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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    McIntosh Takes Illinois Speedweek Final At Macon


    Saturday, June 15 – After two days of stock car racing in Wisconsin it was back to open wheel action with a visit to the 1/5 mile high banked bullring of the Macon Speedway. On tap tonight were eight (too many) divisions of race cars highlighted by the POWRi National Midget League in what would end up being their final race of the 11th Illinois Speedweek. The last race of the series scheduled for Sunday was canceled due to excessive heat predicted. So tonight the 16 POWRi midgets on hand would do battle for the win and also the war, the POWRi Speedweek title. In the other divisions here were the car counts: pro modifieds (16), sportsman (12), street stocks (11), modifieds (9), hornets (8), outlaw winged 600’s (4) and HSRA (High School Racing Association – 2).

    Racing would kick off at 7:06 PM with the first of two heat races for the POWRi National midgets. In the first heat the action started early as racing down the backstretch off turn two Thomas Meseraull slide sideways off the corner making contact with Karter Sarff sending Sarff sideways and into a series of at least four barrel rolls before stopping on the backstretch. Sarff was OK after the wild ride but the same could not be said for his midget as he was done for the evening. Gunnar Setser went on to win the first heat over Kale Drake, Chase McDermand and Meseraull. Heat two was won by Gavin Miller beating Cannon McIntosh, Jacob Denney and Zoe Pearce, a young Australian lass, in the McQueen #7Z.

    The outlaw winged 600’s would run one heat with Jacob Tipton scoring the win. Two heats for the sportsman and modifieds with two heats for the pro modifieds and street stocks along with one heat for the HSRA and hornets completed the preliminary heat racing.

    A bit of track maintenance was necessary as the track turned up rough in turns three and four before the POWRi midget feature would be called to the post.

    The front row of Kale Drake and Cannon McIntosh would bring the 15 car field to the green flag at 9:02 with Drake getting the early lead. A lap two caution would slow the field before the race went green again. Drake would pace the field on the restart moving into a several car length lead as he worked the bottom and middle of the track in the early going. McIntosh was having problems maneuvering the middle of the track as it had developed character again. So McIntosh took his midget to the extreme outside of the oval up against the fence and began to close the gap between him and Drake. McIntosh would streak by Drake on the high side entering turn two on lap twelve when Drake countering in turn three with McIntosh prevailing off turn four to retake the lead. McIntosh would never waver from his rim riding style for the remainder of the contest as the battle raged behind him for positions two through five.

    Drake would stay close for the remainder of the race but never mount a serious challenge to the high flying McIntosh who would flash across the finish line at 9:11 for his second POWRi win of 2024 and his twenty fourth career POWRi National win. Drake would finish second and claim the war as he became the 2024 Illinois Speedweek point champion with Gavin Miller taking third and making it an all Kunz podium finish on the evening. Thomas Meseraull would come home fourth with Jacob Denney about the only one using the bottom soldering on to claim fifth.

    It was a good race and fun watching the front runners pound the cushion lap after lap hoping no one would make a mistake and pound the wall.

    We decided to watch the 15 lap outlaw 600 feature which went green to checker in just three minutes with Alex Midkiff doing double duty as he piloted the Loyet #05 in the midget feature claiming the 600 win. Clay Frederick came home second with Seth Buell taking third.

    The 15 lap sportsman feature was a good one with only one caution running the distance in five minutes with Guy Taylor holding off Wes O’Dell and Randy Huffman for the win.

    The last feature we decided to watch in the evening was the 20 lap modified feature taking the green at 9:53. In another race with only one caution the six minute contest was won by Jeremy Nichols besting Terry Reed and Tim Luttrell. This one ended a minute before 10.

    With tomorrow’s Lincoln date canceled we are headed for the first time to Sycamore Speedway in Maple Park, Illinois for one of the DirtCar Hell Tour late model and modified doubleheaders.

    So, until next time get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road and catch one or two of your bucket list choices. Comments, news, stories or any other items of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep coming back to see where we end up next in a typical weekend. Remember to be safe, be good and be kind.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Pursley Wins IMW Final At Kokomo Along With IMW Point Title

    Sunday, June 9 – Today was the final day for the 20th Indiana Midget Week and the O’Connor family at Kokomo Speedway would be hosting round five of this midget series. The traveling crew of Bill and Judy Burns, Dale O’Brien and Pat and I all packed our bags as we were all staying in Kokomo for the evening before heading our separate ways on Monday morning. Bill and Judy were heading back to their native Pennsylvania while Dale was headed north to his old home of Wisconsin for the summer. We were staying for the XR late model series special Monday also at Kokomo Speedway before driving home after the event.

    We all dined at the Windmill Grill in Kokomo with everyone enjoying their meals before venturing over to the track where we had planted a car for a good parking spot as parking spaces are limited due to sewer pipe installation along the roadside and in part of the parking lot. We also saved a seat for our West Virginia friend, Irvin King, who joined us on the backstretch for tonight’s racing action.

    USAC midget time trials would be the first order of business on the evening after hot laps for both divisions on hand where the midgets were joined by the wingless sprint cars. The first midget pushed off at 7:08 and by 7:27 fast timer, Logan Seavey, was being interviewed on the homestretch after blistering the ¼ mile bullring to the tune of 13.318 seconds. Next up would be the four heat races for the good 32 car field in the pit area.

    Jake Swanson in the Benic #2B moved from third to the lead and went on to win heat one over Max Adams, Kokomo’s own Parker Frederickson and Trey Osborne. Jack Hoyer placed the Sprint Car Hall Of Famer, Paul Hazen’s #57, in heat two outdistancing Scotty Weir in the #47, Anton Hernandez in the Baldwin #5 and Austin Nigh. Heat three went to Robert Ballou outdistancing Ricky Lewis, Braydon Cromwell and Zack Pretorius. The fourth and final heat fell to Andrew Prather beating Aaron Davis, Sam Hinds and Nathan Snee.

    The mighty USAC midgets would also contest four heats with the top five moving directly to the main event. Daison Pursley scored the win in heat one, besting Logan Seavey, Drake Edwards, Chase McDermand and Ethan Mitchell. Cannon McIntosh would top the field in heat two over Taylor Reimer, Michael Pickens, the New Zealand driver, getting a phone call from Keith Kunz to drive the midget driven earlier in the week by Emerson Axsom and fulfilling a bucket list item in driving a Kunz midget. Jacob Denney and Kyle Jones were the other two qualifiers in this one. Young Kale Drake motored to victory in heat three over teammate Gavin Miller, Zach Wigal, Jade Avedisian and Hayden Reinbold. Jake Andreotti placed the Four Kings #14 in the winner’s circle in heat four beating Zach Daum, Blake Brannon, Hank Davis and Justin Grant. Ryan Timms took a nasty end over end flip on the homestretch in the fourth heat and was OK returning to race later in the evening. All heat qualifying was completed by 8:49, less than an hour after starting.

    The sprints would return for their B main with the top four moving to the A main with Rylan Gray walking away in this one beating Harley Burns, Nathan Schank and Brayden Clark. The USAC midget semi would also transfer four cars to the big dance with Frankie Guerrini taking down the win over Steve Buckwalter, Daniel Whitley in the RAMCO #7M making the fourth different driver in this entry for the week reminding us of the Cactus Jack Yeley musical chair one year in the USAC sprint division during sprint week. Ryan Timms would return to grab the last qualifying position after dumping his midget in the heat race.

    All that was left now were the two feature events with the sprint cars getting the call to the post first with Robert Ballou and Jake Swanson bringing the 20 car field to the green flag at 9:55. Ballou would take the early lead with Swanson and Scotty Weir in hot pursuit. Weir would slip by Swanson to take over second in turn one on lap five. Ricky Lewis was on the move passing Swanson for third and catching and passing Weir for second off turn four on lap seven. Meanwhile Ballou was out for a Sunday drive opening up a half-track lead by lap eleven. The caution appeared on lap seventeen when Andrew Prather came to a stop in turn four. Ballou was off again on the restart but lap eighteen saw Weir suffer a left rear flat tire in turn four with Anton Hernandez with nowhere to go got into Weir and spun around ruining a good run for Hernandez who was in fifth. Once again Ballou powered into the lead and comfortably led the remaining eight laps to score the win at 10:11 over Ricky Lewis with Jake Swanson third, Max Adams in a good run from eighth to four in the Guerrini #63 with Rylan Gray running the best race I ever seen him run advancing from 17th to 5th at the finish.

    The 30 lap USAC midget feature was next on the docket and with Daison Pursley just starting the race he had clinched the 2024 Indiana Midget Week title but he was not satisfied to just ride it out to the finish. A scary incident happened as the cars lined up on the homestretch when it looked like Daniel Whitley’s throttle stuck with Whitley’s car driving into the infield on the homestretch crashing into the Lawrenceburg safety truck wedging under the front bumper. The midget was severely damaged and done for the evening. The front row of Jade Avedisian and Ethan Mitchell brought the 24 car field to Tom Hansing’s green flag at 10:32 with Avedisian taking the early lead. Michael Pickens up from fifth slide underneath Avedisian in turn four to take the lead on lap two. Meanwhile sixth and seventh place starters, Logan Seavey and Daison Pursley, began their quest to the front.

    Seavey and Pursley hook up in a crowd pleasing duel for second with Pickens out front pacing the field. Pursley slipped by Seavey for second on lap nine but Seavey was not done yet and battled back to regain second on lap twelve. Pickens continued to lead the pack with Seavey and Pursley chasing as the feature reached the twenty lap mark. Seavey began to close the gap on Pickens at this point and dove low on consecutive laps off turn four pulling alongside Pickens at the line but not fully able to take the lead. Pickens changed lines to cover the bottom from the attacks by Seavey and at the same time Pursley challenged Seavey for second passing him on the backstretch on lap 23. The last five laps exploded into an all out war as Cannon McIntosh and Kale Drake suddenly joined in the fun making it a five car battle for supremacy. Drake went to the top in turn three and looked like he was going to sweep by everyone but slid too high in turn four and ended up back in fifth. Pursley made his move for the lead in turn two on lap twenty five on the high side clearing Pickens as they exited the turn to assume the top spot. The red flag slowed the bedlam on lap twenty seven when Blake Brannon dumped his midget in turn two. Brannon was OK after the flip. On the restart Pursley hit the loud pedal and was off to the races pulling away and would lead the last three circuits with no challenge crossing the line at 10:47 scoring his second win of IMW and third overall in 2024 as the CB Industries #86 has been amazing to start the year as Pursley has seven podium finishes in eight USAC midget races in 2024. Pursley won the IMW title by 74 points, the largest margin in the 20 years of Indiana Midget Week and gave car owner, Chad Boat, his second IMW car owner title.

    Pickens who made the most of his one off drive in his bucket list Kunz ride finished second with Seavey third, McIntosh fourth after starting ninth and Kale Drake fifth for his highest USAC midget finish to date for the impressive rookie. Zach Daum led the second five across the line in sixth after starting 18th with Gavin Miller earning the Irvin King Hard Charger award advancing from 23rd to 7th with Jacob Denney 14th to 8th, Chase McDermand ninth and Ryan Timms salvaging a wild night finishing tenth after starting 16th.

    It was a real good night of racing and was a good wrap on Indiana Midget Week for another year with five of the six nights getting in with only Circle City being washed out on the first night.

    That’s it for this report and check back this weekend to see where we end up on another typical weekend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area such as Eastern Storm in PA or Ohio Sprint Week. Comments, news, stories or any other items of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we hope you enjoy reading our columns as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. And remember to be safe out there and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Gets First Win Of IMW & First Time At Tri-State In A Thriller


    Saturday, June 8 – Round four of Indiana Midget Week found the guys making the long haul to Haubstadt after lunching at the Second City Café in Crawfordsville (if in Crawfordsville check this place out, you won’t regret it) while the gals had a girl’s day out back home. We arrived at 3:50 on the grounds of the Tri-State Speedway and ventured inside to find Irvin King’s checkerboard tablecloth tying our Indian blanket over top of it for some cushion. The Tri-State track crew was hard at work grooming the track surface for the tonight’s racing and we don’t know of any track that works harder at getting things right on a track surface.

    The new Midwest Thunder Sprint Car series which replaced MSCS were making their debut at Tri-State along with the mighty USAC midgets on this evening. A good field of 30 sprinters joined the 33 midgets tonight with midget time trials getting underway at 6:54. When completed by 7:15 it was Daison Pursley securing the fast time of the evening with a time of 13.551 second around the ¼ mile bullring as the Chad Boat Industries #86 continues to perform flawlessly on the week.

    The Midwest Thunder sprinters would be first to the post to contest their heat races with three heats scheduled taking the top five to the main event later in the evening. Kendall Ruble was the first to take down a heat win garnering heat one over Carson Short, Aric Gentry, Dustin Beck and Stan Beadles in the colorful Beetlejuice #84. Heat two went to Brady Short beating Mitchel Moles, JJ Hughes, Charles Davis Jr and Jack Hoyer. Jadon Rogers copped heat three outrunning Chase Stockon, Adyn Schmidt, Reed Whitney and Sam Scott.

    Next up were four heats for the 33 midget entries with fast timer, Daison Pursley, speeding out front and winning heat one over Jacob Denney, Ryan Timms, Kale Drake and Jake Andreotti all advancing to the 30 lap feature event with Kyle Jones flipping in turns one and two in this one. Heat two fell to Zach Wigal who is looking better each time out besting Justin Grant, Steve Buckwalter making his first main event, Jade Avedisian and Ricky Lewis. Chase McDermand scored the win in heat three besting Logan Seavey, Hayden Reinbold, Gavin Miller and Hank Davis. Veteran Zach Daum captured heat four beating Kyle Cummins, Cannon McIntosh, Taylor Reimer and Michael Pickens. All heat action was completed by 8:44.

    The sprint B main was next on the agenda with the top five joining the field for the 25 lap main event. Travis Berryhill came home victorious over Carson Garrett, Mike Larrison, Donny Brackett and Colin Ambrose. The midget semi went to Adam Taylor in a unique sounding midget powered by a V4 Fusion engine making his first USAC midget race in over two years. Ethan Mitchell, Drake Edwards, Kyle Jones and Blake Brannon trailed rounding out the midget qualifiers.

    By 9:50 after track prep it was time to go feature racing with the Midwest Thunder sprints get first crack at the newly worked surface. The front row of Kendall Ruble and Brady Short brought the twenty car field to the green flag with Short taking the early lead. Short would lead the opening eight laps until Mitchel Moles raced around him in turn two to grab the top spot. There was a lot of good racing behind the top three as the race moved forward. Moles was on a rail as he pulled away from his challengers and flashed across the line at 10:03 for the win over Brady Short with Kendall Ruble third, Jadon Rogers fourth after taking a wild ride through the infield coming to the checkered when he was forced low with Carson Short rounding out the top five.

    Now it was time for what most everyone had come for and saved their lunch money for, the 30 lap USAC midget feature with the front row of Ricky Lewis and Jake Andreotti bringing 23 other competitors to the green flag at 10:19. Andreotti sped to the early lead and proceeded to pace the first seven laps of the feature. Third starting Kyle Cummins made several bids on laps six and seven but Andreotti countered and retained the top spot. Lap eight saw Andreotti jump the cushion and bang the wall allowing Cummins and Logan Seavey to streak past. These two would be the pacesetters over the next ten circuits with Daison Pursley inching forward to take over the number three position moving into contention at the same time. Pursley began to challenge Seavey for second using sliders in turns two and four on lap eighteen but Seavey said not so fast and countered the sliders both times. Traffic began to play into the equation at this point for Cummins as he looked to pick his way past the back markers. Kyle Jones spun in turn four on lap twenty three to bring out the caution and clear the highway in front of the leaders for the final seven laps.

    Then the fun began as on the restart Cummins and Seavey began to put on an entertaining slide fest beginning in turn one where Seavey slid past Cummins for the lead but Cummins responded with a slider in turns three and four to take back the lead. Lap twenty four was the same scenario as the previous lap with lap twenty five seeing Cummins slid Seavey in turn one and Seavey responded with a turn four slider for the lead off the corner to start lap twenty six. One lap later Jade Avedisian stopped in turns three and four to bring out the final caution and restack the deck for the remaining three laps of the war up front. Cummins attacked again on the restart with Seavey able to hold sway. Racing into turn four coming to the two to go Cummins pulled alongside Seavey but was not able to pull off the pass as the pair streaked to the start/finish line. Seavey was able to retain control over the final two circuits and raced under the double checkers of Tom Hansing at 10:33 for his second USAC midget win of the year and first ever at Tri-State. Cummins would have to settle for second with Pursley in the cat bird seat finishing third. Justin Grant’s final drive was almost lost in the battle up front as he advanced from 15th to fourth with Zach Wigal rounding out the top five. Chase McDermand came home sixth with Gavin Miller seventh, Jacob Denney eighth from sixteenth, Zach Daum ninth and Jadon Rogers using a provisional to charge from 24th to tenth. Cannon McIntosh would be awarded the Irvin King Hard Charger award though as provisionals are not eligible as he started 23rd after going to a backup car and ended up 11th at the finish.

    It was a barnburner and had the crowd buzzing as they exited the track. We quickly scurried to our car and made a quick exit onto north bound Route 41 and arrived back in Crawfordsville by 2:40 AM after some fine wheel twisting by Dale O’Brien who learned some lessons watching tonight’s great race.

    Until the next installment get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news, stories and other items of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind comments and continue to check back often to see where the race chasing Eckels end up next. Be good and be kind.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Bloomington IMW Win Goes To Pursley In Strong Run



    Friday, June 7 – Tonight’s racing action for Indiana Midget Week traveled to the red high banks of the Bloomington Speedway just south of the city which houses Indiana University, the home of the Hoosiers. The crew of Bill, Dale, Pat and I arrived on the grounds of Bloomington around 4 and placed our lawn chairs in the already forming ticket line. We had the pleasure of talking with the owner of the Skegness Stadium, an English racetrack, and his wife in the parking lot before heading over to the line and into the track to secure our seating spots. We were joined again by Irvin King as we chatted in the glorious sun before racing began.

    After sprint car hot laps/qualifying and midget hot laps it was time to place the midgets on the timing clock and see who would set fast time on the evening. Chase McDermand in the Josh Ford Motorsports #8W which is Chevy powered surprised the 32 car field by posting the fast time of 12.143 seconds around the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval besting 31 others.

    The wingless sprinters would contest their four heats for their 31 car field first taking the green for their first heat at 7:46. Tye Mihocko, the Arizona native, would guide the Jamie Paul #24p to victory in heat one over Harley Burns, Brayden Fox and Chance Crum. Heat two was captured by Brandon Spencer over Braxton Cummings, Gabriel Gilbert and Andy Bradley. Ricky Lewis grabbed the win in heat three besting Brandon Mattox, Matt Thompson and Logan Calderwood. Heat four went to Jadon Rogers beating Rylan Gray, Charles Davis Jr and Daylan Chambers.

    The USAC midgets took to the track for their four heats with the top five automatically moving to the 30 lap main event. Gavin Miller who has been in a slump broke out in a big way by winning heat one over teammate Kale Drake, Kevin Thomas Jr in a new Mounce/Stout steed as his regular ride had motor issues, Hank Davis and Chase McDermand. Heat two got off to a rough start when Jade Avedisian spun in turn four coming to the start with her, Logan Seavey and Taylor Reimer flipping in the process. Logan Seavey returned to action and prevailed in heat two outdistancing Ethan Mitchell, Zach Wigal, Kayla Roell and Colorado’s Lance Bennett qualifying for his first feature of the week. Jake Andreotti ran strong in heat three in one of the Four Kings entries winning over Justin Grant, Zach Daum replacing Kaiden Manders in the RAMCO #7M after his main ride broke, Michael Pickens and Kyle Cummins. Daison Pursley took the Boat #86 out front in heat four and won going away over Drake Edwards, Cannon McIntosh, Ryan Timms and Jacob Denney. All heat qualifying was in the books at just over an hour’s time.

    The sprints were back for their B main with just four moving forward to join the field for their 25 lap main event. Jeff Bland Jr back in the Burton #04 scored the win besting Jack Hoyer, Nathan Schank from Arizona and Saban Bibent. The midget semi was next with four also advancing to their 30 lap feature event. Hayden Reinbold captured the semi win over Kyle Jones, Jade Avedisian and Ricky Lewis riding high, wide and handsome on the berm to capture the last qualifying position. The fields were now set and it was time to go feature racing.

    The 30 lap USAC National midget feature would be led to Brian Hodde’s green silk at 9:43 with Justin Grant bounding into the early lead. Jacob Denney followed him through to take second with Daison Pursley up from seventh to third by lap two. Lap seven saw the first caution appear when Chase McDermand went over the banks in turn two and shortly thereafter Kale Drake joined him on the wrong side of the banking with Drake never stopping and returned to the track while McDermand was done for the evening.

    On the restart while Grant and Denney held the low line Pursley decided to try the high line and at the line to complete that lap soared by Denney for second. Ryan Timms brought out the caution for the second time on the evening stopping on the track but was able to rejoin the field as he was suffering through a bad night. On the next restart Grant continued to lead using the low groove while Pursley pursued the high line. Lap sixteen saw a change for the lead as Grant decided to run high in turns one and two with Pursley diving low and racing down the backstretch together with Pursley taking the lead in turn three. Pursley began pulling away at this point as the potent Boat steed was off to the races.

    Pursley looked like he was home free but with four to go in turns one and two Kyle Jones slowed with mechanical woes and Jade Avedisian had no where to go and ramped over his right rear tire and barrel rolled five times before landing outside of turn two. She was OK after her wild ride and was done for the evening. On the restart Pursley was quick off the start and over the last four laps opened up over a second lead and cruised across the line at 10:04 scoring the win over Grant with Denney third, Seavey fourth and Gavin Miller advancing from ninth to fifth at the finish. Cannon McIntosh picked up the Irvin King hard charger award after advancing from 13th to 6th with Zach Daum up from 12th to 7th. Ethan Mitchell was eighth, Hayden Reinbold ninth and Jake Andreotti rounding out the top ten.

    Pursley has been hot so far in the month of June with four starts in the month so far finishing in the top three in each. Pursley also has taken the lead in both the national midget points race and the Indiana Midget Week standings.

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature was next on the dance card with 20 strong brought to the green flag by Brandon Mattox and Tye Mihocko. Mattox got the jump and took the early lead on a track that was going away quickly. Ricky Lewis pounded the cushion after starting fourth and quickly worked his way backward dropping back to seventh. Mattox ran the middle to bottom grooves to maintain his lead as the laps clicked off. Mihocko and Brandon Spencer trailed. Lewis continued to remain loyal to the top and wasn’t going anywhere until past the halfway mark when the bottom rubbered up and Lewis began to gain ground. With about five to go Mihocko was able to move by Mattox for the top spot and looked to be the top dog. Lewis still had some bullets in his gun and streaked by Mattox with three to go and started to reel in Mihocko. Jadon Rogers followed the trail of Lewis and moved into fourth with a couple to go. Lewis closed the gap on Mihocko and pulled to his bumper in the last lap. With the checkers waving Mihocko was able to fend off Lewis in the non-stop feature and flashed under the black and white flag at 10:27 to score the win over Lewis, Mattox, Harley Burns and Brayden Fox from ninth. Rogers dropped to sixth with Braxton Cummings seventh, Rylan Gray eighth, Matt Thompson ninth and Andy Bradley coming home tenth.

    It was another good night of racing and ended at a good hour allowing us to arrive back in Crawfordsville by 12:30 AM. Onto Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt for round four at Tom Helfrich’s finely groomed racetrack. Until next time get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some action at a new track on your bucket list. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. As always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy the content. Be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain and Axsom Highlight Start Of Indiana Midget Week

    Tuesday, June 4 – This is one of our favorite weeks in racing in Indiana, the 20th Indiana Midget Week with Bill and Judy Burns along with Dale O’Brien coming in for this week and staying with us. First up on the agenda was the Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis at the Marion County Fairgrounds. We left for Indy at 3:30 and dropped down onto Emerson Avenue to work the streets of Indianapolis on our way to Circle City. As we drove within ten minutes of the racing venue, we encountered one of the Keith Kunz tractor trailers heading toward us. That is never a good indication and as everyone in the car checked their social media, we discovered that showers had canceled the first night of IMW. It was disappointing but we all went out to dinner after arriving back in Crawfordsville. We attempted to watch the High Limit Series race from the ¼ mile dirt oval at the Davenport Speedway but their parade.

    Wednesday, June 5 – The plan for tonight was for Bill, Dale and I to venture to the southeast corner of Indiana where the Hoosier state touches up against Ohio and Kentucky. We had kept a close eye on the weather for Lawrenceburg for the past few days and the forecast was pretty dismal. It started improving the day of the race but we will talked it over and didn’t want to risk the five hour round trip and get rained out for our efforts. We tuned into Flo instead to watch the racing and see if they would be able to sneak the program in. Hats off to track management and USAC for running an efficient and quickly run program completing their race by 8:30 and it was none too soon as reports had a steady rain dropping just five minutes after the second feature with the wingless sprint cars had wrapped up and soon turning into a monsoon proportion rainstorm.

    Thursday, June 6 – Today turned out to be a very special day as Bill and I ventured up Route 39 toward Lebanon to visit the shops of the legendary Mel Kenyon. It took us a while to find his home and shops but the effort was worth it. Upon our arrival Mel was exiting his house onto the back porch and greeted us. He proceeded to give us close to a two hour tour of his shops including a small story on everyone of the photos, clippings, posters and cards on the walls of the shop. At 91, the King of the Midgets, was still very sharp minded and also continues to straighten axles and other racing components alongside his brother, Don. It was an amazing visit with an amazing individual and will be a lifelong racing memory. Both of us purchased a copy of his book which he autographed along with our shirts. It was a well worthwhile visit with one of most talented drivers in racing history. Mel is friendly, kind, knowledgeable and truly a humble human being and one of the nicest people I have ever met over my 60+ years involved in following this great sport of auto racing. God Bless, Mel.

    Tonight’s racing action was down Route 231 South to beautiful downtown Putnamville where the Lincoln Park Speedway is located for round two of the 20th edition of Indiana Midget Week. Thirty eight USAC midgets were joined by an equal number of wingless sprint cars on this beautiful evening with low humidity and temperatures in the low 80’s. We were joined on the evening by Irvin King, former racer and longtime farmer, who resides in West Virginia. He is also the man who funds the hard charger award at many of the USAC events. Hot laps for both divisions were first on the docket followed by the USAC midget time trials kicking off at 7:38. Daison Pursley, in one of the Chad Boat entries, continues to shine setting the fast time with a lap of 12.705 second around the high banked 5/16 mile dirt oval. In hot laps for the sprints a scary moment happened when AJ Hopkins in the Burton #04 pulled to the top of the banks in between turns one and two quickly jumping out of the cockpit as the sprinter was on fire. He was on fire and the safety crew tried to remedy the situation. He was OK after a few moments of frantic action.

    The sprints would get the first nod to run their heats with four on the plate for their 38 car field. The first heat took the green flag at 8:19 and Mitchel Moles powered the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ to the front to capture the heat win over Brayden Fox, Ricky Lewis and Charles Davis Jr in a hotly contested race. Jadon Rogers ran a hard race in the Michael Dutcher #17GP to claim heat two over Andrew Prather, Rylan Gray and Kyle Shipley. Heat three was taken by Seth Parker in an impressive drive fending off Jack Hoyer, Nathan Schank and Austin Nigh. The fourth and final heat was won by Paragon invader, Jake Scott, over Brandon Spencer, John Sluss and Logan Calderwood.

    The track was a little choppy but I referred to it as having character and it didn’t affect the hard driving by the participants in either division as the heat racing was highly competitive and very enjoyable to watch. Next up on the dance card were the four heats for the now 36 cars after time trials.

    Kyle Cummins ran away with heat one in the Styres #3G besting Kyle Jones, Daison Pursley, Jacob Denney and Cannon McIntosh. Jade Avedisian turned in what I thought was her best performance that I have witnessed capturing heat two using the entire track to pass everyone in front of her. Kale Drake, Emerson Axsom, Zach Daum and Hayden Reinbold followed. Justin Grant captured heat three beating Ryan Timms, Jake Andreotti, Michael Pickens and Ethan Mitchell. The fourth heat fell to Chase McDermand over Zach Wigal, Taylor Reimer, Gavin Miller and Logan Seavey. All heat qualifying was in the books in less than an hour at 9:12.

    The first of two B mains for the sprint cars were next up with a double flip taking place in between turns one and two. Everyone was OK in the tangle and racing resumed. Minnesota driver, Rob Caho Jr, prevailed in B main one over California driver, Eddie Tafoya Jr. The second B main was taken by Brandon Mattox in a late run to the front besting Daylan Chambers. Australian Kaiden Manders nailed down the midget semi as he has been looking good some far during Speedweek besting Ricky Lewis, Kevin Thomas Jr, Drake Edwards, Kayla Roell and Hank Davis the last person in.

    At the drop of the green at 10:12 Ryan Timms took the lead from fourth and proceeded to pace the field for the first eleven laps with Cannon McIntosh, Kale Drake and Daison Pursley pursuing. By the halfway mark McIntosh had crossed the bad lead of Timms drawing closer and closer each lap. In the meantime, Emerson Axsom was coming into the battle advancing to fourth halfway in. Lap seventeen saw the caution wave as Ethan Mitchell stopped in turn four. On the restart Axsom decided to go topside passing Pursley in the first two corners for third and took second in turn four passing McIntosh. Timms was wrestling with the cushion off turn four for several laps slamming it pretty Hard causing him to lose some momentum and allowing Axsom to close. Lap eighteen saw Axsom slide past Timms off turn four but Timms was able to cross over and retain the lead. A lap later Timms slid up high in turns three and four allowing Axsom to slide underneath and take the lead. From that point forward Axsom moved away and closed the line at 10:22 taking the big win over Timms with Pursley third, McIntosh fourth and Taylor Reimer rounding out the top five. Four of the top five were Kunz entries. Chase McDermand was sixth with Jade Avedisian seventh, Kale Drake eighth, Kyle Cummins ninth and Gavin Miller rounding out the top five. Timms now takes a one point lead over Pursley heading to the next round tomorrow night at Bloomington.

    We still had the 25 lap sprint car feature to contest with the front row of Brandon Spencer and Seth Parker bringing the field to Brian Hodde’s green flag at 10:39. Spencer grabbed the lead on the first lap until Parker slipped by in turn two on lap three to assume the top spot. Behind the leaders it was a donnybrook battle for third among Mitchel Moles, Brayden Fox and Ricky Lewis on lap five. The only caution appeared on lap twelve and on the restart Moles took the lead away from Parker in turn one. Lewis moved to second sliding by Spencer on lap thirteen and took up the chase of Moles. Lewis was able to pass Moles for the lead on lap fifteen and would lead the final ten laps of the feature crossing under the checkers at 10:49 for the win with Moles second, Parker third, Jadon Rogers fourth and Rylan Gray taking down fifth. Jake Scott led the second five to the finish in sixth with Fox seventh, Austin Nigh eighth, Rob Caho Jr ninth and Andrew Prather rounding out the top ten.

    It was a good night of racing at LPS and we move onto the high banks of Bloomington Speedway tomorrow night for round three of Indiana Midget Week.

    Until the next installment 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 where we end up next.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Mihocko Triumphs In Night Before 500 Race At Lincoln Park



    Saturday, May 25 – It was a nice day to go racing so Pat and I along with guest, Kerry Meitzler, who was making his debut at Lincoln Park Speedway headed down Route 231 South toward beautiful downtown Putnamville and the home of the 5/16 mile dirt oval known as the King of the Cushion. LPS is our favorite place to watch a race from as the aisles are wide and allow lounge chairs to be placed in them to increase your comfort on the evening. Along with allowing coolers (minus beer) and having good concessions it makes for an enjoyable fan experience. The problem we have with Lincoln Park is it seems they never start on time anymore. Tonight, with many first timers in town for the Indianapolis 500, this is an opportunity to impress them with a snappy show spun off in a good time frame. With racing scheduled to start at 7 PM management placed themselves behind the eight ball from the start not starting the first heat until 8:11. Our philosophy is you only get one chance to make a first impression and to attract new fans you need to run an efficient, timely race program. This was not accomplished on this evening as over one third of the good crowd on hand left before seeing a feature event and the likelihood of them returning is low as fans going to the 500 the next day need to rise early to get to the track and hopefully beat the race day traffic. Kerry was one of them on this evening.

    A solid field of 26 non-wing sprints were joined by 23 D2 midgets, 22 UMP modifieds, 15 bombers and 14 super stocks for tonight. The normal number of divisions for LPS is four and adding one without dropping a regular division on this night is not a good plan for a speedy evening. Joey Amantea scored the win in heat one over Daylan Chambers, Lee Dakus, the Edmonton, Alberta driver, back after a few years absence to regroup, Lee Underwood and Blake Vermillion. Heat two went to Kyle Shipley besting Jesse Vermillion, Harley Burns, Ivan Glotzbach and Austin Nigh. Tye Mihocko triumphed in heat three beating Brandon Spencer, Frankie Guerrini, Brayden Fox and Bryan Brewer with the top five from each heat locking into the 25 lap main event.

    Three heats were contested for the UMP modifieds and the D2 midgets while the super stocks and bombers ran two each. The only division needing a B main was the sprint cars with Seth Parker scoring the win over Aaron Davis, Kaiden Manders, a Western Australia driver behind the keyboard of the Burton #04, Nic Harris and Zack Pretorius. All qualifying was completed by 10:11. With about a third of the crowd having exited by this point we were ready for the first of five feature races.

    The green flag would drop on the 25 lap sprint car feature at 10:23 with Joey Amantea grabbing the early lead. It did not take Tye Mihocko long to get to the front from his third starting position taking the lead on the backstretch on lap one probably remembering the sting of the defeat the night before at Bloomington in the Burton Memorial on the last lap pass by Robert Ballou. Kyle Shipley also moved up to third at this point. Shipley slipped by Amantea on the start of lap nine in turn one and took up the chase of Mihocko, his fellow Arizona racer. Harley Burns was another making headway coming from eighth to fourth with Brandon Spencer moving into fifth. Amantea made an infield incursion off turn four on lap seventeen dropping to fifth as he returned to the racing surface on the homestretch as Spencer took third from Burns on this same lap. Seth Parker was pounding the cushion advancing from sixteenth to fifth with five to go. Spencer moved by Shipley for second with two to go but didn’t have enough time to seriously challenge Mihocko for the top spot. Parker was able to take fourth from Amantea in the closing laps for an impressive run indeed. At the 10:30 finish in the non-stop event it was Mihocko in for the win beating Spencer with Shipley third, Parker fourth and Amantea rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Harley Burns, Brayden Fox, Frankie Guerrini, Ivan Glotzbach and Nic Harris from 19th.

    It was a good, racing feature but with it being already 10:30 we decided to forgo the UMP modifieds and D2 midgets for Kerry’s sake and missed a 21st to 3rd run by Cale Coons, son of Jerry, in the D2 midget event. Management needs to work on running a more timely, fan friendly show.

    That’s it until at least Sunday but the weather does not look good for Saturday with an Indianapolis Indians baseball game on the docket for Friday. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Comments, news, stories or other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and giving us feedback on our writings. Be good and be kind.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Ballou Strikes Gold With Last Lap Pass At Josh Burton Memorial



    Friday, May 24 – It was time for the 11th Josh Burton Memorial at the Bloomington Speedway and the four of us piled into the Equinox for the drive south to Bloomington. We stopped at Olive Garden in Bloomington before making our way over to the track where we secured a great parking spot where Kerry Meitzler and I joined Steve Kimmel in line to stake our seating area for the evening. We were able to get a top row location in the concrete grandstand right up against the railing behind us. It was a great location for all six of us. The weather had an hour or so that was troublesome but as the day went on it dissipated as the rain moved across north of us. Indianapolis Raceway Park was not so fortunate as the rain postponed the 71st running of the Hoosier Hundred until the next morning. The Burton Memorial has turned into one of the biggest shows on the Bloomington schedule with the family and friends continuing to add to making it a must see event. The sprint car winner tonight would receive $10,000 to win with the UMP modifieds and super stocks getting a paycheck of $1000 to win.

    Ceremonies to honor Josh Burton were first on the docket with many race teams lining the top of the banks extending from turn two through turn three. Also many teams paint their Goodyear embossed tires orange to honor the man who left us too soon. And a special moment of the night is when Josh’s special friend, Casey, sings the National Anthem. A very nice tribute to a fine young man.

    The sprint cars would run four heats for their good 34 car field with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap feature. The UMP modifieds would contest two heats for their 13 car field and the super stocks also two heats for their 13 car field.

    The first sprint car heat would take the green flag at 7:55 with Shane Cottle in the Epperson #2E taking down the win over Tye Mihocko, Braxton Cummings and Harley Burns. Heat two went to the Daming Excavating #5T of Jake Swanson beating Kyle Cummins, Brayden Fox and Jadon Rogers. Ricky Lewis in his own #41 captured his fourth heat win in four nights outrunning Cody Trammell, Rylan Gray and Brandon Spencer in heat three. The fourth and final heat for the sprinters went to the Rock Steady #3R of Kevin Thomas Jr defeating Robert Ballou, Hunter Maddox and Max Adams. After the modified and super stock heats the sprint car B main was spun off with Chase Stockon getting the win over Charles Davis Jr, Jeff Bland Jr with a late race charge placed the Burton family owned #04 into the starting field with Daylan Chambers taking down the final qualifying spot.

    The 30 lap, $10,000 to win sprint car feature was ready to rumble by 9:53 when Tye Mihocko and Kyle Cummins pacing 18 others came to the green flag. Mihocko bolted into the early lead chased by Cummins, Jake Swanson and Cody Trammell. Only two cautions would slow the action and each time Mihocko was back out front. Robert Ballou who started fifth was working his way forward while on the other hand Kevin Thomas Jr who started seventh was back peddling backwards out of the top ten. Ballou went to work picking off Trammell followed by Swanson and caught and passed Cummins to move into the runner up position. Mihocko was setting a good pace in the Paul #24P at the point but Ballou began to cut into his comfortable lead. With three to go Ballou was right on the tail of Mihocko as he tried to figure out a way past. The top two raced around the quarter mile bullring nose to tail taking the white flag and racing into turn one. In turn two Ballou closed to Mihocko’s tail as the pair raced down the backstretch. Entering turn three Ballou went for the win throwing his sprinter on the low side sticking there allowing him to slide Mihocko with plenty of room to spare pulling in front of him in turn four and racing to the line winning the race in very exciting fashion. Mihocko finished a disappointing second with Cummins placing third, Thomas rallying in the second half of the race to advance to fourth with Cody Trammell rounding out the top five. Jadon Rogers was the hard charger coming from 14th to finish 6th with Ricky Lewis 7th, Jake Swanson 8th, Brayden Fox 9th and Shane Cottle 10th.

    Next up was the fireworks display and it was wonderful with lots of color and large sky lighting shots. After the fireworks we decided to hit the road for the 1 ½ hour drive home satisfied with a good night of racing on the red high banks of Bloomington.

    That’s it for now but we have another night of racing to bring you tomorrow as our racing this week is not yet finished. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Comments, news, notes of interest or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. Take care and be kind.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Seavey Scores Fifth Win Of Year On Night Two At Circle City Salutes



    Thursday, May 23 – Another nice day welcomed us as we arose to greet the day. Pat was back in town after a 12:30 AM arrival at Indianapolis Airport from New Jersey and our friends from Pennsylvania, Kerry and Cindy Meitzler, were flying in today from Philadelphia. Cindy had bought Kerry tickets to the 500 as a birthday present for his 70th birthday and they were going to take in as much racing beforehand as possible. That meant picking them up at the airport at 5:45 PM and wheeling them over to the Circle City Raceway for night two of the Circle City Salutes special two day show featuring the USAC sprint cars. We used some of the city roads to make our way to the Marion County Fairgrounds and arrived at 6:30, in plenty of time to catch the festivities. We ran into Northern California residents, Michael “Chiller” Lindbeck and Leslie, traveling East to take in some racing including their first Little 500 and the Indianapolis 500 where they specially came to watch Kyle Larson who they have known since he was a young kid.

    We settled into our seats with our group of friends all around as time trials opened the program commencing at 7:18 for the 35 car field on hand. When it was said and done at 7:46 it was CJ Leary getting the homestretch interview after setting his 49th career fast time tying him with Brady Bacon for fourth place on the all-time list. The other division in action tonight would be the D2 midgets with 19 cars entered to do battle on the quarter mile oval.

    Four heat races for the USAC sprint cars were first up with the top five moving forward into the 40 lap, $10,000 to win main event. Ricky Lewis, the young California driver, has been on a tear this week winning his fourth heat race of the week in four races contested. Lewis beat Jadon Rogers, Logan Seavey, Charles Davis Jr and fast timer, CJ Leary in heat one. Heat two was captured by Chase Stockon who is having a consistent week outrunning Brady Bacon, Jake Swanson, Joey Amantea and Shane Cottle. Daison Pursley who is proving he is a title contender with consistent good finishes, nailed down heat three besting Kyle Cummins, Matt Westfall, Frankie Guerrini and Chance Crum. The fourth heat was taken by Robert Ballou over Brent Beauchamp, Carson Garrett, Brandon Mattox and Justin Grant.

    The D2 midgets would run three heats for their 19 car field with Matt Lux, Bryce Massingill and Michael Magic capturing heat wins. Then it was back to the sprint cars with 15 cars racing for just 4 spots into the main event. Kevin Thomas Jr who had problems in his heat ran away from the field in this one trailed by Mitchel Moles, Anton Hernandez and Harley Burns with a last lap pass of Rylan Gray to claim the last starting position for the feature.

    That brought us up to the two feature races with the 40 lap USAC sprint car feature the first called to the lineup shoot. As the green flag dropped on the 24 car field Kyle Cummins jumped off the inside front row for the early lead. Cummins would pace the field for the early laps with third starting Logan Seavey tucked in behind Cummins. On lap nine the first caution appeared when Joey Amantea lost the handle and spun in turn two. On the restart Seavey was right on Cummin’s rear nerf bar and ready to pounce. Seavey took the lead in turn one on lap ten and fended off a counter by Cummins in turn three and pulled fully ahead exiting turn four. At that point it was off to the races for Seavey as he checked out on the remainder of the field as the laps clicked off. Cummins, Brady Bacon and Daison Pursley locked up in a race long battle way behind Seavey as the trio swapped back and forth over the course of the feature. Cummins clipped the turn two wall allowing Pursley to slip by into second and on lap later Cummins said hello to the turn four wall allowing Bacon to motor by in third. On the white flag Bacon dove low on the homestretch on Pursley and secured second entering turn one. The checkered flag would fly one lap later at 9:55 with Seavey crossing the line first with over a four second lead with Bacon second, Pursley third from seventh as he continues to impress with Ricky Lewis in a fine performance advancing from ninth to fourth at the finish with Robert Ballou rounding out the top five.

    Cummins would wind up sixth at the end with CJ Leary seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Carson Garrett ninth and Mitchel Moles rounding out the top ten. For Seavey that was his fifth win of the season in the USAC sprints becoming the earliest driver to win that many times in USAC since Larry Dickson in 1970. It was also his 15th career USAC sprint car win tying him with Bobby East, Cory Kruseman and Brian Tyler on the all-time list in 40th place. Chance Crum was the hard charger of the evening advancing from 23rd to 14th at the finish.

    There was still some racing to go as the D2 midgets were next on the card to contest their 25 lap feature taking the green flag at 10:09. Alex Watson paced the field for the first 12 laps until Bryce Massingill was able to work his way by to take the lead. Watson stayed close and the pair were joined by Michael Magic as a good three car duel ensued. Massingill was able to fend off all challenges and crossed the finish line at 10:23 to take the win with Watson and Magic right in his tire tracks.

    It was a good night of racing with Wednesday night’s USAC feature being more competitive but overall a better track surface in tonight’s racing.

    That’s it for now but check back tomorrow as we will bring you highlights from the 11th Josh Burton Memorial race at Bloomington Speedway which is one of the premier races on the Bloomington docket. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, have fun and be safe. Comments, information, stories or other items of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Remember to smile, say hi to a stranger and be kind as you don’t know what that person is going through at the present time.



     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Bacon Breaks Through For First Of Year At Circle City


    Wednesday, May 22 – The forecast for today going back a few days ago was for scattered thunderstorms and projected bad weather. Well, things changed which is common with the weather forecasts in Indiana and the threat of bad weather was replaced by partly sunny skies with temperatures in the 80’s along with 15 mph winds. It was on the dot as the day proceeded. I arrived on the grounds of the Marion County Fairgrounds, home of the Circle City Raceway, for night one of two at the quarter mile dirt oval in Indianapolis. Found a good parking spot and went off to find Steve and Magi Kimmel and their motorhome. Found that Steve just missed getting into the track before they locked the gates to lay down the tablecloths to secure seats so we all hanged out at the motorhome until close to 5:30 when the gates were scheduled to reopen. We went inside and with the wind blowing it was a two man job to secure the plastic tablecloths to the aluminum grandstand but after some struggle the mission was accomplished. We returned back to the camping area and chatted and before going in for the night Magi brought out some great dip and Fritos along with strawberries and cherries direct from New Mexico. We settled into our seats for a night of racing.

    We were surprised that the starting time for racing was not until 8 PM on a weekday with neighbors encroaching closer and closer to the fairgrounds we thought it would be a wise decision to start an hour earlier. Anyhow the action picked up quickly as time trials pushed off at 7:24 with two drivers taking rides into the turn one wall rolling over and ending their nights early. First it was Rylan Gray sliding hard into the turn one wall which turned his car sideways executing two barrel rolls ending up against the wall in turn two. A few sprinters later Frankie Guerrini caught the cushion wrong entering turn one sending him sideways and impacting the wall and rolling over once in the process. That brought the 35 car field down to 33 for heat action. Robert Ballou normally not a good qualifier surprised everyone setting fast time with a lap of 12.679 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. Next up on the agenda were hot laps for the second division on the card, the crate late models, who brought 21 cars to the dance.

    The four USAC sprint car heats were called to the post with the green flag dropping on the field at 8:21. Kyle Cummins wheeled the Jerry Petty #3P to the cushion and powered around those ahead of him to score the first heat win over Logan Seavey, CJ Leary, Robert Ballou and Harley Burns. Mitchel Moles was the man in heat two placing the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ out front and nailing down the win over Shane Cottle, Brady Bacon, Brent Beauchamp and Matt Westfall. Chase Stockon scored the win in heat three wheeling the KO Motorsports #5S to the win over Hunter Maddox in an impressive run finished second followed by Daison Pursley, Charles Davis Jr and Justin Grant. Ricky Lewis paced the field in heat four using a 360 powerplant after losing one of his two 410 power plants the night before at Terre Haute winning over Jake Swanson, Joey Amantea, Anton Hernandez in the Baldwin #5 and Kevin Thomas Jr. The four heats were run in 24 minutes. Three crate late model heats followed with Steve Peeden, Zack Burton and Jack Dossey taking down wins.

    The sprint car semi was next on the schedule with Carson Garrett blasting from eighth after having problems with the car in his heat race and pulling away in this one besting Chance Crum, Jadon Rogers and Matt Goodnight. Garrett would start 24th in the main event and move forward which we will hit on again later.

    It was now time to run the 30 lap, $5000 to win USAC sprint car feature with Shane Cottle and Harley Burns bringing the 24 car field to the green flag at 9:38. Cottle squirted to the early lead using the low side (his preferred groove) and led the opening two laps until third starting Kevin Thomas Jr went high side in turn four to swoop past Cottle for the lead. Thomas moved away from the pack opening up a straightway lead over the next several laps. Brady Bacon who started fifth was moving forward in a hurry, catching and passing Cottle for second with a low side pass in turn one on lap nine. Kyle Cummins who started seventh was the next to dust off Cottle passing him for third on the high side of turn four on lap eleven.

    Thomas still held a healthy lead at the halfway mark with Bacon and Cummins separating themselves from rest of the field as they went to work tracking down Thomas. Lap traffic loomed ahead for Thomas as Bacon was clearly reeling in the Rock Steady #3R but the caution waved on lap sixteen when Brent Beauchamp and Joey Amantea tangled and spun in unison in turns one and two right in front of the leaders who managed to avoid them both. On the restart Thomas powered out front as Bacon and Cummins locked up in a battle for second. Cummins edged ahead several times but Bacon was able to counter and regain second. Cottle reappeared on the bottom challenging the top three moving by Cummins for second briefly until he encountered a turn three infield tire sending the Epperson #2E spinning to a stop. Cottle would end up 18th at the finish after looking like a serious contender.

    On the restart with eight to go Thomas decided to come off the top and run the bottom while Bacon did the opposite going from bottom to top. The racing was intense among the top six running side by side in groups of two as the battle was on. With six to go Thomas and Ballou trolled the bottom while Cummins ran the middle and Bacon was up against the wall racing through turn two. Bacon got the run and passed Thomas for the lead between turns three and four and was in front for the first time in this one. Bacon opened a few car length lead as the laps dwindled down and as Bacon raced to the white flag this one looked like it was over. Well, it was not as two cautions at the end would necessitate two green, white, checker scenarios. CJ Leary brought out the first caution slowing on the backstretch with a flat right rear tire and the second occurred on the restart when second running Cummins caught the turn two wall ramping him up on the wall on the backstretch and riding it for a distance before returning to the track surface. He raced into turn three and front end broke causing him to spin and spoiling his good run on the evening.

    On the final restart Bacon got a good jump and was able to stave off all comers over the final two laps crossing the line first for his 54th career USAC National Sprint Car win and first of 2024 after a dismal start to the year and the proverbial monkey on his back was thrown off in grand style. Thomas rode home second with Daison Pursley in the mix over the last five laps placing third after starting fourteenth with Robert Ballou fourth and Chase Stockon fifth after starting ninth. Mitchel Moles led the charge of the second five across the line in sixth with Jadon Rogers coming home seventh, Ricky Lewis eighth, Chance Crum advanced from 20th to 9th with Matt Westfall rounding out the top ten. Crum looked like a good choice for hard charger but remember Carson Garrett from before he advanced from 24th to 12th to claim the hard charger award in a good run. The checker on this one dropped at 9:54 but since I didn’t have to pick up pat at the Indianapolis Airport until at least 11:30 (ended up being 12:30 arrival after congestion problems at Newark Airport) I decided to watch the 25 lap crate late model feature as the parking lot emptied of about half the Dossey fourth and Tyler Neal fifth with the final checker waving at 10:25.

    It was a real good night of sprint car racing even though the track was dusty in the feature there were multiple racing grooves and plenty of side by side racing throughout the field in a very entertaining contest.

    Check back tomorrow as night two of Circle City is next on the agenda with more USAC sprint car racing on the docket. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area but be safe and have fun. And thanks for reading our efforts and hope you are enjoying the busy Memorial Day week of racing we have here in the Hoosier state leading up to the Indianapolis 500.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Seavey’s Late Pass Gives Him Fourth Win of Year At Terre Haute



    Tuesday, May 21 – It was a beautiful day in the Hoosier state, sunny with temperatures pushing into the low 90’s with steady winds at 15 mph from the south. The direction of the wind was the key for today as it was at our backs in the covered grandstands and not blowing in our faces. Our Arizona friend, Steve Kimmel, wasn’t expecting Indiana Sprint Week temperatures though!! Left Crawfordsville at 3 and pulled onto the grounds of the Vigo County Fairgrounds at 4:20. Hung out in the car reading emails and such until just after 5 and made my way to the ticket booth and into the covered grandstand finding Don and Burleigh who were saving me a seat in the top row. The wind was blowing at our backs but felt good with the temperature in the 90’s. At one point my writing pad and bag blew two rows in front of me before I was able to retrieve it!! We were joined later by friends, Max and Suzie Niemann, and good conversation followed after introductions.

    As far as the racing is concerned 27 USAC sprints along with 11 UMP modifieds were ready to do battle on the only ½ mile dirt oval in Indiana which had been prepped nicely by the track crew for tonight’s racing. It was the 54th Tony Hulman Classic honoring the former owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the winner receiving the traditional rifle in victory lane. The night kicked off with two at a time trials for the 27 car field starting at 7:02. Just 15 minutes later it was Logan Seavey being interviewed after setting the fast time with a lap of 20.152 around the half mile oval. Hot laps for the UMP modifieds followed before the USAC sprints returned to the track to contest their three heat races with the top six moving into the 30 lap, $10,000 to win feature event.

    Mitchel Moles placed the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ in victory lane after the first heat was completed besting Jake Swanson, Chase Stockon, Logan Seavey, Max Adams and Kevin Thomas Jr. Heat two was a surprise not in the fact that he won but by the margin of victory as Ricky Lewis checked out in this one beating Matt Westfall, Brady Bacon, Justin Grant, Carson Garrett and Jadon Rogers with a last lap pass of Saban Bibent for the last qualifying position. The third heat race was captured by CJ Leary on the last lap sliding Kyle Cummins for the win with Daison Pursley, Charles Davis Jr, Robert Ballou and Tye Mihocko in the Cheney #42 following. The two UMP modified heats were won by Kentucky’s Hunt Gossum and Tyler Weiss.

    The sprint car B main was next on the agenda with Shane Cottle winning in the Epperson #2E in a race shortened by one lap when Matt Goodnight slid into Kevin Newton between turns three and four resulting in Newton barrel rolling four times before stopping on the track. Newton was OK after the wild ride and the race was checkered at this point as all remaining cars (6) were qualified. This allowed Nate Ervin driving the Algieo #11 to qualify for his first USAC sprint car feature.

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature was the first called to the post with Tyler Weiss the early leader. Hunt Gossum would work his way by around lap 7 and outdistance Will Krup for the win with Justin Jones finishing third.

    Now it was time for the 54th Annual Tony Hulman Classic with 24 cars brought to Brian Hodde’s green flag led by Kevin Thomas Jr and Carson Garrett. Thomas took the early lead with Robert Ballou charging from fourth into the runner-up position in quick order. Joey Amantea looped it in turn one on lap one and had the field bearing down on his racer which had to make for a few anxious moments for the young driver. Everyone was able to avoid the spun car and Amantea restarted at the tail of the field. On the restart Justin Grant spun in turn two with no contact from anyone and also was relegated to the tail of the field where we ended up finishing an uncharacteristic 15th at the end.

    Thomas would lead on the restart with Ballou in tow. The race went green until lap nine when first time starter, Nate Ervin slowed on the backstretch. On the ensuing restart Jake Swanson in the Benic #2B executed a slider on Thomas in turn one to grab the lead with Brady Bacon catching Thomas in turn three to take over second. Swanson and Bacon pulled away opening a half straightway lead on Thomas as the race neared the halfway mark. Lap thirteen saw Logan Seavey who had worked his way from eighth into contention sliding Thomas for third in turn three but if he was going to catch the top two he had his work cut out for him as they held a half straightway lead as the race crossed the halfway mark. Seavey was fast and began to close the gap on the high flying top two.

    Lap 21 saw Bacon try to dive low in turn three for the lead but Charles Davis Jr blocked his line and Bacon was forced to pull around Davis behind Swanson and just in front of the surging Seavey who had caught the leaders. With six to go Seavey threw a perfect slider on Bacon entering turn one and held off Bacon exiting turn two to take over second at this point. Coming to the flag stand with five to go, Seavey knew it was time to go after Swanson. With just three to go Swanson lapped Grant through turns one and two with Seavey caught up behind Grant tapping his rear nerf bar in turn two and losing valuable ground. Everyone thought this was enough to give Swanson the breathing room he needed to fend off Seavey but Logan was not done yet. Seavey cleared Grant in turn three and took up the chase of Swanson as time was running out quickly.

    With the white flag waving Swanson led with Seavey closing quickly. Entering turn two Seavey closed to Swanson’s rear nerf bar and racing off the turn raced down the backstretch racing side by side with Seavey edging ahead entering turn three. Racing to the line Seavey would win his fourth USAC sprint feature of the year by two car lengths over Swanson who had to settle for a disappointing second with Bacon third, Thomas fourth and CJ Leary completing the top five with the final checker waving at 9:51. Seavey also became the first fast qualifier to win the Hulman Classic in 21 years, the last being JJ Yeley who was racing Xtreme Outlaw midgets at Millbridge Speedway in North Carolina tonight. It was an impressive run by the Sutter, California native as he added to his point lead on the evening.

    Daison Pursley turned in a strong run coming from 12th to finish 6th with Chase Stockon up from 13th to 7th with Robert Ballou fading to eighth, Mitchel Moles ninth and Shane Cottle rounding out the top ten. Wanted to give a shout out to USAC rookie, Joey Amantea, who if you remember spun on the first lap and went to the rear of the field (23rd) and rebounded to finish 11th. The hard charger is based on your starting position so actually Amantea started 19th but still received the hard charger award. A fine performance by the series rookie!!

    That’s it for today but check back tomorrow as the action continues as the USAC sprints move up to Indianapolis and the quarter mile at the Circle City Raceway for two nights of action. Comments, news, racing rumors or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. So if you haven’t already done so get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where a typical weekend ends up.

     


    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    A Visit To Kansas Produces Some Good Racing At Salina & Belleville



    Thursday, May 16 – We started the long trek westward toward Kansas stopping for the evening at a Sleep Inn in Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown of Samuel Clemons or you may know him by his author name, Mark Twain. We left Hannibal by 9:30 AM after having a wonderful breakfast at the hotel (recommend this place for its breakfast alone) making our way westward to Salina, Kansas, our home for the next two days.

    Friday, May 17 – We decided to take in the local racing action at the 3/8 mile dirt oval at the Salina Speedway instead of traveling up the road to watch the USAC midgets at Belleville. We are glad we did as we witnessed some good IMCA sanctioned racing here with five divisions totaling 80 cars. After hot laps the track was a little dry so the water truck came out to put down some liquid love and we couldn’t believe the amount of water that came out of the three sprayers attached. This would cause a 15 minute delay but even starting 15 minutes late was better than we see at tracks in Indiana and other parts of the country who start 45 minutes to an hour late with no explanation or apology to the paying customer. The announcer here gave an apology before the racing began. Eleven heat races were run for the five divisions wrapping up in less than an hour. Amazing how quickly you can run races with the IMCA spin rule in place that disqualifies anyone bringing out the caution in a race!!!

    The racing was close and competitive in every division with the hobby stock and sport modified features deemed the best by us. All racing was completed before 11 after starting at 8:15. Good show, good enthusiastic crowd and good food at a fair price. We both enjoyed this one very much.

    Saturday, May 18 – After hanging out at the Hilton Garden hotel in the morning we ventured out for lunch at the local Perkin’s. Very tasty food with good portions filled our stomachs before making the hour plus trip northward to the small town of Belleville. We met up with Steve and Magi Kimmel, Ken Wagner along with Coach from Kokomo in the campgrounds and did some bench racing and storytelling before the night’s racing began. It was our first visit to Belleville in 20 years and it felt good to be back. We would be seeing racing on two tracks tonight, the inner oval which measures a quarter mile in length and is completely separate from the high banked half mile dirt oval. The USAC midget would be doing battle on the ¼ mile while the mighty USAC Silver Crown division would be taking to the big half mile on this evening. We sat in row 5 of the aluminum bleachers and got pelted quite a bit by the Silver Crown cars hot lapping around the half mile banked dirt oval and it was good to see the track tacky.

    USAC midget time trials would start the evening of entertainment commencing at 6:50 with Ethan Mitchell in the Honda powered midget setting fast time of 12.462 seconds around the ¼ mile oval completing at 7:07 and beating out 26 other drivers for quick time. Next on the agenda was time trials for 25 Silver Crown entrants with five drivers including Logan Seavey and CJ Leary not taking time during this session. Twenty five cars would start the 50 lap main event later in the evening though. Kaylee Bryson, the only female driver in the field, driving the Aaron Pierce #26 showed the boys how it was done setting fast time around the almost total circle with little straights a half mile in size with a time of 17.264 seconds. Bryson became the first female in Silver Crown history to set fast time in an event. And there was more to come.

    The midgets were back trackside for their three heat races with the top six moving directly into the 40 lap main event. Daniel Whitley in the LeVecque #60X replacing Hank Davis tonight who moved over to the Cornell #8 surprised everyone by copping the first heat besting Zach Daum, Justin Grant, Jerry Coons Jr, Kale Drake and Ethan Mitchell barely cracking the top six. Heat two went to the defending USAC midget champ, Logan Seavey, after having a trying time last night ending up eighth from twenty third as the berm gave him fits last night. Tonight was different as he scored the win in heat two over in the new Joyner team #27X, Ryan Timms, Jacob Denney, Kevin Thomas Jr and Cannon McIntosh, last night feature winner snapping a long losing streak in USAC midget action. The third and final heat fell to Daison Pursley in his new ride in the Chad Boat Industries #86 beating Jake Andreotti, Steven Snyder Jr, Gary Taylor, Ashton Torgerson and Gavin Miller. The midget semi was next on the dance card with six to qualify and after one lap with Kaylee Bryson. Bubak was awarded the win. That has not happen in USAC annuals since 1999 in a USAC sprint semi at Terre Haute.

    So, all we had remaining were two main events, one on the quarter mile and the other on the half mile. First up on the evening would be the 40 lap USAC midget feature with the front row of Ashton Torgerson and Ryan Timms bringing 22 of their friends to the green flag at 9:25. Torgerson would get the edge at the start and lead the first three laps of the event. Timms was riding the rim and passed Torgerson for the top spot up high in turn one on lap four. Daison Pursley who started fourth also breezed by Torgerson for second on the fourth lap. Timms would pace the field through lap eleven when he slid up in turn one past a lap car and tagged the turn two berm with his right rear tire and momentarily became airborne but was able to regain control and maintain the lead over Pursley. The red flag would wave on the fourteenth lap when Jake Bubak and other car banged together on the backstretch with Bubak barrel rolled three times before landing on all fours. Bubak was OK but done for the evening.

    On the restart Timms led with Pursley in close pursuit. These two pulled away from the others with Pursley making his move for the lead on lap twenty six in turn three sliding up in front of Timms and leading by a car length at the line. Three laps later rookie Kale Drake passed Timms for second and tried to reel in Pursley. Daison went to the bottom while Drake tried to make the high side work as the race went on. Timms dropped back several positions but went back to work and moved forward once again. With less than ten to go Timms passed Drake to regain second but Pursley was too far out front for him to mount a challenge. At 9:46 Pursley streaked across the line first for his first win of 2024 and his third career win in USAC competition and first since August of 2021. Timms would finish second with Drake third and Cannon McIntosh making it an all-Oklahoma top four with Illinois’ Zach Daum placing fifth. Logan Seavey led the second five across the line in sixth with Ashton Torgerson seventh, Ethan Mitchell eighth, Kyle Jones ninth and Gary Taylor rounding out the top ten. Hard charger went to Zach Wigal from 23rd to 13th at the finish. A good competitive race setting the stage for the big 50 lap USAC Silver Crown feature.

    At the start of the 50 lap USAC Silver Crown event with the front row of Kaylee Bryson and Mario Clouser bringing the field to the green flag at 10:18 it was Brady Bacon looking like he was shot out of a cannon blasting by Matt Westfall and the front row into the lead by the end of lap one. What Bacon did over the next 34 laps was put an ass wiping on the field as he streaked around the half mile going every which way passing cars left and right. Bacon opened up a six second lead in the first 15 laps as he raced around the oval like it was his personal playground. In fact, by the halfway mark, he had decimated the field with a ten second lead that saw he lap ninth place runner, Jerry Coons Jr, at that point. Bryson and Clouser trailed as Bacon ran away. But as Dick Trickle once said, “You have to first finish before you finish first” and no words rang truer as exiting turn four on lap 34 Bacon’s Dyson #9 puffed a white cloud of smoke as the leader slowed on the homestretch and continued around to the backstretch where he pulled to the infield while he still led. That is how much of a lead he had!!!

    A lap later the only yellow flew when an errant wheel cover lay in the groove in turn three. When opportunity knocks you grab the bull by the horns and take advantage of it. That is what Kaylee Bryson did as the green flag dropped on the restart, she hit the loud pedal and was off being chased by Mario Clouser and Kevin Thomas Jr who had worked his way to third after starting ninth. CJ Leary who started 20th after taking no time trial and replacing an engine, was back in sixth on the restart but it didn’t take him long to dust off Justin Grant, Thomas and Clouser charging by them all in five laps. Leary continued to cut the deficit and with six to go was within two car lengths of Bryson. Everyone thought that Leary was going to track down the young lady but she had other plans. Bryson was almost flawless over the final laps holding off all challenges by Leary and racing across the finish line at 10:40 making history in the progress as Bryson became the first female driver in 69 years of USAC racing to win a National event as the crowd went wild roaring their approval as she scored the very popular win besting Leary, Clouser, Grant up from ninth and Daison Pursley in his Silver Crown debut advancing from 12th to garner a top five in his first outing in the Team AZ #21. Veteran Jerry Coons Jr brought the Bateman #55 home sixth after starting 13th with Chase Stockon seventh, Thomas eighth after fading down the stretch, with Robert Ballou ninth in his maiden voyage in the Hans Lein #97 after starting 17th with Matt Westfall ending up tenth. Pennsylvania driver, Briggs Danner, also in his first Silver Crown run came home an impressive 11th in the DMW #10.

    It was an exciting race to be at with history being made and folks were still talking about Bryson’s win as they walked toward their cars to leave the facility. It will be something we will always remember and we were glad we were there to witness this race!

    That’s it for now but check back Wednesday as this is a busy week of racing in Indiana culminating with the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 with much short track activity also during the week and weekend. So, in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some action in another part of this great country. Either way enjoy yourself and be safe. Comments, news, stories of interest and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And last but certainly not least is thank you for reading our efforts and sending along comments about our writings. Catch you soon!!!



     

     

    Courtney Carries Hoosier Colors To High Limit Win At Kokomo

    Monday, May 13 – This race was originally scheduled for Tuesday but Tuesday is the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice and Kyle Larson is entered this year so they bumped it up to Monday. It was for the better as I type this column it is raining in Kokomo and Indianapolis and has been and will be doing so for the rest of the day. It really didn’t end up mattering for Larson as he had a rough night which we will touch upon later.

    The day was partly sunny with temperatures reaching the 80’s and the race fans turned out in good numbers to take in the High Limit sprint car series at the ¼ mile dirt oval of the Kokomo Speedway. This is the kind of program we enjoy, a week day show with only one division. High Limit is doing many good things in their first expanded year of competition and we will note these things throughout this column. First of all they are paying good money especially to win, $20,000, on this evening with $1500 to start. There is a separate pay structure and point fund for the midweek money series and regular High Limit schedule with a $100,000 point fund for the midweek series and more than $5.8 million dollars on the line for a 60 race schedule. Also there is a franchise option where the top five in points in 2024 will be franchisers and share in the streaming revenue starting in 2026. The 2025 season will lock in an additional five teams for revenue sharing.

    Back to the racing a fine 42 car field squared off for the evening starting with time trials two at a time broken into two qualifying groups of 21 each. Time trials commenced at 6:45 and by 7:08 group one qualifier, Cale Thomas, clicked off the quickest time of the evening at 10.945 seconds. This was our first High Limit race of the year as weather forced us to choose other options in Florida and with a $40 admission price (a bit pricy) but someone has to pay the purse it was time to go heat racing.

    The action was quick and furious as heat one unfolded with Cale Thomas and Kyle Larson racing hard for position off turn two on the third lap with the two getting together. Larson got the worse of the tangle turning sidways and barrel rolling three to four times down the backstretch. Larson was done for the heat but would return for the C main later. Tyler Courtney grabbed the heat one win over an impressive Cole Macedo, James McFadden, Zeb Wise and Brent Marks. Rico Abreu scored the win in heat two besting Parker Price-Miller, Brenham Crouch, Brandon Wimmer and Ryan Timms. Heat three was captured by Buddy Kofoid who used one of his four passes by WOO to run tonight at Kokomo beating Cory Eliason, Spencer Bayston, Hunter Schuerenberg and young Darin Naida. The fourth and final heat went to the impressive Corey Day turning back Brad Sweet, Jacob Allen, Justin Peck and Skylar Gee. All heat racing was completed in less than a half hour.

    Next up was the dash redraw held at the base of the flagger’s stand with Buddy Kofoid and Tyler Courtney starting on the front row. Next was the C main which included Kyle Larson with the top two finishers joining the tail of the B main. Larson’s car did not seem up to snuff and he failed to crack the top two in a race won by Danny Samms III over Kasey Kahne. Another good feature of High Limit is that they don’t play favorites proved by the fact that Larson did not receive any provisional and two when the top six starters in the dash race were not in the staginKofoid ended up winning the dash and the pole position fending off Corey Day from eighth, Rico Abreu and Tyler Courtney.

    It was now time for the B main with the top four drivers moving forward to the 40 lap A main. On lap six of the B main Cap Henry rolled over in turn two after catching an infield tire ending his evening early. Henry’s ride from last year, the Lane Racing #4 driven this year by Zane DeVault went for a wild ride catching the wall off turn four going for the last qualifying position and flipping end over end numerous times ending up almost at the pit gate entrance. DeVault was OK after that scary ride!! Tanner Thorson would go on to win the B main outrunning Chris Windom, Brady Bacon and fast timer, Cale Thomas.

    Another good thing High Limit does for the fans is that they draw a name of a fan who bought an online ticket and that person gets to roll two dice and the number that shows is the starting position of the driver he is assigned. It came up four meaning that Tyler Courtney and the fan would split $4000 equally if Courtney went on to win the feature. It would be the second High Limit race in a row where the bonus was paid out, the last at Tri-City Speedway on Saturday.

    Now it was time for the 40 lap, $20,000 to win High Limit main event with Kasey Kahne using a provisional to raise the starting field to 25 entrants. Tom Hansing dropped the green flag on the field at 9:16 with young Corey Day getting the hole shot into the early lead. The leaders caught lap traffic early on lap five with Day leading Kofoid and Courtney. Lap seven saw the complexation of the race change drastically as leader Day lost a right front wheel entering turn two and pulled to a halt. Day returned briefly but would end up 24th at the finish.

    Something we don’t like with High Limit is the cone and the lane changer option. They end up running too many laps under caution (usually five) and it does not make a difference. Should shelve this one. After two more quick cautions officials went to a single file restart and racing returned.

    Kofoid squirted away on the restart with Courtney and Eliason from sixth in tow. Darin Naida catches the homestretch on lap twelve almost flipping but staying on allon Kofoid entering turn one but the caution waves again and the move is negated. Kofoid leads on the restart with Courtney in his tire tracks as the top two ride the wall around the oval. The leaders close on lap traffic on lap nineteen and on lap twenty one in traffic Courtney dives low and passes Kofoid to gain the lead. Spencer Bayston in the meantime has worked his way up from 12th to 3rd and begins to dog Kofoid for second. With twelve to go Bayston picks off Kofoid for second and goes after Courtney as two Indiana boys are going to duke it out for the win. Bayston pulls to Courtney’s rear nerf bar with five to go but it is going to be a task to unseat Courtney. Tyler holds sway and crosses the line first at 9:43 with Bayston second with Kofoid settling for third, Cory Eliason in a good run for fourth and Brad Sweet rounding out the top five after starting tenth.

    Justin Peck led the second five to the finish in sixth with Rico Abreu seventh, James McFadden eighth, Parker Price-Miller ninth and Brenham Crouch tenth. It was a good race and we enjoyed it but have to think twice about slapping down $40 for another High Limit race. By the way Tyler Courtney pocketed a grand total of $22,000 with that dice bonus and the fan took home $2000 for buying his ticket early. Not a bad deal!!!

    That’s it until the weekend when we have a road trip planned to a couple of distant tracks. Check back next Monday for a report on our road trip. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or put together your own road trip to a bucket list track. In the interim be safe and be kind. Correspondence can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com to let us know your thoughts. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where a typical weekend finds us.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Split Weekend Finds Thornton Scores At Farmer City & Thomas At Tri-State


    Friday, May 10 – There were two good options for the weekend with USAC National sprints running at Bloomington Speedway on Friday and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt on Saturday. The other option was Lucas Oil Late Models at Farmer City on Friday and Fairbury Speedway on Saturday. What to do? Well, Pat came up on the perfect solution suggesting we attend Farmer City on Friday and Tri-State on Saturday. Problem solved!!!

    So on a nice sunny day in the mid to upper 60’s it was west on I-74 into Illinois where we gain an hour going over but lose an hour on the return trip. We arrived in Farmer City around 3:30 and found a good parking spot off of turn one before securing our blanket in the covered grandstands on the homestretch. Farmer City is a neat ¼ mile bullring with the homestretch sitting above your normal eye level. The track has the famous black clay that Illinois is known for and usually is tacky.

    A fine field of 54 super late models and 32 UMP modifieds turned out to be part of the Farmer City 74 tonight with super late model time trials kicking off at 7:19. Jonathan “Superman” Davenport set the mark at 12.578 seconds around the fine Illinois clay before the first of six heats for the LOLM’s commenced at 8:11. By 8:40 the six heats were in the books followed by three UMP modified heats. Three super late model B mains were next on the dance card with the top two advancing to the 74 lap feature event. The big surprise of the evening was that the top man in WOO late model points, Brandon Sheppard, along with the number seven man in WOO points, Bobby Pierce, did not crack the starting field. Lucas Oil took an incredible six provisionals chose by points led by Hudson O’Neal (5th), Brandon Sheppard (10th), Tyler Erb (11th), Max Blair (12th), Brenden Smith (17th) and Cory Lawler (18th). Pierce who was 33rd in Lucas Oil points did not make the cutoff and loaded up early.

    The race was decent with Jonathan Davenport leading the first 55 laps dueling with first Ricky Thornton Jr and then veteran Shannon Babb who made a two for one pass in turn two on lap 55 to go from third to first in one fair swoop the delight of the crowd on hand. Thornton slipped by Davenport for second soon after and took up the chase of Babb. RTJ was all over Babb down the stretch trying several times to take the lead. The pair raced side by side down the backstretch and exiting turn three Thornton was the new leader with Babb pulling to the infield with motor woes to end the upset bid. Thornton would lead the final four laps to score his third straight LOLM win over Davenport with Garrett Albertson coming home third and his first LOLM win is just down the line as he is running stronger in every outing. Dennis Erb Jr garnered fourth with Jimmy Owens advancing from sixteenth to fifth at the finish at 10:34.

    It was time to head for the exits for us arriving back in Crawfordsville at 1:20 AM. A good night of racing but now it was time for some sack time!!!

    Saturday, May 11 – Another beautiful day in Indiana and after having lunch at our favorite dining spot in Crawfordsville, the Second City Café, it was off to southwestern Indiana and the Class Track, Tri-State Speedway, in Haubstadt. The two hour, forty five minute tow there is relaxing as we use mostly back roads until connecting up with I-69 in Elnora. We arrived at 4 PM and secured a great parking spot on the backstretch side of the quarter mile bullring and tied down our blanket three rows from the top and took a walk over to the homestretch side to sign in and visit with some of our racing friends, Don and Burleigh along with Dan and Jen, having some good conversation before heading back to the backstretch.

    It was the Spring Showdown for the USAC National sprints and was the 54th time USAC has raced the sprint cars here at Tri-State which makes it the 10th most visited track in USAC sprint history. Thirty one sprint cars and twenty six MMSA mini sprints made the tow to Haubstadt with festivities pushing off with time trials starting at 6:57 after a hot lap tangle in the MMSA mini sprints resulted in a delay after one of the drivers was injured. By 7:16 Justin Grant was being interviewed in the infield by Kristy after setting fast time for the 34th time in his career. That would move Grant into 11th place on the all time list ahead of Chase Stockon and just one shy of the number 10 man, Rich Vogler.

    Next up on the agenda would be four heats for the sprinters with the top five locking into the 30 lap feature event. Carson Short making his first USAC start in quite a while as a teammate to Brady Short (no relation) in one of the red Edward’s machines proved he had not lost the magic nailing down the first heat win over Jake Swanson, CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Donny Brackett. Heat two went to Kyle Cummins in his new ride in the Petty #3P besting Mitchel Moles, Brady Bacon, Adyn Schmidt and Aric Gentry. Heat three went to Jadon Rogers in the Dutcher #17GP coming off a hard flip the night before at Bloomington beating Kendall Ruble, JJ Hughes, Dustin Beck and Daison Pursley. Heat four went to the Hank Byrum Rock Steady #3R over Brady Short, Robert Ballou, Kayla Roell and Chase Stockon.

    The MMSA mini sprints would spin off three heats for their 26 car field before the USAC sprints would return for their semi race with the top four qualifying for the main event. Matt Westfall would hold off point leader, Logan Seavey, for the win with Carson Garrett and rookie Joey Amantea closing out the qualfiers. All sprint qualifying was completed by 8:53. The MMSA B main followed and then the track equipment went to work on the surface before the 30 lap feature event would be called to the post.

    Justin Grant had some problems and went to the work area before the start of the 30 lap feature relegating the sixth starter to the rear of the field and moving everyone up one position before the race went green. Mitchel Moles and CJ Leary brought the 24 car field to the green flag at 9:36 with Moles getting the early lead. Kevin Thomas Jr slipped by Leary into second on the opening lap and trailed Moles in the early going. The first nine laps would go green until a five car tangle at the exit of turn four saw Jake Swanson and Adyn Schmidt tangling with Swanson spinning. Dustin Beck and Justin Grant came upon the scene and with no where to go piled into Swanson with Grant turning turtle.

    The race went green again with Moles leading Thomas and Kyle Cummins. Lap twelve saw the second caution appeared after a tangle between Kayla Roell and Donny Brackett. On the restart after probably noticing that the other #3 (Cummins) was third on the scoreboard Thomas went to the cushion off of turn two to take the lead from Moles. Thomas increased his lead over the midsection of the contest and began to pick his way through lap traffic with Moles and Cummins chasing. Robert Ballou was the man on the move coming forward from 15th into the top ten and moving forward at a rapid pace. With seven to go Cummins moved by Moles for second in turn one and Moles countered repassing Cummins in turn three but slide a little high allowing Cummins to grab the runnerup position back again. Thomas was able to maneuver through lap traffic well to maintain his lead as he exited turn four at 9:55 to claim his third Spring Showdown win and his 41st career USAC National Sprint Car win. That win would tie Thomas with the late Bryan Clauson for ninth on the all time win list. Thomas was reminded of this in his victory lane interview and became emotional speaking of Clauson and what it meant to tie him in the win column. Thomas also became the fourth different Rock Steady driver to win the Spring Showdown in the #3R machine. Cummins would cross the line second with Moles coming home third, Leary fourth and Jadon Rogers rounding out the top five. Daison Pursley would lead the second five across the line in sixth with hard charger award winner, Robert Ballou, advancing from 15th to 7th with Brady Bacon 13th to 8th, Brady Short ninth and Logan Seavey rounding out the top ten.

    It was a quick exit to make the long haul home arriving back in Crawfordsville after 1 AM and quickly into bed for the evening.

    That’s it for this weekend but check back Tuesday as we have plans to take in the High Limit sprint series for the first time in 2024 racing at the Kokomo Speedway on Monday. In the meantime, get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and be safe out there. Correspondence can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And remember to be kind to everyone you meet as you don’t know what has happened to that person recently and maybe just a smile and a pleasant hello will make them feel better. And thanks for reading our efforts and the columns should start coming more regularly after our 14 day vacation to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas Scores At Lawrenceburg While Armstrong Nails Down Anderson


    Saturday, April 13 – It was time to get back to some dirt racing so we decided to take the 2 ½ hour driver down to southeastern Indiana toward Cincinnati where Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana meet for the Midwest opener for the USAC sprint car series. The temperatures rose into the 70’s as we made the pleasant drive as we arrived around 5 PM and secured our seats in the massive partially covered aluminum grandstands for the inaugural running of the Justin Owen Memorial honoring the 2022 Lawrenceburg Speedway track champion who was killed in a horrific turn three and four crash in April of 2023. The crowd was massive as the race fans turned out to honor Justin Owen and was the largest crowd we have ever seen at Lawrenceburg. The Owen family and many friends put together various bonus money awards for the teams and the pre-race tribute and gathering of Justin’s family and friends was heartwarming.

    Justin Grant received $400 each for being the second fastest car in hot laps and second fastest in time trials. While an additional $400 would go to the hard charger on the evening and $4004 to the highest finishing Lawrenceburg regular in the feature in addition to the $54JO ($5400) first place prize to the feature winner which they look to raise to $7400 in 2025. Time trials kicked off at 6:13 with two sprinters at a time transversing the 3/8 mile dirt oval where the banking has been cut down from 28 degrees to 14 degrees making it a more progressive banked track much like its “clone” track Bridgeport Motorsports Park in New Jersey. By 6:29 Daison Pursley in the Team AZ #21AZ was being interviewed after setting fast time with a lap of 14.026 seconds around the newly configured track besting 21 other drivers. Warmups for the other two divisions were next with 28 UMP modifieds and 11 pure stocks taking hot laps/qualifying as dust bellowed off the turn four exit. With spot track maintenance during the program the dust was controlled and the surface held up well over the course of evening considering all the rain during the week and sun and wind today.

    Twenty two sprinters ran three heat races after Nate Carle broke in time trials. The first heat race would fall to Kevin Thomas Jr in the Rock Steady #3R besting Robert Ballou, Daison Pursley, Matt Westfall, Jake Swanson and Garrett Abrams. Heat two was won by Chase Stockon driving one of the KO Motorsports entries beating Carson Garrett, Justin Grant, Jadon Rogers, CJ Leary and Saban Bibent. The third and final heat was captured by Brady Bacon after passing Shawn Westerfeld in the Fischesser/Owen #4J making its first appearance since the accident last year in the middle stages of the race crushing a story book scenario. Logan Seavey, Westerfeld, Mitchel Moles, Kyle Cummins and Nick Bilbee chased. No semi would be needed on this evening. The UMP modifieds would contest four heat races and the pure stocks two. After a short break for some track maintenance where the track crew cut up the lower groove and watered the entire track, we were ready for the UMP modified B main.

    By 9:21 it was time to go USAC sprint car racing with the front row of Kyle Cummins and CJ Leary bringing the field to the green flag. CJ Leary would get the early jump and power into the lead and would pace the field for the first six laps until he biked his sprinter in turn four almost going over but somehow able to regain control but this dropped Leary back to fifth and gave Cummins the lead. Cummins would hold sway until lap eleven when Logan Seavey making the top side work chased down Cummins and executed a slider in turn three and took the lead in turn four cutting across the nose of Cummin’s #3P to assume the lead. Seavey opened up about a half second lead as the race hit the halfway mark with seventh starting Kevin Thomas Jr reeling in Cummins using the low side passing him for second on lap sixteen. One lap later the red would wave when Robert Ballou and Daison Pursley made contact off turn four with Ballou flipping over twice in the tangle. Ballou would return after hasty repairs were made but the car was not right and he ended up 19th at the finish.

    On the restart Seavey went to the high side and led into turn one but Thomas found the low side to his liking and passed Seavey for the top spot in turn two. Shortly thereafter Justin Grant, running sixth at the time, biked in turn three sliding across the track with Jake Swanson trying to avoid the out of control Grant running up over Grant’s left front and knocking the front end out in the contact. Grant swerved to the right and dug in causing him to flip three times in the process. Justin was OK after the wild ride but the same could not be said for the Topps Motorsports #4, On the ensuing restart Thomas went to the point but Seavey had visions of first diving into turn three low sliding past Thomas but catching the cushion and bobbling allowing Thomas to regain the lead off turn four by diving underneath. With ten to go Brady Bacon followed suit like Thomas and moved by Seavey to take over second.

    Lap traffic was becoming a factor as Thomas picked his way through but Bacon began to close the gap. Thomas switched to going low in turns one and two and high racing through turns three and four. Thomas maintained a two car length margin over the last several laps and flashed under the checkers first followed by Bacon coming home second after a rough Florida stretch with Seavey recording another podium finish for third with Leary fourth and Swanson rounding out the top five. Daison Pursley came home sixth with Cummins seventh, Stockon eighth, Mitchel Moles 18th to 9th for the $400 Hard Charger Award with Nick Bilbee riding home tenth gaining the $4004 home track bonus.

    Thomas scored his first USAC sprint car win in almost nineteen months in his seventh start in the Hank Byram Rock Steady #3R. It was also Thomas’ 40th career USAC National Sprint Car win moving him into a tie for 10th on the all time sprint win list with the legendary Gary Bettenhausen. One other caveat was this was KTJ’s sixth USAC sprint car win at Lawrenceburg moving him into second behind Dave Darland’s seven wins here. Also, that was Seavey’s seventh consecutive top three finish breaking the USAC record for most consecutive podium runs to start a season held by Tracy Hines back in 2002.

    It was a good night of racing and an impressive second race for the new regime of STM Motorsports led by former Dearborn County Sheriff Shane McHenry and family. Hopefully continued work on the big 3/8 mile oval will improve the track and racing going forward. Best wishes to McHenry and family as they move into the future and hope that only good things are in the future.

    Sunday, April 14 – It was another beautiful day in Indiana with temperatures soaring into the 80’s with plenty of sunshine on this Sunday. We decided to head east over to Anderson to take in the 24th Annual Glen Neibel Classic for the 500 Sprint Car Tour Series along with the USAA Kenyon midgets and the thunder roadsters. We arrived at 4 PM for the scheduled 4:30 race start and were greeted by a parking lot almost filled to capacity with cars which was a pleasant surprise. Another pleasant surprise was that this race was a Hoosier Auto Racing Fans event which cut the $18 admission for adults in half to $9 and could basically be considered two for one deal. It is a great deal offered by the HARF club as they do a great job helping out the Indiana based fans in making the racing more affordable and so much more that they do to promote racing in the Hoosier state.

    We found a seat to the right of the flagger’s stand one row from top and settled in for the day of racing action. The 500 Sprint Car Tour were running time trials for the 21 asphalt sprinters on hand and wouldn’t you know it the last car out, Kody Swanson, back in his first race since a serious off season foot injury set fast time with a lap of 11.274 seconds around the ¼ mile asphalt bullring. Next up were two heats for the USAA Kenyon midgets taking the green at 4:46 with Ryan Huggler and Clayton Gaines copping the heat wins.

    After the heat races it was right into the 100 lap Glen Neibel Classic with the front row of Kody Swanson and Tyler Roahrig bringing nineteen of their friends to the initial green flag at 5:10. Swanson secured the early lead with Roahrig and Dakoda Armstrong in tow. The speed these asphalt sprinters turn racing around this ¼ mile oval is impressive as the top three chased each other during the early portion of the race. Many eyes were on Kyle O’Gara, a two time winner of this race, who started 14th and was making his way forward using the chrome bumper to let people know he was behind them and they were slowing him up. O’Gara cracked the top ten by lap 13 as the front three looked inside and out for the fastest line.

    The key moment of the race came on lap 34 on the backstretch as the three front runners encountered heavy lap traffic with the front two checking up running up on one back marker too quickly having to brake momentarily allowing third running Dakoda Armstrong to dive low and make a two for one pass from third to the lead in one fair swoop. Armstrong was fast and he began to open a several car length margin over Swanson and Roahrig. Caleb Armstrong and Taylor Ferns were catching second and third and now it was a four car race behind Dakoda. Meanwhile O’Gara continued his march moving into 7th by lap 44. Billy Wease was running sixth with O’Gara all over him like white on rice. We didn’t see the spin of Wease on the homestretch on lap 67 as we were watching Justin Grant running the Hoffman #69 today in a rare asphalt sprint car run skid up the turn two banking but he was able to gather it up without losing any positions so we don’t know if any contact was made between Wease and O’Gara.

    On the restart Roahrig slowed entering turns one and two and pulled into the infield with mechanical woes taking him out of the hunt. Lap 72 saw Floridian Shane Butler lose the handle in turn four looping it to bring out the second and last caution. This now moved O’Gara into the top five and he wasn’t done yet. Again the race went green and Armstrong motored back into lead and opened up the margin as the laps ticked off. The top five consisted of Dakoda Armstrong, Kody Swanson, Caleb Armstrong (who’s wife & 3 children were sitting in front of us), Taylor Ferns and Kyle O’Gara. With six to go O’Gara forced the issue diving low in turn four taking Ferns exit of the turn away and took over fourth. A few laps later Ferns gave O’Gara a good shot in the shorts off turn four to let Kyle know that she didn’t appreciate his move. The clock struck 5:38 as Dakoda Armstrong flashed across the finish line first by almost four seconds for his second straight 500 tour win winning the final show of 2023 also. Swanson would hold off Caleb Armstrong for second with Kyle O’Gara fourth and Taylor Ferns rounding out the top five. Ferns gave another love tap after the checker on the backstretch to O’Gara. They later shook hands before the podium photo. Billy Wease led the second five across the line in sixth with Jackson Macenko seventh, Justin Grant eighth, Nathan Byrd ninth and Kyle Robbins rounding out the top ten. It was a good, fast paced race with O’Gara putting on the show from 14th to 4th.

    Next up was the 30 lap USAA Kenyon midget feature with the 14 car field brought to the green flag by Clayton Gaines and Ryan Huggler. Gaines would power out front at the start with Huggler and Jase Petty in pursuit. Gaines would lead the entire distance but Dameron Taylor made things interesting over the last six laps reeling in the youngster but ran out of laps after getting to Gaines’ bumper with the non-stop 30 lapper taking a mere six minutes to complete. The top five was Clayton Gaines for the win over Dameron Taylor, Evan Hammond, Jase Petty and Kyle Sheard. We decided to call it a day at this point and headed to the parking lot with about half the crowd in tow and pointed the Equinox westward bound back to Crawfordsville after witnessing a real good day of racing once again.

    That’s it for a couple of weeks as we take a break but will be back in May so in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip to somewhere special. News, comments, tidbits of information and the such can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. So be safe out there and enjoy yourselves wherever you end up. Be good and be kind.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Ocala USAC Sprint Car Run Goes To Leary


    Friday, February 16 – The plan was to meet up with Steve and Maggie Kimmel and Irvin King and his wife, Mary Jane, at the camping area at Ocala Speedway on late Friday afternoon for a cookout of burgers and salads. The problem was the horrendous traffic on I-75 on a Friday and the corresponding bad traffic when we tried to take the alternate route of Route 301. We arrived late but they saved us food and everyone was pleased with the bakery cookies we brought up from Dade City. After filling our stomachs and doing some bench racing things were cleaned up and everyone prepared to head into our seats in the grandstands for tonight’s USAC sprint car and 270 micro sprints competing on the 3/8 mile dirt oval this evening. Sprint time trials were first on the agenda commencing at 6:39 with the field reduced to 25 after last night’s two nasty flips over the wall in turns three and four by Zach Daum and Trey Osborne. Kevin Thomas Jr in the Rock Steady #3R set fast time for the 38th time in his career moving him past Larry Dickson into seventh on the all-

    Hot laps/qualifying for the 21 winged 270 micro sprints in town were spun off next before the USAC sprints returned to run their three heat races with the top six finishers qualifying for the 30 lap feature race. Logan Seavey drew first blood on the evening capturing the first heat in another strong performance beating Robert Ballou with a late race pass for the lead with Briggs Danner third, Kyle Cummins fourth, Tye Mihocko fifth and Kevin Thomas Jr barely sneaking in with a sixth. Jadon Rogers brought the Michael Dutcher #17GP across the line first in heat two besting Mitchel Moles, Daison Pursley, Brady Bacon, Joey Amantea and Alex Bright. The third heat was taken by Justin Grant who had won the previous three contests here at Ocala over Carson Garrett, CJ Leary, Jake Swanson, Chase Stockon and Brandon Mattox.

    Pat Bealer won the first 270 micro sprint heat over Colten McAndrew and Dustin Roberts. The second heat was won by Michael Petrock over Bill Gray and Blake Eshlam. The third and final heat was won by Chris Kennedy besting Clifford Evans and Matt Henon. The sprint car semi was scrapped with everyone added to the starting field for a 25 car main event.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature event would be the first one on the agenda with the front row of Chase Stockon and Brady Bacon guiding them to the green flag. Stockon was quick on the draw taking early lead from Bacon. Kevin Thomas Jr was quick on the throttle and raced past Stockon for the lead from his sixth starting position on lap three with a good run down the backstretch. Logan Seavey was also coming quickly and used a turn one slider to wrestle the lead away from Thomas on lap four. The leaders reached lap traffic early and it was heavy indeed with Seavey picking his way through. Seavey was walking away through the middle stages of the race with Thomas and Bacon in pursuit. Bacon was able to move by Thomas in turn two on lap twenty one but had his work cut out for him as Seavey had a straightway lead at that point.

    Bacon was able close at a rapid pace to within a car length of Seavey with six to go but Robert Bell almost collected the pair as he looped his sprinter in turn four right in front of Seavey and Bacon who were able to avoid contact. At this point the complexion of the race would change as the track rubbered up and became abrasive to the tires. Pat was first to notice the white band through the middle of Justin Grant’s right rear tire as the cords began to show and everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before the tire went flat. Two laps later on lap twenty six fifth running Grant lost the right rear and coasted to a stop in turn one. Meanwhile Leary had snuck by Thomas for third in turn three on that lap.

    On the restart Seavey went back to the point with Bacon and Leary close behind. Leary passed Bacon for second in turn four on lap twenty seven just before fifth running Daison Pursley was the next victim of a flat right rear. On the next restart Seavey led again but Leary was like a shark smelling blood as he charged after the leader going down the backstretch. Entering turn four, coming to the white flag Leary stuck it low and passed Seavey for the lead in an excellent move. Matt Westfall would fall another victim of the tire eating surface and retired with a flat. As Leary stretched his lead over the final two laps Brady Bacon’s bad Florida luck continued as a sure third place went away in turn four of the final lap when the tire monster stuck again with Bacon slowing and dropping to seventh as he limped across the line. Bacon had a terrible Florida trip and dug himself a hole in the sand as far as the points race is concerned but never count the four time champion out especially just six races into the season.

    Leary raced across the line first for his 23rd career USAC sprint win tying him for 28th on the all-time list with Roger McCluskey and his first win at Ocala in five years. Seavey came across the line second for his sixth consecutive podium finish and early point lead heading out of Florida with Chase Stockon taking advantage of all the tire drama to place third with Thomas fourth and Jadon Rogers also moving up several spots to claim fifth. Mitchel Moles crossed the line next for sixth with Bacon seventh, Alex Bright eighth, Briggs Danner ninth and Carson Garrett tenth. Joey Amantea finished 11th and earned the Irvin King Hard Charger Award after starting 20th.

    Since it was only nine o’clock, we decided to stay for the 20 lap 270 micro sprint feature which turned out to be a real good contest up front after early leader and last night’s winner, Pat Bealer, dropped out while leading. Michael Petock from Bloomsburg, PA was able to hold off a swarm of challengers to win the very exciting event. Bill Gray chased him to the finish to place second with Kiptyn Stratton placing third after starting eighth with Colten McAndrew fourth and Dustin Roberts fifth. The final checker of the evening fell at 9:24 in a well-run program.

    This would end up being the final race in our 2024 Florida tour as rain rolled over Florida early Saturday with many programs including USAC canceling their final show on Friday. East Bay ended up being the smart ones moving their three day 360 sprint nationals up one day to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday arriving them to get all three shows in.

    That’s it from rainy Florida and we don’t know when we will be back as our next race is not scheduled until March. But check back to see if something popped up in between and get ready for the 2024 racing season. News, comments and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@comcast.net. Be safe out there and keep warm. And thanks for reading our efforts as we hope you continue to enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Farewell To East Bay With Exciting 360 Sprint Feature To Austin McCarl



    Thursday, February 15 – Today dawned bright and warm with temperatures in the high 70’s. We were excited and at the same time sad as it would be our last visit to the little bullring known as the Clay By The Bay, the East Bay Raceway Park. East Bay has been a staple for our Florida racetrack stops and this year would be the last as the property has been sold to the Mosaic Company who mines phosphate which is used in fertilizers for crop nourishment. The giant mountain behind the backstretch has been growing every year we visit and next year sadly it will envelope the grounds of the East Bay Raceway Park creasing racing operations at the famous Clay By The Bay. One last visit to watch sprint cars there was a must before our trip back to the Midwest and tonight would not disappoint.

    A stop at the original Fred’s in Plant City yielded another outstanding buffet spread featuring turkey and gravy, country fried steak and smoked port among many choices or vegetables and desserts. Then it was back into the traffic of I-4 and I-75 to make our way over to Gibsonton and the home of the East Bay Raceway Park. It was a shame to see such a small crowd on hand for the King of the 360’s program but maybe the locals had spent their allotted extra spending money on the two High Limit programs but they would miss a classic tonight.

    After hot laps for the fine 58 car sprint car field on hand along with 17 mod lites as the filler division it was time to go heat racing. Six heats would be run with the top sixteen in passing points locking into the 30 lap feature event tonight. New Jersey’s Davie Franek would claim heat one over Brett Wright and six starting Dale Howard. Heat two was captured by the Steel City Outlaw, Tim Shaffer, of Pennsylvania over fifth starting Chris Martin and Max Stambaugh. Heat three went to Ocala, Florida’s Brandon Grubaugh besting fellow Floridian A.J. Maddox and sixth starting Cole Macedo who is having a good Florida run. Adyn Schmidt, the youngster from Haubstadt, IN, up from the micro sprint ranks claimed heat four over Sam Hafertepe Jr and Jason Blonde who is more well known as a pavement sprint car driver. Iowa’s Austin McCarl took down heat five over eighth starting Floridian ace, Danny Martin Jr, and young Ryan Timms. The sixth and final heat was won by Eric Riggins Jr of North Carolina beating Tyler Clem and sixth starting Justin Peck. This last heat saw Canadian Ryan Turner flipped hard in turn one with the driver emerging OK after the wild ride.

    Two mod lite heats followed won by Jeff Teeters and Tim White before the sprinters returned for their four B mains with only the top two advancing to the main event. The 12 lap B mains were next up on the dance card with Danny Samms III, another Florida product, winning over the veteran Wayne Johnson. Max Stambaugh won B main two over Arizona’s Sterling Cling who made a last lap pass for the second spot. Ryan Timms nailed down B main three over Lance Moss. Terry McCarl, the veteran out of Iowa, claimed B main four beating fellow Iowa driver, Riley Goodno. Now the fields were set for the two feature events with the mod lites taking to the race surface first for their 20 lap main event. We would like to say this was a good feature but we would be lying as these guys struggled through their 20 lap feature with six cautions and twenty minutes later Delaware’s Tim White was victorious over Dylan Evans, Jimmy Wills, Ryan McKinney and Justin Williams. The 30 lap 360 sprint car feature would more than make up for this one.

    The front row of Danny Martin Jr and Davie Franek brought the 24 car field to the initial green flag with Martin claiming the early lead. He would lead the first couple of laps before Franek was able to work his way by for the lead. The racing throughout the entire field was fierce with much passing and dueling going on everywhere you looked. The grit from the surface made it difficult to watch but the racing was simply outstanding none the nonetheless. Only one caution would slow this contest with slicing and dicing racing through and around some of the lap traffic. There was good racing within the top five and great racing right behind in positions six through ten.

    Austin McCarl was catching the front two from his sixth starting position and first worked his way past Martin and then picked off Franek in heavy lap traffic for the lead. Meanwhile Justin Peck in the Dyson #20 was coming forward from twelfth into the top five along with thirteenth starting Tim Shaffer. These two worked by some of the youngsters up front and showed that the veterans know how to work lap traffic to their advantage as they cracked the top five in the process. Eight minutes later at 10:17 the checkered flag would wave on Austin McCarl winning a hard fought battle with Danny Martin Jr picking off Franek for second late in the contest with Franek third, Peck fourth and Shaffer rounding out the top five.

    Sam Hafertepe Jr led the second five across the line in sixth after running as high as fourth with Ryan Timms flying from 19th to garner seventh, Parker Price-Miller came home eighth after starting 15th, Chris Martin taking ninth and Cole Macedo taking down tenth. It was a fabulous race with oodles of passing and hard running and a grand way for us to say goodbye to one of our favorite tracks to watch racing at.

    Thanks for all the memories over the years East Bay and thanks to management and the entire staff for making us feel at home every time we visited. We will sorely miss our February racing vacation time spent at The Clay By The Bay.

    That’s it for this segment and check back Saturday for what will probably be our last race of our Florida swing tomorrow night as Saturday looks like a total washout everywhere in the Sunshine State. Until next time be safe out there and stay warm. Comments, news, stories and tidbits of information can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy our musings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. And remember to be kind to everyone you meet as you may not realize what a smiling face or a few kind words might mean in a person’s life on the particular day your paths cross.


     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Rain Leads To Seavey Double Win At Volusia Speedway Park


    Monday, February 12 – Today we played the rain game. That is when you checked the weather forecasts for three different speedway locations to decide which one has the best chance of getting in their show on a forecasted rainy evening. We decided to forgo High Limit at East Bay and attempt to sneak in USAC at Volusia. We came ever so close but came up short by about a half hour. East Bay made it as far as the C main before calling it a night. New Smyrna got all their features in except for one with the rain arriving there at 9:45. We did not win the rain game on this evening.

    Time trials for the 27 USAC sprint cars on hand pushed off at 5:49 with three running at a time helping to conclude the time trial process in just 11 minutes. CJ Leary was fast timer for the 46th in his career setting a new track record in the process with a time of 16.173 seconds around the fast 3/8 mile dirt oval. DirtCar late models had their group time trials next with Ricky Thornton Jr setting fast time with a lap of 15.666 seconds.

    Next up on the dance card were three heats for the USAC sprint cars with the top six moving to the 25 lap sprint car feature. Alex Bright, one of the USAC East Coast sprint car series, placed the Mike Heffner #27 out front in the first heat and went wire to wire besting Jadon Rogers, CJ Leary, Brady Bacon, Carson Garrett and Robert Ballou. Justin Grant put the TOPP Motorsports #4 in first winning heat two over Kyle Cummins, Kevin Thomas Jr, Briggs Danner, England’s Tom Harris and Mitchel Moles. The third heat was captured by Logan Seavey in the Abacus Racing #57 who crossed the line first but blew the engine coming to the line. Timmy Buckwalter came home second with Jake Swanson third, Joey Amantea fourth, Chase Stockon fifth and Zach Daum sixth. The DirtCar late models ran four heats for their 47 car field before the sprints came back to contest their semi event with an additional six cars moving forward.

    Daison Pursley won this one over Tye Mihocko, Matt Westfall, Brian Ruhlman, Hunter Maddox and Trey Osborne. The late models ran two B mains with all qualifying completed by 8:15. Just as the second B ended a light sprinkle began to drop. The rain was not predicted until 9 and if the forecast would have been totally correct, we believe that they would have snuck the sprint car feature in before the rain came. Since we were literally parked right outside the gate we decided to head to the Equinox and sit it out until the rain subsided. The sprinkle turned into a light rain for about 15 minutes and then the big drops came and so did the announcement that the remainder of the program would be postponed with the USAC sprint car feature being run last on the docket tomorrow and the late model feature tacked onto the end of the Wednesday program.

    Tuesday, February 13 – We were back again tonight for night two of the USAC National sprint cars and the DirtCar late models. The format was the same with the USAC sprints taking to the big oval at 5:57 for group time trials wrapping up at 6:07 and once again it was CJ Leary setting fast time and establishing another new track record with a time of 16.151 seconds while Bobby Pierce top the late model speed charts with a time of 15.256 seconds.

    Next up were the USAC sprint cars to run their three heat races with the top six moving directly to the 30 lap, $10,000 to win feature. Logan Seavey with a new powerplant under the hood would capture the first heat win over Jadon Rogers, Matt Westfall, CJ Leary, Chase Stockon and Briggs Danner. Brady Bacon nailed down heat two winning over Timmy Buckwalter, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Tye Mihocko and Zach Daum. Heat three was won by Kevin Thomas Jr making a late race pass of a strong running Brian Ruhlman with Joey Amantea third, Carson Garrett fourth, Mitchel Moles and Alex Bright.

    Kyle Bronson, Bobby Pierce, Chris Madden and Hudson O’Neal claimed the four DirtCar late models heats with all heat racing completed by 7:52 after a 7:09 heat start. The sprint car semi was next up with Robert Ballou winning over Tom Harris, Trey Osborne, Brandon Mattox, Jake Swanson and Hunter Maddox. They were followed by two B mains for the late models and we were ready for the first of three feature events.

    The 30 lap, $10,000 to win USAC sprint car feature was brought to the colorful Dave Farney’s green flag at 8:37 by Carson Garrett and Kyle Cummins. Garrett would assume the early lead and pace the field for the first five laps until Cummins went high side to take the lead on lap six. Logan Seavey was picking his way forward from the ninth starting position and by the halfway mark he dove low to take second away from Brady Bacon and set his sights on Cummins. With ten to go Seavey made his run at Cummins using a slider in turns one and two but Cummins countered off two to regain the lead. Seavey dove low in turn three and slid past Cummins between turns three and four to take the lead which he would not relinquish over the final ten laps. Things took a turn as the white flag appeared as in turns three and four Bacon and Thomas were battling for third with lap car Jadon Rogers on the outside. Bacon slid up slightly getting into Rogers with the pair flipping over and oncoming Trey Osborne also turned turtle trying to avoid the crash.

    After the cleanup they went back to green and Seavey was quickly back to the point in the green, white, checker finish crossing the line at 9:04 by over a second beating Cummins, eighth starting Kevin Thomas Jr, CJ Leary and Carson Garrett. It was Abacus Racing’s first USAC National sprint car victory and Seavey’s first sprint win of 2024 for the back to back Chili Bowl winner. Daison Pursley came from a provisional 25th place start to finish sixth with Mitchel Moles seventh, Briggs Danner eighth, Chase Stockon 18th to ninth and Justin Grant rounding out the top ten.

    We were not done yet as two more features needed to be run with the 25 lap DirtCar late model feature next to the post. It went green at 9:18 with Bobby Pierce motoring quickly to the lead. Behind Pierce a fierce battle was on among Kyle Bronson, Devin Moran, Chris Madden and Ricky Thornton Jr. This group duked it out as Pierce looked like he was on cruise control. Moran wrestled second away from Madden through the middle stages but this one looked like it was all Pierce’s.

    But on a restart with six to go Pierce slowed off turn four as a fuel line came off piling the field up behind him with 13 cars involved going every which way and loose before it was over. Pierce, Madden, Hudson O’Neal, Mike Marlar, Nick Hoffman and Brandon Sheppard were done for the evening.

    Moran would inherit the lead with Thornton on his heels. Moran pulled away but Thornton tracked him down and pressured him until going high in turn two with a few laps to go. Moran would cross the line at 9:18 with the win with Thornton second, Bronson rebounding for third, Max Blair fourth and Cade Dillard rounding out the top five.

    The 25 lap, $6000 to win USAC sprint car feature was the last race to run on this evening and would line up 24 strong brought to Dave Farney’s green flag at 10:08 by Chase Stockon and Mitchel Moles. Stockon quickly went to the point and led the opening two laps before Brady Bacon slid by in turn one to take the lead on the black, slick track. Seavey who started fourth in this one caught and passed Stockon for second on lap four and went to work on catching Bacon. It was not until lap eleven that Seavey passed Bacon on the backstretch but the caution appeared for a spinning Stockon who went for a ride after contact with Justin Grant racing for seventh. That wiped out Seavey’s pass and put Bacon back on the point for the restart. It was another three laps before Seavey used a slider in turn one to take the lead again.

    Lap twenty saw Robert Ballou jump the cushion and barrel rolled several on top of the wall in turn two. Jadon Rogers running close behind threw it sideways to avoid Ballou and flipped several times in the process. Everyone was OK and remarkably Ballou was able to push off and continue. On the restart Seavey drove back out front again and pulled away over the remaining five laps to garner his second win of the evening and the Big Gator trophy for being the top point man in the two events. Bacon followed Seavey across the line at 10:35 for second with CJ Leary moving from sixth to third at the finish with Daison Pursley advancing from twelfth to fourth with Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Alex Bright would edge Kevin Thomas Jr for sixth after a race long battle with Briggs Danner eighth, Mitchel Moles ninth and Kyle Cummins tenth. The Irvin King Hard Charger award went to Tye Mihocko in the Wilson #5T finishing eleventh after starting twenty third in a good run.

    Seavey added to his accolades tonight by becoming the first USAC driver in 22 years to win two sprint features in the same day with the last being Bud Kaeding back in October of 2001 at Terre Haute. Seavey is coming off an incredible 2023 where he captured both the USAC Midget and Silver Crown titles and would like to add the third jewel (USAC sprint car title) to make himself a Triple Crown winner in USAC. In addition, he scored back to back Chili Bowl wins in Tulsa in January as this young man is on an amazing streak right now which he hopes doesn’t stop.

    That’s it for now but check back Friday when we venture back to the East Bay Raceway Park for night two of the 360 sprint car nationals and our final visit to one of our favorite tracks around. In the meantime, put together your racing calendar to get to some good short track racing in your area or a road trip to a couple of bucket list tracks on your agenda. Comments, new, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Be safe out there and dig out of the snow if you got any with the last storm and be kind to everyone you meet. And as always thanks for reading our column and check back often to see where we end up next.


     

     

     

    A Typical weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Grant Goes Back To Back To Open USAC Sprint Season At Ocala



    Saturday, February 10 – Today was a very nice and warm day in Florida and we arranged to meet our racing gang at Sam’s St. Johns Seafood House for an early dinner before venturing over to the renamed Bubba’s Raceway Park which is now simply Ocala Speedway because of a change in ownership. The large table of ten racing folks all gathered together enjoying great seafood and even better conversation.

    After dinner we all descended upon the parking lot of Ocala Speedway finding parking spots and were all ready to see night two of the USAC National Sprint Cars tonight. Time trials were the first order of business with 28 sprinters under the clock starting at 6:41. By 7:02, Fort Branch, Indiana’s Chase Stockon had set the fast time of the night at 14.075 seconds around the unique D shaped 3/8 mile dirt oval. This was Stockon’s 33rd fast time of his career tying him with Justin Grant for 11th on the all-time list. On the card with the USAC sprints were outlaw 4’s which looked like a miniature version of a late model with seven in attendance. A perfect filler division!!

    The first racing of the evening would take place starting at 7:34 with the first of four heat races for the USAC sprints with the top five moving to the 30 lap feature event. Jake Swanson in the Benic #2B put his new ride in victory lane after heat one outrunning Matt Westfall, rookie Joey Amantea, Kevin Thomas Jr in his new ride of the Rock Steady #3R and fast timer, Chase Stockon. Heat two was wired by England’s Tom Harris besting Briggs Danner, Jadon Rogers, Daison Pursley, the new pilot of the Team AZ #21AZ and Alex Bright. Carson Garrett looked strong in heat three winning over Kyle Cummins in his new steed, the Petty #3P, Timmy Buckwalter in the Hummer #20, Logan Seavey in the Abacus #57 and Trey Osborne aboard the Baldwin #5. Robert Ballou in his familiar #12 claimed heat four beating Justin Grant, Tye Mihocko in his own sprinter, Mitchel Moles back in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ and Mark Smith taking the top foil off the Witherspoon #43M to take on the big boys. The sprint car heat racing was in the books by 8 PM. Two outlaw 4 heats were quickly spun off with the sprint car semi called to the post next.

    CJ Leary back in the BGE Dougherty #15X took down top honors defeating Zach Daum, Brady Bacon and Brandon Mattox the last man in.

    That led us into the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature with the front row of Joey Amantea and Daison Pursley bringing the 24 car field to the green flag. Amantea jumped into the early lead and would pace the field for the first two laps until Kevin Thomas Jr passed him at the stripe to start lap three. One lap later Trey Osborne lost the handle in turn four spinning to a halt. On the restart Thomas remained in command with Amantea and Justin Grant hot on his heels. Chase Stockon and Robert Ballou were hooked up in a torrid battle for fifth. Lap nine saw the two combatants get together with Stockon spinning in turn four to bring out the second caution.
    On the restart Thomas pulled away from the pack and opened up a comfortable lead but just before the halfway mark Brady Bacon went into the spin cycle looping it in turn two with Kyle Cummins spinning also to avoid contact. When the race went green again Thomas was in front with the impressive Amantea second with Grant third. Grant moved Amanta up in turn four with his right rear and motored by the rookie for second on lap fifteen. Grant began to close the gap on Thomas and by lap twenty was right behind when Thomas left the bottom open off turn four and Grant sped by to take the lead. Over the last ten laps of the event Grant pulled away and cruised under the checkers at 9:12 for his second straight win of the year and his 47th career USAC sprint win moving him into a tie for fourth on the all-time list with recent National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee, Tracy Hines. Thomas in his 400th USAC sprint car start had to settle for second in his new ride with Logan Seavey gaining back to back third place finishes. CJ Leary was fourth advancing from 11th with Robert Ballou rounding out the top five after starting tenth on the grid.

    The second five was led to the line by Hard Charger Award winner, Alex Bright in the Heffner #27 with the car color matching Bright’s last name, with Daison Pursley seventh, Amantea coming home eighth, Briggs Danner ninth and Tye Mihocko claiming tenth after starting 16th.

    Though it was dusty it was a decent feature with some good dicing and over in a good hour.

    Check back Tuesday for our next installment as the plans are to go to East Bay for the High Limit opener but rain could be an issue so we will have to wait and see. In the meantime if possible get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or maybe catch an ice race of indoor race. Comments, news, stories and other tidbits of information can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And be safe out there and try to stay warm. Continued thanks for reading our column and hopefully you are enjoying it as we enjoy bringing the action to you.

     

     

    A Typical weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Makes Last Corner Pass Of Abreu for Volusia WOO Win


    Friday, February 9 – It was off to Volusia Speedway Park on this beautiful, sunny Friday but before towing to the track we made a stop on Route 40 at the Essex Seafood House for a delicious late lunch of grilled grouper for me and haddock for Pat filling our stomachs before checking in for some WOO sprint car and UMP modified racing.

    The DirtCar Nationals were on tap this evening with 42 WOO sprint cars joining 102 UMP modifieds in a night of action leading up to Saturday night’s finals. Track activities got underway at 6:02 with the WOO sprint cars taking to the track for their time trials with Pennsylvania’s Brent Marks setting the standard with a time of 13.199 seconds around the big Volusia County oval wrapping up at 6:24. The UMP modifieds were next up with their hot lap/qualifying seasons commencing at 6:30 and completing at 7:16. Opening ceremonies were next on the card with the WOO sprints up next for their four heat races with the top five moving forward to the 25 lap main event.

    Brent Marks scored the win in heat one besting Zeb Wise, Sam Hafertepe Jr, Austin McCarl and Buddy Kofoid. Heat two went to Gio Scelzi beating Tyler Courtney, Carson Macedo, Justin Peck and Spencer Bayston. Heat three fell to Iowa’s Brian Brown defeating David Gravel, Brad Sweet, Anthony Macri and Donny Schatz. Rico Abreu claimed victory in heat four over Landon Crawley, Brock Zearfoss, Logan Schuchart and Riley Goodno.

    In this format they mix in the UMP modifieds who run only 20 lap qualifiers for their big 30 lap, $5000 to win Gator feature on Saturday. Michael Leach from the state of Montana grabbed the first guaranteed spot for Saturday with the win over Tim Ward and Curt Spalding. This was followed by the second 20 lap UMP modified contest with Will Krup of Illinois overcoming mechanical woes from the past two days while leading and was able to hold off Dustin Sorensen and Mike McKinney for the win.

    Then it was back to the sprints for the dash redraw followed by the C main with the top two joining the back of the B main or last chance showdown. Iowa’s Chris Martin won going away but had engine problems crossing the line and was done for the evening with Danny Sams III coming home second. The dash was won by 16 year old rookie, Landon Crawley, out of Arkansas giving him the pole over Rico Abreu.

    Next up was the B main or the last chance showdown with the top four moving to the tail of the twenty drivers already qualified. seventeen year old Corey Day out of California wired this one besting Brenham Crouch, Justin Whittall and Danny Dietrich.

    Then it was back to UMP features three and four with Indiana’s Zeke McKenzie taking his first Gator win over Tom Berry and Kyle Strickler. Tyler Nicely, Kentucky’s finest, claimed his fourth win of the week defeating Michael Long and Mitch Thomas.

    That lead us into the 25 lap WOO sprint car feature with the front row of Landon Crawley and Rico Abreu bringing the 27 car field to Dave Farney’s green flag at 10:30. Abreu ripped the top through turns one and two to take the early lead with Courtney slipping by the youngster to take second on the opening lap. Rico powered away with Courtney and Crawley chasing. Lap six saw a spin necessitating a restart and on the restart all hell broke out on the homestretch with five sprinters tangling and the machines of Sheldon Haudenschild, Justin Whittall and Justin Peck turning over in the pileup with Haud sitting on top of Austin McCarl and Spencer Bayston.

    On the restart Abreu went back to the point with Courtney right behind. Tenth starting Brad Sweet began to make his presence know moving up to fourth past Gio Scelzi and Crawley into the top five slotting in behind David Gravel in third. The caution appeared at lap fifteen and on the ensuing restart Sweet snuck by Gravel for third and began to chase the top two. With ten to go Abreu caught the cushion wrong off turn four which threw his sprinter sideways colliding with Brenham Crouch off the corner causing Crouch to spin with Abreu able to continue forward as the caution appeared. On the restart Abreu scooted out front with Sweet testing the low side edging up on Courtney to challenge for second. Courtney countered the Sweet move and found a new line to run and it allowed the Hoosier native to gain ground on the leader. The laps clicked off and with the white flag waving Abreu dove to the bottom entering turn one to block Courtney’s progress and was successful streaking down the backstretch with a comfortable lead. Abreu opted to run high in turns three and four opening the bottom groove to Courtney’s advance. Rico stumbled just enough on the cushion exiting turn four with Courtney surging ahead allowing Courtney to steal the win at the line for his first Volusia triumph.

    Abreu crossed the line a disappointing second with Sweet crossing third, Gio Scelzi fourth and David Gravel rounding out the top five at 11:08. Donny Schatz led the second five across the line garnering the hard charger after starting 18th with Logan Schuchart seventh, Brent Marks eighth, Sam Hafertepe ninth and Anthony Macri rounding out the top ten.

    We decided to let the crowd and parking lot thin out a bit so we settled in to watch the fifth UMP modified twenty lapper. David Stremme copped the Gator in this one beating Lucas Lee and Michael Altobelli to the finish at 11:38. We decided it was too late to stay for the last UMP run so we packed up and headed to the parking lot to begin the 1 ½ hour trip back to the condo.

    That’s it for now as we prepare to head to Ocala Speedway tonight for round two of the USAC winter tour. If possible in your area get out there and support a local short track near you and have fun and be safe. Comments, news and other interesting tidbits can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we appreciate your comments and thoughts on our writings.


     

     

     

    A Typical weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Patterson Claims TQ Midget Win At Auburndale

    Thursday, February 8 – Tonight’s racing action would find us on backtop at the ¼ mile oval track at the Auburndale Speedway. But before heading to the track we made our yearly food stop at Smokin Jim’s for some fine barbeque. On tap tonight were the mighty TQ midgets from New York state and Canada with a few Pennsylvania and New Jersey cars mixed in along with 602 modifieds and legend cars. Time trials for all divisions and only heat races for the TQ’s were on the agenda. Tonawanda, New York’s Andy Jankowiak set fast time for the TQ’s with a lap of 13.553 seconds around the quarter mile which was hauling.

    Heat races commenced at 7:39 with Blu Metz’s #33 driven by Tyler Wagner of Chester, NJ claiming the first heat win over Ohio supermodified ace, Charlie Schultz, and Josh Patterson. Heat two fell to East Aurora, NY’s Kyle Hutchinson besting a pair of Canadians in Dominique Smith and Daniel Hawn. The third heat was won by Ronnie Flaim of Olean, New York over Ft. Pierce, FL resident, Jimmy Wilkins III and Andy Jankowiak.

    The first of two 30 lap features for the 602 modifieds was next on the agenda with one of Tommy Baldwin’s boys, Jack, making a last lap, turn four pass of Max Handley for the win after Handley made a mistake entering the last turn. Jackson Denton prevailed in the 30 lap legend car feature with four different classes of legends combined together. Teagan Dempsey and Ayrton Brockhouse joined him on the podium.

    It was now time for the 25 lap TQ midget feature which went green at 9:38 but it quickly went red when a multi-car tangle happened in turn one with Daniel Hawn turning turtle and sliding into turn one concrete wall cage first. Luckily Hawn was uninjured in the scary mishap. Ronnie Flaim was the early leader with Kyle Hutchinson and Andy Jankowiak in hot pursuit. The first caution appeared on lap eleven and on the restart third starting Josh Patterson made a nifty move entering turn one passing the front row runners to take the lead. Patterson would fend off the constant challenges of Hutchinson who poked his nose underneath several times looking for an opening. At 10:04 a joyous Patterson crossed line first besting Hutchinson for the win with seventh starting Jankowiak third, Flaim fading to fourth with Charlie Schultz rounding out the top five.

    We decided to stay for the second 30 lap 602 modified feature with North Carolina’s Cody Norman scoring the win over Jack Baldwin and Max Handley with the final checker falling at 10:31 on a damp night.

    Check back tomorrow as we head northeast to Volusia Speedway Park to take in the WOO sprint cars and UMP modifieds take to the blistering fast 3/8 mile clay oval. In the meantime plot your schedules and if you lucky enough to have racing in your area now, get out there and support a short track near you. News, stories, comments and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And remember to stay warm and safe and be kind everyone you cross paths with today. Thanks for reading our efforts and the comments you send along.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain, O’Neal and Erb Take Down First Three Nights Of East Bay Winternationals


    Monday, February 5 – This is our annual crossing over to the dark side as we always write a column concerning our trip to East Bay Raceway Park to watch the Lucas Oil late Models who put on a great show at this bullring. We always enjoy our visits here and encourage you even if you are a devout sprint car fan to check a night of late model racing out at East Bay, you will not regret it!!

    Also this is the last year that East Bay Raceway Park is scheduled to run as the encroaching Mosaic company’s giant mountain of mined land digging for phosphate will cover the track grounds in the near future. Therefore if you don’t want to read about this segment of late model racing come back on Friday when we return with racing from Auburndale and WOO sprints from Volusia.

    A storm front passing over Florida Sunday evening into Monday morning was enough to make the grounds and track at East Bay unraceable postponing Mondays’ racing. In an unique format over the next several days Mondays’ program will be divided over the ensuing days. After Tuesday’s program is completed time trials from monday will be run with heats and B mains run after the Wednesday’s show and Monday’s feature run after Thursday’s program.

    Tuesday, February 6 – Tonight was clear so it was the opening night of 48th annual East Bay Winternationals with 71 late models doing battle in six heat races and three B mains on this evening. group time trials kicked off at 6:28 completing at 7:07 with Hudson O’Neal clicking off the fastest time of 14.666 seconds around the 1/3 mile dirt oval. Six heats were next up with the top three locking into the main event with three B mains to follow. All qualifying was in the books by 8:32 and only the 30 lap feature paying $5000 to win was left to run.

    The front row of Hudson O’Neal and Tyler Erb brought the 24 car field to the green flag at 8:55 with O’Neal taking the early advantage. O’Neal held the lead until Erb powered by on the outside on lap four to take the top spot away. O’Neal stuck to his game plan and continued to drive the inside groove retaking the lead on lap eleven from Erb at that point. Daulton Wilson who started sixth was the next one to pick off Erb as he grabbed second and took up the pursuit of O’Neal. Jonathan Davenport worked his way to third racing with Wilson as the pair tried to close on O’Neal. Meanwhile back in the field Devin Moran was putting on a driving clinic slicing his way forward from his eighteenth starting position. O’Neal worked his way expertly through the lap traffic and maintained a healthy advantage until the last five laps as Wilson was able to close the gap but was not able to mount a serious challenge.

    As the non-stop event reached its conclusion at 9:05 it was O’Neal across the line first for his third straight win at East Bay going back to last year’s last two Lucas Oil races making that his fifth career win here to go along with his 27th career win on the tour and third win of 2024. Daulton Wilson raced home second for his ninth career second place finish in Lucas Oil competition and is surely knocking on the door to garner his first career win soon. Davenport finished third with Ashton Winger fourth with Devin Moran completing his fine run with a fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Tyler Erb with Chase Junghans seventh, Brandon Sheppard eighth, Ricky Thornton Jr ninth and Spencer Hughes tenth.

    Wednesday, February 7 – A nice sunny day awaited us on this Wednesday even though temperatures were only in the high 60’s. It was time to head west to Gibsonton and the “Clay By The Bay” at the East Bay Raceway Park. Another fine field of 71 cars would participate in the six heat races and three B mains on the evening as the fans filed in for night two with the Monday show’s heats and B mains tacked onto the end of Wednesday’s regular program. Jonathan Davenport started off the evening setting the bench mark topping the field with a lap of 14.221 seconds around the 1/3 mile dirt oval.

    The first of six heats went green at 7:29 and they were ran off in rapid succession with the last one ending at 8:11. Shortly after the first of three B mains hit the track with only two advancing to the big dance, 40 laps in distance on this evening paying $7000 to win. All qualifying was completed by 8:37 as the program moved along rapidly like a well oiled machine.

    The 40 lap main event would be brought to the green flag by the front row of Jensen Ford and Jonathan Davenport with Davenport taking the early lead. Davenport would lead the first eleven circuits until Tyler Erb used the high side to sweep around Superman to move to the point. Daulton Wilson and Devin Moran were right in the hunt up front as the top four duked it out as the race progressed. After a restart Moran, running third at that point, cocked it too hard entering turn one and spun sideways to a halt forcing him to restart at the tail. Moran would end up finishing twelfth. Exiting turn four on lap twenty Davenport ran Erb high to grab the lead off the corner but Wilson took advantage of the altercation to slip by the pair to lead the field at the line. Davenport was the new leader as they exited turn two and would lead until lap twenty six when Terbo found his way back past and regained the lead from Davenport.

    The track was very racy on the evening, vintage East Bay, with grooves inside and outside plus down the middle. Guys were working their way forward from deep in the pack especially Mike Marlar who started inside the final row in 23rd and was now in the latter part of the top ten and coming forward at a fast clip. Marlar cracked the top five in the final ten laps of the contest and still had more for the field. Tyler Erb was pulling away over the final laps but the battle was still raging behind him over the rest of the top five and top ten.

    At the finish at 9:28 it was Tyler Erb in for the win, his 21st in Lucas Oil series history and first of the year with Marlar nipping Davenport at the wire to grab second with Davenport third, Daulton Wilson fourth and Dennis Erb Jr rounding out the top five after starting twelfth. Jimmy Owens ran a strong race to finish sixth with Tim McCreadie advancing from 18th to 7th, Brian Shirley coming forward from 19th to 8th with Kyle Bronson running as high as fourth before finishing 9th after starting 15th with Garrett Smith finishing 10th after starting 24th.

    It was an amazing feature with oodles of passing and side by side racing and again was vintage East Bay late model racing which will be sorely missed after this year.

    That’s it for now but check back tomorrow as we switch gears and head over to Auburndale Speedway, a quarter mile asphalt oval, to take in some tar racing with various classes including TQ midgets with a decent field of 19 in town as of yesterday. In the meantime plot out your schedules for the year or if possible catch some ice racing or indoor racing in your area but be safe and have fun. Also remember to bundle up and stay warm and be kind to everyone you meet as you don’t know what they are going through and your kindness could make a world of difference in their day. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep those emails and verbal comments coming as it gives us a good idea of what you want to hear from this column.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Hamilton Jr & Bettis Split Twin 35’s At Showtime In Steele Winged Championship



    Saturday, February 3 – We left early to take the drive over to the Gulf Coast and the town of Pinellas Park, the home of the Showtime Speedway, a 3/8 mile asphalt oval. On tap for the evening was the Dave Steele Winged Championship for the 360 ci sprint cars (17) along four other divisions of race cars including Crown Vic Figure 8’s (13), small block modifieds (7), race cars of yesterday (6) and street stock (6).

    Time trials for the 17 sprinters kicked off at 7:14 and completed by 7:33 with Davey Hamilton Jr topping the speed charts with a time of 12.383 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. Next up were one heat each for the only two divisions running heat races on the evening, the small block modifieds and the race cars of yesterday.

    Next up was the first of two 35 lap features for the winged sprint cars taking the initial green flag at 8:23. L.J. Grimm would go to the early lead outgunning Sport Allen for the top spot. Davey Hamilton Jr who started fifth steadily would his way forward moving by Allen for second on lap eight and took off after Grimm. Hamilton caught and passed Grimm racing down into turn four on lap eleven. Fourteen year old, Colton Bettis, used the same inside move in turn four on lap sixteen to take second Hamilton by lap twenty and rode behind him for several laps trying to determine a way by Hamilton. Lap traffic began to play a role in the race with Hamilton able to pick off cars and keep Bettis at bay.

    Bettis was able to clear the lap cars also and pulled to the rear bumper of Hamilton as the laps wore down. He looked high and low but was unable to mount a serious charge and by 8:52 the Lutz, FL resident beat his neighbor Bettis to the line to score the first 35 lap win worth $2500 dollars with sixth starting Bettis second, Sport Allen sneaking by Grimm late for third with Grimm fourth with Dylan Reynolds rounding out the top five.

    The race cars of yesterday were next up on the agenda with their 12 lap feature and it was a competitive one with fifth starting Clay Fray winning over Cush Revette and Dave Edwards. The temperatures had dropped into the fifties by this time but it was damp and chilly as some fans began to exit the grandstands. The 25 lap small block modified feature was the next race with their seven car field taking the green at 9:24. By 9:46 Doug Miller stood in victory lane besting Mike Meadows and Brian Scalise. Aaron Anderson took the 25 lap street stock main even as the clock struck 10 and the chill factor was not getting any better.

    The second 35 lap winged sprint car feature took the green flag at 10:14 and the front row both went high between turns one and two causing a jam up with eighth starting Colton Bettis getting a big break diving low in the corners and moving to third at that point. A lap four restart saw Bettis surge by Dylan Reynolds racing down the backstretch and into the lead. Hamilton was mired in the pack back in sixth and would work his way through the traffic to eventually take second in turn one from Reynolds on lap fourteen. Hamilton was able to close the gap quickly as young Bettis encountered lap traffic and began to maneuver his way through. With six to go with Hamilton to his rear bumper Bettis was able to pull off a nifty move entering turn one making it three wide and pulling off the move which gave him space and probably was the time needed to fend off Hamilton over the final six laps. When the checkered fell at 10:36 it was Bettis in for the win with Hamilton second, L.J. Grimm making a third wide pass for third at the line dropping Reynolds to fourth and Allen rounding out the top five. The overall champion for the winged championship would be decided on the tiebreaker as Hamilton and Bettis tied in the points. The tiebreaker was the fastest time trialer with Hamilton getting the title. Showtime Speedway promoter, Robert Yoho, turned in a solid performance ending up sixth at the finish. We decided to skip the Crown Vic figure 8 race and head for the exits.

    That’s it for this segment but check back Thursday for our annual going to the other side column on Lucas Oil Late Models at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Florida. Until next time put together your racing schedule and try to stay warm. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep those emails coming to eckel9K77@gmail.com. Be safe out there and try to always be kind.


     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Volusia USCS Sprint Shootout Worth $10,000 Goes To Ryan Timms


    Saturday, January 27 – We stopped at Perkin’s for a late lunch before venturing up to Volusia Speedway Park for night three of the Germfree USCS Southern Sprint Car Shootout. Tonight the feature distance would be increased by five laps to 30 laps with the winner taking home $10,000 to win. The sprint car field was down tonight from the first two nights of 42 as 37 sprinters answered the call for racing this evening while the ¾ modified field shrunk from 17 on Thursday to 13 tonight.

    Group time trials for the USCS sprints commenced at 6:25 and when they were completed by 6:52 Florida’s own Danny Sams III who went on the road racing last year nailed down the quick time with a lap of 14.296 seconds around the ½ mile dirt oval. The ¾ modifieds hot lapped/qualified right after and by 7:16 the first sprint car heat went green.

    The top four across the line in the heat races would move directly into the main event while everyone else would race again in one of two B mains later. The heat winner plus the fastest timer in the heat that qualified would move into the redraw with whoever drew the wild card in the redraw having the option to start first or eighth with eighth paying an extra $500 if you win the feature event.

    Austin McCarl, nicknamed the Big Unit because of his height, copped the first heat race over Eric Riggins Jr, Ryan Timms and Chris Martin, the talented youngster out of Iowa, all moving to the big dance. Heat two fell to Justin Peck of Indiana wheeling the Chris Dyson #20 for the series besting Canadian, Ryan Turner, Danny Martin Jr and Danny Dietrich. Faster timer, Danny Samms III finished fifth and was relegated to one of the B mains. Cameron Martin, brother of Chris, captured heat three in another strong run beating New Jersey’s, Davie Franek, Tyler Clem and Glenn Styres. Sam Hafertepe Jr nailed down heat four in a strong performance outrunning Christopher Thram of Minnesota, Landon Crawley of Arkansas and Ryan Roberts of Nebraska. All sprint heat racing was completed by 7:48.

    The ¾ modifieds would run two heats for their group with the #26’s again dominating with Colton Lane taking the first one and Timmy Hogan capturing the second one. Then it was right back into the sprint car B mains with the top three qualifying joining in behind the 16 already qualified through the heat races.

    Liam Martin, another Canadian entrant, scored the win in B main #1 over Danny Samms III and Wayne Johnson. Ryan Harrison, the United Kingdom runner, copped B main #2 over Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Brandon Grubaugh, another local Florida driver from the Top Gun sprint ranks. All qualifying was completed by 8:35 and all that was left to run were the two feature events.

    The 15 lap ¾ modified feature was the first to the post and this one ran with only one caution as compared to five the night before with Timmy Hogan of Lake Helen, Florida getting out the broom after passing Colton Lane late to sweep the three race series for these cars.

    Now it was time for the 30 lap, $10,000 to win final race of the three race series and the anticipation grew as the field pushed onto the track off the backstretch. Four provisionals were added to the starting field swelling the starting field to 26 entrants. The green flag waved on front row of Austin McCarl (who drew the wild card for the third straight night) and Ryan Turner with McCarl taking the early advantage. Justin Peck from fourth and Sam Hafertepe Jr from eighth raced into second and third by the end of lap one and took up the chase of McCarl. Peck sailed around McCarl in turn three on lap two to grab the lead. Lap four saw a major shakeup as McCarl lost the handle in between turns three and four looping his sprinter and bringing out the first caution and forcing him to restart at the tail of the field. Peck paced the field on the restart with Ryan Timms challenging Hafertepe for second. Hafertepe was able to hold sway and retained second and went to work tracking down Peck. Meanwhile Davie Franek who started tenth was up to fifth by lap seven as the race continued.

    Hafertepe made his move on Peck entering low in turn four on lap ten to take the lead but the second caution appeared as Brandon Grubaugh slowed on the track negating the pass and placing Peck back at the head of the field. On the restart Timms got a run on Hafertepe diving low to grab second in turn two. At the halfway point it was Peck with a half second lead over Timms with Hafertepe third, Cameron Martin fourth and Franek rounding out the top five. Many eyes were on Austin McCarl as he was flying and moved into eighth with a head of steam and elbows up for the 2023 Knoxville Raceway 410 sprint point champ. Two laps later Timms dove low on the backstretch to snatch the lead away from Peck. By lap twenty three McCarl was knocking on the door of the top five moving up to sixth.

    Timms began to pull away from the pack and opened up a half second lead by lap twenty five. McCarl at the same time took fifth from Franek and went after Cameron Martin for fourth. With two to go McCarl passed Martin for fourth as the race was winding down. With the white flag waving Hafertepe passed Peck for second but the caution again saved Peck as Ryan Roberts slowed to a stop. On the restart Timms jumped out front and over the last two laps he would hold off Peck to score the big win with Hafertepe third, Austin McCarl in a fine run taking fourth and Danny Dietrich sneaking into the top five on the last lap like the night before bouncing Martin back to sixth at the finish at 9:28. Martin would lead the second five across the line with Franek seventh, Danny Martin Jr eighth, Tyler Clem ninth and Eric Riggins Jr tenth.

    It was a very good race with oodles of passing and Dietrich was awarded the hard charger moving forward from 14th to 5th at the end. A two division program wrapping up before 9:30 is our idea of a good show. Excellent job by the USCS officials on keeping the program moving along at a steady clip and not wasting time with unnecessary delays. Thank you.

    That’s it for this segment as we continue our Florida vacation and check back often to see where we end up next. In the meantime get out there if you can and check some good short track racing in your area if possible or if not start marking up those calendars with race dates in the upcoming months. As always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy what you read as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. And be safe out there and be kind to everyone you meet. See you soon.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    McCarl Holds Off Hafertepe To Score Night Two USCS Win At Volusia


    Friday, January 26 – We woke up in Ringgold, Georgia early to hit the road toward the Sunshine State as we had a date with the second night of the Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout for the 360 sprint cars sanctioned by the USCS sprint car organization. We amazingly sailed through Atlanta averaging 65 miles an hour before encountering a couple of other slowdowns further south arriving on the grounds of the Volusia Speedway Park at 5:30.

    It was plenty of time as the combination hot laps/qualifications commenced at 6:30 with Iowa’s Cameron Martin surprising the stout 42 car sprint car field setting fast time of 14.425 seconds around the fast half mile oval.

    The other division on the race card for the three day program are the ¾ modifieds and with 16 on hand they make the perfect filler class for the evening’s activities. They ran their hot laps next which was also qualifying before the USCS sprinters returned for their four heat races. The top four finishers in the heats moving directly into the 25 lap feature with the heat winner and fastest man in time cracking the top four advancing to the wild card redraw deciding the top eight feature starters.

    The first of four USCS sprint heats took the initial green at 7:21 with Oklahoma’s Ryan Timms checking out early on his way to the first heat win over Chris Martin, Christopher Thram and Danny Martin Jr. The second heat was corralled by Charlotte, North Carolina’s Eric Riggins Jr besting Justin Peck, Austin McCarl and Sterling Cling. Heat three was won by Bubba’s boy, Florida’s Tyler Clem, rebounding from a homestretch flip the previous evening to take this one over Sam Hafertepe Jr, Danny Dietrich making his first appearance of the year and multi-USCS champion, Terry Gray. The fourth and final heat fell to Binbrook, Ontario’s Liam Martin in a strong run outdistancing Brendan Mullen, Cameron Martin and Wayne Johnson.

    The two ¾ modified heats were captured by Timmy Hogan and Ethyn Hwan. Then it was right back to the USCS sprints to run their two B mains with the top three joining the tail of the field behind the heat qualifiers. Florida’s Danny Sams III claimed the first B winning over Ryan Turner and 15 year old Landon Crawley who will make his WOO sprint car debut next week here at Volusia. Ricky Stenhouse Jr missed by one spot of qualifying and would be awarded a provisional but ended up not starting the main event. Pennsylvania’s Josh Weller captured the second B main beating Davie Franek and 13 year old Elijah Gile of Arizona in the process. All qualifying was completed by 8:40 and all we had left to run were the two main events for the sprints and ¾ modifieds.

    The 15 lap ¾ modified feature was the first to the post taking the green flag at 8:57. Timmy Hogan went to the early lead with Colton Lane in hot pursuit. These two had a race long battle joined at times by Ethyn Hwan and Steven Powers. Lane grabbed the lead about midway through the contest and looked like he was on his way to the victory before a late race caution changed the complex of the race. On the final restart Lane seemed to stumble and got a slow start allowing Hogan to race back past for the lead. Over the final three laps Lane tried every possible move but Hogan was up to the challenge holding him off for his second straight win. Lane tangled with Steven Powers on the backstretch on the last lap and spun ending up seventh at the finish at 9:19. Powers would grab second with Hwan taking down third.

    Now it was time for the 25 lap USCS sprint car main event brought to the green flag by Cameron Martin and Austin McCarl at 9:40. McCarl grabbed the early lead from his second starting position and quickly distanced himself from the field. Lap three saw Christopher Thram moved by Martin for second. Lap 4 saw Sam Hafertepe crack the top five from his eighth starting position. Hafertepe moved by Liam Martin for fourth on lap five with Justin Peck moving into fifth. Hafertepe continued his march forward dusting off Camerson Martin for third and passing Thram for second on lap eleven. McCarl at this point had a two second lead but by lap fifteen the lead was down to 1.1 seconds. By five to go the lead was down even more as the top two raced through lap traffic. Lap twenty two saw Davie Franek and Sterling Cling tangle at the top of the homestretch spinning in unison inside the inside guard rail bringing out the only caution of the event. It was shaping up like last night’s feature when McCarl led the first nineteen laps before the caution appeared and Hafertepe passed him on the restart and went onto win.

    McCarl hit the loud pedal hard on the restart and surged out front but Hafertepe was right in his tire tracks. Hafertepe pulled alongside McCarl down the backstretch but McCarl edged ahead entering turns three and four. The two raced close into turn one on the white flag lap with Hafertepe looking high for a run to the finish. Hafertepe was able to draw alongside McCarl in the last two corners but McCarl edged slightly ahead racing down the homestretch and to make sure the same thing didn’t happen as did last night McCarl used a defensive move to shut the door on the high side racing across the line first for the win with Hafertepe having to settle for second with Peck coming from tenth to third picking off Cameron Martin on the last lap with Martin fourth and Danny Dietrich gaining several spots over the final two laps to crack the top five from twelfth with the final checker waving at 9:51 capping a good night of racing.

    Christopher Thram led the second five across the line with Ryan Timms seventh, Tyler Clem eighth, Danny Sams III claiming the hard charger award with a 17th to ninth run with Wayne Johnson tenth from 16th.

    That’s it for this first column of 2024 and check back tomorrow for the final night of the USCS Germfree Southern Sprint Car Nationals with the winner taking home $15,000 to win. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com and if you are not in Florida you can go indoors for your racing fix in New Jersey or find an ice race something in the frozen tundra regions of the country. In the meantime start plotting your 2024 calendar and put some bucket list tracks on that list. As always thanks for reading our efforts and the emails that you send along. And be safe out there and try to be kind to someone today as you never know the effect a smile or just a hi can have on someone going through something tough.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    SprintOberfest Wins At Bridgeport Go To Reinhardt, Bright & Williams


    Saturday, October 28 – Pat was going back East to Atlantic City for work and attending a New Jersey state school board convention so I decided to tag along for the eats and friends tour. We were in AC on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before heading north into Pennsylvania to visit Pat’s aunt, Dolores or Aunt Sis, to celebrate a belated 92nd birthday. We then stayed two nights at Kerry and Cindy Meitzler’s house in Kutztown dining out both on Friday morning and night with Bill and Judy Burns for lunch and Kerry and Cindy for dinner before heading back to New Jersey Saturday for the races.

    On tap for a beautiful Saturday afternoon and evening with temperatures in the 80’s was the SprintOberfest at the 4/10 mile dirt oval at the Bridgeport Motorsports Park. It would be a three division program consisting of winged 410 sprint cars paying $15,000 to win drawing only 25 sprinters to participate. I don’t get sprint car teams sometimes as $15,000 to win is a good amount and only 25 cars show!! We guess it could be the combination of teams that are done for the season and teams that are preparing for Charlotte the following weekend but with that much money on the line we thought the field would be in the 30’s to 40’s. Also on the card were the USAC East Coast 360 wingless sprints (20) and the eastern big block modifieds (26).

    Action got underway at 5:28 with the first of three heats for the 410 sprints and it didn’t take long for the fireworks to begin. Joey Amantea, normally a USAC East Coast runner, had a 410 winged ride today and promptly dumped it on the backstretch in a two car tangle. Amantea’s car was done for the day. The top five from each heat would move to the main event with Justin Peck in the Buch #13 scoring the heat one win over Devon Borden, the 2023 Port Royal point champion, Anthony Macri back in the family car and Tim Buckwalter doing double duty. Heat two went to Tyler Ross defeating Danny Dietrich, Justin Whittall and Dylan Norris. Heat three went to New York invader, Paulie Colagiovanni, besting Freddie Rahmer, Kyle Reinhardt and Lucas Wolfe.

    Next up were the USAC East Coast sprinters running two heats for their 20 car field with Joey Amantea having better luck in wingless action taking heat one over Patrick Chilmonik, Ed Aiken and Kenny Miller III. Tim Buckwalter cruised in heat two in the Hummer #20 beating Steven Drevicki, Alex Bright in just his second run after breaking his wrist at Lawrenceburg during Indiana Sprint Week and Mike Thompson.

    The eastern modifieds would contest three heats and their heats were the best of the afternoon with Sam Martz Jr winning heat one over Billy Osmun III, Neal Williams and Joseph Watson. Heat two was captured by “The Quaker Shaker”, Rick Laubach besting HJ Bunting, Jim Gallagher and Dillon Steuer. Cale Ross claimed heat three over Dominick Buffalino, Ryan Grim and Davey Sammons.

    No B mains were needed only a dash race for the 410 sprinters determining the first eight starters in the 35 lap feature with Justin Peck winning over Kyle Reinhardt and Anthony Macri.

    That led us up to the three feature events with the 35 lap winged 410 sprint car main event the first one called to the post taking the green at 7:15 with the front row of Peck and Reinhardt battling for the early lead with Reinhardt edging out front as the pair raced down the backstretch on the opening lap. Macri, Colagiovanni and Dietrich were pursuing the leaders in the opening five laps. Lap nine saw Macri involved in a chain reaction crash in turn four turning the Macri Concrete #39M backwards sliding up to the wall. Macri’s evening came to an abrupt end at this point. On the restart Reinhardt, the home state favorite, retained the lead with Peck and Colagiovanni in tight pursuit with Devon Borden in the mix racing with Paulie for third. Whittall raced by Dietrich for fifth in the middle portion of the race but met disaster on lap nineteen when he got turned in turns three and four spinning to a halt. At this point the race went to an open red while the sprinters were allowed to add fuel.

    On the restart Reinhardt was quick to the lead with Danny Dietrich who had made great progress coming from sixth to second in the middle stages of the contest, took up the chase of Reinhardt. Also, Freddie Rahmer and Tyler Ross who started at the tail when he had problems firing at the beginning of the race were now fourth and fifth on the restart grid. It looked like Dietrich was edging closer but over the final five laps Reinhardt was able to move away to score the rich and popular win in his home state in front of many fans and friends. Dietrich would take down second after starting eighth with Peck third, Ross edging Rahmer for fourth and Rahmer fifth after starting ninth. It was a good, competitive run for the 410 sprinters.

    The headline division on a normal Saturday night, the east coast big block modifieds would break up the two open wheel divisions by running their 25 lap main event in between. Davey Sammons and Joseph Watson led the 26 car field to the green flag at 8:01 with the caution quickly waving when a three car tangle in turn two on the opening lap slowed the action. On the complete restart Watson took the lead with Neal Williams, Rick Laubach, Sammons and Dominick Buffalino racing in the top five over the first five laps. The second caution waved on lap six when Clay Butler looped his mount in turn three. Watson was quick on the throttle on the restart with Williams and Sammons close behind. Watson and Williams continued their battle up front over the middle stages of the contest running side by side with each other for many laps. Billy Osmun III who was involved in the opening lap tangle and restarted last was making steady progress through the field advancing into the top ten until he stopped suddenly in turn two on lap eighteen ending his evening prematurely.

    On the ensuing restart Watson bounded out front but the gang of Williams, Laubach, Sammons and Bunting were racing hard banging each other with Laubach and Sammons getting the worst of the encounter with Laubach stopping in turn two ending his strong run and Sammons pitting also. The green appeared again with Watson and Williams racing side by side down the homestretch and into turns one and two with Williams edging ahead as they raced down the backstretch. Williams would lead the final seven laps finishing several car lengths ahead of Watson for his third win at Bridgeport (most of anyone) in 2023 winning on his first wedding anniversary to boot. HJ Bunting came home third at the end with young Dillon Steuer fourth and Dominic Buffalino rounding out the top five in what we felt was the best race of the evening.

    Next up was the 25 lap USAC East Coast sprint feature with Alex Bright and Mike Thompson bringing the field to Nicole “Giggles” Flood’s green flag at 8:40. This one would go the entire 20 lap distance non-stop in seven minutes with Bright the rabbit of the field taking off quickly with Kenny Miller III in pursuit. Briggs Danner was the man on the move steadily moving forward like the tortoise up to third by lap fifteen. Danner caught and passed Miller for second on lap sixteen and went to work to see if he could catch the high flying Bright. Joey Amantea took over third from Miller a few laps later trying to reel in the front two. As the laps ticked off Danner was coming but ran out of time to make a serious challenge finishing about four car lengths behind when the checkered flag waved at 8:47. Alex Bright won the battle but Briggs Danner won the war taking the 2023 USAC East Coast point championship at the finish. Miller was able to work his way back past Amantea for third with Tim Buckwalter rounding out the top five. It was a decent race but somewhat difficult to follow as the dust began to blow and it was hard to follow the wingless sprinters as they raced.

    It was a well run program on a beautiful, warm fall afternoon with some good racing to boot. It was a fine way to end our 2023 season as I don’t think we at the moment have any other plans for racing this year unless we take in an autocross event.

    So, until next time get out there and catch some remaining shows in your area or take the show on the road and catch a bucket list item. News, comments or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. In the meantime be good, be safe and be kind.


     

     

    Cold Kokomo Klash XVII Goes To Ballou & Baldwin

    Friday, October 20 – In our return back to the Hoosier state we got the opportunity to take in the rained out night one of the Kokomo Klash XVII rescheduled to this Friday. There was a lot of rain the previous two days but today was clear and cold as temperatures were only in the fifties during the day dropping into the forties after the sun dropped below the horizon. Hot laps were scheduled to start at six but did not commence until an hour later and we understand it was a yeoman’s job for the track crew minus Reece O'Connor who was in California and the delay of the start could be excused. What in our opinion that could not be excused was the lack of urgency once things got underway. We did not enter the backstretch grandstands until 7 PM with many already having been there much earlier. A very small crowd was on hand, probably the worst we have seen in quite some time at Kokomo. The combination of high school football and cold weather kept the crowd at a minimum.

    The first heat for the 21 non-wing sprint cars on hand took the green flag at 8:24. The track was fast and wet and passing was difficult as it is usual when the track is fast. It is more a speedway and not a true racetrack where there is plenty of passing. Not taking anything away from Trey Osborne in his first ride in the newly constructed Baldwin #5 tall chassis DRC as he jumped out front and was never headed in heat one besting Rylan Gray, Frankie Guerrini and Clayton Rossman. Heat two was won by Jake Swanson take a spin in the Benic #2B while Logan Seavey is racing at Tulare in California and made the most of the opportunity by capturing the win over Jadon Rogers, Robert Ballou and Sterling Cling. Heat three went to Shane Cottle in the Epperson #2E beating Dave Darland who was taking the last ride of his career tonight as “The People's Champ” is retiring after a spectacular career in sprint car racing. He will sadly be missed but we all hope to see him spectating in the grandstands with a beer in hand enjoying his life after a tremendous racing career. Brandon Mattox and Brayden Clark trailed the top two in this heat.

    Next up were the thunder cars for their four heats with 33 cars making the call to the post. Five sportsmen ran one heat before the Racesaver 305 sprints pushed off for their three heats for their 19 entrants. Kayla Martin would best the boys in heat one beating Rod Henning and Honest Abe's Roofing owner, Kevin Newton. Heat two was won by the Kentucky driver, Dillan Baldwin over Tres Mehler and Carson Dillion. Heat three fell to Alfred Galedrige beating Nathan Franklin and AJ Hopkins jumped into a winged car for the evening.

    All qualifying was completed including two B mains by 9:58 and at this point it was announced that there would be a twenty minute intermission. That might be OK if it was seventy degrees but at the time the temperature had slipped to the low 40's and it was getting colder by the minute.

    By the time the non-wing sprint car feature took the green flag it was 10:27 and thankfully the feature was a good one which made you temporarily forget the cold temperatures. Trey Osborne took the early lead in the straight up start but it was short lived as second starting Jake Swanson tore around him on the outside of turn two on the opening lap. Third starting Shane Cottle grabbed second from Osborne off turn four on lap two and took up the chase of Swanson for the top spot. Robert Ballou was the man on a mission charging from his eighth starting spot to wrestle third from Osborne in turn three on lap five but an encounter with the cushion a lap later in turns three and four had Ballou slipping back to fifth at that point.

    The lead duo encountered lap traffic soon thereafter with Cottle getting his opportunity to grab the lead in turn two on lap eight when Swanson was stalled by a lapper. Cottle lead until lap 13 when Jamie Frederickson lost the handle in turn four in bring out the first caution. On the restart Cottle led the field with Swanson close behind. Ballou had worked his way back to third at this point and was closing on the front two. Lap 17 saw Ballou catch and pass Swanson for second in turn one and before Ballou got a chance to challenge Cottle the second caution waved when Sterling Cling spun in turn two on lap 18.

    It would be a seven lap shootout for the finish with the front five consisting of Cottle, Ballou, Swanson, Jadon Rogers and Osborne. On the restart Cottle jumped back out front but Ballou was all over him like white on rice with Swanson hot on their heels with Rogers nipping at Swanson' heels also. With two to go Ballou made his move diving to the inside of Cottle off turn four and beating him to the line to take the lead at the wire. Cottle and Swanson then hooked up in a good race for second as they entered lap traffic once again. While Cottle and Swanson went to the middle to clear the traffic Rogers dove low in turn two making contact with Swanson and pulling off a two for one pass on the white flag circuit as Ballou raced ahead. When the checkered flag flew at 10:39 it was Ballou in for his first win of 2023 holding off Rogers with Cottle third, Swanson fourth and Osborne rounding out the top five. Speaking of rounding out, Dave Darland would finish seventh in his last tour of duty finishing off a fine career to the applause of the thin crowd on hand. Lost in all the action up front was the performance of “The Human Highlight Film”, Geoff Ensign, wheeling the Gass #17G from 14th to 6th at the final checker. A good feature to round out the 2023 season at Kokomo.

    We decided to stay to watch the 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature which took the initial green flag at 11:02. We would like to say this one was a good one also but would be lying as four cautions and one red slowed this affair taking 30 minutes to run. Kentucky's Dillan Baldwin would triumph from fifth taking the lead on lap seventeen and going on to win over Kevin Newton, AJ Hopkins, Nathan Franklin and 13th starting Justin Mathews but take might be a misnomer as only seven cars finished so most the position changes were due to attrition. This checker waved at 11:32 and with two features still to go it was uncle for us.

    The non-wing sprint feature was a good race but three hours in the cold with two to go is not a good way to attract new fans to your track. Overall not one of the best shows we have seen at Kokomo and the lack of urgency seems to be the new pandemic spreading across the Hoosier state in the racing circles.

    That's it for now but check back after next weekend as we make a road trip to New Jersey and see where we end up maybe for our last race of 2023. In the meantime get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area as the racing season is quickly coming to a close with winter soon upon us. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and your encouraging words as we hope you continue to enjoy reading these efforts as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. In closing be safe out there and be kind.

     

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Burns & Mitchell Take Championship Night Wins At Lincoln Park


    Saturday, September 30 – There were a plethora of choices for this Saturday night of racing with USAC midgets taking on the dirt track at IMS for the BC39 but because of the cost and hassle of the big event we passed on this one. Two other tracks were running in the Indianapolis area with the Speedrome offering a HARF free admission night but with interest only for the Kenyon midgets on that card we passed on this one also. Circle City Raceway was running the first Ashlea Albertson Memorial for the young TQ midget racer who was killed a tragic highway crash a few weeks ago with a $12 senior admission but we decided to pass on the All Star TQ midget and other divisions program. So it was down to two choices, the Amati 68 for the wingless sprints at Paragon or championship night at Lincoln Park for all four of their regular divisions. Lincoln Park would win out and for the 10th time in 2023 it was off to our “home track” in beautiful downtown Putnamville, just 40 minutes south of our home base of Crawfordsville.

    There were actually five divisions on the evening as the mod lites were added to the card with 21 wingless sprints, 17 bombers, 15 UMP modifieds, 12 mod lites and 11 super stocks in the pit area for the final weekly Saturday night program at the 5/16 mile dirt oval. Two winged sprint cars of Harley Burns and Ivan Glotzbach were on hand also to promote the two upcoming winged shows at LPS with the new Maverick Sprint Car Series started by Honest Abe’s Roofing’s owner, Kevin Newton, on Friday, October 6th with $6000 to win and the High Limit Series of Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet on Tuesday, October 10th paying $23,023 to win.

    The first heat of the evening was green flagged at 7:33 with the wingless sprint cars doing battle. Heat one fell to Jake Swanson driving the Daming Excavating #5T over Brayden Fox, Jadon Rogers and Brent Beauchamp. Heat two went to Tye Mihocko in the Jamie and Michelle Paul #24P defeating Shane Cottle, Brandon Spencer and Zack Pretorius. The third and final sprint heat went to Matt Thompson who has shown strides forward this year running consistently all year long. Harley Burns, Kyle Shipley and Chance Crum chased Thompson to the finish.

    The UMP modifieds would contest two heats for their 15 car field with Jimmy Hayden fending off Matt Mitchell and RT Gamble in heat one and Roger Mills besting Scott Carrington and Wes McClara in heat two. Wade Goodale and JD Nash would nail down super stock heat wins also. The bombers and mod lites ran two heats each with the qualifying being completed in one hour. Intermission with track prep also being performed was next on the agenda.

    By 9:08 it was time to go feature racing and is always the case at Lincoln Park the wingless 410 sprints were the first feature called to the post. The front row of Harley Burns and Shane Cottle brought the 21 car field to the green flag with Cottle getting the early jump. The key word was jump as officials felt Cottle fired too soon and waved off the initial start. On the restack Burns would lead the pack into turn one but it was short lived as Sterling Cling lost the handle spinning in turn two on lap two to bring out the first official caution. On the ensuing restart Burns went to the point with Cottle and Brayden Fox in hot pursuit. Sixth starting Jake Swanson would nudge intp fourth on lap three in turn two with seventh starting Jadon Rogers cracking the top five on lap five. Burns continued to pace the field as the front runners approached lap traffic on lap eleven. Ivan Glotzbach pirouetted the Hayden #2H in turn three on the cushion but never went over bringing out another caution on lap twelve. We got two more laps into the books before Kyle Johnson rolled his black #99 on the turn one cushion to bring out the red flag. At that point fourth running Jake Swanson retired to the pit area with mechanical woes moving everyone up one position on the restart.

    Nathan Ervin who was over all the place all night with an ill handling machine flipped in turn four on the restart bringing out the second red of the evening. During this stoppage fourth running Jadon Rogers headed pitside with a flat tire and would return at the tail of the field for the restart. On the restart Burns held sway but Cottle continued to pressure him down low diving to the inside of turns one and two. Tye Mihocko snuck by Fox on the backstretch on the restart to take over third and took up the chase of the top two. The top three were nose to tail as the race progressed until the yellow waved for Jadon Rogers coasting to a stop in turn two on lap twenty two. On the restart Burns led into turn one with Cottle showing him his nose racing through turns one and two. Meanwhile Mihocko went to the high side and found some traction blasting by Cottle on the backstretch with two to go. Burns continued to run the inside to middle as Mihocko pounded the cushion all the way around. Racing down the backstretch on the white flag lap Burns and Mihocko were side by side and it looked like Mihocko was going to pull off the pass but Burns found some extra traction low in turn three to pull a couple of car lengths ahead entering turn four and Burns would have enough to stave off the challenge of Mihocko and breezed across the finish line at 9:56 scoring his second win of the year at LPS and first since his rain shortened win in May edging the 2023 LPS sprint car point champion, Mihocko, for the win. Cottle would settle for third with Brandon Mattox marching from 13th to 4th at the finish in a consistent year at LPS for him with Brandon Spencer rounding out the top five.

    We decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature which went green at 10:08. Jimmy Hayden would bound into the lead at the start and held sway until Matt Mitchell nipped him at the start/finish line on lap 13 and Mitchell would lead the remainder of the distance to not only score the victory but also secure the 2023 LPS UMP modified title in the process. The two hour trip each Saturday night from Rensselaer paid off in the end with Mitchell securing the point championship. The eight minute feature had us packing up our gear at 10:16 as we wrapped up the 2023 season at Lincoln Park for the last time this year.

    That’s it for now and for a while as we have another journey on the horizon as we venture to Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada on the Canyonlands bus tour starting Thursday. Check back in the middle of October when we return to see where we end up next. Until next time get out there and take in some good short track racing in the fall season before the winter sets upon us. News, comments, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Be good and be safe out there in your travels and remember to be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cottle On The Throttle In Sprint Win At Lincoln Park


    Saturday, September 9 – It was the ninth visit of the year for us to our “home track”, the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, just 45 minutes from our home in Crawfordsville. Tonight was the Red Hayden Memorial in honor of one long time runners at Lincoln Park and a former track championship and their four regular divisions would each run 30 lap features with an increase winner’s share for each one.

    For Lincoln Park it was close to their starting time of 7:10 with the first heat taking the green flag at 7:32 (only 22 minutes late). That’s living on Spiker time!!

    Thirty one wingless sprint cars were joined on the race card by 24 super stocks, 20 bombers and 17 UMP modifieds for the full night of racing action.

    The wingless sprint cars were the first division called to the track for their four heats with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Seth Parker of West Terre Haute would claim heat one besting Brandon Spencer, Tye Mihocko and Brent Beauchamp who would later scratch from the feature making it five to advance from the B main. Brayden Fox from Avon took down heat two over Hunter Maddox, Blake Vermillion and Matt Thompson. Jordan Kinser from Bedford nailed down heat three winning over Mario Clouser, Jesse Vermillion and Mitch Wissmiller. The fourth and final heat fell to Shane Cottle of Kansas, IL who turned back Harley Burns, Kyle Shipley and Chance Crum.

    The UMP modifieds would contest two heats for their 17 car field with Wes McClara and Brayden Watson taking wins. The super stocks ran three heats with Josh Litton, Paul Wright and Larry Raines victorious. And finally the bombers ran three heats after the sprint car B main.

    The sprint car B main was taken by Evan Mosley of Lapel triumphing over Zack Pretorius, Matt McDonald, Jackson Slone and Lee Underwood. One track provisional would be added to the field when Ivan Glotzbach, driver of the Brian Hayden #I1 who is the son of Red Hayden, which was a nice gesture by management on this night. Track maintenance was the next order of business and a half hour later it was time for the 30 lap wingless sprint car feature.

    At 10:02 the front row of Harley Burns and Mario Clouser brought the 21 car field to the green flag with Burns getting the early lead. Burns and Clouser raced side by side through turns three and four with Clouser taking the lead at the start/finish line to complete lap one. Jordan Kinser was the man on the move motoring the Jerry Burton #04 into fourth on lap four. Clouser continued to pace the field as the laps clicked off and moved into the teens with Burns, Brandon Spencer, Kinser and Shane Cottle chasing him. Kinser moved up another position into third passing Spencer as they raced down the backstretch on lap seventeen. A crucial caution waved on lap nineteen as Tye Mihocko running sixth at the time did a complete 360 spin and kept moving as the caution waved. In a clarification from Pat Sullivan unlike when a spin occurs in USAC racing it is an automatic caution and the driver moves to the rear. At Lincoln Park if you spin and do not stop and the caution waves you receive your running position back on the restart. I don’t like the rule as I feel if you bring out the caution you should go to the rear. Just my opinion!!

    On the ensuing restart Clouser powered back out front as the cars were shuffled behind him with Kinser moving to second at the line to complete lap twenty while Cottle used the inside of turns three and four to take the lead away from Clouser pulling off a two for one pass to move from third to the lead. Mihocko blasted the cushion through turns one and two charging into fourth by turn three where he drives hard into turn four pushing Clouser into the cushion in an overly aggressive move to take third and dropping Clouser all the way back to seventh. Mihocko was not finished as he powered by Kinser down the backstretch for second on lap twenty eight bringing the resurgent Burns with him. Mihocko tried to close the gap on Cottle over the last two laps but the veteran of open wheel competition was up to the challenge and streaked under the checkered flag at 10:14 in the Tony Epperson #2E for a popular win with Mihocko second after starting ninth, Burns third for the second night in a row with Kinser fourth and Brayden Fox rounding out the top five in a real good feature event.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature was set on its head early as pole sitter, Derek Losh, was forced to start at the tail of the field (17th) after pulling into the work area prior to the race start. Brayden Watson, who is third in Brownstown Speedway points, made a rare appearance at LPS on an off night at Brownstown pay off as he led the entire 30 lap distance for the extra money win beating Jeff Deckard second with Derek Losh picking his way through the field to rebound for a third place finish with Matt Mitchell fourth and Will Bennett taking fifth. It was 10:55 so we decided to call it an evening with two features still to run.

    The racing was good especially in the sprint car division as we discussed the night of racing as we made our way north on Route 231 to end the evening in our bed in Crawfordsville after watching the final 25 laps live from the World 100 at Eldora where Hudson O’Neal became the first driver from Indiana to ever win the World 100 in 53 tries. Also we caught the last eight laps of the USAC sprint car race at Texarkana Speedway won by Matt Westfall who triumphed in USAC sprint car action for the first time in 17 years. Congratulations to both Westfall and O’Neal on their big wins this Saturday night.

    That’s it for this segment and it could be a week or more before our next report as we head north on vacation to Minnesota and Ontario to take in the beauty of the great North. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take in one or more new tracks on your bucket list on your own trip. Comments, news, opinions or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the emails that you send. Remember to be good and be kind to everyone you meet.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Lewis Wins The Battle, Burns The War At Bloomington


    Friday, September 8 – It was a cloudy day all day in Crawfordsville as we prepared to make the two hour tow south to Bloomington. As we ventured down Route 231 and Route 46 in Spencer the skies became sunny and about five degrees warmer (70 to 75) as we drew closer to the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval located on the south end of the city that houses Indiana University. We arrived around 6:30 and were surprised to see a small crowd on hand for the final race of 2023 at Bloomington. We returned to our favorite hillside lawn chair setting going toward turn one after hiking up the steep hill to get there. We settled in for a good night of racing and before the racing began we dined on chicken fingers and later our Rural King peanuts in a shell. The car counts were 21 non-wing sprints (which fell to 19) before the heats began though it was what we considered a quality field of drivers. Also on the bill were 14 winged 305 Racesaver sprints, 14 hornets and 11 super stocks to round out the card of racing.

    The non-wing sprint car heats would be the first order of business taking the initial green flag at 7:17 with the close sprint car point race on the line tonight. Brady Short, multi-time point champ at Bloomington, held a four point lead over Jordan Kinser and twelve points over Harley Burns. Geoff Ensign, the defending Bloomington point king, nailed down the first heat win in the Finkenbinder #3F besting Aussie, Todd Hobson, Trey Osborne and Ryan Thomas. Heat two went to Harley Burns with a heat winner being awarded one point for a win dropping the deficit for Burns down to 11 behind Short. Brayden Fox, Mario Clouser and Chance Crum would chase Burns across the line in this one. The third heat would go to hometown boy, Matt Thompson, who has had a good year at Bloomington beating Isaac Chapple, Ricky Lewis and Tye Mihocko for the victory.

    The super stocks would be next up contesting two heats with Kenny Carmichael Sr and Zach Sasser winning their respective heats. The Racesaver winged 305 sprints would also contest two heats with Jordan Welch taking down the win in heat one over Rod Henning and Charlie Stines. Heat two was captured by Ethan Barrow defeating Cody Trammell and Keith Langley. The hornets would wrap up heat qualifying with two heats for their 14 car field. All heat racing was in the books by 8:08 and the track crew went to work to massage the racing surface so the drivers would have the best surface to compete on for their championship runs.

    By 8:42 it was time to go wingless sprint car racing as the green flag dropped on the 25 lap feature with Harley Burns starting first, Brady Short fourteenth and Jordan Kinser fifteenth. Burns raced out to the early lead leading Geoff Ensign and Todd Hobson in the early going. Ricky Lewis was on the move advancing from his ninth starting spot into the top five by lap five and coming forward. Lap eight saw Lewis and Trey Osborne racing for position down the backstretch with Lewis forcing Osborne over the backstretch berm bringing out the caution and regrouping the field. Burns continued to lead with Short back in eleventh and Kinser in thirteenth. Lewis was making hay picking off Ensign for second and going to work on Burns for the lead when the red flag would wave when Trey Osborne began flipping past the starter's stand and ended up on is side outside of the entrance to turn one. Safety crews righted the machine and Osborne gingerly exited his wrecked sprinter and sat down on the turn one banking. All this time the ambulance did not move from its turn four location and to us and many around us this was unacceptable and questioned why!!! This was not a Tommy tipover but instead a major crash and no response from the ambulance crew was poor to say the least. Instead Osborne was helped into the a cart and driven up to the ambulance where he was checked out. If anyone knows why the ambulance did not move to the scene of the crash let us know as usually when there is a serious crash safety personnel are right on the scene. And to the parents of the youngsters who ran down to the fence at the scene of the crash and were asked to come get their children and did not we question their parenting skills!!!

    Anyhow the race was restarted after the delay with Burns still leading Lewis and Ensign. Lewis was able to wrestle the lead away from Burns on lap nineteen with Ensign moving to second a lap later. Burn's point lead was now down to one with five to go as Short was up to eighth at this point. Matt Thompson passed Short for eighth late but bobbled in turns one and two on the last lap allowing Short to regain eighth. Thompson recovered and passed Short in turns three and four to drop Short to ninth which gave Burns a one point advantage as the checkers flew on Ricky Lewis who scored his first ever win at Bloomington over Geoff Ensign with Burns crossing the line third, Brayden Fox garnering fourth and Tye Mihocko rounding out the top five at 9:15. It was a good feature and it was fun tracking the points battle with Harley Burns scoring his first Bloomington sprint car title by one point over Brady Short and seven points over Jordan Kinser vaulting from third to win the title in the last race of the year!!

    The 20 lap super stock feature was next on the agenda with Josh Litton in a close battle for the point championship in this division also with Isaiah Sasser for the championship. Zach Sasser who has had a rough year at Bloomington leaped off the pole position to lead the entire 20 laps with Tucker Chastian glued to his rear bumper the entire distance scoring his first win of the year. Rookie Hayden Groomer would come home third with Josh Litton fourth and Isaiah Sasser finishing fifth giving Litton the point championship by a mere four points at the end. Rookie Hayden Groomer finished third in the points, 46 markers back, with fellow rookie Jordan Almanza just 51 markers back and Groomer will probably be crowned the rookie of the year.

    The 20 lap Racesaver winged 305 sprint car feature was next up with Ethan Barrow holding a comfortable 19 point lead entering the final race and starting second on the grid while closest competitor, John Paynter Jr was grided eighth. The green flag dropped at 9:45 with Barrow streaking into the early lead. Knowing Barrow's prowess in the 305's and at Bloomington we figured it was a race for second at this point but no one informed another Bloomington boy, Cody Trammell, of this news. Trammell came out of the fourth hole to track down and pass Barrow for the lead in turn four on lap eight and pull away over the remainder of the race. When the checkered flag waved at 9:55 it was Trammell in for the win with Barrow second and winning the point championship by 25 markers with Rod Henning third, Jordan Welch fourth and John Paynter Jr finishing up fifth after starting eighth.

    It was a good night of racing and at this point we decided to call it a night and make the trip back north to Crawfordsville pleased with our fifth visit to the red hills of Bloomington.

    That's it for now but check back on Sunday for our report on our visit to Lincoln Park Speedway on Saturday night. Until now get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. News, comments and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as is the usual thanks for reading our efforts and letting us know how you enjoy reading about our travels and comments on the tracks we visit. So while you are out and about be good and be kind to everyone you meet and give them a smile to brighten their day.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Lewis Wins The Battle, Burns The War At Bloomington


    Friday, September 8 – It was a cloudy day all day in Crawfordsville as we prepared to make the two hour tow south to Bloomington. As we ventured down Route 231 and Route 46 in Spencer the skies became sunny and about five degrees warmer (70 to 75) as we drew closer to the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval located on the south end of the city that houses Indiana University. We arrived around 6:30 and were surprised to see a small crowd on hand for the final race of 2023 at Bloomington. We returned to our favorite hillside lawn chair setting going toward turn one after hiking up the steep hill to get there. We settled in for a good night of racing and before the racing began we dined on chicken fingers and later our Rural King peanuts in a shell. The car counts were 21 non-wing sprints (which fell to 19) before the heats began though it was what we considered a quality field of drivers. Also on the bill were 14 winged 305 Racesaver sprints, 14 hornets and 11 super stocks to round out the card of racing.

    The non-wing sprint car heats would be the first order of business taking the initial green flag at 7:17 with the close sprint car point race on the line tonight. Brady Short, multi-time point champ at Bloomington, held a four point lead over Jordan Kinser and twelve points over Harley Burns. Geoff Ensign, the defending Bloomington point king, nailed down the first heat win in the Finkenbinder #3F besting Aussie, Todd Hobson, Trey Osborne and Ryan Thomas. Heat two went to Harley Burns with a heat winner being awarded one point for a win dropping the deficit for Burns down to 11 behind Short. Brayden Fox, Mario Clouser and Chance Crum would chase Burns across the line in this one. The third heat would go to hometown boy, Matt Thompson, who has had a good year at Bloomington beating Isaac Chapple, Ricky Lewis and Tye Mihocko for the victory.

    The super stocks would be next up contesting two heats with Kenny Carmichael Sr and Zach Sasser winning their respective heats. The Racesaver winged 305 sprints would also contest two heats with Jordan Welch taking down the win in heat one over Rod Henning and Charlie Stines. Heat two was captured by Ethan Barrow defeating Cody Trammell and Keith Langley. The hornets would wrap up heat qualifying with two heats for their 14 car field. All heat racing was in the books by 8:08 and the track crew went to work to massage the racing surface so the drivers would have the best surface to compete on for their championship runs.

    By 8:42 it was time to go wingless sprint car racing as the green flag dropped on the 25 lap feature with Harley Burns starting first, Brady Short fourteenth and Jordan Kinser fifteenth. Burns raced out to the early lead leading Geoff Ensign and Todd Hobson in the early going. Ricky Lewis was on the move advancing from his ninth starting spot into the top five by lap five and coming forward. Lap eight saw Lewis and Trey Osborne racing for position down the backstretch with Lewis forcing Osborne over the backstretch berm bringing out the caution and regrouping the field. Burns continued to lead with Short back in eleventh and Kinser in thirteenth. Lewis was making hay picking off Ensign for second and going to work on Burns for the lead when the red flag would wave when Trey Osborne began flipping past the starter's stand and ended up on is side outside of the entrance to turn one. Safety crews righted the machine and Osborne gingerly exited his wrecked sprinter and sat down on the turn one banking. All this time the ambulance did not move from its turn four location and to us and many around us this was unacceptable and questioned why!!! This was not a Tommy tipover but instead a major crash and no response from the ambulance crew was poor to say the least. Instead Osborne was helped into the a cart and driven up to the ambulance where he was checked out. If anyone knows why the ambulance did not move to the scene of the crash let us know as usually when there is a serious crash safety personnel are right on the scene. And to the parents of the youngsters who ran down to the fence at the scene of the crash and were asked to come get their children and did not we question their parenting skills!!!

    Anyhow the race was restarted after the delay with Burns still leading Lewis and Ensign. Lewis was able to wrestle the lead away from Burns on lap nineteen with Ensign moving to second a lap later. Burn's point lead was now down to one with five to go as Short was up to eighth at this point. Matt Thompson passed Short for eighth late but bobbled in turns one and two on the last lap allowing Short to regain eighth. Thompson recovered and passed Short in turns three and four to drop Short to ninth which gave Burns a one point advantage as the checkers flew on Ricky Lewis who scored his first ever win at Bloomington over Geoff Ensign with Burns crossing the line third, Brayden Fox garnering fourth and Tye Mihocko rounding out the top five at 9:15. It was a good feature and it was fun tracking the points battle with Harley Burns scoring his first Bloomington sprint car title by one point over Brady Short and seven points over Jordan Kinser vaulting from third to win the title in the last race of the year!!

    The 20 lap super stock feature was next on the agenda with Josh Litton in a close battle for the point championship in this division also with Isaiah Sasser for the championship. Zach Sasser who has had a rough year at Bloomington leaped off the pole position to lead the entire 20 laps with Tucker Chastian glued to his rear bumper the entire distance scoring his first win of the year. Rookie Hayden Groomer would come home third with Josh Litton fourth and Isaiah Sasser finishing fifth giving Litton the point championship by a mere four points at the end. Rookie Hayden Groomer finished third in the points, 46 markers back, with fellow rookie Jordan Almanza just 51 markers back and Groomer will probably be crowned the rookie of the year.

    The 20 lap Racesaver winged 305 sprint car feature was next up with Ethan Barrow holding a comfortable 19 point lead entering the final race and starting second on the grid while closest competitor, John Paynter Jr was grided eighth. The green flag dropped at 9:45 with Barrow streaking into the early lead. Knowing Barrow's prowess in the 305's and at Bloomington we figured it was a race for second at this point but no one informed another Bloomington boy, Cody Trammell, of this news. Trammell came out of the fourth hole to track down and pass Barrow for the lead in turn four on lap eight and pull away over the remainder of the race. When the checkered flag waved at 9:55 it was Trammell in for the win with Barrow second and winning the point championship by 25 markers with Rod Henning third, Jordan Welch fourth and John Paynter Jr finishing up fifth after starting eighth.

    It was a good night of racing and at this point we decided to call it a night and make the trip back north to Crawfordsville pleased with our fifth visit to the red hills of Bloomington.

    That's it for now but check back on Sunday for our report on our visit to Lincoln Park Speedway on Saturday night. Until now get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. News, comments and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as is the usual thanks for reading our efforts and letting us know how you enjoy reading about our travels and comments on the tracks we visit. So while you are out and about be good and be kind to everyone you meet and give them a smile to brighten their day.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Grant Cops 69th Running of Ted Horn 100 At DuQuoin

    Saturday, September 2 – Our 9 AM departure from our hotel had the new Eckel mount, a 2022 Chevy Equinox, on the road again for its maiden longer journey. We arrived at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds at 11 and hopped a golf cart that delivered us in front of the ticket booth. A long line found us reaching the ticket booth by 11:20 and then into the large, covered grandstand to catch the USAC Silver Crown time trials. The original entry list had 36 cars on it but Silver Crown regular, Travis Welpott, failed to make the trip to Southern Illinois leaving us with a 35 car count. After hot laps the car count was down to 30 as mechanical woes sidelined five entries before time trials began. On that list was Trey Osborne, the six foot eight 20 year old driver from Columbus, Ohio who had timed fifth quickest in hot laps but engine woes sidelined the youngster making his Silver Crown debut after turning heads at Kokomo’s Smackdown the previous weekend. Also suffering mechanical woes were former winner at DuQuoin, Jacob Wilson from our hometown of Crawfordsville, along with Matt Westfall, Cary Oliver and Dave Peperak. Patrick Bruns got into the turn three wall hard on his second time trial lap ending his day prematurely. Now the car count was down to 29 and one more was questionable as Wayne Johnson broke a rocker arm and his crew went to work swapping engines to get him to the starting grid starting 29th on the field.

    Justin Grant was one of the last cars out for time trials and shocked the crowd turning the only sub-par 32 second lap at clocking in at 31.870 seconds around the dirt mile to grab fast time over CJ Leary and Davey Ray. UMP modifieds were also on the card with their field running two 5 lap heat races before the Silver Crown cars were called to the track to stage and for driver introductions.

    The 29 Silver Crown starting field was brought to Tom Hansing’s green flag at 1:53 by Justin Grant and CJ Leary with Leary taking the lead in turn two but it would not last as Casey Buckman lost the handle in turn two after starting 17th but kept it off the wall and everyone missed him so he was able to restart at the tail of the field. On the complete restart Leary again surged ahead of Grant racing down the backstretch on the opening lap and would lead the first lap but that would be the only lap that Leary or anyone else would lead on this cloudy Saturday afternoon. Grant snatched back the lead diving low in turn three and never looked back but that was not the true story of the race as many drivers turned in impressive performances throughout the day.

    Logan Seavey, the current Silver Crown point leader, quickly moved forward from 5th taking 4th on lap one and 3rd going down the backstretch on lap two. Davey Ray who started third and slipped back early rallied to grab back third in turn one on lap 6. Ray challenged Leary for second entering turn one on the inside first catching the inside rail with his left front bouncing off and darting him to the right where he touched Leary sending both array with CJ in the fluff before recovering relegated to third. Lap 12 saw Wayne Johnson storming forward from 29th all the way up to 18th as he came onto many people’s radar at that point. Another person coming to the front was Kaylee Bryson up to 12th from 19th by lap 15. Bryson gained another position moving into 11th on lap 19 in her run to the front. Taylor Ferns was another female making some noise marching from 18th to 12th by lap 21. Ferns moved by Bryson one lap later to garner 11th as the Michigan runner was on the move.

    At the 25 lap mark it was Grant out front by six car lengths over Ray and Leary. Lap 26 saw Bryson’s strong run come to an early end as she slowed on the homestretch bringing out the caution. On the ensuing restart Grant jumped out front again with Ray in hot pursuit. Leary began to pressure Ray and passed Ray for 2nd off turn four on lap 32 as Kody Swanson cracked the top five one lap later on lap 33. Swanson was becoming racy moving into 4th at the end of the backstretch on lap 36 with 11th starting Shane Cockrum picking up the ride in the Hans Lein #97 starting to show his muscle with a turn one pass in turn one on lap 37 to grab 5th. Wayne Johnson made a homestretch pass on lap 38 to move to 12th. Yet another impressive run was picked up on when Casey Buckman rolled into the top ten after starting at the rear after his lap one spin on lap 42. Kody Swanson pulled a slider in turn three on Ray to take third away for a brief moment on lap 48 as he then slid high allowing both Ray and Cockrum to move by dropping Swanson to 5th. As the crossed flags were displayed at lap 50 Grant was comfortably out front trailed by Leary, Ray, Cockrum and Swanson.

    Lap 53 saw Ray get loose in turn four and slide wide opening the door for both Cockrum and Swanson to move by dropping Ray back to 5th. Emerson Axsom made his presence known on lap 54 after starting 12th passing Jerry Coons Jr for 6th. Coons was not done repassing Axsom in turn two on lap 55. The Haggenbottom #24 was ready to rumble as Coons caught Ray in turn one on lap 57 for fifth as the beautiful Cornell #8 began to show smoke. Seavey who had slipped backward after his early charge to the front, began to work his way forward again taking 7th on the homestretch on lap 61. Casey Buckman’s fine run came to a sudden end as the Arizona driver spun backwards into the turn three wall taking him out of the running. This would move Johnson into the top ten for the first time today as his impressive run continued. Under the yellow another good run came to a premature ending as Davey Ray pulled to the infield with smoke trailing his machine.

    Lap 68 would see Cockrum drive by Leary for 2nd in turn one and begin to reel in Grant over the next several laps. Coons slipped by Swanson for 4th on lap 69 while Johnson moved up to 9th. Johnson grabbed 8th from Chase Stockon on lap 70 while Ferns cracked the top ten at the same time. Cockrum was coming and close to the rear nerf bar of Grant by lap 75. Swanson slipped back by Coons for 4th on lap 77 and on lap 81 Chase Stockon slowed in turn four on lap 81 with a flat tire bringing out the caution.

    On the restart Grant went to the point with Leary slipping by Cockrum in turn two on lap 85 and Swanson passed Cockrum for third in turn three on the same lap. Seavey gained another spot on the homestretch on lap 88 to secure 5th. It was a three dog race at this point as Grant, Leary and Swanson moved ahead in a half straightaway lead by lap 95. Leary closed within a few car lengths over the remaining five circuits but never made a serious challenge as Grant roared under the double checkers at 2:58 securing his first Horn 100 victory and his fifth career Silver Crown win tying him for 26th on the all-time list while in the process snapping an 18 race winless streak in Silver Crown competition. CJ Leary came home second with Kody Swanson third, Shane Cockrum fourth and Logan Seavey rounding out the top five and retaining the Silver Crown point lead by just a single point going into the final two races of 2023, one on dirt at Eldora and the other on asphalt at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Jerry Coons Jr in another steady run came home sixth with Emerson Axsom seventh, Wayne Johnson eighth, Taylor Ferns ninth and Kyle Steffens tenth in a strong run.

    It was a fast paced race ending in just an hour and five minutes allowing us to head back over to the St. Louis area where we attended a Frontier League baseball game between the Lake Erie Crushers and the host Gateway Grizzlies in a see saw contest with Lake Erie prevailing by a score of 6 to 4.

    That’s it for this segment and check back this weekend as we stay local heading for Spiker land visiting the Bloomington Speedway and the Lincoln Park Speedway. In the meantime, get out there and take in some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and knock off a few of your want to see tracks in the near future. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to check back to see what happened in our travels on a typical weekend. Until next time be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Tinsley Captures Night One Of Winged Outlaw Nationals at Doe Run



    Friday, September 1 – It was a long haul Friday afternoon to arrive at our Friday night destination, The Doe Run Raceway, in the town of the same name on the Illinois/Missouri border in the Show Me state. Traffic was not bad until we got below St. Louis when an accident caused a delay and we used back roads to bypass the accident. We arrived for the 7 PM start at 7:15 and only missed two of the LO 206 classes for the younger participants. The 1/6 mile clay oval is nice with a good surface and decent wooden bleachers that stretch the entire homestretch with the pit area located off turns one and two. The food was decent with good brats and hamburgers consumed on the evening. Five divisions were on the docket with 50 winged outlaw 600’s, 15 restricted winged micros, 15 junior sprints, 10 LO 206 intermediates and 9 LO 206 beginners.

    By 7:35 the first of six heats for the winged outlaw 600’s was trackside with the field divided into two groups, A & B, with each running their own 25 lap feature on the evening with the top three from each feature locking into the $5000 to win final on Saturday night. In group A, Cole Tinsley, Erin Couch and Dominic White won their respective heat races as the 600’s flew around the clay oval. Heat winners in Group B went to Chad Elliott coming from eighth to win his heat race with Craig Ronk from Warsaw, Indiana taking heat two and John Tindall winning heat three. Two B mains were needed for the winged outlaw 600’s with Arizona’s Colton Hardy winning the Group A one while Ryan Criswell took the other B main.

    Things were moving along well at this point until management decided to rework the track which did not need a complete redo. It was like the wheels fell off the wagon at this point with an hour down time as the weather became damp and cool after the sun dropped below the horizon.

    All of the other four divisions on the card would run their features before the two 25 lap winged outlaw 600’s would take to the track again. It seemed to take forever going forward as many wasted laps were taken realigning fields of nine and ten cars.

    It was not until 11:01 when the Group A 25 lap feature took the green flag with Cole Tinsley taking the early lead. Tinsley would hold sway until veteran Joe B. Miller swept by Tinsley entering turn one on lap 13 and set sail. Miller had a good lead by lap 20 when disaster struck in the form of a blown engine ending his night five laps too early. Tinsley would inherit the lead and led the remaining five laps of the contest passing under the checker at 11:14 for the $1000 win over Joe Wirth, Dylan Kadous, Reed Whitney advancing from 9th to 4th with Cale Goodwin rounding out the top five.

    With the late hour (we were on Eastern time of 12:15) we decided to bag the second 25 lapper and head down the road to our hotel for the evening. Craig Ronk went onto to win the second one and looking at the results from Saturday night the Hoosier resident took home the big $5000 paycheck the following evening.

    The racing was decent, the track surface was good but the lack of organization was their ultimate downfall as this program should not have taken four hours to present.

    That’s it until tomorrow when we will update you on the rest of the weekend adventure and what all we visited on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as fall approaches and tracks are starting to close for the season here in the Midwest. Comments, news, stories and any other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always, we appreciate your emails and hope you enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Remember to be kind as you don’t know what that other person you just met might be going through and a kind word or smile can go a long way.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Tinsley Captures Night One Of Winged Outlaw Nationals at Doe Run


    Friday, September 1 – It was a long haul Friday afternoon to arrive at our Friday night destination, The Doe Run Raceway, in the town of the same name on the Illinois/Missouri border in the Show Me state. Traffic was not bad until we got below St. Louis when an accident caused a delay and we used back roads to bypass the accident. We arrived for the 7 PM start at 7:15 and only missed two of the LO 206 classes for the younger participants. The 1/6 mile clay oval is nice with a good surface and decent wooden bleachers that stretch the entire homestretch with the pit area located off turns one and two. The food was decent with good brats and hamburgers consumed on the evening. Five divisions were on the docket with 50 winged outlaw 600’s, 15 restricted winged micros, 15 junior sprints, 10 LO 206 intermediates and 9 LO 206 beginners.

    By 7:35 the first of six heats for the winged outlaw 600’s was trackside with the field divided into two groups, A & B, with each running their own 25 lap feature on the evening with the top three from each feature locking into the $5000 to win final on Saturday night. In group A, Cole Tinsley, Erin Couch and Dominic White won their respective heat races as the 600’s flew around the clay oval. Heat winners in Group B went to Chad Elliott coming from eighth to win his heat race with Craig Ronk from Warsaw, Indiana taking heat two and John Tindall winning heat three. Two B mains were needed for the winged outlaw 600’s with Arizona’s Colton Hardy winning the Group A one while Ryan Criswell took the other B main.

    Things were moving along well at this point until management decided to rework the track which did not need a complete redo. It was like the wheels fell off the wagon at this point with an hour down time as the weather became damp and cool after the sun dropped below the horizon.

    All of the other four divisions on the card would run their features before the two 25 lap winged outlaw 600’s would take to the track again. It seemed to take forever going forward as many wasted laps were taken realigning fields of nine and ten cars.

    It was not until 11:01 when the Group A 25 lap feature took the green flag with Cole Tinsley taking the early lead. Tinsley would hold sway until veteran Joe B. Miller swept by Tinsley entering turn one on lap 13 and set sail. Miller had a good lead by lap 20 when disaster struck in the form of a blown engine ending his night five laps too early. Tinsley would inherit the lead and led the remaining five laps of the contest passing under the checker at 11:14 for the $1000 win over Joe Wirth, Dylan Kadous, Reed Whitney advancing from 9th to 4th with Cale Goodwin rounding out the top five.

    With the late hour (we were on Eastern time of 12:15) we decided to bag the second 25 lapper and head down the road to our hotel for the evening. Craig Ronk went onto to win the second one and looking at the results from Saturday night the Hoosier resident took home the big $5000 paycheck the following evening.

    The racing was decent, the track surface was good but the lack of organization was their ultimate downfall as this program should not have taken four hours to present.

    That’s it until tomorrow when we will update you on the rest of the weekend adventure and what all we visited on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as fall approaches and tracks are starting to close for the season here in the Midwest. Comments, news, stories and any other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always, we appreciate your emails and hope you enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Remember to be kind as you don’t know what that other person you just met might be going through and a kind word or smile can go a long way.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Grant Becomes First To Conquer All Three Nights At Smackdown


    Saturday, August 26 – With temperatures and the humidity dropping even more on this day we looked forward to the final night of Smackdown XII at the Kokomo Speedway. But before we headed over to the track a luncheon date was set up with Irvin and Mary Jane King and our newest friend, Ken “Wags” Wagner, the California transplant now living in Oklahoma. The Fox’s Trail in Kokomo was the choice and what a choice it was, with delicious food (huge portions) and great company to boot. My chicken dish was so large that I only ate half of it and took the rest with us after placing it in our larger cooler with ice packs inside. Then it was off to Kokomo Speedway to try to find a good parking place and our mission was accomplished when we were able to park just down from the pit entrance with our back up to the pit fence. I decided to take advantage of our full access three day ticket which includes pit access and strolled the pit area talking with various drivers and crew members along with a few of our race fan friends. The most interesting story I came up with was the usual number of cars (four that I know of) that suffered fuel nozzle issues over the past two days. Could it have been a bad batch of fuel nozzles from a manufacturer?? Makes you wonder as this is not a usual occurrence. The best encounter was listening to Drake York interview young Trey Osborne and then having a few minutes to converse with the up and coming racer in his first full season of sprint car racing. He has already captured three wins in 2023 with the season about ¾ of the way over. Trey was the talk of Smackdown as he qualified his low buck operation (pulls car with open trailer) for all three nights including his first USAC heat win on Friday. This is a very humble and appreciative young man who has a bright future going forward and remember the name Trey Osborne in the future. Any car owner looking for an impressive young driver who knows how to race who do themselves well by putting this guy in their sprint car!!!

    The format tonight is totally different from the previous two evenings with no time trials but instead four heat races taking the top two into the 40 lap, $30,000 to win main event joining the top eight in point standings over the first two nights. Another unique twist to this is that the top eight do not automatically line up by their point standings but must participate in a King of the Hill event pitting them against each other in a three lap match race with the winner moving into the next round and so forth with the final two matching up to determine the winner and the front row.

    First on the agenda was the heat racing with the track in great shape again tonight producing some good racing action. Carson Garrett, one of the drivers who had nozzle and rear end troubles the night before, put that all behind him by notching the first heat win besting Max Adams. Jadon Rogers having a great Smackdown in the Michael Dutcher #17GP claimed heat two over Matt Westfall. Ricky Lewis continued his fine Smackdown performances by taking down heat three over Chase Stockon who he passed for the win. Jake Swanson posted the heat four win over another youngster who has run well in Smackdown XII, Joey Amantea taking second.

    The King of the Hill competition was next up on the program with #1 Justin Grant paring off with #8 Logan Seavey with Grant defeating Seavey to move to the next round. Number two seed Brady Bacon squared off with #7 Briggs Danner with Danner pulling the upset defeating Bacon after Bacon on the last lap came off the cushion in turn two making contact with Danner with Bacon spinning to a stop. Next up was #4 Robert Ballou matching up with #5 Kyle Cummins with Cummins prevailing in this one. Then it was #3 CJ Leary taking on #6 Shane Cottle with Leary moving forward. The next round had Grant vs Cummins with Grant winning and Leary taking on Danner with Leary winning. The final matchup was Grant vs Leary with Grant running the gauntlet beating all comers and becoming the King of the Hill.

    That led us into the C main with the top two advancing to the back of the B main. Brandon Mattox won this affair beating the California driver, Nate Schank. The B main was next on the card with Texan Kobe Simpson taking a wild ride down the backstretch before landing at the entrance to turn three. Simpson was OK after the wild ride but the same could not be said for his sprinter. The race was restarted and went smoothly after that with Emerson Axsom punching his ticket to the big dance turning back Trey Osborne making his first final start with Stevie Sussex third, Daison Pursley, another rookie in the race, finishing fourth. Cole Bodine and Geoff Ensign were the last two to make their way into the big dance which was next on tap.

    The drivers were introduced, the four wide salute to the fans with flashing track lights were performed and as Chet Christner says “it was time to drop the hamma” on the 22 car starting field at 10:07. CJ Leary got the drop on the heavily favorite Justin Grant on the initial start and proceeded to lead the first 11 laps of the event raking in a cool $5500 for his early success. As the front of the field caught up to the rear of the field Grant decided it was time to drop his own hamma as he dove to the bottom of turn one starting lap 12 and took the lead from Leary at that point. Grant tore his way through the back markers adding up the lap money in the meantime opening up a large two second lead by the halfway mark. Drop Grant from the equation and the race behind him would have been an instant classic with Leary, Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins and rookie Briggs Danner duking it out like a bunch of boxers for positions two through five. Bacon took second from Leary in turn four on lap 23 as Grant motored away. Cummins was able to wrestle third from Leary on lap 30 in heavy lap traffic and caught Bacon for second on lap 32 using the high side. With five to go Logan Seavey entered the picture using a turn one slider to secure third from Bacon exiting turn two. It looked like this one was going to go the entire 40 lap distance non-stop until Leary slowed and stopped on the homestretch while running fifth. Leary was pushed off and restarted eighth, the last driver on the lead lap, as Grant’s relentless drive had lapped up to eighth with three to go.

    Grant’s tremendous eight second lead was suddenly gone and everyone wondered if Cummins or anyone else could pull off a late race pass of the high flying Grant. On the restart the door opened for Cummins as Grant botched the restart jumping the cushion in turns one and two allowing Cummins, the defending champion, to pull alongside exiting turn two and down the backstretch. Grant took the middle line entering turn three trying to block any anticipated slider by Cummins but Kyle pulled alongside in turn four with Grant mashing the pedal off turn four to maintain the lead by mere feet.

    Grant would complete the sweep of three nights of Smackdown by fending off Cummins’ late advances crossing the line at 10:21 with Cummins second, Seavey third, Bacon fourth and Robert Ballou sneaking by Danner for fifth on the last lap. Grant is white hot at this point winning his ninth USAC sprint race of 2023 along with his ninth career Smackdown victory tying Dave Darland for most Smackdown wins. Grant also became the third three time Smackdown champion (2018, 2021 & 2023) joining Dave Darland and Tyler Courtney on that prestigious list. Oh, did I mention that Grant also bagged a grand total of $44,500 ($30,000 + another $14,500 for leading 29 laps) nabbing his 43rd career USAC National sprint car win moving him by Pancho Carter for sole possession of 7th on the all-time win list. Grant took home a grand total of $56,500 for three days of racing in a total of 100 laps raced!!!

    Briggs Danner headed up the second five in an impressive Smackdown debut with Jadon Rogers with three top ten finishes in three days of 5th, 4th and 7th. CJ Leary would come home eighth with Shane Cottle ninth and Jake Swanson rounding out the top ten.

    It was a fun three nights of non-wing sprint car racing with plenty of passing but hopefully next year won’t be so darn hot and humid!!! After watching two dominant performances in the last two finals they might want to change the name to Spankdown instead of Smackdown!!!

    That’s it until next weekend, Labor Day weekend where the plan right now is to see three races in two states (Missouri & Illinois) with two of them being new venues if the weather is our friend along with a baseball game squeezed in between. So as the summer slips away get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area while being safe, staying hydrated and having fun. Comments, news and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep reading. It was great to see our Missouri friends, Gary Dean and Sally Ebling, and chatting with them both. Thanks Sally for the 12 pack of your wonderful homemade salsa which we will enjoy throughout the year until next year at Smackdown!!!

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Doubles Up With Night Two Win At Kokomo Smackdown


    Friday, August 25 – Today’s weather was still hot and humid but not as bad as Thursday’s furnace like weather. Temperatures were in the high 80’s with the feels like temperature only in double digits instead of triple digit figures. A visit to Bob Evan’s for lunch proceeded our run to the track. We found a good spot or so we thought to park but a Howard County Sheriff’s Deputy informed us we were in a reserved camping space and would have to move after sitting there for an hour. We ended up moving to a space past the pit entrance against the fence separating the pits from the outside areas.

    On tap tonight was night two of Smackdown XII with the same format from last night with sprint time trials followed by heat racing and then a C main and B main before the 30 lap A main. Time trials pushed off at 6:54 for the 45 car field gathered for tonight’s racing minus the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ driven by Mitchel Moles who it was announced were done for the remaining two days after wrecking another sprinter last night in a tangle with Chase Stockon. For the second night in a row, we witnessed a surprise fast timer as Ventura, California’s Ricky Lewis, the winningest non-wing driver in the country in 2023 with 11 wins, knocked off the fastest one lap of the evening at 12.774 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring.

    By 7:43 we were ready to go USAC sprint car heat racing with four heats taking the top four directly to the 30 lap main event. The track seemed to be wider this evening making for better heat and feature racing going forward. Brady Bacon was a man on a mission in heat one aggressively powering his way to the front of the field to claim the heat win over Ricky Lewis, Jadon Rogers and Korbyn Hayslett. Heat two was taken down by Trey Osborne who has been impressive in his first full season of sprint car racing, besting Emerson Axsom who he passed a few weeks ago for his third year of the year in Indiana at Gas City. CJ Leary and Briggs Danner chased the top two across the line. Kyle Cummins, rebounding from his bad luck last night when a fuel nozzle line came loose dropping him from third to tenth in the last two laps of the feature staked out heat three. Matt Westfall, Dave Darland qualifying for the second straight night via the heat and Cole Bodine followed. Justin Grant won the fourth heat by inches at the line nipping Shane Cottle, Robert Ballou and Kevin Thomas Jr.

    The C main was the next race on the dance card with the top four moving to the tail for the B main. Australian Troy Carey flipped on the homestretch in this one and was OK after his tumble. Colten Cottle would go on to victory in the Paul Hazen #57 over Wyatt Burks, Brandon Mattox and Joey Amantea.

    The B main or semi which you prefer also saw a sprinter go airborne when Chance Crum, a sprint car rookie moving into the sprint car ranks after piloting midgets. Jake Swanson in the Team AZ #21AZ would go onto win the B main over Logan Seavey, Daison Pursley, Stevie Sussex, Sterling Cling and Chase Stockon. Carson Garrett who had mechanical woes in his main car had to move to a backup machine starting last in the 18 car B main and missing the main event by only two positions causing him to use the only provisional of the evening.

    When all the preliminaries in the books that set the stage for the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature race. The front row of CJ Leary and Jadon Rogers brought the 23 car starting field to Tom Hansing’s green silk at 9:42 with Rogers getting the jump off the outside of row one to take the early lead. Rogers would lead the first five laps of the feature until Trey Osborne lost power and glided to a halt on the homestretch ending his evening prematurely. In the first four laps of the race Shane Cottle was passing people left and right advancing from 21st to 12th in the march forward as the Epperson #2E was on a rail.

    On the restart Rogers went to the point once again but Briggs Danner and CJ Leary were working the low side when the trio going three wide off turn four with Roger’s momentum off the high side helping him maintain the race lead. Justin Grant was also making his presence known lurking right behind the top three looking for some racing room. Brady Bacon was on the march and using the low side in turn one on lap twelve to make a sweep by both Danner and Leary to take over third slotting in behind Grant who had moved to second. Closing on the halfway mark Grant made his first challenge for the lead on a slide job in turn three taking the brief lead but Rogers countered off turn four and retained the lead at the line. Grant executed a slider entering turn one and Rogers stormed down the backstretch executing his own slider in turn three with Grant countering in turn four and taking the lead at the line for lap fourteen. Rogers was not quite finished retaking the lead in turn one for a brief moment until Grant retook the lead exiting turn two for good.

    Bacon meanwhile worked the bottom and caught Rogers for second on lap seventeen and took up the chase of Grant for the race lead. Lap eighteen saw Shane Cottle continue his assault sliding by Rogers for third on the inside of turn one. Cottle was able to slip by Bacon for second on lap twenty two before encountering lap traffic who was occupying his bottom lane with Bacon moving to the middle groove and recapturing second from Cottle on lap twenty three. Grant meanwhile was long gone opening up an almost three second bulge as the laps clicked off. Grant would flash under Hansing’s double checkers first at 9:53 besting seventh starting Brady Bacon with twenty first starting Shane Cottle taking down the third podium position and the $300 for being hard charger once again for the sixth time in the last nine USAC sprint starts. Jadon Rogers would end up fourth with Kyle Cummins rounding out the top five. Logan Seavey topped off a good run from tenth to finish sixth with CJ Leary seventh, Jake Swanson eighth, Briggs Danner holding on for ninth with Ricky Lewis ending up tenth. Bacon would finish second for the second straight night and tenth time in his USAC career at Kokomo still without a win. On the other hand, Grant would take his second straight win in Smackdown competition and sixth overall in the 12 years of Smackdown the most of any driver. It was also Grant’s 42nd career USAC National win breaking a tie with Bryan Clauson for eighth and moving him into a tie for seventh with Pancho Carter on the all-time winning list.

    It was a good race tonight overall with a wider racing surface the main ingredient in the racing formula making for better racing on the entire evening.

    That’s it for now but check back Sunday afternoon for a review of Saturday night’s finale of Smackdown XII where $30,000 to win plus lap money is on the line and the question is can anybody beat Justin Grant who is on a roll and could be tough to beat on Saturday. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or #GYATK for the Smackdown XII final. Either way be safe out there and stay hydrated in the sun and humidity. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for the comments sent our way. Until next time be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Grant Takes Third Straight Smackdown Opener At Kokomo


    Thursday, August 24 – The weather was brutal for the day with temperatures in the 90’s and the heat index as high as 114 degrees today for the opener of Smackdown XII at the Kokomo Speedway. Winds of 12 to 14 miles an hour were our saving grace as when we arrived at Kokomo and I opened the car door it felt like I was sticking my head in an oven. We decided to secure our seats for the three days with our blue tarp, visit several of the souvenir stands before heading back to the car and sitting in the cool air conditioning until we heard the sound of race engines on the track. We gathered our stuff to take in and headed trackside for night on of Smackdown XII.

    Forty six cars and teams graced the turns one and two pit area to contest tonight’s $6000 to win opener. Time trials would be the first order of business commencing at 7:48 with Robert Ballou surprising the field by posting the fast time of 12.900 seconds around the ¼ mile dirt oval. Kevin Thomas Jr set the second fastest time which was disallowed because the Dwight Cheney #42 came up light on the scale dropping him to 46th on the grid which would mean he would have to start last in every race this evening.

    The four heats taking the top four directly to the 30 lap main event kicked off at 8:36 with the action starting early when Emerson Axsom clipped the turn four infield tire and launched his Clauson/Marshall #47BC skyward and began a series of end over end flips ending up near the flagger’s stand. Axsom would return for the B main but would not qualify and be forced to use a provisional and start 23rd in the feature tonight receiving national points but not Smackdown points. Shane Cottle in the Epperson #2E would capture the first heat win over Daison Pursley, Justin Grant and Robert Ballou with Kayla Roell the 15 year old girl missing by one spot in a strong run. Joey Amantea, the 18 year old driver from Pennsylvania, checked out from the field in winning heat two besting Korbyn Hayslett, CJ Leary and Brady Bacon. Rylan Gray, another youngster at 17 years old, walked away with heat three beating Trey Osborne, Ricky Lewis, the winningest non-wing driver in the US with 11 wins, third and Kyle Cummins fourth. The fourth heat was taken by Carson Garrett over Colten Cottle, Max Adams and Dave Darland sneaking by Chance Crum on the last lap to snare the fourth qualifying spot for the former three time Smackdown champion. Mitchel Moles banged wheels with Chase Stockon on the homestretch in the fourth heat with Moles twirling in the air several times before rolling over one and a half times ending up at the entrance of turn one.

    The C main was the next race on the agenda with only the top four moving into the B main. Jadon Rogers taking a spin in the Michael Dutcher #17GP won this affair over Sterling Cling, Kevin Thomas Jr charging from 16th and Wyatt Burks edging Riley Kreisel in the Jack Yeley #2 for the last advancement position.

    The B main was next up with the top six moving into the feature event tonight. Chase Stockon won this one over Logan Seavey, Jake Swanson, Briggs Danner, Matt Westfall and Cole Bodine with Jadon Rogers coming up one spot short of making the field. Rogers would use the second provisional available and start 24th in the main event.

    The 30 lap, $6000 to win feature event was ready to go by 10:32 with the front row of Kyle Cummins and Justin Grant bringing the 24 car field to Tom Hansing’s initial green flag. It didn’t last long as a five car tangle on the bottom of turns one and two eliminated Colten Cottle and Trey Osborne for the rest of the evening. On the restart Grant shot into the early lead with Cummins in chase mode. Brady Bacon up from fifth slipped by C J Leary for third on the low side of turn one on lap two. Grant was in cruise mode pulling away to a good lead as he approached lap traffic as the race neared the halfway mark. Cummins and Bacon were in a good battle for the runner-up position as they continued to chase Grant up front. Justin made a great move in lap traffic in turn four with ten to go sweeping by a trio of lappers and gaining him some breathing room at that point. The challenge was not over for Grant as many others raced in front of him running all over the surface and he would have to pick his way through them being as careful as possible.

    With six to go Bacon was finally able to make a good run at Cummins for second diving low in turn three and clearly the defending Smackdown champ in turn four to see if he could reel in Grant over the last six circuits. Grant in his dominant run was not to be challenged as he had lapped up to the top nine as he crossed under Hansing’s double checkers at 10:46 for his third straight opening night Smackdown win and his fifth overall Smackdown win over the 12 years. Grant also scored his season leading seventh win of 2023 along with his seventh USAC win at Kokomo. To top it off it was his 41st career USAC National sprint car win moving him by Gary Bettenhausen into 8th on the all-time list tying him with the late Bryan Clauson on the all-time sprint win list. Bacon would cross the line second with Ballou claiming the third podium position. In the last two laps Cummins began to slow, the result of fuel nozzle line that came loose, and faded to tenth at the finish in a heartbreaker for him. Carson Garrett came from seventh to finish fourth with the show being Jadon Rogers charging from 24th to finish 5th at the end. Unfortunately, by using a provisional Rogers was not awarded the hard charger award but he still put on one heck of a driving performance in this one.

    CJ Leary would fade to sixth at the finish with Shane Cottle seventh, Briggs Danner eighth after starting sixteenth and receiving the hard charger award, with Joey Amantea turning in a solid performance capturing ninth with Cummins ending up tenth.

    Grant’s dominant performance makes him a favorite to win the $30,000 on the line for Saturday night but it is not a given. It was a decent race, not great, but the most impressive part of the evening was how the track surface held up under extreme temperatures and a steady wind with hardly a speck of dust the entire evening. Fine job done by Reece O’Connor and the rest of the Kokomo track crew!!

    That’s it for today but check back tomorrow for night two of Smackdown XII and see what plays out on this night. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, news and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our travels have us ending up at. And remember to be kind and be good.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun As Seavey Claims Macon Midget Gold


    Saturday, August 19 – After leaving the Illinois State Fair we headed eastwardly stopping for gas before driving 46 miles over to the Macon Speedway, the high banked black clay 1/5 mile speed bowl for USAC National Midgets (30) along with two local support classes, modifieds (11) and hornets (15). Time trials were the first order of business kicking off at 6:48 with Tanner Thorson setting fast time with a lap of 10.462 seconds around the 1/5 mile oval.

    Hot laps for the other two divisions followed before the midgets returned to compete in three heats with the top five moving directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening. Cannon McIntosh would be the first driver to nail down a heat win taking heat one over Jade Avedisian, Tanner Thorson, Jacob Denney and Karter Sarff. Heat two went to the veteran Thomas Meseraull fending off his teammate, Justin Grant, Hayden Reinbold (2nd fast qualifier in a surprise), Kevin Thomas Jr and Gavin Miller. The third and final heat fell to Daison Pursley besting Zach Daum, Mitchell Davis in a strong run, Daniel Whitley and his teammate, Logan Seavey in the best heat of the night.

    The mods ran two heats with Austin Lynn and Jacob Steinkoenig winning while the hornets ran two good heats with Casey Eskew winning by inches and Billy Mason winning the other one.

    The USAC midget semi was next up on the dance card with the top seven moving into the main event. Chase McDermand prevailed in this contest beating Bryant Wiedeman, Taylor Reimer, Ethan Mitchell, Ryan Timms cheered on by his parents who sat two rows in front of us, Jake Andreotti and Daniel Adler who edged out Mariah Ede for the last transfer spot.

    The modifieds would be first up for their 20 lap main event which saw the green flag at 8:30. Only two cautions and seven minutes later Jeremy Nichols won from second over fourth starting Tim Luttrell and sixth starting Austin Lynn.

    The hornets outdid their modified buddies by running their 15 lap feature event in seven minutes with only one caution and put on an action packed race for the fans in attendance. Allan Harris came from sixth to win this thriller over fifth starting Tristin Quinlan and fourth starting Billy Mason.

    Now it was time to go USAC midget racing and after the four wide salute to the fans the green flag waved at 9:02 with Logan Seavey getting the jump from his second starting position and quickly pulled away from the field. Thomas Meseraull who seemed to be out of control all night living up to his slide or die statement, fed the right rear tire to Hayden Reinbold on lap five knocking him into the turn two wall to bring out a caution. Seavey took off again on the restart and quickly reached lap traffic by lap ten and then the fun began as he looked to pick his way through the slower traffic. Six cautions would slow the action and give Seavey the breaks he needed to stay out front with no traffic to contend with. Gavin Miller and Karter Sarff had a good battle for second as Thomas Meseraull followed the pair before picking off Sarff and battling with Miller. Lap twenty five saw Meseraull again make contact with a car in turn two sending second running Miller into the concrete but Miller got a huge break when Jake Andreotti spun in turn one allowing Miller to restart in second with Meseraull pulling to the infield with mechanical woes. Tanner Thorson who had dropped back early from his sixth starting spot made some adjustments under the many cautions and late in the running found the inside groove to be the way forward cracking the top three. Seavey was gone again on the restart and opened up over a second lead over the last five laps flashing under the checkers at 9:26 with his third win of 2023 and his 11th career win. It also made him a member of an exclusive club winning two USAC races in the same day joining Billy Vukovich (1967) and JJ Yeley (2004) and now Seavey (2023). Seavey has been on a roll in USAC midget competition in 2023 having now scored an amazing nine straight podium finishes in 2023 opening up a large point’s lead in the process.

    Gavin Miller would garner second at the finish for his best run since winning at Bloomington in June. Tanner Thorson came home third with fellow low rider, Zach Daum, advancing from 12th to 4th with Karter Sarff in a fine run rounding out the top five. Ethan Mitchell would lead the second five finishing sixth after starting fourteenth with Cannon McIntosh seventh, Daniel Adler eighth in his first USAC start since 2017 receiving the hard charger award after starting 22nd, Chase McDermand ninth after starting seventeenth and Jacob Denney coming home tenth.

    As Dick Trickle use to say it is like flying jet fighters in a gymnasium when you watch racing at Macon Speedway which is always action packed.

    That’s it for now but check back Friday as Smackdown XII lurks with the first of three nights of racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana kicks off on Thursday with the final race paying a great $30,000 to win plus $500 for each lap led. Can’t wait!!!! In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and head to Kokomo, Indiana for Smackdown XII. Either way be safe out there and stay hydrated. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as is always the case thanks for reading our efforts. In closing be good and be kind.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Seavey Hot On Dirt Winning Five Of Last Seven Sweeping Springfield Mile


    Saturday, August 19 – It was a short half hour ride over from Lincoln to Springfield as our destination today was the Illinois State Fair and specifically the one mile dirt oval located there. On tap today was the 60th running of the Bettenhausen 100 for the USAC Silver Crown series or as I like to call them, the grand old dames of USAC. I like that name better than some who call them the fat bottomed girls but call them what you want they are fun to watch on the big one mile ovals as well as the half miles. Forty four entrants were on the pre-race list but only forty made it to Springfield. The Silver Crown cars among the three classes that USAC sanctions seem to be the ones who have more mechanical woes than the others. We were down to 39 when defending Bettenhausen 100 champion, Shane Cockrum, lost his motor in hot laps and we lost two more as A J Fike, a former winner at Springfield, and rookie Ryan Thomas failed to make it out for time trials. Shane Cockrum was back in as he drove the second Sam Pierce #126 replacing Aaron Pierce and made the top 24. It was still a stout 37 car field that challenged the Springfield mile today with Logan Seavey notching his first career fast time in the Silver Crown class touring the mile to the tune of 31.317 seconds. The fastest 24 cars locked into the Bettenhausen 100 with Casey Buckman, the Arizona driver the last man in on time.

    Six more would join the festivities after the 12 lap Last Chance Qualifier which started 12 cars with an all-female front row of Kaylee Bryson and Taylor Ferns leading them to the green flag at 12:55. Bryson dominated this one finishing about a half straightway ahead of Ferns at the finish and they were joined in the Bettenhausen 100 by Korey Weyant, Russ Gamester, Travis Welpott and Chris Fetter holding off Matt Mitchell for the last ticket to the big dance.

    We were ready to go with the 60th Bettenhausen 100 with the front row of Logan Seavey and Emerson Axsom bringing the 31 car field (Dave Berkheimer took a provisional) to the green flag at 2:05. Axsom took the early advantage with Seavey on his heels. Seavey drove hard into turn three on the second lap on the outside and drove by Axsom to take the lead. Rookie Chase Dietz in his second Silver Crown start after finishing second at Port Royal in his debut motored into fourth on lap five after starting sixth with Kody Swanson on the move from tenth to sixth on lap six. Shane Cockrum was also moving forward in the second Pierce entry up to twelfth by lap nine. Swanson picked off Justin Grant to move to fifth on lap eleven. Cockrum started to fade at this point and finally slowed to a stop on the homestretch on lap sixteen when his throttle pedal broke.

    On the restart Seavey went back out front with Axsom close behind. Jerry Coons Jr drove the Mike Haggenbottom #24 into twelfth on the restart after starting eighteenth and grabbed eleventh one lap later. At the same time Grant worked his way back past Swanson for fifth. Shane Cottle at the throttle of the Dyson #9 powered by Axsom for the runner-up position on the inside of turn four on lap twenty. In the meantime Seavey was cruising up front as he increased his lead as the race approached the quarter century mark. Chase Dietz caught and passed Axsom for third on the homestretch on lap twenty six while Taylor Ferns was on the march moving from twenty sixth to eighteenth on lap twenty eight. Axsom took back third from Dietz on the inside of turn four on lap thirty four with Grant following through to take fourth. Lap thirty nine saw Seavey reach lap traffic as he worked his way through but this allowed Cottle to close the gap. Cottle got a good run on the backstretch on lap forty one and took the lead away from Seavey at that point. Axsom slid high in turn three allowing Grant to snatch fourth on lap forty three. One lap later Korey Weyant slowed on the backstretch to bring out the second caution of the event.

    On the restart Cottle retained the lead with Seavey and Grant in close pursuit. Kody Swanson slipped into fifth on the restart on lap forty nine and right into fourth as he got a good run on the restart. Lap fifty four saw a strong run by Wayne Johnson end early when he pulled pitside on lap fifty four. At this point the field began to ride with little action occurring. Cottle was in command and pulled away as the laps clicked off. As the race pushed to the sixty lap mark Seavey began to move closer to Cottle as the front two distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. After the top two cleared the lap traffic Cottle hit the gas and opened up over a two second lead at this point. The third caution would appear on lap eighty one when ninth running CJ Leary slowed the Bob East #6 on the homestretch with a blown powerplant. This would bunch up the field for the restart.

    On the lap eight six restart Cottle jumped the gun restarting in turn three and brought a quick caution on the field. They regrouped and took the green again on lap eighty eight with Cottle moving back out front to a five car length lead entering turn one. Seavey at this point drove it extra hard and long into turn one on the outside and then diamonded it off down to the rail in a brilliant move sneaking by Cottle as the pair entered turn two and raced down the backstretch. Seavey powered away and opened over a second lead as the race moved into the last ten laps. With three to go Travis Welpott clobbered the turn three wall bringing out the fourth and final caution and setting up a green, white and checkered scenario as Seavey’s lead was wiped out.

    The crowd tensed as the green flag waved wondering if Seavey and the others had enough fuel to go the rest of the distance as they anticipated a run to the finish and waited to see if Cottle had any tricks up his sleeve over the final two laps. Seavey was up to the challenge and led the final two laps flashing under the double checkers at 3:21 for his first Bettenhausen 100 win and his fifth win out of the last seven Silver Crown races run on dirt besting Shane Cottle with Justin Grant third, Kody Swanson fourth and Springfield rookie, Emerson Axsom bringing the Nolen #20 home fifth. Cottle was quite disappointed as he felt he let that one get away from him being two cautious entering turn one on the lap eighty eight restart finishing second here for the second straight year. Jacob Wilson in his first Silver Crown run in three years brought the family owned #07 home sixth and made two Crawfordsville residents happy with Davey Ray in a steady run in the beautiful Cornell #8 taking seventh with Mario Clouser eighth, Chase Dietz slipping to ninth but still two for two in top ten finishes with Jerry Coons Jr in a steady run taking down tenth. Matt Westfall just missed the top ten finishing eleventh with Taylor Ferns receiving the hard charger award after starting twenty sixth and finishing twelfth, Chase Stockon thirteenth, Russ Gamester in a good run for fourteenth and Casey Buckman rounding out the top fifteen. It was a decent race with some good drives and it was not over for Seavey on the day either so check back tomorrow to see what the California kid did Saturday night at Macon Speedway in the USAC National Midgets.

    Until tomorrow get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated as a heat wave is sweeping over the Midwest and will be headed East. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you are still enjoying them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. In closing be good and be kind.



     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Nienhiser and Bruns Win Night Before The Mile At Lincoln


    Friday, August 18 – It was a weekend we looked forward to for a while as we packed up the Chevy Equinox and headed west into the Land of Lincoln for two days and nights of racing in Illinois. Friday’s destination was the Lincoln Speedway, the ¼ mile black clay oval located in Lincoln, Illinois. The race was billed as the Night Before the Mile (Springfield Silver Crown mile race). We arrived right around 5 and ventured into the covered grandstand to secure our seats for the big night of racing that was scheduled for tonight. We usually don’t like five division programs but when the car counts are lower and they start on time it can be enjoyable. The MOWA 410 winged sprints brought the most cars on the evening with 23 while the MARA midgets towed in 15 entrants. The pro late models contributed another 12 cars while the UMP modifieds only had 10 entries and the hornets only showed up with 3 cars.

    We have to venture over into Illinois to find a show that starts on their posted starting time for racing at 7 PM and actually the first green of the evening dropped on the first MARA midget heat at 6:59. And to top it off as one heat exited the speedway on the backstretch the next heat was entering the race track from the turn four lineup road and taking one lap around oval before starting their heat.

    Mark McMahill from Peoria would score the win in heat one over Greg Ross and Jace Sparks in a very competitive heat. Patrick Bruns from Champaign would capture heat two over Tyler Roth and Miles Doherty. Next up were the UMP modifieds running two heats with Jared Thomas and Brian Lynn taking heat wins. The MOWA sprints were next on the agenda with Paul Nienhiser besting Colton Fisher and Steven Russell who would do double duty tonight and tomorrow afternoon racing on the mile at the Illinois State Fair. Jeremy Standridge would score the win in heat two over Terre Haute, IN driver Bryce Norris and Jake Neuman. Heat three went to Mario Clouser, another double duty pilot, over Jake Blackhurst and Preston Perlmutter from SanAntonio, TX and current MOWA point leader.

    The pro late models would contest two heats also with Jose Parga and Blaise Baker claiming wins. The three hornets would run their 12 lap feature event next with Bridget Fulton turning sideways in turn one on the opening lap and going for a series of barrel rolls before stopping in turn two. She quickly climbed from the mangled machine OK after her wild ride. Billy Mason would go on to win this one.

    The second feature of the evening would be the 20 lap main event for the UMP modifieds with Jared Thomas making short work of this one taking the lead from the first starting spot and never being headed winning the seven minute feature over Brian Lynn and Brandon Roberts.

    The 20 lap MARA midget feature was next to the post and went green at 8:26 with Daltyn England getting the jump on Korey Weyant for the early lead. The caution came out for Jace Sparks when he ran off the homestretch onto the horse track and stopped. On the restart England led Miles Doherty and Weyant. England opened up the lead but the battle between second through sixth was amazing with numerous slide jobs thrown as these guys duked it out behind England. Greg Ross was able to advance from sixth into second and took up the chase of England. Patrick Bruns was another driver working his way forward from ninth moving into third on lap five. Ross meanwhile used the high route to take over the lead from England on lap six. Bruns continued his march taking second from England on lap eight and the race for the lead was on. Bruns caught Ross on lap thirteen and took the lead briefly before getting sideways handing the lead back to Ross. Weyant turned turtle in turn two bring out the red. On the restart it was Ross the leader trailed by Bruns and England. Bruns executed a slide job in turns three and four with just three to go to grab the lead but Ross was right there not giving up as they raced closely together. Bruns was able to move ahead by two car lengths on the white flag lap and would flash across the finish line at 8:42 for his third win of 2023 with Ross and Tyler Roth in close pursuit. Tim Siner made a late charge to finish fourth after starting fourteenth with Mark McMahill rounding out the top five in a top notch feature race.

    The 20 lap pro late model feature would run next and Jose Parga made short work of the field taking the lead on the start and winning easily and in the process remaining unbeaten when he has raced at Lincoln in 2023 in this division.

    Last up for the features on this evening would be the headlining MOWA sprint cars taking the green flag at 9:11. Trevin Littleton would gain the early lead and pace the field for the first six laps until fifth starting Paul Neinhiser made a nifty move in lap traffic on the inside of turn four passing both a lap car and leader Littleton in one fair swoop and never looked back on his way to his second MOWA win of 2023 and his 25th career MOWA win holding off a late charge by sixth starting Will Armitage for the victory, Trevin Littleton would finish third with eighth starting Jake Neuman fourth and Jake Blackhurst fifth with the final checker waving at 9:38.

    It was a great run program and we were able to watch the USAC midget feature from the comfort of our hotel room in Lincoln on Flo Racing on Pat’s phone before retiring for the evening.

    That’s it for race one of our Illinois weekend and check back Monday for the daytime half of our Saturday double in the Land of Lincoln. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing your area and be good and be safe. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for your comments passed along. Until tomorrow be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Parker Wins For First Time In Nine Years In Lincoln Park Run


    Saturday, August 12 – Today was forecasted to be partly sunny with scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon but mostly they were non-existent. We arrived at Lincoln Park Speedway after taking in an afternoon UTV race in North Salem at 7:15 and hot laps were still taking place and you can always count on LPS to not start on time. Just before we walked into the grandstand area Jake Swanson flipped the Daming #5T end over end several times in turn one necessitating a move into the Thompson #26T for the rest of the evening. The five division program had 33 non-wing sprints, 23 super stocks, 20 UMP modifieds, 17 bombers and 11 mod lites in the pit area along with the 3rd Little Feet Bike Challenge for the youngsters pedaling around parts or all of the 5/16 mile dirt oval.

    Non-wing sprint car heats would kick off the racing action commencing at 7:50 with Tony Helton rolling over in turn four in heat one for the second flip of the night. Brayden Fox would go onto win the first heat over Tim Creech, John Sluss and Jake Swanson. Heat two went to Brandon Spencer besting Kyle Shipley, Chance Crum and Daylan Chambers. Kyle Johnson nailed down heat three beating Sterling Cling, Aidan Salisbury and Weston Gorham hailing out of Colleyville, Texas. The fourth heat was taken by Geoff Ensign over Seth Parker, Jordan Kinser and Harley Burns.

    The mod lites followed with two heats won by Michael Mann and Brandon Freeburg before the UMP modifieds participated in three heats with Derek Losh, Tyler Loughmiller and Matt Mitchell winning. The super stocks spun off three heats and then the sprint cars ran their B main before the bombers ran their two heats. The sprint car B main was captured by Tye Mihocko who spun while running second in his heat race and was forced to the B main. Austin Nigh, Ivan Glotzbach and Austin Cory joined Mihocko at the tail of the 25 lap main event.

    That left us with the five feature races to run with the non-wing sprinters running their 25 lap feature event first. The 20 car field was led to the green flag by Seth Parker and Sterling Cling with Cling getting the early advantage but that didn’t last long as Brayden Fox tangled with several other cars racing down the backstretch on the opening lap with Fox rolling over several times ending his evening early. On the next restart Parker got the jump but a turn four tangle among Harley Burns, Ivan Glotzbach and Tye Mihocko on the inside of the turn brought the yellow out again with Glotzbach done for the evening.

    The third time was a charm as Cling grabbed the lead in the first two corners with Parker on his heels. Kyle Shipley was able to clear Parker for second on lap three. Geoff Ensign moved to fourth in turn four on lap five with Shipley able to briefly gain the lead on the bottom side of turn two on lap six. Cling would race around Shipley between turns three and four to regain the lead with Parker slipping by Shipley for second off turn four when Shipley bobbled on the cushion and lost some ground. Cling would lead with Parker and Shipley right behind until Ensign was able to polish off Shipley for third at the line on lap thirteen. Shortly thereafter Kyle Johnson slowed to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution.

    On lap after the restart Parker got a good run on Cling passing him for the lead off turn four on lap fourteen. Parker pulled away by a few car lengths as Ensign began to apply the pressure on Cling passing him for second on the homestretch on lap seventeen. Parker was able to fend off any advantages by Ensign as the laps dwindled down. Coming off the backstretch on the final lap Aidan Salisbury and Harley Burns tangled on the bottom of turn four bringing out a caution instead of a checkered for Parker.

    Parker would have to hold off any sliders by Ensign on the restart and he was successful in turn one as Ensign went for the slider but Parker was able to pull away in turn two and down the backstretch. Parker would hold sway as he raced to the line to accept the double checkers for his second career sprint car win at LPS besting Ensign, Shipley, Cling and Chance Crum up from 10th at the finish. Jake Swanson would bring the Thompson sprinter in for sixth with Tim Creech seventh, Tye Mihocko coming from the tail to finish eighth with Brandon Spencer ninth and Daylan Chambers rounding out the top five at 10:57. Seth Parker, out of West Terre Haute, IN, won for the first time since 2014 when he nipped Carson Short at the line for his first career win.

    We decided to stay for the mod lite 20 lapper and the UMP modified 20 lapper. First up was the mod lite feature which only had one caution with Brandon Freeburg out of Illinois winning this one over Jeff Cast and ninth starting Mike Pershing in eleven minutes.

    The UMP modifieds were next up to contest their 20 lap feature with Jake Leitzman taking the early lead. Derek Losh out of the number six hole took the lead from Leitzman at the line on lap four and led the remainder of the distance to score the win at 11:39 over Wes McClara, Leitzman, Matt Mitchell and Tyler Loughmiller.

    With two features still to run we headed for the exit for the 40 minute drive back to Crawfordsville.

    That’s it for this weekend but check back next week as an Illinois triple is on the horizon. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, be safe and have fun. Comments, news, stories or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as usual thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our typical weekend takes us.






     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Adams Notched Second Win With Flawless Run At Gas City


    Friday, August 11 – The weather for today at Gas City was a chance of scattered thunderstorms but we have learned that the weather in that area can change quickly and that was the case this Friday. Originally the forecast was for scattered thunderstorms from 6 to 8 PM with percentages of 40 to 50 percent. Then it was pushed back to 10 PM and on the drive up to the Derrick City it dropped to the highest percentage of 15 percent. Quite a change over a short period!!! After a stop at Texas Roadhouse in Marion for a fine meal it was off to the races.

    Tonight, was billed as Hornetpalooza for the hornet class with an extra distance race of 25 laps with $1000 to the winner. This brought 18 hornets to Gas City to battle for the big bucks in their division along with 27 wingless 410 sprints, 24 steel block sprints, 14 UMP modifieds and 14 trucks for a grand total of 97 vehicles in the turn three and four pit area at the ¼ mile bullring. This would be our fifth trip to Gas City in 2023 making it the third most visited track in our 2023 race tour. With five divisions (too many for a weekly program) you would think they would start on time (7:30) but the first racing action, a hornet dash, did not take the green until 8 PM. Once underway they moved the program along in good order but it seems for some reason they waste time relining races after cautions. Don’t get the extra laps when everyone is lined up and ready to go as 3 minutes here and there adds up over the course of the evening when you have five divisions.

    The wingless 410 sprints were first on the dance card for their heat racing with three heats scheduled for the 27 entrants in the pit area. Max Adams would score the first heat win over Colin Grissom, Tye Mihocko and Saban Bibent. Jack Hoyer strapped into the Baldwin orange crate #5 for the first time and unfortunately he did not make it past the first corner on the first lap being involved in a three car tangle and flipping several times end over end. Hoyer would return for the B main but would not transfer to the 25 lap main event. Scotty Weir back in the Benic #2B for the second straight week captured heat two besting Rylan Gray, Austin Nigh and Dustin Ingle. The third and final heat would fall to Colten Cottle in Sprint Car Hall of Famer, Paul Hazen’s famous #57, beating Evan Mosely, Ricky Lewis and Matt Westfall.

    The hornets would be next up spinning off two good, competitive heats before the wingless steel block sprinters took to the track. They brought a good 24 car field to the dance in a race billed the Steel Block Nationals. Heat one fell to Tres Mehler of Illinois over Bryan Schroeter. Heat two went to Wisconsin invader, Ryan Marshall, over Troy Carey, the, New South Wales Australia driver. Heat three was taken by Tyler Miller from nearby Kokomo, Indiana besting Michael Clark.

    The wingless 410 sprint B main would follow with Clayton Rossman winning over Brayden Clark and Nate Schank. The two UMP modified and truck heats followed with all qualifying competed by 9:31.

    That left us with the five feature races to spin off with the 25 lap wingless 410 sprint car feature the first one called to the post. The front row of Scotty Weir and Max Adams brought the 20 car field to the green flag at 10:04 with Adams getting a good start and storming into the early lead. Last week’s winner, Trey Osborne, was quick at the start moving from 14th to 8th in the first two laps until Colin Grissom slowed and stopped in turn two on lap two to bring out the caution. On the restart Adams again took command over Weir and Colten Cottle. One lap later Tye Mihocko in the Paul #24P slipped by Rylan Gray to move into the top five after starting 7th. Saban Bibent was another driver coming forward as he cracked the top five on lap five after starting tenth. Adams held a comfortable lead as the battle raged behind him with Weir, Cottle, Mihocko, Bibent and Osborne going at it tooth and nail. Ricky Lewis was another one making his presence felt as he lurked just outside the top five in sixth as the race progressed. Mihocko slipped by Cottle for third on lap eighteen with Bibent on his heels into fourth. Mihocko picked off Weir for second on lap nineteen with Bibent following suit by Weir. These two closed somewhat on Adams but Max had a good lead that would hold up over the last five laps with Adams in the family car flashing under the checkers at 10:18 for his second win of 2023 at Gas City over Mihocko and Bibent with Trey Osborne claiming fourth with Scotty Weir dropping to fifth at the end. Ricky Lewis led the second five in sixth with Rylan Gray seventh, Cottle eighth, Colin Grissom rallying back for ninth with Evan Mosley taking tenth.

    It was a good feature event with lots of positions changing from second through five the entire distance. Up next would be the 25 lap Hornetpalooza feature and it turned out to be a good one with only two cautions run off in 12 minutes. Ryan Crocker invading from Michigan scored the big win along with the six foot plus trophy and the $1000 check at 10:37 beating last week’s hornet winner, Heisman Skeens, in a good run.

    The 25 lap steel block sprint feature was next in the lineup chute and took the green flag at 10:51. Troy Carey would lead the opening three laps until Tres Mehler assumed command. Mehler who has won several of the group’s races this year, looked strong and led the first fourteen laps. Then fourth starting Ryan Marshall began to use the high side of the racetrack to reel in Mehler and passed him in turn two on the 14th lap. From there on Marshall would hold sway and pull away from Mehler by several car lengths over the remaining 11 laps to score the victory crossing the line at 11:11 for the Wisconsin driver over Mehler and Michael Clark.

    At this hour, it was time to call it a night with two features still to go and an almost two hour drive home. We were satisfied by the overall program and talked about various aspects of the evening during the ride home arriving back in Crawfordsville at 1 AM after encountering heavy traffic on I-465 West in the Indianapolis area after midnight.

    That’s it for this segment but check back Sunday as we report on our Saturday racing action. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road to catch some new tracks on your hit list. Either way have fun, be safe and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Be good and be kind.


     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Osborne Surprises With Late Race Pass Of Axsom For Gas City Win


    Friday, August 4 – Originally this weekend was sparse for wingless sprint car racing in the state of Indiana. No one was scheduled to race on Friday with Circle City, Gas City and Bloomington all off on the first Friday in August. Then Gas City stepped to the plate and announced on Monday via social media that they indeed were going to schedule a race on Friday. Well, that was a no brainer for us as we love Gas City and they were now the only show in town. So, it was across Route 32 to Cicero first to dine at Big Dog BBQ and then continuing over to Northeast Indiana and the Gas City I-69 Speedway. Unfortunately, the crowd that turned out was on the light side but the ones who did turn out were treated to a very good and competitive program from start to finish.

    We didn’t even mind the late start allowing spectators to take 15 minutes before the racing began to visit the pit area and interact with the cars, drivers, crews and owners. Once under way the show was spun off in quick order with great racing in all three divisions.

    The car counts were down with 18 wingless sprints joined by 14 hornets and 10 UMP modifieds. There was talk of a boycott or protest by the modifieds to voice their displeasure of not being scheduled more here in 2023 but to us showing up with only ten cars on a night that you are scheduled is not the way to get invited back more often in the future.

    Anyhow the first of three sprint car heats took the green flag at 7:53 with Zack Pretorius turning in a good run outdistancing hot laps/qualifying quick timer, Brayden Fox, and Max Adams. Heat two saw Emerson Axsom edge Scotty Weir in the Benic #2B by inches to win with Tye Mihocko in the Paul #24P third. The third heat was another doozy with Colten Cottle in the Hazen #57 in a photo finish over Trey Osborne with Sterling Cling third. Getting beat by inches in heat three would give Osborne the first starting spot in the feature as a six car invert pill was drawn after the heat races.

    The hornets would run two heats for their 14 car field with Greg Marlow and Heisman Skeens scoring wins. The UMP modifieds would contest two heats with Derek Losh and Brad DeYoung winning. All heat racing was over by 8:24 and no B mains would be necessary so the next race up would be the 25 lap wingless sprint car main event.

    The front row of Trey Osborne and Scotty Weir brought the 18 car field to the green flag with Weir gaining the advantage on the outside of turn one. Zack Pretorius would slow to a stop in turn two on lap two to bring out the first caution. On the restart Weir went to the point with Osborne and Brayden Fox chasing. Lap three saw Colten Cottle slip by Fox for third in turn four with Emerson Axsom taking fourth from Fox on lap six. Weir continued to lead but Osborne was keeping pace not far behind. Axsom started to make his move catching Cottle for third in turn three on lap twelve. Axsom picked off Osborne for second on lap fourteen and went after Weir for the lead. Axsom continued his surge racing past Weir into the lead at the start/finish line to start lap fifteen. At this point most people figured this one was over but nobody informed Osborne of this fact as he slipped by Weir for second. Two laps later the second and final caution waved when Colin Grissom slipped off turn three and stopped.

    On the ensuing restart Axsom went to the point with Osborne right on his heels. Lap eighteen saw eighth starting Tye Mihocko slip into fourth while Osborne was all over Axsom for the lead like white on rice. On lap twenty Osborne charged to the top and swept by Axsom for the lead to the surprise and delight of the crowd on hand. The 19 year old from the small town of Clintonville, Ohio outside of Columbus was not going to accept defeat tonight holding off Axsom over the last five laps and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:03 scoring his third wingless win of 2023 and first ever at Gas City. Axsom would cross the line second with Mihocko ending up third with Cottle fourth and Max Adams rounding out the top five. Colin Grissom would rebound for sixth with Scotty Weir slipping to seventh after a jingle late costing him several positions. Harley Burns was eighth, Sterling Cling ninth and Rylan Gray finished tenth.

    It was an upset win for the youngster who only has raced sprint cars since late 2022 after competing in quarter midgets, Kenyon midgets and full midgets racing for the Kenyon’s at the indoor racing at Fort Wayne during the winter previously. Osborne decided to pack his bags and leave Ohio to chase his dream ending up in Indianapolis where he is basically a one man band building and working on his cars with little help and pulling his sprinter to the track on an open trailer. This looks like a guy with good work effort and limitless future. A car owner would do well if they decided to sign this guy on.

    Since the hour was still early, we decided to stay and watch the other two features that still remained. The 15 lap hornet feature was next in the lineup chute and took the green flag at 9:10. Heisman Skeens executed a last lap, last turn pass of Jason Spencer to steal the win in this one in the competitive race which went the distance in six minutes with only one caution.

    There was still one more feature to contest and it involved the UMP modifieds for 20 laps. They went green at 9:23 with Dillon Nusbaum taking the early lead. Nusbaum would hold a comfortable lead the entire distance but anytime Derek Losh is in the field you can’t get too comfortable. Losh had worked his way from sixth to third by lap nine and was challenging Clayton Bryant for second when he made a rare mistake and looped it in turn one to bring out the caution. On the restart Nusbaum was quick to move away again but the race was behind him as Bryant, Zeke McKenzie and Cole Sink locked up in a torrid battle. Nusbaum would not be challenged the remainder of the distance and raced under the checkered flag at 9:30 completing a night of some great racing with Bryant edging Sink by inches for second with McKenzie fourth and Losh only able to manage a fifth.

    We were glad that Gas City decided to run tonight and the folks that came out were treated to some very good racing throughout the evening. Gas City I-69 Speedway did not disappoint running an entertaining program in a timely manner allowing us to be home before midnight.

    Without any possible pop up races being scheduled that is all for this weekend but in the meantime get out there if the weather is good in your area and take part in some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Comments, critiques or any other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always the case thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we might end up next. And remember to stay hydrated and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Soggy Ending To Indiana Sprint Week With Rainout At Tri-State

    Saturday, July 29 – The final night of the 36th annual Indiana Sprint Week was scheduled to conclude at Tom and Loris Helfrich’s Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt on Saturday but mother nature had other plans. After dining at Gasthof Amish Village Restaurant in the afternoon and having a delicious buffet of many items it was over to Haubstadt and the ¼ mile black clay semi-banked oval located along Route 41. We parked our car on the backstretch and decided to wait it out in the car with the air conditioning running as it was still quite humid today. It was the best decision we ever made as later in the afternoon The Weather Channel was tracking a nasty line of thunderstorms traveling across southern Illinois and bearing down on the Evansville area. By 5 PM the skies had turned quite dark and it looked like nightfall but the sun was not expected to set until around 9 PM.

    At 7 PM it started to rain lightly at first but shortly thereafter the high winds and the bulk of the front hit us and it turned into a torrential downpour and at this point we knew that it was all over but the shouting. ISW would end in a soggy mess with all the rain that dropped on Tri-State Speedway. The open Sunday rain date would not be used so Indiana Sprint Week had been shortened by one race and we will never know if the close point race (8 points) would have changed or not.

    So as the record books will show Brady Bacon came away with his second Indiana Sprint Week title and first since 2016 taking home the rocking chairs and the loot ($10,000) for winning the title. It was consistency not feature wins that won the ISW crown for Bacon as he finished in the top five six times out of seven starts with no victories in ISW23.

    The seven nights of racing produced some very good racing and we felt was some of the best Indiana Sprint Week action in quite some time. The closest finish of the week occurred the first night at Gas City’s I-69 Speedway which also had the largest car count of the week at 58 entrants. Justin Grant nipped Robert Ballou for the opening night win by a scant .005 of a second to score his first of three wins in ISW23 with Bacon coming home third. Night two at Kokomo for the Darland Classic produced what we felt was the best overall show of the series with 54 cars pitside. CJ Leary came back from a nasty flip the night before at Gas City to drive a sprinter that had sat on blocks for three years having never been run. Bacon would come home second with Leary’s teammate and vastly improved Carson Garrett joining the podium pictures.

    We skipped the long drive to Lawrenceburg and watched on Flo that evening witnessing a rough night of racing where four sprints flipped including leader CJ Leary with just four laps to go handing the lead and eventual two win of ISW23 over to Justin Grant. Pennsylvania invader, Alex Bright, got the worst of the flips barrel rolling at least 12 times down the homestretch on the second start suffering injuries with the most severe being a broken wrist which ended his week early. Brady Bacon would recover from coming up light on the scale after qualifying forcing him to start 22nd in the feature where he went elbows up and drove to 3rd at the end. Circle City Raceway on the southeast side of Indianapolis was the fourth stop of ISW with Kyle Cummins scoring his first win of the series over Logan Seavey and Shane Cottle. Bacon would finish 16th on the evening after clipping an infield tire and spinning with eight to go. Eighteen year old Xavier Doney from Missouri was the talk of this race leading a total of 17 laps before being shuffled to fifth at the finish, not indicative of the great run he turned in.

    An off night on Tuesday for a rest with the racing picking back up on Wednesday at the historic Terre Haute Action Track where Justin Grant dominated to win his third race of the series over Kevin Thomas Jr and CJ Leary in a well run show. Thursday it was down to beautiful downtown Putnamville and the Lincoln Park Speedway where a late afternoon deluge of rain played havoc on the evening with a valiant effort by the track crew wiping the track into some semblance of racing shape though heavy and greasy because of the high humidity which was at its peak on this evening. No less than seven flips occurred on the night and pushed the finish time to almost 12:30 AM when Jake Swanson using his home track advantage to tame the field and rebound from a flip the night before at Terre Haute winning over Robert Ballou and who else than Brady Bacon.

    The last night of racing would take place on the red hills of the Bloomington Speedway where Emerson Axsom also rebounded from the night before to score his first career ISW win over Briggs Danner, the young man from Allentown, PA, who almost pulled off his first USAC National sprint car win finishing second with Chase Stockon getting his best finish of the series with who else, Brady Bacon, in fourth.

    As stated above the last night was flooded out giving Brady Bacon (474) the ISW point championship over Justin Grant (466), Robert Ballou (418), Kyle Cummins (403) and Emerson Axsom (399). Sixth through tenth in the standings were taken down by CJ Leary (371), Kevin Thomas Jr (366), Shane Cottle (346) and five hard charger awards out of the seven races ran with Jake Swanson (342) and Carson Garrett (340) rounding out the top ten. Mitchel Moles had the dubious distinction of getting upside down four times in the seven races.

    That’s it for now as it is a sparse racing weekend so don’t know when the next column will come but check back to see where we end up next. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Comments, news or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words sent our way.

     

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Axsom Rebounds From Tough Outing To Score Win At Bloomington



    Friday, July 28 – Jim Reeder did the driving today as we headed south to the university town of Bloomington for night seven of the 36th running of Indiana Sprint Week. The weather again was quite hot and maybe just slightly less humid but still an uncomfortable day. Since Route 231 South in the Greencastle area and below is closed for road repairs our alternative route became I-74 to I-465 to Route 37 which turns into I-69 south of Indianapolis. We made good time and arrived on the grounds of the Bloomington Speedway just before 5 PM. A good crowd of fans were already on the grounds but our Arizona based buddy, Steve Kimmel, had already staked out our claim to seats in the concrete grandstands on the homestretch with crime scene tape (aka yellow caution tape. We ventured into the facility and what is usually the case on a nice day the view that you encounter once you climb the steep hill is a sight to behold. As our friend from Allentown, PA, Canary Bob Walker, said on talking to him tonight after attending Bloomington for the first time was it is a gorgeous place with the well manicured grounds combined with the high banked red hills of the speedway and is now my favorite track here in Indiana. We went back out to the parking lot area after setting up our folding chairs and chatted with long haul trucker, Steve Kimmel, who had a load of artificial tree limbs to cover telephone towers along with a load of corn to deliver on his way back from Indiana to Arizona. He then decided he was going to take a nap before the racing began so we went back to Jim’s Ford Explorer to sit in the air condition for a while.

    It was the Sheldon Kinser Memorial at Bloomington tonight with 31 USAC sprint cars being joined by 22 Racesaver 305 winged sprints for the night of racing. To be honest we were disappointed in the low car count for the USAC portion of the program after seeing over 50 entrants the first two races of the series but sometimes quality over quantity is good also. The reason for the lower car count tonight was that Paragon Speedway just 30 miles away was having a BOSS sprint car program along with FAST winged sprints which drew an additional 31 wingless sprinters.

    USAC sprint car time trials began at 7:22 with Brady Bacon setting fast time for the second night in a row, this time with a lap of 11.244 seconds around the high banked, quarter mile oval. During time trials Scurry, Texas driver, Dalton Stevens, caught the turn four cushion wrong on his second lap of his time trial run and rolled several times before stopping. Stevens climbed from his sprinter unscathed but with plenty of work in front of him. Dalton would miss his heat race but would return for the semi but failed to qualify for the feature event.

    Four USAC sprint car heats were next on the program card with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Brandon Mattox spun off a good run in heat one outpacing Eddie Tafoya Jr, the California entrant making his third straight A main appearance after struggling early in the week. Mitchel Moles and Brady Bacon would be the other two qualifiers in heat one. Charles Davis Jr, the Buckeye, Arizona driver, picked up his second heat win in two nights scoring the win in heat two outrunning Briggs Danner, Geoff Ensign and Daison Pursley. Carson Garrett, the 21 year old driver from Littleton, Colorado who is looking better and better each time out captured the heat three win besting Kevin Thomas Jr, in the Cheney #42 backup car, after blowing the engine in the primary car last night at Lincoln Park. Emerson Axsom and Matt Westfall trailed the front two and moved into the main event. Justin Grant would use a turn four, last lap pass of Logan Seavey to steal heat four from his fellow California driver with Chase Stockon third and Kyle Cummins coming home fourth. Hunter Maddox rolled his sprinter over in turn four in the fourth heat on the last lap after the checkered waved for the leaders.

    The Racesaver 305 sprints would contest three heats with all 22 cars moving into their 20 lap feature event later in the evening. Ethan Barrow captured heat one outrunning Jordan Welch and Cody Trammell. Heat two fell to Rod Henning over Jeff Wimmenauer and John Paynter Jr. Heat three was taken by Andy Bradley beating Greg Dillion and Blayne Ridgley.

    The USAC semi was next on the dance card with last night’s winner, Jake Swanson, prevailing over Robert Ballou, CJ Leary, Shane Cottle, Brent Beauchamp and Texan Justin Zimmerman qualifying for his first ever USAC National sprint car race.

    The 22 car field was now set for the 30 lap Kinser Memorial with Briggs Danner and Chase Stockon bringing 20 of their friends to the green flag at 9:40. Danner gained the early advantage with third starting Emerson Axsom slipping underneath Stockon for second exiting turn four on the opening lap. Entering turn one on lap two, Axsom made his move for the lead on Danner diving low but slid up the racing surface allowing Stockon to regain the runner-up spot. The only caution of the event waved on lap five when Mitchel Moles slowed dramatically off of turn two heading down the backstretch scattering other cars and bringing out the yellow. Moles would go to the work area and return to finish 14th.

    On the restart Danner was quick to the top retaining the lead with Stockon and Axsom in hot pursuit. Axsom quickly disposed of Stockon for second racing down the backstretch and took up the pursuit of the leader. Danner was pulling away over the next several laps until he began to encounter lap traffic which allowed Axsom to close the gap quickly as the race approached the halfway mark. Axsom passed Danner for the lead on lap fifteen in traffic in turn three and Danner then caught the cushion wrong in turn four on the same lap costing him valuable time and distance ending his crusade for his first USAC National sprint car win. Brady Bacon had cracked the top five around the same time and on lap twenty two gained fourth racing by Kyle Cummins in turn four. That was about all she wrote at that point with the order remaining the same as the laps clicked off.

    At the double checkers just 10 minutes after the start it was Axsom across the line first scoring his first ISW win of his career and his sixth career win in USAC sprint competition three of them coming this year. Briggs Danner crossed the line second tying his best career USAC National sprint car finish barely holding off Chase Stockon for the position. Brady Bacon came home fourth taking both the National point lead and the ISW point lead as the traveling band head to southwest Indiana for the last night of ISW at Tri-State. Kyle Cummins finished out the top five with CJ Leary advancing from 12th to 6th with Justin Grant a quiet 7th, Robert Ballou 13th to 8th, Jake Swanson 9th and Charles Davis Jr rounding out the top ten. Shane Cottle claimed his 5th hard charger of ISW now having an extra $500 in his pocket after moving from 21st to 13th in this run.

    In the winner’s interview Axsom expressed some disappointment after having to use a provisional last night taking him out of the running for ISW champion but also he looked at the bigger picture of the season long points race.

    There was still the matter of running the 20 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car race with Rod Henning and Ethan Barrow bringing the field to Brian Hodde’s green flag at 10:08 with Barrow racing from the outside of the front row into the lead. Only one caution would slow this contest and Barrow would not be headed the entire race. Jordan Welch would run second in this one over Jeff Wimmenauer with Andy Bradley fourth and Rod Henning rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:15 dropping the curtain on a snappy run program allowing the race fans some extra sleep time after last night’s late finish.

    Check in tomorrow in the late afternoon to see how Indiana Sprint Week wraps up as we make the haul down to Haubstadt for night eight of ISW. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated as the sweltering summer heat is upon us. Comments, news, stories or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as is always the case thanks for continuing to read our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. And remember to be good and be kind.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Swanson Rebounds From Flip Last Night To Score LPS ISW Win


    Thursday, July 27 – Today was a steamer!!! Humidity through the roof and temperatures in the 90’s with the heat index over 100 degrees. And thunderstorms that rolled through beautiful downtown Putnamville between 4 and 4:30 producing heavy rain would cause a lengthy delay before the Lincoln Park track crew would be able to whip the track back into racing shape for night six of Indiana Sprint Week which is the 36th edition of this classic which has brought out great crowds each and every night of the eight race run. Tonight’s edition was a sprints only affair and that was good for many reasons. With the delayed start due to the heavy rain and 50 USAC sprints signed into the pit area any additional division would have only added to the late hour finish. Seven flips during the evening’s competition including one while lining up the field for the fourth heat also added to the program pushing past midnight. But for Jake Swanson and his Team AZ group nothing mattered to them except being able to converge on victory lane at 12:30 AM after their yeoman efforts to field another car for Jake after he flipped at Terre Haute last night while running third in the feature.

    The long and bizarre evening finally got underway at almost 9 PM when the first of 48 cars took to the 5/16 mile semi-banked dirt oval for time trials. By 9:28 after tying for quick time with Mitchel Moles with identical times of 12.370 seconds Brady Bacon was declared fast timer on the tiebreaker criteria of the driver’s faster other lap in their runs. The night would be made longer as no less than seven flips were registered during the evening with the first occurring in heat one in turn two when Daison Pursley did a light roll but he was able to continue after being righted. Arizona veteran, Charles Davis Jr, scored the heat one win over Justin Grant, Eddie Tafoya Jr making his second straight A main and Jadon Rogers. Mitchel Moles got caught up in a skirmish that occurred in front of him forcing him into the homestretch wall causing him to flip end over end for the fourth time in Indiana Sprint Week. Kevin Thomas Jr would go on to win heat two besting Stevie Sussex who broke his close but no cigar qualifying record by solidly putting his #77 into the main event. Chase Stockon and Tye Mihocko in the family car would join him for the feature. We got through the third heat without anyone turning turtle with Matt Westfall running a solid race to win this one over Jake Swanson, Kyle Cummins and Logan Seavey. The most bizarre flip or roll of the night occurred before the start of heat four when Hunter Maddox caught the lip off of turn two and rolled his sprinter over lightly. Like Daison Pursley he was able to return to start the heat though at the tail of the field. During heat four two more flips happened with first Braxton Cummings flipping end over end in turn one landing outside of the turn in the runoff area. The second one happened when sliding through turn three CJ Leary clipped the left rear of Emerson Axsom sending the point leader rolling over to a stop. Robert Ballou would go on to win this marathon heat race over Shane Cottle, Jordan Kinser and Brent Beauchamp. When the four heat winners were interviewed in front of the starter’s stand Ballou hit the nail on the head when he stated that the track was greasy because of the humidity and when someone in front of you slid in the corner it would throw up slop in the groove and hitting it was like slipping on a banana peel. With a C main and B main to follow and some additional track maintenance performed before the A main the track finally worked into good running shape. For the fans though the humidity did not seem to decrease much as it was quite uncomfortable sitting outside.

    The tumbling continued in the C main when Justin Meneely caught the turn three cushion wrong and rolled over ending his night at that point. Ivan Glotzbach would claim the victory in the C main moving to the back of the B main along with Dalton Stevens, Zack Pretorius and Tim Creech. The destruction continued in the B main when a multi-car pileup in turn two saw Brandon Mattox turn over in the melee after being slammed into by several other cars. The top six would advance to the 30 lap feature event with fast timer, Brady Bacon, taking down the win over duplicate fast timer, Mitchel Moles, with CJ Leary third chased by his teammate, Carson Garrett, Hunter Maddox and Pennsylvania’s Briggs Danner picking up the second half of ISW and qualifying for his second straight feature. Emerson Axsom and Daison Pursley would be forced to take provisionals to join the field making it a 24 car starting field. All prelims were finally completed by 11:53 with only the 30 lap, $8000 to win main event left to run.

    The field was now set and at 12:16 the green silk of starter Tom Hansing was waved on the 24 car starting field with the front row of Logan Seavey and Jake Swanson ready to fire off. Swanson was quick on the throttle and took the early lead from Seavey with Kevin Thomas Jr in their tire tracks. Swanson was on a rail as home track advantage played into the equation as Jake runs LPS whenever he is not competing with the USAC gang. The track was super-fast but it did not produce a ton of passing in the first ten laps of the contest as the leaders approached lap traffic for the first time in the race allowing Seavey and Thomas to close the gap. Lap 11 saw Thomas sneak by Seavey for second on the low side of turns three and four as the Dwight Cheney owned #42 looked like it might have something for Swanson. Lap 13 saw Thomas challenge Swanson for the lead pulling alongside as the pair raced around lap car, Hunter Maddox, battling for the lead. Suddenly in between corners three and four Thomas began to slow pulling to the infield as the Cheney machine lost power taking him out of contention for the win.

    On the restart Swanson bounded back into the lead with Seavey now his main challenger. Swanson began to pull away again but with a spurt of power Seavey surged forward closing the gap to a car length by lap 18 when the only caution appeared when Mitchel Moles spun in the middle of turn four getting clipped by Briggs Danner collapsing Mole’s front end and finishing off another frustrating night for the Raisin City, California driver who has had a dismal ISW with nothing but problems. Under caution Logan Seavey exited the speedway in turn three heading to the work area with mechanical woes as well taking another of Swanson’s challengers to the sidelines. On the ensuing restart Swanson now had Robert Ballou to contend with as the Rockland, California driver was in second after starting eighth on the starting grid. Chase Stockon in his best run of ISW so far was lurking in third on the restart with Justin Grant not far behind. Grant wrestled third away from Stockon in turn two with ten to go as everyone was wondering if Grant could pull off another ISW win tonight. One lap later Brady Bacon up from tenth powered by Stockon to grab fourth as the heavy hitters were rising to the top. Bacon was on a mission and began to pressure Grant for third, finally picking him off in turn four as Grant slid high on lap 27.

    Swanson continued to lead with Ballou right there waiting to make a move if Swanson stumbled but Jake was not going to let this one slip away as the laps clicked off. Swanson would flash under the double checkers at 12:26 taking down his sixth career USAC win and getting redemption for his mess up the night before and the team effort going forward was rewarding for all involved and a great relief in the sweltering heat of the past few days. Ballou who also has struggled over the course of this ISW with two big crashes earlier, had to be happy with his second place finish with Bacon racing home third in a good run. Justin Grant was able to grab fourth and Chase Stockon finished fifth. Kyle Cummins led the second five across the line in sixth, Carson Garrett advancing from 15th to 7th, Charles Davis Jr. came home eighth, Jadon Rogers ninth after starting nineteenth and Brent Beauchamp taking the hard charger award after starting 22nd and finishing 10th.

    It was a long night and Joe Spiker and crew could have thrown in the towel early and no one would have thought any less of them but they chose to stick it out for the large crowd on hand and give them a racetrack to run on. I applaud the entire LPS staff for going the extra mile and not giving up when they could easily have done so.

    Onto night seven tonight at the high banked red hills of Bloomington Speedway where the storyline will be played out to determine the story for the final night at
    Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.

    Until the next installment get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun, be safe and stay hydrated as this weather is moving across the entire country. Any comments, stories or other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the critiques you pass along as we try to provide our love for the world of auto racing and all the nice people and characters that we encounter along the way. So be good and be kind even to the people who it is difficult to do so.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Grant Dominates For Third Win Of ISW At Terre Haute



    Wednesday, July 26 – The summer weather in Indiana has officially moved into hot mode as the temperatures have climbed into the 90’s and the humidity has increased immensely. The saving grace today was a wind blowing from behind us at Terre Haute to help ease the heat. Jim Reeder has joined us at the house and on the tour for the next three days starting today and our trip south to Terre Haute for our first visit to the Action Track in 2023.

    As usual USAC sprint car time trials started off the evening commencing at 7:17 with the two at a time format on the big half mile at the Vigo County Fairgrounds. Thirty four cars would take time with only thirty three participating in the heat races. Robert Ballou would surprise the good crowd on hand by posting the fast time of the evening with a lap of 20.289 seconds around the Bill Rose promoted Vigo County half mile. Hot laps would follow for the eighteen UMP modifieds on the card before the sprints would return for their four heat races with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event.

    Robert Ballou wasted no time charging to the front from sixth to claim heat one and move closer to a potential sweep of the evening besting Sterling Cling, Emerson Axsom and Justin Grant who had contact while racing for the fourth spot in the heat resulting in Matt Westfall bouncing off the wall. Westfall was not a happy camper as his car came to rest on the homestretch exiting his machine quickly and gesturing his displeasure with Grant as he passed by. Heat two was more civil as Mitchel Moles powered to the win beating Brady Bacon, Shane Cottle and Tye Mihocko in a pleasing race. Kyle Cummins looked good winning heat three over Jake Swanson, newcomer and eastern driver, Briggs Danner and Eddie Tafoya Jr making his first race of the series. Kevin Thomas Jr captured heat four in a good run besting Daison Pursley, Carson Garrett and Joey Amantea. Two UMP modified heats would follow before the sprint semi would come to the track surface.

    CJ Leary rebounded from a broken shock in his heat race to score the win in the semi over Logan Seavey, Ricky Lewis making his ISW23 debut, Brandon Mattox, Charles Davis Jr and Chase Stockon. Two Texans, Justin Zimmerman and Dalton Stevens would be the first two alternates just missing the starting field.

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature was first to the post with Will Krup dominating this race easily outdistancing the remainder of the field.

    By 10:34 the front row of Jake Swanson and Brady Bacon would bring the 23 car field (Matt Westfall joining the field as a provisional) to Tom Hansing’s green silk for the Don Smith Classic. Jake Swanson got the early jump but it was deemed it was too much of a jump bringing out a quick yellow to regroup the field for another start. This moved Swanson back to the second row and moved Justin Grant to the outside of Brady Bacon for the restart. Bacon got the legal jump into the early lead but action was slowed quickly on lap two when Joey Amantea went flipping into turn one with Ricky Lewis doing a fine job avoiding the flipping Pennsylvania youngsters spinning backwards contacting the turn one wall with his tail. Both drivers were OK with Lewis returning but Amantea was not so lucky as heavy damage was evident on the #88.

    On the restart Bacon went to the point but a massive run by Jake Swanson off turn two saw him blast by Bacon to take the lead. The pair raced down the backstretch with third running Grant trying to pass the pair in turn three with Swanson retaining the lead with Grant moving by Bacon for second. Lap four saw Grant slide Swanson in turn three but Swanson countered in turn four to retain the lead on that lap. Swanson would lead until lap ten when Logan Seavey slowed on the homestretch with a flat right rear tire and went to the work area and returned.

    Swanson was the leader on the restart but Grant had a head of steam racing to the top side of turn two and storming by Swanson to take the lead. Grant proceeded to check out as he pulled away from the rest of the field and left Swanson and Bacon to battle for second behind him. Just past the halfway mark Seavey slowed again, this time with mud in his right rear tire from the lack of a wheel cover from the earlier tire change and a quick scrape of the right rear allowed Seavey to return to the contest. Seavey would rally to claim tenth at the finish of the 30 laps to salvage a decent night.

    On the restart Swanson made a run at Grant pulling alongside entering turns one and two but Grant was able to repel the move and hold the top spot. Bacon would catch Swanson for second in turn one on lap nineteen. Bacon closed the gap on the leader and racing through turn two on lap twenty four Grant almost gave away the farm bouncing off the cushion allowing Bacon to almost grab the lead. Right behind the top two Swanson performed the same move as Grant but with different results as Swanson turned his sprinter sideways rolling over several times and ended his good run prematurely.

    On the ensuing restart Bacon threw a slider entering turn one at Grant but Justin was able to ward off the challenge charging off turn two with the lead. Bacon lost some momentum at that point allowing third running Kevin Thomas Jr to make a run at Bacon down the backstretch and passing him in turns three and four to take second. Bacon would almost ruin his entire good run on lap twenty five entering turns one and two getting high and bouncing in the air and landing back on all fours but losing all momentum and five positions in the process dropping back to eighth taking him out of any chance to win. Bacon would rally to finish inside the top five but it was another costly mistake for the four time USAC champion.

    Over the last five laps Grant opened up a tremendous lead of five seconds over Thomas who tried to catch him but it was all in vain as Grant streaked across the line at 11:12 for his third win of ISW23 in five races and his sixth win of 2023. It was also his 40th career USAC sprint car win moving him into ninth on that list. Thomas Jr would take second from seventh with CJ Leary advancing from eighth to third with Bacon salvaging fourth after nearing losing it all and Emerson Axsom completing a good run from tenth to fifth. Kyle Cummins would lead the second five to the finish with Shane Cottle collecting another his fourth hard charger award of the week moving from seventeenth to seventh with Mitchel Moles eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Logan Seavey tenth. After crossing the line Robert Ballou veered to the left and smacked one of the Jersey barriers, almost taking out several spectators standing behind it. Luckily, he did not clear the barrier as it could have been real bad. Ballou bounced off the barrier and proceeded to flip several times out into the middle of the homestretch and thank God no one impacted him while he was sitting there. He quickly climbed from the wrecked sprinter.

    It was a good, competitive feature except for Grant checking out but the racing behind was quite good.

    That’s it for night five of Indiana Sprint Week and check back tomorrow for the report from Lincoln Park Speedway. As always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel




    Cummins Prevails In Good Run At Circle City On Monday



    Monday, July 24 – Today’s forecast was highs in the mid 80’s with increased humidity which could cause thunderstorms. The percentages were not high for the Indianapolis area but the ominous skies as we made our way across I-465 East had to make you worry about this one. We pulled into the parking lot at 5 PM and found a great parking spot close to the ticket booths. One thing we really appreciate about Circle City is that they always give a senior discount for their races. Tonight was $5 off the $30 price tag and sometimes it is even more. We only initially bought one ticket and hung out in the car until the darkest clouds passed over the area with no rain dropping. The skies got brighter from the west and we thought we were home free. Right before hot laps a light rain began to fall causing a delay until it stopped and the track surface was worked in. Once that shower passed, we indeed were home free!!

    Thirty seven sprinters were on hand joined by twenty five UMP modifieds for the two division program this evening. By heat time for the sprints, we had already lost two off the count as Geoff Ensign made right rear to left front contact on the backstretch with Tayte Williamson collapsing Williamson’s front end and sending him into a flip. In time trials we lost our second competitor as Matt McDonald took a nasty ride in turns one and two when he caught the cushion wrong which launched him into a series of end over end flips resulting in McDonald clearing the concrete wall without hitting it landing on the outside of turn two. Both drivers were OK but their machines were done before they really started.

    Time trials were pushed off at 7:40 with CJ Leary, the last man out to qualify, setting fast time with a lap of 11.990 seconds around the ¼ mile fairgrounds dirt oval. Hot laps for the UMP modifieds were next on the card before the USAC sprint cars returned to contest their four heats for the remaining 35 cars with the top four from each heat moving directly into the 30 lap main event.

    Carson Garrett who continues to impress scored the win in heat one and I predict that Garrett will score his first USAC National win in 2023. It is coming!! Sterling Cling finished second with Chase Stockon third and Kevin Thomas Jr sliding into the fourth qualifying position late in the contest. Emerson Axsom turned in another strong run winning heat two besting Jake Swanson, Xavier Doney and Charles Davis Jr who held off the relentless challenges by Robert Ballou to qualify fourth. Mitchel Moles worked the high side and finally succeeded in winning the third heat over Daison Pursley, Shane Cottle and Kyle Cummins. Brady Bacon powered to the win in heat four winning over Brent Beauchamp, Logan Seavey and Braxton Cummings. Dalton Stevens, the Texan, was racing for a qualifying spot when he rolled over in turn four on the last lap.

    The UMP modifieds would run three heats with Dylan Woodling, Dustin Bruce and Jeff Deckard triumphing in those events. The sprint car semi was next on the dance card with the top three time trial qualifiers all relegated to this race. Robert Ballou would claim the victory with CJ Leary second, Justin Grant third, Brandon Mattox fourth, Matt Westfall fifth and Joey Amantea fending off Geoff Ensign and Stevie Sussex who has been so close to qualifying every night out.

    With all preliminaries in the books, it was time to go feature racing with the USAC sprint cars called to the post first with the green flag unfurling on the 22 car field at 9:58. Xavier Doney, the 18 year old youngster from Odessa, Missouri, bolted out to the early lead with fellow front row starter, Carson Garrett, in hot pursuit. Garrett made his first move for the lead on lap four when he pulled alongside Doney on the homestretch with the pair touching wheels with Doney retaining the lead. Two laps later Garrett slid by Doney in turn three but Doney countered off turn two to retake the lead. Lap eight saw Garrett take the lead in turn two with a slider and the race was on. Lap ten saw Garrett do a half spin in turn two turning the lead back over to Doney and seeing Garrett getting freight trained back to fifth. Kyle Cummins was now second followed by Logan Seavey and Brady Bacon.

    Doney held sway through lap fifteen when Mitchel Moles flipped onto the turn two wall sitting on top of it right side up but Moles was done for the evening as it looked like he also got his bell rung climbing from his machine a few minutes later. Doney was looking like he might pull the upset leading until lap twenty when Cummins was able to slip by in turn two but Doney returned the favor sliding Cummins in turn three. Cummins pointed his car to the left exiting turn four and slid into the lead at that point. Brady Bacon slid by Doney for second on lap twenty one and now it was shaping up to be a duel between two of the top USAC runners. Chasing Cummins through turns three and four on lap twenty three Bacon made his second mistake in three days clipping an infield tire, turning his mount sideways and stalling ending his chances to contend in this one. Bacon would end up sixteenth on the evening.

    On the ensuing restart Cummins jumped out front with Doney and Seavey chasing. Seavey grabbed second on the backstretch on lap twenty four from Doney. Shane Cottle was another one on the move using the Cottle line (the inside groove) moving from 12th to 4th as the laps clicked off. Cummins was gone by over two seconds as the battle raged behind him with Seavey, Doney and Cottle running side by side over the last five laps. At 10:16 Cummins flashed under the checkers for his fourth win of 2023 and also his second win here at Circle City. Seavey would hang on for second with Cottle grabbing the show position. Doney was passed by Emerson Axsom for fourth on the last lap and the upstart who led the majority of the event ended up fifth at the finish. Carson Garrett came home sixth with Robert Ballou seventh, Jake Swanson eighth, CJ Leary ninth and Justin Grant ending up tenth.

    It was a good and competitive feature and the track surface itself is showing improvement even though it was a bit dusty.

    There was still the 25 lap UMP modified feature to run and it went green at 10:29. Dylan Woodling took the early lead but fourth starting John DeMoss was coming quickly. DeMoss would take the lead on lap seven and pace the field until a caution in the second half of the race found Woodling to his outside on the restart. Woodling was able to grab the lead on the restart and lead the remainder of the race but Brent Lee from seventh almost stole the win racing side by side with Woodling to the wire but falling about a half a car length short of winning. DeMoss ended up third with Logan Mounce fourth and Garrett Jameson advancing from tenth to take fifth with the final checker dropping at 10:44. For the third time in ISW this year Shane Cottle was the hard charger coming tonight from 12th to 3rd.

    A good night of racing and sure glad the rains moved on by and we were able to get everything in on night four of Indiana Sprint Week.

    The participants are off today (Tuesday) and ISW action picks up tomorrow night at the Terre Haute Action Track for night five of ISW.

    Until Thursday get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Be good and be kind.



    .

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Leary Rebounds After Gas City Flip To Win ISW Kokomo Run

    Saturday, July 22 – Another nice summer day was in order as we awaken in Wabash, IN with temperatures in the 80’s with partly sunny skies with the humidity on the low side. A stop at Harry’s Old Kettle Pub and Grill outside of Wabash produced a fine lunch offering of delicious food before we made the journey over to the Kokomo Speedway, the ¼ mile dirt oval known as the Baddest Bullring in Indiana, for night two of Indiana Sprint Week in its 36th year of existence. Tonight was the Darland Classic which drew a fine field of 54 USAC sprint cars with 25 USAC Speed2 midgets as the second class on the evening. A massive crowd of fans turned out for this one with cars parked almost to the traffic light heading south out of the speedway before turning east or west. The crowd was larger than any we have seen for Smackdown or any other event at the track and was great to see.

    The Darland Classic would start off with single car time trials for the 54 in attendance starting at 7:18 and wrapping up at 7:50. Kyle Cummins picked up where he left off last year here at Kokomo setting fast time with a lap of 12.924 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. USAC Speed2 midget hot laps would follow before the first of four sprint car heats would take the green flag at 8:32. Emerson Axsom was fast out of the trailer taking heat one over Robert Ballou, Kyle Cummins and Zack Pretorius fending off Stevie Sussex for the final qualifying position. Logan Seavey looked stout in heat two scoring the win over Matt Westfall with a late race pass for the win. CJ Leary and Jake Swanson followed. Carson Garrett looked strong winning heat three over Mitchel Moles, Kevin Thomas Jr and Shane Cottle. Chase Stockon ran a heady race taking heat four over Brady Bacon, Justin Grant and Brent Beauchamp.

    Three heats would follow for the Speed2 midgets with Chett Gehrke, Zach Wigal and Michael Magic taking down wins. The sprint D main was run between heat two and three with Rylan Gray moving forward to the C along with Tyler Kendall. Pennsylvania’s Joey Amantea turned in a good performance winning the C main over Braxton Cummings, Saban Bibent and Cole Bodine advancing from 14th to 4th for the last advancement position. The midget B main was next on the agenda with Matt Lux winning this one. The sprint car B main or semi went to Brandon Mattox storming by Geoff Ensign late to grab the victory with Ensign second, Stevie Sussex third, Braxton Cummings eating some alphabet soup advancing from the C to the A main by finishing fourth with Trey Osborne fifth and Daison Pursley sixth. No provisionals were taken for tonight so the 22 car field was set for the big 30 lap main event. The track crew led by Reece O’Connor went to work to groom the surface for the two features.

    By 10:29 the front row of Carson Garrett and Jake Swanson led the 22 car field to Tom Hansing’s green flag with Swanson using the high side to take the early lead through the first two laps. Lap three saw Swanson nearly roll over on the third turn cushion yielding the lead over to third starting Brady Bacon with Kyle Cummins also scooting by dropping Swanson to third. Cummins was all over Bacon over the next four laps and made his move to the inside off turn four for the lead just as Braxton Cummings spun in turn two to bring out the first caution.

    Bacon led on the restart with Cummins and Carson Garrett nipping at his heels. Jake Swanson and Mitchel Moles were locked up in a good race for fourth as they exited turn four with Swanson low and Moles up high. As Swanson moved toward the homestretch wall as is normal Moles never lifted and ran out of racing room tagging the concrete wall and ramping up the wall into the lower catch fence ripping yards of the catch fence off and hitting a fence post. The impact tore almost the entire front end off the #19AZ as it settled back to the racing surface with severe damage. Moles quickly exited the sprinter to the relief of the crowd on hand. Swanson would suffer a flat right rear tire, go to the work area and return but he was only able to manage a sixteenth place finish at the end.

    On the ensuing restart Kyle Cummins in second was having front end troubles as his right front shock tower was dangling causing his front tires to bounce up and down. The caution quickly appeared with Cummins going pit side and returning but he was never a factor again as he struggled with the handling the remainder of the race ending up 19th at the finish. Bacon was at the point on the restart with a resurgent Carson Garrett right there to make a challenge on the inside. Two laps later Garrett used the low side in turn two to wrestle the lead from Bacon. Brady slipped back by Garrett for second but Garrett was not to be deferred as he grabbed the lead back on lap eleven. Bacon started to change his line chasing Garrett using a diamond maneuver in turns three and four which closed the gap between the two. Lap seventeen saw Bacon regain the top spot using that move in turns three and four. One lap later Garrett’s teammate, CJ Leary, was watching closely and duplicated that move to take second on lap eighteen.

    Bacon had a comfortable lead over Leary but CJ went to work and cut the gap on Bacon in big chunks. With six to go Bacon caught the cushion wrong in turn two sending him sideways and breaking his momentum allowing Leary to sneak underneath for the lead at this point. It was Brady’s race to lose at that point and the unusual bobble from the four time champion did cost him this particular race as Leary breezed away. Leary pulled away in the remaining laps to almost a two second lead for his second career ISW win at Kokomo & first since 2020 which ironically was the last time his backup chassis had been used since it was built in the Leary garage. It was Leary’s third win of 2023 and career win #22 tying him on the all-time list for 29th with three good ones in Bubby Jones, Ricky Hood and Sam Sessions. Bacon would cross the line a disappointing second after letting one get away with Garrett taking down third. Eighth starting Emerson Axsom would finish fourth with Logan Seavey rounding out the top five at 10:57. Robert Ballou would move forward from twelfth to sixth with Justin Grant advancing from eleventh to seventh. Shane Cottle would receive the hard charger award for the second night in a row in the Tony Epperson #2E driving from 20th to 8th with Kevin Thomas Jr ninth and Daison Pursley coming home 10th from 17th.

    It was an excellent race and as one fan on Indiana Open Wheel stated it was KDD. That stands for Kokomo Doesn’t Disappoint. That might be better than #GYATK – Get Your Ass To Kokomo!!! Since it was almost 11 and a 1 ½ hour tow back to Crawfordsville we decided to forgo the USAC Speed2 race which went to the veteran Chett Gehrke.

    Check back tomorrow as we pick up the tour once again after passing on Lawrenceburg with the Circle City Raceway hosting night four of Indiana Sprint Week in Indianapolis. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some new tracks and racing action. Be safe out there and stay hydrated as the summer temperatures creep upwards. News, comments, words of wisdom or any other tidbits can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for the kind words and suggestions for some features to write about. Until next time be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Grant By Inches In Indiana Sprint Week Opener At Gas City


    Friday, July 21 – It was a picture perfect day in Indiana with temperatures in the 80’s, sunshine and low humidity would greet us this day. A quick phone call to Irvin King secured us seats three rows from the top of the grandstand and we are certainly glad we made that phone call. Arriving onto the grounds at Gas City I-69 Speedway at 5 PM we observed that the entire front parking area was filled so we headed for the field off turns one and two and found a good spot across the way from the start of the camping area. With our seats reserved we lounged in the car for a while heading over to the grandstand area around 6 PM. The crowd was huge on this evening and so was the car counts with 58 wingless USAC sprint cars by 32 USAC Speed2 midgets. The sprint car count was the largest count for Indiana Sprint Week since 2005. Hot laps for the sprints began shortly thereafter followed by engine heat for the midgets.

    Time trials would start off the night of activity with the first of fifty eight sprinters taking the green flag at 7:10. By 7:43 all cars had taken their runs with Brayden Fox surprising the field by recording his second career USAC National sprint car fast time and first since 2021 also here at Gas City. Fox toured the ¼ mile dirt bullring with a time of 11.639 seconds to start the night of surprises. Mitchel Moles turned it over on his second lap of time trial in turn four and would return for his heat race later in the evening. Hot laps for the Speed2 midgets would follow before it was time for the USAC sprint cars to return for their four heat races for their 58 car field with two heats of 15 starters and two heats of 14 starters with only the top four moving onto the 30 lap main event.

    The first of four heats took the green at 8:20 with Kevin Thomas Jr. powering the Dwight Cheney #42 out front to never be headed to win heat one with Robert Ballou coming home second with Brayden Fox third and Brady Bacon fourth. CJ Leary claimed heat two in the BGE/Dougherty #15X turning back Thomas Meseraull in the Simon #23K, Carson Garrett and Emerson Axsom nipping Stevie Sussex at the wire for the last qualifying position. Larry Kingseed Jr, from Castalia, Ohio turned the crowd on their ear by running a perfect race and holding off the challenges of Logan Seavey to notch heat three with Justin Grant third and Jadon Rogers fourth. Colten Cottle ran a great race in heat four to park the Paul Hazen #57 in victory lane in heat four in a hotly contested race with Xavier Doney second, Geoff Ensign third and Alex Bright taking down the fourth and final qualifying position. Brandon Mattox and Shane Cottle both got upside down in heat four.

    The USAC Speed2 midgets would spin off four heats for their 32 car contingent with Stratton Briggs, Tate Martz, Abby Hohlbein and z Michael Magic capturing heat wins.

    The USAC sprints would need a D main with Brayden Clark beating Evan Mosley to the line to move to the C main. The C main would be garnered by Dustin Ingle over Brandon Mattox, Colin Grissom and Ryan Barr. Luke Hall would take the midget B main while the packed sprint B main was won by Kyle Cummins defeating Matt Westfall, Mitchel Moles, Max Adams, Logan Seavey and Shane Cottle. Stevie Sussex was in the wrong place at the wrong time rolling over on the backstretch during the B main. Jake Swanson, the USAC point leader going into tonight and Chase Stockon would have to turn to provisionals to join the starting field receiving national points but not ISW points for the event.

    It was feature time with the front row of Colten Cottle and Justin Grant bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:28. Grant moved to the lead but it didn’t last long as fast timer, Brayden Fox, flipped in the cushion between turns three and four to bring out the red flag. Fox was OK but done for the evening much too early. On the restart Grant was quick to get to the point and over the first seven laps opened up a good sized lead over second running Colten Cottle. The nastiest wreck of the evening occurred on the start of lap eight when fifth running Larry Kingseed Jr suddenly turned sideways on the homestretch after catching a rut and went into a series of barrel rolls entering turn one collecting sixth running CJ Leary in the process with Leary also launching into a series of rolls. After a short time both drivers emerged from their wrecked machines shaken but AOK to the relief of the huge crowd on hand.

    On the restart Grant was gone again with Cottle in hot pursuit with Robert Ballou steadily having moved through the field from 14th to 7th by lap seven and he continued his march forward cracking the top five on lap eight and battling Brady Bacon for fourth in an intense, hold no quarter duel until Ballou slipped by for the spot. Bacon was able to pass both Ballou and Cottle to take second back in turn four when the pair bounced around allowing Bacon to storm back around. That was short lived as Ballou was on a mission and stormed back by Bacon by lap thirteen and took up the chase of Grant. Justin still had a comfortable lead by lap 20 until he began to approach lap traffic where Ballou was able to close the gap. Ballou was able to close to Grant’s tail tank with five to go as the pair weaved through the heavy lap traffic. With the pair coming to the white flag Geoff Ensign loomed in front of them with Ballou able to get a run and edge ahead of Grant at the line. Ballou had a car length lead exiting turn two as the pair raced down the backstretch. Into turns three and four they raced with Ballou going high to try to clear Ensign with Grant sticking low with Ballou allowing just enough room for Grant to go between him and Ensign as they raced to the finish line. At the line it was Justin Grant by .005 of a second nipping Ballou for his fourth win of 2023 and his 38th career USAC National win passing both Ballou and Sheldon Kinser on the win list at the same time. Ballou was second with Bacon third, Mitchel Moles salvaging a good finish after his earlier flip taking fourth from fourteenth with Kevin Thomas Jr rounding out the top five. Kyle Cummins would lead the second five to the line with Emerson Axsom seventh, Colten Cottle eighth, Logan Seavey ninth from nineteenth and Matt Westfall tenth. Shane Cottle would race from 22nd to 11th to receive the hard charger award. It doesn’t get much closer than that!!!

    We stayed for the 20 lap USAC Speed2 feature with Wes Pinkerton beating Jakeb Boxell and Abby Hohlbein with the final checker falling at 11:30 ending a good night of racing.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Thomas Jr From 14th To Win MSCS Leon Gentry Memorial At Paragon


    Saturday, July 15 – When we woke up the first thing we checked was the Weather Channel and the predicted rain for Saturday was gone!! In what we thought was going to be a lost day of racing turned into a double for us. The first order of business was to finish this column from Friday’s racing and then we prepared to head over to the North Salem area where the MWXC organization was running their Hunt Creek Madness event. The UTV’s were the countable class and this would be our 99th track to witness racing at in the state of Indiana. After taking in the UTV race we pulled out and headed south on the back roads of Morgan County toward Paragon as the Paragon Speedway was hosting a four division, all open wheel racing program on this evening. Our friends, Jen Kelley and Dan Hetser, were gracious enough to save us two seats in the row in front of them and we all chatted during the evening in between races.

    It was the Leon Gentry Memorial with the MSCS sprint cars the top division on the card with 30 entrants on hand to chase the $5000 to win prize at the end of the night. They were joined by the MMSA mini sprints with 22 on hand, the All Star TQ midgets bringing 15 cars to the show and the USAC Speed2 midgets with 17 entrants parked in the pit area. As has been the case at shows in Indiana this year management missed the scheduled starting time for racing by an hour with the first heat taking the green at 8:03. The MSCS sprinters were first up with their three heats with the top five moving directly into the 25 lap main event. Jordan Kinser in the Burton #04 drew first blood capturing the first heat over Max Adams, Brady Short, JJ Hughes and Ryan Thomas. The son of Leon Gentry’s brother, Larry, which is Aric Gentry scored the win in heat two besting Jake Scott, Sterling Cling, Cody Trammell and Kevin Thomas Jr. The third and final heat went to Geoff Ensign behind the wheel of the Gass #17G beating Shane Cottle back in the Epperson #2E, Isaac Chapple, Trey Osborne and Travis Thompson.

    The MMSA mini sprints would next contest three heats for their 22 car field with all drivers advancing to their 20 lap feature event. Mike Larrison, the current MMSA point leader, scored the first heat win over Hunter Wilson and Bryan Brewer. Heat two was a good race with Cody Knieriem holding off the repeated challenges of Eli Wihelmus and Jordan Shipley for the win. Heat three was taken by Andy Bradley, last night’s Racesaver 305 sprint winner at Bloomington, over Samuel Hinds and Hilton Rowett. The All Star TQ midgets were next on the dance card and would run two heats also with all cars advancing to the main event. Connor Wolf took down heat one over Johnny Goff and 85 year old Nelson Stewart, father of Tony. Heat two went to Joey Paxson besting Landon Browning and Logan Prickett. The USAC Speed2 midgets were the last class to qualify and we thought these heats were the best of the lot. Gunnar Lucius drove to victory in heat one over Ian Creager and Cole Morgan. Heat two was taken by Matt Lux over Stratton Briggs and Zach Wigal. All heat qualifying was in the books by 9:20 and only the sprints would need a B main. Pat Giddens triumphed in the B main beating Matt Thompson also driving a #26, Kayla Roell, the current MSCS point leader, Sam Scott and Donnie Gentry the last man in. Donnie is the son of Leon and it was great to see him make the main event honoring his father on this evening. So, both of the Gentry Kentucky clan were in the main event which would be the first one run on the evening. Actually, Leon’s first name was also Donald like his son.

    It was time to go feature racing at 10:19 when the front row of Max Adams and Geoff Ensign brought the 21 car field to the green flag. Ensign took the early lead edging ahead in turn two on the opening lap with Adams on his tail. Lap four saw the first caution wave as Cody Trammell lost the handle in turn two to bring out the yellow. On the restart Ensign hit a rut in turn one sending him high and almost off the racing surface before recovering but losing many positions in the process. Adams would take the lead with Sterling Cling grabbing second and Jordan Kinser third. Shane Cottle began to come forward from his sixth starting position taking over third on lap five. Adams retained the lead as the leaders approached lap traffic by lap nine. As Max picked his way through the traffic Cling and Cottle were able to draw closer to the leader. Kevin Thomas Jr who had started fourteenth was coming forward rapidly approaching the top five by lap twelve. Pat had picked Thomas before the race started as Jen, Dan and I went with Jordan Kinser, Max Adams and Shane Cottle respectively. We all questioned Pat’s pick but she would have the last laugh.

    Thomas joined the top five with a backstretch pass on lap fifteen just before Kayla Roell brought out the caution as she slid off the fourth turn while running midpack as her problems with that particular turn continued. Another caution appeared on lap eighteen and during this caution it was noticed that leader Max Adam’s right rear tire was going flat. He went to the pit area to change it and returned at the tail of the field and ended up fifteenth at the finish in a race which he looked like the favorite to win. On the next restart Aric Gentry spun in turn one with a little help sending him to the rear. When racing resumed it was Cling at the point with Cottle right behind. By lap twenty Thomas had cleared Kinser for third and went after the top two who were having a great battle for the lead. Lap twenty two saw Cling on the outside entering turn one with Cottle in the middle and Thomas down low a few car lengths back in third. Both Cling and Cottle slid wide in turn two and Thomas punched the throttle hard and pulled off a two for one pass exiting turn two and was the new leader. Cottle was now second with Cling falling to third as the trio raced around the 3/8 mile dirt oval in unison. Thomas was able to hold off Cottle and Cling flashing under the checkers at 10:41 coming home first in the Dwight Cheney #42 for the first time as a team. Cottle was second with Cling third, Kinser fourth and Jake Scott rounding out the top five. The track prep performed before the feature event truly made the track racier and was worth the time and effort. Thomas used this race as an Indiana Sprint Week tune-up and could have put his competitors on alert that the two time ISW champ might be in the hunt for his third hand made rocking chair!!

    We decided to stay for the 20 lap MMSA feature race with the green flag unfurled at 10:55 with Eli Wihelmus taking the early lead in this one. At the start/finish line on lap three Wihelmus, Hunter Wilson and Andy Bradley were three wide!! Wihelmus would retain the lead with Wilson drawing alongside over the next five laps swapping the lead multiple times on every lap. Bradley was right there with the top two and first picked off Wilson for second and moved by Wihelmus for the lead on lap nine. Wilson had mechanical woes later in the race and dropped to the infield with Samuel Hinds moving into the top three. Point leader, Mike Larrison, was one of the five cautions early in the event spinning and restarting at the rear of the field. Larrison sliced his way back into contention over the remainder of the contest but it was Bradley home first for the second night in a row (last night in 305 sprint) besting Wihelmus at 11:18 with Hinds coming home third, Knieriem fourth and Larrison rallying for a fifth at the end.

    We would have liked to have stayed for the last two features with the TQ midgets and Speed2 midgets but with an hour and twenty minute drive back to Crawfordsville it was time to go. That is where that hour late start cost us seeing the other two divisions in a timely manner. We enjoyed the two features we witnessed and the scoreboard in turn one and the new aluminum grandstands are a great addition to the historic facility. We encountered rain going north on route 231 around Greencastle which slowed our travel home somewhat arriving home at 12:58 ending another typical weekend.

    That’s it for this segment but checked back next weekend as we prepare for Indiana Sprint Week kicking off on Friday at the Gas City I-69 Speedway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road and catch some tracks on your hit list. Either way enjoy yourselves, be careful and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy reading about our travels as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. In closing be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Beauchamp, Welch & Bradley Get Sprint Wins At Bloomington


    Friday, July 14 – It was a nice summer day in Indiana today so we took advantage of the good weather and decided to head south to the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval of the Bloomington Speedway. On tap for tonight’s racing were the following divisions: non-wing sprints (17), winged 305 sprints (24), UMP modifieds (16) and super stocks (13). A stop beforehand at the Hilltop Restaurant just above Spencer produced a good Alaska Pollock dinner with green beans, corn, mashed potatoes & gravy, salad and beets to fill the stomach.

    The program would start off tonight with a makeup 20 lap 305 sprint car feature taking the green flag at 7:41. This race would go non-stop in four minutes with Jordan Welch grabbing the victory. The ending was chaotic when one sprinter slowed on the homestretch with field coming to the checkered. Instead of throwing the yellow they let the field scurry around the slowing sprinter as he continued into turns one and two. He stopped on the high side in turn two but one of the other sprinters ran into the back of him and rolled over the banking catching on fire briefly. Whoever decided not to call for the yellow should reach into his pocket and give the owner of the wrecked sprinter some cash for repairs!! Keith Langley finished second with John Paynter Jr third, Ethan Barrow advancing from ninth to fourth and Bradley Sterrett rounding out the top five.

    Then it was right into the regular scheduled program with the non-wing sprint cars contesting their three heat races. Sterling Cling would capture heat one over Jake Swanson, Bloomington’s own Matt Thompson and Brayden Fox. Heat two fell to Brady Short from fifth over Jordan Kinser, Geoff Ensign and Braxton Cummings. Heat three was won by Brent Beauchamp besting Max Adams, Harley Burns and Michael Daugherty. The UMP modifieds would run two heats in between the two sprint classes with Derek Losh and Jacoby Hines winning.

    The winged 305 sprints were next up contesting three heat races with Cody Trammell looking very strong taking heat one over John Paynter Jr and Kentuckian Dillan Baldwin. Ethan Barrow came from fourth to claim heat two over Texan Trey Burke and Kerry Kinser. Heat three was mastered by Andy Bradley beating Jeff Wimmenauer and Carson Dillion. The 305’s were the only class who would need to run a B main with Bradley Sterrett winning over John Wolfarth and Bryce Norris. Two super stock heats were run and all that was left were the four feature races.

    The 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature would be the first one called to the post taking the green flag from Brian Hodde at 9:35 with Max Adams and Jake Swanson racing side by side around the entire track for the first three laps until Swanson assumed the lead on lap four. Swanson looked like he was in command but suddenly Brent Beauchamp found the low side to his liking and began to eat up big chunks of real estate as he closed the gap on Swanson. Lap seven saw Beauchamp power down low in turn two and move by Swanson like he was standing still. For the most part the race for the lead was over with Beauchamp maintaining a good sized lead as the laps clicked off. Meanwhile behind the front two a good battle was going on among Max Adams, Matt Thompson, Jordan Kinser and Geoff Ensign moving forward from eighth. They ran close and swapped positions numerous times during the non-stop feature. When the checkers waved at 9:42 it was Beauchamp in for the win over Swanson with Ensign working his way to third with Kinser fourth and Adams slipping to fifth and Thompson back to sixth at the finish.

    The second 20 lap 305 sprint feature was next to the post taking the green flag at 9:52. Trey Burke, the Texas racer and Silver Crown runner, took the early lead and held on through the first five laps. Third starting Andy Bradley found a way around Burke to take the lead and would not look back after that. A very good battle sparked up among Ethan Barrow, John Paynter Jr, Burke and Cody Trammell over the middle portion of the race as Bradley ran free up front. When the checkers waved at 10:07 it was Andy Bradley in for the win besting fifth starting Cody Trammell who broke loose from the rest of the intense battlers to manage a second at the finish. Barrow would take down third with Paynter fourth and Burke ending up fifth after running strong early.

    Pat and I both agreed on the ride home that the second 305 sprint car feature was even better than the non-wing sprint one. It was a good night of racing though the car counts were down but it was still an entertaining night of local sprint car racing.

    That’s it until Sunday when we report on our Saturday night venture as it looks like the rain is outta here and we can go racing again tonight. News, comments, stories or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for continuing to read our column and hope you enjoy it was much as we enjoy bringing it to you. Take care and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Brady Takes Home The Bacon ($10,000) With Top Gun Night Two Win At Macon


    Saturday, June 8 – The forecast changed for the better for this Saturday with virtually no chance of rain in Macon, Illinois. This was a good thing as tonight was night two of the Top Gun USAC National Sprint Car racing at the 1/5 mile high banked black clay oval, the Macon Speedway billed as the coolest bullring in the country. On tonight’s dance card was the USAC sprints (29), hornets (24) and vintage stock cars (7). Before traveling down to the track from Decatur we stopped for lunch at Texas Roadhouse where I had a delicious sirloin steak with chili and a salad. Now it was over to Chevrolet Hall of Fame museum and the extensive collection of all things branded Chevrolet. Many Indianapolis 500 pace cars, other older Chevrolets and plenty of memorabilia with anything attached to the name Chevrolet. We met and chatted for quite a while with Brad Emery who oversees the museum and was a former late model driver at Macon and a fellow Christian.

    From the museum it was a dessert stop at Krekel’s in Macon getting strawberry soft serve with chocolate syrup. We consumed the ice cream sitting in the parking lot at Macon after securing a prime time parking spot. Today was cloudy with temperatures in the low 80’s with a nice breeze blowing keeping the day comfortable. We enjoyed the down time by reading novels before the sound of racing engines alerted us to the start of hot laps for the sprint cars. We gathered our gear up and headed trackside where we climbed the stairway to our advanced reserved seats in section white, row 2, seats one and two for a great view only disturbed by Rotten Ralph who insisted on either standing on the top row of the section below on his seat blocking our view of turn one. The ill effects of alcohol can lead people to do such things without regard for anyone else.

    After hot laps the USAC sprints returned to the 1/5 mile bullring for their time trials pushing off the first car at 6:18 and completing by 6:39 with Kyle Cummins setting another new track record, a time of 10.085 seconds, breaking the mark set one night earlier by Logan Seavey at 10.230. In fact, the first five fastest tonight all broke the old track record. It was a sign that the track was in perfect shape and ready to produce some fast and furious action. Eric Shelton rolled over in turn two in the first heat after Carson Garrett fed him a right rear after Shelton got in the way with the top four battling for position. Justin Grant looking to turn around his recent bad luck scored the win in heat one over Zach Daum, Kyle Cummins and Carson Garrett. Mitchel Moles, last night’s winner picked up where he left off last night garnering heat two besting Mitchell Davis, Shane Cottle in the Lear #77 and Aussie, Todd Hobson in the Daming Construction #5T, ironically beating out the normal pilot of that car, Jake Swanson, for the last qualifying position. Mitch Wissmiller held the Illinois state flag high turning back the invaders grabbing heat three over fellow Illinois resident, Mario Clouser, CJ Leary and Logan Seavey. The fourth and final heat race was captured by Emerson Axsom beating Brady Bacon, Colten Cottle jumping in the Daylan Chambers #8D and Daison Pursley.

    The vintage stock cars would run one heat while the hornets held up their end of the deal spinning off three non-stop heats for their 24 car field. All heat racing was in the books by 7:50. The sprint car semi fell to Kevin Thomas Jr in the Cheney #42 over Jake Swanson, Max Adams and Robert Ballou, the last man into the 20 car starting lineup.

    The vintage stock cars would go 15 non-stop circuits to kick off the main event agenda in just four minutes with Matt Ramer topping Austin Lipe and James Landis. The 15 lap hornet feature only had 3 cautions and ran in fourteen minutes with Billy Mason in his #357 winning for the second time this week with late model driver, Shannon Babb winning with the #357 on Thursday in a match race with two late model drivers (Babb & Ashton Winger) and two sprint car drivers (Logan Seavey & Chase Stockon) competing.

    The only thing left to run was the big 50 lap, $10,000 to win USAC National sprint car race with the front row of Brady Bacon and CJ Leary bringing the rest of the field to Jake Croxton’s green flag. Leary bounded out front from his second starting spot as at the beginning of the event the cushion was the fastest way around and Leary proved it by leading the first ten laps of the event. Brady Bacon and Logan Seavey stayed close to Leary and on lap eleven the top three were side by side with Leary up top, Bacon blasting the middle and Seavey working the bottom with Seavey the leader at the line. Seavey slid a little high entering turn one and Leary and Bacon jumped on the miscue and went by. Leary reclaimed the lead with Bacon right there with Seavey sliding to third. Shane Cottle brought out the caution on lap thirteen when he slapped the fourth turn wall and came across right in front of Leary with rear end damage.

    Leary would go to the point on the restart but Bacon was right there on his tail tank. Brady made his move in turn two on lap fourteen to grab his first lead. CJ returned the favor in the same turn one lap later as he refused to give up the lead for long. Lap eighteen saw Bacon make another run at Leary off turn four to take the lead. Justin Grant was in the hunt now moving by Seavey for third and chasing the leaders down. Kyle Cummins became a player in this game moving by Seavey for fourth on lap twenty one and Grant on the low side through turns thee and four on lap thirty one. Grant’s bad luck gremlin would rear its ugly head on lap thirty six as he caught the cushion the wrong way with his right rear sending him tumbling down the banking and out of the race while running fourth.

    Bacon’s big lead was wiped out as they prepared to go green again with four to go. Most everyone was now lower on the track except for last night’s winner, Mitchel Moles, who was ripping the lip and making up some ground advancing from seventh to fourth in the closing circuits.

    Bacon was prepared to go on the restart and he hit the loud pedal and stormed back into the lead with the others chasing. Over the final four circuits Bacon was not going to be headed as he crossed underneath Croxton’s double checkers first for the third time in the last four races and his fifth overall win of 2023. With this victory Bacon moved within one win of the #2 man on the all-time sprint win list, Tom Bigelow. Leary would have to settle for second on the night with the BGE/Dougherty team with their second straight second at Macon with Carson Garrett getting second last night. Kyle Cummins would come home third in less dramatic fashion than a night earlier with Mitchel Moles claiming fourth and Seavey rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom drove from ninth to sixth with Carson Garrett from twelfth to seventh, Robert Ballou the hard charger coming forward from sixteenth to eighth with Mario Clouser ninth and Zach Daum from eighteenth to tenth.

    It was another action packed night of racing though the race for the win last night was lights out. Both the small tracks (Kutztown & Macon) to us have earned a spot on the 2024 USAC schedule as full points paying events. Like the Silver Crown moving to more half miles the sprints trying smaller bullrings has been a hit with fans.

    That’s it for this typical weekend but check back next weekend to see where we end up next. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Until next time be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Moles Scores Hard Fought Win On Night One Of Top Gun Show At Macon


    Friday, June 7 – There was a threat of rain in yesterday’s forecast for today but by the time we checked it on this sunny Friday the bad weather had dissipated. There was only one hour around 7 that had a 50% chance of a shower and some rain droplets did fall about that time but nothing to slow down the activity for the evening. On tap tonight was the first ever appearance of the USAC National Sprint Car series at the high banked 1/5 mile black clay oval in Macon, Illinois. As was the case with the Action Track USA in Kutztown, PA during the Eastern Storm these two nights would not be full point paying shows just 50 show up points to each participant. This did not cause the field to be short as 30 wingless sprinters showed up to vie for 20 starting points in the 40 lap feature event paying $5000 to win tonight. The second division on the card tonight was the 600 micros with 21 entrants in the backstretch pit area to take part in a 20 lap feature event.

    The USAC sprint cars would be the first to take to the 1/5 mile bullring for hot laps immediately followed by single car time trials commencing at 6:48. By 7:09 Logan Seavey sat on the homestretch for the second straight race to be interviewed after taking his sponsor’s fast time award with a lap of 10.230 seconds, a new track record, around the 1/5 mile bullring. The 600 micros would take their hot laps and then it was time for the four USAC heat races with the top four moving directly to the big 40 lap main event later in the evening.

    CJ Leary powered to the front in heat one and took the victory over fast timer, Logan Seavey with Mario Clouser third and Mitchel Moles fourth. The second heat fell to Justin Grant besting Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins and Daison Pursley to move on. Heat three saw Max Adams storm to the front to win over Emerson Axsom, Carson Garrett and Robert Ballou. Kevin Thomas Jr. took a light roll in turn one after Matt Westfall got crossed up in front of him with Thomas ramping over him in heat four. KTJ returned to the back of the field and missed by one spot of transferring. The fourth heat also saw Daylan Chambers turn turtle in turn three after digging into the surface and rolling over. Chase Stockon would claim the heat four win over Matt Westfall, Jake Swanson and Mitchell Davis.

    It was now time for the 21 micros to run their heat races with Hunter Pruitt taking down heat one over Cale Coons, son of Jerry Coons Jr and Jaylon Mills. Heat two was knocked off by Jordan Clary beating Hunter Walker and Joe Taft. Heat three was won by Reed Whitney besting Hayden Harvey and Nolan Bartley.

    The sprint car semi was next on the dance card with just four cars moving to the 40 lap feature event with 20 cars starting on the smaller track instead of the normal 22. Brandon Mattox notched his first USAC semi of the season topping Kevin Thomas Jr, Logan Faucon and the last man in, James Lyeria returning after a few years hiatus. The fields were now set for the two feature events with the 20 lap 600 micro feature the first one called to the post.

    Hunter Pruitt went to the early lead. He would remain at the point for the first five laps until eighth starter, Jaylon Mills, riding out of Indiana took the lead away. Cale Coons worked his way past Pruitt for second just past the halfway mark and took up the chase of his fellow Indiana driver. Coons out of the sixth hole started to reel in Mills but never was able to make a serious bid for the lead as the checkered waved at 9:01 with Mills in for the win over Coons with Reed Whitney taking down third, Pruitt fourth and Jordan Clary fifth in a good run for the 600 micros.

    By 9:19 it was time to cut them loose for their big 40 lap, $5000 to win main event for the USAC sprinters with Jake Swanson and Carson Garrett bringing 18 of their friends to the initial green flag. Swanson took the early lead with Kyle Cummins and Garrett nipping at his heels. Lap three saw a four car skirmish in turn two involving Emerson Axsom, Justin Grant, Mitchell Davis and Brandon Mattox. All spun or ended up in the infield with Grant getting the worst of it with a busted front end underneath the back of a push vehicle damaging both. On the restart Cummins made rear end contact with leader Swanson sending Swanson for a 180 spin facing traffic and out of the lead and the race. Cummins would be the new leader on the next restart. The green did not last for long as Davis and Mattox got together in turn three bringing out yet another yellow. Brady Bacon running sixth on the restart and looking for his third straight USAC sprint win smacked the wall exiting turn two sending his mount sideways and into a series of rolls with Chase Stockon getting into the flipping Bacon and Mario Clouser launching over the left rear of Stockon and also getting airborne but returning to earth on all fours. Bacon was OK but done for the evening while Stockon and Clouser would continue.

    After getting the wrecking out of their systems everyone settled down and we were able to get back to some racing. Cummins led on the restart and would open up a straightway lead by ripping the lip for the first eight laps with Garrett chasing down low and Moles also up top in third. Lap nine saw Moles pass Garrett for second. Moles quickly cut Cummins’s lead in half as the pair worked their way through heavy traffic. Lap sixteen saw Moles briefly grab the lead off turn two but Cummins countered in turn four with a nifty move splitting Moles and lap car Davis to regain the lead. The next change of leadership occurred on lap twenty one when Cummins had problems clearing Robert Ballou allowing Moles to slip into the lead again. Cummins rallied and edged Moles at the line for the lead but Moles stuck it up on the cushion entering turn one retaking the lead from Cummins.

    The top three raced nose to tail with Moles pacing Cummins and Garrett as the laps ticked off. With four to go Cummins got loose in turn two allowing Garrett to slip by for second but the high flying Moles had a good lead at this point. Garrett began to eat up large amounts of real estate by using the low side and blasted into turns three and four with two to go and drove right by Moles to take the lead. Garrett was looking to notch his first ever USAC National Sprint Car win as he motored out front. Sixth running Logan Seavey slowed moments later but lap thirty eight was officially scored giving Garrett the lead on the ensuing restart.

    On the restart Garrett stuck to the low groove while Moles and Cummins attacked the lip with reckless abandon. Moles and Cummins edged ahead of Garrett exiting turn two with the trio racing three wide as they headed into turns three and four with Garrett low, Moles high and Cummins in the middle with Moles edging ahead of the other two at the line to start lap thirty nine. Moles decided to swap lanes entering turn three diving to the inside taking Garrett’s preferred line away in the process. Exiting turn four the trio raced side by side with Moles and Garrett low while Cummins pulled out all stops throwing it against the fence as it was going to be a photo finish with the only thing on the three driver’s mind was winning, not points, not second just grabbing that win!!! It ended in spectator fashion with Moles winning by 0.093 seconds over Garrett, the closest finish since Jake Swanson nipped KTJ at the line at Perris in November of 2021 with Cummins catching the homestretch wall and flipping end over end several times crossing the line in third in spectacular form!! Cummins quickly was able to climb from his wrecked machine to the delight of the crowd on hand who had witnessed a great final ten laps of a race. This would be Moles’ first win in USAC sprint racing in almost precisely a year and denying Garrett his first ever win in the process. Garrett would claim his best USAC sprint finish with his second place finish though. A solemn Cummins in the podium interviews noted that he didn’t deserve to win as he got into Swanson early and apologized for his mistake and it takes a good man to admit when he made a mistake.

    Lost in all the pandemonium up front was the fine drive Max Adams made advancing from tenth to fourth at the finish with Kevin Thomas Jr moving from eleventh to fifth at the end. Matt Westfall would be the hard charger coming from 17th to 6th with Emerson Axsom 7th after starting 13th, Daison Pursley 8th, Chase Stockon 9th and CJ Leary rounding out the top ten. A tip of the hat goes out to James Lyerla who returned to racing action after a several year hiatus and managed to race home 11th in his first outing since unretiring.

    A very exciting race once the guys got their adenine shots out of their systems early and the fans seemed to enjoy the racing very much giving loud applause to the drivers after the race ended. With five cautions and a red it could not be considered a great race but it was entertaining none the less.

    Check back Monday to see what happens in Top Gun Night Two with $10,000 on the line for the 50 lap shootout. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take in some racing at a bucket list track or two but either way enjoy yourself and be good. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always the case thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be kind to someone even if you don’t think they deserve it because you don’t know what’s going on in their life at the moment you encounter them. A smile also goes a long way in a person’s day.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Bacon Sizzles With Runaway Win With USAC Sprints at Lincoln Park



    Friday, June 30 – The original plan was to attend the two day show Bill Gardner Sprintacular at Lincoln Park Speedway scheduled for today and tomorrow. The problem was there was a line of severe thunderstorms that moved across Indiana on Thursday knocking out power to many across the state including service in Putnamville. Therefore Lincoln Park and USAC/MSCS decided to move the dates to Sunday, July 2nd and Monday, July 3rd. Plan B was to head south to Paragon as the Paragon Speedway was running a Friday night special with wingless sprints and some other classes so it was off to Paragon instead. We only made it out of the garage into the driveway before the engine light on the Nissan Rogue came on and upon opening the hood the engine was vibrating near the firewall so I put it in drive and drove back into the garage. It was already 5 PM and the local Enterprise Rental location was closed and so were all the repair shops in Crawfordsville for the weekend. So much for Paragon.

    Saturday, July 1 – A rental car was secured in the morning and we were back in business but we will have to wait until Wednesday before taking the Rogue to get checked out to see what the problem is. The next problem for today was the weather. It had rained in many places the night before and the forecast for race time today, 7 to 9 PM range, was thunderstorms with percentages in the 80 to 90 percent range. Our choices for alternative venues all fell to cancellation so it was dinner and a quiet night at home.

    Sunday, July 2 – Another day with thunderstorms forecasted across the entire states of Illinois and Indiana had us studying the Weather Channel deciding where to go today. Our two closest and best chances of seeing a race were Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis who were racing on the oval and figure 8 tracks and Lincoln Park Speedway for night one of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular. After much deliberation Lincoln Park was the choice and off we went. Ten miles down the road Pat checked the USAC racing Twitter and found out that minutes before that Lincoln Park was postponed due to a heavy thunderstorm that rolled through the Putnamville area. We turned the rental SUV around and headed back home where we decided to watch some shows that we had recorded. After the first one went off, I decided to glance at the Twitter account of Circle City Raceway as the sun appeared in Crawfordsville. To our surprise Circle City said they were going to run as they were able to work the track(s) into race shape. So the quick decision was made to head east on I-74 then south on I-465 which is reopened to Circle City. We left slightly before 6 PM and were in our seats at Circle City by 7 PM. Four minutes later the first race with the enduro cars on the oval began.

    Thirty two cars started the 30 lap enduro with Francisco Santiago Jr. starting 18th and winning this event. The Crown Vics were next up and the first race on the figure 8 which was quite wet and sloppy with the rear wheel drive cars having a tough time racing with Brandon Smith besting the 10 car field. The front wheel drive stocks were next and were able to maneuver the wet figure 8 with little difficulty. Francisco Santiago Jr. won his second race of the evening outrunning this 10 car field. A trailer race was next and with only three entrants with the object to disengage the other’s trailer it was not really a race but a last man standing type of entertainment. The funniest moment of the night came when again Santiago was involved in his third race of the evening. On the second lap he had knocked off the trailer of another competitor but in the process had wrecked his front end and partly disabled his car. He slowly ran the course with the other remaining participant stalking him as he closed in for the kill. The other vehicle crashed into Santiago’s trailer but did not knock it off the hitch. Instead he caught his trailer into Santiago’s trailer and pulled his off the hitch thereby making Santiago the winner!!! A bizarre turn of events and giving everyone a good laugh!!!

    The final figure 8 race of the evening was for the school buses with seven of them taking to the course. It was actually the best and closest of the evening’s races with Cole Rhoton prevailing in the event checkering at 9 PM. With only a demo derby and fireworks left we decided to call it an evening and head back to Crawfordsville happy with the evening of racing and the fact that we also notched a new track in the figure 8 course.

    Monday, July 3 – Finally!!! Today was a bright, sunny day in the high 80’s with no chance of rain. So, it was off to the Lincoln Park Speedway for night two of the USAC/MSCS co-sanctioned Bill Gardner Sprintacular with $10,000 going to the winner of the sprint car main event. We arrived around 5:15 PM, secured our spot with our lawn chairs and walked around looking at the souvenir stands chatting with Whitney Thomas and Maddy Heidenreich along the way. Then it was back into the grandstands to settle in for a night of racing with a fine field of 39 wingless sprint cars, 16 super stocks and 8 bombers on the race card for the evening. After dining on some fine chicken fingers and cheese bites it was time to go racing.

    Time trials started off the activities starting at 6:35 and completing by 6:59 with Logan Seavey in the Benic Racing #2B Honest Abe’s Roofing sponsored sprinter, taking the Honest Abe Roofing fast time award with a lap of 12.399 seconds around the 5/16 mile banked speedway. Some track maintenance followed before the super stocks and bombers hot lapped their machines. It gave me time to chat with good friends, Jen Kelley and Dan Hetser. about our Italy trip and the bad weather of this weekend before the sprint car heat races started.

    The first of four heat races for the USAC/MSCS sprint cars would take the green flag at 7:50 with the top four finishers moving directly to the big 40 lap feature event. Kyle Cummins used a nifty turn three and four inside pass to steal away the first heat win over Tye Mihocko, Justin Grant and Max Adams. Heat two saw Thomas Meseraull in the Epperson #2E pull away from the field to score the win over Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Dwight Cheney #42, Geoff Ensign in the Gass #17G and Jake Swanson in the Team AZ #21AZ. Heat three was captured by Brady Bacon who looked like he was on a rail besting Brandon Mattox, CJ Leary and Emerson Axsom. Heat four saw Brent Beauchamp get into Brian Hayden battling for the lead in turns three and four sending Hayden up to the cushion losing enough ground to not place in the top four while Beauchamp went on to win. Robert Ballou came home second with Brayden Fox third and Carson Garrett fourth.
    The super stocks ran two heats for their 16 car field with Josh Litton and Kenny Carmichael Sr scoring wins. The bombers had one heat for their 8 car field with Megan Cavaness getting the win.

    In between the super stock and bomber heats the sprint car C main was run with the top four to join the rear of the B main lineup. John Sluss won followed by Kayla Roell, Alec Sipes in his first night in the Hayward #19 and Aric Gentry. The B main was next on the agenda with Mitchel Moles grabbing the win in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ over Logan Seavey, Matt Westfall, Chase Stockon, Daison Pursley and Brian Hayden in a race many tracks would have liked to have had that field for their A main!! Two MSCS provisionals, Aric Gentry and Kayla Roell, would tag the field for the main event making it a 24 car starting field. All preliminary qualifying was in the books by 9:18. Some additional track maintenance was performed before the start of the sprint car feature.

    The green would drop on the 24 car field led to the green by Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr at 9:49. Bacon jumped into the early lead and began pulling away. You didn’t know it at the time but Bacon would never relinquish the lead the rest of the 40 lap distance even with three cautions to bunch the field. In turn two of the opening lap eighth starting Thomas Meseraull rolled into the muck on the bottom of the infield and blasted his way back out but dropped from 8th to 24th in the process!! Bacon was in his own time zone by lap six opening up a straightway lead as he approached lap traffic for the first time. Bacon picked his way through as Thomas and Grant trailed the leader by a good distance. Brady comfortably led until lap seventeen when Carson Garrett came to a halt between turns one and two wiping out Bacon’s massive lead.

    On the restart Bacon bounded back out front with Thomas and Grant in tow. One lap later saw Grant slip by Thomas low in turns three and four to grab second and see if he had anything for Bacon. He didn’t as Bacon scooted away again to over a two second lead until lap 29 when Brandon Mattox slowed to a halt on the high side of turns three and four to bring out the yellow with Mattox going to the work area. Under caution point leader, Emerson Axsom, headed off the backstretch to the work area also with a flat left rear tire after advancing from 16th to 9th and coming forward. Axsom would return but only manage a 15th and in the process lose the point lead.

    On the next restart Jake Swanson slipped to the inside of Thomas in turn two as Thomas slid wide and took away the third position at that point. Bacon was checked out again with Grant and Swanson the next two in the running order. Lap 35 saw the last yellow wave when Carson Garrett spun sideways in turn two wiping out Bacon’s another time zone lead. It was go time again and Bacon was off to the races streaking out front once again as Brian Hayden slowed on the frontstretch and slowly rolled around the track over the last five laps as everyone knew what was coming. As Brent Beauchamp passed on the homestretch with one to go Hayden sped up and tried to crash Beauchamp in turn two and missed. Hayden made a final attempt to wreck Beauchamp making a kamikaze move in turn four at Beauchamp missing again and crashing sideways into the turn four cushion sending his sprinter flipping several times bouncing his cage off the homestretch wall and missing Beauchamp once again!!! We hope Hayden is OK but it was a stupid move and besides potentially hurting himself he could have hurt others. A fine and suspension should be forthcoming for trying to use his sprinter as a weapon from both USAC and Lincoln Park. Settle it like a man and confront Beauchamp in the pit area and discuss the matter or even fight it out but don’t try to wreck someone!!!
    Bacon would cruise home the winner in a historic career mark becoming only the third driver to hit the 50 win mark in USAC National sprint car history joining Tom Bigelow (52) and Dave Darland (62) at that level. Bacon also became the first USAC driver in 2023 to hit the four win mark winning his second race in a row after struggling in the beginning of the season but it seems that the four time USAC National point champion made be in his sweet spot on his drive for five. Grant crossed the line second with Swanson third, CJ Leary fourth with Kyle Cummins rounding out the top five. Kevin Thomas Jr lost some positions late in the race and ended up sixth with Chase Stockon seventh after starting fourteenth with Robert Ballou picking up the Hard Charger award moving from seventeenth to eighth. The marked man, Brent Beauchamp finished ninth with Logan Seavey rounding out the top ten.

    We decided to let the crowd thin out a little and stayed for the 20 lap super stock feature and it turned out to be a good one. Even though Larry Raines led from start to finish he was hounded by Kenny Carmichael Sr the entire distance with Carmichael almost passing him several times during the event but the veteran did not quite have enough to pull off the win. Tucker Chastian made some late moves to finish third after starting seventh with the Litton brothers, Josh and Justin, being right in the mix finishing fourth and fifth as the top five finished under a blanket. At that point we decided to was time to head home and exited stage right and made up way back up Route 231 North to Crawfordsville wrapping up a shorter than expected race slate for the Fourth of July weekend only adding two of four races scheduled.

    That’s it for this segment with racing scheduled for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday weather permitting. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take your show on the road. Either way have fun, be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where a typical weekend finds us.
     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    McIntosh Wins 3 of 4 & Illinois Midget Week Title With Win at Lincoln


    Sunday, June 25 – It was another sunny, hot day in the 90’s but there was a stiff wind all day long which made the heat bearable. We ate lunch at Daphne’s in Lincoln before heading over to the Logan County Fairgrounds where the ¼ mile Lincoln Speedway is located. We found a great spot to park the SUV under a tree with good shade and pulled out our two folding chairs to enjoy the wind and the shade enjoying some reading before the races began.

    This was the final night of the four race POWRi Illinois Midget Week along with another stop on the famous UMP late model Hell Tour. The UMP modifieds would be the third division on the dance card for this Sunday evening. The first order of business was time trials for the 28 late models pitside with Australian Kye Blight surprising the field by setting fast time with a lap of 13.309 seconds around the quarter mile bullring. The time trials were run early starting at 6:39 and wrapping up at 6:57.

    The POWRi midgets (31) would be the first class to contest their heat racing with four heats on the agenda with the top sixteen in points locking into the 30 lap feature event automatically while the final six starters coming from the midget semi. Steven Snyder Jr., from Rising Sun, Maryland parked the second Mounce/Stout #40X in victory lane over Elijah Gile, Hayden Reinbold and Cooper Williams. Heat two went to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Taylor Reimer besting Chase McDermand, Branigan Roark and Jake Neuman. Heat three was won by Mason City, Illinois’ Karter Sarff beating Mitchell Davis, Jade Avedisian and Chance Crum. The fourth and final heat fell to Ferndale, California’s Daniel Whitley over Mariah Ede, Adam Taylor and Jedd Ross. Thomas Meseraull scratched after hot laps with a blown engine ending his evening extremely early.

    Next up were the UMP late models spinning off three heats with the top five moving directly to the 40 lap, $7500 to win feature. Billy Moyer Jr. claimed heat one outdistancing Myles Moos, Tyler Clem, Morgan Bagley and Stevie Sheppard. Heat two went to Jason Feger besting Ashton Winger, Frank Heckenast Jr., Bob Gardner and Tim Lance. The third heat was captured by Jake Little beating Brandon Eskew, Cody Bauer, Clayton Stuckey and Carson Brown. The UMP modifieds ran three heats with Mike Harrison, Allen Weisser and Tyler Nicely taking down wins. Periodic track prep was done throughout the evening and with the stiff winds and sun shining all day long the track held up extremely well.

    The POWRi midget semi was next on the dance card with the top six going behind the top sixteen in points into the main event. Corbin Rueschenberg of Mesa, Arizona would cop the 12 lap semi over Jake Neuman, Chris Andrews, Gavin Miller, Cannon McIntosh and Patrick Ryan. Brody Wake would take a provisional making it a 23 car starting field for the 30 lap POWRi midget finale. The UMP late models would run a B main with Rich Bell securing the win.

    The green flag would drop on the front row of Taylor Reimer and Chase McDermand with Reimer jumping to the early lead. Seventh starting Jade Avedisian quickly powered into second from a gaggle of cars in the opening laps to race into second with Mitchell Davis moving into third. Avedisian squeezed low on Reimer to take the lead on lap two before Steven Snyder Jr rolled his midget several times in turn two on the second lap. Snyder surprisingly would make repairs and return to the action. In just two laps Cannon McIntosh had remarkably advance all the way from 21st to 5th at this point!! McIntosh would continue to pick off cars settling into second behind Avedisian on lap seven and chased the young lady until the halfway mark when he made a run and slipped by Jade in turn three to take the lead. The track looked like it was going away as the field mostly dove low as they raced around the oval. Mariah Ede, in one of her best midget showings steadily picked off competitors coming from her 12th starting position to move into third in the second half of the race. Gavin Miller was another driver that had made some big advances having started 20th and moving to 4th after the halfway mark passing Chase McDermand in the process. The race wore on with McIntosh increasing his lead over Avedisian in the second half and passing under the checker at 9:52 with his fourth POWRI win of 2023 and his third out of the last four races. It was also his 22nd career POWRi National midget win tying him with Logan Seavey for fifth on the all-time win list moving within one of fourth place man, Brad Kuhn. McIntosh also claimed his third straight POWRi Illinois Midget Week championship.

    Avedisian would ride home second with Ede third, Miller fourth and McDermand rounding out the top five. Taylor Reimer ended up sixth with Cooper Williams finishing seventh with Mitchell Davis eighth, Karter Sarff ninth with Corbin Rueschenburg taking tenth after starting seventeenth.

    It was 10:07 when the 40 lap UMP Hell Tour late model feature took the green flag and promptly went wire to wire in 11 minutes eclipsing the 36 minutes it took the midgets to run ten less laps. Jason Feger went to early lead over Jake Little and Miles Moos, the hometown boy from Lincoln. Moos briefly gained the lead at the line to complete lap four after Feger jumped cushion off turn four. Feger quickly regained his composure and the lead exiting turn two and was not to be headed. Lap traffic would play a role in the middle stages of the race with Feger working top and bottom to pass the slower cars. Moos stayed close but only on the last lap when a pesky lap car slowed Feger momentarily was Moos able to draw close but Feger held by a car length as he crossed the start/finish line at 10:18 to claim his second win of the month and pocket $7500 plus an extra $10,000 for being the top point man of the month in the Hell Tour making a cool $17,500 on the evening. Moos would finish second with Ashton Winger coming home third, Jake Little hanging on for fourth with Billy Moyer Jr. rounding out the top five.

    We quickly headed for the exits as it was already 10:18 Central Time which meant it was 11:18 Eastern Time where we were headed. Looking on Twitter today we saw that Allen Weisser beat Tyler Nicely by inches splitting a lap car at the line to score the UMP modified win.

    That’s it for this three race weekend as the current plans for the Fourth of July weekend look like us staying close to home with four races planned in four days all in Indiana. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or plot a road trip somewhere to see some racing. Either way but safe and stay hydrated. Comments, news, stories and other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you continue to enjoy these columns as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Until next time be kind and be good.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Meseraull Snaps McIntosh Streak With Hard Fought Race at Macon



    Saturday, June 24 – The heat has arrived!!! Temperatures soared into the 90’s today as we prepared to make the western trek into the state of Illinois. Our destination was the 1/5 mile banked black dirt oval at the Macon Speedway in the small town of Macon. We arrived early enough to park in the front parking lot and hung out a while in the air condition of the Rogue listening to the Phillies lose to the Mets before heading pit side to sign in. We tried a new seat sitting in the first section on the homestretch about a quarter of the way up (which I was skeptical of) with close proximity to the fourth turn fencing. It was fine as we did not get any flying dirt or cars in our lap as the fencing looks very secure. We scoped out our reserved seating in two weeks before purchasing our dinner of pork chop sandwiches and drinks.

    The four division program for this evening consisted of POWRi National midgets (27), POWRi Outlaw 600’s (16), modifieds (18) and street stocks (9). The street stocks took to the track first for their two heats starting at 7:03 and were followed by the POWRi midgets for their four heat races. Cannon McIntosh would draw first blood defeating Kunz teammates, Jade Avedisian and Cooper Williams, a 15 year old out of Decatur, Arkansas, the latest find of Keith Kunz with Hayden Reinbold fourth. Heat two went to Steven Snyder Jr in one of the Mounce/Stout entries besting Andrew Felker, Clinton Boyles and Zach Daum. Heat three fell to Daniel Adler in a strong run beating Gavin Miller, Brody Wake, another 15 year old youngster from Lake Havasu City, Arizona and Branigan Roark. Heat four went to Thomas Meseraull over Brayton Lynch, Mariah Ede and Daniel Whitley. Ede started first and got sideways in turns one and two spinning and taking teammate, Taylor Reimer, for a rollover in the process. Both would return in the heat race.

    The POWRi Outlaw 600’s running without wings tonight would contest two fast and furious heat races with Tyler Kuykendall beating Kale Drake and Jaxton Wiggs coming from seventh in this one. Heat two was claimed by Jordan Clary over Chad Baldwin and Parker Leek.

    The modifieds ran three heat races with Jarrett Stryker, Austin Lynn and Jeremy Nichols taking wins before the POWRi midgets returned for their 12 lap semi with the top six joining the rear of the 22 car starting field. Karter Sarff would take down the win over Chance Crum, Corbin Rueschenberg, a 14 year old out of Mesa, Arizona, Elijah Gile, a 13 year old out of Phoenix, Arizona and son of racer, Dennis Gile, Taylor Reimer and Laci Ferno, a 19 year old out of Mooresville, North Carolina. Mitchell Davis would roll his midget in turn three and use a provisional to make it a 23 car field for the 30 lap feature event. All prelims were in the books by 8:23.

    The first feature of the evening was for the street stocks going the distance of 15 laps taking the green flag at 8:41. Bobby Beiler, who almost lost the handle several times hung on to win this one, his fourth of the year.

    By 8:59 it was feature time for the POWRi National Midget series ready to go green for 30 laps of furious action. Thomas Meseraull and Gavin Miller brought the 23 car field to the green flag with Meseraull edging into the early lead. Miller would remain in his shadow as T-Mez led over the first ten laps of the event until Miller lost the handle in turn two and spun ruining his good run in second. The green waved again with Meseraull to the point but it didn’t last long as fourth running Steven Snyder Jr. also spun in turn four spoiling his evening. The middle stages of the contest saw several cautions keep the field bunched as the first two night’s winner, Cannon McIntosh, was weaving his way forward from fifth into second and applying the pressure on Meseraull for the lead. The two went at it like gladiators swapping sliders instead of swords back and forth especially over the final ten laps.

    One particular restart with seven to go did not please T-Mez as he felt McIntosh jumped him on the double file restart and entering turn one T-Mez threw a nasty slider across the front end of McIntosh forcing him to jam on the binders almost sending both of them into the turn two wall. McIntosh would race down the backstretch and take the lead for the next three laps until Meseraull was able to work his way back by with five to go. For the remaining five laps T-Mez ran the wall to perfection fending off the advances of McIntosh to snap his two race win streak in Illinois Midget Week and score his sixth career POWRi National midget win with McIntosh second, teammate Brody Wake third, Jade Avedisian fourth and Andrew Felker rounding out the top five. Karter Sarff came from 17th to finish 6th with Chance Crum moving from 18th to 7th, Daniel Adler 8th, Steven Snyder Jr recovering to gain 9th with Corbin Rueschenberg charging from 19th to finish 10th.

    Most of the younger generation drove well and in control but the antics of Brody Wake were very questionable. He drove recklessly, out of control and all over the place and his final move in turn four with a haymaker slider on teammate, Cannon McIntosh, was ill advised. Dave Mac and Wake’s father had better have a talk with that boy before he hurts himself or someone else. This is not a video game where you wreck and hit reset, this is real life and death situations and should not be taken with no fear.

    The 20 lap POWRi wingless 600 feature was next on the docket with the green flag waving at 9:34. Jordan Clary would lead the early going over Jaxton Riggs and Tyler Kuykendall as the field went at it tooth and nail in an action-packed feature race. Kuykendall would take the lead on lap five from Clary with sixth starter, Kale Drake, powering into the runner-up position. This pair raced side by side and nose to tail over the remainder of the 20 lap race while Drake’s teammate, Corbin Rueschenberg, was making a march from 16th all the way up to 3rd and closing on the leaders. Over the last three laps the trio ran within inches of each other with the checkered flag waving at 9:52 with Kuykendall scoring his first career POWRi Outlaw 600 win over Drake with Rueschenberg third, Hunter Pruitt fourth with Jordan Clary rounding out the top five in a top notch feature.

    We decided to call it a night and head for our home for the evening, the Hampton Inn in Lincoln to bed down for the evening. We talked about the good racing on the drive north to Lincoln and how we enjoyed the evening of action-packed racing.

    Check back Monday as we complete the three race weekend with the final of Illinois Midget Week at Lincoln IL Speedway where the UMP LM and modified Hell Tour will be joining the midgets on this Sunday evening. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back often to see where our travels take us next. Be good and be kind.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Adams & Norris Win in Good Runs At Gas City


    Friday, June 23 – Today was a nice day with temperatures in the 80’s with plenty of sunshine and hardly any wind. Tonight’s destination for the second time this year was the ¼ mile dirt oval at the Gas City I-69 Speedway. But first it was a stop for the first time ever at Pappies Smokehouse and Lunch Box on the west side of Gas City for supper. Pappies is located right next to Casey’s and from the outside is not much to look at but don’t judge a book by its cover. Pat had the pulled pork sandwich for $9 and I had the brisket sandwich for $11 and they were both stuffed with plenty of meat and were delicious. Definitely a return visit will be in the offing!!

    We arrived at the track just past 6 PM and secured our seats next to our buddy, Phil, on the top row underneath the scoring tower and settled in for the night of racing. There were five divisions on the race card with wingless sprints (27), winged 305 sprints (13), UMP modifieds (11), hornets (9) and stock cars (3). The race tonight was leg #3 of the Chase For The Derrick, a special set of designated races for the wingless sprints culminating in a ten lap, ten car $1200 to win race plus the special Derrick trophy for the winner of this sprint car special on October 21st. Time trials were held for this race with three cowboys maneuvering the cowboy up surface. Time trials began early at 6:45 and finished by 7:04 with young Jack Hoyer setting fast time with a lap of 11.991 seconds around the quarter mile bullring.

    Just seven minutes off the scheduled starting time of 7:30 the first of four heats for the 27 sprint car field took the green flag. Jack Hoyer would use the top side to move from fourth for the win in heat one followed by Max Adams, Tye Mihocko and Cole Bodine. Evan Mosley looking better each time out claimed heat two over Ricky Lewis, Colten Cottle and Brian Hayden. Heat three went to Dustin Ingle over Rylan Gray, Zack Pretorius and Dustin Burkhart in the #21AZ that Jake Swanson drove at Kutztown during USAC Eastern Storm. Heat four went to Colin Grissom who has vastly improved over the past year besting Kyle Shipley, Tim Creech and Jackson Slone. The 13 Racesaver 305 sprints would contest two heats with Kevin Newton besting Dillon Baldwin riding out of Kentucky and Kayla Martin. Carson Dillion claimed heat two over Bryce Norris and John Paynter Jr.

    The UMP modifieds would run two heats while the hornets had two heat also and the stock cars had one heat. The wingless sprints would be the only division to need a B main with Brayden Clark winning this one over Ryan Barr, Ivan Glotzbach and Aidan Salisbury with all preliminary qualifying wrapped up by 8:28.

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature was the first to the post taking the green flag at 9:15. It was not green long as second starting Dustin Ingle looped it in turn two with Ryan Barr running over his left front ending Ingle’s evening prematurely. On the restart the same scenario happened with new second starter, Jack Hoyer, losing the handle in turn two bringing out another caution with Hoyer relegated to the tail of the now 19 car field with the previous exit of Ingle.

    The third start was a charm as the sprinters went single file for this start. First starting Colin Grissom bounded into the early lead and began to open up his lead. Lap eight saw Rylan Gray spin in turn three to bring out the third caution of the race. Grissom spurted out to the lead again on the restart with Evan Mosley and Max Adams in pursuit. Grissom was setting a good pace and the interval between him and the other two remained comfortable for the leader. Adams worked his way past Mosley for second just before the halfway mark. Lap sixteen saw the final caution wave when Gray spun for the second time, this one in turn two. Grissom retained the lead on the restart with Adams on his heels. Tye Mihocko slipped by Mosely for third on lap seventeen and closed on the top two. Grissom who was looking for his first sprint car win bobbled on the berm in turn three just enough to open the door for Adams and he powered the Michael Dutcher #17GP past Grissom on lap nineteen to take the lead. Mihocko would use turn three to pass Grissom for second on lap twenty one but could not close enough ground in the remaining four laps to seriously challenge Adams for the lead. When the checkered flew at 9:30 it was Max Adams first after starting fifth with Tye Mihocko second after starting ninth, Grissom in for a fine third but having to be disappointing for the youngster who saw his first win slip away. Cole Bodine turned in a very good drive from 13th to 4th with Jack Hoyer coming from 19th after spinning on the first lap to recover for fifth. It was a good feature with plenty of passing and the trackwork before the feature really helped turns three and four on the inside and middle.

    Next up was the 20 lap feature for the winged 305 sprint cars which took the green flag at 9:42. Fourteen year old Kayla Martin went to the early lead from the pole with Bryce Norris right in her tire tracks. Martin led the first six laps until Norris edged her at the line to begin lap seven. Norris would lead the rest of the way but Martin never let him get far away as she drove a very good race. Max Guilford from New Zealand brought the second Norris car from 12th to finish 3rd with John Paynter Jr 4th and Kentuckian Dillan Baldwin nailing down 5th at 9:52.

    The UMP modifieds were next up but with only 11 cars and a two hour drive home we decided to forgo their feature and head for the exits having witnessed two good sprint car features on a nice weather evening.

    Check back tomorrow for night two of our small road trip into Illinois and see where we end up. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, comments, words of wisdom or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Cummins Rounds Out Eastern Storm With Non-Stop Win at Action Track USA


    Sunday, June 18 – Today was Father’s Day and since both our fathers have passed away, we decided to do the next best thing and take my brother, Bob, to lunch at the Nazareth Diner. We had a great meal there and enjoyed each other’s company before biding our farewells with Bob heading back to New Jersey and Pat and I heading west to the Kutztown Fairgrounds, the site of Action Track USA, the 1/5 mile semi banked dirt oval, located there. On tap tonight was the final night of USAC Eastern Storm which would award only 50 show up points to everyone due to the fact that the track is smaller than any that the USAC National Sprints have ever run. The same will be true for the 1/5 mile dirt oval at Macon, Illinois where the USAC sprints are scheduled to run a two day show on July 7th and 8th. Tonight was the lowest car count for the USAC sprints because of several reasons, one being that some of the drivers and owners needed to be home Monday for work and some of them did not want to run such a small track. Still the 21 car field boasted the top 12 in USAC National points so it was a good quality field. The USAC sprints would be joined tonight by the regular 600 micro sprints who brought a hefty field of 51 entrants to do battle on this Sunday evening. The crowd was large, the weather nice and everyone was ready for some good short track racing. To be truthful we were skeptical of how the racing would be on this smaller track but after watching the heat racing for the sprinters it looked possible. USAC race director, Kirk Spridgeon, told the drivers in the driver’s meeting to go out there and show them you are the best drivers in the business and they truly did so.

    Time trials would start the night of action commencing at 7:12 with Kyle Cummins setting a new track record with a time of 10.406 seconds on the 1/5 mile oval. Cummins liked the track and stated that it reminded him of a mini Haubstadt (Tri-State Speedway).

    Five heat races for the 600’s would follow with the top four moving into the increased 30 lap feature tonight. Connor Gross, the current point leader in the division, won the first heat with Christian Bruno nailing down heat two. Teddy Reed would capture heat three with Kevin Thomas Jr making a rare 600 start taking down heat four and Alex Ruppert prevailing in heat five.

    The USAC sprint cars would take to the cowboy up surface with no dust the entire evening prepared by former USAC Silver Crown competitor, Richie Tobias. The sprints were fast and wild but passing was at a premium. Chase Stockon would nail down heat one besting Brady Bacon, CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins and Emerson Axsom. Heat two went to the exciting Robert Ballou who was popping wheelies the entire distance. Ballou beat Matt Westfall, Charles Davis Jr, Preston Lattomus and Tom Harris was credited with fifth after flipping on the backstretch in this one. Heat three fell to Jake Swanson in a pieced together sprinter running a 360 powerplant as they saved their regular car for points racing. Carmen Perigo and Alex Bright finished behind the winner also sporting 360 motors with Justin Grant and Logan Seavey trailing.

    No semi was needed for the sprints. Three B mains were spun off in quick order for the 600 micros setting the stage for the two features to follow.

    The 40 lap USAC National sprint car feature was ready to take the green flag at 9:20 and if you had told me that it would go non-stop I would have told you that you were nuts!!! But non-stop it did go. Emerson Axsom clinched the Eastern Storm title just by pushing off tonight but starting his fourth race in a row on the front row Axsom decided to try to make it his third win in Eastern Storm by taking the early lead. Kyle Cummins who started sixth began to work his way to the front as the action was fast and furious. He picked off Logan Seavey quickly for fifth and caught Justin Grant for fourth in turn two on lap nine. Lap thirteen saw Cummins use the inside to perfection through turns three and four to slide by CJ Leary for third. Alex Bright was the only driver between Cummins and himself and lap fourteen saw Kyle polish off Bright to take second. Axsom ran into a roadblock when Billy Pauch Jr and Carmen Perigo battled two wide for position in front of him. Cummins closed the gap and almost grabbed the lead at the line to end lap 24. He was successful using the low side passing Axsom for the lead on lap 25 in turn two. Cummins opened up his advantage over the next ten laps having the race well in hand. CJ Leary meanwhile also found the low side to his liking reeling in Axsom for second on lap 36. The two banged wheels in turn four with Leary getting the advantage and position as they crossed the line to start lap 37. Over the last three laps Cummins built up a 3 second lead and crossed the line first at 9:27 for his first Eastern Storm triumph, his third win of 2023 and his 17th career USAC sprint victory tying him with Jim Hurtubise, Bud Kaeding and Jerry Coons Jr on the all-time win list.

    It was an amazing display of driving by all the participants racing non-stop for 40 laps on a 1/5 mile oval without wrecking or for the most part banging together. Hats off to all the drivers for an impressive performance and great display of driving ability.

    Leary would end up second with Axsom settling for third with Robert Ballou moving from 7th to 4th with Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Alex Bright, Logan Seavey, Chase Stockon, Brady Bacon and Jake Swanson. Bacon would earn the Irvin King Hard Charger award by advancing from 16th to 9th at the finish.

    We still had one more feature to go and if the crowd was not pumped after witnessing the previous feature they clearly would be after this 30 lapper was over. The green waved on the 30 lap 600 micro sprint feature at 9:45 with Alex Ruppert and Connor Mirabelli dicing for the early lead. Tim Buckwalter and Christian Bruno were coming forward and pressuring the top two with Bruno using the low side to his advantage taking the lead on lap 11. Lap 14 saw Connor Gross and Tim Buckwalter tangled in turn three battling for third with Gross doing an air spin and Buckwalter suffering front end damage that ended his night early. On the restart Damon Paul up from tenth disposed of Ruppert to take second and began to pressure Bruno for the lead. Also joining the battle up front at this point was 13th starting Gunnar Pio making it a three car battle for the lead. The top three swapped the lead among themselves over the next twelve circuits until Pio was able to secure the lead diving low in turn four on lap 26 for the final lead. Another competitor putting on a great run was Kevin Thomas Jr advancing from 9th to 5th at this point. Pio would open a two car length over the final four laps and raced under the checkered flag at 10:04 with his first ever win at Action Track USA beating Bruno with Paul third, Pat Bealer coming on for fourth and Thomas rounding out the top five. It was an impressive victory for the 13 year old driver and we are sure is the first of many to come.

    It was a very good night of racing and far exceeded our expectations coming into the evening. We kept an open mind and sat back and witnessed an incredible display of top notch racing. After that next year should be a full points paying event on both levels (Eastern Storm & National points) as they proved that they can run on a small track also. Thinking that the upcoming races for the USAC sprints at the wider and higher banked Macon Speedway should be changed to full national point status and bring out all the stars of USAC racing.

    That’s it for our coverage of Eastern Storm but that’s not it for race coverage as we have a three day race schedule for the coming weekend weather permitting. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road to catch some good racing. Comments, news, stories, rumors or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Be safe out there and be kind to someone if you can because people can use some kindness in their lives. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you and thanks to Allan Holland for giving us the opportunity to write for him on Hoseheads.com.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Grant, Seavey & Buckwalter Take Open Wheel Madness Races at Port Royal


    Saturday, June 17 – Today was another bright, sunny day in the 80’s and the drive northward from the Harrisburg area takes you along the Susquehanna River on Rt. 22 before crossing the river near Duncannon where you pick up Rt 22/322 as the beautiful drive continues. We got off in Millerstown and went west on Rt. 17 for less than two miles where we stopped at Hall’s Ice Cream for some delicious homemade ice cream. The banana split that Pat ordered which was a medium with five scoops of your choice of ice cream was huge and well worth the $8 spent. She needed some assistance with this project and I was happy to oblige. We can see why this business is going strong after 75 years as the ice cream is some of the best we have ever tasted with over 40 flavors to choose from. Yum, yum!!! We continued the leisurely drive on Rt. 17 through the rolling countryside reaching Ickesburg where we switched to Rt. 74 to climb up and over the mountain into the town of Port Royal which was our destination. The ½ mile Port Royal Speedway in the center of town was hosting the second open wheel madness with the USAC National sprint cars (26), USAC Silver Crown series (30) and winged 410 sprints (36).

    We had missed all the drama that occurred in the Mifflintown area when a deranged man pulled into the parking lot of the PA State Police barracks and promptly got out of his vehicle and began to spray the area with high powered rifle fire with bullets that could pierce police body armor. One officer was shot in the shoulder in the parking lot before the suspect fled in his vehicle. The story unfolded with the suspect calling in reports of himself being spotted in various spots in the area. He was able to lure one trooper in the false reports to a local road where we waited in ambush. The trooper was shot through the windshield and later died from his injuries. The suspect was truly spotted a while later and the state troopers formed a barricade between themselves and a restaurant that the shooter was approaching. A gun battle ensued with the suspect being killed in the process. It was a hectic scene and many people going to the races at Port Royal saw the scene unveil and were delayed in the hectic action. Please keep the slain trooper and his family in your prayers along with the other wounded trooper and a complete recovery for him.

    A very good crowd turned out for the racing at the Juniata County Fairgrounds with parking at a premium. We were there early enough and found a parking place against the outside chain linked fence and sat in lawn chairs for a few hours chatting with some of our PA friends, Ed and his wife, Lori and Gary. It was an enjoyable and relaxing time.

    We are able to place two large blankets down in successive rows where no reserved seat stickers were attached to and settled in for the long evening of racing. Another good racing friend, Will White, from Quakertown, PA happened to be sitting in the row in front of us and we invited him to join us on our big blanket. It was good seeing Will once again as our paths have not crossed for a good while. It was his first visit to Port Royal Speedway in 25 years and the first time he had seen all the improvements done at the track including the new grandstands replacing the wooden one on the homestretch where you could have reached through the fencing walking in the front row and grabbed a wing going by, it was that close!!!

    It was night four of USAC Eastern Storm and the USAC sprint cars would start the evening of speed with their time trials conducted two at a time commencing at 6:44. By 7 PM young Daison Pursley had set his second fast time of the mini series with a time of 18.834 seconds around the half mile. Hot laps followed for the winged 410 sprint cars before the USAC wingless sprints returned to run their three heats with the top five moving on to lock themselves into the 30 lap main event. It was 8:46 when the first heat race began with Kyle Cummins in the Rock Steady #3R prevailing in this one besting Briggs Danner, Mario Clouser, Emerson Axsom and Robert Ballou. CJ Leary took the BGE Dougherty #15X to the front in heat two beating his teammate, Carson Garrett, Brady Bacon, Mitchel Moles and Justin Grant. The third heat was captured by USAC East Coast regular, Steven Drevicki in the DeGre Motorsports #19 in an impressive showing beating Max Adams, Chase Stockon, Jake Swanson and Logan Seavey.

    USAC Silver Crown qualifying was next on the agenda beginning at 7:49 and wrapping up at 8:15 also time trialing two at a time. Mitchel Moles in his debut in the Hans Lein #97 produced fast time at 20.899 which was a new track record for the California native but a slide into the turn one wall after completing his second lap sent his crew scurrying to make repairs to repair the machine for the 50 lap feature which was last on the dance card. Local sprint car driver, Chase Dietz, surprised everyone in attendance by setting the third fastest time of the evening in his first ever run in a Silver Crown car for car owner, Bruce Lee, in a brand new machine completed just a few days ago. His impressive evening was just beginning.

    The very good field of 36 winged 410 sprints would contest four heats with the top five going directly into their scheduled 25 lap feature. Jeff Halligan would win heat race #1 over Gerard McIntyre, Devon Borden, Tyler Walton and Paulie Colagiovanni. Heat two fell to the ageless veteran, Mike Wagner, edging Steve Buckwalter, TJ Stutts, Austin Bishop and Garrett Bard. Cody Lehman ran away with heat three over Brie Hershey, Mike Walter II, Dan Shetler and Jason Shultz. Dylan Cisney, the actual mayor of Port Royal (how cool is that) won heat four beating Jason Whittal, Logan Wagner, Dallas Schott and Bill Jones.

    The USAC semi feature taking the top seven to the main event was captured by Daison Pursley over Matt Westfall, Alex Bright, Charles Davis Jr, Preston Lattomus, Ed Aiken and Kevin Thomas Jr. For the third race in a row Great Britian’s Tom Harris miss the feature by one position. The winged 410 B main was next to the post with Blane Heimbach winning over Jake Karklin, AJ Flick and Jacob Dykstra out of Canada the last man in. The 12 lap semi for the Silver Crown cars was won by Oklahoma’s Wayne Johnson over Russ Gamester, Trey Burke, Steve Buckwalter, Ryan Thomas, Mark Smith, Mark Bitner and Gregg Cory rounding out the top eight who would join the top 16 in time trials to make a 24 car starting field for their 50 lap main event. Dave Berkheimer from Mechanicsburg, PA battled hard but fell one spot short of qualifying. It was now 10:23 and all the fields were set for their respective feature races with 30 lap, $6000 to win USAC National sprint car race getting the honors to run first.

    The 2000th USAC National Sprint Car feature would take Warren Alston’s green flag at 10:51 with the front row of Brady Bacon and Emerson Axsom setting the pace. Axsom got the early lead and was looking for his third straight Eastern Storm win which hasn’t been done since Robert Ballou’s championship year back in 2015. Axsom opened up a good lead over the first four laps with Justin Grant sliding by Bacon for second in turns three and four on lap five and took up the chase. Axsom continued to set the pace but Grant was chipping away little by little as the race neared the halfway point. Lap sixteen saw Grant squeeze himself between Axsom and the outside wall off turn four to wrestle the lead away from young Axsom. Two laps later Ed Aiken slowed on the track to bring out the only caution.

    On the restart Axsom went to the middle while Grant rode the high side. Axsom was able to regain the lead as the two raced side by side around the half mile for the next two laps. Lap nineteen saw Grant move back to the front with a backstretch pass as the two continued to duke it out. Grant went up against the fence for the remaining 10 laps and increased his lead flashing under the double checkers at 11:05 for his third win of 2023, his fourth Eastern Storm triumph and his first win in four weeks. It was also career win #37 in his USAC sprint car career tying him with Robert Ballou and the late Sheldon Kinser on the all-time win list for 11th. Axsom would score another good finish with second followed by Daison Pursley, the Irvin King Hard Charger coming from tenth to third at the finish. Brady Bacon would settle for fourth, the highest run for him in this edition of Eastern Storm with Chase Stockon claiming fifth after starting eleventh. Steven Drevicki would lead the charge across the line finishing an impressive sixth with Kyle Cummins seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and Briggs Danner coming home tenth.

    The 25 lap, $5500 to win winged 410 sprint car feature was next on the docket taking the initial green at 11:21. Gerard McIntyre would take the initial lead with Steve Buckwalter in close pursuit. The top two would race hard and fast around the half mile pressuring each other for the top spot. Buckwalter was able to sneak by for the lead just before the halfway mark but McIntyre was not willing to give up. McIntyre went back out front a few laps later dropping Buckwalter to second. Moving forward was tenth starting Mike Wagner cracking the top five at this point. A caution would wave for fourth running Mike Walter II who made contact with another car causing him to spin to the inside wall on the homestretch. On the restart Buckwalter was on the tail tank of McIntyre for several laps before making another move to the front. Buckwalter was able to pick off McIntyre to retake the top spot and would lead the rest of the event with Mike Wagner nipping McIntyre for second at the wire with TJ Stutts fourth and Jeff Halligan rounding out the top five. This would be Buckwalter’s seventh career win at the Speed Palace in his career.

    There was still the big 50 lap, $8000 to win USAC Silver Crown series race to run with twenty four starters rumbling to Alston’s green flag at 11:56 as the grand old ladies of USAC were ready to go. Mitchel Moles would lead at the start but his repaired front end began to act up with the front wheels bouncing up and down like basketballs. Moles was able to hang in the hunt but it was tough going. Kody Swanson quickly made his move from second to take the lead before lap one was completed and would lead the first 21 laps. Brady Bacon would move to second with Moles dropping to third with Logan Seavey running in fourth. Seavey would breeze by Moles for third on lap 13 and catch and pass Bacon for second on lap 16. Chase Dietz in his series’ debut slid by Bacon to take third one lap later. Lap 22 saw Seavey use a slider to take the lead away from Swanson in turn three. In the interim Bacon worked his way back by Dietz for third as the battle raged behind the leader. Dietz was not done with his masterful debut as he charged by Bacon on the high side of turn four on lap 35 to reclaim third. Dietz used the inside of turn three on lap 37 to take second away from Swanson which is no easy task but the rookie was on the march. Carmen Perigo, a Pennsylvania veteran was making his own march from ninth moving into the top five on lap 44 passing Justin Grant for the position. Perigo was not done either as he wanted more surging by Swanson for fourth on lap 48. Meanwhile Seavey was cruising out front with almost a six second lead and soon thereafter the double checkers would fly with Seavey crossing the line at 12:25 taking his fifth Silver Crown half mile victory in the last seven races that the series has run. Dietz would end his fine night with a second in his debut with Bacon third, Perigo coming home fourth in a career high finish for him with Kody Swanson rounding out the top five. Justin Grant would pace the second five in sixth with Matt Westfall moving from 12th to 7th with Shane Cottle 13th to 8th with CJ Leary ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr from 14th to 10th in his debut in the Legacy Motorsports #19.

    It was a good night of racing with plenty of action in all of the divisions and worth the extra time to watch three quality divisions do battle on the big half mile.

    That’s it for this segment but check back tomorrow as we will bring you the last race of Eastern Storm from Action Track USA in Kutztown. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. Any correspondence can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our column and check back often to see where we end up next. Be good and be kind to your fellow human beings.



     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Axsom Makes It Two in A Row & Wagaman Gets His First Win at Williams Grove


    Friday, June 16 – In the morning we sat in our hotel room on the fourth floor watching the rain fall and hoped that the weather would clear and we could go racing on this Friday night. A call from Steve Kimmel in the afternoon invited us over to their camping area to have a picnic with family and friends. It was a good time had by all with bench racing and good food mixed in. I walked with Steve over to the line at the gate where he had placed his tablecloths and went in with him to secure seats for the crew of twelve on hand this evening including a rare race appearance for Mary Jane King, wife of Irvin King, former racer and sponsor of the USAC Hard Charger Award. The rain had passed, the track was juiced and we were ready to go racing.

    The first order of business was USAC sprint car time trials with their 31 car field taking to the track running time trials two at a time starting at 7:15. Thomas Meseraull was standing on pit road at 7:37 being interviewed by Kristy Bennes after setting a new track record for the USAC sprint cars in the Chris Dyson #20 with a time of 19.016 seconds around the big half mile. Hot laps followed for the winged 410 sprint cars before the USAC sprinters returned to run their four heat races.

    The first USAC sprint heat took the green at 8:08 with CJ Leary taking advantage of his front row starting position and pulling away to take heat one over Tim Buckwalter, Thomas Meseraull and Briggs Danner. Brady Bacon who only timed 22nd fastest, needed a heat win to move up in the feature starting lineup significantly and he did so by winning heat two placing him tenth in the lineup. Bacon won over Charles Davis Jr, Justin Grant and Max Adams. Heat three fell to Robert Ballou, another driver who improved his starting position (7th) after qualifying 19th quickest. Ballou fended off Jake Swanson, Shane Cottle and Emerson Axsom for the win. Illinois’ Mario Clouser would score the win in heat four beating Alex Bright, Kyle Cummins and Logan Seavey.

    The 21 car field for the winged 410 sprints would take to the track next with Billy Dietrich taking the first heat over Steve Buckwalter, Devon Borden and Kyle Moody doing double duty on the evening. Austin Bishop nailed down heat two over Aaron Bollinger, Danny Dietrich and Cameron Smith. Heat three was won by Troy Wagaman Jr, the new driver of the Mike Heffner #27, who placed second at Lincoln last Saturday in his first ride in this stead. He bested TJ Stutts, Freddie Rahmer and Steve Siegel in this one.

    Only the USAC sprints would be a semi with the top six moving into the 30 lap main event. Mitchel Moles took top honors in the semi turning back Chase Stockon, Daison Pursley, Matt Mitchell, Kevin Thomas Jr in the second Benic #2B and Joey Amantea who had come close in the previous two events but had failed to qualify placed it in the field tonight as England’s Tom Harris would miss by one for the second straight night. With all the prelims in the books it was feature time.

    The USAC National sprint cars would get the honor of running their 30 lap feature first with Warren Alston’s green flag dropping on the field at 9:55. Tim Buckwalter in the Lotier/Hummer #20T spurted to the early lead with Emerson Axsom in hot pursuit. Buckwalter was setting a torrid pace in the early going with the racing unfolding behind him. East coasters, Briggs Danner and Alex Bright were chasing the front two as the race progressed. Lap four and five saw Axsom show his nose underneath Buckwalter on the homestretch but Tim pulled a car length’s lead entering turn on each time. Buckwalter continued to set the pace as the race neared the halfway mark and visions of an USAC East Coast competitor winning a USAC National event might have been dancing in Buckwalter’s head. Lap thirteen saw Alex Bright loop the Heffner #27 in the second turn while running fourth and performed a complete 360 with his front end pointed skyward. Robert Ballou happened upon the incident and had no where to go and ran straight into the tail tank of Bright’s machine piercing a hole in the bladder of the tank causing fuel to flow from the mount. Flames shot from the back of the car and Bright drove the sprinter from turn two all the way to the end of the homestretch where the fire crew was waiting to extinguish the methanol fire as Bright climbed quickly out of the top of the roll cage. Everyone was OK after the scary incident but Bright and Ballou were finished for the evening and Brady Bacon having a real tough Eastern Storm series spun to avoid the others while running seventh and had to restart at the tail where he was only able to manage a 13th place finish at the end.

    On the restart Buckwalter jumped back into the lead as Axsom searched for a way by the speedy Buckwalter. He choose the high side between turns three and four and used the low side in turns one and two. Using that new strategy Axsom was able to race alongside Buckwalter in turn four up against the rail and grab the lead on lap seventeen and pulled away as Buckwalter’s dream ended and Axsom’s began. Axsom opened the lead to about ten car lengths as the field reached the ten to go mark. With seven to go 14th starting Daison Pursley was on a rail and moved past Buckwalter into second and began to bite off huge chunks of real estate on Axsom’s big lead. With four to go Axsom’s lead was trimmed from nearly two seconds to only one as the crowd edged to the end of their seats. With two to go Pursley was at Axsom’s tail tank and ready to pounce as Volusia County flashed through my head. Axsom knew he had company at that point and hit the loud pedal a little harder. Axsom was able to increase his lead by a couple of car lengths as the pair raced close over the remaining four laps. Going down the backstretch on the final lap the advantage was two car lengths for Axsom as Pursley looked to make another move to steal the win. As they entered turn three Pursley pulled halfway alongside Axsom in a bid for the lead but Axsom was able to stave off the challenge and raced off turn four to the wire where he won for the second straight night by two car lengths over Pursley with Buckwalter third, Justin Grant fourth and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top five at 10:22. Briggs Danner would come home sixth with Mitchel Moles seventh, CJ Leary eighth, Jake Swanson from 18th to 9th and Chase Stockon tenth. It was a good race with plenty of action and made up for the lackluster heat racing.

    The 25 lap winged 410 sprint car feature was still to come with Billy Dietrich racing to the early lead with Troy Wagaman Jr and Austin Bishop in tow. A caution waved on lap three to slow the field. TJ Stutts made his moves on the restart picking off Bishop and working on Wagaman for second as Dietrich pulled away. Lap ten saw Dietrich made a big mistake jumping the cushion in turn four and pounding the fourth turn wall taking him out of the event ending any thoughts of winning tonight.

    On the restart Wagaman was the next leader with Stutts challenging low for the next few laps until Wagaman was able to open up a small advantage. Meanwhile Freddie Rahmer was picking off cars left and right moving from his ninth starting position into fifth by the halfway mark. In the ensuing laps Rahmer continued to move forward moving to third with five to go as Wagaman paced the field encountered heavy lap traffic at this point but Wagaman was up to the challenge and worked the lap traffic to perfection. The checkers were waving at 10:57 greeting Troy Wagaman Jr for his first career Williams Grove victory over sixth starting TJ Stutts with Freddie Rahmer third, Steve Buckwalter fourth and Austin Bishop rounding out the top five. Positions sixth through ten were filled by Danny Dietrich with Devon Borden seventh, Kyle Moody eighth, Cameron Smith ninth and Justin Whittall tenth. This was a good run also with the features both being competitive.

    That’s it for this segment but check back tomorrow to see what happens tonight for night four of USAC Eastern Storm at the Port Royal Speedway called The Speed Palace with USAC Sprints, Silver Crown and winged 410 sprint cars on the docket. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, stories, news and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you all continue to enjoy what we bring you.



     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Rain Halts Bridgeport & Axsom Drives to Victory on BC’s Birthday at Big Diamond


    Wednesday, June 14 – We arose early to drive over to Pat’s home office for a meeting before heading south toward the Bridgeport Motorsports Park for night two of the USAC Eastern Storm. As we ventured south on the NJ Turnpike we encountered some heavy rain but ran out of it and the skies turned bright and blue with puffy white clouds. We entered the grounds at Bridgeport Motorsports Park noting that in many spots there were puddles and standing water.

    We entered the large grandstands around 5:30 and noticed a water truck running in the inner oval and not much more. We chatted with Gary Grim and Dwight Bucks for a while and then Paul Weisel joined us. A John Deere tractor with a tiller behind it started slowly riding around the 4/10 mile oval and eventually the water truck joined him on the bigger oval. Everyone we spoke with could not understand the lack of wheels on the track surface and maybe the grader would have been too heavy to run around but Bridgeport has more than one water truck so where were they?? We and many others sitting in the grandstand, some having traveled a great distance to be here were starting to question the sincerity of the track drying process. Maybe better communication on the process from the announcers with periodic updates and explanations and reasoning on what was going on would have been helpful.

    A Tweet by USAC at 7 PM informed us that track work was continuing after the heavy rain that had fell earlier and that on track action would begin momentarily when the work is completed at the 4/10 mile oval. With only two vehicles running on the racing surface we seriously questioned this post. To prepare the surface for racing action anytime soon a slew more vehicles were needed to whip the track into racing condition. At 8 PM the announcement that we all dreaded came saying that the event was cancelled because the track would not be ready for a least another 2 ½ hours because of losing the wind and the sun beginning to go down.

    Our opinion on the whole situation writing from the fan’s perspective which we try to do whenever we do a column was that a less than full effort (putting it mildly) was put forth by the Bridgeport management to present this program on this evening. If the track crew had presented a more concerted effort and many vehicles had been brought out to attempt to run in the wet surface, we don’t think anyone would have felt that everything possible had not been done and it was just not to be. But the perception and reality that with only two vehicles on the track surface it was not a serious attempt to do everything possible.

    Doug Rose owes it to the many fans who traveled near and far on a work night for many to have showed a full effort to run the program tonight. Especially the many race fans from Pennsylvania who use the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get there and pay excessive fees, then have to put up with the traffic on the Blue Route and pay a $6 toll to enter back into Pennsylvania via the Commodore Barry Bridge on the return trip deserved a better effort than what they witnessed on the track this evening. And the drivers, owners and crew members that traveled from the Midwest to put on a show for the Eastern fans who only get to see them run once a year deserved much better also.

    Thursday, June 15 – Today was a day we were looking forward to as we would return to the Big Diamond Speedway near Minersville, PA for night two of USAC Eastern Storm. It has been 11 years since USAC sprints have run at Big Diamond and we have had reports that the surface in the past few years has been much better. A good sized crowd showed up to watch the wingless warriors do battle on a nice evening in the hills of Schuylkill County with the 29 USAC sprint cars being joined on the race card by 27 358 modifieds and 7 roadrunners.

    Time trials would be the first order of business as the 29 USAC sprints would take time two at a time starting at 7:42. By 7:59 Daison Pursley was standing in the infield being interviewed after he set a new track record with a time of 14.785 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval.

    The USAC sprints would take the first shot at qualifying with their three heat races kicking off at 8:14. Ohio’s Matt Westfall would claim the first heat win over Chase Stockon, CJ Leary, Thomas Meseraull and Alex Bright. Fast timer, Pursley, would be relegated to the semi after failing to crack the top five. Heat two went to Shane Cottle in the Hodges’ #74X besting Mitchel Moles, Max Adams, Justin Grant and Briggs Danner. On the last lap in turn two Robert Ballou passed Danner for the final qualifying position but Danner made an incredible move to reclaim the final qualifying position diving low in turn four and outracing Ballou to the line. Anton Hernandez turned in a strong performance in the Baldwin #5 claiming heat three outlasting Carson Garrett, Emerson Axsom, Tim Buckwalter and Jake Swanson.

    The 358 modifieds also ran three heats with Jeff Strunk, Mike Lisowski and Duane Howard scoring wins. All heat qualifying was in the books by 8:51.

    The sprint car semi was next on the dance card with the top seven moving on. Daison Pursley cruised to victory in this one over Kyle Cummins, Brady Bacon, Robert Ballou, Steven Drevicki, Kyle Moody in the second Baldwin #5 and Carmen Perigo charging from tenth to take the final qualifying spot. Joel Smith would capture the modified consie and the fields were set by 9:22.

    Max Adams and Emerson Axsom would bring the 22 car field to Warren “Wiggles” Alston’s green flag at 9:41 with Adams spurting into the early lead. Thomas Meseraull used the low side in turn three and four on lap two to sneak by Axsom for second bringing Allentown, PA’s Briggs Danner along for third. Lap three saw T-Mez get sideways in turn two and almost spin with Danner checking up right behind and Axsom reacting by diving low to avoid the pair and taking third at that point with T-Mez retaining second. Adams would lead the first six laps in the Dutcher #17GP before Meseraull caught and passed him in turns three and four on the sixth lap to take the lead away from Adams bringing Axsom along for the ride. Meseraull was now the leader and his line was running high in turns one and two and using the low side through turns three and four while Axsom stalked the leader pulling closer down the home stretch and into the first two turns but with Meseraull increasing his lead on the other half of the 3/8 mile. As the laps clicked off Axsom began to draw closer and on lap 21 made his move for the top spot by diving low in turn one and running side by side by with T-Mex in those corners before edging ahead racing down the backstretch. The front two increased their lead to over three seconds over third running Justin Grant as the race remained green. Lap traffic was reached in the latter stages of the race with Axsom having no problems maneuvering the slower cars and increasing his lead over the final laps. With no cautions slowing the race the double checkers waved on Axsom for the first time this year in USAC sprint competition and for the fourth time in his short USAC sprint career at 9:49 with Meseraull second, Grant third, Danner hanging on for fourth after a fierce battle with Shane Cottle for that position over the last half of the contest with Cottle rounding out the top five. Daison Pursley would ride home sixth with Robert Ballou charging from 14th to 7th claiming the Irvin King Hard Charger award with Jake Swanson a quiet eighth, Matt Westfall ninth and Anton Hernandez rounding out the top ten. It was a special night for the Clauson family as it was on the date of son Bryan’s 34th birthday of the former three time Eastern Storm champion and also gave the Eastern Storm point lead to their current driver, Axsom.

    The 25 lap 358 modified feature was the next called to the grid and went green at 10:04 and would also go the entire 25 laps under green. Tim Fitzpatrick jumped off the outside of the front row and streaked away to a large lead. Female driver, Aleia Geisler, ran second and held off the rest of the field as the laps clicked off in rapid succession. About five laps from the finish Nick Rochinski was able to work his way past Geisler for second but ran out of time to make a serious challenge on Fitzpatrick for the lead. As the checkers waved at 10:10 it was Tim Fitzpatrick across the line first for his first win since 1998!!! Yes, folks that is a 25 year drought from victory lane!!! Congratulations Tim, it was a long time coming for win #2. Hope #3 doesn’t take that long!!! Rochinski finished second with Mike Lisowski slipping by Geisler for third late in the contest with Geisler fourth and Jeff Strunk making up the most ground advancing from tenth to fifth.

    With the well run program ending two features by 10:10 we decided to head down the road toward Harrisburg and our home away from home, Home2. We followed the AME Electric rig down some of the backroads onto I-81 South and almost witnessed a track trailer collision as not once but twice the AME rig crossed the line in front of the other rig almost colliding with each other. After we backed off and caught our breath and wits once again we discussed the racing tonight. We found the racing at Big Diamond lacked the WOW factor as the cars did not seem to get much grip to drive forward and passing was at a premium and the evening of racing disappointed us though management ran a tight show in a very timely manner.

    That’s it for the past two nights as we wait out the falling rain outside our window at the hotel hoping and praying that it will let up and allow us to see racing on this Friday night. Check back to see what happens and in the meantime if the weather is good in your area, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing and have fun and be safe. Comments, news, opinions, thoughts and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Try to be kind to your fellow humans even though in this crazy world it can be very difficult at times. And last but certainly not least thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy the writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you as we try to be honest and don’t try to sugarcoat things.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Swanson Opens USAC Eastern Storm with Big Win at Grandview

    Monday, June 12 – Kokomo with their Indiana Midget Week final was rained out on Sunday snapping our consecutive streak on the 16 races in 17 days tour at 8. Not to stress though as Kokomo was running the XR Super Series for the late models paying $100,000 to win so why not catch our first race of 2023 at Kokomo with this before heading East for the start of The Eastern Storm.

    We won’t go into great detail on this one, just some observations on this night. First off a great crowd turned out for this event and with a very reasonable $25 general admission to enter the facility and youth under 17 free of charge it was a bargain. Even with the great crowd and 42 late models on hand we don’t know where the money comes from to pay this gigantic purse with $100,000 to win and $2000 to start. The night got underway about an hour late but moved along well once underway. Reece O’Connor did a good job working and reworking the surface making for a really good racing surface.

    The race up front was very interesting with Hudson O’Neal, Ricky Thornton Jr and Bobby Pierce putting on a great battle until lap 18 when Thornton exited the turn one pit gate with a broken shock taking that dog out of the hunt. O’Neal led the majority of the event but not without challenges coming from a host of drivers including Pierce, Brandon Sheppard and others. There was a tense moment late in the event when the leaders entered lap traffic and O’Neal had problems getting by Dalton Wilson. Sheppard saw his opportunity and went high to pass O’Neal but Hudson slammed the door literally. Though Sheppard’s comments in podium interviews were good with him saying that it was what it was but O’Neal should not complain later in the year if the roles are reversed and they are battling for the lead in a big buck contest!! Bobby Pierce electrified the crowd over the final three laps trying to steal the win riding the fence all the way around aka Ross Chastian at Martinsville but came up short to O’Neal and Sheppard.

    Very good race and talking with the late model people around me they were very impressed by Kokomo and the racing. We told them when you have a good racetrack with a well prepared surface any kind of racing will be good on it!! One guy next to Pat said it was the best late model race he had ever seen!!! That is the usual response for newbies no matter what division of racing they witness there.

    Tuesday, June 13 – We drove from Kokomo 2 ½ hours southeast to Dayton, Ohio to position ourselves for the long haul over to Pennsylvania and the Grandview Speedway the next day. Pulling out at 8:45 AM we made two stops for gas and were able to stop for lunch/dinner at Hoss’s in Bedford until pulling onto the grounds at Grandview at 5:30. After chatting with several PA racing friends we headed to the grandstands to hunker in for the night of racing. Unfortunately, I dropped my cell phone through the grandstands landing far below. The results were not good with a busted screen and the phone itself not working properly. A visit Wednesday morning somewhere in New Jersey at a Verizon store is in my future. Guy Smith, a columnist for Area Auto Racing News, racing historian and racing website facilitator joined us for this evening of racing at another Bob Miller promoted Thunder On The Hill Series event featuring the USAC National sprint cars (28) and the Grandview 358 modifieds (31). The USAC part of the event is called the Jesse Hockett Classic honoring both a non-wing and winged sprint car driver gone too soon due to a garage accident at his headquarters in Missouri.

    Time trials for the USAC sprints would commence at 7:07 with Kyle Cummins in the Rock Steady #3R posting fast time with a lap of 13.662 seconds with the time trials completed by 7:29.

    The USAC sprints would run their four heat races first with the top four moving directly to the A main. The four heat scenario was used since 31 cars signed into the pit area but three never took time. One of them, England’s Tom Harris, had a rough day with first airline issues and then his hauler engine blowing up on the way.

    Steven Drevicki, one of the East Coast USAC sprint drivers, ran a very strong heat race winning over fast timer, Cummins, Tim Buckwalter in the East Coast Hummer #20 and East Coaster, Briggs Danner. Mitchel Moles placed the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ in the winner’s circle over Thomas Meseraull in the Dyson #20, Justin Grant and Daison Pursley. Robert Ballou powered to the front to win heat three over Jake Swanson, Carson Garrett and Chase Stockon. The fourth and final heat went to fifth starting Emerson Axsom in a strong showing over Shane Cottle, Anton Hernandez in the primary Baldwin #5 (with PA driver, Kyle Moody, a winged driver in the second Baldwin entry) and Logan Seavey.

    The 358 modifieds (regular top division here) would contest three heats with the top six moving on to the feature event. Alex Yankowski, Doug Manmiller and Jordan Watson prevailed in these heats. All heat qualifying was completed by 8:45.

    Both divisions would run a semi or consie race with the sprints spinning off their semi first with the top six moving into the big 40 lap main event. CJ Leary in the BGE Dougherty #15X prevailed in this one topping Brady Bacon who spun in his heat while running second and failed to qualify through the heat race. Bobby Butler came home third with Matt Mitchell fourth, Alex Bright fifth in the Mike Heffner #27 with Matt Westfall sixth. Max Adams driving the Michael Dutcher #17GP had problems all evening getting the car to fire used one provisional to join the field with Arizona’s Charles Davis Jr using the second provisional to swell the starting field to 24 cars for the Jesse Hockett Classic. Kyle Smith would capture the 358 modified consie to move to the feature event.

    When Warren Alston’s green flag waved at 9:37 Jake Swanson bolted off the inside of the front row to take the early lead. Thomas Meseraull and Briggs Danner were in pursuit but Swanson was flying around the 1/3 mile dirt oval and had a straightway lead in five laps. Swanson was setting a torrid pace and entered lap traffic with over a two second lead. He would keep that advantage until lap 17 when he was forced to go three wide in turn four and his huge advantage was cut in half. Brady Bacon was coming forward from his sixteenth starting position to ninth by lap eighteen until his luck turned bad again on the evening suffering a flat tire and going to the work area to have it changed. Bacon would return but the man who has dominated Grandview in the past, five wins in the past six runs here, would only salvage a fourteenth this night. On the restart Swanson and Meseraull were back out front in a two car tandem while the rest of the field duked it out among themselves. Emerson Axsom who earlier won his heat was finding the low side to his liking and quickly started picking off cars moving from sixth to third in two laps dusting off Briggs Danner, Justin Grant and Chase Stockon in the process. Axsom began to reel in Meseraull running second as the laps clicked off. He caught and passed Meseraull for second just before the red appeared for a multi-car pileup on the backstretch when seventh starting Grant slowed with a flat tire with Briggs Danner doing a 360 to avoid him with Matt Westfall piling in and flipping over in the process. The only one who would not restart from this wreck was Westfall.

    On the last restart Swanson was at the point with Axsom right on his rear bumper. Entering turn two Swanson slid high opening the door for Axsom but Swanson was able to recover and speed down the backstretch with Axsom still behind him. After surviving that scare Swanson was able to hold off the pesky Axsom and crossed under the double checkers at 10:05 scoring his third USAC sprint car win over his last four outings and sixth consecutive podium finish and to say that Swanson is on a roll right now might be an understatement!! He also has assumed the point lead for his first time ever by one point over Kyle Cummins in the process. Axsom finished second with Robert Ballou also using the low side to advance from tenth to third, Tim Buckwalter, the highest finisher East Coast sprint driver, racing to a fine fourth from twelfth and Kyle Cummins after falling back early rallied to grab fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Daison Pursley coming from 17th to 6th with Thomas Meseraull fading to seventh, Shane Cottle from 15th to 8th, Chase Stockon ninth and the Irvin King Hard Charger award going to Alex Bright from 22nd to 10th.

    It was an interesting feature with plenty of action and at that point we decided to call it a night as Pat had to be at her home office in New Jersey by 9 AM and we had over an hour drive the next morning to get her there so the 358 modified feature was bagged. Pat was able to bring it up on her phone in the car on Flo and the 358 modified feature was not complete until a few minutes after 11 so we made the wise decision to leave.

    Check back tomorrow as night two of USAC Eastern Storm is scheduled for Doug Rose’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park in south Jersey with some rain in the forecast but hoping that it is not much and passes through quickly allowing us to see racing at the track modeled after Lawrenceburg but with less banking and progressive banking which makes for better and closer racing. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, stories, words of wisdom, opinions and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And last but not least is thank you for reading our efforts and the kind comments that come our way. We love doing this column and are so happy that you all like our honest writings. Take care and be kind out there in this crazy world.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Timms Triumphs in Indiana Midget Week Race at Lawrenceburg


    Saturday, June 10 – Our traveling crew was reduced by one today as Pat decided to join Judy Burns in a shopping trip to Nashville, IN in the hills of Brown County while the boys headed further south to the Lawrenceburg Speedway, the 3/8 mile high banked dirt oval in Southeastern Indiana. Lawrenceburg is as far south as you can go before either being in Kentucky or Ohio and is the home of Seagram’s, the famous whiskey maker, which was acquired in 2023 by Bedford, IN based MGP Ingredients, a leading supplier of premium distilled spirits.

    We arrived on the grounds of the track located across the street from the Hollywood Casino at just after 5 PM and made our way around behind the large grandstands to park exchanging two of our wrist bands for new ones before entering and searching out our seats laid down by campers Irvin King and Steve and Maggie Kimmel. The seats were prime time located in Section H, one row from the top of the aluminum grandstand.

    On tap tonight was the first three division of the week with USAC midgets (24), joined by non-wing sprints (18) and UMP modifieds (14). Time trials for the midgets were the first order of business commencing at 6:33 with the 24 entrants taking two laps each to compete for the fast time. When it was said and done by 6:56 Justin Grant was being interviewed for the second straight night and for the third time this year posting the fast time of 14.762 seconds around the massive 3/8 mile dirt oval.

    Next up were the three USAC midget heats with everybody advancing to the upcoming 30 lap feature but only the top five across the line participating in the inversion. Chelby Hinton, the youngster from Louisiana advancing out of the 600 micro sprint ranks, wheeled the Bob East #4 to victory in heat one over last night’s winner, Gavin Miller, Cannon McIntosh, Taylor Reimer and Ryan Timms. The fast timer, Justin Grant, missed the inversion and would not start any higher than seventh in the feature. Logan Seavey, leading the IMW points, took heat two over Jake Andreotti, Kevin Thomas Jr, Chance Crum and Ethan Mitchell. Heat three went to Jade Avedisian in her Kunz Mobil sponsored #71 claimed heat three besting Jacob Denney, Emerson Axsom, Daison Pursley and Chase McDermand.

    Non-wing sprint car racing was next on the dance card with three heats for the 18 cars on hand. Mitchel Moles in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ captured heat one outrunning Ryan Barr, Tyler Kendall and Noah Whitehouse. Logan Seavey in the Benic #2B notched heat two over Thomas Meseraull, Jack Hoyer and Braxton Cummings. Heat three fell to Nick Bilbee over Max Adams, Joss Moffatt and Travis Hery.

    The UMP modifieds would contest two heats races for their 14 car field completing heat racing action. Track watering and maintenance was done four times during the evening to keep the dust under control and allow for better racing for the drivers with good results.

    The first of three features would be the 30 lap USAC midget feature with all 24 cars entered starting the race. At the drop of Tom Hansing’s green flag the front row of Jake Andreotti and Taylor Reimer raced side by side into turns one and two with fourth starting Ryan Timms splitting the pair as they raced off turn two. Andreotti would manage to lead the first lap but Timms would make his move in turn two and grab the lead. Andreotti was not done with running up front reclaiming the top spot on the edge in turn two on lap three. Timms stormed back down the backstretch and dove low in turn three to repass Andreotti for the lead as the leaders approached the start/finish line to start lap four. Timms led the race from lap four to lap nine with Andreotti and sixth starting Logan Seavey in hot pursuit. Seavey disposed of Andreotti on lap nine and went to work to catch Timms. He quickly closed to his rear bumper but Timms continued to thwart off his challenges. The leaders were approaching heavy lap traffic on lap eighteen and things were going to get very interesting soon but it was broken up when Chelby Hinton bounced off the wall in turn four which resulted in a right rear flat tire to bring out a caution.

    On the restart Timms stomped on the loud pedal and strapped the fourth turn wall in the process but Seavey did not gain any ground on him. The top two raced on the edge over the final seven laps running right up against the wall slicing through turns three and four. Seavey closed at times but Timms always seemed to have an answer as Timms held Seavey off and took the double checkers at 9:35 winning for the second time in 2023 and the first since Belleville with Seavey second, for his fourth consecutive top three finish with Jade Avedisian third, Bryant Wiedeman another consistent run from ninth to fourth with Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Daison Pursley came from 13th to finish 6th in a backup car with Cannon McIntosh advancing from 11th to 7th, Jacob Denney eighth, Taylor Reimer ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr tenth. Jesse Love would take home the extra $100 from Irvin King being the hard charger after starting 21st and finishing 12th on the night. Timms’ win was the third straight for a Keith Kunz entry and the third time this this particular car on the week.

    There were still two features to go with the 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature the next one up. Mitchel Moles and Logan Seavey would bring sixteen of the eighteen entrants to the green flag at 10:10 with Seavey getting the early jump on Moles. The caution would wave quickly on lap one when Thomas Meseraull made a sharp right turn toward the wall exiting turn four looking like the steering wheel may not have been locked properly in place and jarring loose. Meseraull would restart at the tail of the field. On the restart Seavey would move back to the point with Moles and Ryan Barr chasing. Seavey and Moles would stretch their advantage over the rest of the field quickly pulling away. Lap seventeen saw the leaders entering heavy lap traffic with Moles able to sneak by Seavey for the lead. That was short lived as seventh running Noah Whitehouse had something break on his front end turning his sprinter directly right into the wall and fencing causing him to flip over with Moles bearing down on him. Moles was unable to avoid the flipping Whitehouse and banged into the flipping machine. Luckily Whitehouse was OK after his ride but Moles being involved was forced to rejoin the field at the back.

    When the race went back to green Seavey was the leader with Tyler Kendall breathing down his tail pipe. Racing into turn three on lap twenty in a battle for third a pair of 5’s tangled with each other with Joss Moffatt getting the worse of the deal turning nose first into the wall and bouncing upward encountered a bracing pole on the fencing almost immediately stopping the sprinter in its tracks. It was a scary moment as the sudden stop made us fear that the hit could have been bad. Fortunately Moffatt was able to climb from the severely bent sprinter and was OK after his hard shot into the pole. Back to green Seavey led Kendall and Adams. A good battle for fourth and fifth between Ryan Barr and Thomas Meseraull ended up badly as the pair tangled racing down the backstretch on the final lap with both drivers spinning wildly thankfully not making any contact with the walls. Seavey flashed under the checkers at 10:41 fending off Kendall with Adams third, Braxton Cummings fourth after starting eleventh in a good run with Mitchel Moles rebounding from being taken out while leading to round out the top five.

    With the UMP modifieds still to go and the hour approaching 11 with a 2 ½ hour journey ahead of us we decided to call it an evening satisfied with the car counts and the racing that we had just witnessed. We all discussed the previous six races of IMW that we had seen and the consensus was that Circle City was the best of the six. The conversations made the ride seem short and we arrived back in Crawfordsville at 1:07 AM ready to hit the sack and prepare for the last night of IMW.

    Sunday, June 11 – Today’s weather forecast was not promising for Kokomo as we monitored the situation from the time we arose until the call was made at 4:14 PM that we expected to happen. Persistent showers starting in the morning were just too much to overcome forcing USAC and Kokomo Speedway to cancel the final night of Indiana Midget Week and bring the curtain down on a fine six nights of midget racing action with Logan Seavey declared the 2023 Indiana Midget Week point champion for the second time and first since 2019. Seavey tallied 405 points over the six races beating out Justin Grant (374) by 31 markers to claim the title for a second time. Bryant Wiedeman (353), Jade Avedisian (331) and Emerson Axsom (329) rounded out the top five for Indiana Midget Week.

    That’s it for this weekend as we will pick it up again on Monday as the XR late model series travels into Kokomo to race for $100,000 to win before we head East early Tuesday morning to make the long haul over to the Keystone state to take in the six straight nights of USAC Eastern Storm featuring the USAC National Sprint Car series starting off at the Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, PA for one of the Thunder on the Hill series races promoted by Bob Miller and ending up Sunday night at Action Track USA in Kutztown, PA where the sprinters take on the 1/5 mile dirt oval. See all our Eastern racing friends there and for everyone else get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you may be and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, opinions, words of wisdom or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Try to do good and be kind out there in this crazy world we live in and thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back every day as we will try to keep you on the date on the happenings in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where the USAC National Sprint Car Series will be visiting.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Miller Wins Career First with USAC Midgets at Bloomington


    Friday, June 9 – Another chamber of commerce day greeted us upon awakening with sunny skies, low humidity and temperatures in the 80’s. The destination today was the beautifully manicured grounds and high banked red clay hills of the Bloomington Speedway for night five of Indiana Midget Week and night seven of the 16 races in 17 days tour. The trip to Bloomington was interrupted by several areas of road construction including a backup between Spencer and Ellettsville on Route 46. The normal two hour drive was extended by ten minutes or so but the seat saving efforts of Steve and Maggie Kimmel and Irvin King were our saviors once again securing us prime time seating in the homestretch stands for a great view of the ¼ mile bullring.

    This was another two division show featuring the USAC midgets (28) and the non-wing sprints (21) with time trials kicking off the action for the USAC midgets at 6:33 and wrapping up at 6:49. Justin Grant was fast timer for the first time this year with a lap of 11.945 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring and being the only midget to break the 12 second barrier on the evening.

    The USAC midgets would get first honors of running their heat races spinning off three of them in short order. Justin Grant moved closer to a sweep of the evening by notching the first heat win over Steve Buckwalter, Cannon McIntosh, Ryan Timms jumping behind the wheel of the vacated Kofoid Kunz’s entry and Jake Andreotti. Chase Johnson making his first IMW start in the brand new Beilman #31 surprised everyone by capturing heat two besting Daison Pursley, Bryant Wiedeman, Kevin Thomas Jr and Gavin Miller. Thomas was back in the Mounce/Stout #23 with a borrowed engine from Tanner Thorson. Heat three was claimed by Emerson Axsom in the Petry/Hayward #19A over Daniel Whitley, Jade Avedisian, Taylor Reimer and Ethan Mitchell.

    The non-wing sprint cars would run three heats also with all cars qualifying for the main event. Jack Hoyer looked good in heat one winning over Brayden Fox, Brandon Spencer and Braxton Cummings. Heat two went to Jordan Kinser in the Burton #04 beating Tye Mihocko in his own car, Saban Bibent and Brandon Mattox. The third and final heat fell to Zack Pretorius never giving up on the high road and blasting past Geoff Ensign who had passed him earlier with Brady Short third and Hunter Maddox fourth. All heat qualifying was completed by 7:52 and only the midgets would need a semi.

    Logan Seavey would garner the victory in the semi on his 26th birthday outrunning Jesse Love, Jacob Denney, Thomas Meseraull, Chance Crum, Kyle Beilman in his debut and Chase McDermand. Hayden Reinbold would use another provisional to make it a 23 car starting field for tonight’s 30 lap main event.

    The 30 lap USAC National midget feature was brought to Brian Hodde’s green flag by the front row of Jade Avedisian and Gavin Miller, teammates at Kunz Motorsports, for the start at 8:48. Avedisian got the early lead over Miller but the first of five cautions waved on lap two then Chase Johnson and Logan Seavey banged wheels on the backstretch with Johnson flying over the turn three banking into the grass on the other side. Jesse Love was also involved with Seavey continuing, Johnson done for the evening and Love restarting at the tail of the field. Avedisian took command once again on the restart working the high side and pulling away from her two teammates, Miller and Ryan Timms over the first 10 laps of the contest. Jade led through lap 14 when Emerson Axsom stopped at the end of the backstretch bringing out the second caution and wiping out Avedisian’s comfortable lead.

    On the ensuing restart Miller dove low on Avedisian as they raced side by side exiting turn two when Avedisian drifted to the edge of the backstretch top and drifted over a bit ending her bid for her first USAC midget win as seven competitors stormed by dropping the former leader to eighth. Miller was the new leader and the 16 year old Allentown, PA resident and former six time USAC quarter midget national champion was the car to catch. Kevin Thomas Jr, Justin Grant and Ryan Timms were the pursuers as the laps ticked down to ten to go. Grant nipped Thomas for second at the wire to start lap 21 and took up the chase of Miller looking to complete the sweep of the evening. With nine to go the caution appeared again as Chance Crum went over the turn in three to bring out the caution.

    On the restart Miller changed his line from running high to the bottom with Grant in hot pursuit. Grant was applying the pressure until he dropped a cylinder but he was still able to maintain the second position. Seavey was the new dog in the hunt using the high side as it looked like he might breeze by Grant but Justin was able to hold him off over the remaining nine laps. Miller would race under the double checkers at 9:12 scoring his first career USAC National midget win and adding to the win total of car owner, Keith Kunz, in his tenth start in USAC competition. Remember this could have come four days earlier as he led the race at Circle City past the halfway mark before catching the cushion and flipping out of the lead and the race at that point. Grant would hold on for second with Seavey third moving into the IMW point lead with Kevin Thomas Jr coming home fourth with Cannon McIntosh finishing fifth after starting twelfth earning his highest finish of the week and also the Irvin King Hard Charger Award and an additional one hundred dollars to his total. Ryan Timms would soldier home sixth with Bryant Wiedeman seventh, Daison Pursley eighth, Daniel Whitley ninth and Jade Avedisian rounding out the top ten.

    There was still one race to run and that was the 25 lap non-wing sprint car feature with the green unfurling at 9:28 with Jordan Kinser pouncing off the outside of the front row to take the early lead. The third row of Geoff Ensign and Tye Mihocko were quick to move forward chasing Kinser for the lead. The track blackened up quickly as several drivers tried to work the outside but the majority of the competitors went to the inside to continue their race. Mihocko edged by Ensign for second but Ensign returned the favor two laps later. Meanwhile Kinser was keeping his mount tight and straight on the bottom allowing no one to edge underneath him. Jack Hoyer, the pole sitter, continued to spiral backward through the field as he battled the slick surface. Brady Short and Saban Bibent tried to work the top with little success with Short getting the best results ending up sixth. At the finish at 9:42 it was Jordan Kinser crossing the line first with Ensign second, Mihocko third, Brayden Fox fourth and Brandon Mattox making the black work advancing from eleventh to fifth at the end.

    It was another good night of racing ending in good time and we enjoy the two division format and being able to get on the road earlier especially having to drive a distance with more races on the horizon.

    That’s a wrap on Friday night live at Bloomington as we prepare to make the long haul to Lawrenceburg for night six of IMW which looks to be the final night as the weather Sunday in Indiana does not look good at all. But time will tell. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, stories, news, rumors and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind comments you send our way. Be good and be kind in this crazy world of ours.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Kofoid Wins Second Time in IMW Run At Lincoln Park


    Thursday, June 8 – Today would mark race four of IMW and night six of our own personal 16 out of 17 tour as the USAC midgets ventured to the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, IN on another postcard picture perfect day with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80’s. Lincoln Park is the closest track to our home base in Crawfordsville and we were able to leave at 4 PM and still be there before the gates opened around 4:45. After storming the gate with Steve Kimmel we staked out our area to sit with the folding chairs. From there we all went off in different directions to talk with other friends, look at souvenirs or collectables, gather up additional gear and coolers and such before we settled in for the night of racing. On tap tonight was a two division program of USAC National midgets (29) and non-winged sprint cars (28). Unlike the other four times this year we have been here tonight they started on time and moved the show along nicely.

    After hot lapping both divisions the USAC midgets came out for their individual car time trials starting at 7:04 and completing by 7:23 with last night’s winner, Logan Seavey, setting fast time with a lap of 12.834 seconds around the 5/16 banked dirt oval.

    Heat qualifying would start with the non-wing sprints going first contesting four heats with the top four moving directly into the 25 lap feature event later in the show. Mitchel Moles brought the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ to LPS tonight and scored the win in heat one over Geoff Ensign tonight in the Gass #17G, Mario Clouser and Brandon Mattox. Jake Swanson in the Daming #5T won heat two over Seth Parker, Brian Hayden and Hunter Maddox. Heat three went to Buckeye, Arizona’s Charles Davis Jr besting Jadon Rogers, Tye Mihocko and Jack Hoyer. Matt Mitchell from the hometown of Richard Nixon, Yorba Linda, CA, notched heat four beating Brandon Spencer, Brayden Fox and Ivan Glotzbach.

    The mighty midgets were next on the schedule racing three heats taking the top five to the 30 lap main event. Buddy Kofoid racing in his last race of Indiana Midget Week as he has been named the new driver of the Vermeer Motorsports #55 starting Friday in night one of the All Star Sprints Ohio Speedweek, won heat one over the very consistent Bryant Wiedeman with Logan Seavey third, Hayden Reinbold fourth and Emerson Axsom fifth. Ethan Mitchell had the Honda powered Bundy midget honking garnering heat two beating Jake Andreotti, Daniel Whitley, Brenham Crouch and Daison Pursley. Heat three fell to Thomas Meseraull in a new RMS #7X after having problems in another car in the last two nights over Chase McDermand, Justin Grant, Jesse Love and Taylor Reimer.

    The heat racing was quickly followed up by the sprint car B main taken by Zack Pretorius over Harley Burns, Nate McMillen and Austin Nigh. The midget semi was pushed off with Kevin Thomas Jr at the keyboard of the Tanner Thorson #88 for the remainder of the week as they hurt the motor in the Mounch/Stout #23 with no spare available taking the semi over Jacob Denney, Cannon McIntosh, Jade Avedisian, Ryan Timms, Gavin Miller and Chance Crum. No provisionals on this evening so it would be 22 starters for night four of IMW.

    The green would wave on the 30 lap USAC National Midget feature at 9:17 with Emerson Axsom jumping to the early lead but the action was halted quickly as Cannon McIntosh hopped the right rear of another car entering turn one and flipped over the turn one banking. McIntosh was OK after his disappointing tumble. Resuming the race Axsom moved out front once again and would pace the field over the first eight laps without a challenge. That would soon change as Logan Seavey was on the march from his sixth starting position and closely quickly on the leader as the caution waved for the spinning Hayden Reinbold in turn four.

    On the ensuing restart Axsom moved back to the point with Seavey and Justin Grant in tow. Grant found something on the bottom and snuck by Seavey for second on lap 12. The front three were going at it tooth and nail and closing the line to start lap 14 they were three side with Grant down low, Axsom in the middle and Seavey on the high side with Axsom holding the slight edge. Lap 15 saw Seavey edge out front off turn four ahead of Axsom but Axsom was not done coming back and taking the lead on lap 16. The top three looked stout but suddenly Buddy Kofoid, running a pedestrian fourth came to life as he found momentum on the top side and surged forward. Lap 20 saw him move by Seavey for third in turn three and one lap later used the cushion off turn four to breeze by Grant with a massive run for second. Lap 22 saw Kofoid continue the surge racing alongside and past Axsom to take the lead just past the start/finish line. A tangle between Brenham Crouch and Chance Crum in turn two slowed the action on lap 24 and regrouped the field.

    On the restart Kofoid raced out front and began to pull away over the final six laps crossing the finish line at 9:41 scoring his 24th career USAC National midget victory tying him with Billy Englehart for 21st on the all-time list. The Keith Kunz driver scored another record breaking win for his car owner and as Buddy said at Circle City he wanted to win one the proper way and not by another’s misfortune and he sure accomplished it tonight in his parting race of Indiana Midget Week leaving as the point leader with two wins, a second and a fourth in his four races run during the series and taking the Irvin King Hard Charger Award from seventh to first. Emerson Axsom who has come so close so far in the four races and will surely score a victory over the next three nights finished second with Seavey settling for third, Grant taking fourth and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top five. Bryant Wiedeman placed sixth with Jade Avedisian seventh, Taylor Reimer eighth, Gavin Miller ninth and Daison Pursley rounding out the top ten.

    There was still a 25 lap sprint car feature to run and for the ones who left early they missed out on a special performance. When the 20 car field took the green flag at 9:59 Jake Swanson took the early lead with Mitchel Moles on his heels. Ivan Glotzbach rolled his Hayden #I1 in turn two on lap one to quickly halt the action. On the restart Swanson moved back out front and paced the field until lap 8 when Mitchel Moles clipped Swanson’s front end in his move for the lead and went out front. Swanson had his elbows up at that point and kept pace with Moles with Charles Davis Jr lurking in the shadows in third. Jadon Rogers was the highest running Indiana driver at this point but was a distance back in third. All of a sudden Rogers changed his line entering turns one and two driving straight into turn one and making a diamond move between the two turns pointing straight down the backstretch exiting turn two which allowed him to close on the front three. Entering turn one on lap 14, the top three were side by side by side with Rogers closing the gap quickly. In an amazing move exiting turn two Rogers made it four wide as the group raced down the backstretch where Roger’s momentum saw him slingshot from fourth into the lead in one fair swoop before they reached turn three. WOW!!! The move of the year so far!! Rogers would increase his lead over the remaining 11 laps and score the big win to the approval of the crowd on hand with thunderous applause as the young driver exited his sprinter in victory lane. Unfortunately, the mic did not function properly and we did not get to hear Rogers’ remarks in victory circle. Moles rode home second closing in traffic but Rogers pulled away each time to score the win. Davis edged by Swanson to take third with Swanson fourth and Brandon Mattox beating Geoff Ensign at the wire for fifth after starting 13th.

    It was a good ending to a good night of racing and a tightly run program that it recent times has disappeared at Lincoln Park and hopefully this is a resurgence of better times at LPS.

    That’s it for this segment so check back tomorrow for night five of Indiana Midget Week as the caravan travels south of I-70 to the home of Indiana University, Bloomington, and the home of the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval of the Bloomington Speedway hosting its 100th year of auto racing. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your own area or take a road trip. Be safe out there and have fun. Comments, news, stories and other points of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to follow a Typical Weekend to see where we end up next. Be good and be kind in these crazy times.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Streaks to IMW Win at Gas City


    Wednesday, June 7 – We packed up Bill Burn’s SUV and headed out the door toward the Gas City I-69 Speedway for night three of Indiana Midget Week and day 5 of the 16 in 17 tour. The weather was postcard worthy as we wound our way on the backroads to Gas City. We passed through Fairmount, the childhood home of James Dean before jumping on I-69 for a short stretch. There was one stop to make before arriving at the track and it was to sample the famous strawberry shortcake at Ivanhoe’s in Upland. The $10 price tag for the combination of ice cream, strawberries, shortcake and whipped cream was well worth the cost. Simply delicious and highly recommended!!!

    Once again Steve and Maggie Kimmel along with Irvin King, sponsor of the Hard Charger Award, saved us seats in the top row at Gas City as we settled in for a night of racing. After hot laps for both divisions, USAC midgets (33) and non-wing sprints (34) it was time for time trials for the midgets starting off at 6:36. Just twenty minutes later it was Jesse Love being interviewed by Kristy Bennes after setting a new track record with a time of 11.788 seconds around the ¼ mile dirt oval.

    Next on the dance card were four heats for the 33 car field of USAC midgets with the top four advancing directly to the 30 lap main event. The green on heat one at 7:28 saw the first time for us this year in Indiana to see racing start at the scheduled starting time. Kudos to Gas City management for running a tight show tonight. Heat one saw Buddy Kofoid master the field winning over Emerson Axsom, Logan Seavey and Chance Crum. The new one lap track record holder, Jesse Love, would not qualify and be forced to run the semi. Also, in this one Seavey and Gavin Miller raced hard into turn one battling for position with Miller’s car hitting some rough spots, hopping up and down before turning sideways and doing a quick snap flip before landing back on its wheels. Miller would return in the semi and qualify for the feature. Heat two went to the highly improved Bryant Wiedeman besting Kevin Thomas Jr, Ryan Timms and Chelby Hinton who looks like he is starting to acclimate to the midget car. Brenham Crouch in his first USAC midget start of IMW captured heat three over PA’s Steve Buckwalter also making his first 2023 IMW start with the #25 sporting a Honda powerplant under the hood, Justin Grant and Taylor Reimer. Jacob Denney continues to impress nailing down heat four over Chase McDermand, another driver looking good in IMW action, Jade Avedisian and Jake Andreotti.

    The 34 wingless sprint cars that graced the pit area would contest four heats also with the top four moving on. Rylan Gray would be impressive winning heat one over Jake Swanson, Ricky Lewis and Geoff Ensign. Robert Ballou sailed home first in heat two beating Logan Seavey, Jack Hoyer and Harley Burns. Arizona’s Charles Davis Jr took down heat three beating Brayden Fox, Dave Darland and Colin Grissom. Heat four was a photo finish with Thomas Meseraull in the Simon #23K edging Tye Mihocko by inches with Trey Osborne and Saban Bibent following.

    The USAC midget semi would fall to Tanner Thorson over Cannon McIntosh, Jesse Love, Daison Pursley, Daniel Whitley and Gavin Miller. Hayden Reinbold would use a provisional to join the starting field and boost it to 23. The sprints would run two B mains with the top two joining the rear of the feature fields. Tyler Kendall won B main one over Evan Mosely while Mario Clouser posted victory in B main two over Nate Schank. The prelims were all in the books and the only things left to run were the two main events.

    The green flag would drop on the 30 lap USAC National Midget feature at 9:25 with the front row of Emerson Axsom and Jacob Denney presenting a torrid battle over the first five laps for the lead. Logan Seavey who started fourth was in the leader’s tire tracks and briefly stormed by both of them to take the lead on lap four but Axsom countered to regain the lead on lap five. Seavey continued to work Axsom throwing successive sliders in turn one on laps seven and eight but Axsom countered and retained the lead exiting turn two each time while Denney fell backwards through the field. Lap nine saw Seavey dive low in turn one but remaining on the bottom which gave him the advantage exiting turn two. Seavey was on a rail and opened a straightway lead as the field completed 20 of the 30 laps of the feature grind. Behind the leader, Axsom and Buddy Kofoid, were having their own war racing each other in a spirited duel for the runner up position. Seavey who had Monday night’s race at Circle City in the bag when an ignition switch failed him wanted this one badly. With six to go Seavey bobbled on the turn four cushion and lost a big portion of his lead and three laps later lost it entirely as Daison Pursley slowed to a stop in turn four with a flat tire exiting the track cutting across the approaching pack.

    On the restart Denney and Cannon McIntosh tangled in turn two racing for eighth with both stopping in the corner and Hayden Reinbold happening upon the scene and catching a wheel rolling over in the process. The race would go back to green with three to go and unbeknownst to most Seavey had lost his left rear shock earlier which would play havoc for the final three laps with the field at his doorstep. On the restart Seavey went high with Axsom diving low to pull alongside of Seavey in turns one and two. Axsom assumed the lead in turn three sticking low but Seavey rebounded and raced back out front in turns one and two. Seavey jumped the cushion exiting turn four on lap 28 with Axsom pouncing once again and it looked like Seavey would come up short for the second race in a row, Seavey fell back several car lengths but entering turns three and four racing for the white flag Logan threw caution to the wind and ripped the lip to surge back by Axsom on the homestretch. Seavey led by a car length down the backstretch briefly rimming over the backstretch banking before throwing it hard down low entering turns three and four where he was able to fend off Axsom to take the win his first in USAC midget action since Turkey Night at Ventura in November of 2021. The jubilant Seavey climbed to the top of his roll cage in victory lane letting out his frustrations. Axsom would settle for second with Chase McDermand lost in all the racing for the lead turning in another impressive run to gain third with Kofoid from 8th to 4th and Bryant Wiedeman rounding out the top five. Justin Grant would manage a sixth with Kevin Thomas Jr seventh, Taylor Reimer advancing from 13th to 8th with Tanner Thorson ninth and Gavin Miller charging from 19th to 10th to garner the Irvin King Hard Charger Award after overcoming adversity earlier.

    We still had the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature to go with the green flying at 10:02. Robert Ballou would surge to the early lead from third and pace the field for the first six laps until Saban Bibent lost the handle on his sprinter in turn two to bring out the caution. Lap eight saw Charles Davis Jr wrestle the lead away from Ballou in turn two on lap eight as Ballou continued to work the high side. Brayden Fox began to race side by side with Ballou over the middle stages of the contest as Davis stretched his lead up front. The inside was the place to be as the track was wearing out in the middle and high side but Ballou stuck with it as Fox moved by and veteran Dave Darland began to make his presence known also. Geoff Ensign was also making hay advancing from 13th pushing the top five for position. As the laps wound down Davis had a comfortable lead with Ballou finally able to take second back from Fox on the high side and then he tucked in on the low side. When the final checkered waved at 10:16 it was Davis in for his first career win at Gas City over Ballou, Fox, Darland and Ensign taking fifth at the finish. The ecstatic Davis climbed to the top of the cage while a crew member handed him a beer which he cracked and drank some waving to the crowd who were cheering for the Arizona driver’s win.

    It was a very good midget feature and a very efficiently run program with everyone working away happy after the night’s racing.

    That’s it for Wednesday’s report but check back tomorrow for round four of IMW from beautiful downtown Putnamville, home of the Lincoln Park Speedway. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. Comments, news, words of wisdom or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. If you are in the East being diligent with the air quality problem stemming from the wildfires in Canada and keep hydrated. Until tomorrow thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

    Kofoid Gets Gift Win in Night Two of Indiana Midget Week at Circle City


    Monday, June 5 – We packed up the gang of five and headed eastbound toward Indianapolis and the Marion County Fairgrounds to the ¼ mile dirt oval called the Circle City Raceway. We met Steve and Maggie Kimmel and Irvin King there who saved us seats one row from the top of the large aluminum grandstand to the right of the flagger’s stand. On Friday as you know we visited Circle City for the FAST sprint car show which started late and was quite dusty. Tonight, the temperature was down in the 80’s with a cloudy sky and the track looked well-watered but they again started late. Before the racing began, I started to have a conversation with the two gentlemen in the top row to the left of me and found that they were from the UK and were over here on holiday taking in as many races at different tracks as possible. They knew a mutual friend of ours, Colin Casserley, a UK race photographer and we discussed racing around the world. It was a pleasure to make two new friends, Mark Webster and Andy Coleman. Welcome to the US and enjoy your travels and be safe.

    Time trials commenced at 7:47 for the 28 USAC midgets in attendance and by 8:09 it was Kevin Thomas Jr in one of three Mounce/Stout entries tonight knocking off fast time with a lap of 12.385 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. The filler division for the evening was 34 Ford Crown Vics and people were worried that with this many cars it would turn into a long show. To Circle City management’s credit, they only hot lapped/qualified the Crown Vics during the show and ended up running their heats, B main and feature after the entire USAC midget program was completed.

    The USAC midgets would contest three qualifying heats with the top five moving directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening. The first heat went green at 8:34 with Daison Pursley powering out front early and winning over Justin Grant, Tanner Thorson, Jake Andreotti and Buddy Kofoid. Cannon McIntosh has things back in sync winning heat two over Bryant Wiedeman, Jacob Denney, Gavin Miller and Ryan Timms. Logan Seavey in the Abacus #57 walked off with heat three over Jesse Love, Chance Crum, Emerson Axsom and Hayden Reinbold in a race where Jade Avedisian took a header between turns one and two tumbling end over end several times before climbing out uninjured. She would go to a backup car and start last in the semi qualifying fifth to put herself into the starting field.

    Fast timer, Kevin Thomas Jr, failed to qualify in his heat race being beat out by Buddy Kofoid and was forced to run the semi in which he finished first besting Daniel Whitley, Taylor Reimer, Kyle Cummins, Jade Avedisian, Thomas Meseraull and Bryan Stanfill. Chase McDermand would take a provisional increasing the starting field to 23 for the main event.

    By 9:49 it was time to go feature racing with Tom Hansing dropping the green silk on the front row of Gavin Miller and Buddy Kofoid. The rookie Miller, a six time USAC national quarter midget champion, surprised everyone by spurting into the lead past Kofoid and pulling away from the field to a 1.5 second lead. Miller was starting to look like he might pull off his first USAC National midget win as he led the first 13 laps of the contest until he entered turn one where he jumped the cushion and rolled several times into the outside wall. The only thing that was hurt for the youngster was his pride as the 16 year old driver will have other opportunities to win a USAC feature.

    On the restart Kofoid would assume the lead with fifth starting Justin Grant in hot pursuit. Seventh starting Logan Seavey quickly polished off Grant for second and went after Kofoid who was at the point. Seavey pulled a slider entering turn one on lap 21 and by turn two was the new leader of the race. A lap later Kyle Cummins took a tumble in turn four to bring out the red mangling the front end of his #3G ending his night prematurely.

    The final eight laps of this event were literally like a swarm of bees as the field behind the leaders were slicing and dicing and sliding each other with reckless abandon as Seavey ran roughshod at the front of the pack. For the second time in the evening Kofoid was given a gift as the ignition switch on Seavey’s car failed while leading with three laps to go. Kofoid now had a comfortable lead with several competitors making big moves in the closing laps to garner top five positions. When the checkered flags waved at 10:18 it was Buddy Kofoid first in only his second midget start of the year scoring his 23rd USAC National Midget win of his career and moving into 22nd place on the all time list. For car owner, Keith Kunz, it was his 29th career Indiana Midget Week team win with multiple drivers wheeling for him.

    Jacob Denney emerged from sixth to finish second with Bryant Wiedeman turning in an impressive performance advancing from 15th to 3rd with Tanner Thorson picking up the Irvin King Hard Charger award marching from 17th to 4th and Emerson Axsom gaining seven spots in the last two laps as bedlam reigned to round out the top five. Cannon McIntosh led the second five across the line in sixth with Taylor Reimer motoring from 19th to 7th, Jade Avedisian eighth, Justin Grant slipping to ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr finishing tenth.

    The evening turned out to be a pleasant experience with the track holding up well and the midget portion of the program being spun off in a timely manner leaving us all happy with our night at Circle City.

    That’s it for round two of IMW and night four of our 16 races in 17 days tour. Today (Tuesday) is an off night before resuming tomorrow with round three of IMW taking place at Gas City I-69 Speedway. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some new tracks on your bucket list. Comments, news, stories and other tidbits can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for your support as we enjoy bringing our reports to you.




     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Denney Triumphs in Indiana Midget Week Opener at Tri-State



    Sunday, June 4 – Today was another nice Indiana summer day with highs in the low 90’s and sunny skies and a nice breeze. It was time for night three of the 16 races in 17 days tour and also the opening night of the 19th Indiana Midget Week. The race tonight was scheduled for the Tri-State Speedway in the southwest corner of Indiana near the town of Haubstadt. The ¼ mile black clay oval would welcome 28 USAC midget racers and 29 MSCS sprint car drivers to the pit area to do battle on this evening.

    After MSCS hot laps/qualifying the USAC midgets took to the track to run their individual time trials kicking off at 6:57. By 7:14 Ohio driver, Jacob Denney, was being interviewed after posting the fast time of 13.612 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring.

    The MSCS sprint cars would be first up with their heat racing running three qualifiers for their 29 car field. Daison Pursley coming off a hard flip the night before at Knoxville during the Cornbelt Nationals proved that it didn’t have any ill effects as he motored the KO Motorsports #5Z to victory in heat one over Brady Short, Kendall Ruble and Aric Gentry. Heat two went to the consistent Jadon Rogers
    In the family car beating Adyn Schmidt, Donny Brackett and Jake Scott. The third heat fell to Colorado’s Carson Garrett in the Dougherty #15 over JJ Hughes, Seth
    Parker and Kayla Roell.

    The USAC midgets were next on the dance card and ran three action filled heat races with Daison Pursley in the Reinbold/Underwood #19 nailing down heat one over Buddy Kofoid, Thomas Meseraull, Bryant Wiedeman and Jacob Denney. Justin Grant brought the RMS Racing #2 home first in heat two over Zach Daum, Jesse Love, Kevin Thomas Jr in the second Mounce/Stout entry and Ryan Timms. Tri-State favorite, Kyle Cummins, in the Styres Racing #3G notched heat three over Chase McDermand, Jake Andreotti, Logan Seavey and Hayden Reinbold.

    The MSCS B main was next up with Dustin Beck pacing the field to victory over Collin Ambrose, California’s Matt Mitchell, Critter Malone and Ricky Lewis. Eddie Vancil would use a MSCS provisional to make it a 21 car starting field for the 25 lap main event.

    Jade Avedisian, the sixth fastest timer failed to make it through the heat qualifying so she went out and won the midget semi in short order over Allentown, PA’s Gavin Miller, Chance Crum, Emerson Axsom, Taylor Reimer, Bryan Stanfill and Louisiana’s Chelby Hinton, the 600 whiz in the Bob East #4 the last one in by qualifying. Cannon McIntosh would tag the field with a provisional making it a 23 car starting field for tonight’s 30 lap main event.

    After a 40 minute extensive track rework the 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature was called to the post and went green at 10:08 with the front row of Daison Pursley and Jadon Rogers swapping the early lead before Pursley took command. Carson Garrett who started third worked his way by Rogers for second and went after Pursley. The two went at it tooth and nail before Garrett got the advantage. Pursley was not finished and charged back in lap traffic to try to pass Garrett but ramped on the right rear of a lapper and went for a ride rolling several times in turn two. Garrett would control the remainder of the contest with the best battle after being for third between JJ Hughes and Kendall Ruble running side by side for many laps before Ruble crept past. There were seven cautions in the event which took away from the race but when it was said and done at 10:38 Carson Garrett crossed the line first for his second win of the year at Tri-State over Jadon Rogers, Ruble, Hughes and Aric Gentry in a fine run moving from tenth to fifth at the finish.

    Justin Grant got the jump on Ryan Timms at the drop of the green flag at 10:52 and the race was on. Timms made several sliders in turns one and two over the next couple of laps but Grant countered and retained the lead. Jacob Denney who started sixth was coming forward and picked off Timms for second on lap five. Denney quickly closed the gap on Grant and made his move for the lead diving low in turn three to grab the top spot. Buddy Kofoid running third made the same move two laps later and was now in second. The red flag would wave on lap thirteen when Thomas Meseraull and Taylor Reimer tangled in turn four and both turning over with T-Mez done for the evening and Reimer returning.

    The green waved again and Denney who was really strong bounded back out to over a second lead as the race pasted the halfway mark. Kofoid kept Denney in his sight but wasn’t making any challenges at this point. Justin Grant running third at the time did a half spin in turn two on lap twenty five and with Kevin Thomas Jr close behind in fourth finished off his spin sending both contenders to the rear. On the restart Kofoid was lurking behind waiting to execute a slider which he did entering turn one with Denney crossing over in turn two to retain the lead. The next lap saw the same scenario with the same results as Denney was not going to let this one get away from him. Denney would lead the remaining four laps and score his third career USAC victory besting Kofoid with Kyle Cummins turning in a good performance advancing from eighth to third with Chase McDermand in an equally good run placed fourth after starting tenth with Logan Seavey rounding out the top five. Jake Andreotti came home sixth to thirteenth with Cannon McIntosh powering from 23rd to 7th with Jade Avedisian eighth, Zach Daum ninth from seventeenth and Gavin Miller getting the Irvin King Hard Charger award finishing tenth after starting twenty first. The final checkers flew at 11:10 which is late on a Sunday night but we feel the track needed maintenance before the features. Maybe a 6:30 start on a Sunday would be a better option.

    That’s it for this segment as we prepare to gather the gang to head over to Indianapolis and night two of Indiana Midget Week at Circle City Raceway where the USAC midgets will be joined by the Crown Vics. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road to catch some racing. Comments, news, stories and other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back daily over the next 14 days to see where we end up next and what happened. Take care, be good and be kind.


     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Mihocko Claims Sprint Car Win at Lincoln Park



    Saturday, June 3 – Today was a short trip down to Putnamville and the Lincoln Park Speedway as our hell tour continues on. On tap tonight was a five division program on Fans Remembrance Night honoring the many loyal LPS fans who have passed away over the years. A nice concept!! The non-wing sprints who brought 34 sprinters through the back gate for tonight’s racing as Paragon had an off night on their schedule. They would be joined by 18 UMP modifieds, 21 super stocks, 14 mod lites and only 8 bombers for tonight’s racing. We have been to Lincoln Park four times this year and they have not started on their scheduled time once. Tonight the 7 PM racing start was not accomplished until 8:26. We can understand some track maintenance needs to be done but starting almost an hour and a half past your scheduled starting time is unacceptable. If you are not going to follow your race schedule then start hot laps sooner and allow for track maintenance in that time frame to start the race on time.

    The first of four heat races for the non-wing sprints took the green flag at 8:26 and Californian Frank Guerrini looked like a contender for the evening holding off Tye Mihocko, Brandon Mattox and Jordan Kinser for the win. Seth Parker continues to impress and show improvement as he captured heat two besting Evan Mosley, Brandon Spencer and Ricky Lewis. Heat three fell to Jadon Rogers who has put together a very consistent season to date with several wins and many runner-up finishes bested Alec Sipes, Matt McDonald and Adyn Schmidt who ran with a wing last night at Circle City. The fourth heat went to Brent Beauchamp beating Harley Burns, Tim Creech and Zack Pretorius. Sprint heats were spun off in just 21 minutes.

    The UMP modifieds were next on the docket with Tennessee invader, Logan Mounce, taking heat one, Derek Losh heat two and Travis Shoulders taking heat three. The mod lites which were a late week addition ran two heats for their 14 car field. The super stocks three heats for their 21 car field and the bombers one heat for their 8 car field. Starting to worry about the future of the bomber class as their numbers are dwindling every time out.

    Next up was the sprint car B main with four more cars to join the rear of the field making for a 20 car starting lineup for the upcoming 25 lap main event. Brayden Fox, last night’s winner at Bloomington was humbled tonight having to run the B main which he nailed down for the win over Rob Caho from Minnesota, Gabriel Gilbert and Shayna Ensign, wife of Geoff, putting her sprinter into the starting field. A fine run by Ensign after just missing qualifying in her heat race.

    Alec Sipes and Evan Mosley would bring the 20 car field to Brian Hodde’s green flag at 10:20 with Sipes edging out into the early lead exiting turn two. Third starting Tye Mihocko would power around Sipes for the lead in turn three of the opening lap. Mihocko would pace the field for the first three laps until the caution appeared when fourth running Frank Guerrini and fifth running Matt McDonald would hook bumpers and stop on the backstretch. On the restart Mihocko paced the field with Sipes second and Jadon Rogers third. Rogers raced by Sipes for second in turn two on the restart and took up the chase of Mihocko. Rogers bobbled in turn one on lap five, losing second to Brandon Mattox and third to Sean Parker. Mihocko continued to pace the field as Rogers began his comeback bid passing Parker in turn two on lap fourteen for third and storming by Mattox for second in turn three on lap sixteen. Mattox was not giving up easily as he battled back against Rogers using the inside while Rogers went to the top. Their midrace battle for second was the highlight of the race as Mihocko pulled away up front. Brayden Fox was working through traffic on his march forward from his seventeenth starting position into the top ten as the laps clicked off. Tye was on cruise control having this one well in hand as the clock struck 10:33 when he crossed under the checkered flags first with Rogers second, Mattox turning in another podium finish in third and has been running quite strong in 2023 after some jinxed seasons previously. Seth Parker came home fourth and Brayden Fox worked his way up to fifth at the finish. Jordan Kinser came from thirteenth to sixth at the end with Brent Beauchamp seventh, Harley Burns eighth, Alec Sipes fading to ninth and Brandon Spencer rounding out the top ten.

    We decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature which took the green flag at 10:41. With Derek Losh starting first the true question was who would finish second. Losh led the entire distance with invader Logan Mounce second, Travis Shoulders third, Matt Mitchell fourth and Tyler Loughmiller completing the top five. It was now 10:52 and we decided to call it a night. Night two was in the books as we plot our trip to southwest Indiana for night one of Indiana Midget Week at the Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt at the Helfrich’s finely manicured ¼ mile oval.

    Check back tomorrow on a report from Haubstadt and check back often as we will be attending quite a few races in the next 17 days. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy the warm weather and some good short track racing wherever you are and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, stories, news flashes and any other tidbits of information can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading about our travels and hope you enjoy the content as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. Be good and be kind.

     

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Hampton Scores FAST Sprint Win at Circle City



    Wednesday, May 31 – We arrived back in Chicago late afternoon after taking an 11 day vacation tour of Italy. We had a fun time seeing all the sites of Italy but there was sure a lot of walking on the tour and our feet are still hurting after the trip. Now it’s back to USA and racing once again.


    Friday, June 2 – Tonight will be the start of racing (weather permitting) for us seeing races in 16 of the next 17 days!!! To start it off night one would see us venture to the Circle City Raceway on the grounds of the Marion County Fairgrounds to watch an appearance of the FAST sprint car group based out of Ohio and they brought a nice field of 26 sprinters to the facility. They would be joined by 19 UMP modifieds, 17 super stocks and 10 legend cars in a full night of racing. It was hot and sunny with temperatures in the low 90’s which is normal for this time of year in Indiana. To hear the announcers tell you would think that the temperature was predicted to be in the 70’s and they were caught with their pants down when the temperatures pushed into the 90’s. Come on guys this is the way it is suppose to be in June in Indiana so don’t use this as an excuse why you started racing almost an hour and a half late off the scheduled starting time!!! At least you apologized while some other tracks would not have even given any kind of explanation as lame as this one was. You need to start your program on time if you want people to come out and support your track. You don’t see other major sports start 1 ½ hours late unless there is a rain delay or something else. Bloomington Speedway was running tonight also starting at 7:30 and they had their wingless sprint car feature finished before the third heat of FAST sprints was done at Circle City with three other divisions still to run heat races here. How is that so as they had the same weather as we did here?? Come on auto racing, we must do better at starting on time to draw crowds back to see your racing once again. Enough said, let’s move onto the racing itself.

    Time trials (not racing) started at 8:15 and completed by 8:35. The first FAST sprint car heat took the green flag at 8:53. Jack Sodeman Jr won the first heat besting McKenna Haase, Danny Smith, the ageless veteran, Jeremy Weaver and Van Gurley Jr out of retirement. Heat two went to Mooresville, IN, Zach Hampton, coming from fourth to beat Ricky Peterson, Kasey Jedrzejek, Kraig Kinser and Brandon Spithaler. The third and final heat went to Danny Sams III, the North Port, FL resident, turning back Leduc, Alberta’s Skylar Gee, Sean Rayhall from Boston, MA, Geoff Dodge from Colorado Springs, CO and Mitch Harble from Newark, Ohio.

    Once underway the next heat was trackside once the previous heat pulled off the backstretch which was a good thing. The UMP modifieds were next up and they spun off three very competitive heats with Dillon Nusbaum, Tyler Nicely and Dylan Woodling winning. The super stocks ran two entertaining heats and the legend cars contested one heat with all heat qualifying wrapping up by 9:34. The sprint cars would be the only division that needed a B main with the top five joining the back of the field making for a 20 car feature lineup. Justin Clark, the former 305 sprint star, took down the B main winning over Jordan Ryan, Shane O’Banion, Jesse Vermillion making his first winged start and Bryan Nuckles with brother, Blake Vermillion missing by one spot. They left us only the four feature events to run. Some track maintenance was performed before the 30 lap FAST sprint car feature was called to the post.

    Jeremy Weaver and Skylar Gee would bring 18 others to the green flag at 10:18 with Gee snatching the lead on the outside of turn two on the opening lap. Kraig Kinser was quick to grab second from Weaver on the next lap and take up the chase of Gee. Lap five saw Sean Rayhall roll his #19 over in turn two to bring out the red. Rayhall was able to climb from his car unscathed from the incident. Zach Hampton was coming forward from his sixth starting spot and took second from Kinser at the line to start lap six. Hampton closed the gap on leader Gee and found his way around the Canadian in turn two on lap nine to take the lead. The battle waged on behind the front three with some good jockeying of positions for spots four through eight. Up front Hampton was looking invincible as he pulled away from Gee and Kinser. Lap traffic began to come into play around lap twenty as the density increased. Gee was able to close the gap to Hampton’s rear nerf bar and zipped by him at the line to start lap twenty one. It would be short lived as Hampton stormed back by Gee in turn two on lap twenty two. The underdog Hampton was not going to let this one slip away as he pulled ahead to a several car length lead and crossed under the checkered flag at 10:36 scoring his first FAST sprint car win. Gee would end up second with Kinser third, Danny Smith showing he still has some life left in him marched from ninth using the inside to finish fourth with eighth starting Ricky Peterson rounding out the top five. It was a really good feature go with many passes and battles throughout the field.

    The 25 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda and took the initial green flag at 10:48. Dillon Nusbaum got a jump on Tyler Nicely to take the early lead. Nicely tried several times to pass Nusbaum on the outside but Nusbaum shut the door each time. Lap five saw Nicely move to the outside to turns three and four and not positive if the two touched but quite possible as Nusbaum began to spin sideways and brought out the caution. As good as the modifieds ran in their heats the feature was the opposite as seven cautions slowed this race. Nicely would lead the remainder of the twenty laps and cross the line first at 11:11 besting Bradley Jameson, eighth starting Brent Lee who went to the rear earlier, tenth starting Jake Leitzman and Garrett Jameson rounding out the top five. Won’t have minded watching the super stocks but it was after 11 with a busy day ahead of us we exited stage right.

    The racing was good when they were racing but the late start put a damper on the entire evening as this show should have ended much earlier and with housing developments encroaching on the fairgrounds late nights are not going to win you too many friends in the area. Racetracks should try to be good neighbors and run a tightly run program ending before 11. Hopefully the track surface will be better prepared for Monday night as the USAC National midget series invades Circle City. We were not happy to hear that the other division scheduled for that evening were the Crown Vics with $650 to win and the announcers exclaiming that they expected 30 to 40 of them!! Oh, boy, Oh boy!! Can’t wait for that.

    That’s it for this one and check back every day moving forward as our busy time is just starting. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and join us at Indiana Midget Week starting Sunday evening at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt. Comments, opinions, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and your emails to let us know how we are doing. Be safe out there and stay hydrated as the warm weather is finally upon us. Take note, Circle City the temperature is suppose to be in the 90’s on Monday so prepare the track better.



     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Rogers Wins Slide Fest in Barnburner at Lincoln Park


    Saturday, May 13 – For the second Saturday in a row we chose the Lincoln Park Speedway as again the weather was a factor in our choice. There were several other viable options but two were delayed by rain delays and the other was too far with an early Sunday wakeup call. So, it was off to Putnamville for a five division (too many especially with added kid’s bike races). Non-wing sprints (33) would be joined by winged 305 sprint cars (22), UMP modifieds (20), super stocks (13) and bombers (11) along with many youngsters competing in age level bike races in varying distances around the 5/16 mile dirt oval.

    Reading this column, you know we are a stickler for starting on time and we feel for good reason as if you are running five divisions plus an added feature to attract the younger crowd to LPS (which is a great idea or great promotion) as management looks to attract the future crowd for their racing by enticing them to come out to win free bikes and cash prizes. It is then imperative to present a tightly run program in a timely manner to have people want to return to watch racing at LPS or any racetrack in this country. LPS improved on their 55 minute late start from last week to 30 minutes tonight but that is still not good enough. When you cannot even start your hot laps/qualifying sessions on time how do you expect to start your racing on time?? When was the last time you went to a professional baseball game, basketball game or football game and they didn’t start on time unless there was a rain delay?? The key word here is “professional” and if auto racing was to be considered professional and attract new people out to their brand of entertainment they have to strive to start on time and present an entertaining form of entertainment. Thirty minutes may not seem a big deal to some but when you don’t start your first feature event until 10:30 PM after many people have been there since 5 PM it is a big deal!! Enough said!!

    The first non-wing sprint car heat would take the green flag at 7:40 to start the racing for the evening with Jadon Rogers in the family #14 outdistancing the field to score the heat win over Blake Vermilliion, Brandon Mattox and Geoff Ensign moving directly into the 25 lap main event as the top four across the line. Tye Mihocko wheeled the Jamie Paul #24P to victory in heat two over Jordan Kinser, Nate McMillin and Frank Guerrini. Mario Clouser came over from Illinois to capture heat three besting Jack Hoyer, Brayden Fox and Jesse Vermillion. Last week’s winner, Harley Burns, was relegated to the B main after failing to qualify. Seth Parker turned in a strong run in heat four to win it over Brian Hayden, John Sluss and Evan Moseley. Alec Sipes, who finished third last week was also forced to run the B main.

    The bombers who usually run last on the card were given an opportunity to run second tonight which was nice for them as they always seem to run good in their heats but not many people get to see them when they run last on the evening. Corey Anstead wheeled his car to victory in heat one and Josh Foxworthy was victorious in heat two. The winged 305’s were next on the slate with Max Guilford back in the USA from New Zealand for the summer at the keyboard of a 305 sprint tonight after running for Goodnight Motorsports last summer. Max captured the first heat race by a good distance over Carson Dillion and Kayla Martin. Rod Henning drove to victory in heat two beating Chase Baker of Ohio and Terry Arthur in an orange #5 reminisced of Randy Wolfe’s old Pennsylvania ride. Ethan Barrow nailed down heat three over John Paynter Jr and Dillan Baldwin riding out of Kentucky.

    Two heats were run for the 13 super stocks on hand and three heats were contested for the 20 UMP modifieds in attendance. The 12 lap wingless sprint car B main went to Harley Bruns over Alex Sipes, Ivan Glotzbach (during double duty tonight – 305’s) and Hunter Maddox the last man in.

    The kids took to the track to run their bike races from various locations on the track with the oldest ones running a full 5/16 mile circuit. Had to laugh when one of the youngsters said when interviewed that he thought it was the roughest track he had ever run upon!! After the bike races an almost complete rework of the track surface was performed which worried us only for the reason that showers were in the area and it was already 10 PM.

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature would be led to the green flag by the front row of Tye Mihocko and Jadon Rogers. These two promptly ran side by side for the first two laps before Seth Parker surprised both of them by powering by on lap four for the lead when Rogers just slightly made contact with Mihocko sending him sideways. It was short lived as Rogers regained the top spot exiting turn four on lap five. Parker would remain second with Mihocko and Brandon Mattox pestering him. After slipping back to fourth Mihocko regrouped and picked off Mattox and then Parker for second on lap thirteen and took up the chase of the high flying Rogers. Mihocko was closing the gap on Rogers when the first caution appeared for Braydon Fox who spun in turn two on lap 17. On the ensuing restart Mihocko threw a big slider on Rogers entering turn one sliding in front of Rogers for the brief lead but
    Rogers countered off turn two and went back out front. Mihocko repeated the move in turn three with Rogers counting off turn four. This slide job city show continued for the next five laps with the top two exchanging the lead in each corner and Brandon Mattox sticking his nose ahead on the inside in turns two and three but the leaders momentum on the high side allowed them to move ahead. Lap twenty two saw fourth running Jordan Kinser possibly clip the inside tractor tire and spin out of contention at that point.

    On the restart it was Rogers out front but the slide jobs continued until the pair raced into turn two on lap twenty three where Rogers wrestled with the cushion causing him to bobble with Mihocko on his tail. The two made contact with both spinning wildly but both kept their sprinters going. The LPS rule unlike the USAC rule on spins allows the spinning car or cars to retain their position if they do not stop. Parker was an innocent victim of the tangle and stopped in turn two bringing out the caution and he ended up at the rear of the field.

    When the green waved again Rogers jumped out front and opened a small lead with Mattox nipping away on the inside of Mihocko. The final two laps spun off quickly with Mihocko making a final challenge but came up short as did Mattox’s bid at the line for second. With the ding dong battle up front most people probably missed the good runs turned in by Geoff Ensign from 13th to 4th in the Gass #17G and Jesse Vermillion finishing 5th after starting 15th. It was one hell of a good feature!!
    The bombers were next up for their 15 lap feature with Josh Foxworthy able to fend off the race long advances from Joseph Raber to win his second race in a row at LPS with Corey Anstead crossing the line right behind.

    The 20 lap winged 305 sprint car feature was next on the docket with Rod Henning and Max Guilford bringing the 22 car field to the green flag. Guilford went out front at the start with Ethan Barrow quickly moving into second on the first lap. Guilford would pace the field for the first 11 laps and on the backstretch as Barrow made his move to pass Guilford the leader dropped off the backstretch and headed to the pit area with some sort of mechanical woes and Barrow was the new leader. At this point the top two had opened about a quarter track lead over the rest of the field and Barrow was out for an early Sunday drive. Dillan Baldwin made a late race charge from 9th to nip Carson Dillion at the line for second with Henning crossing the line in fourth and Ivan Glotzbach coming forward from 10th to 5th at the finish in a non-stop time of six minutes at 11:32. It was the second straight night that the 305’s ran their feature non-stop so guys take a bow for two well run features.

    That was enough for us for the evening as we packed up our belongings and made the short walk to our car. On the way out we heard Pat Sullivan say they would forgo victory lane ceremonies as weather was imminent. We drove about a half mile up Route 40 and a heavy shower dropped on us but believe it or not it never hit the speedway!!! It was 12:09 when Pat checked My Race Pass and saw that the last two features with the UMP modifieds and super stocks were over also. Strange weather as we noticed on the way home that it rained in spots but just a mile or so up the road it was dry.

    That’s it for now as we are going to make the trip over to Farmer City Raceway tonight (Monday) as they complete their Lucas Oil LM show rained out on Friday with two UMP modified consies and two features to run. Looking at one show on the weekend on Friday before heading out on a 10 day vacation. Comments, news, feature stories, tidbits or anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gamail.com. 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 where we end up next.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Burns Gets First Career Win As Rain Shortens LPS Sprint Feature


    Saturday, May 6 – Today was a nice day with temperatures in the mid 70’s so after a nice lunch at Second City Café in downtown Crawfordsville it was south on Route 231 through Greencastle on our way to beautiful downtown Putnamville. What’s in beautiful downtown Putnamville you say, well how about the Lincoln Park Speedway who was racing tonight with the winged 305 sprint cars joining the normal four divisions on the card tonight.

    We don’t what it is lately with tracks not starting on or near their scheduled starting time for racing. Last night at Kankakee they started an hour late for no apparent reason and tonight at Lincoln Park it was the same. When you have an added class as was the case tonight with the winged 305 sprints especially if they have to be pushed off it takes time to do so. With the weather we have had lately with all the rain and a late forecast for scattered showers tonight, it is imperative to start on time.

    Twenty six non-wing sprint cars were joined in the pit area tonight by twenty three winged 305 sprints, twenty two UMP modifieds, thirteen super stocks and ten bombers. Racing would begin at 7:53 with the first of three wingless sprint car heats with the top five moving directly to the 25 lap main event later in the evening. Brent Beauchamp would charge out front from first and paced the field for eight laps winning over Tye Mihocko, Brayden Fox, Kyle Shipley and Jordan Kinser in a loaded heat race. Harley Burns nailed down heat two besting Brandon Spencer, Donny Brackett venturing in from Southern Indiana, Nate McMillen and John Sluss. The third heat was captured by Illinois invader, Mario Clouser, beating Alec Sipes who is looking better every outing, Dickie Gaines, Matt Thompson and Matt McDonald.

    The 22 UMP modifieds would contest three heats with Derek Losh, Derek Groomer and Richie Lex bagging wins. The 305 sprint cars would spin off three heats with Ethan Barrow beating Bryce Norris, the winner on Friday at Bloomington and Chris Miller. Heat two fell to Ohio’s Rod Henning winning over Jeff Wimmenauer and Carson Dillion. Jordan Welch was flying in heat three winning over Alfred Galedrige Jr. and John Paynter Jr.

    The super stock would run two heats for their 13 car field with the wingless sprints contesting their B main before the bombers ran their one heat for their 10 car field. The final five qualifiers for the sprint car A main would come out of this event with Rylan Gray winning over Mitch Wissmiller, Bryar Schroeter, Dave Gross and Kyle Johnson the last man in. Gross is a good supporter of all the Indiana area tracks and tows his older chassis, steel block sprinter to each event rarely making the starting field but tonight was his night solidly putting his sprinter in the field. Another thing about Gross is he is very respectful of his competitors and stays low and out of the way and if he gets lapped pulls his sprinter to the infield and parks it. Good job tonight, Dave and way to go!!

    By 9:33 it was feature time with Brent Beauchamp and Harley Burns bringing the 20 car starting field to Brian Hodde’s green flag. Beauchamp would bound into the early lead with Burns in chase mode. The first eleven laps clicked off with Beauchamp leading Burns and Tye Mihocko trailing. Mihocko made his move on Burns in turn one to secure second as Beauchamp was cruising out front. Alec Sipes was running a fine race moving from sixth to fourth at this point and closing the gap on the top three. Burns rallied back to take second away from Mihocko on lap sixteen before Rylan Gray spun on the homestretch to bring out the caution. On the restart Beauchamp went to the point with Burns and Mihocko in pursuit. Burns made his move for the top spot exiting turn four diving low and taking the lead from long time leader, Beauchamp. In turn two Beauchamp threw it away as he jumped the cushion in turn two and dropped back to fourth. One of the tailenders slipped off turn two moments later bringing out the second caution of the night. While running under caution a pop up shower rolled over the speedway dropping a heavy burst of rain on the track. The crowd scurried for cover and the call was made to checker the race at that point as the rain ended moments later. Harley Burns was declared the winner at that point on lap 19 with Tye Mihocko finishing second, Alec Sipes capturing third, Beauchamp ended up fourth with Mario Clouser rounding out the top five. Matt McDonald came from 15th to finish 6th with 13th starter, Jordan Kinser, finishing 7th, Nate McMillen 8th, Brayden Fox 9th and Dickie Gaines finishing 10th.

    We have to admit that we have never seen a feature race shortened by rain and then the remainder of the features being run!! It was nice to see Burns get his first ever sprint car win but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the last six laps had been completed. We are sure Tye Mihocko and car owner Jamie Paul would have like to have seen that also. That’s why you start on time!!!

    After some track drying the UMP modifieds were called to the track to run their 20 lap feature taking the green flag at 10:20. Richie Lex would lead the first nine laps until third starting Derek Groomer slipped under him in turn two on lap nine. Groomer would lead the rest of the distance but Jake Leitzman from sixth applied some late pressure but just didn’t have enough to pull it off. Lex came home third with female driver, Sydney Landes, fourth and Jerry Bland Jr. coming from 13th to fifth.

    The 20 lap 305 sprint car feature was next to the post and went green at 10:47. Ethan Barrow immediately went to the point and told the field to catch him if they could. Bryce Norris and Jeff Wimmenauer kept pace with Barrow but never drew close enough to seriously challenge. Jordan Welch made a late race charge to cross the line second behind Barrow with Wimmenauer third, Norris fourth and Rod Henning taking fifth. The checkered waved at 11:13 and with two more features to heavy thunderstorms about 10 miles south of town and two subsequent thunderstorms after we were in bed had us thinking that Sunday did not look good for Terre Haute.

    Sunday, May 7 – At 9 AM the call was made by Terre Haute and USAC officials that too much overnight rain had caused both parties to postpone for the second time the Sumar Classic for the USAC Silver Crown series to a future date not yet determined. Not a good start for the new Terre Haute Action Track promoter, Bill Rose, who will have to wait possibly until Indiana Sprint Week to have the opener at Terre Haute.

    That’s it for this weekend as we plan for the following weekend for another typical weekend. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe out there. Comments can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and sending along your comments to us. It is appreciated.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel




    Taylor Wins 88th Badger Season Opener at Kankakee



    Friday, May 5 – The decision was made to take the 2 hour drive into Illinois to watch the 88th season opener for the Badger Midget Series at the Kankakee County Speedway just outside the city of Kankakee. It was also the first time for Badger/MARA to race at Kankakee in 33 years. It was an overflowing card of racing action with seven divisions on tap with the following car counts: Badger/MARA midgets – 36; Midwest Throwback sprints – 10; UMP modifieds – 16; Stock Cars – 17; Pro Modifieds – 14; Factory Stocks – 15 and Sport Compacts – 16 for a grand total of 124 cars in pit area. With this in mind we were skeptical of making the drive but if they started on time, it would be manageable. The problem was the starting time for racing was 7 PM and they did not start the first race until 7:54 already putting themselves in a time deficit and with the many cars and divisions on hand that was cause for concern. Once underway the racing went smoothly for the most part with one heat race ending and the next one rolling onto the track and some good racing in all the divisions.

    The pro modifieds started off the racing action with an eight lap new winners race before the midgets hit the track for their non-qualifiers race for the nine slowest in hot laps/qualifying. Miles Doherty from Iowa captured this one. The first heat would go to fourth starting Wes Pinkerton over Kevin Douglas, David Budres, Mike Stroik and Harrison Kleven with the top five moving directly to the 25 lap A main. The second heat fell to Cody Weisensel besting Todd Kluever, Ronnie Gardner, Patrick Bruns and RJ Corson. The third heat was captured by Andy Baugh from third over Kyle Koch, Jeremy Douglas, Kyle Stark and Adam Taylor. Greg Ross put on a fantastic late race charge in this one going three wide on the cushion to grab second at the line but his failure to report to the scale found him disqualified and relegated to the B main where his high flying driving style saw him advance from tenth to secure the win in the B main in impressive fashion.

    The 10 car Midwest throwback sprinters ran one heat for their group with veteran Steve Thomas driving a Bubby Jones #2 to victory over Dan Ingram and Gary Cummings in a Roy Caruthers #5. The UMP modifieds ran two heats for their 16 car field with Mike McKinney and Frank Marshall notching wins. Two heat each were spun off for the stock cars, pro mods, factory stocks and sport compacts before the midgets returned for their B main. All qualifying was completed before 10.

    Giving time for the midgets to regroup after their B main the 15 lap Midwest sprint car feature was called to the grid and went green at 10:02. In an entertaining event the old sprinters ran fast and hard with a good race long battle between Steve Thomas and Gary Cummings. Thomas prevailed at the finish at 10:09 besting Cummings and Mike Fisher in his #11 nipping Dan Ingram at the line for third. If you closed your eyes for a minute you could see Ol’ Bub climbing up through the roll cage to claim another win!!!

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next to the post and this one turned out to be a really good one. Jamie Lomax would lead early with Jason Hastings and Derek Losh in chase. Mike McKinney quickly came from his sixth starting position to pass Losh for third and pressured Hastings for second. Lomax continued to pace the field up front with the others chasing and battling each other. Losh worked his way past McKinney for third and went to work on Hastings dueling with him for several laps before moving low in turns one and two to claim second. Lomax had a comfortable lead headed into the second half of the feature but Losh began to close the gap and with five to go was right on Lomax’s bumper as they entered lap traffic. Losh looked high and low and was making his challenge in turns three and four with two to go when he made a rare mistake and got sideways almost saving his steed but spinning out of second and a shot at the victory. With no traffic in front of him on the restart it was clear sailing for Lomax the last two laps cruising to his third win at Kankakee in 2023 taking the checkers at 10:32 over Mike McKinney with Steven Brooks who started seventh edging out Hastings for third on the last lap for third with Hastings slipping to fourth and tenth starting Austin Friedman rounding out the top five.

    Next up was the 25 lap Badger/MARA feature event with Andy Baugh and Wes Pinkerton bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:40. Baugh squirted out to the early lead with Pinkerton in tow. The battle was for third among Todd Kluever, Kyle Stark and Adam Taylor who finished third last week at Lincoln. Lap five saw the advancing Greg Ross roll to a stop in turn two to bring out the yellow but under the yellow in turns three and four Stark launched over a wheel as the cars slowed and rolled over several times before stopping. Stark was able to climb from his midget but was then taken to the local hospital causing a 20 minute delay as we had to wait for the ambulance to return before restarting. That is why with a full card of racing these things can happen so it is vital to start on time so as not make it an all night event.

    When things resumed Baugh went back out front with Taylor slipping by Pinkerton for second in turns one and two. Patrick Bruns would make his way by Pinkerton shortly thereafter to take third as Baugh continued to lead. As they passed the halfway mark the leaders began to approached lap traffic allowing Taylor to close to Baugh’s rear nerf bar but Baugh was able to fend off his challenger at that point. With four to go Taylor made his move entering turn three and pulled alongside Baugh in turn four but the pair banged wheels and Baugh was able to open up a several car lengths lead once again. With three to go the second and last caution would appear as David Budres stopped on the backstretch. On the restart Baugh led but not for long as Taylor went to the cushion in turns one and two and snatched the lead. Bruns worked his way by Baugh in quick order for second as it seemed Baugh was having some fuel issues or another mechanical issue as he free fell through the field. Taylor was not to be denied in this one leading the final three circuits to score his sixth career Badger triumph with Bruns second (who later was DQ’d for an unspecified infraction) so second went to Pinkerton with Ronnie Gardner moving up to third from 12th, Todd Kluever fourth and Mike Stroik rounding out the top five with the checkers waving at 11:21. It was a good, competitive race with lots of passing but the wreck break took some steam out of the event. With this feature ending at 11:21 and with four features to go and the lady in front of us falling asleep waiting for the factory stock feature to run it was time for us to hit the road.

    Losing an hour coming home with the time zone difference found us pulling into the driveway at 2:21 AM ready to hit the sack. The traffic coming home was almost non-existent trimming our return trip to 1 hour 45 minutes.

    That’s it for now but check back later in the weekend to see if we get the other two planned races in as rain has crept into the forecast so stay tuned. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts. Be good and have fun.



     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Beating The Rain with An Illinois/Missouri Tripleheader

    Friday, April 28 – All our Texas USAC plans were washed out so after scrambling to cancel the flights, hotel rooms and rental car we decided to develop another game plan and changed direction toward Illinois and Missouri where the sun was shining. Tonight, would find us heading west into the Land of Lincoln to take in the six division program at the Lincoln Speedway. Luckily two of the divisions were open wheeled ones so our first appearance in over a year had us arriving around 6:15 for the 7 PM start.

    Racing would get underway just three minutes after the scheduled starting time, which was impressive and continued non-stop with the exception of a 15 minute intermission where some track prep was performed. Up first on the docket was the only scheduled appearance of the winged 305 sprint cars with only nine sprinters towing in. The 305’s would contest two heats with Kyle Barker taking down heat one over Evan Turner and Patrick Ryan. Heat two would fall to former winged 600 driver, Aaron Andruskevitch, motoring away from Carson Dillion and John Barnard. Next up were two heats for the MARA midgets, an Illinois based shoot off of the Badger midgets based in Wisconsin and they brought 19 cars to the big dance. Mitchell Davis established himself as the man to beat as he blasted by Chris Baue and Kevin Battefeld for the win in heat one. Kyle Stark nailed down the second heat besting Adam Taylor and Daltyn England.

    The street stocks ran two heats for their 13 car field while the UMP modifieds spun off two heats for their 10 car field. The top division at Lincoln the Pro Late Models brought 14 entrants to the track with Colby Sheppard and Jose Parga winning their respective heat races. The hornet class was last up and ran two very entertaining heat races for their 12 car field with all heat racing completed by 8:07.

    The short intermission followed and the 18 lap winged 305 sprint car main would take the initial green flag at 8:25. Aaron Andruskevitch started second and took off like a rocket into a wide lead until the only caution of the event brought the field back to him. Aaron was gone again on the restart but there was good racing for positions two through four between Carson Dillion, Patrick Ryan and John Barnard. When the checkered waved at 8:37 it was Andruskevitch in for the popular win over fourth starting Dillion with fifth starting Ryan third, sixth starting Barnard fourth with Evan Turner rounding out the top five.

    The 20 lap MARA midget feature was next on the card taking the green flag at 8:43. Mitchell Davis slashed to the front from his sixth starting spot to take the lead racing down the backstretch after completing lap one. Meanwhile Adam Taylor who started way back in 17th was cutting through the field like the proverbial hot knife through butter rising to fifth by the sixth lap. A couple laps later Kyle Starks and Taylor locked up in a crowd pleasing battle for third throwing sliders at each other on opposite ends of the speedway. Davis was not going to be headed in this one flashing across the finish line at 8:59 with Daltyn England surprising Taylor on the last lap at the line to steal second at the finish with Taylor pocketing third at the end.

    The 15 lap street stock feature was a good race with Zane Reitz winning. The 20 lap UMP modified race went to Logan Veloz in a good run also. The 20 lap pro late model feature was trackside by 9:34 with multi-time winner, Jose Parga, handling the field easily beating Colby Sheppard and Brandon Johnson with the checker waving at 9:44. Even though the hornets presented some competitive heat racing we decided to call it a night and head toward the exits and then our hour ride over to Jacksonville to the Hampton Inn to spend the remainder of the evening before waking up early in the morning to continue our racing trip.

    Saturday, April 29 – Today found us venturing into the Show Me state of Missouri and our destination was one of the tracks on our bucket list which we had never visited before. The Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO was our target track and we made a full day of it. The MidAmerica Outdoor Truck and SxS (UTV’s) were running on the 1.2 mile, 14 turn, 10 jumps off-road dirt course in the afternoon and a combo ticket ($22 for seniors) got you entrance to both the off-road course and the 3/8 mile dirt track that evening. A shuttle took you over to the off-road course from the front gate of the oval track which was about a half mile in distance. They have a separate large, covered aluminum grandstand for spectators which ran the length of the homestretch. You were able to view 95% of the course from your seat which made it quite enjoyable only losing the trucks and UTV’s for a slight time as the track dipped lower on a backstretch area which the vehicles disappeared for a short time and then when they went into a tunnel and emerged on the other side to race into the final two corners before charging to the finish line.

    They started the racing at 1 PM and pretty much ran non-stop with different UTV divisions with brief breaks for track watering and the last race which was the MAO trucks concluded at 4:21. We have attended numerous UTV races with two clubs in Indiana which run on longer courses, three to four miles in length, and disappear into the woods for long periods of time and you usually don’t see them for up to four or five minutes. Here at Lucas Oil you almost always had them in view and the track was wide enough with some banked turns and so forth and 10 jumps of various degrees which kept the competition close and kept your interest in every race. One youth UTV finish had the top two finishers racing side by side to the checkered after four laps around the course with their banging wheels while racing side by side with the winner literally winning by inches!! The 10 lap main event featuring the seven truck field was very entertaining with a slew of position changes throughout the field including about five for the lead. Veteran off-road truck racer, CJ Greaves, beat his son, Kyle Greaves to the finish with Johnny Holtger finishing third after a grinding run with none of the trucks with their full body panels remaining. It surely was an enjoyable afternoon of off-road racing enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

    Saturday, April 29 – We decided to walk back over to the dirt track as we had time to do so with the dirt track not starting until 7 PM. It gave us time to get the lay of the land of this state of the art facility which is one of the nicest short tracks that we have ever attended. The 3/8 mile dirt oval has large grandstands on both the homestretch and backstretch with the homestretch seating either consisting of aluminum seats with an aluminum backing or individual chair stadium seats with plenty of room in them. The only restriction was the stadium seats with markings on the back which indicated which ones of them were reserved seating or handicap seating. Your viewing is unobstructed with nothing in the infield and the speaker system is probably even more impressive than the excellent one at Perris Auto Speedway in California. Underneath the massive scoring tower and suites behind you are located the concession area with a great selection of food and also a bar for the patron who would like to indulge in something a little more potent. Off to one side is a concession slick track for people to drive small cars on and have some fun for a while until the racing starts.

    The dirt track program on this evening would consist of four divisions with the headlining late models only having 8 cars on this evening as the Lake Ozark Speedway only about 60 miles away was having a big MLRA late model show. The USRA modifieds were on the card with 21 entrants along with the USRA stock cars with 18 cars and the USRA B modifeds with a high of 34 cars for the racing tonight.

    The late models would run one heat while the modifieds and stock cars ran a pair of heats while the B mods contested four heats and were the only ones who needed a B main on the night. The heat racing was completed in 58 minutes with the B main following. A twenty five minute intermission was taken before the first of four features went green at 8:55. A cold front moved into the area at that time with stiff winds gusting to 30 miles an hour and the temperature must have dropped ten degrees as we reached for our heavy coats and other warm gear to combat the nasty winds.

    Even though there were only eight cars the late models put on a competitive show with Justin Wells charging from seventh to take his third win of 2023 and 98 career win beating fifth starting Larry Ferris and Kyle Graves. The 25 lap USRA modified feature was next and it was good racing when they were running but five cautions drag the race down. Matt Johnson came from seventh to win over Jason Pursley and 13th starting Mike Hansen. The USRA stock cars always put on a good show in the Midwest and this one was no exception. Johnny Fennewald won this closely contested race up front turning back William Garner and Waylon Dimmitt making a late race challenge to attempt to steal the win.

    Even though we wanted to stay for the USRA B mods the relentless winds combined with an hour and 45 minute drive to our hotel for the night we decided to cut short our visit to Lucas Oil Speedway tonight but will definitely return in the future. Even with the high winds the track never dusted up either which was another good point for this track.

    It was a very enjoyable weekend as we caught racing at three tracks, two of which were new ones for us. The weather was generally nice except for the strong winds just before feature time at Lucas Oil. Other than that, we beat the bad weather and got to see some good racing to boot.

    That’s it for this report and check back Thursday and during the weekend as we have a busy schedule of races on the agenda beginning on Wednesday and a three banger over the weekend. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take your act on the road and catch some racing at a bucket list track. Comments, words of wisdom, news, stories, videos and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy our reports as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care, stay warm and be safe.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Perfect on The Night at Tri-State in Spring Showdown

    Saturday, April 15 – After a good night’s sleep at the Hampton Inn in Princeton we arose to sunny skies and warm temperatures. We decided to drive over to Angel Mounds, an ancient Native Mississippian Indian community near Evansville along the banks of the Ohio River. The community was built by the Mississippian Indians between 1000 and 1450 AD and was occupied by over 1000 people during that time. The community was protected by a 17-foot wall around the 600 acre property and included earthen mounds which were built to elevate important buildings. There were various hiking paths around the grounds and we explored the various sites in our long walk. From there we ate at Waltons in Evansville before heading over toward the track as the weather went from sunny to cloudy in quick order. The forecast was not good at this point, but the Helfrich’s’ and track crew were not about to give into the weather. It lightly rained from about 4:30 to 5:45 but management never wavered and continued to groom the track until hot laps commenced at 6.

    On tap for the evening’s program were the USAC/MSCS sprint cars (35) and the MMSA mini sprints (26). The Helfrich family was rewarded with a fine crowd turnout as they are known to not give up without a fight. Single car time trials began at 6:38 for the fine 35 car field and by 7:00 it was Justin Grant being interviewed by Christy Bennes after setting his career 31st fast time moving him into 12th place on the all-time list past Pancho Carter and tying him with Sheldon Kinser. Hot laps for the MMSA mini sprints followed and by 7:29 it was time to go heat racing.

    Justin Grant came from sixth to first to claim the first heat win and put him in the position for the clean sweep of the evening. Aric Gentry came home second in a strong run with Kevin Thomas Jr. third and Jake Swanson taking the last transfer spot. Brady Short hung tough in the second heat and held sway over Kendall Ruble, Brady Bacon and 2nd fastest timer, Daison Pursley. Tri-State fan favorite, Kyle Cummins, scored the win in heat three besting Jadon Rogers in a Justin Owen tribute car numbered 4J, Logan Seavey and Mitchel Moles. The fourth heat was won by Robert Ballou in a torrid battle with CJ Leary with Emerson Axsom third and JJ Hughes fourth. The 26 car field of MMSA mini sprints would contest three heats with Kayla Roell, Mike Larrison and Eli Wilhelmus taking down the wins.

    It was right into the sprint car B main as incoming bad weather was approaching and things went into hurry up mode. Colorado’s Carson Garrett breezed home first in the B main turning back Dustin Beck who is impressive in his brief sprint car career finishing second. Chase Stockon came home third with Donny Brackett fourth, Matt Westfall fifth and Kurt Gross the last man in on qualifying. Sam Scott would take an MSCS provisional while Brandon Mattox would take an USAC one.

    A short track prep break (eight minutes) preceded the start of the 30 lap USAC/MSCS feature go with the 24 car field led to the green flag by Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. Bacon went to the early lead with Jadon Rogers splitting between Thomas and Axsom to grab second at the start. Rogers continued his surge catching and passing Bacon for the lead down the backstretch. The last winner of an USAC sprint race at Tri-State looked like he was ready to score a repeat win. Rogers quickly opened up a big lead as Justin Grant was slicing his way forward from sixth moving by Axsom first and then dusting off Bacon and Thomas on lap five to take over second and take up the chase of Rogers.

    The only caution of the event waved on lap seven when Aric Gentry spun to a halt in turn four to slow the torrid action. That wiped out Jadon’s large lead and placed Grant on his rear nerf bar for the restart. When the green waved Rogers maintained his lead but Grant was all over him like white on rice as he stalked the leader. Grant made his move on lap eleven diving low in turns one and two to wrestle the lead away. In the meantime, Thomas who had gotten off to a slow start dropping to fourth early but by the halfway mark he had the Dutcher steed moving forward passing Rogers for second on lap sixteen but Grant was gone at that point opening up a two corner lead.

    Lap traffic was in Grant’s near future and that allowed Thomas to significantly close the huge gap to about a car length with five to go as the crowd moved to the edge of their seats expecting a drag out fight over the last five laps. Also Kyle Cummins had worked his way from seventh to third and was a distance back but you can never count out Cummins at Haubstadt. The lap traffic was heavy in the remaining laps and Thomas was right there looking for a way around Grant and the lap traffic at the same time. As the front two raced down the backstretch Grant led by a car length and entering turns three and four Thomas soared to the top for one last chance to sneak by Grant and steal the win. Grant heard the engine screaming right behind him and slide off the bottom to the top of the track at the start of the homestretch to break Thomas’ momentum and throttled down the homestretch to take the checkered flag at 8:59 and complete the sweep of the evening and collect his 35th career USAC National sprint car win tying him for 13th on the all time list with two of the greats, Rich Vogler and Jon Stanbrough. Thomas would have to settle for second with Cummins notching third and after his 20th place finish at Bloomington on Friday it sure is good to be back home again. Jadon Rogers placed fourth with Brady Bacon rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom led the second five in sixth with Carson Garrett completing a very impressive run from 16th to seventh with Brady Short eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Chase Stockon tenth.

    It was a very impressive feature run off in just ten minutes with plenty of passing and lots of action. Thanks to everyone involved for presenting a finely run program in record time. We decided to stay for the MMSA mini sprint feature but shortly after victory lane interviews it was announced that the remainder of the show would be postponed due to a severe thunderstorm warning in the area so everyone was asked to leave as soon as possible. We made it back up to our hotel in Princeton before the storm hit our area and were glad that we didn’t have to drive the rest of the way home in the nasty weather.

    Sunday, April 16 – The third race of our weekend was to take place at the Terre Haute Action Track with the USAC Silver Crown cars opening up their 2023 season. On Friday it was announced that this would not take place because of the weather which was to be rainy and temperatures in the low 40’s but the big factor was the high winds which would have played havoc on everything and everyone. Walking out of the hotel this morning we realized that it was indeed the right call with the race rescheduled for Sunday, May 7th.

    That’s it until next weekend so in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, have fun and be safe. Comments, news, racing stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. Remember to tell your loved ones that you love them and give them extra hugs. Life is short. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you check back often to see where we end up next.

    Our good friend, Allan Brown of Michigan, passed away this past Thursday after a long and courageous 12 year battle with the dreaded cancer and will be laid to rest this coming Tuesday. Brown was the long time publisher of the famed National Speedway Directory which was a great asset for many race teams and traveling fans over the years and prompted a legion of fans to hit the roads to see some new tracks. Brown also was a historian who published the History Of America’s Speedways and other books and publications. Allan and his wife, Nancy, are great friends of ours and his passing leaves a great void in our hearts. They were traveling buddies of ours and we enjoyed many vacations together. Hawaii, the Balken capitals and our driving trip to Alaska were some of our adventures together. Allan was a true warrior and lover of racing and life in general. He will sorely be missed by so many. RIP our friend.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Leary Opens 100th Season at Bloomington with Win In Larry Rice Classic



    Friday, April 14 – We left Crawfordsville at 4 for the ride down Rt. 231 toward Bloomington. Friday is always a bear with traffic going to Bloomington and usually takes us two hours to make the journey. It was almost 6 when we pulled onto the parking lot at Bloomington Speedway, the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval which is always well manicured and maintained. Luckily Arizonian, Steve Kimmel, and his friend, Coach, had saved us space in the concrete grandstand to place our chairs to view the racing tonight. It was the 30th running of the Larry Rice Classic for the three time USAC National champion with titles in the midgets in ’73 and the Silver Crown cars in ’77 & ’81. Pat Sullivan paid tribute to Rice along with a fine testament on Justin Owen who was killed at Lawrenceburg Speedway last Saturday and long time National Speedway Directory front man, Allan Brown, who passed away on Thursday after a long and gallant battle with cancer. We will miss them all very much.

    Bloomington is a strange town weather wise as the chance of rain was low today but shortly before hot laps were completed a shower rolled through causing a 45 minute delay and forcing USAC officials to issue another round of hot laps before proceeding into the time trials for the 34 car field. Brandon Mattox dumped his sprinter in hot laps in turn two and returned later to race again with a new tail tank and Jadon Rogers flipped the Baldwin #5 in time trials also in turn two which was rough until the track crew had a chance to massage it before the heat racing began. It was 7:33 before the first wheel turned for time trials with the last wheel turning at 7:57. When it was all said and done Kevin Thomas Jr. was being interviewed for the 36th time in his USAC career moving him past Rich Vogler and into a tie for eighth with Bryan Clauson on the all time list for fast times in USAC sprint car history.

    Next up were hot laps for the other two divisions on the race card, the MMSA mini sprints (26) and the super stocks (12) on hand to do battle also.

    The first of four USAC sprint car heats went green at 8:35 with the top four moving directly into the 30 laps, $5000 to win main event. Robert Ballou drew first blood taking down the first heat win besting Jake Swanson, Jordan Kinser in the Burton #04 and Logan Seavey. Heat two was topped by Justin Grant beating CJ Leary, Daison Pursley and Mitchel Moles with a miss in the engine in this one. The third heat fell to Geoff Ensign in the Gass #17G winning over Chase Stockon, Jadon Rogers and Brent Beauchamp. The fourth and final heat went to Brady Bacon in a strong run turning back Sterling Cling, Kyle Cummins and Brady Short. Heats for the mini sprints and super stocks followed and then it was back to the sprints for their B main.

    Fast timer Kevin Thomas Jr. was relegated to the B main where he easily won over Matt Westfall, Texan Dalton Stevens, Emerson Axsom, Tim Creech and Harley Burns. Carson Garrett would use a provisional to make it a 23 car starting field for the 30 lap feature.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was ready to go green at 9:53 with the front row of Logan Seavey and CJ Leary bringing the 23 car field to the green flag. Seavey led into turn two when he slid off the low side to the middle with Leary powering by on the high side to take a lead he would never relinquish. Lap three saw the first caution wave as defending Bloomington Speedway track champion, Geoff Ensign, rolled to a stop on the backstretch. On the restart Leary held sway while Jake Swanson made his move for second diving low in turn two to take second away from Seavey. Lap ten saw the leaders approach lap traffic which allowed Swanson to close the gap on the leader and he inched even closer as Leary moved off the bottom to clear some tail enders with Swanson moving to Leary’s tail tank. Leary weaved his way through the lap traffic with Swanson in his tire tracks never giving Leary any real comfort out front. With eight to go Swanson again applied pressure to Leary but Leary stepped up his pace and his lane went higher to maintain his lead. With four to go Brady Bacon running fourth at the time shredded a right rear tire and ended up on top of the turn four cushion to bring out the second and final caution of the evening. With the lap cars sent to the back it was a clear racetrack for the leaders and one last shot for Swanson to try to overhaul Leary for the lead. Leary was up to the task and ran four errorless laps to notch his first win in his new ride in the BGE Dougherty steed and his 20th career USAC National sprint car win in the progress. It would also move Leary into the early lead for the USAC National sprint car championship. Swanson would ride home second in his best performance of the early year with Seavey third, Justin Grant advancing from ninth to fourth and Emerson Axsom rebounding in the feature after a rough heat and B main to charge from eleventh to take down fifth. Kevin Thomas Jr. would lead the second five across the line at 10:05 for sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Mitchel Moles ninth and Matt Westfall coming home tenth. Jordan Kinser would receive the Irvin King hard charger after starting 20th and finishing 12th.

    It was a good race but the track never quite seemed to come around to make for a lot of passing but after the past few weeks it was good to finally see any kind of feature race. Started out watching the 20 lap MMSA feature but after two reds, no laps completed and it being after 10:30 and an hour and a half drive to our hotel in Princeton and rain coming we bailed and began the trip over to Princeton. Both features for the other two divisions were able to get in which was good for those racers also.

    That’s it for this column and check back Sunday for Saturday’s writeup on Tri-State Speedway’s racing. It was announced last night at Bloomington that Sunday’s USAC Silver Crown Sumar Classic at Terre Haute has been postponed until May 7th because of predictions of rain, cold temperatures and high winds. So, until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and enjoy yourself. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our typical weekend ends up at. And don’t forget to hug a loved one and tell them that you love them as life is precious and short and you don’t know when it will all end.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Sad Weekend of Racing Here in Indiana



    Friday, April 7 – Good Friday plans were to head to the season opener of the 100th year of racing at the Bloomington Speedway but saturated grounds changed that plan. Next option was to head west on I-74 into the Land of Lincoln and a night of racing at Farmer City Raceway for their season opener. We parked and walked over to the Old Tyme Ice Cream truck where they made homemade ice cream with a churner attached to the truck and the lemon ice cream was delicious. Fifteen dollars got you onto the fairgrounds for the evening.

    Four divisions would make up the game card with small fields in each division. The super late models only had 10 cars, the UMP modifieds brought 17 while the pro late models only had 10 and the street stocks mustered up just 4. Though the field was slim the racing was still decent and management moved the program along at a quick pace on this chilly evening. Three of the four division features were completed by 9:08 and with only the street stocks left to run we decided to make the 1 ½ hour trip back into Eastern time.

    Saturday, April 8 – Today was the Midwest opener for the USAC National Sprint Cars at the 3/8-mile clay oval at the Lawrenceburg Speedway which has been operating since 1950. We had been looking forward to it and a decent field of 29 sprinters pulled into the Burg with hot laps for the sprinters beginning around 6. Time trials commenced at 6:21 for the USAC sprint cars using a two at a time format. The fourth sprint on the track was Justin Owen, the 2022 Lawrenceburg Speedway track champion who was second fastest in hot laps. Entering turn three on his second timed lap Owen biked turning into the wall roll cage first and bouncing into the catch fence. Off of the fence his car flipped several times before landing hard on its wheels facing the turn four wall. The safety crew was on the scene in a flash and scrambled around Owen’s sprinter providing assistance. Equipment was used to cut the top of the roll cage open to extradite Owen. Justin was taken to the ambulance while the third and fourth turn were cleared to allow the Medivac helicopter to land. After what seemed like forever the ambulance left the speedway with a police escort as it seemed the helicopter was cancelled. A short time later Chet Christner announced that the rest of the program had been cancelled for the evening. We knew even though it was not confirmed until hours later that Owen had passed away from injuries suffered in the violent crash.

    These are the times that being a race fan are very difficult to accept even though we know Justin Owen died doing something that he loved doing. Everyone knows that the danger is there but whenever someone that we watch race dies it is like a kick in the gut. It hurts and will stay with us forever even though the pain and sorrow will subside the memory will always be there. This is when racing sucks!!! Not since the untimely death of Greg Hodnett have we felt this anguish. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his fiancé, his family and all his friends who will suffer the most. RIP, Justin Owen and Godspeed.

    Justin Owen was a 26 year old driver from Harrison, Ohio who had raced for a decade. He was coming off the 2022 season being crowned the track champion at Lawrenceburg Speedway garnering two victories along the way. In 2019 Justin won three times with the BOSS sprint car series at Lernerville, Paragon and Lawrenceburg along with winning at Lernerville back in 2016 with BOSS. He will sadly be missed by many fans and friends and hope you all will take a moment to pray for the family and also for the EMT’s, safety crew, track officials and fans who witnessed this terrible accident.

    That’s it for this segment and check back next week as we plan on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday tripleheader if the weather cooperates. Until next time get out there and catch a good short track race in your area and have fun. Also hold a family member close tonight and thank God for the time you have with that person. Life is short and you need to let people know that you love them and cherish them before they are gone. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our thoughts and continue to check back in the future.

     

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Long Lincoln Park Opener Goes To CJ Leary


    Friday, March 31 – Our original plan for Friday was to venture west into Illinois and attend the opening night of the Illini 100 weekend at Farmer City but the weather forecast was dismal and the WOO late models and Xtreme Outlaw Midgets pulled the plug already on Tuesday as the weather was predicted to be nasty with high winds and heavy rain. The forecast rang true as our weather on Friday was severe thunderstorms with high winds and tornado warnings. We got the thunderstorms and high winds but were spared the tornados. Other areas in the state were not so lucky with a reported 7 tornadoes touching down in the Hoosier state with the most severe damage northeast and south of us. The towns of Whiteland, southeast of Indianapolis and Sullivan, south of Terre Haute took the biggest hits with over 300 homes destroyed between the two and three deaths happening in Sullivan. Colfax and Frankfort northeast of us had a lot of damage but fortunately no loss of life was suffered. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the Indiana residents who suffered property damage and extra prayers to the ones who lost something more important, their loved ones. God Bless.

    Saturday, April 1 – Lincoln Park Speedway was the first to change their plans for the weekend moving their scheduled Saturday night season opener to Sunday afternoon as the weather again did not look promising. Lawrenceburg, who was hosting the USAC National Sprint Car Indiana season opener held out longer but also postponed their race because of rain and cold until this coming Saturday, April 8th.

    Sunday, April 2 – Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the high 50’s as we prepared to take in our first Indiana sprint car race of 2023. The nasty weather had now passed through and today was a glorious day filled with sunshine and we looked forward to seeing some good sprint car racing at Lincoln Park Speedway. It was Pat’s birthday today and after church we ventured down Rt. 231 South which is closed for road repair on the south side of Greencastle so if you are traveling any further south you must detour to avoid the closed area. We dined in Greencastle before making our way over to LPS, secured our parking spot and went inside to stake down our area with our lawn chairs and chatted with friends, Al and Loretta Pierce. We basked in the sun as did the track and enjoyed the warmth that it provided. Hot laps were to begin at 2 with racing scheduled to start at 3.

    LPS management missed their mark badly as a combination of a longer than anticipated driver’s meeting coupled with a malfunction of the My Race Pass timing system to time hot laps/qualifying for the four divisions of competitors make for extended down time. Add to the mixture the failure to prepare the racing surface properly for daytime racing led to many delays while the track crew watered and ran in the surface between every one or two hot lap sessions. The 3 PM racing start ended up being a 5:30 race start. Not the way to make a good first impression and two gentlemen behind us attending for the first time were nowhere to be found when the second of four features, the sprint car feature pushed off at 8:44. A lost opportunity to gain some new fans for your race track. We understand that there will be some glitches or gremlins on opening day but not to be properly prepared should not be one of them. The decision to scrap the hot lap timing and draw for starting positions in the heats took too long to make and was rescinded shortly after the first sprint group just hot lapped without any timing. A plan B and even C should be in place in case things go wrong and should be implemented in a more timely manner. More than enough said on this subject so let’s move onto the actual racing.

    The first of five heats for the fine field of 44 sprint cars on hand took the initial green flag at 5:30 with the top three competitors to move directly to the 25 lap main event. The first heat became the fifth heat and the second heat was actually the first heat to start the racing as they gave the first heat guys time to work on their cars after timing last. We hope you got all that as it is confusing if you won’t there and even was to many who were there!

    Jake Swanson would nail down the first (second) heat win in the Joe Daming #5T besting Harley Burns and defending LPS track champion, Tye Mihocko. Heat two was won by Logan Seavey in the Scott Benic #2B followed by Brandon Spencer and Jesse Vermillion. The third heat fell to Brayden Fox in the Fox #53 trailed by Tim Creech II and Hunter Maddox in a strong run. Heat four was claimed by Thomas Meseraull in the Tony Epperson #2E in typical T-Mez fashion after tangling early in the race in turn two with another competitor and starting at the tail of the nine car field drove with elbows up and passed Nate McMillen late in the heat to win with Clayton Rossman taking third. The fifth (first) heat win went to CJ Leary in the Gray #81 beating Kevin Thomas Jr. and Koby Barksdale to the line.

    Two heats were run for the 16 UMP modifieds on hand with Derek Losh and Jordan Wever the winners. The 22 super stocks on hand ran three heats while the 11 bombers chimed in with two heats. Only the sprint cars would need B mains and two were run with the top three joining the back of the field for the feature. Brandon Mattox was strong winning the first B main over Ryan Thomas and Gabriel Gilbert. The second B main was captured by young Ivan Glotzbach outqualifying his boss, Brian Hayden, who failed to qualify in the first B main. Blake Vermillion and Jadon Rogers trailed.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would be brought to the green flag by Derek Losh and Jordan Wever. Losh would bound out front in the early stages chased by the rest of the field. Wever would stay close but sixth starting Will Bennett was working the inside well and slipped by Wever just past the halfway mark. Bennett would close the gap on Losh and reached his rear bumper with seven to go. Bennett looked high and low and several times was able to pull alongside as Losh bobbled on the rough inside. A couple of times it looked like Bennett was going to pass Losh but Derek was able to hold sway over the last five laps and flashed under the checkered flag at 8:24 with the victory chased by Bennett, Wever, Tyler Loughmiller, the defending track champ and Michael Fish up from eighth.

    It was finally time for the 25 lap sprint car feature as the temperature continued to drop and it became windy. CJ Leary and Jake Swanson brought 19 of their friends to the green flag dropping at 8:44 with Leary assuming the early lead. Swanson was right with Leary with Logan Seavey looking for race room. The track at this point was much better under the night time skies but was still slick and dusty. There were two distinct grooves, one up high and the other on the bottom and close racing ensued. Brandon Mattox brought out the red flag when he caught the wall on the homestretch rolling over onto his roll cage. He was OK after the roll over but unable to continue. On the restart it was Leary back at the point with Seavey squeezing by Swanson for second as the top three ran the low side bumper to bumper while Thomas Meseraull and Kevin Thomas Jr. took it to the top shelf to try to track down the front three. Meseraull was able to move by Swanson for third on lap 12 as Tye Mihocko was making up ground charging from 12th to 6th by lap 14. KTJ went pitside when the caution appeared on lap 15 for a flat tire and returned to race again but this time from the rear. On the restart T-Mez was working on passing Seavey for second and succeeded with an inside pass in turn two on lap 16. Mihocko took over fourth from Swanson on lap 17 as Meseraull locked up in a good battle for second. Seavey was able to reclaim second on lap 20 as Leary continued to pace the field. As the field took the white flag mechanical woes struck second running Seavey as he rolled to a stop in turn one prematurely done for the evening. On the green/white flag restart Leary stormed back out front with Mihocko inheriting second on Seavey’s misfortune. Leary was not to be denied as he flashed under the double checkers at 9:10 beating Mihocko in a good run with Swanson slipping by Messeraull down low off turn four to steal third with T-Mez settling for fourth and Harley Burns rounding out the top five with a strong run. Kevin Thomas Jr. blasted through the field from the back to salvage sixth with Brayden Fox seventh, Nate McMillen eighth, Clayton Rossmann ninth and Hunter Maddox rounding out the second five. It was a good, competitive race but was much too long in the coming.

    That’s it for this segment as next weekend plans have us doing a Friday/Saturday doubleheader. Until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay warm. Comments, news, stories and other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the comments that come our way. Take care and be good.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Arizona Spring Training Baseball Vacation Includes Day Of Racing

    March 18 to 27 – We flew into the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix on Saturday morning, hooked up with Jim & Khris Reeder of Iowa, formally from Belvidere, NJ and we were off on our vacation. Lunch at Village Inn was followed by checking into our condo at Scottsdale Links Resort for the next nine days before leaving for our first of six baseball games west of Phoenix in Goodyear at the Goodyear Ballpark where the Seattle Mariners were visiting the Cleveland Guardians with the Guardians hanging on for a 5-4 win. Sunday was another game at American Family Fields Of Phoenix with the Cincinnati Reds versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The four of us were joined by Max and Suzie Niemann of Brownsburg who were on their own cross country trip into the West and the date coinsided with their itinerary. We all enjoyed the close game with the Brewers with a walkoff 4-3 victory. The six of us joined Steve and Maggi Kimmel at the unique Steak and Stone restrauant for a great night of eating and fellowship. The unique feature of this dinner was cooking your own steak on top of a 500 degree heated lava stone which made for a delightful and well and evenly cooked steak.

    We seemed to always be a step ahead of the weather on this trip and that was a good thing as we headed north to Flagstaff and then northwest to the Grand Canyon. Monday was cold with temperatures in the high 30's and a blustery wind to boot but that didn't deter us as we gazed in wonder at God's beauty that unfolded before us. The sight of this creation never gets old for us as we made our sixth visit and some of the best memories is of our friends who see it with us for the first time. Priceless!!! After the Grand Canyon we drove down senic Route 89A from Flagstaff to Sedona where we would spend the night. The next day north of us in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon 3 to 6 inches of snow fell while we had our Pink Jeep tour canceled because of heavy overnight rains leading into the next day. We drove through heavy rain much of the way back down to the Valley of the Sun making a stop at the famous Rock Springs Cafe for a fine lunch before venturing back down into the Phoenix area. We saw a flipped car in the median on the way back and a raging stream along the way. Three small towns below Sedona were evaculated for flooding reasons as the water surged south. We had a baseball game scheduled in Surprise for the evening between the Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals. The Cubs prevailed in a rain shortened game 6-2.

    Wednesday was the last of the cloudy days in Arizona with our group spending a very interesting day visiting the Western home of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright called Taliesin West. It was a very nice visit and very informative tour of his home and the ideas behind his works. Next it was off to Peoria for the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the Seattle Mariners in another night contest. The Dodgers only mustered up two weak hits falling to the home team 6-1. Thursday was a drive into the Apache Junction area where we tried to view the grounds of the Arizona Speedway but it has been all plowed and everything race wise is gone. Next was a boat ride on the Dolly steamboat on Canyon Lake where we admired the scenery and saw some mountain rams along the way. Then it was further west to the town of Tortilla Flats, a big tourist attraction, and then up the road for another 5 miles before the road is now blocked off. In past years we had driven down the side of the mountain and that times the road had been sketchy at best with it being very narrow with no guardrails.

    Friday was another baseball game at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers squared off with the Milwaukee Brewers and the two teams battled back and forth the entire game with the score tied at 6 at the end of nine innings. The game include an Indiana back to back homer display by Brewer teammates, Josh VanMeter from the Fort Wayne area (Ossian) and Mike Brosseau from Munster. From there we met the Kimmels, Steve and Maggi, at Blue 32 Sports Bar and Grill for another wonderful dinner.

    Saturday was race day as the plans were to take in two tracks (which turned into three), one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The first of the facilities on the agenda was the Podium Club @Attesa, a 2.32 mile, 15 turn road course in the desert near Casa Grande. Upon arrival we encountered a large sign advertising the Manzanita Speedway which had us buzzing about the rumors we had heard of this property adding a dirt oval in the future to replace the long gone Manzy half mile. We will have to keep an eye on any future developments on this matter. Today the NASA AZ road racing group was running at Podium Club and thanks to Adina Evanson we were able to have a full day's schedule of the events happening here. We must admit that one thing we truly like about the road course racing is that they publish schedules and almost to the minute stick to their time frame unlike the majority of the short oval tracks that operate in this country. We watched two 30 minute races, the first of which featured 17 spec Miatas taking the green flag. There was some good racing in this one with Ryan Busk besting the field. Eddie Yakin Vasquez and Bradley Widhalm chased him across the finish line. After some track maintenance to sweep the course of stones and sand the second thirty minute race featured four different classes of ST cars. Fourteen cars took the initial green in this one with Greg Vannucci taking the early lead. Dale Chandler in the only Super Unlimited class car, a Corvette, took the lead but NASA regional director, Tage Evanson, in his Super Touring 2 Honda Civic blasted by into the lead. Evanson would lead until lap five when he pulled into the pit area handing the lead back to Chandler who would lead the remainder of the event besting Vannucci in a Lotus Exige and Bill Lawrence in a Ford Mustang.

    We still had plenty of time to make the half hour drive over to the Central Arizona Speedway, a 1/3 mile dirt oval in Casa Grande, that was hosting the ASCS sanctioned wingless sprint cars on the evening. They would be joined on the 1/3 mile by dwarf cars (12), bombers (16) and pure stocks (21). A bonus on the the evening was three classes of NOW 600 micro sprints were also on the card running the 1/5 mile inner oval completely separate from the bigger oval. The three classes of 600's were A class (11), 600 restricted (7) and 600 outlaws (10). The ASCS wingless sprints brought an additional 21 entrants to the show.

    The starting time was listed as 6 PM and by 6:07 the first heat for the 600 A class hit the inner oval. They contested two heats with Drake Edwards and Joshua Spatola winning. The 600 restricted only had one heat for the youngsters with James Ferrin winning. The 600 outlaws would stage two races with Drake Edwards and Tyler Johnson scoring wins. Next up were three heats for the ASCS wingless sprints with RJ Johnson, Charles Davis Jr. and Cameron LaRose in the Mihocko #5 winning. The dwarf cars ran two heats along with the bombers while the pure stocks who probably ran the best and closest heats ran three including one won by Ricky Thornton Sr., father of Ricky Thornton Jr, who runs various classes of cars but mainly the Lucas Oil Late Model series. All qualifying was in the books by 7:15 with the feature events next on the docket.

    The first of three NOW 600 micro sprint features took the green at 7:46 with veteran Chris Rahe jumping from his first starting position and leading the entire distance withstanding the late race charge of 10th starting Logan Heath to score the popular win with Drake Edwards joining them on the podium. Rahe is an old timer racing midgets back in the day with Sleepy Tripp and others. Ethan Stevens triumphed in the 600 restricted event besting Connor Jacobs and Isabell Wilson. Young Stevens received a big hand while being interviewed that he wanted to win this one tonight as it was his mom's birthday. The 600 outlaw feature was captured by Chris Rahe beating Drake Edwards and Logan Heath to the finish.

    Next up was the 25 lap ASCS wingless sprint feature taking the green flag at 8:37. With RJ Johnson, probably the best driver in Arizona starting second it was who was going to finish second in this one. Johnson would lead flag to flag to this one but it was not easy as sixth starting Charles Davis Jr. applied the pressure until a late race venture off the turn three banking ended his chance to score the win. Johnson crossed the line at 9:02 capturing his 17th career ASCS wingless win over Logan Calderwood from seventh and Camerson LaRose who made a two for one pass entering turn one on the last lap to move from fifth to third at the finish. Pete Yerkovich and Daylin Perreira from 12th rounded out the top five. We stayed to watch the dwarf car feature and then decided to call it a night pleased with the racing we saw at Central Arizona.

    That's it for this segment and check back as we had two races planned for this weekend but the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets along with the WOO Late Models have already been canceled at Farmer City Speedway with only the midwest USAC sprint car opener at Lawrenceburg and the season opener at Lincoln Park still with possibilities to run but high winds and cold temperatures could do them both in. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and keep warm. News, comments and other things of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy our stories.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain Stops Friday Show & Cummins Takes Finale at Bubba’s Raceway Park


    Friday, February 17 – Earlier in the week Friday was the day that the weather forecasters were predicting some rain for Florida but as the week moved on the forecast dropped. Come Friday morning the forecast was back up to 50% + prediction of rain rolling in off the Gulf of Mexico from 5 PM to 7 PM. The build ups off the west coast of Florida are hard to predict and can be hit or miss. We chowed down at Ford’s Garage in Kissimmee on some good burgers and onion rings before heading north toward Ocala. Found a parking spot in the handicap area for Ken Wagner and Pat and I went into the grandstands to swap out our blankets for a blue tarp before returning to the car.

    The weather started to get cloudy around 5 and a light rain started to fall about a half hour later. It was not enough to cancel the show at this time but would surely delay the start. The rain let up and around 6:15 the announcement was made that the driver’s meeting would be at 6:30 with cars on the track at 7. Around 6:30 it began to mist again, and the volume picked up once again to a light rain. Surprisingly the call was made before 7 that this evening was not going to happen. Looking around the parking lot we feel it was more of an economic call as the locals stayed home on this unpredictable night and after having a good crowd the night before any profits made on that evening would disappear if they ran tonight. Really can’t blame them for the decision. The only of five shows running this evening that managed to get a complete program in was East Bay and they did so with two rain delays.

    Saturday, February 18 – The game plan was to pack up and leave the condo a day early and sleep in Lake City Saturday night and make the long tow back to Indiana on Sunday. Before venturing over to the track though the clan coordinated to meet just east of the track at Sam’s St. John’s Seafood House for a wonderful meal of various kinds of seafood delights. Irvin and Mary Jane’s shared dish looked to be enough to feed the entire crew!!! Times like this are what racing is all about. Good friends and good food to go along with the racing. It doesn’t get better than that!!

    Back to the track where 27 USAC sprint cars would be joined by 13 250 micro sprint competitors on this evening with the sprint cars pushing off at 6:38 to lap the 3/8 mile D-shaped clay oval to see who would come out on top of the heap for fast time. It would turn out to be Chase Stockon for the 32nd time in his USAC sprint car career moving him past Sheldon Kinser into sole possession of 11th place on the all time qualifying list with a time of 13.979 seconds.

    The USAC sprints would return first to the grid to do battle in their qualifying heat races before the micro sprints would contest two heats for their group. CJ Leary looked strong in heat one motoring his BGE Dougherty #15X out front to capture this one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon and Matt Westfall in one loaded heat race. Emerson Axsom continues to show his prowess in Florida by claiming the second heat in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC over Brady Short, Mitchel Moles, Kyle Cummins and Justin Grant. Thomas Meseraull had the Dyson #20 humming in heat three besting Jason McDougal, Carson Garrett, Robert Ballou and Daison Pursley. These drivers were all locked into the 35 lap main event for the evening. Two micro sprint heats followed with Michael Mason and Chris Kennedy scoring the wins.

    The sprint car semi was next up on the race card and England’s Tom Harris had a rough one in this event spinning twice and eventually rolling over in turn four. The scariest moment of the evening happened in the semi when Kevin Newton climbed the homestretch wall and careened into the catch fence to the left of the starter’s stand mangling several sections of fencing and posts and coming close to breaking through the fence into the crowd area. Newton was sore but OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for the second Benic Honest Abe Roofing #16. An hour plus delay ensued before a makeshift repair was made to the fencing and the section behind the fence was cleared of spectators who were relocated to other seating areas of the track. Jadon Rogers in the Baldwin/Fox #5 would eventually win this wild race over Logan Seavey, Jake Swanson, Joey Amantea, Eddie Tafoya Jr., Cameron Smith in an ill sounding sprinter and Brandon Mattox. Tom Harris would return to the semi but was a lap down and was awarded a provisional for his never ending efforts.

    The 15 lap micro sprint feature would be next on the agenda with Chris Kennedy winning for the second straight night besting Zach Larose and Dakota Yeingst in the seven minute event. This was a fine filler division with not an overflow of entrants and perfect to give the sprint car teams some time to work on their steeds between heats and semi and feature.

    The front row of Brady Bacon and Kyle Cummins would lead the 23 car field to the green flag for the 35 lap feature at 10:43 with Bacon jumping out front looking for his second straight points paying win of 2023. Lap four would see the caution wave as Robert Ballou pulled up lame on the homestretch with a broken camshaft while running eleventh and ending his race prematurely. On the restart Justin Grant made his move from fifth catching and passing Cummins for second. These two went back and forth over the next five laps exchanging position until Cummins secured second again on lap nine. Cummins began to reel in Bacon for the lead and ran side by side as the pair reached lap traffic on lap eleven. Bacon used this as a wake-up call and sprinted away from Cummins by over a second or two. Bacon maintained his advantage as Cummins and CJ Leary hooked up in a tussle for the runner up position with ten to go. The leaders continued to pick their way through traffic as the race dwindled down to six to go and things started to get really hectic. Bacon approached a group of cars running his preferred inside line. It was decision time for Bacon to stay down low or go upstairs and he went to the top in turn one with four to go picking off Daison Pursley and giving him some breathing room for the moment. Turn three would be Bacon’s Waterloo as he searched for a way by the lappers. Cummins seized the opportunity and closed on Bacon rapidly. Exiting turn four with just three to go, Cummins got the advantage and swept by Bacon to grab the lead. Cummins would not surrender the lead over the last few laps even though the lap traffic was heavy and he swept under the checkered flag at 10:56 to garner his first win of 2023 and his 15th USAC National sprint car win moving him into a tie for 39th on the all time list. Bacon would have to settle for second as it looked like he might make it two straight but fell short with seventh starting CJ Leary third, Justin Grant fourth and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom would come home sixth with fast timer Chase Stockon seventh, Matt Westfall eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. ninth from sixteenth and the Irvin King Hard Charger award to boot and Logan Seavey ending up tenth. The two nights of racing at Bubba’s Raceway Park were good contests and the track surface held up well getting a little black on the final night. Overall we were pleased with the racing here.

    It was a big win for Cummins and crew in more than one way and we would be remiss if we didn’t give you the whole story of the week. After Cummins set fast time at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday, he blew an engine in the heat and was done for the night. The Rock Steady crew decided to sit out the second night of the non-points paying program at Volusia and regroup for the final three nights of points racing at Bubba Raceway Park as they look to contest the USAC National sprint car championship. On Wednesday’s practice night at Bubba’s after installing their second engine of the week it blew up after only two laps of practice and this is where the “fun” began. With no more spares available a call was placed to fellow Haubstadt competitor, Chet Williams, who was in Texas at the time and the situation was explained to him. Without hesitation Williams made the trek back from Texas to Indiana and then loaded a trusty engine of Cummins which was used in 2022 to win several big races into the back of his pickup truck and began an additional 12 drive from Indiana to their hotel in the Ocala area. It was installed in the hotel parking lot and Cummins drove the car to fifth on Thursday. The nightmare scenario would have a happy ending when Cummins stormed by Bacon late in the race on Saturday to score the $10,000 to win race. A big cowboy hats off to Chet Williams and Jay Harrington for their yeoman effort to help their fellow racers and to the entire Cummins crew for their dedication and hard work to turn around a bleak situation into a winning one!!!

    That’s it from Florida and our next outings probably will not be until March so a slight hiatus for the next two weeks or so until we return with our next report. In the meantime if you are in the northeast it is time for the sprint car openings with Lincoln Speedway going on Thursday evening with temperatures in the 70’s during the day but dropping into the 40’s at night. Dress warm and enjoy. In the meantime comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.comAnd 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

    Bacon Has Memorable Night At Opening Night At Bubba’s Raceway Park


    Thursday, February 16 – Wags, Steve, Pat and I loaded up the car and headed north on the Florida Turnpike toward Bubba’s Raceway Park for night one of three of the Winter Dirt Games XIV for the USAC National sprint car series. Twenty seven USAC sprints would be joined by 12 250 micro sprints for a two division program with the little guys being a fine filler division and time for their big brothers. We arrived early to tie down our blankets and then headed down I-75 a few exits to dine at the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant which we had another delicious meal of authentic Mexican cuisine.

    Back to the track and time to settle in for the night of racing action which commenced with time trials for the 28 sprint cars on hand pushing off at 6:39. Newcomer Eddie Vancil caught an infield tire between turns three and four and launched himself into a series of two to three rollovers before landing back on his wheels but his night was over early. Jason McDougal in one of the three KO Motorsports entries set fast time around the unique D-shaped 3/8-mile dirt oval with a lap of 13.791 seconds in his run.

    The USAC sprints would be first up to run their heat races with the top five moving directly to the main event. Mitchel Moles would punch his ticket to the big dance with a victory in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ in heat one Logan Seavey, Brady Bacon, Tom Harris and Robert Ballou who suffered ignition issues and went to a backup car and came from the rear. Jadon Rogers motored the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 to an impressive win in heat two beating Chase Stockon, Emerson Axsom, Jake Swanson and Thomas Meseraull. Matt Westfall in the Marshall #33M captured heat three over newcomer Brady Short, CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Carson Garrett. Two heat races were run for the 12 micro sprints on hand with Zach Larose and Chris Kennedy winning their respective heats.

    Kevin Thomas Jr. struggled in his heat race but came back to win the semi over another driver who has struggled in Florida, Kyle Cummins who has suffered two blown engines. Daison Pursley came back from a semi tangle and work area visit to claim third with Joey Amantea fourth, Brandon Mattox fifth, Hunter Maddox sixth and Steve Irwin nailing down seventh.

    Next up was the 15 lap 250 micro sprint feature which would go non-stop in five minutes with a good battle for the lead between Zach Larose and Chris Kennedy for the race lead with Kennedy prevailing in the Bubba Army sponsored #2. Michael Mason came home third for the last podium position.

    It was now time for the 30 lap USAC National sprint car points opener, with CJ Leary and Emerson Axsom bringing the 22 car field to the green flag of one of the few black starters in racing. CJ Leary took the early lead over Emerson Axsom. Lap two saw Brady Bacon get a big break when he slid across Thomas Meseraull’s front bumper battling for fourth and sat sideways dead in the water until Jake Swanson plowed into his left side nerf bar cracking a header on the Dynamics #69 but also push starting his engine so Bacon never stopped and would regain his starting spot on the restart. Leary would lead the first nine laps of the feature before Axsom surged by to lead the next 13 laps as Bacon lurked in third behind the two front runners. Bacon went past Leary for second on lap 21 and proceeded to pick off Axsom two laps later just before the caution appeared for the second time on lap 25 when sixth running Meseraull and ninth running Daison Pursley tangled off turn four causing eighth running Thomas Jr. to come to a halt exiting the corner. On the restart Axsom made a strong run on the top side at Bacon but Brady was able to fend off the advance leading the final five circuits of the event to score his 47th career USAC National sprint win breaking a tie for fourth with the legendary Jack Hewitt who joined Bacon in victory lane and tying him for third on the all-time win list with Tracy Hines. It was also his fifth Ocala win to boot. Axsom came home second with Leary third, Justin Grant fourth and Kyle Cummins finishing fifth after starting tenth. Thomas Meseraull led the second five across the line with Matt Westfall completing a fine night in seventh with Logan Seavey coming home eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Robert Ballou coming from dead last (22nd) to garner the Irvin King hard charger award taking down tenth.

    It was a good competitive feature running in a timely manner ending at 9:32. Nice job by all parties involved.

    Check back tomorrow for night two of the Winter Games XIV to see who nails down the win at Bubba’s Raceway Park. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy any racing in your area if possible and plot the racing season on paper for 2023. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. Be safe and have fun.


     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Pursley's Amazing Recovery Continues With First USAC Sprint Car Victory At Volusia

    Tuesday, February 14 – It was night two of the special non-point USAC sprint car event at Volusia Speedway Park and the crew was back in town to take in the action along with the DirtCar late models for a great doubleheader. After having an excellent meal at Dudley”s in Deland it was onward to Barberville and the ensuing racing action. Dudley's in in a strip mall in Deland and may not look like much from the outside but it is definitely worth the trip as the food was simply delicious and the desserts are to die for as they are all made fresh daily.

    The format was for both USAC and DirtCar to run group time trials three at a time with the USAC sprinters getting the first nod pushing off at 6:23. For the second night in a row a new track record was set with Thomas Meseraull being the new record holder setting the new mark with a time of 16.362 around the half mile dirt oval. The DirtCar late models were next up with Renner, South Dakota's Blair Nothdurft surprising the field setting the fast time with a time of 15.609 seconds.

    Next up were the 26 USAC sprints which would battle in three heats with the top five locking into the 30 lap, $10,000 to win feature event. Jake Swanson picked up where he left off last night winning the first heat race in a new eight lap track record time of 2:17:38. Carson Garrett, Thomas Meseraull, Matt Westfall and Emerson Axsom following. CJ Leary came home first in heat two defeating Chase Stockon, Garrett Aitken, Tom Harris and Jason McDougal. Heat three fell to Brady Bacon turning back Robert Ballou, Mitchel Moles, Daison Pursley and Logan Seavey.

    The DirtCar late model field swelled to 51 necessitating six heats with the top three moving into the 25 lap feature event. Blair Nothdurft continued his breakout night scoring the win in one over Brent Larson and Mason Zeigler. Heat two went to the Floridian Kyle Bronson over Brandon Sheppard and Ricky Thornton Jr. “Big Sexy” aka Brandon Overton nailed down heat three over Ashton Winger and Chris Madden. Bobby Pierce prevailed in heat four besting Dylan Thompson and Cade Dillard. Dale McDowell claimed heat five beating Hudson O'Neal and Kyle Strickler. The sixth and final heat was won by Tim McCreadie over Brian Shirley and Dennis Erb Jr. All heats were completed by 8:29.

    The USAC sprint semi was next on the dance card with the top seven moving into the main event. Kevin Thomas Jr. who was nipped at the line in heat two for the last qualifying spot came back to win the semi over Jadon Rogers, Justin Grant, Eddie Tafoya Jr., Joey Amantea, Cameron Smith, a Pennsylvania winged driver having some fun without the wing and Brian Ruhlman.

    The DirtCar late models would run three B mains with Frank Heckenast Jr., Kyle Larson and Nick Hoffman taking the wins. All qualifying was in the record books by 9:02.

    It was now feature time with the USAC sprint cars getting the nod to kick off the festivities with the front row of Daison Pursley and CJ Leary leading twenty of their friends to Dave Farney's green cloth. Pursley went to the early lead as second starting Leary and fourth starting Robert Ballou banged wheels between turns one and two both continuing. Pursley would lead the first 18 laps going through lap traffic and holding his edge. Emerson Axsom stayed close the entire time and finally made his move for the lead diving low in turn two on lap 19 to wrestle the lead away from his fellow 18 year old competitor. Many thought this one was over at this point but there is no such thing as quit in Pursley's DNA. After being laid up fifteen months ago after a vicious USAC midget crash at Arizona Speedway and being paralyzed this kid has fought his way back to drive a race car again. Pursley chased Axsom over the next five laps changing his line to the top and motoring by Axsom to retake the lead with five to go.

    Though Axsom again stuck with him Pursley was not to be denied and flashed underneath Farney's double checkers to score his first USAC National sprint car win besting Axsom with Leary battling back for third, Thomas Meserall fourth and Jake Swanson, last night's winner, hauling in for fifth. Jason McDougal led the second five across the line with Brady Bacon seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Matt Westfall taking down tenth.

    It's been an amazing road for Pursley and the 18 year old doesn't look like he is done yet. What a feel good story this one was!!!

    We still had another feature to run with the 26 car field taking the green flag at 9:45. Tim McCreadie led lap 1 of the feature before Bobby Pierce slid McCreadie off turn four to lead lap 2, McCreadie would power by Pierce to retake the lead on lap 12. The only caution appeared on lap 21 when third running Brandon Overton came up lame with a flat right rear tire stopping in turn four. On the restart Hudson O'Neal, last night's winner, went to the top entering turns one and two sweeping by Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce to take over second and go after McCreadie. The cushion bit O'Neal entering turn one on lap 24 sending him bouncing and allowing Pierce to sneak by for second and ruining O'Neal's chances to make it four wins in a row. McCreadie would hold the lead over the next six laps and came across the line first at 9:56 besting Pierce, O'Neal from eleventh, Brandon Sheppard from eighth and Kyle Bronson.

    A fine night of racing tonight in both divisions with the sprints coming out on top for the excitement factor on the evening. The comeback story of Daison Pursley out shadowed everything else and we were glad that we were there to see it.

    That's a wrap on this one as we ventured to the asphalt of New Smyrna Speedway tonight before picking back up the USAC sprints as they travel north to Ocala to race Bub's Raceway Park on Thursday through Saturday. Check back for the next report and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing on ice or indoors or outdoors if your area allows it. In the meantime comments, news, stories videos and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the feedback that you send along. We love what we do and try to tell it like it is no matter which way it is. Take care and stay warm.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Sprints Kick Off Their Season At Volusia Speedway Park

    Monday, February 13 - Joining us in the condo this week are Steve Kimmel, Arizona truck driver and big race fan, and Ken “Wags” Wagner, former California resident now living in Oklahoma and known for Wags-time and The Wags Dash on the coast where he collected money doing the year to run a race to give back to the little guys of wingless sprint car racing.

    Eight of us stopped off at the Essex Seafood House west of Volusia on Route 40 for a delicious lunch of seafood of various kinds before heading over to Volusia Speedway Park for a night of USAC sprint car and DirtCar late models on the fast ½ mile.

    USAC group qualifying would start the program at 6:10 with 28 sprinters taking time with Kyle Cummins in the Rock Steady #3R setting fast time with a new track record of 16.398 seconds around the ½ mile oval. The DirtCar late models were next up for their group qualifying with Brandon Overton notching quick time with a lap of 15.784 seconds.

    It was right into heat racing as the USAC sprints took the green flag on heat one of three at 7:02 with Jason McDougal powering the KO Motorsports #5M to the front outrunning Brady Bacon in the Wedgewood Farms #98 in the first of two non-point shows to start off the season in Florida. Matt Westfall, Kyle Cummins and Kevin Thomas Jr. back in the Dutcher #17GP rounding out the first heat qualifiers. Heat two would go to Thomas Meseraull in the Dyson #20 charging from sixth to win over Logan Seavey in the Benic #2B, Tom Harris in from England in his #84, Chase Stockon and Mitchel Moles back in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ trailing. Robert Ballou who always looks good on the big ovals took down heat three besting CJ Leary in his new mount, the BGE Dougherty #15X, Jake Swanson in the Team Arizona #21AZ, Jadon Rogers in the Baldwin #5 and Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC.

    The 46 car field of late models would run four heats with Chris Madden taking heat one from sixth, Tim McCreadie would garner heat two, Bobby Pierce would nail down heat three and Nick Hoffman back from his late season roadway accident would win heat four in a strong run.

    The USAC B main of semi would be captured by USAC sprint car rookie, Daison Pursley, in the third KO Motorsports entry over Justin Grant, Carson Garrett, Garrett Aitken, Joey Amantea, the lone USAC Eastern Coast runner in attendance, Steve Irwin and Brandon Mattox holding off Cameron Smith for the last qualifying position. The late models would contest two B mains with Dalton Wilson and Ricky Thornton Jr. winning those events. All qualifying was in the books by 8:32 in impressive fashion.

    By 8:51 it was time of go USAC sprint car feature racing as the 22 car field approached starter Dave Farney's green flag. Jake Swanson bounded off the inside of the front row to take the early lead from Chase Stockon and proceeded to be the rabbit as he lengthened his lead lap after lap. Thomas Meseraull slipped by Stockon for second in turn two of lap two and took up the chase. Swanson had almost a two second lead as he was approaching lap traffic already by lap nine. Kyle Cummins running fifth at the time dropped to the infield with engine woes on Lap eleven. Shortly thereafter Stockon reloaded and passed Meseraull for second on lap fifteen and Brady Bacon ripped the top of turn two to take third away from Meseraull. The only yellow of the event occurred on lap seventeen when T-Mez pulled up in turn four with a right rear flat tire. Meseraull would return but was never a factor again.

    On the restart after his massive lead was wiped out Swanson put the pedal to the metal and jumped back out front. Robert Ballou was the man to watch as he found something on the inside of the track as he moved forward from seventh. Lap twenty two saw him execute a slider in turn two to wrestle third from Bacon as he continued to move forward. On the last lap entering turn one Ballou used the slider move on Stockon to take second but did not have enough time to close on Swanson as the California native raced under the double checkers at 9:05 as he extended his late season surge into the new year claiming the opening night victory over Ballou with Stockon riding home third, Bacon fourth with Justin Grant slipping by KTJ on the last circuit to nail down fifth after starting fourteenth to claim the Irvin King Hard Charger Award. The second five was led across the line by 12th starting Kevin Thomas Jr. with CJ Leary seventh after starting 11th, Emerson Axsom eighth, Daison Pursley ninth and Mitchel Moles tenth. It was a decent race with passing in the middle of the pack but Swanson was long gone notching his fifth podium finish in his last nine starts.

    We still had the 25 lap DirtCar late model feature to contest with the green waving at 9:20. Bobby Pierce lead the first two laps until Nick Hoffman blasted by to take the lead. Only one caution would slow this one also but it was Hoffman's undoing. Tim McCreadie and Pierce stormed by Hoffman on the lap fourteen restart and swapped the lead back and forth. Hudson O'Neal who started sixth suddenly was in the hunt as he closed on the top two. On lap fourteen restart in turn two O'Neal disposed of McCreadie and made a nifty move in turns three and four to move by Pierce to take the lead on lap sixteen. The battle would rage behind O'Neal but the driver of the Rocket house car would prevail being as hot as Swanson has been notching his third straight win after taking the last two of the Lucas Oil event at East Bay. Crossing the line second at 9:30 was McCreadie for his third consecutive second place finish at Volusia with Chris Madden making some late moves to garner third with Hoffman battling back to claim fourth with Ricky Thornton Jr. surging from twenty second to claim fifth at the finish. This was a very competitive feature and the late models out shined the sprint cars on this evening.

    That's it for this effort and check back tomorrow for night two of our Volusia tour with the same two divisions participating. Comments, news, words of wisdom and other things can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. In the meantime get your 2023 schedules together so you can get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever your travels take you. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Until tomorrow take care out there and be kind to one another.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

    Friday, February 10 – The original plan was to head northeast to the Volusia Speedway Park to take in the partially rained out show from Thursday (WOO sprint car feature & three UMP modified features before turning around and starting a completely new program which was Big Gator night moved up from Saturday). Got all that? We played the rain game contest and it didn’t look good for Volusia with East Bay and Auburndale being the other two options. We wanted to see open wheel racing so East Bay was out with Auburndale hosting what was billed as the USAC Eastern midgets along with four other divisions. The USAC Eastern midgets were made up mostly of NEMA midget drivers from New England with a mixture of other drivers from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Indiana running wings on top.

    The fields were not large in any divisions tonight, but the midgets (14) had the largest contingent of cars. The legend cars (10), Crown Vics (9), bandoleros (6) and scramblers (5) rounded out the field of entrants for racing on this evening. Three lap time trials for the USAC Eastern midgets started off the activity on the night beginning at 6:45 and ending at 7:02. Chase Locke, a 17 year old driver from Chester, New Hampshire who has been racing since he was 8 set the fast time around the ¼ mile paved oval with a time of 12.737 seconds.

    The heat racing began at 7:09 with one heat for the Crown Vics and bandoleros and scramblers before the legend cars contested two heats and the midgets spun off three heats with Jake Trainor of Massachusetts in the famous Seymour #29 copping heat one over Ryan Macartney of New York and Chase Locke of New Hampshire. Heat two fell to P.J. Stergios of New Hampshire over Jeremy Utley of Massachusetts and Brady Allum of North Carolina. Heat three was taken by Mack Leopard of Ohio besting J.T. Bierman of Pennsylvania and Todd Bertrand of Connecticut.

    The first of five features took the green at 8:01 and the bandoleros put on a good show with TJ Moon of North Carolina beating Hudson Ruff from all the way down in New Brunswick, one of the Maritime Providences of Canada and Case Hockman from just down the road in Apollo Beach, Florida. The Crown Vics ran their 25 lap feature with only one caution with Jimmy McLeod winning over George Gorham III and Sean Osteen who put on a good battle for second after tangled early in the event while running first and second. The 30 lap legend car feature was next on the agenda and went non-stop with Minnesota’s Tyler Ledbetter staving off North Carolina’s Kaleb Bradley and fellow Tar Heel, Josh Williams. The local scramblers would contest 25 laps with only one caution with Zach Deus in victory lane by 9:01.

    The 50 lap USAC Eastern midget feature took the green flag at 9:07 with the first eight in time trials inverted giving the front row to Chris Lamb and Dakoda Armstrong. At the drop of the green Armstrong, the New Castle, Indiana veteran, rocketed off the outside of the front row and became the rabbit in this one as the chase was on. This feature would go non-stop in 11 minutes with Armstrong never being headed but there was some good dicing behind the race long leader. Jake Trainor started fifth and caught P.J. Stergios late in the race for second with Chris Lamb fending off fast timer, Chase Locke, for fourth after Locke moved by JT Bierman two laps from the finish. The final checker waved at 9:18 and kudos go out to track management for running a tight program and not trying to stretch a show out with small car counts. We enjoyed the relaxed night of racing without the big crowds and heavy traffic like the previous four nights.

    Oh, by the way our decision to go to Auburndale looked pretty good after rain delayed the show at Volusia Speedway Park with the second WOO sprint car feature ending at 12:46 with the UMP modifieds still to follow. A 10:15 arrival back at the condo was a little nicer than a 2:30 arrival back here!!! It gets rougher when you get older!!!

    That’s it for now but check back soon as the weather will play a big role the rest of the weekend before clearing off to start the new week ahead. Until then correspondence can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back to see where we end up next. Take care and stay warm if you are north of Florida.

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Visiting The Dark Side


    Every year when we vacation in Florida we take in the Winternationals at the East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Florida. During their Winternationals run they have six straight days of Lucas Oil Late Model racing and we enjoy watching them several nights during this week. As some people refer to people who are primarily sprint car fans and who go to watch late models it is visiting the dark side. Well, in this case we have been doing this for numerous years now and suggest to people who just watch one form of racing to come check out the late models especially at East Bay as they put on a whale of a show!!! And after the Winternationals in 2024 there will be no racing period at East Bay so next year is the last you will be able to visit this racy track known as the Clay By The Day. For those of you who prefer the sprints and midgets check back daily after this column as we take up following the open wheel beasts in the upcoming days.


    Monday, February 6 – The 47th East Bay Winternationals would kick off tonight with 57 cars scheduled to run group time trials followed by six heat races with the top three locking into the feature event with three B mains transferring an additional six (2 from each) to the feature event. Time trials commenced at 6:25 and by 6:53 Tanner English had set the standard for the evening with a time of 14.871 seconds around the ¼ mile clay oval. The six heat winners were Kyle Bronson, Hudson O'Neal, Brandon Overton driving the John Anderson #2x this evening, Tyler Erb, Dennis Erb Jr. and Ashton Winger completing all heat racing in just 47 minutes. Three B mains followed with fast timer, Tanner English, taking one of them with Tyler Millwoood and Ryan Gustin the other winners. All preliminary qualifying was wrapped up by 8:20. During the night Pat got to talking with the gentleman in front of her who was Brian Keagy of Bedford, PA. Brian was catching a new track every night down here in Florida but was most excited about sharing his search for speedways that have fallen by the wayside over the years. He had many photos of his visits to these former tracks and some very interesting stories of his search travels and experiences along the road. It was great meeting and talking with Brian. Good luck out there Brian and be safe.

    The 30 lap feature took the green flag at 9:14 with Tyler Erb launching off the outside of row one to take the early lead. Ashton Winger tried high in turn four in the early portion of the race but Erb cleanly ran him high into the cushion where Winger bobbled and continued to do so through turns one and two losing any chance of ever challenging again. Hudson O'Neal, the Martinsville, Indiana driver, who is now the house car pilot of the Mark Richards Rocket #1 came home second with Tyler Millwood the first to successfully maneuver the high side advanced from 20th to finish third with Brandon Overton fourth and Dennis Erb Jr. rounding out the top five.

    Tuesday, February 7 – Night two at The Clay By The Bay saw time trials begin at 6:50. Dennis Erb Jr. set fast time with a lap of 14.797 seconds and shortly thereafter it was time for the six heat races for the 58 car field. The first two heats went smoothly with Ashton Winger and 19 year old Garrett Smith winning but on a caution in heat three the turn one and two lights went out causing an hour and fifteen minute delay while they tried to restore the power to the lights in those areas and ended up bringing in several temporary lights to illuminate the affected turns. Kyle Bronson would collect his second heat checker in two nights along with Hudson O'Neal in heat four and Brandon Overton in heat six. Brandon Sheppard won heat five. The three B mains went to Brian Shirley, last night's winner, Tyler Erb, and Logan Roberson with all qualifying ending by 10:06.

    The green flag on the 30 lap main event would drop at 10:26 with Ashton Winger blasting to the front. Winger would hold off the race long challenges to score his first career Lucas Oil LM win over O'Neal with Brandon Sheppard nabbing third, Brandon Overton in another good run in the Anderson #2X fourth and Dennis Erb Jr. rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:41, not bad considering the delay for the light outage. Winger was one happy young man and thanked numerous people for getting him here including his dog!!!

    Wednesday, February 8 – The weather continued to be very pleasant with temperatures in the 80's as the week progressed. Group time trials started at 7:12 and wrapped up at 7:41 as Jensen Ford was the surprise fast timer at 15.001 seconds but that would turn out to be the highlight of his night as he failed to qualify for the 40 lap feature event later in the evening. Heat winners for the third straight night went to Kyle Bronson and Brandon Overton with Ryan Gustin, Jonathan Davenport in his first night of racing, Tyler Erb and Garrett Smith. For the second night in a row the previous night's winner, this time Ashton Winger, would be forced to run the B mains which he won along with Will Herrington and Tyler Bruening.

    Ryan Gustin and Tyler Erb would bring the 26 car field to the starter at 9:29 with Gustin taking the early lead. Four cautions would slow the action but each time Gustin was able to hold serve turning back Erb on each restart. The top three ran out front all night but there was some real good racing from fourth to twelfth. Brandon Sheppard in the family car had his best run of the week using the outside to move forward from ninth to fourth at the finish nipping Jonathan Davenport at the end. All racing was in the book by 9:53 with the second straight first time Lucas Oil late model winner standing in victory lane celebrating his big win.

    Thursday, February 9 – It was night four of the 47th East Bay Winternationals and the weather was the best it has been with temperatures soaring to near 90's with an abundance of sunshine to boot with some clouds mixed in. Once again group time trials opened the show starting at 7:00 and quickly were spun off completing at 7:31 with Hudson O'Neal sitting at the top of the speed charts with a time of 14.903 seconds for the evening. By 7:45 the first of six heat races were off and running with Dennis Erb Jr., John Henderson back in his own #2X after recovering from an injury, Max Blair, Hudson O'Neal, Ricky Thornton Jr. and Shane Clanton making his debut tonight. Brandon Overton broke a drive shaft in his heat race in the Wells #76 and was forced to run one of the B mains which he won but he dropped out early in the main even. Chase Junghans and Tanner Engish scored the other two B main wins. For the third straight night the previous night's winner, Ryan Gustin, was forced to run one of the B mains and in another twist all three previous A main victors had to run in the B mains.

    An almost one hour break for track prep pushed the start of the 40 lap $10,000 to win feature to 10:34. Dennis Erb Jr. and Hudson O'Neal graced the front row of expanded 30 car field for the start of the feature and the front two did battle until O'Neal moved the Rocket house car to the point. Max Blair who made his first race of this series powered the Briggs #111 past Erb for second and took up the chase of O'Neal. The front three manuevered the middle of the track to perfection as the battle roared behind them with many of the favorites buried deep in the starting field. Garrett Smith was the most impressive of the lot racing forward from 12th to fourth late in the going and passing Tim McCreadie among others on the way to the front. When the checkered waved at four ticks before eleven it was Hudson O'Neal in for his first victory of 2023 probably taking some of that pressure to win off his back in a good run for the Indiana native. Max Blair closed to his bumper to the last three laps and pulled alongside O'Neal in turn four but just didn't have enough to pass the front runner. Dennis Erb Jr. came home third with Garrett Smith fourth and Tim McCreadie rounding out the top five. Jimmy Owens had a fine run from eighteenth to sixth, Shane Clanton finished seventh with Tanner English moving from twenty first to eighth with Garrett Alberson fifteenth to ninth and Tyler Erb placing tenth after starting twenty sixth. The track prep helped the guys starting in the back a surface that they could move forward on.


    That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow for some open wheel action with midgets on the pavement at Auburndale tomorrow and USAC sprints on the big ½ mile at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday. Until then get out there and attend a race in your area if possible or maybe even an ice race in your area or firm up your 2023 calendar in the comfort of your living room. Comments, news, annoucements and other interesting items can reach us at our new email at eckel9K77@ gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and he hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Stay warm and be safe.
     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    We’re Back

    Saturday, January 28 - Our annual journey south to Florida began on January 27th positioning ourselves to attend the Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia on Saturday, January 28th. We had never been to Boyd’s before and decided to stop by to take in the 15th annual Cabin Fever which consisted of eight (too many) divisions topped by the super late models. Group qualifying for the Iron Man super late models pushed off at 1:20 with Booger Brooks setting fast time. The other divisions either ran group qualifying and late chance races or heat racing such as the street stocks and the modiifieds.

    By 5:44 the first of eight features took the green flag with the street stocks running their 15 lap feature event. It was a well run feature with only two cautions. David Clark would prevail over the 13 car field to score the first victory of 2023.

    The 40 lap super late model feature was next on the agenda taking the green flag at 5:58. It was an interesting run with JT Seawright grabbing family honors besting Sam Seawright in this one with Christian Hanger, Booger Brooks coming from the rear of the field after a early race tangle to notch fourth with Landon Gentry nailing down fifth at the finish.

    That was our signal to exit stage left and head down the road through Atlanta at night before finding our nesting place in Macon that evening.

    Sunday, January 29 –This day was spent traveling the rest of the distance down into Florida in the drizzle and rain until we hit the Georgia/Florida line where the rain subsided and the sun and warmth appeared. We checked into our condo in the Kissimmee area and went out for dinner.

    Monday, January 30 - Since the sprint cars have not ventured into the Sunshine state or the Peach state yet we decided to head north to Ocala and take in the Lucas Oil Late Model series at Bubba’s Raceway Park. A good field of 38 late models pulled into the pit area to do battle with time trials commencing the program before 6 PM. Young Georgia driver, Ashton Winger, set fast time with the first heat hitting the track at 6:59. Four heats were spun off in just 37 minutes with two B mains following. Kyle Larson who flew into Gainesville this day at 4:30 PM had a rough night jumping one of the heat restarts and being set back a row and failing to qualify for the feature. He had to qualify through one of the two B mains barely taking the last qualifying position in B main two. His night ended early with a tangle with several other cars in turn two in the main event and he was done for the evening.

    The 40 lap main event would take the green flag at 8:48 as the best in the business raced into turn one. Jonathan Davenport known as Superman in the late model ranks came from third to take the lead from Ashton Winger early and lead the remainder of the race besting the front row of Winger and Dennis Erb Jr. Tyler Erb and Devin Moran who advanced from 12th rounded out the top five in a very well runprogram ending at 9:12.

    February 1-3 – The next few nights were spent traveling west into the Tampa area attending some UMP modified shows at East Bay Raceway Park with some fine and timely racing occurring in those days. Fifty six mods participated on the evening with local driver, Travis Varnadore, fending off 17th starting Kevin “Buzzy” Adams and Lucas Lee. Evening number two saw Kentucky’s Tyler Nicely advancing from ninth to win over Pennsylvania’s Drake Troutman and Florida’s Bryan Bernhardt who came from 24th and last to grab the last podium position. The next night the field swelled to 60 cars with Drake Troutman taking the lead late but a controversial jumping call placed Troutman two positions back at the finish giving Lucas Lee the win over Tyler Nicely and Troutman.

    February 3-4 - Continuous rainy weather across Georgia and South Carolina caused early cancellation of the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series for the second straight year at the Senoia Raceway in Georgia. So instead we stayed closer to our Florida home and ventured over to the Auburndale Speedway after spending the day shopping for fresh vegetables and fruit.

    Auburndale was a local Saturday night show with four divisions of cars highlighted by the Sportsman division who would run a 75 lap main event. Other divisions included A mods, scramblers and Crown Vics. Time trials were run for the sportsman while heat racing was spun off for the other divisions. I would like to say that the 75 lap sportsman feature was a good one but a total of 13 cautions and red flags would say otherwise. Not to say that there were not moments of excitement and controversy but when it was all said and done Brandon Morris who we felt jumped the last two restarts prevailed over Steve Gill and Daniel Webster (not of the dictionary fame). Jeffrey White won the best feature of the evening in the A mod division after a fine battle for the lead for numerous laps with the front two never touching in their battle. The scramblers fell to TJ Crews and as the time pasted 10:30 on this cool evening we decided to call it an evening and had friend, Bill Burns, take off his rookie stripes after witnessing his first race at Auburndale and head back easterly toward Mystic Dunes.

    That’s it for this report and check back soon as we get into the bulk of our Florida race schedule with daily reports forthcoming. Until then if you are north of the Mason-Dixon line try to stay warm and get out your paper, pen and schedules out to plot your racing schedule for the new season. In the meantime news, comments and other points of interest can reach us at our new email address of eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind comments sent our way. It sure is good to be out there once again enjoying the sport we love. Take care and be good.

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Championship Saturday Wins Go To Roahrig, Santos & T. Swanson at IRP


    Saturday, October 22 – After a very good night at Gas City last night tonight's venue was the Indianapolis Raceway Park who have had a resurgence this year presenting numerous open wheel programs and of the three we have attended in 2022 we believe this was the biggest crowd of the year. Saw that fellow Trackchaser, Jeremy Vogel, was in town for a visit and was sitting one row below us to the left of us. Had a nice chat with him and his wife between races and enjoyed meeting both of the racing enthusiasts from Lima, Ohio with Jeremy growing up in Allentown, PA. We arrived at 3:40 missing the 500 Sprint Car Tour qualifying with CJ Leary in the Klatt #5 sprinter setting fast time where everyone's two time trial laps are combined for their overall time. Leary clocked a 40.858 seconds around the 0.686 mile asphalt oval for fast time honors. We were just in time for the pavement midget time trials with a disappointing 14 midgets on hand. Jake Trainor would spin off the quickest time in the midgets with a combined time of 42.460 seconds. The USAC Silver Crown series would be third up for their time trials with Kody Swanson recording the quick time of 41.773 seconds giving him three bonus points for quick time and deadlocking the championship race going into the 100 lap main event. All qualifying was completed by 4:30.

    The first of three championship races would feature the 500 Sprint Car Tour racing for 40 laps around the .686 mile oval. The green flag would drop on the 23 car field at 5:26 with CJ Leary going to the point at the start with second starting Tyler Roahrig slipping from second to sixth after a bad start for him. Kody Swanson unlike Roahrig blasted from his fifth starting spot to take over the runner-up position in turn one on the opening lap. Swanson wasted little time passing Leary for the lead entering turn one on lap two and turned into the rabbit extending his lead over the next several laps. Roahrig meanwhile regrouped after his bad start and quickly moved past Dakoda Armstrong for fourth on lap three. Swanson increased his lead as the laps spun off with Roahrig continuing his comeback catching and passing Bobby Santos III in turn two on lap 15. Swanson encountered lap traffic for the first time on lap seventeen as Roahrig used turn two to take second from Leary on lap 21. Leary got freight trained dropping to fifth one lap later as Santos and Kyle O'Gara worked their way by. O'Gara moved by Santos to take third in turn one on lap 27 with some distance to make up to catch Swanson and Roahrig. With ten to go Roahrig was reeling in Swanson as the big advantage was disappearing. Roahrig was on Swanson's tail tank with seven to go looking for a way around him. Roahrig used the high side of turn two on lap 34 to grab the lead away from Swanson and the amazing comeback was complete. With two to go Armstrong snuck by Leary for fifth in turn one. At 5:41 Tyler Roahrig flashed under the double checkers winning the battle with Swanson second who won the war taking the 500 Tour Sprint Car championship with O'Gara claiming third, Santos home fourth and Armstrong rounding out the top five. Jake Trainor brought the Seymour #29 in for sixth with Leary seventh, Tanner Swanson eighth, Billy Wease ninth and Kyle Robbins wrapping up the top ten.

    The National Midget Pavement Championship feature was next on the agenda with the 14 car field brought to the green flag by the front row of Tanner Swanson and Johnny Zych at 6:17. Things got hairy early as Zych looped his midget in turn two and lightly rolled over in front of the field. Cole Carter and Justin Grant were also involved with only Grant able to return. Bobby Santos III moved to the outside of the front row on the restart and at the drop of the green he was out front like a rocket ship. Nathan Byrd powered the Bertrand #47 into third from seventh in turn four on lap three. Byrd rolled off of turn three on lap seven and slowed with mechanical woes ending his afternoon early. Kyle O'Gara who spun to the apron in turn two on the opening lap incident was the man on the move and inherited third after Byrd's misfortune. Santos controlled the lead as he was the class of the field holding a straightaway lead in the latter stages of the race. Lap twenty seven saw Jake Trainor dropped a cylinder coming out of turns three and four pulling pit side while running second. Lap twenty nine would see fourth running Kody Swanson slow on the homestretch with mechanical woes. By the time the checkers waved at 6:44 Santos had opened over a four second win and cruised home winning both the battle and the war bringing the Jeff West Three Stooges #98 in first and taking the point championship to boot winning over O'Gara, Tanner Swanson, Grant coming back to finish fourth with Nick Hamilton closing out the top five. That win for Santos is his 14th win at IRP moving him within one of the all-time leader at IRP, Tracy Hines.

    To set the stage for the 100 lap season final for the USAC Silver Crown series we have to go back to Friday's practice where point leader, Logan Seavey, broke a cam in his motor and the team had to pull their engine and install the engine from their dirt champ car. After time trials where Kody Swanson turned fast time and was awarded 3 bonus points for that it was all knotted going into the main event. Also on a side note Kaylee Bryson lost her brakes during practice and slammed the third turn wall tearing up the right front of the Pierce #26 and her crew went to work to repair the damage. She was able to take her time trial and started the 100 lap event in 19th position of the 21 cars on hand. Now to the race itself.

    Nineteen grand dames of the Silver Crown series would take the green flag at 7:14 with pole sitter, Kody Swanson, bounding into the early lead. Kody's younger brother, Tanner, trailed in second and Logan Seavey rode third. Lap eleven saw Bobby Santos III slid by Seavey for third off turn three with Justin Grant and CJ Leary also passing Seavey. Lap twelve saw the championship race come to an early end when Seavey slowed and pulled pit side ending his chance at the championship. Kody Swanson continued to pace the field with Tanner right behind in full chase mode. Lap traffic was encountered by lap thirty as the front two picked their way through. Tyler Roahrig was making waves as he move forward with his Legacy Autosports team making their Silver Crown debut cracking the top five from ninth by lap thirty five. Tanner made his first move for the lead diving low in turn four on lap forty eight but Greg Cory was there and blocked his progress allowing Kody to motor ahead once again. The point race was officially decided on lap fifty one when Swanson received three bonus points for leading the most laps of the race at this point.

    Lap sixty six decided the race winner when Kody encountered the cars of Nathan Byrd and Brian Tyler on the tail end of the lead lap in turn four with Tanner diving low on the homestretch and taking the lead in turn one. The caution appeared one lap too late for Kody as 13th running Kyle Robbins spun on the homestretch with 15th running Jake Day clipping him folding his front end and turning into the inside wall to bring out the caution. On the restart it was Tanner first, Kody second, Leary third, Roahrig fourth and Santos fifth. Leary used a patented Kody move diving hard and low entering turn one swiping second away from Kody and took up the chase of Tanner. Lap eighty one saw Davey Hamilton Jr. enter the top five with an outside sweep of Santos in turn one and Grant followed by Santos in turn two. With ten to go Roahrig raced up against the wall between turns three and four and moved alongside Kody off the turn moving ahead as Kody checked up for Travis Welpott on the homestretch. Tanner opened up some ground on Leary over the final ten laps and came across the line first at 7:55 for his first series win in over two years beating Leary with Roahrig turning in an impressive third with Kody Swanson fourth and Davey Hamilton Jr. fifth.

    The fourth place finish gave Swanson and his two teams the Silver Crown championship which was Swanson's seventh such title. Justin Grant led the second five across the finish line in sixth with Santos seventh and Byrd eighth the final car on the lead lap. Mario Clouser came home ninth in another strong performance on the pavement and could have been on the lead lap if the Robbins caution had come two laps sooner. Billy Wease drove to the tenth place finish.

    It was a good afternoon/early evening run in our third visit to IRP in 2022 with the sprint car feature the best of the lot. Should be interesting in 2023 with IRP management moving full steam ahead adding the Hoosier 100 paying $25,000 to win next April along with other open wheel events.

    That's it for this report and this weekend and check back next weekend as we go on the road to catch wingless sprint cars in another state. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip also to catch a track on your hit list. Comments, news, stories and other tidbits of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and giving your views and comments so we can make this what you want to come back and read week after week. Take care and be safe.



     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Westfall & Gehrke Score Wins At Fall Festival Of Speed Night One


    Friday, October 21 – The weather forecast for the weekend is good with temperatures warming up into the 60's to 80's through the weekend. This was good news as during the week temperatures hovered in the 40's to 50's during the day and dropped into the 40's and 30's during the night. Racing is on our dance card for Friday and Saturday with Friday finding us traveling northeast on the backroads of Indiana in a patchwork quilt type of meandering as most of the east-west routes between Crawfordsville and Gas City are under some sort of construction and other routes are needed to travel to our destination.

    Tonight was night one of two for the Fall Festival Of Speed at Gas City I-69 Speedway with wingless sprints (41), USAC SpeeD2 Midwest Thunder midgets (29) and non-wing 600 micros (14) on the agenda. The night of racing began at 6:57 with a series of dash races for each of the divisions including one for the four Wisconsin WingLess sprints that still showed after their division was cut from the program. Jake Swanson won the wingless sprint car portion of the dash races. In group qualifying for the D2 midgets Jim Jones flipped in turns three and four and he climbed from his wrecked machine uninjured but his mount was done for the evening.

    Next up were five wingless sprint car heats with the top three moving directly into the 25 lap main event paying $2000 to win. Action started early as Paul Dues caught a rough spot in turn one wrong and began to spin like a helicopter in the air never really turning over but bouncing off the race surface several times quite hard. Dues would return for one of the two B mains later in the evening. Tye Mihocko would wheel the Paul #24P to victory in heat one over Kyle Shipley and Cody Gardner. Ryan Thomas turned turtle in heat two also catching the rough area in turn one wrong and he would also return for B main two later. Jake Swanson scored the win in heat two in the Daming #5T beating Harley Burns and Zack Pretorius. Anton Hernandez guided the Benic #2B to the win in heat three over Matt Westfall and Derek Crane. Travis Berryhill in the Wingo #77S cruised to the win in heat four over the improving Colin Grissom and Corbin Gurley at least the third generation of the famous Gurley racing family. The fifth and final heat fell to young Jack Hoyer in the famous Paul Hazen #57 and the youngster is looking better and better each outing beating Rylan Gray and Brayden Clark.

    The USAC D2 midgets were up next with four heats for their 28 remaining entries and they put on some very exciting heat races. Matt Lux up from the TQ midget ranks scored the win in heat one over Stratton Briggs and Chris Dickey. Heat two went to Jakeb Boxell besting Abby Hohlbein and Carl Peterson. Drew Rader scored the heat three win over Kyle Dager and Ryan Moran. The fourth heat was a doozy as the top four cars swapped positions lap after lap with veteran Chett Gehrke charging from fourth in turn two on the final lap to win this thriller over Bryce Massingill and Alex Watson. The wingless 600's heats went to Dylan Cromer and Michael Magic.

    The sprints would return for their two B mains with the first three moving on. Dustin Ingle garnered B main one over Brian Hayden and Steve Irwin. Travis Hery captured B main two besting Gabriel Gilbert and Clayton Rossman. The D2 midgets would contest one B main with Jerry Coons Jr. notching the win in this one joining his son Cale running in the 600 micros this evening. All preliminary qualifying was completed by 9:05 with just the three A mains left to run. A short break was taken to manicure the racing surface before the main events.

    By 9:27 the front row of Kyle Shipley and Jack Hoyer brought the 21 car starting field to the green flag with Hoyer getting the early advantage Sixth starting Tye Mihocko was coming quickly moving into second in turn three on lap two. The first caution would appear on lap seven when Clayton Rossman stopped in turn three after tangling with other car. Hoyer continued to lead Mihocko on the restart until lap ten when the second caution appeared for Travis Hery stopping on the backstretch. Hoyer continued to pace the field on the restart and visions of his first sprint car win might have been dancing in his head at this point. Mihocko would dash those dreams as he powered to the inside of Hoyer exiting turn four racing to the halfway mark and took the lead. Lap fourteen saw Mihocko, Hoyer and Matt Westfall go three wide exiting turn four as the track was multi-grooved with Westfall coming from third to first as they raced down the homestretch. Hoyer bobbled off turn four on lap fifteen allowing Jake Swanson to pass for third. Anton Hernandez decided to get into the tussle as he powered his #2B on the high side battling with Mihocko and Swanson for position. The third caution interrupted the fine battle as Corbin Gurley slowed in turn four and rolled to a stop on the homestretch on lap twenty three. The following lap saw the fine runs of two top five runners, Hoyer and Hernandez, end as Hoyer stopped with mechanical woes as Hernandez and Swanson tangled on the backstretch going for the lead with Swanson running over the left front of Hernandez causing terminal damage including a broken axle ending Hernandez's night on the end of a hook. On the green, white, checker sequence Westfall protected the bottom exiting turn four to take away any slider by Mihocko as Swanson pounded the cushion. Westfall was able to fend off the challengers as he raced under the checkers at 9:44 for his second Gas City win of 2022 after starting eighth with sixth starting Mihocko second, Swanson third, 12th starting Zack Pretorius fourth and 10th starting Rylan Gray notching fifth. Dustin Ingle marched from 16th to sixth with Clayton Rossman garnering a good seventh after starting 21st and last with 15th starting Brayden Clark eighth, 20th starting Steve Irwin ninth and Travis Berryhill rounding out the top ten.

    The USAC D2 midgets were rolling onto the racing surface as victory lane ceremonies began and shortly thereafter their 20 car field took the green flag at 9:52. Matt Lux took the early lead from his second starting position and would lead the first three laps until the first of three cautions appeared when Drew Rader spun to the inside of turn four. Jakeb Boxell took the lead in turn two on the restart down low and led the next four laps. Fourth starting Bryce Massingill passed Boxell for the lead on lap eight and would lead until Isaac Chapple stopped in turn four on lap nine. At this point Jerry Coons Jr. had used the extreme inside groove to march from 17th to 4th. Massingill would continue to lead on the restart and paced the field until lap fourteen when Alex Watson spun in turn four to bring out the third and last caution. On the restart it was a three car battle for the lead among Massingill, Coons and Chett Gehrke who had provided the fireworks in heat three. Gehrke won the battle and took the lead with Coons second and Massingill dropping to third. Coons tried everything he could to track down Gehrke but Chett was not to be denied and crossed the finish line first at 10:05 besting Coons with Stratton Briggs stealing third from Massingill in the final laps with Massingill fourth and Boxell rounding out the top five. Though we opted out at this point we will let you know that dash and heat winner, Dylan Cromer, came from fifth to win the 600 micro feature over Cale Coons who equaled his dad's finish of second with Parker Leek coming home third.

    It was a very good night of racing and the sprint and D2 midget features would have to rank in our top five races of 2022 as Gas City hit it out of the ballpark on this evening leaving us feeling good as we ended our 2022 season at the ¼ mile bullring of Grant County.

    That's it for this report but check back tomorrow to read our rundown on tonight's pick of venues to go racing at.

    Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Also comments, news, quotes, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net as we like to hear from you all to see how we are doing and if there is anything else you would like us to report on to make a visit to any of the tracks that we visit more informative. Let us know. 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



    Bryson The Show But Cockrum Gets Redemption At Springfield



    Saturday, October 15 – The rescheduled Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield was set to run today on the mile dirt oval and it was a beautiful fall day that greeted us as we arose. The sun was shiny and the wind was minimal though the temperatures would not rise out of the 50's but no rain was in the forecast and we were going racing!!! We arrived in Springfield a lot after 11 AM and found our Michigan friends, Allan and Nancy Brown, and headed into the elevator and up into the massive grandstands to take in the 59th running of the Bettenhausen 100. We decided to sit about 10 rows up toward turn four as Allan was having problems climbing due to his chemo treatments but with no canvas roof on the infield stage everyone had an unobstructed view of the entire one mile dirt oval for today.

    The USAC Silver Crown division was in town and the point race will come down to the final two races of their schedule, today at Springfield and next Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park with Kody Swanson and Logan Seavey coming into today's race deadlocked at the top of the point standings. The day did not start out good for Seavey as he suffered mechanical woes in hot laps and pitted early for repairs. Logan was ready when it came his turn for time trials and he only turned one lap in the Rice #22 before pulling pit side with smoke coming from the engine compartment but not before sitting eighth fastest time of the 32 grand old dames or as some people call them the fat bottomed girls. The Rice crew went to work and once again by feature time Seavey was ready to rumble.

    The entry list was originally 38 cars but by the race day there were 32 cars on hand and two of them did not even make it out of hot laps with Anthony Macri in the potent Sean Michael #9 and Emerson Axsom in the Nolen #20 never taking a timed lap. So the field was down to 30 and after time trials no last chance race would be necessary. The Silver Crown qualifying kicked off exactly at 12:15 and by 1:01 it was Justin Grant in the Hemelgarn #91 clocking the quick time with a lap of 30.850 seconds around the Land of Lincoln dirt mile oval. The biggest surprise of qualifying was Kaylee Bryson in only her third Silver Crown start placing her Pierce #26 on the outside of the front row for the 100 lap main event. It would not be the only surprise Bryson would supply on the day. Danny Long was another driver who had engine problems during qualifying and logged the slowest time of the day by far. Long was fortunate to get his problems resolved and would start last ending up finishing 16th when it was all said and done.

    The 30 car field was ready to go by 2:10 with Justin Grant and Kaylee Bryson bringing the field to the green flag. The second surprise by Bryson was beating Grant into turn one and taking the early lead. In the 52 year history of the USAC Silver Crown division a woman has never started on the front row nor led a single lap but Bryson accomplished both in short order leading lap one. Bryson would pace the first nine laps with CJ Leary moving by Grant on the homestretch on lap nine to take second and take up the chase of the high flying Bryson who moved to the high side while Leary used the low side to chase Bryson. Grant remained third with Shane Cockrum picking off Kody Swanson for fourth with Swanson dropping to fifth. Lap 12 saw Logan Seavey move from eighth into fifth off turn four dropping Swanson back another position. Meanwhile Brian Tyler was making a charge after starting back in 22nd having advanced to 13th by lap 15. Leary was reeling in Bryson by lap 18 using the low groove while Bryson continued riding the rim at the point. Lap 22 at the line saw Leary lead for the first time but Bryson was not done and raced into turns one and two against the fence and caught back up to Leary racing down the backstretch side by side before Bryson edged back out front between turns three and four and had the lead back as the top two crossed the line on lap 24. Bryson went back to a two second lead over the next eight laps riding the outside before the scariest incident of the day occurred in turn two as Bryson put Dallas Hewitt and Mike Haggenbottom a lap down as they raced low through turn two for position. Haggenbottom ramped over Hewitt's wheel sending him into the inside guard rail and into a series of end over end flips landing at the start of the backstretch in the middle of the track. Haggenbottom's machine was severely damaged but Haggenbottom was able to climb out of his mangled car uninjured after the hard crash.

    Jake Swanson was the man on the move at this point advancing from 23rd to 10th before the stoppage. On the restart Cockrum dusted off Grant for third in turn two and one lap later Leary passed Bryson in turn three but again Bryson regrouped and stormed back by in turn three on lap 34. By lap 40 Bryson and Leary had built up a big lead on the rest of the field with Cockrum trailing in third. Jake Swanson and Matt Westfall hooked up in a good duel battling for tenth racing side by side for several laps before the halfway mark. At the lap 50 mark it was Bryson, Leary, Cockrum, Grant and Shane Cottle. Davey Ray was running a strong race back in sixth with Seavey seventh, Kody Swanson lurking in eighth, Tyler ninth and Westfall wining the race for tenth at the moment.

    Seavey bumped off Ray for sixth on the homestretch on lap 52 and another big moment in the event came on lap 57 when Leary broke coming off turn four and pulled to the pit area while running second ending his day early. On the restart on lap 62 Cottle moved into third and on lap 65 Jake Swanson steed gave up the ghost with running 12th as he drove into the pits. Lap 72 saw Korey Weyant shred a tire on the backstretch bringing out the caution again. On the restart on lap 75 it was Cockrum diving to the inside racing down the straightway and clearing Bryson for the lead in turn two. Shane Cottle slipped by Bryson for second between turns three and four on lap 80 with Seavey continuing Bryson's drop moving by for third on lap 81. Cockrum constructed a two second lead over the next ten laps rolled to a stop in turn one. On the restart Cockrum assumed the lead and pulled away from Cottle and Seavey. Lap 95 saw sixth running Grant's power-plant go up in a cloud of smoke in turn one bringing out the last caution. On the restart with three to go Swanson made his move motoring by Bryson for fourth in turn two.

    Meanwhile Cockrum was in command up front and pulled away from the field and flashed under the double checkers at 3:37 getting redemption after losing the race at Du Quoin and scoring his first win on the Springfield mile in the process. It was Cockrum's fifth career Silver Crown win in the series with Shane Cottle finishing off a strong run taking second with Logan Seavey third, Kody Swanson fourth and Kylee Bryson rounding out the top five after an amazing afternoon running up front and leading 73 laps in the process. Seavey leaves Springfield with a three point edge over Swanson with the title on the line as they move to Indianapolis next Saturday to decide the championship.

    Brian Tyler had a fine run placing sixth with Matt Westfall taking seventh, Kyle Steffens turning in another strong mile performance to finish eighth, Chase Stockon scoring his highest Silver Crown finish in his rookie season in ninth and Davey Ray bringing the beautiful Cornell #8 home tenth. Other notable runs were turned in by Travis Welpott finishing 11th and Patrick Bruns 12th.

    It was a good and interesting race and the performance of Bryson was very impressive and somewhat unexpected. Now it is onto IRP.

    That's it for this weekend but check back next weekend as we have two races on our race docket. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or catch a show on the road. News, comments and other things of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care, be safe and stay warm in the fall race outings.
     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Stockon & Grant Score Wins At Harvest Cup At Tri-State


    Saturday, October 8 – A beautiful fall day awaited us as we ventured down the back roads of Indiana on our way to Haubstadt, Indiana. The leaves are starting to turn making it a pleasant and relaxing journey as we meandered southward. Making a lunch stop at Gasthof Amish restaurant in Montgomery on the way south made for a delicious buffet of roast beef, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and catfish among many things a delightful experience. After stuffing our stomachs it was time to complete the trip to Haubstadt pulling onto the parking lot of the Tri-State Speedway, the finely groomed semi-banked ¼ mile bullring located in Gibson County. Securing our parking spot we listened to the end of game two of one of the American League Wildcard playoff games that we started listening to starting our trip in Crawfordsville and still going strong when we arrived in southern Indiana. Oscar Gonzalez finally ended the marathon 0-0 tie with a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 15th inning to move Cleveland into the next round against the New York Yankees. We also made it to the hotel after the races to catch our Philadelphia Phillies sweep the St. Louis Cardinals after some nail biting moments in the bottom of the ninth winning 2-0 and moving forward to play the Atlanta Braves in the next round.

    Steve Kimmel saved us top row seats on the backstretch and we took the walk around turns three and four to sign in at the pit shack and ran into Burline Skidmore, our friend from Illinois, who we chatted with for a time before returning to the backstretch and gathering the warm clothing up to take into the track. It was a nice sunny day during the daylight hours reaching into the 60's but as the sun disappeared behind the horizon you felt the temperatures drop quickly. By the end of the night it was down into the 40's and quite cold.

    The Harvest Cup paying $5000 to win to the MSCS sprint cars in their final event of 2022 was ready to go with group time trials in heat groups first up with Jason McDougal in the Brian Davis/KO Motorsports #5M setting the fast time over the 34 car field with a four car inversion from the time trials to set the heat lineups. Next up were the USAC National Midget series with 27 entries blistering the ¼ mile oval with Jason McDougal again setting fast time, this time in a backup Dave McIntosh/Robert Dalby #08$ which he didn't know he would be driving until 24 hours ago to the tune of 13.621 seconds. There was also a fine field of 33 MMSA mini sprints on hand for the open wheel tripleheader and they had hot laps before the heat races started.

    First up were the MSCS sprint cars racing in four qualifying heats with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Chase Stockon would draw first blood capturing heat one and with the victory would wrap up his third straight MSCS point title. It was an intense battle with Robert Ballou coming home second, Kyle Cummins third and Justin Grant finishing fourth. Jadon Rogers would pick up where he left off last time at the Haubstadt Hustler winning heat two in impressive fashion besting Brady Short, Brandon Morin who was racing his last event before calling it quits and retiring and young Adyn Schmidt. Heat three fell to Kendall Ruble beating Jason McDougal, Aric Gentry and Collin Ambrose. The fourth and final heat was taken down by Kevin Thomas Jr. back in the Michael Dutcher #17GP tonight over Anton Hernandez, Carson Garrett and Stan Beadles.

    Three heats for the USAC midgets would be next on the agenda with the top five going directly to the 30 lap feature race. Justin Grant looked strong in heat one besting Bryant Wiedeman, Jason McDougal, Dominic Gorden and Buddy Kofoid. Thomas Meseraull brought the second RMS entry home victorious in heat two joining his teammate Grant as heat victors beating Ethan Mitchell, Taylor Reimer, Brenham Crouch and Kaylee Bryson to the finish. Cannon McIntosh would score heat win #3 in the highlight of his night which went downhill from there over Zach Daum, Daison Pursley (the miracle man coming back in the same year after severe injuries), Jacob Denney and Mitchel Moles. All the sprint heats and midget heats were good ones as we looked forward to the upcoming features. The MMSA mini sprints contested four heats and now all heat qualifying was finished and the B mains or semis would soon follow.

    The MSCS B main was first up with Critter Malone taking this one in a race marked by the sprint car debut of Kayla Roell from Dillsboro who has been racing MMSA mini sprints and was given the chance to run one of the KO Motorsports #5's. She finished ninth and starting 14th passing several cars in the B. Dustin Beck, the former UMP modified runner, in his beautiful #75 finished second with CJ Leary third and Geoff Ensign taking the last qualifying position.

    The USAC midget semi was won by Chase McDermand in one of Chad Boat's steeds besting Adam Taylor (driving a midget with a half sprint car engine in it), Kyle Cummins, Chance Crum, Hayden Reinbold, Maria Cofer and Talin Turner.

    After a short track prep session with only a watering and vehicle run in left the surface in prime time condition with multiple lanes for the feature events.

    The 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature would get the honors to run first on the evening with the green flag waving at 9:06 on the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kendall Ruble. Ruble would grab the early lead on the backstretch on the opening lap passing Thomas. Jadon Rogers and Thomas hooked up in a good battle for second with Rogers assuming the position in turn two on lap three. Rogers began to pressure Ruble for the top spot over the next seven laps until Thomas made a resurgence catching and passing Rogers in turn two on lap eleven. Chase Stockon was all over Rogers attempting to take away third as Anton Hernandez raced his way from eighth to fifth and began poking his nose inside Stockon. Lap 13 saw Thomas, Rogers and Hernandez who slipped by Stockon for fourth almost three wide in turns one and two. Stockon turned up the wick over the next few laps first getting back by Hernandez then Rogers for third. Lap seventeen saw Stockon dive low off turn four and pull alongside Thomas for second at the line edging ahead with a slider entering turn one for second. Stockon went low in turn two to grab the lead from pacesetter Ruble on lap nineteen. One lap later a spinner brought out the second and final caution of the race.

    On the restart Stockon gunned it off turn four and did a wheelie exiting the turn and retained the lead entering turn one as Thomas slipped by Ruble low in one for second. Kyle Cummins was coming quickly at this point and by lap twenty one took third from Ruble entering turn one. At this point smoke began to blow from the engine compartment of Thomas' #17GP as the lap counter showed twenty two down. Cummins was several car lengths back of the front two but was gaining ground as we hit lap twenty four. The smoke increased from Thomas' steed by lap twenty six as Stockon paced the pack. Cummins dove low on the homestretch on lap twenty eight to wrestle second from Thomas and tried to reel in Stockon over the remaining two laps. Stockon would not be denied tonight as he flashed under the checkered flag at 9:20 scoring the $5000 pay day with Cummins settling for second, Thomas holding on for third, Carson Garrett maybe turning in his best run in a sprint car coming home fourth from 12th and Robert Ballou rounding out the top five. Anton Hernandez would claim sixth with Kendall Ruble seventh, Jason McDougal eighth, Jadon Rogers fading to ninth and Brady Short rounding out the top ten.

    It was an excellent race and might have been the best one we saw the entire season with some superb performances by the front three especially and quite a few others. Stockon would end up first in the MSCS sprint car points with McDougal second, Garrett third, Cummins fourth and Collin Ambrose finishing fifth.

    We still had the 30 lap USAC midget feature to run and the crowd was in a buzz after the first one anticipating another good feature. Even though there were nine cautions in this one when they were racing it was great action. Jacob Denny took the Mounce/Stout #61 to the point at the start but trouble early for Justin Grant who started seventh and fourth starting Zach Daum when they hooked together on lap 3 (Grant's right side nerf bar & Daum's left front tire) off turn three and continued through turn four and onto the homestretch where they detangled but Daum was clipped by Daison Pursley at this point and spun in the middle of the track. Daum was forced to restart at the tail of the field and would make a tremendous march forward the rest of the race.

    On the restart Thomas Meseraull and Cannon McIntosh got together and stopped on the track with Pursley and Jason McDougal also involved sending them all to the rear. On the next restart Denney and Buddy Kofoid hooked up in a slide fest over the next five laps exchanging sliders and the lead 13 times in this time frame. As the pair crossed the line on lap 11 Kofoid was scantly in front when shortly thereafter the caution appeared again for a multi-car tangle in turn four involving Mitchel Moles, Taylor Reimer and Kyle Cummins.

    The green dropped again with Kofoid jumping into the lead with Denney and Grant behind as Grant was able to ride in third while the other two swapped sliders and work different lines to determine where his car felt the best to run the rest of the way. Kofoid opened up a two second lead over Denney as Grant went to work on Jacob. A lap 15 slider saw Grant take second from Denney and Justin took up the chase. Meanwhile Messeraull was flying from the rear (19th) up to 5th by lap 16 and sliding by Brenham Crouch for 4th on lap 19.

    Grant meanwhile was all over Kofoid with six to go. Grant threw his first slider on Kofoid entering turn one with five to go to take the lead but Kofoid crossed over in turn three to take the lead back. Grant countered and retook the lead off turn four as the pair raced to the line. T-Mez meanwhile was not content riding fourth and dusted off Denney exiting turn four with three to go. As the top three crossed the line for two to go Messeraull made an amazing move down low at the end of the homestretch entering turn one to blast by both Kofoid and Grant for the lead!!! Unfortunately for T-Mez it was called back as Denney running fourth, Crouch running fifth and McIntosh running eighth tangled in between turns three and four bringing out the caution flag.

    Grant led on the restart and with two to go Kofoid threw it low in turn three and slide in front of Grant in turn four but Grant swung to the inside off turn four and raced back out front as the white flag waved diving low in turn one to block any slider attempts by Kofoid. Racing down the backstretch Kofoid and Grant bumped front bumper to rear nerf bar just before entering turn three. Grant dove low taking away the slider route and roared off turn four taking the double checkered flags for the first time since April when he won the first three USAC midget races of the year. Kofoid came across second with Meseraull third, Zach Daum marching all the way back to fourth from the rear and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Kaylee Bryson led the second five coming from 12th to 6th with Dominic Gorden advancing from 16th to 7th, Bryant Weideman 8th from 14th, Ethan Mitchell 9th and Kyle Cummins rebounding to finish 10th. It was a good race with Grant and Kofoid being like two heavyweight fighters exchanging haymakers toe to toe for 15 rounds.

    There was still the MMSA mini sprint feature to go but it was cold and we didn't think this one could outdo the other two so we exited stage right and headed to our hotel up in Princeton just in time to catch the ninth inning of the Phillies/Cardinals game and bite our nails as the Redbirds challenged in the bottom of the ninth but the Fightn' Phillies prevailed!!!

    That's it for this past weekend as hopefully a doubleheader lurks on the horizon for this coming weekend as we move to the middle of October. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area before the winter sets in on us. News, comments, stories and words of wisdom can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. And last but not least thanks for reading our column and check back next weekend to see where we end up. Take care and be safe and stay warm.

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Santos Wins Tony Elliott Classic At Anderson



    Thursday, October 6 – Sometimes the races you don't plan ahead of time turn our to be good ones. This was the case on Thursday evening when we decided to go to the 7th Annual Tony Elliott Classic for the 500 Sprint Tour at the ¼ mile Anderson Speedway. We did not know about the race until Pat saw it on social media on Tuesday and she mentioned to me that Anderson was running Thursday and did we want to go as on Friday we had nothing planned as the weather was going to turn colder and we didn't feel like driving 3 ½ hours west to Wayne County Speedway for the USAC midgets. So instead we decided to take in the program of the 500 Sprint Tour (24), Kenyon midgets (13) and Midwest champ karts (18) running on the high banks of Anderson.

    We arrived around 6:30 and our friend from Arizona, Steve Kimmel, made a rare plane flight into St. Louis to take in the racing at Anderson, Wayne County and Tri-State in his last Midwest trip of the year and first in years without hauling in freight with his tractor trailer. He joined us in turn one to sit as sprint car qualifying was run earlier with Tyler Roahrig setting fast time circling the small oval at 11.203 seconds edging out Taylor Ferns for quick time. The top ten in time trials would be inverted to start the feature which is one of the highest inversions we have seen all year.

    The Kenyon midgets would start off the night of racing six minutes early at 6:54 with the first of two heats for their entries with Jackson Macenko scoring the first heat win over Kyle Ford and Clayton Gaines. Dameron Taylor notched heat two winning over Logan Huggler and Ryan Huggler. The Midwest champ karts would follow with two entertaining heats before a short break before the 30 lap Kenyon midget feature was called to the post.

    The green flag would drop on the 12 car field at 7:37 and a good, competitive feature would ensue. Dameron Taylor would take the lead midway through from his third starting position and go on to win the main event over Kyle Ford with Ryan Huggler coming from sixth to third, Logan Huggler fourth and Isaac Johnson advancing from 12th to fifth at the finish at 7:47.

    MAVTV was in town to show the 500 Sprint Tour Tony Elliott Classic scheduled to go 100 laps with the field quickly assembling on the infield area and after taking about ten warmup laps the green would fall on the 23 car field at 8:12. Chris Neuenschwander would pounce into the early lead from his second starting position and would pace the field for the first half of the race. Neuenschwander would open up a good lead with the field dicing it out behind the pacesetter. Derek Bischak, Bobby Santos III, Dakoda Armstrong and Kyle O'Gara would chase him in the beginning. Santos would slip by Bischak for second in turn three on lap fifteen and take up the chase of Neuenschwander. Kyle O'Gara passed Armstrong for third in turn one for third on lap twenty one and began to reel in Santos. Emerson Axsom in the Nolen car draped with Driven To Save Lives livery was on the march from seventh in fifth on lap twenty two. Kody Swanson and Tyler Roahrig were lurking just outside the top five at this point. The first caution would appear on lap thirty four when Kyle Robbins got his sprinter into the turn four wall to bring out the caution.

    On the restart Neuenschwander continued to lead but Santos was nipping at his heels. Axsom gained another spot on the homestretch on lap forty to claim fourth. Santos got the opening he needed entering turn one on lap fifty three and moved by Neuenschwander for the lead at that point with O'Gara also slipping by for second. One lap later Axsom would take over third as Neuenschwander began to slip backwards. Kody Swanson finally cracked the top five with a turn two pass on lap sixty three as it was time to move forward. Santos continued to pace the field but the top five were all nose to tail in his tire tracks. Lap eighty one saw the last caution appeared when seventh running Billy Wease slowed in turn three to slow the action.

    On the restart Santos got a good jump and went to the point with O'Gara and Axsom in tow. Swanson and Roahrig pulled a double pass of Dakoda Armstrong on the backstretch to move into fourth and fifth on lap eighty three. O'Gara seemed faster than Santos but it was difficult to pass on this cool evening and a couple of instances O'Gara chrome horn found Santos' rear bumper but O'Gara never tried to turn Santos in any corner as he was glued to Santos as they raced around the bullring. Santos was able to hold off the constant challenges of O'Gara and raced under the checkers at 8:44 taking the Elliott Classic with O'Gara second, Axsom a fine third, Swanson fourth and Roahrig rounding out the top five. Taylor Ferns would finish sixth with Dakoda Armstrong seventh, Caleb Armstrong eighth, Travis Welpott ninth and Nathan Byrd finishing tenth.

    It was a well run program and good sprint car and midget features to boot and we watched half of the 44 lap champ kart feature which Mitchell Staats ended up winning before we departed the grounds after bidding farewell to Steve and see you Saturday at Haubstadt. Sometimes the unplanned ones turn out to be pretty good ones!!

    That's it for now but check back Sunday or Monday for our report on USAC midgets, MSCS sprints and MMSA mini sprints from Tri-State Speedway in the Fall Harvest race. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and if in the northeast it is Oswego time and Super Dirt Week there. Be safe and be good and have fun wherever you end up. Comments, words of wisdom, news, stories and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy hearing about the tracks that we visit on a typical weekend.
     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Swanson Prevails On Windy Day At Circle City


    Sunday, October 2 – It was a nice day on this Sunday when we left Crawfordsville with temperatures in the high 60's and plenty of sunshine. We were taking in our third race of the weekend with the Circle City Raceway on the grounds of the Marion County Fairgrounds our destination. When we arrived at Circle City we knew we were in trouble as we exited the car and were greeted by a stiff wind blowing in our face. The two main enemies of a dirt track are wind and sunshine and Circle City had both today which didn't bode well for them or us.

    Circle City Raceway is usually on the dry side to start with and with the conditions today it was even worse. Track maintenance after hot laps was the first order of business pushing the starting time back to 4:35 for the four division program featuring the wingless 410 sprints (24), the winged Racesaver 305 sprints (18), the wingless 600's (13) and the UMP modifieds (11). It was HARF (Hoosier Auto Racing Fans) night so admission for card carrying members was free saving us $16 on the day.

    The wingless sprints would kick off the show contesting three heats with Matt McDonald holding off everything thrown at him by Jake Swanson to score the first heat win with Ricky Lewis third and Brandon Morin fourth. The second heat would see Brent Beauchamp pass Scotty Weir for the lead midway through the race and go on to win heat two chased by Weir, Michigan invader, Steve Irwin, making his Circle City debut and Travis Berryhill. Noah Whitehouse led the opening two laps in heat two before getting bit by the turn one cushion, biking and rolling over. The third heat race went to Bloomington's Hunter Maddox who we believe scored his first ever heat win anywhere in a sprinter over Thomas Meseraull, Rylan Gray and Gabriel Gilbert. Trey Osborne would also become a victim of the cushion in heat three this time in turn four rolling over the Chris Phillips #6T.

    The winged 305 sprints were next to the post with Jeff Wimmenauer triumphing over Kevin Newton, Rod Henning and Nate Franklin. John Paynter Jr. captured heat two besting Bryce Norris, Shane O'Banion and Alex Nalon. Two heats were run for the wingless 600's taken by Mike Landis and Bruce Newlin Jr. The UMP modifieds ran two heats with Jarod Deckard and Derek Groomer winning.

    After all the heat racing more track prep was performed before the first of four feature events hit the track surface.

    The 25 lap wingless 410 sprint cars would be first up with the 24 car field brought to the green flag by the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Scotty Weir. Scotty would move to the early lead from the outside of the front row with T-Mez in pursuit. Lap two saw Brent Beauchamp motoring from sixth into fourth and making his presence known. Robert Brown Jr. lost the handle on his sprinter between turns one and two bringing out the first caution on lap four. The field went back to green again with Weir pacing the field trailed by Meseraull and Matt McDonald. The red would appear on lap nine when Rylan Gray and Zack Pretorius tangled in turn two with Pretorius getting upside down in the mishap. Pretorius was OK after the tumble.

    That this point all the sprinters were moved to the inside of the oval and the water truck was dispatched onto the surface to water. To us it did not seem that bad and we couldn't understand why this was ordered. The field was re-fired after several minutes and the cars circled the oval for 13 laps running in the water laid down.

    The green reappeared with Weir at the point and looking strong in the Landon Simon #24. Meanwhile Jake Swanson was moving forward taking fourth on lap ten and third in turn three on lap twelve. One lap later Gray stopped in turn three to bring out another caution. On the restart Collin Grissom got in too hot in turn three and rammed into the side of Steve Irwin who spun up against the wall with front end damage. Irwin was done for the day and Grissom restarted albeit with a crushed tail tank on the right side of his sprinter.

    Weir remained the leader with Messeraull in his tire tracks with Hunter Maddox running a strong third. Swanson made his move for third on Maddox on the homestretch and took the spot starting lap seventeen. Smoke began to blow from the engine compartment of Weir's car and when the yellow waved on lap twenty for Derek Crane hitting the turn one fence Weir turned left into the infield done for the day with the smell of oil in the air.

    Meseraull was the new leader with Swanson and Maddox in tow. Messeraull led until lap twenty two when Swanson slipped by and assumed the lead. One lap later Ryan Thomas lost a drive shaft in turn two and rolled to a stop in turn three to bring out the fifth and last caution of the race. On the restart Swanson was able to stave off the challenges of Meseraull and would go on to lead the final two laps taking the checkered at 7:07 for his first win at Circle City besting Meseraull who would be crowned the 2022 Circle City track champion in the Tyler Sturgeon #77AU with Brent Beauchamp third, Matt McDonald fourth and Travis Berryhill advancing from 11th to finish fifth.

    With three features to run and the wind never letting up we decided to call it a night and stop for dinner on the way back home which ended up being the highlight of the day with Bubba's in Greenwood serving up some delicious grub.

    Management at Circle City now has a year under their belts and can sit down during the off season and analyze year one and things they need to do to improve racing at Circle City. The biggest thing that needs to be addressed at the track is the racing surface itself as they need to hire someone to manicure the surface after sifting out the many rocks that fly into the grandstands every week being their first priority. If this isn't done someone is going to be seriously injured and a law suit is only one rock away. Don't get us wrong we are not bashing Circle City as they have done many good things over the course of the year and the facility minus the track surface is top notch with fine restroom facilities, wonderful aluminum grandstands and good concessions as big pluses. The biggest thing they did in 2022 was bringing dirt racing back to the Indianapolis area with a wide variety of racing divisions offered which is greatly appreciated by many. Their admission prices are quite reasonable up front in addition to also offering a senior citizen discount and having free nights also.. We are just suggesting upgrades that need to be tackled before the first green flag drops on the 2023 season at Circle City and keeping the dust down and reworking the track surface can only pay dividends with the neighbors. We will see what 2023 brings to Circle City.

    That's it for this installment and we only have one race on the agenda for next weekend as the Midwest tracks begin to close their doors for the season. In the meantime especially in the east, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the nice comments and other things sent our way.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Cummins Overcomes Fear To Cop USAC Sprint Run At Lawrenceburg


    Saturday, October 1 – It was a beautiful fall day with plenty of sunshine with temperatures in the 70's. It made the 2 ½ hour drive down to Lawrenceburg much easier on the mind and the soul. Also the fact that we arrived in Lawrenceburg and found the price of gas to be $3.68, a whopping 41 cents cheaper than the price when we left Crawfordsville, which was an added bonus. The Lawrenceburg Speedway is a beautiful facility with plenty of concrete everywhere and the aluminum grandstands are second to none for room and comfort. Usually though the track surface is not the greatest on the big 3/8 mile dirt oval and call me a creature of the past but I enjoyed the old track configuration and dirt much better. Tonight would be a different matter as it was the Fall Nationals with $10,000 on the line to the winner of the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature and the racing action would be fierce and very exciting.

    Twenty two qualify USAC sprint cars and eighteen UMP modifieds graced the turn three and four pit area for tonight's racing with time trials for the sprint cars the first order of business commencing at 6:14 with a two at a time format allowing them to complete time trials in just 11 minutes. CJ Leary would stand at the top of the speed charts for the ninth time in USAC sprint competition touring the high banked 3/8 mile oval in 13.926 seconds exactly one second off the track record of Levi Jones who posted a $100 bonus for anyone who broke the record today. After UMP modified hot laps and opening ceremonies it was right into racing with the first USAC sprint car qualifying race hitting the track at 7 PM, the scheduled time of opening ceremonies.

    The top five qualifiers would move directly to the 30 lap main event and 18 year old and one day youngster, Emerson Axsom, wheeled the Clauson/Marshall #47BC to the opening heat victory in an intense battle among the top five. Logan Seavey would place second with Matt Westfall third, Justin Grant fourth and fast timer, CJ Leary, rounding out the top five. Chase Stockon looked strong in a KO Motorsports entry capturing heat two besting Brady Bacon, Max Adams, Thomas Meseraull and Anton Hernandez in another competitive heat race. The third heat was a wild affair with Jason McDougal in the second KO Motorsports entry held off the fierce challenges of Kevin Thomas Jr. back in a second Michael Dutcher #17 for the first time in seven years coming home second with Kyle Cummins third, Jake Swanson fourth and Robert Ballou fifth. The UMP modifieds would run three heats for their 18 cars on hand and ran very well also with all heats completed by 7:38.

    There would be no semi for the USAC sprint cars so it was now feature time. The front row of Logan Seavey and Kyle Cummins would bring the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:07. Seavey and Cummins swapped the lead back and forth over the first two laps before the red appeared when Saban Bibent got crossed up exiting turn two and collected Keith Sheffer II, first time starter, Trip Gerrald, and JJ Hughes with Hughes getting the short end of the stick ending up side down to the melee. Only Sheffer was able to continue after the mishap.

    On the restart Seavey took command ripping the lip with Kyle Cummins in hot pursuit but Seavey was able to quickly stretch his lead to a half straightaway over the next several laps. As the Cheney #42 paced the field the race was for second with Cummins and Grant hooked up in ding dong battler for the runner up position. Grant threw two sliders to try to wrestle second away from Cummins in turn three on lap 15 and in turns one and two on lap 16 but Cummins countered both times and edged ahead of Grant to retain second as Seavey pulled away to a two second lead.

    Lap 17 would bunch the field back together as CJ Leary slowed while running sixth with a flat right rear tire and would pit and return to the action. The restart would see things scramble up in turn two as Cummins jumped the cushion allowing Grant to scoot by for second with fourth running Thomas Meseraull checking up behind Cummins causing a chain reaction with the next two in line, Anton Hernandez and Mitchel Moles getting together. Hernandez went sideways and lost a slew of positions before gathering it back up again. Max Adams then spun into the infield in turn three bringing out the caution and creating a second chance for both Cummins and Hernandez (docked two spots for jumping on the restart) as they were lined up back in their starting positions before the restart.

    On the lap 17 restart Seavey bogged down a little giving Cummins the break he was looking for using a slider in turn one and taking the lead in turn two. Lap 21 saw Cummins jump the turn two cushion with Seavey getting a head of steam down the backstretch and diving to the low side to take the lead but Cummins countered off the turn four cushion and past Seavey back for the lead down low in turn four. Lap traffic came into play in the late stages and with two to go Cummins made a ballsy move in turns one and two but lost some time and momentum passing Jadon Rogers with Seavey closing the gap again. Cummins ended up buying some ground before Seavey was able to dispose of Rogers and take up the chase again. Cummins was candid in his victory lane interview that he considered this his biggest victory as going into turn three and four intimidates him and he was able to overcome his fear to his drive to victory.

    With the checkered waving at 8:31 it was Cummins first across the line for his second straight USAC victory of the weekend with Seavey second, Grant third, Mitchel Moles coming from 10th to 4th and receiving the hard charger award with Brady Bacon advancing from 11th to 5th at the finish. Anton Hernandez would finish a strong sixth with Meseraull seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Max Adams rebounding from his earlier spin to place tenth.

    It was a very good race at the Burg and with the early hour we decided to proceed up the road and stop at LaRosa's for a medium pepperoni pizza as a late dinner. It was a very enjoyable night with excellent racing probably one of the best runs we have ever seen at Lawrenceburg.

    That's it for this segment but we are not done for the weekend as we head over to the Marion County Fairgrounds in about an hour to catch Sunday night racing at the Circle City Raceway where your HARF membership affords you free admission for the program of wingless sprints, winged 305 sprints, 600 micros and UMP modifieds starting at 4 PM. Until tomorrow get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the fall is upon us and racing is in its final stages of the season. News, comments, stories and other bits of interest can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. Be safe out there and be good.

    Our condolences go out to the family and friends of WOO late model series announcer, Rick Eshelman, who took his own life over the weekend in what seems like a senseless act. So everyone we ask for you to be more vigilant around your friends and family so we can hopefully pick up on signs of mental troubles and reach out to these people to offer our love and support.

    And speaking of love and support our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina affected by Hurricane Ian. If you are able please donate to relief efforts with groups like the American Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse and others who will try to assist these people in their low points of their lives.




     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    Cummins Two In A Row In USAC Sprints At Kokomo



    Friday, September 30 – It was a cool night at Kokomo Speedway on this Friday but the action was hot. Thirty two USAC sprint cars (down to 30 by heat time) were joined by twenty three Racesaver 305 sprints and twenty one thunder cars for a good night of racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana. This race was originally scheduled to be run at Terre Haute but a disagreement between the Vigo County Fair Board and the promoters at the Action Track had Scott Ronk asking the O'Connor family if they would host the event and they graciously agreed to do so.

    Things would get underway with time trials for the USAC sprint cars commencing at 6:36 with 32 sprints taking time. When it was all said and done by 7:04 it was once again Mitchel Moles setting fast time around the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.306 seconds. Evan Mosley took a hard ride into the turn one and two fencing during his second qualifying lap after biking and twisting and turning into the catch fence ending his evening prematurely.

    USAC sprint car heat racing would be the first heat racing of the evening kicking off at 7:44 with Jadon Rogers winning a very competitive heat one besting Brady Bacon, Mitchel Moles and Chase Stockon. Logan Seavey would wheel the Dwight Cheney #42 to victory in heat two over CJ Leary, Robert Ballou and Kyle Cummins. Thomas Meseraull steered the Tony Epperson #2E to the win in heat three outrunning Jake Swanson, Geoff Ensign back in the Baldwin #5 and young Jack Hoyer getting the call in the Paul Hazen #57 for the first time. During the running of this heat Harley Burns got crossed up in turn two with Kevin Thomas Jr. ramping over his right rear tire and rolling over in the process. Thomas returned for the heat but pulled off a lap later as a stuck lifter from the rollover ending his evening early also. According to his Twitter account it was the last engine for his team and he was looking for a ride for tonight's race at Lawrenceburg. The fourth heat was captured by Max Adams in the Michael Dutcher #17GP beating Jason McDougal, Matt Westfall and birthday boy, Emerson Axsom (18th), in another hotly contested heat race.

    The Racesaver 305 sprint cars would take to the track to contest three heats with Alex Nalon, Carson Dillion and Justin Clark from Ohio and in contention for the national title taking down heat wins. The thunder cars would run three competitive heats before the USAC sprints returned for their semi event which had some top guns in it. Point leader, Justin Grant, scored the win in the semi over Anton Hernandez, Dave Darland, Harley Burns, Zack Pretorius and Brandon Mattox. The USAC sprints were the only ones who needed to run a B main so after some track prep it would be right into the three features.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature dubbed Lets Just Race would be called to the post first led to the green flag at 9:15 by the southern Indiana duo of Kyle Cummins and Chase Stockon. Surprisingly Stockon got the jump on the start powering into the early lead. By lap three Jake Swanson was challenging Cummins for second and swept by him between turns three and four to take second. Swanson quickly caught Stockon and the pair raced side by side for the next three laps with Swanson dove low in turn one on lap six. The race stayed green until lap ten when Harley Burns again got out of shape off turn four with Dave Darland launching over his wheel and beginning a series of end over end flips down the front stretch ending up past the starter's stand as the crowd went silent. Darland climbed from the battered sprinter moments later to the relief of the crowd with reports of a broken roll cage. This red allowed Cummins to regroup as the Byrum #3R was too tight and Kyle went to work inside the cockpit making shock adjustments which would be spot on and change the complexion of the race.

    On the restart Swanson was on top with Stockon second and Cummins third. Emerson Axsom stuck his nose on the low side to draw even with Cummins racing for third but Cummins was able to hold off the challenge and remain in third. Cummins executed a slide job on Stockon to claim second on lap thirteen in turn three and was all over Swanson in short order. Lap fifteen saw Cummins throw a slider on Swanson in turn one and by turn two Swanson was able to stave off the charge. One lap later Cummins used the same move in turn one and this time it worked and Kyle was in front. Swanson was not done sliding Cummins in turn three but drifted high in turn four and Cummins went to the point which he would not give up. Cummins pulled away over the final fourteen laps and looked to be home free but the caution waved with one to go when CJ Leary and Anton Hernandez banged wheels battling for ninth on the homestretch with Hernandez getting the short end of the straw spinning backward on the homestretch luckily being avoided by everyone behind.

    When the race returned to green it was Cummins surging away and at 9:35 it was Cummins across the line first for his second straight win in USAC competition at Kokomo beating Jake Swanson, Chase Stockon, Emerson Axsom and Mitchel Moles to the finish. It was Cummins' three USAC win of 2022 and his 13th career USAC win. It was also Cummins fifth top five finish in USAC racing at Kokomo in 2022 setting a new record in this statistic.

    Brady Bacon gained a few points advancing from 12th to 6th at the finish with Jadon Rogers 7th, Justin Grant from 15th to 8th, Logan Seavey 9th and Robert Ballou moving from 16th to 10th.

    The 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint feature was next on tap with the green dropping at 9:51. Jordan Welch would lead the early stages of this race with Jeff Wimmenauer and Bradley Sterrett chasing. Three cautions would slow the action with Sterrett passing Welch for the lead in turn two on lap eleven and never looking back. Welch would hold off the field to finish second with Ethan Barrow moving from sixth to finish third with Wimmenauer taking fourth and Justin Clark rounding out the top five at 10:06.

    It was good racing all night long but the company of friends, Gary Dean and Sally Ebling along with Max and Susie Niemann, makes it extra special.

    That's it for this report but check back tomorrow or Monday for reports from Lawrenceburg and Circle City as our “typical weekend” continues. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. 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



    Season Final Goes To Beauchamp At Lincoln Park



    Saturday, September 24 – The fall season is now upon us with the temperatures only in the low 70's but dropping into the low 60's after the sun set. It would be the final night of racing for the year at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana, the closest track to our house, and therefore considered our home track. It would be the eleventh time that we have attended racing at the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval and we enjoy our visits as it is one of the most comfortable places to view racing sitting in the concrete grandstands in your fold out chair with a cooler between the seats and an unobstructed view of the entire track makes for a pleasant night of racing.

    A five division program consisting of non-wing sprints (24), super stocks (18), UMP modifieds (17), bombers (20) and mod lites (7) for a grand total of 86 cars. The first sprint car heat would take the green at exactly 7:30 with the top five moving directly into the 25 lap main event which would decide the point champion in each division. Young Zack Pretorius claimed heat one over an young gun, Harley Burns, with Jesse Vermillion, Matt McDonald and Tyler Roth towing in from Springfield, Illinois placing it in the field. Brent Beauchamp established himself as a serious contender tonight blasting from sixth to take down heat two over Californian Frankie Guerrini, Arizonian Kyle Shipley, Brian Hayden and Aaron Davis. The third heat went to young Brayden Fox contending for the point championship with Tye Mihocko and Geoff Ensign tonight. John Sluss followed in second trailed by Mihocko, Crawfordsville's Chad Davenport and Allen Howard Jr. Ensign was the point leader coming into tonight's action but was not in attendance as he got the golden opportunity to drive the Baldwin #5 orange crate at Eldora tonight and who could blame him. That left the door open for Fox and Mihocko who had to finish ninth or better and the one who finished ahead of the other would be crowned the point champion. Noah Whitehouse turned turtle as he collided with another sprinter in turn four and executed a soft Tommy tipover in heat three and was OK.

    Next up were the super stocks for their three heats with Terre Haute's Paul Wright taking heat one, Brazil's Larry Raines claiming heat two and Terre Haute's Travis Heramb nailing down heat three. The UMP modifieds would contest two heats with Jamie Lomax and Tyler Loughmiller taking heat wins. The bombers spun off three heats and the mod lites ran one heat.

    The sprint car B main would provide the final five entrants for the 25 lap feature event with Blake Vermillion winning this one over Ivan Glotzbach, Kyle Johnson, Cody Williams and Stan “Beetle Juice” Beedles the last man in.

    The 20 lap super stock feature would be the first one to the post to give the B main sprinters time to regroup taking the green flag at 9 PM. Justin Massie would pace the field for the first nine laps before fifth starting Larry Raines would take over the lead. Raines would lead the remainder of the distance and the 60 year old Raines who admitted in victory lane after also clinching the point title that he was going to retire at the end of 2021. His crew said lets do it again in 2022 and Raines captured his first point title in many years of trying and encouraged the crowd to never give up on your goals no matter what your age. Some sage advice Mr. Raines!!! Massie and Travis Heramb trailed Raines to the finish at 9:15.

    It was now time to determine the 2022 sprint car champion at Lincoln Park with the front row of Brent Beauchamp and Zack Pretorius bringing the 20 car field to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:35. Beauchamp would power into the early lead and would pace the field over the first four laps until Tyler Roth and Allen Howard Jr. spinning in turn two to bring out the first caution. On the restart it was Beauchamp to the point chased by Pretorius and Brayden Fox. Tye Mihocko was on the move from his ninth starting position and picked off Harley Burns for fourth on lap six and three laps later passed Fox for third just before Brian Hayden lost the handle in turn two with Mihocko retaining the third position.

    On the restart Beauchamp was quick to go back out front with Mihocko racing side by side with Pretorius through turns one and two before completing the pass as the pair raced down the backstretch. The final stoppage would occur on lap thirteen when Kyle Johnson made contact with another sprinter in turn four and executed a slow roll with everyone OK. Beauchamp was back out front on the restart with Mihocko and Pretorius in tow. Fox started to make the point run interesting as he slipped by Pretorius for third on lap fifteen making the top three Beauchamp, Mihocko and Fox. Beauchamp was up to the challenge and would not be headed over the final ten laps crossing the line at 9:55 for his third win of 2022 at LPS in the Jeff Wilson owned #34 besting Tye Mihocko who would edge Brayden Fox by two points for his first LPS point title and the third for car owners Jamie and Michelle Paul and their potent #24P. Pretorius would come home fourth with Frank Guerrini rounding out the top five. Harley Burns paced the second five in sixth with Kyle Shipley seventh, Aaron Davis eighth, Matt McDonald ninth and Jesse Vermillion taking down tenth.

    We decided to take in the 20 lap UMP modified feature which went green at 10:06 with only one caution slowing the action. Matt Mitchell of Rensselaer took the lead from the start with Jamie Lomax applying pressure the entire distance but Mitchell was up to the task and crossed the line first at 10:12 with Lomax second, Tyler Loughmiller, the junior at nearby DePauw University, claiming third and giving him enough points to take the 2022 LPS modified championship. Will Bennett rode home fourth and Wes McClara, former super stock driver, moving into the UMP modified class had a fine run advancing from fourteenth to finish fifth.

    It was a good night of racing at Lincoln Park and we left satisfied with witnessing a well run program spun off in a timely manner.

    That's it for this installment but check back next weekend as we plan on making it a three race weekend if the weather cooperates. In the meantime plot your fall racing as the year is getting long in the tooth and racing will soon be done as colder weather sets in. Get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, stories and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net. Thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

     

    A Typical Weekend

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel



    James Dean Classic Doubleheader At Gas City To Thomas & Kofoid



    Thursday, September 22 - After it being 91 degrees yesterday in Indiana today's high was projected to being 63. A cold front rolling in from Canada is the culprit and we realized going in that tonight at Gas City I-69 Speedway was going to be a cold one with temperatures dropping into the low 50's with winds between 10 and 20 mph blowing in our faces!!! We arrived later than usual (6:20) and found a very good crowd on hand for the fourth James Dean Classic featuring a doubleheader of USAC sprint cars and midgets. Thirty six sprint cars were joined by twenty three midgets for the show tonight on the ¼ mile bullring located in Grant County with time trials the first order of business for both open wheel classes. We settled into our seats in the last section of grandstands going into turn one about three rows from the top with the dirt balls flying into the entire length of the homestretch stands including our area.

    The USAC National Sprint Cars would open the program with their time trials starting at 6:42 and concluding at 7:04. Kyle Cummins continues his late season surge romping to fast time with a lap of 11.585 seconds around Gas City. The USAC National Midgets would follow pushing off for their timed laps at 7:17 and finishing up at 7:36 with Maria Cofer setting her first fast time in USAC national midgets with a time of 12.052 around the ¼ mile bullring. Cofer became the eighth different female driver to set fast time in a USAC National Midget history.

    The USAC sprint cars would contest their four heat races first with the top four moving directly to the big 30 lap feature event. Kyle Cummins established himself as the man to beat charging from sixth to score the win in heat one besting Logan Seavey, Scotty Weir in the Simon #24 and Shane Cottle. Brent Beauchamp triumphed in his own sprinter in heat two out dueling CJ Leary, Geoff Ensign and Thomas Meseraull in the best sprint heat of the evening. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from fourth in the BGE Dougherty #15K to claim heat three over Jadon Rogers, Max Adams in the Dutcher stead and Brady Bacon. Chase Stockon looked impressive in heat four winning over Justin Grant, Mitchel Moles and Harley Burns.

    The USAC midgets would spin off three heats for their 23 car field with everyone advancing into the 30 lap main event. Taylor Reimer looked strong winning heat one beating Mitchel Moles, Maria Cofer and Bryant Wiedeman. Thomas Meseraull captured heat two besting Tanner Carrick, Ethan Mitchell and Cannon McIntosh who came back from a time trial roll in turn two earlier to take fourth. Buddy Kofoid dominated heat three besting Alex Bright making a guest appearance in one of the Malloy #25's, Justin Grant and Brenham Crouch.

    No B main was needed for the midgets so only the sprint cars would run a B main with Robert Ballou rebounding from a heat altercation to win this one over Jason McDougal, Jake Swanson, Colten Cottle, Emerson Axsom and Matt Westfall the last man in. Management and USAC were working hand in hand to move this program along quickly as the evening turned colder and it was greatly appreciated. The wind did die down some but it was still cold.

    The 30 lap USAC midget feature would be the first main event to take to the track as the sprint car B main cars made final preparations for their upcoming main event. The front row of Keith Kunz teammates, Brenham Crouch and Kaylee Bryson, would bring the field to the green flag at 9:18 with Bryson grabbing the early lead. Bryson would pace the first seven laps with Crouch on her tail until another Kunz car, Bryant Wiedeman, caught the turn three cushion wrong and went for a wild ride before ending up roll cage side down in the middle of turns three and four. Wiedeman was OK after his big ride but the same could not be said for his mount.

    On the restart Bryson bounced several times in turn three and four allowing Crouch and Buddy Kofoid to draw even as the trio raced to the start/finish line. Crouch's advantage went away quickly when he emulated Bryson's bumpy ride in turns one and two allowing Kofoid to slip into second. Lap 12 saw a surging Jacob Denney in a Malloy stead blast by Kofoid to garner the second position on his march forward. Kofoid tried to counter in turn one diving low but also went bouncing right into the side of Denney sending him off of turn two and by the time Denney recovered he had dropped to eighth. Kofoid retained second but Bryson was able to increase her advantage by quite a margin as she was looking to capture her first USAC national midget win. Kofoid regained his composure and started to reel Bryson back in. By lap eighteen Kofoid threw his first slider on Bryson in turn one and momentarily took the lead but Bryson crossed over in turn two and was back in front. Kofoid executed the same move a lap later this time giving Bryson little choice but to back out of it giving the lead to Kofoid. Bryson attempted to slide Kofoid in turn three but hopped again giving Kofoid the lead for good. Buddy motored away over the final ten laps while the battle raged behind him for second through fifth among Bryson, Crouch, Denney and Crum.

    When the checkered waved at 9:34 it was Kofoid across the line first for his tenth USAC win of the year and the first driver to notch double figures in a single season since Rich Vogler in 1988. It was also a historic win for car owner, Keith Kunz, who notched his 133rd career USAC owner win tying him for first with Steve Lewis and the famous white #9's. With the win Kofoid also looks like he is in the driver's seat literally to score his second straight USAC National Midget title as his point lead increased to 161 points with 11 races to go.

    As Kofoid crossed the line Blake Brannon flipped his midget on the cushion in turns three and four but the race was official with Kofoid the winner trailed by Kaylee Bryson who finished second and equaled the best finish for a female driver in USAC National competition since Sarah McCune at Winchester in 1999. Brenham Crouch came home third with Chance Crum fourth and Jacob Denney rounding out the top five. Ethan Mitchell led the second five across the line in sixth with Cannon McIntosh recording a fine seventh after starting twenty third with Thomas Meseraull eighth, Tanner Carrick ninth and Justin Grant notching tenth.

    We still have the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature to run and by 9:59 the green flag waved on the 22 car field. Kevin Thomas Jr. who only qualified 11th fastest got a big break when five of the top six qualifiers did not advance through the heat races giving Thomas the pole for the feature event. Thomas who has been on a tear winning two of the last four events (it could easily have been three if a flat didn't derail him while leading at Tri-State last Saturday) took the early lead from Logan Seavey by sliding up in front of him entering turn one on the opening lap. Thomas increased his lead by over two seconds through the first five laps as Seavey chased. As Thomas paced the field up to the halfway mark it was Kyle Cummins who was making inroads from his sixth starting position moving into third and closing on the front two.

    The track began to change with it becoming slick and Thomas' advantage was dwindling as they moved past the halfway mark as everyone tried to figure out where to run to move forward. By lap seventeen Seavey was ready to pounce as the lead was down to near nothing. On lap twenty Seavey drove low in turn three and by turn four was the new leader of the event. Thomas came off the top and went to the bottom to draw closer back to Seavey. On lap twenty two Thomas was able to move back by Seavey into the top position once again. Seavey was not quite done as he powered on the high side into turns one and two with two to go and drew even with Thomas once again. Thomas slid by Max Adams on the low side in turn three and went to the top off turn four with Adams going low and back by Thomas as Seavey moved closer entering turn one but got a little too high in turn two allowing Thomas to scoot away and back under Adams entering turn three. KTJ was able to hold off Seavey as they raced to the checkers at 10:06 in the non-stop event with Cummins third, Robert Ballou advancing from 11th to fourth and Justin Grant motoring from 14th to fifth. I mentioned earlier that Cummins has been on a roll as well as Thomas as Kyle recorded his eighth consecutive top four in USAC sprint competition.

    Mitchel Moles finished sixth with CJ Leary seventh, Emerson Axsom eighth, Brent Beauchamp ninth and Brady Bacon struggling in the feature to come home tenth. It was some good racing on a cold night and we were glad to get back in the Rogue and warm up on the ride home.

    Check back Sunday as we venture down to Lincoln Park Speedway for their season final Saturday and we will bring out report to you. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as fall arrives. Comments, news, opinions or anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net as we enjoy hearing from you all. And thanks for reading our efforts and hope you will continue to see where a typical weekend ends up in the next few weeks. Take care and be good.

     

     


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