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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


     

    Thomas and Courtney Triumph In Night One Of Western World At Arizona Speedway


     

    Friday, November 15 - Another bright sunshine day greeted us in the morning as we awoke with early temperatures in the high 50's but by noon the temperature had moved into the low 80's. By late afternoon it was time to make our way over to the 1/3 mile dirt oval Arizona Speedway in the San Tan Valley, southeast of the metro Phoenix area for night one of the 52nd Annual Western World Championship presented by San Tan Ford. Upon arrival we secured our seats in the fifth row of the homestretch grandstands while Pat went back to the car to make her daily call to her father I hung out and browsed the area buying a BC39 tee shirt for $10 from the USAC trailer and grabbing a NOS Energy drink before heading back to my seat to browse Twitter. I found out that there were 35 USAC sprint cars and 30 USAC midgets gracing the pit area making for two fine car counts for the evening of racing.


     

    The USAC sprints were first up for four rounds of hot laps followed by time trials which commenced at 6:43. At 7:07 Logan Seavey, in one of the three Reinbold/Underwood entries, had set fast time with a lap of 14.763 around the 1/3 mile oval and was interviewed by Georgia Henneberry on the homestretch. The USAC midgets hot lapped next and began their time trial session at 7:32. It was the first time that the USAC National midgets had raced at Arizona Speedway so fast time tonight would be a new track record. After several drivers stepped up and establish the new mark during time trials it was finally Logan Seavey topping the speed charts with a time of 15.426 to establish the new track record and pull a rarity of being the fast timer in both USAC classes on the same evening.


     

    The USAC sprint heats were next on the card with four of them to determine 16 qualifiers for the 30 lap main event later in the evening. Heat one produced some fireworks as Justin Grant tangled with two others on the homestretch and did a light rollover of his machine. The car was righted and Grant was pushed off and rejoined the field at the tail. By the end of the first heat Logan Seavey had powered around everyone in the late going using the outside cushion to score the exciting win over Jason McDougal back after his nasty crash at Perris last week this time in the Grau #34X, Chris Gensen and Grant who managed to battle back of qualify. Heat two saw Buckeye, Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. hold off the field besting Chase Stockon, Jake Swanson and Brody Roa to capture this one. CJ Leary nailed down heat three over Damion Gardner, Max Adams in the Cheney #42 this weekend and Austin Williams. Tyler Courtney would snag heat four also using the high side in the best heat of the night catching Thomas Meseraull late for the lead and the eventual win with Meseraull, Brady Bacon and Chris Windom trailing.


     

    The USAC midgets would also run four heats with rookie Andrew Layser in one of the Clauson/Marshall stable winning heat one over Jason McDougal, Tanner Carrick and Logan Seavey. Heat two saw POWRi point champion, Jesse Colwell, scoring the win in one of eight Kunz entries in tonight's tussle winning over Tyler Courtney, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Karsyn Elledge. Brady Bacon powered the second Fred Manafort #76 to victory in heat three beating Jerry Coons Jr., Conor Daly in a third Petry entry in a strong run and Zeb Wise. Daison Pursley at the tender young age of 15 in his USAC midget debut shocked the field by winning heat four over Chris Windom, Gio Scelzi and Holly Hollan.


     

    There were still two B mains to run, one in each division with the sprint B main going to Kevin Thomas Jr. over Josh Hodges, Hunter Schuerenberg, RJ Johnson, Dustin Clark and Kyle Shipley. During the sprint B main Sterling Cling took a nasty flip between turns one and two and everyone was relieved when he climbed from the wrecked sprinter. The midget B was won by Carson Macedo in the Tarlton #21 over Rico Abreu, Cory Elliott, Robert Dalby, Kyle Cummins in the Jack Yeley #2G and Thomas Meseraull in the Gile #13. The two feature fields were set by 9:44 and all that was left to contest were the two 30 lap main events. No track work was done at this point and in hindsight should have been but that is another story.


     

    By 10:11 after the four wide salute the 24 car field was ready to go with provisionals Tucker Klaasmeyer and CJ Sarna tagging the field making it 24 total with Kevin Thomas Jr. taking the early lead from his first starting position. Thomas had only clocked tenth fastest but with four others not qualifying through the heats he moved into the top six invert and the pole position. The midgets all used the inside groove during the 30 lap distance with passing being at a premium. Zeb Wise was able to scoot by Gio Scelzi who slid high in turn two to take second and would chase Thomas the entire 30 lap distance. There were five total cautions with Karsyn Elledge bringing out the first three with spins until she retired to the infield for the remainder of the event. With ten to go lap traffic was looming and it was going to get interesting as the leaders approached with everyone using the low groove. That was all resolved when Thomas Meseraull brought out the final caution as he slowed in turns one and two. On the restart with a clear track in front Thomas went back to the point with Wise and Tanner Carrick in tow. Wise cleared the lap machine of CJ Sarna who in in between he and Thomas and began to reel in the leader. Going into turn one after crossing the line with two to go Wise dove low on Thomas and edged alongside until Thomas slammed the door on his foot midway through the turn. This gave Thomas enough room and time to hold off the late advances of Wise who was celebrating his 17th birthday today and deny him the ultimate birthday gift with a win. Thomas crossed the line first at 10:32 for his sixth career USAC National midget win with Wise second, Carrick third, Logan Seavey in a race long duel with Carrick settling for fourth and Carson Macedo rounding out the top five. The second five was filled by Rico Abreu, Chris Windom, Tyler Courtney, Jerry Coons Jr. and Brady Bacon. The crowd enjoyed the victory lane ceremony when two long horned steers were brought into victory lane and the announcer asked Thomas if he was going to mount one of them which he responded "Sure, why not" and jumped onto the back of the big steer and was walked around on the homestretch.


     

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was expanded to a starting field of 24 when two Western drivers, Dennis Gile and Stevie Sussex used provisionals to gain access to the main event. On the start Chris Windom went to the point but the first of six cautions waved on lap one when faster timer and heat winner, Logan Seavey, pulled up lame with mechanical woes and was done for the evening. On the restart Windom went to the top as did the rest of the field, the direct opposite of what the midgets did in the previous feature. Windom ran rough shod over the field in the first half of the race. By the halfway mark though Justin Grant had caught Windom and looked high and low for a way around the high flying Windom. On lap seventeen Grant made his move diving low with a slider with contact between the two leaders with Grant taking over the top spot. Two laps later Windom returned the favor and was out front again entering turn two. It was far from over at this point as Grant made a turn one slider stick on lap 21 entering turn one retaking the lead with Windom and a fast closing Kevin Thomas Jr. as the top three. Lap 22 was the major turning point of the race as the top three entered turn one approaching the lap car of Kyle Shipley. Shipley was racing hard and abusing the right rear with smoke coming off the tire entering turn two when he slid high off the rubber and sideways in front of the leaders. Grant, Windom, Thomas and Hunter Schuerenberg, the top four runners, had no where to go and crashed into the sideways Shipley. Also involved like a secondary crash on the interstate were Chase Stockon and points leader, CJ Leary, who sat against the wall between turns one and two. You could hear the air go out of the balloon as Shipley's refusal to move over had for all legitimate reasons ruin the race and possibly Leary's title hopes. Windom and Schuerenberg were done for the evening with Grant, Thomas, Leary and Stockon returning but Thomas dropped out a few laps later. Austin Williams in the Moose Racing #92 inherited the lead with Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney on his tail tank. The track turned tire abrasive as with five to go Williams chance at his first USAC National win went south when his right rear tire blew in turn three causing a major melee with five other cars involved. Bacon was now the leader with Courtney in second. With three to go Chris Gansen pulled up lame with a flat tire. When racing resumed it was not for long as both fourth running Damion Gardner and 12th running Kevin Thomas Jr. went to the sidelines with flat right rears and under caution you could see the cords on Bacon's right rear and you knew it was just a matter of time and second running Courtney saw the situation and was like a shark seeing blood as he moved in for the kill. On the lap 29 restart sliding to the low side of Bacon entering turn one Courtney cleared him for the lead in turn two. Bacon pulled to the fence exiting turn two with the right rear gone and it was Courtney now on top. The last lap went off without incident with Courtney flashing under the checkered flag first for the eighth time in 2019 and for the 25th time in his career tying him with Jay Drake, Steve Butler and Chris Windom for 20th on the all-time win list. Justin Grant rebounded from his earlier tangle to charge back to second with fresh rubber on the right rear with Jason McDougal third, Charles Davis Jr. fourth and Stevie Sussex one of the happiest men in the field after taking a provisional and riding home fifth. CJ Leary salvaged a rough night coming home sixth with his point lead dropping from 44 to 26 entering the final night of the season Saturday so it should be interesting to see how it all plays out on the final night. Will it be Leary for his first title or will it be Courtney for back to back titles. Time will tell. Josh Hodges came home seventh with Chase Stockon eighth, Austin Williams a disappointed ninth and Tommy Malcolm rounding out the top ten.


     

    It was a disappointing last ten laps of the main event but hopefully they will tighten up the program so they can have some extra time to rework the track before the two features especially the sprint car feature as you would like to see the championship decided with racing not tire woes. Check back on Sunday to see the results.


     

    That's it for now as we prepare for tonight and what it holds. So get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area as the season winds down and be safe and dry. Comments, news, stories, rumors or what not can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our travels take us.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


     

    Santos Sweeps King Of The Wings Weekend With Win At Irwindale


     

    Sunday, November 10 - After spending the morning over at the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix watching UTV's, motorcycles and ATV's run a 5.2 mile road course we headed northwest toward Irwindale where the Irwindale Speedway was hosting a rare Sunday afternoon program of racing headlined by the King Of The Wings sprint cars along with vintage cars running on the inner oval, the legend cars and enduro stocks running features on the new Roval and motorhomes running a race on the figure 8. A nice crowd turned out to view the variety of racing action which was kicked off at 2:08 by the vintage open wheel cars on the inner oval. The two heats for the KOTW sprint cars was next on the agenda with 12 sprinters in the pit area to do battle. Eric Humphries and Bobby Santos III would score the heat wins both easily outrunning the competition.


     

    The seven legend cars were the first to tackle the 12 turn Roval in their 15 lap feature with only four finishing the race. Young Jake Bollman won the event over Jeff Smith and Brian Park. The 25 lap enduro stock feature was next up on the Roval and a fine field of 20 cars took the green flag. A race long battle between Bobby Ozman and Bory Molina ensued with the pair rubbing and bumping through the various turns exchanging the lead back and forth. Finally Bory Molina took command late in the contest and crossed the finish line first for his third straight win in this division besting Ozman.


     

    By 4 PM it was time for the 30 lap KOTW sprint car feature. Justin Segura took the early lead and led the first eight laps with Monty Bergener and Bobby Santos III in hot pursuit. Smoke began to emit from Segura's mount and officials waved the yellow to check his car to see if oil was leaking from his mount. It was determined that it was so Segura was sent to the pit area for the rest of the race. Bergener assumed the lead on the restart and held the lead until they crossed the line to start lap 14 where Santos charged around the outside into the lead which he would hold the remainder of the 30 lap distance. Santos would sweep the California weekend after winning at Kern County the night before and was his eighth straight KOTW win. Eric Humphries would cross the line second and secure his second straight KOTW point title with AJ Russell coming home third, Audra Sasselli, the women racer, came home fourth and Ron Larson of British Columbia raced home fifth.


     

    There was still a 15 lap small motorhome feature to run on the figure 8 track and the majority of the crowd stayed to watch the fun event. Nine small motorhomes took the green flag and raced around the track with several close encounters but no crashes at the X. At the conclusion of the event slightly before 5 they declared Wild Bill the winner but there was so confusion as the Flying Fillipino we believe was a lap ahead of the rest of the survivors. It was a fun day and we all came away satisfied with a day race in the sunshine in November.


     

    That's it until Friday when we travel over to Arizona to take in the Western World Classic at the Arizona Speedway in Apache Junction where the USAC National Sprints conclude their 2019 season and are joined on the card by the first appearance of the USAC National Midgets in Arizona in ten years. Should be a good series. In the meantime catch the remaining races in your area and be safe out there. We heard that in our hometown of Crawfordsville, IN they received over 5 inches of snow on Tuesday while we enjoyed 80 degree temperatures out here in California and Arizona. Hey, somebody has to do it!!!!! And in ending this column we thank you for reading our efforts and enjoy bringing them to you as much as you seem to enjoy reading them.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


     

    Leary Scores Budweiser Oval Nationals Finale At Perris


     

    Saturday, November 9 - After another sunny and fun day spent in Southern California it was time to head over to Perris and the Perris Auto Speedway for the final night of racing in the 24th Budweiser Oval Nationals presented by All Coast Construction. Thirty six sprinters returned for the last night of racing on the half mile dirt oval and the track was in vintage shape for the 40 lap finale. The top six in points were locked into the field and they would run a super six dash later in the evening but first it was time for the remaining 30 cars to run time trials which pushed off at 5:57. When it was all said and done by 6:18 it was Concord California's favorite son, Damion Gardner, doing the interview with Georgia Henneberry trackside after setting the fast time of the evening at 16.362 seconds on the half mile equaling Thursday's fast timer, CJ Leary, for fastest time of the week.


     

    Next up would be four heats for the USAC sprint cars with just two to qualify making these races even more intense. Austin Liggett would draw first blood notching heat one over Damion Gardner. Californian Max Adams who raced the year in Indiana returned home to drive the Ford #73 to victory in heat two outrunning Jake Swanson for the win. Thomas Meseraull, an 18 time feature winner this year, brought the Gile #13 home first in heat three holding off Chris Windom in the process. Jace VanderWeerd made it three for four in heat wins on the evening for the California contingent besting Logan Seavey in the fourth and final heat of the night. The super six dash was next on the card with the finishing order determining the top six starting order for the 40 lap main event. CJ Leary in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ would grab the win in this one turning back Chase Stockon, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney and Richard VanderWeerd in this event to secure the first starting position for tonight's main event. Two B mains would round out the qualifying portion of the program with five drivers from each B main moving into the starting lineup for the feature. Austin Williams would bring the Moose Racing #92 home first in B main one for his car owners the grand marshals for the Oval Nationals beating Charles Davis Jr., Bud Kaeding, Hunter Schuerenberg and RJ Johnson to the line in this one. Kevin Thomas Jr. would park the Hayward/Thomas #19 in victory lane by a country mile in B main two romping over Brody Roa, Stevie Sussex, Cody Williams and Tommy Malcom. Four provisionals would swell the starting field from 24 to 28 with Josh Hodges for the third straight night taking the free pass along with Eddie Tafoya Jr., Chris Gansen and Chris Bonneau as the added starters.


     

    After pre-race ceremonies which included a huge American flag held by armed forces veterans on the homestretch doing several patriotic songs including the National Anthem the drivers were introduced to the large crowd on hand going across the stage to cheers from the large gathering.  It was feature time with the green flag waving at 9:32 on the 28 car field led to the green by CJ Leary and Chase Stockon. Stockon used the cushion in turns one and two to storm into the lead with Leary in chase. Chase looked very strong and would pace the field for the first 16 laps until Leary used the inside through turn two to grab the lead on lap 17 and never look back. It wasn't as easy as it sounds as Stockon locked up in a crowd pleasing duel for second with Tyler Courtney, Brady Bacon and Chris Windom in an out and out war for the top five. Courtney was able to work his way past Stockon in turn three on lap 23 and took up the chase of Leary. Lap traffic loomed ahead as the top two raced nose to tail until lap 26 when Courtney ran too close to Leary's tail and jumped the cushion in turn three losing three spots in the process. Stockon was back in second but now Brady Bacon was in third and closing looking for a three night sweep of the Oval Nationals. That would all end on lap 29 when Max Adams spun between turns three and four and as the yellow appeared Bacon ran up and over the left rear tire of a slowing Stockon looping it on the backstretch missing any wall contact but relegating him to the rear of the field on the restart. Bacon would end up 12th when the final checker would fall. Lap 33 would see Chris Windom work his way by Stockon and put him in the hunt over the last seven laps. The last ten laps were interrupted by no less than four cautions from Logan Seavey with a flat on lap 31, Austin Liggett rolling over in turn three on lap 35, Justin Grant spinning in turn four on lap 37 and a debris caution on lap 38. Windom was still lurking in the shadows behind Leary at every point but he also had to worry about Stockon and Damion Gardner who were turning up the wick and pressuring him also. Leary would prevail over the remaining two laps and nail down the victory, his ninth career USAC National win, and probably the biggest of his career holding off Windom, Gardner, Stockon and Courtney for the win. He also increased his season long point lead on Courtney from 32 to 44 with just two point races still to go. The second five was filled with a bunch of overachievers in Kevin Thomas Jr. from 16th to 6th and the hard charger award, Jake Swanson from 13th to 7th, Austin Williams from 15th to 8th, Richard VanderWeerd the only backslider from 6th to 9th and Bud Kaeding from 17th to 10th. Kaeding also nailed down the pass master award for the three day Oval Nationals passing a total of 17 cars over the three day period.


     

    Saturday night's finale was by far the best of the three races and was an indication of the vintage racing normally seen at this historic oval. Now it is onto the Grand Canyon state and the final two races for the USAC National Sprints who will be joined on the card by the USAC National Midgets who are entering their last five races of the season culminating in Ventura for Turkey Night.


     

    Check back tomorrow for our report from Irwindale and on Saturday and Sunday for reports from the last two USAC sprint car races of the year and in the meantime get out there and catch the last races in your area before the winter season sets in. Comments, news, tidbits and other notes of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words sent our way as we enjoy bringing these reports to you as much as you enjoy reading them.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


     

    Bacon Doubles Up On Night Two At Perris


     

    Friday, November 8 - Upon arrival at Perris Auto Speedway on Friday we knew we were in trouble for the evening. There are two bad four letter words in racing, the one is rain and the other is wind. Tonight it was the second bad four letter word as the flags on the flag poles in the parking lot were standing straight out at attention and that is never a good sign if you are going to see racing at a dirt track. Wind wrecks havoc on a dirt track and tonight's surface took a beating all day long so you just knew it was going to be dry, black and slick.


     

    Forty one cars would take time trials for the second night in a row Californian Chase Johnson would not make it out of time trials as his #68 busted a rear axle entering turn three which caused his right rear tire to depart from the sprinter and sent him into the turn four wall hard again flipping over in the process. It would be another short evening for the Northern California driver who has had a pretty decent year before the Oval Nationals began. Johnson was OK but done for the evening. Chris Windom would clock the fast time for the evening at 16.835 seconds, a full half second off last night's fast time.


     

    The first of five sprint car heats for the 40 sprinters left to run would start at 7:19 with Richard VanderWeerd sweeping a top four Western drivers finish winning this one over Arizona's RJ Johnson, Jake Swanson and Stevie Sussex. Heat two would see the veteran Indiana driver, Bill Rose, hold off Brady Bacon to score a popular win in this one with Austin Williams and Jace VanderWeerd trailing. Austin Liggett would bring home the bragging rights for the California contingent in heat three winning over Thomas Meseraull, CJ Leary and Chase Stockon in a competitive heat race. Tyler Courtney would score heat win #16 for the year besting Charles Davis Jr., Logan Seavey and Brody Roa. The fifth and final heat would go to one of the Kaeding clan with Bud winning over Damion Gardner, Hunter Schuerenberg and Justin Grant. All heat racing was completed in less than an hour with a twenty minute break for some water and for the latter heat cars to make some changes.


     

    The 18 car B main would take the green at 8:30 with fast timer Chris Windom who dropped out of heat one easily capturing the win outdistancing Kevin Thomas Jr., Max Adams and Tommy Malcolm. Three provisionals would join the qualified cars for the 30 lapper which was next up on the agenda. Josh Hodges for the second night in a row used a provisonal along with West Coasters Eddie Tafoya Jr. and Steve Hix. The field was now determined with 27 sprinters locked into the 30 lap main event.


     

    By 9:13 it was feature time with the front row of Damion Gardner and Tyler Courtney bringing 25 of their friends to the green flag. Gardner got the jump and so much so that the caution waved to realign the field to try it again. On the second restart it looked like Courtney got the jump but it stayed green until the backstretch when Garner tagged the backstretch wall, climbed it and came back down on his left side wheels going into a spin against the backstretch wall. Steve Hix, near the tail, clipped him going by sending both to the work area with Hix done for the evening and Gardner returning four laps behind after front end repairs were made. On the next start Brady Bacon who moved up one when Gardner failed to return for the next green got the slight advantage as he and Courtney raced off turn four and took the lead until Chris Windom, CJ Leary and Jace VanderWeerd tangled in turns three and four causing the yellow to wave again. Windom was finished for the night while VanderWeerd and Leary returned after Leary changed a left rear tire in the work area. The third restart saw Justin Grant making it three wide down the homestretch into turn one with Grant inching ahead until Bacon blasted off the cushion and back into the early lead. There was not much passing after this point with Grant keeping Bacon in sight as the laps ticked off. Bacon approached lap traffic on lap 18 struggling with Bill Rose allowing Grant to close but not challenge before Bacon worked his way by. In the last five laps Bacon caught Hunter Scherenberg but could not make any sort of pass by him as the black middle strip was the fastest way around and as Bacon mentioned in victory lane "if he couldn't pass Schuerenberg then he felt that no one would be able to pass him" and that turned out true as Bacon crossed under the checkers at 9:41 taking his second straight win at Perris after going winless the previous 13 years and notching his 29th career USAC National sprint car victory. Grant would trail in second with Courtney third, Chase Stockon fourth and Austin Williams the highest finishing West Coast entrant in fifth. The second five was led by Logan Seavey with Kevin Thomas Jr. seventh, Richard VanderWeerd from 19th to eighth, Bud Kaeding ninth and CJ Leary working his way back to tenth at the finish. Leary's national point lead drops to 32 from 55 with one night left at Perris and two at Arizona Speedway to determine the point championship. The top six from points over the first two nights are locked into the Saturday night finale with Bacon, Courtney, Grant, R. VanderWeerd, Leary and Stockon being those six.


     

    That's it for now until tomorrow or Monday when we report on the last night at the Budweiser Oval Nationals and Sunday from Irwindale as the King of the Wings clash there on the half mile asphalt oval. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy whatever racing is remaining in your area or take it on the road to catch one of those bucket list tracks. Comments, news, releases and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And not to be forgotten thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


     

    Bacon Picks Up First Perris Win In Fourteen Years Of Trying


     

    Thursday, November 7 - The day dawned bright and sunny in the Palm Springs area with the temperatures rising to the high 80's before we set off for our one hour drive over to Perris, California, the home of the Perris Auto Speedway and the site of the 24th Budweiser Oval Nationals, a three night affair featuring the USAC National Sprint Cars, the USAC/CRA sprints and the USAC Southwest sprints meeting to do battle on the 1/2 mile dirt oval there.


     

    Brady Bacon has raced here since 2006 and even though he has finished in the top ten 17 times and the top five 9 times he has never won at Perris in his fourteen years. That would all change tonight as he would race from first at the start and never be headed to notch his first win at the PAS on this Thursday night. But first lets go back to the beginning of the evening and fill in the blanks of what preceded Bacon standing in victory lane. Forty one entries filed into the infield pit area to square off against each other on this pleasant evening with temperatures dropping down into the mid 50's by night's end with Chase Johnson starting the action off early taking a flip in turn four during warmups and ending his evening even before it began. Time trials kicked off at 6:21 and after setting second fast time on his first time trial lap Tyler Courtney caught the four turn wall and went for a nasty ride into the catch fence and landing hard on the wall and track after tumbling to earth. Courtney climbed from the wrecked mount and when the second heat rolled around he was trackside with the same steed to do battle in the heat. CJ Leary in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ wrenched by Davy Jones garnered their tenth quick time of the year with a lap of 16.362 seconds around the 1/2 mile Southern California oval. The first of five heats kicked off at 7:20 with Justin Grant capturing heat one in a strong run besting Hunter Schuerenberg, his teammate CJ Leary and Brady Bacon who all locked into the 30 lap main event later in the evening. Tyler Courtney showed no ill effects from his wild ride storming from sixth to win heat two for his 15th heat win of the year beating Arizona's RJ Johnson, Thomas Meseraull in one of the West Coast Gile entries and Tommy Malcolm, one of the California contingent. Heat three went to West Coast charger Damion Gardner over Californian rival Brody Roa in one of two Cheney #42's, Logan Seavey in the third Reinbold/Underwood entry and Austin Liggett in the family #83. Charles Davis Jr., one of the Arizona hot shoes would nail down heat four over Kevin Thomas Jr., Chase Stockon and fourth fast qualifier, Richard VanderWeerd. Heat five would see a nasty crash in turn one after first starting Sterling Cling got a bad start and charged into turn one with a full head of steam as the caution waved crashing into second starting Jason McDougal in the second Chaney #42 sending both of the drivers into a series of flips and rolls with McDougal entangled in the turn one fencing. McDougal was groggy and took a ride to the hospital for a checkup and was released after being checked out. Chris Windom would take the Goacher #5G to victory in this one over Cody Williams, Bud Kaeding and Stevie Sussex in a Western series sweep behind the Bear.


     

    The 18 car B main was next on the agenda after a short break with Max Adams in the Ford #73 outrunning the field in this one with Jace VanderWeerd second, Austin Williams in the Moose Racing #92 third and Jake Swanson nailing down the last qualifying position. Four provisionals would join the 24 qualified cars swelling the starting field to 28 for the 30 lap main event. Josh Hodges, Chris Gansen, Dennis Gile and Eddie Tafoya Jr. were the drivers added to the big dance tonight with the main event ready to rumble by 9:25.


     

    Bacon and Windom brought the field to the green flag with Bacon bounding into the early lead, one that he would not give up for the remainder of the 30 lap distance though Windom stayed close and challenged several times in traffic. The first caution occurred on lap four with CJ Leary and Tyler Courtney battling for position collided on the backstretch with Courtney suffering a flat left rear in the incident heading to the work area and restarting at the tail of the field. On the restart Bacon moved back to the point with Windom and Damion Gardner pressuring Windom for second. Near the halfway mark Gardner made his move in traffic for second but Chris Gansen was in his way and Gardner had to back out allowing Windom to retain second. Windom turned up the wick at this point and surged ahead cutting into Bacon's lead and reeled in the leader as the laps ticked off. A timely caution moments later with a Dennis Gile spin cleared the path for Bacon and he welcomed the open track in front of him. Bacon resumed the lead on the restart with Windom in pursuit. Just as they approached lap traffic with eight to go tenth running Bud Kaeding spun and sat low in turn two to bring out the last caution. With six to go Windom made a hard run on Bacon entering turns one and two but Bacon staved off the challenge exiting turn two. Bacon would retain the lead over the remaining six laps and flash under the checkered flags at 9:45 for the fifth time this season and first since sweeping the Corn Belt Nationals at Knoxville in July. It was also his 28th career USAC National Sprint Car win tying him with some heady company of Levi Jones and JJ Yeley for 14th on the all-time win list. Windom rode home second for his sixth straight top five pushing him into third place in the points past Kevin Thomas Jr. with four races to go. Richard VanderWeerd would be the highest finishing West Coaster in third which equaled his highest USAC National sprint finish which occurred in 2017 also here at Perris during the Oval Nationals. Damion Gardner would place fourth with Leary coming home fifth and increasing his points lead by eight to 55 over Courtney who charged back to eighth at the end. Justin Grant led the second five in sixth with Jace VanderWeerd seventh, Courtney eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. ninth and Austin Williams rounding out the top ten.


     

    That's it for now with tomorrow night being night two of the Oval Nationals with a stop in Lake Elsinore for some UTV and truck off road racing in the afternoon. Until next time get out there and catch some good late season racing in your area and be safe and dry. News, releases, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep checking back for the next installment of A Typical Weekend.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing Hawaiian Style On The Big Island At Hilo Oval Track

    Saturday, October 19 - The day arrived that we were planning on going racing on the Big Island of Hawaii and we were up bright and early to make the two hour trek from Kona to Hilo for some auto racing Hawaiian style. Driving up and over the mountain we encountered low clouds and rain at the top and as we made our way down the other side it was still raining and the prospects were not looking good. Our destination would be the Hilo Oval Track, a 1/4 or 1/5 mile dirt oval located a little south of Hilo. It is not the easiest place to find as it is located on a long road that takes you pass a recycle center and a public transportation center but we trekked on and first came upon the drag strip and then the motocross track, the go-kart track and finally the dirt oval. As we pulled up to the ticket booth and paid our $10 admission the gal on duty wasn't positive that they would be able to run today and assured a full refund if they did not prevail. Hilo Oval Track runs once a month starting in March and it is a grassroots track where the racing people come out to enjoy themselves and see some down home racing.


     

    We parked in the back part of the parking lot as we didn't want to take any chances of dirt or rocks hitting the rental Mustang instead of pulling the car up to the homestretch fence to view the action. There are two sets of smaller aluminum grandstands on the backstretch where we were located about six rows high and many of the locals set up tents to sit under and watch the racing. We ran into a couple from Oregon and I chatted with a very nice man from Hawaii who introduced me to his entire extended family and offered me Taro chips which were very good as we chatted before the races began. A light rain fell around starting time which delayed the start until 12:38 when the first heat came to the track. The car counts were low but that was expected but they had enough to produce a day of racing. There were 7 front wheel bombers, 6 rear wheel bombers, 5 four cylinder stocks, 4 V8 stocks and 3 non-wing sprints which was a real surprise to us. In fact another one arrived later but only took a few warmup laps and never competed in the actual racing. There was also 1 winged sprinter on hand who also only took some practice laps on the tacky surface.


     

    The front wheel bombers kicked off the day of racing and each class ran two sets of heats with the same cars participating with Kaimi Francis sweeping the FW bombers heat runs. Ed Miner would do the same in the rear wheel bombers while Gilbert Quiroz would do the same in the four cylinder stocks. The V8 stocks would be dominated by Steven Bosch in a division where they lost two of the four competitors after the first heat due to accidents. The non-wing sprint heats were won by Richard Gill and Abel Wood. All heat racing was completed by 2 PM and an hour intermission was taken before the feature events were called to the speedway. The weather was looking worse as the first feature with the front wheel bombers took the green at 3 PM in a light rain. Kaimi Francis would lead the majority of the 15 laps but not the most important one as they slid high in one of the turns with Micah Grace sneaking by and holding off Francis for the win. The rain let up for the rear wheel bombers and Ed Miner would complete the sweep of his division copping the main event over Richard Blackwell and Kenji Jones. The 15 lap four cylinder stock feature was captured by the truck of John Montpas after Gilbert Quiroz dropped out. Steven Bosch got out the broom sweeping the V8 stock feature. Only two of the three non-wing sprint cars made the call for the 15 lap feature as the rain returned and a steady rain fell during the entire 15 laps of racing which we are sure must have made it difficult for them to see as they had no roof to block the rain falling. Richard Gill would prevail at 3:50 over Abel Wood as the folks at Hilo were able to complete the day of racing which we were thankful for. It had taken us three attempts before we saw a race at Hilo Oval Track and it was satisfying to finally be able to add this one to our career total. It was #822 for me while Pat scored her 818th career track. It was also our 100th race of 2019 with more planned in November and December. Thanks to Sue Cabral for promptly providing me with names of the drivers as there was no public address system and we like to give the drivers recognition for their efforts and were able to do so.


     

    That's it for now as we prepare to leave the Hawaiian Islands and make our way back to Crawfordsville and sleep in our new condo there. Until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or maybe take it on the road and catch one of your bucket track list tracks. Comments, news, stories or anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see what is happening.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND
     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel
     

    Thomas Scores Big Fall Nationals Win At Lawrenceburg
     

    Saturday, October 5 - It was another tough decision as two big events were scheduled for the same night in Indiana. Gas City I-69 Speedway was running their two day program called the Fall Festival of Speed with non-wing sprints, winged 305 sprints, open midgets and MMSA mini sprints while Lawrenceburg Speedway was running their Fall Nationals with USAC sprints and UMP modifieds. We opted for the two division program at Lawrenceburg and started the 2 1/2 hour trek southward to southeast Indiana stopping along the way to have dinner at Bob Evan's before continuing on to the fast 3/8 mile high banked dirt oval located in Lawrenceburg, the home of Seagram's distillery.


     

    The 10th Annual Fall Nationals was on tap with a big $10,000 pay check to the winner of the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature this evening. Twenty six sprint cars made the tow south along with 23 UMP modifieds joining them in the turn three and four pit area. First up on the agenda was time trials for the sprinters commencing at 6:19 and by 6:45 Tyler Courtney stood in the infield on the homestretch being interviewed by Georgia Henneberry after setting his sixth fast time of the year touring the 3/8 mile in 13.831 seconds. A scary moment occurred in time trials when Tyler Kendall's left front tire left is sprinter entering turn three but Kendall kept on the gas and kept the left front from digging into the track surface and probably sending him for a nasty ride in the process. Kendell was able to slow and finally stop his car on the backstretch no worse for wear but causing everyone a few moments of worry. Pre-race activities honored Richard Hoffman, long time owner of the #69 currently driven by Brady Bacon and the Purple Heart Foundation.

    The sprints would come back after modified warmups at 7:23 to run their three heats with five to qualify with the rest relegated to the B main. Kyle Cummins would use his front row starting position to his full advantage leading from start to finish in heat one besting sixth starting Tyler Courtney, Mario Clouser, CJ Leary and Max Adams back in the family owned #5M tonight. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from sixth to easily win heat two beating Jarett Andretti, NIck Bilbee, Brady Bacon and Justin Owen the last man in after Chris Windom had late mechanical woes while running in fifth. Dustin Clark, the rookie of the year leader, won his third heat of the season turning back Scotty Weir, Justin Grant, Chase Stockon and JJ Hughes. Clark changed his last name from Christie after finding out that his biological father's last name was Clark. The UMP modifieds spun off three heats with Curtis Deisenroth, Adam Strickler and Matt Hamilton winning before we returned to sprint car action with the 12 lap B main with the top seven to move into the 30 lap main event. Chris Windom would easily prevail in this event trailed by Josh Hodges, Garrett Abrams, Dustin Smith, Tyler Kendall, Isaac Chapple and Aric Gentry joining the starting field.


     

    After driver introductions and the four wide pace lap the green flag was ready to fly at 8:54 on the front row of Justin Grant and Brady Bacon with twenty others close behind. It looked like slight contact might have been made as the front row raced into turn one with Grant getting sideways recovering but dropping back to fourth as CJ Leary raced around the top of Bacon and into the early lead. Bacon came back on lap three and drove back by Leary into the top spot with Grant closing on Leary. Grant executed a turn one slider on lap eight to take second from Leary and one lap later Kevin Thomas Jr. used the same move in the same spot to secure third. The leaders reached lap traffic on lap twelve but shortly thereafter Aric Gentry pulled up lame to bring out the first yellow. On the restart Bacon went back to the point and looked like the class of the field looking to bring the Hoffman team another victory to add to their impressive list. Lap eighteen saw Kyle Cummins shred a right rear tire exiting turn four to bring out the second caution and regroup the field. Under yellow Grant drew up alongside Bacon to let him know that the right rear tire was going down and Bacon headed for the work area to replace the flat shoe and turned the lead over to Grant at this point and ending an almost sure victory for Bacon. Grant led into turn one on the restart with Thomas closing on the top as they exited turn two and the momentum by Thomas led to a turn three slider into the lead but Grant countered off turn four racing side by side down the homestretch and into turn one where Thomas assumed the top spot. Lap twenty saw the third caution wave as Max Adams rolled to a stop in turns one and two to give Grant another chance to challenge for the lead. Thomas was up to the challenge and moved away on the restart as Grant and Leary swapped sliders for the next four laps around the big 3/8's with Grant prevailing. Leary made another attempt in turn three on lap twenty four but fell short as they exited turn four allowing Tyler Courtney to draw even down the homestretch and slide by in turn one on lap twenty five to grab third. One lap later Justin Owen jumped the cushion in turn four and slid across the middle of the corner collecting the oncoming Garrett Abrams who ran up and over Owen's car flipping high into the air in the process. Both drivers were OK after the mishap and it reset the field for the last four laps with Thomas leading Grant and Courtney to the restart. Thomas was flawless on the restart and left Grant and Courtney to battle it out for second. With three to go Courtney slid by Grant to take second but Thomas was gone by this time. At 9:20 Thomas raced under the double checkers for his second USAC win of the year and his twenty seventh career USAC win tying him with Brady Bacon for 16th on the all time list also passing Tony Elliott and Dave Steele to move into 16th. Courtney finished second and cut Leary's point lead down to 47 points with seven races to go with Grant third, Leary fourth and Chris Windom rounding out the top five. Nick Bilbee in a strong run led the second five in sixth with Bacon battling his way back to seventh at the end with Jarett Andretti eighth, Scotty Weir ninth and Chase Stockon finishing tenth.


     

    Since it was early we decided to stay for the companion twenty lap UMP modified feature but after four cautions with the last one a multi-car mishap and no laps in the books we decided to bag this one and head toward the car at 9:50 as did many other fans at this point. It was a shame to end the evening on a sour note but we enjoyed the sprint car main enough to make us forget about the modified fiasco.


     

    That's it for this weekend and we will be away for a while so no reports for a while. But in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or head to Oswego for Super Dirt Week on the half mile that is converted to dirt for just this event. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or at Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we will catch you soon.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    LPS Point Champion Cockrum Takes Thriller At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, September 28 - This was the final points race of the season at Lincoln Park Speedway and the non-wing sprint car title had already been determined with Shane Cockrum driving the Paul #24P scoring his second straight point championship at the 5/16 mile dirt oval in beautiful downtown Putnamville. There were three other divisions to still be decided so the clan gathered in the large concrete grandstands and on the turn four hillside to watch the last night of racing at LPS for the 2019 racing season.


     

    The four sprint car heats for the 33 car field assembled for the evening would take the initial green flag at 7:04 PM. Travis Berryhill would fend off AJ Hopkins in the Burton #04 tonight for the win with Tye Mihocko and Harley Burns following. Brady Short would score the win in heat two over eighth starting Matt McDonald, Grain Valley, Missouri invader, JD Black, and Kent Christian. Brandon Mattox would take heat three over Alec Sipes, Andrew Prather and Matt Thompson. Shane Cockrum would start up front and remain there to capture heat four over Brent Beauchamp, Jadon Rogers and Parker Frederickson. The 21 UMP modifieds assembled tonight would contest three heats with James Walters, Tyler Loughmiller and Jeff Deckard taking heat wins. Wes McClara, Wade Goodale and Bryce Shidler would score heat wins for the 20 super stocks gathered in the pits. The bombers would race three heats for their 19 car field gracing the backstretch pits. Only the sprint cars would need a B main and 17 out of 18 would make the call with only 4 advancing to the 25 lap main event. During this event Gary Hayden caught the homestretch wall and started flipping end over end high into the air before landing in turn one. After a few anxious minutes Hayden climbed from his battered sprinter to the relief of the crowd as they showed their relief with a loud round of applauds.  Jake Bland would prevail in this one turning back Jesse Vermillion, Shey Owens and Shane O'Banion the last man in.


     

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would be the first feature of the evening to give the B main sprinters a chance to make some adjustments before their main event would be run next. Jordan Wever and Jeff Deckard would bring the 21 car field to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:07 with Wever moving out front. Only one caution would slow the affair with James Walters taking up the chase of Wever the entire 20 laps falling short at the finish at 9:16. Derek Losh was not in attendance tonight so we would have a different winner on the evening with Wever scoring his third win of the year and Walters clinching his second straight point championship in the modifieds. Matt Mitchell of Lafayette would finish third with Deckard slipping back to fourth and Tyler Loughmiller, the DePauw University (nearby Greencastle) student, taking down fifth at the finish.


     

    Next up would be the season ending 25 lap sprint car feature with the front row of Brent Beauchamp and Alec Sipes bringing the field minus a scratch of AJ Hopkins to the start/finish line for the initial start at 9:31. Beauchamp would scamper into the lead at the start with Matt McDonald and Brandon Mattox chasing. A three car tangle in turn two on lap five saw former LPS winner, Tye Mihocko of Arizona, rolling over lightly to bring the action to a quick halt. Mihocko was able to return after a pit side visit and finished back in the top ten at the end. On the restart it was Beauchamp as the rabbit jumping back out front trailed by McDonald and Mattox. Matt Thompson would bring out the second and last caution on lap eight when he lost the handle in turn four and spun. The top three continued their intense battle on the restart with Shane Cockrum joining in the fun taking third from Mattox on the backstretch on lap eleven. In the meantime young Jadon Rogers was patiently working his way through the field from tenth and gaining on the leaders. By lap fourteen he had wrestled fourth away from Mattox and was reeling in Beauchamp, McDonald and Cockrum who were still ahead of him as he looked to make it two wins in a row at LPS. A fine run by Matt McDonald ended two laps later as he pulled over the cushion in turn three and stopped his sprinter there with mechanical woes while running second and the complextion of the race changed at this point. It was now Beauchamp, Cockrum and Rogers on the restart with nine laps to go. Cockrum attempted a slide job in turn four on lap nineteen but came up short of passing Beauchamp who countered to the bottom. Rogers drew closer to Cokcrum and put the pressure on the point champ for second as the top three flew around the track in the remaining laps. After taking the white flag with about a ten car length lead Beauchamp charged into turns one and two with Cockrum chasing. As they raced down the backstretch Cockrum was making up huge chunks of real estate and everyone in the house knew that the slider was coming in the east turns. Cockrum launched his assault entering turn three with a massive slider ending in turn four moving him in front of Beauchamp. As they exited the turn Beauchamp crossed over and pulled alongside Cockrum as the two raced to the flag stand with Beauchamp sliding up and banging into Cockrum trying to scuff some speed off the Paul #24P as they closed on the finish line. As they hit the line it was Cockrum by mere inches as Beauchamp lost control and spun backwards across the line as the crowd went wild. Both drivers drove to victory lane where it was announced that Cockrum had edged Beauchamp for the final win. Rogers would complete a fine drive from tenth to third with Mattox fourth and Brady Short rounding out the top five after a late race surge to grab the fifth spot. Positions six through ten were filled by Andrew Prather from eleventh, Alec Sipes, Jesse Vermillion from eighteenth, JD Black and Tye Mihocko. It was a spectacular finish to a good racing season at Lincoln Park with us visiting eleven times in the 2019 season.


     

    The 20 lap super stock feature was still to come and the green waved at 10:02 on this one. Crawfordsville's Bryce Shidler took the lead from Jonny Newgent after a few laps and looked like the man to beat until attempting to pass a lapper high on the backstretch. The lap car pulled higher and Shidler had to back out of it allowing seventh starting Josh Boller to sneak through on the low side for the lead. Shidler battled back but could never make a serious challenge over the remainder of the event with Boller crossing the line first at 10:21 for his tenth win of the season and clinching the 2019 point championship in the process. Shidler finished second in the race and the points with Wes McClara third, Larry Raines moving from eleventh to fourth and Daniel Norman advancing from tenth to fifth at the finish. We decided to call it a night and a season at this point and headed toward the exit pleased with another good night of racing at LPS.


     

    Sunday, September 29 - We were looking forward to this race as it was billed the Best Of Both Worlds as the FAST series winged 410 sprints would be racing at the Kokomo Speedway along with the non-winged BOSS sprints with both organizations based out of Ohio. The weather would play a big factor in today's events as showers were predicted off and on the majority of the day. In addition to the FAST sprints paying $3000 to win and the BOSS sprints paying $2000 to win Indy Race Parts owner, Bernie Stuebgen, was offering the first starter through the fourth starter in each main the chance to start 16th and if they won the feature would receive a $1000 bonus on top of the first place share of the winnings.


     

    When we arrived at the track around 5:30 we were surprised to see that a small crowd was on hand for this event. The crappy weather was the culprit for the dismal crowd and the lower sprint car count (21) for the FAST series even though the field assembled was good in quality. Dominick and Gio Scelzi were on hand in the winged cars as were Christopher Bell, Parker Price-Miller, Brandon Wimmer, Tyler Gunn, Cole Duncan, Cale Conley, Buddy Kofoid, Lee Jacobs, Joe B. Miller, Max Stambaugh, Thomas Meseruall and Zeb Wise making his 410 sprint car debut in the McGhee #11. The BOSS sprint field checked in at 31 with regulars Matt Westfall, Dallas Hewitt, Dustin Ingle, Steve Little and Cory Crabtree along with non-BOSS drivers such as Dave Darland, Jarett Andretti, Joe B. Miller, Jadon Rogers, Scotty Weir, Brayden Fox, Anthony D'Allessio, Cole Ketcham, Max Adams and Dustin Smith among others. We waited out the weather sitting in the Rogue and saw fellow Hoseheads.com columnists, Kevin Oldham and Danny Burton stroll by during the wait. The O'Connors worked hard on the track surface as the rain appeared and disappeared over the course of the next almost two hours. Around 7:15 the proper call was made to cancel the night of racing more for the fact that the pits were a mess more than the track and another round of rain was to be upon the speedway between 10 and 11 with another hour needed to dry the track enough to attempt racing. It was a darn shame but understandable and we applaud the O'Connors and the two organizations on trying their best to provide the fans and teams with a show but sometimes it is just now meant to be. Since we will be away on vacation when the Kokomo Klash is scheduled to run that was our last chance to see a race at the baddest bullring in Indiana.


     

    That's it for this weekend but check back next Saturday and Sunday to see where we end up next weekend.  In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season winds down.  Comments, news and any other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11.  And as always thanks for reading our efforts and letting us know you enjoy reading our perspective of racing at our tracks that we visit. 
     


     


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Comes Home First In James Dean Classic At Gas City

    Thursday, September 26 - Gas City I-69 Speedway which is normally a Friday night track was running this week on Thursday as Eldora Speedway was hosting a two day show as part of the Four Crown Nationals. Gas City would be hosting the USAC sprint cars in the 2nd James Dean Classic honoring the local (Fairmount, IN) movie star who was killed in an auto accident on September 30, 1955 in California on his way to sports car racing event at the age of 24. He was a rising star in Hollywood and was best known for his role in Rebel Without A Cause as a troubled teen and was destined for stardom but his life was cut short in the crash. Twenty eight USAC sprints and 24 non-wing 600 micro sprints would fill the pit area tonight to pay tribute to the man who the night was named in honor of.

    It was a beautiful evening with temperatures in the 70's necessitating a sweat shirt later in the night. First up on the agenda was time trials for the USAC sprints with late qualifier, CJ Leary, nailing down his ninth fast time of the year with a lap of 12.121 seconds around the 1/4 mile black clay oval which was in prime condition. By 7:41 we are ready for the first of four heat races for the sprinters with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap feature later in the evening. Kevin Thomas Jr. took his black beauty #19 McDonalds/Dr. Pepper machine to the front and held off CJ Leary, Isaac Chapple and Cody White for the first heat win. It was White's first ever time qualifying for a USAC National sprint car feature and he was jacked on the occassion. Cole Ketcham was a bit of a surprise pulling off heat win #2 over Thomas Meseraull, Jason McDougal and Chris Windom. Heat three would go to the pilot of the second Goodnight entry numbered #39G and it was the one and only Stomp and Steer Scotty Weir besting Brady Bacon, Tye Mihocko and Tyler Courtney. The fourth and final heat of the night went to the Topp Motorsports #4 of Justin Grant beating Dustin Ingle, Chase Stockon in his ovarian cancer awareness paint job on the #32 and Dave Darland in the Tibbitts #43. The non-wing 600's would contest three heats with Dylan Cromer, Darin Naida and Kevin Hapner scoring wins. B mains would be needed for both divisions with the sprint cars going first with Chad Boespflug making his return to USAC competition winning the first B over Max Adams wheeling the Paul Hazen #57, Harley Burns (the teenager also making his first USAC National sprint car main), Matt Westfall, Matt Goodnight and Shane Cottle the last man in piloting the Matt Cooley #19C. Dustin Christie would take a provisional and become the 23rd starter in tonight's main event. The 600 B main would fall to Katy Waggoner in her #89.

    The 20 lap 600 micro sprint feature would be the first feature to the post tonight and it almost went non-stop. Kokomo's Todd Kirkman led the first sixteen laps until third generation driver, Corbin Gurley, son of Chris, motored under him entering turn three and cleared him in turn four to take the lead. As the white flag was about to wave Jakeb Boxwell slowed in turn four to bring out the first caution. On the restart all hell broke loose in turn one as 13 year old Darin Naida running inside the top five and Dylan Woodling got together and both flipped hard between turns one and two. Both drivers were OK but they were done for the evening. Kole Kirkman who was running second pulled to the infield after the push-off and was done for the evening. On the restart Gurley moved back out front with Kole's dad, Todd, chasing him in second. As the checkered waved at 0:03 it was Corbin Gurley in for his first ever Gas City win trailed by Todd Kirkman from 11th, Dylan Cromer, Eastin Ashbrooke from 14th and Mike Landis from 12th. It was a pretty competitive event and run in good order.

    The 30 lap James Dean Classic took the green flag at 9:20 with Chris Windom jumping from the first starting position into the early lead over Kevin Thomas Jr. Windom and Thomas had a little contact in turn three on the opening lap but Thomas retained control but dropped two spots as Justin Grant and Thomas Meseraull surged by. Thomas Meseraull was on the move and took second away from Grant on the backstretch on lap four and took up the chase of Windom. Meseraull was looking for his eighth win of the year at Gas City but lap six found him sliding his sprinter into the infield backwards as smoke bellowed out of the engine compartment and a small fire was evident. That would end Meseraull's night prematurely and also damaged the motor in the #00. In a bit of a disappointment the outside groove did not seem to be coming around as the majority of the racers used the middle to bottom grooves racing around the 1/4 mile oval. Windom continued to pace the field as they reached the halfway mark with Grant a distance back in second. Lap traffic was now a factor as Windom worked his way by Harley Burns as Grant and Thomas were able to tighten the gap. Scotty Weir spun in turn four battling with Brady Bacon for seventh with some contact between the two. Windom once again retained the lead with a clear track in front of him and no lap cars on his tail. The third and final caution would wave with just three laps to go when eighth running Jason McDougal sent a large cone flying onto the track as he exited turn four. Windom once again jumped out front on the restart but the donnybrook was for second as Grant, Thomas and Courtney battled hard for second. Courtney surged to the outside exiting turn four on the final lap to steal second at the line from Grant with Thomas settling for fourth with Chase Stockon moving from eighth to fifth at the finish. CJ Leary would notch sixth with Brady Bacon seventh, Jason McDougal picking up the hard charger after starting seventeenth and finishing eighth with Isaac Chapple ninth and Max Adams in his first ride in the Hazen #57 taking tenth after starting 15th. This was surprisingly Windom's first USAC sprint car win at Gas City in twenty tries and he led this one easily from start to finish. It wasn't the best feature I have seen at Gas City this year but there was some good racing in the pack and with the final checker waving at 9:33 on a week night it was a finely run program for one and all.

    Check back Sunday and Monday as we continue on our typical weekend with races at Lincoln Park and Kokomo scheduled. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the act on the road and catch one of your bucket list tracks before the season winds down. Comments, news, stories and facts can reach us on email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep checking back for our next installment.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Jadon Rogers Takes Career First Win At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, September 21 - It was decided to take the short trip (40 minutes south) to Putnamville and the Lincoln Park Speedway, the 5/16 mile dirt oval for a five division night of racing action. The MMSA mini sprints would join the regular four divisions of non-wing sprints, UMP modifieds, super stocks and bombers tonight.

    The non-wing sprints would start off the racing on the evening with 29 in attendance and I must admit it was the weakest field of sprint cars I have seen all year long. The first heat took the initial green flag at 7:14 and the Paul #24P wheeled by Shane Cockrum took down top honors besting Max Adams in the Burton #04, Brayden Fox and Kent Christian. Tim Creech, the new papa, stepped away from the pack and cruised to the heat two win over young high schooler, Harley Burns, Alec Sipes and Shey Owens. Matt McDonald scored heat win three with Travis Berryhill right behind and the rest of the field some distance behind led by Matt Thompson and Colin Parker. Seventeen year old Jadon Rogers controlled heat four beating Nate McMillen in the Robinson #57, Jesse Vermillion and Steve Hair. Three MMSA mini sprint heats were next on the agenda for their 25 car field with Jake Hesson, Jeff Schindler and Cody Trammell scoring wins. Next up were the 21 UMP modifieds contesting three heats won by James Walters, Derek Losh and Rob Brickert. Three super stock heats were needed for the 25 car field with Mark Dickerson, Bryce Shidler and Randy Brawley coming out on top. Three bomber heats were run for their 19 car field before we moved to the sprint car B main. Midget driver and mechanic and sprint car rookie, Cole Bodine, captured the B main over 12 others with Troy Link second, Nick Montani in a nice looking blue #56 third and Shane O'Banion taking the final transfer spot to the main event.

    The 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature was first to the grid and the 20 car field took the green flag at 9:19 with Jadon Rogers taking the early lead from first over fellow front row starter, Matt McDonald. Rogers who has won four features this year at nearby Paragon was looking for his first ever at LPS. He looked strong extending his lead in the early going and reached lap traffic as he ran lap seven. Rogers was smooth through the lap traffic picking his spots wisely as he continued to pace the field. Shane Cockrum knocked McDonald high in turn four on lap nine to take over second and almost everyone expected the Chief to track down Rogers in short order. Rogers had other ideas and kept his strong pace over the remaining two thirds of the non-stop affair and finished about a half straightway ahead of Cockrum when the checkered flag waved at 9:26 with McDonald placing third, Nate McMillen strong all night from eighth to fourth and Max Adams rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Tim Creech, Harley Burns, Travis Berryhill, Brayden Fox and Cole Bodine coming from sixteenth to tenth at the finish. Rogers had shown considerable improvement over the three or four years he has been racing non-winged sprint cars and 2019 is looking to be his breakout season.

    The 20 lap MMSA mini sprint feature was next to the staging area taking the green flag at 9:37. Drew Dorsett looked like a sure winner leading 19 of the 20 laps but not the most important one as Jeff Schindler made an outside sweep of Dorsett exiting turn four coming to the checkered and nipped Dorsett at the line by inches to score his first ever MMSA win in a thrilling finish. Ohio's Jac Nickles claimed third with Cody Trammell (last night's MMSA winner at Thunder Valley in Salem) fourth and Brad Strunk taking down fifth.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature was ready to rumble by 10:01 with Jeff Deckard taking the early lead. That would be short lived as Derek Losh who seems to be winning every modified race we attend took the lead shortly into the event and led the remainder of the distance with Deckard remaining second throughout with James Walters nipping Rob Brickert for third at the finish and Jimmie Haager notching fifth. It was now 10:27 which was still early but it had been a long day cleaning the garage and moving things over to the condo and we both were beat so we decided to call it a night at this point.

    That's it for this past weekend as rainy weather forced the cancellation for the second time of the USAC Silver Crown division at Springfield, Illinois on Sunday cutting our racing weekend one race short for our 17th rainout of the 2019 season. So get out there and enjoy the remaining scheduled racing in your area because before long it will be winter and racing will be few and far between. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the kind words as it is nice to see that people enjoy reading our efforts and it makes it all worthwhile.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Roahrig Takes Neibel Classic At Anderson & Erb Takes Kokomo Gold

    Thursday, September 12 & 19 - The 20th Annual Glen Neibel Classic was scheduled for September 12th and made it as far as lap 61 when a approaching thunderstorm cleared the stands for safety reasons with a shower also arriving with the lightning and wind. After over a half hour delay the track was drying quickly when another shower arrived postponing the remainder of the evening to the following Thursday. The leader for the first 61 laps was Bobby Santos III but prior commitments found Santos along with Eric Gordon and Kyle O'Gara not returning and leaving the starting field for the restart at 10. The green flag would wave on the remaining field at 7:11 for the remaining 64 laps with Tyler Roahrig inheriting the race lead with Nick Hamilton and Aaron Pierce in tow. Roahrig would open up a comfortable lead on the field with the race for second among Hamilton, Pierce and Kody Swanson. Caleb Armstrong would take over fifth with a turn two pass on lap 84 and take up the chase of the other four. Hamilton was fast enough to hold back Pierce and Swanson but not strong enough to make a challenge of Roahrig. Lap 116 saw Pierce get in too hot in turn three washing up allowing Swanson to take over third at this point. Though Swanson tried his best he could not find a way around Hamilton for second as Roahrig cruised out front. Roahrig scored his first ever Neibel Classic victory at 7:24 and his second career win at Anderson after taking the Tony Elliott Classic last fall. Nick Hamilton held serve for second with Kody Swanson third, Aaron Pierce fourth and Caleb Armstrong rounding out the top five.

    The 40 lap Kenyon midget feature was next up and took the green at 7:35. The entire distance would go non-stop in nine minutes with Colin Grissom leading all 40 laps and capturing his fourth win in his last six starts here with Ashton Tucker second and Logan Huggler taking down third. The 30 lap thunder roadster feature would be the last race of the night and went green at 7:53. Only one minor spin slowed the action and on the restart Clayton Gaines was able to clear the leader, Jason Powers, entering turn one and led the rest of the distance with Powers hounding him throughout. It would be Gaines first career win at Anderson and he was trailed by Powers and Ron Wright with the final checker waving at 8:02.

    Friday, September 20 - We decided to do something a little different tonight. No, we still went to the races and it was at a normal sprint car track but tonight Kokomo Speedway was hosting the Lucas Oil Late Models for the first time ever and we decided to take in the action along with fellow Hoseheads.com scribe, Kevin Oldham. The quantity was not there but the quality was as 24 fine late models graced the Kokomo pits along with 40 American Ethanol modifieds. The crowd was the biggest surprise as the turnout was probably the second largest of the year only being surpassed by the Smackdown final. The racing was well organized and spun off in good order with the final checker waving at 10:57 which included three at a time time trials for both divisions, seven heats, two last chance races for the modifieds and a 50 lap late model feature and a 30 lap modified feature. The Lucas Oil Late Model feature was action filled with two of the youngsters, Hudson O'Neal and Tyler Erb, putting on a whale of a race for the lead joined at times by Josh Richards, Jimmy Owens and Don O'Neal. Hudson O'Neal led until three to go when his car started to show some smoke and he slowed somewhat allowing Erb to slide by for the lead and Owens to follow for second. Don O'Neal moved his son aside late in the race for third. Owens was all over Erb the last three laps like white on rice but the Texas native was able to withstand his advances to take the $12,000 to win 50 lap feature over Owens with Don O'Neal third, Hudson O'Neal dropping to fourth and Tim McCreadie rounding out the top five.

    The 30 lap American Ethanol modified feature was a good contest but would have been better without the five cautions and one red. Derek Losh having a monster year claimed another modified win over Curt Spalding from eighth, Will Krup from 13th, Allen Weisser fourth and Todd Sherman rounding out the top five.

    That's it until tomorrow when we bring you the report from Lincoln Park Speedway on Saturday night and our rainout on Sunday afternoon. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season is getting shorter and the races are becoming less and less especially in the midwest. News, comments, opinions and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Logan Seavey Scores Tenth POWRi Midget Win At Macon

    Saturday, September 14 - Another beautiful day greeted us upon arising and another tough decision had to be made in regards to where we would be going on the evening for our racing entertainment. Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt has the always fun and competitive Haubstadt Hustler combining the USAC and MSCS sprints for a great night of racing. But instead we opted for the four division program at the 1/5 mile bullring at Macon, Illinois for POWRI midgets and 600's along with modifieds and street stocks. We were chomping at the bit to see a race at Macon as rain and a schedule reschedule made us 0 for 4 for the season at one of our favorite tracks in the midwest. And another bonus as we scanned the backstretch bleachers for a seat was spotting our good friends from Plainfield, IN, Jerry and Michelle, who had room next to them on the top row and we sat with them for the evening.

    Racing kicked off nine minutes early at 6:51 with two heats for the 17 modifieds won by Willy Myers and Rob Timmons. The street stocks would run three heats for their 21 car field before the Lucas Oil POWRi National midgets would take to the tacky black clay to contest three heat races for their 20 car field. Tanner Carrick would bring his Keith Kunz steed to the front and onto victory in heat one beating teammate, Jesse Colwell, and Cannon McIntosh. You knew the track was in good shape when the Camfield clan kept lifting their front ends off the ground almost every lap!!! Logan Seavey conquered heat two over Jake Neuman in the Reynolds/Ruzic #21KS and Zach Daum. Andrew Felker dominated heat three outrunning Shelby Bosie and Ace McCarthy. The POWRi 600 micros with wings are fun to watch here at Macon and they did not disappoint. Frank Galusha won a spirited race in heat one while Harley Hollan scored heat two and Gabe Verardi in his Mountain Dew #82 won heat three. All the qualifying was completed before 8 PM with no B mains or semis needed so it was right into the first feature of the evening.

    The 15 lap modified feature was the first to the post and it was not an artistic success to say the least. While the racing up front among the top four was good the guys in the back ruined the race chalking up seven cautions among four or five of them. Rob Timmons was able to fend off point leader, Tim Hancock Sr., for the win with Willy Myers taking the last podium position.

    The 30 lap POWRI midget feature was next on the card taking the green flag at 8:28. Cannon McIntosh got the jump from his second starting spot into the early lead with Tanner Carrick and Jake Neuman in hot pursuit. Soon sixth starting Logan Seavey was in the hunt using the high line to burst into third by the third lap. Seavey then dove low on the next lap to snatch second from Carrick and continued low to try to track down the cushion pushing McIntosh for the top spot. The top two locked up in the crowd pleasing duel over the next several laps running side by side nearing touching as they raced each other hard. Seavey edged ahead exiting turn four and was the leader as they started lap nine. Neuman also executed a pass to take over second entering turn one. After two early cautions the remainder of the race went non-stop causing heavy lap traffic with Seavey losing and gaining ground on his challengers in each lap while Neuman, McIntosh and Carrick went at it tooth and nail for the runnerup position. With ten to go Seavey encountered a road block up ahead as all lanes were filled by cars and he pulled back somewhat to access the situation. This allowed the pursuers to close but daylight suddenly appeared with five to go and Seavey drove on by. Neuman broke away from the next two but McIntosh and Carrick continued to swap spots over the remaining five laps. When the checkered waved at 8:39 it was the native of Sutter, California, Logan Seavey, notching his tenth POWRi win of 2019 making him only the second driver to have double digit wins in the 15 year history of the POWRi series. He moves within one of the all-time single season record of 11 set by Christopher Bell in 2014 with seven races to go in the season. It was also Seavey's 18th career POWRi midget win tying Tanner Thorson for sixth on the all-time win list. Jake Neuman came home second after winning the night before at Belle-Clair with Cannon McIntosh third, Tanner Carrick fourth and Zach Daum rounding out the top five. Current points leader, Jesse Colwell, came home sixth with Holley Hollan notching seventh after starting 15th, Andrew Felker eighth, Austin Brown ninth and Austin O'Dell tenth.

    The 20 lap POWRi 600 micro feature was next and went green at 8:47. Chad Elliott moved out front at the start heavily pressured by Harley Hollan and Gabe Verardi. Elliott was passed by Hollan around lap five but a timely caution gave Elliott the lead back and even though six cautions slowed the furious action Elliott was up to the challenge and scored his first career POWRi 600 micro win besting Harley Hollan, Luke Verardi (last night's winner at Belle-Clair) and making a late charge to claim third with Frank Galusha fourth and Gunner Ramey hanging on for fifth. The drive of this race was Joe B. Miller in a borrowed ride after wrecking his main mount the night before and slicing his way from 24th to 6th at the finish at 9:05. The last race of the night was a 47 lap street stock memorial race so we decided to skip this one and make the one hour, forty minute trip back into Indiana and to Crawfordsville. It was a good solid night of racing here at Macon and we were glad we finally got to see a race here in 2019.

    That's it for this weekend but check back Friday as we plan on attending the completion of the Glen Neibel Classic and two other features from Anderson Speedway, Lucas Oil Late Models from Kokomo on Friday, probably Lincoln Park on Saturday and Springfield mile for USAC Silver Crown on Sunday. A busy typical weekend ahead. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season is starting to wind down and a long winter looms ahead. News, comments, notes of interest and good stories can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our column and check back often to see where we end up next.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Hurtubise Classic Goes To Justin Grant

    Friday, September 13 - It was Friday the 13th and a full moon on the horizon and if you were superstitious this was not your night to race. Luckily 27 entrants were not buying into the superstition thing and maybe one, Justin Grant, gave it some thought after he won the first heat from fifth and after taking the checkered rolled down the backstretch and felt his left radius rod coming apart. He coasted into turn three where it came fully apart turning him into the inside guard rail bumper first and did not cause any major damage. Thank God it did not come apart at speed!!!

    Twenty seven sprinters pulled into the pit area at the Vigo County Fairgrounds to race in the 20th annual Jim Hurtubise Classic honoring the great sprint car racer that won five straight races at Terre Haute between 1960 and 1962. Chris Windom in the Goacher #5G turned the fast lap of the evening on the big half mile circling the oval in 20.094 seconds. By the time the three qualifying heats taking five from each were ready by 7:51 we had already lost three, Brandon Mattox, Patrick Budde to mechanical woes and Paul May to contact with the second turn wall. So 24 sprinters would do battle in the three heats with fifth starting Justin Grant nailing down heat one in a strong run over Brady Bacon who changed engines between qualifying and heat racing, Chris Windom, Jason McDougal and Brian VanMeveren, the racing lawyer. Heat two went to Carson Short in a dominant run besting Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr. in an all black McDonalds sponsored entry, Josh Hodges and Mitch Wissmiller. Heat four went to fourth starting Tyler Courtney who has won three out of the last five USAC sprint car races here outrunning CJ Leary, Nick Bilbee, Isaac Chapple and Dustin Christie. The UMP modifieds continue to dwindle at the Action Track with just 10 entrants showing up to race tonight and they ran two uneventful heats with Will Krup and Brian Shaw winning. Next up on the agenda would be the 10 lap sprint semi with the veteran Bill Rose winning in a cake walk over Dustin Smith, Aric Gentry, Max Adams, Tye Mihocko, Kyle Robbins and Steve Thomas the last man in.

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature was next to the post and took the green flag at 9:01. It went the entire distance without a yellow with Will Krup moving to the front from first and never being headed with second starting Brian Shaw second and the best run of the race turned in by Tyler Loughmiller advancing from ninth to third, one position via a DQ. It was a lackluster event but only took six minutes to spin off so it was enough time to give the semi runners a chance to make some last minute changes.

    The 30 lap Jim Hurtubise Classic USAC sprint car feature would take Tom Hansing's initial green flag at 9:32 with Justin Grant wasting no time charging from his third starting position making it three wide using the low side of turn one to take the lead away from first starting Nick Bilbee with Jason McDougal making some serious moves from his seventh starting spot up to second by the end of lap one. In the next several laps Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney all worked their way around McDougal dropping the early achiever back to fifth by lap seven. Lap traffic began to pay into the equation by lap ten. Thomas closed the gap but Grant was able to work lap traffic better and increased his lead. Lap eleven found Grant go high in the loose stuff in turn two allowing Thomas to get a run and pull alongside as the pair raced down the backstretch and into turn three. Grant was able to stave off the challenge for the time being. Lap eighteen saw Grant get a big break as he hit the lap traffic right cruising by Steve Thomas and Dustin Smith and opening up his lead by over two seconds as Thomas struggled to get by the two lappers. Courtney caught and passed Thomas for second on lap twenty one exiting turn two and turned up the wick to try to reel in Grant. Things would take a drastic turn with just five laps to go when Brady Bacon running fourth at the time encountered the turn one wall with heavy damage to the right side of the Hoffman #69. Everyone knew on the restart that the big slider was coming from Courtney entering turn one and sure enough it happened. Grant used the extreme outside against the wall in turn two and turned back the slider by Courtney as mere inches separated the two cars and the wall. Thomas jumped on the opportunity of lost momentum by Courtney to race by Sunshine off of turn two to regain second. Thomas used a lower groove over the last five laps which allowed him to cut into the lead of Grant but not enough to allow him to make a serious challenge. As the double checkers waved at 9:48 it was Grant first across the line for his first sprint car win of any kind at Terre Haute beating Thomas, Courtney, Windom and Leary to the finish. Jason McDougal would lead the second five across the line trailed by Chase Stockon, Nick Bilbee, Josh Hodges and Carson Short. It was a decent race but not spectacular but the show was well run and over before ten.

    That's it until tonight when we had to make another tough decision on two good races to go to (Friday - Hurtubise vs. Amati at Paragon) and tonight is the Haubstadt Hustler at Tri-State while we opt for the POWRI midgets at mighty Macon where we have been rained out four times in 2019 and are chomping at the bit to see a race there. So check back sometime on Sunday to read the report from Macon and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, tidbits or any other information can reach us on email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. 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

    Cockrum Sweeps Weekend With Wins At Gas City & Lincoln Park

    Friday, September 6 - Fall has arrived which has brought cooler temperatures and high school football season to Indiana and smaller crowds are the norm after Labor Day for race tracks. Hoosiers love their high school and college football and show up in force at games. Gas City was no exception as tonight's crowd was probably the leanest of the year.

    Fortunately the car counts are still strong as the racers realize that the season is winding down and the ones who can still afford to run show up. A fine field of 33 non-wing sprint cars were joined on the card by 12 mini sprints, 28 UMP modifieds, 12 street stocks and 12 hornets to do battle on the 1/4 mile black clay oval at Gas City. The sprint cars would start things off on the evening with four heats with the top four moving directly to the A main. JJ Hughes powered to the front early and was never headed beating Ty Tilton, Tyler Hewitt and Adam Byrkett. Shane Cockrum drove the Paul #24P to victory in heat two over Anthony D'Alessio, Dallas Hewitt and Tony Main. Heat three saw Scotty Weir in the Goodnight #39X cruise to the win beating Sterling Cling, Matt Westfall and Cody White. The fourth and final sprint car heat went to Thomas Meseraull back in the #00 after trashing the Eades #47 at Kokomo during Smackdown turning back Dustin Ingle, Brandon Mattox up from Terre Haute and Mike Miller. All sprint heats were in the books by 8:14, a total of 21 minutes. The mini sprints ran two heats with Austin Powell and Brad Strunk winning. The UMP modifieds would contest four heats with Tony Anderson, Zeke McKenzie, Scott Orr and Derek Losh notching wins. The street stocks and hornets ran two heats each before the sprints returned to contest two B mains. Tyler Kendall would power his beautiful #20 to victory in B main one over Evan Mosley and Aaron Davis. Cole Ketcham claimed B main two besting Dustin Smith and Garrett Abrams. The UMP modified B main was captured by Todd Sherman. All preliminary qualifying was wrapped up by 9:37. At this point the track was holding up well considering that there had been a constant wind all night long which made the temperatures seem colder than they were. There was so dirt blowing but not dust clouds.

    The first of five features was ready to go by 10:04 and would be the featured 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature. Dustin Ingle, a BOSS regular, led the first seven laps of the feature from his first starting position until sixth starting Shane Cockrum made a pass on the backstretch to claim the top spot. Thomas Meseraull was on the march from seventh and moved into third behind Ingle by lap 11 looking to notch his eighth win of the year at Gas City. Meseraull moved by Ingle and began to track down Cockrum as the race was on. T-Mez dove low in turn four on lap 17 to take the lead from Cockrum and Cockrum countered in turn one with a slider which he cut short in turn two allowing Meseraull no room with T-Mez banging into the rear of the #24P loosing a shock mount which became worse as the race progressed. Lap 21 saw a battle royale for second and third with Meseraull and Scotty Weir swapping sliders in various corners of the track with Weir wrestling away second for sure on lap 22. Cockrum had a comfortable lead over the remaining eight laps and the non-stop event took the checker at 10:11 with Cockrum beating Weir, Ingle, Dallas Hewitt from 10th and Matt Westfall from 11th. Meseraull with the dangling shock faded to sixth at the finish trailed by Brandon Mattox, Sterling Cling, JJ Hughes and Cole Ketcham. Meseraull stopped on the backstretch at the end and climbed from his sprinter and ran over to the homestretch to voice his displeasure with Cockrum's move for the lead and walked away as Cockrum yelled after him and T-Mez departed with a double #1 gesture over his back as he returned to his sprinter which needed to be towed to the pit area.

    The 20 lap mini sprint feature was next on the docket taking the green at 10:17. Brad Strunk, the racing realtor, made short order of this one taking the lead early and outdistancing Ryan Moran and Jac Nickles in a race with only one caution. Derek Losh took full advantage of his first starting position going to the point and never being headed as Zeke McKenzie made a hard charge from eighth to second with Dillon Nusbaum third, Dylan Woodling fourth and Tony Anderson fifth. This one was over by 10:43 and we decided to call it a night and take the two hour tow back to Crawfordsville satisfied with our eighth visit to the Grant County oval run expertly by Jerry Gappens.

    Saturday, September 7 - Today offered a little more sunshine and a little higher temperature with the thermometer reaching to 80 on the day. The plan was to stay local and head south on Rt. 231 below Greencastle to beautiful downtown Putnamville where a full card of racing was on tap topped by the Gary Ricketts Memorial-Buckeye Bob 33 for the UMP modifieds paying $2000 to win the extra distance contest of 33 laps. In a difference of format the UMP modifieds would run group time trials by heats but they would only come out one at a time. The modified time trials started at 7:05 and ended at 7:29 with Will Krup setting fast time with a time of 13.992 seconds around the 5/16 mile dirt oval.

    The non-wing sprint cars were first up for their heat qualifying with four of them scheduled for the nice 32 car field. Shane Cockrum would prevail in heat one continuing his strong streak of good finishes in the last month beating AJ Hopkins, Matt McDonald and Thomas Meseraull. Jordan Kinser commanded heat two beating Sterling Cling, Austin Nigh and Gary Hayden. Braydon Fox continues to impress in his rookie season in 410 action taking heat three over Kent Christian, Travis Berryhill and Blake Vermillion. Brady Short captured heat four over Brandon Mattox, Cole Ketcham and Jarett Andretti in the best heat of the night. The super stocks had three heats for their 23 car field with Matt Jordan, Travis Heramb and Josh Boller. The UMP modifieds would spin off four heats with James Walters, Derek Losh, Jordan Wever and Jake Leitzman scoring wins. The bombers ran two heats for their 16 car field and the MMSA mini sprints ran two heats for their 17 car field. The UMP modifieds ran a dash race with the four heat winners running for some extra cash with Derek Losh taking that one. A sprint car B main was next with Braxton Cummings turning back Chad Davenport, Jake Bland and Shane O'Banion. It was 9:38 when all the preliminaries were completed and it was now feature time.

    The UMP modifieds would get first shot at the surface which was becoming more black and slick by the minute as the surface was breaking down under the pounding of 121 total race cars plus time trials during the course of the evening. The UMP modifieds were able to put on a pretty good performance running their 33 lap main event with only one caution and in just 14 minutes. Derek Losh looked like he was going to score two wins in two nights as he burst out front at the start from his first starting position. Jordan Wever though did not let him get too far away as he dogged the leader the entire distance. Wever continued to close on Losh with less than ten laps to go and worked his way around Losh with an outside pass with seven to go. A lap later Losh pulled to the infield with battery problems and the youngster was home free with Will Krup moving from eighth to second at the finish trailed by Jake Leitzman, Randy Shuman and Kentucky invader, Cole Falloway, rounding out the top five. It was a good race and a big victory for the youngster from Mt. Carmel, Illinois.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature was next to the line with the front row of Brady Short and Braydon Fox bringing the 20 car field to Brian Hodde's green flag. Short went to the early lead but the action was stopped quickly when current TQ midget driver and 410 newcomer, Austin Nigh, flipped high in front of the starter's stand on the first lap. Nigh was OK and after hooking up the car it was taken pitside. Short went to the point on the restart with Shane Cockrum motoring by Fox for second on lap one. By lap two Cockrum has powered the Paul #24P to the front and was going to be tough to catch. Matt McDonald and Sterling Cling tangled in turn two on lap five with both spinning bringing out the second slowdown. Three laps later McDonald spun by himself in turn two and track officials told him to watch the rest of the feature from the pit area. Cockrum continued to pace the field through the middle portions of the race trailed by Short, Jordan Kinser and AJ Hopkins. Thomas Meseraull was on the move from 13th and soon found himself just outside the top five. Lap fourteen saw Braxton Cummings lose the handle in turn one and spin to bring out the another caution. Once again Cockrum went out front chased by Short, Kinser, Hopkins and Meseraull. Kinser worked his way by Short for second and Meseraull dusted off Hopkins for fourth and Short for third in successive laps. Kinser and Meseraull tried to reel in Cockrum but he was gone and crossed the finish line at 11:16 for his second win in two nights and the Paul crew and Cockrum celebrated in victory lane with their second straight win at LPS. Kinser finished second, Meseraull was third, Short was fourth and Hopkins rounded out the top five.

    We usually stay for the super stocks but it being 11:16 we decided to call it a night and head for the exits after a full night of racing.

    That's it for this weekend and check back Friday as the next race on the agenda for us is Thursday evening as Anderson is hosting a 125 lap race for the asphalt non-wing sprint cars with a full weekend following. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and enjoy yourself. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy writing them for your view.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Zeb Wise Snags BC39 In Grand Fashion

    Thursday, September 5 - Unlike last year when the weather was iffy at best for the day today's weather for the BC39, USAC midget race to be held at the Dirt Track @IMS was perfect. The daytime temperatures were in the high 70's maybe touching 80 but it was cloudy and windy making it seem cooler. The wind would take a toll on the racing surface over the course of the evening but the O'Connors worked hard to stay on top of the situation. Pat, Gordy, Dale and I left in one vehicle around 3:20 while Hoseheads photographer, Steve Koletar, Dick Rauser and Keith Barto left earlier so Steve could get infield access tonight to take some of his fine photos that grace the pages of Hoseheads.com. We stopped to pick up steaks and subs at Jersey Mike's before entering the infield area and even though we had a handicap sign and parking pass from Gordy we ended up about a half mile away from the front gates and we all were disappointed in the shuttle service provided to and back to our vehicle. Especially on the return trip where we noticed over 20 wheel chaired people waiting for quite some time as we decided to hoof it back to the Rogue. Gordy was able to hitch a ride about 15 minutes later but we all felt that the shuttle service needs to be improved upon in time for next year.


     

    The night of action would start out with six qualifying races with all cars participating which tonight the number was 85. The first competition green flag waved at 5:51 and this one was a good one with Tyler Thomas fending off Kyle Larson for the win. In fact Larson did not even place second as Thomas Meseraull the top point getter coming into tonight's event raced by Larson on the last lap to snag second. Zeb Wise would good in qualifier two beating Tucker Klaasmeyer and CJ Leary. Christopher Bell scored the win in a very competitive qualifier three besting Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr. Dillon Welch continues to look impressive in his limited midget appearances garnering qualifier four beating Spencer Bayston and Tyler Courtney. The young and very talented Gio Scelzi captured qualifier five over Jason McDougal and Chris Windom. The Kiwi, Michael Pickens, nailed down qualifier six over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Jones. Alex Bright in the Darryl Saucier #1ST spun and rolled in turn four during qualifier two while Jesse Colwell climbed the wall in turn four in qualifier three and both drivers being OK. Blaze Bennett from Coldorado brought out six cautions during the evening on solo spins of his own accord and might want to consider gaining more experience before returning for this race.

    Two D mains would be next on the agenda with the top three moving to the back of the C mains. Oklahoma's Jonathan Beason in the second Reynolds/Ruzic entry as teammate to CJ Leary scored the first D main victory over Jesse Colwell and Andrew Layser. Brent Beauchmap, the non-wing sprint car driver, beat the field in D main two with Dave Darland and Alex Bright chasing. The C main went to young Sam Johnson winning over Robert Dalby, Kyle Jones, Jesse Colwell, Ace McCarthy and Zach Daum. The 20 lap B main was next on the schedule with the top six moving into the $15,000 to win BC39. Christopher Bell would dominate this one turning back Tucker Klaasmeyer, Jerry Coons Jr., Tyler Courtney, Chase Briscoe and Cannon McIntosh the last man in on actual qualifying. Robert Dalby for the second year in a row took a tumble on the homestretch in the B main was was OK climbing from the car quickly. Tanner Carrick, Jesse Colwell, CJ Leary and Jake Neuman would receive provisionals and join the tail of the 26 car feature event.

    IMS management were eyeing the curfew (which is either 10:30 or 11) when the initial green flag on the 39 lap feature waved at 10:13. With a contingent of NASCAR fans in the house we all stood for the start of the race. The bad part of this was we were all standing at the end of the 39 laps. There is no reason for a minority to force the remainder of the crowd to have to stand the entire distance as you certainly can see just as well if you are sitting on your butt as you can standing up. This is another important issue that needs to be addressed before next year and can simply be accomplished by the announcing crew telling everyone to take their seats after the initial start and remain in them. There were many people in the crowd who could not stand up due to physical problems and surely did not see much or any of the main event that they paid $60+ to watch from their seat.


     

    Thomas Meseraull in one of the RMS entries motored into the early lead trailed by Spencer Bayston and Kevin Thomas Jr. Zeb Wise was the early mover advancing to third and then second with Thomas caught the cushion wrong. T-Mez was flying and led the first 18 laps before he developed tire bleeder issues which slowed his pace. A four car tangle occurred at this point in between turns three and four when Tucker Klaasmeyer got upside down with Jerry Coons Jr. also sliding into Klaasmeyer and turning over. Gio Scelzi and Cannon McIntosh were also involved as the red waved. On the restart Wise got a good run down the homestretch and into turns one and two where he was able to sneak by T-Mex for the lead with Jason McDougal and Kyle Larson following him through for second and third as T-Mez slipped to fourth with the bleeder problems. The next circuit around found Larson going high to turn two to dispose of McDougal for second and pouncing on Wise when he struggled with the cushion off of turn four. The two raced hard down the homestretch and into turn one where Larson launched a massive slider moving in front of Wise in turn two. As soon as this took place Michael Pickens rode the turn four wall and came to a half nullifying the pass for the lead. Wise assumed the lead on the restart and opened some ground as Larson gave chase. Lap 28 was action filled as Wise biked in turn three and Larson caught up and threw another slider into turn one clearing Wise in turn two but the red flew as Thomas Meseraull ended his night prematurely riding the fence and rolling over between turns three and four. All hell broke loose in turn three on the restart as Larson attempted an ill advised slider that caused hard contact between himself and Wise high in turn four with Wise catching the concrete and Larson zig zagging all around. Brady Bacon saw everything unfolding and threw his Manafort #76E low off turn four and went from fourth into the lead in one fair swoop passing the top three. Larson then slowed with a left rear flat and headed to the work area and returned but was out of the hunt for the victory and ended up ninth. Cannon McIntosh brought out another red flag on lap 31 when he dumped his midget between the nasty turns three and four. Even with a bent steering arm sustained in the Larson incident Wise was able to used a slider on Bacon to retake the lead on lap 33 when Chris Windom following him through. Two laps later a tangle occurred between Manafort teammates, Bacon and McDougal, on the homestretch while running fifth and sixth taking them both out of contention and I'm sure not making their car owner none too happy. On the restart Wise and Windom went back to battle racing each other side by side as Bell entered the picture and challenged the leaders. With three to go Bell racing hard bounced and twisted in turn three scrapping his left side of the rollcage off the racing surface before coming to a halt ending his bid for the big prize. Wise and Windom resumed their battle for the lead on the restart with Tyler Courtney up from 20th now in the 3rd hole. Wise opened up a small lead over the pair as they raced it out for the second position. With the low side slicking up Courtney was able to pass Windom racing to the white flag. The double checkers from Tom Hansing would wave at 10:53 with 16 year old Zeb Wise taking home his biggest win and the $15,000 to boot beating his teammates Courtney and Windom. Chad Boat would finish 4th after starting 16th and Logan Seavey claimed 5th after starting 14th. A fine, fine run was turned in by 16 year old Jesse Colwell who marched from 24th to 6th at the finish and still got the pass master award over the two days even after his 18 positions tonight didn't add to his total as he took a provisional. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran a steady seventh with Kevin Thomas Jr. eighth, Larson ninth and Justin Grant rounding out the top ten. It was a decent feature but the seven total slowdowns really took away from the overall run. Last year's event we felt was better.


     

    That's it until tomorrow when we will be bringing you our Friday night stop at Gas City and probably our Saturday night visit to Lincoln Park. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news, thoughts, press releases and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And lastly thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see what is happening.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Inaugural Brad Gray Memorial At Rush Co. Goes to Tony Stewart

    Monday, September 2 - We decided to take the 1 1/2 hour two over to Rushville to join Gordy Killian and Dale O'Brien for the inaugural Brad Gray Memorial race with UMRA/King of Indiana TQ midgets as the top division on the bill at the 1/6 mile Rush County Fairgrounds. Joining the TQ drivers tonight were several top notch sprint and midget drivers that folks might have heard of. They were Tony Stewart, Jerry Coons Jr., Dave Darland, CJ Leary and Kevin Thomas Jr. The first thing we noticed is that the TQ's have divided into two groups, the Honda engine division and the normal tried and true TQ midget division. We don't get it why this group needs two divisions as they only drew 24 for the regular TQ's and 8 for the Honda powered TQ's. When you start dividing up the pie it makes for a diluted show. Brad Gray was a gentleman who owned a family run auto sale and service business in Greenfield, IN and passed away several months ago. He owned and sponsored several cars including a midget which Dave Darland had driven at the Chili Bowl in January. His family and friends were gathered tonight to pay tribute to a fine man who left us too soon. It was a shame that UMRA/King of Indiana TQ's couldn't have presented a more streamlined show than what they produced.

    Time trials for the Honda TQ's started off the show at 6:55 and were followed by time trials for the regular TQ's. Time trials ended at 7:20 and then a four car dash was run with Matt Lux notching the win. The Honda TQ's ran one heat for their eight car field with Nick Spiedel winning this one. Four heats were presented by the 24 car regular TQ field which seemed to take forever. I understand that one delay was due to someone on the grandstand side needing medial assistance but it should not take almost two hours just to run five heats!!! Veteran Ron Combs garnered heat one while Austin Nigh captured heat two. In heat three Matt Lux hit the homestretch wall and twisted and turned right past the starter's stand and almost ended up in turn one. He was OK after the wild ride but the same could not be said for his mount. He obtained the John Heyenreich car for the fourth heat and returned. Dave Darland claimed heat three with Joey Paxton winning heat four.

    The TQ semi was won by Kevin Thomas Jr. who battled battery and electrical gremlins during his heat race but returned for the semi and won it.

    We were almost into our third hour of the program when the 20 lap Honda TQ feature was called to the post. Nick Speidel sliced through the field from the third row to take the lead about eight laps into the main event and it was history at that point. Speidel crossed the finish line at 9:59 outdistancing Trent Henderson and Robbie Roland. At this point I heard two ladies behind me state that they had business meetings at 7 AM and 7:30 AM respectively and they could not stay any longer. That is a shame that people pay good money to see the complete show but a general lack of organization sends them to their cars before they get to see the main event. That is not a good way to produce return business!!

    It was 10:33 when the 40 lap TQ midget feature took the green flag with second starting Austin Nigh jumping into the early lead. Nigh would set the pace until lap twelve when Tony Stewart wrestled the lead away from him in turn two. A few laps later lap traffic came into play and Stewart worked it with perfection. Joey Paxton in Goff entry edged by Nigh for second also in turn two on lap sixteen and took up the chase of Stewart. Paxton closed the gap several times but each time Stewart added some lap cars between himself and Paxton to have an extra cushion. Johnny Goff and Stephen Davis tangled on the homestretch and executed a double roll before landing back on the racing surface on their wheels. Both drivers were OK after the mishap. On the restart Paxton had a shot to challenge as no lap cars were now in between. But Stewart did not give Paxton an opportunity to mount a challenge as he scooted away on the restart. When the double checkers waved at 10:53 it was the hometown boy, Stewart, the winner trailed by CJ Leary who passed Paxton in the last two laps with Paxton third, Jerry Coons Jr. fourth and Austin Night hanging on for fifth. Kevin Thomas Jr. turned in a creditable performance working his way from 15th to 7th at the end. It was a good, competitive feature but it took entirely too long to run the program. It should not take four hours to run five heats, one semi and two features when we went to Lincoln Park last Saturday and witnessed 18 heat races, three B mains plus fireworks and three features in three hours and forty five minutes!!! UMRA/King of Indiana TQ midgets you need to really tightened up your standalone shows or people will not come out to watch anymore. And last but not least while I am on a roll the announcers need to come up for air every once in a while as we do not need to hear them the entire night without stop.

    That's it for now as next stop is the 2nd BC39 at the dirt track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where 90 midgets are entered for a maximum 24 car starting field. Should be interesting!!! Check back as I am not sure when I will be posting the report from the BC39 as I have to travel back East in the next few days to attend a funeral of a lifetime family friend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news, tidbits and any other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Shane Cockrum Claims King Of Non-Wings At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, August 31 - Today broke cloudy and cool but as the day unfolded the sun peaked through as the temperatures hovered in the mid 70's the entire day. The game plan today was to take in the King of the Non-Wings program at the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville just south of Greencastle and is the closest track to our house now that Kickapoo Speedway in Danville, Illinois has closed. After witnessing the King of the Wings program last night at Gas City we were feeling very Kingly on this Labor Day weekend. We arrived just after 5 and were able to secure a spot on the top row of the large concrete grandstands on the homestretch where the hot setup is your lawn chair in the wide leg area between the wooden seats in front of you. The majority of the crowd bring their lawn chairs every Saturday night but there are always ones who don't so you have to scout out the chair placings to try to position yourself so any people who sit on the wooden bleachers do not block your view. It was an art!!! After securing our spot I stopped to chat with Jim Goerge and we enjoyed discussing various topics race related and I always enjoy my chats with this veteran race fan. Jim would win the 50/50 later in the evening so his night surely was made!!!

    The track was dry in turns three and four and some pre-race watering and other maintenance brought the track into decent running condition. A fine 39 car field of non-wing sprints greeted us along with 27 UMP modifieds, 24 super stocks and 17 bombers to fill out the amount of cars in the pit area. The sprint A main would pay $2000 to win for the King of the Non-Wings with a second feature pitting the 18 non-qualifiers in a 20 lap feature paying $500 to win. Five heats would be needed to qualify the 39 car sprint field with the top three moving directly to the A main and the rest moving into one of two B mains. Shane Cockrum took the Jamie Paul #24P out front in heat one to claim this one outrunning Brent Beauchamp and Alec Sipes. Brandon Mattox would take down heat two beating Kent Schmidt and Matt McDonald. Jadon Rogers looked strong in claiming heat three beating Friday's Bob Kinser Memorial victor at Bloomington, Jordan Kinser, and Troy Link in the oldest car powered by a Ford and probably the oldest driver to boot. Nate McMillen continues to look good knocking down heat four over AJ Hopkins and Max Adams. The fifth and final heat went to the veteran Bill Rose outdistancing Brady Short and Jesse Vermillion. The 27 UMP modifieds would spin off four heats with Devin Wright, Ryan Cripe, Matt Mitchell and Jake Leitzman winning. Three super stock heats were contested with Wes McClara, Justin Massie and Bryce Shidler cashing in. Two bomber heats were run before the twin sprint car B mains were next on the agenda. Arizona's Tye Mihocko looked dominant in B main one over Travis Berryhill and Chase Stockon. B main two was captured by Hunter O'Neal besting Brayden Fox and Kent Christian. John Grenier Jr. took the modified B main while Jonny Newgent notched the super stock B main with all preliminary qualifying completed by 9:10. Next up was a fine end of summer fireworks display and we believe that LPS has the best fireworks except tonight the wind was blowing toward the frontstretch grandstand which carried firework debris onto the crowd. We think it was the first time we ever had to dust ourselves off after a fireworks display!!!

    The 30 lap King of the Non-Wings sprint car feature was ready to rock and roll at 9:46 with the front row of Brady Short and AJ Hopkins bringing 19 others to the green flag. Hopkins grabbed the lead high in turn two and led the first lap. Lap two saw Brent Beauchamp hit a rut in turn one and turn right straight into Jadon Rogers with both sliding toward the outside losing many positions before continuing. Brandon Mattox would bring out the second caution on lap three when he stopped on the backstretch and was pushed pitside. Beauchamp joined him pitside but returned after changing a tire and starting in the rear. The Chief, Shane Cockrum (a fire chief in Illinois) was slicing his way to the front from his tenth starting position moving into fifth by lap four while two laps later Hunter O'Neal stopped on the backstretch forcing the third and final caution of the race. Another driver on the march was Tye Mihocko moving from fourteenth to sixth by lap six. Travis Berryhill was also making up huge chucks of real estate from his 18th starting position. The track might have been a little slick but passing was plenty. Hopkins led on the restart with Short and Jordan Kinser in third. Cockrum blasted by Kinser in turn four on lap eight and went after Short. Mihocko took over fifth on lap ten and by lap thirteen Cockrum had polished off Short and set his sights on Hopkins. The battle was on and the two leaders swapped sliders for several laps until Cockrum got a good run on the backstretch and roared by Hopkins into the lead. The front two stayed close to each other as they worked lap traffic and several high runs into turn two were interesting to witness. Cockrum would maintain the lead over the final ten laps and take the checker flag at 10:02 besting Hopkins, Short, Kinser and Berryhill rounding out the top five. Berryhill's run from 18th to 5th was impressive as was Mihocko's run from 16th to 7th. Jadon Rogers worked his way back to sixth at the finish trailed by Mihocko, Max Adams from 14th to 8th, Nate McMillen ninth and Alec Sipes notching tenth. The High Aspiration Farms #24P picked up another non-wing win tonight and the Paul team is having a whale of a year in Indiana.

    The second sprint car feature was to be 20 laps in distance with eighteen starters taking the green flag at 10:17. Surprisingly this one would go non-stop in six minutes with Matt Thompson the early leader. Anthony D'Alessio, the young driver moving to Indiana from Apollo Beach, Florida took his black and white #01 to the point and set the pace over the remaining 14 laps. Thompson never let him get too far away and indeed in the closing three circuits was noticeably closing on the Floridian. A restart or a couple extra laps could have spelled a difference for Thompson but neither one happened as at 10:23 D'Alessio flashed under the checkered flag first for the big win for him. Matt Thompson trailed him across the line with Gary Hayden taking third, Jake Bland fourth and Travis Thompson nailing down fifth.

    There were still three features to go with the 20 lap UMP modified feature called to the post at 10:29. This one turned out to be a very entertaining affair with Devin Wright invading from Northern Indiana staving off the furious challenges of a pair of two's with the trio in the closing five laps running at times three wide. Jake Leitzman in his #2 was second at the finish with the #2M of Matt Mitchell third, Jimmie Haager coming home fourth and Jordan Wever rounding out the top five. The 20 lap super stock feature was next on the plate and went green at 10:50. Many thought that Josh Boller starting second would be a cake walk but it wasn't that easy and no one informed Crawfordsville's Bryce Shidler of that fact either. The two raced each other cleanly over the second half of the race running side by side many times before Boller was able to hold off Shidler for the win with Larry Raines making a strong run from tenth to third with Justin Massie fourth and Paul Wright joining the top five. It was now 11:05 and we decided to skip the bomber feature and call it another satisfied evening of racing at Joe Spiker's race joint.

    Sunday, September 1 - The plan was to go to Kokomo Speedway for the Vince Osmun Memorial race but persistent rain caused the O'Connors to call the race early. We had packing and other things to do so we decided to take the night off after the Kokomo cancellation.

    That's it until Monday when we travel over to the Rush County Fairgrounds to take in a TQ midget race on the oval where Kevin Thomas Jr., Dave Darland, CJ Leary, Jerry Coons Jr. and yea a guy by the name of Tony Stewart will be racing along with the regular TQ drivers. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news flashes, stories or any other tidbits can still reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but certainly not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Scelzi Sweeps The Night With FAST Sprints At Gas City

    Friday, August 30 - Today was a day of many choices. There were three tracks running sprint cars this Friday with USAC at Tri-City in Illinois along with midgets, Gas City running winged FAST sprints and Bloomington running non-wing sprints at the Bob Kinser Memorial. Tri-City was taken off the list early as they canceled due to a dismal weather forecast around 2 PM which held true as the St. Louis Cardinals were also rained out on Friday. Bloomington has a 50% chance of rain over a three hour period and we were worried that it was the storm in the St. Louis area coming east so we opted for Gas City for the seventh time in 2019. On tap tonight were the FAST on dirt sprint car series, a winged 410 organization from Ohio bringing 22 cars to the big dance along with 22 UMP modifieds, 11 street stocks and 10 hornets. We had hesitated about coming to Gas City because the All Stars were at Attica for two nights of racing but the car count of 22 was not that bad considering Attica had only 33 for $5000 to win.

    The FAST series would start off the evening with two at a time sprint car qualifying commencing at 7:06 and wrapping up at 7:20. In between young (17 year old) California driver, Gio Scelzi, son of drag racer Gary Scelzi established a new track record for winged 410 sprint cars at Gas City with a time of 10.413 seconds around the 1/4 mile dirt oval. The first of three FAST heats would take the green at 8:01 with the top two from each heat redrawing for the top six starting positions in the 30 lap feature event. Gio Scelzi was now two thirds of the way to a sweep of the evening as he ran away with heat one besting Texan TJ Michael and PA's Brandon Matus. Heat two went to Illinois' Andy Bishop who blew the engine as he crossed the line winning over Jordan Harble and Kody Kinser. Bishop was able to return for the feature event. Heat three went to Ohio's Max Stambaugh beating Cole Duncan and Tyler Gunn. The sprint heats were spun off in just 16 minutes in an impressive fashion. The UMP modifieds would contest three heats with Clayton Bryant, Derek Losh and Todd Sherman claiming wins. Two heats each for the hornets and street stocks followed.

    By 9:12 it was time to go sprint car feature racing with TJ Michael and Cole Duncan bringing the 22 car field to the green flag. The green did not stay out long as Jordan Harble rolled his sprinter in turn four on the initial lap. This would cause a complete restart and on the second green Michael again went to the point but that didn't last long as sixth starting Scelzi knifed through the front runners and took the lead in turn two on lap two. If you were looking for a battle for the lead in this one you would have been disappointed as Scelzi caught lap traffic by lap four and worked it to his advantage and was never challenged. If you were looking for good racing then you didn't have to look any further than from second through fifth where Michael, Duncan, Kinser and Gunn swapped positions lap after lap as they weaved their way through the lap traffic. A red flag on lap 25 when Brandon Wimmer climbed the left rear of Noah Dunlap while running inside the top five caused the two to tumble end over end in turn one and bring out the red. It closed Cole Duncan to the rear nerf bar of Scelzi on the restart but that is as close as he would get as when the green flew again so did Scelzi. Gio was not to be denied as five laps later he streaked under the checkers for his second win in two years at Gas City in this King of the Wings race besting Duncan, Kody Kinser who started eighth, TJ Michael and Tyler Gunn who started ninth. Young Scelzi completed the sweep of the evening in a dominating performance leading 28 of the 30 laps in the process. Positions six through ten were filled by Lee Jacobs up from tenth, Max Stambaugh, Brandon Matus, Brinton Marvel and Paul May from 15th to 10th at the finish at 9:39.

    There were still three features to go and we decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature. Derek Losh would make short order of this one passing Scott Orr after one lap and leading the rest of the way though he never pulled out to a big advantage. Aaron Orr remained in striking distance of the leader but never mounted a serious challenge but instead had to fend off Todd Sherman for second. Dylan Woodling would cruise home fourth with Ryan Cripe putting on the best charge of the night marching from 14th to 5th at the finish at 10:06.

    We along with many other fans decided to call it an evening at this point and headed toward the front parking lot satisfied with what we had witnessed on the evening. To make it even more sweeter the $5 HARF discount off the $20 admission payed for the McDonalds drive-through stop on the way home. A good night of racing was observed and the track held up very well on some grit during the sprint car feature but no dust whatsoever. We arrived back in Crawfordsville a little after midnight about the same time that the sprint car feature ended at Bloomington after an hour delay due to the lights going out. We were both tired after a long week and a 2 AM or later arrival home from Bloomington would have been a real bear of a drive.

    Check back Sunday for our report on the King of the Non-Wings direct from Lincoln Park Speedway as we continue our Kingly weekend. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the fall is approaching and you all know what they means. And for you all that are in the projected path of hurricane Dorian batten down the hatches and keep out of its destructive path and take cover in a safe area. News, comments, press releases, rumors and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see what is going on.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Takes Second Smackdown Title While Westfall Wins BOSS Feature

    Saturday, August 24 - Another beautiful day greeted us upon awakening with temperatures in the low 70's and plenty of sunshine. The weather this year at Smackdown has been like night and day from the last year edition. A fine lunch was enjoyed at Golden Corral where you can't beat the buffet for the senior price of $8.59 with a great variety of high quality food and if you walk away hungry than it's your own fault. We arrived early at the track to secure a good parking spot and Pat read a book in her lawn chair with an umbrella over top while I lounged in the Rogue listening to the Cubs game and taking a short snooze before venturing into the pit area to take in the sights. A fine field of 42 Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) cars would join 31 USAC sprints to fill the pit area with a total of 73 wingless sprint cars!!! That's a wingless fan's dream. Included in the total entrants was Illinois' Al Thomas still driving his nice looking #72 on his 85th birthday none the less!!! Happy Birthday Al and Happy Birthday to our own Hoseheads columnist, Danny Burton, who gave Keith Kunz's back one of his favorite numbers. Hope that was 67 and not 71 and indeed not 97!!!! As the cars hit the surface for the first time around 6:15 we headed inside to settle down with the two Phils and Gary and Sally to enjoy a full night of non-wing sprint car racing.


     

    The BOSS sprints would start out the evening first scheduling five heats for their fine 42 car field taking the first green flag of racing at 7:30 on this evening. Matt Cooley would walk off with the heat one win over Dallas Hewitt, Brian Karraker and Cody White. JJ Hughes with his beautiful #76 claimed heat two beating Lee Underwood, Logan Hupp and Bill Rose, Friday night's winner at Paragon. Michael Fischesser from the Cincinnati, Ohio area notched the heat three win besting Ty Tilton, Parker Fredrickson and Cody Gardner. Carmen Perigo won heat four over Dustin Webber, Matt Westfall and Chris Phillips. Andrew Prather was the best in heat six outdistancing Travis Hery, Dustin Ingle and Korbyn Hayslett. The USAC sprints would run three heats for the remaining field of 23 after 8 were locked in from Thursday and Friday combined points with Brady Bacon scoring heat one over Carson Short and Dave Darland. Jason McDougal took down heat two over Scotty Weir and Timmy Buckwalter. The third heat went to Hunter "100%" Schuerenberg outrunning Dustin Smith and Landon Simon doing guest duty in the Simon #23S on this evening. Tempers flared in heat three when Shane Cottle and Clinton Boyles tangled battling for position on the backstretch with both drivers turning upside down and ending their evenings early. After Cottle and Boyles exchanged pleasantries after climbing from their wrecked cars all things were calmed back down and both cars were removed. This incident produced the hard luck award winner with money donated by fans and others collected by Danny Burton to the tune of $500 + which should help in repairs to the Epperson #2E driven by Cottle.


     

    Next up was the King of the Hill competition pitting the top eight in points against each other in three lap match races that would determine the starting positions for the 40 lap, $11,000 to win Smackdown VIII finale. These were the best match races we might have ever seen with close competition and some surprises along the way. It started with the #8 seed, Kyle Cummins, knocking off the #1 seed, Justin Grant, in the first matchup and went from there. CJ Leary barely beat the lower seed, Chase Stockon, in matchup #2. Logan Seavey went down to defeat in his matchup with Thomas Meseraull and Kevin Thomas Jr. went out in the first round after meeting Tyler Courtney. The second round saw CJ Leary edge Kyle Cummins and Tyler Courtney hold off Thomas Meseraull who biked and rolled the Eades #47 in this matchup. It ruined T-Mez's feature chances as he borrowed a replacement car to start the 40 lap feature later and retired early ending any chances of T-Mez pulling off the $11,000 top prize. In the final it was Tyler Courtney turning back CJ Leary in a finish that many felt was opposite of what the official decision that was announced. Courtney pocketed an extra $400 for his efforts and also would start first in the 40 lap finale.


     

    The BOSS sprints would contest two B mains with only the top two moving into the twenty four car starting field for their 25 lap feature paying $1500 to win. Mike Miller, last year's BOSS's Smackdown winner on the last lap, aced the first B main holding off Kory Crabtree. Justin Owen notched B main two over Steve Little. Now the BOSS feature field was set and only the USAC field needed to be finished off with five moving to the main event. Chris Windom won this one in dramatic fashion at the line in another finish that many in attendance felt was won by Cole Ketcham. The #41 of Ketcham was awarded second with Isaac Chapple third, Corey Smith fourth (making it two Smith brothers in the Smackdown finale) and Josh Hodges nailing down the final qualifying position. Max Adams would add his tune and name to the 23 car field using a provisional and it was a good move as the California kid ended up taking home a 14th place finish after 40 laps of racing.


     

    The sun was now down and the temperature turned nippy as the wind was relentless at our backs and the sweatshirts and blankets were pulled out and used. It was also feature time and that would help to warm the race fans as the BOSS sprints would kick off the feature action with their 25 lap main event paying $1500 to win. A pair of 21's, Travis Hery and Carmen Perigo, would lead the field to Tom Hansing's green flag at 9:59 with Hery bounding into the early lead. Hery would lead the opening 11 laps of this one but it was anything but boring as Dallas Hewitt from tenth and Matt Westfall from fourteenth were working their way forward at a rapid pace. Hewitt caught and passed Hery on the homestretch to start lap 12 and one lap later Ty Tilton running a strong race in third caught the homestretch wall and flipped past the starter's stand landing in the middle of the track. Tilton quickly exited the damaged machine and was upset over his misfortune. On the restart Hewitt went back out front and one lap later Westfall passed Hery to take second. Lap sixteen saw a major turning point of the race when Hewitt charged into turn one leading and got bit by the cushion sending him into the concrete wall and rolling over in between turns one and two crushing his hopes to become the first three time winner in BOSS competition in 2019. Matt Westfall was the beneficiary of the mishap inheriting the lead. Westfall took off on the restart with Hery and Dustin Webber in hot pursuit. Ohio's Lee Underwood decided to try the top side and began to advance forward cracking the top five in the late going. Hery tried several times to use the low side to pass Westfall but could never quite get the traction needed to pull off the pass for the lead. Meanwhile Underwood's march continued finding him in third as the white flag appeared. Entering turn one a hub broke sending the Ohio native straight toward the turn one wall and high into the air before landing back on the track surface. Underwood was OK but his fine run came to a sudden halt with one to go. Westfall would stave off any challenges over the green, white, checker sceniaro and flashed under the double checkers at 10:31 trailed by Hery for his career best BOSS finish, Perigo, Logan Hupp and Dustin Webber. Chris Phillips marched from 19th to 6th at the finish with Andrew Prather 7th, Bill Rose from 17th to 8th, Mike Miller from 21st to 9th and Justin Owen from 23rd to 10th. It was a good race with plenty of passing and some strong runs through the pack.


     

    Some track maintenance was performed as the wind and the number of race cars pounded the surface and brought some dust blowing into the backstretch stands. Work was completed and the pre-race introductions were conducted with Dave Darland getting the award for most unique introduction posing as the wrestler, The Undertaker, complete with long coat and hat along with son, Trenton, flashing his three previous Smackdown championship belts as the crowd enjoyed the presentation. To not exclude the large backstretch crowd from the introductions half the field walked the backstretch while the other half walked the homestretch.


     

    It was 11:25 when the 23 car field would take the initial green flag with ironman Chase Stockon receiving the green cloth for his 284th consecutive start with Tyler Courtney sliding to the high side in turn two on the opening lap staving off the advances of CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Kyle Cummins in a brief four wide challenge. Cummins drove between Grant and Leary to secure second on the opening lap and took up the relentless race long pursuit of Courtney. Lap traffic was a factor as the leaders approached the tail runners around lap 15 with Courtney picking his way through cleanly opening up some breathing room. The caution appeared on lap 24 when Carson Short looped it in turn two to slow the field and bring Cummins back to the tail tank of Courtney for the restart. Cummins nosed underneath entering turns one and two but Courtney kept his composure and maintained the top position. A piece of debris between turns one and two brought out the next yellow on lap 32 and bunched the field once again. Cummins got up on the wheel on the restart and applied the pressure as the Southern Indiana star tried to force Courtney into a mistake but Courtney was flawless over the remaining eight laps bringing the Clauson/Marshall entry to their first Smackdown title crossing the finish line first at 11:42 dogged by Cummins, Leary, Grant and Logan Seavey. It was Courtney's sixth win of 2019 and his 23rd career USAC National sprint car win tying him for 23rd on the all time list with AJ Foyt and Roger McCluskey. Courtney expressed that it was more satisfying than his 2017 triumph as the team worked hard and long on the car after Sunshine flipped in Friday's time trials and damaged the frame. Kevin Thomas Jr. led the second five coming home sixth with Brady Bacon seventh, Chris Windom from 18th to eighth for another Crume Evans Insurance (long time sponsor of the #10E) hard charger, Jason McDougal ninth and Chase Stockon fading to tenth after running as high as third earlier.


     

    It was a hard run feature with some good battles but lacked some of the intensity of earlier versions of this special race. A fine job done by the O'Connor family and their staff in bringing us another successful Smackdown week and already looking forward to next year. A good race but not a great one and sometimes I may be tougher in my assessment of Kokomo as I consider this track week in and week out as the most competitive track in the country. Sometimes I come away saying it was good or OK and then read comments from others on Indiana Open Wheel stating how much they enjoyed a particular race there and then I think I am too tough in my assessment of the baddest bullring in Indiana. We may have become spoiled by being able to witness racing here over 10 times a year and have slipped into what Pat and I termed in the made up word of "Indiana-aized" after being blessed to be able to witness so many good races here at Kokomo and other venues here in the Hoosier state. We noticed when we first came to Indiana how we were excited with many of the finishes and showed our pleasure while the natives seemed to take it in stride. These days we observe other people reacting like we use to and we are now one of the Indiana faithful who take it in stride. Sometimes you don't realize how good you have it!!! Thank you, Lord for leading us to the Promised Land of non-wing racing and we will try to appreciate what we have more going forward.


     

    That's it for now and until next week where it looks like we will stay local and enjoy the racing in our backyard with stops at Gas City, Lincoln Park and Kokomo planned. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as we quickly close in on Labor Day which traditionally marks the end of summer and the march into fall. Comments (positive or negative), news, stories and any other notes of interest can reach us on email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Will be observing the cones in the work area as we don't want to get disqualified from the race wherever we go. And last but not least thanks as always for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy our observations and reports as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. In closing be safe and enjoy yourself wherever you venture to watch the best sport in the world with the best people in it.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Wires The Field On Friday At Kokomo

    Friday, August 23 - Friday started out a little cloudy but as the day progressed it turned into a Chamber of Commerce type of day with temperatures in the low 70's and enough sunshine to go around for everyone. It was the type of day for the folks doing the brochures for the city of Kokomo to snap some awesome photos for future tourism display as it was a picture perfect day. It was also a picture perfect night for young Logan Seavey, one of the three drivers for the Reinbold/Underwood stable of three cars for Smackdown VIII, as the team came loaded for bear and tonight it was all Seavey. After winning the karaoke trophy the previous night after the races for singing a rendition of Garth Brooks "That Summer" tonight the young Sutter, California native would take home the big hardware after leading the 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car Series feature from wire to wire. It was a year ago on this Friday that Seavey met Arizona car owner, Andy Reinbold, here at Kokomo and they have run a few USAC Southwest events winning one in April but this was only his third start in a USAC National sprint car placing fifth on Wednesday and breaking a wheel cover and finishing 15th on Thursday. Tonight it all came together for this team as Seavey took full advance of his first starting position and took off at the start and was never headed in the 30 lap contest which went non-stop in a new track record of 6 minutes, 48.92 seconds chased by his teammate, CJ Leary, the entire distance.

    The night started off at 7:11 with two group sessions for the 38 car field on hand with Justin Grant turning a 12.549 second lap in session one while Thomas Meseraull turned an identical time of 12.549 seconds in session two with Meseraull awarded the fast time because of his second lap being faster than Grant's second lap. Also during time trials Tyler Courtney biked his Clauson/Marshall #7BC entering turn one on his second lap of time trials pounding the wall and flying up into the catch fence before returning back to the track surface after a series of twists and turns. Courtney was OK after his nasty tumble and remarkably his machine was ready to rumble for the third heat of the night. The first of four USAC sprint car heats hit the track at 8:04 with the top four moving directly to the 30 lap main event. Jason McDougal took the Daigh/Phillips #71P to the front in heat one and won going away over Justin Grant, Timmy Buckwalter and Isaac Chapple. Shane Cottle scored heat two driving the Tony Epperson #2E besting Chris Windom, Dave Darland and Logan Seavey. The young man from New Mexico, Josh Hodges, came back from a flip the previous night to score heat win #3 in the family owned #74X over last night's winner, Thomas Meseraull, Scotty Weir and Brady Bacon who changed engines after time trials. Chase Stockon in the TBI #32 claimed heat four beating Kevin Thomas Jr., CJ Leary and Dustin Smith.

    With the car count at 38 a C main was needed with Dustin's brother, Corey Smith, notching the win and moving into the B main along with Carmen Perigo, Tye Mihocko and Matt Goodnight. That brought us to the B main where the last six top finishers would join the field for tonight's main event. Tyler Courtney would win the 18 car B main beating Kyle Cummins, Carson Short, Hunter Schuerenberg, Cole Ketcham and Matt Westfall who literally beat Jarett Andretti by mere inches to claim the last qualifying position into the feature event. Sterling Cling was not so lucky as he and Andretti banged wheels earlier in the event on the backstretch with Cling getting sideways and rolling over for the second straight night. Brandon Mattox would take a provisional to make it a 23 car field to contest 30 laps coming up.

    At the drop of the green flag at 9:41 Logan Seavey led a trio of 19's into turn one with Kevin Thomas Jr. and CJ Leary in pursuit. Leary disposed of Thomas for second on lap three and took up the chase of Seavey. Leary closed the gap over the next several laps using all of the track and pulled alongside Seavey numerous times but was unable to pull off the pass. Seavey remained loyal to the cushion and slowly began to edge away from Leary and the rest of the pack. Brady Bacon was slicing and dicing his way forward at the same time from 22nd eventually ending up 10th to score the hard charger award but it was Seavey who was flawless the entire race who would pass under the double checkers first for his first career USAC National Sprint Car win beating his Reinbold/Underwood teammate, CJ Leary, to the line and being the first team since the Keith Kunz stable of Cole Whitt and Darren Hagen did it at Gas City in July of 2008 during Indiana Sprint Week that year. Kevin Thomas Jr. came home third with Tyler Courtney fourth and Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Jason McDougal came home sixth after starting tenth with Thomas Meseraull seventh, Chris Windom eighth, Kyle Cummins ninth and Brady Bacon tenth in the final rundown. It was a fun race to watch though there was not as much side by side action and passing as the previous two nights but it was still an interesting race none the less.

    Justin Grant leads the points entering the final night of Smackdown VIII trailed by Tyler Courtney, Thomas Meseraull, CJ Leary, Chase Stockon, Logan Seavey, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins with this top eight locked into Saturday night's finale.

    That's it for now but check back sometime Sunday for the report on Saturday's Smackdown VIII finale which we are sure will be a doozy. In the meantime 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 check back often to see what is happening next.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez Triumphs At Smackdown VIII In Strong Run

    Thursday, August 22 - Today is officially the first day of Smackdown VIII but to me the #GYATK night kicks off the Smackdown week to me but since it is not a USAC points race it is considered instead an extra race in the week. So after confusing everyone let's just move into what happened last night at the Kokomo Speedway. We arrived early enough to secure a good parking spot in the main parking area and as I walked the pit area checking things out and talking with various people including Scott Pedersen who owns the #4P driven by Scotty Weir. Pedersen tows his sprinter to the track on an open trailer and when speaking with him he said it only takes a good car and a good driver to win a race not a fancy enclosed hauler. A very nice and sensible man to talk to and enjoyed our conversation very much. It was also great to see our Nebraska friends, Gary Dean and Sally Ebling, and enjoyed chatting with them the entire evening.


     

    Now to the night of racing action. The first order of business on the evening was the time trials for the 36 car field on hand tonight, down from 50, but still a very good amount of non-wing sprint cars none the less. The first green flag of time trials waved at 7:15 and 22 minutes later the final checkered waved with Tyler Courtney coming out late (30th) turning the 1/4 mile dirt oval in a time of 12.365 seconds to garner the fast time of the evening. The next order of business on the night would be four heat races with the top four moving into the 30 lap main event that would highlight the night of action. The action heated up early as Corey Smith running strongly in second got into the turn two wall and rode it for a distance teetering on the wall before rolling over lightly and coming to a rest on the track. Smith was able to return to the race after visiting the work area to a good round of applause from the decent sized crowd on hand. Tyler Courtney would go on to claim the first heat win turning back CJ Leary, Kevin Thomas Jr. starting last after going to the work area before the start of the heat with a shock problem and returning to work his way from the tail of the nine car field to qualify. Scotty Weir was the last man in with the Pedersen #4P which I have dubbed Plain Jane. Isaac Chapple scored heat win #2 outdistancing Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg. Carson Short won his second heat race in two nights besting Dave Darland in his own car, Brady Bacon and Jason McDougal. Brad Greenup on the last lap of this heat climbed the turn two wall and turned turtle. He was OK after the inverted ride. Kyle Cummins in his first night at Kokomo claimed heat four in what may have been the most competitive heat we have seen all year as the top six dueled it out the entire distance with Carmen Perigo holding the lead for the majority of the race and ending up third at the finish. Logan Seavey hustled to second at the finish with Perigo third and Shane Cottle in the Epperson #2E taking down the last qualifying spot. After a round of track prep it was time for the 12 lap B main was a good field of 18 cars assembled running for the last six spots into the main event. Chase Stockon walked away with this one outrunning Chris Windom, Dustin Smith, Max Adams, Josh Hodges and Cole Ketcham. Brandon Mattox would receive the Saldana Racing Products first non-qualifier award missing the big show by one. Brian VanMeveren and Dustin Christie would make it 24 starters by using provisionals to join the big dance field.


     

    It was 9:41 when Tom Hansing would drop the green cloth on the reversed front row from last night of Brady Bacon and Thomas Meseraull. Bacon slid from the bottom in turn one to take the lead from Meseraull at the start and led the first seven circuits with T-Mez in tow. The red flew on lap seven when Josh Hodges caught the berm wrong and flipped in turn four. Hodges was OK but was finished for the evening. On the restart Bacon resumed in the lead with T-Mez chasing. Meseraull used a turn one slider on lap nine sliding in front of Bacon in turn two to take the lead and he started to pull away. CJ Leary entered turn one right after the leaders and biked his sprinter and did everything except turn it over but in the process flatten his left rear tire and went to the work area to change the flat. The current point leader would return to action but would finish 14th ending his streak of consecutive finishes in the top ten this year at an amazing 21 which is quite impressive to say the least. When the green waved again it was Meseraull, Bacon and now Tyler Courtney in third as the top three battled it out. Courtney used the high side to pass the low riding Bacon at the line to start lap 11 and threw out the hook to try to reel in the high flying T-Mez. Courtney jumped the cushion in turn four on lap 12 allowing Meseraull to scoot away to almost a three second lead by the halfway mark. Two laps later on lap 17 seventh running Logan Seavey slowed to a stop on the homestretch just as the leaders were approaching lap traffic. Meseraull mashed the pedal on the restart and drove away to a comfortable lead for the remainder of the distance. Entering heavy lap traffic in the last five laps of the race Meseraull looked to be extra cautious picking his way through as this allowed Courtney to close the deficit. Courtney was not able to close enough to mount a serious challenge and at 10:03 T-Mez flashed under Hangsing's double checkers to score his first USAC sprint win of 2019 and his tenth career USAC sprint victory. It was the first for his car owner, Tom Eades of Kokomo, and the emotion from the first time winner was just as good as last year when Tony Epperson graced victory circle here at Kokomo. Courtney trailed Meseraull across the line with last night's winner, Justin Grant, coming on strong late for third with Bacon slipping to fourth with Chase Stockon turning in a strong run rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Hunter Schuerenberg, Chris Windom, the hard charger for the second straight night from 16th to 7th, Scotty Weir eighth, Kyle Cummins ninth and Carson Short tenth. T-Mez expressed in victory lane that he expected Justin Grant to challenge as he (Grant) is on fire here and I guess so am I. It was classic T-Mez as the crowd went wild and cheered wildly as the San Jose native now living in Waveland celebrated his most recent victory in Bryan Clauson Victory Lane. Meseraull scored his 12th sprint car victory of 2019 to go along with two Badger midget wins as the 35 year old driver enjoys his breakout and career year.


     

    The race was very good tonight also but last night was the better of the two so far but you didn't walk away disappointed last night by any stretch of the imagination and we look forward to the final two nights of Smackdown VIII.


     

    Check back tomorrow for the next installment of A Typical Weekend as Smackdown VIII continues. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or plot a weekend trip to several of your bucket list tracks. News, comments (good or bad) and any other notes of interest can reach us on email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see what is happening.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    #GYATK Night Of Smackdown Week Goes To Justin Grant

    Wednesday, August 21 - The day started out cloudy and cooler in Crawfordsville but by the time we left Cville at 3:30 the sun had broken through and the temperature was in the mid 80's. The drive to Kokomo took us up Rt. 231 to Romney and then across Rt. 28 into Frankfort and through the back roads of Clinton County before entering into Howard County when you know it won't be long before you are pulling onto the grounds of the baddest bullring in Indiana, the 1/4 mile oval at Kokomo. This is fast becoming my favorite four days of racing the entire year as the week of Smackdown brings out the fans and cars in droves to watch racing at the O'Connors speedplant located on the northern border of the city of Kokomo. It has now become tradition that the O'Connor family throws open the gates on Wednesday night to everyone free of charge in what is known as #GYATK night. This is Get Your Ass To Kokomo and was popularized by the late Bryan Clauson who had it on the back of his IndyCar ride at Indianapolis and it has spread from there. The race tonight also is a tribute to Bryan and the feature is 27 laps, the age of Clauson when he was killed at Belleville Speedway in a midget crash. Bryan would be proud of what this event has turned into and the fine racing that was presented on this evening with 50 sprinters on the grounds and 49 running in the heat races after Dave Darland's string of bad luck in his own mount continues with the People's Champ suffering a broken valve in the engine during hot laps/timed laps.


     

    The action would be fierce tonight as six heats were going to be needed to qualify the 49 cars with only the top three moving directly into the A main, the next three to the B main and the remainder to the C main. Heat one was loaded and you knew some good runners were not going to make the A main from this one. Justin Grant in the TOPP Motorsports #4 established himself as a strong contender dominating this one beating Logan Seavey, in one of three Reinbold/Underwood entries for Smackdown VIII, and Tyler Courtney. Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hayward/Thomas #19 decked out in its new colors of McDonald's red and Dr. Pepper would be relegated to the B main. Thomas Meseraull or T-Mez took the Simon #23S to the front in heat two and won it besting Cole Ketcham and Timmy Buckwalter. Jason McDougal brought the Daigh/Phillips #71P home first in heat three in a spirited battle over Scotty Weir and Brandon Mattox, recent winner at Bloomington. Heat four saw the lead entry of the Reinbold/Underwood stable with CJ Leary at the controls raced from fourth to capture this one over Isaac Chapple and Anthony D'Alessio. Jarett Andretti jumped the cushion in turn one, caught the wall with his right rear and tumbled into turn two finally ending on the track upside down on his roll cage. Andretti was OK but finished for the evening. Chris Windom would have to make another start this time in the B main from this heat. Brady Bacon blasted from fourth to win heat five in the Hoffman #69 outdistancing Shane Cottle and Max Adams in a race where Sterling Cling caught a left rear tire entering turn one and rolled his #34 into the turn one fencing. He was OK but done for the evening. Carson Short claimed heat six after Brian VanMeveren either caught the cushion wrong off turn four or something broke in the front end sending him into the homestretch wall and into a series of end over end flips with a few rollovers mixed into the ride landing way past the starter's stand while leading. The practicing lawyer was fine as he quickly climbed from the battered machine and threw his steering wheel on the track exiting. Chase Stockon and Matt Goodnight would get the last two tickets directly into the A main.


     

    Next on the agenda was the C main with eight cars competing with the top four moving on to the back of the B main. Pennsylvania's Carmen Perigo would take this event with Paul Nienhiser, a first timer at Kokomo, second, Evan Mosley third and Aaron Leffel, a D2 midget graduate only in his second 410 non-wing ride taking the final transfer position. The redraw for the six heat winners in front of the fans on the homestretch where youngsters are picked to choose a card with a starting position on it and if that driver wins the youngster gets to join the driver in victory lane and receives $20 to boot was next. Thomas Meseraull was one happy fellow after his kid picked the #1 card and give him a big hug. Also during intermission a special presentation for legendary car owner, Paul Hazen, was recognized with the Indiana Racing Historical Society unveiling a plaque that will permanently reside on the grounds of Kokomo Speedway in his honor. Hazen who has been a non-wing sprint car owner over 50 years should truly be honored by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville for is many years of dedication and providing winning cars for an endless number of drivers.


     

    It was now time for the B main with 22 eligible starters and a field many tracks would have killed for to be their A main. Chris Windom passed Kevin Thomas Jr. late in the event for the win and to move on with Clinton Boyles bringing the Hazen #57 home third with Hunter Schuerenberg edging Anton Hernandez for the last qualifying position in a wild battle where many wondered how they did not crash each other crossing back and forth over the last couple of circuits. Hernandez did not go home empty handed though as he won the #GYATK challenge for first time non-wing drivers competing at Kokomo during Smackdown with the highest finish of the evening. He pocketed $1539 for his efforts and that had to take some of the disappointment out of his missing by one position of moving to the A main.


     

    The Musco Lighting flashed on and off while the feature cars toured the speedway four wide as the fans held their phones up with the lights on to salute the 22 starters for tonight's 27 lap #GYATK feature. Tom Hansing would drop the green flag at 10:13 on the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Brady Bacon with Bacon getting the early jump and the early lead. Lap two saw a red flag fly as Carson Short and CJ Leary got together off turn four with Short getting the worst of it rolling over twice before landing on the surface. Short was pushed to the work area and was able to rejoin the field before the green waved again and ultimately ended up finishing 12th. On the restart Bacon went to the point with T-Mez chasing. Entering turn one on lap four T-Mez threw a slider on Bacon to take the lead but Bacon countered off turn two to retake the lead. The two raced down the backstretch and into turns three and four with Meseraull with all four wheels over the cushion fit between the wall and Bacon to pass Bacon exiting turn four. On lap later in turn two the red appeared again as Max Adams caught the wall and rolled his family owned #5M over. The driver was OK but the same couldn't be said for the sprinter. Meseraull assumed the lead on the restart and ripped the cushion for the next eight laps or so with Bacon on his heels. Bacon stuck his nose underneath T-Mez in turn three and four near the halfway mark in the process allowing Justin Grant to close on the front two. Grant caught and passed Bacon for second off the inside of turn two on lap 13 and went after Meseraull for the top spot. Bacon was done yet and raced into turn three as the top three went three wide in a crowd pleasing moment. Grant caught the cushion wrong off turn four and did a wheelie allowing Bacon to drive by into second. Grant dove low in turn one to retake second but it was short lived as Bacon countered off in turn three and second was his off turn four. Grant went to work and used the high side off turn two to claim second back again and then threw a slider on T-Mez in turn three to attempt to take the lead. The top three raced three wide off turn four with Meseraull out front at the line by a half car length over Grant and Bacon. The next lap T-Mez went high to take away the momentum of Grant and the two nearly tangled with Bacon diving low and passing both off of turn two for the lead. Grant and Meseraull raced hard into turn three just inches apart for second with Bacon leading by two car lengths at the line with ten to go. Grant dove low entering turn one and nearly pulled off a two for one pass in turn two while Meseraull had problems hopping the turn two cushion and almost spinning but retaining control and barely being avoided by fourth running Leary. Bacon was now out front pursued by Grant and Leary with Meseraull dropping to fourth. Lap twenty saw a big turning point as Grant went low in turn one sliding close in front of Bacon in turn two with Bacon nearly stalling and losing the lead and two seconds in the process. From that point forward it was all Grant as he moved away to almost a four second lead at the double checkers at 10:34 winning over Bacon, Leary, Meseraull and Logan Seavey running a steady but not noticed race for fifth as all eyes were on the top three most of the race. Scotty Weir would finish a strong sixth with Chase Stockon coming from 12th to seventh, Tyler Courtney eighth, Shane Cottle ninth and Chris Windom notching the hard charger award advancing from 19th to 10th at the finish.


     

    It was an very entertaining race with much action throughout and hopefully is just a warm up for the next three nights of racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana as Smackdown VIII continues tonight.


     

    That's it for this segment and check back tomorrow for the next installment of racing at Kokomo and in the meantime find a midweek show in your area and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing. Comments, news, rumors and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back soon to see what is going on.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Beauchamp Cops Bill Gardner Sprintacular At LPS Worth $4000

    Saturday, August 17 - We started the day in Bloomington, Illinois and ended the day in Putnamville, Indiana. Let me fill you in on the in between and what happened to bring us to beautiful downtown Putnamville. We checked Twitter several times in the morning as we awoke to thunder and showers in the area. By 9:30 the word was out that the Springfield Mile was postponed for the day with the USAC Silver Crown division and would be rescheduled for Sunday afternoon, September 22nd. That left us with Macon Speedway scheduled to run the POWRi National midgets and four other divisions on Saturday evening. We received a text from Dale O'Brien around 11 that Macon was canceled due to the heavy rains making the grounds and track unraceable. That caused our plans to be rerouted back into Indiana where the MSCS sprints were running a $4000 to win race at the Lincoln Park Speedway also known as the Bill Gardner Sprintacular Night Two which was rained out in July. So we leasurely made our way across I-74 back to Crawfordsville where we made a pitstop to unload the traveling gear and restock the cooler for our nighttime destination of Lincoln Park, the most relaxing place to kick back and enjoy some good short track racing only 45 minutes from home. The weather for Lincoln Park started out with some rain in the morning but the forecast improved as the day moved forward. So by 5 PM we pointed the Rogue toward Putnamville and off we went.


     

    The card of divisions for tonight's racing pleasure was as follows: MSCS non-wing sprint cars (34), UMP modifieds (19), super stocks (26) and bombers (16). Timed hot laps for the sprint cars started off the night with the heat lineups determined by the hot lap times. Hot laps for all the other divisions followed and racing kicked off at 7:11 with the first of four sprint car heats with the top four finishers moving directly to the 30 lap A main. The first heat was a very entertaining affair with Brazil's Nate McMillen staving off the intense challenge of Kyle Cummins to score the heat win. Andrew Prather and Jesse Vermillion would claim the remaining two spot to the big dance. Heat two saw AJ Hopkins walk away from the field claiming the win over Kent Schmidt, Harley Burns and Tim Creech. Heat three went to Brent Beauchamp in dominant fashion over Garrett Aitken, Stephen Schnapf and Anton Hernandez wheeling his 305 powered sprinter into the field. Brandon Mattox took a spill in this one jumping the turn three cushion and bouncing around before landing on top of the cushion. He was OK and would return for the B main. Carson Short subbing for Shane Cockrum in the Paul #24P who notch the heat four win besting Max Adams back in the Burton #04, Colten Cottle and Brady Short. The UMP modifieds were next on the agenda and would contest three heats for their 19 car field. Dan Lewellen returning after several weeks of inactivity showed no signs of rust as he won heat one with Rob Brickert taking heat two and James Walters scoring heat three. Three heats were run for the super stocks with Chris Bennett, Daniel Norman and Travis Heramb winning. Two bomber heats rounded out the heat qualifying with only the sprints and super stocks needing B mains. The MSCS sprint B main got off to a rough start when Jadon Rogers starting at the rear of the 18 car field tried to split two cars entering turn one on lap one and tangled with Ryan Bond causing him to turn sidways and rolls several times into turn one. Rogers was OK after his wild ride but was finished for the evening. Chase Stockon would go on to win the B main in the Schmidt #5S outrunning Collin Ambrose, Brandon Mattox and Alec Sipes. Dakota Jackson would resort to a provisional to add his name to the starting field in twenty first. Austin Phelps would garner the super stock B main and all preliminary qualifying was over by 8:56.


     

    By 9:21 it was time to go Brandeis MSCS sprint car racing in the 30 lap, $4000 to win main event. The front row of Carson Short and Brent Beauchamp brought the 21 car field to the green flag with Beauchamp jumping to the early advantage. Brady Short brought out the first caution on lap 2 when he spun in turn 4. On the restart it was Beauchamp, Short and AJ Hopkins battling it out up front over the next several laps until Jesse Vermillion launched his sprinter high in turn one on lap 8. Vermillion was OK after his nasty ride. Hopkins would briefly take the lead until jumping the cushion in turns three and four with Beauchamp and Short moving past. Kyle Cummins was also now in the hunt after starting fifth as the top four worked their way through some lap traffic. Short drew close on occasion but Beauchamp was able to pull away again. With the race going green the rest of the way Beauchamp was able to ward off Short for the win at 9:42 crossing the line first with Cummins taking down third, Hopkins fourth and Max Adams turning in a strong run to claim fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Nate McMillen in a good run, Garrett Aitken seventh, Stephen Schnapf eighth, Kent Schmidt ninth and Alec Sipes notching a fine tenth for the little guys.


     

    We decided to stay and watch the next two features on the UMP modifieds the next on the card for their 20 lap feature event. James Walters, the current point leader, would start first due to him dropping out of the feature last week. Walters would move out front at the drop of the green with Jimmie Haager, the fifth starter, chasing him the entire distance. When the checker waved eight minutes later in a race only slowed one time it was Walters first with Haager second followed by Derek Groomer in third from eighth, Rob Brickert fourth and Jeff Deckard advancing from tenth to fifth at the end. The 20 lap super stock feature was next to the post and these guys ran another very competitive feature event over the past several weeks with Crawfordsville's own Bryce Shidler slipping by Paul Wright off turn four with two to go after the pair raced cleanly side by side for several laps previously. Wright would come home second with eight time winner in 2019, Josh Boller, rounding out the podium finishers. It was now 10:30 and the announcement was made that bad weather had just crossed the Illinois/Indiana border so it was time to say goodbye after witnessing a solid night of racing at Lincoln Park Speedway. We never hit rain on the ride back but passed through several areas where the west to east storm had passed through watching a quite impressive light show as we drove north.


     

    That's it until Thursday when we will be back reporting on the first night of four as Smackdown is here at the Kokomo Speedway with the forecast looking great as of now. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated and well protected from the sun. News, stories, comments and any other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and drop back often to see what is going on.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Powers To Front For POWRi Win At Lincoln

    Friday, August 16 - After spending most of the day at the hotel where Pat worked remotely we ventured outdoors around 2 and went to lunch/dinner at Red Lobster in Bloomington. After a delicious meal mostly paid with gift certificates we drove the 37 miles over to Lincoln Speedway in Lincoln, Illinois and met up with Dick Rauser and Keith Barto along with fine Hoseheads.com photographer, Steve Koletar at the backstretch pit shack where we chatted for a while until Steve headed into the pits and the rest of us headed to the homestretch to park our vehicles. Dale O'Brien arrived about a half hour later and the gang was all assembled for tonight's night of racing on the 1/4 mile black clay oval on the fairgrounds in Lincoln.


     

    Racing started right around 7 with two D2 midget heats for their 11 car field won by Andy Baugh and Mitchell Davis. Three POWRi midget heat races were next up on the card for their clan of 27 with Tucker Klaasmeyer scoring the heat one win over Cannon McIntosh, Daison Pursley and Jesse Love. Logan Seavey ran away with heat two besting Tanner Carrick, Tyler Courtney and Zach Daum. Tyler Thomas was strong in heat three beating CJ Leary, Zeb Wise and Maria Cofer. Two pro crate late model heats were needed for the nine car field with Denny Woodworth and Cody Maguire triumphing. Two heats for the 12 car UMP modified field were contested with Austin Lynn and Allen Weisser winning. Last but not least one hornet heat was run for the eight on hand with Brady Reed winning. Only the midgets needed a B main with Jake Neuman winning over Holly Hollan (seen doing running laps on the horse track earlier in the day), Shelby Bosie, Andrew Layser, Ace McCarthy and David Camfield.


     

    The 20 lap pro crate late model feature would be the first main event called to the post taking the green flag at 8:05. This competitive affair would go non-stop in six minutes with Denny Woodworth scoring his third win of the year holding off the challenges of Jake Little and Cody Maguire. The 15 lap D2 midget feature would go next with first starting Patrick Ryan catching the inside berm in turn two on the first lap and taking several end over end flips before returning to the track surface. Ryan quickly climbed from the wrecked midget and was OK. Andy Baugh went out front on the restart and would never be headed as he raced to his sixth win of the year besting Mitchell Davis to went to the back of the field to try to collect the $600 bonus for doing so but came up one position short. Sean Murphy would charge from 12th to claim the last podium position.


     

    Now it was time for the 30 lap POWRi National midget feature event. At the drop of the green flag CJ Leary, Tyler Courtney and Logan Seavey engaged in a three wide battle for the top spot. Courtney used the high side to take the lead completing lap one. Courtney bobbled on the cushion in turn four allowing the low riding Leary and the middle groove running Seavey to slip by for first and second. Courtney pounded the cushion and regained the lead by lap four. Two quick cautions followed for Ace McCarthy and Cannon McIntosh before the restart occurred again. Courtney moved out to a comfortable lead with Leary and Seavey locking up in a crowd pleasing duel for the runnerup position. While battling for fourth near the halfway mark Tyler Thomas and Tucker Klaasmeyer tangled with Klaasmeyer stopping on the track between turns one and two and was done for the evening after waving his displeasure at Thomas. On the restart Courtney went to the point but Seavey was now breathing down his back and applied the pressure over the next ten laps drawing close on several occasions. Seavey made his move on lap twenty five diving low in turn one to execute the slider but Courtney countered in turn two and went back out front and pulled away. Ace McCarthy brought out the red rolling over in turn two with two to go giving Seavey one more chance to mount a challenge on Courtney. When the final green waved Courtney launched out front and pulled away over the last two circuits crossing the line first for his second career POWRi triumph beating Seavey, Zeb Wise who dropped back to seventh on the start but rebounded to finish third with Leary notching fourth and Thomas coming across fifth. Leading the second five was Holly Hollan advancing from 18th to 6th with Tanner Thorson seventh, Andrew Layser eighth from 20th, Zach Daum ninth and Jesse Colwell tenth. It was a good competitive run and entertaining with some fine runs throughout the field.


     

    There was still a 20 lap UMP modified feature to run taking the green at 9:18. Only two cautions slowed the action with fifth starting Allen Weisser taking the lead on lap five and holding off eighth starting Tommy Sheppard Jr. and Brian Lynn for the win and his second in two nights with the feature ending at 9:30. We skipped the hornet feature and headed for the exits satisfied with a well run program run on a dustless tacky surface.


     

    That's it for now and check back on Sunday to see if we get in the POWRi midget program at Macon as rain in the area has postponed the Bettenhausen 100 USAC Silver Crown run to Sunday, September 22nd. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments, news, press releases and other tidbits can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And we would be remiss if we didn't thank you for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be safe out there.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wise Notches Second Career POWRi Win At Fairbury

    Thursday, August 15 - It was an early start to our weekend as we headed west on I-74 toward Fairbury, Illinois for the first of three POWRi National Midget events being held in the Land of Lincoln. Fairbury American Legion Speedway or FALS is a 1/4 mile dirt oval located in the center of the small town of Fairbury, Illinois where in addition to the races the 143rd annual Fairbury Fair was taking place on the fairground grounds. We met up with PA travelers, Rich Rouser and Keith Barto, on the backstretch where we would be sitting for the evening. Also former Wisconsin trackchaser now living for most of the year in Florida, Dale O'Brien, joined us also for the night of racing. FALS is a beautiful 1/4 mile semi banked dirt oval with a covered grandstand on the homestretch with another uncovered aluminum grandstand next to it toward turn four. The entire backstretch has a large uncovered aluminum grandstand where we sat for the first time ever. We really enjoyed the viewing lines from this spot and our next trip will find us here again. The best part of this facility is the track surface with the rich black dirt that is so famous in Illinois. It stayed tacky the entire night which attributed to the fine racing that we witnessed.


     

    Three divisions of racecars, the POWRi midgets (27), pro crate late models (24) and UMP modifieds (21) were on the card for the evening as the entire night they moved the program along swiftly. The three POWRi midget heats were first on the agenda with Thomas Meseraull wheeling his #7X from sixth to the heat one win over Shelby Bosie, Tanner Thorson and Zach Daum from ninth. Heat two went to the Clauson/Marshall entry of Tyler Courtney (17BC) from third to the win over Tanner Carrick, Tyler Thomas and Jesse Colwell from ninth. California driver, Robert Dalby, in one of the Tucker/Boat cars won heat three from first over Zeb Wise from eighth, Holly Hollan from fifth and CJ Leary in the Steve Reynolds #21KS. The pro crate late models ran three heats with Jose Parga, Dakota Ewing and Torin Mettille winning. Allen Weisser, Danny Schartz and Jeffrey Ledford won the three UMP modified heats which did not produce much passing as they were lined up straight up from their hot lap qualifying times. Tucker Klaasmeyer would come back to win the midget semi over Jake Neuman, Cannon McIntosh, Daison Pursley, David Camfield and Ace McCarthy who really earned his spot after spinning twice with the second spin including a Tommy Tipover from which he returned.


     

    The 30 lap POWRi National Midget League feature would be the first out of the chute taking the green at 8:47. It was a rough start with two cautions waving before one lap was completed. The first was for a turn four spin by David Camfield and the second was for a three car spin involving Tyler Thomas, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Camfield with Thomas done for the evening. On the next restart Zeb Wise used the turn four cushion to buzz by Thomas Meseraull for the lead coming to the line to complete lap one. Wise ran the outside cushion all the way around increasing his lead in the early going. Tyler Courtney took third in turn one on lap seven breezing by Jesse Colwell for the position. Shelby Bosie brought out the next caution when he spun between turns one and two on lap eight. Courtney caught Meseraull on the homestretch on lap nine to take second from him and took up the chase of his high flying teammate. Lap eighteen saw several things happen at once when David Camfield lost the handle in turn four and at the same time Holly Hollan had a right rear go flat and headed pit side. Logan Seavey was the man that a lot of people had their eyes on as he had advanced from fourteenth to sixth at this point of the race. Seavey went to fourth off turn four on lap nineteen but encountered Jesse Colwell's, his teammate's rear bumper exiting the turn and dropped back to sixth with some front end damage. Courtney in the meantime was closing on Wise and threw a slider at him and took the lead but the caution waved as T-Mez's evening ended suddenly as the #7X stopped in turn two while running third with mechanical woes ending his fine run prematurely. On the restart it was Wise, Courtney and Seavey up front and with five to go Seavey threw a slider at Courtney in turn two which stuck and Seavey was now second and chasing Wise for the lead. The final caution waved on lap twenty seven when California driver, Maria Cofer, winner of two straight USAC Western States midget features spun the second Reynolds entry in turn four to set up a three lap dash for the cash. Courtney got back by Seavey for second but Seavey returned the favor in turn four on lap twenty eight and this gave Wise some breathing room as he slightly pulled away. The checker would wave at 9:11 with Wise across the line first for his second career POWRi win as the youngster has been on a tear over the last week and a half picking up his third midget win in that time span. Seavey would cross the line second and take the hard charger award with Courtney third with Tanner Thorson in a late charge crossing fourth after starting twelfth and Zach Daum taking down fifth. Robert Dalby would lead the second five in sixth with Tucker Klaasmeyer recovering from his opening lap spin to claim seventh, Jesse Colwell fading to eighth with Tanner Carrick ninth and Cannon McIntosh rounding out the top ten in a very competitive race.


     

    We would stay for the 20 lap pro crate late model feature event and it was a good one also with Aaron Heck scoring his first career win at FALS beating Dakota Ewing, Jose Parga, Torin Mettille and Bobby Richey Jr. all the way from Chattanooga, Tennessee in a very racy feature up front among the leaders. We decided to call it a night before the UMP modified feature and bid farewell to Rich, Keith and Dale and headed for Bloomington, IL where our hotel was for the next two evenings. A real good night of racing on a very nicely groomed surface with no dust and just a little bit of grit but nothing to complain about.


     

    Check back tomorrow as he head to Lincoln Speedway for a five division program and hopefully the weather will cooperate and management will run an efficient program as 40% chance of rain is predicted by 9 PM with it increasing to 60% by 10. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road to catch one of those bucket list tracks on your hit list. News, comments, rumors and facts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. 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

    Windom Takes New Car To Victory With MSCS At Terre Haute

    Sunday, August 11 - A late addition to the MSCS sprint car schedule found them running a Sunday night race at the Terre Haute Action Track along with UMP modifieds. It was our race of choice for a nice Sunday summer night traveling down Rt. 47 and Rt. 41 down to Terre Haute, the home of the Hulman family and also home to Indiana State University. Going to Terre Haute for me is like going to granddad's house. It is usually a pleasant time with good company and plenty of stories. In this case it would be the stories that the painted concrete block walling could tell if concrete blocks could talk. The history here, the old covered grandstand and the whole Vigo County Fairgrounds make for a nostalgic visit just like going to granddad's house. Sometimes the cars get strung out on the big 1/2 mile but sometimes the racing leaves memories for years to come. This one was somewhere in between.

    The card tonight consisted of MSCS sprints (25) and UMP modifieds (12) competing at the old fairgrounds track with racing kicking off exactly at 7 PM with the first of three sprint car heats. We had the pleasure of sitting with two of our Indiana racing friends, Al Pierce and Jerry Shaw, and enjoyed touching on various racing topics during the course of the evening. Jerry showed us a picture of him and his dad taken in the infield at Terre Haute from back in the 60's which was fun to view and make you realize that things have not changed all that much here at Terre Haute and that is probably a good thing. Justin Grant would wire the field in the first heat turning back Chase Stockon in one of Kent Schmidt's steeds, Dakota Jackson, Josh Hodges and Max Adams back in the family #5M. Heat two saw Jarett Andretti handle the field taking the win over Carson Short, Kyle Cummins, Dustin Smith and Critter Malone. Chris Windom scored the win in heat three over Paul May, Isaac Chapple, Mitch Wissmiller and Kendall Ruble. May drifted into James Lyerla early in the third heat in turn three forcing him into the wall there where he flipped over and was OK but finished for the evening. Two UMP modified heats were run with all heat qualifying in the books by 7:36. The MSCS sprints would need a B main to trim the starting field down from 25 to 20 with the Englishman, Tom Harris, driving in from the Knoxville Nationals and taking the wing off and defeating the rest of the field for the win. Chris Babcock trailed by a big distance with Chayse Hayhurst third, Colin Ambrose fourth and Kent Schmidt nailing down the last qualifying position. Now all that was left to run were the two main events. The 15 lap UMP modified feature took the green flag at 8:03 and spun off in just eight minutes with only one caution slowing the action. Will Krup took the lead on lap 10 and led the remainder of the distance to stand in victory lane at 8:11 with his proud family by his side.

    A little track prep was performed before the 25 lap Brandeis MSCS sprint car feature was send to the post with Chase Stockon and Chris Windom bringing the starting field to the green flag at 8:32. Stockon went to the early lead but the action slowed when Chayse Hayhurst spun in turn four on lap two to bring out the first caution. On the restart it was Stockon, Justin Grant and Windom nose to tail with Grant taking the lead with a turn one slider on Stockon making it stick in turn two. Lap three saw Windom pull the same move on Stockon in turn one to wrestle second away from him and take up the pursuit of Grant. Lap seven saw the caution wave again as Chris Babock and Tom Harris tangled and spun in turn three. Max Adams was making up huge chunks of real estate to this point advancing from 13th to 6th. The next restart would be his undoing as he raced hard into turn one attempting a slider on Jarett Andretti with the two getting together in turn two and executing a double flip before landing on the track surface against the turn two walling (oh if only they could talk). Both drivers were OK but were finished for the evening. Grant led on the restart but Windom was pressuring him for the lead taking it away from Grant as they raced through turn three. Windom would never be headed from this point on as he opened up a small lead on Grant and the rest of the field in his newly built Goacher #5G. Carson Short would pressure Grant the majority of the race for second but was never able to pull off the pass. The last caution waved on lap twenty two when Tom Harris went into the turn two wall and was done for the night. On the restart Windom was off and running and three laps later passed under the checkered flag first followed by Grant, Short, Stockon and Dakota Jackson who had a race long battle with Kyle Cummins for fifth with Jackson prevailing. Cummins came home sixth with Dustin Smith in a fine run for seventh, Isaac Chapple finishing eighth, Paul May ninth and Critter Malone rounding out the top five with the final checker falling at 9:04 in a finely and timely run program. The racing was decent enough and it was surely good to visit granddad once again.

    That's it for this weekend as the next one looks like a busy one with POWRi midget racing starting at Fairbury on Thursday night followed by Lincoln on Friday, USAC Silver Crown at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield on Saturday afternoon and finishing up at Macon Speedway with the POWRi midgets on Saturday night. Should be some good ones!! In the meantime wherever you are get out there and enjoy some good short track racing and be safe. News, facts, rumors, tidbits and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Check back next weekend for reports on our races and how we made out. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words that come our way. It is much appreciated and makes the hours spent writing these columns worthwhile.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cockrum Is Chief At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, August 10 - After a morning of visiting the local farmer's market and buying some goodies and having lunch at Allen's Country Kitchen in downtown Crawfordsville we ventured over to the condo as Pat wanted to clear the bathrooms. After accomplishing that task it was time to head south on Rt. 231 toward Greencastle and then on Rt. 40 into beautiful downtown Putnamvillle where the 5/16 mile high banked dirt oval known as the Lincoln Park Speedway is located. It was a regular Saturday night card of racing at Joe Spiker's playground with non-wing sprints (30), UMP modifieds (28), super stocks (23) and bombers (18). Don't know what is up with the bomber car count but they use to draw 40 or more on a Saturday night. Could be people are running out of money in the latter stages of the racing season.

    After warmups for all divisions it was decided by the track crew to work on two trouble spots, one in turn four and the other in turn one. A slight delay was encountered as the track crew worked diligently on the problem spots with great results as after the work was finished the surface was in much better shape and stayed that way the rest of the evening. As always the wingless sprints were first up for their four heat races with the top four advancing straight to the main event. High school senior, Harley Burns, looked good in winning heat one beating Brent Beauchamp, Tye Mihocko from Arizona and Shane O'Banion. High school junior, Jadon Rogers, the winner the night before at Paragon took heat two besting Travis Berryhill, Jesse Vermillion and Justin Owen. Shane Cockrum put the Paul's potent #24P in front in heat three and won going away over Andrew Prather, Brayden Fox and Colten Cottle. The fourth and final heat went to Nate McMillen beating Dave Darland, David Applegate and Tim Creech. The UMP modifieds took to the track for their four heats with Roy Bruce Jr. making his first appearance in a while winning heat one, Jordan Wever taking heat two, Randy Shuman scoring heat three and Jimmie Haager winning heat four. The super stocks contested three heats with Crawfordsville's own Bryce Shidler claiming heat one, Tucker Chastian heat two and Josh Boller heat three. Jordan Almanza took an exciting at the wire win in heat one of the bombers with Andrew Pollock winning heat two and Justin Litton taking the lead on the last lap in heat three. B mains were needed for the sprints and the modifieds with Paragon regular, Josh Cunningham, notching the win in the sprint B main over Kent Christian, Blake Vermillion and Evan Mosley securing the last spot into the main event. James Walters came from 11th and last to score the modified B main in an impressive drive.

    All the prelims were in the books and now it was time for the 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature with Travis Berryhill and Brent Beauchamp bringing 18 others to the green flag at 9:24. Beauchamp jumped to the early lead over Berryhill and Nate McMillen. Lap five saw Shane Cockrum move into third passing McMillen and went after Berryhill for second. Cockrum used a big slider in turn three to move from third to first on lap seven for the lead. The middle part of the race saw some real close racing up front with Cockrum using the high side, Beauchamp in the middle and Berryhill working the bottom with the threesome sometimes three wide as they duked it out. Dave Darland was quietly working his way to the front from eighth and made several runs at Berryhill in traffic for third. Meanwhile up front Cockrum worked the lap traffic hard with Beauchamp keeping tabs on him and waiting for a mistake from the leader. Though Cockrum pounded the cushion several times hard off turn four he remained in control as the laps clicked off. This one would go non-stop in seven minutes and the Chief brought the Paul Farms #24P across the line first at 9:31 besting Beauchamp, Berryhill, Darland and McMillen. It was a good race with much close racing throughout the field and was very entertaining as the surface held up well.

    The 25 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda with Randy Shuman and Jimmie Haager pacing the field. Shuman went to the point and worked the cushion to perfection with Haager continuously poking his nose underneath throughout the race. James Walters was coming from the rear after starting 17th and was up to 7th when mechanical woes sidelined him in the latter stages of the contest. On the last lap coming off turn four Haager made one last ditch effort to steal the win from Shuman but instead spun his #5 to the infield. Shuman from Danville, IL crossed the line moments later at 10:01 scoring the win over Roy Bruce Jr., Jordan Wever, Jeff Deckard from 12th and Ohio invader, Scottie Williams, making his first ever LPS start. We decided to stay for the 20 lap super stock feature especially after their fine showing during ISW and didn't regret it one bit. Daniel Norman worked the cushion the entire race while race leader, Wes McClara, ran the middle. It looked like McClara was going to be able to stave off Norman but one last caution with two to go gave Norman one last opportunity and he took full advantage of it. Racing off turn four for the checkered Norman edged ahead of McClara and beat him to the line by several feet in a crowd pleasing finish. Bryce Shidler came home third in this one which ended at 10:29. We decided to forgo the bombers and head north on Rt. 231 back to Crawfordsville satisfied with another good night of racing on this summer weekend.

    Check back Monday as we go for the below I-70 weekend (OK - LPS is above but not far) as we travel to the Action Track at Terre Haute where the MSCS sprints are racing on a rare Sunday night. Comments, stories and other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and use plenty of sun tan or sun screen and keep hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back often.

    Congratulations to David Gravel and the entire Jason Johnson Racing Team on their big $150,000 paycheck won Saturday night at the Knoxville Nationals. Also kudos go out to Logan Schuchart on his awesome run from 22nd to 2nd in the Knoxville Nationals. Great job, gentleman!!!

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Feel Good Win For Brandon Mattox At Bloomington

    Friday, August 9 - It is always good to see a little guy pull one off and with $3500 on the line tonight at Bloomington Speedway it was the perfect time to score your first sprint car win of the year and that is what Brandon Mattox did tonight at Bloomington. It was truly a feel good win to see the underdog who never quits and has went through much adversity and has stuck with it with pure determination and comes out on top in this big race.

    After working until three (summer hours) today Pat was ready to head south with me as we made our way down to the Bloomington Speedway in Bloomington, Indiana, the home of the Indiana University. Along the way we stopped just above Spencer to dine at the Hilltop Restrauant for a fish fry of pollick before completing the trip to the south side of Bloomington. Tonight's racing card was to honor former long time promoters of Bloomington, Mike and Judy Miles, for their many years of service at the Bloomington Speedway. What attracted us to this evening of racing was the four good classes of cars scheduled to participate on this evening. On hand were the non-wing sprints (19) racing for $3500 to win, UMP modifieds (20), Racesaver 305 sprints (18) and midgets (22). I can never figure with some good money on the line to win that only 19 sprinters show up to do battle. Yes, I understand two other tracks were running on this evening but with $3500 on the line you still would think more than 19 sprinters would show up.

    Heat racing got underway at 7:35 with the non-wing sprints kicking things off with two races with Brady Short capturing heat one over Jarett Andretti, Max Adams taking his first ride in the Jerry Burton #04 and Brandon Mattox. Heat two saw Josh Hodges passing AJ Hopkins for the win with Dave Darland third and Tye Mihocko fourth. The UMP modifieds would contest three heats for their 20 car field with Tyler Nicely, the current national UMP modified points leader, winning heat one, Jacoby Hines nailing down heat two and John Clippenger victorious in heat three. The 18 Racesaver 305 winged sprints on hand would run two heats with Ryan Tusing dominating heat one and Alfred Galerige Jr. notching heat two. The midgets would run three heats with two flips in turn one in heats one and two. Zane Briggs turned it over in heat one while Jacob Denney went for a ride in heat two. Both drivers were OK after their tumbles. Stratton Briggs, Tyler Nelson and Chase Jones captured the midget heat wins.

    By 9:02 it was time to go feature racing with starter Tom Hansing dropping the green flag on the 19 car non-wing sprint car field. Brady Short went to the early lead at the start with AJ Hopkins using the nice cushion to sweep by Short for the lead on lap two. Jarett Andretti got by Short for second on lap five and stormed into the lead when Hopkins jumped the cushion in turn four and rode the other side before returning to the track surface in second. Brady Ottinger tangled with another car in turn three shortly thereafter and lightly rolled over done for the evening. On the restart Hopkins was clearly the fastest car in the field as he pounded the cushion all the way around the 1/4 mile high banked red clay oval and retook the lead from Andretti in turn two on lap seven. Hopkins remained in the lead until lap 13 when he came down off the top as Andretti challenged on the low side for the top spot with the two leaders getting together with Andretti spinning while Hopkins continued but pulled off the backstretch into the pit area done for the evening. Hopkins is a good driver and fun to watch but I feel he needs to harness his energy and get more under control as he should have won the feature tonight but instead wound up in the pit area with another DNF. That is the second time this year I have seen Hopkins leading and taking himself out of the win because of over aggressive driving. Tone it down some, son!!! Anyhow after the scuffle up front it handed the lead to Brandon Mattox who drove off and left the rest of the field in his wake never being challenged over the remaining 17 laps with this guy flashing under the checkered flag at 9:24 first taking home the bacon to the tune of $3500 big ones. Isaac Chapple ran a good race advancing from ninth to garner second with Josh Hodges third, Dave Darland fourth and Brady Short hanging on for fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Dustin Smith from 12th, Hunter O'Neal from 19th, Tye Mihocko, Chris Phillips from 15th and Max Adams from the tail after sliding over the turn one and two banking. It was a good race with good entertainment value.

    The 25 lap UMP modified feature was next in the chute taking the green at 9:32. The competitive race saw Tyler Nicely take the win over Jacoby Hines and Josh Harris. A twenty minute fireworks display was next on the agenda and it was a good one but maybe a tad bit too long. When we went back to racing it was the Racesaver 305 sprints to the track for their 25 lap main event with the green flying at 10:19. Bradley Sterrett went to the point at the start from his first starting position and led the entire distance but it wasn't as easy as it sounded. Heavy lap traffic needed to be negostiated and allowed Anton Hernandez to close on him at various times during the event. When it was all said and done by 10:29 it was Sterrett being interviewed in victory lane by Dr. Pat Sullivan. Hernandez came across the line second with Ethan Barrow advancing from ninth to third at the finish followed by Ryan Tusing and Chase Stockon fifth after starting 11th. Another decent race and it was fun watching the leaders picked their way through the lap traffic.

    The last feature of the evening was the 25 lap midget contest and it was decent enough considering by this time the track was really worn out and most everyone went to the huggy pole to run. Chase Jones powered by Stratton Briggs for the lead on lap five and never looked back as he outdistanced Chris Baue in a good run, Tyler Nelson, Ronnie Gardner from California and Justin Dickerson for the win taking the final checker of the evening at 10:53.

    It was a well run solid program of racing featuring four good classes of race cars and fireworks done in less than 3 1/2 hours. Good job by the current Bloomington management on a job well done.

    That's it for this installment and check back Sunday for our report from Lincoln Park Speedway where we will be taking in a regular Saturday night program there. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and continue to support your local tracks. Because once they go away they usually don't come back. Comments (positive or negative) can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you will continue to do so.

    Our condolences go out to the entire Jordan family on the loss of Dick Jordan, the veteran USAC public relations and media person for over 50 years, who passed away on Friday morning from cancer at the age of 74. He was a friend to scores of people and performed a superb job in his duties for over 50 years. He will sorely be missed by all the people he touched in his long and distinguished career. RIP Dick.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Closes Out USAC PA Midget Week With Win At The Clyde

    Saturday, August 3 - The final night of racing for the USAC midgets during Pennsylvania midget week had arrived and after spending the day with Pat's dad at his home in the Temple, PA area we took the short drive (30 minutes) over to Newmanstown, the home of the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, the 1/8 mile high banked dirt oval in the countryside of Eastern Pennsylvania. A reduced field of 16 USAC midgets due to a variety of factors (drivers running at their normal Saturday night tracks and mechanical issues) took a little luster off the final night of racing but the midgets that did show still put on a good show for the good sized crowd on hand. They were again joined by the 600 micro sprints with 67 in number cramming the turns three and four pit area preparing for their fourth out of five nights of their speedweek.


     

    After hot laps for both divisions the USAC midgets started off the program with time trials for their 16 car field at 7:07 with Zeb Wise placing the Clauson/Marshall #39BC on top of the scoring tower with a time of 10.248 seconds around the 1/8 mile dirt oval by 7:19. The first of six 600 heat races were ready to rumble by 7:25 and these guys and gals put on a good display of driving in their heat races. Heat winners included Nash Ely, Tommy Kunsman Jr., Aaron Bollinger, Christian Bruno, Alex Bright and Bradley Brown. Only two heats were needed for the 16 USAC midgets on hand with Chris Windom grabbing heat one turning back Steven Drevicki, Tyler Courtney, Zeb Wise and Chad Boat. Jason McDougal would score heat win two over Jerry Coons Jr., Kevin Thomas Jr., Logan Seavey and Karsyn Elledge. The 600 came back with their qualifiers with Kyle Spence, Tim Buckwalter, Colin White and Jim Radney garnering wins. With the short field of midgets on hand USAC decided to offer a $300 to win, six lap Dash For Dash to provide some extra entertainment. Jason McDougal pocketed the extra cash after the six laps were spun off with action returning back to the 600's with three B mains to qualify the last six into the feature event. James Morris, Damon Paul and Jason Swavely picked their ticket to the big show with wins with all preliminaries in the books by 9:30.


     

    The 40 lap USAC midget feature was first on the schedule and Warren Alston's green flag would wave on the field at 9:41. Chad Boat would go to the point on the start with Andrew Layser and Logan Seavey in tow. Layser and Seavey hooked up in a battle for second exchanging sliders on lap four before Seavey pulled off the pass with a slider in turn one that stuck and he motored after Boat who had opened up a straightway lead. Tyler Courtney was also able to slip by Layser for third one lap before Steven Drevicki, former two time ARDC champion, came to a stop in turn four and was pushed to the infield where he motioned for someone to push him to the work area but no one saw him waving. Drevicki expressed his displeasure with USAC officials on the next caution when he exited the car and found a nearby official to register his complainant. Now the field was closed up tightly for the restart with Seavey attempting several sliders to dislodge Boat but Chad held him off until lap nine when Seavey pulled a successful slider to grab the top spot. Two laps later Zeb Wise slowed to a stop in turn three while running fifth ending his night prematurely and ending any hopes of winning his third PA midget race in the past four nights and his second straight at Clyde Martin. On the restart Seavey moved out front with Courtney now up to second past Boat and the battle was on. Seavey held off Courtney until lap 14 when he bobbled on the cushion allowing Courtney to execute a turn one slider which Seavey countered in turn two to retain the lead. Seavey kept the top spot secured until lap 25 when Kevin Thomas Jr. pulled up lame with a flat right rear between turns three and four while running third. A quick trip to the work area saw the Petry #5 returned to race again from the back of the field. Seavey quickly jumped out front on the restart with Courtney his stalker in second. Courtney was ready to pounce if Seavey bobbled but instead it was Courtney who stumbled twice with the cushion allowing Seavey to scoot away to a comfortable lead. The red would appear on lap 33 when Steve Craig tumbled in turn one bringing out the fourth and last stoppage. Craig was OK after his tough ride and walked away from the wrecked car and into the infield. With five to go Seavey went too low in turn one and slid up to the cushion opening the door for Courtney to take a shot at him for the lead. The pair raced side by side down the backstretch and remained that way entering turns three and four with Seavey catching the turn four fence with his right rear seeming to give him a boost off the turn as the two raced down the homestretch. Seavey entered turns one and two like he had been shot out of a cannon located in turn four and had a five car length advance exiting turn two. Over the remaining five laps Seavey made no further mistakes and crossed the line at 10:08 securing his third USAC midget triumph of the year and his sixth lifetime USAC midget win. No heroics like last year when he rode the wire fencing in turns three and four to miss another car and was able to return to the track and finish third in 2018. Instead it was a solid run by Seavey besting Courtney, hard charger from 12th to 3rd in Jason McDougal with Thomas rallying for fourth and Jerry Coons Jr. recording a solid fifth. Chris Windom came home sixth with Andrew Layser recording seventh, Tucker Klaasmeyer eighth, Tanner Carrick ninth and Karysn Elledge riding home tenth. It was a good race even with the lower car count and everyone around us seemed to have enjoyed the USAC racing for the evening.


     

    The 30 lap 600 feature was still to run and took the initial green flag at 10:24. There was a lot of hard and position swapping action throughout the field during the entire 30 lap distance. The only downside of the event was the excessive eight caution flags that flew for minor tangles and such but took away from the race being considered a real good race. Kyle Spence steadily worked his way from the eighth starting position not using his normal on the fence driving style using instead the inside groove to the front taking the lead past the midway point of the contest and holding off Eddie Strada, Tim Buckwalter, Aaron Bollinger and Kenny Miller III for the big win with the final checker waving at 10:52 capping off a good night of racing on a tacky and well manicured racing surface unlike the dust field that they ran on the previous evening. This is one track that definitely gets the correlation between good racing surfaces almost always produce good racing which makes fans and drivers alike happy to race there. Thanks LANCO club for presenting a well run program on a great racing surface to wrap up the five nights of racing entitled USAC PA midget week.


     

    That's all for now and check back next weekend for the next reports as the plans are to stay local but the final choices are not yet quite decided. Any news, comments, press releases or anything else of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated and use that sun screen or lotion often. And as always thanks for reading our column and check back soon to see where our travels take us.


     

    In closing we would like to send our condolences out to the family of Carl Sandy, the 1984 USAC National Midget championship car owner teamed with Tom Bigelow that year to win the owner's and driver's championships. RIP, Carl.


     

    Also well wishes go out to injured Oklahoma wingless sprint car driver, Grady Chandler, who continues to fight to get better after his serious crash last week.  Our thoughts and prayers are continually with you for a complete recovery from your serious injuries. 
     

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wise Remains Hot With Second USAC PA Win At Linda's

    Friday, August 2 - Today was the scheduled round four of USAC PA midget week with the troops towing their rigs on Rt. 78 and US 22 to the Linda's Speedway in Jonestown, PA, the 1/5 mile dirt oval located there. Pat, Bill, Bruce and myself arrived slightly after 4 and secured a good parking spot underneath a line of pine trees and parked the Rogue for the evening.


     

    Hot laps were first up on the agenda and already a trail of dust was shooting off the rear tires of the cars circling the oval. It would not get any better as the night of racing proceeded. It was very disappointing to see the lack of preparation given to the racing surface in advance of probably one of their biggest shows of the season for this track with the USAC National midgets and the 600 micro sprints running one of their PA speedweek shows here. During the evening there were several times that water was added to the dirt surface but it was too little too late. My opinion is that USAC should look for an alternative track in 2020 for their PA midget week Friday night program and feel that Big Diamond Raceway up the road in Minersville would be a good alternative as they already have run several USAC East Coast Sprint Car events in 2019. There is no excuse to present a big race on such a deplorable surface as it is not fair to the fans to endure such dust and it is dangerous for the drivers to race on such a dusty track.


     

    Now let's go to the show that unfolded last night at Linda's. USAC midget time trials kicked off the night with the first car taking the green flag at 7:16. Tyler Courtney set his sixth fast time of the year over the field of 21 midgets with a time of 12.582 seconds around the 1/5 mile oval. Next up were six heat races for the fine 63 car 600 micro sprints on hand with Aaron Bollinger, Brian Carber, Kenny Miller III, Mike Thompson, son of former sprint car driver, Len and grandson of Bruce and Bev Thompson. Also Jesse Maurer and Tim Buckwalter scored heat wins in the 600 class. The USAC midgets would contest three heats with Tyler Courtney capturing heat one over Chris Windom, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Jerry Coons Jr. and Steve Buckwalter. Tanner Carrick would post the win in heat two besting Jason McDougal, Zeb Wise, Logan Seavey and Tanner Thorson. The final heat went to Kevin Thomas Jr. beating local Tommy Kunsman Jr., Chad Boat, Karysn Elledge and Andrew Layser. The 600 field was pared down to 40 at this point so A main qualifiers were next awarding passing points and determining the top 18 that would lock into the night's 25 lap feature event for the 600's. Christian Bruno, Aidan Borden, Damon Paul and Colin White would win the qualifiers with still three B mains to qualify two from each to run but they would be spun off after the 30 lap USAC midget feature was run.


     

    The 30 lap USAC midget feature was ready to take Warren Alston's green flag at 9:14 with the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. and Tanner Thorson leading 18 of their friends to the line. Thorson jumped to the quick lead and pulled away quickly to a big lead by lap 5. Andrew Layser moved by Thomas for second and chased Thorson in the opening laps. Thomas came back on Layser on lap 8 exchanging sliders before Layser bounced sideways in between turns three and four and stalled bringing out the caution. On the restart Thorson retained control but Thomas began to run the middle and gained ground on the leader. The top two raced side by side as they approached the flagger's stand to take the halfway crossed flags when suddenly Thorson slowed in turn one with a flat right rear. This caution gave a break to allow the dust cloud enveloping the entire track like a ha-boob to calm down before the race went green again. On the restart Thomas went to the high side while Courtney now in second worked the bottom. Thomas edged Courtney at the line for the next two laps with the momentum off four carrying him past Courtney. Thomas and Courtney remained in this tussle in the 20's with Zeb Wise moving into third from eighth and reeling in the front runners as he figured out which groove he wanted to use to track down the top two. With five to go Wise closed and dove low on Thomas and used the low side unlike last night and raced by Thomas on lap 26. Next up was his teammate and how to attempt to pass him. The laps dwindled down to two to go as they entered turn three approaching the lap car of Bruce Buckwalter with Courtney deciding to go high while Wise followed Buckwalter low as they crossed the line to take the white flag. Buckwalter left enough room for Wise down low and Wise filled the hole and blasted by Courtney entering turn one. The pair raced down the backstretch with Wise taking a several car length lead into turn three. Wise raced off turn four with Courtney on his tail and flashed under the double checkers for his second PA midget week win beating Courtney who was looking for the sweep of the evening fall one position short. Thomas raced across the finish line third for his best finish of the swing with Chris Windom placing fourth and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Logan Seavey led the second five to the line with Jerry Coons Jr. seventh, Tanner Carrick eighth, Chad Boat ninth and Steve Buckwalter, the top PA runner, claiming tenth.


     

    There was still the rest of the 600 racing to complete with three B mains scheduled with two to qualify from each. Eddie Strada, Alex Bright and Ryan Groff punched their tickets to the big dance with wins in the triple B's with a slight light rain delay in between B2 and B3. The 25 lap 600 feature was ready to go by 11:10 with Damon Paul and Jesse Maurer leading the pack to the green flag. Paul pulled out to a big lead in the early going with four cautions bringing the pack back to him each time with Paul pulling away after every restart. This was Paul's race to win or lose and win it he did crossing the finish line at 11:26 trailed by Tommy Kunsman Jr., Aaron Bollinger, Jesse Maurer and Colin White, last night's winner. Alex Bright turned in a strong run advancing from 20th to 7th at the finish. The racing was decent enough if you could see it properly but the surface left us and many others seriously dissatisfied with the overall night of racing.


     

    Until tomorrow when we report to you the results from Cyde Martin Memorial Speedway for the final night of the USAC midget PA midget week take care and be safe. Also get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and support your local track. News, comments and other tidbits can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to enjoy them.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Boat Sails To First Win In Almost A Year At Path Valley

    Thursday, August 1 - Tonight was round three of USAC PA midget week and after a wonderful lunch at Judy and Bill Burn's house the traveling crew of myself, Bill, Pat and PA Bruce headed west for the longest trip of the circuit carrying us two hours west on the PA Turnpike to the small hamlet of Spring Run. The high banked quarter mile dirt oval known as the Path Valley Speedway Park was ready to host the visiting USAC midgets (23) along with the wingless super sportsman (23) and the 600 micro sprints (61).


     

    USAC midget time trials were the first matter of the evening commencing at 7:05 with young Zeb Wise blistering the 1/4 mile to the tune of a 11.057 second lap posting a new track record in the process and establishing himself as an early favorite to take home the gold for the second straight night. After 600 micro hot laps it was time for the three USAC heat races with Logan Seavey claiming heat one over Tyler Courtney, Zeb Wise, Chad Boat and Karsyn Elledge. Heat two saw Tanner Carrick establish a new ten lap track record with a run of 1:59.93 over the ten lap distance besting Jason McDougal, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Chris Windom and Andrew Layser with the latter two hooking up in a crowd pleasing duel in this one. Jerry Coons Jr. managed to hold off Kyle Larson in heat three with Tanner Thorson, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Ryan Greth trailing. The 600's would contest six enjoyable heats followed by three heats for the wingless super sportsman which look like a sprint car but have self starters. Carmen Perigo, his son, Craig, and Tony Jackson claimed super sportsman heat wins. In a change in the schedule for the better the four A main qualifiers for the 600 micros were moved to after the 30 lap USAC midget feature which was bumped up on the agenda.


     

    The front row of Tanner Thorson and Chris Windom brought the 23 car field to the green flag with third starting Chad Boat diving to the bottom to take the lead entering turn two on lap one. Thorson tried to follow suit on the low side but Wise from sixth powered by on the top to secure second and take up the chase of Boat who would lead the first sixteen laps. Wise cut the margin and a good run on the top through turns three and four saw Wise nip Boat at the line to lead lap 17. Wise would hold the lead for two laps until Boat remained loyal to the bottom and passed Wise to retake the lead at the line for lap 19. Wise came back strong to wrestle the lead back at the line on lap 20. Boat got a good run through turns one and two when Wise bobbled on the cushion and took back the lead. Shortly thereafter Kyle Larson running fifth at the time biked it high in turn one coming to rest against the wall and being towed to the pit area but he was able to return before the race went back to green. The caution negated the move by Boat for the lead and on the restart Wise held the top spot with Boat right there to challenge. On lap 23 Boat was able to motor by on the bottom to take the lead for the final time as the top began to go away and Wise lost ground and positions over the remaining seven laps as he refused to abandon the top. Lap 25 saw a red wave as Karsyn Elledge rolled over in a tangle on the bottom of turn two with Kyle Larson and Steven Drevicki also being involved. Everyone was OK and able to continue as the green waved a few moments later. Windom and Thorson were able to hook up on the bottom and raced past Wise for second and third on the restart. Tyler Courtney and Logan Seavey made some late challenges with Courtney slipping by Thorson for third and Seavey dusting off Wise for fifth. As the double checkers waved at 9:24 it was Chad Boat across the line first scoring his fourth career Pennsylvania triumph breaking a tie with Mel Kenyon for most wins in the Keystone State all time. In a neat twist it was also Boat's ninth career USAC National midget win equaling his father Billy's national total. Chris Windom scored another podium finish coming home second with Courtney third, Thorson fourth and Seavey rounding out the top five from tenth. Wise slipped to sixth at the end with Jerry Coons Jr. seventh, Tanner Carrick eighth, PA's Tim Buckwalter scoring the first top ten for the PA contingent and also knocking down the hard charger award from 16th with Andrew Layser nailing down tenth. Layser is also from Pennsylvania but is running the national schedule so that eliminates him from the PA bonus for the local cars.


     

    There was still plenty of racing still to go and the wingless super sportsman were next on the schedule for their 30 lap feature and even though the track was wearing out these guys put on a good show. Veteran super sportsman campaigner, Carmen Perigo, returned to his roots and moved from his third starting position to take the lead early and hold off all comers to score the victory. A late tangle between third place runner, Gary Johnston, and fourth place runner, Derek Sheaffer, wiped out good runs by Johnston and fifth place runner, Steve Wilber, who suffered a left rear flat tire in the ensuing tangle after advancing from 19th. Perigo was first across the line at 10:31 with Craig Perigo closing chasing him with Sheaffer taking third, Steven Drevicki coming all the way from 23rd to 4th with Tony Jackson rounding out the top five. At this point with two 600 B mains and their 25 lap feature still to run and a two hour trek back to Bill's house we decided to call it an evening pleased with the racing that we witnessed on this evening.


     

    That's it for now but check back tomorrow to see if the weather cooperates for round four of USAC PA midget week at Linda's Speedway where the USAC caravan makes their next appearance. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and support your local track as once a local track closes it rarely reopens. Comments, news, stories or tidbits of information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruce.eckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back soon for the next report.


     

    In closing I want to congratulate dirt modified racer Stewart Friesen on his first NASCAR Truck series win at Eldora Speedway last night and a fine fourth place finish for the Marathon Gas entry of WOO late model runner, Mike Marlar.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wise Likes Pennsylvania Taking Second Career USAC Midget Win By Inches At Kutztown

    Wednesday, July 31 - We spent the day at Pat's dad's house before coming down off the hill and being greeted by wet roads and light rain as we made our way over to Action Track USA on the grounds of the Kutztown Fairgrounds. A good sized crowd was already assembled as we pulled onto the grounds at 5 PM. I took a tour of the pit area while Pat took our blankets in to replace the wet plastic tablecloths that Rich Rouser had placed down to reserve seats for the gang that all would be sitting together for tonight's racing. In addition to the USAC midgets (24) were the 600 micro sprints (78) running their first event of their 600 micro sprint speedweek. Also the Tobias slingshots (15 - picture miniature modifieds) were also there to run a feature only. As you can imagine that was going to make for a busy night of racing and considering the 10:30 PM curfew where you have to have the last race take the initial green before that time it didn't make much sense to schedule three divisions on this evening. And as it turned out the slingshots never got to run their feature and sat there the entire evening and paid $35 per person with the car for that privilege. Not the way to run a good business.

    USAC midget time trials were first on the agenda with the first car taking the green at 7:04. By 7:25 Tyler Courtney was standing on the homestretch being awarded the fast time award for his lap of 11.313 seconds around the 1/5 mile dirt oval. Next up were six heats for the 600 division with Jason Swavely, Alex Bright, Jim Radney, Bradley Brown, Christian Bruno and Luke Thomas scoring the heat wins. It was already after 8:30 before the first of three USAC midget heats was trackside with Courtney looking impressive driving from sixth to the win besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Tanner Thorson, Tanner Carrick and Tucker Klaasmeyer in this one. Heat two saw Clauson/Marshall driver, Andrew Layser, the Pennsylvania driver from Collegeville, notch the win beating Tim Buckwalter who ran Kyle Larson into the turn four wall earlier in the event taking second with Jerry Coons Jr. third, Logan Seavey fourth and Larson coming back for fifth. The grandaughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Karsyn Elledge, scored heat win number three outrunning her boyfriend, Jason McDougal, Chris Windom, Zeb Wise and Chad Boat and with that lineup it was not a fluke that Elledge held off the boys. As the 600's were all done on passing points three qualifiers were run next to determine the top 18 starters for the main event and three B mains followed after the 30 lap USAC midget feature. The racing is usually good at Kutztown but one of the problems I have when we visit this track is they try to schedule 10 lbs. of sh.. into a 5 lb. bag and only start to show a sense of urgency when the time begins to slip away and the curfew nears. My solution is run a more realistic schedule of events and allow for some track maintenance time, some unexpected delay time for wrecks, light failures or anything else you can conjure up and don't make a division sit there all night and only get to run hot laps and nothing more for their $35 pit admission. I hope that they will be able to use the pit pass for a future event but maybe they could use that $35 this week for something else. Just my opinion.

    Anyway onto the 30 lap USAC midget feature which rolled toward the green flag at 9:28 led by the front row of Chad Boat and Logan Seavey. The early leader was Seavey who led the first seven circuits before a power steering line came loose causing Seavey to wrestle with his midget on the tight oval and allowing Boat to sneak by to assume the lead. Zeb Wise who started fourth motored by Seavey for second on lap ten and took up the pursuit of Boat for the top spot. Lap eleven saw Kyle Larson move into the hunt with a two for one pass of teammates, Seavey and Thorson, to advance from fifth to third. One lap later Wise raced off the top of turn four to pull alongside Boat on the homestretch and dove low in turn one to take the lead away from the Arizona pilot. Larson picked off Boat for second at the halfway mark and took up the search to track down Wise. Larson rolled the bottom in turns one and two and went to the top in turns three and four to cut into Wise's gap with less than ten to go. Larson poked his nose underneath Wise several times in turns one and two and with eight to go Wise took the hint and decided to change his line and at the same time take Larson's line away down there. Lap traffic was also a factor at this point and Wise went back up top to clear some of it before returning to the bottom. With just four laps to go Boat lost the handle in turn one battling with Thorson for fourth to bring out the caution and set up a final dash to the checkers. On the restart Wise went low in turns one and two and high through turns three and four. Larson pulled alongside Wise in the far turns but Wise's momentum allowed him to shoot off the top side and retain the lead. Coming to the white flag Larson threw a slider on Wise entering turn three crossing the front end of Wise and briefly into the lead before Wise responded with a counter move off turn four to take the white flag in front. Entering turn three on the final lap Larson tried the move again but Wise never lifted and used the entire corner to draw even with Larson off turn four even bouncing his right rear off the concrete as the pair raced to the line. At the line it was Wise nipping Larson by 0.078 seconds as the crowd roared its approval. Chris Windom had a bird's eye view of the lead tussle after working his way from 12th to 3rd and was probably hoping for the leaders to tangle so he could steal the win at the finish. Thorson would cross the line fourth with Courtney coming across fifth. Seavey held on for sixth with Andrew Layser turning in an impressive run from 14th to 7th with Jason McDougal eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. ninth with his teammate, Jerry Coons Jr., rounding out the top ten. It was a dramatic finish and had the crowd buzzing as Wise climbed to the top of his midget to celebrate his second career USAC midget victory both occurring in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

    The 600 micro sprints still had their 25 lap feature to run after the B mains completed and took the green flag at the curfew time of 10:30. It was a well run feature with few cautions but the outside had worn out at this point and made the bottom the preferred lane of choice. Alex Bright worked his way by Tim Buckwalter and Eddie Strada coming to the front leaving Strada and Buckwalter to settle it up for second. Buckwalter used the middle to finally take second late in the affair only to see the yellow rag waved to negate the pass and put Strada back to second which he kept over the final five laps of racing. When the double checkers waved at 10:41 it was Alex Bright in for the first 600 victory of their Speedweek competition with Strada second, Buckwalter third, Tommy Kunsman Jr. fourth and Brian Carber filling out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Colin White, Billy Pauch Jr., Jason Swavely, Damon Paul and Christian Bruno. It was a good night of racing and was doubling enjoyable because of the friends that we shared it with.

    That's it for this installment and check back tomorrow for the report on round three of PA midget week from the Path Valley Speedway in Spring Run for triple division action of midgets, wingless super sportsman and 600 micro sprints. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or come out and enjoy some exciting USAC midget racing here in Pennsylvania. Comments, news, press releases, tidbits and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but certainly not least is thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Opens Pennsylvania Midget Week With Win At Grandview

    Tuesday, July 30 - After driving eight hours from Columbus, Ohio we arrived at Pat's father's house in the Temple, Pennsylvania area. We visited for an hour and a half before heading over to our Tuesday night destination, the Grandview Speedway in Bechelsville, PA. The 1/3 mile banked oval was hosting round one of the USAC PA midget week (their first appearance here in 30 years) which was titled the Ken Brenn Midget Masters with Mr. Brenn on hand throwing the green flag for several sessions of hot laps. Also Keith Kunz repainted one of his midget stable to look like one of Brenn's former midget mounts with Kyle Larson scheduled to wheel it in the first three events of the week. After arriving at Grandview to was nice seeing and talking to many of our Eastern friends before the racing started tonight.


     

    Twenty five USAC midgets joined twenty six 358 modifeds on tonight's card for the doubleheader action with USAC midget time trials starting off the night of speed at 7:20. By 7:36 Kyle Larson stood in victory lane being interviewed by Georgia Henneberry after establishing a new track record with a lap of 14.310 seconds around the 1/3 mile oval. Some track prep was performed before the first of three USAC midget heats hit the track at 8:00. Tanner Thorson would score the win in heat one outrunning Karsyn Elledge, Chris Windom, Jerry Coons Jr. and Kyle Larson. Tyler Courtney won heat two besting Steve Buckwalter on the last lap with Tucker Klaasmeyer third, Kevin Thomas Jr. fourth and Andrew Layser back home in PA fifth. Jason McDougal put the Manafort #76M out front in heat three beating a fast closing Zeb Wise, Logan Seavey, Steven Drevicki and Shawn Jackson. The 26 modifieds would contest three heats also with Kevin Hirthler, Tim Buckwalter and 14 year old Alex Yankowski winning their heats. No consies or B mains were needed so after a short track maintenance session it was time for the 30 lap USAC midget feature.


     

    Zeb Wise was scheduled to start first in the feature but he was forced to go to a backup car after losing the engine at the finish of the third heat thus having to start last on the field and slid the inside row up one row moving Chris Windom to first. On the drop of the green flag at 9:03 Windom went to the front with Kevin Thomas Jr., Tyler Courtney and Kyle Larson in pursuit. Windom maintained a comfortable two car length over Thomas by running the high side through turns one and two and the low groove through turns three and four. Windom remained out front reaching lap traffic by lap nine. Windom was forced to run high all the way around the oval as the lap traffic hugged the pole inside. It turned out to be a blessing for Windom as his new groove seemed to be faster as the inside was going away. Windom continued to lead past the halfway mark with Thomas and Courtney dueling it out for the runnerup position. Lap 18 saw Karsyn Elledge lose the handle between turns three and four and took the lap traffic out of the equation. On the restart Courtney slid Thomas for second in turn one with Thomas countering in turn three to regain the second spot. Courtney repeated the move in turn one on lap 25 and slid in front of Thomas in turn two with Thomas tapping him on the rear bumper with Courtney securing second at that point. Shortly thereafter Wise and Steve Buckwalter tangled in turn two with Buckwalter getting the worse of the deal rolling his midget over in the process. On the restart a mad scramble ensued for second among Courtney, Thomas, Carrick and Larson allowing Windom to scoot away. Steven Drevicki looped it in turn two on lap 27 to bring out the caution. Windom went out front again on the restart with Courtney sticking with him as they raced around the track. Taking the white flag Courtney was close enough to make a slider but it was tharwted when Jason McDougal got sideways between turns three and four rolling to a stop. This would set up a green, white, checker scenerio and the fans moved to the edge of their seats anticipating a close run to the finish. At the drop of the green Windom moved out front with Courtney a car length back in second. They came to the white flag with Courtney throwing the slider on Windom in turn one going out in front but Windom countered by diving low in turn two and racing side by side with Courtney clearing him in turn three. Courtney tried one last ditch effort off turn four but it fell short at the line with Windom holding on for the win trailed by Courtney, Carrick, Thorson from 14th and Chad Boat. Thomas slipped to sixth at the finish with Tucker Klaasmeyer seventh, Kyle Larson trying hard on the last lap to advance forward but getting ganged up on and slipping to eighth with Jerry Coons Jr. ninth and Logan Seavey rounding out the top ten. It was a real good run by the USAC midgets and the crowd seemed to enjoy the tussle that went on.


     

    There was still some feature action to complete with the 358 modifieds set to run their 30 lap feature with Doug Manmiller and Tim Buckwalter bring the field to the green flag. This one would go non-stop in 8:10.65 seconds with Tim Buckwalter taking the lead on lap four from Manmiller and leading until Jeff Strunk passed him halfway through the race. Craig VonDohren worked his way by Buckwalter late and tried to track down Strunk but Strunk was too far ahead and the #126 flashed under the checkered flag at 9:55 scoring his 82nd career win at Grandview and notching his 200th career win in his stellar career. VonDohren came home second with Buckwalter third, Kevin Hirthler fourth and Brett Kressley fifth after advancing from 14th. It was a good race also but the midget feature was the better of the two.


     

    That's it for this report but check back tomorrow if the weather cooperates for round two with Action Track USA in Kutztown hosting the USAC midgets for the first time ever. So get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated and use plenty of sun screen. News, comments and other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back soon for the next report.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cummins Makes Late Race Pass For Win At Tri-State In ISW Final

    Saturday, July 27 - It would all come down to tonight to determine the point champion of the 32nd annual Indiana Sprint Week title with $5000 up for grabs along with a hand made ash rocker being presented to the winner. The battle would come down to CJ Leary, Brady Bacon and Justin Grant and after time trials the deficit had been trimmed by two points as Grant set overall fast time with a lap of 13.539 seconds around the finely manicured 1/4 mile dirt oval. Tom Helfrich and his track crew and their plethora of farm equipment prepare the best dirt surface to race on in all of Indiana and it was ready to go for the ISW final. After sprint car time trials hot laps were run for the 23 car UMP modified field in town before the track crew did their customary half hour of track maintenance before the start of the four USAC sprint car heats.


     

    By 7:52 it was time to go racing and the fine 40 car field was ready to do battle at Haubstadt. Justin Grant continued to put the pressure on Leary by scoring the victory in heat one outrunning Brody Roa, Brandon Mattox and Dustin Christie back in action one night after boarding the Air Christie flight in Bloomington where he ended up outside of turn one coming to rest in the bed of a pickup truck. Local racer, Stephen Schnapf, turned in an impressive heat two picking up the win over Chase Stockon, Chris Windom and Critter Malone who for the most part limits his sprint car starts to the southern Indiana bullring. Heat three saw Tyler Courtney place the Clauson/Marshall #7BC out front to win over Kyle Cummins, Tony DiMattia and Jarett Andretti. The fourth heat saw Ryan Bond get sideways on the backstretch and dig in lightly rolling over in the process. Evansville's Chayse Hayhurst surprised everyone in heat four with a super run notching the victory beating Brady Bacon, CJ Leary and Jason McDougal. The UMP modifieds would spin off three heats before the sprinters returned for their 10 lap C main with Donny Brackett wiring the field besting Mario Clouser, Trey Gropp and Dave Darland who all advanced to the back of the B main. Josh Hodges would triumph in the 12 lap B main over Kendall Ruble, Isaac Chapple, Kent Schmidt, Max Adams and Donny Brackett moving from the C to the B and into the A main.


     

    At this point the track crew went to work again completely reworking the racing surface and taking it back to the beginning of the evening. This may not make me a very popular guy in Southern Indiana but I think there is such a thing as doing too much track maintenance and after the track came around and was in fine shape there was no reason to take the time or effort to rework the racing surface in my opinion. If they felt they needed to rework the track a better time might have been before the C main thus giving the track some laps on it to run in and widen the surface rather than making the drivers run on a completely green surface. I hope those reading understand I am not criticizing Helfrich and his track crew for trying to deliver the best surface possible but the timing seemed to be out of order. Of course it produces a lightning fast surface but one that did not produce a lot of passing withe the exception of Brady Bacon. My whole point is some laps are needed on a reworked surface before you send the main event out to run and equipment circling the track is not going to produce the same results as 28 sprinters (10 in the C main and 18 in the B main) would have produced. I just felt that the A main seemed anti-climatic after some excellent heat racing and semis.


     

    The 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car feature was ready to go green at 9:51 with Brody Roa and Stephen Schnapf bringing the 24 car field including provisionals Kevin Thomas Jr. and Carson Short to the flagger's stand. Schnapf got the edge at the start but two quick cautions, one at each end of the track involving four cars each, slowed the event quickly. Schnapf again got the edge on the third start moving ahead of Roa. Fourth starting Chase Stockon claimed second in turn four coming to the line to complete lap one. For the next ten laps Schnapf paced the field pulling away to over a two second lead as he approached lap traffic. Kyle Cummins managed to slip by Stockon for second around lap seven and took up the chase of the high flying leader. Schnapf led still at the halfway mark but it was obvious that Cummins was closing the gap and had it down to 1.5 seconds at this point. Cummins continued to eat away at Schnapf's lead and with ten to go Cummins had an open track between himself and the leader. With seven to go Schnapf passed Isaac Chapple on the low side with Cummins right there on his tail tank. With just five laps to go Cummins gained even more ground in turn two and by turns three and four he was there like a snake just ready to strike and pulled side by side with Schnapf down the homestretch. The pair then ran side by side through turns one, two and three before Cummins was able to edge ahead as they exited turn four with four to go. Cummins was the leader at the line by a car length and he wouldn't look back from here. Cummins was on a roll and lapped Tyler Courtney and CJ Leary with two to go lapping up to tenth as he worked lap traffic to perfection. As the double checkers waved at 10:07 it was Kyle Cummins across the line first for his second ISW win of the week and his fifth career USAC sprint car win and now four for four at Tri-State in 2019. Schnapf came all so close for his first career USAC sprint car win and had to still be happy with the runnerup position with Justin Grant giving it all he had managing to take home third coming up 23 points shy of Leary who took home the championship. Chase Stockon finished fourth with Brady Bacon trying his best also to reel in Leary for the title streaked from 15th to 5th at the finish coming up just 12 points short for the title. Jarett Andretti paced the second five coming home sixth with Brody Roa seventh, Kendall Ruble in a good run for eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and CJ Leary holding on for tenth and the ISW title. Cummins and the Byrum crew were really hooked up over the final four races of ISW and could have easily won three straight if he hadn't went over the edge in turn three at Bloomington on Friday while contending for the lead after avoiding a bouncing Thomas.


     

    It was a good eight days of ISW with good prepared tracks and fierce racing throughout the eight days with some strong runs by Kyle Cummins, Brady Bacon, CJ Leary and Justin Grant along with two time winner, Tyler Courtney. Some of the underdogs also fared well with Nebraska's Terry Richards leading the class of overachievers. Brandon Mattox was another little guy who turned in some strong runs and who will forget the photo finish at Gas City between Shane Cottle and CJ Leary for Cottle's first career ISW victory. The good weather brought out record crowds and some fine racing was witnessed by all. Can't wait for ISW 2020.


     

    That's it for now as we head East on Monday night for five nights of USAC National midget racing starting at Grandview followed by Kutztown for the first time ever, Path Valley which is always good racing, Linda's and the always exciting Clyde Martin Speedway. So get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and hopefully we will see some of the old PA gang to chat with when we return to our roots. Any comments, news, rumors and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas, Kreisel, Cheatham & Steinkoenig Win On Busy Night At Belle-Clair

    Friday, July 26 - Not wanting to get involved in the pandamonium battling for unobstructed seats at Bloomington Speedway on Friday we decided to detour to the 1/5 mile dirt oval in Belleville, Illinois known as the Belle-Clair Speedway or Little Belleville. On tap on the evening were the POWRi National Midgets (24), WAR sprints (23), POWRi 600 micros (26) and UMP Pro modifieds (15). One of the best crowds we seen at Belle-Clair turned out tonight on a picture perfect day with temperatures in the high 80's and relatively low humidity. Besides the fact that 90% of the seating is under roof it make for an enjoyable evening of racing.


     

    Since POWRi does not run time trials and line up the top 15 via passing points that contributed to a faster evening. The first of three midget heats took the green at 7:08 and subsequent races were lined up and ready to enter the track as the previous one exited also contributed to a fast paced program. Cannon McIntosh had the field covered in heat one besting Sam Johnson, Jesse Love and Daniel Adler. Tyler Thomas ran away with heat two turning back Daniel Robinson, Zach Daum and Austin Brown. Heat three saw Jake Neuman win over Jesse Colwell, Presley Truedson and Karter Sarff. The three 600 heats were next to the post with Josh Fisher, Sean Robbins and Jake Cheatham posting wins. The WAR sprints would contest four heats with Brian Beebe holding off Wesley Smith and Patrick Budde in heat one. Colten Cottle scored the win in heat two beating Quinton Benson and Pete Palazzolo. Heat three went to Korey Weyant over Zach Daum and TJ Artz. Riley Kreisel took down heat four outdistancing Kory Schudy and Braydon Cromwell. The UMP pro modifieds ran two heats with Billy Knebel and Denny Tribout posting wins. Only the 600 micros would need a B main with Dustin Clary taking home the win.


     

    By 9:03 it was feature time with the 24 car field taking the green flag with Jake Neuman assuming the early lead from the outside of row one beating Cannon McIntosh into the first turn. Tyler Thomas quickly moved from fourth to second passing McIntosh and chasing Neuman for the top spot. Lap seven saw Neuman suddenly slow on the backstretch while leading and pull to the infield with mechanical woes. That gave the lead to Thomas and he would take full advantage of the gift. Thomas went up to the cushion and began to pound it against the wooden fencing of Belle-Clair. McIntosh stuck with Thomas and challenged several times but never made a serious bid to unseat Thomas. Numerous cautions early and in the middle part of the race slowed the action and broke up the momentum of Thomas but he was able to regroup and remain out front. In the latter stages of the race the battle heated up for third with Jesse Colwell and Sam Johnson trading sliders back and forth over a five lap period. Colwell eventually won out in the battle and claimed third at the end behind Thomas and McIntosh with Johnson turning in an impressive performance finishing fourth with Ace McCarthy rounding out the top five. Broc Hunnell scored an impressive sixth after starting sixteenth with Daniel Robinson seventh, Karter Sarff eighth, Daison Pursley ninth and Holly Hollan taking tenth. It was Tyler Thomas' 13th career POWRi National win and his fourth career win at the iconic 1/5 mile bullring.


     

    The POWRi 600's were next up with their 15 lap feature and unlike the ten cautions that plagued the midget feature only two slowed the action in this one. Jake Cheatham prevailed in this good contest over Chad Elliott and Sean Robbins.

    The 23 car WAR sprint field were next to present their 25 lap feature with Riley Kriesel jumping off the pole into the early lead with the field jockeying behind him. Kriesel led running the cushion with Wesley Smith and Zach Daum in hot pursuit. Just before the halfway mark TJ Artz turned turtle in turn two and brought out the red. Kriesel led on the restart with Smith and Daum duking it out for second. Daum worked the bottom on Smith and finally passed him with ten to go. A lap 21 caution tightened up the field with Daum glued to Kriesel's rear bumper. Kriesel was up to the task and pulled away over the remaining nine laps and flashed under the checkers at 10:24 trailed by Daum, Colten Cottle, Smith and Korey Weyant.


     

    The 15 lap pro modified feature was last on the card and it was the best feature of the evening. After many exchanges of the lead Owen Steinkoenig from 11th took the lead late in the event and prevailed over Tim Stadler, James Edens, Zach Hoffman and Joe Mercurio in a very hotly contested race. The final checker waved at 10:45 capping a good night of racing at the tiny bullring located in Belleville.


     

    That's it for now until tomorrow when we take in the final night of Indiana Sprint Week at the finely groomed Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana located in the southwestern portion of the Hoosier state. So check back soon and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and slop on that sun screen and drink plenty of water and other fluids. News, comments, tidbits and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often for new reports.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cummins Emerges From The Shadows After Lights Restored At LPS

    Thursday, July 25 - It was a unusual night at Lincoln Park Speedway on Thursday night when a transformer blew during the super stock feature taking out several areas of track lighting. Repairs were completed in good order, a little over a half hour, and some temporary lighting was added in the infield to illuminate the first and second corners before the USAC National Sprint Car feature was pushed off. But we are getting ahead of ourselves so we will backtrack to earlier and fill in the details before the main event.


     

    Another beautiful day greeted us upon awakening with temperatures in the mid 80's with plenty of sunshine. I left the house at 12:20 to drive down to Putnamville to place down three lawn chairs for the night's racing at Lincoln Park Speedway. There is not a bad seat in the large concrete grandstands and even though we had to venture down about ten rows from the top directly behind the starter's stand it was not a problem as the viewing lines are still great. Pennsylvania resident, Gordy Killian, would be joining us tonight as a stopover on his way to Missouri so a third chair was needed for him. Then I spent some time chatting with some friends before making the return journey to Crawfordsville picking up lunch along the way and coming back to gather up the working Pat. We departed Crawfordsville at 4 PM after purchasing Subway sandwiches for later at the track and traveled down Rt. 231 to Putnamville to try to find a parking spot not too far away from the front entrance. Luck was with us as we drove onto the grounds and were fortunate to find a hill parking spot below the graveyard that lies outside the speedway off of turn one. A gigantic crowd filled every nook and cranny of Joe Spiker's facility and we were happy to see such a good crowd here in beautiful downtown Putnamville as good crowds make promoters money which allows them to keep the gates open.


     

    It was round six of Indiana Sprint Week at the 5/16 mile banked clay oval in Putnam County with time trials starting off the program at 6:55. A fine field of 40 sprinters graced the backstretch pit area breaking the field up into two qualifying groups. Carson Short topped group two qualifying with a time of 12.662 seconds but overall fast time came out of group one with Kevin Thomas Jr. attacking the oval to the tune of 12.558 seconds to establish himself as the fastest of the 40. The other division on the evening were the super stocks and they brought 18 entries to the party and made for the perfect filler division for the evening. After their warmup sessions the USAC sprint cars were up next to contest four heat races with the top four advancing directly to the 30 lap main event on the evening with the top six inverted for each heat. Max Adams surprised everyone by notching heat one besting Brady Bacon, Justin Grant and Josh Hodges with fast timer, Thomas, nearing spinning twice in turn four and failing to advance to the big dance. Heat two saw local hotshot, AJ Hopkins, beat the rest with Jadon Rogers, Jordan Kinser and Chase Stockon trailing. Current ISW point leader, CJ Leary garnered heat three outrunning Carson Short, Dave Darland tonight in the Cunningham #17 and Brady Short. The fourth and final heat was loaded with Tyler Courtney getting the victory over Chris Windom, Kyle Cummins and Thomas Meseraull who spun and went to the rear and came back to take away the last qualifying spot from Travis Berryhill who was relegated to the B main and where his night got much tougher. All the heats produced some fast and furious racing and the three super stock heats also were very entertaining with great battles for the lead in each one.


     

    This lead us to the sprint car C main and the unusual continued as leader Dakota Jackson hit the cushion in turn three wrong and went bouncing up high on top of the cushion ending his evening early. Shane Cottle would go on to win the C main and advance to the B main. Kevin Thomas Jr. dominated the B winning over Brandon Mattox, Mario Clouser, Jason McDougal, Shane Cottle from the C and Brian VanMeveren. During the B main a scary incident happened entering turn three when McDougal and Travis Berryhill collided racing for position with Berryhill taking a couple of end over end flips before landing on the track. Berryhill was OK but his racer was the worse for wear.


     

    The 20 lap super stock feature would take the green at 9:14 and the feature racing was as good as the heat racing previously. Wes McClara ran the high side while Josh Boller steadily made his way forward from the eighth position. At times the top three ran three wide and it was an entertaining race. McClara would prevail in this one edging Boller for the popular win.


     

    At this point all that was left was the 30 lap sprint car feature but the demise of the transformer delayed the start of the feature for slightly over a half hour. Partial power was restored and a temporary light was brought in for turns one and two after trying to line up about eight vehicles with their headlights on pointed toward the turns. That didn't work as the banking of the turns only allowed the headlights to shine at the bottom of the track. With most of the lights functional and the temporary light doing its job by 10:09 the 24 car field with the addition of Isaac Chapple and Dustin Christie were ready to rumble. Kyle Cummins moved the Hank Bryam #3R to the point at the drop of the green flag. Cummins chose the bottom and hit his marks each lap as he extended his lead in the early going. By lap four Brady Bacon was challenging CJ Leary for second also using the lower groove as Leary ran high in turn one and diamonded off in turn two holding Bacon at bay. Cummins was in cruise control up front while Bacon and Leary continued to battle for second. Finally on lap 13 Bacon worked Leary up the track a little allowing him to edge into second right before Isaac Chapple added to his dismal 2019 season flipping on top of the cushion in turns three and four on lap 14. On the restart Cummins pulled out to his comfortable five car length lead with Bacon trying different lines trying to reel in the leader. Cummins worked the lap traffic to perfection over the remaining laps and breezed across the line first scoring his fourth career USAC sprint car victory and third ISW win out of the four triumphs. Cummins explained in victory lane that this one was his favorite as you have to be a technical driver at LPS and he enjoyed turning in the flawless performance. Bacon chased Cummins across the line for second with Leary remaining in third, Tyler Courtney nailing down fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. claiming fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Carson Short, Brandon Mattox, Justin Grant, Shane Cottle the hard charger once again marching from 22nd to 9th again being the master of the bottom with Chris Windom placing tenth. It was an interesting race but one with not much passing with the exception of Cottle and it was good to see someone different park his sprinter in victory lane.


     

    That's it for this installment as Friday will be a surprise as we are passing on the expected mad house at Bloomington in favor of one of our Illinois favorites. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated and put on the sun block. Comments, news, tidbits or other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And in ending thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Sweeps The Night At Terre Haute

    Wednesday, July 24 - It was a beautiful summer day with nary a cloud in the sky with plenty of sunshine and even more on the track at Terre Haute. Temperatures bounced around 80 all day and made for a very pleasant day as the throng made their way to the Vigo County Fairgrounds, home of the Action Track or Terre Haute, whatever your preference is. The road down from Crawfordsville was enjoyable taking first Rt. 47 past Waveland, home of Thomas Meseraull, and past Turkey Run State Park in Parke County. Then we hooked onto Rt. 41 which eventually took us into the home of the Hulman Family and Indiana State University. The only problem the whole trip was a detour from our back way into the track grounds which led us back out to Rt. 41 again. Not a big problem and after laying down the blanket in the old covered grandstands I made my way out to the bench to do some bench racing with Al Pierce, Ron Miller and Jerry Shaw. After some fun discussions the sound of racing engines scattered us in various directions to take in the hot laps.


     

    The Don Smith Classic was on tap this evening featuring the USAC National Sprint Cars and the UMP modifieds. Thirty two sprints made the haul to Terre Haute for racing on the big half mile while a very disappointing ten UMP modifieds showed for their portion of the program. Time trials commenced at 6:54 and by 7:25 Tyler Courtney stood on the homestretch being interviewed by Georgia Henneberry who's mike needs to be replaced as the interviews cannot be heard in the grandstand area whatsoever and that is a shame. The UMP modifieds ran their hot laps next and by 8:01 the green was ready to drop on the first of four USAC sprint car heats. Tyler Courtney wasted little time blasting from his sixth starting spot to the lead and scoring the first heat win and two thirds of the way to a clean sweep of the night's activities winning over Justin Grant, Brandon Mattox and Great Britian's Tom Harris taking the wing off after making his first WOO feature at the King's Royal none the less last week. CJ Leary in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ duplicated Courtney's run from sixth in heat two triumphing over Carson Short, Chris Windom and Max Adams, the California youngster, who has migrated to the midwest to race with the best and continues to impress in every outing. Heat three saw Kevin Thomas Jr. wheel the Hayward/Thomas #19 to victory over Brody Roa who he passed in the last corner of the last lap for the win. Josh Hodges and Brian VanMevern joined the top two in advancing to the main event ending VanMevern's streak of having to use provisionals to join the starting field. Brady Bacon ran off with heat four besting Kyle Cummins, Chase Stockon and Isaac Chapple in this one. The sprint heats were in the books in less than a half hour. The modifieds followed with two heats won by Will Krup and Tyler Weiss. The sprint car semi would be next on the agenda with Jason McDougal who bearly missed qualifying in heat two winning this one outpacing Scotty Weir in the Cheney #42, Nate McMillin, Dustin Christie, Dustin Smith and Nebraska's Terry Richards who is having a good ISW qualifying for most of the events in his USAC debut. A good battle with Dakota Jackson over the final five laps of the semi highlighted this run.


     

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature was next to the post with Will Krup taking the early lead. Tyler Weiss did what most drivers have not done and that is pass Krup after he takes the lead but midway through the event that is exactly what Weiss did. He pulled away from Krup and won by a comfortable margin over Krup with Michael Tarlton third, Dave Baldwin fourth and Tyler Loughmiller fifth in a race that took only ten minutes to complete.


     

    Now all that was left to run was the 30 lap NOS Energy Drink USAC National Sprint Car feature and the green flag dropped on the 22 car starting field at 9:50. Chris Windom led the opening lap of the feature event with Justin Grant securing the top spot with a backstretch pass of Windom on lap 2. Meanwhile Tyler Courtney was coming quick moving from sixth to third by lap 1. Tom Harris brought out the first caution with major engine woes when he pulled to the infield entering turn one on lap 3. On the restart Grant led with Courtney diving under Windom in turn two and shooting down the backstretch into second at that point. Grant was running the middle line with great success and held a comfortable six car length lead up to the halfway mark. At this point the leaders were approaching lap traffic and Grant picked his way through with Courtney now on his tail tank as the two weaved through the traffic. Lap 18 saw the second caution appear as rookie of the year contender, Brian VanMeveren stopped in turn four to slow the action. On the restart Courtney went to the cushion in turn two to take the lead away from Grant but Justin was not done yet as he raced into turn three side by side with Courtney. Entering turn four the duo banged wheels with Courtney careening toward the wall. Courtney retained control and blasted down the homestretch with a full head of stream entering turn one. He dove low in one and caught a rut sending him into a giant bike and upon touchdown sent him toward first Grant and then the concrete wall in turn two which he somehow managed to miss and kept going without losing a position in all this mayhem. Chase Stockon then slowed on the backstretch while running sixth bringing out the third caution and allowing Courtney to regain his breath and composure under the yellow. Grant went out front on the restart with Windom challenging Courtney for second. The green didn't last long as the yellow appeared once again when Jason McDougal, running eighth at the time slowed on the backstretch to bring out the final caution of the night. Lap 23 saw Courtney throw a tight slider on Grant entering turn one and took the lead for the first time in turn two. The leaders raced down the backstretch where Grant attempted a slider entering turn three but came up short with Courtney maintaining the top spot. Entering turn one Grant biked his sprinter losing valuable ground to Courtney in the process. Over the remaining six laps Courtney raced away into the night opening up a four second advantage. At the finish at 10:14 it was Courtney across the line first for the second time in ISW action this year and his fifth overall win of the year with Grant chasing. Kevin Thomas Jr. came on late to pass Windom and rode home third with Brady Bacon, the hard charger of the evening advancing from 14th to 4th at the finish with Windom relegated to fifth at the end. ISW point leader, CJ Leary, came home sixth with Carson Short coming from 12th to 7th with Max Adams marching from 16th to 8th, Chase Stockon ninth and Kyle Cummins rounding out the top ten. It was a decent race and there was some good racing between Courtney and Grant with Thomas and Bacon providing some highlights also but it was not a classic.


     

    Time to move on with round six on tap tonight at Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville where the USAC warriors travel to to resume battle with CJ Leary leading Chris Windom by 14 points in the ISW standings with Brady Bacon just 20 points back in third. Justin Grant has moved into fourth just 33 points back with Kevin Thomas Jr. in fifth 46 points off the pace with three races to go.


     

    That's it for this installment and check back tomorrow for the report on the action at Lincoln Park Speedway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or come on out to Indiana for the last three races of ISW. Comments, quotes, news, stories and any other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but certainly not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope your enjoy reading about our typical weekends and sometimes weekdays.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Fends Off Bacon For ISW Win At Kokomo

    Saturday, July 20 - The insanely hot weather continued as we prepared to take in Round three of Indiana Sprint Week at the Kokomo Speedway. The temperatures were in the high 90's and the heat index was once again above 100 as our scorcher was upon us. We decided to stay in the air conditioning as much as we could first dining with Jimmy Reeder and Max and Suzie Niemann at Golden Corral then hanging out in the car at the track (it does a number on the gas mileage but it makes sense not to sit outside either in the shade or especially in the sun on days like this). In a great move by USAC and all the tracks in the first half of ISW the starting times have been pushed back to try to alleviate everyone having to be out in the worst part of the day. As the cars rolled out for engine heating and eventually hot laps we along with many others made our way into the big aluminum grandstand on the backstretch for tonight's racing action. In addition to Jimmy and Max and Suzie we were joined this evening by Gary Dean and Sally Ebling, our racing friends from Missouri and Nebraska. Also later in the evening we were graced by the presence of 74 year old Johnny Parsons Jr. sitting right behind me. Johnny was interesting to listen to between races and added some good insight to the racing taking place.


     

    Time trials commenced at 7:55 for the good 40 car field in attendance with CJ Leary setting yet another fast time with a lap of 13.001 seconds around the bullring at Kokomo. Some additional track maintenance and we believe a break to allow the sun to go down pushed the start of the USAC heat races back to 9:03. Four heats races would be contested taking the top four directly into the 30 lap main event with the others given a second chance in the 12 lap B main. The top six in time trials after the heat races (if you were in the top six and did not qualify through the heat races the best you can start is seventh) are inverted with the sixth fastest starting first in the feature event.


     

    Thomas Meseraull claimed heat one from third beating Brody Roa, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon to the line in this one. Bacon and the crew of the Hoffman Racing #69 were able to change power plants between time trials and the first heat enabling Bacon to qualify through the heat and retain his fifth fastest time trial lap. Heat two saw Matt Westfall battling for a top four spot bike twice before losing control and rolling over in turn four and relegated to the hook for the race. Justin Grant would garner the win in heat two besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Chris Windom and Tyler Courtney. Heat three produced the surprise of the night when young Apollo Beach, Florida driver, Anthony D'Allessio, notched the heat win over Kyle Cummins, Carson Short and Jarett Andretti. The fourth heat produced a scary moment when then leader Clinton Boyles of Missouri in the Paul Hazen #57 biked his sprinter entering turn three and flew into the wall and catch fence roll cage first flipping over and coming to rest on his wheels on the track. Due to good safety equipment Boyles was OK but the Hazen #57 was the worst for wear with a broken roll cage among other bent up parts on the machine. Shane Cottle would win this one beating Scotty Weir, Jason McDougal and Brandon Mattox who all moved to the main event. The 16 King of Indiana/UMRA TQ midgets ran two heats with the Goff entries of Joey Paxson and Robbie Roland prevailing. Next up was the highly contested with 21 drivers battling for the 6 remaining spot for the 30 lap main event. Chase Stockon would post the win in the B main outdistancing Josh Hodges, Koby Barksdale, Shane Cockrum, Dave Darland and Dakota Jackson. Isaac Chapple and Brian VanMeveren would use provisionals to join the starting field which swelled to 24 at this point.


     

    The TQ midgets would run their 20 lap feature next and they spun their main event off in seven minutes with only one caution. This division always seems to run competitive races and I wonder why they don't get more attention as they bring a decent amount of cars and produce some good racing. Matt Lux took advantage of his first starting position and led all 20 laps but it was not as easy as it sounds as Austin Nigh pressured him in the closing laps after starting seventh and making his way to the front. Cory Clay was another who charged forward from eleventh to third with Tate Martz fourth after starting ninth and Matthew Hedrick fifth after starting tenth.


     

    Now it was time for round three of ISW with the front row of Scotty Weir and Brady Bacon bringing the rest of the field to Tom Hansing's green flag. Bacon and third starting Chris Windom raced side by side on the opening lap until Weir made it three wide off turn four and claimed the lead at the line to complete lap one. CJ Leary threw his helmet into the ring challenging Windom for third off turn four with the pair battling back and forth over the next several laps. Windom diamonded turn three to take third back from Leary on lap four. Windom and Bacon duked it out with Windom using a slider to secure second from Bacon on lap five shortly before Dakota Jackson turned turtle in turn four in end his night early. Meanwhile Scotty Weir was pacing the field and led past the halfway mark as the champion of the underfinanced outran all the others. With 12 to go Windom began to pressure Weir through turns one and two with Weir jumping the cushion allowing Windom to streak by on the low side for the lead. Weir countered with a slider into turn three regaining the lead but Windom dove low again in turn four and was out front once again. With seven to go Bacon used the high side to wrestle second from Weir in turn two and took up the chase of Windom. Chris had a good sized lead but Bacon was gobbling up big chunks of real estate as the laps dwindled down. With just two laps to go Bacon was close behind when Anthony D'Allessio lost the handle in turn four to bring out the first caution. On the restart Windom got a good start and raced ahead by four car lengths. Entering turn three coming to the white flag Bacon made a good run on the low side with Windom going into blocking mode diving off the top and pulling in front of Bacon. After taking the white flag the pair raced into the turns one and two with Bacon surging out front by the slimmest of margins. As they raced down the backstretch side by side they entered turn three with Windom forcefully closing the door nearly colliding with the surging Bacon and completely taken the inside line away. They raced off turn four with the double checkers waving with Windom nailing down his third win of the year and surprisingly his first in ISW competition in eight years. Bacon raced across the line second with Leary third, Kyle Cummins coming from tenth to fourth and Scotty Weir hanging on for fifth. The second five were paced by Carson Short with Kevin Thomas Jr. seventh, Justin Grant, the hard charger from 18th to 8th, Tyler Courtney15th to 9th and Chase Stockon rounding out the top ten.


     

    In victory lane Windom was greeted by quite a few boos for his last lap chopping action and later Bacon's interview was short and sweet saying that he wouldn't race that way but it seems like Windom has been doing it more and more lately. It seems the rest of ISW could be something to watch as not only are the temperatures soaring but so it seems are the tempers of some of the drivers. It was a good race and Jimmy Reeder really enjoyed the different perspective that the backstretch offers especially how the track swings out on the backstretch which you don't notice sitting on the homestretch. It was a hot, fun evening enjoyed with many friends and we look forward to the remainder of ISW. We are stepping off the tour tomorrow instead taking in an afternoon Northwoods League contest at Kokomo Municipal Stadium with the Kokomo Jackrabbits taking on the Battle Creek Bombers in a collegiate wooden bat league with 24 teams in this fine collegiate league.


     

    Justin Grant won Sunday night at Lawrenceburg in round four of ISW just beating the rains winning over Chris Windom, CJ Leary, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Carson Short with 30 cars in attendance.
     


     

    Check back on Thursday as we will report on Wednesday night's ISW event from the famed Action Track in Terre Haute where the troops gather for another round of non-winged sprint car racing. Until that time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated and put on plenty of sun screen to enjoy the racing near you. News, comments, press releases, observations and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always the case thanks for reading our efforts and keep coming back to see where a typical weekend (or week) takes us in our racing travels.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Wires The Field At Plymouth

    Friday, July 19 - Another day dawned with the heat index above 100, 106 to be exact but despite the heat it was time for round two of Indiana Sprint Week tonight be hosted at the Plymouth Speedway in Northern Indiana. From our base in Kokomo we ventured north after having lunch at McAllister's avoiding a road closure on Rt. 31 by taking some back roads including a dirt one before returning to Rt. 31 further north in our trip. We arrived around 5:30 and found a good parking spot up toward the main entrance. Our Iowa friend, Jimmy Reeder, had saved seats for us so we provided some extra blankets to save two extra seats for the Niemanns who texted us after our arrival. It was hot but we sat in air condition of the Rogue listening to the Cubs beat the Padres 6-5 before we ventured over to visit with some of our Pennsylvania buddies near their car. Between the shade from their vehicle and the nice steady breeze blowing in our faces it was not uncomfortable sitting outside. As the cars hit the track for hot laps we all gathered our belongings and made our way into the huge aluminum grandstand that runs the entire length of the homestretch and towers high above the track surface. Upon entering we noticed that Dan and Jen Morgan from Bloomington were in the row right behind us so some additional friends were added to the party.


     

    USAC sprint time trials began the program at 7:56 with two groups of 19 under the clock with Dustin Ingle fastest in group one at 13.485 seconds while Tyler Courtney was fastest in group two and overall at 13.368 seconds. Warmups were next for the 13 micros on hand who were racing on the inner oval this evening giving Jimmy Reeder two new tracks for his list. USAC sprint car heats commenced at 8:46 with four in total advancing the top four to the main event. Heat one saw Ohio's Matt Westfall pace the field winning over Brandon Mattox, Chase Stockon and Dustin Ingle. Heat two was a very competitive contest with New Mexico's Josh Hodges holding off the advances of Brady Bacon, Zane Hendricks and Nebraska's Terry Richards battling tooth and nail with last night's feature winner, Shane Cottle, for the final transfer spot with Richards prevailing. Cottle's bad night would continue in the B main where he was involved in a scuffle and retired to the infield during the running of the B. This is the prime example of someone going from hero to zero in an instant and show you how fickle racing can be going from the top of the mountain to the bottom in one night. Hopefully The Throttle will rebound tomorrow night at the stop at Kokomo always a good track for him. The third heat of the evening seemed to be the loaded one as it was last night with T-Mez prevailing in this one in his own steed besting Carson Short, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. The fourth heat was a wild one as Dickie Gaines and Brody Roa tangled entering turn three with Chad Boespflug becoming involved with Roa and Boespflug flipping over in the process. Everyone was OK after this altercation. Kyle Cummins would go on to win this one outrunning Kevin Thomas Jr., Chris Windom and Jason McDougal who passed Dave Darland late for the final qualifying position. Two micro heats on the inner oval would follow and next up was the sprint car B main. CJ Leary would garner the B turning back Dakota Jackson, Max Adams, Jarett Andretti, Mitchell Davis in a good run and Clinton Boyles in the Paul Hazen #57 punching the last ticket into the big dance. Chad Boespflug and Dustin Christie would use provisionals to join the back of the field raising the number of feature starters to 24 for the 30 lap feature event.


     

    Jesse Holt nailed down the 20 lap micro feature with a strong run besting the 13 car field for the win.


     

    The front row of Chris Windom and Chase Stockon brought the rest of the 24 car field to the green flag at 10:34 with Stockon taking the lead on the backstretch. That was short lived as Windom powered by in turn one at the beginning of lap two. Brady Bacon worked the bottom to take second away from Stockon down the homestretch on lap three and took up the chase of the high flying Windom. Bacon edged Windom at the line to complete lap twelve and promptly nipped the inside tractor tires through turn one and clearly moved ahead in turn two. One lap later Brandon Mattox rolled over in turn one to bring out the red flag and he quickly climbed from his wrecked machine. On the restart Bacon used the inside to scoot away with Windom and Tyler Courtney now hooking up in a race for the runnerup position. Courtney took second away from Windom with a high side sweep entering turn one on lap 15 and took up the pursuit of Bacon. Courtney was using the high side to his advantage and swept closer to Bacon entering turn two on lap 18 when Bacon went high to block the advance and took away some of Courtney's momentum. Zane Hendricks broke up the duel for the lead when he went hard into the turn one wall and rolled over to bring out the second red of the feature event. On the restart Bacon led with Courtney and Windom in tow. Bacon was on the low side again but exiting turn four he anticipated an outside sweeper by Courtney and drifted high but Courtney drove low and powered by Bacon for the lead at the line. Thomas Meseraull blew a right rear and half spun off turn four moments later to bring out the yellow but Courtney was in front at the time. Courtney powered away on the restart but a battle royale brought out behind the leader with Windom, Grant, Leary advancing from seventh, Bacon and Jason McDougal slugging it out for positions in the top five. Courtney was gone over the remaining ten laps and flashed under the checkers at 11:03 for the fourth time in 2019 tying Brady Bacon for the most wins so far and collecting his 21st career USAC National Sprint win in the process tying Greg Weld for 28th on the all time sprint win list. CJ Leary used the top to wrestle away his second consecutive runnerup finish at the finish with Grant third, Bacon fourth and McDougal rounding out the top five. Windom faded and settled for sixth with Dakota Jackson giving the Gass #17 a good ride from 13th to 7th with Stockon slumping to 8th, Kyle Cummins placing 9th and Josh Hodges claiming 10th.

    It was a decent race with some good battles throughout and provided some good entertainment for the good sized crowd on hand as the shade in the grandstands and the pleasant breeze all evening made for a surprisingly comfortable night of racing.


     

    That's all for now and check back soon for round three of ISW from the baddest bullring in Indiana, the Kokomo Speedway, where the action is just around the next corner. So until next time stay hydrated (plenty of water & not just beer) and put on the sun screen and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or make your way to Indiana for the best non-wing racing in the country. Comments, news and other items of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our next typical weekend takes us.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cottle Nips Leary At Line For ISW Opener At Gas City

    Thursday, July 18 - A heat advisory was in effect for most of the Midwest but racing was still on at the Gas City I-69 Speedway for the opener of Indiana Sprint Week Edition 32. Good friends, Max and Suzie Niemann, were kind enough to save us seats for tonight's racing as Pat had to work and we knew we would not be arriving before 6 PM. Thank goodness that they did as we arrived around 6:10 to find the front lot totally packed and the field outside of turns one and two filling up quickly. We found a parking spot along the tree line equal with the backstretch and after consuming dinner in the air conditioned car we ventured across the grass field to make our way into the grandstand area. Right in front of us entering the gate were Max and Suzie and we chatted for quite some time before spotting Dan and Jen Morgan who we talked with for a while until heading toward our grandstand seats. Jerry Gappens has done a fine job bringing back Gas City to its former glory and he and his staff deserve a round of applause for the great job they did on this evening also. Tents with fans, an area to soak your towels to place around your neck and beverage stands were a few of the perks provided on this hot evening and was truly appreciated by everyone in attendance. And in spite of the hot weather they were rewarded with a very large crowd on hand maybe being the largest in the short tenure of Jerry Gappens and that is good to see. Now onto the racing!!


     

    One of the things that we really like about Indiana Sprint Week is the fact that every show is just a two division program and with the fact that starting times have been pushed back to help beat the heat it is good to only have two divisions so the show can be move along in a timely manner. The two sessions of time trials kicked off at 7:42 with Jason McDougal setting fast time of session two at 12.199 seconds but the first session had the fastest overall time of 12.046 seconds set by Illinois invader, Carson Short. Corey Smith caught the homestretch wall with his right rear tire during his time trial run that turned him sideways and into a series of rollovers. Smith was OK and would make repairs to his machine and return to race in his heat race.


     

    The four heat races for the fine 43 car field on hand would begin at 8:38 and the action started early as fast timer, Carson Short, cut across Josh Hodges' front end in turn three and rolled his sprinter before coming to a rest. Damage was minimal and Short would return for the B main later. Scotty Weir took the Pederson #4P to the front and held off Chris Windom, Justin Grant and Josh Hodges who had a great race for the last qualifying position with Chad Boesplug and fellow Californian Brody Roa. Heat two went to Kevin Thomas Jr. besting Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon and Brent Beauchamp in a loaded heat. Jason McDougal would cop heat three beating Thomas Meseraull, a five time winner at Gas City in 2019, Dave Darland in the Cheney #42 and CJ Leary. The fourth and final heat would be a romp by Tyler Courtney outdistancing Dakota Jackson in the Gass #17, Corey Smith recovering nicely from his time trial ride and Kyle Cummins from eighth to fourth. The non-winged 600's were the other class on the card and they brought 20 entries to the dance. Dylan Woodling, normally an UMP modified standout, took heat one with Eastin Ashbrooke taking heat two and Justin Harper slicing through the field to take heat three. Next up on the agenda was the sprint car C main with Max Adams scoring the win and moving into the B main. Shane Cottle would motor the Tony Epperson #2E to victory in the B main outrunning Carson Short, Isaac Chapple, AJ Hopkins, Cole Ketchum and Max Adams advancing from the C to the B and now to the A main in a fine run.


     

    The 20 lap 600 feature would take the green flag at 10 PM. Mike Landis would lead the first eleven laps and as Dylan Woodling challenged for the lead on the backstretch on lap 11 he caught something wrong and went flipping high in the air before landing back on the track surface. He was OK but done for the evening. Devan Myers had worked his way up to third from 19th at this point and pressured Ashbrooke for second on lap 13 slipping by in turn two. In turn three Myers dove low to pass Landis for the lead and the march from 19th was now to 1st. Two laps later Justin Harper grabbed second from Landis and took up the challenge. Harper drew close but never made a serious challenge for the lead and twelve minutes after the start Devan Myers flashed under the checkered flag first with Harper second, Landis third, Ashbrooke fourth and Abby Hohlbein rounding out the top five in a fine race that was a prelude to the upcoming 30 lap USAC sprint tussle.


     

    The front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. and CJ Leary brought the 24 car field to the green flag with the addition of provisionals Chad Boespflug and Brian VanMeveren joining the party. Leary went to the early lead with Thomas and Grant in tow. Lap three saw Scotty Weir spin in turn two with Isaac Chapple sliding in after having nowhere to go. The second yellow appeared on lap six when Corey Smith stopped high in turn two. On both restarts Leary continued to pace the field and looked like he would cruise to the victory. The action was fierce behind him with Thomas, Windom, Bacon, McDougal and an advancing Shane Cottle, the master of the bottom, using that line to advance from 18th into the hunt. Lap seventeen saw ninth running Thomas Meseraull get sideways in turn three with 11th running Tyler Courtney plowing into him with no choice as they were running too close together to avoid him. Courtney's night was over prematurely at this point to his disappointment. On the next restart Leary had two lap cars behind him and second running Thomas and pulled away quickly. Windom used the top to power into third past Bacon as Cottle was working the bottom as only he can taking over fourth. The last yellow appeared on lap 25 when Isaac Chapple spun in turn one to set up a five lap dash for the cash. On the restart Leary jumped back out front with Cottle diving low in turn two to pull alongside Thomas for second. They raced side by side down the backstretch and into turns three and four before Cottle edged ahead to take second. Leary had about a five car length but every lap Cottle whittled away at the deficit and drew closer. Taking the white flag the pair raced side by side entering turn one and this continued all the way around the 1/4 mile. Coming off the final corner the top two raced to the line with Cottle edging Leary by 0.002 seconds in one of the closest finishes in USAC history. There was some controversy as the transponder which are located on the rear bumpers showed Leary edging Cottle but the USAC rule is the winner is determined by who's front wheels cross the start/finish line first and the USAC officials called the exciting win for Cottle at the line. Leary led 29 laps but not the one that counted ending up second with Windom third, Bacon fourth and Thomas slipping to fifth at the finish as he stuck with the top but it went away as he slipped from second to fifth in the last five laps. Positions six through ten were filled by Jason McDougal who also stuck with the top, Dakota Jackson, Kyle Cummins, Brent Beauchamp from 20th and Justin Grant. It was Cottle's third career USAC National Sprint Car victory with all of them coming at Gas City. It was also his first since 2008 and only the second for car owner, Tony Epperson, with his last coming last year at Kokomo with Tyler Thomas at the wheel.


     

    It was a fine finish to a fine feature and it will take a lot to top this night of racing over the course of the remaining events of the 32nd Indiana Sprint Week but we look forward to seeing if any other track can do so!!! A grand evening of racing from start to finish topped off with two excellent feature events. It don't get much better than that!!!


     

    That's it for now and check back tomorrow for round two of ISW from the Plymouth Speedway where we will be heading. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or head out here and take in some of the exciting non-wing action of ISW. Comments (good or bad), notes, news and tidbits can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Carrick In Right Place At Right Time To Score Career First USAC Win At Sweet Springs

    Sunday, July 14 - We slept in at our hotel in Concordia, Missouri as we only had a short 11 minute ride to tonight's racing at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex in Sweet Springs. After rising and getting ready to go we ventured underneath the interstate over to the Seven Day Diner on the westbound side of the road. A very good meal was enjoyed before returning to the hotel to hang out a while until it was time to go to the race track. We would be joined on this evening by Dale O'Brien and Bill Burns in the homestretch wooden grandstands that stretched the entire length of the front-stretch on the 1/6 mile dirt oval. The track was a little smaller than the others on the tour but it was wide and well groomed and produced some good racing on the evening.


     

    After warmups USAC midgets were first on the agenda with their time trials for their 23 car field starting off at 6:05 and by 6:23 Chris Windom had spun off a time of 11.951 seconds which was a new track record. The other divisions on the card tonight were the winged 600 micro sprints and they also brought 23 steeds to the rodeo. The USAC midgets would contest their three heats first with Sam Johnson holding off the field to take heat one over Jerry Coons Jr., Ethan Mitchell, Jason McDougal and Logan Seavey. The Petry Motorsports team brought out a third car on the last night for their chief wrench, Cole Bodine, and he took it to the heat two win besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Tyler Courtney, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Tanner Thorson. Young Zeb Wise bested the field in heat three beating Chad Boat, Tanner Carrick, Andrew Layser and Brady Bacon. The 600 micros lined up for three heats also with Riley Goodno, Matt Carr and Garet Williamson notching heat wins. No USAC semi would be needed so next up would be the 40 lap NOS Energy Drink USAC midget feature.


     

    Logan Seavey and Andrew Layser brought the 23 car field to the green flag at 8:13 with the front row battling side by side through turns one and two. Going down the backstretch the two banged wheels with Layser losing control entering turn three with Jason McDougal making contact throwing him sideways. Tanner Thorson caught McDougal's left rear and flipped wildly in turn three ending his evening early. Zeb Wise made contact with Thorson also rolling over in the process but Wise was able to restart after visiting the work area. On the restart Layser took the lead but the red waved again on lap two when Curtis Spicer flipped in turn two. Layser would lead the first two laps until Tyler Courtney swept by to take the top spot. Courtney looked strong as he paced the field with Jason McDougal jumping to second and Seavey running in third. Tanner Carrick and Chris Windom threw their helmets in the ring and joined the party up front as this group battled it out tooth and nail. The laps were clicking off and it looked like Courtney was on his way to his seventh win of the year with Seavey advancing to second and applying the pressure to the leader as they worked their way through the lap traffic. With five to go Seavey entered turn three and threw a massive slider on Courtney taking the lead but Courtney countered and retook the lead off of turn four. With three to go Courtney entered turn three and caught the cushion wrong with his right rear tire which sent him sideways and over onto his side with Seavey clipping him as he drove by. Courtney was able to restart at the rear but Seavey had front end problems and retired to the pit area and would not be repeating his win from last year. This gave the lead to McDougal on the final restart with Windom and Carrick lurking on his tail tank and Zeb Wise in the hunt after restarting last on the lap two scrum and slicing his way back into contention. McDougal led into turn one with Windom looking to throw the slider but he didn't have enough room so he slid behind McDougal entering turn two where McDougal jumped the berm and tagged the wall slowing Windom's charge and opening the inside for Carrick who drove by both of them into the lead. Carrick went to the cushion and kept the wolves at bay as they charged to the finish at 8:53 with Carrick scoring his first career USAC midget win and becoming the fourth new winner in the midget class in 2019. Zeb Wise dusted off Windom for second off turn four with Windom settling for third, McDougal ending up fourth and Chad Boat rounding out the top five. Kevin Thomas Jr. would end up sixth with Jerry Coons Jr. seventh, Daniel Robinson climbing from 23rd to eighth and claiming the hard charger award, Tucker Klaasmeyer ninth and Andrew Layser hanging on for tenth.


     

    It was a very competitive race but the two reds and five other cautions (including three from Ethan Mitchell) spoiled what would have been considered a great race but it still was very good.


     

    The winged 600's were next with their 20 lap feature and these guys fly around the 1/6 mile oval with reckless abandon. This one would go non-stop in five minutes and it looked like Quinn Jones would bag this one taking the lead early from his sixth starting position. As he worked his way through lap traffic on the last lap Brady Bacon closed to within striking distance and as they raced off turn four Bacon stuck with the middle groove and sped off the corner nipping Jones at the line for the win at 9:08. It was a good night of racing on the small oval and maybe the best of the Mid-America USAC tour.


     

    That's it for now as Indiana Sprint Week looms on the horizon starting Thursday evening at Gas City. So get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or head to Indiana and take in some of the Indiana Sprint Week. News, comments, quotes, insights and more can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back Friday for a report on round one of Indiana Sprint Week.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Ace McCarthy Wins POWRi Career First At Valley

    Saturday, July 13 - We decided to come off the USAC Midwest Tour and take in the POWRi National Midgets and the winged 600's in their second night of two racing at the Valley Speedway in Grass Valley, Missouri instead. The drive from Fairbury, Nebraska to Grass Valley, Missouri was uneventful as we enjoyed the back roads and the scenery driving down from Nebraska. A delicious lunch at Bandana's in St. Joseph, MIssouri was enjoyed by all before completing the drive into Missouri.


     

    We arrived early and parked under a tree to try to escape the blazing sun as temperatures hovered in the mid 90's. The facility at Valley Speedway is rudimentary at best with old cars and lots of tractor trailers parked all around the grounds of the track. The stands were the worst for wear with many boards warped and rising up in the air. After the sun went down the lighting was turned out and it was not good with many dark spots around the oval. Basically to sum it up the facility was a dump. Sorry to say but true. The race surface itself was the highlight of the facility with good dirt and multiple grooves.


     

    POWRI does not run qualifying or time trials and the lineups for the main event are determined by passing points in the heat racing. The fine 35 car midget field would contest five heats with fourteen year old Daison Pursley in one of the Kunz steeds scored heat one turning back Zach Daum and Chad Fredwaldt. Heat two went to Trey Marcham from third over Jake Neuman from seventh and Daniel Robinson. Holley Hollan in another Kunz entry nailed down heat three besting fifth starting Cannon McIntosh and Noah Gass. Heat four went to Kennedale, Texas driver, Kyle Jones, over seventh starting Ace McCarthy and Andrew Felker. Fifteen year old future star, Hank Davis, captured heat five over Jesse Colwell and Clinton Boyles. The 23 car winged 600 field would contest three heats with wins going to Joe B. Miller, Frank Galusha and Jackson Frisbie. The midget semi was next on the agenda with Oklahoma's Noah Gass taking this one. Some additional track prep was performed before moving into the 30 lap POWRi midget feature.


     

    The 22 car field was led to the green flag by last night's winner, Jake Neuman, and Ace McCarthy with Neuman leading lap one at the wire. McCarthy tossed a slider at his teammate in turns one and two to take the lead but Neuman countered with his own slider in turn three to regain the lead. McCarthy crossed over in turn four and took command of the lead to start the next circuit. Two quick cautions bunched the field and seventeen year old Holley Hollan had worked her way from seventh to second on the tail tank of McCarthy. On the restart Hollan drew even with McCarthy and they raced side by side until McCarthy was able to fend off the lady's advances. Hollan continued to stalk McCarthy and her persistence was rewarded as McCarthy wrestled with the cushion off turns three and four on lap 11 with Hollan slipping by on the inside but the caution appeared at that moment and negated the move. On the restart McCarthy scooted out front with Hank Davis challenging Hollan for second. This gave McCarthy some breathing room as he raced out front. McCarthy switched his line in turns one and two clinging to the bottom but remaining loyal to the cushion through turns three and four allowing him to increase his advantage over Hollan who raced in second. The battle royale was for the third position with Davis, Felker, Neuman, Daum and Pursley taking runs at each other. Up front McCarthy was breezing and would race under the double checkers at 10 PM for his first career POWRi National midget win besting Holley Hollan who garnered her best career finish with 11th starting, Andrew Felker, working the bottom to perfection to nail down third with Zach Daum coming from 10th to 4th and Hank Davis rounding out the top five. Trey Marcham led the second five in sixth with Jake Neuman seventh, Daison Pursley eighth, Cannon McIntosh ninth and Jesse Colwell rounding out the top ten. A joyous McCarthy celebrated in victory lane savoring his first career victory.


     

    The 20 lap 600 feature was next up with Joe B. Miller taking the lead from his first starting position with Frank Galusha in hot pursuit. Galusha threw a slider on Miller to take the lead on lap two and Galusha looked strong in the middle stages of the race. The two front runners swapped the lead over the next 12 laps before Miller blew by with a turn three slider on lap 15 to take the lead for the final time. Gunner Ramey made a late charge from tenth to take second from tenth with Galusha retaining third with Harley Hollan fourth from 11th and Jackson Frisbie rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:24.


     

    The features were entertaining when they were running but with seven and five cautions respectively that took away from the racing action.


     

    That's it until tomorrow when we travel a short way down the road to the Sweet Springs Speedway for the final USAC Mid-America tour race there. So until the next report get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated. News, comments, stories and such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for taking the time to read our column and hope you enjoy it.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cancellation At Concordia & McDougal Wins First USAC Midget Race At Jefferson County

    Wednesday, July 10 & Thursday, July 11 - The second stop of the Mid-America USAC midget tour was suppose to be at the Concordia High Banks Speedway in Concordia, Kansas, the home of Chad McDaniel who the race was in memorial to. We drove the 5 hours north from Edmond, OK only to arrive to the news that the Wednesday night program had been postponed due to saturated grounds at the fairgrounds. So instead of preparing for racing that evening we visited some tourist interest sights in Concordia such as the orphan train museum, the Cloud Co. museum and the Brown Grand Theatre and Opera House along with the World War II German prison camp outside of Concordia. They were all interesting and passed the time but it wouldn't replace a good night of racing.


     

    The next day dawned sunny and hot and we were ready to go racing or so we thought. As we approached the fairgrounds around 5:15 a parade of haulers were headed our way in the opposite direction. That is never a good sign. Upon entering the grounds at the fairgrounds we found other haulers pulling out and pulled up near the grandstands to found out what had happened. The official release from USAC cited saturated grounds and track safety concerns as the cause of the cancellation of the event. Many people were gathered by the ticket booth and inside near the stands discussing what had happened. No one was quite sure of the official track safety concerns and many were tight lipped about what had happened at the driver's meeting. It would turn out to be a lose/lose situation for USAC as there were many disgruntled fans who had traveled from bordering states and further with Tweets proclaiming just hours before the event that they were running this evening and upon arrival found that the race was postponed. Add to that the local Kansas folks who had come out to honor their hometown boy, Chad McDaniel, and realized that the event had been canceled and to them that was a slap in the face. Upon further inquiry the next day I found out that the main concern by the owners and drivers were two issues with the fencing. I viewed several pictures on someone's phone of a potential problem with an steel guardrail in various sections of the track secured by small wooden posts with a gap between the guard rail and the catch fencing causing concern. The other issue seemed to be the placement of smaller piping at the top of the catch fence sticking straight out toward the track. This concerned the drivers and owners if someone would flip that they might be impaled on the piping. This led to a vote taken place at the driver's meeting where the owners and drivers refused to race on the evening. Its a shame that someone from the drivers/owners side had not spotted these concerns the day before and save the fans the expense of an extra day of lodging and a needless day of travel for many. That is why this situation was a lose/lose situation especially for USAC and was a shame for everyone but to us the bottom line comes down to safety and I don't think you can argue with that. You still can be unhappy about the way the whole thing came down but you have to respect the tough decision made by the drivers and owners and move forward from this point.


     

    Friday, July 12 - It was a shorter drive for us today, only about an hour and 45 minutes from Salina, Kansas to Fairbury, Nebraska which allowed us time to have lunch at Perkin's and pay a visit to the National Midget Hall of Fame in Belleville, Kansas before traveling further northeast to Fairbury, the home of the Jefferson County Speedway, the site of the next round of the Midwest USAC Midget series. Twenty three midgets and 17 flat track motorcycles signed into the pit area for tonight's racing action at the quarter mile semi-banked dirt oval on a nice fairground's facility that was having their annual fair also.


     

    The night kicked off with time trials for the 23 car field at 6:36 with Logan Seavey continuing his surge setting a new track record in qualifying with a time of 10.685 seconds. Shortly thereafter the flat track motorcycles began their three heat races before the midgets returned for their three heat races. Tanner Carrick would notch the first heat win from second over Tanner Thorson, Jerry Coons Jr., Logan Seavey and Chris Windom. Heat two would go to the high flying Tucker Klaasmeyer from fourth beating Tyler Thomas, Zeb Wise, Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. The final heat would go to Chad Boat also from fourth turning back Tyler Courtney, Jason McDougal, Sam Johnson and Robert Dalby. There would be no need for a semi for the midgets on the evening. The flat track motorcycles returned to run three features in their different classes and the only thing left was to run the 30 lap NOS Energy Drink 30 lap USAC midget feature. In a nice touch the entire starting lineup was introduced and they walked across the stage attached to the covered aluminum grandstand with a line of youngsters giving high fives to the drivers as they passed. They gave the Nebraska crowd a chance to see the drivers up close and personal and was a good selling point.


     

    The 30 lap feature took the green flag at 8:54 with Tanner Thorson taking the early lead from first over Robert Dalby and Jason McDougal. By lap seven McDougal used a low side turn four move to pass Dalby for second and fell in behind Thorson. The turning point of the race occurred on lap nineteen with the lap car of Olivia Bennett slid sideways in front of Thorson off turn four causing him to spin and with no where to go Kevin Thomas Jr. and Tucker Klaasmeyer tangled and spun with Thomas getting the worst of the deal needing the hook and retiring for the evening. This handed the lead over to Jason McDougal and he took full advantage of the gift situation. Two laps later Klaasmeyer's night got worse as he flipped over in turn three and was done for the evening. On the restart McDougal went to the point trailed by Chris Windom and Tyler Courtney. Windom and Courtney began to mix it up allowing McDougal some breathing room and Courtney who had started 12th worked his way by Windom after a good battle with six to go and went after the leader. On the final lap Courtney got a good run on the high side and challenged McDougal as they raced to the line but fell short and it was McDougal first across the line for his first career USAC midget win in his new ride in the Fred Manafort #76M out of Vermont. Courtney would cross the line second with Windom third, Chad Boat fourth from ninth and Jerry Coons Jr. fifth from tenth at the checker at 9:21. The second five were led by Tyler Thomas who made a fine run from the rear after spinning earlier in the event to claim sixth with Logan Seavey seventh, Andrew Layser eighth, Zeb Wise ninth and Robert Dalby fading to tenth at the finish. It was a good event and the good crowd on hand seemed the enjoy the small car action.


     

    That's it until the next race which is the POWRi midgets from Valley Speedway in Missouri so check back soon. News, comments, press releases and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. And thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Mid-America USAC Midget Opener Falls To Logan Seavey

    Tuesday, July 9 - It was a long day's drive from Grinnell, Iowa to Meeker, Oklahoma (9 hours with two gas stops and lunch added in) but it was worth it to see the Mid-America USAC midget week opener at the quarter mile red clay oval of the Red Dirt Raceway. On tap tonight were the NOS Energy Drinks USAC midgets with a fine field of 36 on hand joined by the local 600 micro sprints who brought 20 cars pitside. Dale O'Brien arrived about 15 minutes before us and secured seats in the top row of the new Trex granstands on the homestretch as we rode into town to buy some ice cream and drinks for the scorching day where temperatures touched the 100 degree mark before settling in at 96 degrees. The NOS energy drinks sure came in handy after entering the facility to keep us hydrated.

    USAC midget time trials would start off the night of action with the first car taking the green at 7:08. When it was all said and done at 7:31 it was Zeb Wise placing the Clauson/Marshall #39BC at the top of the podium with a time of 13.207 seconds which was also a new track record. By 7:50 the first heat race of the evening went green with the 600 micro sprints providing the entertainment. Shawn Mahaffey would draw first blood taking heat one with Kale Drake notching heat two and Daison Pursley claiming heat three. The USAC midgets would follow with four heat races for their 36 entrants on hand with local Jonathan Beason streaking to heat number one victory besting Chris Windom, Jerry Coons Jr. and Jason McDougal relegating fast timer, Zeb Wise, to the semi. Heat two saw another Oklahoma native, Holley Hollan, capture this one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Shannon McQueen and Matt Sherrell. Chad Boat broke the Oklahoma stranglehold by notching heat three over Tyler Courtney, Cannon McIntosh and Robert Dalby joining McQueen as the second traveling Californian in the starting field. Tyler Thomas put another Oklahoma driver at the top claiming heat four over Tanner Thorson, Jesse Colwell and Tanner Carrick.


     

    The 20 lap 600 micro sprint feature was next on the agenda with Daison Pursley taking the early lead and looking like a sure winner until encountering mechanical woes and pulling to the infield while leading. This handed the lead over to Shawn Mahaffey and he took full advantage of the situation and led the remainder of the 20 lap distance outrunning Seth Shebester and Kale Drake for the win. Next up was the USAC midget semi with a terrifying moment when Karsyn Elledge launched her midget out and over the turn three wall in a series of end over end flips bringing everyone to silence as we awaited a report from the scene. Fortunately the news was good when Elledge climbing from the battered machine and was OK and the crowd was able to take a collective breath once again. Zeb Wise went onto to score the semi win over Tucker Klaasmeyer, Zane Hendricks, Andrew Deal, Hank Davis and Logan Seavey baring sneaking into the main event.


     

    By 9:56 it was time for the 30 lap USAC midget feature with Tyler Courtney and Jason McDougal bringing 20 of their friends or enemies to the line (all a matter of opinion) to the green flag for the start of the race. McDougal ripped the cushion to take the early lead from Courtney on the start until the first of six caution flags flew on the field. Lap nine saw Holley Hollan take a nasty ride over the turn three fence similar to Elledge's earlier ride and again everyone was relieved when they found out the young racer was OK after the hard tumble. On the restart Courtney threw a slider on McDougal to take the lead as the action was hot and heavy throughout the entire field on this muggy evening. Sliders galore were the norm of the early action as drivers battled for every inch of ground and every position. Tanner Carrick was on the move racing hard high into turn one with McDougal with McDougal running out of real estate jumping the cushion and while trying to return to the racing surface collided with Kevin Thomas Jr. resulting in both of them turning over. Tanner Thorson slid into the fray with nowhere to go and Tyler Thomas joined the tussle sliding into Thorson and also turning turtle. Thorson and Thomas were able to return while Thomas and McDougal were done for the evening. A key turning point of the evening occurred on lap 12 when suddenly leader Courtney slowed on the backstretch with mechanical gremlins and handled the lead over to Carrick. The California driver would lead through the middle stages of the race with Chris Windom on his rear nerf bar. Laps 18 and 19 were very entertaining with Carrick and Windom swapping slide jobs with each of them leading a lap at the line until Jerry Coons Jr. working the bottom to perfection as only he can do slipped by both of them to lead lap 20. Suddenly out of nowhere also (actually ninth) was Logan Seavey who ran in the latter end of the top ten for the first twenty laps was now a dog in the hunt flying up to second past both Carrick and Windom. With eight laps to go Carrick and Windom raced side by side into turn three with Windom deciding he had had enough of some of Carrick's sliders and became judge and jury sliding hard into Carrick carrying him to the wall and resulting in Carrick suffering a flat left rear tire which he changed in the work area. Before anyone decides they are judge and jury and the final decision maker on slide jobs they should watch the video of earlier moves by said driver and apologize for their actions instead of declaring in post race interviews that he took care of Carrick short sliding people all night. Remember when you point the finger you have four others pointing back at you!!! Back to the action at hand with Coons the leader but not for long as one lap after the restart Seavey charged around the bottom running Coons to secure the lead. The last seven laps were mild in comparison to the first 23 as Seavey cruised to his fifth career USAC midget victory with Zeb Wise passing Coons for second with five to go and Windom nipping Coons at the line for third. Jonathan Beason would round out the top five after starting 18th on the grid. From almost not making the field to winning the opener of the five race series was a stirring comeback for Seavey who has been on a tear since winning Indiana Midget Week followed by Illinois Midget Week this year. The top five started 9th, 7th, 11th, 15th and 17th which might give you an indication of how wild this one really was. The second five were led by 16th starting Matt Sherrell, Chad Boat, Tanner Thorson, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Tyler Thomas rallying for tenth after rolling over in the lap nine incident. With six yellows and one red it could not be called a great race but it was a good and interesting race none the less.


     

    That's it for now and check back tomorrow for round two (take that anyway you want to) of the Mid-America Midget Week from the Concordia, Kansas high banks for the McDaniel Memorial. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and try to stay dry and hydrated at the same time. Comments, quotes, news and any other tidbits came reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bacon Dominates In Cornbelt Nationals $20,000 Finale

     

    Saturday, July 6 - We arranged to meet Bill and Judy Burns Saturday morning at their hotel in Indianaola and we set off to tour the Bridges of Madison County, a series of six covered bridges made famous by the movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. It was a fun day and was topped off by a good meal at Crouse's Family Restraurant in Indianaola before heading over to Knoxville for the night's racing.


     

    It was night two of the Cornbelt Nationals for the non-winged sprint cars (47) and they would be joined on the card by 23 winged 410 sprints for the evening. We were joined in the massive homestretch grandstands by Jimmy Reeder and we enjoyed each other's company the entire evening. The winged 410's started off the time trial action slightly after 7 with Carson McCarl setting the fast time of 15.506 seconds for this division. The non-wing sprints followed with hot laps and then went to work with their time trials with Justin Grant coming out on top of the pylon with a time of 19.312 seconds around the big half mile located on the Marion County Fairgrounds. Then it was right into the winged 410 sprint heats with Terry McCarl drawing first blood defeating Brook Tatnell and Jaime Ball in heat one. Chris Martin looked strong winning heat two over Matt Juhl and Wayne Johnson. The third heat went to Davey Heskin turning back Gio Selzi and Tasker Phillips. Four heats would be contested for the 410 non-wing sprints with fast timer, Justin Grant, capturing heat one over Carson Short, Nick Bilbee and Riley Kreisel. Chase Stockon charged from seventh quickly to dominate heat two winning over Ryan Bernal, Mitchell Davis and Kory Schudy as the WAR sprint boys continued to impress against the more well known USAC boys. Heat three was captured by Tyler Courtney over CJ Leary, Chris Windom and Kevin Thomas Jr. in the loaded heat of the night. In this one Wesley Smith took a nasty end over end flip in turn one exiting his sprinter quickly to the relief of the large crowd on hand. He was able to repair his damaged machine enough to start the A main as he had enough points to lock into the top 18. He took one lap at the back of the field to earn his $1000 to start the race. Brady Bacon would pick up from where he left off last night powering from fourth to the lead in a lap and a half on his way to a heat four victory over Wyatt Burks, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall. The non-wing cars would run a C main and a B main before the feature fields would be set. Chris Morgan triumphed in the C main over Brandon Stevenson, Lane Stone and Slater Helt moving to the back of the B main. Dave Darland would blister the B main field winning handily over Josh Hodges, Anthony Nicholson, Kory Schudy, Korey Weyant and Steve Irwin. All the prelims were now in the books and all that remained were the two 410 sprint car main events.


     

    The 20 lap winged 410 sprint car feature was the first one to the post and took Doug Clark's green flag at 10:22. Paker Price-Miller known as the Law Firm jumped out front on the start trailed by Justin Henderson and Lynton Jeffrey. Gio Scelzi was coming quickly cracking the top five by lap four taking fourth from Heskin at that point. The leaders entered lap traffic by lap six and threaded their way through them. Jeffrey shot by Henderson for second on lap six and closed on Price-Miller and challenged him for the lead. Scelzi picked off Henderson for third with five to go as Price-Miller continued to hold off the field. Six minutes later it was all over as Parker Price-Miller flashed under Doug Clark's double checkers to score his first win of 2019 and also his first win ever at Knoxville. It was appropriate that a kid from Kokomo, Indiana would win on this night as he outran Lynton Jeffrey, Gio Scelzi, Davey Heskin and Austin McCarl to score the popular win.


     

    Now it was time for the $20,000 to win Cornbelt Nationals for the non-winged sprint cars with the green flag dropping at 10:58. Brady Bacon made short order of Grant sliding across his nose entering turn one to secure the early lead and going to the cushion in turn two with CJ Leary in close pursuit. Leary was able to make one challenge for the lead entering turn one on lap three with a slider but Bacon countered and regained the top spot off turn two and took off like a cannon ball fired from a cannon breezing to a ten car length lead. By lap ten Bacon was long gone with a straightway lead over Leary as he approached lap traffic for the first time. Bacon picked his way through the backmarkers easily actually increasing his lead to ten seconds with ten to go. The race for second behind Bacon was intensifying with Leary and Tyler Courtney battling it out. With five to go Bacon encountered a tense moment as Nick Bilbee hit the cushion in front of him and biked his sprinter before retaining control but indeed it caught Bacon's attention as he streaked by. Courtney caught and passed Leary for second in lap traffic on lap 23 but Courtney jumped the cushion off turn four on lap 28 allowing Leary to retake the runnerup position. The racing in the latter part of the top five was intense over the last ten laps with Kevin Thomas Jr., Justin Grant, Jason McDougal swapping positions in a frenzy.   Chris Windom came out of nowhere very late to crack the top five with some fine moves. But in the end it was all Bacon in this one crossing the line at 11:10 with over an eight second bulge besting Leary, Courtney, Thomas and Windom at the line. Justin Grant faded to sixth with Jason McDougal sliding to seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Ryan Bernal ninth and Carson Short rounding out the top ten. It was a total dominating performance by Brady Bacon as he claimed his third career USAC win at the big Marion County oval in the process and pocketing $20,000 big ones bringing his two day total to over $25,000.


     

    It was a good two days of racing with the Friday features in both divisions of sprint cars probably being the better but it was a great start for the Cornbelt Nationals and something to build on in the coming years if Knoxville came bring all the non-winged groups together in the middle of Iowa in the future.


     

    That's it for now when the next race on the schedule being the USAC midgets invading the Red Dirt Speedway in Meeker, Oklahoma for the start of the Midwest Midget Championships over six days at four different venues. So check back sometime on Wednesday for night one results and every day moving forward from there. And get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you are and try to stay dry. News, stories, comments and other notes of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but certainly not least is thanks for reading our efforts as we totally enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

     

     

    Bacon Engine Change Key To Cornbelt Nationals Preliminary Win

    Friday, July 5 - We left Crawfordsville at 8:40 AM to make the six hour drive west to our destination, the Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, for the first time running of the Cornbelt Nationals for the non-wing sprint cars with the winner receiving $20,000 for the final on Saturday evening. Former Belvidere, NJ resident, Jimmy Reeder, had moved from New Jersey to Newton, IA 20+ years ago and contacted us about two weeks ago wanting to know if we would like to stay at the house next to his that they had purchased a while ago. Newton is only about 20 miles north of Knoxville so we jumped at the opportunity to stay with friends and said yes. We arrived at the Reeder's place around 3 PM and spent the next hour chatting about racing and anything else that came up before departing Newton to make the half hour trip down to Knoxville. We were suppose to meet our friends, Gary Dean and Sally Ebling, who had secured suite seats in Terry McCarl's suite high above turn two for tonight's racing. Gary is an old friend and sponsor of the McCarl clan and we looked forward to checking out the digs and view along with seeing our Nebraska friends once again. A call on the drive down found bad news that Gary had come up sick and him and Sally would not be making it to Knoxville tonight. They still wanted us to use the seats and we arranged through Sally to pick up the tickets and parking pass at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame building. We then met our Pennsylvania buddy, Bill Burns and toured the souvenir stands before heading up to our suite seats. Upon entering we met a nice couple, Wayne and Candy Parker, and chatted with them before visiting the fine Rib Shack for some delicious bar-b-que and sides.

    Tonight's racing would feature two divisions of sprint cars, the winged 360's and the non-winged 410's from both USAC and WAR. The car counts were impressive with 42 of the winged sprints and 51 of the non-wing variety. Both divisions would run time trials on the evening with two sprinters taking to the big 1/2 mile at the same time in two qualifying groups. In the 360's Terry McCarl set overall fast time with a lap of 16.340 in Group 1 while Trey Starks was fastest in Group 2 with a time of 16.470. In the non-wing sprint car class CJ Leary was fastest in Group 1 at 19.297 seconds while Justin Grant matched his time in Group 2 at 19.297 seconds. Brady Bacon and his crew changed engines after time trials when the motor went sour on the second lap of his run.


     

    The first sprint car heat did not get underway until almost 9 PM with the 360 sprinters taking to the track first. Manitoba Canada's Thomas Kennedy won heat one going away over Clint Garner and Terry McCarl. Heat two saw Okie Wayne Johnson hold court besting Joe Beaver and Josh Higday. Heat three saw Austin McCarl score the win over Ryan Roberts and Trey Starks. The fourth heat was won by Jason Martin beating Davey Heskin and Matt Juhl. The non-winged cars would contest six heats with CJ Leary notching heat one over Ohio's Matt Westfall and veteran Don Droud Jr. taking off the wing for tonight. Heat two saw Brady Bacon motor from fifth to first in two laps and walk away in this one over Dave Darland in the Cheney #42 and Ryan Bernal in the Baughman #17. Wesley Smith surprised the field walking off with heat three besting Landon Simon and Timmy Buckwalter. Tyler Courtney romped in heat four over Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr. Indianapolis' driver, Nick Bilbee, went to the front on the start winning over Wyatt Burks in a strong run and Chris Windom nipping Jason McDougal for the last qualifying spot on the final lap. Chase Stockon blistered the field in heat six beating Chad Boespflug and Anthony Nicholson.


     

    Jason Martin would win the 360 B main even though he won a heat it all goes on passing points for the 360's. Kory Schudy would score the non-wing C main with Isaac Chapple, Rob Caho and Dickie Gaines advancing to the tail of the B main. The ten lap non-stop distance broke a 47 year old record for non-winged sprinters at Knoxville set back in 1972 by Billy Thrasher. The non-wing B main was next and there was a big eight car tangle in turn one with Glen Saville getting sideways and flipping with Craig Compton also flipping. Carson Short who came up one short in his heat took the B main joined in the main event by Jason McDougal, Korey Weyant, Josh Hodges, Mario Clouser and Riley Kreisel as the last man in. It was 11:04 when all preliminary qualifying was finally completed.


     

    The 18 lap 360 sprint car feature would take the green flag at 11:10 and immediately an eight car dustup occurred in turn one with Austin McCarl and Rob Kubli flipping in the melee. Once the lengthy delay was cleared up by just two wreckers (totally inadquate for such a facility) with everyone OK it was Carson McCarl to the early lead. Carson's father, Terry, moved to second on lap two with Wayne Johnson advancing from sixth to third. Johnson passed Terry on the homestretch on lap eight for second and took the lead from Carson on lap nine. We really feel that Terry McCarl was content with riding second behind his son until Johnson spoiled the party. So T. McCarl stepped it up a notch and blasted by his son and Johnson by the time they exited turn two on lap ten. Terry McCarl was in control over the next several laps but Johnson was narrowing the gap on every lap. Turn two on the white flag lap saw Johnson make the winning move passing McCarl high and holding off the elder McCarl over the rest of the lap to win this one with Clint Garner making a late charge to grab third with Carson McCarl ending up fourth and Californian Gio Scelzi making a late charge to crack the top five at 11:35.


     

    The 25 lap non-wing feature was in the chute by 11:47 and the green flag dropped with Chris Windom taking the Goacher #5G to the head of the pack on the start. Kevin Thomas Jr. slipped by Matt Westfall for second on the low side on the first lap. Windom ran the cushion while Thomas committed to the bottom and the pair ran side by side over the next four laps with Windom leading by inches as they crossed the line every lap until lap five when KTJ surged off turn four to take the lead at the line. Brady Bacon up from sixth joined the battle up front. Bacon took second using the middle groove through turns three and four to wrestle second from Windom and went after Thomas on lap six. Windom used the high side through turns three and four on lap seven to advance from third back into the lead as the battle heated up even more. Bacon slipped by Windom as Chris opened the door just slightly in turn one on lap twelve and took the lead. Windom wasn't done yet as he pulled the same move one lap later. Lap fourteen saw Windom bobble on the cushion between turns three and four and Bacon pounced on the opportunity and regained the lead. Lap traffic came into play with ten to go and Bacon worked it to perfection. With just five to go Bacon encountered some heavy congestion and split a pair of cars to open up a little breathing room. Shortly thereafter Bacon was boxed in by a lapper allowing Windom to close the gap and make things interesting. Windom remained close to Bacon but over the last couple of circuits was unable to make a serious challenge and by 11:56 Bacon flashed under the checkers winning the non-stop affair in 9:11.86 which was a new track record for USAC at Knoxville. Bacon also scored his 26th career USAC National Sprint Car win tying him for 16th on the all time list with the late Tony Elliott and the late Dave Steele. Windom crossed the line second with Kevin Thomas Jr. in tow in third with Tyler Courtney fourth and Justin Grant claiming fifth. Ryan Bernal turned in a strong run nailing down sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Jason McDougal marching from twentieth to eighth, CJ Leary ninth and Matt Westfall coming in tenth.


     

    The night was a bit long in the tooth and management needs to work tightening up the program for tomorrow as a two division program should not take almost four and a half hours to complete even though there were a lot of cars. The racing was very good especially in the two feature events and we look forward to Saturday and the big finale paying $20,000 to win after tonight's payoff of $5000.

    That's it for now as night two will be coming at you in a few days as the next several days involve a lot of activities and travel so it might be Tuesday until the next segment hits the site. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and try to be dry. Comments, news clips, rumors, facts and anything in between can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you will drop back soon.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Catches Weir In Traffic To Win Kokomo Special

    Wednesday, July 3 - It was a nice partly cloudy day in the high 80's and the humidity was lower so it didn't seem so darn hot. Kokomo Speedway was running a July 3rd special four division program plus fireworks and so it was onward to Kokomo. We choose to sit on the backstretch with the sun at our backs and sat with our friend, Phil, for the evening. Warmups began after seven and we were surprised and alarmed that only 14 sprint cars turned out for the holiday program but the fact that the non-wing Cornbelt Nationals at Knoxville, Iowa are on the schedule for Friday and Saturday could have been the main reason for the low count. They were joined by 21 UMP modifieds, 16 thunder cars and 17 hornets for the night's action.

    The first of two sprint car heats took the green at 8:16 with Florida's Anthony D'Alessio charging from fifth to score the win over Brian Karraker, Zane Hendricks and Cole Ketchum. Scotty Weir would bring the Pederson #4P from fourth to nab heat two over Justin Grant, Dave Darland in the Corey Smith #66S on the evening and Clinton Boyles. The UMP modifieds would contest three heats with Bradley Jameson, Derek Losh and Curt Spadling the victors. The thunder cars and hornets would ran two heats each and no division needed a B main. After a short break it was time for the 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature.

    Justin Grant and Anthony D'Alessio brought the field to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:41 with Grant moving to the point. Scotty Weir slipped by D'Alessio for second at the start and the race was on between these two gladiators. Grant set the pace in the early going with Weir not far behind. Clinton Boyles was working his way through the pack from his eighth starting spot and was up to fourth by lap ten making a homestretch pass for that spot. Dave Darland had moved into third but the two leaders had a good advantage over the rest of the field. Boyles was coming and caught and passed Darland for third in turn two on lap 12 and focused on catching the leaders. Meanwhile up front Grant's lead had diminished with Weir pulling to his tail tank by lap 13. Coming to the line to start lap 14 Weir executed the pass for the lead and opened up several car lengths on Grant. Weir was now in control as the laps ticked off but lap traffic loomed in front on him by lap 20. Weir caught some back-markers going down the backstretch and hesitated just long enough for Grant to get a good run entering turn three and regained the lead on the low side of that corner. Grant surged out front and over the remaining four laps Weir was close but was not able to mount another challenge and at 9:47, just six minutes after the start in a non-stop contest Grant flashed under the checkered flag for the win with Weir second, Boyles third, Darland fourth and Travis Hery making a fine run from tenth to fifth at the end. Even though there were only 14 cars it was a good race with Grant and Weir dicing back and forth and Boyles and Hery making up some real estate over the course of the 25 laps.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the card and took the green flag at 9:54. Derek Losh who started fourth took the lead on lap two and looked like he was ready to add another one to his impressive 2019 resume as this one looked like it was going to go non-stop also. With just three laps to go a car stopped in turn one bringing out the first caution. On the restart Curt Spadling got a good run at Losh as the two swapped sliders over the next two laps. Spadling got the edge on Losh on the white flag lap and raced down the backstretch with the lead. Losh gave it one more shot diving low in turn four making a rare mistake spinning his modified to the inside as Spadling raced to the line for the win. Dylan Woodling would end up second with Darron Orr third, Todd Sherman fourth and Bob Baldwin rounding out the top five at 10:05. We decided to head to the exits passing on the thunder car and hornet features and the fireworks. We noticed when we turned right the roadway was lined with cars of Kokomo residents coming to watch the upcoming firework display.

    Even though the fields were lean the racing was good and well worth the $15 admission price.

    That's it until the weekend as we are heading west to the non-wing Cornbelt Nationals at the famous Knoxville Raceway which is also the home of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. To all you who are not headed to Knoxville get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road somewhere and knock one of those tracks off your hit list. Comments, news, tidbits and any other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for the kind remarks and taking the time to read our efforts. Until the next column from Knoxville keep dry, be safe and don't get sunburned.

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Berryhill Capitalizes On Cockrum's Misfortune At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, June 29 - It was another scorcher today with temperatures in the 90's but no chance of rain so we will take it. Tonight's plan was to head south on Rt. 231 toward Greencastle and our destination of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville. On tap for tonight's program was a four division card of non-wing sprints (31), UMP modifieds (24), super stocks (30) and bombers (23) plus fireworks to celebrate the fourth of July a little early. The added fireworks seemed to bring out extra people for the evening's activities and the crowd was the second largest we have seen in our five visits here in 2019.


     

    The non-wing sprints would contest four heats for their division with the top 4 moving on directly to the A main on the evening. Tim Creech fired the first shot scoring the win in heat one over Brayden Fox, Blake Vermillion and Troy Link making his first start of 2019. Heat two saw Travis Berryhill triumph over Brent Beauchamp, Nate McMillin and Jesse Vermillion. Veteran Bill Rose nailed down heat three besting Chad Boespflug, Matt Moore and Jadon Rogers. The fourth and final heat went to 27 year old school teacher, Evan Mosley, over Koby Barksdale, Dave Darland in the Cunningham #17C and Tye Mihocko the Arizona driver spending his summer in Indiana. Three UMP modified heats would follow with Derek Groomer, Jordan Wever and Jacoby Hines scoring the wins. Four super stock heats and three bomber heats followed before the two B mains were presented for the sprints and UMP modifieds. The sprint car B main was first up and featured a high end over end flip in turn one for Colten Cottle who was OK after taking the nasty tumble. Shane Cockrum would secure the B main win over Harley Burns, Lee Underwood and Kent Christian punching his ticket for the big dance. James Walters would score the shortened modified B main after a wreck between turns one and two only left four cars to advance to the feature. It was now dark and time for the fireworks portion of the program and we have to admit that Lincoln Park puts on a fine display of aerial lighting. It was indeed impressive.


     

    The front row of Brent Beauchamp and Brayden Fox would bring the rest of the field down to Brian Hodde's green flag at 10:34 with Beauchamp gaining the early lead. Fifth starting Travis Berryhill was flying and picked off Beauchamp for the lead in turn one on lap one. Seventh starting Chad Boespflug was also motoring taking third on lap two. Evan Mosley caught the cushion wrong in turn one on lap three and launched his sprinter high into the air going end over end several times before landing hard outside of turn one. After a few minutes to regroup himself Mosley climbed from his battered machine to the roar of the crowd. On the restart Berryhill remained at the point with Beauchamp and Boespflug in tow. Lap five saw the caution appear again as Lee Underwood stopped above turn three to slow the action on lap five just after Boespflug completed the pass for second. Many eyes had been on defending track champion, Shane Cockrum, powering the Paul #24P from 17th to 7th by lap five. Three laps later Cockrum completed a turn two pass of Tim Creech for fourth. Berryhill continued to pace the field chased by Boespflug and Beauchamp. At the line to start lap 12 Cockrum disposed of Beauchamp for third and went after Boespflug for second. Lee Underwood brought out another caution on lap 12 when he stopped at the edge of turn two to bunch the field once again. On the restart Berryhill led the field as Cockrum dove low in turns one and two and made it three wide down the backstretch. The leaders raced side by side by side exiting turn four and at the line to start lap 13 Cockrum was your new leader. The Jamie Paul #24P was looking for its second straight win in two nights with two different Shanes at the wheel. The caution waved on lap 15 when Koby Barksdale tagged the wall on the homestretch and came across the track toward the infield with Fox having nowhere to go but into Barksdale causing him to roll over entering turn one eerily like the Ballou crash at Kokomo last Sunday. Both drivers were OK after exiting their bent machines. On the restart it was Cockrum, Berryhill and Boespflug trailed by Beauchamp and Creech. Lap 17 saw Creech catch and pass Beauchamp for fourth with Beauchamp returning the favor one lap later. Meanwhile Cockrum was pounding the cushion with his right rear tire lap after lap in turns three and four and suddenly exiting turn two on lap 19 was passed for the lead by Berryhill as Cockrum's right rear was going flat. Cockrum limped around the track over the last six laps but fell to the last man running. Berryhill would inherit the lead at that point and hold off Boespflug and Beauchamp to score his first ever sprint car win at LPS and only his second career win as the Oklahoma driver is starting to come into his own. Creech would garner fourth at the finish with Dave Darland making a late march to claim the fifth position at the finish at 11:07. It was a competitive feature with some good marches contested on a nicely prepared surface especially considering the temperature and sun beating on it all day.


     

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda and by 11:15 the initial green flag waved. This was surely no artistic wonder as eight cautions waved slowing the action too many times. Tim Prince survived all the mayhem to score the victory over Tyler Loughmiller who will be attending DePauw University in nearby Greencastle in the fall and Jacoby Hines in the race that ended at 11:39. Would have liked to have stayed for the super stock feature event but an early departure the following morning determined it was time to call it an evening after witnessing some good racing on the night.


     

    That's it for this weekend as we made a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan on Sunday to visit our ailing friend, Allan Brown, who had just returned home from a five day hospital stay on Friday. On the horizon is a Wednesday night special at Kokomo before we hit the road on Friday for a two day visit to Knoxville for the Cornbelt Nationals for the non-wing sprint cars on Friday and Saturday. Check back over the weekend for reports from Knoxville and beyond. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay hydrated in this intense heat. News, comments, press releases and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net via email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and look forward to our next race and ensuing report.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Last Lap Pass Gives Cottle Win At Gas City

    Friday, June 28 - Today was my 64th birthday so what did I want for a present. How about dinner at Payne's in Gas City and then a night of racing at Gas City I-69 Speedway. It doesn't get any better than that!!!

    It was hot today with temperatures in the low 90's but the best thing was the chance of rain was 5%!!! We arrived a little after 6:30 and found a light crowd on hand but as race time drew closer the fans started to stream in and by race time a good sized crowd filled the grandstand including Jimmy and Tonya Hillegas back spectating after Tonya donated a kidney to Jimmy six weeks ago. A five division program of non-wing sprints (27), UMP modifieds (13), hornets (20), street stocks (10) and 600 mini sprints (5) made up the fields and racing kicked off around 7:50 with the first of three sprint car heats. Garrett Abrams sidelined for several weeks with car woes returned tonight and raced from fourth to win heat one over Dave Darland back in the Cheney #42, JJ Hughes, Cole Ketchum and Paul Dues. Thomas Meseraull with a four race win streak on the line charged from fourth to take heat two besting Tyler Hewitt, Shane Cottle in the Paul #24P, Dallas Hewitt and Scott Hampton in the Slinkard #51. Heat three went to Ohio invader, Mike Miller, skipping the BOSS race at Lernerville beating Clinton Boyles, Jarett Andretti, Tim Creech and Sterling Cling. The UMP modifieds would spin off two heats with Derek Losh and Aaron Orr winning followed by three heats for the hornets, two heats for the street stocks and one heat for the five 600 mini sprints on the grounds. The non-wing sprints would be the only division needing a B main with the action being stopped on lap one when the front row got squirrely with second row starter, Tony Main, having nowhere to go running up and over the right rear of one of them tumbling in turn one. Main was OK but his #74 was done for the evening. Travis Hery went on to score the B main win by a large margin with Evan Mosley trailing chased by Brayden Clark, Brian Karraker and Adam Byrkett the last man into the field. Failing to make the field was 14 year old South Carolina resident, Connor Leoffler, who was making his first appearance at Gas City after joining the USAC East Coast 360 sprint cars in late May in Pennsylvania as the youngster is getting experience as he plans on joining the USAC National Series in the next two years.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature took the green flag at 9:32 with Mike Miller jumping into the early lead. Thomas Meseraull who started second swept by Miller at the line to start lap two and was the new leader. Cole Ketchum spun in turn three on lap three to bring out the first caution as it was noted that Shane Cottle had moved from eighth to third by this time. It only took Cottle two laps to dispose of Miller for second low in turn two and he took up the chase of the high flying Meseraull. Clinton Boyles slipped by Miller one lap later and took over third. The lead trio was approaching lap traffic just after the halfway mark when Dallas Hewitt looped it down low in turn four on lap 14 to slow the action. On the restart the battle royal was on for second with Cottle and Boyles duking it out. Boyles wrestled away second from Cottle in turn three on lap 20 and Cottle returned the favor two laps later on lap 22. Ketchum found himself turned around again in turn two with one to go setting up a one lap shootout for the win. On the restart Meseraull protected the low line as Cottle got a good run entering turn one and was on T-Mez's tail tank exiting turn one. Meseraull left the inside door open down the backstretch taking to the cushion and Cottle filled the hole entering turn three. Cottle got a tremendous bite down low exiting turn three with a narrow lead as the two raced into turn four. The pair exited turn four side by side and at the line it was Cottle stealing the win by 0.008 seconds or mere inches ending T-Mez's winning streak at four. Boyles ran third with Jarett Andretti moving forward from ninth to finish fourth with Mike Miller rounding out the top five. JJ Hughes led home the second five followed by Dave Darland, Travis Hery in a nice run from 16th to 8th, Tyler Hewitt ninth and Sterling Cling notching tenth. An elated Cottle climbed on top of the roll cage to celebrate and thanked Jamie Paul for preparing such a fine car and not letting him touch it at all to work on.

    There was still the 20 lap UMP modified feature to contest and Derek Losh took care of the drama for the lead early taking the top spot from Jimmie Haager on lap four and moved away from the rest of the pack. The race in this one was for positions two through five where a torrid battle ensued. Haager held second until one to go when Scott Orr finally made the high side work passing Haager on the white flag lap and Aaron Orr was able to sneak by Haager to grab third before the finish. Dillon Nusbaum rounded out the top five in the race that had only one caution and took just seven minutes to click off. At that point we decided to head for the exit to make our two hour drive home and prepare for the next morning to meet with our real estate agent to put our old house under contract for sale.

    Check back Monday for our Saturday night trek to Lincoln Park Speedway for more non-wing racing action. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and dry. Any news, comments, notes of interest or other things can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

    Received some mail from loyal reader, Carroll McCoy, down on the panhandle of Florida in Milton where the Southern Raceway is located. He was introduced to midget racing during the March 29-30 Gator Dirt Nationals and he loved the small car racing around Southern along with the non-wing sprint cars. He noted that present time owner, Tom Lowery, decided to bring back some big racing events to the 3/8 mile dirt oval located in Milton and was pleased with the Gator Dirt Nationals and the USCS sprint cars that have also appeared on the fine dirt there. Always good to hear from Carroll and hope the good racing continues for many years at Southern Raceway!! Carroll also sends along a Dirt Monthly article from fine fellow Hoseheads.com writer, Kevin Oldham, on the demise of auto racing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds after the fairboard decided to cease dirt racing on the mile oval in favor of placing crushed limestone on the surface for all weather parking for the fair and year round harness training. It was a very sad day in Indiana auto racing when the last engine sounds reverberated under the massive covered aluminum grandstand on the Thursday of Memorial Day weekend for the 64th and final Hoosier 100 for the USAC Silver Crown cars.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bizarre Win For Ballou At Kokomo

    Sunday, June 23 - It was delivery day for Pat as we were meeting several people in various spots to bring them their antique orders. First was a stop in Avon where Lori received Penny Playpal, a doll she had as a child and was thrilled to pick up this one which was exactly like the old one. After that we dined at the new Portello's in Avon, a restaurant famous in Chicago for its Italian beef sandwiches, and it did not disappoint. They were delicious and really hit the spot. Next up were two more doll deliveries up Rt. 31 above Westfield. After the second delivery was picked up it poured and the prospects for racing at Kokomo we thought were dismal. But since we were only about 15 miles from the baddest bullring in Indiana we decided to finish the drive after stopping at Wilson's Farm where we picked up fresh vegetables, fruits and some kettle corn and whoopie pies. Driving up Rt. 31 just five miles below Kokomo we encountered dry roads and surrounding areas and were surprised to find that it had not rained there. We pulled onto the grounds and drove to the backstretch, parked and made our way into the large aluminum grandstand to await the start of the Bob Darland Memorial honoring the father of Dave Darland who was an owner and mechanic for many years.

    The crowd was way off due to the threatening weather conditions all around and this one was surely not going to be a money maker for the O'Connors but they moved forward with the evening and gave the faithful fans that did come out a racing program when many others would have pulled the plug in the morning with the forecast. But we know the ever changing forecast of the weather in Indiana with any chance of rain being pushed back to the 9 PM time frame. The Darland Memorial was a four division program with non-wing sprints (21) paying $3000 to win the 25 lap feature, 600 mini sprints (13), thunder cars (15) and hornets (10). Knowing the weather was staring them in the face even though it looked nice at the time the program was kicked off right on time at 7 PM. The sprint cars would run three heats for their disappointing 21 car field though the quality was good. Robert Ballou would charge from the fourth starting position to score heat win one over Tyler Hewitt, Jarett Andretti and Thomas Meseraull. New Mexico summer visitor, Josh Hodges, would claim heat two beating Dave Darland in the California based Dwight Cheney #42, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Corey Smith. Scotty Weir wheeled the Pederson #4P to victory in heat three besting Justin Grant, Chris Windom and Jadon Rogers. The 600 mini sprints would contest two heats along with the thunder cars while the 10 car hornet field was bunched into one heat to save some time. All qualifying was completed by 7:56 as the skies started to become overcast.

    The 21 car sprint car feature was lined up and took the green flag at 8:16 with Robert Ballou getting the draw on first starting Justin Grant for the lead. This one would officially go non-stop with the red flag appearing after the checkered flag flew for a serious homestretch accident which we will get to in a moment. Ballou held the lead with Grant and Darland in tow in the early going. By lap seven Scotty Weir disposed of Josh Hodges in turn two for fourth as he closed on the front three. Lap ten saw Chris Windom crack the top five after starting ninth and the Goacher #5G was looking stout. He duplicated his homestretch move on lap 19 to grab third from Darland who began to fade. Ballou stretched his lead to around ten car lengths on Grant as the laps ticked off. With three to go Kevin Thomas Jr. raced by Darland for fifth in turn two. As the leaders raced into turns three and four on the final lap Koby Barksdale climbed the homestretch wall before the starter's stand and bounced back on the track turning his car sideways as Ballou streaked off turn four to take the checkered. Ballou had no where to go and made heavy side contact with the disabled Barksdale slamming into him and rolling over just past the start/finish line. The red was quickly thrown as the safety crew rushed to the scene. The car was uprighted and the backboard was brought to the scene. After several anxious minutes Ballou was lifted from his wrecked sprinter and waved to the crowd from his backboard. It was later reported on Twitter by his crew that Ballou had suffered two fractures of his arm and successful surgery was performed the next day. Ballou's crew chief accepted the Darland Memorial trophy in BC victory lane in one of the most bizarre finishes in track history. Ballou was the winner followed by Grant, Windom, Weir and Thomas with Darland sixth, Hodges seventh, Andretti eighth, Hewitt ninth and Jadon Rogers rounding out the top ten.

    After a lengthy delay the 15 lap 600 mini sprint feature was trackside for their feature event as the clouds began to drop some moisture as many fans headed for the exits. I decided to stay but as the rain increased in strength I positioned myself at the end of the grandstand near the steps so I could use the umbrella that we brought in as Pat had retreated to the safety of the Rogue. Young Darin Naida, son of Dain, a long time good 360 sprint driver, grabbed the lead around lap 5 and led the remainder of the distance as the rain continued and the track became damp but they still raced to the non-stop finish. Another multi-generation driver, Corbin Gurley, son of sprint car driver Chris, chased Naida to the finish with Todd Kirkman notching third with Nathan Franklin fourth and Jessee Holt rounding out the top five. Standing on the walkway behind proud father, Dain, who had filmed the entire race on his phone I gave him a high five as he and a crewman exited the grandstands to head over to victory lane. The rain had now let up as I proceeded to the Rogue to start the trip back to Crawfordsville thankful that management stuck with it and gave us all some racing on this questionable weather evening where the crowd was way down.

    That's it for this past weekend as Lincoln Park fell to saturated grounds on Saturday for their USAC sprint car show and next weekend is looking like a three night racing weekend with scheduled stops at Gas City, Lincoln Park and Haubstadt on the agenda. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and support your local tracks as once a track closes the chances of it reopening are not good. Comments, critiques, news and other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for checking in and reading our efforts. Take care and stay dry if possible.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez's Time At Gas City

    Friday, June 21 - The original plan was to head south on Rt. 231 toward the Paragon Speedway to take in the Amati 68, one of our favorite races held every year at Paragon. Checking the weather in the early afternoon Paragon's forecast was questionable at best (35-55%) so we checked Gas City and the forecast was much better so we decided to play the percentage game. As we were headed north on Rt. 231 Pat checked the Paragon forecast and the forecast was even more bleak as the percentages jumped to 75 and 85%. At 4:40 Paragon management pulled the plug so it was a good move going northeast to avoid the rain.


     

    Tonight was the second running of the Jerry Gappens Sr. Memorial honoring the memory of the promoter's father who was involved in auto racing throughout his lifetime and led to his son, Jerry Jr., also becoming part of the racing scene. A nice mix of Gas City regulars joined by BOSS sprint regulars (who had their 2 weekend races canceled early) and Paragon refugees boosted the car count to a very impressive 39 entries. Along with the non-winged sprints on the card were the UMP modifieds (24), hornets (13), street stocks (14) and AMSA mini sprints (17). There was a threat of rain around 9 so the program was moved along quickly with the first of five sprint car heats taking the green flag at 7:37. Tyler Hewitt, the #2 man in points coming in, drew first blood bagging the first heat outrunning Brady Bacon and Cody White. Heat two honors went to Kevin Thomas Jr. beating AJ Hopkins and Matt Goodnight. Heat three saw Robert Ballou storm to the front to win over Dustin Ingle and Scotty Weir. Matt McDonald wired heat four besting Matt Westfall and Paul Dues. Thomas Meseraull nailed down heat five triumphing over Josh Hodges and Jarett Andretti. Derek Losh, Ryan Sutter and Josh Morton claimed UMP modified heats after the sprints. Two heats were also spun off for the hornets, street stocks and mini sprints before the sprints returned for their two B mains with three advancing to the A main the same as the heats qualified. BOSS regular, Luke Hall, notched B main #1 over Max Adams and Koby Barksdale. Isaac Chapple blasted from sixth to win B main #2 over Shane Cockrum making a rare Friday night appearance and Mike Miller.


     

    It was now after 9 and as they were announcing the starting lineup for the 25 lap sprint car feature it started to drizzle. Everyone was hoping that it was nothing to worry about and sure enough about five minutes later the drizzle stopped. Twenty one sprinters approached the green flag at 9:32 with Thomas Meseraull getting the advantage on his front row mate, Matt McDonald. Lap two saw the action grind to a quick halt as Isaac Chapple flipped his sprinter in between turns one and two. When the action resumed it was T-Mex, Kevin Thomas Jr. and McDonald nose to tail for the green. KTJ lost the handle in turn two on the restart and looped it with AJ Hopkins with no wheres to go piled into Thomas. Both entries were done for the evening and this took some pressure off T-Mez as two top competitors were finished for the evening. Meseraull took the lead on the restart with McDonald and Robert Ballou in tow. Ballou worked by McDonald off turn four on lap five and set his sights on Meseraull. T-Mez led until lap eleven when Scotty Weir bounced and then spun in turn three to bring out the caution. On the restart Ballou made a serious run at Meseraull diving low in turn two but not being able to pass him. Lap twelve saw Brady Bacon take over third passing Westfall for the spot on the backstretch. Ballou and Bacon had a great battle for second between laps 16 and 17 with Ballou holding sway. Bacon again challenged on laps 23 and 24 both Ballou was up to the challenge and held him off again. Meanwhile Meseraull was cruising out front and was in total control. The checkered waved at 9:59 with T-Mez scoring his fourth straight non-wing win of the year at Gas City with Ballou second, Bacon third, Westfall fourth and Jarett Andretti using the low side from 15th nipping Tyler Hewitt at the line for fifth. A jubilant Meseraull expressed in victory lane that "I've been racing open-wheel cars for 20 years now and sometimes you have to wait your turn but my turn is here now!!!" to the delight of the good crowd on hand.


     

    Derek Losh made it look easy in the 20 lap UMP modified feature taking the lead at the start and leading the entire distance outrunning Scott Orr, Josh Morton, Todd Sherman and Weasel Philpot in a strong run from tenth to fifth as the checkered waved at 10:12.

    At this point we decided to forego the final three features and get a jump on our two hour tow back to Crawfordsville satisfied with another good night of racing at Gas City.


     

    Check back tomorrow for our next report from the Bob Darland Memorial run Sunday at Kokomo. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and try to stay dry. News, notes, comments and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Wins Makeup Then Midget Week Race Falls To Rain At Jacksonville & Rain Curtails Macon & Lincoln

    Friday, June 14 - Weather would play a major role again today for the Illinois Midget Week round at the Jacksonville Speedway. We arrived early around 3 PM and secured our blankets in the big covered wooden grandstand on the homestretch before pushing back and relaxing before the night of racing. It was overcast most of the day and it sprinkled a few times while we waited but it never rained substantially. Around 6 we ventured into the grandstand and settled in for a good night of racing with the POWRI midgets (35), POWRi 600's (40) and winged 305 sprint cars (10). Promoter Ken Dobson was everywhere directing operations and moving things along as quick as possible. Hot lap sessions were spun off quickly for all three divisions but as soon as hot laps were over it began to rain. The rain was not heavy but it was long enough to cause the start of the program to be delayed almost an hour and fifteen minutes. The first race on the card was the previously rained out POWRi midget feature from April 28th with the WOO sprint cars were in town.


     

    So by 8:40 the green flag dropped on the 19 car starting field for the POWRi midgets with Logan Seavey bounding into the early lead over teammate Tucker Klaasmeyer. Cannon McIntosh soon joined the fray and the top three raced around the heavy track at breakneck speed. Shelby Bosie making his POWRi debut spun in turn three while running fourth to bring out the first caution. On the restart Seavey went to the point again with Klaasmeyer second. McIntosh bobbled on the restart allowing the third Kunz car of 14 year old California native, Jesse Love to slip into third. Seavey streaked around the bullring with Klaasmeyer drawing close on occasion but never close enough to make a serious challenge. As the checkers waved at 8:40 it was Seavey in for his third straight POWRi midget victory and six out of nine on the season and also his 13th career POWRi triumph with Klaasmeyer trailing in second with Jesse Love third, Cannon McIntosh fourth and Zach Daum rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Holly Hollan from 13th, Jesse Colwell seventh, Tanner Carrick eighth, 14 year old Daison Pursley ninth and Joe B. Miller tenth after starting 18th in the Steve Reynolds #21KS.


     

    After victory lane ceremonies it was right into the full card of regular racing scheduled as part of Illinois Midget Week. The POWRi 600 micro sprints would contest five heats for their fine 40 car field with some good action in these events. Jake Cheatham would win from the front row in the first one with Jeremy Camp capturing heat two. Kyle Schuett claimed heat three with Trevin Littleton besting the field in heat four and Gunner Bowden notching heat five. The POWRi midgets would also run five heats for their 35 car field with Cannon McIntosh making a last lap, last corner pass of Jesse Love to claim the heat one victory with Jerry Coons Jr. coming home third. Holly Hollan came from the back in a very impressive run to capture heat two beating Austin Brown and Daniel Robinson. Heat three went to Logan Seavey outrunning Thomas Meseraull and Michael Pickens. Joe B. Miller guided the Steve Reynolds owned #21KS wrenched by the colorful Flea Ruzic to victory in heat four over Tucker Klaasmeyer and Oklahoma's Grady Chandler. The fifth and final heat was captured by 14 year old Oklahoma driver, Daison Pursley, beating Zach Daum and Clinton Boyles who had the night off at Gas City and ventured west for the night's action, a true racer indeed.


     

    At this point the 305 sprint car heats had been scratched and they went right into the 20 lap 305 sprint car feature. Robbie Standridge went right out front and took command with Paul Nienhiser in pursuit. The race reached the halfway mark when a sudden heavy shower struck the track and the sprint cars were sent to the pits to wait it out. Since it was already 10:16 and the curfew was approaching there was no way they were going to be able to work the track back into shape and complete the semis for both POWRi divisions so the decision was made that the program was postponed and the 305 sprint car feature was declared official with Robbie Standridge declared the winner. A yoeman's effort by Ken Dobson and the entire Jacksonville Speedway staff from the track crew down to the concession crew was well appreciated but it was not to be on this evening.


     

    Saturday, June 15 - The call came down early in the morning that Macon Speedway bowed to the overnight rains and another round of Illinois Midget Week was canceled. We made the best of a bad situation by having a fine lunch at Hickory River Barbecue and Pat wanted to go shopping at Hobby Lobby so I went along to push the cart. The night plan was to take in a Prospect League Collegiate wooden bat game with Guy Smith pitting the Lafayette (IN) Aviators vs. the Springfield Sliders at Robin Roberts Stadium in Springfield. Robin Roberts was a Springfield native to went on to be a Baseball Hall Of Famer with the majority of his 19 year career spent with the Philadelphia Phillies. The ballpark in Springfield named in honor of Roberts was a nice venue with comfortable chair seats with plenty of butt room and leg room. We talked and joked with two rabid female fans of the Sliders who were seated in back of us behind home plate and we all enjoyed the exciting back and forth contest which ended with Lafayette winning 12 to 10 with each team pounding out 16 hits but Springfield committed six errors which led to their demise. The food was good and reasonably priced and Guy enjoyed his fifth and sixth port chop sandwich of the trip while we dined on pork chop sandwiches and hot dogs also. It was a fun night of baseball but it was not Macon!!!  When they give you lemons you make lemonade!!!


     

    Sunday, June 16 - We awoke to the news that the final round of Illinois Midget Week was canceled due to saturated grounds so it was a disappointing end to a rain logged five days of expected racing where we only witnessed one complete show and one partial show. Mother nature really did us in on this week and we were especially disappointed for Guy Smith who was attending this midget week for the first time and all five tracks would have been new tracks for him.


     

    That's it until next weekend where you will have to check back and see where we end up taking in or trying to take in some good short track racing. Hope you upcoming week is better than our previous one was and that you get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take in on the road to scratch one of those tracks off on your bucket list. Be safe and be dry. News, comments, press releases, gripes and other issues can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11 where we will also be taking donations (need $250,000) so we can enter a sprint car in the special race at Huset's Speedway in South Dakota where the winner get the keys to the facility lock, stock and barrel but bring your lawyer along to do a title search and look at the fine detail in the contract. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we do bringing them to you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain and Fayette County Open Illinois Midget Week

    Wednesday, June 12 - We left Crawfordsville at 9 AM under sunny skies and puffy white clouds and by the time we crossed the border into Illinois it was somewhat cloudy but still nice. We never gave it a thought to check the POWRi website or Twitter feed to check on Belle-Clair. We figured they were running even though the forecast was not that good for the day. It turns out Bell-Clair had already pulled the plug by 10 AM but we did not know. It didn't matter though as our hotel was already booked and Pat had arranged to meet two sets of people on Wednesday and then Thursday morning to sell some of her antiques to them. After eating a good lunch at McAllister's with Melanie and her mother we ventured down the road toward Belle-Clair. We arrived at our hotel room in Collinsville and checked in and when I logged onto the POWRi Twitter site we found out the bad news that the Illinois Midget Speedweek opener was canceled. It rained off and now several times but it was only a light rain and would have been nothing more than a free watering job for the track crew. We thought that it being the opener of Illinois Midget Week with cars, drivers and fans making their way into the area they would have given it more of a effort to run the event.


     

    Thursday, June 13 - The day dawned bright and sunny with temperatures in the 70's. By nightfall the temperatures were predicted to drop into the 50's making for a chilly night for the middle of the month of June. We arrived early and found a parking spot on the grounds of the Fayette County Fairgrounds located outside of the small town of Brownstown in the shade and I laid down our blanket on the top row of the covered aluminum grandstand and settled back to wait until race time. Joining us for opening night would be Todd Shannon of Wisconsin, Guy Smith of Pennsylvania and Dale O'Brien now of Florida by way of Green Bay, Wisconsin. We all gathered in the grandstands around 6:15 chatting and eating before the five division program of racing action was scheduled to begin at 7 PM. Our feelings on a five division which turned into a six division program on a week night is not a good idea but we understand the other side of the coin in that the promoter is covering his ass and if the front gate crowd is not that large he is hoping the back gate will cover the expenses and produce a profit. The crowd was good but not overflowing and therefore the extra classes and the revenue they produce helps pays the bills but on the other side of the coin it makes for a long night of racing. If you run the main classes first (which they did) it gives people options and after the POWRi midget feature ended at 10:23 a good portion of the crowd exited the facility. At 10:51 when the winged 600 micro sprints ended another segment of the crowd headed toward the exits. With three or possibly four features to go it was going to be a while until the last class of cars took the final checker. The car counts were as follows: POWRi midgets (32), POWRi 600 micros (31), modifieds (12), B mods (16), hornets (22) and some sort of stocker class (7) with two people in the cockpit with one steering and the other working the gas and brake.


     

    POWRi does not do time trials but instead does their qualifying procedures by passing points with the top sixteen in passing points locking into the 3 lap feature with the top point getter starting on the pole. The final six come out of the semi event lining up at the tail of the field by their finish. The first midget heat of the evening was scored by Michael Pickens winning over his teammate, Thomas Meseraull, Jesse Colwell and Tanner Carrick. Heat two went to 16 year old Cannon McIntosh besting Logan Seavey who came from eighth and earned the most points in the heat action, Andy Malpocker and 14 year old Jesse Love. Heat three saw 17 year old high school graduate, Holly Hollan, post the victory over Jerry Coons Jr., Tanner Thorson and Tucker Klaasmeyer. The fourth and final heat went to Zach Daum, the man from nearby Pocahontas winning over Daison Pursley, another 14 year old, Austin Brown and Broc Hunnell. The four 600 micro sprint heats would be captured by Harley Hollan, father of Holly, Jeremy Camp, Aaron Andruskevitch (must have been tough spelling that one as a kid!!!) and Scotty Milan. The mods would run two heats along with the B mods which were 10 laps in distance longer than any other divisions for whatever reason. The hornets ran three good heats before the "sixth" division appeared for the first time, the stocker class with two passengers which ran one race (don't know if this was their only race or not) for their seven car field. Only the POWRi midgets would run a semi with fourth starting Ace McCarthy triumphing over young Jesse Love, Robert Dalby making the long tow from California, Ethan Mitchell, fast timer at Bloomington during USAC Midget Week action and hailing from North Carolina, Sam Johnson and Sterling Cling. Only one provisional, Kade Morton, would tag the making it a 23 car starting field.


     

    The 30 lap POWRi midget feature would take the green flag at 10:00 with Logan Seavey pulling ahead of the other front row starter, Holly Hollan. The first of five cautions would appear on lap two when Andy Malpocker and Sterling Cling tangled in turn four. Seavey moved back out front on the restart with Thomas Meseraull in close pursuit. The second caution waved on lap four in turn four again as Cannon McIntosh backed it into the turn four wall collecting Tucker Klaasmeyer in the process. Michael Pickens was also up to third and began to exchange sliders with Meseraull as they jousted for second. The third caution interrupted things again when Robert Dalby came up lame on the homestretch to force the yellow again. Daison Pursley spun on the low side of turn two on lap nine to slow the action for the fourth time. It was a shame as the constant cautions were taking away from what could have been a heck of a show. Seavey continued to lead at this point but the battle behind was fast and furious. T-Mez, Pickens, Zach Daum and Tanner Thorson up from 11th were going at it tooth and nail. Thorson used the high side off turn four to take second from Daum on lap 13 and took off after Seavey. The leader was running the high side in turns three and four while using a diamond move through turns one and two as he paced the field. On the last restart Thorson tried a slider entering turn one but Seavey was up to the challenge blasting off turn two with the lead. That must have been a wakeup call for Seavey as he steadily pulled away from Thorson and the rest of the field over the remaining laps. Over the last five laps of the feature all eyes were on the battle for third as Jerry Coons Jr. worked his patented low groove while Jess Colwell went up high and the two raced side by side. As the checkered waved at 10:23 it was Seavey in for his fifth POWRi win out of eight races contested in 2019 with Thorson chasing him across the line. Colwell would prevail in the race for third with 13th starting Jerry Coons Jr. notching fourth and a fine run by Ethan Mitchell slicing from 20th on the grid to nail down fifth. Michael Pickens would finish sixth with Meseraull seventh, Tanner Carrick eighth after starting 15th, Cannon McIntosh ninth and Zach Daum fading to tenth at the finish.


     

    We still had the exciting winged 600 micro sprints ready to contest their 20 lap affair with Aaron Andruskevitch taking the early lead after earning the most passing points advancing from fifth to first in his heat race. It was all Andruskevitch in this one leading from wire to wire but the 37 year old from Riverton, IL was not the whole story of this race. Joe B. Miller had to qualify through the semi and started 21st on the starting grid. Miller using the cushion in turns three and four to perfection blasted his way from 21st all the way up to 3rd at the finish in an impressive charge from the rear. Riley Goodno was able to fend off Miller for second over the closing laps with Gunner Ramey coming home fourth and Allen Cope rounding out the top five in this one which ended at 10:51. We all decided to head for the exits with the exception of Dale who was staying nearby and was going to watch the modified feature. It was a decent night of racing on a racy track but was long due to the amount of classes running.


     

    That's it for now but check back tomorrow as we move over to the Jacksonville Speedway for round two of Illinois Midget Week where two midget features are on the card with one being from the rained out WOO show at Jacksonville earlier in the season. Should be a good night of racing. To those of you who are not following Illinois Midget Week still get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as these tracks need our support as if they close due to poor attendance it is highly unlikely they will ever reopen. A fact shared by Guy Smith last night passed on from Allen Brown was this year has the lowest number of short track ovals running since 1947 dipping below the 1000 track mark. This is not a good trend for racing as a whole and we hope it turns around in the future. Any news, comments, tidbits or other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thorson Completes The Comeback With Spectacular Win At Lincoln Park

    Thursday, June 5 - Tanner Thorson was a fortunate young man. Returning from Las Vegas Dirt Track after a WOO show there three months ago Tanner was driving the tow rig on Rt. 99 near Modesto, California in the wee hours of the morning when he was involved in a furious highway crash resulting in serious injuries. Thorson was able to escape the destroyed cab but suffered a broken left arm, a broken right foot, a cracked sternum, several broken ribs and a punctured lung in the serious crash. He has been rehabbing over the last several months and made his return Tuesday night at Montpelier Motor Speedway where he finished second but Thursday night at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville he completed the comeback by winning the 30 lap USAC National Midget contest at the track in beautiful downtown Putnamville. The race was spectacular throughout but over the last five laps it was truly amazing and was the prototype of the race you keep coming back for which only happens on a rare occasion. The weather was again very nice with temperatures in the 80's and wonderful track conditions the entire evening with multiple racing grooves the entire evening even when it blackened off toward the end of the evening. We were joined at the B & B (our house in Crawfordsville - known as bed and bull....) by Pennsylvania friends, Bill and Judy Burns, and Florida resident by way of Wisconsin, Dale O'Brien.


     

    A fine trio of open wheel divisions checked into Joe Spiker's playground to take part in round three of Indiana Midget Week with 36 USAC midgets, 26 non-wing sprint cars and 25 MMSA mini sprints filling the backstretch pit area with a good crowd of fans turning out for this one. USAC midget time trials commenced at 6:37 and the last car took the checkered at 7:04 and in between 36 entries took aim at the track record with "Young Money", Kyle Larson, motoring the yellow and black Kunz #97 to a new track record of 12.383 seconds around the 5/16th mile egg shaped dirt oval. Next up were four heat races for the midgets with the first one taking the green flag at 7:23. The first heat was simply awesome with the top four swapping slide jobs and crossovers like they were going out of style. At one point Jason McDougal was shuffled back to fourth but when the checkered waved McDougal had found his way back to the top and scored the impressive win over Tanner Thorson, Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant. Kyle Larson was relegated to the B main and the highest he would start in the feature was seventh if he transferred. Dave Darland finally had a good run in the RMS #36 winning heat two over CJ Leary, Logan Seavey and Jerry Coons Jr. Thomas Meseraull brought another RMS entry home first in heat three besting Tucker Klaasmeyer, Michael Pickens and Zeb Wise. Jesse Colwell looking better each time out brought one of the Keith Kunz steeds to the front outrunning Kevin Thomas Jr., Zach Daum and Chris Windom in another very exciting heat contest. Zane Hendricks turned turtle in turn one in this one after setting fourth fastest time and was OK exiting the midget quickly. The non-wing sprints were next up and Dave Darland doing double duty this time in the Cunningham #17 won heat one over Thomas Meseraull, Lee Underwood, Braydon Fox and Nate McMillen. Brady Short back fulltime in 2019 took heat two turning back Brandon Mattox, Travis Berryhill, Shelby VanGilder and Korbyn Hayslett. Kevin Thomas Jr. triumphed in heat three beating Shane Cockrum, Gary Rook, Sterling Cling and Harley Burns in a new mount for the high school youngster. The MMSA mini sprints brought a good field of 25 with Jeff Schindler, Austin Powell and Brandon Deputy taking home heat wins.


     

    The midget B main saw the female contingent of two both get upside down with Holly Hollan executing a slow roll in turn four while later in the event Karsyn Elledge went over the front end of Cannon McIntosh and rolled in turn two. Kyle Larson would win this one over Chad Boat in a fine run, Shane Golobic, Dillon Welch, Tanner Carrick and Andrew Layser. Holly Hollan and Cole Bodine would use provisionals to tag the end of the feature field. The sprint car B main went to Jadon Rogers.


     

    It was time for round three of IMW with the 24 car field set to go 30 circuits around the 5/16th mile. As the green waved Tyler Courtney went out front followed by fourth starter, Thomas Meseraull. These two started to open the gap on the field but entering turn one on lap five it looked like Courtney bobbled and Meseraull at full steam ran into Sunshine and took both of them around. Logan Seavey inherited the lead and pounded the cushion with Kevin Thomas Jr. in the middle until lap eleven when Andrew Layser flipped in turn three to bring out the red. Layser was uninjured in the incident. On the restart Michael Pickens inside the top five at the time found himself facing traffic after spinning between turns one and two. Lap 13 saw Thomas use the middle to take the lead away from Seavey with Tanner Thorson and Kyle Larson joining the fray up front. The racing was intense all over the oval with Thomas holding sway until Thorson dove low in turn one and two and edged ahead of Thomas momentarily until Thomas went back out front down the backstretch. Seavey executed a slider entering turn three to move by Thomas but a crossover gave Thomas the lead onto the homestretch. Seavey threw another slider in turn one to take the lead with Thorson edging by Thomas into second on the low side of turn two. Thomas was not done as he split the gap on the two down the backstretch and went back to the point. There were an incredible 13 lead changes in the following Seacrossover off turn four to inch ahead. Seavey again set up the slider in turn one but Thorson also had some ideas and dove low entering turn one. Seavey was on top exiting turn two with Thorson second and Thomas third but Thomas regained second down the backstretch. Thorson slid Thomas in turn one on lap 27 but Thomas returned the favor in turn two. Thorson took the lead low off turn four coming to the two to go. All of a sudden Kyle Larson was ripping the cushion and threatening to pass everyone on the high side of turn two as the white flag waved. Larson caught the turn two cushion wrong and promptly launched his mount skyward as the red waved. Larson had come to win and it was wreckers or checkers and tonight the Cup racer ended up on the wrecker. On the restart Thorson got a good run entering turn one with a three car length lead. Thomas went to the top to try to track down the streaking Thorson over the final two laps but didn't have enough. Seavey dove low in turn three and slid in front of Thomas for second coming to the checkered and one of the old guys, Jerry Coons Jr., used the inside to edge Thomas at the line for third. Boy, oh boy what a finish and what a race!!! WOW, WOW, WOW and WOW.


     

    Thorson was one happy dude in victory lane and expressed his doubts over the course of the past three months if he would ever be able to do this again. Well he summed it up when he stated "I'm Back!!" The finish was Thorson from 15th for his 13th career USAC midget victory over Seavey, Coons, Thomas and Chris Windom in another steady performance advancing from 14th to 5th at the end. Shane Golobic, Tyler Courtney from the rear, Jesse Colwell, Zach Daum and Jason McDougal rounded out the top ten.


     

    We still had a 25 lap sprint car feature to go but we knew nothing was going to top this one. Dave Darland sprinted to the early lead with fifth starting Brandon Mattox getting a good hole shot to advance to third on lap 2. Lap six saw the caution and then the red appear as first Harley Burns slid off turn four and nailed the wall while Korbyn Hayslett took a ride into the billboards in turn one. Darland would lead until lap 8 when T-Mez passed him exiting turn four. Jadon Rogers rolled on top of the cushion in turns three and four on lap 10 to bring out the second red. On the restart it was T-Mez, Darland and KTJ. Thomas wrestled second from DD on lap 11 and Shane Cockrum took third away from the People's Champ on lap 12 just as Travis Berryhill rolled up in turn four to become the third flipper of the feature. Thomas caught and passed Meseraull for the lead in turn two on lap 14 and Cockrum got by Meseraull from turn four on lap 17. T-Mez quickly came back and regained second with KTJ playing rabbit in the lead. The remaining eight laps spun off with Thomas maintaining the lead and cruising to his third straight sprint car win during midget week turning back T-Mez, Cockrum, Darland and Brady Short at the finish.


     

    The USAC midget racing was fantastic, awesome and amazing all wrapped up in one and will have the fans in attendance talking about it for year to come. That is why we come out week after week just hoping to catch five or six of those during the course of the season.


     

    That's it until tomorrow when we bring you round four of IMW from the red clay high banks of Bloomington Speedway where the action should be hot and heavy. In the meantime get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, rumors or facts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the kind words they mean so much.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Comes Through With Big Gas City Win During Indiana Midget Week

    Wednesday, June 4 - Weather again was the big issue of the day. Forecasts improved from Sunday (80% day, 80% night) to (60% day, 40% night) on Wednesday. We awoke to cloudy skies but no rain and the weather stayed that way until after noon time. The forecast dropped to 20% for most of the remainder of the day with the exception of the 5 to 6 PM time frame where the percentage was 60%. If we could make it through that hour without any rain we looked like we were going to be fine. The bad stuff passed south of us where many places received as much as three to four inches of rain from that storm.

    After warmups for the three division card the USAC midgets took to the track for time trials for their fine 40 car field. The first car took to the clock at 7:08 and they were divided into two qualifying groups with California's Shane Golobic qualifying in group two set the fastest overall time with a lap of 12.349 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Next up would be the heat racing for the midgets with four in total with four moving on from each heat. Tyler Courtney set a new track record in heat one with an eight lap record of 2:05:54 in winning this one over Tucker Klaasmeyer, CJ Leary and Kyle Larson. Holly Hollan made a very strong run in heat two beating the boys in this one trailed by Cole Bodine, Jesse Colwell and Cannon McIntosh. Heat three saw Logan Seavey claim the win besting Zeb Wise, Shane Golobic and Justin Grant in a race which saw Floridian Oliver Akard flip in turn two. Kevin Thomas Jr. brought the Petry entry home first in heat four over Chad Boat, Karsyn Elledge (granddaughter of Dale Earnhardt) and Jason McDougal. The 600's were next up and they spun off two heats for their 16 car field. The non-wing sprint cars were the third division on the card and they ran three heats for their 24 car field. Brady Bacon took heat one over Max Adams, Cole Ketchum and Sterling Cling. Kevin Thomas Jr. scored heat two besting Kyle Robbins, Clinton Boyles and Dustin Ingle. Tim Creech snared heat three over Corey Smith, Brandon Rose and Lee Underwood.

    Next up was the C main for the midgets with Brady Bacon taking the event and moving to the tail of the B main. The sprint B main went to Ohio's Korbyn Hayslett over Tyler Hewitt, Scotty Weir, Brad Greenup and Billy Cribbs who I apoligize to mistaking him last night at Montpelier for Ben Knight. The midget B main was captured by Tanner Thorson defeating Michael Pickens, Jerry Coons Jr., Tanner Carrick, Andrew Layser and Zach Daum the last in on qualifying. Chris Windom would be forced to use a provisional to join the party in the 23rd starting position.

    The 30 lap USAC midget speedweek main event was ready to rumble at 9:54 with CJ Leary and Justin Grant bringing them to the green flag. Grant jumped out front at the start. Lap three saw the first caution wave as Jesse Colwell stopped on the infield grass in turn one to slow things down. Grant proceeded to walk away from the field on the restart and had a big lead near the halfway mark being chased by fourth starter, Jason McDougal in the Reynolds #21KS. Shane Golobic and Jerry Coons Jr. tangled exiting turn four on lap fifteen with Golobic looping his midget. On the restart Cannon McIntosh slipped by McDougal into second and set his sights on Grant. Michael Pickens and Kyle Larson were running sixth and eighth at this point and on the next restart turned up the wick and began their march forward. They passed Tanner Thorson and McDougal positioning themselves in contending spots running third and fourth with five to go. Coming to the white flag the caution waved for the last time when Tucker Klaasmeyer slid off turn four and stopped setting up a green, white, checker scenario. On the restart Grant loaded up and missed his mark coming off the fourth turn and allowed McIntosh to pull alongside to challenge. The yellow saved Grant when Coons and Karsyn Elledge collided on the inside of turn four. On the ensuing restart Grant was ready to go and jumped to a several car length lead over McIntosh. In turn two third running Pickens was low on fuel and slowed ruining a fine run by the New Zealander. Exiting turn four McIntosh dove low making one last attempt to steal the win but came up two car lengths shy in his bid. Kyle Larson would come home third trailed by Jason McDougal and Tanner Thorson. Tyler Courtney was the hard charger advancing from 15th to 6th at the finish with Zach Daum seventh after starting 12th, Tanner Carrick eighth, Chris Windom making the most out of his provisional charging from 23rd to 9th and Zeb Wise rounding out the top ten at 10:13.

    There was still a 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature to run and the 20 car field took the initial green at 10:26. Brady Bacon took the early lead until lap three when Kevin Thomas Jr. claimed the top spot. These two raced each other hard over the next dozen laps with Tim Creech motoring around in third. Lap 11 saw Korbyn Hayslett loop it in turn three to bring out the caution. Thomas continued to lead when the race went green again with Bacon and Creech in tow. Max Adams, Corey Smith and Kyle Robbins were having a grand battle for positions four through six with positions changing on every circuit. Robbins fine night was ruined on lap 17 when he spun in turn four while running fourth. Bacon nipped at Thomas' tail tank on the restart but KTJ was up to the challenge. Thomas Meseraull who started 18th was suddenly in the mix challenging for a top five spot. As the checkered waved at 10:42 it was Thomas for his second straight sprint win during midget week besting Bacon with Adams third, Corey Smith fourth and T-Mez sneaking in for fifth. Tim Creech faded to a disappointing sixth trailed by 18th starting Scotty Weir, Lee Underwood, Cole Ketchum and Brandon Rose.

    The racing on the evening was real good with a nice surface to allow good viewing and some close racing was witnessed.

    Round three moves to beautiful downtown Putnamville at the Lincoln Park Speedway where lawn chairs are a must to relax and enjoy the racing. Until tomorrow get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be good. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Opens Indiana Midget Week With Win At Montpelier

    Tuesday, June 3 - The forecast late last weekend looked dire for Montpelier for Tuesday but as the new week dawned the weather forecast improved immensely. By race day there was very little chance of rain until 2 AM so it was go at Montpelier. Bill Burns arrived early to secure good seats in the wooden grandstand as we would not be able to arrive until around 6:15. It took eight minutes to enter the speedway grounds as they ran out of wrist bands and everyone had to wait until a new supply was brought over from the office.

    It was night one of six with an impressive field of 37 midgets, 27 UMP modifieds and 17 non-wing sprint cars jamming the turn one and two pit area for tonight's action. Time trials for the USAC midgets commenced at 6:49 with Sterling Cling finding the turn four wall and rolling over during this time. When the dust cleared which was not often on the evening Tyler Courtney had topped the field with a time of 14.029 seconds for fast time on the evening. Four midget heats would follow with the first one taking the green at 8:05. Tanner Carrick won heat one for Keith Kunz chased by Kevin Thomas Jr., Justin Grant and Shane Golobic taking the last qualifying spot after tangling with Jesse Colwell battling for the last qualifying position with Colwell going off on the hook. Heat two saw Dave Darland clip another car in turn three and flip over exiting without any harm. Logan Seavey made it two straight for the Kunz stables with a stirring last to first charge with a last lap, last corner pass of Jason McDougal for the win. Chad Boat and Tucker Klaasmeyer would claim the last two qualifying positions. Heat three was a good one with Zach Daum holding off the advances of Tyler Courtney, Jerry Coons Jr. and New Zealand visitor, Michael Pickens, for the win. Heat four saw young Cannon McIntosh impressively hold off fellow young one, Zeb Wise, Tanner Thorson returning to racing action after a nasty highway accident earlier in the season in California and Chris Windom. Three UMP modified heats would follow and then three lackluster sprint car heats with Ohio's Lee Underwood beating back Clinton Boyles and Isaac Chapple in heat one. Heat two went to Kevin Thomas Jr. over Brady Bacon and Kyle Simon while heat three was scored by Thomas Meseraull over Ben Knight and Sterling Cling. The midget B main would follow with 20 entries with Thomas Messeraull bringing the third RMS entry home first over CJ Leary, Dillon Welch, Dave Darland in another RMS car, Kyle Cummins in the Cactus Jack Yeley mount and Zane Hendricks the last man in by qualifying.

    By 10:09 it was time to go USAC midget racing with 22 qualifiers joined by provisionals taken by Jesse Colwell and Andrew Layser to make it a 24 car starting field to roll out of turn four to Tom Hansing's green flag. Zeb Wise was able to get the jump on Logan Seavey entering turn one or at least I think he did as a huge dust cloud bellowed off of the turn. It was a shame that it was so dusty as the action was very good throughout the feature but the combination of the relentless dust and too many black cars made it very difficult to follow the action on the track. Seavey would lead the first five laps until T-Mez pulled to a stop on the high side of turn four on lap five. On the restart Seavey threw a massive slider on Wise entering turn one and had the lead momentarily in turn two before the yellow waved again negating the pass. By lap seven Seavey dove low entering turn one and slid in front of Wise in turn two to grab the lead and this time no caution appeared. Seavey pulled away and by the halfway mark he had a comfortable lead. Seavey picked his way through lap traffic with Wise and Thorson dogging him through the traffic. Thorson was able to slid by Wise for second with five to go as the track rubbered up and became very slick. Seavey was flawless through lap traffic over the last five laps and flashed under the double checkered flags at 10:20 for his first USAC midget victory in 2019 and his fourth career USAC midget triumph including his first midget week win. Thorson came home second in his return with Wise holding on for third with Courtney fourth and Dillon Welch in a fine performance in one of the Boat entries to nail down fifth at the finish. Shane Golobic led the second five coming home sixth with Jason McDougal seventh, Kevin Thomas Jr. eighth, Tanner Carrick ninth and Chris Windom.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature was next on the card and took the green flag at 10:42. Thomas Meseraull went to the early lead with fifth starting Lee Underwood looking very strong moving to second early and challenging T-Mez. Lap eight saw Clinton Boyles bang wheels with Isaac Chapple in turn two forcing Chapple over the corner and into a flip. An unhappy and limping Chapple started to walk down the backstretch to converse with Boyles but a push truck moved Boyles to turn four and that was the end of any confrontation. T-Mez went to the point on the restart with Brady Bacon moving by Underwood for second in turn two on lap ten with Kevin Thomas Jr. following. Thomas caught Bacon on the backstretch on lap twelve for second and took off after Meseraull. It was a good, competitive race considering that the track was black and slick as the front runners battled it out. Thomas made several slider attempts in turns one and two on T-Mez but T-Mez was up to the challenge never backing off and maintained the lead. With two to go Clinton Boyles running fifth at the time tried a slider in turn one which ended up not good in turn two for lapper Brian Ruhlman who spun off turn two. This also knocked out Boyles for the remaining two laps. On the restart Meseraull spun his tires just enough to allow Thomas a run on the inside on the homestretch clearing Meseraull with a slide in turn one and taking the lead. Thomas would lead the last two laps and beat a disappointed T-Mez to the finish with Underwood making a white flag pass of Bacon for third with BOSS regular, Korbyn Hayslett, turning in a good run notching the fifth spot at the finish at 11:06.

    The racing was good but it was disappointing that with the dust problem it really took away from being able to properly enjoy the close racing on the track.

    That's it for now as we sit in the hotel at Gas City waiting to see if the rain will hold off to allow us to see round two scheduled for Gas City Speedway tonight.

    So get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Any comments, news or other items of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Kokomo Klassic Falls To Justin Grant

    Sunday, June 2 - We woke up to another nice day on Sunday and soon thereafter were on the laptop checking out to see if the rain yesterday had put a damper on Kokomo's plans for Sunday. It was found that things were on schedule and they were racing today. Hooray!!!! After attending church and grabbing lunch afterward it was northeast toward Kokomo as tonight they were running the Kokomo Klassic, a special $2000 to win, 30 lap feature for the non-wing sprints along with winged 305 sprints, thundercars and hornets. We sat on the backstretch with the sun at our backs as the sun does not set until around 9 PM. Our good buddy from the New Castle area, Phil, was there along with his grandson, Cole, and we sat in front of them for the evening and a little later the other Phil came with his wife. We had fun chatting together as it seemed forever before they kicked off the program with the first heat taking the green flag at 7:50. It could have been that the stiff wind and the sun were punishing the track and the track crew wanted to make sure the track was good to go before cranking things up.


     

    The non-wing sprints would take to qualifying first with three heats scheduled for their 23 car field. Clinton Boyles put the Paul Hazen #57 out front in the first one and was never headed trailed by Isaac Chapple, Dave Darland tonight in the Paul #24P and Tye Mihocko spending the summer in Indiana and normally riding out of Arizona in his first appearance here. Heat two saw Justin Grant win with the Topp Motorsports #4 outdistancing Thomas Meseraull, Tyler Hewitt, Koby Barksdale and Corey Smith, the second place finisher at Gas City on Friday. "Stomp and Steer" Scotty Weir took the plain Jane looking Pederson #4P to the point and walked away with this one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Cole Ketchum, Lee Underwood and Anthony D'Alessio. The Racesaver 305 sprints were next in the chute also running three heats for their 24 car field. Jeff Wimmenauer, Ethan Barrow and Jackson Slone won their respective heats. The thundercars ran two heats for their 11 car field and the hornets wrapped up heat qualifying with two heats for their 19 car field. None of the heats were anything to write home about and we thought that the wind and sun might have taken its toll. Boy, were we in for a surprise!! Only the two sprint divisions needed B mains with Ben Knight corralling the non-wing one and Scott Bradley nailing down the 305 one.


     

    By 9:54 it was time to drop the hammer with Justin Grant and Clinton Boyles bringing 18 others to the green flag. Grant and Boyles ran side by side for the first five laps each edging in front at various junctions of the track before Grant pushed out front at the start/finish line to start lap 7. Boyles wasn't done yet as he raced low off turn four and retook the lead at the line on lap 8. Two laps later and a few more slide jobs from both Justin Grant moved out front on lap 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. was now in the hunt and he disposed of Boyles for second on lap 12 and went off in hunt of Grant just as Matt Cooley spun in turn two. The two swapped positions for the next two laps until Thomas dove low and powered by Grant in turn four on lap 14 for the lead. Thomas Messeraull was also moving forward picking off Boyles and trying to reel in the front two now. The red appeared on lap 17 when Cole Ketchum flipped on the inside of turn two on lap 17. On the restart Thomas held sway with Grant and Messeraull in this tire tracks. Grant made a strong move on the outside on the backstretch and once again was on top on lap 18. Mario Clouser brought out the second and final caution when he looped the #6 off of turn four on lap 20. On the restart it was Grant, Thomas and Meseraull with Scotty Weir lurking in fourth and Boyles fifth. Meseraull was ripping the fence and blasted by Thomas high in turn two to take away second on lap 22 and immediately began to gain huge chunks of real estate on leader Grant. Two laps later Weir passed Thomas low on the homestretch and was now third. Meseraull continued to stalk Grant growing closer and closer as the laps ticked off. Lap traffic loomed ahead as Grant worked the top in turns one and two and the bottom in turns three and four. T-Mez closed to Grant's tail tank with two to go and the battle was on. Grant worked the lap traffic to perfection and one last gasp effort by T-Mez off turn four coming to the checkered fell short with Grant racing under the flagstand at 10:15 for the victory. Meseraull notched second with Weir third, Thomas dropping to fourth and Clinton Boyles rounding out the top five. Dave Darland led the second five followed by Isaac Chapple, Tyler Hewitt, Travis Hery and Mario Clouser rebounding for tenth. This race certainly lived up to its name of the Kokomo Klassic and had the crowd buzzing.


     

    The action was by far not yet over as the Racesaver 305 winged sprints would contest twenty laps of feature action. John Paynter Jr. raced from fourth at the start to take the lead entering turn three on lap one from Jordan Welch. Anton Hernandez took over third after starting fifth on lap 3 off of turn two. It took Hernandez until lap eight to track Welch down for second down the backstretch. Hernandez now set his sights on Paynter as the race was on. Paynter worked lap traffic with Hernandez trying to narrow the gap. With six to go Hernandez was on Paynter's tail tank and he used the high side to make the winning pass down the backstretch with five to go. Hernandez would flash under the checkered flag at 10:36 in the non-stop contest beating Paynter Jr., Damon Fortune, grandson of the owner with the same name who fielded USAC sprint cars for many years with drivers like Ken Schrader and Ricky Hood. Rounding out the top five was Bradley Sterrett motoring from 11th to 4th with Ethan Barrow closing out the top five.


     

    Two very good sprint car features were witnessed tonight and the overall weekend produced some fine racing at all three facilities that we attended.


     

    Until next time where Indiana Midget Week lays on the horizon we are hoping and praying for good weather and that as usual the weatherman is wrong as Montpelier looks to start off the six nights of midget racing followed by Gas City and Lincoln Park. As for you all get out there and catch some good midweek short track racing in your area or meet us at Montpelier. News, comments, insights and other items can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but certainly not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you continue to enjoy them.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cockrum Triumphs In Mid-Season Championship Race At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, June 1 - The month of June opened hot and more importantly dry. Though north of us the day was not nearly as nice as thunderstorms rolled through northern Indiana, southern Michigan and Northern Ohio wiping out races at Montpelier (0 for the season so far) and Oakshade where the BOSS sprints were scheduled to run for the first time. Hopefully the next few days will be nice at Montpelier to dry out their grounds so they can host their first race of the season Tuesday when the USAC midgets visit for opening night of Indiana Midget Week.


     

    Tonight we were headed south on Rt. 231 toward beautiful downtown Putnamville where Lincoln Park Speedway was hosting their mid-season championship event for the non-wing sprint cars. Thirty two sprint cars were pitside but only twenty eight of them made the call for heat action while the UMP modifieds brought 20 to the dance, the super stocks 23 and the bombers chipped in with 19. The sprint cars would be first up in the long push-off chute extending from outside of turn three up to high above turn four where they enter the track. Jesse Vermillion fresh off a second in the Paragon sprint contest the night before torched the field in heat one outrunning Oklahoma's Matt Moore in the Krockenberger #21K, Jarett Andretti and Ty Mihocko spending the summer in Indiana by way of Arizona. Brent Beauchamp wired heat two easily winning over Zach Hampton, Jadon Rogers and Blake Vermillion. The Chief, Shane Cockrum, driving the Jaime Paul #24P nailed down heat three besting Brandon Mattox, Matt McDonald and Joey Parker. The fourth and final heat was won by Joe Stornetta Jr., the current point leader, in the Burton #04 winning over Colten Cottle, Travis Berryhill and Jacob Wilson making a rare dirt sprint car appearance on the evening. The Crawfordsville native main prowess is on the black top being a back to back winner of the prestigious Little 500 held in Anderson last Saturday. Three UMP modified heats followed with three super stock heats next and finally two bomber heats completed the heat qualifying. Only the super stocks and the sprints would need B mains. Mario Clouser ventured over from Illinois and captured the sprint car B main outrunning Alec Sipes, Harley Burns and young Brayden Fox making his Lincoln Park 410 debut securing the last ticket to the big dance.


     

    The 30 lap mid-season championship for the sprint cars would be the first one to the post taking Brian Hodde's initial green flag at 9:12. Rookie Jesse Vermillion, out of the MMSA mini sprint ranks, would get the early edge over fellow front row starter, Brent Beauchamp. Lap 3 at the line would see Beauchamp take the lead away from Vermillion with Shane Cockrum passing Jesse for second down the backstretch on lap four. Suddenly the leader, Beauchamp, slowed on the backstretch pulling to the infield with mechanical woes as Cockrum inherited the lead. Cockrum remained in front until the first caution waved on lap seven when Matt Moore lost the handle in turn four and ended up on the wrong side of the berm on top of the pit road. Cockrum went to the point on the restart chased by Joe Stornetta Jr. with Colten Cottle moving into third in turn three on lap 8. The top three were putting on a whale of a race until Stornetta jumped the cushion exiting turn four sending him sideways and rolling several times down the homestretch ending up in the middle of the track. Stornetta was OK but the car was done for the evening. On the ensuing restart Cockrum moved out front again with Jarett Andretti making his march forward from ninth into second on the backstretch on lap 13 using the low groove. Two laps later Colten Cottle's fine run hit a snag when he spun in turn four while running third after entering the corner at an awkward angle as Andretti slid sideways in front of him. Travis Berryhill became a factor in this race as he took third entering turn one on lap 18 after starting 12th. Lap 21 saw the next caution as Harley Burns looped it in turn two. The restart brought another quick caution as Blake Vermillion pulled off the track in turn three above the cushion. As the green waved again it was Cockrum with Andretti nipping at his heels several times drawing even but never able to pass Cockrum. With five to go Cockrum went high in turn four and caught the cushion wrong almost spinning him and loosing valuable ground as Andretti tried to take the lead exiting the turn. Cockrum was able to recover and ward off Andretti over the remaining five laps to score the big victory for the farming Pauls of Ohio with Andretti, Berryhill, Mario Clouser who advanced from 17th after winning the B main to claim a strong fourth with 11th starting, Matt McDonald registering a fine fifth for himself.

    It was a good interesting race run on a nicely groomed surface and was very competitive with many good runs throughout.


     

    Next up were the UMP modifieds for their 20 lap feature. Jake Leitzman led until lap 11 when Derek Groomer found his way around and into the lead. Groomer would lead the rest of the way with Leitzman in tow with Tyler Loughmiller coming from sixth to third at the finish. Since it was only 10:11 we decided to take in the 20 lap super stock feature with Josh Boller starting first and leading the entire distance with Crawfordsville's Bryce Shidler finishing second with Doug McCullough third, Jonny Newgent fourth and Matt Jordan rounding out the top five at 10:39. At this point with only the bomber feature left we headed toward the exits satisfied with a well run program tonight at LPS and hope that our next visit on the coming Thursday for Indiana Midget Week is met with more good weather.


     

    That's it until tomorrow when we will bring you the report from Kokomo with non-wing sprints and 305 winged sprints. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Maybe a visit to Indiana Midget Week is on your horizen and if so hope to see you there. Comments, news, rumors, facts and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cummins Sweeps To MSCS Sprint Win At Paragon

    Friday, May 31 - Today was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 80's and no chance of rain. That is a great forecast considering the past six weeks or so and what we all have had to endure. The call tonight was to invade Monroe County and take in new promoter, Joe Spiker's operation for the first time this year at the Paragon Speedway. Paragon has been around since 1954 and as Indiana fan, Jerry Shaw, commented in conversation "its like time has stood still here." That's not a bad thing but Shaw and many others have been coming here for many years and the overall layout of the facility is the same it has always been except the trees have grown bigger. At Paragon you have your choice of aluminum or wood planks on top of pillars or bring your own lawn chair and set it up against the plank or set it up on the hill toward turn one. All choices seem to be good choices. Tonight's program would consist of the Midwest Sprint Car Series or MSCS which brought 28 warriors to the tussle while the Paragon sprint division brought 23 cars through the pit entrance. Also on the card were UMP modifieds (18) and bombers (17). That brought the four division total to an impressive 86 jamming the backstretch pit area. Paragon is a 1/4 mile dirt oval with long straights and tight turns with no walls except for the homestretch. There is a pond inside turns three and four and yes no one visited it on this evening. The viewing area is located on a hill with a steep climb but new concrete walkway greets you at the bottom so it is easier and viewing is good from anywhere. A good crowd turned out for this special event on this nice Friday evening and were rewarded to some good racing in all divisions during the evening.

    Action kicked off at 7:48 when the first of three MSCS sprint car heats hit the track with nine entries going to the post. AJ Hopkins went wire to wire in this one besting Jadon Rogers, Kyle Cummins, Colten Cottle and Chase Stockon back in Kent Schmidt's #5S. Dakota Jackson pounced from fourth to take heat two over Brady Short, Brandon Mattox, Chet Williams and Brian Karraker. The final heat went to pole man, Jordan Kinser, turning back Travis Berryhill, Dave Darland back in the Cunningham #17, Aric Gentry and Hunter O'Neal. The UMP modifieds contested two heats with RT Gamble and Blake Davis coming out on top. Three Paragon sprint car heats were next on the menu with Spencer's David Traux, Josh Cunningham and Jake Henderson coming out on top. The bombers ran two heats for their 17 car field and then it was right into the MSCS B main. Shane Cottle outran 12 others in the Epperson #2E for the win chased by Matt McDonald, Chayse Hayhurst, Donny Brackett and Joe Stornetta Jr. storming the top side in the Burton #04 took away the last qualifying spot from Kent Schmidt who had to use a provisional to tag the starting field.

    The first feature of the evening would be a 20 lapper for the UMP modifieds and it was a good one. James Walters stormed into the lead in turn two after starting third and looked good but in the middle stages of the race Jordan Wever made a serious challenge but Walters stepped up to the plate and moved away. At the checkered at 9:31 it was Walters in for the win besting Wever, Jeff Deckard, Tyler Loughmiller and Jake Leitzman. Walter's three daughters joined him in victory lane and he lifted each of them onto the roof of his modified.

    Travis Berryhill and Brady Short brought the 21 car field to the green flag at 9:46 with Berryhill scooting out front. Berryhill paced the field for the first six laps until Matt McDonald got into an out of control AJ Hopkins and McDonald spun in turn four to bring out the first caution. On the restart Berryhill went to the front again until lap 9 when Brandon Mattox spun in turn one to bring out the second caution. Shane Cottle was on the move as he raced into ninth after starting sixteenth right before the caution. On the ensuing restart Dakota Jackson got a good run and passed Berryhill racing down the backstretch. Jackson would lead until lap 12 when Colten Cottle slid off turn four and slowed the action once again. Jackson retained the lead with Brady Short getting by Berryhill for second down the backstretch running on lap 13. Seventh starting Kyle Cummins made his presence known racing by Berryhill to crack the top three on lap 14. The top three duked it out over the next eight laps with Jackson holding off Short and Cummins. Enter turn two on lap 22 Cummins made a sweeping move to the outside and passed both of the others to become the new leader. Cummins would stretch his lead over the remaining three laps and crossed underneath the double checker flags at 10:03 for his third win of 2019 at his third different track. Cummins is looking strong as we move to the summer months. Jackson just barely held off Short for second with AJ Hopkins managing a fourth with Berryhill dropping to fifth at the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Jadon Rogers, Jordan Kinser, Dave Darland, Joe Stornetta Jr. receiving the hard charger advancing from 20th to ninth with Shane Cottle rounding out the top ten. It was a good race with plenty of action throughout and was one of the better we have seen this year.

    The Paragon sprints were next up taking the initial green at 10:22 with Jesse Vermillion taking the early lead. Vermillion held sway for over half the race until Josh Cunningham finally managed to past the leader. In the meantime Brandon Spencer was marching from 12th to 3rd and was dueling with Vermillion as Cunningham pulled away. Cunningham flashed under the checkers at 10:45 with Vermillion second, Spencer third, Cody Leohr fourth and Ben Knight rounding out the top five after starting ninth.

    It was a good night of racing from all divisions and it will prompt us to return sometime later in the season.

    That's it for now as they are warming up at Lincoln Park as I sit in the parking lot typing this edition. Check back soon for reports from Lincoln Park and Kokomo as the weekend progresses. Get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Swanson Dominates Little 500 For Second Straight Win

    Saturday, May 25- Today would be our first trip to Anderson for the Little 500 in many a year as I believe Bentley Warren won the last time we were here. The Little 500 is in its 71st year of existence and it is truly an unique event with the fastest 33 asphalt sprint cars starting three wide and then running 500 laps on a 1/4 mile high banked asphalt oval having to make two stops during the course of the evening. The pit area is set up on the figure 8 course in the infield with many teams having big fuel tanks and big tubes and nozzles ready to refill the thirsty sprinters.

    We arrived around 6:15 for the 8 PM start and found an overflowing parking lot which forced us to park across the street from the track in another parking lot with crossing guards and the whole bit. We gathered up our gear and headed across the street when we found Wisconsin buddy, Todd Shannon, who we chatted with for a while before making our way to our turn one seats in Section S, Row 12. If you have been to Anderson before especially for the Little 500 you know the seating is tight both butt wise and leg wise. We met some new friends sitting right behind us, the father and son team of Joe Jellison and Mike Jellison from Parker City which is near Winchester. They joked about having their knees in our backs all evening and we told them we understood the circumstances but apparently the two Australian visitors in front of us who have also been there before did not understand the knees in your back concept and continued to push back against my 6' 3'' frame until the one turned around and complained about me constantly kneeing him. After explaining to him the facts of my body, the tight seating and several other factors we seemed to reach a compromise and settled in for the long evening. Rain earlier in the day pushed back the entire schedule causing the Little 500 to take the initial green flag at 8:44 instead of 8 PM. The front row of Kody Swanson, Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Roahrig brought the 33 car field to the green flag with Swanson powering into the lead. The first caution appeared on lap 12 when Caleb Armstrong pounded the turn four wall sliding to a stop on the turn four apron. I will not attempt to give you a blow by blow description of the entire 500 laps just some highlights of the race. Later in the contest Tyler Roahrig spun and encountered the water barrels protecting the turn four track entrance with his rear puncturing one of the barrels sending gallons of water down the steep banking. The red appeared and the delay was about 15 minutes before we got back underway. Kody Swanson led from the start until pitting in the late 200's giving the lead to his teammate, Shane Hollingsworth, in the other Nolen V-6. Hollingsworth would lead until Swanson worked his way back to his bumper and executed the pass to go back out front on lap 325. The best racing of the evening for the lead occurred in the 360 to 360 lap range when Hollingsworth who had regained the lead when Swanson had pitted again battled it out for many laps with Swanson and Santos with Swanson moving by again on lap 370. At that point Swanson checked out and was in another time zone over the remaining 130 circuits eventually putting a lap or more on the entire field with about 40 to go. When the checkered flag waved at 11:25 it was Kody Swanson bringing the Nolen #4 across the line first for the second straight year and his third overall Little 500 finishing a lap ahead of second place finisher, Bobby Santos, with Jacob Wilson, the Crawfordsville driver, placed third completing 498 laps. Shane Hollingsworth would fade somewhat to finish fourth completing 497 circuits with Chris Windom finally getting the monkey off his back after three separate week of Indy crashes in three separate races to finish fifth completing 496 laps. Positions six through ten were filled by Brian Gerster in a fine run, rookie of the year, Joey Schmidt from Ellisville, Mississippi notching seventh in his first time running the Little 500 in a second Pierce entry. Floridian driver, Mickey Kempgens, brought it home eighth with Travis Welpot ninth and MIchigan's Jimmy McCune, rounding out the top ten. Kudos go out to Scotty Hampton from Greenfield who ran a strong race running as high as fifth before ending up a disappointing fourteenth at the end.

    It may not sound like it was a very good race with the Nolen Racing entries leading 499 out of the total 500 laps and Swanson finishing a lap ahead of second but there were plenty of moments of good action and the race kept your attention the entire 500 lap distance as there was always something going on somewhere around the speedway. We sat and talked with our new friends, Joe and Mike Jellison, for over a half hour letting the crowd dissipate before making our way out to our parking spot and pointing the Nissan Rogue southwest toward Jacob Wilson and our hometown of Crawfordsville.

    That's it for the week of Indy as overnight and morning rains caused a cancellation of tonight's BC Double at Kokomo Speedway and even though Tri-State was running we just were not up to the 3 hour tow each way after witnessing four races in four days and felt that was enough for this week. Until next time where it looks like we will stay local for three nights of Indiana sprint car racing this upcoming weekend be safe. Also get out to a short track near you and enjoy some good racing. News, comments, tidbits and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy writing them for you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Ballou Scores MSCS Win In Sixth Josh Burton Memorial At Bloomington

    Friday, May 24 - Summer has arrived as the temperatures touched the 90 degree mark a few times during the daylight hours before settling back to the high 80's with a lot of humidity to boot. We were able to depart Crawfordsville earlier than usual on a work day as summer hours on Friday have began for Pat and she only works until 3 PM starting this Friday until Labor Day. This allowed us to stop for an early dinner at the Fairway Family Restaurant in Greencastle before continuing our trek down to the Bloomington Speedway for their second race of the year, the 6th Josh Burton Memorial, honoring a young sprint car racer who was killed at Bloomington in a racing accident six years ago. Burton was an up and coming young driver wheeling his family owned #04 and each year Bloomington and his family stage this race to honor the young man who left us much too soon.


     

    On tap tonight was a full slate of four divisions of racing with MSCS sprint cars (29), Racesaver 305 sprint cars (25), unsanctioned midgets (31) and UMP modifieds (25). After a nice pre-race ceromony it was time to go racing with the first of four MSCS sanctioned non-wing sprint cars with the green flag waving at 7:45. Evansville area driver, Stephen Schnapf, won the competitive first heat defeating Jordan Kinser, Aric Gentry and Colten Cottle in this one. Robert Ballou would score the victory in heat two besting Kyle Cummins, Dickie Gaines and Brady Short. Heat three saw Isaac Chapple go to the point outdistancing Chase Stockon, Wednesday's USAC winner at Terre Haute in one of Kent Schmidt's steeds, Hunter O'Neal, the non-late model racing son of Don and Carson Short. The fourth and final heat was taken by AJ Hopkins turning back Dakota Jackson, Shane Cottle in the Epperson #2E on the evening and Joe Stornetta Jr. wheeling the current Burton entry after taking an off road ride and coming from the tail of the field to grab the last qualifying position. The 305 winged sprinters would be next up also contesting four heats for their 25 car field. John Paynter Jr., Ethan Barrow, Bradley Sterrett who received the Josh Burton spirit award earlier and Rod Henning were all heat winners. Three heat races for the midget class saw former 305 sprint driver, Kendall Ruble, win heat one, Sterling Cling in one of the Petry stable win heat two and Emerson Axsom score heat three. Last but not least three UMP modified heats were spun off with Devin Gilpin, Will Krup and Jacoby Hines taking the heat wins. The sprint car B main was next on the agenda and the 12 lap contest went to Donny Brackett after Dave Darland went from 13th to 1st only for the engine to go south in the Dustin Smith #77 on the white flag lap handing the win over to Brackett. Brian VanMevern, Brandon Mattox and Alec Sipes would also move into the 25 lap main event coming up next.


     

    The green flag dropped at 10:08 on the 25 lap MSCS sprint car main event with Kyle Cummins grabbing the early lead but that was short lived as Carson Short slowed in turn three bringing out the only caution flag of the event on lap one. On the ensuing restart Cummins moved back to the point chased by Jordan Kinser and AJ Hopkins. Robert Ballou who started fifth was coming to the front passing Hopkins for third on lap four. Cummins continued to lead with Kinser and Ballou following. Cummins worked his way into lap traffic by lap 10 and started to pick his way through the tail end of the field. Ballou caught and passed Kinser for second on lap 11 and took up the chase of Cummins. Among lap traffic Ballou mastered the winning pass in turn four coming for the halfway mark moving by Cummins into the lead. Hopkins challenged for second on the high side of Cummins and the two banged wheels with Hopkins sliding wide and dropping back several positions. This is the second time these two have tangled, the last being in March at Brownstown battling for the lead in the No Way Out 40 with Hopkins flipping that evening. Tonight he was able to continue but lost a lot of ground and momentum in the incident. I hope this is not a feud in the making. Anyhow Ballou worked the lap traffic to perfection and increased his lead to a comfortable margin as the laps ticked off. When the twin checkers waved at 10:17 it was Ballou in for the big $4000 dollar win beating Cummins, Kinser, Hopkins and Dakota Jackson to the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Dickie Gaines, Joe Stornetta Jr. after starting 14th, Isaac Chapple, Carson Short from the tail and Shane Cottle. It was a good, competitive race on a well prepared surface and Ballou ran a strong race to take top honors.


     

    Next up on the feature docket was the 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature with the green flag waving at 10:34. Andy Bradley assumed the lead on the start and held sway until Ryan Tusing passed him on lap six for the lead. Once out front Tusing set a good pace and expertly picked his way through lap traffic to hold everyone at bay over the next nineteen laps in a race with only one caution flag also. There was some close racing going on behind Tusing with Ethan Barrow making the most noise advancing from seventh to third. Bradley and Barrow then duke it out for the remainder of the race and even began to close on Tusing in the later stages of the race. But time ran out as the checkered waved at 10:43 with Ryan Tusing scoring the win over Andy Bradley and Ethan Barrow. We debated about staying for the midget feature but with all 31 cars starting we thought it might take a while to finish and we had to be up early for a TV cable appointment so extra sleep got the nod and off we went. With modern technology today we were able to watch the wingless sprint car feature live on Facebook from Gas City while they ran the 305 sprint car B main earlier and as we drove home to Crawfordsville around 11:30 Pat checked Twitter and saw that Sterling Cling captured his first Indiana midget victory at Bloomington. It used to be you waited anxiously for your National Speed Sport News to arrive in the mail on Tuesday so you could see who won races around the country but now today you can watch races live on your phone while sitting at the races. Isn't technology wonderful?? That's a loaded question we will leave for another blog sometime.


     

    It was a well run program with plenty of racing action and we came away feeling that we saw a good show. You can't beat that.

    That's it for now as we prepare to pack up and point the Rogue Northeast toward Anderson, the site of the 71st Annual Payless Little 500 where 33 sprint cars will come to the start/finish line three abreast and then proceed to run 500 dizzying laps around the 1/4 mile bullring starting at 8 PM. Check back soon for a report from the Little 500 and the BC double Sunday at Kokomo. Hope the weather is nice where you are and you can get out there during this long Memorial Day weekend and enjoy family, friends and racing and remember to take a few moments to remember the many brave men and women who gave their lives for this country to protect our freedom and liberty. And if you see a vet thank them for their service, it will be much appreciated. Comments, news, stories, rumors and facts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we sure enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be safe over this high driving weekend.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    End Of An Era As Courtney Steals The Last Hoosier 100 At Indy Fairgrounds


     

    Thursday, May 23 - The 64th running of the Hoosier 100 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds tonight would be the final auto racing program presented at the historic half mile which has seen so many of the all-time greats race here. It was a sad occasion for many who had supported this facility for so many years only to see it drop by the wayside as fair-board officials decided that the track area would bring more profits if it was rented out for harness racing training for the horses and concerts and other venues in the large grandstand that spreads along the majority of the homestretch. A real nice crowd turned out for the finale and it was nice to see the support that the fans provided for the last race here. Temperatures were in the high 80's and humid but as the week progressed the chance of rain dropped from 80% to around 10 to 15%. That was sure welcomed after so many weeks of almost continuous rain almost every day. The farmers will appreciate the sunny weather so they can finally get out there and work in their fields. We arrived around 5:30 and parked outside of turn four and took the long walk down to the massive grandstands to purchase our tickets for the final Hoosier 100 here. We found our friends, Max and Susie Niemann, sitting in Section 3 and sat with them until someone who had our seats arrived so we moved about five rows higher to where our seats were.


     

    After some warmup sessions by the USAC Silver Crown series we were ready to go with time trials for the grand old dames. Thirty four entries took time with another five not making it out to turn a timed lap including Shane Cockrum and Aaron Pierce. Casey Buckman who hit the turn one wall on his first lap under the clock returned for the last chance qualifying race along with non-timer Kyle Robbins. The green flew on the first of 34 at 6:15 and when the checkered waved on the last car at 7:15 it was Kevin Thomas Jr. driving the Foxco #56 turning the fastest lap at 32.929 seconds around the mile oval and being the only driver to crack into the 32 second bracket. Twenty four big cars were locked into the starting lineup for the Hoosier 100 at this point with Chris Phillips taking down the last time trial qualifying position. Twelve drivers and machines would be next up for the last chance qualifying race for 12 laps with six cars to qualify. Jason McDougal blasted into turn one off his second starting spot and never looked back in this one outdistancing Eric Gordon, Kyle Steffens, Chad Kemenah making his first Indy Fairgrounds start, Dave Darland and Austin Mundie the last man in beating back the 1997 winner of this race, Chuck Leary who came out of retirement to run here one last time. With the 30 car field now set it was time to run the 15 lap UMP modified main event with seventeen cars showing at the fairgrounds for the final event. Kenny Schrader would write his name into the record books scoring the final victory over Joey Kramer who gave him a late run with PA's Jonathan Taylor making his first ever appearance, Curt Spalding and Dave Shain.


     

    Now it was time for the 64th running and final running of the Hoosier 100 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the 30 rumbling beasts rolled out of turn four to take the green flag at 9:18 with second starting Chris Windom outdragging first starting Kevin Thomas Jr. into turn one to take the early lead. Windom would pace the field for the first six laps until blasting down the frontstretch Windom's right rear tire shredded turning him sharply to the right and head on into the homestretch wall where he barrel rolled five to seven times bouncing into the middle of the homestretch where he was narrowly missed by both Brian Tyler and Brady Bacon. It was a horrifying crash and thank God no one collided with the flipping Windom who climbed from his twisted machine to the roar of the relieved crowd. After the cleanup and pushoff of the remaining cars it was Kevin Thomas Jr. jumping out front with the field in tow. Thomas was on rails early and by lap 16 had already caught the tail enders and began to place some of the competitors a lap down. As Thomas dominated up front most eyes were on young Jason McDougal who was using the outside of turns one and two where no one else dared to venture. By lap 43 he had advanced from 25th to 10th and he wasn't done yet. McDougal snared ninth by lap 47 but Royersford, PA driver, Steve Buckwalter was also on the move grabbing ninth from McDougal on lap 52 after starting 17th in the #53. Just after halfway it was Thomas cruising up front with Courtney riding along in second and the winner of four in a row on the Indy mile, Kody Swanson, looking for a way around Sunshine. Another driver turning in a fine run was Shane "The Throttle" Cottle pushing the Williams #81 from 19th into 5th and looking mighty fast. Unfortunately for Cottle his night would end on lap 64 when his machine slowed on the backstretch bringing out the caution while running fifth. On the next go McDougal was at it again charging into seventh on lap 65 and taking over sixth by lap 67. Meanwhile Brady Bacon had went to the work area during one of the yellows and unlike the outside performance of McDougal the other Oklahoma driver was picking off cars using mostly the inside groove on his march to the front. On lap 69 Swanson edged by Courtney briefly taking second in turns one and two but Courtney countered and regained the runnerup position exiting turn two. McDougal in only his second Silver Crown start was still up high and stormed into fifth with 25 to go. Courtney began to close the gap somewhat on Thomas over the next 10 laps as it was going to be interesting in the last fourth of this race. As the leaders exited turn two Chris Dyson was starting down the backstretch when he tagged the wall and went end over end several times as the leaders approached on lap 92. The race went red again and Dyson was also able to climb from his badly damaged machine and was OK. On the ensuing restart Courtney put the hammer down entering turn one in the McDougal groove storming by Thomas into the lead for the first time tonight. Over the remaining seven laps Courtney pulled away and Thomas slipped high in turn two with four to go almost giving up second at that point. Thomas was able to retain second but Courtney was long gone and flashed under the double checkered flags at 11:15 in the Hans Lein #97 from Wisconsin scoring his second career Silver Crown win and the first on a mile. Thomas would come home a disappointing second with Swanson third, Justin Grant fourth and Brady Bacon making the long comeback drive into fifth at the finish. Jason McDougal or the show as many referred to him placed sixth with David Byrne seventh, Steve Buckwalter eighth, Brian Tyler ninth and Jacob Wilson of Crawfordsville rounding out the top ten.


     

    It was a good race but also a sad time as when the checkers flew we all knew it was for the final time. Courtney ran a heady race and made the move when it counted so hats off to one of the hottest drivers in USAC at this time.


     

    Check back soon as the week of Indy continues as I write this from the parking lot of Bloomington Speedway where the Josh Burton Memorial is getting ready to fire up. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news releases, rumors and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Week Of Indy Kicks Off With Stockon Romp At Terre Haute

    Wednesday, May 22 - The weather was hot and the forecast was clear so it time to go racing on the week of Indy starting tonight at the Terre Haute Action Track located on the grounds of the Vigo County Fairgrounds in the hometown of the Hulman family whose patriarch, Tony, had the race named in his honor this evening. It was the 49th running of the Tony Hulman Classic and disappointing fields of 20 USAC National Sprints and 17 UMP modifieds turned out to race tonight on the fast half mile dirt oval which was whipped into good shape by the track crew after some heavy morning showers placed through the area.


     

    Activities were kicked off early at 6:54 with time trials for the sprinters on hand with CJ Leary setting his fourth quick time of the season so far with a time of 19.750 seconds around the historic half mile. The UMP modifieds ran two sessions of warmups/timed runs with David Stremme setting a new track record for the UMP modified division at Terre Haute with a lap of 22.086 seconds circling the big half. After pre-race ceremonies it was time to go racing and the good crowd on hand settled into their seats as we were joined by friend, Todd Shannon of Wisconsin, for the evening's action. There would be no B mains tonight and just three heats for the sprints and two heats for the modifieds. The USAC sprints would start the heat qualifying with Robert Ballou charging to the front and pacing heat one for the victory outrunning CJ Leary, Brandon Mattox and Brady Bacon. Heat two would see Kevin Thomas Jr. take top honors in the Hayward/Thomas #19 fending off Chad Boespflug, Chris Windom and Chase Stockon for the win. Heat three honors would go to Illinois driver, Cason Short, looking strong in his win over Tyler Courtney, Paul May and Bill Balog. The third and fourth place finishers in the third heat were an interesting story in themselves as both drivers usually drive winged sprint cars. May in fact had just won the MOWA winged sprint race Saturday night at Tri-State in Haubstadt and is a local boy from Terre Haute. Balog is formally from Alaska and now lives in Wisconsin where he was the winged IRA sanctioned sprint car champion in 2018 and was making his first wingless start in 14 years in the Hans Lein #2. They were a welcomed addition to the short field and held their own during the entire night of racing. The two UMP modified heats were captured by Will Krup and Michigan's Brian Ruhlman.


     

    After a short maintenance period performed by the Track Enterprises crew it was time to push off the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature. The green flag waved at 9:09 with the front row of Carson Short and Chase Stockon charging side by side into turn one before Stockon edged out front exiting turn two. Stockon has come close to winning the Hulman Classic in the last two years leading twenty laps in 2018 before being passed by Chris Windom and eventually fading to fifth at the finish and the year before after leading the first 27 laps was passed by Kevin Thomas Jr. finally ending up third. Maybe the third year would be the charm. Stockon paced the field the first seven laps with Chris Windom making short order of first Brady Bacon and then Carson Short to take second by lap four and take up the chase of Stockon. Misfortune struck the second place man in points, Kevin Thomas Jr. when he slowed and eventually stopped on the backstretch to bring out the first caution. After some work area thrashing Thomas was unable to join the field hurting his early point chasing numbers. Stockon went to the point on the restart with Windom and Tyler Courtney in his tire tracks. This would continue until lap 11 when Carson Short running seventh stopped in turn four to bring out the second yellow flag of the evening. After a work area stop Carson was able to rejoin the field unlike Thomas. Nate McMillen brought out the third caution on the race on lap 15 when he stopped in turn three. Stockon on each of the subsequent restarts was able to hold sway and move back out front by several car lengths. The fourth and final caution would appear on lap 23 when current point leader, CJ Leary, slowed in turn four with a flat right rear shoe. Leary was able to go to the work area and re-shoe the horse and joined the rear of the field. On the last restart Stockon quickly powered to a six car length advantage and the Fort Branch, Indiana driver was not going to be passed or fade at the end in this one flashing under the checkered flag at 9:34 for his first USAC victory of 2019 and his first since Ocala opening day of 2018, a span of 46 races without a USAC win. An emotional Stockon was interviewed in victory lane by Georgia Hanneberry and he stated that this was the one he had wanted to win the most and was very happy to receive the traditional rifle which would be mounted in the trophy room of his house proudly. This important win also gave him a dozen career USAC National sprint car wins tying him with Eric Gordon for 45th on the all-time win list. Stockon dedicated the win to his grandfather who is currently in the hospital and added to the emotion in victory lane. Windom would fend off Courtney for the runner up spot with Robert Ballou making a late charge from sevent to fourth at the end with Justin Grant ending an eventful evening in fifth after coming oh so close to rolling over not once but twice in his time trial run earlier in the evening. Positions six through ten were filled by Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal, Carson Short, CJ Leary rebounding to ninth and hard charger Isaac Chapple for the third straight race coming from 16th to 10th at the finish.


     

    There was still the 15 lap UMP modified feature to run with the front row of Will Krup and Brian Ruhlman leading the other 15 to the green flag. Krup would jump out front on the start and open a comfortable lead. It was not all peaches and cream as Ruhlman closed the gap late in the go and challenged Krup for the lead several times over the closing laps. Krup was able to fend off the challenge and charged under the checkered flag and 9:55 with Ruhlman second. Former NASCAR drivers, Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace, put on a whale of a race for fourth with Schrader finally prevailing.


     

    Neither race was great but it was still fun to see racing on a pleasant Wednesday night after so much rainy weather and a track able to work in their surface and presented some racing for all those in attendance. Thanks to the Track Enterprise crew for their hard work to make this one happen.


     

    That's it for this installment but check back tomorrow for a report on the last race from the Indiana State Fairgrounds where the Hoosier 100 will take place tonight for the final time. The weather has totally cleared and racing is on for tonight in Indianapolis. Hope to see many of you out there for the final run. Until tomorrow take care, be safe and get out there and see some good short track racing in your neighborhood and support your local track. Any comments, news, stories or the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts. See you soon.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Hopkins Wins Again At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, May 18 - It was a triple of sorts for me as I left Pat at the condo to unpack boxes and the sort as I headed toward the Circle City of Indianapolis to take in some of the first day qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had arranged to meet and park at Hoosier Auto Racing Fans (HARF) president, Bob Black's house on Main Street in Speedway, as close as you possibly can get to being at the track. Bob was kind enough to let me park for free at his house and also gave me two qualifying tickets for free. I had some slightly used 3X t-shirts for sale and Bob wanted some so we exchanged the shirts and some conversation before heading over to the big track. Fifteen minutes later I was sitting in section E under the roof at the end of the long homestretch with a view of the entire homestretch and turns one and two with a nice breeze blowing through the stands. Long time Indy fan, Max Niemann, dropped by to say hello and chat for a while before Conner Daly was the first to hit the bricks to start qualifying. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze and temperatures in the high 80's and it was fun to see the Indy car drivers do their thing. By 2 PM it was time to leave the big track and trek westward to pick up Pat and head to my second track of the day for MWXC UTV's at Walnut Creek in North Salem. The 5 PM start was pushed back almost to 7 PM before things got underway as this type of racing doesn't seem to worry about keeping on schedule. The late start caused us to miss the sprint car heats and the UMP modified heats at our next stop of the day at the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville.


     

    We arrived in time to see the three super stock heats and three bomber heats and found out that there were 26 sprint cars on hand to go along with 15 UMP modifieds, 25 super stocks and 25 bombers. Also on the card was the first of three Little Feet Bike Challenge for kids with age groups 5-7, 8-10 and 11-13 who race around the track with the winner taking home a new bicycle for his or her effort. It is a nice gesture from management to give away the bikes and it is also a great chance for them to make young new racing fans. The sprint car B main was next on the agenda and Northern Illinois invader, Jimmy Sivia, made the most of his visit by nailing down the B main win and the sixteenth starting position for the 25 lap sprint car feature in the process. Crawfordsville's homie, Chad Davenport, trailed with Gary Hayden claiming third, Harley Burns fourth and Shey Owens punching the final ticket into the main event.


     

    It was 10:16 when starter Brian Hodde would drop the green flag with Scott Hampton and Colten Cottle leading the field into turn one with Hampton getting the early advantage. Cottle took the lead away in turn one on lap four but a lap later Hampton regained the top position. AJ Hopkins was on the move from his sixth starting spot and when the bottom literally dried up Hampton was prime meat and Hopkins charged around the top in turn two on lap ten for the lead. Shane Cockrum in the Jamie Paul #24P was moving forward and took second away from Hampton in turn two on lap 14. Brent Beauchamp up from 11th suddenly was in contention and breezed by Cockrum for second right before Hopkins teammate, Brady Ottinger brought out the first caution on lap 15 spinning in turn four right in front of the leaders. On the restart Matt McDonald and Gary Hayden got together on the low side of turn two with Hayden rolling over in the process. Everyone was OK and on the restart the top three was Hopkins, Beauchamp and Cockrum. Hopkins went to the top once again and pounded the cushion all the way around the 5/16 mile clay oval. Hopkins back in the middle of April here had the lead in the feature only to jump the cushion in turn three and flip over ending his night on a down note but tonight he was able to handle the cushion to perfection and glide home under the checkered flag at 10:41 first besting Beauchamp, Cockrum, Hampton in a strong run and Travis Berryhill looking better and better each time out. Joe Stornetta Jr. brought the Burton #04 home sixth with Cottle fading to seventh, Chris Babcock eighth, Nate McMillen ninth after starting 18th and Koby Barksdale taking down tenth. It was a good race and it is always fun watching a cushion pounder like Hopkins run the top side to perfection.


     

    We decided to stay and watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature and Derek Groomer went to the front early and remained there though tenth starting Jordan Wever gave him a run over the course of the twenty laps never letting him get away. Rob Brickert would notch third with Brent Hudson fourth and Tyler Loughmiller taking fifth after starting ninth. It was now 11:06 and we decided to call it an evening after a long day of racing and head back to C'ville for a good night's sleep and church on Sunday.


     

    That's it for this weekend and stop by Thursday for our report from Terre Haute as Memorial Day weekend starts early with USAC sprint cars at the Action Track on Wednesday, USAC Silver Crown at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds for the last auto racing at that facility, the Josh Burton Memorial at Bloomington on Friday, the Little 500 at Anderson on Saturday and to wrap it up the BC double at Kokomo on Sunday. Until next time plot your weekend and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe on the roadways. Comments, news, tidbits and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing our perspective to you on our visits to racetracks around the country and the world.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

     

    T-Mez The Zen Master at Gas City & Hopkins Wins Again At Lincoln Park


    Friday, May 17 - Finally sun and warm weather looked down upon us on a Friday in Indiana and it was the choice of us to visit the Gas City Speedway for the second time in 2019 for Open Wheel Madness. This night would feature five divisions of open cockpit racing with non-wing sprints (30), winged 305 sprints (24), midgets (30), TQ midgets (16) and 600 mini sprints (2). Wouldn't you know it during warmups with a 10% chance of rain it started to rain. It was not a heavy rain but enough to stop everything and cause a delay. The light rain lasted for around 50 minutes but there was no time that we didn't think that they would eventually run. After the track crew went to work re-preparing the surface and another set of warmups for all divisions except the 600's who were removed from the schedule were completed the non-wing sprints hit the track for their four heats at 9:14. Tim Creech continues to look strong at Gas City scoring the heat one win over Tyler Hewitt, Cody White and Dallas Hewitt. Heat two saw Michael Koontz triumph over Matt Westfall, Dave Darland in his own car and Koby Barksdale. Shane Cottle back in the Jamie Paul #24P for the second week notched heat three winning over Thomas Meseraull, Clinton Boyles and Kyle Robbins. The final non-wing heat went to JJ Hughes making his first start at Gas City in eight years beating Brandon Rose, Anthony D'Allessio and Paul Dues.


     

    The 305's would contest three heats with Rod Henning, Jackson Slone and John Paynter Jr. picking up the heat wins. Midget heats were scored by Emerson Axsom, Tyler Nelson and Michael Koontz doing double duty. The TQ midgets would finish up heat qualifying contesting two heats captured by Matt Lux and Ron Combs. Shawn Westerfeld would take down the sprint B main besting Garrett Abrams, Adam Byrkett and Landon Simon nailing down the last qualifying position with a late charge.


     

    Now it was feature time with the non-wing sprints being the first class to run their feature which was 25 laps in distance. When the green flag dropped at 11:29 it was BOSS regular, Matt Westfall, taking the Marshall Motorsports #33M to the point with the rest of the field chasing. Thomas Meseraull was making some early moves climbing to second in the early going. Another car cutting through the field was opening night winner, Clinton Boyles in the Paul Hazen #57, knocking on the top five door after starting 11th. Lap 10 saw the red appear as Michael Koontz dump it in turn four hard while running in the top ten. Boyles was now up to fifth and the race was on. Westfall continued to hold sway up front until lap sixteen when T-Mez made his move diving low in turn one and pulling off the pass exiting turn two for the lead. Shane Cottle was another one who was moving forward hounding Tyler Hewitt for fourth executing the pass in the late stages. Boyles caught and passed Westfall with six to go and took up the chase of Meseraull. Boyles made it interesting but ran out of time with Meseraull flashing under the checkered flag at 11:42 scoring the first sprint car victory for car owner, Tom Eades. In victory lane Meseraull sounded like a Zen master explaining that he was one with the car especially with the Stensland power plant under the hood and that was the key to the team's first victory together after some rough runs. Boyles would come home second with Matt Westfall claiming third, Shane Cottle fourth and Tyler Hewitt rounding out the top five. Dave Darland led the second five to the line with JJ Hughes seventh, Dallas Hewitt eighth, Landon Simon ninth after starting 20th and Floridian Anthony D'Allessio rounding out the top ten. It was a good race on a nicely prepared surface and was worth the wait.


     

    Next up on the card was the 25 lap 305 sprint car feature which went green at at few ticks after midnight. Alex Nalon went to the front on the start and led the first eight laps of the event until Anton Hernandez passed him going down the backstretch on lap eight. Hernandez pulled away over the remainder of the distance picking his way expertly through lap traffic until lap 18 when a very unusual occurrence happened. Andy Bradley rolled in turn two while running fourth while Jordan Welch flipped in turn four while running sixth. But drivers were OK but done for the evening. Hernandez was up to the challenge on the restart moving back out to a comfortable lead over the remaining seven laps to score the first 305 victory held at Gas City ever outdistancing Bradley Sterrett who passed Nalon in the last two laps for second with the youngster Nalon hanging on for third as the checkered fell at 12:28.


     

    We would have loved to have stayed for the final two features but the rain spoiled being able to stay as the two hour drive loomed and it was nearly 3 AM when our heads hit the pillow as an early rise for Indy qualifying was a short time away.


     

    That's it for now but check back tomorrow for a report on our Saturday night visit. Until next time plot your racing trips and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and be safe in your travels. Comments, reviews, news and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    King Of Kokomo Crown Goes To Windom

    Sunday, May 5 - Sunday we woke up and there was a bright yellow circle in the sky and we couldn't figure out what it was. Turns out it was the sun, something we have not seen in the past couple of weeks with the rainy weather. So after church we drove north to Lafayette to return some flooring items to Lumber Liquidators before venturing east to the Kokomo Speedway. The King of Kokomo crown was on the line tonight with an increased purse and a strong 33 entrants pulled into the pit area at the raciest track in the state of Indiana for some side by side by side non-wing sprint car action along with thunder cars (12) and hornets (14).


     

    The weather was finally warm with temperatures in the high 70's and the track was groomed to perfection. The first heat of the evening for the sprint cars kicked off at 7:21 and what a doozy it was. Clinton Boyles, Dave Darland and Thomas Meseraull duked it out over the 10 lap distance exchanging sliders and racing side by side the entire distance before Dave Darland in the Michael Dutcher #17GP prevailed to the delight of the crowd besting Clinton Boyles, Thomas Meseraull and sprint car rookie, Zane Hendricks in the Goodnight #27. Chris Windom driving the Goacher #5G triumphed from fourth in heat two outracing Jarett Andretti, Scotty Weir and Tyler Courtney. Chad Boespflug copped heat three from third over Kevin Thomas Jr., Travis Hery and Nate McMillen. The fourth heat went to the Topps Motorsports #4 of Justin Grant over Shane Cottle throttling the Jamie Paul #24P this evening, Joe Stornetta Jr. and Koby Barksdale. The thunder cars and hornets each ran two heats before the sprints came back with their B main. Dustin Christie continues to impress in his early sprint car career as he won the B main over another Dustin as in Smith, Isaac Chapple and Brian Karraker. Ben Knight  looked like a top between turns three and four during the B main ending up laying his sprinter on its side. Knight was OK after his wild ride. Anthony D'Allesio, the young gun from Apollo Beach, Florida was added to the field as the first alternate when last night's winner at Gas City, Clinton Boyles, scratched from the main with a broken push rod.


     

    Tom Hansing's green flag waved at 9:15 on the 30 lap King of Kokomo sprint car feature with first starting Justin Grant taking the point. Thomas Meseraull looped his new ride in turn four on lap one with four others involved eliminating Meseraull from further competition on the evening. On the restart Grant again assumed command with a gaggle of drivers right behind like a swarm of bees. Koby Barksdale lost the handle in turn four on lap four to bring out the second caution. The green waved soon again with Grant out front with most of the field using the high groove with the exception of two of the best in the low groove, Scotty Weir and Shane Cottle, finding the inside fast and comfortable to them as they moved forward. The third caution appeared on lap seven when the fourth turn claimed another spinner in Zane Hendricks. From this point forward the race would run under green flag conditions until lap 27 and it was a barnburner. Grant was the leader with Darland second, Weir third, Cottle fourth and Chris Windom rounding out the top five. Tyler Courtney had the Clauson/Marshall/Newman steed on the march from 14th up to third by lap 9 and taking second on lap 14. Windom followed Courtney to the front and the top three all carried NOS Energy Drink sponsorship on their mounts as they raced through lap traffic. In lap traffic Windom polished off Courtney for second and caught and passed Grant for the lead on the backstretch on lap 27 right before Jarett Andretti lost a right rear tire in the Bermuda Triangle or turn four. It was going to be an interesting last three laps and was classic Kokomo racing down the stretch. On the restart Windom jumped out front opening up a lead over Grant as Courtney and Weir did battle swapping sliders like they were going out of style. Windom was like a shark sensing blood as he wanted this one badly and maintained his lead for the remaining three laps besting Grant at the finish. Courtney threw the last slider off turn four which rewarded him with third over Weir with Darland claiming fifth. It was a thriller and vintage Kokomo racing and had the crowd buzzing long after the final checkered flag. That is why we love this place when racing like this takes place. Positions six through ten were nailed down by Shane Cottle, Chad Boespflug, Travis Hery in a strong run, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Isaac Chapple from 18th in a fine run which went virtually unnoticed with the duel up front. Windom who has dialed in Kokomo in the last 1 1/2 years would wear the crown of King of Kokomo for 2019 as this guy is on a tear at the baddest bullring in Indiana. It was only 9:40 but after seeing that great feature there was no reason to watch anything more this night.


     

    That's it for another weekend with the next one quickly approaching. Weather will determine once again where we end up so check back soon to see where we ended up. And hopefully you will have better luck with the weather in your area and can catch some good short track racing wherever you are. Comments, thoughts, news and other bits of wisdom can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter you can reach me @bruceeckel11. As always thanks for reading our efforts and letting us know you enjoy the stories.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Dick Jordan Classic At Anderson For Must See Sprints

    Saturday, May 4 - The weather was again a big factor on Saturday with the dirt tracks falling victim to the wet stuff. First Lawrenceburg then Haubstadt and finally Putnamville succumbed to the wet weather and the resulting saturated grounds with only Anderson, an asphalt 1/4 mile oval, still on the slate and upon arrival there the parking lot in many sections was quite wet and unusable.

    It was a very cool day never venturing out of the high 50's with the temperatures dipping into the 40's when the sun went down with the resulting dampness that goes along with it making it a tough night to sit out and watch racing or anything else for that matter. And to top it off an inefficient race program added to the uncomfortable conditions we all had to endure. On tap tonight was five division card headlined by the Must See Sprints, a winged asphalt sprint car series based out of Michigan who brought 21 cars to the dance. Jimmy McCune was last out and set the fast time for the sprints with a lap of 11.006 seconds around the high banked 1/4 mile oval. Also on the card with car counts in parentheses were the Kenyon midgets (7), late models (11), legend cars (8) and champ karts (9). With a grand total of 56 cars in 5 divisions you would think that this show should move right along but that was not the case. A late start to qualifying due to the morning rains caused the starting time for racing to be pushed back over a half hour. That may not seem like much but combined with a slowly processed program it was 11:20 when the first of five feature events was completed. That is entirely too long for a five division with 56 total cars!!! To management's credit they realized how long the program was and offered a 50% discount to anyone returning next Saturday with their raincheck from tonight. That should have been extended to include the entire season as many people in the crowd were there only for the sprints and had no interest in returning for next week's regular show. We would have used the raincheck for a discount on one of their Thursday night sprint car shows ourselves if the extended offer was made.


     

    It was the Dick Jordan Classic tonight honoring the long time USAC employee (since 1968) who is currently USAC's Vice President of News & Communications. Pat Sullivan conducted pre-race ceremonies honoring Jordan who is battling in-operable pancreatic cancer and it was a nice ceremony but difficult to hear from the speakers in the turn four grandstands. Racing finally kicked off at 8:36 PM with three sprint car heats with Tony Grams copping heat one over Brenden Torok and Tim Henthorne. Heat two went to Canadian Ryan Litt besting Jerry Caryer and 16 year old rookie, Trey Osborne. Heat three went to the ageless veteran, Jeff Bloom, beating Charlie Schultz and Joe Liguori. One Kenyon midget heat followed along with two late model heats, one legend car heat and one champ kart heat with the legends and champ karts putting on the closest racing. That little bit of action took an hour and twenty minutes to complete as things moved along at a turtle's pace.


     

    It was not until 10:22 when the 50 lap Must See sprint car feature took the initial green flag with Tom Jewell and Trey Osborne bringing 18 others to the start after first starting Ryan Litt dropped to the infield before the start with engine problems. Jewell got the jump as Osborne bobbled and he led the first four laps until Tom Geren spun in turn three to bring out the first caution. Two laps later Christian Koehler and Joshua Sexton got together in turn one in a hard crash bringing out the red flag. During this time one of the two wreckers in attendance got stuck in the mud and grass inside turns one and two resulting in a twenty minute delay until a small bulldozer was able to extradite the tow truck out of the mud. Jewell held sway on the restart with fast timer and four time defending champion, Jimmy McCune, now in fifth after starting tenth began to make his presence known. McCune advanced to third by lap 11 dusting off Geoff Kaiser in the process. McCune passed second place runner, Joe Liguori, with a three wide move on lap 14. The third and final caution appeared on lap 18 when Jerry Caryer pounded the turn four wall and came to an abrupt stop. On the restart McCune was ready and passed Jewell entering turns one and two for the lead and that was all she wrote over the remaining 32 laps all run under green flag conditions. With three to go Anthony McCune, the nephew of Jimmy, caught and passed Jewell with a low side move off turn four for second but there was not enough time to make a serious run at this uncle. At the double checkers at 11:20 it was Jimmy McCune across the line first with Anthony McCune second getting his career best finish for the 21 year old. Tom Jewell would garner the remaining podium position with two rookies, Tyler Roahrig and Joe Liguori, nailing down the final two spots in the top five. When they were running it was a good race but the wrecker delay and excessive laps run under yellow for no apparent reason as no positions were switched nor any speedy dry was applied and this drug the race down. With the dampness chilling us to the bone we decided to call it an evening and head southwest back to Crawfordsville with the heat on in the car the entire trip.


     

    That's it for our Saturday night stop of our three race weekend and check back real soon for the Sunday night report on the King of Kokomo sprint car race held at the raciest joint in Indiana. Until next time news, comments and other points of interest can reach us by email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Hope the weather is nicer this weekend wherever you may be so you can get out there and see some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing our perspective to you.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Boyles Scores Opener At Gas City

    Friday, May 3 - The terrible weather over the past two weekends extended into this weekend with Bloomington and Paragon falling victims to saturated grounds but Gas City Speedway said they were running so off we went toward Gas City. In the past two weekends the only race we were able to attend was a late model show at Farmer City in Illinois so we and many others were chomping at the bit to see some good non-wing sprint car racing. It is now into May and it sure has not warmed up much since March. Temperatures topped out in the high 50's during the day and dropped close to the 40's by the end of the evening. Rain was not predicted for the evening but a heavy mist lingered the entire evening making it wet, uncomfortable and very damp. Upon arriving we knew the parking would be altered by the saturated parking areas with only the gravel lot behind the grandstands available for parking. If you had a four wheel drive vehicle you could park in a small section of the grassy area outside of turn one. Management was able to secure parking next door to the track property at the business there and that was where we ended up as we arrived at 6:30 and the front lot was filled. A good sized crowd came out on not so nice of a night and they showed how hungry the fans were for some racing. The track owner did not want to run tonight put promoter Jerry Gappens wanted to get their opener in after a rainout the week before so racing was a go for tonight.

    A six division program was on tap with a fine field of 34 non-wing sprint cars joined by 28 UMP modifieds, 15 mini sprints, 6 super streets, 12 street stocks and 17 hornets for a grand total of 112 cars gracing the pit area. The sprint cars would hit the track first for warmups and rookie Shane O'Banion was the first to dump it taking a ride off of turns one and two. He was OK but done for the evening. With all the rain we have had in the past three weeks it was not a surprise that the track would soften up and become a real cowboy up type of track that owners hate, some drivers like and most fans love. The bigger surprise was that only two machines during the evening got upside down the entire evening, the sprinter in the warmups and a mini sprint on the first lap of the feature. A good and cautious job was done by all and some good racing was also witnessed. Isaac Chapple would score the win in heat one besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Ohio invader Matt Westfall and normal Lincoln Park runner, Tim Creech. The Topp Motorsports team headed by Justin Grant garnered the win in heat two over Brady Bacon, Paul Dues who is a normal BOSS runner and Tyler Hewitt. Clinton Boyles, the defending track champion in the Paul Hazen #57, notched the win in heat three outrunning Chad Boespflug, Jarett Andretti and Ben Knight. The fourth and final heat went to a real surprise with young Florida driver, Anthony D'Alessio, dominating this one in his first ever appearance at Gas City besting Dave Darland, Cole Ketcham and Rex Norris.

    The UMP modifieds spun off four heats with Daniel Russell, Zeke McKenzie from 7th, Derek Losh and Nathan Loney taking their respective heat races. The mini sprints ran two heats the super streets one, the street stocks two and the hornets two before the sprints came back to run their two B mains. Thomas Meseraull in his new ride took B main one over Scotty Weir in the Pederson #4P. B main two went to Garrett Abrams outracing Travis Hery who was the last man in.

    The green dropped on the 20 car sprint car feature at 10:45 with Dave Darland wheeling the Michael Dutcher #17GP went to the point on the first lap. Chad Boespflug assumed the lead on lap two with Clinton Boyles on a tear pounding the outside cushion to third from eighth by lap two. Boyles disposed of Darland the following lap and took the lead from Boespflug on lap four as Boyles was looking like the top cowboy in this one. The track was getting rougher and rutty in turns three and four but the boys handled the cowboy up track like true professionals. Justin Grant was on the move coming from the sixth hole to pass Boespflug on lap 11 and took up the chase of the high flying Boyles who was lapping cars at reckless abandon. Boyles was not going to be caught and flashed under the checkered flag at 10:52 in the non-stop feature with Grant chasing. Kevin Thomas Jr. rounded out the podium finish with Brady Bacon fourth in the #410 and Tyler Hewitt turning in an impressive run advancing from 14th to finish 5th. The second five was led by Darland with Jarett Andretti seventh, Matt Westfall eighth, Scotty Weir ninth and Paul Dues rounding out the top ten.

    The 25 lap UMP modified feature was next up taking the green at 11:01. Nathan Loney was the early leader and led until Zeke McKenzie who was driving like a madman through the ruts in turns three and four caught up to the leader. The two raced side by side until contact in turn two between the leaders found Loney pulling to the infield off turn four out of the event. McKenzie led until lap 16 when something in the rear end of his machine broke causing him to slow and handing the lead over to ninth starting Ryan Sutter. Sutter looked like he had this one in the bag until Derek Losh began to close and the race for the lead was again on. Losh dove low off turn four coming to the checkered and edged Sutter for the exciting win with Scott Orr third, Bill Griffith fourth and Tony Anderson avoiding most of the bumps running a smart race from 17th to claim fifth at the finish at 11:08.

    Mission accomplished for Mr. Gappens with opening night now in the books and we decided to call it an evening and make the two hour trek back to Crawfordsville happy that a promoter tried everything to get the show in and succeeded with a good crowd to support him in the process. It was good racing on a cowboy up track which we are sure had many car owners and crews checking over their machines the next day to make sure all the bolts and everything else were in good order for the next night of racing. A good way for Gas City to open up their 2019 season.

    Check back shortly for the rest of our weekend which included an asphalt sprint car show and racing at the best joint in the state. Until next time hopefully the weather in your area is warming up and drying up also. Get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch a track you've always wanted to see. And as always thanks for reading our efforts. News and other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND
     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez Stuffs His Pockets At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, April 13 - As Thomas Meseraull so correctly stated on his Twitter account on Saturday morning it was wake up to the weather apps and let the chase for a race to begin. Well, Meseraull found the right one and at 9:34 stood in victory lane at the Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville as the victor of the 25 lap non-wing sprint car tussle on this cool evening. And as many know T-Mez is usually a good victory lane interview and he did not disappoint once again. Talking with track announcer, Brad Dickison, he declared that he was glad he won as after buying his pit pass tonight he had three dollars left in his pocket and he must have bought a hot dog as he noted he was now down to one dollar. Well, after taking the win his pocket will be bulging as he left the track.

    The rain situation had played havoc with Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt (Saturday) and Terre Haute Action Track (Sunday) already having thrown in the towel for the weekend. That left Lincoln Park and Lawrenceburg as the only ones running non-wing sprints and since Lincoln Park is a 45 minute trip and Lawrenceburg is 2 1/2 hours the choice was a no brainer. It was south on Rt. 231 into Greencastle where we first stopped to dine at the Greencastle Inn before proceeding down to the track in nearby Putnamville.


     

    Most of the day had been partly cloudy and the rain forecast had been pushed back from the initial 9 PM in the morning to after 10 PM by race time. This still meant that Lincoln Park management had to spin off an efficient program and that they did. We placed an extra lounge chair down for Guy Smith, a columnist for Area Auto Racing News, from Pennsylvania as he would be joining us later (around 7:45 PM) after taking in an UTV race in the Paragon area. Sure enough at 7:50 during the second of three bomber heats Guy arrived making his first appearance at Lincoln Park Speedway in over 30 years. Before he arrived they had spun off four sprint car heats for the fine 33 car field, two heat races for the 13 UMP modifieds on hand, three heats for the 17 super stocks and finally three heats for the 20 bombers. The sprint car heats were won by Canadian Lee Dakus back in Indiana after a two year absence to regroup his finances and he didn't look like he had missed a beat as he drove to victory in heat one over Kent Schmidt and Dave Darland back in the Epperson #2E for the second straight night. Heat two would go to the defending sprint car track champion, Shane "The Chief" Cockrum in the Jamie Paul #24P besting AJ Hopkins and Colten Cottle in a stirring battle for the top spot and the best heat race of the evening. Hunter O'Neal, youngest son of LM ace Don O'Neal, was very impressive in heat three coming from the fourth hole and passing Shane Cottle and Kevin Thomas Jr. who finished second and third in the process. Pat quipped that we now have Don "The Real Deal", Hudson "The New Deal" and Hunter "What's The Deal" who is going the open cockpit route!!! Koby Barksdale ran off and hid in heat four outdistancing Thomas Meseraull and Joe Stornetta Jr. Jeff Deckard and Jamie Lomax were the two UMP modified heat winners. Next up were the two sprint car B mains with Nate McMillen and Garrett Aitken bagging these events.


     

    By 8:35 it was feature time and with the sprints having been the only class that needed to run B mains the UMP modifieds would move to the chute as the first class to run their feature event tonight. The 25 lap UMP modified feature was a good one with only two cautions with Jamie Lomax taking the win over sixth starting James Walters and Randy Shuman.


     

    The front row of Lee Dakus and Shane Cockrum would bring 18 of their friends to Brian Hodde's green flag with Cockrum assuming the early lead. The yellow waved on lap one when Joe Stornetta Jr. stopped above the fourth turn cushion for the first slowdown. On the restart we made it until turn four where Koby Barksdale looped it to bring out the second caution. We made it as far as turn one on the restart when second place running Lee Dakus lost the handle and spun. The third time was the charm as Cockrum motored our front with the field in tow. Last week's winner, AJ Hopkins, was on the move from sixth moving to third on lap four and second by lap six. Thomas Meseraull was the second one to break out of the pack advancing from eighth to fourth by lap five. Hopkins grabbed the lead from the Chief between turns three and four on lap eight and went to the top and began to pull away as Meseraull disposed of Cockrum at the same time to take second. Kevin Thomas Jr. was another one making his presence known as he marched into fourth on lap 11 after starting 11th in the Hayward/Thomas #19. Disaster would strike on lap 17 when Hopkins who was still leading got into turn three very hard jumping the tall cushion and rolling his machine ending up in turn four before it was all over. A tough break for the gasser but sometimes it is better to let up a little but it is not in the vocabulary of this guy. T-Mez found himself at the point on the restart and powered away with the lead. Thomas was able to dust off Cockrum for second as they crossed the line to begin lap 19 and the chase was on. Another guy having a great run at this point was young Jadon Rogers who moved into the top five after starting 13th. Colten Cottle rolled to a stop in turn four just after the pass and the caution waved again. On the restart Meseraull was back out front and on the cushion but turn four saw Dakus spin for the second time on the night. We were ready to go again with six to go with Meseraull out front trailed by Thomas and Cockrum. Rogers slipped by Cockrum on the restart and the youngster was now a contender. Also Joe Stornetta Jr. wheeling the Burton #04 was coming quickly after tagging the tail on lap one after spinning pressuring Dave Darland for fifth. As the checkered waved at 9:34 it was Meseraull across the line first followed by Thomas, Rogers, Cockrum and Stornetta besting Darland at the wire for fifth. Darland hung on for sixth with Travis Berryhill notching seventh after starting 14th with Brandon Mattox eighth, Hunter O'Neal ninth and Garrett Aitken rounding out the top ten. It was an interesting race but not a great one as six cautions and one red slowed the action much too often.


     

    We all decided to watch one more feature event with the super stocks scheduled to go 20 laps in their main event. Jonny Newgent would hold off a fast charging Wes McClara and Josh Litton for the win at 9:57. Hats off to Lincoln Park management for running a very efficient program with rain moving closer to the area which arrived around midnight and continued the majority of Sunday before stopping.


     

    That's it for another weekend with us sneaking in two races after some dismal forecasts for Saturday and we beat Mother Nature this time. So until next weekend make some plans and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and catch some racing at a track you have always wanted to visit. News, comments and other notes of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Brady Takes Home The Bacon At Bloomington

    Friday, April 12 - Tonight was the season opener for the Bloomington Speedway under new management and since they are only running a seven race schedule this year we wanted to make sure we got here as often as possible. Temperatures were in the 60's which would have normally been pleasant but along with the warm weather there was a pesky brisk wind which made it much cooler. Bloomington Speedway has been running races since 1923 and when you enter the track the setting before you is so darn pretty with the hills, woods and all that red clay!!! Management has made many changes with the biggest one being covering over the old wooden bleachers with an aluminum grandstand which stretches down the homestretch. The new grandstand is indeed a vast improvement from the old weathered and warped and dangerous wooden ones but with this improvement they may have also alienated some of the old fans by taking away some of the hillside viewing from the past which I feel added character to the the joint. Tell will tell but unhindered sight lines are going to be at a premium come Indiana midget and sprint weeks and people might be staking out their claims on Monday for their Friday races during those two weeks!!

    Now onto the racing itself. Tonight's USAC sprint car racing was dubbed the Larry Rice Classic and a nice trophy was assembled for the winner to add to his trophy case. Members of the Rice family were on hand tonight led by son, Robbie, to present the trophy in victory lane and for a pre-race presentation given by Sprint Car Hall of Fame member, Patrick Sullivan. After the pre-race festivities it was time to kick off the night of action with USAC National sprint car time trials commencing at 6:41. Brian VanMeveren, the racing lawyer from Minnesota, bicycled the Wingo Brothers #24 entering turn three after setting sixth fastest time on his first lap and went a tumbling off of turns three and four rolling over numerous times and ending up upside down in the ditch outside of turn four. After safety crews turned the sprinter over VanMeveren was able to climb gingerly from the wrecked sprinter to a sigh of relief from the gathered crowd. When things were said and done by 7:00 it was CJ Leary in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ setting fast time with a new track record of 10.685 seconds around the 1/4 mile red clay high banked oval over the assembled 26 car field for tonight's racing. Warmups for the Racesaver 305 sprints (21) and the UMP modifieds (with a disappointing 7 car field) followed.

    Next up were the three heat races for the USAC sprinters taking the initial green at 7:37 with Robert Ballou outdistancing the rest of the pack to score the first heat win over Carson Short, Kevin Thomas Jr., Stephen Schnapf and CJ Leary with the top five from each heat moving to the 30 lap main event. Heat two saw Brady Bacon back in the Hoffman #69 steal the win off the final corner on the last lap to rip victory from the hands of Jordan Kinser with Isaac Chapple, Chad Boespflug and Dustin Christie trailing. The third and final heat went to "Sunshine" Tyler Courtney turning away Jason McDougal who dogged him in the latter stages of the contest with Justin Grant third, Joe Stornetta Jr., the new driver of the Burton #04, fourth and Dakota Jackson nailing down fifth. Jackson Slone, Andy Bradley and Ryan Tusing scored heat wins in the 305's with Justin Clark taking a nasty end over end flip in turn one on the start of heat three which he was able to walk away from. The USAC semi was next up and Chase Stockon held off the advances of Chris Windom relegated to a backup machine when his primary mount developed problems in the heat race. Lee Underwood, Dave Darland making a guest appearance in the Epperson #2E, TJ Artz towing in from Nebraska, Zach Daum who crossed the line with smoke pouring from underneath the hood of his #5D and Josh Hodges being the last man into the big dance.

    Up next was the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature which took the green flag at 9:05 and if you blinked or were in line at the concession stand you might have miss the race. It went non-stop in 6:47:18 breaking an 18 year old 30 lap track record in the process. Brady Bacon jumped into the early lead and you could tell that if no mechanical woes or lap traffic hindered him he was going to be tough to beat. In fact he had a half a straightaway lead over Kevin Thomas Jr. by lap four and was pulling away even more before reaching the tail enders by lap nine which slowed his progress and allowed Thomas to close in somewhat. By lap 19 Bacon had worked the lap traffic masterfully and had an open road in front of him race on. The only thing at that point that was going to stop Bacon was himself who admitted in victory lane that the way the light reflected off the move over flag he thought it was the white flag at one point and almost slowed down as he returned to the flagger's stand the next time around and realized the double checker was not waving and stomped down the pedal again. Bacon flashed under the double checker at 9:12 scoring his first ever Bloomington feature win along with his 24th career USAC National sprint car win allowing him to pass both AJ Foyt and Roger McCluskey into sole possession of 21st place on the all time USAC sprint win list. Kevin Thomas Jr. would drive home second chased by Jason McDougal, Tyler Courtney up from ninth and points leader, CJ Leary, nabbing fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Justin Grant, Chad Boespflug, Chase Stockon, Chris Windom and Robert Ballou.

    Since it was still early we decided to stay for the 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature and it was a good one to witness. Ethan Barrow used the high groove to take the lead at the flag stand at the halfway mark and hold off the challenge of Anton Hernandez to score the win by 10:00 with John Paynter Jr., Bradley Sterrett and Ryan Tusing chasing him across the line. We decided to call it an evening at this point and start the 1 hour, 40 minute drive back to Crawfordsville satisifed with a good night of racing.

    Check back Sunday or Monday to see if we beat the rain at Lincoln Park Speedway tonight as USAC/MSCS sprints at Tri-State have already been postponed to June 30th along with the Sunday's Silver Crown contest at Terre Haute bowing to the approaching rainy weather. Until next time try to beat the rain in your area or hopefully the weather is nicer where you are and catch some good short track racing in your area. News, comments, rumors and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing A Typical Weekend to you.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    First Night of Kokomo Grand Prix And Celebrating A Friend

    Friday, April 5 - This was the weekend we were looking forward to for quite some time but it didn't quite work out as we expected as the death of a good friend caused our Kokomo Grand Prix to be shortened to one night instead of two. A first time Kokomo winner and the early dominator in USAC midget action found themselves in Bryan Clauson victory lane on Friday night. Here is what took place in between.

    The evening was cool but it heated up quickly as the track was rough down low and took its toll of cars before the evening was over. Chad Boat went for a ride in turn two during hot laps and during midget time trials a surprise in Dillon Welch, a part time competitor driving one of the Tucker/Boat entries, nailed down fast time with a new track record of 12.665 and in his interview even he was surprised that he had pulled this accomplishment off. Following midget time trials were the non-winged sprints (23) running three heats with all drivers qualifying for the 25 lap sprint car feature. Dave Darland scored the win in heat one in his own recently purchased Baldwin Brothers machine with the familiar #36D on the tail tank besting Colten Cottle, Thomas Meseraull and Aaron Farney. Jarett Andretti brought the John Andretti #18 home the victor in heat two over Justin Grant, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Clinton Boyles. The third heat saw Chad Boespflug claim the win over Jason McDougal back in the Phillips/Daigh #71P, Matt Westfall and Rob Caho Jr. making the tow in from Minnesota. The four midget heats for the 32 car field would commence next with Tanner Carrick in one of the Keith Kunz entries drawing first blood harnessing heat one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Tucker Klaasmeyer and Chris Windom. Heat two saw Tyler Courtney take advance of a Tyler Thomas bounce in turn four to grab this one with Thomas, Jason McDougal in the Reynolds #21KS for a one shot deal and Chad Boat trailing. Heat three saw Justin Grant in the RAMS #4 flip between turns one and two after battling the rough inside path. Ethan Mitchell was the surprise winner in this one beating Jerry Coons Jr., CJ Leary wheeling the Fred Manafort #76M in 2019 and Jesse Colwell. The fourth and final heat went to young Zeb Wise in one of the Clauson/Marshall entries over teammates Dave Darland and Thomas Meseraull in the RMS team cars and Andrew Layser. All heat racing was completed by 8:55 as the night grew more cold and damp. The midget semi would be next on the card with defending USAC midget point champ, Logan Seavey, coming home first over Dillon Welch, Holly Hollan, Zane Hendricks, Justin Peck and Tony DiMattia besting Jake Neuman for the last qualifying position. Tyler Nelson was OK after dumping his midget in turn one during the semi.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature was next to the post with Chad Boespflug and Jarett Andretti bringing the field to Tom Hansing's green flag. That was the last time the green would appear as this one would go flag to flag in six minutes with Boespflug leading the entire distance in the Chuck Eberhardt and Fred Zirzow #98E scoring his first ever Kokomo sprint car triumph in the process. Jason McDougal would march from sixth to second at the finish with Justin Grant third, Dave Darland fourth and Jarett Andretti rounding out the top five at 9:54.

    The first night of two for the USAC midgets at Kokomo was a 30 lap event with Kevin Thomas Jr. sliding Thomas Meseraull between turns one and two on the opening lap to take the lead. Zane Hendricks bounced around in turn one on lap one to bring out the first caution. The red appeared on lap three when Tony DiMattia flipped exiting turn four stopping the action quickly. On the restart Thomas remained on the point with teammates Chris Windom (4th starter) and Tyler Courtney (6th starter) duking it out for second. Courtney used the inside groove to take second from Windom at the line to complete lap six and soon after the caution waved when Justin Peck looped it on the inside of turn two. Peck's weekend would greatly improve after Friday night when he won the first two FAST winged 410 sprint shows at Attica on Saturday and Waynesfield on Sunday. After the racing resumed Thomas and Courtney had a two car breakaway with the rest of the field chasing. On lap 14 Courtney would power low in turn two to take the top spot away from Thomas and would never be headed the remainder of the 30 lap distance. Courtney stretched his lead over the field until lap 20 when the final caution appeared for Zane Hendricks who bicycled and stopped in turn two. On the restart Courtney got a good jump and was gone once again as Thomas, Windom, McDougal and Wise mixed it up behind him. McDougal made the top side work for him in turn four on lap 24 to grab second from Thomas and took up the chase of Courtney who was cruising. Things would get interesting when with two laps to go Andrew Layser dumped the Clauson/Marshall #47 in between turns three and four to bring out the red and set up three lap dash for the cash. Courtney was up to the challenge as he gunned the #7BC on the restart and never allowed McDougal to get close as he spun off three good laps and flashed under the checkered flag at 10:45 scoring his fifth career USAC victory at Kokomo and also his third midget win out of four races run in 2019. McDougal did an impressive wheelie coming to the checkered out of turn four almost into turn one to finish second with Windom third, Zeb Wise making a late charge on the outside advancing from 12th to 4th and Kevin Thomas Jr. fading to fifth at the finish. Logan Seavey would start the second five gaining sixth with Thomas Meseraull seventh, fast timer Dillon Welch eighth, CJ Leary ninth and Tanner Carrick rounding out the top ten. Both features were decent but not spectacular.

    Saturday, April 6 - After the Kokomo finish we motored north and spent the night in Crestwood, a suburb of Chicago, before leaving by 6:30 the following morning the complete the remaining 3 1/2 hour trek to DePere, Wisconsin, the hometown of good friend and fellow track chaser, Jack Erdmann, who had lost his one year battle with cancer. The St. John's Lutheran Church was the site of the viewing and service that followed and we joined racing buddies, Gordy Killian, Roger Ferrell, Dale O'Brien and Pete Vercauteren and his wife for the day. Afterwards the whole group of us sat together in the church fellowship hall eating good food prepared by the church members and swapping Jack stories and celebrating the live of a guy who visited 1102 different tracks in his long track chasing career which ranks him seventh on the all time list. Jack lived a full life in his 63 years and visited many places along the highways and byways of the nation. It was fun hearing some stories from the pastor, his family and our group and we found out many things we never knew about Jack. That made the day extra special and we were sure glad we made the long trip to see our good buddy one last time. Jack may you rest in peace and we will be depending on you to have heaven staked out and know where all the race tracks are there!! Godspeed Jack and see you in the future.

    That's it for this segment and check back next week as we have a three day race weekend planned all in Indiana but Sunday is not looking good at the present time. So now that spring has sprung (though it could be warmer) get out there and take in some good short track racing in your area or pack up the car and take a road trip to somewhere where you always wanted to go. As always thanks for reading our efforts and keep the comments, news and other tid bits coming to bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outlaw Winged Karts At Illinois St. Fairgrounds & No Way Out 40 at Brownstown

    Yes, it's been almost a month since we penned a column but we are back after skipping the indoor show at Syracuse, New York and instead ventured 2 1/2 hours southwest to Springfield, IL for our next race.

    Friday, March 22 - We read that the promotional team of Jeremy and Ashly Burnett of Millbridge Speedway in North Carolina and Kevin and Tammy Gundaker of Tri-City Speedway in Illinois would be hosting an indoor event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield called the Clash at the Coliseum. It would be two nights of flat kart racing and outlaw winged karts racing indoors at a temporary enclosed horse arena next to the coliseum which was being renovated and would not be ready for this weekend's racing. We arrived around 6:20 and figured out where we needed to go to witness the racing events and made our way into the horse arena securing seats on the top row of a section of aluminum bleachers set up on the homestretch with another section stretching toward turn four about eight rows high. Eighty nine entries was signed in for tonight's action (with 111 for Saturday night) including six intermediate winged outlaws and twelve open winged outlaw karts. Also in attendance were three generations of the Saldana family of Indiana with Reece driving with Joey and little Joe turning the wrenches on both divisions of outlaw karts for Reece.

    Racing started at precisely 7 PM with a flat kart feature and racing was spun off virtually without a stop with the last feature wrapping up at 9:40 in a very well organized and run program of racing (end time was the same on Saturday though they started one hour earlier but had 22 more entries on this evening). Todd Shannon from Wisconsin joined us for the evening and we enjoyed conversing with him and finding out about his six race tour starting tonight ending up in California and driving all the way during this trip. The intermediate winged outlaws ran one heat with Reece Saldana winning while the open winged outlaws ran two good heats with Jeremy Schmidt and Shane Garrison prevailing. The 20 lap intermediate winged outlaws was up by 8:32 with the race being slowed by four cautions. Tyler Rabenberg would bring his #18 home first over Brennon Blair and Anna Tripp. The 20 lap open winged outlaws were next to last on the racing card and took the green flag at 9:15 after a short delay to allow the smoke fumes to dissipate somewhat. Jeremy Schmidt jumped to the lead and was never headed in this one with the #69 and #00 trailing (sorry I didn't get their names as my race monitor buddy left before the main event) with the checker waving at 9:29.

    It was a very well run and organized evening of racing providing some decent entertainment and we wouldn't hesitate to return when they run again this time in the bigger coliseum next door.

    Saturday, March 23 - Today was the Indiana Boy's State Basketball finals being held at the Banker's Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis and with the early ending the night before at Springfield we decided to take in the first two rounds of the finals starting at 10:30 AM. We will not complain about parking costs later in the year when we go to Perris as to park anywhere near the fieldhouse would cost you at the minimum $20. We arrived around 9:20 AM and then secured our preferred parking lot paying $25 to park and joined the thousands of fans in line waiting for the doors to open at 9:30. Another $15 got you into the state finals and from there we found our seats and settled in for the Class A finals between Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian High School at 27-2 taking on Barr-Reeve High School from Montgomery in Southern Indiana at 26-2. We expected a good tight contest as the two had played during the regular season with FW Blackhawk Christian winning in overtime by eight. It was not to be as FW Blackhawk jumped out to a big lead early led by 6-10 sophomore Caleb Furst and never looked back on their way to their first ever state title winning 60 to 43. The second game pitting Northern Indiana's Andrean Fighting 59ers at 20-8 taking on Southern Indiana's Linton-Stockton Miners at 27-3. Both teams had been runnerups previously but neither one had ever won a state championship. In a seesaw contest which came down to three big defensive stops by Andrean late it was Andrean 59 and Linton-Stockton 54. A well played contest and it was sad to see one of them lose. Now it was time to head to Jersey Mike's for lunch before heading south on I-65 to Brownstown Speedway for the No Way Out 40 for the opener for the non-wing sprints. The two night games in Indianapolis sounded like good matchups with the Silver Creek Dragons (25-3) making their first ever appearance in the state finals taking out the defending 3A state champions, the Culver Academies Eagles (24-4) (Roger Penske an alumnus) by the score of 62-59. The 4A final went to Carmel (26-1) in a close one defeating Ben Davis (20-8) both Central Indiana teams by the score of 60-55 for their fourth state title in the 109 years of Indiana state basketball history.

    Now it was off to Brownstown and we encountered a delay due to an accident arriving around 5 and finding a good sized crowd on hand as the temperatures broke into the low 60's. The temperature would drop drastically into the 40's after the sun went down and with four divisions on the early season card a snappy show needed to be spun off. Group qualifying for both the sprint cars and the pro late models to determine the starting lineups for the heat races were run off then it was time for the four heat races by 7:38 for the 35 non-wing sprints on hand. The track was in good condition with a berm building up in the corners and some rough spots in turns one and two to contend with so it was cowboy up conditions for the evening. Carson Short looked strong in heat one scoring the win over Isaac Chapple, Braxton Cummings and Dustin Christie in a nice run as this youngster started racing in the later part of 2018. Evansville's Stephen Schnapf continues to impress behind the wheel of a wingless sprinter garnering heat two besting Ohio's Matt Westfall, Dave Darland in his own #5 purchased from the Balwin Brothers and Brandon Mattox. Heat three saw Kyle Cummins take the Hank Byram #3R to the point and win over Robert Ballou, Tyler Courtney and Jason McDougal in a team Pottorff #11 while Brady Short in the other Pottorff #11P took a very nasty tumble entering turn one and barrel rolling at least ten times before ending up outside of turn two. The crowd held their collective breath for a few minutes until it was reported that Short was out of the car and walking around. The fourth and final heat saw AJ Hopkins wheel the Ottinger #4J to victory over Chad Boespflug, Dakota Jackson and Logan Hupp in a strong performance. Two pro late model heats followed for their 11 car field followed by two heats for the 14 car UMP modified field and two heats for the 11 car super stock field. The two 12 lap B mains for the sprinters were captured by Jordan Kinser over Colten Cottle who made a last lap pass of Joe Stornetta Jr. in his first ride in the Burton #04 to spoil his debut as only two would move on. Shane Cottle paced the second B main in the Michael Dutcher #17GP outdistancing Andrew Prather who grabbed the final transfer position into the twenty car starting field.

    After driver introductions on the homestretch with the drivers out of their racing machines it was time to go non-wing sprint car racing with the green flag dropping on the Indiana non-wing season at 9:45. Carson Short powered to the early lead as third starter, Kyle Cummins, biked it in turn two dropping back to sixth as AJ Hopkins applied the early pressure on Short. Cummins worked his way back to fourth by lap seven as Isaac Chapple almost flipped in turn two finally stopping on the homestretch on lap nine with front suspension problems. On the restart Short went back out front trailed by Hopkins and Robert Ballou. Lap 12 saw Hopkins slide sideways in turn four prompting Cummins to spin into the infield to avoid the sideways Hopkins. That forced Cummins to tag the tail of the field on the restart as he started to pick his way back through the field. Tyler Courtney had the Marshall/Clauson #7BC flying as he grabbed third from 11th and one lap later stole second and took up the chase of Short. Braxton Cummings stopped in turn two on lap 15 to bring out the yellow as Shane Cottle had moved the Dutcher #17GP from 18th to 8th at this point. Three laps after the restart Hopkins regained second from Courtney in turn two as the top three raced side by side. Cummings brought out the next caution sitting outside of turn three and he was done for the evening as at this point Kyle Cummins had worked his way back into the top ten in 8th. Cummins was slicing through the field by lap 24 as he powered into fifth as the red waved after Chad Boespflug did a slow roll in turn one. Cummins grabbed fourth from Ballou in turn one on lap 27. The top three went at it tooth and nail running three wide around the racing surface for several laps. Cummins continued his march passing Courtney for third on the backstretch on lap 34. Cummins dove low in turn three on lap 34 and contact was made between him and Hopkins with Hopkins spinning wildly finally doing a back flip as it gunned it to retain control. It was good, hard racing as Cummins was now second behind the high flying Short. Under the yellow it was noticed that Courtney's right rear was down considerly and on the restart all watched to see what would happen. He was able to hold sway but Ballou was able to pick him off late to grab third. On the restart Short held sway with Cummins looking for a way around testing both the inside and outside grooves. Cummins made his big move driving high on the homestretch beating Short into turn one for the lead as the crowd went wild. Cummins pulled ahead and at 10:23 the checkered flag waved with Cummins pulling off the last to first amazing run beating Ballou, Courtney and Jason McDougal who ran a good race nailing down fifth at the finish. Matt Westfall lead the second five in sixth at the wire with Dave Darland seventh, Dakota Jackson in a fine run for eighth, Shane Cottle ninth and Andrew Prather tenth. A very excited Kyle Cummins exited the Byram #3R in victory lane $7500 richer to the delight of the crowd.

    It was an excellent race but with it already being close to 10:30 and still three features to go we decided to call it an evening and make the 2 1/2 hour tow back to Crawfordsville after sitting out on this cold evening.

    Until next week where it looks like only the Indiana USAC sprint car opener at Lawrenceburg is on the agenda take care and be safe. As the season starts to take off in your area get out there and enjoy some good short track racing and have a great time. Comments, quotes, news and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back Monday for the Lawrenceburg report.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of USAC Sprint Car Racing At Bubba Raceway Park

    Friday, February 15 - It was night one for us, night two overall for the USAC National Sprint Car series as they contested their opening rounds of competition at the Bubbba Raceway Park near Ocala on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Night one went to Chris Windom with a last lap pass of Kevin Thomas Jr. for the win and we hoped night two would be just as exciting. It was dramatic but not for the passing on the track but instead for the tire wear of the track.

    Things would start off with time trials for the 28 sprinters on hand at 7:09 with Illinois driver, Carson Short, setting fast time for the second night in a row and in the process setting a new track record with a time of 13.398 seconds around the 3/8 mile clay oval. Next up were the four sprint car heats with the top four moving on to the 30 lap main event. Justin Grant would triumph in heat one besting fast qualifier Carson Short, Timmy Buckwalter and Joey Biasi in a strong performance. Heat two went to the new combination of Reinbold/Underwood and CJ Leary as the Arizona/Indiana matching has looked strong out of the starting box cruising to victory over Chris Windom, Dave Darland and Stephen Schnapf, the Evansville resident venturing out on the road and looking good. Damion Gardner brought the Chris Dyson #20 home first in heat three beating Brady Bacon back in the Hoffman #69, Tyler Courtney and Matt Westfall. The fourth heat went to returning Robert Ballou from Twitter suspension over steady Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Jason McDougal. The support division on the evening, the mod lites brought a hefty field of 50 entries and needed six heats to wittle down the lofty number before the sprints returned for their semi. Dakota Jackson looked strong winning the semi over Chad Boespflug, Isaac Chapple, Kent Schmidt, Matt Goodnight and Kyle Cummins. Now the 22 car starting field was set and we were ready to go feature racing.

    The green flag waved on the front row of CJ Leary (whos grandparents were in front of us) and Justin Grant with Leary getting the early advantage to the delight of Mrs. Leary. Over the next six laps Leary set a blistering pace and built up a half straightway lead in the first half of the contest. Chris Windom in his new ride in the Goacher #5G worked lap traffic to perfection and slowly wittled down the deficit closing within striking distance by lap 18. Leary made a rare mistake drifting high in turn four on lap 20 allowing Windom to slide by down low for the lead. Lap 24 saw the first caution wave on the race when Carson Short pulled up lame on the homestretch with a stredded right rear tire being the culprit. On the restart Windom moved back to the point and looked to be on his way to his second straight USAC sprint car victory but under caution on lap 28 the right front tire went flat causing the 2017 champ to head pit side to change the flat shoe. That gave the lead to Justin Grant who had executed a pass on both Thomas and Leary to move into second on the lap 24 restart and found himself on top of the heap at the moment. Everyone especially the TOPP Motorsports contingent were hoping that their guy had enough rubber to get them to the finish and the nail biting continued when both Brady Bacon and Jason McDougal had pulled up with flat rear tires on lap 28. Grant was up to the challenge and sprinted away on the restart with Tyler Courtney muscling his way underneath Thomas for third entering turns one and two. Leary tried to catch Grant but didn't quite have enough to track down the leader and Grant flashed under the checkered flag at 10:45 winning his first of the year over Leary (told grandmom one position higher tomorrow), Courtney up from 22nd in a steady march from the rear, Chad Boespflug who gained two spots over the final two laps to claim fourth with Kevin Thomas Jr. falling to fifth at the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Damion Gardner, Timmy Buckwalter, Chase Stockon, Dave Darland and Kyle Cummins at the end. It was not a dramatic on track last lap pass for the victory tonight but instead a not as dramatic turn of events in the final two laps that decided the win.

    Saturday, February 16 - Bill Burns back from his cruise of the Panama Canal joined us for the final night of USAC racing at Bubba Raceway Park as we all ventured north to Ocala for the Winter Dirt Games X. Mrs. Leary's favorite grandson, CJ, would up his finish by one and grandmother and many others would be happy on this evening.

    Pennsylvania's Timmy Buckwalter in his second year of USAC racing topped the 27 car field in qualifying with a time of 13.689 seconds on the track that came around after being heavy in warmups but management tried to provide a race track that was less abrasive this evening. We were down to three heats tonight but the result was the same in heat one as Justin Grant bolted to the victory over Carson Short, Joey Biasi (having a strong Florida for the PA runner), Chase Stockon and Dave Darland as five would move into the 30 lap feature event. Dakota Jackson continued his impressive Florida run with a victory in heat two outdistancing CJ Leary, Chris Windom, Kent Schmidt (also having some good runs in the Sunshine state) and Jason McDougal. Heat three fell to Chad Boespflug back in the EZR #98E trying to rebound from a rough 2018 USAC campaign. Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Robert Ballou and Matt Westfall trailed the rejuvinated Boespflug. Fifty two mod lites took to the track for their heat races followed by the USAC semi with the final seven moving into the 22 car starting field. Tyler Courtney would win this one over fast timer, Timmy Buckwalter, Damion Gardner, Kyle Cummins, Isaac Chapple, Stephen Schnapf and rookie Noah Gass making his first USAC main event.

    The 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car Series event would go green at 9:21 with Robert Ballou grabbing the lead from second but the racing was stopped quickly when a pair of fives driven by Dave Darland and Kent Schmidt tangled off turn four and stopped on the homestretch both done for the evening. Ballou went back out front on the restart and extended his lead in the early going. Ballou remained at the point as Leary and Thomas dueled for second with Leary taking the spot and then slowly chipping away at the Ballou advantage. The leaders reached the tail of the field by lap 9 and began to maneuver their way through the slower cars. Ballou drifted high off turn four on lap 12 and Leary pounced down low to take the lead away at that point. Leary picked his way through the lappers during the course of the feature with only two late cautions bringing the field back to him. Kevin Thomas Jr. was ready to pounce on the last restart with three laps to go but Leary would have no part of any late race theatrics and took off like a rabbitt on the restart. To the delight of grandmom Leary her favorite grandson flashed under the checkered flag at 9:39 bringing joy to the entire Reinbold/Underwood team wrenched by Davey Jones as the new team has jelled well in the opening series taking the points lead and one win under their belts back north to Indiana for the next race in late March at Lawrenceburg, one of Leary's best tracks. Thomas came home second with Courtney third, Stockon fourth and Chris Windom rounding out the top five. Robert Ballou faded to sixth with Jason McDougal getting his best finish in Florida in seventh with Damion Gardner eighth, Carson Short ninth and Timmy Buckwalter nailing down another top ten run. The track surface was better tonight and the program was spun off well but last night was the better of the two USAC sprint programs we witnessed here. The fist bumping Mrs. Leary probably would disagree with my acessment and I wouldn't blame her the least bit!!!!

    That's it for reports from Florida though we are down here for another week before venturing back north and hope to enjoy some warm days with the Florida sunshine shining upon us. Until sometime in March get out there and enjoy some ice racing in your area if you are so inclined or opt for the indoor TQ midget action coming up the first weekend in March at the fairgrounds building in Syracuse. News, comments, notes, words of encourgement or damnation can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or reach us at Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as you make it worthwhile slaving over the keyboard to bring you our views of the races we take in on our travels.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Last Lap Pass To Win Opening Night Of King of 360's At East Bay

    Thursday, February 14 - The plan for today was to take in the King of the 360's opener at East Bay Raceway Park near Gibsonton. We arrived early and met Dale O'Brien in the parking lot and he took the Indian blanket into the grandstands and secured our seats for the evening. We dined at the track restrauant before venturing into the stands where a small crowd was on hand. Eleven micro sprints would join 20 600 mini sprints and 51 360 sprints for the Thursday's night program. The first racing kicked off nearly an hour late with eight micro sprints in heat one which was won by Wade Evans. The second, three car heat, yes 3 cars, went to Kevin Strife. Why they ran eight in one heat and only three in the other is anyone's guess!! The twenty 600 micro sprints also ran two heats and the division was seven in the first and thirteen in the second. Must be Florida math!! The 360's would run six heats with the Tennessee veteran Terry Gray taking heat one over CJ Jones and Tim Shaffer. Josh Baughman scored heat two besting Mark Smith and Matt Kurtz. PA's Todd Gracey won heat three over New Jersey's Davie Franek and Joey Schmidt. Heat four saw Florida's own Danny Martin Jr. sprinting to the victory over Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Michigan's Dustin Daggett. Tony Stewart prevailed in heat five beating Mason Daniels and Seth Bergman. The sixth and final heat went to defending King of the 360's champion, Terry McCarl, over Cory Eliason and Dale Howard.

    The 20 lap micro sprint feature was next up at 9:31 with Larry Rarer in his first ever appearance at East Bay held off Kevin Strife and Jared Meyers in this one. The four 360 B mains were scheduled next and this is where the show fell apart. The flagger was in the stand, the fans were in the seats and for the next thirty minutes there was nothing but silence from the announcer. The worst thing you can do at a race track is keep the fans in the dark and expect them to remain happy. The "let's go" calls and other things started to rise from the crowd and about ten minutes later the announcer informed everyone that there were several disqualifications in the top sixteen from the passing points in the heats so the locked in cars and the four B mains needed to be realligned. Finally after what seemed like forever the first of four B mains were pushed off. Sam Hafertepe Jr. won B main one over Manitoba's Thomas Kennedy. Canadian Dylan Westbrook scored B main two over Dale Howard. B main three went to Frank Beck over Shawn Dancer. Jason Sides scored B main four over Cale Conley. It was now 11 PM and we still had two feature events still to run.

    The 25 lap 600 mini sprint feature would provide some great entertainment as pole sitter, Luke Thomas out of Delaware, jumped the initial start twice and was relegated to the rear of the 22 car field. Robby Hoffman made short work of the cars up front and went to the lead and most people thought this one was all over. Nobody informed Luke Thomas who sliced and diced his way from the rear to catch and pass leader Hoffman on lap 17 and pull to a quarter lap lead when the checkered flag flew at 11:18. Thomas accepted the penalty gracefully in victory lane and enjoyed his win in victory circle. Finally the 25 lap 360 sprint car feature was ready to go at 11:33 with Mark Smith breezing into the early lead with Todd Gracey and Brett Wright in tow. Smith pulled to a comfortable advantage as the battling behind him intensified. A lap 10 caution for Wayne Johnson slowing in turn four bunched up the field but Smith had a four lap car cushion between him and Wright who was running second. Terry McCarl started to make his move passing Wright one lap later after starting eighth and took up the chase of Smith. Also Tony Stewart had worked his way up to fifth by lap 10 and Thomas Kennedy was on the march from twenty first to eighth at this juncture. Smith continued to pick off lap cars and maintain his lead with McCarl and Stewart now up to third in close pursuit. Thomas Kennedy ruined his great march spinning in turn four while running fifth on lap 16. Five laps later Wright's night was ruined also as he spun in turn two on lap 21 while running fourth. This was a pivotal moment as Smith, McCarl, Stewart, Seth Bergman and Danny Martin Jr. lined up nose to tail with Californian Cory Eliason lurking just outside the top five. On the restart McCarl got a good run off turn four and went under Smith entering turn one. Smith followed McCarl through turn two and made his move to the inside on the backstretch and moved back to the front. Cory Eliason slipped by Martin for fifth and then Bergman for fourth in the next two laps. Eliason challenged McCarl down the backstretch using the high groove to his advantage and motored by McCarl for second. Eliason was flying and closed on Smith racing down the backstretch side by side with Eliason up high and Smith down low. Smith left Eliason the outside route and Eliason blasted off turn four side by side with Smith and the drag race was on to the checkered with Eliason edging Smith by about three feet for the upset win as the crowd roared its approval. The great racing in the two features almost made up for the late hour of the evening (11:55). Almost!!!

    That it for this installment from Florida and check back maybe on Tuesday for our final two races from Speedweeks in Florida with USAC sprints from Bubba Raceway Park. In the meantime plot your 2019 race trips and maybe get out there and enjoy an ice race in your area if they are available. Comments, ideas, news and more can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of USAC Midgets & USCS Sprints At Bubba Raceway Park

    Friday, February 8 - It is always good to have friends along to share the experiences on the road with and tonight Allan and Nancy Brown, former owners of the National Speedway Directory, were in the Rogue for our trip northward to the Ocala area and the Bubba Raceway Park for the first of two nights of USAC midget and USCS sprint cars. Before going to the track we sidetracked and went to Silver Spring State Park and took a ride on the glass bottomed boats to view the hot springs and fish below the surface. It was a nice side trip and broke up the day. We arrived at the track early around 4:45 so Allan would be able to take advantage of the handicapped parking out behind the homestretch grandstands and racing buddies, Dale O'Brien and Bing Metz, filtered in and joined us for a night of racing.

    The USCS dash would jump start the night's racing action with Florida's Danny Martin Jr. capturing this event. Then it was right into the time trial qualifying for the USAC midgets kicking off at 7:36. Twenty seven midgets took time and when it was all said and done at 7:59 it was Kevin Thomas Jr. in his new ride in one of the Petry Motorsports entries setting the quick time with a lap of 13.773 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval. From there it was right into the six qualifying heats for the fine 44 car field on hand for the USCS sprinters with passing points awarded in the heat racing so if you finished in the top three it doesn't necessary mean you are locked into the field. Heat one went to New York's Justin Barger with Todd Gracey and Carson Short chasing him across the line. Sussex New Jersey's Davie Franek captured heat two over Dylan Westbrook and Johnny Gilbertson. Tony Stewart nailed down heat three turning back Vermont's Adam Pierson and Ryan Turner. Heat four was a good one with Florida's Nick Snyder fending off Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Johnny Bridges. Mark Smith of PA scored the heat five win over Danny Martin Jr. and Thomas Kennedy. Heat six was won by New York's Larry Wight beating Brett Wright and Ricky Peterson. The three USAC midget heats were next on the agenda with Kevin Thomas Jr. drawing first blood triumphing over Tucker Klaasmeyer, Jerry Coons Jr., Tanner Carrick and Jesse Colwell. Tyler Courtney captured heat two beating Tyler Thomas, Logan Seavey, Cole Bodine and Chris Windom in his new ride in the Clauson/Marshall #17BC. Chad Boat brought the Tucker/Boat #84 home first in heat three turning back Tanner Thorson, CJ Leary in his new ride in the Fred Manafort #76M, Zeb Wise and Karter Sarff.

    The USCS sprints would come back with two B mains with Winnipeg Canada's Thomas Kennedy scoring the first one and Oklahoma's Wayne Johnson riding home first in the second one. The USAC midgets would run one B main with Sam Johnson of St. Peters, Missouri in the Reynolds #19J scored the win over Andrew Layser with a last lap pass and Holly Hollan.

    Now it was time for the two feature events with the USAC midgets kicking off their feature first with the green flag waving at 10:51 with Tucker Klaasmeyer leading the opening four laps before Tyler Courtney and CJ Leary applied the pressure to the Kansas youngster. Courtney powered by in turn four coming around for lap six. Leary slipped back to fourth with Chad Boat moving in third past Leary and pressuring Klaasmeyer quickly moving by on lap seven. Sunshine pulled away from the field and built up a comfortable lead over the middle stages of the race with everyone else chasing the high flying Clauson/Marshall #7BC in vain. A late caution for an Adam Pierson stop in turn two bunched the field but Courtney was up to the task. He took off on the restart with Leary able to slide past Boat for second in turn two on lap 27. All of a sudden Kevin Thomas Jr. who was running sixth with four to go turned up the wick (was probably conserving his tires) and made a charge toward the front. Thomas was able to storm into second but did not have enough time to apply any pressure on Courtney who flashed under the checkered flag at 11:10 scoring his sixth career USAC National midget victory over Thomas with Chris Windom racing from 11th to 3rd with CJ Leary notching fourth and Zeb Wise coming from ninth to fifth at the finish. Tanner Carrick came home sixth with Klaasmeyer seventh, Boat fading to eighth, Tanner Thorson advancing from 17th to 9th and Jerry Coons Jr. rounding out the top ten.

    We were not done yet as the USCS winged 360 sprints had 25 circuits to spin off before we were finished. Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Nick Snyder brought the field to the green flag at 11:25 with Hafertepe taking the early lead. Hafertepe would lead until lap 11 when Davie Franek would dust off the defending ASCS 360 champion taking the lead at that point after the only caution had appeared for a Mark Smith/Carson Short tangle off turn four. On the restart Franek pressured Hafertepe and passed him off turn one on lap 11. Franek would lead the rest of the way scoring the win in his first ever appearance at Bubba Raceway Park holding off a late charge by Tony Stewart with Hafertepe settling for third with Larry Wight notching fourth and Wayne Johnson riding home fifth after starting sixteenth with the final checker waving at 11:37. The USCS tussle was actually a very good race and was the better of the two features on the evening.

    Saturday, February 9 - Today was quite opposite from yesterday as the temperatures dropped ten degrees into the 60's and the wind kicked up to around 10 to 12 miles an hour and never let up the entire day. We traveled just past the track to Sam's St. John's Seafood House to dine on some delicious fish before venturing over to Bubba Raceway Park for night two of the USAC midget & USCS sprint car doubleheader. After the sun went down and the wind continued it got quite cool and was definitely a two sweatshirt night..

    The USCS dash started off the night of racing at 6:40 with Justin Barger taking top honors in this event. The reduced 24 car field of USAC midgets took to the oval for time trials at 6:54 with Tyler Courtney setting fast time with a lap of 13.817 seconds outdistancing second and third fastest by only .002 seconds!! The USCS sprint cars would again run six heats with Davie Franek knocking off heat one, Sam Hafertepe Jr. winning heat two, veteran Terry Gray notching heat three, Tony Stewart coming home first in heat four, Seth Bergman copping heat five and Wayne Johnson winning heat six. The USAC midgets took to the track for their three heats with Tucker Klaasmeyer bringing home one of the Kunz Motorsports entries first over Tyler Courtney, CJ Leary, Tyler Thomas and Karsyn Elledge (grandaugher of Dale Earnhardt). Heat two fell to another Kunz driver, Tanner Carrick, turning back Chad Boat, Logan Seavey, Holly Hollan and Sam Johnson. Zeb Wise got a win for Clauson/Marshall in heat three besting Chris Windom, Tanner Thorson, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Zane Hendricks. The USCS sprint cars would need two B mains while the midgets would forgo a B main. Adam Pierson doing double duty and Thomas Kennedy broke home victories in the two B mains and all qualifying was in the books and it was now feature time.

    The green flag waved on the twenty four car field at 9:53 with Tucker Klaasmeyer scooting to the early lead. It was short lived as Adam Pierson took a nasty flip in turn three on the opening lap with the red waving. Klaasmeyer went out front on the restart and held sway over Zeb Wise and a hard charging Tyler Courtney. Klaasmeyer held the point with Wise and Courtney swapping the second postion with Courtney taking the spot for good on lap 9. The race passed the halfway mark with Klaasmeyer holding the lead looking like he might pull off his first career USAC midget victory. Courtney was searching every possible groove for a way around but drifted high in turn four allowing Chad Boat to motor by into second. Courtney returned the favor in turn one and went to work again on Klaasmeyer. Lap 21 saw Zeb Wise's strong night ruined when his right rear tire gave up the ghost while running fifth and rolled to a stop. On the restart Klaasmeyer was off and running but Courtney made his move in turn one on the next lap and was out front for the second night in a row. Courtney stretched his lead over the remainder of the distance with Boat and now Kevin Thomas Jr. taking up the chase. A caution waved with just three to go and on the restart Thomas disposed of Boat for second and went after Courtney. Tyler was able to fend off the charge by Thomas to grab the win at 10:24 trailed by Thomas, Boat and CJ Leary slipping by Klaasmeyer to take fourth. Courtney has now taken the last four USAC races run at Bubba Raceway Park and obviously has this track down to an art and also became the eighth driver in USAC midget history to win the first two races of the year. Jesse Colwell turned in a strong performance in this one to finish sixth with Tanner Thorson turning in another stellar performance marching from 24th to 7th with Logan Seavey eighth, Chris Windom ninth and Andrew Layser claiming tenth.

    That left the 30 lap USCS sprint car feature left to run and the field went green at 10:52. Johnny Gilbertson took the early lead but it wasn't long before Mark Smith dove low in turn two on lap two to take the top spot. Sam Hafertepe Jr. took up the chase and closed the gap between the two. As the laps ticked off Smith was in control with Hafertepe within striking distance as they weaved their way through lap traffic. Tony Stewart was making up serious real estate slicing his way through the field advancing to 3rd from his 13th starting position in the late stages of the event. Also modified ace, Larry Wight, was flying and charged into fourth at the end after trudging forward from eighteenth. Mark Ruel Jr. would end up fifth after starting first when the checkered flew at 11:14. Both features were good contests and we all left happy though cold.

    That's it for another installment of this column as I am writing this after suffering our first rainout of 2019 after Volusia Speedway Park had their final WOO sprint car race rained out after persistent rain showers ended their night early. Alternatives at Bubba Raceway Park and New Smyrna also fell victim to the wet stuff. Work on putting together your race schedules for this year and then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you may end up. Notes, news and comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Four Nights Of Lucas Oil Late Model Racing At East Bay

    Disclaimer: This is our annual deviation from our open wheel season of reporting aka a trip on the dark side. If you don't want to read about some great late model racing at the Clay by the Bay then skip this column and return over the weekend for our two days at Bubba Raceway Park for USAC midgets and USCS 360 sprints.

    Monday, February 4 - It was time for our annual trek over to East Bay Raceway Park to attend Lucas Oil Late Model portion of the Winternationals held every year here. It is quite a difference for us who attend mostly open wheel programs during the year but the late model racing on the Clay by the Bay is sooo good every year that we very much enjoy attending this week of racing. We recommend if you want to check out late model racing for a change of pace this is the place to do it. The Lucas Oil Late Model Series runs a very efficient and enjoyable format of racing and tonight's racing was no exception as they spun off two at a time qualifying under the watch for 53 cars followed by six heats, two B mains, a strawberry dash and a 30 lap main event in less than three hours with the final being over by 9:04 PM!!!

    The feature was excellent with three lead changes before the first lap was completed and much racing action throughout the field the entire 30 lap distance. Tyler Erb started first but slipped back to fourth in the early going. Jonathan Davenport had the lead as they closed the line to complete lap one and led until lap nine when Josh Richards led for one lap and Brandon Sheppard took over for two circuits. Then suddenly Tyler Erb blasted past Sheppard to take his first lead of the evening on lap 13 and even though pressured he would never be unseated for the top spot the remainder of the feature. Erb who moved into the ride Richards had a year ago held off Richards now behind the wheel of the Clint Bowyer entry with Brandon Sheppard in the Mark Richards #1 third. Rounding out the top five were seventh starting Austin Hubbard and ninth starting Don O'Neal with the entire program completed by 9:04. That is the way to run an efficient show!!

    Tuesday, February 5 - Night two found 56 cars pulling into the pit area for tonight's racing with two car time trials beginning at 6:18. By 6:53 white hot Tyler Erb had set fast time with a lap of 14.479 seconds around the East Bay oval. By 7:07 it was heat racing with six of them on tap for the good field on hand. Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Shanon Buckingham, Tyler Erb, Jimmy Owens and Morgan Bagley came away with heat wins before Arizona's Stormy Scott and Indiana's Don O'Neal scored B main wins. Austin Hubbard who finished fourth last night had to use the Strawberry Dash to advance into the 26 car starting field for tonight's 30 lap main event.

    The green flag waved on the 26 car field at 8:47 and only one caution on lap eight slowed the racing action. Tyler Erb made the race for the lead no contest as he took off at the drop of the green flag outdistancing pole sitter, Earl Pearson Jr., for the lead. The battle was not for the lead tonight but instead for positions two through four. When the checkered flew 12 minutes later at 8:59 it was Tyler Erb across the line first for the second straight night and third win of 2019. Earl Pearson Jr. dropped back and then rallied to finish second with Dennis Erb Jr. coming from seventh to finish third with Brandon Sheppard fourth with Jimmy Owens rounding out the top five. Another well run program and even being delayed by road construction on I-75 we were back in the condo by 11:20.

    Wednesday, February 6 - Fifty one cars would visit the pit area tonight for the third night of racing action at East Bay Raceway Park with time trials commencing at 6:23. Brian Shirley would spin off a blistering lap of 14.273 seconds to post fast time for the evening. Again six heats followed with three to qualify and then two B mains with two to move on and finally the Strawberry Dash with the winner moving on into the 40 lap feature tonight.

    The green would drop at 8:41 for the 40 lap tussle on the front row of Colton Flinner and Brian Shirley and 24 of their rivals with Flinner taking the early lead. Flinner led the first eight laps before Shirley took the point on lap nine. Jonathan Davenport went out front on lap twelve with Brandon Sheppard chasing. Sheppard moved by Davenport on lap twenty four and Davenport returned the favor two laps later and would not relinquish the lead again. It was far over though as Tyler Erb made his presence known moving past everyone except Davenport into second. Also on the charge were Josh Richards from 23rd into the top five along with Brandon Overton coming from 18th into the top five.

    Kyle Bronson was also slicing through the field from 20th to as high as third before finally being nipped at the wire for fifth. When the checkered waved at 9:17 it was Davenport in for his first win of the year and fifth of his career at East Bay and 37th career Lucas Oil Late Model win. Erb would come up one short of his third straight win at East Bay finishing second after starting eighth with Richards coming home third, Brandon Overton fourth and Brandon Sheppard nipping Bronson at the wire for fifth. Some fine runs by several drivers made the evening interesting to say the least.

    Thursday, February 7 - The field dropped off to below 50 at 49 for the first time this week as the WOO late models were having practice at Screven, Georgia tonight preparing for their season opener the next two nights at the Georgia oval. Mike Benendum surprised the field setting fast time on the evening but that would be his highlight as he did not qualify for the main event through the heats and B's so a provisional saw him added to the starting lineup for tonight's main event. Again time trials kicked off the program at 6:07 followed by six qualifying heats, two B mains and the Strawberry Dash before the field was set for the 40 lap final.

    An all Florida front row of Kyle Bronson and Earl Pearson Jr. would bring 24 others to the initial green flag at 8:43 with Bronson jumping to the lead for the first eight laps. Third starting Tyler Erb would catch and pass Bronson for the top spot and forged to the front. Erb used the low groove to maintain his advantage with Pearson nipping at his heels through a rash of cautions in the middle stages of the race. Jonathan Davenport who started fourth and faded backward at the start suddenly found the outside groove to be the way to go and clawed his way back into the top five. Bronson, Tanner English and Billy Moyer were also in the hunt using the high side to advance forward also. Hudson O'Neal who spun on lap ten and restarted the race at the tail of the field was also on the move cracking the top ten in the late stages of the contest. The controversial moment of the race came on lap 26 when Davenport had a head of steam on the outside entering turns three and four with Erb going high to block the charge of Davenport for the lead with the two colliding with Davenport climbing the wall and spinning around taking him out of contention for the win. On the restart Erb maintained his advantage with Pearson still stalking his every move with Hudson O'Neal sitting back in sixth. O'Neal was making up big chunks of real estate with two to go he challenged the front two using the extreme high side to his advantage. O'Neal edged ahead of Erb at the line on the white flag lap and the three of them raced off into turns one and two. Erb edged out front entering turn three and the two raced side by side coming off the fourth turn with O'Neal stealing the win by mere inches at the line and the crowd went wild. It was 9:22 when a very happy O'Neal pounded on his roof and waved the checkered flag at the cheering crowd before being interviewed by the announcer. Tyler Erb's explanation of not knowing Davenport was up there in the late going did not hold water and if he simply had said he went up high to block Davenport and they got together and that's racing that would have been much better than his lame excuse. Pearson snuck by on the low side to edge Erb for second with Devin Moran marching from 17th to finish 4th with Kyle Bronson hanging on to finish 5th. This was our last scheduled race of the week at East Bay with us heading to Bubba Raceway Park to bring you all reports from the two nights of USAC midgets and USCS sprint cars on Friday and Saturday.

    That's it for this segment but check back on Sunday for the two day report from Bubba Raceway Park where the stars and cars of USAC take center stage with the USCS winged 360 sprinters joining the bill for the weekend. Comments, news, rumors and such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Plot those 2019 races if you are not in Florida and be ready to go when the season opens in your area. Take care, be warm and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of All Stars At Bubba Raceway Park

    Friday, February 1 - Tonight we were taking the Florida Turnpike north to Ocala for the second of three nights of All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car action at Bubba Raceway Park. We arrived around 6 PM and shortly thereafter the sprints were on the track putting heat into their motors. Our buddy, Zeke, had tied down our blanket earlier so I didn't go in right away but in a little while.

    There was a good possibility of rain in the forecast starting around 11 so the All Star Officials moved the program along briskly.

    Warmups for the 33 sprints and 22 mini sprints on hand were spun off quickly followed by the sprint car time trials kicking off at 7:05. At 7:39 Jacob Allen had posted the fastest overall time trial with a time of 11.763 seconds around the speedy oval tonight. By 7:57 the first of four sprint car heats was trackside with Pennsylvania's Danny Dietrich blasting out front and running away with this one beating fellow Pennsylvania driver, Brock Zearfoss, in one of the Pete Grove's #70, Jim Shuster and John Garvin. The second heat was won by defending All Star point champion, Aaron Reutzel, outdistancing Mark Smith, Shane Golobic and Carson Macedo in the Kyle Larson #2. Heat three was captured by Chad Kemenah in the team car to John Garvin lettered K4 fending off Cory Eliason, Tony Stewart and Jacob Allen. The fourth and final heat was captured by Logan Schuchart outrunning Lucas Wolfe, Carson Short and Tim Shaffer. Two heats were scheduled for the 22 Florida mini sprints on hand with the Todd's Tomato sponsored cars of Robby Hoffman and David Hall walking off with top honors.

    The dashes were next on the agenda determining the the top ten starting positions for the main event with dash one starting on the inside lane and dash two on the outside lane. Californian Cory Eliason would bring the California based Rudeen #26 across the line first dash chased across the line by Tim Shaffer, Mark Smith, Logan Schuchart and Aaron Reutzel. The second dash went to Jacob Allen followed by Chad Kemenah, Lucas Wolfe, Brock Zearfoss and Danny Dietrich. The track was lightning fast but somewhat narrow and passing was at a premium but the surface was also virtually dustless so we were hoping the track would widen a little for the feature. Sadly it really never did.

    The 30 lap, $5000 to win, All Star sprint feature was led to the green flag by Cory Eliason and Jacob Allen with Allen motoring to the early lead. Lap 4 saw the only caution of the event appear when Jim Shuster slowed to a stop in turn one. On the restart Allen jumped back in front trailed by Eliason and Tim Shaffer. Lap traffic began to play a factor in the running with Shaffer picking off Eliason through lap traffic and taking up the chase of Allen. Shaffer caught Allen with a good run off turns three and four and with the momentum he gained streaked by Allen at the line to start lap 14. From that point forward it was all Shaffer motoring to his second straight All Star win of the year and his firth Bubba Raceway Park victory in his career. It was also Shaffer's 66th All Star victory of his long and fruitful career. Jacob Allen would hang on for second with Cory Eliason third, Mark Smith fourth and Chad Kemenah rounding out the top five at 9:26 PM. A finely run program by the All Star officials and it is amazing how quickly you can spin off a show when bad weather is in the forecast.

    There was still one feature to go and the Florida Mini Sprint Association was ready to go at 9:37 with the 22 car field taking the green flag at that point. Only three cautions slowed this affair with Robby Hoffman controlling the point but it was anything but a cake walk. Trynt Lloyd, Jamie Tinkham and Zak Gorski applied pressure through various stages of the contest but when the final checkered waved at 9:59 it was Hoffman across the line first trailed by Gorski, Tinkham up from seventh, Lloyd fourth and Robbie Smith making a march from 11th to claim 5th.

    It was a good night of racing spun off in a very timely manner and had to be the most efficient program we have witnessed ever at Bubba Raceway Park.

    Saturday, February 2 - Pat and I made our way up the Florida Turnpike to the Wildwood exit where we met Pennsylvania residents, Russ Frei and his friend, Kathy, and we dined at Woody's BBQ and chatted for around an hour and a half. Kathy then headed back to Brooksdale while Pat, Russ and I headed further north for night three of the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars at Bubba Raceway Park. About a half hour before we arrived the track received a heavy rainstorm and the grounds were soaked when we arrived. Russ purchased an All Star sweatshirt before we all ventured into the muddy pit area and checked out the cars and stars before racing would begin. Or would it?? There was discussion that the track was not race able and the night might be canceled. Talking with one of the All Star officials around 6 he felt the track was going to be ready but they were more worried about the condition of the pit area. A final decision was going to be made at 6:30 so we waited and in the meantime chatted with Ron Hedger of SpeedSport magazine and Bob and Kathy Miller of Thunder on the Hill Promotions. At 6:30 the All Star officials called through the pit area for all drivers to attend the driver's meeting and to everyone's relief the show was on. Our hat goes off to the All Star organization for not giving up and pressing forward to present a night of racing for all the fans that braved the iffy weather and turned out to support the event.

    Time trials got underway just 45 minutes off the scheduled starting time of 7 PM and that is a testament to the Bubba track crew and the All Star organization in their never give up attitude. When the 24 sprints in attendance had taken their turn around the ultra fast dirt oval it was Tim Shaffer sitting on top of the speed charts with a time of 12.594 seconds as the two time winner so far in 2019 was setting himself up to bring out the broom for a sweep of the three day All Star show at Bubba. The first of three All Star sprint heats would take the green at 8:28 with Tony Stewart getting the early jump into the lead. Stewart would go on to win heat one over Mark Smith, Brock Zearfoss and Shane Stewart in the Clemons #5 for 2019. Heat two saw Lucas Wolfe triumph over Bradley Howard in a strong run for second followed by Shane Golobic and Carson Short. The third and final heat was captured by a surprise in Anthony Fiore who outran Paul McMahan, Cale Conley and Danny Smith. The Florida mini sprints ran three heats for their 22 car field with Robby Hoffman, Daison Pursley from Oklahoma and Zak Gorski scoring heat wins. The sprints came back with their solo dash for the evening with Tony Stewart gaining the first starting position by winning the race over Lucas Wolfe, Tim Shaffer, Paul McMahan, Bradley Howard, Mark Smith, Cale Conley and Anthony Fiore. No B main was needed for the sprints so the next order of the night was the 20 lap Florida mini sprint feature.

    Last night's winner, Robby Hoffman, would start fourth and quickly move his way to the front chased by Eddie Moss Jr. and Zak Gorski. Some good racing was taking place behind the leader among Moss, Gorski and Daison Pursley. Coming from deep in the field was a high flying Robbie Smith as he charged into the top five as the laps spun off. Hoffman continued to lead into the later stages of the race which suddenly was cut short five laps as Smith blasted into second. The white flag waved and one lap later Hoffman flashed under the checkered flag with Smith in tow with Gorski third, Pursley fourth and Moss rounding out the top five. We all would have liked to have seen the last five laps but I guess weather concerns were on the minds of the All Star officials so we can live with that.

    Tony Stewart and Lucas Wolfe would bring 22 others to the green flag at 9:54 with Stewart blasting into the early lead. Wolfe tried to keep up with Stewart but Smoke was already into lap cars by lap three and polishing them off with ease. Shane Golobic caught the homestretch wall on lap 6 and dumped the Wood #17W down the frontstretch. Golobic was OK after turning turtle and things were cleared up and we were soon back to green. Stewart powered back out front chased by Wolfe and Paul McMahan. By the halfway mark Stewart was in his own time zone with some ferocious racing going on among the top ten. Stewart was in total control until the second and last caution waved with five to go. Wolfe had one last shot at Stewart and got a good jump on the restart and pressured Stewart through turns one and two looking for an opening. Stewart stomped the pedal and once again pounced out front by a comfortable margin over the remaining five laps. When the double checkers waved at 10:12 it was Tony Stewart home first for his fourth career All Star victory beating back Lucas Wolfe, Paul McMahan, Mark Smith and Tim Shaffer. Brock Zearfoss had a hard run from ninth to sixth with Carson Short racing from 13th to 7th with Cale Conley eighth, Bradley Howard ninth and Danny Smith nailing down a tenth. It was a dominating performance by Mr. Stewart and a well deserved win for the series owner.

    Again kudos go out to everyone for persevering and presenting a show for the faithful who turned out to see the All Stars run on a Saturday night.

    That's it for another installment of A Typical Weekend and check back soon as we head west to East Bay Raceway Park for our yearly dose of late model racing there presented by the Lucas Oil Late Model series. Comments, news, suggestions and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Come on down to Florida for some relief from the cold up north or if you can't make it down plot some trips for your upcoming racing season. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thursday Night Racing At East Bay With Top Gun Sprints

    Thursday, January 31 - It was a cool day only getting into the low 60's and by nightfall it was cold. Yes, you people up North do not want to hear that it is cool (60's) and cold (50's) when you are suffering through the polar vortex but it is cold for Florida. By the end of the evening we had on two sweatshirts, heavy winter coats and beanies along with a blanket. Not exactly swimsuit weather!!!

    Our destination this evening was the East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton where the program would consist of crate late models (31), Top Gun 360 sprints (19) and V8 Warriors (16). The evening kicked off at 7:40 with two car time trials for the crate late models with Phillip Cobb setting fast time of 15.995 seconds around the finely manicured racing surface.

    The Top Gun sprints would be next up running three heats for their 19 car field with Billy Bridges, Hastings, Nebraska racer, Tim Fricke, and Keith Butler copping the heat races. The V8 Warriors ran two heats for their 16 car field and the crate late models spun off four heats for their 31 car field on hand. After a short downtime they came back with the crate LM B main before the 25 lap Top Gun sprint car feature was called to the post.

    The green on the sprint car feature dropped at 9:59 with Keith Butler surging to the early lead. It didn't take much time for eighth starting AJ Maddox to race his way to the front passing Butler for the lead three laps into the event. Maddox was on a rail and the only way he was not going to win was if there was an accident or mechanical failure on the potent #3A. Maddox was so dominant that he lapped up to third position by the completion of the 25 lapper. Maddox led 11th starting Frank Beck to the checkered with 12th starting Brandon Grubaugh taking down third at the finish. Robbie Smith and Keith Butler, a lap down, finished fourth and fifth at 10:31.

    The 30 lap crate late model feature was next up with the green dropping on the 24 car field at 10:39 with Walker Arthur grabbing the early lead. Numerous cautions broke up the event and really took away from the racing action which was good when they were running. Steve Mathis Jr. took the lead late from Keith Nosbisch (started in sixth row) to score the win from his fifth row starting position with Travis Varnadore nailing down the last podium position with Doug Horton and Devin Dixon rounding out the top five with the checker waving at 11:22. A little long of a program on a cold night so we headed for the exits bypassing the V8 Warrior 15 lap affair.

    The next two nights will find us at Bubba Raceway Park for the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars with a report on our night one there tomorrow. Last night's winner at Bubba was Tim Shaffer winning over Shane Stewart and Tony Stewart.

    Until next time try to stay warm and plot those race trips for 2019 to take your mind off the bitter cold. Comments, ideas, rumors and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Final Stop At Greenstone Park Speedway For Racing In New Zealand

    Sunday, January 6, Monday, January 7 & Tuesday, January 8 - After spending Sunday in Christchurch taking in the Canterbury Museum and The Riccarton House and Bush which were all enjoyable the only disappointment was that the Riccarton House was not open to tour but we did get to see the only two original rooms in the house. It was time to head north on Route 1 to Amberley where we had booked a two bedroom apartment in the small beach town. We drove over to the ocean and sat and watched and listened to the sights and sounds of the shore area before going into town to grab something to eat. From there we returned to the apartment which was very nice and all three of us had problems logging onto the Internet. The owner of the apartment, a women who had just returned that day from visiting Holland was very helpful and came over and rebooted the modem and we were good to go.

    The next morning found us leaving the beach town of Amberley and heading further north on Rt. 1 before connecting with Rt. 7 and traveling over the Southern Alps which offered awesome views and picture opportunities as we stopped numerous times during the four hour drive to Greymouth. Upon arriving in Greymouth we took a short trip out to the Greymouth Breakwater where the Grey River and the Tasman Sea meet. The wave action was spectacular and watching a fishing vessel maneuver out of the harbor was very interesting to say the least. From there we headed north on Rt. 5 to view the Pancake Rocks in Punakaki, part of the Paparoa National Park. The rocks and the scenery was spectacular and the coastline reminded us of driving in Oregon. We returned to Greymouth and checked into our hotel for the evening and went across the street to eat supper. On Tuesday we drove south to the town of Hokitka and beyond to visit the beautiful Hokitka Gorge. We were amazed by the color of the river cutting through the gorge which was a bright turquoise and enjoyed walking above it on a swinging bridge. Leaving the gorge we traveled back north into Greymouth had lunch and then worked out way over to the last track stop of our tour of both islands of New Zealand at the Greenstone Park Speedway.

    Greenstone Park Speedway is located out on the Southern Breakwater of Greymouth with the Grey River behind the homestretch and the Tasman Sea located outside of turns three and four. The pit area is located off of turns one and two with a walking bridge crossing from the end of the homestretch over into turn one. The 1/5 mile dirt oval had some banking to it but not much and the infield was clear of all obstructions. The track does not have lights or stands as such with only some park benches on the backstretch and a concrete three row seating area on the homestretch. Cars are allowed to park above turns one and two but space is limited. After arriving after 3 PM for the 4 PM start we were surprised to see so many people already on the speedway grounds. We parked between turns one and two and walked over to the homestretch and sat on the top row of the concrete bleachers and thank goodness the hotel owner gave us an old blanket to sit on or it would have been a rough seat for the butt. There were four divisions on hand with the superstocks bringing 26 to the show while the stock cars only mustered nine, the production saloons a meager seven and the youth ministocks brought a good seventeen car field to race.

    The stockcars would lead off the racing action which started at 4:13 for the scheduled 4 PM start. Butch Rosewarne would dominate this division today winning three of the four races to become the overall point winner. The 26 superstocks were split up into two groups of 13 each and would run two heats for each group. The top 24 would run in a 20 lap feature as the last race of the day with the top 12 point men after running the heats squaring off in a short race to determine the straight up starting positions for the feature. Keegan Levien and Quinn Ryan would win in Group 1 while William Humpries, the 2018 NZ superstock champion and Ethan Rees would win in Group 2. The 12 car shootout would go to Phil Ogle who was rewarded with the first starting position. Ogle would lead to just past the halfway mark when Humpries would work his way to the front and go on to win the main event with the final checker flying at 7:35 with plenty of sunlight left for the day. Jason Long the new 2019 NZ superstock champion would come home third with Keegan Levien fourth and Peter Rees wearing the #2NZ number would round out the top five. The youth ministocks put on a good show with Cody Fabish winning two of the races and Brayden Skurr winning the other one in probably the best race of the day.

    It was a fun trip and as I write this Pat is packing the bags for our return flight from Christchurch to Auckland and then we have to go to the international terminal for our flight from Auckland non-stop to Chicago leaving tomorrow. A picturesque drive back from Greymouth to Christchurch is on the agenda for tomorrow morning with numerous photo stops anticipated.

    Until next time which will probably be reports from Florida which is our next planned trip sit down and plot some trips of your own and get out and see some good short track racing in your area in 2019. News, comments and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email and on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of Racing At Woodford Glen

    Friday, January 4 - We took the short 1 1/2 hour flight from Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island where we will be spending the next six days taking in the sights and also attending two tracks on this island of New Zealand. By the time we landed, got our luggage and rental car about all we were able to do this day was catch a late lunch where Pat and I dined on chicken schnitzel while Dale dined on fish and chips and everyone said that their meals were delicious. We checked into our hotel for the next two days, changed clothes and headed over to the nearby Woodford Glen Speedway for their first of two nights of racing headlined by the New Zealand Superstock Championships of which there were 82 of them in attendance. On the card tonight along with the superstocks were the production saloons (think 4 cylinder street stocks) with ten in town and winged modifieds which brought twelve cars to the party. The crowd was large at about 4500 for the opening night with some sort of seating almost the entire way around the 1/4 mile oval with dirt that looked the closest to the kind we are accustomed to back in the USA with long straights and tight turns. The infield was again clear of obstructions and the pits were located behind the homestretch and we sat on the backstretch two rows from the top of the grandstand with individual hard plastic stadium seats with no arm rests giving you plenty of elbow room along with plenty of knee room in front of you. The rest of the hillside seating stretching around the oval was a combination of chair seats in turn four and two and room for lawn chairs and blankets in the rest of the areas. There were many truck vendors offering a variety of food items including corn dogs, baked potatoes, burgers, drinks of all kinds and three Mr. Whippy trucks offering a plethora of ice cream treats.

    The first racing was on the track at 6:59 for the scheduled 7:00 starting time and quickly took the green flag to start the non-stop racing that would cover the next almost 4 1/2 hours so if you needed a rest stop or food and didn't want to miss anything get it before the racing starts!! The format was three sets of racing for each class with the drivers accumulating points for each finish with the top point man or woman declared the division's winner. With the class of the superstocks they ran 12 total races broken up into four groups with everyone running three times in their group and the top six moving directly to the final rounds tomorrow evening. The superstocks are an interesting looking class with almost the look of the old Pennsylvania bugs with smaller wings mounted on the roofs and bumpers protecting their cars all the way around which allows them to bang into each other and the walls and usually keep going. The three group 1 winners were Jason Long, Adam Joblin and Andy McCabe with Jamie Hamilton taking two events in group 2 with Ethan Rees capturing the other event. Group 3 winners were Peter Rees, Keegan Levien and Wayne Hemi while defending New Zealand superstock champion, William Humphries, took race one in group 4 with Asher Rees taking the next two rounds. There were runoffs in groups three and four with three drivers racing for two top spots in the top six in one and two drivers racing for the sixth spot in group four. Hayden McKay, Steve Thompson and Michael Gourley took the three modified heats and this was the only class to run a feature with Steve Thompson scoring the win over Jack Ackers and Hayden Corbett. The final runoff completed at 11:20 and the first night of racing was in the books at Woodford Glen.

    Saturday, January 5 - After a full day of sightseeing in the Christchurch area which included a tour of the downtown area devastated by a 2011 earthquake. The city is still rebuilding including the beautiful old cathedral which lost its bell tower and entire back wall to the earthquake. Also a gondola ride up the side of a mountain outside of Christchurch, the oldest city in New Zealand, topped off the day of playing tourists with panoramic views of the city, ocean and mountains which was awesome.

    A late lunch or early dinner was squeezed in before gathering our sweatshirts and heading over to Woodford Glen for the second night which was finals night. Even though it is summer in New Zealand and the days get into the 70's and 80's once the sun goes down the temperature drops into the 60's and 50's and there is usually a wind along with the dropping temperatures. The finals night saw three additional classes join the superstocks with all different from the night before. There were 22 events on the schedule tonight with 21 streetstocks, 11 super saloons and 21 stockcars joining the superstocks. In a much different situation then what we are use to in the USA the New Zealand national anthem was played with the announcer saying that you could stand if you wanted but it was not required. I would say that about 85% of the crowd stayed sitting and many continued to have conversations during the song.

    The first green flag of the evening dropped at 7:02 upon the streetstocks which was more of an oval demo derby with some racing involved. The two superstock repechages (B mains or consies in the USA) were next up with 24 different cars in each with only the winner advancing to the finals. To say the least the starts which are standing starts were mayhem. Once they sorted themselves out the racing was good with many passes. Each group again ran three sets of races with the non-qualifying superstocks running four races plus a final to determine the second tier winner. The superstocks would run three final races with Peter Rees and Andy McCabe winning the first two and going into the last race the top three point getters were Rees, McCabe and Jason Long. Simon Joblin won the last race but we were disturbed by the unsportsmanlike display by the Rees family of Peter, Ethan and Asher especially Asher. He had crashed in the second race and tore his wing off but came out for the final and turned into a hit man. He crashed numerous drivers and should have been given the black flag before him and Ethan ganged up on Andy McCabe and took him out of the running. We couldn't understand why this activity was allowed and if Peter had won the championship to us it would have been tainted. It turned out that Jason Long was able to steer clear of the Rees clan and score the championship and the honor or wearing the #1NZ on his machine in 2019. With another streetstock race and the non-qualifier final still to come and the time past 11:30 it was time to hit the exits and beat the 6000 others in attendance tonight back out to the motorway and to the hotel as another fun filled day was planned in the Christchurch area tomorrow.

    That's it for another installment of our adventures in New Zealand and we hope you will check back on Thursday or Friday for our last race of the trip which is on Tuesday on the Western coast of the South Island. Until next time plot your trips for 2019 and get out there when the weather is nicer and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you may be. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy reading about some slightly different type of racing from down under.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Starting Off The New Year At Huntly & Meeanee

    Tuesday, January 1 - Happy New Year!!! We spent the day touring the beautiful Hamilton Gardens before returning to our hotel in Hamilton to change clothes for the evening as even though it is warm during the day the evenings are cool and windy. Huntly Placemakers Speedway was our destination for the evening and upon arrival we found a 1/5 mile flat clay oval with concrete walls encircling the entire track and a clear infield for good sight lines. The pits were located behind turn four and the homestretch where there was no seating down a hill. Bench seating and some bleachers were located around the track starting in turn four and extending all the way over to turn one. We choose seats about midway down the backstretch on wooden boards attached to posts driven into the ground. They were not that comfortable. The scenery behind the homestretch was very nice with rolling green hills dotting the horizon.

    A five division program was on the agenda with the United Truck Parts International Midget Series headlining the card tonight. Twenty eight midgets were joined by eleven sprint cars, twenty two ministocks,, fourteen superstocks and sixteen TQ midgets. Racing kicked off almost a half hour late at 6:28 with the ministocks running their first of three races with the winner determined by the accumlated points over their three races. Ryan Marshall would win two out of three rounds and come out on top. The superstocks were next up and they ran three races spread out over the course of the evening. The TQ midgets would run three heat races with Ryan Barry, Danny Keene and Kaleb Currie scoring wins with a double rollover occurring in turn four in heat three. The midgets would run five heats for their 28 car field with each driver participating two times each. Heat one would go to Kyle Larson beating local Daniel Thomas and Logan Seavey. Another New Zealand racer, Chris McCutcheon, would score heat two over Christopher Bell and Hayden Williams. Zach Daum driving his NZ entrant triumphed in heat three turning back Tyler Courtney and Taylor Clarke. Heat four went to New Zealander Brock Maskovich again over Daniel Thomas and Brad Mosen in an all Kiwi sweep. Peter Hunnibell would continue the strong Kiwi surge capturing heat five over Tyler Courtney and Christopher Bell. The two sprint car heats for their 11 car field went to Kerry Brocas and Stephen Taylor. The team race for the midgets went to Kyle Larson over Aussie Kaidon Brown and Aussie Matt Smith. The last preliminary race was the midget B main and Kyle Larson won that one. At this point the track had not really come around as there was only one groove and it had a lot of ripples in turns three and four or as Dale describe it as Ruffles potato chips through the turns.

    The TQ midgets would be first up for their 15 lap feature and it was a decent race with Ryan Baker beating out his brother, Scotty, for the win. The sprint feature was next up and we thought it was a mistake running the sprints first but it turned out to be the right move as the sprinters widened the surface and make it racier for the midgets later. Stephen Taylor started first and made this one look like a walk in the park easily winning over Daniel Steed, a #77 sprinter, Raymond Griffen and Kerry Brocas.

    That brought us to the 40 lap midget main event with Daniel Thomas and Tyler Courtney bringing the field to the green flag at 10:29. Thomas and Courtney battled side by side the first lap before Courtney went out front at the start/finish line and Christopher Bell slipped into second shortly thereafter. Courtney and Bell raced through lap traffic many times side by side with Courtney holding a slight advantage. Finally on lap 18 Bell found an opening and charged into the top spot in lap traffic. Three laps later Courtney returned the favor and it would be the last time he would give up the lead. The two would stay close the rest of the way in lap traffic weaving in and out. Meanwhile Michael Pickens was working his way to the front from the 15th starting position and making some noise. He ran out of time to challenge the two top runners but was flying around the 1/5 mile oval. Local Hayden Williams turned in a fine performance coming home fourth with Zach Daum nailing down the fifth position as the final checker flew at 10:44 capping off a fine feature run by numerous drivers.

    Wednesday, January 2 - It was a long five hour drive over to the east coast of New Zealand for our racing fix tonight at the Meeanee Speedway. Today was the hottest day we have encountered since we have been here with temperatures rising into the 30's (Celsius) which is 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It was even tougher as the hotel we were staying at tonight had no air conditioning!! A floor fan and the temperatures dropping into the 60's during the evening made the stay bearable.

    The Meeanee Speedway is a 1/5 mile clay oval with the pit area located off turns three and four with a clear infield. There are no grandstands on the homestretch as the scoring tower and flagger stand dominate the middle of the homestretch. Seating was an uncomfortable wooden grandstands going toward turn one or turn four or backstretch grandstands which were facing into the sun. We opted for the stands going into turn one. Also there was hillside seating in turns one and two if you had chairs or blankets to sit on. The main attraction this evening was the New Zealand Saloon Car Championship and the cars are a cross between a late model and Lightning McQueen. Forty three total cars showed to race for the twenty car starting field in the two day program. One of the entrants in the saloon class was former Tiger Wood's caddie, Steve Williams, who did not make the finals but was the winner of the second tier runs for the saloons.

    The evening started off with two non-qualifier races for the remainder of the field not locked in after yesterday's racing activity. Eighteen were locked in with only two more joining the starting field from the non-qualifier events. The two winners of the non-qualifier events were Ethan Cook and Ivan Murdoch to start off the night of racing. The superstocks brought 18 cars to the dance and ran three races while the production saloons had 20 cars in the pit area also running the three race format. Finally the TQ midgets had a 10 car field and Duane Todd in his nice looking yellow #6B sweep the three race format to be the winner in that class.

    The saloon portion of the program pitted 20 cars doing battle in three races over a 20 lap distance with the points accumulated with the high point man being the New Zealand Saloon Champion. Race one went to Matt Eckersley over Ethan Cook and Steve Martin. Race two would see Ethan Cook win over Matt Eckersley and Mike Verdoner. This left Eckersley and Cook tied going into the last race with Cook starting 9th and Eckersley 16th. Neither was able to advance far in the last race as the track went away. Cam Roigard took race three over Michelle Wymer and Josh Smith with Ethan Cook coming home the overall top points man over Cam Roigard and Matt Eckersley. The racing was good the entire evening but it was a shame that the track went away in the last race for the saloons and made the race anti-climatic.

    That's it for another installment from New Zealand and check back soon for the Bryan Clauson Memorial event for the midgets at Western Springs and much more. Until next time be safe and plot some good short track racing in the upcoming season wherever you may be. News, comments and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    A Stop At Meremere & Racing At Western Springs

    Sunday, December 30 - Dale O'Brien came up with this one as we were checking out tracks to visit during our New Zealand venture. The Meremere Raceway is a 1/4 mile dirt oval less than an hour below Auckland which was running a program starting at 10 AM. That would allow us to attend here before making our way further north to the Western Springs Speedway for the late afternoon racing action. Meremere is a rudimentary dirt track with some stands scattered around the grounds and the track itself is an odd shaped three corner oval. There were permanent bathroom facilities and two truck food vendors on the premise.

    Racing got underway 45 minutes off the scheduled starting time of 10 AM with three races featuring all of the cars in attendance mixed together with 27 cars total racing in these events. They were followed by a juniors race with one gal doing her best Joie Chitwood imitation before rolling over once and landing on her roof. She was OK but the car was worst the wear. The saloon car ladies race was next followed by the 8 cylinder race, the 6 cylinder race, the productions saloon/6 cyl production saloon race, the 4 cylinder race and the 0-1600 race with the high mark of six cars in three classes and four cars in the remaining classes. It was around 12:30 with one race to go before the lunch break so we decided to bid farewell to a nice group of grass root racers enjoying themselves racing in their two day annual nationals event. It was people having a fun time without the pressure of big time racing and how it use to be.

    Sunday, December 30 - We made our way up into the Auckland area, secured our room for the evening at a local motel and kicked back and relaxed a little while until Dale came knocking on the door saying that he had checked the Western Springs website and they were starting at 4:45 today and not 6 so we scampered around quickly and jumped in the SUV and headed the short 6 km to the track. A large crowd was in the parking area as we arrived before 4:30 where parking was $5 for this event. Admission to the meet was $26 and we secured a seat on the concrete bleachers on the homestretch and settled in for the late afternoon, early evening of racing at the historic Springs (as they call it here) which has been running since 1929. Unfortunately it is the last year of racing at this historic stadium as local neighbors have raised a stink in recent years so a new facility is being erected hopefully further out of town where they will not be limited to the number of meets they can run (12 in 2019) and have a curfew which was 9:45 PM for this program.

    The program kicked off at 4:47 with the first heat for the 16 TQ midgets on hand. It was followed by three of the five total midget heats for the fine 36 car field on hand. USA driver, Chris Windom, would capture heat one over Aussie Scotty Farmer and Scott Buckley. Heat two would go to another American, Logan Seavey, dusting off fellow Americans, Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. Aussie Kaidon Brown would score heat three besting Brad Mosen and local Daniel Thomas. There were several nasty flips during the midget heats with three going over in separate incidents in heat two. The Kiwi Kidz ran a couple of heats will these cars about the size of 1/4 midgets but looking more like a miniature midget than the American style 1/4 midgets. There were three winged sprint car heats for the 18 car field with Kiwi drivers, Kerry Brocas, Jamie Larsen (a real gasser) and Jamie McDonald winning. Next up were F2 midgets (our D2 midgets) heats for their 25 car field. It was sort of confusing trying to diffident between the similar looking midget classes and I never thought I would say it about midgets but it was too many classes. The New Zealand format for their midget divisions is every driver races two times in the heat races thus in heats four and five there were repeat drivers. Kyle Larson scored heat win four over Tyler Courtney and NZ driver, Michael Pickens while Brad Mosen won heat five over Christopher Bell and Zach Daum. Two more F2 midget heats were run before the midget team race was contested. Michael Pickens won his second straight team race for team New Zealand beating team USA drivers, Kyle Larson and Tyler Courtney.

    The first of the features of the day would be for the Kiwi Kidz and the six lap affair went to young Emerson Vincent who ran a strong race. The midget B main was next and Zach Daum was victorious. The 15 lap TQ midget feature was next and took the green flag at 8:17. After several early wrecks the distance was cut to 10 laps with Scotty Baker winning this one. The 15 lap F2 feature was next on the agenda and they ran their full 15 lap distance with Nathan Howard dominating the event but a referee's decision was brought down penalizing him two spots for starting before the cones and thus the win was awarded to second place starter, Lindsay Gate.

    The 30 lap midget feature was next up and at this point with a very sunny day the track had drawn dry and blackened up though there was a cushion against the fence. The feature was decent but kind of lackluster at the same time as Kyle Larson started and finished first chased across the line by Christopher Bell would tried to track Larson down the entire distance with Michael Pickens having his two race winning streak snapped coming home third with Zach Daum marching from 17th to 4th in a fine performance with Brad Mosen rounding out the top five with the checker waving at 9:04. The 20 lap sprint car feature would wrap up the night of racing and by this time there was not much race track to run on. The guys did their best and produced a very exciting finish with another referee's decision needed at the finish as Bell dove under Pickens in turn three for the lead and Pickens forced him into the infield where the pass was made with Bell awarded the win after the referee reviewed the video tape and ruled no further action would be taken and the win would stand. Bell would score the popular win with Pickens finishing second with Kerry Brocas third, Jamie McDonald fourth and Matthew Leversedge fifth with the final checker waving at 9:21, 24 minutes before the imposed curfew. Being the premier race track in New Zealand the racing was disappointing but sometimes you set your expectations higher for these tracks and it can be a letdown. The sun and early start contributed to the dusty conditions of the track.

    That's it for now and check back soon for the next report from New Zealand. If you enjoy indoor racing get out there and enjoy some in your area and be safe. Comments, news and other tidbits can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy this bonus from New Zealand.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Action From Baypark Family Speedway & Paradise Valley Speedway

    Friday, December 28 - Today was a five hour drive over to Baypark Family Speedway in the TrustPower Baypark Stadium near Mount Maunganui. During the drive we had a windshield full of the snow covered Mount Ruapehu which was a sight to behold. Pat, Dale O'Brien and I checked into our hotel before driving over to the track which is located inside a stadium like Robertson Holden. The 1/4 mile dirt oval was very wet from all the rain in the last day or two and took extra time to run it before starting.

    The action got underway at 6:40, just ten minutes off the scheduled starting time. The New Zealand stock cars were the first up of the four divisions on hand and their 25 car field would run four sets of heats during the evening with the same cars with the high point person being declared the overall winner. Twenty eight midgets ran five heats with everyone running twice with points determining the 26 car starting lineup. Logan Seavey, the USAC National Midget Champion, scored heat one over James Earl and Zach Daum. Heat two would see Australian Kaidon Brown prevail over Brock Maskovich and Tyler Courtney. Brad Mosen, another Australian and past US visitor, captured heat three besting Matt Smith and Max Guilford. Christopher Bell nailed down heat four over Tyler Courtney and Kyle Larson. The final heat went to New Zealand driver, Michael Pickens, who had visited and won in both POWRi and USAC midgets in the past, over Chris Windom and Brad Mosen. The super saloon division was also on the card and they brought 20 cars to the dance and spun off two heats before the midget team race was up pitting Team New Zealand, Team USA and Team Australia against each other in a nine lap shootout. Michael Pickens would notch this victory in this one besting Matt Smith and Kyle Larson.

    At this point we had three features yet to run and found out that Baypark had a 10 PM curfew and it was already after 9. The super saloons ran a 12 lap feature in ten minutes with Chris Cowling winning the competitive run. The 40 lap midget feature was waved off at 9:40 with the front row of Scott Farmer and Chris Windom bringing 25 of their friends to the green. It was an interesting feature was the track coming around after being heavy earlier in the evening. The nine caution flags really brought down the overall enjoyment of the event but when they were racing it was enjoyable. Christopher Bell went to the front and looked good before his left rear tire began to lose air with Kyle Larson pulling alongside to let him know. Bell continued to lead but around lap 19 the tire (or tyre in NZ) gave up the ghost and he pulled to the infield. Michael Pickens out of the eighth hole took the lead on lap 21 and the race was shortened to around 25 laps from the scheduled 40 with Pickens winning his second straight race in the series over Windom with Tyler Courtney driving from tenth to third, Matt Smith from 11th to fourth and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five. It was 10:09 and the night was officially over with the 15 lap sprint car feature being curfew-ed.

    This did not set well with the three of us as after paying $25 we saw a shortened version of the race we must came to see and did not get to even see the sprint car feature. If management knows they have a curfew time then they should reduce the number of classes they run so they realistically can run the entire program in the designated time frame. To us anything less is creating the paying customer out of their money and might make them think about returning the next time for a watered down product. Another 15 laps in the midget feature and the results likely could have been totally different. But we will never know!!!

    Saturday, December 29 - The shorter trip today over to the Paradise Valley Raceway was welcomed and we were able to kick back in the parking lot and read or sleep for a while before entering the front gates for tonight's racing. Upon entering the facility we found a very unique setup with the seating on the side of a hill looking down upon the track below in a tiered format of levels where patrons could sit on blankets, lawn chairs or sets of long wooden benches with only the backstretch not having seats and from where the cars entered the track. The track was dark clay and flat as are all the tracks here in New Zealand with the infield again clear offering good views all around the track.

    I won't go into great detail on this one as there were no sprints or midgets with the closest class to being opened wheeled was the BOP modifieds which was a shortened chassis modifieds with large wings on the roll cages. There were 12 of them and their three heats were entertaining. The day had been rainy in this area all day and we checked back at 3 PM and they said they were racing so off we drove over to here. After just two races the rain returned and caused an hour and an half delay but the track crew and drivers helping out stuck with it with it and worked the track back into running shape. The big race of the evening were the three races for the New Zealand Streetstock Championship with 36 entries with 26 starting each of the three races with the champion determined by the points accumulated after running the three events. Brent Redington, Matt Pedersen and Ivan HIll won the three races but the consistant Chris Shingleton ended up the New Zealand National Streetstock Champion besting defending champion, Brenden Gooch and Brent Redington in the final rundown with the last race ending at 11:56, not bad considering the hour and a half rain delay.

    That's it for now with our next report from Down Under featuring the midgets and sprint cars from Western Springs and Huntly. Until next time start plotting your 2019 trips to either a track near you or taking it on the road for some good short track racing in your area. Comments, news or anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts!!!

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing In New Zealand At Stratford & Robertson Holden

    Tuesday, December 25 - We landed in Auckland at 6:30 AM on Christmas Day. We are 18 hours ahead of you all in the Eastern Time Zone of the US. After gathering up the luggage and making our way through customs and an additional bag check we were able to secure our rental SUV from GO Rentals of New Zealand and off we went to explore the sights of Auckland. Our first stop was in downtown Auckland where we visited the Sky Tower which offered panoramic views of the city and beyond. Second stop was One Tree Hill which is the second highest volcanic peak in Auckland and has a monument on the top. We decide not to climb the peak as in was raining quite good when we pulled in and it did not let up for a while. Our third stop was Piha which is a small town along the shoreline of New Zealand and a popular spot for surfers and has a giant rock called Lion Rock which towers over the beach. The crashing surf and rugged cliffs had us awed by it all. Very few places were open to eat on Christmas Day and near our hotel in the suburbs of Auckland only McDonalds and dessert at Krispy Kreme were options for dinner.

    Wednesday, December 26- Today was a long five hour drive south from Auckland but the scenery along the way was awesome. As we drove down Rt. 3 along the coastline we stopped at various times to take pictures and take in the sights. We ended up at Cape Egmont Lighthouse and visited our first ever lighthouse in New Zealand and the views were just breath taking as the wind wiped around us. From Cape Egmont we made our way to the town of Stratford where we secured our hotel for the evening before venturing over to the Stratford Speedway, a 1/4 mile shale (mixture of shale, cinder and dirt) oval where they were hosting a Boxing Day special event. Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas and originated in England and was the day that the working class celebrated their Christmas as many had to work on Christmas for their bosses and the upper class.

    We questioned one of the parking attendants upon entering the track grounds and found out that we wanted to be parked in the South entrance as that one would exit to the left and through downtown to our hotel on the edge of town. Parking was two dollars and we arrived early and talked with a New Zealand family of three in the parking area and they directed us to the front gate where we purchased our ticket for $20 and entered the grounds after 5 PM when the gates opened. There was a small covered grandstand on the homestretch which we choose with other bleachers almost all the way around the track. The track itself was a 1/4 mile shale oval with the infield clear of any obstructions and walls all the way around the outside of the track. The program tonight was totally different than what we are use to in the states with no features and three sets of heats for each class with points given in every race and the top point getter on the evening was the overall champion. There were five classes of racing machines plus demo cars which ran only two heats. The classes were stockcars which looked like modifieds with wings with V6's (27), midgets (9), youth ministocks (30) which looked similar to the stockcars and superstocks but with four cylinder engines, superstocks (modifieds with wings and V8's) (22) and saloons (8) which looked like a cross between late models and Lightning McQueen's car.

    Racing began promptly at 7 PM (without any warmups for the divisions) with the first of three stockcar races with the cars lined up two by two, bumper to bumper and starting from a standing start as did the youth ministocks and superstocks. The shale track was wet during the running of the first event but it didn't stop these folks from putting on a whale of a race. The midgets were next up and Duane Hickman took the first heat over Greg Jones and James Greenough in a good competitive race where Hickman caught Greenough in traffic for the win. The youth minstocks were next up followed by the superstocks and the saloons. The superstocks were the most impressive in the heat racing with much passing throughout the field. There was no downtime between the racing with the second round coming right to the track as soon as the first round was completed. Greg Jones notched heat two in the midgets holding off Duane Hickman who had to go to the rear after a spin earlier and James Greenough. The third round of races saw Greg Jones again cop the win besting James Greenough and Duane Hickman. All the racing was entertaining and the crowd made noise in a small roar when the action was tight and fierce. The overall winner in the midgets was Greg Jones with two wins and a second. The youth ministocks came down to a run off with the Whelan brothers squaring off in a four lap duel with Jesse beating out his brother, Liam, for the overall win. The superstocks saw Logan Sharpe in his fine looking red #33 taking two wins and the overall title while Thomas Korff swept the saloons taking all three contests to a big roar from the overflowing crowd who were sitting anywhere they could find a seat. We left before the demo derby at 10 PM truly satisfied with our first night ever witnessing racing in New Zealand and the vast majority of the large throng on hand did not.

    Thursday, December 27 - Our travels led us from Stratford toward Palmerston North, our second night race destination being the Robertson Holden International Speedway. After checking into our hotel which we are glad we did as the return trip after the races found us having a difficult time finding our hotel as no signage was lit up guide us in.

    Upon driving into Palmerston North, the Roberston Holden Speedway was found right in the middle of town. It is located on a huge area of land with ample parking and upon entry into the stadium it was impressive. The track is located in a bowl with seats all the way around the facility with a seating capacity of 15,000. On the backstretch is a huge covered grandstand where we choose to sit for the evening in individual hard plastic seats with plenty of room and no arm rests to hinder you. The track itself is a 1/3 mile clay oval with the infield completely obstruction free allowing wonderful sight lines around the whole track. There were six classes on the program with the New Zealand Mini Sprints running their New Zealand Championship round. The mini sprint count was 21, the youth ministocks were also running a championship meet and brought a strong field of 50 to the dance. Also the superstocks were racing two heats only with a 25 car field while the stockcars brought 28 cars for their two heat races. Also on the card were sidecars which are motorcycles with sidecar riders and they had 12 entrants. The night would be rounded out with a 10 lap ramp demo derby starting 54 cars running on the oval jumping a ramp set up on the homestretch.

    Racing commenced a little off the scheduled starting time of 6:30 at 6:39 with the first of three NZ mini sprint finals of 20 laps in distance with the combined point total of the three events determining the New Zealand National Champion with Christian Hermansen the two time defending champion looking to make it three in a row this year. The first final was a competitive one with Lydia Dickinson driving to victory from tenth in this one besting Dylan Smith, Shane Dewar, Christian Hermansen from almost the rear and Ben Vaughan driving his McDonalds sponsored #57H from way back also. Later in the program the second final was spun off with Lydia Dickinson flipping end over end on the homestretch midway through the 20 lapper ending her evening early. Daniel Nickel in his nice looking #18 scored the win over Ben Vaughan, Christian Hermansen, Shane Dewar and Karl McGill. After the first two finals it was a three way tie for the points lead with Hermansen, Vaughan and Dewar knotted at the top. Christian Hermansen started midpack and charged to the front and would pick up the win and his third straight NZ mini sprint title chased across the line by Dewar who tried his best to track him down. Glen McCutcheon came home third with Kerry Brockelbank fourth and Bayley Betts fifth. Ben Vaughan came from deep in the field to finish sixth at the end.

    The sidecar races were very entertaining with three heats pitting four teams against each other. The motorcycles sped around the track with the sidecar passenger leaning very close to the racing surface with his head inches from the surface. The team of Russell Stuart and Andrew Parker defeated three other teams in the final to the loud cheers of the large crowd on hand.

    The youth ministocks ran four heats to determine the 32 car starting field for the final and Marshall Zachan who was one of the heat winners emerged victorious in the 15 lap final over Cody Hodge and Ryan Marshall in a competitive event. The 25 car superstock division ran two heats only while the 28 car stockcar division ran two heats for their gathered field.

    The night was capped off by a 54 car starting field for the 10 lap ramp demo derby on the oval as we made our way to the exit off turn four where our car was parked as it looked like a bomb hit the field with body parts laying everywhere and cars steaming and sitting every which way. It was quite a sight as we saw one car flip after crossing the ramp and land back on his wheels. It was a wild event indeed.

    This night of racing was good but not as good as the first night at Stratford. The NZ mini sprints put on a very good show and was probably one of the better races we have witnessed in our two days of racing so far.

    That's it for now from Down Under where the temperatures are in the 70's during the day but drop into the 50's during the evening. Check back in the next few days for an update on our future travels throughout the North Island of New Zealand and next week for our visit to the South Island of New Zealand. Stay warm and get out there and see some indoor racing near you for your racing fix. Comments, news, rumors and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we especially hope you enjoy our writings from New Zealand as it gives you an idea of how racing is conducted in another part of the world.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals At Cure Insurance Arena

    Thursday, December 13 - Tonight was opening night of the expanded three day show for 600 micros at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey on a 1/7 mile dirt oval. The field had swelled to 120 micros for this year's event so organizers of the event decided to split the program into two preliminary nights with 60 micros each with a support division of slingshots on Thursday night and champ karts on Friday night. After attending Pat's company Christmas party earlier in the day we made our way over to the state capital of New Jersey and found a good parking spot not far from the entrance paying our $10 to park at the arena. We hung out in the car for a while before making our way over to purchase our tickets for tonight's racing. The advertised admission was $15 for tonight's action but if you bought your ticket the day of the race it was an extra $5. Tack on to that the Ticketmaster charge of $3 per ticket and that advertised $15 dollar admission was now up to $23. Not quite the bargain that you thought it was!! It gets better than that if you use the Sammons Promotions website to order online it is $15 plus the Ticketmaster fee of $3 per ticket plus another $7.50 per ticket for a ticket fee and a $4.50 order charge. So that $15 ticket is now a total of $55.50 for two tickets. That equates to $27.75 for that $15 ticket!!! That is not right and I wonder if anyone showed up last night with a couple of kids in tow looking for a bargain night at the indoor races and received sticker shock instead. Plus you have to pay $10 to park to boot. Maybe that is why they only drew around 300 people last night. A pretty hefty price for only heats and qualifiers for the 600's and the only feature being the slingshots on the evening. Enough of that and lets get to the racing end of the column.

    We ran into Ohio traveler, Ben Trask, in the hallway walking around the outside of the arena and then Mark Krammes who told us that a group of our racing buddies were all sitting in section 224 which is above turn four. Upon entering we encountered in addition to the previous two, Dwight, Ed and Bruce Carley. It was good to see some of our East Coast racing buddies on this evening. The racing kicked off one minute early at 6:59 with the first of six heats for the 54 600 micros in town for tonight's racing. They were joined by 20 slingshots as we settled in for a night of racing. Joseph Dopke would draw first blood scoring the first heat win. Heat two would go to Jack Conover in a race where a double flip occurred in turn one with both drivers climbing from their racing machines with no injuries reported. Asphalt and dirt star, Erick Rudolph, hustled off to heat win number three with Andrew Hannula scoring heat win four, Colin White in heat five and Austin Quick grabbing heat win number six. They were followed by two heats for the slingshots with all heat racing in the books by 8:23. An half hour intermission which included some track prep followed and by 8:53 the first of four qualifiers for the 600's was trackside. The lineups for the qualifiers was determined by passing points and the top two finishers in each would automatically advance to Saturday's big 40 lap main event. The cream would rise to the top in these events as Brian Carber captured qualifier one, defending champion, Whitey Kidd III took qualifier two, Erick Rudolph notched qualifier three and Colin White scored qualifier four. The racing tonight was not top notch as the ten races for the 600's were marred by 41 total caution flags. It was not a work of art. Another full track rework was performed before the 20 lap slingshot feature and it was 10:30 when the 20 car field took the green flag. Heat winner, Jared Silfee, looked like a sure winner until about three to go when his slingshot developed a left rear tire going down which slowed his pace with second place runner, Craig Whitmoyer, getting into the rear of him exiting turn two and sending Silfee spinning. Whitomyer would inherit the lead at that point and hold off Silfee's teammate, Danny Buccafusca, for the win with Anthony Raisner third, Brett Beiber fourth and Austin Silfee rounding the the top five with the final checker waving at 10:47. Hopefully the final night will be better racing and that an outside groove will develop which would allow more racing and passing.

    Saturday, December 15 - Tonight was night three of the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ and by race time a good crowd of fans (would guess about 3500) were on hand for the final night of 600 racing in the state capital of the Garden State. The format for the program today would be the alphabet of sub mains leading up to the 50 lap, $5000 to win A main all starting at 5 PM. Indeed the first of two F mains took the green flag at 4:59 PM with the top four to advance to the E mains. Austin Quick and Zackery Bealer were winners in the F's and moved on along with three others from each. The E mains were next up and sprint car ace, Brian Montieth, and New Yorker, Scott Kreutter (won't be the last time you hear that name) captured the E's. The twin D mains were notched by Bobby Butler and Joseph Dopke with Montieth missing by one of moving on to the C's. The B mains were won by Mike Meyers and Ayrton Genneten, a POWRi campaigner hailing from Missouri. Alex Bright would nail down the first B main winning over Danny Buccafusca, Kenny Miller and Bobby Butler who worked the alphabet mains from the D to the A. Josh Conover won B main number two over Jack Conover who also came out of the D main, Scott Kreutter who topped everyone by advancing from the E main into the A main and Andrew Hannula who punched the last ticket to the big dance.

    The racing was good in the alphabet mains as the outside finally came around and much passing was accomplished in every event. I wish I could say the same for the main event. All prelims were completed by 8:20 and then the biggest mistake of the night occurred when management decided to work the track for twenty minutes. Pat and I both turned to Guy Smith who we were sitting with along with his wife, Pam, in turn two and said the track was perfect and now it will not be. Truer words were never spoken. In the A main the inside was the preferred line and the outside never came around and the track went slick and everyone hugged the inside making for a routing race off the bottom and producing 21 cautions in the 50 lap distance. Erick Rudolph would take the lead from his first starting position at the drop of the initial green flag and never be headed though he was challenged several times but no one was able to squeeze by even with the numerous restarts. Billy Pauch Jr. was able to work his way from ninth to second by lap 17 but could never muster up enough momentum to pass Rudolph for the top position. Brett Altemose ran a smooth and steady race and challenged for the lead in the later stages but was passed by Pauch late and settled for third. Jim Radney came home fourth and Billy Calvert nailed down fifth at the finish at 9:45. If you wondered Bobby Butler was the highest finisher of the alphabet drivers finishing sixth with Scott Kreutter 12th and Jack Conover 24th. After seeing some spirited racing in the earlier events the big race was a major disappointment. Defending champ, Whitey Kidd III, had a rough night in the A main bringing out the caution three times and retiring to the infield about halfway through the main event. It was fun seeing our many racing buddies but it would be doubtful if we would return for a future East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals.

    Until next time which will be our first report from down under in New Zealand take care and be safe. Start plotting your race calendar for 2019 and get out there in the new year and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and visit some new tracks that you have always wanted to see. Quotes, comments, news and other things can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter.

    Was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Western PA legend, Ed Lynch Sr., who passed away at the age of 83. Lynch was a big winner in both modifieds and sprints and will be missed by all who knew him and watched him race. Our condolences go out to the entire Lynch family in their time of sorrow and grief.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Taking In The Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis

    Thursday, November 29 - We're back!!! When you thought we were done for the year the three day Gateway Dirt Nationals brought us back out of hibernation. The first night was a shortened version of the next two days only having super late model and UMP modified qualifying in the afternoon along with hot laps for all three divisions in attendance. The night session kicked off an hour late but moved along nicely concluding at 9:43. The 20 lap, $5000 to win super late model Race of Champions pitted 13 of the best late model drivers in the nation against each other. The track was bumpy and rough all weekend with the track crew never able to bring it around during the three days of competition. Rusty Schlenk led the entire distance in this one besting second starting Jonathan Davenport and ninth starting Dennis Erb Jr. Six heat races followed for the 54 UMP modifieds and the night checkered at 9:43, the earliest of the three days.

    Friday, November 30 - We decided to make our way over to the Dome at America's Center so we were in our seats by 6 PM. It was perfect timing as the midgets were beginning their heat races after the super late models had run their 12 heat races. The 54 car midget field would be divided into six heats and each one turned out to be good. The eight lap, five to qualify for the upcoming twin 20 lap features later in the evening would all be hotly contested. Brady Bacon would snare heat one besting Ryan Robinson, Jerry Coons Jr., Terry Babb and Landon Simon. Zach Daum walked off with heat two winning over Logan Seavey, Jonathan Beason, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Karter Sarff. Heat three went to Christopher Bell topping Chad Boat, Blake Hahn, Tim Crawley and Sam Johnson. Kyle Larson wheeled his #01 to victory in heat four holding off a strong Colby Copeland, Maria Cofer, Rico Abreu and Andrew Felker. Tyler Courtney bested the field in heat five outdistancing Jason McDougal, Zeb Wise, Holly Shelton and Alex Bright. The sixth and final heat for the midgets was the best of the bunch with Tanner Carrick coming out on top of a spirited battle beating off Tanner Thorson, Spencer Bayston, CJ Leary and Justin Grant. Several of the top five greeted each other afterward with bumps and taps of each other.

    C mains for the late models and B mains for the modifieds were next up before the midgets returned for a pair of B mains. Shane Golobic would capture B main one over Austin Brown, Caleb Armstrong, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Frankie Guerrini qualifying the three Boat entry. Chris Windom sped to victory in B main two over Tyler Thomas, Dave Darland, Tim McCreadie and Billy Pauch Jr. putting the second Bright entry into the field.

    The two 20 lap UMP modified features would be first up with the first one taking the green at 9:17. Kentucky's Josh Harris would hold off all challengers to take home $3000 besting Ray Bollinger, Mike McKinney, Chad Sellers and Brent Mullins who advanced from 17th to claim 5th at the finish. Modified feature number two saw home town boy, Kenny Wallace, hold off all comers to claim feature two over Dean Hoffman who charged from 14th to 2nd with Nick Hoffman third, Trey Harris fourth from eleventh and Tim Hancock rounding out the top five.

    The two midget features were next on the card and the first one would take the green flag at 10:42. Zach Daum and Brady Bacon brought the twenty car field to the green with Bacon going out front early. Third starting Christopher Bell stalked the top two and took the lead just before the halfway mark. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was slicing through the field and was up to 6th from 19th before catching a rut the wrong way in turn three going for a nasty ride before coming to a stop near turn four. Thankfully Stenhouse climbed from the battered machine quickly to the relief of the crowd on hand. Bell would control the second half of the race outdistancing Daum, Logan Seavey, Shane Golobic in a good ride from 16th to fourth and Tucker Klaasmeyer rounding out the top five. The second midget feature would go with only one caution with a torrid battle between Tyler Courtney and Kyle Larson ensuing. On the last lap Larson would make one final attempt to grab the lead exiting turn four and had a slight advantage as they reached the homestretch. Courtney never got out of the throttle and beat Larson at the line by scant inches to grab the popular win. Tanner Thorson would trail the top two to the line with Jason McDougal taking fourth and Tanner Carrick hanging on for fifth.

    The super late models would wrap up the long day with their two 20 lap main events. Race one saw only one caution slow the action with Brandon Sheppard never headed in this one though several drivers tried but came up short. Tim McCreadie doing double duty on the weekend nailed down second with Tennessee's Jason Welshan turning in a strong performance to claim third with Billy Moyer fourth and Jonathan Davenport rounding out the top five. Feature two would see five cautions slow up the action and the action was hot early with Shannon Babb charging from sixth to first in six laps and putting on a show early. One lap later Babb hit the turn two wall and had to restart at the rear of the field. Bobby Pierce would inherit the lead at this point and held off the race long challenge of Don O'Neal to take down the win with Chad Zobrist third, Jeff Herzog fourth and Camaron Marlar turning in a stellar performance from 18th to 5th. Babb worked his way from the rear to end up sixth at the finish at 12:27.

    Saturday, December 1 - We made an afternoon visit to the Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis before having dinner and then making our way over to the Dome. The program was pretty much on schedule for the final evening with the entertaining pre-race program and the interesting driver introductions for the super late model drivers highlighted by Rico Abreu riding on the shoulders of Scott Bloomquist when he was introduced. Fellow Tennessee driver, Jason Welshan brought down the house for the second straight year (last year with a Scott Who? sign) and this year with the sign reading No Provisional Needed with a Bloomquist design in the first o of the word provisional. The 40 lap, $30,000 to win main event was anti-climatic as Bobby Pierce would start first and lead the entire distance. Billy Moyer tried to track him down but was unsuccessful settling for second with Don O'Neal coming home third, Jason Welshan fourth and Ryan Unzicker advancing from 15th to finish 5th. Billy Moyer Jr. recovered from a turn one, lap one spin to battle his way to the front finishing sixth at the end.

    The 30 lap, $10,000 to win midget feature was next up on the agenda with the initial green flag waving at 9:11. It was not an artistic success as nine cautions dotted this affair. Tyler Courtney jumped to the early lead from his first starting position until Christopher Bell caught and passed him in turn one on lap three. Justin Grant rolled his midget between turns one and two one lap later bringing out the first stoppage. On the restart Bell assumed command and they raced until lap nine when Tanner Thorson clipped an infield tire in turn one spinning and ended his night prematurely. Chris Windom meanwhile was making one of his patented marches moving into sixth on lap 11 after starting twelfth. Sam Johnson lost the handle in turn two on lap 12 to bring out the yellow rag. Bell continued to lead on the restart with Courtney in tow with Kyle Larson starting to make his presence known advancing from seventh into fourth on lap 14. Young Zeb Wise was moving forward quickly but caught a rut the wrong way and spun in turn two on lap 19 to negate his fine run. Grant who was able to restart after his earlier roll found himself sitting backwards in between turns three and four on lap 21 to bring out yet another caution. Courtney's evening ended up on the downside as he rolled his midget in turns three and four after hooking a rut which sent him first bouncing then slamming head on into the turn four fence. Now Kyle Larson was sitting in second and everyone was anticipating the battle for the lead upcoming. Logan Seavey running third attempted a slider on Larson on lap 24 in turn two but failed with his car stalling and bringing out the caution. Sam Johnson looped it again on lap 28 in turn four to slow the action again as Bell and Larson danced up front. One lap later Grant and Seavey tangled in turn four and the yellow lights flashed once again. On the ensuing restart Bell scooted back out front with Larson in tow and Zach Daum looming in the background. Shane Golobic found some extra speed on the restart and slid by Daum to take over the third position. Meanwhile Rico Abreu was ripping the lip moving into contention from his tenth starting spot advancing into the top five. Bell looked strong in the lead but Larson was not quite finished as he attempted another last lap banzai move exiting turn four like last night but this one found him clipping a tire and spinning out of the hunt. It took two more starts before Bell was able to flash under the double checkers at 9:42 claiming the $10,000 prize and the title of first midget winner at the Dome at America's Center. Golobic would end up second with Abreu motoring in for third with Daum slipping back to fourth and Windom rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by CJ Leary in a fine run from 16th with Tucker Klaasmeyer posting seventh, steady Jerry Coons Jr. placing eighth, Chad Boat ninth and Jason McDougal battling back to tenth after dropping early from sixth to fiftheenth.

    The 30 lap, $10,000 to win UMP modified feature was still to come and took the green flag at 10:20. This one would end up to be the best and most competitive feature of the evening with only six cautions with the first one flying on lap 14. Mike Harrison ran a strong race using the outside more than anyone the entire evening slicing from 12th to take the lead past the halfway mark. Harrison would go onto to nail down the top prize at 10:42 besting Mike McKinney with Levi Kissinger doing Indiana proud staking out third at the finish after starting 13th. Brent Mullins would ride home fourth after starting ninth and Kyle Steffens put on a show coming from deep in the pack (17th) to secure fifth at the finish.

    All in all it was a good weekend but the track crew was playing catch up the entire time and were never able to dial in the track and smooth out the bumps, ruts and holes that plagued the racing surface. We believe that it is just two much racing to take in and fully enjoy when you are spending eight and nine hours (if you attend the entire day) watching track action. Promoter Cody Sommer should consider running two separate weekends of racing in December next year (if scheduling of facility is possible) with the super late models and modifieds on one weekend and midgets and non-wing sprint cars on the other weekend. We believe that the open wheel fans would come out to support an all open wheel show though maybe not in the numbers the late model faithful seem to turn out.

    That's it for this installment but check back on the 16th or 17th for our next indoor venture to Trenton, NJ for the three day show featuring the wingless 600 micros with a field over a 100 strong. And upcoming in the end of December and extending into early January is our scheduled big adventure down under to New Zealand. Until next time be safe and get out there and enjoy some indoor racing in your part of the country if it is offered and if not start checking out some of the posted 2019 race schedules and make plans to get out on the road in the upcoming racing season. And as always quotes, comments, news or anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Finally we thank you for reading our efforts and look forward to bringing more of our adventures to this site in 2018-2019.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    MOWA & WAR Sprints At Jacksonville & Rain Stops ASCOC & WAR At Kokomo

    Friday, October 5 - The plan was to head west at 4 PM so Pat could almost put in a full day at work before heading off for the races. The three hour drive, arriving at 6 PM (thank goodness for Central Time) found us on the grounds of the Morgan County Fairgrounds, home of the 1/4 mile Jacksonville Speedway where a three division program of MOWA winged sprints (31) and WAR non-wing sprints (41) along with street stocks (13) was the card for tonight. MOWA was first up with time trials for their 31 car field with Ryan Robinson wheeling a Keith Kuntz sprinter set fast time and a new track record of 10.362 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring which was in excellent shape for tonight's racing. I would bet that come next Friday night that new track record will be smashed when the WOO sprints come to town to run their makeup show that was rained out earlier this year.


     

    The WAR sprints would contest their five heats first on the night with Mitchell Davis drawing first blood winning the opener over Wesley Smith and Anthony Nicholson. Heat two saw Chris Parkinson lead flag to flag besting Mario Clouser and Quinton Benson. Thomas Meseraull claimed heat three from fourth beating out Chet Williams and Terry Babb from seventh in this one. Dave Darland took heat four over seventh starter, Zach Daum and Logan Faucon. The final heat went to fourth starting Landon Simon over Kyle Simon in a team car and Rob Caho Jr. who advanced from fifth. Two street stock heats were run with Tanner Sullivan and Rudy Zaragoza winning. Up next were four heat races for the MOWA sprinters with four to qualifying in each. Tony Stewart would claim heat one besting Cory Bruns, Ryan Robinson and Jason Keith. Bret Tripplett looked strong winning heat two over IRA invader, Bill Balog, Terry Babb and Jacob Patton. Rico Abreu would snatch heat three from third over Brayden Fox, Robert Ballou making his second winged appearance of the year after being suspended by USAC for the rest of the year and Paul Nienhiser. Justin Standridge used his second starting spot to capture heat four outrunning Justin Peck, Jordan Goldesberry and Joey Moughan.


     

    Two B mains were needed for each sprint car class with Colten Cottle grabbing the first WAR B man on the last lap after starting ninth beating Logan Faucon doing double duty and Nic Harris who got together with Wyatt Burks going for the last qualifying spot with Burks spinning to the wall and out of contention. WAR point champion, Riley Kreisel, would come up short in this one not advancing to the A main. B main two would go to Slater Helt outrunning Katlynn Lear in a strong performance and Korey Weyant advancing from 11th to make the big dance in an impressive run, one of several we have seen from this guy in the 2018 racing season. The MOWA B mains would be nailed down by Mike Terry Jr. in the first one over Austin O'Dell and Jeremy Standridge. Tucker Klaasmeyer would triumph in B main #2 over MOWA rookie of the year, Brinton Marvel, the fourth generation of the Marvel family and Dylan Tuxhorn with all prelims completed by 9:49. Intermission followed which included track prep and the drawing for the top ten in passing points for the MOWA group with Justin Peck and Bret Tripplett drawing the front row and Tony Stewart and Rico Abreu drawing the fifth row. It couldn't have been planned any better if indeed it had been planned.


     

    The 25 lap season ending WAR sprint car feature would be the first out of the chute with Terry Babb and Landon Simon bringing the rest of 22 car field to the green flag at 10:18. Babb would jump to the early lead with Simon and Meseraull chasing. Mitchell Davis slowed to a halt in turn three on lap 4 to bring out the first caution. On the restart Landon Simon would grab the lead from Babb using the high side with Meseraull trying to follow entering turn one where Babb and Meseraull touched with Babb flipping on the edge of the homestretch ending his night early. On the ensuing restart Simon goes to the point with Meseraull giving chase. The top two duke it out inches apart on the cushion with Dave Darland pacing himself in third. Lap eight saw fifth running Wesley Smith loop it in turn four spoiling his fine run. Simon leads on the restart with Meseraull looking for ways around trying a slider or two with no success. Darland continues in third with Mario Clouser coming quickly from 12th to 4th with Zach Daum in fifth. Meanwhile making their way through the pack from the back were B main qualifiers, Colten Cottle and Korey Weyant, slicing and dicing their way into the top ten. These two continued their advance as Simon and Meseraull continued their fight up front with Darland closing some ground on the leaders. With nine to go the leaders hit lap traffic and began to work their way through the lappers. Simon works the traffic with perfection fending off Meseraull and Darland in the process as they take the five to go sign. Clouser has caught the top three and challenges for more. Simon is up to the task and flashes under the double checkers at 10:37 with the victory beating out Meseraull, Darland, Clouser and Daum. Korey Weyant leads the second five across the line after starting 22nd with Colten Cottle 7th from 17th, Slater Helt 8th from 18th, Mitch Wissmiller 9th from 16th and Quinton Benson 10th after starting 15th. Yes, there was a lot of passing behind the front runners in this one. The street stock feature was next and was won by Terry Reed in a controversial finish after getting together with the early leader and Reed was greeted with a chorus of boos as he tried to blame the contact on the track conditions but the crowd was not buying it at all !!!!!!


     

    The 25 lap MOWA feature event was ready to go by 11:08 with Justin Peck scrambling off the pole to take the early lead. By lap four Peck had already caught the rear of the field and started to pick his way through the lap traffic with Bret Tripplett keeping right up with him. Lap five saw the first caution wave when Terry Babb slowed in turn turn with a problem. On the restart third running Ryan Robinson did a 360 spin in traffic and continued but the yellow waved due to unsafe conditions as Robinson was in heavy traffic when he spun and was forced to restart at the tail of the field. Peck took the point on the restart chased by Tripplett and Bill Balog. Peck was looking strong through lap traffic as Joey Moughan and Paul Nienhiser were making their moves into the top five. Tripplett's fine night came to an early ending as a tussle with a lap car found the second place runner sitting in the third corner needing tow truck assistance to exit the track. This third and final slowdown set up the stage for the final eight laps of racing and it was a battle royal when the green flag dropped. Peck got out of shape exiting turn four on lap 18 and tagged the cushion as his right rear was losing air allowing the snarling pack to jump on him like raw meat. They were three wide down the homestretch with Peck, Nienhiser and Moughan side by side entering turn one with Rico Abreu right behind. Nienhiser edged in front entering turn one with Moughan diving lower and briefly taking the lead as they exited turn two. As they raced down the backstretch Moughan washed out just enough to stack up the others on the outside and opening the bottom allowing Abreu to diamond off turn two and storm by everyone halfway down the backstretch and into the lead. It was an awesome move by Abreu and he would never be headed over the final seven laps though they tried. As the checkers waved at 11:28 it was the tenth starting Abreu taking the $2500 top prize fending off Joey Moughan from sixth, Justin Peck hanging on for third, Paul Nienhiser taking fourth after starting seventh and Tony Stewart working his way to fifth after starting ninth in a late race surge. It was fine race and was indeed the best feature of the entire evening capping off a great night of racing at Jacksonville.


     

    Saturday, October 6 - We had breakfast at our hotel and chatted with two fans from Iowa who were at Jacksonville also last night before departing and heading northeast toward Indiana as we were headed for the #GYATKExtravaganza featuring the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars and the WAR sprints in their Bell Helmets $20,000 Challenge with Kyle Cummins in line if he won tonight to take home the big bucks. We stopped for lunch in Champaign at Bob Evans before continuing the journey over to Kokomo. Pat kept checking the weather forecast as we drove saying that the percentages were not looking good at Kokomo. Also night two at Jacksonville had already fallen to the rain by noon time so Kokomo and Anderson were now the only two shows still running. We arrived at Kokomo Speedway around 4 PM and found a parking spot along the chain linked fence behind the main front stretch grandstands. After about fifteen minutes we decided to check out the various souvenier stands parked outside the track and had conversations with Steve and Dana Kinser along with Sherry Bayston before heading back toward the car as the clouds to the north began to look very ominous and foreboding. The wind started to kick up and we helped Jac Haudenschild's wife take down her t-shirts hanging outside before retreating to the Rogue just in time. It was 5:15 and the skies let loose with a vengeance. A half hour after the downpour the word came via Twitter that it was a no go for tonight and they would try again tomorrow at 5:30. We knew the storm was headed toward Anderson and it did hit there but they were able to dry the track and run their show but instead we opted for a fine meal at Choo Choo McGoo's before pointing the Rogue toward Crawfordsville. After some more storms during the evening in Kokomo the word came around 12:30 on Sunday that with saturated grounds the event had been cancelled and anyone with wrist bands could send them in to Kokomo management for a full refund. It was a shame as 43 WAR sprints and an undetermined number of All Stars but a good number and name field on hand. Riley Kreisel was crowned the WAR champion and Aaron Reutzel was crowned the All Star Champion as both series ended their seasons with this rainout.


     

    That's it for another weekend ending with wet weather for the 19th time this year but what are you going to do. Headed for vacation in colonial Williamsburg this coming weekend with no races on the agenda. Check back on the Monday after the second weekend as we might sneak one in the following Saturday. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season is quickly coming to a close and winter will be upon us too soon. News, comments, rumors, facts and everything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and sending your comments to us.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Fall Nationals At Lawrenceburg Go To Suddenly Hot Grant

    Saturday, September 29 - With friends Bill and Judy Burns visiting we decided to take a ride into Indianapolis to visit the Indianapolis Market where we picked up some delicious popcorn and cookies before venturing over to the War Veterans Memorial on the circle where we foolishly climbed the 330 steps to look out over Indianapolis. I will tell you it was easier coming down then it was going up!!! From there we had a late lunch in Greenwood at the Oaken Barrel before heading down the road to our Saturday night destination of the Lawrenceburg Speedway, the 3/8 mile high banked dirt oval, in Lawrenceburg, the home of the Seagrams Distillery. A lineman's rodeo (an event for lineman who work in the telephone and electric industries) was being held behind the main grandstands so the parking out back was not available forcing everyone to park either inside the facility or outside the main gates in the gravel parking lot. We chose the gravel lot as we figured even though it was a longer walk we would be able to drive right out and not be delayed as we had a 2 1/2 hour ride home after the races were over so no additional delays were needed.

    USAC sprint time trials kicked off the program starting at 6:20 with CJ Leary continuing his late season surge posting fast time of 13.877 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. Chris Windom stood his sprinter on its nose and flipped over before completing a lap of time trials and had to resort to a backup car taking one lap and posting the 20th fastest time digging himself an early hole which he would recover from. More on that later. It was the Fall Nationals at Lawrenceburg paying a cool $10,000 to win and Leary loomed as an early favorite after his time trial run. He did nothing to make anyone think any less after heat racing action as he scampered from sixth to first taking the lead on the last lap to score the first heat win over Dakota Jackson, Justin Grant, Shane Cottle and Chase Stockon. Carson Short posted the win in heat two besting Matt Westfall, Jarett Andretti, Dave Darland and Kevin Thomas Jr. in a race that saw Tyler Courtney suffer a flat tire while running second. The third and final heat for the 26 car field saw Brady Bacon charge from sixth to win over Dickie Gaines, Josh Hodges, Justin Peck and Jason McDougal. Three UMP modified heat followed for their 26 car field before the sprints returned for their B main won by Courtney over Chris Windom, Isaac Chapple, Dallas Hewitt, Tyler Thomas, Brandon Spithaler and Nick Bilbee passing Brian VanMeveren late for the last ticket into the main event. The eight lap vintage car feature was next up with John Lawhorn driving his beautiful champ car to victory in an interesting race as these guys really raced.

    The front row of Dave Darland and Justin Grant brought the 21 car field (Carson Short was a late scratch) to the green flag with Grant moving to the point on the start but any momentum was stifled when CJ Leary took a hard flip in turn two on lap two and climbed gingerly from his sprinter and was taken to the hospital for x-rays on his neck and back and by Monday he was cleared to run again this weekend. On the restart Brady Bacon diamonded turns one and two grabbing the lead away from Grant racing down the backstretch and maintained the top spot until lap twelve when Brandon Spithaler spun in turn four to bring out the caution. On the restart Grant made his move using a slider starting in turn one and completing in turn two to briefly take the lead but Bacon countered and retook the top spot but bounced in turn three allowing Grant to execute another slider in turn four and this time met with success taking the lead back. Grant pulled to a slight advantage with Bacon dueling with Courtney for the second spot keep those two occupied. Meanwhile Chris Windom was coming like gangbusters from his 18th starting position moving into the top ten past the midway point. By lap 22 lap traffic would start to play a role in the story. Grant worked the traffic like a maestro keeping Bacon and Courtney at bay as they reached the five to go sign. At this point Bacon found some extra speed and the gap closed in rapid order to about two car lengths with two to go. Entering turn one after taking the white flag Bacon made his challenge but caught the turn one concrete causing him to bounce and breaking his momentum enough to allow Grant to scamper away. Grant crossed under the checkered flag at 9:44 scoring his second USAC sprint win in three days and his second ten thousand dollar big check in as many days fending off Bacon, Courtney, Windom in an impressive march from 18th to 4th and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounding out the top five and retaining his point lead in the process. It was also Grant's tenth career USAC National sprint win tying him with Tony Stewart for 48th on the all time winning list. After a tough earlier 2018 racing season it is good to see both Grant and the Topp Motorsports team start to put together some strong runs and we hope it can continue the rest of 2018 and spill over into 2019. Leading the second five across the line was Dave Darland trailed by Jarett Andretti, Chase Stockon, Isaac Chapple and Josh Hodges. It was a good race with a decent amount of passing and dicing and the end time of 9:44 was a welcomed bonus allowing us to be home before 12:30. The three days of racing were all well received by everyone and to us was some of the best racing we have witnessed the entire year.

    Until next weekend where Jacksonville, Illinois on Friday and Kokomo on Saturday looms weather permitting (maybe we better check with the Fairbury Speedway meteorologists on this one) get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and enjoy the cooler fall weather. Notes, comments, news, rumors and the such can reach us via email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Tops Smackdown VII & Thomas Takes James Dean Classic At Gas City

    Thursday, September 27 - Another cool cloudy day faced us today and we knew that Reece O'Connor would have Kokomo Speedway in superb condition for tonight's Smackdown VII finale and we were not disappointed. Bill Burns was back from Pennsylvania to join the caravan to Kokomo and Gordy Killian was also on his way from the Keystone state to join us with Gary Dean and Sally Ebling hauling in from Missouri to take in the Smackdown final which had previously suffered two rainouts. Tonight rain was not an issue but the weather was quite cool once the sun disappeared below the horizon but we were racing and that was what we had returned for.

    The BOSS sprint were also on the final night schedule joining the USAC sprints for a doubleheader of non-winged racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana. BOSS brought 29 sprinters to the dance while the USAC field was down to 15 as 8 were already locked in with 14 spots still up for grabs. BOSS ran their heats first with Josh Cunningham scoring an impressive win in heat one after battling Bill Rose for the top spot the entire distance with Andrew Prather trailing in third. Mike Miller scored heat win #2 outracing Dustin Smith and Ty Tilton. Jake Scott, the Paragon champion, scored heat three from fourth over Michael Fischesser and Steve Irwin. Heat four saw Dallas Hewitt hold off a hard charging JJ Hughes who started fifth and Tyler Gunn. Two qualifying races for the USAC sprinters were up next with four to qualify with Logan Seavey wheeling one of two Chase Briscoe (Saturday's Xfinity winner at Charlotte) entries to the victory over Kyle Cummins, Scotty Weir and Dakota Jackson. Race two saw CJ Leary motor to the victory beating out Chase Stockon, Jarett Andretti and Clinton Boyles. USAC would not run a B main and everyone in attendance was added to the main event. The King of the Hill match races pitting the top eight in points were next on the card determining the starting positions for the Smackdown feature. Jason McDougal surprised Tyler Courtney in round one while Dave Darland beat Brady Bacon, Tyler Thomas turned back Kevin Thomas Jr. and Justin Grant bested Chris Windom. Round two saw Dave Darland best Jason McDougal while Justin Grant put away Tyler Thomas. The final pitted Dave Darland against Justin Grant with Grant scoring the win and taking the pole position for the 40 lap feature. BOSS came back with a B main with Cole Ketchum in the Cole Trickle paint scheme on his #41 besting the field chased by Brandon Spencer, Chad Wilson, Korbyn Hayslett, Michael Roehling and Buddy Lowther in a race where Jack James flipped in turn four.

    All the prelims were in the books and it was time to go feature racing.

    The 25 lap BOSS sprint car feature would kicked off the main event schedule At the drop of Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:25 it was Dustin Smith sliding from his third starting position into the early lead over the front row of Michael Fischesser and Mike Miller. Fischesser regained his composure and went to the top and took the lead from Smith. Fischesser began to set a good pace and looked like the man to beat. Two cautions appeared during the middle stages of the event but Fischesser was up to the challenge and took the point on each restart. Meanwhile Miller and Smith duked it out for the runnerup position which lasted the entire distance. The crucial point of the race occurred on lap 23 when Paul Dues rolled over near the starter's stand to bring out the red flag. It would be green, white and checker with Miller diving low into turn one on the restart and edging ahead of long time leader, Fischesser exiting turn two with the lead. Fischesser made one last bold move driving deep and hard on the cushion in turn two on the white flag lap pulling even with Miller going down the backstretch. Miller remained cool running the bottom through turns three and four and was able to hold off Fischesser as they raced under the checkered at 9:45 scoring the popular win. Dustin Smith would come home third with Tyler Gunn completing an excellent charge advancing from 12th to fourth with Jake Scott rounding out the top five. It was a good spirited contest with some fine racing as we have witnessed numerous times during the 2018 BOSS season.

    Now it was time for the seventh Smackdown final with $10,000 big ones on the line for the winner. Justin Grant and Dave Darland brought the 23 car field to the green flag at 10:18 with Dave Darland assuming the lead in turn one from his second starting position. Grant powered underneath entering turn three and slid in front of Darland exiting turn four coming to the line to complete lap one. Grant paced the snarling pack behind him as they dueled each other two, three and sometimes four wide on a classic Kokomo surface. The Topp #4 was on a rail and Grant was making no mistakes in his ride up front. Lap traffic began to play a role in the event near the halfway mark but Grant sliced his way through them with relative ease. One incident just past the halfway mark had Grant and Clinton Boyles banging nerf bars in turn two but neither was the worst for wear and raced on. Lap 22 saw Tyler Courtney execute a fine two car pass in turn two sliding by both second place man, Dave Darland, and Clinton Boyles to claim the second position and take up the pursuit of Grant. Courtney was making up ground in huge chunks and it was going to get very interesting in the remaining laps as the ten time winner was looking to repeat his 2017 Smackdown performance. Lap 30 saw Chris Windom slow in turn one with a flat right rear shoe and the only caution of the event waved. Windom was able to pit and change the flat tire to return to the race for the last ten laps. On the restart Grant bounded back into the lead and set a flawless pace using the high side in turns one and two and the bottom groove in turns three and four as Courtney ran the opposite trying to close on Grant. Justin was up to the task as he looked unstoppable for the remainder of the laps and flashed under the checkered flag for his first USAC National sprint car win in over a year and his first in the Topp Motorsports #4. It was also the team's first win in USAC since last year's Smackdown final when Courtney piloted it to victory. It has been a rough year for Grant and the Topp team and it was good to see them knock the monkey off their backs while claiming the $10,000. Courtney would finish second with CJ Leary turning in another fine run coming on late after starting tenth to finish third with Jason McDougal fourth and Brady Bacon rounding out the top five. Dave Darland faded to seventh after a slow leak in one of his rear tires slowed his pace up front. This was a top-off to a fine night of racing and thank God for cloudy skies and cool temperatures with little wind.

    Friday, September 28 - The cloudy and cool temperatures continued into Friday and this was a good omen as it was time for the first James Dean Classic for the USAC sprint cars at the Gas City Speedway. Promoter, Jerry Gappens, has done a fine job bringing Gas City back from the brink of extinction racing almost every Friday night at the 1/4 mile black clay oval in Grant County. The crowds have increased steadily over the course of the season and tonight he was rewarded with probably the largest crowd of the year and that was good to see. We had seats four rows from the top behind the starter's stand reserved by Bill Burns and sat in front of a delightful couple, Duane and Sonja Alexander, who have been married for sixty two years. While the sun was out the temperature was nice but once the sun went down the temperature dropped and the wind suddenly kicked up making it quite chilly for the remainder of the evening. I asked Duane why he wore shorts tonight and he told me that his mother said he never was right!!!

    The five division program was kicked off by time trials for the 32 car USAC sprint car field on hand for tonight's action at 7:01. By 7:19 Chris Windom had claimed the fast time award being the only one to crack the eleven second bracket at 11.988 seconds. The track was in great shape being very tacky and providing good racing in all divisions throughout the entire evening. Tyler Courtney would claim heat one in the Clauson/Marshall #7BC after a good duel with Clinton Boyles in the Paul Hazen #57 with Chris Windom third and Shane Cottle punching his ticket to the big dance finishing fourth. Isaac Chapple in a dominant performance nailed down heat two over Dallas Hewitt, Brady Bacon and CJ Leary. Kyle Cummins looked stout in heat three besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Jason McDougal and Tony DiMattia with a last lap pass of Matt Goodnight to notch fourth. Dustin Ingle, a BOSS regular, surprised everyone by walking off with heat four over Dave Darland, Carson Short in the Briscoe #5b and Chase Stockon. The UMP modifieds brought 24 to Gas City on the evening running three heats next with Derek Losh, Bradley Jameson and Zeke McKenzie claiming wins. Fourteen super streets, seven thunder cars and twenty front wheel drive compacts rounded out the 97 car field in the pits and they ran heat races also. Only the sprints and the modifieds needed B mains with Justin Grant copping the sprint B main over Josh Hodges, Tyler Thomas, Matt Westfall, Thomas Meseraull and Tyler Hewitt moving on to the 30 lap main event. You know it is a tough field with two 2018 track champions, Garrett Abrams from Lawrenceburg and Shane Cockrum from Lincoln Park, do not crack the 22 car starting field!!! Todd Sherman would notch the UMP modified B main. Now we were all set up for feature event racing and by 9:31 we were ready to go feature racing.

    When the green flag dropped on the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature at 9:31 the outside front two rows, Chapple and Thomas, slipped around pole man, Jason McDougal, for the lead. Chapple set the early pace with Thomas in tow and the rest of the field jockeying for positions behind the top two. Chapple was using the low and middle grooves to perfection pacing the pack with Thomas trying several different options trying to figure out the best route to the front. By lap 19 lap traffic began to factor in as Chapple remained in front but Thomas seemed to draw closer using the high side of the fine racing surface. Dallas Hewitt brought the first caution out at this point spinning off turns one and two. On the restart Chapple went back to the point with Thomas trailing as many of us thought that this could be the night Chapple would be able to snatch his first USAC National sprint car win. But it was not to be as just one slip was the difference as Chapple bobbled in turns three and four allowing Thomas to power by on the homestretch with just four to go. CJ Leary caught and passed Chapple for second with two to go and suddenly Leary was lurking up front contending for the win. Meanwhile Jason McDougal saw his opportunity to take third entering low in turn three on the final lap underneath Chapple with the two locking side bars for a moment with Josh Hodges charging upon the scene banging into the pair unlocking them with Chapple continuing on while McDougal and Hodges spun to the infield. The caution flashed but the leaders had already taken the checkered flag thus making it an official race with the finish reverting back to the last completed lap salvaging a third place finish for Chapple after leading the majority of the affair. Thomas would pick up his sixth USAC sprint win of the year and also his 23rd career USAC sprint win tying him for tenth on the all time list with AJ Foyt and Roger McCluskey for that position. Also Dallas Hewitt flipped off turns one and two after the fact and luckily was OK after his off track excursion. Leary finished second behind Thomas with Chapple third (his first one is coming soon), Chris Windom fourth and Chase Stockon rounding out the top five. It was a very good race on a finely manicured track with the checker waving at an impressive 9:42 PM.

    We decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature and this one was a very good one also being spun off in seven minutes with multiple lead changes and only one caution ending at 10:02. Ohio's Jerry Bowersock led the first thirteen laps until Derek Losh muscled his way by Bowersock into the lead. Randy Lines used the high side to motor by Losh on lap sixteen and it looked like Lines would steal this one away but Losh battled back and slipped under Lines exiting turn four coming to the white flag and held on to claim his 16th UMP modified win in only 26 starts and his first at Gas City. Lines would cross the line in second with Zeke McKenzie grabbing third, Bowersock slipping back to fourth and Todd Sherman slicing through the field from 16th to take fifth at the line. It was a very good contest and capped off our excellent night of racing at Gas City. Because of the cold we decided to call it a night at this point and found out later that the entire five division show was wrapped up by 10:35, a nice tight 3 hour package. We can't wait to return to Gas City in 2019 with Gappens having a year under his belt and see what improvements and plans he has for next year.

    That's it for now but check back late Monday or Tuesday for our Saturday night race report from the high banks of Lawrenceburg Speedway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay dry. Notes, comments, suggestions and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cockrum Wins & Takes Point Championship At Lincoln Park

    Saturday, September 22 - Saturday dawned cloudy and cool and the temperature never climbed out of the high 60's on this day. The anticipation from both of us for great track conditions at Lincoln Park Speedway with this combination of cloud cover and cool temperatures was busted wide open when the warmups began. Dust bellowed off the racing surface and numerous spins in all divisions brought about by the arid conditions busted our bubble of a great track surface for the evening. The track was already turning black and becoming slick even before the warmups were over. What a huge disappointment!!!

    The car counts were decent with 28 non-wing sprints, 19 UMP modifieds (this division was down in numbers), 20 super stocks and 25 bombers (also down) for the evening's action with the first of four sprint car heats taking the green flag at 7:29. Matt McDonald skated to the first heat victory over points leader, Shane Cockrum, and Kevin Studley. Daylan Chambers won heat two but was penalized two positions for jumping the last restart so the heat win was awarded to Brandon Spencer with Harley Burns second and Chambers third. This heat saw Shelby VanGilder get into the rear of Travis Berryhill entering turn one causing him to bounce and then roll over in the process. Both entrants were able to return for the B main. Jordan Kinser claimed the third heat topping Beloit, Wisconsin invader, Ray Search, and Nate McMillin. The fourth and final heat was scored by Stevie Sussex in the Michael Dutcher #17GP beating out Justin Peck behind the key board of the Burton #04 and AJ Hopkins. Three UMP modified heats were next with Tyler Loughmiller, Sydney Landes and Jay Humphrey Jr. posting wins. Three super stock heats and four bomber heats followed before we went to the sprint B main. Andrew Prather outran Tim Creech and JJ Hughes to win this last chance race.

    By 9:52 it was sprint car feature time with the front row of Harley Burns and Shane Cockrum bringing the 22 car starting field to the green flag with Cockrum jumping to the early lead. Jordan Kinser brought out the first caution when he stopped in turn one while running third. On the restart Cockrum went back out front chased by Sussex and Burns. Justin Peck motored into fifth on lap six in turn two from his eighth starting position and looked strong at this point. Harley Burns exited the racing surface in turn one on lap 11 while running a strong race with help from Jadon Rogers and pulled to the infield done for the evening. On the next green Cockrum assumed the lead with Sussex and Matt McDonald in tow with Jadon Rogers taking over fourth after starting 13th. Indeed there was passing in this one but it was difficult on the slick surface. To prove the point Tim Creech had advanced from 18th to 7th by the halfway mark but would advance no further. Shelby VanGilder brought out the caution on lap 16 when she spun in turn three on lap 16. At this point Sussex began to apply heavy pressure to the leader and even got into Cockrum's rear bumper off turn four but was unable to muster a serious challenge for the top spot over the remaining distance. When the checkered waved at 10:11 it was Shane Cockrum crossing the line first winning his third race and scoring his second sprint car championship in three years for car owner, Jaime Paul, in the process beating out Sussex with McDonald third, Jadon Rogers fourth in a good run with the exception of the Burns punt taking fourth and Daylan Chambers notching fifth after starting tenth. It was a happy victory lane for the Illinois fire chief and his car owner and crew as they celebrated their double victory on the evening.

    We elected to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature on this very cool September evening with Derek Groomer leading flag to flag in this one out pacing Jay Humphrey Jr. in a good run finishing second with Rob Brickert third, Jake Leitzman fourth and Tyler Loughmiller claiming fifth at the finish. Point champion, James Walters, could only finish sixth on this evening but the six time winner in 2018 had enough points to hold off nine time winner Groomer in the final tally. This one was in the books by 10:33 and it was time to call it an evening on this cool and highly disappointing night. We hope that track prep will be better in 2019 or the short 45 minute drive from Crawfordsville will be made less often than the seven times it was made in 2018.

    That's it for this weekend as we opted not to make the three hour trip on Sunday to LaSalle Speedway as the hour lost on the return trip makes it a too early Monday morning for Pat who is still working at her job. Until next time where three nights of USAC sprint car racing are on the horizon at Kokomo for the twice rained out Smackdown final followed by the James Dean Classic at Gas City and USAC racing at Lawrenceburg for the trifecta keep dry and warm. And get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the racing season is quickly winding down or take the ride to Indiana for three nights of USAC racing as Bill and Judy Burns will be doing and hopefully Gary Dean and Sally Ebling will be joining us also. Comments, news and thoughts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Death and Racing

    Saturday, September 22 - Damn it!!! Wake me up, tell me it is all a dream. Unfortunately it is all too real. Pat and I were sitting in the living room Thursday evening when the first report came to us from a friend via a text message that Greg Hodnett had crashed hard at BAPS Motor Speedway in Newberrytown, PA. Pat immediately texted another friend who she knew would be there and he confirmed that it was a nasty one. I like to browse Twitter during the commercials while I am watching TV and tweets were already coming in from drivers and fans to pray for Greg and his family. Soon the prayer tweets turned to condolences. Damn it!!! This sport that we love can be so cruel some days!! This is not suppose to happen to someone like Greg Hodnett. This happens to the young guy who takes too many chances and overdrives. It doesn't happen to someone as careful, cautious and skilled as Greg Hodnett. Unfortunately it does and it has happened twice this season alone and it hurts deeply. It is like taking a swift kick to the stomach and the pain lasts for days and weeks and months afterward. Maybe it is because I am getting older but death troubles me more than it did when I was younger. It still hurt then but it hits home much more acutely today. Then the next thing you ask is why and you never answer that one in a satisfactory manner. You know going in that this sport is dangerous and even with all the safety improvements that have cut down on injuries and deaths it still happens (thank God not as often as it did in years gone by) but it still happens and it hurts deeply. Greg Hodnett was the consummate professional both on the track and off and you probably couldn't fine a nicer and kinder man than he. He went out of his way to help young drivers, just check some of the tweets from youngsters such as Logan Wagner, Jacob Allen, Dylan Cisney and Brent Marks to see the positive effect he had on the ones coming up through the ranks. He was friends with many drivers that he raced against and once again check out some of the comments from people such as Paul McMahan and Lance DeWease to see what respect they had for a gentleman that they raced against. And check out the tweets from fans and others involved in racing who were touched by his kindness and friendliness. So why did this happen?? I don't know, only God knows and we may never know and it hurts and we grieve. And eventually we move on as he have to and we hold onto the memories and that needs to be enough.

    And why do we continue to go racing, either as a fan or a crew member, owner or driver?? Because racing is a drug and we are addicted but not in a bad way but it is in our blood and once in your blood you are hooked. Once you get around the racing scene and when you meet all the fine people involved that is why you keep coming back for more. Another important aspect is the competition, the thrill and the action but for me and many others it is the friendships that you make along the way and the connections you make with like minded people who enjoy the same thing that you do in its many shapes and forms. I believe the racing community is the best group of people I have ever met and we take care of each other in times of sorrow and need and that folks is the main reason I keep coming back after getting kicked in the stomach and feeling the hurt and pain. When it is all tallied up the good things far outweigh the bad things in our sport and that is the bottom line.

    Our hearts and prayers go out to Sherry Hodnett, Greg's children and grandchildren all his friends, pit crew and car owner(s) that need us now and in the future. Our racing fraternity will close ranks and gather around the Hodnett clan as we did with the Johnson family, the Clauson family and the Elliott family and so many others who left us much too soon. We will pour out our love, our condolences, our personal stories about Greg and others who have left us much too soon. We will share tears and we will share laughter but most of all we will share good memories.

    Finally I want to send along to our many racing friends that we have made along the way that you are so special in our lives and we are so fortunate to have met you and are proud to call you a friend. And most of all we want you to know that each and everyone of you are remembered and loved and cherished as we have traveled the roads over a 50 year period and will continue to do so as long as we are able. I can not mention you all by name as I wouldn't have enough space and would surely forget to mention some of you and that wouldn't be right as we love you all. Please tell someone dear to you today that you love them as you may not get the chance to do so tomorrow. And thanks to each and everyone one of you that read this column and comment to us how much you enjoy reading it. I hope this particular column can bring some peace to some of you who have suffered devastating losses of loved ones in your life and bring you some healing with it also.

    Until the next report come your way get out there and enjoy some short track racing in your area, cherish your loved ones and be friendly and nice to everyone you meet as that next stranger you meet can and will become your next friend with kindness and love like Greg Hodnett showed so many. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas Bags Third Haubstadt Hustler At Tri-State

    Saturday, September 15 - We had stayed in Terre Haute after the races on Friday night and slept in before visiting one of our favorite eating places, Bandana's BBQ on the north side of I-70 where we enjoyed some fine BBQ selections before heading south on Route 41 toward Haubstadt. Stops at a vegetable farm and an ice cream stand in addition to a take out at McAllister's for later were made before pulling into the parking lot of the Tri-State Speedway. We secured a good parking position on the backstretch for our quick exit after the races were over since it is about a 2 hour 45 minute tow back to Crawfordsville afterwards plus we lose an hour with the time change. Our friends from Missouri, Sally Ebling and Gary Dean, were coming in for tonight and we were looking forward to seeing them again. Also Sally was bringing along some of her delicious homemade salsa which doesn't last long in the Eckel household and that was another good reason to see them!!


     

    On tap tonight was the $10,000 to win Haubstadt Hustler which was a combo USAC/MSCS sprint car program with MSCS rules being used for this year's addition. That is just another thing that makes this race even more interesting is the change of formats between the two clubs on a yearly basis. Group time trials during hot laps determined the starting fields for each heat with the top four in their group inverted for the heat races with the top four cars moving directly to the A main. An inversion pill is used with I believe 0, 2, 4, 6 and 10 as the options. The fastest overall timer in the four group qualifying sessions of 34 total cars was Robert Ballou for the second straight night and does anyone know the last time Ballou set fast time two nights in a row. Might have to go back to 2015, his championship year, for that one. The four heats were next up and the first one took the green at 7:24. All the heats were excellent with heat one seeing CJ Leary leading the early stages until looping it after another car spun in turn two. Leary was forced to tag the rear of the field on the restart and put on an elbows up performance motoring from ninth to second behind winner, Brady Bacon, at the finish and as Leary stated on Twitter "if you didn't think that race was good then you are not a true sprint car fan." Kyle Cummins and Donny Brackett finished third and fourth and moved to the main event also. Heat two saw Stephen Schnapf claim this one beating Kent Schmidt, Robert Ballou and Isaac Chapple. Chris Windom would score heat win #3 edging Dave Darland, Chase Stockon and Carson Short wheeling the Briscoe #5. Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman Racing #69 stormed to victory in heat four over Jason McDougal making his rookie appearance at Tri-State, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. Two UMP modified heats were contested for their 18 car field before the sprint B main was called to the track. Six more would advance from the B with two time Haubstadt Hustler winner, Daron Clayton, running away with this one outdistancing Aric Gentry, Chet Williams, Kendall Ruble, Critter Malone and Tony DiMattia punching the last ticket to the big dance in this one. Brian Wallace stood his sprinter on its nose in turn four in a tangle before bouncing back down to earth on all four tires. Shawn Arriaga from Antioch, CA was a surprise entrant on the evening and though he ran fairly well was not able to crack the starting lineup for tonight's race. Arriaga is normally a winged 360 drive from the left coast who was in town to attend the funeral of a long time fan at Haubstadt who he had met during the time the fan was a long haul truck driver. It amazes me how the racing community supports one another in times of need and sorrow.


     

    The 40 lap Haubstadt Hustler main event was ready to be flagged off by USAC starter, Tom Hansing, who now sports a Bell helmet given to him by Bell at IMS last week. I think it is a great idea as the helmet has full communication capabilities and it is good protection if any flying objects head in his direction. The front row of Kent Schmidt and CJ Leary brought the hungry pack to the green flag at 9:15 with Schmidt leading the first lap by inches and Leary grabbing the top spot entering turn one after completing lap one. Leary pulled away and looked like he would be difficult to catch as he set a torrid pace. Kevin Thomas Jr. cleared Schmidt for second and took up the chase. Schmidt who was running third on lap 13 suddenly slowed in turn three with Brady Bacon in hot pursuit had no where to go and launched up over Schmidt's left rear and flipped over. Bacon went to the work area and was able to return but could only muster a 14th at the finish. Leary continued to pace the field on the restart with Thomas and now his house-mate, Jason McDougal, up from eighth applying pressure on Thomas as they raced for second. Dave Darland, Robert Ballou, Chase Stockon, Kyle Cummins and Carson Short were having their own race back behind the front three and swapping spots like some people swapped spouses during the 60's. By lap 25 lap traffic was coming into play. Leary made some good moves and some bad moves in traffic with Thomas and McDougal drawing closer at times and losing ground at other times. With four to go suddenly it seemed Thomas came alive and closed dramatically on Leary exiting turn four. They raced side by side down the homestretch and Thomas cleared Leary to take the lead entering turn one and never looked back. Leary tried to make a run at Thomas but was unable to do so over the last four laps. As the checkered flag waved at 9:40 it was the current USAC point leader, Thomas, crossing the line first becoming the first three time winner of the Haubstadt Hustler with Leary crossing second, McDougal third, Darland fourth and Carson Short charging from 15th to round out the top five. The most unusual thing happened after the checkered flag waved when two lappers tangled in between turns one and two sliding sideways with Thomas and McDougal sliding into the stopped pair with Thomas messing up his front end. Thomas climbed onto his roll cage in turn one in total joy and pumped his fist and then hugged McDougal before climbing down and walking to victory lane where he climbed on top an ATV and again celebrated to the approval of the crowd remaining behind to witness this strange victory lane celebration.

    Tyler Courtney ran a heady race coming from 16th to 6th at the end with Robert Ballou finishing seventh after starting tenth in the inversion. Chase Stockon came home eighth, Kyle Cummins ninth and Donny Brackett turning in an impressive run collecting tenth at the finish.


     

    It was a very impressive feature run on a finely manicured surface run in a timely manner allowing everyone that had a long trip home to head home in a reasonable hour and the locals to sit back and enjoy the UMP modified feature to follow. Another home run on the track prep for the Helfrich family on their 1/4 mile bullring.


     

    That's it for this past weekend and the schedule is light for this coming weekend with no Four Crowns on our agenda. Maybe a trip down Rt. 231 for a night in the lawn chair at Lincoln Park Speedway is in the cards. So wherever you are get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season winds down. Comments, quotes, news or rumors can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bacon Remains Hot Winning Hurtubise Classic At Terre Haute

    Friday, September 14 - It was a beautiful September day though it was quite hot. Tonight the racing action was set for the Action Track at Terre Haute for the Jim Hurtubise Classic, honoring the long time USAC competitor who scored 14 national sprint car victories and 4 champ car victories during his distinguished career and was always a hard charger and fan favorite. Twenty four USAC sprint cars and twelve UMP modifieds made the tow to the Wabash County Fairgrounds in Terre Haute to take on the big half mile dirt oval here. The night kicked off at 7:04 with time trials By 7:29 time trials were completed and a surprise driver stood in the infield being interviewed by Georgia Henneberry. It was none other than the 2015 USAC National Sprint Champion, Robert Ballou, who usually struggles in his time trial efforts. Tonight he had set fast time with a lap of 19.621 seconds around the half mile and led four qualfiers under the 20 second mark on a fast track.

    Three heat races would be next on the schedule with Ballou continuing his strong night charging from sixth and taking the lead in the first heat on the white flag lap and winning over Kevin Thomas Jr., Carson Short, Tyler Courtney and Bill Rose, the current BOSS sprint car point leader. Heat two would see a tangle in turn two between Jarett Andretti and Nate McMillen with McMillen rolling over lightly after the contact. Josh Hodges would hold off Brady Bacon, CJ Leary, Chris Windom and Isaac Chapple to take this heat. The third heat had an exciting finish with Dave Darland passing Nick Bilbee who had a right rear tire going down off the last turn to steal the win with Jason McDougal third, Shane Cottle fourth and Chase Stockon fifth. Two UMP modified heats followed with Brian Shaw and Richie Lex winning. No B main was needed for the sprints so after a short break for some track maintenance the 15 lap UMP modified feature would be first up. Richie Lex jumped off the outside front row and was gone never to be headed in this one outrunning Brian Shaw and Marty Lindeman to score the popular win in a nine minute race.

    Shane Cottle and CJ Leary led the 23 car field to the green flag at 9:18 with Cottle leading into turn one and Leary breezing by in turn two. Brady Bacon was coming fast grabbing second on the homestretch on lap four after starting fifth and took up the chase of Leary. Lap six saw a tangle between Josh Hodges and Nick Bilbee in turn one with Bilbee getting into the wall. Both cars were done for the evening. On the restart Leary jumped back into the lead with Bacon nipping at his heels. Entering turns three and four Leary jumped the cushion bouncing in the process and opening the door for Bacon who blasted by for the lead. Bacon was sizzling as he opened up a half straightway lead before Dave Darland pulled up lame with an expired engine on the backstretch on lap 13. Bacon was ready on the restart and took off like a rabbit with Robert Ballou now up to second and trying to keep pace with the high flying Bacon who continued to run on top of the cushion lap after lap. As the race wound down the almost turning point of the evening occurred between turns one and two when Bacon hit a clump of dirt sending his sprinter sideways between the two turns almost looping his car in the process. Ballou had to check out to miss the sideways Bacon and Brady was able to correct the bucking bronco and shoot down the backstretch still in control. With five to go tenth running Justin Grant went up in smoke on the backstretch bringing out the last caution of the evening. On the restart Bacon went to the point as Ballou cleared Isaac Chapple who restarted between the leaders on the start. Bacon was flawless over the remaining five laps scoring his 22nd career USAC National Sprint Car victory of his career placing him in a tie for 22nd on the all time win list with Sam Sessions, Ricky Hood and Bubby Jones. Ballou would cross the line second trailed by Chris Windom, Leary and Thomas Jr. when the checkered waved at 9:45. Shane Cottle paced the second five followed by Tyler Courtney who went to the rear on lap 13 when mechanical woes forced him to the infield but quick repairs got him back on the track to salvage a seventh. Chase Stockon was eighth with Stevie Sussex ninth and Jason McDougal advancing from 17th to tenth at the finish.

    It was a good race at Terre Haute once again on a well groomed track with limited dust ending at a good time and the track crew should be commended for going to work after the Indiana Sprint Week dust fest and producing a very fast and virtually dustless surface the last two times out.

    That's it for now but check back tomorrow for night two of our typical weekend from Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and dry. News, stories, comments and the such can reach us by email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thursday Night Sprint Car Action At Anderson Speedway

    Thursday, September 13 - Racing on a week night is unusual for Indiana but tonight was the third and final Thursday night racing for sprint cars at the Anderson Speedway, Home of the famed Little 500 in May, and we decided to take in the night's action on a beautiful evening in eastern Indiana. A decent crowd turned out for this Thursday night of racing with time trials for the sprint cars already underway as we arrived around 6:20. One of the last cars out, Dameron Taylor, dropped some fluid in turn four and spun in it before he began his qualifying effort. It took a while to clean up the area with speedy dry before timing the remaining three cars. Kody Swanson, in one of two Gene Nolen entries (Jerry Coons Jr. the other), set fast time of 11.337 seconds around the 1/4 mile asphalt bullring with the V-6 engine under the hood. A fan was chosen to roll the dice to determine the inversion for the feature lineup and eight was rolled inverting the top eight in time trials. Tonight was billed as the 18th Glen Niebel Classic, an honor for the noted sprint car owner who won the Little 500 six times with V-6 power under the hoods of his famed yellow #20's.

    The announcer apologized for them being late in starting, over 40 minutes, but they moved the program right along for the remainder of the evening. The 30 lap, 11 car, thunder roadster feature took the green flag at 7:43 with Chad Cory taking the early lead. Only one yellow would slow the racing with Dave Osborn taking the lead using the outside groove on the restart and would never be headed on his way to his fourth win of the year taking the checkered flag at 7:53.

    The 125 lap Glen Niebel Classic feature was ready to go at 8:19 with Jerry Coons Jr. leading the parade of 22 starters to the green flag jumping off the pole into the early lead. Eighth starting Kody Swanson made a quick move advancing to fifth by lap two as the top five blasted around the 1/4 mile. Justin Grant was tucked into second with Aaron Pierce racing in third in the early going. Lap ten saw the first caution wave as Tony Main lost the handle in turn four bringing out the yellow flag. On the restart Coons continued to lead with Pierce all over Grant trying to wrestle second away. Contender Chris Neuenschwander ran up over another car's right rear tire on lap thirty causing him to drop into the infield out of the race. Lap thirty four saw Tom Patterson slow in turn four bringing out the second caution of the night. On the lap thirty nine restart the top five was Coons, Grant, Pierce, Bobby Santos III and Swanson. Lap forty eight saw a position change in the top five with Swanson slipping by Santos for fourth. Pierce was finally able to work around Grant for second on lap fifty five bringing Swanson with him in his wake. A big moment of the race occurred on lap sixty five when Swanson and Pierce collided in turn one while battling for second with Pierce spinning and Swanson continuing. Pierce retired to the infield for the remainder of the contest. The caution waved on lap seventy six when CJ Leary in the Fordyce #4 stopped in turn two against the outside wall ending his good evening as he was working his way toward the front. On the lap seventy nine restart Coons retained the lead with Swanson, Grant, Santos and Caleb Armstrong trailing. Swanson closed on Coons by lap eighty six and began to apply heavy pressure on the leader. Santos found a hole down low driving by Grant with Armstrong taking advantage and following through the opening on lap ninety five. Two laps later Kyle Hamilton looped the Klatt #5 in turn one bringing out the yellow. The lap ninety nine restart saw Coons get a good jump and open up several car lengths between himself and Swanson. Santos, Armstrong and Grant followed. Santos challenged for second using the outside road in turn four on lap one hundred seven when contact between Swanson and Santos occurred with Santos spinning off the banking and having to restart at the tail of the remaining twelve car field. Coons went to the point on the restart with Swanson and Armstrong chasing him. As the leaders approached a lap car coming to the white flag off turn four the lapper decided for some reason to pull high after having run low the previous two laps and that was the route Coons choose allowing Swanson to dive low and pass Coons at the flagger's stand. Swanson was able to fend off one last move by Coons in turn three and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:01 winning his third feature of the year at Anderson which included the Little 500. Coons finished a very disappointed second after leading 124 out of the 125 laps with Caleb Armstrong finishing third, Justin Grant fourth and Bobby Santos III with elbows up charging from 12th to 5th in the last twenty six laps.

    Even before doing his victory lane interview Kody Swanson walked down to Bobby Santos' car parked in the infield and apologized for their contact. Having seen Swanson run numerous times I am sure his two contacts were unintentional and that he felt badly about them. Even in his victory lane interview he acknowledged the fan's booing saying that they had a right to be upset and he publicly apologized for getting into Santos admitting that he made a mistake. His voice which was cracking from emotion indicated that he was sincerely sorry for his contact with the other two racers during the race. Not many racers would have acknowledged their mistakes in front of everyone. That is what makes Kody Swanson such a class act. Wasn't it fitting that the winner of the Glen Niebel Classic was driving a V-6 powered sprinter!! It was a real good race and a good night of racing and we were glad we decided to make the 1 1/2 hour tow over from Crawfordsville. We look forward to next summer at Anderson and we hope that they decide to run the Thursday night sprint car series again as it was quite enjoyable.

    Check back in the next couple of days as our plans have us heading to two USAC sprint car tussles at Terre Haute on Friday and Haubstadt on Saturday. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and keep dry. News, comments, tidbits and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you as we work on another "typical weekend."

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Brady Takes Home The Bacon At The Dirt Track @IMS

    Thursday, September 6 - Tonight was scheduled to be the second and final night of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC National Midget series race at the Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but the weather would play a factor in the proceedings this evening. I was monitoring Twitter and reports from both IMS and USAC were being posted with some rain showers at the track and updates would be forthcoming at 4:30 PM, our decided departure time from Crawfordsville. After 4:30 an update was posted by IMS stating that the rain had stopped and USAC was assessing the track conditions. An update came shortly thereafter from USAC saying they were shooting for a 6 PM time of cars on the track which also noted that the time was optimistic. We decided to set our departure time at 6 PM so Dale O'Brien, Guy Smith, Pat and I loaded into the Rogue and hit the road at 5. We arrived slightly before 6 and a few minutes later it started to rain, first lightly and then picking up in intensity over the next several minutes. We all agreed that it was going to be some time before anything was happening on the track and that turned out to be a correct assumption. Also on that memo it was announced that the E mains had been scraped for the evening. The next tweet from USAC indicated track packing and hot lap session would commence at 8 with opening ceremonies scheduled for 9. A little after 8 cars were on the track packing the surface and hot lap sessions for the eight groups scheduled to participate in the qualifying races followed. It was also at this point on another USAC memo that if they started racing after 9 PM the D's would be bagged also. It was 10:02 when the first of eight qualifying races took Tom Hansing's green flag. Passing points from last night's heats and tonight's qualifying races would be combined to determine the starting positions for the drivers for the remaining C, B and A mains.


     

    Logan Seavey would snare qualifier one out pacing Christopher Bell and Shane Golobic in a race where Scranton, PA's Austin Lagenstein rolled a second Critter Malone entry. Jake Neuman led from start to finish in qualifier two as the track was saturated and was fast but at this point still tough to pass on. Tyler Thomas and Gage Walker trailed. Jerry Coons Jr. notched qualifier three over David Budres and Critter Malone who turned in a strong run. Qualifier four would see Holly Shelton turn in a strong performance winning this one besting Dillon Welch who "Ripped The Fence" on his way to the front and Zane Hendricks. The scariest moment of the night occurred in qualifier four when California driver, Robert Dalby, was turned sideways on the homestretch and his right side tires dug into the track and the wild ride began. He executed three end over end flips past the starter's stand getting some serious high air time. Dalby climbed from the midget but was transported to IU Methodist Hospital for non-life threatening injuries and was still in the hospital as of Friday morning. Chad Boat garnered qualifier five in a spirited race beating off Andrew Layser and Brayton Lynch. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led a Clauson/Marshall top three sweep of qualifier six outrunning Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. Kevin Thomas Jr. looked very stout in qualifier seven coming from fifth to win over Shane Cottle and Andrew Felker. Qualifier eight went to Chris Windom triumphing over Brady Bacon and Ryan Robinson. It was 11:39 when the eight qualifiers ended when the official announcement was made that the C and B mains would also be scratched because of a town curfew (which was the first time we heard about this) and weather closing in. First off I think it was the right call as a race track in the middle of a residential area you need to be good neighbors and not run all hours of the night and morning. It was a difficult call but if they attempted to run the C, B and then the A it probably would have been close to 2 AM before things were completed. And the big point was less than a half hour after the finish as many were exiting or heading toward their cars it began to rain again and I don't think the track could have taken any extra moisture on this evening and we may have never seen the main event. The forecast for the next three days is dismal and they had to get the race in tonight or who knows when or if they would have rescheduled it. Georgia Henneberry and Kristy Bremmes first reported the format change as hot laps ended on USAC Nation and #Rip The Fence passed it forward on Twitter between the first and second qualifiers. The only problem I saw with the whole change of plans was that it was not broke to the 5000+ in attendance until after the qualifiers were finished which caught almost everyone by surprise. As I stated earlier I feel it was the right decision but it could have been handled better.


     

    Anyhow back to the racing at hand with the next race on the docket being the 39 lap Driven2SaveLives BC39 paying a cool $15,000 to win as part of a $75,000 total purse. The top 24 in combined passing points from the two evenings would make up the starting field with two provisionals added making a starting field of 26 cars on the 1/4 mile bullring.  We were impressed that Doug Boles, president of IMS, jogged around the entire track to shake every driver's hand that was starting the BC39 on this evening.  Here is a promoter who gets it.  The BC39 was brought to Tom Hansing's green flag at 12:07 by the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. and Tyler Courtney with Thomas scooting to the point at the start. Thomas worked the bottom while Courtney pounded the top with Thomas pacing the field over the first 13 laps before the first caution appeared for a massive six car pileup in turns three and four with Tucker Klaasmeyer rolling over lightly but being unable to continue. Courtney started to fade after the restart with Brady Bacon moving the Manafort #76M into second after starting seventh and starting to put some pressure on the front running Thomas. Chad Boat was also on the march moving from tenth into third with Alex Bright moving into fifth and Christopher Bell motoring from 17th to 6th. Bacon pulled even with Thomas in turn three on lap 20 but Thomas was able to get to the bottom exiting turn four to retain the lead for the moment. Lap traffic came into play a few laps later with Thomas coming off the bottom with the first three threading their way through the field. Lap 24 saw Bacon challenge again in turn three but Thomas swing off the high side and shut the door down low off turn four. Thomas slid a little high in turn four on lap 31 and Bacon stuck like glue on the bottom and raced into the lead as they crossed the start/finish line. Thomas dove low in turn one and Boat follow his lead and the three raced side by side down the backstretch. Bacon remained in front with Boat edging by Thomas for second exiting turn four as Boat took up the chase. Boat took some looks but Bacon was up to the task and eight laps later flashed under the checkered flags first scoring the historic victory over Boat with Thomas third, Courtney fourth and Bell rounding out the top five. Alex Bright led the second five trailed by Justin Grant, Holly Shelton, Jerry Coons Jr. and Ryan Robinson. It was a good feature as the track came around and multiple grooves were evident and it was an enjoyable run ending at 12:25. We took the long walk back to our SUV from various sections of the large grandstand and soon after the last arrival, Dale, got to the vehicle it started to rain. It was a lighter rain but it was steady and I don't think the track would have been able to take the additional rain and this could have bagged the remainder of the show if additional races would have been run.


     

    The two day show exceeded expectations and the track surface prepared by Reece O'Connor was very good and the whole atmosphere and the good crowd added to the specialness of the event. I would hope this would become an annual event being tweaked to make it even better next time out. One suggestion might be to replace the Stoops Pursuit race with a preliminary feature on the first night or maybe even running the heats on Wednesday capped by an invitational race featuring an IndyCar vs. NASCAR contingent of maybe 20 drivers total racing legend cars in a 20 lap feature. To make it more interesting or fair the drivers participating must have little or no previous dirt track experience so someone like Kyle Larson or Christopher Bell would not have an advantage over the others.

    That's it for now with all Friday racing action in the Indiana area wiped out by a persistent rain sometimes very heavy during the entire day. It does not look any better for Saturday or Sunday so there may not be another report until next weekend.


     

    Any comments, news, suggestions or rumors can reach us by email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And in the meantime hopefully the weather is better in your area and you can get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Opening Night Of Drive2Save Lives BC9 At IMS Successful

    Wednesday, September 5 - The big day arrived and the weather was nice with clear skies and hot temperatures. During the course of the evening weather moved around Indianapolis Motor Speedway and some sprinkles dropped but no rain hit the area. Off in the distance was a double rainbow and this might have been a sign from Bryan Clauson that he approved of all that had been done to make the BC39 at The Dirt Track @IMS a reality. We arrived around 4:30 with Dale O'Brien with us planning to meet Guy Smith from Pennsylvania and columnist for Area Auto Racing News and Todd Shannon from Wisconsin. They had saved us seats at the top of section 13 toward turn four for tonight's racing action on the reported 1/4 mile dirt oval (closer to a 1/5) inside turn three at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where a good sized crowd filed in for the event. David Letterman and Chase Elliott were some of the celebrities spotted in the crowd tonight.

    Hot laps were the first order of business with Michael Koontz getting the dubious distinction of being the first one to get upside down flipping in turn three during his group hot lap session. The track started out unruly but once it was manicured over the course of the evening it turned into a very racy surface allowing for some good racing throughout the heat races. Tonight's format would consist of 12 heat races and a 20 lap Pursuit feature later in the evening. The first heat race kicked off at 7:21 PM and it didn't take long for the second rollover to occur when Tyler Nelson and David Prickett executing a double rollover in turn two. This one also featured a Tyler Courtney spin while leading to avoid a stopped car in turn four and a rebound to capture heat one over Dave Darland and Randi Pankratz. Heat two would see Maria Cofer from California subbing in the Spencer Bayston #97 taking down heat two over Zeb Wise and Chris Windom in the Petry #35. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from fifth to win heat three over Jerry Coons Jr. and Logan Seavey. Shane Cottle pushed the Darryl Saucier #1ST to victory in heat four over two good runs by Brian Karraker and Dillon Welch. Tucker Klaasmeyer scored the win in heat five from seventh over ninth starting Terry Babb and Casey Shuman. J.J. Yeley in a second Dooling/Hayward #63D looked like he had never left open cockpit racing scoring the win in heat six (the halfway mark of the heat races) over Shane Golobic and young Chase Jones. Jason McDougal and Steve Buckwalter put on a crowd pleasing slide job fest in heat seven sliding and banging each other until late when McDougal hit the berm wrong with Buckwalter going on to win over Jake Neuman and Matt Westfall. Heat eight saw Christopher Bell run away in this one

    besting Korey Weyant and Lance Bennett. Heat nine saw a crowd pleasing duel between Tyler Thomas and Chad Boat exchanging sliders at opposite ends of the track with Thomas prevailing over Boat and Gage Walker with Jeb Sessums dumping it hard in turn four in this one. Heat ten saw Ryan Robinson outdistance Brayton Lynch and veteran Russ Gamester. Heat eleven saw the top point man of the night, Alex Bright, charge from ninth to win over Travis Young and Davey Ray. The final heat race of the evening went to Brady Bacon in a strong run besting Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Grant. A total of 107 cars took part in the heat racing action. Passing points were awarded for tonight's racing and tomorrow the format will continue with eight qualifying races followed by the alphabet mains starting with the D and moving forward or upward culminating in the 39 lap Drive2SaveLives BC39 main event.

    The last bit of business was the 20 lap Stoops Pursuit race with the winner taking home $1500 plus $100 per car passed to each driver. In my humble opinion this race was a bust and though it had some excitement to it overall it was not a good race. As Pat stated it wasn't entertaining it was irritating!! It was confusing as in a normal pursuit race when you get passed you pull off. This was broken up into five segments of four laps each with any cars being involved in a wreck and stopping on the track were eliminated along with cars passed in each segment also being eliminated which didn't seem to be the case in every segment. This added to the confusion but in the end young Zeb Wise executed a turn four pass of leader, Alex Bright, coming to the white flag and held on to take the pursuit race over Bright and Stenhouse Jr. All was in the books by 10:37 and the crowd filed out to the surrounding parking lots to make their way back to their various destinations. It was only appropriate that the winner of the first main event for the BC39 was the #39BC of Zeb Wise. You couldn't write a better script if you tried. Kudos go out to all involved in the first race on the Dirt Track@IMS from the track crew to USAC to IMS management on a job well done.

    We will do it again today starting with eight qualifiers of a ten lap distance and then into the alphabet soup mains starting with D. So check back tomorrow for our report on the activities at the Dirt Track @IMS final night. Comments, news and other interesting tidbits can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season dwindles down and be safe and stay dry. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wild Finish To 68th Ted Horn 100 At DuQuoin Goes To Windom

    Sunday, September 2 - We slept in again on Sunday morning before getting ready and heading out to Bandana's BBQ for some delicious beef, pork and sausage before pointing the Rogue toward the town of DuQuoin. The annual fair was in full bloom when we arrived around 5 and we made our way around the fairgrounds and to the grandstand side of the big one mile dirt oval which today was hosting the grand old dames of USAC, the Silver Crown division. Thirty eight of the pre-entered forty entrants made the tow to DuQuoin to do battle for the 68th Ted Horn 100 under the lights at the DuQuoin mile. Silver Crown time trials rolled out at 6:37 with each car scheduled for two laps around the mile oval. In little less than an hour (7:28) our hometown boy, Jacob Wilson of Crawfordsville, had set fast time with a lap of 30.214 seconds around the mile oval. UMP modifieds were on the card tonight running two heat races determining the starting lineup for their main event the next day racing on the card with the ARCA stock cars. The 12 lap Last Chance Qualifier was called to the post at 8:03 with Levittown, Pennsylvania's rookie contender, Mike Haggenbottom, taking the lead in this one from his outside front row starting position and running away from the field outdistancing Chris Dyson, JC Bland, Keith Burch, Terry Babb and Korey Weyant who put on the show at Springfield in this race a few weeks ago.

    The 30 car field was now set for the Ted Horn 100 and the green would wave first on the front row of Jacob Wilson and Jerry Coons Jr. at 8:53 and we were off and running. Coons would power into the lead at the start with CJ Leary following him by Wilson to take second on the opening lap. Brady Bacon in the Klatt entry raced by Leary in turn two on lap three to take second and take up the chase of Coons. Tyler Courtney was the man on the move making a big move from 11th into 5th by lap five. Bacon caught Coons at the start of the backstretch and passed him for the lead on lap six. Two laps later Leary passed Coons on the homestretch to grab second as Bacon pulled away. Jeff Swindell's day ended early when his machine went up in smoke on the homestretch on lap 10. Lap 15 would see JC Bland snap a rear axle at the end of the backstretch and flip over the inside guard rail bringing out the red flag. Bland was OK after his wild ride to the fan's relief. Before the restart Coons headed pitside while running third and rejoined the field in time for the restart. The running order for the restart would be Bacon, Leary, Courtney, Chris Windom and David Byrne. Bacon and Leary pounded the cushion in turns one and two and began to set a blistering pace pulling away from the rest of the field. Kody Swanson worked his way into the top five passing Byrne for the position in turn one on lap 28. Rookie Austin Mundie from Texas took a nasty ride in turn one on lap 34 hitting the outside wall and spinning, bouncing and flipping toward the inside wall. Mundie was quickly out of the badly damaged car as the second red waved. The cars refired and ran several laps before restarting as there was now a concern if the cars would have enough fuel to go the distance. Leader Bacon was unable to fire after the red and was pushed to the infield with a clutch issue. The Klatt car has had mechanical woes the past three Silver Crown races on the dirt miles unable to go the distance in any of them. Leary in the Mickey Meyer #10 would be the new leader and on the restart he took off and rode the cushion through turns one and two to perfection pulling away from the entire field. Lap 38 saw Coons making great strides from the rear cracking the top ten at that point. He continued to pick off cars making a brillent move in turn two passing two cars to take over seventh on lap 41. At the halfway mark Leary led Courtney, Windom, Swanson and Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Foxco Racing #56. Thomas caught and passed Swanson for fourth on the homestretch on lap 53. Fast timer Jacob Wilson who had slipped back to tenth dropped out on lap 62 and his evening was over early. Leary continued to set a blistering pace as the laps clicked off and I turned to Pat and commented that I didn't think Leary could sustain this torrid pace as he opened a three second lead over Courtney and nearly ten seconds as third running Windom. Shane Cockrum would make his first appearance in the top five racing by Swanson to take over fifth on lap 65 and Justin Grant would wrestle sixth from Swanson on lap 76. By lap 85 Courtney was visibly catching Leary as fuel was playing its card. Courtney caught and passed Leary on the backstretch on lap 87 and pulled away as Leary continued to fall off the pace trying to conserve his remaining fuel. Coons fine run came to a premature ending when he dropped out with twelve to go while running ninth. Meanwhile Courtney opened a five second lead over Windom who had moved by Leary in the interim as the lap counter read six. As Courtney exited turn four to take the five to go sign his motor began to sputter due to lack of fuel and Windom closed on the slowing Courtney. Windom blew by Courtney to take the lead for the first time with Thomas taking over second and Cockrum moving into third. Cockrum was all over Thomas for second as Windom pulled away. Several times over the remaining laps it looked like Cockrum would grab second but Thomas somehow was able to fend off the charging Cockrum. It was found out later in the podium interviews that Cockrum also at the end was running low on fuel. As the checkers waved at 10:20 it was Chris Windom across the stripe first completing the Illinois Silver Crown double taking both events on the Illinois miles and only leading 15 total laps in the two races but they were the important 15 laps to lead. It was Windom's second DuQuoin win in three years and he also became the first driver to sweep the two Illinois mile events in the same year in a decade since Brian Tyler accomplished the feat in 2008. Car owner Gene Nolen notched his third career Ted Horn 100 as a car owner with the Windom win. Justin Grant would secure fourth at the finish with Kody Swanson taking down fifth. David Byrne would claim sixth with Leary limping around for seventh with Austin Nemire eighth, Joey Moughan for his second consecutive ninth and Kyle Robbins rounding out the top ten in a fine run. Mike Haggenbottom would take home the hard charger award after starting 25th and finishing 11th at the end. It was an interesting affair with plenty of drama and the track was in great shape which allowed the drivers to blast the cushion especially in turns one and two with the cushion in two right up against the wall with the drivers racing just inches from the concrete and certain disaster.

    The last two Silver Crown races on the Illinois miles have been a joy to watch with track conditions excellent allowing the drivers to put on quite a show for the paying customers and leaving them wanting more at the end. I was fortunate to have made all three Silver Crown races on the dirt miles this year and enjoyed every one of them.

    Next up this Wednesday is qualifying night for the BC39 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the new dirt track inside turn three of the big track with 118 midgets entered for the $15,000 to win top prize. Be there or be square. The BC39 will take place on Thursday night with the USAC sprints scheduled to run Friday night at Gas City. Saturday have the Silver Crown cars invading Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont and Sunday is the Smackdown finale at Kokomo. It is going to be a busy five days coming up. Check back soon for updates on the upcoming races and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, complaints, news and other such items can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    River Town Showdown Night Two At I-55 To First Time Winner McDougal

    Saturday, September 1 - We slept in late at the hotel before getting ready and having lunch at Zapata's, a Mexican restaurant, in Collinsville. Then it was a visit to the St. Clair Antique Mall before taking the 45 minute drive down to Pevely, the home of the Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, or as most people refer to it as I-55 or Pevely. On tap tonight was night two of the River Town Showdown highlighting the USAC National Sprint Car Series with two divisions of modifieds on the undercard, UMP modifieds and Pro modifieds or B modifieds. This was our first visit to I-55 and would be my 800th track to see a race at in my 50+ years of attending auto racing. It certainly turned out to be a fine track to make #800 as the racing was excellent. USAC time trials would open the show beginning at 7:02 with each of the 21 entrants taking two laps of time around the 1/3 mile high banked clay oval. By 7:26 Tyler Courtney in the Clauson/Marshall/Newman #7BC had set fast time of 12.440 seconds to outpace the other 20 drivers.


     

    The USAC sprint heats would be up first at 7:45 and the guys would contest three heat races on the evening. Robert Ballou showed good speed capturing heat one outrunning Chris Windom, Dave Darland, Tyler Courtney and Jadon Rogers in this one. Jason McDougal came from fifth to win heat two beating Chet Williams who had a strong run, Justin Grant, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from sixth to first in a lap and a half and went onto victory in heat three over Isaac Chapple, Chase Stockon, Korey Weyant and Mitch Wissmiller. Next up were the pro modifieds running three heats for their 27 car field with Conrad Miner, CJ Springer and Matthew Edler notching wins and followed by three heats for the UMP modifieds with Steve Picou, Kyle Steffens and Rick Stevenson triumphing. No B mains were needed in any of the divisions so the next order of business would be the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature.


     

    The green flag would wave at 9:15 with the front row of Chase Stockon and Jason McDougal racing side by side for the early lead. McDougal would lead at the line by inches to complete lap one but Stockon would regain the top spot before the first caution appeared for a tangle in turn three on lap three between Robert Ballou and Kevin Thomas Jr. who were battling for third with Thomas bouncing and hopping through the turn and Ballou stopping in the middle of the turn and bringing out the caution. Ballou would have to rejoin the field at the tail end on the restart. The second caution waved on lap five when Chuck Walker, a local making a rare non-wing start, spun in turn two. On the restart Stockon moved back out front dogged by McDougal with Thomas, Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney close behind. Stockon would pace the field up to lap 12 when the leaders entered heavy lap traffic with cars running all over the track from top to bottom on the very racy surface. Thomas split the gap between Stockon and the lap car of Chuck Walker to take the lead in turn three with Stockon diving low in turn four to try to retake the lead. Thomas was able to hold sway and was now the new leader. On lap 17 Bacon slowed in turn two and pulled to the infield with a broken cam on the #99 ending his evening too early while running third. Thomas went back to the point on the restart as the top seven duked it out tooth and nail with McDougal being shuffled back to seventh in the lead pack. Courtney moved into second and pressured Thomas for the lead looking for his tenth win of the year. Lap 21 saw Courtney throw a slider on Thomas in turn one with Thomas countering in turn four to retake first. A very scary incident occurred on lap 25 when Robert Ballou who had worked his way back up to third and Chuck Walker touched entering turn one with Walker shooting to the right and into the fence climbing the wall into the catch fencing, bouncing off and spinning on his roll cage toward the inside wall with parts flying everywhere. The crowd was silent until Walker climbed through the roll cage of his destroyed machine to the relief of everyone. The fence was damaged and repairs needed to be made and it was over 50 minutes before the cars were pushed off again to restart the race to complete the remaining five circuits. The green reappeared a few minutes later with Thomas, Courtney and McDougal going to war. Thomas stayed low while McDougal pounded the cushion breezing by Courtney and attacking Thomas for the lead. With four to go McDougal surged by Thomas to take the lead running with reckless abandon and pulled away from the stunned Thomas. Ballou caught and disposed of Courtney for third but didn't have time to track down the front two. McDougal stayed on the gas and ran away from Thomas and crossed the line at 10:31 scoring his first ever USAC National sprint car win in only his fourth USAC start beating Thomas, Ballou, Courtney and Justin Grant to the finish. CJ Leary finished sixth with Dave Darland seventh, Chris Windom eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Korey Weyant getting the hard charger coming from sixteenth to tenth. Thomas was very upset about losing this one but in an interesting side story Thomas and his wife, Whitney, took in young McDougal when he moved into the Indianapolis area from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and recommended him to Petry Motorsports to drive their midget to replace Thomas who moved into the Dooling/Hayward #63 midget. I don't know but McDougal might be sleeping in the garage in the future. LOL. Thomas hates to lose which makes him a tough competitor and by today I am sure he is quite proud of his young housemate. By the way McDougal became the second Oklahoma driver in a row (Tyler Thomas at Kokomo) to score their first USAC National Sprint Car win in the last week. And to top off the weekend McDougal went to Kokomo on Sunday and won the Vince Osmun Memorial in the Daigh/Phillips #71P to cap off a pretty good weekend beating two other gassers in the likes of Stevie Sussex and Thomas Meseraull.


     

    I-55 is a real racy joint and we look forward to returning to see some open cockpit racing next year at this place. This run was one of the best we have seen all year and we sure are glad we made the four hour haul into Illinois and Missouri for this one.


     

    Until tomorrow when we will bring you the report from the mile at the DuQuoin fairgrounds where the USAC Silver Crown division did battle on the dirt mile in the 68th Ted Horn 100 take care and be safe. Comments, news, stories or scuttlebutt can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    River Town Showdown Goes To Courtney at Tri-City

    Friday, August 31 - All during the week we kept an eye on the weather forecast for the weekend in Illinois with the percentage being between 60% and 40% for Friday and Saturday and lesser for Sunday. As the week progressed the percentages dropped and by Thursday afternoon they were down around 20% so the decision was made to head into the Land of Lincoln to follow the USAC sprints and Silver Crown cars for the weekend.

    We left the house at 2:30 to make the four hour tow to the first stop on the schedule, the 3/8 and 1/4 mile ovals at the Tri-City Speedway, for night one of the River Town Showdown which was a four division card of USAC sprints, MOWA sprints and non-wing and winged 600 micros. This would be our first visit to Tri-City since 1991, almost 27 years ago. It was good to be back at Tri-City and the brand new bathrooms were very impressive as were the concession stands which had a very impressive array of food choices to pick from. This also would be USAC's first appearance at Tri-City since 2006 when it was still a 1/2 mile dirt oval.

    They had raced at Tri-City the night before and with all the rain recently it was reported to have been rough but tonight they had worked the track hard putting down much water and the track was slimy when they started out with the first warm-up session for the USAC sprint cars. The track came around as the warm-ups continued but it caused a delay in the start of the racing program by over an hour. Time trials for the 24 USAC sprints on hand kicked off at 7:17 with Daron Clayton finding the wall between turns three and four during the time trials rolling over his Schmidt #5o and not being able to repair it to register a time. By 7:44 it was Kevin Thomas Jr. for the fourteenth time producing the quick time of the evening at 14.316 seconds which would be a new track record on the 3/8 mile configuration. Next up were warm-ups for the other three divisions before we got into heat racing with the USAC sprint cars being called first to the post. Isaac Chapple would hold off fast timer Thomas for the first heat win with Chase Stockon, Tyler Courtney and Mitch Wissmiller trailing. Heat two would see Jason McDougal cash in for the heat win over Dave Darland, Mario Clouser, Chris Windom and Brady Bacon. Zach Daum would win heat three triumphing over CJ Leary, Robert Ballou, Kent Schmidt and Chet Williams all making it to the big dance. Justin Perry and Jake Cheatham would take the non-wing 600's on the 1/4 mile oval with Josh Fisher and Jake Cheatham ghttaking wins in the winged 600's on the quarter mile with 16 cars starting in both divisions. The winged MOWA sprints would contest two heats for their 17 car field with point leader, Jacob Patton, and Paul Nienhiser winning. Only the USAC sprint cars would need a B main with Joe B. Miller winning this one holding off a fast closing Daron Clayton from last for the win with Justin Grant, Jadon Rogers, Wade Seller, Steve Thomas and Kyle Stearns punching their ticket to the big dance.

    The first feature event of the evening would be the non-wing 600 micro sprint feature on the quarter mile at 9:30 with Jake Cheatham scoring his fourth win of the year and the first at Tri-City running without the wings. Even before the 30 lap USAC feature began Jason McDougal ran into problems as the left rear tire on his sprinter was flat and he headed to the work area to make the change. He would have to relinquish his eighth starting position and start from 22nd when the green flag waved. Chase Stockon and CJ Leary brought the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:14 with Leary grabbing the lead down the backstretch after racing side by side with Stockon through the first two corners. Kyle Stearns brought out the first caution on lap six when he spun in turn one to slow the action. Leary led until lap 10 when Tyler Courtney dove low in turn one using the slider on Leary to grab the lead in turn two with contact from Leary exiting the turn on the attempted crossover. Courtney was able to retain the lead as they raced down the backstretch. Stearns brought out the second caution in turn three on lap ten when he lost his right front wheel in turn three to again slow the pace. Courtney would pace the restart with Leary and Brady Bacon in tow. Courtney opened up a good lead over the next several laps with Bacon moving by Leary for second off turn two on lap 14 with Kevin Thomas Jr. following suit. With ten to go Courtney found himself in heavy lap traffic as Bacon closed in his pursuit. Sunshine split the pair of Daron Clayton and Mario Clouser in turn one on lap 24 to give himself some breathing room over the stalking Bacon. With four to go Courtney swung high while Bacon pointed it low briefly grabbing the top spot but Courtney surged off the top side of turn two and blasted off the corner to retake the lead. With three to go the leaders swapped grooves with Bacon going high and Courtney low with Bacon exiting turn two with the lead but Courtney slid in front of him in turn three to retake the top spot in a crowd pleasing duel just before fifth running Justin Grant and Mario Clouser tangled in turn two to bring out the caution. Courtney got a good jump on the restart but it was now Thomas who was the man to watch as he dusted off Bacon exiting turn four with two to go and took up the chase of Courtney. Thomas was all over the leader in the final two laps and Courtney was able to hold off a turn three challenge on the last lap to flash across the line first for his ninth win of 2018 and his 15th career USAC National sprint car win beating Thomas with Bacon third, Robert Ballou claiming fourth and Dave Darland coming from tenth to fifth at the finish. It was a good one on a track that became slick during the feature but the boys were able to put on a fine show for the large crowd on hand.

    There were still two features to go and the 20 lap winged 600 feature was on the track shortly after victory lane festivities were completed for the USAC go. Jake Cheatham would sweep the evening scoring his fifth win of the year leading wire to wire in this one but the racing was much more intense with the boys being use to the wings on top. Last but not last was the 25 lap MOWA sprint car feature with Paul Nienhiser slicing and dicing his way to the lead from his sixth starting position by lap three by passing Brinton Marvel off turn four. Nienhiser would put on a show up front picking his way through the field bouncing off the walls in the process and trying to distance himself from the chasing Brady Bacon and Jacob Patton hooked up in their own personal battle for the second position. The race went non-stop in eight minutes taking the checkered flag at 11:11 with Nienhiser scoring the popular win over Bacon, Patton, Jason Keith and Brinton Marvel who had their own fine race for the fourth spot.

    It was a good night of racing and after the late start things were moved right along with the whole racing program taking around three hours to complete. Not bad!!!

    Check back on Monday for the last two nights of our Illinois trip from I-55 and DuQuoin. That's it for now so get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as Labor Day approaches and the racing season is starting to wind down. Until next time be safe and stay dry. And as always thanks for checking out our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas A First Timer & Rain Dominate Kokomo Smackdown Weekend

    Friday, August 24 - The day dawned cloudy and cool with the dread word wind added in and the temperature only reached the mid 70's and the wind never let up. We arrived early at the track to check things out and noticed that Reece O'Connor and his crew had dumped a ton of water on the track with puddles around the whole racing surface. From our many years of attending the races and going to a race on a dirt track on a windy day with steady winds that never let up we knew it was going to be a dusty one this evening no matter how much you try to groom the track. Unfortunately we were right as the track was a hand full during the entire night of racing.

    The first order of the evening would be time trials for the 36 car field on hand with the first car hitting the track at 7:09. When it was all said and done at 7:33 guess who had fast time? If you said Kevin Thomas Jr. for the 13th time you would have been right on that one. The normal fast time award is $100 but tonight the ante was upped to $200. Next on the agenda would be the four heat races for the USAC sprints with Kevin Thomas Jr. claiming heat one and moving closer to the sweep for the evening. Shane Cottle chased Thomas across the line with Justin Grant third and Chris Windom fourth. Dakota Jackson ended up after the checker sitting cage side facing the stands teetering on the turn two wall and then slowly rolled over and landed on his wheels. This would start the night of the turn two Bermunda Triangle action with many others being mysteriously sucked into the turn two wall on this evening. Heat two would see Brady Bacon march to the front from his fourth starting position outdistancing Robert Ballou, Isaac Chapple and Carson Short who switched Briscoe mounts with Logan Seavey for the night's action and putting it in the field. Sunshine raced to victory in heat three out pacing Dave Darland, Jarett Andretti and Brandon Mattox to the finish. Jason McDougal raced the Daigh/Phillips #71P to victory in heat four after CJ Leary broke while leading edging out Stevie Sussex looking comfortable in the Dutcher #17GP, Tyler Thomas and Chase Stockon. Three heats for the King Of Indiana/UMRA TQ midgets would follow with Rick Robinson, Tate Martz and Matt Lux posting victories. The sprint B main would be next on the card with Missouri's Clinton Boyles in the Paul Hazen #57 streaking to victory over Logan Seavey, Kyle Cummins, Scotty Weir, Matt Westhall and Dakota Jackson rounding out the B main qualifiers.

    To give the B main cars time to make adjustments the 20 lap TQ midget feature was called to the post with veteran TQ driver, Tate Marz, jumping to the early lead and never being headed. The TQ's went huggy pole and rode the inside groove throughout the 20 lap distance with Martz's teammate, Matt Lux, coming home second with Joey Paxton bringing one of the multiple Goff entries in for third with John Heydenreich making a rare TQ appearance claiming fourth and Austin Nigh rounding out the top five.

    It was good to see Tom Hansing back in the starter's stand and ready to wave the green silk at 10:23 over the 24 car starting field with Jarett Andretti and Robert Ballou leading the field to the green. Ballou surged out front at the start and opened a big lead early with Tyler Thomas racing into second from fourth passing Andretti and Justin Grant on the first lap in the Tony & Millie Epperson #2E. The track was tricky being very technical with little error as the majority of the field ran right up against the outside wall all the way around the 1/4 mile bullring. The red waved on lap ten when the Bermuda Triangle claimed another victim as Clinton Boyles dumped the Hazen entry in turn two. Ballou turned rabbit again on the restart and pulled away with Tyler Thomas in tow. Lap 13 saw Jarett Andretti catch the turn two wall while running third bouncing off the fence and flipping wildly in the process with Kevin Thomas Jr. running fourth with no where to go but into the flipping Andretti sending his mount into a series of flips and rolls. Andretti was OK but finished for the evening while several crews thrashed on the disabled Hoffman 69 and they were able to join the field for the restart and Thomas would salvage a 14th at the finish. Ballou was setting a blistering pace up front as CJ Leary was coming from the rear (22nd) cracking the top eight around the halfway mark. One lap later disaster struck for the leader as Ballou entered the Bermuda Triangle catching the wall wrong and flipping over ending his night in a very disappointing manner. Tyler Thomas would inherit the lead but Tyler Courtney was on his tail as the race went back to green. Thomas was up to the challenge as he scooted away on the restart and held sway as Courtney plotted his attack plan. Thomas was spinning off near perfect laps as the race unwound into the late stages. Around lap 26 Stevie Sussex as swept up in the Bermuda Triangle known as turn four and turned the Dutcher machine upside down while running seventh. It was a tough ending for a fine run by the Arizonian. Everyone was expecting the huge turn one slider from Courtney that netted him the final night victory in 2017 but Thomas got a good jump and Courtney was not able to execute the big slider. On the last lap Thomas swiped the turn two wall but it boosted him down the backstretch but Courtney's encounter with the Bermuda Triangle almost claimed another victim as his slap of the wall sent him sideways and broke his momentum allowing Thomas to sail away. They exited turn four and flashed under the checkered flag at 11:08 with Tyler Thomas scoring his first ever USAC National win and also in the process scoring the first ever USAC National Sprint Car win for long time owners Tony and Millie Epperson with Tony standing on the side rail of his Epperson Painting Special waving the checkered flag back and forth in joy in carhappiness for a little team who have supported USAC for many a year to finally win a USAC National checker. Thomas meanwhile was almost at a loss for words in his interview He exclaimed that "He didn't know what to say & that he was kind of scatter brained right now." He composed himself and went on to say that he was thankful the Eppersons' gave him a shot and that he had come close several times here in USAC action in the past including the final last year of Smackdown. Thomas also in a moment of pure joy exclaimed that "shit I just won at Kokomo!!" It was a fun victory lane celebration and am sure it went on for a while in the pits afterward.

    Tyler Courtney rode home second with Justin Grant notching third with Brady Bacon marching from ninth to fourth and Dave Darland rounding out the top five. CJ Leary would wind up sixth after starting 20th with Jason McDougal claiming seventh, Chris Windom eighth, Chase Stockon ninth after starting 17th and Carson Short rounding out the top ten after racing from 16th. It was a tough night of racing on a wind swept dirt surface but the show was interesting none the less even though the track conditions were less than ideal.

    Saturday, August 25 - Waking up to thunder in the morning usually is not a good recipe if you are planning on making some racing action that evening. We met Bill and Judy Burns for breakfast at Bob Evans before 10 and during breakfast we watched the skies turn dark and dump tons of heavy rain on the Kokomo area. We decided to do some sightseeing after breakfast and headed over to Highland Park where we saw a covered bridge which was moved to the park from its original location about five miles east of Kokomo and was built in 1875. The water of the creek were drawing closer and closer to the bottom of the wooden structure as the rains continued and we hope the structure would not be damaged by the waters. We stopped at a large glass display where Old Ben, the largest steer in the world was housed (at least his stuffed carcass was there) weighing over two tons before his death and a very large sycamore stump which measured over 50 feet in circumference. This tree stump was moved from New London, Indiana to its present location and is somewhere between 800 and 1500 years old. As we left Highland Park the creek was flooding and the storm drains were not able to handle the volume of water and bubbled over causing many parts of the park to be underwater. On our way over to tour The Seiberling Mansion, a historic home located in Kokomo we got the news via Twitter that the Smackdown final at Kokomo Speedway was postponed until Sunday, September 9th which will make for five straight days of USAC racing starting with two days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway dirt track followed by USAC sprints on Friday at Gas City, the Silver Crown series at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Saturday and Kokomo for the Smackdown VII Final on Sunday. Back to the Seiberling Mansion which was built by Monroe Seiberling of Akron, Ohio who moved to Kokomo to take advantage of the free natural gas offered to anyone opening a new business launched the Kokomo Strawboard Company which made shoe boxes out of straw and sold the company within six months and then opened the Diamond Plate Glass Company which was much later bought by the Pittsburgh Glass Company. The house was started in 1887 and was completed in 1889 at the cost of $50,000 and the house is a mixture of Neo-Jacobean and Romanesque Revival styles of arkutecture. The Seierlings' only lived in it for four years but the grand house survived to the present with various owners including Indiana University of Kokomo who held classes in the beautiful house. It is now owned and preserved by the Howard County Historical Society and if in the Kokomo area and you enjoy old grand homes then you should tour this one, it is a beauty.

    Some people wondered why Kokomo did not run on Sunday but if you visited the track like we did before heading home you would have realized why. Many campers on the grounds were surrounded by water and many were stuck in the water. Also the parking area had many spots that were under much water and it will take a while until the grounds are dry enough to park anything on. Also the pit area had many areas under water and were impassable.

    Until next week where we were planning an all USAC weekend in Illinois take care, be safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. News, comments, rumors, facts and other things can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back often.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Claims Eighth USAC Win Of Year At Smackdown

    Thursday, August 23 - Today was the second day of racing at Kokomo as part of Smackdown VII and this would be the first night that points would be awarded toward the USAC National Sprint Car championship. So everyone was prepared to bring their A game to the table and the intensity was amped up a notch or two. Joining us this evening was the Pennsylvania contingent of Rauser, Keith, Hoppel, Wendell and Troy in addition to Bill Burns and also Sally and Gary from Nebraska were there to take in the festivities. The sprint field was down from Wednesday's 54 to 35 tonight and they were joined by 20 600 micro sprints on the race card. Time trials pushed off at 7:06 and by 7:27 Justin Grant had posted the quick time with a lap of 12.643 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval.

    Next up on the schedule were four sprint car heats with the top four moving directly to the A main with the top six in time trials that transfer via heat action inverting for the main event. Shane Cottle took the Goacher #5G to the front in heat one and held off Brady Bacon, Tyler Thomas and Justin Grant for the win. Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 passed Scotty Weir late to score heat win two besting Weir, Isaac Chapple and Chase Stockon. Robert Ballou raced to the lead in heat three but slowed and went to the pit area returning but dropping to the infield on the restart relegating him to the B main. Chris Windom running anywhere on the track he pleased as the Baldwin #5 is dialed in at Kokomo especially outrunning CJ Leary, Tyler Courtney and Carson Short. Heat four saw a gaggle of cars get together in turn two with Chad Boespflug flipping the Reinbold/Underwood #19 several times in the schirmish and ending his night early. Dave Darland would go on to score the win in this one outdistancing Tim Buckwalter, Jason McDougal and Carmen Perrigo, the Pennsylvania runner and former super sportsman campainger with Buckwalter going end over end in turn two after hitting the cushion wrong after the checkered flag had waved. Buckwalter was able to make repairs and return for the feature event later in the evening. Two 600 heats were spun off before the sprints returned to contest their B main with six combatants moving on to join sixteen already locked in from the heat races. Kyle Cummins blasted the cushion to bag the B main in the EZR entry holding off Robert Ballou, Logan Seavey, Dakota Jackson, Jarett Andretti and Josh Hodges who flew in from New Mexico after working yesterday. The 15 lap 600 micro feature would be up next and was a good contest with Kole Kirkman wiring the field beating Austin Nigh to the finish at 9:19.

    Brian Hodde waved off the field at 9:39 with CJ Leary sliding in front of Tyler Thomas to take the lead in turn one. Darland charged by Thomas for second and by lap four Tyler Courtney was all over Darland as the pair exchanged sliders for several laps before Courtney completed the pass in turn four on lap seven. Leary in the meantime was attacking the cushion with a vengence and had opened a substantial lead at this point. Courtney's mission was to make up a half straightway deficit and began to chop into Leary's lead as the leader encountered lap traffic. The top two were flying and the rest of the field was battling behind them as they opened a large distance on third on back. Kevin Thomas Jr. brought out the caution when he rolled to a stop in turn three with a flat right rear tire. Thomas was able to pit and return to the end of the line for the restart. On the restart Leary went to the point with Courtney in pursuit. The next time around Courtney pulled his long slider in turn one and completed the task in turn two to take the lead on lap 21. Leary tried to counter entering turn four but had too much momentum and clipped the turn four wall turning him into the wall and fence almost flipping the #30 over and throwing him into the middle of the homestretch with cars scattering all around somehow missing the slowed Leary. CJ was able to hit the petal and resume his chase only losing two positions in the process. Courtney surged ahead with Brady Bacon and Justin Grant the new chasers. With a few laps to go Grant entered turn one smacking the wall and riding the fence before recovering and repeated the performance the following lap also allowing Leary to make another run and race back into second in an amazing comeback. Leary closed on Courtney several times but the Clauson/Marshall driver was able to pull away once again and raced under the checkers at 10:00 securing his eighth USAC win of the year by 3.656 seconds over the rebounding Leary with Bacon securing third from eighth for the hard charger award with Grant hanging on for fourth and Chris Windom managing a fifth after starting tenth. Dave Darland led the second five with Jason McDougal bringing the Daigh/Phillips #71P in for a fine seventh with Kyle Cummins eighth, Tyler Thomas ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr. rebounding for tenth.

    There was much more intensity and side by side racing this evening even though the surface was pretty dusty but we will take a little dust in exchange for better racing. This is the Kokomo that we tell our friends about as everyone walked away with a smile on their face and looking forward to the next two nights of Smackdown.

    So until tomorrow when the next installment is headed your way take care and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and if the racing is not that good in your area then hit the road and visit somewhere where it is. Comments, complaints, news and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for taking the time to read our efforts and we hope you enjoy reading about our travels.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Romps To #GYATK Win At Kokomo Opening Smackdown Week

    Wednesday, August 22 - Pat arrived home yesterday from PA and repacked the bag as today we were headed to Kokomo Speedway for the next four days for start of the 7th Sprint Car Smackdown. Night one was billed the #GYATK night and was a free admission show for the fans featuring USAC non-wing sprints only in a non-points awarding evening. One of the week's sponsors, Allstar Performance, in a fine gesture paid the pit admission for each of the 54 entrants for tonight's #GYATK racing. Also Hoosier Racing Tires put up $1500 to the highest finishing first time campaigner tonight in another added bonus and 14 first timers showed up to try to pocket the challenge money.

    A good crowd was on hand but not as big as last year's opener with group qualifying during each heat groups warmup session opening up the program. The top all time feature winner at Kokomo, Dave Darland, set the overall fast time clicking off a lap of 12.843 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring. The top four time trialers from each heat would be inverted in their respective heat with the top three finishers moving onto the A main, the next three to the B main and the last three moving to the C main. The heat winners would redraw in front of the homestretch grandstand fans determining the top six starters in the 27 lap main event. The first of six heats would kick off at 8:08 with Brady Bacon quickly moving from fourth to the lead finishing ahead of Scotty Weir and Isaac Chapple in this one. Heat two would see Justin Grant motor from third into the lead and never be headed beating out Tyler Thomas in the Epperson #2E who crossed the line at reduced speed with blue smoke oozing from the engine area of the sprinter (he was scratched for the evening) with Thomas Meseraull third. Chris Windom in the Baldwin #5 looked strong winning heat three over Robert Ballou who had problems in warmups and started ninth in the heat powering up to second with Tim Buckwalter crossing the line third. Tyler Courtney raced the Clauson/Marshall #7BC to the checkered first in heat four besting Dave Darland and Chase Stockon. Heat five went to Shane Cottle in the Goacher #5G in a strong run outrunning Jarett Andretti and Clinton Boyles. Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 bagged heat six winning out over CJ Leary and Chad Boespflug picking up the seat in the Reinbold/Underwood #19 from Arizona. Matt Westfall was running third in the heat when he tangled with lap car Bryar Schroeter and flipped off of turn two and was done for the evening. After some track work it was time for the 10 lap C main with the top four advancing to the back of the B main. Carson Short in one of the two Chase Briscoe #5's was mired deep in the C field starting 15th but in a impressive drive using mainly the inside captured the C main over Travis Hery, Cap Henry in the Wilson #14 making his non-wing and Kokomo debuts and Josh Cunningham. A short break to allow the C main qualifiers to make minor adjustments the B main rolled out on the track and was soon racing. Arizona's Stevie Sussex in the Michael Dutcher #17GP notched the victory holding off 19th starting Carson Short who was hooked up, Dakota Jackson making his debut in the Hank Byram #3R, Chet Williams and Tony DiMattia the last man in. Braxton Cummings, a Bloomington and Paragon runner, placed 13th in the B main but that was good enough to earn him the $1500 bonus put up for the highest finishing first timer in the evening's action. Earlier in the B Carmen Perrigo was running in seventh and spun ruining his chance at the $1500.

    It was now time for the 27 lap #GYATK main event with Chris Windom and Tyler Courtney leading 20 others in Tom Hansing's green flag at 10:26. Windom bolted to the front with Brady Bacon cutting between Courtney and Justin Grant to grab second. That was short lived as Courtney and Grant blasted back by and Bacon fell back. Dave Darland was the man on the move climbing from ninth to fourth passing Bacon for the spot. Meanwhile Windom was mastering the low side and pulling away from everyone with Courtney and Grant chasing. At the halfway mark Windom reached the tail enders and changed his line to the top to clear many of them. Courtney maintained the bottom groove and closed upon the leader and had a run exiting turn two but caught a hole which threw him sideways and allowed Windom to scamper away. After clearing the lappers Windom moved back down and increased his lead over the remaining laps until the finish. The non-stop event saw Windm flashed under the checkers at 10:32 with Courtney second, Grant third, Darland fourth and Bacon rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Robert Ballou, CJ Leary, Shane Cottle, Kevin Thomas Jr. who went backwards from sixth on the start with a cut tire which probably would not have made the distance if there would have been any cautions and Jarett Andretti. It was a good night of racing with some incredible individual performances but veteran Kokomo attendees will understand my following statement. I look at Kokomo with high standards and tonight was OK but lacked the usual two and three wide for positions lap after lap that are the norm here with tonight having the cars more spread out running mostly nose to tail and not battling side by side sliding each other. To me tonight was disappointing but sitting with Pennsylvania's Bill Burns he thought the racing was good and pointed out the performance all night of Carson Short who by the way came from 19th to 12th in the A main, Ballou's ninth to fourth in three and several other moments as reasons to like the evening of racing but I just felt that Kokomo lacked the WOW factor in tonight's program. Bill calls us spoiled but I countered to him that he was a snob for only liking non-wing sprints and midgets. We still had fun discussing the night taking the short drive back to our repectitive hotels. Hoping the rest of the week produces the WOW factor we expect from Kokomo and looking forward to seeing good friends in the upcoming days.

    Until tomorrow when I am back with night two of Smackdown take care and be safe. Also get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and try to stay dry. News, concerns, notes and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the encouragement that you give us with your kind words and comments.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Illinois Saturday Double & Almost Double Win For KTJ

    Friday, August 17 - It was an off and on rainy type day in Crawfordsville and the Internet was on the fritz so getting any information about tonight's racing was a burden. Several trips up the block to one of Wabash College's parking lots where I was able to access Internet access on my phone but afternoon news that both Gas City and Bloomington would fall to the rain in the Hoosier state. By the time this was established it was too late to make a trip to Lincoln, Illinois where they were running non-wing sprints, D2 midgets and some stocker classes. Of course they were able to sneak in the show and I ended up watching old westerns on the TV.

    Saturday, August 18 - It was on the road by 9:10 heading west on I-74 toward the Land of Lincoln where a Saturday doubleheader was looming on the horizon. First stop would be Springfield, Illinois, the home of the Illinois State Fair and the host of the 68th running of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 for the grand dames of USAC racing, the Silver Crown series, which would be racing on the one mile fairgrounds oval there. A good field of 43 entries were on hand but before warmups were over the car count was down to 37 with the scratches of six competitors with various mechanical maladies. Done much too early in the day were Austin Mundie, Steve Buckwalter, Shane Cottle, Casey Shuman, Chris Fetter and Danny Long. Time trials for the remaining 36 car field would fire off at 11:29 and take 59 minutes to crank out with Jerry Coons Jr. wheeling the Nolen #20 to fast time honors with a time of 30.875 seconds around the Springfield mile. Of special interest on the day was veteran racer, Jackie Burke, at the age of 72 attempting to qualify for today's big race. He qualified 36 out of 37 cars on hand and would not come close to qualifying for the race. Also on hand was Ken Schrader in one of the two McQuinn entries as a teammate to A.J. Fike, a two time winner at Springfield. Neither made the top 24 in qualifying and after time trials Fike's car was a scratch and Schrader stepped aside to allow his partner to try to race the other McQuinn car into the field in the Last Chance Qualfier. Fike was unsuccessful and the team was finished earlier than they had hoped. The 12 lap LCQ was an interesting event with Korey Weyant putting on quite a performance after being sent to the rear of the 13 car field after failing to fire his machine without the aid of a push truck. Weyant promptly went to the cushion and steadilly drove to the front of the field pulling alongside leader, David Byrne, racing down the homestretch to start lap 11 with the engine on the #99 went up in a large plume of smoke ending the impressive drive just one lap short of pulling off a last to first driving performance that had the crowd buzzing. Byrne would end up winning the LCQ over Chris Urish, Terry Babb, Chris Dyson, Keith Burch and Patrick Lawson. Burch also turned in an impressive run on the last lap sitting just outside the top six making his move in turn three with an outside sweep around both Travis Welpott and Lawson to race his way into the starting field. Welpott, an impressive rookie in his own right would have to use a provisional to start the 100 lap feature go.

    The top two qualifiers, Jerry Coons Jr. and Kody Swanson would bring the field to starter Tom Hansing's green flag at 2:34 with fourth starter, Tyler Courtney in the Hans Lein #97, blasting by the front row to take the lead entering turn one with Coons and Kevin Thomas Jr. in his first Silver Crown ride on a mile in the Foxco #56 chasing him. Thomas would charge by Coons on the homestretch starting lap two before one lap later David Byrne would bring out the first caution spinning his mount between turns one and two and keeping it off the wall. He would restart from the tail. Chris Windom in the second Nolen car was coming quickly moving from 13th to 7th in the first three laps. On the restart Windom cracked the top five as he was putting on a show for the home state crowd as he lives only 70 miles away in Canton. Justin Grant hustled his Hemelgarn #91 past Coons in turn one on lap nine and went after Courtney and Thomas. Shane Cockrum, another Illinois native cruised into fifth on the backstretch on lap 14. Brian Tyler's night ended early as he came up lame on lap 23 bringing out the second caution of the race. On the ensuing restart Grant passed Thomas for second and started to reel in Courtney. Johnny Petrozelle was making some noise advancing from 22nd into the top ten by lap 27. Windom was now all over Thomas for third and the two put on a whale of a race for the spot over a ten lap distance before Thomas pulled slightly ahead and Windom dropped back to conserve his tires. Thomas meanwhile got a good burst of speed and caught Grant for second on the backstretch on lap 39 and took up the chase of Courtney who remained the leader. Lap 44 saw Thomas pass Courtney on the backstretch to assume the lead and four laps later the leaders approached lap traffic. Courtney used a nifty move in turn one on lap 50 to regain the lead from Thomas while Kody Swanson who was conserving tires and fuel cracked the top five on lap 50 also. Courtney slid high in turn four on lap 54 allowing both Thomas and Grant to slide by him and relegating him back to third. Courtney caught and passed Grant for second on the backstretch on lap 61 using the high side to make the pass. Johnny Petrozelle's fine day went up in smoke on lap 70 while running 11th. Lap 71 saw Kody Swanson slow on the backstretch almost stopping before pulling off again bringing out the next caution ending the all time leader in SC wins bid to add another victory in the total of 24. On the restart Thomas held the point followed by Courtney and Grant. Windom stepped his pace up a few notches and decided it was go time taking third from Grant in turn three on lap 76 but Grant came right back and regain the position. CJ Leary made his presence known moving the beautiful Meyer #10 into the top five on lap 80. Windom caught and passed Grant again for third entering turn three on lap 82 and held it this time. Leary's night came to an untimely ending as he entered turn one on lap 82 and his brakes turned to mush almost clobbering the turn one wall but he was able to keep it off the wall. Cockrum running right behind him in sixth was not as lucky sliding into the wall in turn two after trying to avoid Leary and two of the evening's top runners were gone in an instant. Dropping to the infield also were Neil Shepherd and Dave Darland both also finished for the evening. On the restart Windom dusted off Courtney for second with Grant following through for third and Crawfordsville's Jacob Wilson cracking into the top five from tenth. Windom was reeling in Thomas as the laps clicked off and dove under Thomas entering turn three on lap 91 to wrestle the lead away. Shortly thereafter Jeff Swindell came up lame in turn four while running in eighth bringing out the fifth and final caution. Tyler Courtney exited turn four and pulled to the pit area ending his fine run prematurely while running in fourth on lap 97. The last two laps in USAC racing must be under green and when the green cloth waved Windom jumped back to the lead and pulled away flashing under the double checkers at 3:49 outdistancing Thomas by 1.701 seconds becoming only the third Illinois winner of the Bettenhausen 100 and the first since A.J. Fike scored back to back wins in 2012 and 2013. The other Illinois resident who won the Bettenhausen 100 was Gary Bettenhuasen in 1983. Justin Grant would ride home third with Jacob Wilson fourth and Jerry Coons Jr. nailing down fifth. Rookie Kyle Robbins would take home sixth with Joe Liguori turning in a fine run from 19th to seventh with Austin Nemire eighth, Illinois driver, Joey Moughan a fine ninth in only his tenth Silver Crown start and David Bryne recovering from his earlier spin to claim tenth. Pennsylvania Silver Crown rookie, Mike Haggenbottom, continues to impress in his maiden voyage in the SC division bringing his stead home 12th in the final running. Travis Welpott would finish 17th keeping him seventh in the yearly standings over fellow rookies, Matt Goodnight and Kyle Robbins.

    It was a very competitive and well run race on a well prepared surface in due part to all the rain in the past week that rolled through Illinois. I am already making plans to return next year to the Springfield mile a track we had not visited in 26 years and bringing Pat along to see the mile track once again. After listening to the podium interviews I headed for the main gates and my vehicle parked about three blocks away as there was still racing to catch at Macon only about 40 minutes away and starting at 7.

    Saturday, August 18 - I made time to eat a good dinner down the road from the Macon Speedway before traveling over to the 1/5 mile dirt oval which is about the biggest contrast you could have after witnessing racing on the Springfield mile. A fine field of 31 POWRi midgets were joined by 26 POWRi 600 micros and 13 pro late models to do battle on the bullring at Macon for the 4th Annual Richie Camfield Memorial.

    Action started early as Holly Shelton took a ride in turn three during warmups flipping her Kuntz midget and ending her night very early. Four POWRi midget heats would kick off the racing just past 7:30 with Kevin Thomas Jr. wheeling the third Petry entry to victory in heat one over teammate Jerry Coons Jr., Tucker Klaasmeyer and Jake Neuman. Ryan Robinson would flip in heat one but would push off and finish the heat. Heat two would see Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas take top honors over Maria Cofer making her first appearance in the Keith Kuntz #97 coming home second with Zeb Wise third and Terry Babb claiming fourth after starting eighth. Blake Carrick, another of the young Kuntz stable, turned turtle with a light rollover in turn one in this one. Heat three went to another Petry pilot, Jason McDougal besting Logan Seavey, Tyler Nelson and Joey Wirth. Zach Daum in the new Wayne Green owned #5D outran the field in heat four with Tanner Carrick, Daniel Adler and Nick Knepper putting their midgets into the feature field. Three 600 micro heats would follow with Austin Schaeffer, Riley Goodno in all the way from Knoxville, IA and Molly Day being the best in class. One pro late model heat, two street stock heats and one hornet heat would be contested before the semis for the midgets and 600's would be run. Daniel Robinson would capture the midget semi moving into the big dance besting Karter Sarff, Ryan Robinson, Sam Johnson, Kyle O'Gara and Kyle Schuett. The 600 semi would be taken by Jimmy Wells.

    Next on the agenda was the 20 lap pro late model feature event and these guys ran off a fast and furious race with only one caution and being spun off in five minutes. Dakota Ewing would continue his strong 2018 season beating out Cody Maguire and Guy Taylor for the win. The 30 lap POWRi midget feature was set to go by 9:02 with Tanner Carrick jumping to the lead from his pole starting position with Tyler Thomas in tow. Tucker Klaasmeyer would bring out the first caution when he stopped in turn three on lap four. The only other stoppage of the race would occur on lap six when David Camfield rolled his midget in between turns one and two. On the restart Carrick pulled back out front and looked strong through most of the feature setting a blistering pace until the later stages of the contest when lap traffic allowed several contenders to close on him. Jason McDougal had moved to second and was chasing Carrick until Kevin Thomas Jr. passed him for second and battled Carrick in lap traffic in the last five laps which were some of the most manic racing I have seen all season. With three to go Thomas passed Carrick entering turn one but Carrick returned the favor in turn three. Coming to the line to take the two to go Thomas again was able to storm past Carrick and this time it was for good. Thomas would flash under the checkered flag at 9:13 completing the 30 lap distance in eleven minutes taking his third POWRi win of the year and the first since scoring two in Florida in February. The disappointed Carrick finished second with Jerry Coons Jr. making some nifty late race moves to take the remaining podium position. Tyler Thomas would take home fourth with Jason McDougal ending up fifth. It was a frantic run and the last five laps were indeed amazing. The 20 lap 600 micro feature was next up and these guys and gals once again did not disappoint as they battled tooth and nail throughout the entire 20 lap distance racing inches apart. Jordan Howell would hold off the race long pressure from fellow front row starter, Austin Schaeffer, to take his first ever POWRi 600 micro win with Jacob Tipton third, Daniel Robinson during double duty coming home fourth and tenth starter, Tyler Day, nailing down fifth at the drop of the checker at 9:34.

    It was a very fine night of racing and put the feather in the cap of a fine day of racing in Illinois but it was time to hit the road with a two hour drive ahead of me including losing an hour once I crossed the Illinois state border and returned into Indiana. A 12:30 arrival back in Crawfordsville found a tired camper ready to hit the sack for a good night's rest after a long day of being out in the hot and humid weather of the day.

    Check back on Thursday as a report will be forthcoming on the first night of Smackdown at Kokomo Speedway kicking off four straight nights of awesome non-winged sprint car racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area but be safe and stay dry as the weather is always a factor it seems this racing season. Keep the comments, news items and anything else coming to bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we sure enjoy bringing them to you. See you Gary, Sally and Bill at Smackdown.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez Scores At Lincoln Park & Ballou Powers To Terre Haute Win

    Saturday, August 11 - It was a solo weekend as Pat remains in Pennsylvania being chauffeur for her dad who had surgery and cannot drive for 10 days and needs transport to dialysis three times a week. She will be back in Indiana in time for Smackdown though!! Miss her a lot!! Originally was plotting a Haubstadt trip for MSCS sprints but the solo drive and obligations at church led to Plan B which was Putnamville for a regular four division program at Lincoln Park Speedway. The crowd was decent considering the competition from Haubstadt and Paragon running their last show under the leadership of Keith and Judy Ford after 32 years of presenting racing at Paragon. The car counts were good also with 27 non-wing sprints, 20 UMP modifieds, 20 super stocks and 25 bombers filling the backstretch pit area for a shot at the top prize on the evening.

    The racing kicked off at 7:08 with the first of three qualifying heat races for the sprint cars. Illinois visitor, Mario Clouser, would cash in heat #1 besting Crawfordsville's (our home town) own Chad Davenport in a good run with JJ Hughes charging from ninth to third followed by Nate McMillen and Billy Cribbs. In this one Jadon Rogers was running second late in the race when he spun off the backstretch and was forced to go to the B main. Heat two would go to the newest driver of the Burton #04, Colten Cottle, also an Illinois resident besting Thomas Meseraull in his own #00, Tim Creech, Brady Ottinger and Michael Koontz holding off a furious charge by Shane Cockrum. Former track champion, Brent Beauchamp, now living in Columbus, Ohio notched heat three winning over AJ Hopkins, Travis Berryhill in one of the Wingo #77's, Matt McDonald and Jordan Kinser. Three heats for each of the other three divisions followed before we were back with the sprint car B main with Cockrum winning this one easily over Jadon Rogers, Koby Barksdale, Cole Ketchum and Evan Mosley the last man in edging first time LPS runner, young Ayrton Olsen from Indianapolis, piloting the Pace #44 after seeing him win the B main with the winged 410's last Friday at Atomic in Ohio.

    It was now feature time with the 25 lap sprint car feature leading off the parade on this nice Saturday evening. Chad Davenport and Brent Beauchamp would bring 18 of their friends to Brian Hodde's green flag with Beauchamp taking the lead going down the backstretch. Colten Cottle was hot on his heels and used the same move on the backstretch to take the lead away from Beauchamp on lap 2. Thomas Meseraull was up to third by lap 4 before a tangle in turn four saw Jadon Rogers and Cole Ketchum get together with Ketchum rolling over but both were able to restart. On the restart Beauchamp moved back out front and held the top spot until Meseraull nipped him at the line to start lap 7. Beauchamp was not done yet as he retook the lead in turn two on lap 8 with Shane Cockrum driving through the field like he was going to a fire moving into fifth on lap 8 after starting 16th. Billy Cribbs brought out the next caution when he spun in turn four on lap 8. Beauchamp assumed the point with Messeraull dogging him in second. Cockrum dusted off Cottle to take third on lap 9 and one lap later Meseraull was back out front passing Beauchamp. Cockrum battled with Beauchamp for second and grabbed that spot on lap 12. Michael Koontz looped it in turn two to bring out the yellow on lap 13. A three car tangle in turn one on lap 14 saw Ketchum roll over once again and this time he was done for the evening. On the restart Meseraull powered to the front once again with Beauchamp and Cockrum in tow. AJ Hopkins was making his presence known as he motored into fourth and went after the top three. Meseraull was pulling away but second, third and fourth were up for grabs and the battle intensified. Cockrum took second but Meseraull was comfortably in front as Beauchamp duked it out with Hopkins. Beauchamp found some bite on the outside and swung back by Cockrum for second and in the last five laps was closing on Meseraull. The checkered flag waved at 9:53 with Thomas Meseraull claiming the win over Beauchamp, Cockrum, Hopkins and Jordan Kinser making a late charge to claim fifth after starting 15th. It was a good race with many position changes but T-Mez was the man to beat.

    I decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modfied feature with Tim Prince pouncing off the outside pole and taking the lead that he would never give up. The real race was a four car duel throughout the race among Tyler Loughmiller, Sydney Landes, last week's winner, James Walters and Dan Lewellen with the group swapping positions lap after lap and giving no quarter. Prince roared under the checkered at 10:23 beating Loughmiller, Walters,Lewellen and Jordan Wever who made a late run to pass Landes and knock her out of the top five. Wever came from 18th in a fine run and I'm sure he wished there were a few more laps to run as he was coming strong. The 20 lap super stock feature was spun off with only one caution with Larry Raines dominating beating Doug McCullough and Wes McClara who also had a race long battle for second. It was now 10:39 and I decided to forgo the bombers and head north on Rt. 231 after seeing a satisfying night of racing at LPS in beautiful downtown Putnamville.

    Sunday, August 12 - Today the Action Track at Terre Haute was running a two division program with the MSCS non-wing sprints and the UMP modifieds. I left early to travel to Terre Haute as I wanted to talk with Ken Schrader and question him on his many tracks that he has visited over his many years of racing. Ken was nice enough to speak with me and invite me into his motor home to discuss his many different track visits. I gave him the list we have compiled and he promised to look it over and get back to me in regards to the tracks we did not have listed. Montana was one state we did not have for him and found out that he ran at Electric City in his modified on July 16, 2011 which he finished second behind a local youngster. After leaving Schrader's motor home I wandered the pit area talking to Dave Darland and others before heading over to the covered grandstand to stake out my seat for the evening. A top row seat was in the cards and I sat for a while watching the track crew work hard saturating the racing surface with plenty of water. They were trying to make the surface much better than when ISW was in town and the surface bellowed dust and hindered the sight and enjoyment of the good racing. Tonight they would hit a home run and the surface prepared for this evening was excellent and minimal dust produced.

    Thirty sprint cars and twenty modifieds pulled into the Vigo County Fairgrounds for the night of racing and things got dicey early as in sprint warmups/timed group qualifying Donny Brackett took a wild ride in turn three flipping hard and ending his night early and reducing the field to 29 cars. The UMP modifieds would contest their heat races first with two heats for their 20 car field. Kenny Wallace would take heat one while Tyler Nicely cruised in heat two. The MSCS sprints would take part in three heats with five to qualify out of each. Brandon Mattox out of Terre Haute ran a strong race taking heat one outrunning Carson Short, the current MSCS point leader, Robert Ballou who advanced from 10th to 5th in three laps before finally ending up third. Stevie Sussex in the Michael Dutcher #17GP and Isaac Chapple rounded out the top five. Heat two saw Justin Grant take top honors over Jon Stanbrough making his last start in his illustrious career in the Wingo #77. Shane Cottle placed third, Tom Harris from England was fourth and Aric Gentry grabbed the last qualifying position. Dave Darland rode out a nasty flip in turn two while contending for the lead. Darland was OK but the Goodnight #36D was finished for the evening. The final heat went to Chris Windom in the Baldwin Brothers #5 beating Daron Clayton in the Schmidt #5o, Chase Stockon, Travis Berryhill and Koby Barksdale. The track was fast and dustless and the heat racing was very good. No consie was needed for the modifieds and next up was the sprint B main which was delayed as the track crew doused the surface with more water and had to be run in including using the sprint cars to do so. The B main went green and Garrett Aitken walked away with this event outdistancing Nate McMillen, Kent Schmidt, Jim Lyerla and Tony Main. All qualifying was completed and next up would be the 15 lap modified feature.

    The green flag dropped on the field at 8:36 with Tyler Nicely taking the lead from Kenny Wallace at the start. Nicely, Wallace and David Stremme put on quite a show up front dueling for the lead with Nicely holding off the two former NASCAR drivers. In the meantime Brian Shaw who was a late arrival and started shotgun (20th) on the field was slicing and dicing his way forward. With two to go Wallace dove underneath Nicely in turn two and took away the lead and pulled a few car lengths ahead. Stremme made a run on Nicely on the final turn but Nicely blocked his attempt and came home second behind Wallace. It might have been the best modified feature I have seen at the Action Track. In victory lane Wallace gave high praise to Nicely referring to him as one of the best in modified racing and the only reason he was able to beat him was Wallace's use of a hard right rear tire while Nicely went with a softer right rear and lost grip at the end. By the way Brian Shaw ended up 5th after starting 20th in the non-stop feature event.

    The MSCS sprint cars would go 25 laps for $3000 to win with the front row of Carson Short and Chris Windom bringing the field to the green flag. Short would jump to the lead on the start with Justin Grant following him through for second. Windom worked his way back by Grant the next lap and fell into second just before Travis Berryhill rolled his sprinter in between turns three and four. Berryhill was able to return after the crew thrashed on the #77S to return him to the field. On the restart Chris Windom was able to work his way by Short in turn three when Short bicycled his sprinter but brought it back down. Meanwhile Robert Ballou was flying coming out of the seventh hole and blasting by Short as they raced down the backstretch on lap 4. Garrett Aitken took a ride out over the turn one wall in a scary moment but quickly climbed from his sprinter to the relief of the crowd. On the restart Chase Stockon got a strong run down the backstretch to wrestle third from Short and went after the top two. Robert Ballou dove low on the homestretch on lap 7 to take the lead away from Windom and shortly thereafter Shane Cottle came up lame with a flat tire. Ballou would have the point on the restart and he took off in a hurry. Windom and Stockon tried to keep pace but Ballou and his mount were on a rail and opened up nearly a straightway lead by the halfway mark. Stevie Sussex was making up ground from his tenth starting position and took fifth from Grant entering turn one on lap 16. The field strung out over the remaining distance with Ballou flashing under the double checkers at 9:33 pocketing a cool $3000 in the process. Windom, Stockon, Short and Sussex followed across the line. The second five was headed by Grant with Jon Stanbrough seventh in his final sprint car run with Deron Clayton eighth, Isaac Chapple from 13th to ninth and Koby Barksdale storming from 15th to tenth at the finish. It was a good race on an excellent surface and a good night of racing overall. Being the class act that he always has been during his career Jon Stanbrough apologized to his crew for setting the car up too loose and causing what he considered a top three car to finish seventh. It was a bitter sweet night for Stanbrough and his many fans as it was the end of a very successful racing career for one of the best of all time. Robert Ballou paid tribute to Stanbrough calling him the best that Indiana has ever seen in his victory lane interview. It was a priviledge to be able to say that I saw Jon Stanbrough run his last race at Terre Haute. Enjoy your baby and your retirement, Jon, and thanks for the many memories.

    That's it for another weekend and check back next Monday for a rundown of our next weekend which will start in Indiana and end in Illinois. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay dry. Any quotes, comments, opinions or anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back often to check out the next installment of A Typical Weekend.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Boat Powers To USAC Midget Win At BAPS

    Sunday, August 5 - It was another hot day in Pennsylvania but it didn't seem as humid as yesterday but maybe our bodies are adjusting to the temperatures. Anyway after having another delicious lunch at the Burn's house we packed our bags and headed over to Pat's hotel for the next 16 days where she will be based out of while attending to her father while he recovers from surgery. I will be traveling back to Indiana on Wednesday if everything goes OK today with the surgery while Pat will be chauffeur for her father to dialysis for the next two weeks before flying back to Indiana where I will pick her up at the airport one day before we head over to Kokomo for four days of Smackdown at the baddest bullring in Indiana.


     

    Bill Burns picked us up at the hotel and we headed west on Rt. 30 toward Newberrytown, the home of the BAPS Motor Speedway (formally the Susquehanna Speedway) under the leadership of Scott Gobrecht and Kolten Gouse and the improvements that have been made at the facility are staggering. New stands, new restrooms, new scoring tower and suites, pavement most everywhere, new fencing and billboards and so much more. What had been a dump is now one of the nicest facilities around. Only one complaint and that is the massive starter's stand that has been erected which blocks a good portion of turns three and four. Whose idea was it to build such a large stand mostly made of wood and something that cannot be seen through. They might want to reconsider a rebuild of that as it surely blocks the fan's viewing pleasure. A disappointing crowd turned out for this one as the popular Action Track in Kutztown was also running this evening which took away some of the crowd and a few of the drivers as well. Since Kutztown's SpeedSTR's are USAC sanctioned we were surprised that they ran a race against the USAC midget race at BAPS. USAC might want to have a talk with Tobias and Rose about this before next year's schedules are put together. Just our thoughts.


     

    Twenty one midgets were on the grounds but only eighteen were able to make it out for the heat racing and twenty were able to start the feature. They were joined on the three division card by 16 extreme stocks and 16 360 winged sprint cars for a manageable total of entrants. Midget time trials would be the first order of the day kicking off at 6:48 with Spencer Bayston setting fast time for the second night in a row with a time of 18.257 seconds around the 4/10 mile clay oval. The 360 sprint cars would start off the heat racing with two heats for their 16 car field with Coby Womer capturing heat one over Adam Carberry and Jason Shultz. Heat two would fall to Mark Smith beating Doug Hammaker and Wyatt Hinkle. Three USAC midget heats would follow and the first one was a good one with Logan Seavey leading but bobbling in turn two on the last lap and sliding from first to fourth at the finish behind Spencer Bayston and the Fred Manafort #76's of Brady Bacon and Kyle Craker of nearby Lewisberry. Heat two saw USAC Eastern midget regular, Andrew Layser of Collegeville, nabbing this one holding off his teammate, Alex Bright, and Keith Kuntz driver, Tanner Carrick. Zeb Wise, last night's winner at Clyde Martin, kept the momentum going winning heat three besting Chad Boat and Justin Grant. The track showed some dust at this point but it was not bad and nowhere as bad as the USAC sprint car race last month.


     

    The 25 lap 360 sprint car feature would be the first to the post taking the green from the monster flagger's stand at 8:14 with Adam Carberry assuming the early lead. Carberry would pace the field for the first six laps until sixth starting Mark Smith made a bold outside move in turn four to grab the lead away from Carberry. Smith began to pull away to a comfortable lead as Carberry raced hard for second with Doug Hammaker. On the homestretch on lap 13 Hammaker was able to clear Carberry for second and take up the chase on Smith. Hammaker closed a little but Smith was hooked up and was never seriously challenged the remainder of the distance breezing across the line first at 8:31 with Hammaker, Carberry, Davie Franek and Jason Shultz trailing him at the finish.


     

    It looked like it was going to be a short evening as the twenty car field took Warren Alston's green flag at 9:01 but it was not to be. Outside front row dweller, Chad Boat, powered the black Boat entry (had been using their white version lately) to the point past point leader, Logan Seavey, and quickly opened up a comfortable lead. Tyler Courtney was coming fast advancing from 19th to 9th in the first four laps. The first stoppage would occur on lap eight when Kyle Craker hooked the cushion wrong in turn three and flipped the #76G while running in the fifth position. The durable machine was able to restart after visiting the work area when action resumed along with Spencer Bayston and Tyler Courtney who were also involved. A series of incidents slowed the racing eight times in the middle stages of the race but each time Boat powered back out front like he was on a Sunday afternoon drive. Zeb Wise, up from eighth, began to make his presence known in the later stages of the race advancing into second and within striking distance of the long time leader, Boat. Lap 25 saw (or maybe not as the flag stand was in the spot where the flip occurred) Kenny Miller III running ninth at the time take a nasty flip out over the turn three wall and land upside down between the wall and the billboards lining the outsider of turns three and four. Miller was conscious when rescue crews arrived but was transported to the hospital shortly thereafter and we have no update to give you on the condition of the recent high school graduate. This delay was over 40 minutes and pushed the time of the event over the one hour period. It probably gave Boat an extra amount of unwanted time to ponder what lurked ahead in the remaining five laps and if he would be able to weather the storm. Any worry was for naught as when the green flag reappeared Boat shot back into the lead like a cannon shot and steadily pulled away from Wise and the rest of the field to a 1.812 second margin when the checkered flag finally fell at 10:12 scoring the big win. Wise would complete a triumphant return from his shoulder injury suffered last month claiming second with Brady Bacon taking third, Alex Bright for his second straight national top five in fourth and Tanner Carrick rounding out the top five. Andrew Layser would lead the second five across the line after starting tenth and wrapping up a very good night for him with a sixth with Adam Pierson driving home seventh, Spencer Bayston rebounding for eighth, Logan Seavey ninth and Delaware's Shawn Jackson claiming tenth at the finish.


     

    I would like to tell you this one was a good one but I would be lying but these types happen once in a while and thank goodness they are not the norm. Write it off like the major league baseball team that takes a licking and moves on does. It was the polar extreme from the fine show that ranked in our top three from last year when we visited here at BAPS. Hopefully the racing and the crowd will be better next year at BAPS as this track tries to offer the fans a variety of different race classes and special events during the racing season.

    Until next weekend where MSCS sprints at Haubstadt and Terre Haute are on the horizon as long as the weather cooperates that's it for now. Comments, news and anything else can still reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or Twitter @bruceeckel11. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and maybe take a road trip somewhere different to see what else is our there in the racing world. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and keep coming back to read more about our typical weekends.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    BOSS & OVSCA At Atomic & USAC Midgets At The Clyde

    Thursday, August 2 - The original plan was that we were headed East into Pennsylvania for the USAC PA midget week starting on Thursday. Well, the weather forecast for Thursday and Friday in Pennsylvania looked dismal so we decided to stay home on Thursday and decide at 6 PM whether we were going to attempt the trip to PA on Friday. The call of the rainout at Path Valley came around 11 so that decision was a good call. Checking the forecast for Linda's Speedway in Jonestown on Friday was still bad so we pulled the plug on that one early Thursday evening. Again it turned out to be the right decision as a morning tweet from USAC confirmed that night two at Linda's was also a washout and neither event would be rescheduled. So we looked for alternate plans for Friday.

    Friday, August 3 - Our first thoughts for Friday racing was Gas City but we decided we wanted to position ourselves closer to Pennsylvania for Saturday so our next thought was Attica Raceway Park in Ohio but a check into the schedule informed us that Attica was not running this Friday because of their annual fair. Lernerville was a thought but the weather looked iffy there also (they ran though) and I stumbled across the 4th Open Wheel Championship running at Atomic Speedway near Waverly, Ohio on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We decided that was where we are going to go as the forecast looked good for the evening so arrangements were made for sleeping accommodations and off we went into the Buckeye State. We had not been to Atomic in almost 18 years and in fact our only other visit in September of 2000 the track was called KC Raceway and more stands had been added since our last visit. We chose a seat about three rows from the top in the middle of the homestretch grandstands which were starting to show their age with some warped boarding and rusting of the metal piping supporting the wooden grandstands. Newer seats wrap around turns three and four now and the seating capacity is large. On tap for night two of three of the Open Wheel Championship were the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS), a non-wing group, the Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association (OVSCA), a 410 winged group, 305 winged sprints and modifieds.

    Time trials for the 29 OVSCA sprints opened up the show at 7:41 with Lee Jacobs blistering the 3/8 mile dirt oval in a time of 11.987 seconds. Combo warmups/group qualifying three at a time for the 305 sprints and the modifieds followed before the first heat race hit the track at 8:40. The BOSS sprints would be first up with three qualifying races for their 25 car field with Ty Tilton, the last BOSS winner at PPMS, taking heat one over Cody Gardner, Carmen Perigo and Matt Westfall. Heat two fell to Dustin Webber, his first win in a sprint car, turning back Kory Crabtree, Bill Rose and Cole Ketcham. Joe Liguori captured heat three besting Michael Fischesser, Kyle Simon and Steve Little. The OVSCA sprints would contest three heats for their 29 car field with Fairmount, Indiana's Brandon Wimmer winning heat one over Lee Jacobs and Cale Stinson. The veteran and Sprint Car Hall of Fame member, Danny Smith, from nearby Chillocothe claimed heat two beating Jimmy Stinson and Josh Davis in a battle of #4's. Young Indiana driver, Brinton Marvel, sparkled in heat three outrunning Kory Crabtree and Ron Blair. Two heats were spun off next for the modifieds (17) and the 305 sprints (12) before the two sprint car B mains were called to the track. Mike Miller would win the BOSS B main but the real story was the battle for the fifth and last qualifying position. Travis Welpott and Eric Semple raced side by side to the line making contact at the start/finish line with Semple getting the last qualifying position by inches as Welpott slammed the homestretch wall and Semple ended up straddling the inside wall entering turn one. It was a wild and hard fought race for the final feature position!! The OVSCA B main was grabbed by Aryton Olsen. All qualifying was now in the books and it was now feature time.

    Management went right into the two top class main events as soon as the OVSCA B main was history. The green flag would drop on the 25 lap BOSS sprint car feature at 10:28 with Cody Gardner and Bill Rose battling side by side for the race lead as they raced the opening lap. Rose would edge ahead by inches at the line to complete lap one for the early lead. Lap four saw Gardner track down Rose and vault into the lead and he paced the field until lap nine when Matt Cooley contacted the homestretch wall hard with his left rear tire with the tire bouncing violently up and down ending Cooley's evening prematurely. On the restart Gardner led Rose and Matt Westfall already up from tenth. One lap later Westfall moved by Rose for second before the caution waved again on lap eleven. On the restart Westfall made short work of Gardner blasting into the lead and he would not be headed the rest of the way. Gardner kept him in striking distance but never made another challenge for the lead. Late in the race Paul Dues who had made a steady march from 14th to 3rd was pressuring Gardner for second but Gardner was able to hold sway at the end. Following the top three across the line at 10:45 were Kory Crabtree and Bill Rose who slipped to fifth at the finish. The 25 lap OVSCA feature was next to the post taking the green flag at 10:56 with Brandon Wimmer taking the early lead. Lee Jacobs charged from fourth into second on the opening lap and took up the chase of Wimmer. Danny Smith who had slipped to fourth found himself slipping further back as he rode the brim of the backstretch falling back to fourteenth in the process. Jimmy Stinson battled with sixth starting Kory Crabtee through the middle stages of the race with Crabtree finally besting Stinson for third. Meanwhile the unflappable Smith picked his way back into the fifth by the time the checkered flag waved at 11:27 with Brandon Wimmer taking the win over Lee Jacobs, Kory Crabtree, Jimmy Stinson and Danny Smith.

    Both features were good but we elected to call it a night as we had an hour and forty minute drive to our hotel and a long trip starting in the morning the next day so we bid farewell to Atomic pleased with the night of racing with the only thing we would have suggested should have been done different was an earlier start on the evening for an earlier finish. We wouldn't hesitate to return to Atomic and hopefully we will do so in less than 18 years the next time around.

    Saturday, August 4 - We made the long drive across half of Ohio and most of Pennsylvania so we could arrive in the afternoon at our friend's house, Bill and Judy Burns. We dined on a delicious lunch before packing our coolers to make the drive over to Brickerville, the home of the 1/8 mile semi banked clay oval named the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway. The track is out in the middle of nowhere and cell phone reception is virtually nil. It is beautiful country though and the track sits in a pretty valley surrounded by woods. Our group of four arrived at 5 PM and found already a good sized crowd on hand. The crowd was not as large as previous years as they were running on Saturday night this year and there is a plethora of race tracks in the central PA area that run on Saturday night so they diluted the crowd somewhat. It was very hot and humid with temperatures in the 90's and our bodies were not use to the hot weather after having temperatures in the 70's and 80's recently in Indiana. Therefore drenched t-shirts and wet spots on the jeans was the order of the day but some homemade ice cream at the track later in the evening helped cool the body off somewhat.

    The USAC National Midget Series was in town for the evening along with the 600 cc mini sprints which were holding their second PA race in their four race speedweek series with two also being washed out because of the rainy weather. Twenty four USAC midgets joined an incredible field of 64 600's for the full evening of racing with many 600 drivers from all parts of the country with several from the state of Florida. There would be plenty of racing with the 600's using a passing points formula which resulted in six heat races, four qualifiers and three B mains to go along with three heats for the USAC midgets. Racing got underway at 7:02 with time trials for the 24 car USAC field. When it was all said and done two cars had smashed the one lap track record and Spencer Bayston's 10.129 second lap was the new track record for the midgets here. By 7:29 the first of six heat races were ready to rumble in the 600 ranks and all of them produced some fine racing as the track was in perfect condition with all the rain plus the extra work done by the track crew on hand. James Morris, Bradley Brown, Kyle Spence, Kenny Miller III, Jarid Kunkle and Ryan Greth notched heat victories and then it was into the three USAC midget heats. Each of these who little battles within the war with Chad Boat ending up first in heat one outdistancing Spencer Bayston, Zeb Wise in his first race back after suffering a broken collarbone in a midget crash in Jacksonville, IL in June and Justin Grant. Heat two would see Tyler Courtney take the Marshall/Clauson #7BC to the front holding off Tanner Carrick, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Alex Bright setting a new track record of 1:46.75 for the ten lap distance in this one. Heat three would see National points leader, Logan Seavey, triumph over North Carolina's Ethan Mitchell, Brady Bacon and Brayton Lynch. The starting field for the 40 lap main event was now set with everyone qualifying and losing two cars due to mechanical woes.

    Four 600 qualifiers were next in the chute with veteran multi-talented driver, Lou Cicconi winning qualifier one, Bradley Brown in qualifier two, Billy Koch winning qualifier three and Heath Hehnly in qualifier four. Three B mains were also needed to wittle down the 64 car field to 26 for their 30 lap main event. Michael Thompson, Jason Swavely and Jacob Severin took home top honors here. It was a lot of racing to get to the point of the main events but everything was spun off in good fashion with only minor down time.

    Now it was time for the 40 lap USAC midget feature with Eastern USAC starter, Warren "Wiggles" Alston waving the green cloth at 10:17 to start the race. Outside front row starter, Kevin Thomas Jr., used a turn two slider on lap one to take the lead away from Logan Seavey. Thomas would pace the field for the first four laps until the first caution waved as Brayton Lynch and Connecticut's Kenney Johnson in a Volkswagen powered midget got together in turn three to slow the action. On the restart Thomas went back to the point but exiting turn four Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney banged together in wheel to wheel contact with Courtney rolling over in the process. Courtney would go to the work area and return before the green waved again. Thomas looked strong out front until while in lap traffic on lap 17 he clipped the left front of Andrew Layser and spun in the middle of turns three and four with Brady Bacon with nowhere to go sliding into Thomas and flipping over bringing out the red with Thomas retiring to the pit area with engine problems and Bacon able to return. Spencer Bayston inherited the lead and opened up a straightway lead while Seavey, Wise and Grant did battle for the runner up position. Wise pulled off a beautiful slider in turn two on lap 21 to grab second while Grant worked his magic in turn turn to relegate Seavey back to fourth. Kevin Woody Jr., driving the Steve Buckwalter #0, refused to heed the move over flag repeatedly sliding high in turn three on lap 22 with Grant catching his tail tank sending Grant into a series of flips and taking out five place runner, Tim Buckwalter, with him. Grant would surprisingly return but Buckwalter would not. Another caution for a three car tangle on lap 28 finally gave Zeb Wise a clear view of Spencer Bayston for the restart. Wise made his move on lap 29 in turn three where he executed a perfect slider on Bayston but Spencer countered in turn three to momentarily regain the lead but Wise made his own counter off turn four and took the lead for the first time at the line for lap 30. Wise started to pull away but with two to go suddenly Bayston was back in the picture closing on Wise. Entering turn three Wise made contact as he tried to split the lap cars of Kenny Miller and Brayton Lynch while Bayston close on his heels made contact with Lynch. Bayston spun backward toward the outside rail where he sat inches from the wall. Logan Seavey running fourth charged upon the scene on the outside and somehow threw his machine on the cushion which was piled against the wall and somehow squeezed his car between Bayston riding the chain link fence horizontally coming down on the other side and continuing on in an amazing sight to see!!!! On the final restart Wise went to the top with Alex Bright who had gone to the rear twice and must have passed a total of 20 + cars in his march back to the front. Bright disposed of Seavey on the restart and went after Wise flying up against the wall but ran out of laps and time with Wise flashing under the double checkers to win his first ever USAC National midget victory at the tender age of 15 years, 8 months and 21 days becoming the youngest winner in USAC history breaking the record of 16 years, 3 months and 23 days set by the late Bryan Clauson when he won on October 8, 2005 in Columbus, Ohio. It was ironic that Wise was driving the #39 made famous by Bryan Clauson for Bryan's dad, Tim, on this evening and it turned into a very emotional victory lane with first Tim and then Zeb's mother giving him long hugs before an emotional Georgia Henneberry interviewed the excited winner. Finishing behind Wise was Alex Bright with Seavey third, Adam Pierson from Vermont in a fine drive that was overlooked in all the action taking place notched fourth with Brady Bacon coming back from his flip to round out the top five. Tanner Carrick, Justin Grant (also returning from a flip), Andrew Layser, Spencer Bayston and Tyler Courtney (the third flipper) rounding out the top ten. Three drivers returning from flips to finish in the top ten may have been another USAC record.

    We still had the 30 lap 600 feature to run with their green flag falling at 11:16. The 600's were fast and furious and produced good action but also eight slowdowns in the process. Kyle "Against The Fence" Spence of Bear, Delaware lived up to his name taking his #7H to the wall and never looking back. Alex Bright applied heavy pressure throughout the event even throwing the kitchen sink at him but to no avail as Spence was not to be unseated. On lap 23 Bradley Brown and Ryan Greth were dueling for third with Brown throwing a big slider on Greth in turn two and Greth returned the favor between turns three and four but didn't clear Brown and sent the pair tumbling wildly in turn four. On the restart Spence was back out front with Bright in second and Heath Hehnly was now in third after starting 13th. Bright and Hehnly went at it tooth and nail with Jarid Kunkle joining in the fray shortly thereafter. Kunkle who had started 12th dusted off Hehnly and went after Bright. Bright bobbled slightly but enough for Kunkle to take second away and blasted after Spence. Kunkle threw a monster slider in turns three and four on the final lap at Spence but Spence cut underneath and outraced Kunkle to the line at 11:41 to score the big win. Kunkle finished a disappointed second with Alex Bright doing double duty claiming third, Heath Hehnly fourth and TJ Greve coming from ninth to take fifth at the finish.

    It was a very good night of racing on the best prepared track we have seen the entire year and we were sure glad we drove back East to catch this one as it was well worth the drive.

    Will be back tomorrow to bring you the report on the final race of the USAC PA tour from BAPS Motor Speedway in Newberrytown but until then plot some good short track racing in your area and get out there and enjoy yourself. Notes, news, comments and the sort can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we truly enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be safe.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Leary Cruises At Bloomington & Darland Knocks The Monkey Off His Back At Tri-State

    Friday, July 27 - Friday night is a tough night to travel anywhere with all the rush hour traffic plus the people headed out of town for the weekend. Add to that the official summer animals of Indiana, the orange barrels and cones, and it is a mess making it to a race track on this given night. Our route to Bloomington Speedway takes us down Rt. 231 which a minor road work but when you reach the town of Spencer the road work going on there is major and has been going on for over a year now. Route 46 and the majority of the town of Spencer are in major reconstruction and the backups and delays are lengthy. If you are traveling down Rt. 37 out of the Indianapolis area the road construction is major and the delay lengthy also so it is really tough to make it to Bloomington but tonight another large, large crowd somehow were able to deal with the frustration and jam the parking areas with campers and cars of all sorts. By the time we arrived around 4:30 the south parking lot was near capacity but we managed to find a good spot to park but finding a good seat was another matter. We ended up in turn four in the new bleachers built there last year and it was tough early during warmups when the sprinters were peeling and throwing the chunks of red clay over and through the fencing into our section of seating with many people taking huge chunks to various parts of their bodies. I took one to the front of the hat luckily instead of the face and had a headache for about an hour until the pain wore off.


     

    Tonight was night six of the NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week series and along with the huge crowd another fine field of 40 sprint cars turned out for the night's activities. The hornet division joined the sprints as the support division on the evening and this was a good choice as 15 hornets were on hand making for the ideal partner to move the show along quickly. Before any race activities took place veteran announcer, Pat Sullivan, gave a racing history lesson on the honoree of tonight's events, the late Sheldon Kinser, letting all know the greatest of this fine driver from the Bloomington area. It was a fine tribute and certainly honored Kinser in a grand manner. Rex Staton, a veteran racing photographer, was also honored on Friday with a tribute with other photographers lining the homestretch to show respect to the colorful man known as "Sexy Rexy".


     

    Time trials would be the first order of the day pushing off at 6:51 and wrapping up at 7:14 with Kevin Thomas Jr. posting another fast time of 11.244 seconds around the high banked red clay oval. Thomas edged out Brady Bacon by .001 of a second to take the top time award over the 40 car field. Heat races for the USAC sprinters were next on the agenda pushing off at 7:40 with Isaac Chapple continuing to impress as this young guy just seems to be getting better and better in every outing. He outran Chris Windom, Chase Stockon (another driver having a strong sprint week) and Kevin Thomas Jr. just squeezing in a highly competitive heat race. Heat two was even a better race than heat one with CJ Leary outdistancing Dakota Jackson in a nice run for the recent Rose Hulman Institute graduate with Thomas Meseraull taking third and Jarett Andretti placing fourth. Carson Short looked good in heat three besting Arizona driver, RJ Johnson in the Reinbold/Underwood #19 also out of the Grand Canyon state, Shane Cockrum piloting the Lawrence #45 tonight and Jeff Bland Jr. in his first sprint week appearance in the Waltz #18W. The fourth and final heat for the sprints went to the Gass family #17B of "Stomp and Steer" Scotty Weir beating off Justin Grant, Dave Darland and Jordan Kinser back in the Hurst Brothers #70. Two hornet heats would break up the sprint action before the C main rolled onto the speedway. Brody Roa would win this one moving into the B main along with Brandon Mattox, Kody Swanson back in the Hank Bryam #3R and Matt Westfall. The B main would follow in short order with Brady Bacon checking out on the field but the racing for positions two through six was intense with Kyle Cummins coming home second, Tyler Courtney third, Tyler Thomas fourth, Brent Beauchamp fifth and Robert Ballou grabbing the final gold ring. Timmy Buckwalter and Tony DiMattia would be provisional additions to the stout 22 car starting field. The 20 lap hornet feature was run between the sprint car B and A mains to give the B main qualifiers some time to make some adjustments before pushing off for the 30 lap main event. In a feel good moment Dale Hobbs prevailed in the hornet feature and won for the first time in 37 years!!! Yes, that is not a misprint, it had been a 37 year victory drought.


     

    All the preliminaries were over and it was time for the 30 USAC sprint car/Sheldon Kinser Memorial with CJ Leary and Chris Windom bringing 22 of their competitors to the green flag at 9:22. Leary stomped on the hammer and leaped into the early lead over Windom and began to pull away pounding the cushion around the 1/4 mile bullring. By lap 5 he had opened up a straightway lead and continued to set the pace as he entered the tail end of the pack on lap 8. The caution waved on lap 10 when Tyler Courtney and Robert Ballou tangled off turn four battling for ninth with Courtney climbing over Ballou's left front tire, going completely airborne and landing on all four tires and continuing. Ballou spun sideways with Justin Grant having no where to go clipped the #12 and rolled over on the homestretch. Grant quickly climbed from his disabled machine and a small fire erupted but was put out quickly. On the restart Leary hit the pedal and jumped back out front again and by the halfway mark had opened his straightway lead again over Thomas and was on cruise control. Lap 18 saw the red flag wave as Carson Short caught the turn two cushion wrong and launched his sprinter off the backstretch flipping several times. He was uninjured in the mishap. On the restart Thomas showed Leary his nose on the inside and ran side by side for about a lap. Leary powered back fully ahead the next lap and was never challenged in the remaining 12 circuits. Leary had another big lead and backed off some over the final five laps but stomped it again on the last lap just to make sure no one was near. Leary flashed under the double checkers at an early 9:45 scoring his first USAC National Sprint Car of 2018 by 1.046 seconds over Thomas with Windom third, Thomas Meseraull fourth and Tyler Courtney rounding out the top five. It was an OK feature, not bad but not great but it held your interest until the checkers waved. Chris Windom carries an 18 point lead in the ISW points heading to the finale at Haubstadt over Kevin Thomas Jr. with Courtney 52 back in third, Leary 53 back in fourth and Brady Bacon holding down fifth 61 markers back.


     

    Saturday, July 28 - Pat and I decided to take a leisurely drive down to Haubstadt stopping for lunch in Terre Haute at Bandana's BBQ just north of the I-70 exchange in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn complex and we highly recommend this chain as the quantity and quality is very good. A stop at one of the many produce stands or farms on Rt. 41 yielded a harvest of various colors of peppers, blackberries, blueberries and peaches before pointing the Rogue toward Haubstadt. One last stop for ice cream just north of the track was on the agenda and we arrived at Tri-State Speedway owned by the Helfrich family sitting alongside Rt. 41 at 3:30 Central Time. We were fortunate to score the last parking spot along the secondary road leading back onto Rt. 41 affording us a quick escape after the races were over to make the 2 1/2 hour tow back to Crawfordsville.


     

    It was the seventh and final night of ISW at the tough 1/4 mile semi banked black dirt oval called the Tri-State Speedway but mainly referred to as just plain Haubstadt. The Helfrich family has owned this facility since 1957 and they have great pride in their track and taking care of it. It shows in the farm equipment that they have to perfect their racing surface and how they treat everyone that passes through their gates. That is why they have earned the name "The Class Track".


     

    The crowd was large again tonight and the USAC sprint car total topped 40 again with the final tally coming in at 42. They would be joined on the evening by the UMP modifieds who brought 21 cars to the party. After we settled into our seats six rows from the top on the backstretch our Nebraska buddy, Gary Dean, spotted us and we had room by us and waved him up to side with us. We always enjoy Gary's company and I spent most of the evening chatting with him in between the racing. The tension and pressure was in the air tonight as the ISW title was on the line with Chris Windom leading defending champion, Kevin Thomas Jr., by 18 markers coming into the final event. Who would come out on top taking home the $5000 first place point prize along with the famous custom made Bridgeport Rocker presented by John and Terri Youngs that go to the winning driver and car owner of the ISW title. Time trials kicked off a little late at 6:43 and by 7:10 it was Kevin Thomas Jr. sitting on top of the heap with a lap of 13.378 seconds around the finely manicured black clay and cutting into the point lead of Windom by 3. The four sprint car heats that would follow would be exceptional with great racing throughout the heat fields. The first heat would indeed be a wild one and it seemed several drivers spent more time racing through the infield rather than on the race track. When heat one was said and done it was Thomas Meseraull coming home first trailed by Dave Darland, Deron Clayton back again behind the wheel of a second Kent Schmidt #5o and Kevin Thomas Jr. Heat two saw Tyler Courtney triumph over Chet Williams who ran real strong, Carson Short and Tim Buckwalter. Evansville area driver, Stephen Schnapf, moving in the last two years from the modified division continues to impress in the sprint cars winning heat three besting CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Brady Bacon. Heat four had Chris Windom gaining the points lost in time trials back winning this one outrunning Shane Cottle in the new Goacher #5G, Chase Stockon in another solid run and Tony DiMattia. The action was spectacular and everyone was looking forward to the main event. Two UMP modified heats were contested before the sprints came back to spin off their C main. Veteran Critter Malone who limits his runs these days picked up the C main win in a good run with Brandon Mattox, Collin Ambrose and Kent Schmidt moving onto the B main. The B main went to the post next and early on contact was made on the homestretch between Robert Ballou and Dakota Jackson with Jackson getting the worst of the contact flipping on the homestretch. He was OK but probably will be sore on Sunday. New Mexico's Josh Hodges ran hard to garner the win holding off Chad Boespflug, Kyle Cummins, Jarett Andretti, Mario Clouser and young Kendall Ruble from nearby Vincennes put his sprinter in the field as the last man in. Robert Ballou and Isaac Chapple would rely on provisonals to made the big dance on the final night.


     

    All the hoopla was over and now it was time to get down to the business at hand with Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom leading the 24 car field to Tom Hansing's green cloth with it waving at 10:15. Windom would go to the point while Courtney quickly was shuffled backward with Chase Stockon, Dave Darland and Kevin Thomas Jr. like hounds after the fox, to be specific the Fox Paving #5 of Windom. The leader reached lap traffic on lap 10 and began to pick his way through the slower cars. The first caution waved on lap 14 when Daron Clayton stopped in turn four with a flat tire. The racing did not stay green long as on the restart there was a four car tangle in turn four involving Jarett Andretti, Daron Clayton, Shane Cottle and Chet Williams with all cars able to push off for the restart. On the restart Windom was in front with the lap car of Mario Clouser in between Windom and Stockon. In a shocker Clouser was able to pull away from Stockon and run with Windom up front. In fact Clouser charged by Windom to unlap himself and it has been quite a while since I have witnessed something like that. Lap 18 saw Thomas Meseraull running ninth at the time contact the turn four wall flipping end over end including an additional cartwheel totally in the air without touching the racing surface ending up bouncing off the catch fence. It was the second flip of ISW for Meseraull, the Tuesday night winner at Kokomo, and a rough week for the equipment of Chase Briscoe. On the restart Darland threw a turn one slideer on Stockon and moved into second and took up the chase of Windom. Lap 24 saw Darland use the same slider on Windom in turn one and surprised the leader taking the lead away from him. Mario Clouser lost the handle and spun in between turns one and two on lap 25 narrowly being avoided by both Darland and Windom. The remaining five laps would tick off without any challenges on Darland from Windom and the veteran from Lincoln, IN would race under the double checkers securing his second win in ISW in three days and denying Windom his first ISW win since 2011 but not able to knock Windom out of the ISW point title which would be added to the accolades for the current USAC National Sprint Car point leader. Chase Stockon finished third with Kevin Thomas Jr. unable to ever get close enough to pressure Windom placing fourth with CJ Leary advancing from tenth to fifth when the checkers fell at 10:46. Justin Grant would lead the second five across the line in sixth with Kyle Cummins managing a seventh, Josh Hodges racing home eighth, Tyler Courtney hitting wrong on the setup and fading to ninth and Stephen Schnapf racing from 18th to 10th at the finish. It was good to see Darland finally conquer Haubstadt, a track that he has always had problems winning at in his long career. DD finally knocked that monkey off his back and can say that he won a race at Haubstadt. Good job, Dave!!!

    To us they saved the best for last as this feature was the best of ISW as far as we are concerned edging out Kokomo and Lawrenceburg on the hit parade. We bid farewell to Gary and hightailed it out to the SUV and pointed it north toward Crawfordsville encountering a closed road along our return route adding 25 minutes extra to the long trip finding us arriving in Crawfordsville by 2:50 AM wrapping up a good ISW seven days and plotting our next venture during the ride home.


     

    Until next weekend don't forget to get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and maybe have the opportunity to take in some midweek racing and be safe and keep dry. Any news, comments, complaints, words of encouragement or anything other thing of the sort can reach us by email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. It was nice to see some of our old friends during the week and hope to catch some more as we travel back East this coming week to hopefully (if the weather cooperates) take in the USAC Eastern swing for the USAC National Midget Series racing at Path Valley, Linda's, Clyde Martin and BAPS for four straight nights of tight action on the small tracks located in Pennsylvania. And we don't want to forget to thank you kindly for reading our weekly efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Darland Takes Home Lincoln Park Win For 61st Career USAC Win


    Thursday, July 25 - For the last couple of years Lincoln Park promoters, Joe and Jill Spiker, had hosted the Thursday date on the ISW schedule and have also put together a very nice picnic lunch for everyone who is on the grounds around noon time to partake in. This year's version had a delicious spread of pork chop steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, various salads and baked beans along with cookies and cobblers for dessert and sodas and water to wash it all down. And the nice part is it is free of charge which makes this a heck of a nice gesture by the Spikers to show their appreciation for all who turn out for their events every year. Thank you.

    The lawn chairs were placed inside about half way down in the concrete grandstands and joining us this evening was Marshall Kern for his final night before heading back East stopping at Attica Raceway Park on the return trip on Friday before finding his way back to Mahoning Valley Speedway for his regular Saturday night visit. Also Ohio's Benny Trask joined our group for tonight's action before venturing over into Illinois to take in the WOO late models at Fairbury on Friday and Saturday.

    But tonight it was going to be the USAC National sprint car series at Lincoln Park Speedway (LPS) that the huge crowd turned out to watch on this pleasant evening in July. A superb field of 46 sprint cars along with 26 UMP modifieds filled the backstretch pit area at LPS along with campers and spectator vehicles to accommodate the overflow crowd on hand with sprint time trials pushing off at 7:10. To show that the track was in good shape the 38th man out, Brady Bacon, turned the 5/16 mile dirt oval for the fastest time of the evening at 12.276 seconds. The bigger challenge would be for the top six qualifiers to crack the top four in their heat races to move to the front three rows for the feature event. Four of the top six, Bacon, Tyler Thomas, Cockrum and AJ Hopkins, would fail to do so relegating them to the B main and the best position of seventh to start the main event. In a major surprise it would be 17th fastest qualifier, Chad Boespflug, and 14th fastest qualifier, Dave Darland, occupying the front row later in the night when the 30 lap feature would take the green flag. In between all that is brought to you below.

    The action heated up early in heat one when young Jason McDougal who was enjoying a very good ISW saw his week come to an early demise as he contacted the homestretch wall and flipped wildly on the homestretch before landing on the surface hard. McDougal climbed from the mangled sprinter but his ISW was over in a flash in the Krockenberger #21K. Chad Boespflug in the Pottorff/Short #11P would go on to win heat one over Josh Hodges, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Chase Stockon with Brady Bacon missing the cut by one. Heat two would see Justin Grant motor the Topps Motorsports #4 to the top spot besting Carson Short, Dave Darland and Dakota Jackson in the process. Tyler Courtney, last night's winner, would stake out heat three outrunning CJ Leary, Brent Beauchamp and Kyle Cummins. The final heat would see Thomas Meseraull dump the Briscoe #5B battling for the final transfer position off turn two after catching the edge wrong causing him to turn sideways and rolling over. Jordan Kinser would defend home turf in this one turning back Brody Roa, Chris Windom and Isaac Chapple to take top honors in heat four. The UMP modifieds ran three heats with former sprint car driver, Kenny Carmichael Sr., taking heat one, James Walters heat two and Derek Groomer heat three. The sprint C main was needed tonight with the 46 cars on hand with Matt Westfall winning and moving to the B along with Robert Ballou, Tony DiMattia and Clinton Boyles. The B main could have been a fine A main at many of the Indiana tracks during the regular season but this was ISW and the gang was all here from as far away as California for this big week of non-winged racing. Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas would claim the B main win over fellow Oklahoma native, Brady Bacon, with AJ Hopkins third, Tim Buckwalter fourth, Shane Cockrum fifth and Brandon Mattox making his first ISW feature in the new Fitzpatrick #2V. Both Robert Ballou and Thomas Meseraull would have to take the provisional route to tag the field for tonight's feature event.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would go first tonight taking the green at 10:14. Derek Groomer from his third starting position would capture the feature beating out James Walters snapping his three race win streak and Jeff Deckard in the rundown. Now it was time for the big 30 lap USAC National sprint car feature to take the green after the four wide salute and the wave off was completed and Tom Hansing's green silk waved over the 24 car field at 10:41 with Dave Darland poking his nose out front from the second starting position to lead the first lap. Chad Boespflug and Kevin Thomas Jr. raced for second with Thomas assuming the position with a turn two pass on lap two. Darland was pulling away from Thomas and the rest of the field on the track that had turned black and slick and was much to Darland's liking when the yellow appeared for a Brandon Mattox spin in turn one on lap seven. Darland hooked up again on the restart and established almost a half straightway lead until the red appeared on lap thirteen when series rookie, Tim Buckwalter, rolled on the turn three cushion to bring the race to a halt. On the ensuing restart Darland lost the front end entering turn one and lost momentum enough for Thomas to make a run for the lead racing down the backstretch and nosing underneath in turn three but Darland regained his composure and had enough to stave off the challenge from Thomas. Darland began to pull away again as the race was now for second between Thomas and five time LPS winner, AJ Hopkins, who had steadily worked his way from tenth to second. The two made some contact racing for position between turns three and four with Hopkins taking second and Thomas slipping back a few positions just past the halfway mark of the event. Spins by Brady Bacon on lap 16 and Brent Beauchamp on lap 21 bunched the field again but Darland went to the point on each restart. Chris Windom, running third at this point, took a long slider starting in turn one and ending in turn two chopping off Hopkins causing the second place runner to jump the ledge and fall back to fifth in an ill advised move by Windom. Now the ISW point leader coming in took up the chase of Darland but the veteran was hooked up too well to be challenged. As the double checkers waved at 11:02 it was Darland across the line first for his 19th career ISW win and the first in ISW competition since 2014. It was also Darland's 61st career USAC National Sprint Car victory and broke a tie with Sheldon Kinser for most ISW wins at LPS at five. Windom would finish second with Hopkins clawing his way back to third at the finish with Kevin Thomas Jr. settling for fourth and Justin Grant moving from 12th to finish 5th. Carson Short came across the line sixth with CJ Leary charging from 17th to 7th, Chad Boespflug eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and California's Brody Roa coming form 18th to 10th. It was a good race with much dicing and was enjoyable to all in attendance. The podium interviews were interesting as Chris Windom's explanation of that was how you had to run the race to gain positions was greeted with a chorus of boos and AJ Hopkins' response of he got screwed was greeted with cheers. Interesting indeed!!

    Check back Sunday as we will bring you the remaining two events on the Indiana Sprint Week docket as the fine week of racing wraps up tonight at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstabt where the ISW title will be determined. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. Notes, comments and the such can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruce.eckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Don Smith Classic At Terre Haute Falls To Courtney

    Wednesday, July 25 - When you go to the Action Track at Terre Haute you expect dust but last night it outdid itself. After working the track numerous times during the night the track bellowed dust during the feature that definitely took away from your enjoyment of watching a race and robbed people of a truly good late race battle for the lead and also swapping of top five positions in the late stages. It was a shame that the Action Track came up short of supplying the surface needed for an ISW program in front of a large crowd that turned out on the evening.


     

    The night began at 7 PM with time trials for the fine 41 car field on hand with Chase Stockon setting the standard with a lap of 20.569 seconds around the big half mile. Four heats for the USAC sprinters would follow at 8:07 with Chris Windom walking away with heat one clearly outdistancing Shane Cockrum filling the cockpit of the Phillips/Daigh #71P for at least the next two evenings. Tyler Thomas continues to impress in the Epperson #2E claiming third with Chase Stockon sneaking in late for the fourth and final qualifying spot. Heat two saw some very good action and some scary moments when Daron Clayton in the Kent Schmidt #5o taking a nasty tumble in turn four while running one spot out of qualifying. Clayton would return later for the B main but came up short again in his quest to crack the starting field. Robert Ballou made some crafty moves going to the front in heat two winning over Tyler Courtney, Josh Hodges and Carson Short in a very competitive heat race. Matt Westfall made heat three look easy dominating the event beating out Justin Grant, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon. Jerry Coons Jr., back for a second night in the Michael Dutcher #17GP, nailed down heat four on one of his favorite tracks besting Kevin Thomas Jr., Dave Darland and Isaac Chapple in a race while young Tyler Clem in the Pollick #21X slid high in turn two and smacked the turn two wall and tipped over lightly. The UMP modifieds were on the undercard and they ran two heats for their 19 car field before another session of track work was performed before the sprint B main after the C main was scrapped. The B main was a barn burner for second through sixth in a race where Jake Swanson checked out for first in the Moose mobile leaving the race far behind him. Thomas Meseraull would slice and dice from seventh to second in this one with Chad Boespflug in the Pottorff #11P coming home third with Jason McDougal fourth, Scotty Weir fifth and Tim Buckwalter taking the last qualifying position. Tony DiMattia and Robert Bell would take provisionals to boost the starting field to 24. The 15 lap UMP modified feature followed with Tyler Nicely going out front from his first starting position and never being headed with Brian Shaw chasing in second, AJ Fike third, Ryan Thomas fourth and Kenny Schrader rounding out the top five in the eight minute feature.


     

    The 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car feature was ready to go at 10:05 with Tyler Thomas and Brady Bacon bringing the 24 car field to the green flag. Kevin Thomas Jr. took the early lead in the Hoffman #69 using the extreme lower groove before Tyler Courtney from fifth rocketed by on the outside for the lead on lap three. Courtney was blistering the field opening up a half straightway lead in a few laps and extending it to a full straightway lead by close to the half way mark. Robert Ballou at this point began to make his presence known as he advanced from ninth to challenge Thomas for second by lap 16 and used a slider in turn two to grab second with Thomas countering in turn three and Ballou using his turn two move to take second for sure in turn four. The lap traffic began to be an issue for the leaders but initially Courtney used the cushion to maintain his straightway lead but with just seven laps to go the traffic started to hinder the high flying Courtney and Ballou was making up large chunks of real estate in his quest to unseat Courtney for the lead. With just two laps to go Ballou had devoured the huge gap like a hungry animal and was within one car length of Courtney. The crowd moved to the edge of their seats for the finish as the two raced into turn one where Ballou dove to the rail and attempted to execute the slider as they approached turn two side by side but Courtney stayed on the gas and exited turn two with the lead as they blasted down the backstretch. Courtney opened enough space that a turn three or four slider was not on the platter for Ballou as Courtney flashed under the double checkers at 10:18 in the non-stop event winning for the seventh time this year and doubling his career total plus one in his breakout year in the Clauson/Marshall/Newman steed. Ballou came home second with Justin Grant with some late race moves climbing from tenth to third with Brady Bacon fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. slipping to fifth in the late going. Positions six through ten were filled by some overachievers in the person of Chris Windom from 14th to 6th (hard charger award), Jason McDougal from 13th to 7th (continuing to impress), Tim Buckwalter from 15th to 8th, Jerry Coons Jr. from 17th to 9th and Dave Darland rounding out the top five. The dust was a hindrance for all but the racing was still top notch with much passing but different to watch and see. That was the shame of the whole night.


     

    That's it for now but Lincoln Park, night five of seven, is next up on the plate so return tomorrow to see what happens in the next round of ISW. Until now stay safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or come to Indiana to catch the last three nights of ISW. Quotes, comments, yeahs or nays came reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Until next time as always thanks for reading our efforts as we don't sugar coat the facts.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Meseraull Takes ISW Stop At Kokomo For Second Straight Year

    Tuesday, July 24 - The original race date of Saturday, July 21st for the ISW stop at Kokomo was washed out so they would take one of the two open dates on the schedule and run on Tuesday. It would all turn out well as the weather was nice and the crowd was huge and we don't know where everyone would have sat if the new backstretch grandstand was not in place for this race this year. Thirty seven USAC sprint cars were joined by 16 King of Indiana/UMRA TQ midgets for round three of seven for the NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week stop at the baddest bullring in Indiana.


     

    Action kicked off at 7:28 with time trials for the 37 car field and by 7:52 Dave Darland had knocked Kevin Thomas Jr. from the top qualifying spot and the master of Kokomo was making a statement that he had come to win tonight with a time of 12.968 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Heat racing for the USAC sprinters would be next on the agenda with the first heat being stacked and turning into a real free for all with many position changes in the opening laps of this one. Jason McDougal would wheel the Knockenberger #21K to victory in the opening event besting Jarett Andretti, Clinton Boyles and Isaac Chapple for the win. Heat two would see CJ Leary steer the family owned #30 to the win outrunning Chris Windom, Californian Jake Swanson and Kyle Cummins. Carson Short would make short work of the competition in heat three beating Kody Swanson tooling the Karraker #23 on this evening, Chase Stockon and Thomas Meseraull in the blue and yellow Briscoe #5B instead of the white and red one run the previous two nights. Robert Ballou captured heat four over Tyler "Sunshine" Courtney, Brody Roa and Justin Grant muscling out Tim Buckwalter in the late stages to notch fourth. The TQ midgets ran two heats with Robbie Roland in one of the Goff entries and Matt Hedrick grabbing the victories here. The sprint B main looked more like an A main with names like Weir, Boespflug, Hodges, Darland, KTJ, Bacon, Tyler Thomas and Buckwalter vying for the last six tickets to the big dance. Lap one of this event saw Michigan driver, Joe Bares, rolling over in turn two to bring out the red. When racing resumed the battle was on with Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 claiming the win over Tyler Thomas in the Epperson #2E, Brady Bacon, Dave Darland, Josh Hodges in a nice run and Tim Buckwalter punching the last ticket into the big dance. Chad Boespflug and Matt Westfall would take provisionals to join 22 of their friends in the 30 lap feature event.


     

    The first feature of the evening would highlight the TQ midgets in a 20 lap feature which was a good race with only one caution and a late race battle between Matt Hedrick and Robbie Roland duking it out before Hedrick prevailed. Austin Nigh motored home third with Tate Martz coming from almost the back after dropping off the pace early and picking back up speed again near the rear of the field to finish fourth and Rick Robinson rounding out the top five in an eight minute contest. At the drop of Tom Hansing's green flag at 10:21 Kyle Cummins went to the front with Thomas Meseraull making some big moves from first as he disposed of Justin Grant for third and diamonded off the turn four to pass Jarett Andretti for second on lap one. A four car tangle in turn four on lap two saw Robert Ballou getting upside down after tangling with Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal and Chad Boespflug. Ballou went to the pit area and tried to return but the lack of a push truck on pit road ended his night earlier than he had expected. On the restart Cummins remained in the lead but only until turn four on lap three when Meseraull swept by him on the cushion with Chris Windom in tow Meseraull with Windom and Grant chasing led until lap 12 when Carson Short spun in turn two to bring out the only yellow of the event. Windom poked his nose underneath Meseraull but T-Mez was up to the challenge and held sway. Chase Stockon was the man making some noise as he advanced from sixth passing Windom for second on lap 13. The two leaders began to encounter lap traffic as the race closed on ten to go. Meseraull had to come off the top and weave through the lap traffic using the low side with Stockon stalking him close behind in second. T-Mez was unflappable and went the rest of the distance to score his eighth career USAC National Sprint Car victory and second in a row at Kokomo in ISW action. Chase Stockon would finish a strong second with Justin Grant holding off Chris Windom for third with Kevin Thomas Jr. making a late charge to round out the top five at 10:39. Positions six through ten would fall to Dave Darland, Tyler Courtney, Tyler Thomas, CJ Leary and Josh Hodges marching from 21st to 10th at the finish. It was a good night of racing and we listened to the victory lane interviews before heading out to the SUV and bidding goodbye to our good friends, Allan and Nancy Brown, who made the trip down from Michigan to take in the races tonight.


     

    That's it for now but check back tomorrow as we are heading out the door soon to visit the Action Track of Terre Haute for night four of ISW and we will be back with a report on that. So until next time get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area or do as our buddy, Marshall Kern from PA did, and jump in your car and come on out to the Hoosier state for the biggest week of racing in this area. Notes, comments, complaints or praises can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on email or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    ISW Continues With Rain At Kokomo & Courtney At Lawrenceburg

    Saturday, July 21 - Another morning spent checking the weather apps, Twitter and Indiana Open Wheel for any news on the status of round two of ISW at Kokomo. Word came around 2 PM when we were about ready to pack the SUV and head northeast toward the Kokomo Speedway. There would be no racing today at Kokomo with the event being moved to Tuesday, July 24th. Next race to check all of the above would be Lawrenceburg for tomorrow.

    Sunday, July 22 - The forecast all week was 80 to 90% chance of thunderstorms for the southwestern town of Lawrenceburg. As Sunday dawned the forecast for the home of Seagram's chanced drastically from 80 to 90 down to 35% to 40% in one two hour span and then it was clear. So that 2:30 we backed the Rogue out of the garage, closed the garage door and proceeded to head west on I-74 toward Lawrenceburg. We ran through two heavy rainstorms on I-74 in the Indianapolis area before clearing the heavy rain as we headed southwest on I-74. A light shower hit us as we approached the Rt. 1 sign to head south to Lawrenceburg but that quickly passed and as we ventured down the picturesque Rt. 1 it was clear and dry as we passed the covered bridge park along the highway. Upon arriving at the Burg the w