lap nine and led the second pack behind the top three. Cummins would enter lap traffic around the halfway mark and began to pick his way through the backmarkers. Jake Swanson slipped by Cottle on lap seventeen and tried to reel in Cummins but Cummins would not be caught. The non-stop affair would checker at 11:18 in just six minutes with Cummins home first followed by Swanson, Cottle, Mosley and Chase Stockon from tenth to fifth. Brandon Mattox would lead the second five to the checker with Brent Beauchamp seventh, AJ Hopkins eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Koby Barksdale rounding out the top five. We decided to call it a night at this point and packed up the chairs and headed to the parking lot and the Rogue.
Check back Monday as we listen to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio while tying this column and prepare to head northeast soon to take in the season opener at Kokomo Speedway with the BC Double starting at 7:30. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area on this Memorial Day weekend and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, news and stories can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep doing so as we enjoy hearing your comments about our columns.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou Becomes Three Time Winner Of Hulman Classic At Terre Haute
Saturday, May 21 - This day turned out to be a total washout as heavy thunderstorms south of us caused Terre Haute and Lincoln Park to throw in the towel for Saturday and reschedule their shows for Sunday evening which is usually a crap shoot and questionable under the current economic conditions.
Sunday, May 22 – The day dawned with sunshine and temperatures in the 50's. It warmed up somewhat during the day into the middle 60's but it was cool with a jacket or sweatshirt needed if venturing outside during the day. A South blowing wind also contributed to the coolness. Pat was still not feeling up to snuff so a solo trip down to Terre Haute was on the agenda. While writing this today (Monday) I had earlier come across an article about a recall from Jif Peanut Butter due to Salmonella concerns with certain lots of their peanut butter produced. It so happens that we purchased a 16 oz jar of Jif while in Arizona in March and brought the unused portion back to Indiana. Since this past Tuesday Pat has been eating English muffins with peanut butter and bananas on top and on Thursday evening into Friday morning developed gastrointestinal problems which continued through the entire weekend. Upon examining the article more closely I noticed a listing of lot numbers and grabbed the Jif from the pantry and checked the lot number on it. Sure enough the lot number on our jar matched one on the list and the mystery was solved. Currently Pat is feeling better and we hope in the next day or so this runs its course and she is back to normal.
Now back to the race at hand. Our friend, Steve Kimmel from Arizona, was in town during the weekend and he saved us seats at Gas City and Terre Haute Steve is a truck driver by trade and delivers loads all over the country. He showed me his diesel cost for his truck on Sunday at Terre Haute up to that point and it was over $2000. Things are totally out of hand with these gas prices as you all well know!! Also made two new friends from the Evansville area sitting in front of me and gave them some information on the USAC drivers. The one, Vance “Cowboy” Thompson, wanted to know how I knew all these things and I simply told him by reading and listening. He thought I should become an announcer!!! Look out Pat Sullivan!!!
I arrived around 5 and found a parking spot in our usual location on one of the access roads and worked my way into the track. Hot laps were underway for the USAC sprint cars on hand (25) and they were joined on this night by the Racesaver 305 winged sprints (17) and the UMP modifieds (10) for a three division program. It was the 52nd running of the Tony Hulman Classic and only three drivers had won this USAC National sprint car event three times. They are Cary Faas, Levi Jones and Chris Windom with Jones and Windom winning theirs three straight years. Well, this year another driver would join that prestigious list as Robert Ballou added his name to the list in the 2022 version of this race. Here is how it went down.
Time trials pushed off at 6:07 and by 6:30 it was CJ Leary being interviewed on the homestretch after setting the fast time of 19.527 seconds around the half mile dirt oval located on the Vigo County Fairgrounds. After hot laps for the 305's and the UMP modifieds it was time to contest the three USAC sprint car heats with the top five advancing to the Hulman Classic. Chase Stockon drew first blood with a strong run in heat one beating CJ Leary, Emerson Axsom, Jason McDougal and Justin Grant. Brandon Mattox, the local guy from Terre Haute, held off a torrid challenge from four time USAC sprint champion, Brady Bacon, to score the popular win in heat two with Max Adams third, Jadon Rogers fourth and Robert Ballou notching fifth. What was especially impressive beside Mattox's great run was one by Robert Ballou who suffered a flat tire with three to go, started at the rear and with elbows up drove into the last qualifying position for the main event and preserved his fifth starting spot in the feature after setting second fastest time. Logan Seavey blistered the field in the third heat looking for redemption after being DQ'd the evening before after finishing second due to his machine being underweight afterward. Mitchel Moles making his debut in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ this weekend finished second with Brian Hayden third, Charles Davis Jr. in from Arizona fourth and another Arizona resident, Sterling Cling wrestling away the last qualifying position in the late going.
The Racesaver winged 305 sprints would take to the track next for their two heat races with Bradley Galedrige holding off two heavy hitters in Ethan Barrow and Justin Clark to score the win. Rod Henning triumphed in heat two besting Jordan Welch and Bryce Norris for the win.
Next up were the UMP modifieds to run their 15 lap feature (no heats) which took the green flag at 7:49. It was not much of a race as Will Krup dominated the event beating Brian Shaw and Kenny Carmichael Sr. in the 11 minute feature. The USAC sprint semi was next on the dance card with Jake Swanson breezing to victory in that one defeating Nick Bilbee, Matt Westfall, Dustin Clark, Shane Cockrum, Cole Bodine and Brandon Morin taking seventh after a spirited race long battle with Nate McMillin for the last ticket into the feature.
The 15 lap Racesaver 305 sprint cars were next on the schedule for their 15 lap tussle with Rod Henning playing the rabbit and taking off from the pole to lead all 15 laps with a late race challenge from Bradley Galedrige making it not a cakewalk. Ohio's Justin Clark came from eighth to third at the finish with Ethan Barrow fourth and Alex Nalon, great grandson of Duke Nalon, rounding out the top five.
That left us with the 30 lap Tony Hulman Classic yet to run with the front row of Logan Seavey and Brady Bacon leading the remaining twenty cars to the green silk at 8:56. Seavey took control at the start with Bacon on his heels. Robert Ballou was coming quickly from fifth by using the low side and was up to second at the line to complete lap one. Bacon came right back and took by second on lap two but it was only for an instant as Ballou blasted back by on lap three. Meanwhile Seavey checked out to the tune of an almost a three second lead by the halfway mark with Ballou, Bacon, Justin Grant and CJ Leary all chasing. Seavey made a nifty move splitting Brandon Morin and Brian Hayden entering turn three which gave him some more breathing room at that point. Suddenly Ballou was making up some serious real estate as the race counted down to ten to go. Ballou closed to two car lengths on lap twenty four entering turn two and like he was shot from a cannon blasted down the backstretch and down to the rail for a slider in turn three which he pulled off exiting turn four for the lead. Bacon was taking notes on all this and dove low entering turn one to take second away from Seavey but the red flag appeared as eighth running Jadon Rogers tagged the turn four wall and flipped over. That negated Bacon's pass and on the restart Ballou led with Seavey and Bacon in pursuit. Ballou was able to pull away over the next several laps as Bacon was finally able to duplicate his turn one move earlier to move by Seavey but had some ground to make up at this point with only two to go. Bacon was on the attack as he cut into Ballou's lead by about half as they raced down the backstretch for the final time. Bacon made one last attempt diving low in turn three and drawing alongside Ballou but Ballou's momentum was too much to overcome with Ballou streaking across the finish line at 9:22 with his second win in the last three races with Bacon second, Seavey third, Grant fourth and Leary rounding out the top five. It was also Ballou's 33rd career USAC sprint win moving him into sole position of 14th place on the all-time win list ahead of Rollie Beale. Jake Swanson advanced from 11th to finish 6th with Emerson Axsom 7th, Max Adams from 13th to 8th, Dustin Clark pocketing the hard charger award marching from 19th to 9th with Jason McDougal coming from 17th to 10th at the finish. Ballou made not have been far off in his interview after his win at I-70 saying that it looked like it would be the Bacon and Ballou show in 2022. This feature was by far the best of the evening and the early finish allowed everyone to get back on the road and home in a decent hour to prepare for the work week ahead.
Another typical weekend is in the books and next week is one of the busiest for us of the year as it is Memorial Day week where if the weather cooperates it will be 5 races in 5 days starting on Wednesday and wrapping up on Sunday. Only time will tell. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. In the meantime plot your upcoming week and weekend and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road for some action. Either way stay hydrated and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for the comments on our column and we hope you continue to enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull In A Thriller At Gas City
Friday, May 20 – The forecast for today was sunny skies with temperatures in the high 80's with gusty winds from the southwest at 20 to 30 mph. This combination of sun, high temperatures and lots of wind can be disastrous for a dirt track and we were worried that the track conditions for our Friday night destination, the Gas City Speedway, would be less than ideal. To our pleasant surprise the track held up very well the entire evening with only minimal dust appearing during the wingless sprint car feature. A tip of the hat to Larry Boos and the entire track crew at Gas City for providing an excellent racing surface under trying circumstances. Now let's get to the evening of racing.
The Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) were in town this evening and the pits were filled with 35 wingless sprinters to do battle along with 12 hornets, 17 D2 midgets and 16 street stocks to round out the program. BOSS runs group qualifications broken into four groups with AJ Hopkins in the Wingo Brothers #77 setting fastest overall time around the ¼ mile bullring with a time of 12.222 seconds. The D2 midgets would also do group qualifying sessions to determine the starting positions for their heat races. Stratton Briggs would be fast timer with a lap of 13.297 seconds in group qualifying.
The BOSS sprint cars would be first to the grid for their heat racing with the top four finishers moving into the 25 lap main event. Scotty Weir in the Petersen #4P went to the front in the first heat and scored the win over Cole Bodine, Kyle Shipley and Tye Mihocko. Colten Cottle wheeled the Hazen #57 to victory in heat two over Jack Hoyer, Matt Goodnight and Jamie Frederickson. Heat three fell to Thomas Meseraull in the Cheney #42 out of California besting Dave Darland, Ricky Lewis and Koby Barksdale. Korbyn Hayslett, the college student out of Ohio, captured heat four beating Paul Dues, Isaac Chapple and Jesse Vermillion.
The hornets would follow with one heat for their 12 car field before the D2 midgets would take to the track to contest their two heats for their 17 car field. The first heat would go to Stratton Briggs over Drew Rader and Wes Pinkerton. Heat two was taken by Kyle Dager besting Abby Hohlbein and Carl Peterson. The street stocks would run two heats for their 16 car field before the sprint cars would return for B mains with three to qualify into the main event.
Ryan Thomas scored the first B main win over JJ Hughes and Cody White. The second B main went to Saban Bibent over Travis Hery and Brian Ruhlman. The 22 car field was now set for the 25 lap feature event. A medical emergency in the grandstand area toward turn one delayed the program about twenty minutes which is something you cannot avoid with the person transported to the hospital before racing could continue.
The 20 lap D2 midget feature would be the first division to take to the track for their main event and would take the green flag at 9:27 with second starting Kyle Dager taking the lead from first starter, Carl Peterson, on the high side of turn two on the opening lap. The first eight laps would stay green with Dager increasing his lead by several seconds. A rash of cautions slowed the middle portion of the race with four yellows appearing between laps nine and twelve. Briggs and Rader had a good battle over the last eight laps for the third position as from that point forward the race stayed green and Dager paced the field up front. Wes Pinkerton made a late race charge from sixth to claim second with Drew Rader riding home third, Stratton Briggs fourth and Bryce Massingill, a recent winner at Circle City who had mechanical problems in his heat, marched from 13th to round out the top five with the checker waving at 9:39. This was Dager's first career win in the D2 midgets.
Landon Arcaro was the third different leader taking the lead on lap 8 after a good race up front between the top three. Arcaro would lead the remaining seven laps to score his first ever win at Gas City in a brand new car prepared for him.
Now it was time for the 25 lap BOSS sprint car feature with the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Korbyn Hayslett bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:01. Hayslett got the advantage using the top of turn two to grab the lead away from Meseraull on the opening lap. Hayslett would pace the first four laps until T-Mez returned the favor on Hayslett in turn two. Arizona's Kyle Shipley in the Michael Dutcher #17GP powered by Hayslett for second on the backstretch on lap six and took up the chase of T-Mez who had opened up over a two second lead. Hayslett was not done yet and reloaded and closed in on Shipley. Lap 12 saw Hayslett take back second before the only caution of the race appeared on lap 13 when Ricky Lewis and Jamie Frederickson tangled in turn two to bring out the yellow. Meseraull's big lead was wiped out at this point. On the green Meseraull powered back out front Hayslett and Shipley in tow. Shipley regained second using the low side of turn four one lap later. Shipley found some extra speed and tracked down and passed T-Mez on the inside of turn three on lap 17 to take the lead and pulled away. Shipley looked like he might pull off his first career win at Gas City but Meseraull never gives up. T-Mez tried several different lines and started to reel in the leader. Lap twenty two saw Meseraull regain the lead but Shipley was not rolling over and came back one lap later to reclaim the top spot. A small bobble off turn four was just enough for Meseraull to make another run and at the white flag he edged ahead entering turn one. T-Mez scampered away and was able to hold off the final advances of Shipley to score the popular win at 10:11 trailed across the line by Shipley with Dave Darland looking strong in his return to racing after sitting out for a year after suffering a stroke coming home third after a tough battle with Scotty Weir who notched fourth with Hayslett holding on for fifth. Isaac Chapple moved from 12th to finish 6th with Cole Bodine 7th, Colten Cottle 8th, Tye Mihocko 9th and Koby Barksdale advancing from 15th to 10th at the finish.
With the street stocks still to come we decided to pull out as the long trip home was still ahead and it was going to be almost impossible to top the wingless sprint car feature so why bother. We arrived back in Crawfordsville around midnight fully satisfied with the well run show we witnessed and impressed at how well the race surface held up after all the sun and wind attacked it. Again a fine job by everyone involved in the track prep and race direction keeping the program moving along in a timely manner.
That's it for this report and while tying it we found out that the Hulman Classic at Terre Haute tonight (Saturday) have been postponed due to rain and the forecast moving forward for the rest of the day. The Action Track will return to run the Hulman Classic tomorrow (Sunday) with hot laps starting at 5 PM. Looking forward to this one. News, comments, notes of interest and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And hopefully the weather is better in your area so you can get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. In the meanwhile be safe and have fun. And last but certainly not lease we want to thank you for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our thoughts and opinions we bring to you so if you thinking of visiting one of the tracks we write about you will have pertinent information to process and help your enjoyment of a visit there.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Wrapping Up The Weekend With Action At Circle City
Sunday, May 15 - We started out the morning in Columbia, Missouri at our Drury Inn where we had a nice breakfast at the buffet with real plates and metal utensils!! Then we jumped on I-70 east and began to make the long journey across Missouri and Illinois toward Indiana. As we continued East the gas prices rose from $3.99 to $4.15 when we had burned off enough to make it worthwhile to fill it back up. As we approached St. Louis the prices rose into the $4.39 range and as we crossed the border into Illinois they jumped to $4.59 a gallon. Ouch, as this could affect people's driving and vacation plans especially depending on what type of vehicle they drive. Spoke with our pastor on Tuesday and after returning from a hospital visit to Indianapolis with an empty tank and a twenty cent discount his gas bill was an incredible $105!!!!! Continuing with the present story we motored up I-70 and stopped at our favorite restaurant in Illinois, the Blue Springs, and ended our delicious family style meal sharing a slice of their famous mile high chocolate pie topped with melange. Simply heavenly!!! But the trip was not over yet as we continued on to the Circle City of Indianapolis and our destination, the Circle City Raceway in Marion County. On tap this evening was a four division program consisting of wingless sprint cars (27), D2 midgets (17), 600 micros (11) and UMP modifieds (19). We were joined by Gordy Killian making his way back home after a four track swing with two new tracks in the middle of the sandwich.
The wingless sprint cars would start off the night of racing action with four heats taking the first four finishers to the 25 lap main event. Thomas Messeraull aka T-Mez captured heat one from third in one of the Tyler Sturgeon entries over Scotty Weir in the Landon Simon car with Travis Berryhill third in the other Sturgeon car with young Rylan Gray coming home fourth. Heat two went to AJ Hopkins in the Wingo Brothers #77, one of five #77's entered this evening. Kyle Shipley finished second with Zack Pretorius third and Tim Creech in his pink and white sprinter fourth. Matt Westfall dropping by on his way home from Missouri took down heat three besting Ricky Lewis in the Wolfe #43, Frank Guerrini, another California transplant and Matt McDonald. Ryan Thomas, a local boy would win heat four in the third numbered 77 car over Chad Boespflug, Koby Barksdale and young Saban Bibent.
The D2 midgets were next on the agenda running two heats with Stratton Briggs beating Ryan Thomas, doing double duty on the evening, and Ian Creager. The second heat fell to Gunnar Lucius over Abby Hohlbein and Josh Yenser in an all Ohio sweep. Bruce Newlin Jr. and Justin Harper triumphed in the 600 micro heats while John Demoss and Derek Groomer won UMP modified heats.
Only the sprint cars would need a B main with Cole Bodine copping the win over Sterling Cling, Derek Crane making the trip down from Wisconsin and Colin Grissom.
At this point the track was dusty and slick and the track maintenance of watering the top side would do little to alleviate the situation. The front row of AJ Hopkins and Ricky Lewis brought the 20 car field to the green flag at 8:15 with Lewis wrestling the lead away from Hopkins exiting turn four on lap one. Lewis would hold the top spot until Hopkins executed a turn four slider on lap four to regain the lead. Hopkins would pace the field with Lewis and Matt Westfall in tow. The first caution flew on lap twelve when Travis Berryhill and Kyle Shipley tangled in turn two. On the restart Scotty Weir attempted a slide or die move on third running Thomas Meseraull banging his left front and sending T-Mez sideways where Chad Boespflug finished off his spin sending T-Mez to the back of the field. The field was slip sliding around the oval until lap fifteen when Cole Bodine and Ryan Thomas locked horns in turn two bringing out another caution. One lap later Koby Barksdale and Rylan Gray bumped with Gray spinning in the middle of the turn. From that point on it was all Hopkins as he paced the field over the remainder of the race. Westfall would finish second with Weir third, Zack Pretorius fourth in a good run from tenth with Frank Guerrini nailing down the fifth spot at the finish at 8:39. It was an emotional victory lane as Hopkins stated that this was his first win since his father died late last year.
The 20 lap D2 midget feature was next to the post with the green dropping at 8:50. Stratton Briggs would jump to the early lead over Josh Yenser and many folks knowing how fast Briggs is in the D2's might have figured this one was over. Briggs would lead until eighth starting Bryce Massingill would execute a high side sweep by Briggs on lap nine securing the lead at the line. Massingill would pace the field the remainder of the distance but good racing was occurring behind him with ninth starting Michael Magic passing Briggs late in the contest to claim second at the finish at 9:06 with Briggs third, Ian Creager fourth and Josh Yenser holding on for fifth.
With rain moving eastward we decided to forgo the last two features and head into the brewing storm where we encountered rain as we approached Brownsburg on I-74 and continued the rest of the way home to Crawfordsville. Somehow Circle City was able to sneak in the last two feature events with Bruce Newlin Jr. winning the 600's and Derek Losh claiming the UMP modified win.
That's it for now but check back on Saturday as we will stay local this weekend in Indiana planning on stops at Gas City on Friday for BOSS sprints and Terre Haute on Saturday for USAC sprints. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some upcoming midweek shows in your area at one of your local tracks. Comments, news and other items of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope that you enjoy our perspective on the events that we travel to. And be safe out there in your travels.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Stops US 36 & Ballou Triumphs On USAC's Return To I-70
Friday, May 13 – From midnight to early morning it rained buckets in Kansas City and surrounding areas, more than enough to bring an morning announcement from USAC that tonight's sprint car race at the US 36 Raceway was canceled due to saturated grounds. This was the track that we had heard nothing but good things about and were looking forward to visiting the high banked 3/8 mile dirt oval but it was not to be as mother nature had other plans for the race schedule. Coupled with the Twitter post from Chet Christner which described how sad he was that USAC couldn't race at this joint and it looked like an absolutely epic place to showcase USAC sprints made us even more disappointed. And adding to the pain was that the day turned out to be a nice day with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 80's and no more rain.
Saturday, May 14 – The day dawned bright and sunny and hot. Temperatures would climb into the 90's once again and before making our way over to I-70 Motorsports Park in Odessa it was a wonderful trip to the Negro Baseball League Museum in North Kansas City at 18th and Vine Streets, the old home of the Kansas City Monarchs. It was a well thought out and assembled collection of the Negro baseball history in the United States with many placards and stories, uniforms, statues and other memorabilia. It was wonderful to see the history of black baseball in the USA with not only stories on Jackie Robinson but Satchel Paige, Larry Doby, Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson who many considered the best black ballplayer who never made it to the major leagues due to an early death. Gibson was said to have had the eyes of Ted Williams and the power of Babe Ruth all in one package and was the only player to hit a home run completely out of the old Yankee Stadium!!! There was so much more in this museum and is well worth the $10 admission ($9 for senior citizens) and the experience is well worth the time and money spent to view this living history museum. The movie just after entering the main entrance is a must see as it gives you a great perspective of life and experiences in the Negro baseball leagues before the racial barrier was brought allowing black ballplayers into the Major Leagues. After leaving the museum we encountered a black street vendor selling drawings he had done of many of the old time Negro players and after having a good conversation with him we bought one of his 8x10 drawings of Satchel Paige which will be proudly displayed in our sports room at home.
From the museum it was over to Independence, Missouri, the childhood home of Harry S. Truman, where we lunched at Big Bear Diner of California origins before working our way over to Odessa and the home of the I-70 Motorsports Park, a half mile dirt oval brought back to life in 2021. I-70 was originally an asphalt oval first opened in 1969 and later converted to dirt and ultimately closed in 2008. I-70 rose from the ashes like the Phoenix in 2021 when it was reopened as a 3/8 mile dirt oval. And what a beautiful facility it is. From the stone driveways to all the nice out buildings and the lower stadium seating and upper bleacher seating running the entire length of the homestretch it is a gem. The bathrooms are beautiful, clean and well maintained as are the entire grounds and facility that sits on it. It is truly a state of the art racing complex that includes a drag strip also.
On tap this evening was a program consisting of the USAC National Sprint Cars (28) joined by the Show Me Vintage Cars (19). The sprint car field was down by 3 from Thursday due to a split field caused by the POWRi WAR sprints running at the Lucas Oil Speedway also on this evening. Time trials would push off at 6:55 PM and wrap up by 7:17 PM with rookie Emerson Axsom setting fast time around the 3/8 mile dirt oval with a lap of 15.856 seconds. The vintage cars would be next up with hot laps before the USAC sprints in co-sanction with the USAC Midwest Wingless Racing Association would return at 7:45 to contest three heat races with the top five moving onto the 30 lap main event.
Jason McDougal driving one of the KO Motorsports entries would take down heat one over Jake Swanson, CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Emerson Axsom. Heat two fell to Brady Bacon in the Dynamics #69 besting Brandon Mattox, Matt Westfall, Robert Ballou and Alex Banales. The third and final heat would be claimed by Logan Seavey in the Baldwin/Fox #5 orange crate over Chase Stockon, Mario Clouser, Jadon Rogers and Wesley Smith.
Three heats would be run for the Show Me vintage cars and in one of the heats a car spun into the homestretch wall and drifted down off the wall into the path of another car which clipped it sending several wheels bouncing across the track. One wheel was leap frogged by another competitor and he almost flipped his bright yellow coupe but luckily returned to the track surface on all fours. It took a while to clean up the mess and we were impressed by the one wrecker which was able to lift the heavy car who hit the wall totally off the ground behind him.
The sprint car semi or B main was next on the race card with seven moving into the 30 lap feature event. Wyatt Burks who miss by one spot in the first heat dominated this one beating Xavier Doney, Mississippi's Chase Howard, Chad Frewaldt, Chad Tye, Brian Beebe and JD Black the last man in.
The 20 lap vintage car feature was spun off next before the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature took to the track. In a first for us as the sprinters were pushing off the action was suddenly red flagged. It turned out that one of the Flo Racing camera men stepped into a hidden open ditch inside turn three and his leg was lodged in the ditch and took several minutes for safety crews to dislodge with the good news that no injury was suffered and we were able to continue.
The green flag would wave at 9:44 with Mario Clouser taking the early lead with Robert Ballou and Logan Seavey in hot pursuit. Ballou executed a slider in turn one on lap one and pulled off the pass for the lead by turn two. Fifth starting Brady Bacon passed CJ Leary for third in turn four on lap five before Leary returned the favor one lap later. Bacon regained the position several laps later and went off in chase of Seavey and Clouser. Brady executed a two for one pass between turns three and four to dispose of Seavey and Clouser on lap eleven before taking up the pursuit of the long gone Ballou. The first twenty laps was all Ballou but as he entered lap traffic Bacon began to cut the deficit. With nine to go Ballou encountered Alex Banales who slowed the progress of the leader to allow Bacon to roll by Ballou on the low side of turn three and slid up in front of Ballou for the lead in turn four wedged between Banales in front of him and Ballou right on his tail. Many thought Bacon had pulled the winning move of the night but no one informed Ballou of this as Ballou dove low in turn two below Banales and Bacon to regain the lead as he motored away from the other two. The Mad Man was not going to not take advantage of his second chance and powered away over the remaining laps to over a three second lead and crossed the line at 9:54 in the second non-stop feature of the Midwest tour claiming his first win in USAC competition in 11 months and ending Bacon's two race win streak where Ballou had finished second both times. This was also Ballou's 32nd career USAC sprint win passing Tyler Courtney on the all time win list and tying Rollie Beale for 14th on the all time win list. Bacon came home second with Justin Grant advancing from eighth to third with CJ Leary fourth and Emerson Axsom rounding out the top five. Mario Clouser would lead the second five across the line with Seavey seventh, Jason McDougal eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and Matt Westfall completing the top ten. The emotional Ballou climbed to the top of his roll cage and choked up in victory lane after scoring the popular win. It was a good night of racing with everyone exiting the track grounds knowing that they had witnessed a good night of racing where the USAC sprints raced for the first time in 26 years.
That's it for now but check back tomorrow for last race we attended on the weekend after traveling back from Missouri. News, comments, stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the weather finally looks like it will stay warm for us to enjoy some racing without sweatshirts or jackets. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our column as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care out there and be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Sizzles In USAC Return To Lakeside Speedway
Thursday, May 12 – We penciled this three day USAC sprint car tour through the Midwest on the calendar when the 2022 USAC schedule came out with Lakeside Speedway, US 36 Raceway and I-70 Speedway on the docket. We drove as far as Quincy, Illinois the first night and arose to continue the tow across Missouri into Kansas for night one of USAC racing action at the Lakeside Speedway outside of Kansas City, Kansas. The 3/8 mile black gumbo clay oval is very nice and well kept and the facility as a whole is top notch. Pennsylvania's Gordy Killian was in town making a race tour to pick up some new tracks though Lakeside was not new for him but it was for us. We also chatted with Jen Kelley and Dan Hetser from the Bloomington area before the racing began.
The weather was sunny, breezy and very hot with the temperature topping 93 degrees but we were surprised that the surface held up so well under these conditions but were glad it did. The tracks in Ohio should take note of this as it shows you can run a race on a hot, breezy sunny day and not have bellowing
dust if you have good dirt and proper maintenance including plenty of water.
The USAC sprints would push off at 7:13 for their single car time trials and when it was all said and done by 7:37 Robert Ballou was standing at the top of the leader board with a time of 16.783 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval for his first fast time since 2018. The first heat racing of the evening would kick off at 7:58 with the USRA B mods spinning off three heats in an impressive time of just 13 minutes.
The USAC Natonal Sprints were joined by the USAC Midwest Wingless Racing Association on the evening and four heats would be needed for them. Kansas racer, Wyatt Burks, would hold off the USAC invaders to score the heat one win followed by Robert Ballou, Jadon Rogers and Logan Seavey. Heat two would fall to the defending WAR sprint car champion, Mario Clouser, besting Brady Bacon, Alex Banales and Brandon Mattox. Heat three was captured by Chase Stockon over Emerson Axsom, Jake Swanson and Wesley Smith. The fourth and final heat went to Jason McDougal beating CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Xavier Doney.
The USRA stock cars were the last to run their heat races with three of them called to the post. Their very competitive races were finished by 9:03 and some track maintenance was performed before the USAC sprints returned to run their semi race or B main. The top six would move into the 30 lap main event with Lone Jack, Missouri's Cody Baker looking strong in winning this one over Zach Daum, Matt Westfall, Chris Parkinson, Rece Wommack from Mississippi and Zach Clark.
The three feature races were the only ones remaining with the 20 lap USRA B mod feature the first one called to the post. We must admit that the B mods were probably the best B mod feature we have ever seen with only one caution and some very competitive racing throughout the field. Andy Bryant drove by Tim Powell to take the lead around lap 11 and looked like he was going to win until pulling off the backstretch with just four to go. Powell would go on to take the gift over tenth starting Gabriel Hodges and Terry Schultz in an 11 minute run.
The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature would take the green at 10:06 and that was the last time the green flag was needed as the entire 30 laps would go non-stop in nine minutes. Emerson Axsom would take the early lead at the green with the field in hot pursuit. CJ Leary would use the inside groove in turns one and two to take away the lead on lap two. The action heated up on lap three with Brady Bacon down low, Leary in the middle and Axsom on the top going three wide into the corner. Axsom held the lead by half a car length at the line to start lap four. Bacon committed to the bottom raced into turn two and cleared Axsom for the lead racing down the backstretch. Brady was on a rail at that point and proceeded to stretch his lead from that point forward. Axsom trailed in second with Robert Ballou surging forward into third from his sixth starting spot. Ballou chased Axsom lap after lap finally catching him for second in turn two on lap eighteen but by this time Bacon was long gone stretching his lead to over four seconds. Bacon ran into heavy, three wide lap traffic in the closing circuits but with such a huge lead he would not be challenged. After a poor start to the race Logan Seavey surged back to third at the finish passing Axsom for the last podium position with just four to go. At the finish at 10:15 (nine minute feature) it was Bacon across the line first for the 42nd time in his USAC career passing Bryan Clauson on the win list and tying Pancho Carter for sixth on the all time list. Bacon was also the last USAC winner at Lakeside in the last time they ran here. Ballou scored his second consecutive second place finish with Seavey third, Axsom fourth and Leary fifth. Matt Westfall came home sixth from 11th with Jason McDougal seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Jadon Rogers ninth and Justin Grant rounding out the top ten. To show you how dominant Bacon's run was he almost put the tail end of the top ten one lap down.
We decided to stay for the USRA stock car feature as it was early and the hotel was only 20 minutes away and we are glad we did as it turned out to be the best feature of the evening. Ed Griggs in a spirited battle would hold off Chad Walker and Jaylen Wettengel for the win with the final checker waving at 10:50 in a very good night of racing in Kansas.
That's it for now but check back soon to see if we are able to sneak in US 36 Raceway as the weather is iffy with powerful thunderstorms a possibility. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated. Comments, news, stories or any other items of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our next typical weekend takes us. Be safe and take care.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Late Race Surge Garners POWRi Midget Win At Macon
Saturday, May 7 – During the morning we toured the catacombs next to the Indianapolis City Market underneath Whistler Plaza where the old Tomlinson Hall stood. It was an interesting tour weaving around the Roman style brick arches beneath the plaza and the stories that went along with the buildings. All that is left of Tomlinson Hall which burned in 1958 is a brick arch at one end of the plaza. From there we lunched at Jersey Mike's before heading back to Crawfordsville to pack up to leave for our Saturday destination of the Macon Speedway in Macon, Illinois. The POWRi National midgets along with the POWRi 600 micros were racing on the 1/5 mile bullring along with three of the regular classes that race at Macon. The car counts were 24 POWRi midgets, 31 POWRi 600's, 25 modifieds, 12 pro late models and 19 hornets.
Time trials for the modifieds & pro late models commenced at 6:54 and were spun off quickly. By 7:27 the first of three POWRi midgets heats took the green flag. POWRi uses passing points instead of time trials to determine the top 16 from the heats that automatically lock into the 30 lap main event. Michael Magic and Emilio Hoover tangled in turn two with Magic rolling over in the incident. Both drivers were OK after the tangle. Cannon McIntosh would go on to win the first heat but first time Macon runner, Kyle Cummins, would charge from 7th to 2nd and earn the most passing points in the three heats to earn the first starting position for the feature. Mariah Ede and Chance Crum were the next two across the line. Heat two saw Jade Avedisian in one of the Boat entries win from first over fourth starting Bryant Wiedeman, Mitchell Davis and Joey Wirth. The third heat fell to Chase McDermand over Taylor Reimer, Maria Cofer and Karter Sarff.
The POWRi 600 micros would contest four heats on the evening with Joe B. Miller coming from 5th to win heat one and earn himself the first starting position in the 20 lap feature event besting Collin Shain and Joe Taft. Heat two was captured by Aarik Andruskevitch over Sean Robbins and Billy Lieb. The third heat fell to Austin Schaeffer who seemed to hit everyone he passed on the evening beating Kylee Griffitts and eighth starting Tyler Kuykendall. The fourth heat would go to Indiana's Craig Ronk outrunning Cole Tinsley from 5th and John Barnard.
The modifieds ran three heats with the pro late models and hornets running two each. The only division that ran a B main was the 600 micros with Alex Midkiff prevailing. In a much appreciated gesture management pushed the modified feature to the third slot running the two POWRi features first.
The 30 lap POWRi National Midget feature would take the green flag at 9:16 with Cannon McIntosh taking the early lead over fellow front row starter Kyle Cummins. The pair would retain the top two positions through the first 11 laps before they encountered lap traffic. McIntosh worked the lap traffic in good order with Cummins a few car lengths back. The first caution would wave on lap 17 for a double spin with Jade Avedisian in turn two and Devin Camfield in turn four. On the restart McIntosh retained the lead with Chase McDermand edging by Cummins for second. Taylor Reimer started applying the pressure to Cummins for third as the two exchanged sliders over the next several laps. Reimer pulled ahead for third at lap 20 with Cummins slipping to fourth. The race had run with only two cautions over the first 20 laps but five would wave over the last ten laps mostly from the same back markers. Lap 23 saw Austin Barnhill and Emilio Hoover tangle in turn three and one lap later Brenham Crouch while running sixth slid sideways in turn three to bring out the caution. On the ensuing restart Chance Crum running steady in seventh stopped in turn three to slow the action once again. With six to go the green waved for the final time and Cummins decided to go up top and quickly surged by Reimer for fourth. One lap later he surprised McDermand for third as the #3G was honking on the high side. With three to go Cummins flew by McIntosh for the lead entering turn one before he even knew it and powered away over the final three laps to score his first ever POWRi National midget win on a track he had never raced before in his career. McIntosh held on for second with McDermand rounding out the podium. The gals, Taylor Reimer and Maria Cofer, would round out the top five in two fine runs. Positions six through ten went to Bryant Wiedeman, Mitchell Davis, Karter Sarff, Jace Park and Brenham Crouch from 16th. The checkered in this one waved at 9:36.
The twenty lap 600 micro feature would take the green flag ten minutes later with Joe B. Miller taking the early lead with Austin Schaeffer getting into him hard in turns three and four before Miller pulled away from Schaeffer. Craig Ronk was the first to break out of the pack catching and passing Schaeffer for second and taking up the chase of Miller. Ronk pulled close several times in lap traffic but Miller was up to the challenge and streaked across the line at 9:54 for his 45th career POWRi 600 micro win, the most of any driver. Ronk who started sixth finished second with Schaeffer third, Tyler Kuykendall fourth and Aarik Andruskevich fifth.
It was a well run program and being on the road around 10 for our two hour drive home was much appreciated with the one hour loss entering back into Eastern Time making it 1:07 AM when we pulled the Rogue into the garage in Crawfordsville. Macon is such a racy joint and we love to go there and almost the racing action is second to none.
That's it for this segment as we prepare for a road trip following the USAC National sprint cars to Kansas and Missouri for three nights of racing at three new tracks for us. Check back Friday for report #1 for the road trip. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road to check out something new. News, comments, stories or any other points of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always be safe and thanks for reading our efforts and sharing your comments with us. We appreciate the feedback.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Sumar Classic Falls To Justin Grant At Terre Haute
Sunday, May 1 – Anticipation was high for the season opener at the Terre Haute Action Track as new management was in place and many improvements have been made at the historic ½ mile dirt oval located on the Vigo County Fairgrounds in the city of Terre Haute. Scott Ronk, the Vice President at H & R Industrial in Kokomo has teamed up with Bernie Stuebgen, owner of Indy Race Parts since 2002 and Reece O'Connor, one of the O'Connor family who have run Kokomo Speedway for many years and a great track preparer to form the new promotional team here. New Armco fencing has been added in the turns with the concrete blocks forming the walls on the homestretch and backstretch. The infield tower had been renovated and new bathrooms underneath have been installed. New and better lighting has been added and the concession stand underneath the covered grandstand has been gutted and now is a walk in arrangement. New track equipment and a concrete pad for the water trucks have been added along with the walking tunnel into the infield has been paved. In the near future a children's playground will be added in the infield and currently there are children's toys on a giant blanket to play with and return to the same spot. The historic ½ mile clay oval is looking much better and all the improvements are a big plus.
Now to the racing end of the deal. Thirty six USAC Silver Crown cars signed into the pit area with 33 of them taking time as mechanical issues sidelined the other three. After two sessions of hot laps for the Grand Dames of USAC single car qualifying took the initial green flag at 6:22. Kody Swanson, the defending Silver Crown champion with his car wearing the #1, was one of the earlier time trialers and his time of 20.410 seconds would hold up through the qualifying session which wrapped up at 6:58 giving him his 37th career fast time award in his Silver Crown career and third one at the Sumar Classic.
Also on the race card were the UMP modifieds who brought a good field of 25 entrants which necessitated three heats which were first on the race agenda starting off at 7:18. Randy Shuman, Brian Shaw and Richie Lex would capture the three heats and were spun off in good order. Next up was the 12 lap Last Chance Race with the top six joining the top twenty in the 100 lap Sumar Classic later in the day. Unlike the modifieds this race was filled with three red flags for flips and shortened to 10 laps. The first flip was executed by Ohio's Ronnie Wuerdeman who went for a ride in turn three on lap one bouncing off the new Armco barrier and landing hard on the track surface. Wuerdeman suffered a broken collarbone in the hard crash. Chris Fetter hopped the right rear of Casey Buckman's car in turn four and found himself crashing hard into the Armco barrier before landing back on the track. In days gone by that one could have been much more serious for anyone on the other side of the fence as we believe he would have cleared the old fencing and wound up in the pit area. Even though the rivets were popped in one of the seams and a half hour was needed for repairs it could have been much worse. The new improvement already had paid for itself in terms of human injury not occurring. Fetter suffered a deep cut on his knee that required stitches but as we said it could have been much worse. The third flip of the LCR was on the final lap exiting turn four when Dave Berkheimer tried to pass Patrick Lawson for the last qualifying position with Berkheimer going end over end twice and Lawson stopping and not making it to the finish line. Tommy Nichols of Tampa, FL was the recipient of the gift last pass into the main event. Berkheimer was OK after his big ride. Kyle Steffens won the LCR over Davey Ray, Terry Babb, Casey Buckman, Travis Welpott and Nichols. This race took almost an hour to complete.
The 15 lap UMP modified feature would take to the track next taking the green flag at 8:50. It was a competitive race with Brian Shaw holding off all attempts by Will Krup to score the win at 9:07 with Tyler Weiss third, Adam Strickler fourth and Derek Groomer advancing from 13th to finish 5th.
Now it was time for the 100 lap Sumar Classic which had not been run since 2018 with Justin Grant the defending champion. The front row of Kody Swanson and CJ Leary brought the 27 car field to starter Tom Hansing's green flag at 9:30 as Brian Tyler was the 27th car using a provisional to join the field and in the process became the all time USAC Silver Crown starter making his 202nd career start in the division surpassing Dave Darland and Russ Gamester. Tyler would end up 22nd in the final rundown. Surprisingly CJ Leary in the Klatt #6 assumed the lead from Swanson and would pace the field for the first 45 laps of the race. The first 17 laps would be green until Tommy Nichols stopped in turn four to bring out the first caution. Caution laps would count for the first 75 laps of the 100 lap event. Leary would bound out front again on the restart with Swanson and Justin Grant in pursuit. Lap 22 would see Emerson Axsom, making his SC debut in the Nolen #20, a car his father had driven at one time, move into 14th after starting last when the Nolen car had problems firing and then continuing to run which was worked out before the field went green. Jerry Coons Jr. in the Bateman #55 was another man on the move advancing from 12th into the top five by lap 28 with sixteenth starting Brady Bacon in the Five Three entry moving to 7th on the backstretch on lap 29. A scary moment occurred on lap 33 when Shane Cockrum pulled to the work area on the homestretch with a fire in the cockpit area with the Chief already climbing out of the roll cage before the car came to a stop. Cockrum was OK after the flareup was extinguished. One lap later Grant found his way around Swanson for second as Axsom continued his march forward cracking the top ten on lap 35. Coons passed Buddy Kofoid also making his rookie appearance in the Lein #97 and running in the top five for fourth on the backstretch on lap 43. Grant caught and passed Leary for the lead in turn one on lap 45 as Kofoid was flying moving into second moments later. Leary began to slow noticeably on lap 47 as his right rear tire was deflating and he pulled to the work area where he lost two laps under caution. Axsom was ninth on lap 48 and Bacon was up to 5th at the same time.
The field took the halfway mark under caution with Grant leading Kofoid, Swanson and Logan Seavey in the Rice #22 with Bacon 5th. Bacon worked his way past Seavey for fourth going down the backstretch on lap 55 as the defending USAC sprint car champion was turning up the wick. Kofoid meanwhile was all over Grant for the lead and dove low in turn one and slid by Grant on lap 58 to assume the lead. The action was fast and the pace was furious as Kofoid sailed away from the pack behind. Coons motored by Grant for second moments later with Axsom and Bill Rose having a fine run from 16th to 6th having a fine battle for that spot. Axsom took it on lap 59 but Rose was not done and reclaimed it moments later. Axsom slipped back by on lap 64 and Rose returned the favor on lap 72. Coons was gaining on Kofoid as the leaders encountered lap traffic but a bobble off of turn two by Coons lost him the ground he had gained. Kofoid opened over a three second lead as the race moved into the 80's. It looked like a big upset was in the making as Kofoid continued to pace the field. Suddenly a bar broke on the right front of the Lein #97 with the shock working loose sending Kofoid hard into the turn two wall on lap 86 with the youngsters rolling over in the process. How suddenly the fortunes of a race can change. This would hand the lead over to Jerry Coons Jr. who had not won a Silver Crown race in 8 years with 14 laps to go. Coons was a rabbit on the restart and retained the lead as the laps clicked off. With 10 to go Grant was starting to reel in Coons and the race was on again. Grant made a move on lap 96 diving low in turn three and pulling alongside Coons but was unable to sustain the move. One lap later Kyle Robbins running seventh slowed on the backstretch bringing out the yellow which Coons did not want to see as it seemed Coons car was starting to drift high in turns one and two because of possible tire wear. On the lap 97 restart Coons got a good restart but Grant closed racing down the backstretch diving between the rail and Coons in turn three and sliding high in turn four with the lead in his hands. Grant opened up several car lengths on Coons who looked to be in trouble of losing the second position but closed the door on a Bacon move in turns one and two to retain second. The remaining three laps were spun off with Tom Hansing waving the double checkers at 10:26 with Justin Grant scoring back to back Sumar Classic wins four year apart. Coons would finish a disappointing second with Bacon coming home third, Seavey fourth and Axsom in his maiden voyage copping a fine fifth at the finish. Bill Rose would lead the second five across the line in a fine run in sixth with Swanson seventh, Carmen Perigo eighth, Terry Babb ninth after starting 22nd and CJ Leary rounding out the top ten.
It was a very good race run on a track surface that held up well considering a stiff wind was blowing all day from west to east at 15 to 25 mph which can play havoc on a racing surface it produced minimal dust and was somewhat choppy but that was due to all the rain the last couple of days. Good job to the new promoters and thanks for all the improvements and look forward to returning several more times this year to the Action Track.
That's it for this typical weekend with some local racing and a venture into Illinois on Saturday for some POWRi midget action. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Hopefully since it is now May it will start to warm up some!!! Comments, news and other tidbits can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you as much as you enjoy reading them. Take care and be safe out there.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bloomington USAC Run Comes Up Short
Friday, April 29 – All week long we monitored the weather for Bloomington and the prognosis did not look good. When we awoke on Friday the predictions had vastly changed for the better with a high of 9 per cent possible rain for Friday evening. So at 4 PM it was southbound on Rt. 231 with a full tank of gas in the Rogue down to Spencer. A left onto Rt. 46 past McCormick's State Park and into the Bloomington area for USAC National sprint car racing on the red clay high banks of Bloomington Speedway. A three division program was on tap for the evening with 35 USAC sprints joined by 13 Racesaver 305 winged sprints and 21 hornets for the night of racing action.
It was the Larry Rice Classic for the USAC boys tonight with time trials kicking off at 6:49. When it was all said and done at 7:09 Jake Swanson spun off the quickest time with a lap of 10.931 seconds around the ¼ mile oval. The USAC sprints would run four heats with Brady Short scratching for the evening leaving us with 34 cars. Kyle Shipley of Arizona in the Michael Dutcher #17GP collared the first heat win holding off Justin Grant, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall. Jake Swanson was forced over the first turn banking and restarted at the rear missing the transfer position by one at the finish. Shane Cottle in the Hodges #74 claimed heat two besting Chase Stockon, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon. Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #47 looked strong in heat three winning over Robert Ballou, Carson Short in the Epperson #2E (Tony Epperson painting the new fencing at Terre Haute) and Max Adams in the Gass #17G. The fourth and final heat fell to Brandon Morin in an impressive run beating Ricky Lewis in the Stensland/Haley #41, Kyle Cummins and Logan Seavey.
The Racesaver 305 sprint cars were next up with two heats for their 13 car field with Ethan Barrow passing John Paynter Jr. for the win with Ryan Tusing third. The second heat fell to Jordan Welch over Rod Henning and Blayne Ridgley. The USAC sprint car B main was called to the track next as a storm front had formed to the west and was moving in and was run before the first hornet heat. Shane Cockrum in the Wade/Amati #66 prevailed in this one fending off Zach Daum, Jake Swanson, Carson Garrett, Brayden Fox and Braxton Cummings. Tanner Thorson and Jadon Rogers would have to use provisionals to increase the starting field to 24.
One hornet heat would be run to allow the B main cars to prep for the main event and the hornets were not cooperative as several times they flew off the various corners and finally were waved off the track as the sprinters gathered in the chute to be pushed off for the 30 lap main event. The weather people had predicted 9 PM as the start of the rain and wouldn't you know it probably for the first time this year they were right!!! As the sprinters circled the track under yellow the rain began falling lightly and picked up in a next few minutes. The cars were sent to the pit area as the crowd headed toward the exit and their cars. After sitting in the Rogue for 30 minutes with the rain still coming down lightly the decision was made to postpone the features to a future as of yet undetermined date. It was a disappointment but we don't believe that there is anything else they could have done to have moved the show along any quicker. It is just one of those things where you cannot control mother nature and sometimes she wins and on other times we prevail as the show gets in. You will have this when you go racing no matter where it might be.
That's it for this segment and check back Monday as we look forward to attending the opener at the Action Track in Terre Haute where the new promotional team of Scott Ronk, Bernie Stuebgen and Reece O'Connor host their first race at a track where they have made many improvements to one of the most historic tracks in Indiana and also in the United States. In the meantime get out there in your area and support some good short track racing and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our column and hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Good Night Of Racing At Lincoln Park
Well, it's been quite a while since we have reported on any racing that we attended since February. We have been to two races in Arizona, one in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey in the interim but none of the racing involved sprint cars or midgets so no reports.
Adding to the woes was the fact my brother, Bob, had quadruple heart bypass surgery in late March and I traveled to New Jersey to take care of him. I spent nearly four weeks there before returning this Saturday just in time to unpack the luggage and load the canvas folding chairs into the Rogue and head south on Rt. 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville to attend the races at the Lincoln Park Speedway.
Saturday, April 23 – It was a joy to pass below the track on Route 40 and see the large concrete grandstands up on the hill in Putnamville as we pulled into the back road to proceed to our parking spot on the side of the hill with the cemetery in our rear view mirror. On tap tonight was a five division program consisting of wingless sprints (18), UMP modifieds (13), winged 305 sprints (15), super stocks (17) and bombers (17). The car count was lower than usual for LPS but that was due to the new competition of Paragon Speedway now running on the same night and paying $2000 to win the wingless sprints. Looks like the Spikers are going to have to up their game and put more money into the purses of all the divisions to draw some of the defectors back to Putnamville.
The high temperature (85) and the wind blowing all day long at 10 to 20 mph played havoc on the surface especially turn two where it was slimy and the track crew had a difficult time working it in causing a 45 minute delay in the start of the racing action. Brian Hayden's rough night began in hot laps as he was fast but caught the backstretch berm the wrong way and ending up going end over end two times before landing upside down on the track. He was OK after the wild ride and his crew went to work to repair the torn up sprinter.
The wingless sprints would kick off the action running two heats for their 18 on hand with Sebastopol, California's Geoff Ensign, the new pilot of the Burton #04 capturing heat one over Travis Berryhill, Tye Mihocko, the new shoe in the Paul #24P, and Alec Sipes. The second heat fell to Brent Beauchamp besting Brayden Fox, Brandon Spencer and Nic Harris. The UMP modifieds were next up for their two heats with Andy Sherley and Tyler Loughmiller winning the heats. Two heat races would be contested for the 305 sprinters with John Paynter Jr. scoring heat one over Keith Langley and Rod Henning. Hamersville, Ohio's Justin Clark took down heat two beating Jeff Wimmenauer and Roman Gephart. The 17 super stocks spun off three heats while the bombers had two competitive heats to round out the qualifying. No B mains were needed so it was right into the five feature events.
The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature was brought to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:07 by the front row of Travis Berryhill and Brent Beauchamp. Berryhill would jump into the early lead and pace the field until the backstretch of lap two when Geoff Ensign charged by to take the lead. Tye Mihocko who started fifth caught and passed Berryhill on lap six to take second and took up the chase of Ensign. Ensign and Mihocko locked up in an intense battle for the lead swapping the lead back and forth until the red waved on lap 14 when Brian Hayden who got the car repaired from his hot lap flip rolled his #2H in turn two ending his frustrating evening with more work to do at the shop. On the restart Mihocko grabbed the lead between turns three and four with Ensign battling back to regain the lead the next lap around. Mihocko returned the favor on lap 16 and looked like he might have this one in the bag. But Ensign had other plans and tracked down Mihocko taking the lead back on lap 20. Ensign was not to be denied over the remaining five laps and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:25 for his first win in Indiana to the delight of the good crowd on hand. Mihocko would bobble off turn four allowing Brent Beauchamp to slip under Tye to grab second at the line with Mihocko third, Alec Sipes in a good run to claim fourth and Travis Berryhill rounding out the top five.
The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda and produced a good race for the top spot with Tyler Loughmiller, the DePauw University student at nearby Greencastle, besting Rob Brickert and Will Bennett for the win.
The 20 lap 305 sprint car feature would take the green at exactly 10 with John Paynter Jr. taking full advantage of his first starting position blasting into the lead and opening up a good lead and even though there were four cautions each time Paynter pulled away on the restarts. Rod Henning charged from fifth to second at the finish but was later disqualified for a rules infraction and placed last with Justin Clark awarded second with Ethan Barrow who had mechanical problems in hot laps and started 15th and last in the feature was third with Ryan Tusing placing fourth and Jeff Wimmenauer rounding out the top five. It was 10:15 with two features to go so we decided to call it an evening and head back up the road satisfied with the three good feature events we had witnessed.
That's it for this report but check back next weekend where a three night racing weekend is on the docket. Hopefully the weather will cooperate as the month of April has been very unpredictable and everyone is ready for the warm weather to stick around. In the meantime plot your own calendars and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road. Take care and thanks for reading our efforts and hope that you continue to enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy writing them for you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Axsom Is The Real Deal With 2nd USAC Sprint Win At BRP
Saturday, February 19 – The last night of our Florida vacation race tour would be spent in the Ocala area before heading about and hour and twenty minutes north to position ourselves for a long 12 hour drive home on Sunday. The Bubba Raceway Park was hosting the USAC National sprint cars in night three of Winter Games XIII along with the UMP modifieds this year. Thirty eight sprint cars returned for the final night of the three race series at Bubba while twenty UMP modifieds joined them for the last evening. The format would be different tonight with no time trials for the sprints but instead the top five drivers based on points awarded the first two nights were automatically locked into the 35 lap main event, which was only the second time USAC sprints have run for 35 laps and technically it was the first time as the last one in May of 2006 at Anderson Speedway was shortened by rain. The five drivers locked into the feature event were Emerson Axsom, Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Chase Stockon and Kyle Cummins. The remaining 33 drivers and cars for tonight would run in three eight lap qualifiers with the top four moving on to the big dance and the qualifier winners joining the locked five in a fast dash with the finish determining the first four rows of the main event. The others would run a C main or a B main with the top five from the B main joining the back of the A main.
With that all explained and I hope no one is confused at this moment we will move forward into the actual program at hand. Shane Cottle who has given the Tim Hogue #39 some fine runs during the week with both sanctioning bodies took down qualifier #1 over Brady Short, Landon Simon and Jason McDougal. Qualifier #2 was claimed by Carson Short besting Brady Bacon, Shane Cockrum and Braxton Cummings who has surprised many in Florida with some good qualifying runs. Qualifier #3 was won by Jake Swanson over Alex Bright, Tanner Thorson and CJ Leary. The modifieds ran their three heats non-stop and the sprinters came back with their C main won by Josh Turner over Robert Bell, Jack Hoyer, the 16 year old micro & mini sprint grad from Frankfort, IN in one of the DCT-Crow/Bodine entries and Jeremy Kerzman. The next order of business was the six lap fast dash with the five locked in drivers and the three qualifier winners. What didn't make sense to me and others around us was why did all eight drivers participate in drawing for starting positions in the dash instead of the top five drawing for positions 1-5 and the qualifier winners drawing positions 6-8?? Seems that a couple of the teams that were locked in questioned this also on Twitter as it seems to me and the teams that the top five locked in should start in the top five positions as a reward for being the best over the previous two nights. Anyhow Kyle Cummins went on to win the dash over Chase Stockon, Carson Short, Emerson Axsom, Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Shane Cottle and Jake Swanson.
The B main was captured by Robert Ballou who has struggled in the last two nights flipping his primary car on Friday beating Logan Seavey, Jadon Rogers, Alex Bright and Matt Westfall. Allentown PA's Briggs Danner miss the big race by one position as he tried everything to find a way around one of the toughest drivers to pass, Matt Westfall, including riding his right front wheel up on the homestretch wall but unlike Charles Davis Jr. earlier in the B keeping it on all fours and continuing. Maybe the decision to not run on Friday because the team was penalized for not joining their qualifying group (by only 20 seconds) on time and loading their sprinter for the evening could have cost them in the long run as they would have started up further up in their qualifying race and might have made it earlier in the night. Going back to Davis he rode his right front tire up on the homestretch wall which turned him sideways and into a series of rolls ending up past the starter's stand but he climbed out quickly after the jolting ride.
Track prep was performed before the field was lined up with Southern Indiana's finest in Kyle Cummins and Chase Stockon bringing the 22 car field to starter Michael Heath's green flag at 10:28. Stockon jumped into the early lead over Cummins. The front two went side by side for several laps battling for the top spot. Finally Stockon edged ahead with Cummins and fourth starter, Emerson Axsom in his tire tracks. And behind the top three the battles raged with many positions contested with three wide racing throughout the field. Axsom looked for ways around Cummins and finally on lap eleven found the opening on the inside of turn two to grab second away from him. Tanner Thorson was eating up large amounts of real estate working his way from 14th into the top five around the halfway mark. Around lap twenty Axsom began to find the middle to his liking and edged closer to the high side riding Stockon who noticed the front of Axsom's machine in his view of vision and adjusted to the low side to protect his lead as the caution then waved when 8th and 9th running Robert Ballou and Jake Swanson banged wheels on the homestretch with Swanson suffering front end damage and ending his evening early. Swanson was not happy with Ballou after the incident and faked throwing his steering wheel at Ballou when he passed by. Swanson's racing may have ended early but his action did not as the two resumed their “discussion” in the pit area after the checkered had waved. An unconfirmed KO was the result of the “discussion” between the two with Ballou the victor. Might have been a payback in Ballou's mind when the two touched going three wide down the backstretch the previous night with Ballou taking the wild ride barrel rolling five times in the accident. Seems to be a good time for USAC to step in and have a real discussion with the two.
On the restart Stockon went back to the point with Axsom in hot pursuit. Axsom went to the top on lap twenty two with Stockon coming off the bottom to counter. This allowed Justin Grant and Tanner Thorson an opportunity to close on the front two. With nine to go Axsom found the bite on the inside of turns three and four and moved by Stockon to grab the lead. Thorson disposed of Grant for third a lap earlier and with eight to go dove low off turn four to motor into second and take up the chase of Axsom. With five to go Shane Cottle slowed to a stop and the field was regrouped. Axsom hit the loud pedal on the ensuing restart and blasted to a commanding lead leaving the field in his wake. Thorson tried to wheel him in but Axsom was determined to prove that Friday was not a fluke taking the checker at 10:48 besting Thorson with Stockon third after being challenged in the last two laps by Grant with the two rubbing wheels as they raced to the line with Stockon prevailing and Grant steaming after brushing the homestretch wall. Grant drove fast after the checker flew to pull alongside Stockon and swerved toward Chase to show his displeasure. Another instance of a long memory as in the fall of 2021 racing for the lead at Terre Haute on a restart Grant jacked up Stockon's rear end causing him to slide high in turn one allowing Grant to motor past and onto the win. Two famous quotes come to mind on this one and they are “Paybacks are a bitch” and “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword”. And while we are at it how about “If you dish it out, you got to be able to take it also”. Enough said!!! Brady Bacon finally had a decent run at Bubba in 2022 finishing fifth after starting tenth. His high watermark was the fine second he recorded in the Xtreme Outlaw sprint race on the final night at Volusia finishing second to T-Mez. The second five was led to the finish by Buddy Kofoid with Logan Seavey advancing from 19th to 7th with Robert Ballou from 18th to 8th, Carson Short ninth and Shane Cockrum rounding out the top ten.
The racing tonight was good and the track was about right in quiet the critics from afar.
That's it for a few weeks as Arizona for a short “baseball” vacation (short because we may not see much) before we picked it up again in early April. Until next time get the warm clothes out if you are planning to visit Lincoln this weekend (don't think it is going to happen) or sharpen the pencils to write in your 2022 schedule on the calendar. Remember as Jake Swanson said after using a slider on Saturday night to win his qualifier over a perturbed Thomas Meseraull, “Slide or Die”. Comments can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and in the meantime stay safe and keep warm. And thanks for reading our column and for the support you show us.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant's February Dominance At Bubba Continues With Friday Night Win
Friday, February 18 – Night two of the Winter Games for the USAC National Sprints would take place tonight at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. A stop at Ford's Garage in Celebration for lunch produced a fine meal of pulled port nachos, a large Ford's original burger and burnt end brisket melt for the two of us. The next order of business was to head north on the Florida Turnpike to Ocala area for Friday night under the lights at Bubba Raceway Park. Little did we know a long night was ahead of us. The surface was in better shape than the night before as the sprinters pushed off for time trials at 7:14. Just 16 cars into time trials it began to rain shutting down the activities as everyone in the stands headed for cover. It would be nearly a three hour rain delay that incurred before time trials commenced from the top at 10. This is another example for major racing groups to have a backup plan in place for a weather delay. It seems silly to me to have time trials at 10 PM. Maybe scratch time trials at this point and go to a heat only plan with a draw for starting positions and a passing point procedure to determine the top 16 to lock into the main event with another six taken from a B main. Just a thought. Anyhow time trials completed by 10:31 with Kunz driver, Buddy Kofoid, picking up his first career fast timer award to the tune of 14.100 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval.
The track was fast as the first of four heat races taking the top four directly to the A main went green at 10:56. Kyle Cummins was able to fend off Buddy Kofoid to win heat one with Logan Seavey third and Braxton Cummings putting it in the field for the first time. Brady Short wheeled the Edwards #61M to victory in heat two besting Brady Bacon, Steve Irwin and Carson Short. Tanner Thorson motored to the front in heat three to secure the win over Justin Grant, Alex Bright and Jason McDougal. The fourth heat would fall to Thomas Meseraull who's victory lane interview was out of line criticizing the track surface (don't know what they were suppose to do after a 3 hour rain delay) and wonder if Robert Ballou made the same statement would there have been any flack from USAC officials. Just asking!! Matt Westfall, Emerson Axsom and Chase Stockon trailed T-Mez. Heat racing for the sprints was completed by 11:23 with three heats for the 17 UMP modifieds on hand over by 11:37.
The sprint car C main was next in line with Alex Banales making a last lap pass of Jeremy Kerzman to win this one with Josh Turner and Jadon Rogers joining the top two to move into the B main. The B main turned into a wild affair as first Robert Ballou took a wild ride down the backstretch into turn three after a three wide battle for the lead with cars touching and Ballou rolling five times before coming to a stop right side up with Ballou quickly exiting the wrecked sprinter. He started to run across the infield with helmet in hand and many thought he was going to “talk” with one of the drivers involved in the incident but instead he was rushing to get back to the pit area to prepare his backup sprint for the 30 lap feature event as he would use a provisional to make his 400th career USAC National sprint car start. A four wheeler met him at the pit gate and wheeled him back to his pit stall to prepare the backup for the feature. We were not done flipping yet in this one as shortly thereafter Charles Davis Jr. got into the side of fellow Arizona driver, Kyle Shipley, sending him rolling several times in turn two with Mario Clouser also involved and rolling over also. Shipley visited Davis' car to discuss the incident before heading back to the pit area. Finally when things settled down it was CJ Leary taking the B main win over Jake Swanson, Shane Cottle who would make his 300th career USAC National sprint car start, Kory Schudy, Landon Simon and Shane Cockrum. All prelims were in the books by 12:37 and the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was next on the racing docket. It was a tick before 1 AM when the front row of Justin Grant and Carson Short brought the 23 car field to the green flag with Carson Short gaining the early edge. Short and Grant raced over the first two laps with Short holding the slight advantage. Lap three saw Grant motor low in turn two to take the lead away from Short. Short was not done yet as he regained the lead racing down the backstretch on lap four. Short bobbled in turn four allowing Grant the opportunity to go by Short into the top spot. These two drivers would pace the field over the first half of the contest until Short slowed on the homestretch on lap sixteen to bring out the caution. Short would go to the work area and return advancing back to eighth at the finish. Thursday's winner, Emerson Axsom, was now in second and in position to make it two in a row for the week as the green waved again. Fast timer, Buddy Kofoid, had other plans as he powered by Axsom for second in turn one on lap sixteen and took up the chase of Grant for the lead. Grant was up to the task and opened up a several car length as the race progressed. Lap twenty four saw Thomas Meseraull and Jason McDougal tangled in between turn ones and two while running seventh and eighth. T-Mez spun while McDougal slowed with a flat tire. As Meseraull sat against the outside wall Robert Ballou suffering though a tough night slid into Meseraull's sprinter with Ballou's car spinning around and contacting the wall also. The race restarted with Grant jumping back out front followed by Kofoid. With three to go CJ Leary lost power on the homestretch with Brady Bacon right behind and with no where to go Bacon smacked Leary in the rear end. The last restart saw Grant flawless going back to the lead and over the last three laps would easily hold off Kofoid for the win with Axsom third, Chase Stockon coming from 11th to 4th and Tanner Thorson from 9th to 5th. Rounding out the top ten were Kyle Cummins in sixth, Jake Swanson seventh, Carson Short rebounding to eighth, Logan Seavey ninth and Shane Cottle nailing down tenth with the checker waving at 1:23 with a UMP modified feature still to go.
Grant has now won three out of four races held at Bubba Raceway Park this year and has to be the favorite for Saturday nights big finale. This win for Grant was #29 of his USAC sprint career moving him into sole possession of 18th place on the all time list now ahead of some big names in USAC history, such as Don Branson, Levi Jones, JJ Yeley and AJ Foyt. The top five in points after the first two nights that are locked into the Saturday main event are as follows: Emerson Axsom, Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Chase Stockon and Kyle Cummins.
Check back on Monday for the final night report as we make our way back starting tonight after the races and hope to be home by Monday. Until then enjoy your racing on the different streams or get out to an indoor race or ice race in your area. Comments, news or stories can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the nice comments from many of our readers. Take care, be safe and stay warm.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Axsom Takes Career First USAC National Sprint Win At Bubba
Thursday, February 17 – Today was a glorious day of warm weather and plenty of sunshine with temperatures pushing 90 and by far the nicest day we have spent so far in the Sunshine State. The destination tonight was the Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida where the USAC National Sprint Car Series would be contesting their season opener but before we settled in at Bubba it was a stop at Sam's St. Johns Seafood House for a delicious meal with Dale O'Brien and Allan and Nancy Brown. From there we ventured over to the track and settled in for a night of racing joined by Pennsylvania residents Rich Watts and Bing Metz. It was the first time since we have been down here I did not have to wear a sweatshirt also.
On tap tonight were the USAC National sprints with a grand total of 43 sprint cars joining the UMP modifieds who brought 20 cars to the affair including David Reutimann and Kenny Wallace. Single car time trials for the sprint cars commenced at 6:52 and by 7:26 Justin Grant was being interviewed by Kristy Bemmes on the homestretch after setting the fast time ripping off a lap of 13.959 seconds around the 3/8 mile avocado shaped dirt oval. By 7:55 we were ready to go with the first of four sprint car heats with Justin Grant powering from sixth to capture the first heat win in impressive style over Shane Cottle, Tanner Thorson and Chase Stockon. Brady Bacon, the very consistent and defending USAC point champion scored the win in heat two over Buddy Kofoid, Emerson Axsom and Brady Short in the Edwards #61M. Robert Ballou looked strong in heat three winning this one over Charles Davis Jr., Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall. The fourth and final heat fell to Thomas Meseraull in the Chris Dyson #20M beating CJ Leary, Shane Cockrum in the Wade/Amati #66 and Brandon Mattox. Three UMP modified heats followed before the sprints returned for their C Main.
The top four from the C main would join the rear of the B main with Dustin Clark recording the win over Jadon Rogers, Steve Irwin and Alex Banales in the second Baldwin #5. The B main was next on the agenda with Kyle Cummins cashing in the win over Carson Short, Landon Simon, Mario Clouser, Jake Swanson and Wesley Smith with Logan Seavey coming one spot short of qualifying and used a provisional to join the field along with Jadon Rogers. At this point after good, close racing in the heats, C & B the track was rubbered up. Track maintenance was attempted at this point but it was to no avail as the track was too far gone so you knew the feature was not going to be that competitive.
At 10 PM the front row of Jason McDougal and Emerson Axsom brought the 24 car field to the green flag. Axsom raced side by side with McDougal into the first two turns and down the backstretch until taking the lead for good in turn three. Lap five saw Brady Bacon make a rare miscue sliding sideways in turn three while running fifth with sixth running Robert Ballou with no where to go plowing into his side straightening Bacon who never stopped but Ballou was not so fortunate. Three laps later Bacon again lost the handle and spun in turn four. The middle portion of the contest saw the caution and red wave another four times with the most serious incident being when Wesley Smith caught the backstretch wall on lap 13 and flipped several times ending up in turn three. After several minutes Smith climbed from the sprinter to the relief of the crowd. From this point forward it wasn't much of a race as it was a skill contest to conserve your tires and hit your marks as the field mostly went low to protect their position. Axsom continued to pace the field with McDougal and Meseraull riding right behind him. Buddy Kofoid was the exception to the rule as he began to steer the repaired Keith Kunz sprinter (from an earlier in the week practice session here) forward. The defending USAC National midget champ who is also making the full fledged run at the USAC National sprint car title in 2022 began to pick off cars left and right. Buddy was working on Kyle Cummins for fourth as the checkered flag waved at 10:47 with 17 year old Emerson Axsom scoring his first career USAC sprint car win in only his eighth career start. He almost won the fall race at Lawrenceburg last year leading with four to go when he blew a tire so it was redemption time tonight in Florida. Its been 19 years since a driver won his first USAC sprint car race in the season opener. The last was Aaron Pierce in 2003 and the 11th in USAC history. (Thanks for the stat Richie Murray).
McDougal rode home second in one of the KO Motorsports #5M with Meseraull third, Cummins fourth and Kofoid fifth. Fast timer, Justin Grant, started and finished sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Carson Short eighth, Logan Seavey ninth from 23rd and Mario Clouser rounding out the top ten. Hopefully the right amount of moisture can be applied to the surface for tonight without causing a delay to the start of the races.
That's it for this segment and check back tomorrow for night two of the Winter Games at Bubba Raceway Park and see who takes down the hardware in round two. In the meantime get prepared for your 2022 racing season as it rapidly approaches in other areas of this beautiful country and be safe and stay warm. Comments can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always thanks for reading our efforts.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Eliason Rebounds To Win All Star Jean Lynch Classic At East Bay
Tuesday, February 15 – Today it was off to the west coast of Florida and the second night of the All Star Circuit Of Champions sprint car series at the East Bay Raceway Park for the Jean Lynch Classic. But before arriving at East Bay a stop at Fred's in Plant City for their fine buffet featuring meat loaf as the daily special along with many other delicious entrees. Their strawberry shortcake is probably even better than Parksdale Farm Market.
We arrived around 2:30, tied our blanket down in the wooden grandstand and ventured back to the speedway office to sign in. Inside was Miss Jean, the namesake of the Classic, and we chatted and wished her a belated birthday as her birthday was a few days earlier.
Thirty seven All Star sprints were joined in the pit area by 13 mini sprints, a fine number for a filler class, to allow the sprints time to sort their cars out between heats and the B main and to not have down time or in broadcasting empty air time and keep the momentum and action going. Time trials were the first thing on the agenda for the All Star sprints commencing at 6:53 and wrapping up at 7:20. Danny Dietrich, the Pennsylvania runner, set fast time of 12.747 seconds for the evening. After a short break the first of four heat races for the sprints was taking the green flag at 7:44. Conner Morrell surprised the field by copping the first heat besting Dylan Westbrook, George Hobaugh, Cody Bova and Danny Smith in his Captain Jack Nowling inspired #66 in honor of the veteran car owner who passed away this past October. Anthony Macri made a daring last lap, last corner pass of Kerry Madsen to capture the heat win in heat two with Brent Marks third, Gio Scelzi fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. fifth. Heat three fell to winged newcomer, Chris Windom, outrunning Tyler Courtney, Aaron Reutzel, Dustin Gates and Danny Dietrich. The Law Firm, Parker Price-Miller, in a second McGhee #11 took down heat four beating Justin Peck, Wayne Johnson, Cory Eliason and Tim Shaffer. The heat races were fast and furious and spun off in good order. Two mini sprint heats followed won by Brian “Bubba” Hughes and Bruce Comer.
The sprint car dash was the next order of business with an eight car field with the finishing order determining the front four rows of the main event. A draw was made for starting spots and Cory Eliason took advantage of his front row starting position to capture the win over Parker Price-Miller, Brent Marks, Dylan Westbrook, Chris Windom, Danny Dietrich, Anthony Macri and Conner Morrell. The last qualifying event would be for the sprints with a 15 car field for the B main with the top four moving into the feature event. Brian Bell would nail down the win chased by Ryan Smith, Tanner Thorson and Max Stambaugh. All qualifying was in the books by 8:57 and we only had the two main events to run.
The 20 lap mini sprint feature was first up and took the green flag at 9 PM and would go non-stop in six minutes. Bubba Hughes took the lead from Bruce Comer right before the midpoint of the race and would lead the remainder of the distance outrunning Brandon Shaw and Doug Dyal to the finish. That set the stage for the 30 lap All Star sprint car Jean Lynch Classic with a $6000 payday on the line.
By 9:26 the front row of Cory Eliason and Parker Price-Miller brought the 24 car field to the green flag with Eliason bounding into the early lead. The first of only two cautions would wave on lap seven when Brian Bell slowed to a stop in turn two. On the restart Eliason went back to the point with fourth starting Dylan Westbrook, a young Canadian upstart who raced ASCS 360 sprints the past two years, in his shadow. Tyler Courtney, last night's winner, was making headway from his ninth starting position up to third by lap eight and closing on the leaders. Aaron Reutzel's evening came to an early ending when he slowed to a stop in turn three to bring out the last caution on lap fourteen. Eliason continued to lead on the restart as Anthony Macri slipped by Brent Marks to crack the top five. The race for fourth heated up with Price-Miller and Anthony Macri swapping sliders and positions over the next five laps or so. It was the best racing of the feature. Eliason was not to be denied on this evening flashing across the line at 9:41 coming back after flipping in turn three the evening before nailing down his eighth career All Star win over an impressive Dylan Westbrook who fended off Tyler Courtney the entire race with Courtney third, Price-Miller fourth and Macri rounding out the top five. Justin Peck came home sixth with Kerry Madsen seventh, Brent Marks fading to eighth with two impressive performances turned in by the non-wing boys with Tanner Thorson motoring from 23rd to 9th and Kevin Thomas Jr. coming from 18th to 10th.
It was a good feature go and the program was spun off in good order with everyone on the road home or to their hotels, motels or motor homes before 10 PM. Nice job, All Stars!!!
That's it for this installment and check back Friday for the story on night one of the USAC National Sprints from Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. In the meantime get your race calendars together and plot your races for 2022. Comments can reach us at email@example.com. Be good, stay safe and healthy and try to stay warm. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and continue to come back and check out our reports.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Triumphs In Inaugural Xtreme Outlaw Sprints At Volusia
Monday, February 14 - Happy Valentine's Day to our readers.
We write this column from a fan's perspective and always try to call it straight and not sugar coat things. The old saying that “You only get one chance to make a first impression” applies here and despite all the hoopla and buildup to the first race of the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Series the World Racing Group fell short of many people's expectations in their debut. First off when running a race you have to take into consideration the weather. The high on Monday reached 64 degrees and steadily dropped when the sun went down. The temperature before the start of the 25 lap feature (was suppose to be 30) was a bone chilling 39 degrees. To make people sit out in the cold for at least 4 ½ hours in such cold weather to me is a total disrespect to the race fan. You have to remember that the race fan is the one you have to please the most and tonight they failed in this respect. Ending the first of two feature events at almost 11 PM is not acceptable. To not be able to adjust your schedule for cold weather and to insist on running three sessions of hot laps for the DirtCar modifieds consisting of four different groups in between the events is not good. Especially when these cars are not running as part of the show on this cold evening. A suggestion to run one session during the program and run another session after the last feature might be a better option in the future. Don't be so rigid in your race schedule to not change it when the situation rises. And to cut the sprint car main event by five laps because you are running late is not an acceptable option either. Ask Justin Grant what he might have done with that extra five laps and the hoopla that could have been created if he made a big challenge to CJ Leary at the end. Another suggestion is to give the Xtreme Outlaw Series the same respect you give the WOO sprints and if you know the track surface is going to get black and hard run the entire wingless portion first as you did the week before when the WOO sprints were in town. Enough said on this subject. Let's move on to the actual racing.
On tap this evening was the first race of the newly formed Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car series and the UMP late models. A very good field of 37 sprint cars and 43 late models graced the pit areas. Time trials for the Xtreme sprint cars pushed off at 6:33 and were group qualifying with six sprint cars on the track at the same time racing around the ½ mile oval for three laps in the same groups they would race their heats against. The times from these groups were used to line up the heat races inverting the top four for each heat and qualifying points awarded in each heat (similar to what is used in ASCS & POWRi) with the top sixteen in points locked into the main event. The remaining six would come from the two Last Chance Showdowns and these drivers would start behind the top sixteen according to their finishes in the LCS's to make for a starting field of 22 cars. We like the format that was used. Robert Ballou set fast time with a time of 16.783 seconds around the half mile oval. When is the last time you saw Ballou set fast time?? It has been quite a spell. But Ballou is good on the big tracks. The last time the WOO sprints ran wingless at Volusia was back in 1981 with Steve Kinser setting the fast time at 16.555 seconds which held up after all those years.
The UMP late models would time trial three at a time and all time trials were completed by 7:15. The four Xtreme Outlaw sprint car heats would be first up with the green dropping on the first event at 7:34. Justin Grant would score the heat one win over Shane Cottle in the Tim Hogue #39 with Carson Short third and Mario Clouser fourth. Robert Ballou made a nifty early move to grab the lead and go onto win heat two over Brady Bacon in the Wedgewood #98, Charles Davis Jr. and Jake Swanson. The third heat was captured by a surprising Dustin Clark who has been inactive as of late but looked good in this one passing and beating Shane Cockrum in the Wade/Amati Racing #66, Mitchel Moles in a second Giles #13M and Logan Seavey. The fourth and final heat went to CJ Leary in the Michael #77M turning back Alex Bright, Dennis Gile and Chad Boespflug in the Benic #2B.
Four late model heats would follow with hot lap sessions for the DirtCar modifieds mixed in before we returned to the sprint car Last Chance Showdowns. Thomas Meseraull who has struggled so far down here in Florida powered the Dyson #20M to victory in LCS#1 by a country mile over Briggs Danner and Chad Boespflug. The second LCS went to Ohio's Matt Westfall in the Marshall #33M over Wesley Smith and Brandon Mattox. The 22 car sprint car field was now set but first more modified hot laps and a break to spray water on the blackened track and attempt to use the sheep's foot to chop up the surface without too much success.
The scheduled 30 lap Xtreme Outlaw Sprint feature was cut to 25 laps at this point probably because of the lateness of the evening with the initial green flag waving at 10:30. Third starting CJ Leary shot to the lead on lap two passing first starting Carson Short shortly before the red flag flew when Brady Bacon took a nasty ride into the turn one catch fence after climbing over the wheel of Dennis Gile who dropped a drive shaft and slowed dramatically in front of Bacon who had no where to go. Brady was OK after the wild ride but the Wedgewood #98 was done for the series with a bent frame. After starting fifth Justin Grant went backwards to seventh at the start and rode around fifth as he adjusted the shocks until he felt comfortable and began to move forward picking off cars in the latter stages of the race. He picked off Short for second on lap twenty one but ran out of time and laps as he closed on Leary. That extra five laps that was cut could have made for an exciting finish but we will never know!! Grant ended up second with Short third, Chase Stockon in a fine run advancing from 15th to 4th at the finish with Robert Ballou rounding out the top five with the checkered waving at 10:57. The second five was led across the line by Charles Davis Jr. with Alex Bright seventh, Jake Swanson eighth after starting 16th, Dustin Clark ninth and Shane Cottle tenth.
We opted to get out of the cold and skip the 30 lap late model feature which went non-stop with Ricky Thornton Jr. winning.
The first Xtreme Outlaw Sprint race was a disappointment to us and hopefully going forward they will realize that you need to prepare a totally different surface for non-wing racing than you do for the other WRG divisions as the followers of midwest non-wing sprints and midgets will not support their events on less than ideal track surfaces.
Until tomorrow when we venture back to East Bay Raceway Park to take in the second night of the All Star Circuit of Champion sprint cars be safe and try to keep warm wherever you are. Comments can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next in our travels on a typical weekend or weekday in some cases!!
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Beats The Rain & The Field For Second Straight At Bubba
Saturday, February 12 – We started out the day with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's but as we arrived at Bubba Raceway Park the weather forecast had taken a turn for the worst. Rain had crept into the forecast with a line of storms rolling across the northern part of the state with some forecasts of 70 to 80 percent during the early evening. We sat it out for a while until hot laps began and with the blankets already in place from last night did not have to worry about securing a seat.
At 6:43 time trials were pushed off and by 7:01 Cannon McIntosh was sitting on the homestretch being interviewed after setting the fast time of the evening at 14.424 seconds around the 3/8 mile avacado shaped dirt oval. Drops of rain began to hit our sweatshirts as the first heat took the green flag at 7:23. Entering turn one on the first lap Brenham Crouch jumped the left front of Kevin Thomas Jr.'s mount and went into a series of rolls totally at least eight to ten times before landing back on the track surface with Corey Joyner sliding in and rolling over also. Crouch was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion while Joyner was OK. Two laps into the event the rain picked up enough to bring the yellow out as the midgets circled the oval. A few minutes later the decision was made to send the midgets to the pit area while the push trucks and other vehicles were called to the track to run in the surface and try to keep it race able. Around thirty minutes later the midgets were called back to the track with each of the three heats getting track time to adjust to the “new” surface after natural watering from above. Another fifteen minutes later the first heat was restarted with Bryant Wiedeman scoring the heat win over Kevin Thomas Jr., Mitchel Moles, Kaylee Bryson and Hayden Reinbold. Chase McDermand came back from a last night flip to register the heat two win besting Logan Seavey, Emerson Axsom, Buddy Kofoid and Jade Avedisian. Rookie Jace Park won his first USAC midget heat race capturing heat three over Ethan Mitchell, Thomas Meseraull, Justin Grant and Dominic Gorden.
The rain situation continued to hang over our heads literally as USAC officials scurried to push along the program as the two heats for the 10 three quarter modifieds were spun off. By 9 PM the 30 lap USAC midget feature was ready to rumble with the front row of Jade Avedisian and Justin Grant bringing the 21 car field to the green flag. Avedisian jumped to the early lead with Grant in pursuit. Lap 3 saw eighth running Thomas Meseraull drift high in turn three and catch the wall causing him to flip over several times before coming to a stop. During the delay the rain returned causing the race to be delayed again. During the stoppage Meseraull's RMS crew was able to repair the damaged midget with T-Mez returning to the tail of the field on the restart. On the restart Avedisian bounded back out front with Grant chasing. The track was super fast making passing at a premium as the cars raced around the 3/8 mile oval. Jade held sway through the first half of the race until encountering lap traffic on lap 19. Avedisian held the middle lane while Grant raced high entering turn one and dove low at that point with Grant and Avedisian touching wheels with Grant surging into the lead. Buddy Kofoid began to pressure Avedisian and with ten to go went low in turns three and four to pull even with Jade as they raced side by side down the homestretch. Kofoid edged ahead entering turn one and secured the runner up spot and took up the chase of Grant. With six to go exiting turn four Meseraull's rear axle snapped with the right rear wheel going underneath spinning him with the axle digging in and causing T-Mez to flip for the second time in the race. The right rear rolled the entire length of the homestretch almost reaching the rear bumper of leader Grant in turn one.
On the restart Grant assumed the lead with Kofoid nipping at him sticking his nose alongside entering the corners on laps 25-27 with Grant edging ahead each time. At 9:47 the double checkers waved on Justin Grant for the second straight evening chased across the line by Kofoid, Avedisian, Emerson Axsom and Mitchel Moles. Grant after celebrating on top of his roll cage went down to Avedisian's mount to congratulate her on her fine run and gave praise to the young lady in his victory lane speech. A real nice gesture by a class act!! Tanner Thorson led the second five across the line followed by Bryant Wiedeman in seventh bettering his career high USAC finish by one with Taylor Reimer eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. ninth and Jace Park rounding out the top ten. We were lucky to get this one in and thankful that we did.
Earlier in the day I was gutted when it was reported that Kevin Olson, two time USAC National Midget champion and five time Badger midget champion, was killed in a car crash on Friday night in Janesville, WI by an alleged drunk driver and his companion, Nancy, is in critical condition so I ask for prayers for her recovery. There are all types of irony in this story as Kevin died in a car crash the same as his buddy, Stan Fox, did and it happened in Stan's old town of Janesville. Also the alleged drunk driver was from Sun Prairie which is home to the Angell Park Speedway where both Kevin and Stan raced many a time. Olson was a truly colorful character who you couldn't help but laugh when seeing or hearing about his many escapades. Who else would claim to be a light bulb repairman or a shoe string re-tipper. A personal KO story was when Pat and I traveled to Venture for Turkey Night in 2016 and we encountered Kevin standing outside the front gate selling his book dressed in a trench coat. Upon stopping to say hello he asked and opened one side of his trench coat to see if we wanted to buy any of the Monica Lewinsky jewelry collection. When replying no he opened the other side and revealed about a dozen wrist watches and asked if we needed a Rolex!!! He was truly one of a kind and will sorely be missed in the racing world. If you want to lift up your spirits just Google Kevin Olson light bulb repair interview and watch the clip from 1987 where Larry Nuber interviews him on his new enterprise. But KO was not just a colorful character he was a great racer winning seven championships as mentioned above. He also won the prestigious Fireman's Nationals at Angell Park five times. KO also won Turkey Night at Ascot back in 1983 along with the 500 lap race at Indianapolis Speedrome in 1988. His last USAC midget win came at Terre Haute in 1996 winning the famous Hut 100. His last race triumph came at Angell Park in a Badger midget race in 2019 at the age of 68. RIP KO and thanks for the wonderful and funny memories.
That's it for now but check back Tuesday as Volusia and the Xtreme sprint cars are on the dance card Monday. And in the meantime start working on your hit list for must see races in 2022. Stay warm and be safe out there. Comments can reach us at email@example.com. And last but not least thanks for the kind comments and reading our efforts and letting us know you enjoy them. We try to give you a fan view of the different race tracks we visit and hope that it will inspire you to visit some of the great short tracks in the United States.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Becomes First USAC Midget Winner Of 2022 At Bubba
Saturday, February 11 – The traveling crew of Allan and Nancy Brown along with Pat and I left the timeshare in Celebration at 9:30 AM to make the 2 ½ hour driver to Starke, Florida to catch the INEX legend cars and bandaleros running on the 1.8 mile, 14 turn road course at the Florida International Rally Motorsports (FIRM). He had a bit of trouble figuring how to enter the grounds as you had to push a button on a keypad at the entrance gate to enter the facility's grounds. This was a new track for us all and we congregated underneath a canopy trailer located off the final turn of the course and allowed us to see about half of the course. Feature racing was suppose to start at 12:30 but the first race did not begin until 2:30. The Young Lions legend cars ran six laps for their eight car field before two bandoleer classes ran their four lap features. The 11 semi-pro legend cars took the green flag at 3:20 and put on a good race with the top five running close together. By close to 4 PM the checkered waved and we bid farewell to trackchaser, Brian Dolphy, and headed south toward Ocala and first a stop at Sam's St. John's Seafood where we dined on a fine meal of various kinds of seafood delights.
Saturday, February 11 – After dinner we headed about 2 miles down the road to Bubba Raceway Park, the avocado shaped dirt oval, where the USAC National Midgets (24) were running night one of two in their season opener along with the ¾ scale modifieds (10). Our good friend, Dale O'Brien, now a resident of Florida after spending many years living in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area arrived earlier and placed down blankets to reserve seats for us all.
Time trials were the first order of duty commencing at 7:10 with Kevin Thomas Jr. driving one of Dave Mac's/Dalby #08's look like he would score his fourth straight midget fast time at Bubba Raceway Park but a late run by Tanner Thorson found him knocking Thomas from the top rung and recording his 24th career fast time tying him for 17th on the all-time list with Gene Hartley (thanks Richie Murray). The three USAC midget heats would follow with the first one taking the green flag at 7:55. The surface was in good shape and the midgets were flying around the odd shaped oval with 15 year old Jade Avedision in one of the Chad Boat entries outdistancing Buddy Kofoid, Thomas Meserall, Cannon McIntosh and Tanner Thorson to score the heat one win. Logan Seavey in the Malloy #25 guided his missile to victory in heat two besting Dominic Gorden making his USAC midget debut, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brenham Crouch and Kaylee Bryson. The final heat of the night fell to Bryant Wiedeman in one of the Keith Kunz rides beating Justin Grant, Emerson Axsom, Ethan Mitchell and Jace Park to the finish. Chase McDermand took a nasty flip in turn four on the last lap of heat three bouncing off the catch fence before returning to the track surface. McDermand was OK after the wild ride but his midget was not quite so. All qualifying was competed by 8:29 including the ¾ modifieds with the midget B main scrapped and all 23 capable starters were added to the field.
Cannon McIntosh and Justin Grant brought the 23 car field to the green flag at 8:47 with McIntosh assuming the early lead with fourth starting Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #39BC in tow dropping Grant to third. Grant recovered quickly diving low in turn one and pulling alongside McIntosh racing side by side with him down the backstretch and taking the lead in turn three as the top five raced furiously in the opening laps. Grant led to lap 15 as he began to enter lap traffic with his lead shrinking. Axsom pulled to the rear bumper of Grant as the heavy lap traffic caused much congestion. Grant made a nifty move past another first time USAC starter, Frank Beck of Florida, with Axsom slowed momentarily. Tanner Thorson closed on Axsom but also encountered Beck and nudged him in the rear to move him over. With three to go Thorson challenged Axsom for second in turn two and his momentum carried him past Axsom for second in turn three. Racing to the checkered flag Grant crossed the line at 8:58 with Thorson coming across second but Axsom had a lap car tag his rear bumper in turn three sending him into the wall and a series of flips ending his fine run. Brenham Crouch raced from 11th to 3rd, a career high, with Thomas Meseraull 4th from 13th with Buddy Kofoid rounding out the top five. McIntosh led the second five to the finish with Logan Seavey home seventh, Bryant Wiedeman, the 2021 POWRi champion eighth, Ethan Mitchell ninth and Mitchel Moles tenth.
This win was Grant's tenth USAC National Midget triumph and his fourth combined USAC win (midgets and sprints) at Bubba tying him with Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney for most wins at the 3/8 mile oval. Grant also became the 13th different driver to win an USAC midget opener on more than one occasion. Maybe more importantly in three of the last four years the opening night winner has gone on to win the point championship which could bode well for the Ione, California driver. Having the feature finish before 9 PM was welcomed by all who attended.
Check back tomorrow for night two of the USAC National Midgets from Bubba Raceway Park and in the meantime get out your calendars and write in your race dates and get out there and enjoy the great sport of auto racing in your area when the openers happen. Comments can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where a typical weekend leads us in 2022. Take care and stay warm.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Welcome To Not So Sunny & Warm Florida
Well, we arrived in not so sunny and warm Florida on Sunday, January 30th and would be staying in the Lake City, Florida area for the next week. The first two nights we spent at the Bubba Raceway Park watching Bubba perform his race track preparation magic (not) and taking in the Lucas Oil Late Models. Native New Yorker, Tim McCreadie claimed night one with the white hot Devin Moran, two wins and 4 seconds, in his first six starts claiming night two.
We already suffered one cold out on the way through Georgia before moving onto All-Tech Raceway in Lake City for another three nights of Lucas Oil Late Model racing. Brandon Sheppard won night one at All-Tech with night two falling to the rain before Saturday's finale seeing recent birthday boy, Jimmy Owens, celebrating his 50th birthday in victory lane at the end of the 50 lapper. The Lucas Oil Late Model organization is the most finely tuned race organization bar none in the country producing good racing in a fan friendly program usually spinning their programs off in a two to three hour format. This is especially important for the paying fans sitting out in the cold to watch the races. In fact on the final night at All-Tech the late model feature was scheduled to start at 9 PM for live MAVTV but they posted on their Twitter account that incoming bad weather was coming so they were pushing up the starting time of the feature to 8 PM. By 8:46 the 50 lap late model feature was in the books and as we headed about 5 miles north on I-75 we ran into rain. Good job gentlemen!!!
Monday, February 7 – We all always write about the Lucas Oil Late Models when they visit the Clay By The Bay at East Bay Raceway Park. Even if you are an open wheel fan you should come check out the late models before the tracks closes after 2024. Seventy late models towed into East Bay for night one of the Winternationals for the LOLM's. Time trials three at a time kicked off the night's activity at 6:10 and concluded at 6:58 with “Big Sexy” Brandon Overton clocking the fastest time with a time of 14.990 seconds. Next up would be six heats with the top three moving directly to the 30 lap main event. Two B mains would follow starting 24 & 23 cars respectfully with only two more to move onto the feature race. The last chance to get in on the evening was the Strawberry Dash with West Virginia's Matt Cosner grabbing the last qualifying position. Two provisionals would round out the 28 car starting field but tonight was a little longer than the normal program at East Bay as an hour of track prep was performed between the dash and the feature event but unfortunately it did little to help the surface which went black and slick.
By 10:05 the green flag would drop on the main event with Brandon Overton powering into the early lead. Hudson O'Neal and Devin Moran trailed dropping second starter Dennis Erb Jr. back to fourth. Moran went to second and began to chase Overton. Meanwhile Dennis Erb regained his mojo moving back from fifth to second on lap 11. Erb charged by Overton for the lead in turn two on lap 19 as the crowd roared. Overton started to backpedal and was back to fifth but found something late on the top side motored back to second on lap 25 and began to challenge Erb for the lead. One lap later he caught the turn two wall and Overton's night was over early. Erb would fend off the challengers over the last four laps taking the final checkered at 10:27 for his first win at East Bay in seven years and also his seventh career win here and ninth career Lucas Oil Late Model win. Dennis Erb Jr. led Hudson O'Neal to the finish with Tim McCreadie climbing from eleventh to third with Shane Clanton advancing from 19th to fourth and Stormy Scott rounding out the top five.
Tuesday, February 8 – It was a rainy day and night in Central Florida and both East Bay and Volusia Speedway Park threw in the towel early as the rain was not going to let up at all. Hopefully Wednesday will be dry and sunny to dry out the saturated grounds at both facilities.
Wednesday, February 9 – Today the weather was beautiful with temperatures rising to 68 degrees and sunny. Hello Florida!!! It was off to East Bay Raceway Park for night two of the Wrisco Industries Winternationals where another 70 cars greeted us with about six or more of them different ones than on Monday. One notable no show on day two was Jimmy Owens. Tom Schmeh, former director of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Allan & Nancy Brown joined us on this evening. The standard format for three at a time time trials would be followed by six heat races qualifying three each with three B mains tonight taking the top two to the main event. Two provisionals would tag the tail of the field for the feature event. Time trials commenced at 6:33 and were in the books by 7:07 with Brandon Sheppard setting fast time at 14.980 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. Heat winners were Brandon Sheppard, Brandon Overton, Ashton Winger, Devin Moran, Earl Pearson Jr. and Tim McCreadie and the heats were finished by 8:00. The three B mains followed before we were ready for the big 40 lap main event.
The front row of Brandon Sheppard & Devin Moran brought the 26 car field to the green flag at 9:09. Sheppard would lead the first seven laps of the feature before Brandon Overton caught and passed him in lap traffic. Overton led until Sheppard regained the lead again on lap 13. Sheppard would retain the lead for the remainder of the race but the race behind him was furious with Ashton Winger, Tyler Erb and Tim McCreadie among others swapping positions. Hudson O'Neal and Kyle Bronson ventured to the high side and started to move forward passing many cars. Bronson had went to the pits early and returned so he charged from 26th to 4th at the finish. Ashton Winger continued to impress with another strong run to score his career high of second in Lucas Oil competition with Tyler Erb third, Bronson fourth and Ricky Thornton Jr. with another steady run for fifth. All activity was completed at 9:38 on a night that turned cool (two sweatshirt night) with the temperatures dropping to the low 50's and damp by the end of the racing.
Thursday, February 10 - Our final night with the Lucas Oil Late Models at East Bay started out sunny and temperatures rising into the low 70's dropping down to the mid 50's during the course of the evening. Festivities kicked off at 6:36 with time trials and by 7:06 Brandon Overton was sitting on the homestretch after setting the fast time of 14.394 seconds. It was right into the six heat races for the growing 75 car field with the first heat going to Max Blair after Garrett Smith was DQ'd for the evening for an illegal spoiler after winning. Earl Pearson Jr., Brian Shirley, Brandon Overton, Ashton Winger and Tim McCreadie nailed down the other heat wins. Three B mains followed and all qualifying was completed by 8:45. We needed to take a 15 minute break until MAVTV went live at 9 PM. At the drop of the green flag at 9:24 Brandon Overton went to the point from his second starting position over third starting Earl Pearson Jr. Overton would proceed to lead the first half of the race. On a lap 21 restart Brian Shirley came out of nowhere to pass both Overton and Pearson to grab the lead with Brandon Sheppard following through for second. One lap later Sheppard marched into the lead from eighth and would not be headed though Pearson was in his shadow the entire remaining distance even sticking his nose underneath a few times but was not able to grab the lead. Some late runs using the high side by Kyle Bronson from 16th, Devin Moran from 9th and Hudson O'Neal from 17th made things interesting but when the checkered waved at 9:52 it was Sheppard home first for the second night in a row besting Pearson, Bronson, Moran and O'Neal. Tyler Erb deserves kudos motoring from 25th to 7th at the finish.
Three good nights at East Bay come to an end as we move northward back to Bubba Raceway Park for night one for the USAC National Midgets at the Ocala oval shaped like an avocado.
Until tomorrow start plotting your road trips for the 2022 season and keep warm if you are up north having to battle with the snow and cold. Any correspondence can reach us at email@example.com and as always thanks for continuing to read our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bell Gets Belated Birthday Gift With Win At Southern Illinois Center
Saturday, December 18 – The day started out early with an 8 AM Eastern time rise and a 9 AM departure for our four hour trip to southwest Illinois and the small town of DuQuoin. Why DuQuoin? Well, the USAC midgets were running a non-point race at the Southern Illinois Center and we wanted to be there to witness our last show of 2021. It would be #107 for me on the year and #106 for Pat. Before we made our way over to the Southern Illinois Center we visited downtown DuQuoin to eat at Alongi's, an Italian restaurant staple in DuQuoin since 1933. We had never eaten there and went on the recommendation of fellow Indiana Open Wheel member, Russell “Abe” Abrams aka mc/rider, who mentioned it in a pre-race post on IOW. Well, we are glad we dined there as Alongi's delivered the best Italian food we have tasted in years with reasonable prices to boot. And we ran into Abe and some of his traveling buddies while dining at Alongi's and Abe was kind enough to invite us to sit with his group as he already had blankets down and had extra room for us. Thanks Abe for the traditional Hoosier hospitality!!!
After stuffing our stomachs at Alongi's we ventured over to the grounds of the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds where the Southern Illinois Center is located and secured a good parking spot hanging out in the car for a while until venturing in before 3 PM. Warmups for the six division show kicked off promptly at 3 and the first USAC midget heat of five for the Jason Leffler Memorial event took the green flag at 5:05. All the midget heats were good and competitive with Chad Boespflug back behind the wheel of a non-wing machine piloted the Jody Rosenboom #14X to victory in heat one over Christopher Bell behind the wheel of an RMS Motorsports entry numbered #7XT and Chase Howard. Heat two fell to California's Mitchel Moles hitting the loud petal in one of Dave McIntosh's #08M who have now combined forces with Dalby Motorsports. NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year, Chase Briscoe, finished second with Derek Doerr capturing third. Cannon McIntosh brought his dad's #08 home first in heat three on his 19th birthday defeating Chett Gehrke and Jake Neuman. Max Adams brought another of the black #37's home first in heat four besting Cory Eliason in one of two Rudeen mounts and Patrick Lawson. The fifth and final heat was claimed by Chance Crum in the second Rudeen steed beating Sam Johnson and Wyoming's Mark Chisholm. Thirty six cars with drivers from 14 different states competed in the heat races with qualifiers to follow.
The other five divisions would run features only except for the non-wing outlaw 600's which would also contest a B main which seemed to take forever to spin off. The other division's features would be weaved in between the midget action which led to the situation of trying to stuff 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag scenario. Three of the features only took an average of 7 minutes to run but the non-winged outlaws took an unbearable 23 minutes to complete their 25 lap feature with eight cautions slowing the action. The problem was with all the six divisions pounding the dirt surface numerous track prep sessions were needed with the one between the non-winged outlaws and the midget feature taking nearly an hour to perform the track prep. In all the five features on the under card except one (junior sprints – winner from second) the winner came from first starting position. The first feature for the restricted class was 15 laps in distance with Steven Doss holding off the challenges of Collin Shain and Kameron Sneed for the win. The junior sprints would be taken by young Eli Holden and Daniel Robinson doing triple duty notched the 20 lap A class win over Aaron Skinner and Hunter Pruitt advancing the most positions of any of the five micro divisions coming forward from ninth to third at the finish.
Then it was back to the four qualifiers for the midgets using the passing point format to determine the starting field for the 50 lap main event. Cannon McIntosh would capture the first qualifier from fifth beating Chase Briscoe who started sixth and Terry Babb. Qualifier #2 fell to Christopher Bell wheeling from fifth to defeat fourth starting Chance Crum and Jeff Schindler, a mini sprint graduate. Zach Daum nailed down qualifier #3 from second over Rylan Gray from fourth and Sam Johnson from fifth. The fourth qualifier went to sprint car driver, Jordan Kiner, at the keyboard of a second Briscoe entry, over sixth starting Mitchel Moles and Greg Mitchell, an Ohio sprint car driver.
It was back to the micro features with the outlaw winged micros going 20 laps with James Scott dominating this one besting Chevy Boyer and Jake Cheatham. The 25 lap non-winged outlaws would be next up and they did not perform any better than their B main with eight cautions and 23 minutes of pain even though the finish was the best of the all evening with Brad Thompson edging Matt Veatch from fifth by inches after Veatch worked Thompson hard to try to pass him for most of the contest. Daniel Robinson rounded out the podium.
Now it was finally time for the 50 lap USAC midget Jason Leffler Memorial with Chase Briscoe and Cannon McIntosh bringing the 20 car field to the green flag at 10:51. McIntosh powered into the early lead and would pace the field for the first ten laps. Bell slipped by Briscoe on the green to take second and take up the chase of another birthday boy. McIntosh's birthday was today and Bell's was a couple of days earlier. Lap traffic came into play at lap 10 and Bell was able to use it to his advantage to take the lead in turn three on lap 13. Chase Briscoe caught and passed McIntosh for second on lap 16 using the high side as Briscoe was running a strong race. Briscoe, McIntosh and the two Rudeen drivers, Cory Eliason and Chance Crum were duking it out behind Bell. Lap 18 saw Eliason loop his midget in turn three taking him out of the hunt. A seven car tangle in turn one on lap 19 brought out the caution again. Jake Neuman lost the handle in turn four on lap 22 to bring the action again. On the restart Bell gets a good jump and powers away over Briscoe. Neuman loops it in turn two on lap 26 for the second time to bring out another caution. One lap later Briscoe running second at the time spins in turn three by himself and takes any chance away of winning this one. Bell again assumes the lead on the restart with McIntosh in tow. The longest stretch of green flag racing was accomplished during laps 30 through 44 where Bell stretched his lead to over a second over McIntosh. Lap 44 saw the eighth and final caution appear when Rylan Gray running the race of his life in fourth lost the handle all by himself with Zach Daum caught up in the mishap while running fifth. McIntosh would get one more chance to challenge Bell for the lead but Bell was up to the task and pulled away by several car lengths over the final six laps. The double checkers would wave on Bell at 11:22 making him the eighth different winner in eight Leffler Memorials with McIntosh crossing the line second, Chance Crum turning in a fine performance to place third with ninth starting Sam Johnson completing a strong run taking fourth with Mitchel Moles rounding out the top five. Jordan Kinser would lead the second five placing sixth after starting thirteenth with Chad Boespflug seventh, Daum coming back for eighth, Chett Gehrke ninth and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top ten. It would be Christopher Bell's first USAC midget win in over three years and netted the Oklahoma native a cool $8000 in the process, not a bad birthday present to himself.
It was a very long day and night of racing and with the hour time difference now with us being in Central time it was actually 12:22 on our body clocks. The 40 minute drive up to Mount Vernon found us arriving at around 1 AM Eastern time. In the future if they want to run this type of show in December they should run the micro portion completely on Friday and just run the midgets on Saturday. You know you ran too long when a fourth of your crowd exits the arena before the main event and the prospects of them returning the next time are slim. I'm sorry to say but this late show could negatively affect the Lauren Stewart promoted USAC midget program scheduled for March of 2022 at Southern Illinois Center even though she only has a total of two divisions booked for that show.
That's the final effort for 2021 and the next race could either be from Florida or possibly a mid-January sprint car ice race from Michigan if they are able to get enough ice to safely compete on and the weather is good enough for us to make the long haul north.
We would like to wish everyone who reads this column a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year with plenty of races in your future. Until next time be safe and stay warm. News, comments and any other tidbits of information can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary & McDougal Triumph At Fall Festival Finale At Gas City
Friday, October 22 – Friday was a pretty miserable day in Crawfordsville with a misty rain prevailing over the area the entire day before we left for Gas City in the late afternoon. Trans versing the back roads of Indiana in our trip to Gas City the weather was about the same for the majority of our trip with misty rain prompting the intermediate wipers with a few minutes of full wiper action during the two hour venture. Even in Fairmount, the home of James Dean, only about 15 miles south of Gas City the mist was still in the air. Jumping on I-69 for the last 10 miles of the trip the mist let up and upon turning into the entrance of the Gas City I-69 Speedway the grounds were dry.
We love Gas City and the racing here and are appreciative of the fine job that promoter, Jerry Gappens Jr., has done revitalizing racing here but there are two things that he needs to watch out for or his crowds could dwindle in the future. The first of these two things are his posted starting times as we traveled to Gas City seven times in 2021 and we don't remember them ever having started at the posted starting time. This may seem trivial to some but Jerry and others need to remember that not everyone attending Gas City are within 20 or 30 minutes of the race track. We travel two hours one way to attend Gas City and like a good portion of the crowd that attends Gas City we are getting older. It is tougher every time if we leave the races at 11 PM to not arrive home until 1 AM on a Friday/Saturday trip. We don't know if racing at 7:30 means hot laps at 7:30 but hot laps are not racing so either state hot laps starting at 7:15 and racing to follow. Don't post racing at 7:30 and don't start your first heat race at 8 PM consistently!!! A good thing is that they always run the main class the wingless sprint cars first but there are some of us who like to see some of the other classes run before we depart for the evening. That leads to the second problem which is the event creep that has invaded Gas City. What we mean by event creep is the increase of the number of divisions running weekly there and we implore Mr. Gappens not to become another of the many back gate promoters in racing today and try to limit the number of divisions to three during a normal Friday night and no more than four for some other nights during the season.
Tonight was another instance of starting late (after 8 PM) on a shaky night weather wise and four divisions to run with car counts of 37 wingless sprints, 27 Wisconsin WingLESS crate sprints, 23 non-wing micros and 21 USAC regional midgets in the pit area waiting to take their turn qualifying. The mist pushed north and during the heat racing for the wingless sprints and crate sprints the mist could be seen in the illumination of the track lights on the homestretch. It let up for a while but returned during the second micro heat (the last division to run heats) at 9:30 and the cars were waved off and we were in a rain delay. The mist turned heavy and by 10 PM management decided to pull the plug and reschedule the two sprint car classes for 3:30 PM starting with the three B mains and then the two sprint car features. It was a shame for the midgets and micros as they would not return for Saturday's action as the UMP modifieds, street stocks and hornets were scheduled to join the two sprint car classes for Saturday night.
Heat winners on Friday before the postponement in the wingless 410 sprints were Brayden Fox, Isaac Chapple in the Slinkard #51, Mario Clouser and Shane Cockrum with Kyle Shipley flipping in turn four in heat one and Jake Swanson rolling lightly and restarting in the third heat. The Wisconsin WingLESS crate sprint heat wins went to Jake Kouba, Clayton Rossmann and Natalie Klemko.
Saturday Afternoon, October 23 – The forecast for the day was much better and we traveled over to Ivanhoe's in nearby Upland for lunch and the heralded eatery did not disappoint with huge salads and tasty burgers and fries. They are known mostly for their huge selection of ice cream sundaes and shakes and my banana strawberry one was great with chunks of strawberries and slices of banana throughout the mixture. It was the highlight of the day.
Again with the time factor, the 3:30 start came and went with the first 410 wingless B main taking the green at 3:55. With the posted starting time of the evening show scheduled for 6 you knew that was never going to happen. Maybe posting a more realistic 2 PM start for the completion of the afternoon show would have brought them closer to the 6 PM Saturday night start instead of the 7:34 program start that occurred.
Braydon Cromwell outran Steve Irwin in the first 410 wingless B main with Jake Swanson capturing the second B main over Emerson Axsom. Ryan Marshall, the point leader with the Wisconsin WingLESS sprints, took down their B main over Ralph Johnson, Bryce Andrews, Michael Summers, Chance Giskowski and Lance Thompson.
By 4:31 it was feature time for the 410 wingless sprints with Shane Cockrum and Brayden Fox the 20 car field to the green flag. Cockrum would go to the early lead but the caution would wave on lap one when Mario Clouser slid off of turn four. On the restart Cockrum assumed the lead but CJ Leary who started fifth in the Gray Auto #81 took the lead on the backstretch on lap two. Cockrum was not done yet as he battled Leary for the top spot taking it back at the line to start lap four. Robert Ballou was on the move from his sixteenth starting position up to eighth by lap eight while two laps later Anton Hernandez lost the handle in the second Gray Auto #81 and spun in turn two. Cockum went to the point on the restart in the Paul #24P with the field in tow. Ballou raced into sixth on lap thirteen as he continued his march forward. The caution waved again on lap sixteen when Ryan Thomas slid over the turn four banking to a halt. One lap later Thomas duplicated his move to bring out another caution. Cockrum was still out front with Leary applying pressure for the lead. Entering turn two on lap nineteen Leary attempted a slide job on Cockrum though not touching he forced Cockrum over the banking in turn two when Shane dropping back to fourth as Leary took the lead. Jadon Rogers and Scotty Weir slipped by Cockrum into second and third. Lap twenty saw Fox catch the homestretch fence and rolled over climbing out quickly. On the restart Cockrum passed Weir to take third but Weir came back on lap twenty two to regain the third position. Shortly thereafter Rogers running second at the time slid off the edge of turn four, caught the wall and rolled over ending his night prematurely. Leary led on the restart with Weir and Cockrum trailing. Coming for the white flag off turn four Cockrum passed Weir for second but ran out of time to challenge Leary for first. The checkered waved at 5:01 with Leary taking his second straight win in the #81 with Cockrum second, Weir third, Jason McDougal fourth and Steve Irwin across the line fifth after tangling with Ballou racing to the line with Ballou turning backwards and ending up 15th as his transponder never crossed the line but common sense should have prevailed as he slid across the line in sixth.
The 25 lap Wisconsin WingLESS sprint car feature was the last item of the afternoon session taking the green flag at 5:11. There really was not much to report here as Jake Kouba stormed from third to the lead and lead the entire distance as the cars went huggy pole with anyone venturing up higher losing ground. On the last lap Clayton Rossmann tried to rout Kouba off the bottom but Kouba held his turf and crossed the line first at 5:21 followed by Rossman, Allen Hafford from seventh, Natalie Klemko and Greg Alt from ninth.
Saturday Evening, October 23 – The car counts for the evening program were 38 for the 410 wingless sprinters, 28 for the Wisconsin WingLESS sprints, 20 for the UMP modifieds, 31 for the street stocks and 6 for the hornets. The first heat of the evening commenced at 7:34 featuring the 410 wingless sprints.
Heat one fell to Scotty Weir besting Shane Cockrum, Emerson Axsom and Tyler Hewitt behind the key board of the Paul Hazen #57. Nathan Crane hit a tire in turn two and rolled over in heat one. Heat two saw a nasty incident involving Anthony D'Alessio and Jadon Rogers. D'Alessio had led the majority of the event until Robert Ballou passed him late in the race. As D'Alessio raced to the checkered flag off turn four he slid over the turn four banking losing second to Cole Bodine and third to Jake Swanson. As he attempted to return to the racing surface he clipped Jadon Rogers near the flag stand with Rogers crossing the line fourth but turning sideways and rolling several times toward turn one. D'Alessio also turned sideways past the starter's stand and went into a series of rolls and flips taking out the turn one traffic light before ending up outside of turn one just past the fencing. D'Alessio was taken to the hospital awake and his Twitter the next day showed a swollen and blackened left eye and another tweet said he had a concussion, bruised lungs, a crack in his spine and had to keep his eye closed and iced. After a short delay the third heat went off without a hitch with Mario Clouser beating Matt Westfall, Zack Pretorius and Jack Hoyer. The fourth and final sprint car heat was captured by Jason McDougal over Wesley Smith invading from Missouri, CJ Leary and Dustin Ingle. Three heats were needed for the WingLESS sprints with Ryan Zielski, Derek Crane and Tim Cox winning.
The 410 wingless sprint B mains fell to Ryan Thomas over Ricky Lewis in B one and Isaac Chapple over Paul Dues in B two. Jimmy Sivia scored the WingLESS B main. A mist returned for a period of time tonight adding worry to an already long racing program.
The first of five feature events with the 410 wingless sprints taking center stage went green at 10:52 with Jason McDougal scooting to the early lead from third on the start. McDougal would lead the first two laps until Mario Clouser powered by on the outside of turn one to grab the lead and the two would run closely together in a good battle until lap seven when Ryan Thomas spun off his favorite turn of the day (turn four) to bring out the first caution. On the restart Clouser retained the lead and racing hard in turn one on lap nine McDougal slid up into Clouser banging wheels with Clouser spinning off turn one bringing out the caution as he went to the work area but did not return. McDougal was at the point on the restart with Robert Ballou sitting in second. CJ Leary was the man on the move advancing from 12th to 5th on lap twelve and passed Matt Westfall and Shane Cockrum going from fifth to third on lap 13. Two laps later Isaac Chapple stopped outside of turn four to bring out the caution. McDougal would lead on the restart with Ballou and Leary in tow. Lap seventeen saw Leary sneak by Ballou for second on lap seventeen but Ballou took the positions back one lap later. Cockrum re-passed Leary off turn four for third on lap twenty one and used the same move one lap later to dispose of Ballou for second. Weir slipped by Ballou one lap later for third as Cockrum closed the gap on McDougal. The laps and time ran out as Cockrum raced off turn four with the checkers waving falling about a car length short of pulling off the win. McDougal unlike Leary in feature #1 apologized for getting into Clouser in turn one as the crowd respected his explanation and gave him a cheer. The finish at 11:09 was McDougal, Cockrum, Weir (the 2021 Gas City point champ), Ballou and Leary rounding out the top five.
We wanted to see the UMP modified feature but with the time already after 11 we passed and missed seeing Little 500 winner, Tyler Roahrig, win his first race on dirt in only his third time on this type of surface. Pat monitored the results on Race Monitor with this one ending at 11:46 and the final race with the hornet winner posted on Twitter at 12:20. Much too late on a cool fall night.
That's it for a while as our next race may not be until mid-November so in the meantime get out there and support your local short track or go on the road and take in a bucket list track. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Messeraull & Grant Score At Tri-State During The Harvest Cup
Saturday, October 9 – It was a unseasonably warm fall day with temperatures in the middle 80's with no rain in the forecast so that was the best part. We left early to take our time driving down to Haubstadt for the final race of the 2021 season at Tom & Loris Helfrich's well manicured Tri-State Speedway where The Harvest Cup was the main attraction this evening. A triple-header of MSCS sprints (38), USAC midgets (29) and MMSA mini sprints (40) would take to the high banked ¼ mile dirt oval tonight with the sprints vying for $5000 to win. The MSCS organization does not run normal time trials but instead times the hot laps by groups with the top four inverting for their heat races. Also the four heat winners do a pill invert to determine the top four starting positions in the main event. Overall fast time out of the four group sessions was rookie Carson Garrett out of Colorado who also was selected as the top rookie of the year with the group. Next up were the USAC midgets for their single car time trials which began at 6:08 and were completed by 6:26 with Tanner Thorson continuing his fall blitz setting fast time with a new track record of 13.226 seconds around the quarter mile bullring.
The MSCS sprint cars would contest their heats first with Daison Pursley in one of five KO Motorsports entries looking impressive in only about his third sprint car run capturing heat one besting Kendall Ruble, Critter Malone and Emerson Axsom. Heat two fell to Kevin Thomas Jr. outrunning Jason McDougal, Aric Gentry and Carson Garrett. Home area favorite Chase Stockon nailed down the heat three win beating rival Kyle Cummins, Robert Ballou and Tayte Williamson. On the initial start of heat three Ballou and Williamson ran side by side into turn two where Williamson slide into the side of Ballou causing Ballou to roll twice. The car was turned over & Ballou went to the work area and returned with elbows up and placed his car in the field for the feature. The rolling continued in heat four when Donny Brackett got sideways on the backstretch with Stephen Schnapf having no where to go but up and over Brackett rolling two times in the process. Justin Grant went on to win heat four over Kent Schmidt, Stan Beadles and Jake Swanson. The USAC sprints would run three heats with the top five moving onward into the 30 lap main event. Buddy Kofoid took top honors in heat one beating Chris Windom, Daison Pursley, Tanner Thorson and Emerson Axsom. Heat two went to Thomas Meseraull who set a new track record for 10 laps at Tri-State in a time of 2:17.42 which broke the 10 year old record also set by Meseraull. T-Mez beat Kevin Thomas Jr., Justin Grant, Chance Crum and Bryant Wiedeman. The third and final heat fell to Ethan Mitchell turning back Kaylee Bryson, Cannon McIntosh, Tanner Thorson and Logan Seavey.
The MSCS C main would run next before the four heats for the MMSA mini sprints with Jadon Rogers scoring the win from seventh with Stephen Schnapf, Harley Burns and Jeff Pritchett trailing with the foursome moving to the rear of the B main. Sam Scott surprised the crowd by winning the sprint car B main after Brady Short tangled with a lap car and spun in turn three late in the race. Cole Bodine, Zach Daum and Jadon Rogers joined Scott at the back of the starting field for the 30 lap A main. The USAC midgets still had a B main to run to add the final eight cars to their 22 car starting field. Jace Park in his first run in an USAC midget behind the wheel of one of Chad Boat's potent machines won the B over Kyle Cummins, Brenham Crouch, Carson Garrett, Jake Neuman, Sam Johnson and Haubstadt resident, Tyler Rust, also making his first start and making his first USAC national event. Johnson and Rust can thank Stephen Schnapf and Shane Cottle who pounded on each other until turn three with just two to go when Cottle decided to drive into the left side of Schnapf causing Schnapf to flip and Cottle slid into the turn three wall and tipped over ending both their nights prematurely. Cottle is a hard runner but sometimes his temper gets the best of him and this was one of those occurrences.
The next race of the evening after two MMSA B mains would be the 30 lap MSCS feature with the front row of Justin Grant and Chase Stockon bringing the 21 car field (Brady Short added as provisional) to the green flag. Grant jumped into the early lead with fourth starting Daison Pursley powering by Stockon into second. The top two ran nose to tail until lap ten when Jake Swanson got into the homestretch wall and rolled over bringing out the red. On the restart Grant continued to lead with Pursley right there looking for a way around. Stockon, Jason McDougal and Kevin Thomas Jr. duked it out for positions three through five. The laps started to tick off as the front runners ran in the same order until lap twenty two when seventh and eighth runners, Kent Schmidt and Emerson Axsom, got together off turn four and slid along the homestretch wall. On the restart Grant led with Pursley sticking his nose underneath looking to steal the lead. One lap later Kyle Cummins who had worked his way back into the top ten after an early lap skirmish had someone run over him on the homestretch sending him into the wall and out of the race. Grant continued to pace the field on the restart with Pursley and McDougal in hot pursuit On the white flag lap Critter Malone got hard into the homestretch wall while running seventh and flipped ending his good run. Robert Ballou was moving forward from his 11th starting position and slipped by Stockon to crack the top five on the last lap as Grant raced under the checkered winning over Pursley with McDougal third, Thomas fourth and Ballou fifth. Chase Stockon finished sixth with Jadon Rogers advancing from 20th to 7th, Aric Gentry a good run in eighth, Kendall Ruble ninth and Emerson Axsom rounding out the top ten.
We still had two features to run and the 30 lap USAC National midget race was next with the front row of Daison Pursley and Kevin Thomas Jr. bringing the 22 car field to Tom Hansing's green flag. Thomas surged from the outside to take the early lead over Pursley and Buddy Kofoid. Thomas led through the first 13 laps while Kofoid, Cannon McIntosh and Thomas Meseraull hooked up in a duel for third through fifth. McIntosh and Kofoid exchanged sliders in turns three and four for two consecutive laps with McIntosh taking third in four and Kofoid back in third in turn two on laps 12 and 13. Lap 14 saw McIntosh dive low in turn four trying to pass Kofoid but Meseraull got a good run and dove to the inside of McIntosh. This caused McIntosh to react with a wheel turn to the right and into Kofoid who caught the homestretch wall and rolled over several times. Kofoid was set back on his wheels and proceeded to the work area which he returned from the pits and ultimately drove back to ninth but it cost him valuable ground in the season long points race. On the restart Thomas led with McIntosh second but Pursley and Meseraull quickly passed McIntosh to move to the podium positions. On lap 21 the race came to a grinding halt as Ethan Mitchell flipped his midget between turns three and four to bring out the red with Mitchell OK after the tumble. Meseraull got by Pursley on the restart and took up the chase of Thomas. On lap 23 T-Mez made his first move for the lead off turn four but banged wheels with Thomas and sliding back and forth before retaining control. Lap 25 saw Meseraull drive by Thomas in turn two using the inside to take the lead. Over the remaining five laps Meseraull ran lower and Thomas went to the high side trying to retake the lead. Justin Grant who started 17th made a late challenge on Thomas but fell short at the finish at 11:22 with Meseraull taking his fourth win of 2021 and sixth all-time win. Pursley settled for fourth with Chris Windom, the point leader by 13 now heading west, came home fifth after starting 14th. Kyle Cummins was sixth, Logan Seavey seventh, Bryant Wiedeman eighth after starting 20th, Kofoid ninth and Tanner Thorson tenth.
Since we had almost a three hour drive home and an one hour time change to our disadvantage we rolled up the blankets and headed for the exits arriving back in Crawfordsville by 3:10 AM. Just another typical weekend!!!
That's it for a few weeks as we have two trips planned and no open wheel racing on the horizon. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area before winter sets in and the outdoor season is just a memory. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always be safe and watch out for the other guy. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thomas Jr. Takes Third Fall Nationals At Lawrenceburg
Saturday, October 2 – We ventured down to the Madison/Cross Plains area during the late afternoon to catch an IXCR UTV race at The John Vincent before driving the 40 minutes over to Lawrenceburg to attend the USAC National sprint car Midwest final race at the Lawrenceburg Speedway. We arrived at 7:15 and had already missed time trials and the first two sprint car heats. We entered behind the grandstands and found a seat toward turn four in time to witness the final USAC sprint car heat.
To fill you in briefly Tanner Thorson set the fast time for the 30 sprint cars on hand for the second straight evening with a time of 13.441 seconds around the high banked 3/8 mile dirt oval known as the Burg. The sprint cars would run three heats with five moving directly to the 30 lap feature event while the UMP modifieds also ran three heats for their field. Chase Stockon won heat one in the sprints besting Thomas Meseraull, Jadon Rogers, Tanner Thorson and Logan Seavey. Heat two saw CJ Leary and Brady Bacon tangling in turns one and two while battling for fifth with reports of Bacon taking a nasty looking flip. Bacon would return with a backup car and make the feature coming from the tail to qualify through the B main. Chris Windom secured the heat two win over Robert Ballou, Emerson Axsom, JJ Hughes and CJ Leary. The third sprint heat was captured by Max Adams tonight behind the wheel of the Epperson #2E fending off Justin Grant, Justin Owen, Saban Bibent and Kevin Thomas Jr. The 12 lap semi or B main had some heavy hitters in it with guys like Tye Mihocko, Shane Cottle, Jake Swanson, Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal, Scotty Weir and Dallas Hewitt among the 15 starters vying for 7 tickets to the big dance. Swanson ran away from the field in this one with Brandon Mattox nailing down second, Brady Bacon from 15th to 3rd in a super run, Jason McDougal fourth, Ryan Thomas fifth, Dallas Hewitt sixth and Shane Cottle seventh and showing his displeasure with Thomas by tapping his rear nerf bar after the checkered several times after almost turning turtle when the two got together with a few laps to go.
For the second night in a row the program was moved along at a swift clip with the 30 lap $10,000 to win Fall Nationals taking the initial green flag at 8:20, just an hour and twenty minutes after start time. Emerson Axsom bounded off the outside of the front row and took off into the lead where he paced the field for the first 12 laps by a comfortable margin. The first of only two cautions would then appear as Chris Windom running inside the top five entered turn one and jumped the right rear tire of JJ Hughes almost flipping but somehow returning to Earth and continuing. Hughes right rear went down quickly slowing him in an instant in turn one with eighth running Robert Ballou (up from 15th) missing the slowed Hughes but contacting the outside wall ending both driver's nights prematurely. Under the caution fifth running CJ Leary developed a flat right rear tire and retreated to the work area and was able to return and worked his way back to tenth at the finish. On the restart Axsom stormed back out front chased by Thomas. The battle raged behind these two with Logan Seavey, Chris Windom, Tanner Thorson and Brady Bacon jockeying for positions inside the top five. Axsom was seeking his first USAC National sprint car triumph and looked to be in control until disaster struck as he exited turn four on lap 26 when his right rear tire went flat flapping off the rim and ending his bid to add his name to the list of first time winners in USAC National sprint car history. This would hand the lead over to KTJ and he hit the loud pedal on the restart and scooted out front chased by Windom and Thorson. Thomas raced into turn one on the final lap and missed his mark and lost time and momentum as he moved into turn two. This allowed Windom to close the gap and racing down the backstretch he pulled to the tail tank of Thomas setting up for one last slider entering turn three. Windom executed the slider to perfection in turn three sliding past Thomas in the middle of the turn but Thomas was ready for the move and turned the wheel to the left for the crossover and exiting turn four he regained the lead as the pair raced to the double checkers. Thomas crossed the line first by a little over a car length margin with Windom settling for second with Thorson third, Bacon advancing from 11th to 4th and Jake Swanson motoring from 10th to 5th at the finish at 8:39. Justin Grant paced the second five across the line with Seavey seventh, Max Adams eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and CJ Leary tenth. Thomas would become the first three time winner of the Fall Nationals and take home the big check, both figuratively and literally, scoring his eighth USAC sprint win of 2021 and his 35th career win tying him for 11th on the all time list with Jon Stanbrough and Rich Vogler as he advances up the win list totals. We decided to use the early finish as a chance to make the 2 ½ hour trek back to Crawfordsville in an earlier time frame and even with a gas and pizza stop at Casey's we still arrived back home by 11:30.
That's it for this column but check back next Sunday to see where we ended up on a typical weekend. Comments, thoughts, news or any other items of interest can reach us at email@example.com. In the meantime make those fall race trip plans and get out there and see some good short track racing wherever you may end up and have fun and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Windom Wins Eighth USAC Sprint Race At Terre Haute
Friday, October 1st – Tonight at the Terre Haute Action Track it was a night to celebrate the career and life of Jim Hurtubise as the 22nd Jim Hurtubise Classic was on the docket with the USAC sprint cars (24) and the IMCA 305 sprint cars (16) racing on the big half mile located on the Vigo County Fairgrounds. What the night really ended up celebrating was the dominance of Canton, IL's Chris Windom at Terre Haute as he captured his eighth career USAC National Sprint Car victory here tying Gary Bettenhausen and Jack Hewitt for the most all-time wins at this historic dirt oval. Here is how the night unfolded.
On a glorious fall day with temperatures in the mid 80's with low humidity we set off from Crawfordsville for our 1 ½ hour trek south to the Terre Haute Action Track for the fifth time in 2021 to watch USAC sprint cars and IMCA 305 winged sprint cars tackle the historic half mile of the track located in the city of Terre Haute. We arrived around 5:30 and it being Friday the crowd was a later arriving one as many had worked on this nice Friday and gathered their blankets and seat cushions after working and headed to Terre Haute for this evening's racing. By race time a good sized crowd was on hand to witness the final race of 2021 at Terre Haute honoring Jim Hurtubise on the evening. We had a good conversation with friends, Don and Burleigh Skidmore, before racing began and my back pleaded with me to sit down after mowing a good portion of the church's grass that afternoon. We settled in and prepared for the night of racing when another good friend, Max Niemann, came by to say hello and chat for a spell.
Now it was time to kick off the night of racing with time trials for the 24 USAC sprint cars on hand with the first one being pushed off from the turn four chute and taking the green flag at 6:47. When it was said and done at 7:09 Tanner Thorson was being interviewed on the homestretch by Kristy Bemmes after setting his third fast time of the year with a lap of 19.377 seconds around the ½ mile dirt oval. The 16 IMCA 305 sprint cars on hand would hot lap next before the USAC sprint cars returned to contest their three heats with the top five moving directly into the 30 lap Jim Hurtubise Classic later in the evening. Heat one went to a determined Max Adams in the family car holding off Robert Ballou to score the heat win with CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Jadon Rogers trailing. It was good to see Max back and running strong after being burned in a sprinter at Gas City earlier this season. Chris Windom would nail down heat two after charging from fifth to win over Tye Mihocko who tried to make it the second straight race a #5 would win. Mario Clouser, Chase Stockon and Harley Burns joined the feature field out of this one. The third and final heat was won by Kevin Thomas Jr. in a strong run besting Shane Cottle, Jake Swanson, Jason McDougal and Brady Bacon. The 16 IMCA 305 sprints would run two heats with everyone moving into their 15 lap main event with Rod Henning and Jeff Wimmenauer prevailing. At this point it was announced that the USAC B main would be scratched and a twenty four car field would start the 30 lap feature after the 305 sprints ran their 15 lap feature event.
The IMCA 305 sprint cars took the green flag at 8:40 with Rod Henning taking the early lead. Henning looked like he would pace the entire 15 laps until with just a few laps to go the power plant on the #22H went sour and he pulled to the pit lane on the homestretch while leading and turned the lead over to young Alex Nalon, the great grandson of legendary Duke Nalon, the midget, sprint and Indy car veteran, who went on to lead the remainder of the race taking the checkered flag at 8:45 besting Jeff Wimmenauer, Bradley Sterrett, John Paynter Jr. and Alfred Galedridge in a good run for the 305 boys.
The front row of Robert Ballou and Jake Swanson brought the 24 car field to the green flag at 9:03 with Ballou taking the lead entering turn one. Swanson drew even down the backstretch and through turns three and four edging Ballou at the line to lead lap one. Chris Windom who started third used the low side to work his way by Ballou for second off of turns three and four on lap three and went to work to try to track down Swanson for the lead. Brady Bacon was up to fourth by lap four with Kevin Thomas Jr. taking over fifth on lap six in turn one. One lap later Tanner Thorson moved by Thomas to take over fifth. Swanson continued to pace the field entering lap traffic on lap nine causing his lead to shrink with Windom able to close the gap as the pair picked their way through the lap traffic. Windom made his first run at Swanson entering turn one on lap twelve showing his nose to Swanson but Swanson pulled back in front. Swanson bobbled on the cushion on lap seventeen in turn two and Windom edged slightly ahead but Swanson zoomed off turn two and retained the lead. The next lap Windom used a slider cutting in front of the nose of Swanson to wrestle the lead away as the pair hit the backstretch on lap eighteen. Lap nineteen saw Swanson lose valuable ground as he jumped the cushion in turn two with Windom pulling out to a comfortable lead. Windom's lead increased to over three seconds over the remaining twelve laps as Windom crossed underneath the double checkers at 9:13 in a non-stop time of 10:31.97 seconds breaking a 23 year old track record set by Cary Faas by 25 seconds. Windom's second win of 2021 (both coming at Terre Haute) was also is fifth Hurtubise Classic triumph giving him the most wins in this race and his 30th lifetime USAC National win tying him with Tyler Courtney on the all-time list for sixteenth. Jake Swanson would finish second again and he stated in the podium interview he is tired of losing as he searches for his first USAC National sprint car win. Robert Ballou would finish third with Brady Bacon fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Tanner Thorson, Logan Seavey, CJ Leary, Shane Cottle and Chase Stockon in this well run night of racing with an early finish.
Tomorrow is the last Midwest appearance for the USAC National sprint cars traveling over to Lawrenceburg Speedway where the weather is looking like it could play a big factor for Saturday evening. That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow to see if we get the Lawrenceburg run in or not. Until next time get out there and take in some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. And most of all thanks for reading our efforts.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Clouser Wins The Battle, Hopkins Wins The War At Lincoln Park
Saturday, September 25 – Tonight was the last night of racing in 2021 for the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana and Steve Kimmel, the truck driver from Arizona, let us know he would be in town so we saved him a space in the top row to place his lounge chair to enjoy the racing at LPS. It was the rescheduled King of the Non-Wings event which was rained out previously. Every sprint in attendance would get a chance to run a feature event and they turned out in full force, 39 strong to participate in this race. Also on the line were the point championships in all divisions with only 9 points separating Brayden Fox and defending champion, AJ Hopkins, in the sprint car standings. Hopkins had demolished his Burton #04 sprint the week previous at Bloomington and that ride would not be available but Ohio's Jaime Paul offered up his top notch sprinter, the #24P, for Hopkins to drive as his regular and backup drivers, Shane Cockrum and Tye Mihocko, were at Eldora Speedway competing. Each division was lined up by hot lap qualifying sessions with the top four times inverted for each heat. Joining the 39 sprint cars on the evening were 15 UMP modifieds, 20 super stocks and 24 bombers plus the always awesome fireworks display by Circle City Pyrotechnics for added entertainment on the final night of racing.
The sprint cars would contest five heats with the top three moving directly into the 30 lap feature event with the rest going into two B mains. Indiana State University student, Harley Burns, captured heat one holding off AJ Hopkins and Alec Sipes for the win. Indiana Wesleyan student, Zack Pretorius, scored the heat two win besting Braydon Cromwell and Ben Knight. Illinois' Mario Clouser, the 2021 WAR sprint car champion, won heat three over Gabriel Gilbert and Carson Garrett from deep in the field. Heat four was taken by Jesse Vermillion who has improved vastly after taking his show on the road and running with BOSS sprints this year. He defeated Andy Bradley and Brayden Fox in this one. Kyle Shipley from Phoenix, Arizona continues to improve taking heat five over Travis Berryhill and Pat Giddens. Jake Leitzman and Jimmy Hayden would take the two UMP modified heats run. Only the sprints and the bombers would need B mains with the sprints running two of them with the top three to move into the main event. Brandon Spencer would snag B main one over Nate McMillin and the veteran, Kent Christian, who raced for the 40th year at Lincoln Park in 2021.
The second B main fell to Mitchell Davis of Illinois besting Blake Vermillion and Cody Williams. Eddie Vancil also from Illinois rolled his sprinter between turns three and four during the second B main without injury. After the bomber B main the wonderful fireworks display occurred with the crowd enjoying the colorful and loud fireworks.
After the fireworks it was feature time with the sprint cars first up which is the custom at LPS with the front row of Harley Burns and Zack Pretorius bringing the 21 car starting field to Brian Hodde's green flag to start the race at 9:55. Burns would power out front and pace the field for the first ten laps as the college student looked strong looking for his first career win. Mario Clouser was lurking behind him nipping at his tail tank finally passing the young gun on the homestretch as the pair raced to the line to start lap 11. Over the next two laps Clouser and Burns swapped the lead numerous times before Clouser wrestled the lead away from young Burns. Meanwhile Pretorius, Kyle Shipley and AJ Hopkins were locked up in a battle for third through fifth with Hopkins finally breaking up the battle by passing the other two and solidly taking third. Brayden Fox was on the march moving from his 14th starting position up to 6th and pulling within three spots of Hopkins. Fox's fine run went out the window on lap 15 when he clipped the inner tractor tire in turn three and spun his sprinter taking him out of the point championship run. Fox continued but did not gain many spots over the remainder of the race and ended up 14th. Hopkins was able to pass Burns for second on lap nineteen and took up the chase of Clouser. Hopkins edged close several times but Clouser was up to the challenge and raced across the finish line at 10:11 for the big win with Hopkins second securing his second straight point title with Ben Knight turning in a fine performance moving from 12th to 3rd at the end with Burns coming across fourth and a great run by Mitchell Davis charging from 17th to 5th at the finish.
The UMP modifieds would run 20 laps in their final race of 2021 at LPS with Jimmy Hayden and Jake Leitzman leading the field to Brian Hodde's green flag with Hayden soaring out front. Hayden was on a rail this evening and was not to be stopped as he led the entire 20 laps for his first win at LPS in seven years beating out 2021 modified point champion, Jake Leitzman, and Brian Hayden. Will Bennett and Cody Wright would round out the top five in this one which ended at 10:29. Brian Hayden announced on his Facebook page that he and his teammate, Ivan Glotzbach, would be moving into the non-wing sprint cars in 2022. Hayden had previously run sprints but Glotzbach who will only be in his second year of competition having never run any kind of race car prior to this year will move up with him. It should be interesting to watch Glotzbach especially in 2022 in his rookie campaign in the sprint cars to see how he progressed during the year. We decided to call it a night as the air was cool and damp and you could see your breath as you breathed. It was a good year at Lincoln Park, which we attended eight times in 2021, and is the closest track to our house in Crawfordsville. Only Kokomo with 10 visits did we witness more racing at in 2021.
That's it for this segment but check back next Saturday and Sunday as we have a doubleheader planned of non-wing sprint car racing and who knows what else. The season in the Midwest is definitely winding down quickly as the races are fewer and farther between. Some great out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area before it is all done for 2021 and the winter season closes in. Comments, news and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be safe out there and be good. Thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you still enjoy them as much as we enjoy sending them your way.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thorson Takes Fifth USAC Sprint Win In Debut At Circle City
Friday, September 17 – It was a rather warm mid-September day with temperatures skying into the high 80's but the humidity was low as we made our way across I-70 through Indianapolis toward the Circle City Raceway for our fifth time in 2021. Tonight on the race card were the USAC National sprint cars making their first ever appearance at Circle City and the first time USAC sprints have raced in Indianapolis on a dirt surface since 1984. The USAC National midgets had raced here earlier this year during Indiana Midget Week but it would be the first of hopefully many more appearances for their big brothers, the USAC sprint cars. We found our usual Circle City seat and sat next to Seth, our friend from Bloomington who made the difficult Friday night trek from Bloomington north into the Indianapolis area which normally takes about 45 minutes but was doubled on this Friday night. The USAC sprints brought a quality field of 26 cars to the big dance while the USAC D2 midgets had 20 strong for their racing on this Friday evening.
Time trials would start off the program tonight beginning at 6:53 and when it looked like Jake Swanson would sit at the top of the heap the last car out, Brady Bacon, changed all that turning a lap of 12.163 seconds around the ¼ mile dirt oval (closer to 1/5 mile in our opinion) for fast time of the night and also a new track record of course. After D2 hot laps the USAC sprint cars returned for their three heats with five cars from each heat moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Thomas Meseraull in the Simon #23S, a previous winner here in winged sprint car action earlier in the year, scored heat win number one besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Tanner Thorson, Brent Beauchamp and Brady Bacon on the tight oval. Max Adams wheeling the Epperson #2E came home first in heat two turning back CJ Leary, JJ Hughes, Chris Windom and Robert Ballou in this one. Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #39BC took down heat three over Shane Cottle, Chase Stockon, Matt Westfall and Koby Barksdale. The D2 midgets would run three heats with two Bryce's, Massingill and Dues, taking heats one and two with Taylor Nibert taking heat three in some good side by side racing.
Only the sprint cars would need a semi which would be 12 laps in distance with the top seven moving into the main event. This race got off to a nasty start when Andrew Prather slammed the homestretch wall near the starter's stand and flipped numerous times into turn one ending upside down on the racing surface. Prather climbed from the car to the relief of the good crowd on hand after his scary ride. Jake Swanson who encountered problems in his heat race in a jingle with another car resulting in a bent front axle came back to claim the semi win over Jason McDougal, Justin Grant who seemed to struggle the entire evening, Jadon Rogers who found the outside to his liking, Ricky Lewis, Travis Berryhill and Brandon Mattox, the last man in. Former Lincoln Park champion, Scott Hampton, missed by one spot of qualifying in his first USAC start in two years.
The 20 lap D2 midget feature would get the first honors of running their feature with the 20 car field taking the green flag at 9:13. What ensued was a doozy of a race among Bryce Massingill, Jacob Denney and Michael Magic up from Georgia. This group went side by side various times three wide for the lead exchanging the lead back and forth. Magic split the pair in a nifty move on lap seven to take the lead and opened a small lead over the other two. Magic looked to be in command but no one told Massingill of that fact. Massingill charged back to his rear nerf bar and over the final few laps the pair exchanged slide jobs which were well executed allowing each other to counter and as the final sliders were exchanged off turn four they raced to the checkered flag with Massingill edging Magic by mere inches in a photo finish at the line at 9:28. The crowd was buzzing after that one with Massingill noting in victory lane that that race was the closest that he was ever involved in and was a lot of fun to race in. Magic came home second with Jacob Denney third, Abby Hohlbein fourth and Alex Watson rounding out the top five.
The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was still to come and the front row of heavy hitters, Chris Windom and Tanner Thorson, brought the 22 car field to the green flag at 9:44 with Thorson taking the early lead. Thorson would pace the field leading the first ten laps with Windom and Kevin Thomas Jr. in hot pursuit. Thomas slipped by Windom for second on lap five and takes up the chase of Thorson. Lap eleven saw a turning point in the race as Travis Berryhill and Jadon Rogers tangled in turn two right in front of leader, Thorson, with Thorson able to split the two and escape the incident but Brady Bacon was not so lucky as Berryhill set sideways on the bottom of turn two after spinning and the Macho Man had no where to go except into the side of Berryhill's machine. Moments later in a separate incident Ricky Lewis clipped the turn three inside tire and flipped several times before coming to rest. Lewis was OK after his tumble but his new car was worst for wear. Bacon meanwhile retreated to the work area and was able to return before the green reappeared but had to start at the tail of the field. On the restart Thorson went back to the point with Thomas dogging him down low over the next six laps pulling alongside several times but never able to quite grab the lead. Emerson Axsom was coming like gang busters from ninth on the restart up to third by lap twenty one when eighth running Thomas Messeraull spun to the infield off turn two to slow the action. On the restart Thorson resumed command with Thomas in tow. Entering turn three on lap twenty two Axsom pulled a slide job on Thomas racing for second with Axsom almost spinning in front of Thomas with the two touching straightening out Axsom but causing Thomas to lose momentum and ground being passed by several competitors. This gave Thorson all the advantage he needed as he motored away from the rest of the field to a comfortable lead. In the meantime Bacon was making another amazing comeback run from the rear and was challenging for the top five with five to go. The battle was behind Thorson as he crossed the start/finish line at 10:01 for his fifth USAC National sprint car win of the year and his 12th overall USAC win of 2021 and his fifth on a Friday night also a season high total. Windom would finish second with tenth starting Jake Swanson turning in an impressive third nipping Bacon at the line for the final podium finish. Bacon finished fourth after restarting 20th with CJ Leary claiming fifth. Shane Cottle placed sixth with Axsom seventh, Thomas Jr. ending up a disappointing eighth, Justin Grant ninth and Chase Stockon rounding out the top ten. It was an interesting race with some good runs and we look forward to a return of the USAC sprints in 2022 at Circle City.
That's it for this report but check back Sunday as we make the long haul down to southwest Indiana to the Helfrich's fine speed plant in Haubstadt for the Haubstadt Hustler. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news and other items of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words from many of you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary and Windom Bank $20,000 Each For Final Night Wins At Huset's
Before we get started on talking about the final night racing action at Huset's Speedway we would like to touch on the different format used for the three day event and our ideas about tweaking it somewhat to make it even better going forward. Don't get us wrong as Matt Wood and his staff and USAC did a heck of a job with the inaugural USAC Nationals and the racing was very good but these ideas are thoughts that could make the event even bigger and better. The format of awarding points for all the heat races and features on Friday and Saturday nights is good but Sunday's final night needs to be tweaked. If you are going to invert the top 12 in points after the Sunday night heat races than you either have to do one of two things. You either have to have a point fund for the top 12 worthwhile enough to run for if the point leader is going to start 12th in the main event or make it tougher to reach the invert by either cutting it to 8 or the normal USAC standard of 6. This will benefit everyone but mostly the fans who are paying good money to see racing every night and not having crew chiefs or crew members using calculators in the pit area telling their driver to “sandbag” in his heat on the last night to earn less points and start further up in the starting lineup for the final. Hope the powers that be will read this and take to heart what the crux of the idea is that it is not criticism but just a way to make the racing even better next year. On another note we noticed quite a few people leaving before the 100 lap midget main was completed and that is never good to see as if you want the locals to support your program you need to get them on the road in a good time as most of them have to work the next day.. The remedy there might be to start earlier and possibly run twin 50's for the midgets with the first 50 running first followed by the sprint car main event and then the second 50 inverting all the cars that finished on the lead lap and placing the lapped cars behind them obviously regaining their lost laps and run a second 50 lap feature. What do you the fans think?? Would be interested to talk to you or receive emails on your thoughts or ideas and maybe if we receive enough emails we could do a column devoted to just this event. Get to work on those emails!!
Now back to the racing on Sunday night and what went down. No time trials were scheduled so after hot laps were run the USAC sprint cars were first to the speedway to run their three heat races on the evening. The first heat would take the green flag at 6:20 with Ryan Bernal in the Wood #17W scoring the win over Jason McDougal, Robert Ballou, Tanner Thorson and Jake Swanson. The second heat fell to Chase Stockon in the KO Motorsports #5S besting Terry Richards, Isaac Chapple, Mario Clouser and CJ Leary. The third and final sprint heat was captured by Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. in the Davis #47 after starting fifth over Kevin Thomas Jr., Matt Westfall, Justin Grant and Alex Banales in the second Baldwin #5. Glen Saville rolled his sprinter in turn two in this one for the second time in two days but was able to make repairs and crack the field for the final. Davis has run strong the last two nights and seems to have found a fountain of youth or maybe some American Indian magic to improve his performance at Huset's. The sprints would be the only ones to run a semi with Alex Banales scoring his first USAC win of any kind by notching the semi over Cam Schafer, Glen Saville, Jeremy Kerzman, Jeff Pellersels and Clinton Bruns setting the starting field at 24 sprinters.
The USAC midgets would contest three heats also with Emerson Axsom in the Petry #15 taking down heat one over teammate, Kevin Thomas Jr., Hayden Reinbold who led for the majority of the race, Ryan Timms and Logan Seavey. Daison Pursley placed one of Keith Kunz's stable in first in heat two besting Cannon McIntosh, Brenham Crouch, Buddy Kofoid and Chance Crum. The final heat of the evening fell to RMS Motorsports driver, Justin Grant, outrunning Jason McDougal, teammate, Thomas Meseraull, Chase Randall known as the fastest chicken and Chad Frewaldt who had a very good week. All heat racing was completed by 7:23,
This left us with driver introductions for both races and the two final main events paying $20,000 to win and $1000 to start.
The 40 lap USAC sprint car feature was the first one called to the post with the front row of Logan Seavey and Robert Ballou bringing 22 of their other buddies to the green flag to kick off their feature event. Jake Swanson was docked two rows for arriving on the starting grid late forfeiting his ninth starting spot and moving everyone up one from 9th through 13th. Seavey took the early lead and led lap one until entering turn one Ballou hopped the right rear of Chris Windom's car with his left front and glanced off the turn one wall stopping with a flat tire. That for all intended purposes took Ballou out of the running for the big bucks but he did return and finished 11th. Seavey paced the first three laps until Windom used the high side to storm out front for the lead. Seavey battled back to lead laps five and six with Windom out front on lap seven, Seavey for lap eight and Windom back on top for laps nine through eighteen. CJ Leary was on the march from his ninth starting position move forward at a quick clip. Leary picked off Brady Bacon for third using the bottom on lap eleven in turn two and plucked second from Seavey in the same spot on lap sixteen as they raced their way through lap traffic. Leary threw out the fishing line and began to reel in Windom who continued to lead and by lap eighteen he caught and passed Windom in turn three with the front two split Isaac Chapple on each side with Leary assuming the lead as they raced to start lap nineteen. Leary would move ahead until five to go as the duo raced past Mario Clouser in turn three and four with Windom motoring low and taking the lead but the caution then appeared when Seavey slowed low in turns one and two slowing the action. On the restart Leary was at the point but Bacon had some other ideas as he stormed by Windom for second and applied pressure on Leary over the remaining five laps but Leary was up to the challenge and raced under the double checkers at 8:38 scoring back to back wins for the second time in 2021 beating eighth starting Bacon, Windom, tenth starting Tanner Thorson and eleventh starting Kevin Thomas Jr. to the line for the big $20,000 check at the end of the rainbow. Justin Grant would come home sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Jason McDougal eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and Ryan Bernal rounding out the top five in an entertaining race. That was also Leary's fifth USAC sprint win of the year.
It was now time for the 100 lap USAC midget main event with Chase Randall and Emerson Axsom pacing the field to the initial green flag at 9:18. Randall would charge into the early lead and pace the field for the first 13 laps until third starting Kevin Thomas Jr. was able to wrestle the lead away on lap 14. Thomas would lead until lap 20 when eighth starting Cannon McIntosh looking like he was fired out of one blasted by Thomas in turns three and four to lead that lap. McIntosh checked out at that point and drove like a man possessed setting a torrid pace until the first caution waved on lap 42 when McIntosh slowed on the backstretch with a flat right rear tire making you wonder why run so fast and abuse your tires when the caution was set to wave around lap 50. Might want to think about that strategy for next year as caution laps counted so McIntosh lost several laps under the caution until USAC decided to stop the race as previously planned and allow everyone to refuel and perform any other adjustments or tire changes that they were able to do during the eight minute stoppage.
After the break when racing resumed Jason McDougal in the Hayward #19 was the new leader but the red appeared quickly on the restart when Thomas Meseraull spun between turns one and two causing a chain reaction behind him which saw the impressive Mitchel Moles get upside down ending his night prematurely. Daison Pursley and Shane Golobic were also involved with both able to restart after the red and Golobic making infield repairs to return. On the second restart to start the second 50 laps Chase Randall quickly went up top and took the lead away from McDougal. Thomas and McDougal battled for second as Chris Windom moved to fourth after starting seventh and Logan Seavey filling out the top five. A multi-car tangle in turns one and two involving four cars slowed the action on lap 56. Randall resumed command on the restart with Thomas and McDougal chasing. Windom began to inch up taking third from Thomas on lap 68 and second from McDougal on lap 72. Windom reeled in Randall and made several moves to move by the young Texan but each time Randall was able to thwart off the challenges. Racing into turn one on lap 86 with victory all so close disaster struck as Randall shredded his right rear tire causing the youngster to hit the turn one wall and roll down the banking ending his evening in big disappointment as he was looking for his first career USAC midget win. Windom would inherit the lead on the restart and after losing Friday night's race in the closing laps Windom was ready for anything and everything in the last 15 laps. Windom was the rabbit on the restart jumping out front by a good margin as the war waged behind him among Buddy Kofoid, Thomas and Daison Pursley as the laps clicked off. A caution for a two car tangle on lap 91 reset the field and had to have Windom worrying if something would happen over the remaining nine laps. It was not to be as Windom would ride home first for back to back wins in the midget ranks over eleventh starting Kofoid with twelfth starting Daison Pursley taking third with Tanner Thorson the hard charger of the race slicing from 18th to fourth with Thomas taking down fifth. Logan Seavey would lead the second five across the line with Shane Golobic rebounding for seventh, McDougal eighth, Brenham Crouch from 15th to ninth and Emerson Axsom crossing the line tenth at 10:19. This feature was better than we originally expected and certainly held your interest throughout the 100 laps.
It was a good three days spent in South Dakota with good racing on a nicely prepared race track with the area also providing some good sights to visit during the day before the racing began that evening. If everything is a go for 2022 we plan on returning to South Dakota and Huset's Speedway for the second USAC Nationals event.
That's it until Friday when we plan to take in the first appearance of the USAC National sprints at Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis before making the long haul to southwest Indiana to take in the always exciting Haubstadt Hustler featuring the USAC/MSCS sprints at the finely prepared Tri-State Speedway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and visit a track outside your normal venues. Either way enjoy yourselves and be safe. Comments, USAC National's format ideas and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you all enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Windom & Leary Top 9/11 Tribute Races At Huset's
Saturday, September 11 – Another nice day in the 80's with low humidity greeted us upon leaving the Hotel at Phillips as we were on our way to meet Sally Ebling and Gary Dean for lunch/dinner at El Tapatio's in Brandon. The Mexican food there was delicious and plenty of good conversation was shared by everyone during the meal. After satisfying our hunger it was time to head over to the Huset's Speedway for night two of the USAC Nationals featuring the USAC midgets with 26 on this evening, two less than yesterday, and the USAC sprint cars with 27, one less than the night before.
Again time trials would start off the evening with the midgets the first on the agenda starting at 6:02. Mitchel Moles, in a second car for USAC Nationals promoter, Matt Wood, would break the one day old track record set by his teammate, Shane Golobic, with a new record of 12.776 seconds around the 1/3 mile gumbo clay oval. The sprint cars would follow with their hot laps and time trials with Logan Seavey setting the fast time for the second straight night in the Baldwin #5 with a time of 12.589 seconds.
After time trials were completed there was a very touching and thoughtful tribute for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with many flags and emergency personnel and their vehicles lining the entire homestretch area with several speakers including the mayor of Sioux Falls paying tribute to the heroes of that fateful day and all the firemen and police and so many others who helped to save lifes and help others on that tragic day. The tribute was very well done and very much appreciated after 20 years and again reminded us to never forget what happened on that day back in 2001. Well done to all involved for putting this tribute together!!
Back to racing where the USAC midgets would take the first green flag for their three heat races at 7:37 with Austin Barnhill surprising everyone by taking heat one beating the fast timer, Mitchel Moles, Brenham Crouch, Chris Windom and Emerson Axsom. Heat two fell to a strong Buddy Kofoid besting Ryan Timms, Cannon McIntosh, Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr. Shane Golobic used the low side to capture heat three over Jason McDougal, Thomas Meseraull, Tanner Thorson and Daison Pursley.
Next up were the sprint cars for their three heats with Robert Ballou dusting the field in heat one beating Mario Clouser, Jake Swanson, Chris Windom and Brandon Mattox. Thomas Messeraull continued his good runs in the Yeley #2 capturing heat two over Kevin Thomas Jr., Logan Seavey, CJ Leary and Chad Frewaldt. Buckeye Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. paced heat three over Jason McDougal, Isaac Chapple, Brady Bacon and Ryan Bernal.
No B main would be needed for the midgets but one would be contested for the sprint cars. Brandon Mattox would top the field beating Isaac Chapple, Alex Banales who was feeling his oats in this one pounding the cushion and backing his sprinter into the turn one wall after the checkered, Terry Richards, Cam Schafer and Robert Bell.
It was now feature time and the USAC midgets 25 strong would take the green flag at 9:07 and the feature would go the entire distance non-stop in a new track record of 7:31.12 in a torrid affair. Daison Pursley would take the early lead and pace the field for the first two thirds of the race with Chris Windom who started sixth moving quickly to second by lap four and kept step with Pursley up front. Buddy Kofoid was another who was working his way into the top five moving from seventh and getting by Chance Crum and Logan Seavey on his way into third. Windom briefly took the top spot in turn one on lap sixteen but Pursley was having none of that and countered in turn two to take the lead back. Logan Seavey gained some ground on Windom and challenged for second but Windom was able to stave him off. Buddy Kofoid pulled a slider in turn two on lap seventeen which was questionable forcing Seavey to bang the cushion and lift his left side tires off the ground and upon return to earth Seavey's left front first find a landing spot on Kofoid's right rear before returning to the track. This gave Kofoid the third slot and a shot at tracking down Pursley and Windom. Lap twenty one saw Pursley get into some heavy lap traffic diving low to pass which gave Windom the momentum and opportunity to quickly close the distance between the two in the void on the high side. Exiting turn four with the big mo on his side Windom streaked to the inside of Pursley on the homestretch and slid by the leader in turn one before returning to the top with the lead starting lap twenty two. That was the move that would clinch Windom's fourth win of 2021 as he raced to over a second lead and ultimate victory crossing the finish line at 9:15 for the win over Pursley with Kofoid third, Seavey fourth and Shane Golobic rounding out the top five after starting 12th. Justin Grant would come home sixth after starting 13th with Kevin Thomas Jr. seventh, Thomas Meseraull eighth, Cannon McIntosh ninth and Chance Crum taking down tenth at the finish. Windom was $5000 richer with his 10th career USAC National midget triumph and this had to make up somewhat for his disappointment of losing the race the night before.
The 24 car USAC sprint car field was brought to the green flag by Charles Davis Jr. and Brady Bacon at 9:42 with Davis jumping out front. The green didn't last long as fourth starting Mario Clouser got sideways in turn two bunching the field behind and with no where to go Kevin Thomas Jr. hits Clouser and spins collecting Justin Grant, Matt Westfall who almost flips, Logan Seavey, Alex Banales and Glen Saville who does flip in the melee. Everyone was able to continue with the exception of Saville and Grant made several pit stops trying to rectify a brake problem. On the restart Davis take command and leads the first two laps until sixth starting CJ Leary is able to take command on lap three. One lap later Justin Grant slows in turn one bringing out the caution as Grant goes pit side but is able to return to action before the next green. On the restart Leary leads with Davis and Bacon in his tire tracks. The man on the move is ninth starting Jake Swanson who is making a bee line forward cracking the top five by lap seven and not stopping there. Swanson then picks off Ryan Bernal and Brady Bacon on his march forward tucking in behind Davis for a few laps until passing the Arizona driver moving into second and going after Leary. Swanson hounds Leary as the pair pound the cushion and run just a scant few car lengths off of each other as the laps click off. Tanner Thorson begins to weave his way forward moving into fifth ahead of Bernal. The second yellow appears on lap twenty seven when Jason McDougal noses into the inside homestretch wall after contact with two others. McDougal is none too happy with the results as he exits his sprinter. On the ensuing restart it is Leary at the point with Swanson, Bacon, Thorson and Bernal right behind. Leary continues to lead as Thorson and Bernal hook up in a crowd pleasing duel exchanging sliders over the next several laps. On the white flag lap entering turn one Thorson dives low on Bernal and catches Bernard's left rear tire turning Bernal backwards and spinning into the turn one wall collecting Robert Ballou and Meseraull in the incident. On the restart with one to go Leary leads Swanson, Bacon, Thorson and Davis to the line. All hell breaks loose in turn four coming for the checkers behind Leary with Swanson jumping the cushion while in second allowing Thorson and Davis to dive low to avoid the incident with Bacon up high behind Swanson getting the worst of the deal dropping from third to sixth at the end. At 10:12 it was CJ Leary across the line first for his fourth win of 2021 with Thorson taking second with Davis third for his highest career finish in national competition with Swanson fourth and Thomas rebounding from the lap one incident to salvage a good fifth place finish. Bacon would end up sixth with Chris Windom seventh, Logan Seavey eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and Brandon Mattox finishing tenth after starting 18th.
It was another good night of action on a racy track and we all look forward to tonight and the final events of the USAC Nationals at Huset's. Check back Tuesday for our report on the final night and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And continued thanks for reading your columns and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull and Thorson Open USAC Nationals With Wins At Huset's
Friday, September 10 – We drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Thursday night and arose early on Friday morning to complete the long haul to Brandon, SD for the three night USAC Nationals featuring the USAC sprint cars and the USAC midgets in a highly paying weekend culminating on Sunday with a 40 lap sprint car feature and a 100 lap midget feature both paying $20,000 to win and a $1000 to start. Californian Matt Wood has leased the facility for the three days and though the crowd was OK hopefully the crowds the next two nights will pick up for all involved. We saved seats for Steve Kimmel and his wife, Maggie, and Gary Dean and Sally Ebling in Section KK above turn four for the weekend's action. In a different format for the three nights points would be awarded starting at 36 for the fastest qualifiers in each timed group decreasing by three per position thereafter. The heats would award 36 points to the winner decreasing by three points thereafter. No points were awarded for the top six finishers in the semi. One hundred points would go to the feature winners decreasing by two points per position thereafter. So even if you finished in the top five in a heat race you were not guaranteed a starting spot in the main events.
Things got underway at 5:58 with the 29 USAC midgets on hand pushing off for their time trials. By 6:16 Shane Golobic in Matt Wood's midget set fast time overall with a time of 12.923 seconds on the 3/8 mile black gumbo dirt oval which was a new track record for the midgets who were racing at Huset's for the first time in 25 years. USAC sprint cars followed with hot laps and their time trials with the first car of twenty eight taking the green flag at 6:35. It was 6:52 when Logan Seavey was interviewed on the homestretch by Kristy Beemes for setting the fast time of the three groups at 12.576 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval.
The midgets would be first up for their heat races with Tanner Thorson taking down the first heat win over Kevin Thomas Jr. who applied heavy pressure with Chance Crum third, Chase Randall fourth and Brenham Crouch fifth. Heat two was nailed down by an impressive Thomas Meseraull turning back Ryan Timms, Daison Pursley, Emerson Axsom and Cannon McIntosh as the kids chased the veteran to the finish. Buddy Kofoid captured heat three besting Logan Seavey, Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal and Mitchel Moles in this competitive heat race. Justin Grant took a header in heat three when he was squeezed into the backstretch wall and flipped over several times ripping the front wheels from the RMS Motorsports entry. He was OK after the wild ride and would go to a backup car and use a provisional to start the feature event.
The USAC sprints would contest three heats also with Robert Ballou taking heat one over Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Logan Seavey and Brandon Mattox. Heat two fell to the Ford powered sprinter of CJ Leary followed by Thomas Meseraull, Jake Swanson, Chase Stockon and Robert Bell. The third heat went to Jason McDougal over Justin Grant, Isaac Chapple, Brady Bacon and Charles Davis Jr.
Then it was right into the B mains with the midgets first up. Chance Crum captured this one beating Ethan Mitchell, Hayden Reinbold, Austin Barnhill, Brant O'Banion and Chad Frewaldt. Colorado's Lance Bennett took a flip in turn four and was OK after the tumble. The sprint B main was taken by Charles Davis Jr. over Cam Schafer, Chad Frewaldt, Alex Banales, Robert Bell and Glen Saville from Australia. Both fields were now set for their respective feature events with the 30 lap USAC midget feature being the first one called to the post.
The front row of Daison Pursley and Kevin Thomas Jr. brought the 24 car field to the green flag at 9:04 with Thomas bounding into the early lead. The action only made one lap before Thomas' teammate, Emerson Axsom's engine, went up in a cloud of smoke to bring out the caution. On the restart Thomas regained control and led the first two thirds of the event with others battling for position behind him. One of them was Thomas Meseraull who was moving forward from his sixth starting position up to fourth by lap nine and third by lap eleven. Chris Windom who started fourth began to pressure Thomas for the lead at the halfway mark with the pair exchanging slide jobs over the next two laps with Thomas retaining the lead each time. Thomas opened some breathing room as the field passed lap twenty. On lap twenty one Thomas motored into turns three and four with his right rear tire suddenly going down sending him up against the turn four wall ending a great run for Thomas who ended up 19th. Windom inherited the lead on the restart with Meseraull on his tail tank. Shane Golobic passed Meseraull for second shortly thereafter and went after Windom. With five to go T-Mez tapped the rear nerf bar of Golobic going down the backstretch and on lap twenty seven passed Golobic to take back second. Entering turn one on the white flag lap Meseraull tried to pass Windom but came up short as they raced down the backstretch with the Wood cars of Golobic and Mitchel Moles closing quickly using the low side. As they raced into turn three Moles had passed both Golobic and Meseraull and dove low on Windom as the yellow waved for the stopped midget of Cannon McIntosh in turn two which wiped out the tremendous run by Moles. This would set up a two lap shootout for the win with Windom leading Meseraull, Golobic and Moles as the race went green. For some reason Windom went low leaving the outside to Meseraull who's eyes probably got as big as saucers sweeping high to take the lead in turn two and taking the lead for the final two laps. As the checkered waved at 9:22 it was Meseraull in for the win trailed by Windom, Golobic, Buddy Kofoid and Daison Pursley who both made banzai charges to claim fourth and fifth at the wire. Moles who was so close to the win finished sixth with Logan Seavey seventh, Jason McDougal eighth, Chase Randall ninth and Chance Crum rounding out the top ten. After coming close the past two races Meseraull finally came home first for his third win of 2021 shaking the monkey off his back in the progress.
We still had the 25 lap USAC sprint car feature still to run and the front row of Tanner Thorson and Thomas Meseraull brought the 24 car field to the green flag. Thorson went to the lead quickly with Meseraull in tow. The front two quickly moved away from the rest of the field as Robert Ballou, Jake Swanson and Jason McDougal battled it out behind them. Thorson began to gap T-Mez up front as the duo approached lap traffic. Both weaved their way around and through the tail end of the field with Meseraull gaining some ground in the process. Brady Bacon was another car on the move steadily moving from his tenth starting position up into the top five as the laps clicked off. With two to go Thorson tangled with Charles Davis Jr. in turn three with both getting sideways but continuing with Meseraull jumping on the miscue sliding by Thorson for the lead. The yellow did not appear until the leaders passed the flagger's stand which did not make sense to everyone around us including us as it didn't seem a caution was warranted. But it was what it was and the field realigned for the restart with Thorson back up front trialed by Meseraull and Ballou. Entering turn three on the white flag waving Bacon stole third from Ballou while Jake Swanson dove under Ballou also touching with Ballou jumping the cushion both losing fourth to Kevin Thomas Jr. Ballou rebounded in an instance passing Thomas back for fourth as the field raced around the oval for one last time. With the double checkers waving at 9:52 it was Thorson home first with Meseraull second in his best run in the Jack Yeley #2 with Bacon third, Ballou fourth and Thomas taking fifth. Jake Swanson came home sixth with Justin Grant seventh, Logan Seavey eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Chris Windom tenth.
It was a good night of racing and we look forward to the next two nights of the USAC Nationals at Huset's Speedway.
Until the next report get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and kept checking back to see what happened the next time in our typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thorson, Meseraull & Marshall Take Firemen's National Events At Angell Park
Sunday, September 5 – After a good night of racing at Wilmot we looked forward to our first visit to Angell Park Speedway since July 3rd of 1994, a span of 27 years since we have visited the iconic track owned and operated by the Sun Prarie Volunteer Fire Company and is in its 61st year of operation. The 1/3 mile dirt oval is located on a large fairgrounds plot and also houses a midget hall of fame in a pavilion on the grounds. Since 1946 Angell Park has run weekly Sunday night programs of racing featuring only the mighty midgets with the exception of 1966 when they ran on Saturday night before adding other divisions in the last few years after the host club, the Badger midgets, fell on hard times but have rebounded and like the Phoenix from Greek mythology it rose from the ashes and reinvented itself. The club went to more affordable engine package using Honda, Mazda and Chevy power with restrictions. The Badger Midget Auto Racing Association or BMARA has been around for 85 years now and is the oldest midget club in the United States.
Tonight would be the 37th running of the Firemen's National race and it would be the first time in six years that the USAC midgets (22) would be the featured class. They would be joined by the Badger midgets (33) and the Wisconsin WingLESS sprint cars (28) for an all wingless open wheel program. You gotta love that!!!
After hot laps the USAC midgets would take to the track for their time trial session at 6 PM. Just 20 minutes later young Daison Pursley was being interviewed by Christy Bemmes after setting his second fast time of the year with a lap of 15.463 seconds around the 1/3 mile dirt oval.
The Wisconsin WingLESS sprint cars would be the first ones to run heat races with three of them on tap with the top six advancing to the 20 lap feature event. Jimmy Sivia nailed down heat one turning back Daniel Graumenz, Allen Hafford, Derek Crane, Natalie Klemko and Clayton Rossmann. Heat two was captured by Tim Cox besting Ryan Zielski, Chris Klemko, Zach Hansen, William Huck and Trinity Uttech. The third heat went to current point leader, Ryan Marshall, beating Nathan Crane, Dennis Spitz, Greg Alt, Tate Hensley and Craig Lager.
Next up were the Badger midgets and they do something unusual as they run a non-qualifier first with the cars lining up at the tail of the B main as these are the slowest ones from hot lap qualifying and do not run in a heat race. Three heat races followed with the top six moving forward to the 25 lap feature race. Thomas Meseraull in a Badger legal midget out of the RMS stable took down heat one after starting eighth over Cody Weisensel, Lamont Critchett, RJ Corson, Kevin Douglas and Kevin Battefeld. Heat two went to Andy Baugh from fifth over Justin Grant in a local car came from ninth with Zach Boden from sixth, Jeff Zelinski from eighth, Adam Taylor and James Collins Jr. The third and final heat went to Jeremy Douglas outrunning Todd Kluever from sixth, Scott Hatton from fifth, Kyle Koch, Tyler Baran and Kyle Stark.
The USAC midget heats were third up running three heat races for their 22 car field with five advancing to the big 30 lap main event. Chase Randall would win heat one over Zach Daum in a strong run using the inside, Daison Pursley, Chris Windom and Chase McDermand, a usual Badger regular. Heat two fell to Cannon McIntosh motoring to the front early and outdistancing Emerson Axsom, Thomas Meseraull, Ethan Mitchell and Logan Seavey. Kevin Thomas Jr. looked impressive in heat three storming to the front from fifth to win over Buddy Kofoid, Tanner Thorson, Justin Grant and Trey Gropp.
The WingLESS sprints and Badger midgets would need B mains with Ralph Johnson and Aaron Muhle winning their respective events.
The 30 lap USAC midget feature would be the first one to the post with the RMS team of Justin Grant and Thomas Meseraull bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:42. Grant would take the lead early but teammate Meseraull took the lead racing down the backstretch on lap one and would set the pace for the next 22 laps. T-Mez opened up a one to two second lead over the first half of the race with Grant Tanner Thorson and Kevin Thomas Jr. the chasers. Meseraull picked his way through the traffic as the laps clicked off and looked like it was going to be his night. But with nine to go Cannon McIntosh brought out the only caution of the race as his Toyota gave up the ghost puffing a large plume of smoke and stopping on the homestretch. On the restart Thorson who have motor problems earlier which were not totally rectified had found something on the inside and began to make his move on the slick surface. Thorson dove under Grant in turn two and did not pass Grant until using a slider in turn three to grab second and went after Meseraull who was still out front. Racing into turn one on the next lap Thorson had it hooked up down low drawing alongside long time leader, Meseraull, and taking the lead away exiting turn two. It was a real turn of events as Meseraull looked like he was home free but the restart gave Thorson time to reload and make his charge to the lead. Thorson then proceeded to scorch the field moving to over a two and a half second bulge over the field in the remaining seven laps. At 8:54 Thorson raced under the double checkers first for his seventh USAC midget win of 2021 beating Meseraull, Grant, Chris Windom and 11th starting Logan Seavey to the line. It was also Thorson's 27th career USAC National Midget win tying him with Gary Bettenhausen and Tony Stewart for 14th on the all-time win list. It also had to feel good for Thorson who led the entire distance the last time (six years ago) USAC was in town only to lose the race when Rico Abreu passed him off the fourth turn coming to the checkered flag. Kevin Thomas Jr. slipped to sixth at the finish with Emerson Axsom seventh, Daison Pursley eighth, Buddy Kofoid ninth and Chase Randall rounding out the top ten.
We still have two features to run and the next on the agenda was the 25 lap Badger midget feature with Andy Baugh and Scott Hatton bringing the 24 car starting field to the green flag with Baugh hustling out front and motoring away from the field. Baugh built up a huge lead as he approached lap traffic and weaved his way through until a spin would slow the field and wipe out Baugh's big lead. On the restart Thomas Meseraull was right there on Baugh's tail tank and pressured him with Baugh bobbling in turn two allowing T-Mez to draw alongside racing down the backstretch. Messeraull took the lead away after starting eighth going down the backstretch and began to pull away. One lap later Baugh still running second got sideways on the backstretch after having brake problems and did a classic Tommy Tipover and his fine run ended prematurely. Meseraull raced out front on the restart and built up a big lead the rest of the distance outpacing Jeff Zelinski who moved from 9th with Cody Weisensel running a fine race coming from 11th to finish 3rd, Zach Boden fourth and Adam Taylor rounding out the top five. It was Meseraull's second Badger win of the year, the last coming on July 4th also at Angell Park which he says is his favorite track to run a midget on.
The 20 lap Wisconsin WingLESS sprint car feature was last up and the track was gone by the time they took the green flag at 9:36. Everyone drove to the inside groove and the ones who didn't found themselves floundering around on the top. Ryan Marshall was able to slip and slide his way from eighth starting position to the lead with Derek Crane never letting him get too far away over the 20 lap distance. When the checkers waved at 9:49 it was point leader, Marshall, adding to his lead with the win with Crane second, Allen Hafford third, Jimmy Sivia fourth and Tim Cox, last night's winner at Wilmot, claiming fifth.
It was great to be back at Angell Park after so many years absence and the crowd was huge but the track surface did not hold up well and the racing suffered as a consequence. Well, hopefully the next time we go the surface will be better.
That's it for this weekend but check back Saturday for our report from South Dakota where we will be taking in the big three night show at Huset's Speedway where USAC sprints and midgets will do battle over three straight nights of racing on the 3/8 mile dirt oval. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe as the season is winding down. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy the column as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Tim Cox Scores Wisconsin WingLess Win At Wilmot
Saturday, September 4 – After being rained out the previous night at Sycamore Speedway we hoped for better weather this day as we were visiting the Wilmot Raceway for the first time ever. Wilmot is a 3/8 mile dirt oval located on the grounds of the Kenosha County Fairgrounds in Southern Wisconsin. It is the closest Wisconsin track for us to get to but it seems in the past we have bypassed Wilmot to venture further into the state to catch a race. Tonight Wilmot fit perfectly into the plan as it was not that far from Sycamore and close to our third race of the weekend at Angell Park in Sun Prairie. The skies were overcast all day which helps a dirt surface but at the same time the weather only showed a high of 7% chance of rain and as we started over toward Wilmot a misty rain began to fall. It was one of those rains that you set the wipers on intermediate and adjusted it every so often. The light drizzle continued most of the trip over to Wilmot until the wipers began to scrape across the windshield indicating that the worst was over as the skies brightened. Pulling onto the fairgrounds property we worked our way across the huge parking area closer to the ticket booth and entrance way. We parked the Rogue at 5:30 and decided to wait a while as the large wooden and metal grandstand was nearly empty and the drizzle had returned. By 6 the cars were on the track for hot laps and the rain had dissipated again so we grabbed our blanket and sweatshirts and bought our tickets and ventured inside. We placed our blanket about three rows from the top of the grandstands in section C and settled in for the evening of racing. What a change of temperature from one week ago at Kokomo where we were baking in the sun with high humidity to one where after about an hour we were sliding on our sweatshirts as the temperatures dipped into the low sixties. The program would consist of five divisions of cars which was billed as Championship night as it was the final night for the points in each division. The five divisions participating on the evening were the lightning sprints (16), the Wisconsin WingLess sprint cars (36), modifieds (26), bandits (22) and street stocks (14) for a grand total of 114 race cars. We figured it might be a late night but Wilmot management did a fine job moving the program along quickly and efficiently.
The first of the five divisions, the lightning sprints, took the green flag on their first heat at 6:34 and from that point forward it was one race over and exiting the track off of turn one with the next race entering the track off of turn four. Tim Brannam won heat one over Max Brannam and CJ Malueg. The second heat was taken by Mike Neau besting John Kirk and Ron Brannam in a cake walk. The Wisconsin WingLess sprint cars were next to the post and they would be contesting four heats for their fine 36 car field with the top four moving into the main event. Heat one would fall to Tate Hensley beating Jimmy Sivia, Rusty Egan and Jordan Paulsen in a spirited battle up front. Heat two would go to the veteran mostly pavement sprint car driver, Tim Cox out of Illinois, outrunning Ryan Marshall, Greg Olsen and Allen Hafford. Heat three went to the maroon #70 of Chris Klemko outdistancing his wife, Natalie, with CJ Malueg doing double duty and Derek Crane. The fourth and final heat was won by Clayton Rossmann over Greg Alt, Brian Strane and Dan Wade. The modifieds would run three heats with Chris Carlson, Mike Simons and John Dost winning. The bandits would spin off three heats while the street stocks ran two heats. Only the sprints and the modifieds would need B mains with Ryan Zielski capturing the sprint B main over Dennis Spitz out of Kentucky, Mike Sullivan and Craig Lager the last man in. The modified B main would go to Scott Barnharst.
All feature events would be 20 laps in distance with the lightning sprints getting the honors to run their feature go first. The green dropped on the first feature at 8:33 and was a good run with winner, Nick Petska, taking the lead in turn two on lap 11 and holding off 10th starting Mike Neau for his third win of 2021 and also capturing the season long point championship. Mark Heinert would ride home third with Ron Brannam fourth and CJ Malueg rounding out the top five in his lucky #13.
The bandits would contest their 20 lap feature next on the dance card and after a rough start with several incidents they settled in and spun off their main event. Ryan Johnson was victorious in the bandit feature.
Now it was time for the 20 lap feature event for the Wisconsin WingLess sprint cars and they took their initial green flag at 9:17. Only two minor cautions for spins slowed the action with Tim Cox leading the majority of the event. It was late in the going when fifth starting Chris Klemko caught and passed Cox in turn three with just three laps to go for the lead. Klemko looked like he would steal this one from the veteran but that is why we call them veterans. Cox stayed right with Klemko and worked the outside and pulled alongside Klemko with two to go and wrestled the lead back from him and crossed the line first at 9:31 grabbing the win over Klemko with sixth starting Daniel Graumenz third, seventh starting Clayton Rossmann fourth and Tate Hensley slipping from first back to fifth at the finish. It was a very competitive feature event with plenty of passing and action with B main winner, Ryan Zielski, advancing from 21st to 6th at the end.
The 20 lap modified feature was next on the race card taking the green at 9:36. Chris Carlson would lead this one from start to finish but it was not easy as sixth starting Mike Simons pressured him for many laps but was never able to slip by the point champion for the win. Lee Tibbitts was the show in this one advancing from 21st to 3rd in a fine run with Don Scheffler moving from 9th to 4th and John Dost rounding out the top five at 9:54. The street stocks still had their 20 lap feature to run but we decided to hit the exits early and travel back to our hotel discussing the races as we drove back. Both of us enjoyed our evening at Wilmot and would not hesitate to return to watch another show there if we are back in the area. A good facility with a good surface and good reasonably priced food to boot. A good trifecta to have at any race track!!
That's it for this segment and check back Monday for our report from Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie where we will be making only our second ever appearance and the first since July 3rd of 1994 where the USAC midgets are returning to. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, stories of interest, comments and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back to see where we end up next in a typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Survives Late Challenge To Win Second Smackdown Finale
Saturday, August 28 – Reece O'Connor and his track crew worked their magic in the 1.5 hour break between the afternoon matinee and the evening's finale. The track held up well through four heats for the USAC sprints, two heats for the USAC regional midgets, the King of the Hill match races and a C & B main. Even after doing some maintenance on the track between the B and the finale the track finally dusted up from the beginning of the A main with the wind blowing south to north the fans were covered by the brown stuff throughout the 40 lap main event.
But that was not the big story of the night as Smackdown X saw its third multi-time winner emerged from the dust to nail down his second Smackdown title in a dramatic ending. First though let's backtrack and give you a rundown of the events leading up to the 40 lap Smackdown X feature.
There were no time trials tonight so the first racing after hot laps was for the 32 USAC sprinters not locked into the main event. The other eight were locked in after points were awarded over the previous two races of Smackdown with Justin Grant the top point man but that didn't guarantee him the pole position. The top eight in points would square off in three lap match races with the winner advancing to the next round and finish determining the starting order of the first four rows of the finale.
The first of four sprint car qualifiers went green at 9:09 with just the top two to lock into the 40 lap finale. Shane Cottle would wheel the Hodges #74X out of New Mexico to the first heat win over Brent Beauchamp. The second qualifier saw a scary incident occur on the homestretch with the two #57's in the field driven by Max Adams and Cole Bodine battling for a qualifying position tangling just past the starter's stand as Bodine ran out of room on the outside and went flying. Bodine flipped and rolled several times shearing off the right front tire and part of the axle that cleared the fencing at the end of the homestretch and rolled down the walkway luckily not hitting anyone in the process. It was a racing accident with Bodine getting the worst of the deal injuring a finger and destroying his family owned machine in the nasty flip. It was a shame for Bodine who had showed good speed the entire week and still ended up winning the pass master award for Smackdown passing 23 sprints during the weekend. Max Adams would be able to restart the qualifier and finished second behind Jake Swanson to move to the main event. Jadon Rogers dominated the third qualifier turning back Emerson Axsom. The four qualifier fell to Thomas Meseraull in the Jack Yeley #2 besting Chase Stockon for the win. Two heat races for the 14 car USAC regional midgets would follow with Chance Crum and Chase McDermand winning.
Melinda Stanbrough and many others who help her raise money every year to kick cancer with the money raised through raffles, a kickball game and an auction going to the Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. This year an amazing $56,000 was raised by the efforts put forth by many driver's wives and so many more for such a great cause. Hats off to Melinda and the others for a job well done!!! Five thousand of the fifty six thousand was donated by an American Legion Post which I believe is local but didn't catch the name or location so they also get a big round of applause for their contribution.
Next up was the King of the Hill three lap match races with Justin Grant defeating Kyle Cummins in the first match up. Tanner Thorson turned back Brady Bacon to win the second one with Logan Seavey defeating Chris Windom in the third match up and Kevin Thomas Jr. beating CJ Leary in the last round one match up. Round two saw Tanner Thorson knock off the top point man, Justin Grant, in the first match up with Kevin Thomas Jr. downing Logan Seavey in the second one. This led up to the final matching Thorson vs. Thomas with Thorson easily winning the King of the Hill title and the first starting position for the feature event.
So with the first four rows decided we still had two additional races to run before the rest of the field was determined for the finale. First a C main was contested with the top four tagging the tail of the B main which would take six to the main event. Terre Haute's Brandon Mattox scored the victory in the C besting Brayden Clark, Steven Drevicki and Brandon Long representing Ballou Motorsports. The B main was captured by Scotty Weir in the Petersen #4P trailed to the line by Mario Clouser, Arizona's Stevie Sussex, Californian Chase Johnson, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall the last man invited to the big dance.
The 20 lap USAC regional midget feature would be called to the grid first with the green flag waving at 10:34. It was a good run with only one caution and taking just seven minutes to run. Chance Crum in the Rudeen #26 took the lead on the backstretch with seven to go passing race long leader, Chase McDermand, and went on to receive the double checkers at 10:41 winning over McDermand with Hayden Reinbold third, Jack Routson fourth with Mitchell Davis rounding out the top five.
It was time for the introduction of the starting field of 22 for Smackdown X with $15,000 on the line to the winner with each driver (half on the backstretch and the other half on the homestretch) entering to a song picked by them. The most interesting of the group was Tanner Thorson who displayed a banner reading “Lions Not Sheep” which is a top selling men's gear who say you have two choices. To lead (lion) or be led (sheep). This could also be applied to the world today and the choices you have to be your own man or follow the crowd and listen to all the news outlets and government officials. Let's move on from here back to the race at hand.
The front row of Tanner Thorson and Kevin Thomas Jr. would lead 20 others to the green flag at 11:40 with Thorson getting the jump into the early lead. Thorson would pace the field for the first 15 laps with Thomas, Grant and Seavey in chase mode. Thorson caught the tail end of the field where Matt Westfall and Stevie Sussex were waging a side by side battle for position allowing Grant who had passed Thomas earlier to chose the gap in a hurry. Racing down the backstretch Grant dove low on Westfall and entered turn three on the low side and went to the top in turn four cutting across the front of Thorson's car to take the lead off turn four but Thorson crossed over and nipped Grant at the line to retain the lead. Grant used a slider entering turn one and pulled it off in turn two racing down the backstretch with the lead on lap sixteen. Grant was now the lion as he opened up a sizable lead as the laps ticked down and the rest of the field were the sheep chasing him. Scotty Weir gave Grant a few anxious moments in the latter stages of the contest nearly spinning in front of Grant in turn one. Thorson closed dramatically in an instant but Grant recovered and moved out front to a comfortable lead once again. With two to go Grant saw what he least wanted to see when the yellow flag waved for eighth running Shane Cottle who saw his fine run end in a ball of flames and smoke as the engine of the Hodges car gave up the ghost. This set up a two lap shootout to decide it all and everyone in the house knew there would be a big slider coming from Thorson in turn one on the restart. And Thorson did not disappoint as he executed the perfect slider taking the lead in turn two as he and Grant raced down the backstretch. Grant was not about to give this one up as he raced into turn three throwing a slider on Thorson and taking back the lead in turn four even kissing the wall with his right rear to boot. Grant again entered turn one low on the white flag lap as the leader and slide from the bottom to the top of turns one and two to counter any slider Thorson might have in mind. Thorson tried one last vain attempt in turns three and four sliding alongside Grant in four but not enough to pass him with. The front two raced to the double checkers at 11:56 with Grant prevailing to take his second Smackdown finale and seventh win of 2021 over Thorson with Thomas Jr. third, Brady Bacon fourth and Logan Seavey rounding out the top five. After the leaders crossed the line there was a tangle in between turns three and four involving CJ Leary and Jake Swanson battling for seventh at the time with both cars rolling over. Ninth running Kyle Cummins was also involved damaging his front end as he ended up in the turn four wall. All drivers were OK after the incident but ended up 11th through 13th in the final rundown. The win was Grant's 28th career USAC National sprint car win tying him for 18th on the all-time list with numerous drivers. Positions six through ten were filled by Chris Windom, Emerson Axsom from 15th to 7th winning the hard charger award, with Chase Stockon eighth after starting sixteenth, Jadon Rogers ninth and Mario Clouser finishing tenth after starting 18th.
It was a good race run under trying circumstances as the weather conditions did not do anyone any favors. It might not have been the best Smackdown ever but it still a good Smackdown finale.
That's it for now as next up will be a Labor Day road trip with three stops during the weekend with two of them being new ventures for us. So check back Monday to see where we ended up and how things went. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season begins to wind down especially in the Midwest where both high school and college football take center stage and the races in Indiana and Illinois began to dwindle. News, comments, notes and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. Stay safe and stay hydrated until the weather turns cooler. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thomas Jr. Scores Saturday Afternoon Matinee Win At Kokomo Smackdown
Saturday, August 28 – Thursday's race was rained out as you all know by now so track management in conjunction with USAC decided to run a Saturday doubleheader with hot laps for the sprinters for the afternoon matinee program beginning at 3 PM with the complete program to follow. After the afternoon show was completed there would be a ninety minute break to clear the grandstands and for Reece O'Connor and his crew to go to work on transforming the track to good running condition for the night's finale.
Time trials for the forty one car field hit the track at 3:36 in two groups with Logan Seavey from group one setting the fast time around the quarter mile bullring with a time of 12.863 seconds. The first heat would take the green at 4:29 in the single division show with CJ Leary scoring the first heat win over Shane Cottle, Logan Seavey and Kevin Thomas Jr. Heat two saw Alex Bright get clipped from behind by Tanner Thorson turning him sideways in front of Californian, Eddie Tafoya Jr., who had no where to go except into Bright's car and up and over rolling his sprinter in the process. Tafoya was done for the day after the mishap. Cole Bodine who has looked strong in the three races during the week so far won heat two over Chase Stockon, Matt Westfall and Tanner Thorson. Chris Windom powered to the win in heat three Max Adams, Mario Clouser and Jadon Rogers followed Windom to the finish in this one. The fourth and final heat fall to Brady Bacon outdistancing Kyle Cummins, Emerson Axsom and Justin Grant.
Next up was the C main taking the top four forward to the tail of the B main. Ryan Thomas in the second Wingo Brothers #77 prevailed over Anthony D'Alessio, Tye Mihocko and Reading, PA's own Steven Drevicki. The B main would follow shortly thereafter with the top six moving into the 30 lap main event. Jake Swanson would run rough shod in the B taking the win over Thomas Meseraull, Scotty Weir, Alex Bright, Stevie Sussex and Chase Johnson nailing down the last spot into the main event. By this time with the combination of the beating sun, the heat index at triple digits and the pounding of the surface by 41 sprinters had taken its toll as the track was quite dusty. As much as the track crew tried to bring it back it was not to be on this afternoon. The feature would be run on a dry, slick, dusty track and that is what it was. Even with that the feature itself was still competitive and kept your interest.
The front row of Matt Westfall and Jadon Rogers brought the 23 car field to the green flag at 6:17 joined by provisional Brandon Long running a sprinter renumbered 12 so Ballou Motorsports could be awarded some owner points. Westfall and Rogers battled for the lead in the first lap until fourth starting Justin Grant split the pair exiting turn four and taking the lead away. Grant quickly motored away using the high side to increase his lead as the laps ticked off. Kevin Thomas Jr. worked his way up to second with Logan Seavey moving from sixth to third. Lap eleven saw Chase Johnson ride the turn four wall to bring out the caution and re-bunch the field. On the restart Grant holds off Thomas and Seavey gets a great run through turns three and four to take the lead away from Grant passing them both. Brady Bacon gets into the act catching and passing Thomas for second at the halfway mark and takes off after Seavey. Inside of ten laps to go lap traffic is a big issue as Seavey picks his way through with Bacon right behind. With seven to go fifth running Jadon Rogers loses the handle in turn two and spins bringing out the caution. With six to go Seavey bikes the Baldwin #5 in turn one causing Bacon to brake with Thomas diving underneath for second. Emerson Axsom brings out the third and final caution on lap twenty five when he spins in turn two. On the restart Seavey leads with Thomas second and Bacon third. Seavey catches the turn one wall allowing Thomas to move underneath and into the lead with four to go. Thomas pulled away by a few car lengths over the remaining four laps and crossed the finish line at 6:32 for his sixth USAC win of 2021 tying Justin Grant for the most wins. It was also Thomas' 33rd career USAC sprint car win moving him past Rollie Beale into 13th place on the win list. Seavey would record another second place finish with Bacon a close third, Justin Grant fourth and CJ Leary rounding out the top five. Tanner Thorson would finish sixth with Jake Swanson seventh, Shane Cottle eighth, Chris Windom ninth and the hard charger, Chase Stockon from 18th to 10th at the end.
For a day race it was still pretty competitive and though dusty it was still a decent race to watch.
Check back Tuesday for the report on the finale of Smackdown X as we plot the Labor Day weekend ahead of us. In the meantime put together you're own Labor Day weekend race track visits somewhere and enjoy yourselves but most of all stay safe and stay hydrated. And thanks as always for reading our efforts and for the nice comments that come our way.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Scores Night One Win Of Smackdown X At Kokomo
Friday, August 27 - Today was another scorcher with temperatures in the 90's with the heat index over 100. It was also now the opener of Smackdown X as Thursday night's scheduled opener fell to heavy rain hitting around the time hot laps were suppose to start. Everything has now been rearranged with Friday now the opener with Thursday's show being run on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night's finale will follow the daytime show after an hour and a half break to perform track maintenance and clear the grandstands.
A fine field of 46 entries graced the turns three and four pit area and during hot laps we lost one car when Alex Banales in the backup Baldwin #5 rode the turn two wall and fencing before returning to the track without flipping over but doing serious damage to the rear side of the #5. This left us with 45 cars to go under the clock and the two groups started their time trial sessions at 7:20 and ended at 7:48 with Justin Grant of group one posted the quickest time of 12.579 second around the ¼ mile bullring in Howard County on the outskirts of the city of Kokomo.
Up next would be the four heats for the USAC sprint cars with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event this evening. Thomas Meseraull drew first blood copping heat one in the Jack Yeley #2 turning back Brent Beauchamp, Brady Bacon and Justin Grant in an action packed heat one. Chris Windom would score heat two in a very competitive affair with Kevin Thomas Jr., Jake Swanson and Kyle Cummins battling each other the entire distance. Danny Faria Jr., a two time USAC West Coast 360 sprint champion, has struggled in the first two nights of racing at Kokomo getting into the wall during hot laps and rolling the Michael Dutcher #17GP during heat two. It would end his evening prematurely. Heat three went to Robert Ballou on a tear since switching to gas shocks the night before taking down this one besting Tanner Thorson, Jason McDougal and Logan Seavey. The fourth heat saw Ohio's Matt Westfall coming off a strong run on the mile at Springfield in Silver Crown action last Saturday withstanding the relentless advances of CJ Leary to win heat four with Jadon Rogers and Emerson Axsom joining the party to move forward.
A C main was next on the dance card with the top four advancing to the tail of the B main. Cole Bodine would take the lead late in this one by utilizing the high side to beat Tye Mihocko back in the Epperson #2E, Max Guilford and Steven Drevicki, the three time USAC East Coast 360 winner, who had better luck tonight than his West Coast counterpart. The 12 lap B main was next up and during the race a nasty crash occurred when Brandon Mattox pounded the turn two wall and flipped wildly ricocheting into the path of Chase Johnson who had no where to go except into Mattox sending Johnson rolling through turn two. Both drivers emerged from their battered machines to the relief of the crowd on hand. When racing resumed Shane Cottle in the Hodges #74X went to the point and would capture the B main over Stevie Sussex, Chase Stockon, Mario Clouser, the current WAR sprint car point leader, Alex Bright and Cole Bodine in the drive of the night advancing from the C to qualify after starting 15th in the B main.
That left us with just the 30 lap main event to run and by 9:47 the front row of CJ Leary and Brent Beauchamp brought the 23 car field with the addition of Steven Drevicki to Tom Hansing's green flag. Leary assumed the lead off turn two and lead the field for the first two laps until Kyle Cummins pounded the cushion and squeezed between Leary and the turn four wall to nip Leary at the start/finish line to start lap three. A scant few seconds later Brady Bacon tangled with another car in turn four and stalled his sprinter forcing the point leader to restart at the tail of the field. Cummins led on the restart with Leary and Tanner Thorson trailing. Thorson disposed of Leary at the line to start lap five and went after Cummins. Lap nine saw Cummins bobble on the turn three cushion allowing Thorson to close the gap and on lap twelve exiting turn four Thorson surged ahead with a wheelie to boot. Lap traffic became an issue just past the halfway mark with Thorson and Cummins working it well. Lap twenty saw a close one for the leaders as they entered turn one where Stevie Sussex caught the turn one wall ricocheting off it and almost collecting the leaders in the process. On the restart Thorson went out front but Cummins found the high side to his liking and started to use it to pressure Thorson for the lead. Cummins blasted by Thorson for the lead on the homestretch on lap twenty two and was back in command. One lap later disaster struck for last night's Darland winner, Robert Ballou, running fifth at the time when he entered turn one and caught the cushion wrong sending his car into a flip into the turn one catch fence. Ballou's machine was extradited from the accident scene by a wrecker in a vertical manner and left dangling from the end of the wrecker in the infield while the race went green again. Justin Grant had now moved into contention using the high side running third behind Thorson and Cummins. With five to go Thorson went high in turn four allowing Grant to dive low off the corner dispatching Thorson for the second position. With three to go Thomas Meseraull pulled up lame off of turn three to bring out the caution and re-stack the deck for the remaining three laps. The slider contest began on the restart with Grant throwing the first bomb entering turn one with Cummins crossing over in turn two with Grant reloading in turn thee and Cummins crossing back over in turn four outracing Grant to the line with two to go. Grant threw another slider in turn one not giving Cummins any room sliding right in front of Cummins' front bumper which gave him the lead. Grant raced down the backstretch as the leader and as they entered turns three and four Cummins jumped the cushion allowing Chris Windom who started tenth to steal second as they raced to the white flag. Grant surged ahead on the last lap outrunning Windom to Tom Hansing's double checkers at 10:13 to take night one of Smackdown with Cummins third, Leary fourth and Thorson taking fifth. Brady Bacon made a fine comeback after starting at the tail and finished sixth with Logan Seavey seventh, Shane Cottle eighth, Jadon Rogers ninth and Matt Westfall rounding out the top ten. It was Grant's sixth win of 2021 and 27th of his career moving him into 21st place on the all-time list ahead of two good racers in Tony Elliott and Dave Steele who are no longer with us.
It was an exciting night of racing and we look forward to Saturday and the full day of racing beginning with hot laps at three and a second show to follow 1.5 hours after the checkers fly on the afternoon race.
Check back for the report on Saturday's Smackdown action from Kokomo and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road for a road trip somewhere. News, comments and any other tidbits can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou Takes Wild Win At Bob Darland Memorial At Kokomo
Wednesday, August 25 – Today was a hot one so we decided to place our blankets on the backstretch at Kokomo Speedway because you have the sun at your back and the grandstand becomes shaded fairly early. Joining us tonight would be first time visitor and Ohio trackchaser Rich Berry along with Sally Ebling and Gary Dean from Missouri as we placed blankets down in the aluminum grandstand enough for all.
Tonight was not officially considered part of Smackdown but we always considered the Wednesday event as part of the Smackdown week and it was special tonight as it was the previously rained out Bob Darland Memorial race added to the schedule. Thirty nine sprint cars would be joined by seventeen thunder cars for a good two division show to kick off Smackdown week. The sprint cars were first up for their four heats for their fine 39 car field with four advancing to the 36 lap feature event, 36 signifying the signature number used by Bob Darland over the years. Logan Seavey would claim heat one in the Baldwin #5 over Tanner Thorson, Brady Bacon and Brandon Mattox. Sprint car rookie, Emerson Axsom, took his second heat win in two starts in heat two turning back Jake Swanson, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall. Heat three was captured by Robert Ballou beating Kevin Thomas Jr., Thomas Meseraull in the Simon #23S and CJ Leary. The fourth and final heat went to Justin Grant over Max Adams back in the Hazen #57 after having been burned in that car at Gas City about a month earlier, Mario Clouser and Max Guilford. The thunder cars would run three heats before the sprints returned for two B mains with just two to qualify out of each. We felt only two out of the B's was a little chintzy and why not three to make a normal USAC field of 22. Anthony D'Alessio would garner B main one over Cole Bodine while in B main two Stevie Sussex in the Wingo #77 took top honors over PA's Alex Bright making his sprint car debut at Kokomo in the Hummer #20.
That would lead us up to the 36 lap Bob Darland Memorial race which would go green at 9:08. The front row of Logan Seavey and Emerson Axsom raced side by side into turns one and two where Axsom used every inch of the outside to power by Seavey going down the backstretch. Brandon Mattox would slide off of turn two into the infield and return to the surface and stop on the backstretch to bring out the first caution and force a complete restart. The results were the same on the restart with Axsom going to the point with Seavey in tow. The second caution would appear on lap five when Anthony D'Alessio would spun in turn four. Two more laps would go into the books before Alex Bright followed D'Alessio's suit and looped his sprinter in turn four. The action resumed with Axsom the leader chased by Seavey and Ballou but soon Justin Grant was on the scene and began to get very racy. He moved by Ballou for third and caught Seavey for second and began the chase of Axsom. Suddenly on lap 13 Grant pulled to a stop on the high side of turn four and was pushed to the pit area done for the evening. On the restart Axsom went out front with Seavey and Ballou in his tire tracks. Ballou took second from Seavey on the homestretch on lap fourteen with Seavey using a slider in turn one and Ballou crossing over in turn two to retain second. Axsom stretched his lead over the middle stretch of the race and looked like he might pull off the upset for the Clauson/Marshall team. But lap traffic began to become an issue and as Axsom worked his way through the slower cars they also slowed his pace and allowed Ballou and Seavey to close the gap somewhat. Lap twenty eight saw Axsom still leading but as he passed about halfway down the backstretch Ballou was exiting turn two and suddenly like being shot out of a cannon Ballou was alongside Axsom as they entered turn three. Ballou blasted by in turn four and took the lead and threw Axsom off his game as he missed his mark in turn four drifting to the fence allowing Seavey to charge by for second. Then Seavey tracked down Ballou in a flash and the two exchanged sliders over the next several laps until Ballou prevailed and moved out front again. Disaster almost struck with three to go when Ballou entered turn one and went up against the wall and turned his sprinter sideways between turns one and two. We don't know how he saved it without stalling and actually did not lose much ground or the lead during this close call!! Seavey closed again in the closing laps but was not able to mount a serious charge again and at 9:26 Ballou streaked across the line first for the win with Seavey second, Axsom third, Tanner Thorson fourth and CJ Leary completing a fine drive from 15th to 5th at the finish. Brady Bacon finished sixth with Jake Swanson seventh, Thomas Meseraull eighth, Max Guilford in a good run from 16th to 9th and Stevie Sussex coming from 18th to 10th at the finish.
Since it was still early and we were staying in Kokomo we decided to watch the 17 lap thunder car feature event and it was a good one with the top three battling the entire distance with Nate Payton edging ahead on the backstretch with two to go past Gregg Tarr and holding on to take the win as the three raced side by side on the last lap through turns three and four before Payton pushed ahead to get the win over Tarr and Gary Walker.
It was a real good night of racing to start off the Smackdown week at Kokomo and we hope the intense racing continues the rest of the week as the last ten laps of the sprint car race were certainly money's worth and vintage Kokomo. And it was good seeing old friends, Rich Berry, Sally Ebling and Gary Dean, and swapping stories and trip plans for the remainder of the racing season.
That's it for this segment and check back tomorrow for the “official” night one of three of Smackdown X. Comments, news and other tidbits of information can reach us at email@example.com. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or join us at Smackdown for some great racing over the next three days. Until next time be safe and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and commenting on them as your comments make it all worthwhile spending the time typing out these columns to you all.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thomas Jr. Wins Fifth USAC Sprint Contest In USAC's Return To Paragon
Sunday, August 22 – Church was first on the agenda for Sunday before preparing to leave in the late afternoon for a Sunday night special race at the 3/8 mile dirt oval in Paragon. The USAC National sprint cars would be returning to the historic Paragon Speedway in its 67th year of operation for the first time in 23 years after an earlier program was rained out in April. Thirty USAC sprints were joined in the backstretch pit area by fifteen bombers to make for an almost perfect car count for a two division Sunday night program. Seats were secured for us by Jen Kelley and Dan Hetser in the top row of one of the aluminum bleacher sections on the homestretch. We all tried to stay out of the furnace that is created on the hillside where the seating is located as the sun is directly in your eyes and on this day it seemed relentless beating down on us all. It was good to see Brent Goodnight back at the races tonight as serious medical issues have kept him on the sidelines with addition surgery scheduled for September 1st and our thoughts and prayers go out to him for the doctors to finally resolve his problems. We finally ventured into the seating area around 6 and drank plenty of fluids and used the battery powered fan that Jen loaned us until the sun went down and it cooled off a little. Thanks Jen and Dan!!!
Time trials for the USAC sprint cars were the first order of business after warm ups were completed with the first car pushing off at 6:36. By 6:58 Kyle Cummins had toured the 3/8 mile oval the quickest with a time of 14.905 seconds for the top honor. Three USAC sprint heats would follow with five to qualify out of each. The first heat literally got off to a bumpy start when Braxton Cummings lost his battle with the four turn cushion and flipped in the early going of this heat. Emerson Axsom, the Indiana youngster and midget driver, was making his USAC National sprint car debut tonight in the Clauson/Marshall #39BC and what a debut it was as he scored the win in heat one over Jason McDougal, Shane Cockrum in a guest ride in the Gass #17G, Chase Stockon and Kyle Cummins racing into the last qualifying position late in the event. Logan Seavey wheeling the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 looked good winning heat two besting Chase Randall in one of the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ's after winning his first Indiana sprint car race at Lincoln Park the night before & also making his USAC sprint car debut, Jadon Rogers, Justin Grant and Robert Ballou passing Tanner TThorsonlate to send Thorson to the B main. Kevin Thomas Jr. went from third to first on the last lap of his heat to win over Jake Swanson, Ricky Lewis, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon in a stacked heat. Chris Windom finished sixth after taking a ride off of turn four after contact with Kyle Shipley and charging from the rear to fall one spot short of qualifying and joining Thorson in the B main. Two bomber heats were run with Jordan Almanza and David Bumgardner prevailing before the sprinters would return for their B main. The top seven would advance to the 30 lap main event with Koby Barksdale in his new ride in the Knight #16K taking the B outrunning a strong contingent led by Chris Windom who finished second, Jake Scott third, Brayden Fox fourth, Brandon Morin fifth, Brandon Mattox sixth and Tye Mihocko at the key board of the Epperson #2E the last man in. Tanner Thorson suffered a flat tire during the event, changed it and returned to finish one spot out of qualifying. Thorson and the Reinbold/Underwood crew would have to use a provisional to join the field and would start twenty third on the grid for the 30 lap feature event.
The 23 car field was led to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:13 by the front row of CJ Leary and Logan Seavey. It would be the last time the green was needed as this race would go non-stop in 8:28.95 which was a new track record. Leary would lead three corners of the first lap until Seavey charged by on the cushion in turn four bringing Kevin Thomas Jr. along for the ride. Seavey would lead the first seven circuits of this one before Thomas passed Seavey off turn two to grab the lead on lap eight. The leaders began to encounter lap traffic as they raced in lap eleven with Thomas still leading the way with Seavey close behind in his tire tracks as the pair weaved its way through the traffic. Seavey several times during the middle portion of the race was poised to make his challenge but the cushion in turns three and four slowed his advances. Meanwhile two competitors were working their way forward with ninth starting Brady Bacon moving into fourth on lap nineteen while Chris Windom threaded his way from 18th to 6th. In the last five laps Seavey chased Thomas making it too close for comfort for the leader several times. With three to go Thomas closed on Koby Barksdale with three to go hesitating as he figured out which way to go allowing Seavey to close within two car lengths. Thomas dove low in turn two on Barksdale as slid right allowing Thomas to open a little breathing room as he raced by him. The front two raced to the white flag with Seavey again edging within a few car lengths as they charged into turn one. Thomas was able to gap Seavey down the backstretch and entering turns three and four went to the top to take away Seavey's line as they screamed off turn four with Brian Hodde's double checkers flowing. It was Thomas to the line first for the fifth time in 2021 and it was also his 32nd career USAC National sprint car win tying him with Hall of Famer, Rollie Beale, for 13th on the all-time win list. Seavey would come home second with Kyle Cummins third, Brady Bacon fourth and the hard charger, Chris Windom, fifth after starting 18th after two tangles with Kyle Shipley during the evening which he expounded upon in his podium interview. CJ Leary led the second five to the finish in sixth with Robert Ballou moving from 19th to seventh, Justin Grant eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Emerson Axsom tenth. The other rookie, Chase Randall, ended up 13th in the final rundown. The season points race has tightened up as Thomas' recent strong runs has closed the gap on leader Brady Bacon to 39 with Justin Grant in third 77 back in the standings.
We decided to stay and watch the 15 lap bomber feature as it was still early (9:22) and we have watched these guys and gals run heat races at LPS but never have watched one of their features. They usually race close and competitive so it was the night to watch them run their main event. David Bumgardner would lead the entire distance but don't let that fool you as the race up front was a race long four car battle with Bumgardner crossing the line at 9:50 first with Jason Trader second and Josh Litton, a normal super stock driver, taking down third.
It was a good night of racing in both divisions and wrapping up the entire program before 10 PM is a good way to get people to return to your facility the next time you host a Sunday night event. Good job, Joe Spiker and company!!!
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Kody Swanson Prevails In Rain Shortened Bettenhausen 100 At Springfield
Saturday, August 21 – We awoke in Springfield to sunshine and the weather outlook had improved for the better but was still iffy from 4 PM onward. We made the short (1.8 mile) drive to the Illinois State Fairgrounds and followed the road signs that led us to Gate 8 and entrance to a large parking lot outside of turn four of the one mile dirt oval that we were going to attend today. The senior admission to the fair was just $3 each (regular admission was $10) with parking costing an additional $5. We felt that was a pretty good deal to attend such a large state fair. We decided to hang in the car for a while as the skies looked threatening and sure enough about 30 minutes later it began to lightly rain. It only rained for a short period of time and after watching a couple of racing video clips on my phone we decided to enter the race track grounds via the tunnel underneath turn four which leads to the infield. We walked the pit area for a while checking out the grand beasts of the USAC Silver Crown division with Pat taking pictures of many of the cars especially Ken Schrader's mount and Ken himself after he climbed from his machine after practice. It was a special collage of pictures for Ken's favorite fan in Pennsylvania, Beverly Bucks Grim, which Pat added out on her Facebook page. There are two other tunnels to exit the infield area and go over to the front of the grandstand but one could not be used unless you had your Covid-19 vaccine card to show before entering. Seems silly to me to require a vaccine card to just walk through an underground tunnel. Anyhow we emerged from the other tunnel and walked around checking out the various food vendors before deciding on two underneath a pavilion facing the back of the grandstands. I opted for a gyro while Pat chose the pork chop sandwich. After seeing Pat's sandwich I knew I made the wrong choice. Though the gyro was good it did not hold water to the two inch pork chop sandwich Pat feasted on. After finishing my gyro ($6.50) I threw down another six dollars and munched down a delicious pork chop sandwich myself. It was the most tender pork chop sandwiches I have ever eaten and was a real bargain when over vendors were charging seven to nine dollars for lesser sandwiches. Twenty ounce cold waters at $2 each were also a bargain at the pavilion stands. After filling our stomachs it was time to head into the giant grandstand as Silver Crown time trials were already under way starting at 11:28. Of all the dirt miles we have attended over the years we think the Illinois State Fair track and seating are by far the best we have ever witnessed. The seats are nicely pitched and from our Row 20 seats we could gaze over the entire facility with minor obstructions but still better sight lines than anywhere else in our long dirt mile history.
Time trials took just slightly under one hour (59 minutes to be exact) to complete as Cary Oliver took a hard ride into the turn three retaining wall tearing off the right side wheels in the incident. Oliver was OK but did not record a time for the day and joined six other drivers who due to different mechanical woes did not record a time either. Among the other six were several contenders such as Brady Bacon, CJ Leary, Chris Windom and David Byrne along with Kyle Cummins and Chris Urish. That cut the field from 38 to 31 after time trials and USAC would start all the 31 remaining cars in the 58th running of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 on this day. Kody Swanson in the Dyson #9 would set fast time for the 31 timers with a time of 30.075 seconds around the nicely prepared dirt mile or an average of 119.701 mph to give you another perspective. Two sportsman heats were run next with these cars prepared to run the next day with the Menards ARCA series stock cars on the mile. Pat and I discussed during the down time that with the weather conditions it would be a good idea to start the Bettenhausen 100 earlier than the scheduled starting time of 2 PM. We were hoping that a 1:30 starting time would be announced but track management and USAC officials stuck to the 2 PM starting time with the 31 car field taking the initial green flag from Tom Hansing at 2:13 PM. But before the green flag dropped five drivers choose to change right rear tires losing their starting positions and starting from twenty third to twenty seventh on the start. They were Kody Swanson dropping from 1st to 23rd, Jason McDougal from 7th to 24th, Shane Cockrum dropping from 11th to 25th, Shane Cottle from 17th to 26th and Patrick Lawson from 26th to 27th.
That gave the front row over to Matt Westfall and Logan Seavey who was scheduled to start second. Jerry Coons Jr. in the Bateman #55 went to the early lead and would lead the majority of the first lap before Seavey stormed back edging him at the line to lead lap one. Jake Swanson would take second away from Coons on the homestretch on lap two and take up the chase of leader Seavey. Chase Stockon in a second DMW Motorsports entry as a teammate to J. Swanson passed Westfall to move to fourth on lap three as the field raced each other hard in the early going. Justin Grant was on the move from 11th taking fourth from Stockon on lap seven as Kody Swanson cracked the top ten at this point. Lap ten saw the oldest man in the field, 67 year old Dave Peperak making his first Silver Crown appearance in 39 years since Nazareth in 1983, slow to a stop just short of the pit entrance to bring out the first caution. On the restart Seavey went to the point trailed by Jake Swanson. Seavey would lead until lap eighteen when Jake Swanson swept by on the homestretch to take the lead. Meanwhile Kody Swanson and Shane Cockrum were hooked up in a great battle for the ninth spot further back in the field after starting 23rd and 25th respectively. Kody clawed his way up to sixth by lap twenty one and cracked the top five with a turn two pass of Coons on lap twenty two. Justin Grant continued to turn in a strong run moving into third past Chase Stockon in turn three on lap twenty three as Kody Swanson took fourth from Stockon in turn one on lap twenty four. Cockrum stormed to sixth on the inside of turn one surpassing the fading Stockon on lap twenty eight with Kyle Steffens making a move into seventh on lap thirty. The caution waved on lap thirty two when both Chris Fetter and Shane Cottle slowed in turn three unable to limp over to the pit entrance on the homestretch to pull into the pit area. Carmen Perigo was on the move after stopping on the homestretch earlier and restarting at the tail moving up to 11th by lap thirty five. Lap forty two found Perigo into eighth and moving forward in a hurry. One lap later Cockrum slipped by Coons in turn three to move into the top five. Logan Seavey had looked high and low for numerous laps on Jake Swanson finally powering back into the lead on the backstretch on lap forty five. Kody Swanson moved into third past Grant on lap forty five with Perigo sliding by Steffans for sixth on lap forty six. Grant battled back and re-passed Kody for third and now Jake for second as the NOS car seemed to come to life once again on lap forty nine. Just two laps later disaster struck for Grant as his machine slowed on the homestretch with mechanical woes and pulled off on the backstretch exit ending his fine run much too early. Lap fifty four saw the amazing run by Perigo continue as he pulled off a two for one pass of Jake Swanson and Cockrum between turns one and two bolting from fifth into third. Going down the backstretch on lap fifty seven Perigo continued his march doing something not too many drivers do in a Silver Crown race and that is passing Kody Swanson for position shooting by for second to the roar of the crowd. Entering turn one on lap fifty nine Perigo challenged Seavey for the lead with the two banging wheels in the process. Perigo lost ground as Seavey raced out front again after the challenge with Kody Swanson sneaking by Perigo into second shortly thereafter. Kody was like a shark seeing blood as he stalked Seavey making a big run down the homestretch and diving low in turn one to take the lead away from Seavey on lap sixty one. Shane Cockrum rumbled by Perigo for third with an inside run in turn one on lap sixty six and Coons went to fourth with the same move on Perigo on lap seventy one. Kyle Steffans just moved by Perigo for fifth on the outside of turn one starting lap seventy seven before Patrick Lawson and Nathan Moore, two Texan natives, locked horns entering turn one battling for 13th and sliding hard into the turn one wall with Lawson rolling over twice with Moore spinning like a top in the air never flipping but landing hard on the track surface. Both drivers were OK after the scary ride as the wrecker crews cleaned up the accident scene while the field sat quietly on the homestretch waiting for them to finish. As the cars fired back up rain began to fall in turn three and by the time the cars rolled through that area the rain quickly increased making the track unraceable with the field stopped again on the homestretch. At 3:23, just eight minutes after the rain began the race was declared official and the checkered flag was waved bringing the race to a premature ending. The rain continued for 45 minutes and with a concert scheduled for the homestretch stage at 7 PM it would have been impossible to run in the track and restart the race once again.
So it was over at lap seventy six with Kody Swanson declared the winner taking his third Bettenhausen 100 joining ten other drivers with at least three wins in this race and it was also Swanson's first dirt Silver Crown win in three years. It now gives Swanson a 51 point bulge over Seavey in the points title with just three races remaining on the Silver Crown schedule. Logan Seavey would take second with Shane Cockrum third, Jerry Coons Jr. fourth and impressive Kyle Steffans claiming his highest Silver Crown finish ever in fifth. Jake Swanson would record sixth with Matt Westfall riding home seventh, Arizona's Casey Buckman a steady eighth, Carmen Perigo dropped back to ninth after a four spot penalty for jumping on a lap 34 restart which was a shame after his inspiring run and Chase Stockon rounding out the top ten. This one will have the rail birds chirping for years to come about what would have happened if the race was able to go the remaining 24 laps but we will never know for sure. Both Seavey and Cockrum said on Twitter they both had plenty left in their cars and right rear tires to challenge Kody Swanson but you got to wonder if they were prepared for the last stretch don't you think the Silver Crown master had something also??
The plan was to take the thirty minute drive over to Macon Speedway to take in the POWRi midgets but upon approaching the Decatur exit to turn off toward Macon the POWRi Twitter account informed us of a rain out there. With it being too late at that point to go back into Indiana and proceed down to the Lincoln Park Speedway (with an 8:15 arrival for a 7 PM start) we decided to stop in Champaign, Illinois and eat at Hickory River BBQ where the food is delicious especially the brisket which I feel is the best I ever had and believe me we have eaten at many BBQ joints around the country. If you are ever in the Champaign area check out Hickory River BBQ, you will not be disappointed!!!
Check back tomorrow for our report on USAC sprints for the first time in 23 years at Paragon Speedway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some short track racing in your area as the season is moving into the fall. And thanks for reading our column and hope you continue to enjoy our observations and comments.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Neuman Takes First MOWA Sprint Win At Lincoln
Friday, August 20 – Friday was the start of our weekend in Illinois all centered around the USAC Silver Crown cars running Saturday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The race we were heading to on Friday was at the ¼ mile black gumbo clay located on the Logan County Fairgrounds in Lincoln at the Lincoln Speedway. It was billed as the Night Before The Fair Race building up to the big day on Saturday. It would be a six division program with the MOWA winged sprint cars the main attraction and they brought 24 to the dance to join 9 D2 midgets, 11 UMP modifieds, 13 pro late models, 11 hornets and 8 kid modz in the turns three and four pit area outside the ¼ mile and inside the confines of the ½ mile horse track that also separates the covered grandstand from the ¼ mile inside.
This track gets it on keeping the town folks happy by spinning off a snappy program topped by a racing surface that produces virtually no dust. Some other dirt tracks located in a town should send representatives to Lincoln, Illinois to see how to properly operate a race track in a town and keep the locals happy. The scheduled starting time was 7 PM and at 6:53 PM the first of two D2 midget heat took the green flag to kick off a fast paced night of racing. Korey Weyant, a sprint car and Silver Crown driver, won heat one with Mark McMahill capturing heat two. The next division is lined up ready to go on the horse track and roll onto the speedway as the previous race exits the track through the backstretch opening. Two UMP modified heats were next on the card with Ray Bollinger and Brandon Roberts taking top honors. The MOWA sprints would be the third division to run their heats with three to be contested for the 24 car field which included two normal USAC wingless drivers in Robert Ballou and Chris Windom. Brandon Hanks would score the heat one win over Brayton Lynch, Austin O'Dell and Jeremy Standridge. Heat two would go to sprint car rookie, Jake Neuman, over Robert Ballou, Chris Windom and Chris Urish. Heat three was won by Zach Daum beating Cory Bruns, Luke Verardi and Joey Moughan. Jose Parga and Dakota Ewing who are teammates won the pro late model heats. No consies or B mains were needed before launching right into the feature events.
The eight lap kid modz feature would go first and was spun off quickly with an eight or nine year old kid winning. The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda with Ray Bollinger taking the lead on lap 11 and going onto his fifth win of the year at Lincoln over Brian Diveley and Brandon Roberts. Next up was the 25 lap MOWA sprint car feature and it was a competitive run with Jake Neuman scoring his first career MOWA win over sixth starting Robert Ballou, Joey Moughan, Chris Windom and Zach Daum. The 20 lap pro late model feature went green at 9:17 with Jose Parga moving from fourth to take the lead also on lap 11 passing his teammate, Dakota Ewing, who never let him get too far away and drew alongside coming to the checkered at 9:29 but fell a few car lengths short of pulling off the upset. Roben Huffman, Zac Kuhel and Blaise Baker were the next three across the line.
We decided to skip the hornet feature and head south to Springfield to check into our Springfield based hotel for the evening. It was a good night of racing with some good runs in each division ending in a very reasonable hour to keep everyone happy.
Check back tomorrow for our report from the Springfield mile and the rest of the weekend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, comments and everything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing our thoughts and views to you.