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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Wires The Field At Plymouth

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cottle Nips Leary At Line For ISW Opener At Gas City

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Ace McCarthy Wins POWRi Career First At Valley

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Mid-America USAC Midget Opener Falls To Logan Seavey

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bacon Dominates In Cornbelt Nationals $20,000 Finale

     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    Bacon Engine Change Key To Cornbelt Nationals Preliminary Win

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Grant Catches Weir In Traffic To Win Kokomo Special

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Berryhill Capitalizes On Cockrum's Misfortune At Lincoln Park

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Last Lap Pass Gives Cottle Win At Gas City

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bizarre Win For Ballou At Kokomo

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez's Time At Gas City

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain and Fayette County Open Illinois Midget Week

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thorson Completes The Comeback With Spectacular Win At Lincoln Park

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Seavey Opens Indiana Midget Week With Win At Montpelier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Kokomo Klassic Falls To Justin Grant

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cockrum Triumphs In Mid-Season Championship Race At Lincoln Park

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cummins Sweeps To MSCS Sprint Win At Paragon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Swanson Dominates Little 500 For Second Straight Win

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Ballou Scores MSCS Win In Sixth Josh Burton Memorial At Bloomington

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Week Of Indy Kicks Off With Stockon Romp At Terre Haute

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Hopkins Wins Again At Lincoln Park

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

     

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


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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    King Of Kokomo Crown Goes To Windom

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Dick Jordan Classic At Anderson For Must See Sprints

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Boyles Scores Opener At Gas City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND
     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    T-Mez Stuffs His Pockets At Lincoln Park

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Brady Takes Home The Bacon At Bloomington

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    First Night of Kokomo Grand Prix And Celebrating A Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of USAC Sprint Car Racing At Bubba Raceway Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Four Nights Of Lucas Oil Late Model Racing At East Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of All Stars At Bubba Raceway Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thursday Night Racing At East Bay With Top Gun Sprints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Final Stop At Greenstone Park Speedway For Racing In New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two Nights Of Racing At Woodford Glen

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Starting Off The New Year At Huntly & Meeanee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    A Stop At Meremere & Racing At Western Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Action From Baypark Family Speedway & Paradise Valley Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing In New Zealand At Stratford & Robertson Holden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals At Cure Insurance Arena

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Taking In The Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Fall Nationals At Lawrenceburg Go To Suddenly Hot Grant

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Cockrum Wins & Takes Point Championship At Lincoln Park

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Death and Racing

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas Bags Third Haubstadt Hustler At Tri-State

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bacon Remains Hot Winning Hurtubise Classic At Terre Haute

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thursday Night Sprint Car Action At Anderson Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Brady Takes Home The Bacon At The Dirt Track @IMS

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Opening Night Of Drive2Save Lives BC9 At IMS Successful

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    River Town Showdown Goes To Courtney at Tri-City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Thomas A First Timer & Rain Dominate Kokomo Smackdown Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Courtney Claims Eighth USAC Win Of Year At Smackdown

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Romps To #GYATK Win At Kokomo Opening Smackdown Week

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Illinois Saturday Double & Almost Double Win For KTJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Boat Powers To USAC Midget Win At BAPS

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    BOSS & OVSCA At Atomic & USAC Midgets At The Clyde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

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

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


     

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

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Don Smith Classic At Terre Haute Falls To Courtney

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Meseraull Takes ISW Stop At Kokomo For Second Straight Year

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


     

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


     

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


     

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


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    ISW Continues With Rain At Kokomo & Courtney At Lawrenceburg

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

    Sunday, July 22 - The forecast all week was 80 to 90% chance of thunderstorms for the southwestern town of Lawrenceburg. As Sunday dawned the forecast for the home of Seagram's chanced drastically from 80 to 90 down to 35% to 40% in one two hour span and then it was clear. So that 2:30 we backed the Rogue out of the garage, closed the garage door and proceeded to head west on I-74 toward Lawrenceburg. We ran through two heavy rainstorms on I-74 in the Indianapolis area before clearing the heavy rain as we headed southwest on I-74. A light shower hit us as we approached the Rt. 1 sign to head south to Lawrenceburg but that quickly passed and as we ventured down the picturesque Rt. 1 it was clear and dry as we passed the covered bridge park along the highway. Upon arriving at the Burg the weather was partly cloudy and looked very promising to produce a night of racing after all the rain. Lawrenceburg had received about 5 inches of rain in the past couple of days so a cowboy up track was anticipated and it was so as the warmups started and the sprinters bounced around entering turns one and three with some rough patches cropping up. Time trials kicked off at 6:21 and abruptly came to a screeching halt as California driver, Joe Stornetta Jr., driving Aussie Robin Dawkins #4M bicycled entering turn one on his first time trial lap and bounced and flipped into the turn one wall ending up sitting on the low side of turns one and two with the tail tank ripped from the sprinter. Stornetta quickly climbed from the mangled machine to the relief of the good crowd on hand but Stornetta was done for the evening. By 7:09 the 42 sprint cars were done timing with Lawrenceburg regular, Nick Bilbee, turning a lap of 13.970 seconds around the high banked dirt oval to set fast time for the evening. Some track maintenance was next on the agenda as the track crew tried to tame the unruly beast.

    Four heats for the USAC sprint contingent were next on the card with a loaded heat one producing a magnificent race for the four qualifying positions even though the surface had turned dusty. Carson Short tamed the stout field in heat one turning back Scotty Weir, Robert Ballou (who was a big critic of the Lawrenceburg surface on Twitter during the evening) and Nick Bilbee who spun earlier and charged back to snatch away the last qualifying spot from Kevin Thomas Jr. in a tremendous drive from the rear passing Justin Grant, Jordan Kinser, Kody Swanson, Kyle Cummins and others in his march to the front. Heat two saw a strong Brady Bacon corral the win over Chase Stockon, Jason McDougal in another impressive run from the back and Dave Darland. Ohio's Landon Simon surprised in heat three in a dominant run outpacing Chris Windom, CJ Leary and Tyler Courtney to nail down the heat win. New Mexico's Josh Hodges looked stout in heat four besting Jerry Coons Jr. in a guest appearance in the Michael Dutcher #17GP, Shane Cottle and Chad Boespflug. Three good modified heats were spun off for the 17 car field with Matt Hamilton on a last corner pass for the heat one win, late model driver, Scott James, winning in heat two and former track champion, Scott Kincaid, notching heat three.

    Another session of track maintenance would follow before the sprint C and B mains were called to the post. Matt Westfall would triumph in the C main advancing to the B along with three of his friends, Jarett Andretti, PA's Tim Buckwalter and Kody Swanson. The B main was next and Kevin Thomas Jr. who vacated his fifth fastest time trial run by failing to hold off Bilbee in heat one drove to victory in this one assuring him the seventh starting position in the feature turning back California visitors, Brody Roa and Jake Swanson (no relation to Kody), Brent Beauchamp ( who qualified sixth fastest & vacated the front row along with Thomas handing it over to seventh and eighth fastest Tyler Courtney and Chad Boespflug), Isaac Chapple and Thomas Meseraull the last man in on qualifying. Justin Grant, ninth in USAC National sprint car points coming into tonight, would be forced to take a provisional along with Tim Buckwalter for this evening after failing to transfer through the B. The field was now set and another short track prep session would be performed before the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature would take to the track.

    The green from Tom Hansing would drop on the expanded 24 car field at 9:43 with the front row of Tyler Courtney and Chad Boespflug racing side by side for the entire first lap with Courtney getting the edge at the start/finish line to complete lap one. Lap two saw Carson Short get sideways in turn four collecting Brent Beauchamp and Thomas Meseraull in the process with Beauchamp turning turtle. Beauchamp was able to repair his sprinter in the work area but Meseraull was done for the evening in the Chase Briscoe #5B after suffering front end damage. On the restart Courtney went to the point with Dave Darland making a strong move on the low side of turn three passing both Shane Cottle and Boespflug for second. Darland started to look high and low to find a route around Courtney but Courtney held sway. Sunshine paced the field over the middle distance of the feature with Darland and Cottle in tow. CJ Leary mounted a charge first getting by Darland who Cottle had passed earlier for third then catching Shane for two laps later midway down the backstretch to secure second and began to track down Courtney. With six to go Leary began to poke his nose on both sides of Courtney and the race was on. Lap 26 saw Leary mount a serious run diving inside Courtney entering turn one drifting higher as they raced into turn two with Courtney able to maintain the top spot as they exited the turn and raced down the backstretch. The next two laps would see Leary execute sliders in turn one with Courtney countering in turn two to keep first as they exited turn two. Entering turn one on the white flag Shane Cottle suddenly lost power while running third and drifted high in the corner with Justin Grant who was up to seventh from 23rd having no place to go but into the disabled machine of Cottle with both being towed off the track and setting up a green, white, checker run to the finish. On the final restart Courtney stomped the loud pedal and gained a good sized lead as Leary chased the leader. Leary charged too hard into turn one and slid to the turn two wall ending any chance of catching Courtney also allowing Kevin Thomas, Brady Bacon and Chris Windom to scoot by and relegating Leary to fifth. When the double checkers waved at 10:21 it was Tyler Courtney in for his second career ISW victory and his sixth triumph of the 2018 season with Thomas finishing second after starting seventh with Bacon advancing from 15th to 3rd and maintaining his ISW point lead, Chris Windom taking 4th from 16th and CJ Leary completing the top five. Dave Darland would finish sixth with Robert Ballou nailing down the hard charger award marching from 21st to 7th with Scotty Weir eighth, Brody Roa ninth and Josh Hodges coming from 16th to round out the top ten. The track crew worked hard the entire night and gave the competitors a decent surface for the feature as their reward and some good racing was witnessed. We would have loved to have stayed and watched the modifieds but with a 2 1/2 hour jaunt back to Crawfordsville and Monday work calling Pat we called it an evening and headed for the parking lot satisfied that we had snuck in another race beating out Mother Nature for the win.

    That's it until at least Wednesday as Kokomo's Tuesday's ISW reschedule is next on the platter so check back then for another report as we work our way through the week with Terre Haute, Lincoln Park, Bloomington and Haubstadt following the Kokomo stop. So get out there and catch some good midweek short track racing in your area and be safe. Notes, comments, news and other things of interest can reach us by email at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading and come back often.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    WAR Sprints At Champaign County Fair Take Place Of USAC Sprints At Plymouth

    Friday, July 20 - I monitored the weather most of the day before we had to make a decision on where we were headed today. Would it be Plymouth, the site of the opening night of Indiana Speed Week or would it be west into Illinois for WAR wingless sprint car racing at the Champaign County Fair in Urbana. The deciding factor was the percentage of the chance of rain but the ultimate deciding factor was the tornado warning that was posted for Plymouth. Go west, young man go west. We arrived at the fair around 5:25, paid our $5 admission per person into the fair and found a good parking spot just inside the gate and walked into the fair. We checked out the food offerings and Pat decided on a burrito and I went with the brat loaded with onions and peppers. That was followed by some hand dipped ice cream and later in the evening the fare was French fries covered with cheese and chili. And they were all good!!!

    On tap at the Champaign County Fair race wise was the WAR sprints and the street stocks competing on the 1/4 mile dirt oval. This was our second straight visit to this race and this year's crowd was way up from last year's crowd. The big factor could have been it was in the 80's as apposed to over a 100 degrees in our last visit!!! Nineteen WAR sprints (down from last year) which was disappointing and 23 street stocks filled the turns three and four pit area for tonight's racing action. As is the case in Illinois the stocker divisions time trial and the street stocks took to the track at 6:55 and swiftly spun off their time trials in 11 minutes. That would be the fastest portion of tonight's program. The WAR sprints were next up for their three heat races with Colten Cottle winning heat one over Korey Weyant, Landon Simon and Steve Thomas. Heat two saw Justin Standridge go to the point and beat off Mario Clouser, Wade Seiler and Nic Harris for the victory. Terry Babb took home heat three over Zach Daum, Mitch Wissmiller and Brandon Spencer. The street stocks followed with their three heats and all heat racing was completed by 8:09. Then this is when the wheels came off the wagon. The track crew came out and reworked the track which didn't need a full rework and the time started to drag. A street stock dash race was going to be run and the announcer interviewed every driver while the track crew worked on the surface. Then the track needed to be run in and the street stocks finally ran their dash race and we were ready for feature time.

    The 25 lap (later cut to 20 laps) WAR sprint car feature took the green at 9:14, over an hour after the heat racing was completed. The green did not stay out long as Brandon Spencer and Jake Scott both spun to the infield in turn four to bring out the first yellow. On the restart Kory Weyant and Terry Babb battled side by side for almost the entire lap with Babb edging out front. There was contact between two cars in turn four with Zach Daum bouncing and hopping to a stop in the corner. Daum went to the work area and would return before the green reappeared. On the next restart Landon Simon dives low in turn three and four making it three wide for third but hits an infield tire marker and rolls over onto his side. His crew thrashes on the car in the work area and return him to the rear after the red. Yet another restart and this time leader, Kory Weyant, entering turn four turns it sideways with Babb hitting into him straightening him out but Willie Tackitt and Bobby Logan spin into the infield necessitating another caution. On the next restart Colten Cottle powers by Weyant on the cushion to take the lead but Terry Babb pulls up lame in turn four to bring out the fourth caution along with one red in the first lap!! They make it to lap six when another caution waves for a four car pileup in turn four. Cottle goes to the point on the restart with Weyant, Mario Clouser and Mitch Wissmiller chasing. Clouser throws a slider in turn two to take second from Weyant and Wissmiller duplicates the move on Weyant one lap later to take third. Meanwhile Zach Daum has worked his way from the rear and climbs into the top five with 15 to go. During the last caution it was announced that the sprint feature was being shortened to 20 laps due to all the cautions. The leaders enter lap traffic as Cottle continues to lead Clouser and Wissmiller. Daum throws a turn two slider on Weyant and takes fourth and is coming. Daum catches Wissmiller and they exchange sliders before Daum takes away third. Weyant shreds a left rear while running fifth and pulls to a stop in turn two. Fifteen down and five to go with Cottle leading Clouser, Dahm, Wissmiller and Landon Simon. On the restart fourth running Wissmiller slows drastically on the homestretch out of fuel after this marathon run. He retreats to the work area and gets a splash of fuel for the remaining five laps. The last five laps of the contest are spun off without interruption with Colten Cottle scoring his first WAR win over Mario Clouser, Zach Daum, Landon Simon with Steve Thomas rounding out the top five in this event which took 46 minutes to complete. The slowness of the push trucks and the wreckers combined with confusion in the work area and the numerous yellows (7) and one red led to this long, long feature ending at 10:02 with still the street stock feature still to run. Well, we had seen enough and headed for the exit chocking this one up to just a bad night of racing. It was good to see the ever improving Cottle score the win with good runs by Clouser, Dahm and Simon to boot. I had to laugh after reading a tweet from seventh finishing Logan Faucon saying that his car was a turd and he received the hard charger award and did not pass a car on the track under green!!!

    By the way somehow Plymouth managed to sneak in the show between sprinkles with Brady Bacon winning the opener. Oh, well!!!

    Check back Monday or Tuesday for more updates from Indiana Sprint Week as we head out the door for Lawrenceburg tonight. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. An as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing At Bloomington & Peru Double Highlight The Weekend

    Friday, July 13 - It's still hot here in the Midwest and a cooler full of water and sport drinks was packed for the ride to Bloomington. It is quite the challenge to drive to the Bloomington Speedway these days as road construction in Spencer in which it seems the entire town is torn up and the long construction on Route 37 causes you to cringe as you make the drive. What normally takes an hour and a half takes two hours during the late afternoon if you are lucky. But anyhow it was time to return to the Bloomington Speedway for a night of racing with the non-wing sprints (25), 305 sprints (17), super stocks (13) and a special hornets (23) race. We arrived early and secured a prime time space with our lawn chairs at the top of the lower turn one hill on the pavement to view the action tonight. The banked red hills of Bloomington looked good for the program that was to unfold.

    Racing kicked off promptly off at 7:30 with the first of three heats for the 25 sprint cars that made the call for heat racing action. The first heat would be captured by Kyle Cummins turning back Jeff Bland Jr., Jordan Kinser, Andrew Prather and Kevin Chambers. Heat two was a free for all with everything from sliders to side by side battling to dicing and slicing as the top five threw everything at each other for the entire distance. Brandon Morin was able to fend off all challengers looking very good in the process with Robert Ballou second, Chad Boespflug in the Pottorff #11P was third, Isaac Chapple fourth and Travis Berryhill rounding out the top five. The final heat went to Scotty Weir wheeling the Gass #17 to victory over Tony DiMattia, Daylan Chambers, Bradley Sterrett taking a spin in the Burton #04 and Jaden Rogers nailing down the last qualifying positon. Three heats followed for the 17 305 sprints with Anton Hernandez, Rod Henning and Colin Parker the winners. This was followed by the wingless B main with Dakota Jackson coming home the winner over Michael Koontz, Jake Scott, Kody Swanson and Josh Cunningham. Two super stock heats followed before the first feature of the evening would take place.

    The green flag waved on the 25 lap non-wing feature at 9:01 but the caution flew quickly as Tony DiMattia and Bradley Sterrett both went over the turn one banking onto the road bordering it to bring out the yellow flag. On the restart Kyle Cummins moved to the point from his first starting position and paced the field in the early going. Brandon Morin would take second away from Scotty Weir at the line to start lap four and looked to reel in Cummins. The second caution flew on lap 13 when Daylan Chambers stopped on the inside while point leader, Jordan Kinser, rolled to a stop on the outside of the homestretch. On the restart Cummins held true to his huggy pole line as did most of the field on the slick surface with Weir and Ballou being the only people trying the outside for the most part. The turning point of the race occurred on lap 17 entering turn three when Jeff Bland Jr. dove low on second running Brandon Morin and tried to rout him off the bottom. Instead contact was made sending Morin into a series of barrel rolls which ended the fine run of Morin in disappointment. Cummins assumed the lead on the restart with Bland in tow. Ballou was able to pass Bland for second coming off turn four on the cushion on lap 18 and went after Cummins. The remaining seven laps were spun off without incident and Ballou was unable to make a serious challenge to the Princeton, IN driver and Cummins brought the EZR (owners Chuck Eberhardt & Fred Zirzow) #3C across the line first with Robert Ballou claiming second, Jeff Bland Jr. third, Isaac Chapple in another good run advancing from 11th to fourth with Andrew Prather also in a good run coming from ninth to fifth at the finish at 9:29.

    We know the 25 lap hornet feature was for a very good cause benefiting the St. Jude Hospital but introducing the entire 23 car starting field by donations collected took quite a while and it was almost a half hour before the feature started. Speedway officials need to learn some time management as for many after a long week at work they want to sit back and enjoy a night of racing but it should be completed long before 11 or 12 o'clock. When parents are carrying their young ones out to the car long before the program is completed is a good sign the racing program is too long. With all that said the hornet feature was good when they were running but five cautions and one red for a three or four time barrel roll off the backstretch pushed this finish to 10:31 with still two features to run. Bradley Sterrett jumped behind the wheel of the #85 and drove it to victory over Chris Hillman who turned in a great performance coming from the back after early contact with Derek Groomer which led to a spin and a restart at the tail to nail down second with AJ Hobbs third. We were starting to get tired after a long week so even though we wanted to watch the 305 sprint feature we bagged it and head for the Rogue for the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Crawfordsville.

    Saturday, July 14 - Today called for chances of thunderstorms in the Peru, Indiana area where we were going but if you are familiar with weather in the midwest you know that the forecast can change by the hour. And it did. By the time we were ready to leave at 3 PM there was a two hour time frame where a 25 to 40% chance of rain was possible. I am glad to report that we did not have any rain for the rest of the day and the races went on as planned. Our first stop was at the X-Factor Ranch which is a whitetail deer farm and also hosts the IXCR organization which is a cross country outfit that races motorcycles, ATV's and UTV's the latter what we went to see. The UTV race is the last of the first day of racing and was scheduled for 5 PM. It finally started at 5:40 and the race runs for an hour. There were 18 UTV's in the Heavy Pro Mod class, 10 in the Heavy Limiteds, 2 in the lite mods & 3 in the single seat Ace class. They race around a road course with elevation changes, jumps and dips which is about 2+ miles in length. We were able to driver all around the course and watch them racing from different vantage points. By 6:42 Terre Haute's Devin Smith had crossed the line first beating out

    Crawfordsville's own Matt Rowell and Jason Wofford in the Heavy Pro Mod class while Mitch Wofford came across first in the Heavy Limited class. It was now time to head about a mile up the same road to the Circus City Speedway, a 1/8 mile semi banked clay oval, located on the Miami County Fairgrounds and one of only two micro/mini sprint tracks that run weekly in the state of Indiana. The smaller covered grandstand had been replaced by a much larger, four section aluminum grandstand but not a covered one. We were disappointed that the cover was gone but it was not really that bad sitting in the sun today.

    Five classes of mini and micro sprints graced the pit area located around the outside of the track stretching from turn one all the way over to turn four. Guard rail lines the track with safety fence attached except in turn four where large hay bales are the wall for that area of the track. The first class up would be the senior wingless 600 sprints for drivers age 45+. Among the 18 car field was Russ Gamester, the veteran 53 year old wheelman who has raced USAC midgets, sprints and Silver Crown over the years and still races in the Silver Crown division. Gamester scored the heat one win with George Marks taking heat two and Nick Yoder nailing down heat three. Next up were the kids in the junior sprint division with four of them racing in their heat. The winged 600's followed with two heats for their 12 car field with Kole Kirkman and Corbin Gurley winning. There were only 5 cars for the restricted winged 600's with Jakeb Boxell winning their heat. The fifth and last division ready to rumble were the wingless 600's which brought the largest field to the track at 24. Joe Leek, Barbie Kimmel in the Yellow Jacket Racing #44 which was black and yellow with a yellow band down the rear of the tail tank, Brandon Rose and Russ Gamester doing double duty were winners here. All heat qualifying was wrapped up by 8:03 which gave us time to grab a bite to eat before the only B main needed for the wingless 600's was contested. A delicious double cheeseburger from the grill was our supper and boy was it good!!! The B main was flagged off at 8:35 with Adam Grim claiming the win. Now the fields were set for the main events.

    The 25 lap wingless senior feature event was first up taking the green at 8:46. Russ Gamester took the lead from his fourth starting position in turn two on lap five and held on to grab the win over 11th starting Joe Leek who pressured Gamester through the second half of the race. Kris Knox tallied third with Mike Mensendiek taking fourth after starting way back and Dennis Corcoran rounded out the top five. The 17 lap junior sprint feature was next up with only one caution slowing the five minute feature. Young Colin Baldwin in a duplicate of the Baldwin Brothers #5 orange crate sprinter driven by Chris Windom went out front on the start and was never headed. Colin must be the son or grandson of one of the Baldwin brothers as the car was an exact duplicate except for the wing on top. Feature number three was probably the best race for the win as Kole Kirkman passed Carson Stout on lap 17 for the lead but Stout returned the favor in the last corner of the last lap to steal the win from Kirkman. Austin Nigh rode home third with Corbin Gurley fourth and Seth Ireland rounded out the top five. Jakeb Boxell walked off with the five car restricted 600 feature in a race that seemed more like a glorified warmup session. The final feature of the night pitted 12 of the wingless 600's against each other in a good race which would have been better if not for six cautions and one red. Brandon Rose looked like a sure winner until he made a dumb move in lap traffic slamming into a lap car entering turn three and flipping over ending his evening prematurely. Once again Russ Gamester came home the winner making a late race pass of Todd Kirkman to score the win in this one from seventh with Kirkman hanging on for second followed by Joe Leek who remained low to the low side with Randy Shilling fourth from ninth and Camden Winter from eighth to fifth at the line. All racing was completed by 10:08 and turned out to be an enjoyable evening of racing on the racy 1/8 mile oval.

    Check back frequently over the coming weekend as the 31st USAC Indiana Sprint Week starts at Plymouth Speedway for their first ISW event ever followed by Kokomo on a rare Saturday and then down to Lawrenceburg for a Sunday meet. The series picks up again on Wednesday at Terre Haute then over to Lincoln Park on Thursday, Bloomington on Friday and the final is slated for Tri-State in Haubstadt on Saturday. Weather and all other things permitting we plan to take in the entire seven race schedule. Some interesting tidbits from USAC are as follows: NOS energy drinks will be the title sponsor of the series this year; Tyler Courtney leads the National sprint car point race heading into ISW and scored his first ever USAC sprint win during ISW at Gas City in 2016 in a race where he spun early and came from the back to win in the last few laps passing Bryan Clauson for the win; the defending champion of ISW is Kevin Thomas Jr. who looks to repeat his 2017 championship in which he scored his fifth career ISW win; Dave Darland comes into ISW with the most lifetime ISW wins with 18 and the most National wins at 60 and looks to add to those totals and last but not least Chris Windom comes into ISW on a tear winning five times this year at Kokomo but surprisingly has not won a ISW race since 2011 (who would have thought that!!). It should be an interesting seven races and we look forward to watching some great non-winged action in our adopted state of Indiana.

    So until next time get out there and enjoy some racing in your area or get your butt in the car and haul out here to Indiana to take in the finest wingless racing to be seen anywhere. Comments, thoughts or notes can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or by Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep reading as we enjoy bringing our thoughts and other things to you our faithful readers.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Windom Continues To Dominate At Kokomo

    Sunday, July 8 - Today was a beautiful day in Indiana with temperatures in the high 80's and the humidity was lower which was good. The Kokomo Klassic was on tap for the evening with the non-wing sprint cars, winged 305 sprint cars, super stocks and hornets on the card. Also starting around 5 until 6:30 many former drivers, car owners, announcers and writers would be signing autographs and greeting the fans coming into the track underneath the main grandstand. There were a slew of celebrities such as Jack Hewitt, Steve Butler, Tony Jarett, Butch Wilkerson, Tim Bookmiller, Kevin Thomas, Brandon Petty, Dave Darland, Kelly Kinser, Mike Mann, AJ Anderson, Justin and Brad Marvel, Terry Pletch, Gary Fisher, Monte Edison, Kenneth Nichols, Jess Fordyce and so many more it is impossible to name them all. It was an enjoyable late afternoon seeing and talking with so many important people in the development of wingless sprint car racing in the midwest. This will surely become a yearly event and should so be. Thanks for the Spencer family and so many others for organizing this memorable event.

    Now onto the racing at hand with the non-wing sprints being the first class to take to the finely manicured race track for heat action at 7:24. Three heats would be contested for the 24 traditional sprint cars on hand with Chris Windom steering the Baldwin orange #5 to victory in heat one over CJ Leary, Scotty Weir, Kyle Cummins and Aussie Jay Waugh in an exciting race. Heat two saw "The Madman" Robert Ballou wrestle his #12 to the win besting Isaac Chapple who is looking better and better every time out with Travis Hery running a strong third, Tony DiMattia fourth and Illinois' Mario Clouser rounding out the five qualifiers. Justin Grant punched his Topp Motorsports #4 to victory turning back Shane Cottle, Kevin Thomas Jr., Jarett Andretti and Clinton Boyles. The 24 winged 305 sprinters were next up also running three heats with Texan Anton Hernandez also wheeling a Tops Motorsports entry to the first heat win over Luke Bland and Andy Bradley. Heat two saw Justin Clark take the win over Ethan Barrow and Rod Henning. John Paynter sprinted to the victory in heat three besting Jeff Wimmenauer and Kendall Ruble making the long tow from Vincennes. One heat was all that was needed for the 10 car super stock field and the 7 car hornet field before the two sprint classes returned to run their respective B mains. Young Aussie driver, Braydan Willmington, in his first week in the states continued his strong opening weekend notching the wingless B main after finishing fifth on Friday in the A main at Gas City. Josh Cunningham, Adam Byrkett, Jamie Frederickson and Kayleb Bolton punched their ticket to the big dance chasing Willmington across the line. The 305 B main went to Scott Bradley over Brandon Long and Jackson Sloan.

    All qualifying was completed before 9 with intermission following with the top two finishers in the sprint car heats participating in a redraw for the top six starting positions. Track management has a good idea here with all kids invited down to the start/finish line with each driver selecting one little boy or girl to pick his board with the starting position on the back. It allows the kids to get an up close and personal interaction with the drivers and offers a good chance to make a lifetime fan for racing. I saw on Twitter the next day where one mother of a young boy tweeted to Robert Ballou to thank him for choosing her son and that he has not stopped talking about it yet!!! All tracks should look at ways to involve the youngsters in activities that will get them to want to come back again and again as they are the future of auto racing.

    It was now feature time and the non-wing sprints were first up for their 25 lap main event with the only green flag waving at 9:25. In the seven minutes in between the green and the checkered some fine racing took place. Robert Ballou was the first to the lead from his first starting position with the field nipping at his heels. Kevin Thomas Jr., who started ninth in the Dooling/Hayward #63, was coming quickly up to sixth in turn two on lap 4. Justin Grant was stalking Ballou for the top spot when he bicycled in turn three on lap six nearing going over but saving it but allowing Chris Windom to scoot by for second. Meanwhile Thomas had worked his way up to fourth and looked like he had no intentions of slowing down. Windom reeled in Ballou and began to pressure him for the lead finally grabbing the top position with a homestretch pass to begin lap 12. Thomas picked off Grant with a high side move in turn two on lap 20 and set off after the tandem in front of him. CJ Leary claimed fourth from Grant on the homestretch on lap 23 as all continued to chase Windom. The checkered flag waved at 9:32 with Chris Windom notching his fifth Kokomo win of 2018 in the non-stop event with Robert Ballou remaining in second with Kevin Thomas Jr. riding home third, CJ Leary fourth and Justin Grant hanging on for fifth. It was a darn good race with plenty of action and passing and Windom has established himself as the one to beat at Kokomo and during Smackdown in August with his impressive drive once again.

    The 20 lap winged 305 sprint car feature would go green at 9:43 with only one caution flag slowing the action. This one was a very good feature with much passing and a good battle up front for the top five positions. Justin Clark would prevail at 9:51 for the big win worth $1000 with seventh starting Andy Bradley falling just a little short in his impressive run. Ethan Barrow would finish third with Luke Bland sliding from the front row to finish fourth and Alfred Galedrige Jr. advancing from tenth to fifth at the end. We decided to skip the remaining two features and head homeward bound after a busy and enjoyable typical weekend of three nights of racing.

    Check back on Sunday or Monday for our next installment where racing is on the menu for Friday and two races on Saturday and nothing scheduled on Sunday. Notes, comments or other news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. Get out there and enjoy this nice sunny weather and take in some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road somewhere for an overnight adventure. And as always thanks for reading our efforts, take care and be safe.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC From Lincoln Park & BOSS From Waynesfield

    Friday, July 6 - This was the weekend of the 4th Annual Bill Gardner Sprintacular, the founder of the Indiana Open Wheel website that so many people in the midwest enjoy reading and commenting on. Bill died of cancer and Joe and Jill Spiker decided four years ago to honor him with the two day running of this event. Bloomington gives the sprints the night off to run at Lincoln Park and the event has become a must see event for many. USAC sprints run on Friday night with MSCS sprints competing on Saturday night. Sprint car counts of 37 and 42 make this event a true classic to witness. Tonight had its trials and tribulations but when all was said and done it was still an enjoyable night of racing. Murphy's Law kicked in tonight (What can go wrong, will go wrong) with a close to 30 minute delay for the ambulance making a call behind the grandstands to a Cowboy Up race track that was rough and unruly but finally tamed by feature time.


     

    Action kicked off right on time with time trials for the 37 car sprint car field on hand commencing at 6:29. Thirty minutes later Carson Short who is having a good season was the fast timer with a time of 12.467 second around the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval. A five division program would add to the length of the night and in the future management might want to look at limiting the division count by one or two. There would be four heats for the sprint cars with Thomas Meseraull wheeling the Chase Briscoe #5B to the heat one victory over Jordan Kinser, Robert Ballou and AJ Hopkins in the Ottinger #4J. Heat two would see local runner, Tim Creech, hold off Colten Cottle, CJ Leary and Tony DiMattia in a race where Jarett Andretti flipped wildly down the homestretch after tangling with DiMattia while battling for the last qualifying spot as they raced to the checker. Andretti was OK but the car was not so lucky. Heat three saw Justin Grant top the field with the Topp Motorsports #4 beating out Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Brady Bacon in a stacked heat tussle. The fourth heat would see Tyler Courtney steer the Clauson/Marshall/Newman #7BC to the win over Dave Darland, Brent Beauchamp and Brandon Mattox. Two UMP modifieds would follow for the 16 car field with three heats for the D2 midgets with Trey Osborne, Chett Gehrke and John Heydenreich, former Chili Bowl winner, capturing the wins. The sprint B main was next up with fast timer, Carson Short, winning this one over Jason McDougal in the Krockenberger #21K from 12th (just a start to what he would do in the feature), Mario Clouser, Josh Hodges, Chris Windom and Kody Swanson as the last man in. The super stocks ran two heats for their 17 car field and the bombers had three heats for their large field. It was a long time before all the preliminary qualifying was completed with added time for track prep and the previously mentioned ambulance delay extending the evening.


     

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature took the green flag at 11:01 with second starting Kevin Thomas Jr. moving the Hoffman #69 to the front of the field. The first and only yellow appeared on lap two when sixth starting Brady Bacon came up lame with a flat left rear shoe and headed to the work area to change the flat. On the restart a four car tangle ensued with Brent Beauchamp going over Colten Cottle's wheel and barrel rolled on the homestretch. Beauchamp climbed from the car quickly and was AOK. When the race went green again Thomas went to the point and began to pull away. Thomas was in complete control and looked like he was on his way to his fifth USAC victory of the year extending his lead as the leaders approached lap traffic. On lap 10 Thomas and Isaac Chapple almost took each other out but both survived and continued. Tyler Courtney was slowly working his way to the front from fifth and finally broke free of the pack when he passed AJ Hopkins for second with a turn two move on lap 17. The race's complexion would change drastically on lap 23 when leader Thomas caught the lip off turn two turning the #69 sideways and launching into two quick barrel rolls landing below the rim on the backstretch. Thomas would head to the work area and would return but would not contend for the remaining seven laps. On the restart Courtney would inherit the lead with Hopkins second with two lap cars separating the top two. Hopkins quickly dispatched the lappers and took up the chase of Courtney. Jason McDougal had steadily marched from his 22nd starting position into third and was looking for more over the final seven laps. The top two pulled away over the remaining distance with Hopkins drawing close but did not have enough to overcome the high flying Courtney as the double checkers waved at 11:29. Tyler Courtney would score his first ever victory at Lincoln Park Speedway, a track his grandparents ran for almost two decades back in the 80's and 90's, and also garner his 11th career USAC sprint car victory and his 5th of 2018. Hopkins chased him across the line for second with McDougal finishing off a very impressive run to third with Chris Windom making a late rush to nail down fourth from twenty first and Jordan Kinser rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were claimed by Thomas Meseraull with Dave Darland seventh from 20th, Brandon Mattox eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Josh Hodges tenth. Courtney also vaulted into the season point's lead with the win going now into the 31st Indiana Sprint Week starting on July 20th at Plymouth Speedway.


     

    Richie Lex would win the 20 lap UMP modified feature over Cole Parker and James Walters at 11:53 and with three features still to go and a busy day including a long drive it was time to call it a night and exit stage right. It was a good sprint car feature and a good night of racing though it was a long night also.


     

    Saturday, July 7 - We had talked about visiting the Waynesfield Raceway Park, a 1/3 mile dirt oval in northwestern Ohio, for two seasons now and today would be the day we would make the 3 hour tow over into Ohio to finally make it happen. Our journey saw us utilizing the many back roads that make America such a fun place to travel in. The roads are mostly nice and scenic and allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the midwest. The interstates are fine for making time but the back roads are where you see how and where the population lives. Tonight would be my 798th career track visited while Pat would check in at 793. We arrived a little after 5 and I paid my way onto the grounds and staked out our seats in the tallest grandstand on the homestretch before returning to the car and listening to the end of the Cubs vs. Reds game that the Cubbies came from behind for the second day in a row to win. We grabbed our gear and headed inside for the Dick Spencer Memorial featuring the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS). The American Mini Sprint Association (AMSA) would kick off the night's racing action with two good heats for their 16 car field with Jac Nickles and Austin Powell claiming the wins. The BOSS sprints would partake in four heats for their fine 34 car field with Landon Simon drawing first blood snaring heat one over Cody Gardner and Matt Cooley. Luke Hall would run away with heat two besting Paul Dues and Kayleb Bolton just off a third place finish last night at Gas City Speedway. Mike Miller notched heat three over Steve Irwin of Michigan who won last night at Gas City and Chad Wilson. The final heat was a Drew Rader victory winning over Dustin Ingle and Bill Rose. The third division on the evening, the compacts, ran two heats for their 14 car field before we went back to the two sprint car B mains. Two would qualify in each B main and Cole Ketchum won the first one over Travis Hery. Scotty Weir breezed in the second B with young Korbyn Hayslett holding off two good racers in Carmen Perigo and Tyler Hewitt. All qualifying was in the books by 8:32 and some track prep was in the works and some kid's bikes and other items were given away during the break.


     

    It was feature time by 9:05 and the AMSA mini sprints would lead off the feature parade. Chris Bounds from the first starting position bolted out front and looked like a sure winner until flipping in turn three with just two laps to go. Brad Strunk said thank you very much, I will take the gift and run with it. Strunk led the final two laps and flashed under the checker at 9:19 with the victory over Jac Nickles and Brad Racer (What a name!! What else could he be?).


     

    The 25 lap BOSS sprint car feature would take the green flag at 9:34 with Landon Simon jumping to the early lead. Paul Dues tangled with Mike Miller on the homestretch on lap 3 and rolled over bringing out the red flag. On the restart Simon went to the point again with Luke Hall chasing. Matt Westfall was picking off cars left and right moving forward from his 14th starting position . Westfall was up to fourth by lap 11 and took over third on lap 15 as Simon and Hall exchanged sliders for several laps as they picked their way through lap traffic during this time. Hall went out front on lap 16 with a turn two pass and led until lap 23 when Simon worked a slider in turn three to regain the lead. With the white flag waving the top three raced side by side into turn one three wide for the lead. Entering turn two Simon was in the lead with Westfall in second when contact from Westfall on Simon's left rear sent the leader sideways into a spin to the bottom of the track. Simon was hot and jumped out of his sprinter and walked to the edge of the track waving his arms and shaking his fist at Westfall who was driving by. The restart was lined up according to the last time across the line with Luke Hall being the new leader. On the restart Hall was the rabbit with Westfall on his heels. Entering turn three Westfall threw a slider and slid in front of Hall exiting turn four and raced to the line to claim his second BOSS victory in two nights and exited his car to a mixed reaction of boos and cheers. Westfall apologized in victory lane saying the contact was unintentional and seemed very remorseful but later on Twitter Simon still was not buying it from his childhood friend. Any how the victory stood and Matt Westfall was the winner over Luke Hall with Steve Irwin notching third with Cody Gardner home fourth with Dustin Ingle ending a strong evening taking down fifth at the finish at 9:53.

    It was an enjoyable evening of racing spun off in good order on a racy track with some controversy mixed in to send us on our way home thirsting for more and providing some good discussion on the three hour ride home with assurances that a return visit in the future was a sure thing.


     

    That's it for now but check back on Wednesday for our third race of the weekend on Sunday at Kokomo. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road to check out some racing in an area you have been dying to check out. News, notes and comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Spectacular Racing & Fireworks At Kokomo

    Tuesday, July 3 - Pat's company had a early out or closing today so by 3:30 we were headed toward Kokomo where the O'Connor family were presenting a July 3rd special with the non-wing sprint cars, UMP modifieds and hornets. We stopped at the Windmill Grill on the west side of town and had a great meal (me - grilled pork chops & Pat had smothered chicken with sugar cream pie & strawberry shortcake for dessert) before venturing over to the track.


     

    We decided once again to sit in the large aluminum backstretch grandstands where the sun is at your back and the view is just grand. It was another hot high index temperature day but once seated in the grandstands we were the benefactors of a nice cool breeze which lasted the whole evening. By the time the races kicked off at 8:19 there was a good sized crowd on hand in both grandstands to witness tonight's racing. Twenty five sprint cars, 27 UMP modifieds and 16 hornets filled the pit area with the sprint cars running their three heats first. Dave Darland used his second starting position in heat one to grab the early lead and hold off Justin Grant, Tyler Hewitt, Tony DiMattia and Shane Cottle who started eighth after not taking group qualifying. Unfortunately Grant was done for the evening as the engine expired in the Topps Motorsports #4 and his chance of winning on this evening was done. Heat two saw Jarett Andretti win on the day when his great aunt, Dee Ann (wife of Mario), passed away at the age of 75. Thomas Meseraull in his own #00, Isaac Chapple, Aaron Farney and Jake Scott, last week's winner at Paragon, trailed. CJ Leary steered the family owned #30 to victory in heat three besting Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Clinton Boyles and Scotty Weir. The UMP modifieds contested three heats with Dan Lewellen, Todd Sherman and Dylan Woodling winning. The hornets spun off two heats with all heat qualifying done by 9:02. Five more entrants would be taken from two B mains, one for the sprints and the other for the UMP modifieds. Ben Knight captured the sprint B main outrunning Travis Hery, Mario Clouser, Cole Ketchum and Aussie Jay Waugh. St. Paul, Minnesota attorney, Brian VanMeveren, was added to the field as the first alternate to replace the scratched Grant. The UMP modified consie went to Daniel Russell.


     

    By 9:58 Tom Hansing was waving the green flag on the 20 car starting field of non-wing sprint cars with Thomas Meseraull going to the point from his first starting position. Chris Windom, a four time winner already this year at Kokomo, moved into second in turn two on the fourth lap passing Jarett Andretti. CJ Leary took third three laps later also in turn two from Andretti. Windom hounded Messeraull for several laps before passing him for the lead off turn two on the low side on lap 10. Leary would take second from Meseraull in turn four on lap 11 with eighth starting Kevin Thomas Jr. moving into third shortly thereafter. The turning point of the race came on lap 16 in lap traffic when Windom attempted to pass Travis Hery on the cushion in turns three and four but Hery drifted high causing Windom to bang the cushion and allowing Leary and Thomas to scoot low and into the top two spots by the homestretch. Thomas dispatched of Leary for the lead in turn four on lap 17 with Leary and Windom chasing. Ben Knight spun to the infield off turn two to bring out the only caution of the race on lap 19. This would give another chance to Leary and Windom to throw a slider at Thomas on the restart. Thomas was going to have none of that as he accelerated off turn four on the restart and had a four car length lead entering turn one. Thomas kept his foot to the floor and pulled away as Leary and Windom staged an intense tussle for second. Thomas Meseraull was tapped in turn four while running sixth and ended up sideways sitting in the four on lap 24. So there would be a green/white and then checker and one more chance. Thomas powered away on the single file restart and left his challengers in his wake. As Tom Hansing's checkered flag waved at 10:10 it was Kevin Thomas Jr. bringing home the Dooling/Hayward #63 first for the second time this year at Kokomo and his eleventh overall sprint car victory of 2018 to go along with two additional midget wins in Florida in February. Leary would finish second with Windom home third, Dave Darland fourth and Shane Cottle powering from twelifth to fifth at the finish. Jarett Andretti would lead the second five with Scotty Weir advancing from fourteenth to seventh with Clinton Boyles eighth, Isaac Chapple ninth and Aaron Farney finishing tenth.


     

    Next up were the fireworks and what a fabulous display was presented. We have seen scores of displays but this might have been the best ever as the variety and amount of fireworks was very impressive. After this wonderful display of explosions it was time for the 20 lap UMP modified feature. Todd Sherman led the early goings until third starting Dylan Woodling used the cushion to motor past for the lead. The modifieds were putting on their own display of fireworks as they used the big cushion to their advantage. Sherman, Curt Spalding, Dan Lewellen and Zeke McKenzie duked it out behind Woodling for many laps with McKenzie finally claiming second and taking up the task of tracking down the high flying Woodling. McKenzie indeed tracked down Woodling and the battle was on. These two drivers put on an amazing display of driving dueling each other for the lead. They exchanged the lead numerous times over the next several laps with Woodling regaining the lead at the end. It was an impressive feature event and if you left after the sprint car main you missed a true classic. Woodling would take the win at 10:45 with Sherman nipping McKenzie at the line for second with Spalding fourth and Dan Lewellen rounding out the top five. As the traffic wasn't moving too fast from the backstretch section we decided to stay and watch the 15 lap hornet feature event. Josh Gambin assumed the lead around lap 9 and the multi-time winner looked in control but nobody mentioned this to Chris Hillman. On the last restart with two to go Hillman pulled alongside Gambin entering turn one and they raced cleanly side by side over the remaining two laps. Coming off turn four to the checkered Hillman edged ahead and crossed the line about a half car length ahead of Gambin to steal the win at 11 PM.


     

    It was a fine night of racing and fireworks on an expertly manicured racing surface which I am sure that Reece O'Connor and the track crew did not want the surface to be dusty like it was for the Bob Darland Memorial on June 24th. Hats off to the entire track crew for a job well done.


     

    That's it for now but check back over the weekend as USAC sprints and BOSS sprints are on the menu along with another Sunday night of non-wing action at Kokomo. Comments, notes and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and remember to keep hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen while out in this intense sun and heat. As always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Kicking Up The Dust At Kickapoo

    Saturday, June 30 - The heat wave continues in the Midwest as the heat index sailed above 100 degrees again today as we visited our local farmer's market and ventured down to Home Depot to check out the flowers and plants before returning home to do some outside work before heading west on I-74 toward the Land of Lincoln. Of course we allocated enough time to visit the wonderful Beef House near Covington for some delicious steaks, salad bar and great rolls with strawberry jam and apple butter. After this filling meal we jumped back on I-74 and crossed the Indiana border into Illinois heading for Danville and our night destination.

    We pulled into the Kickapoo Speedway at the Vermillion County Fairgrounds around 6:10 PM and found a small crowd on hand when we arrived. The crowd did not get much bigger with only about 300 people on hand by race time but one of them was Terre Haute's finest, Jerry Shaw, a great sprint car enthusiast who joined us on our long Indian blanket for the evening. The track looked good to start out with but started to dust up toward the end of warmups. Twenty minutes was taken to work on the track and it helped. The 16 MSCS sprints were the first division to test the reworked track and the heats were pretty decent. Daylan Chambers who is looking better every time out ran away with heat one besting Garrett Aitken, Brandon Mattox, the point leader coming into tonight and Aric Gentry. Heat two saw Carson Short in a good battle with Jon Stanbrough beat the veteran with Kent Schmidt third and Steven Schnapf fourth. Two UMP modified heats followed for the 11 car field and one heat for the vintage sprint cars with Roy Caruthers wheeling a family car to victory. One pro late model heat was run and it was now intermission time and a chance for the track crew to work on the track again.

    The 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature would be first up on the card and took the green flag at 9:17. Carson Short went out front on the start but the red quickly flew when Collin Ambrose rolled his sprinter in turn two on the opening lap. On the restart first starting Daylan Chambers got the jump and went to the lead. The top three of Chambers, Short and Garrett Aitken went three wide through turns three and four before Short was able to secure the lead at the line. Chambers lost the handle in turn two on the third lap and his fine run was ruined early. Short went back out front on the restart and began to pull away. The track started to slick up and the field basically went to the bottom to run. Aitken ran second with Brandon Mattox moving into third. In the middle stages of the race Jon Stanbrough began to work on Mattox for third and by lap 20 was able to secure the spot. Stanbrough quickly disposed of Aitken for second and took up the chase of Short through lap traffic. The checker flew at 9:39 with Carson Short across the line first for the $2000 to win with Jon Stanbrough second, Brandon Mattox third, Garrett Aitken slipping to fourth and Kentucky's Aric Gentry able to grab the fifth position. We decided to take in the 20 lap UMP modified feature with Ryan Carey holding off the field from his first starting position winning over Devin Wright and Kenny Carmichael Sr. in a seven minute feature with only one caution. It was now 10 PM (11 Eastern Time) so we decided to call it an evening and head back east on I-74 to the home base of Crawfordsville.

    Sunday, July 1 - The plan all week was to go to the Lincoln Speedway in Illinois for a doubleheader of UMP late models as part of their month long Hell Tour and POWRi midgets but the forecast all week was predicting 80% rain and it did not change the whole week which is a rarity. One more check on Sunday had thunderstorms hitting the Lincoln area around 6 PM so we decided to not make the 2 1/2 hour tow over to Lincoln. It was a wise decision as when I was watching the Cubs/Twins game on TV I checked Twitter and found out that Lincoln had canceled because of rain at 5:42 Central Time. The weathermen were on the money this time!!!

    Check back in the middle of the week as we have races planned on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, Thursday and the entire weekend coming up. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and remember as Kyle Busch said after spinning Kyle Larson from the lead "If you didn't like that one you don't like racing." Well I don't like that kind of racing!!! Maybe that is why the stands at NASCAR racing are so empty and most of the good short tracks are not!!! Notes, comments, complaints and anything else can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we continue to enjoy bringing them to you.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Jerry Gappens Sr. Memorial A Thriller At Gas City

    Friday, June 29 - It was beyond hot today!! It was like being in a heat furnace. The temperature read 93 degrees but the heat index was 101. It was a scorcher. Tonight would find us heading to the Gas City I-69 Speedway for the third time this year for the Jerry Gappens Sr./Star Spangled Spectacular special on this Friday night. I knew we were in trouble when dust in warmups raised its ugly head. During sprint car warmups Jamie Frederickson spun between turns three and four with Dallas Hewitt having no where to go but into the spun car causing his sprinter to roll over once with front end damage. Hewitt was able to repair the sprint and return for heat action. After all warmups were completed the track crew went to work again dicing up the dirt and adding some much needed water. The track was still dusty as the night progressed but less so. The track maintenance caused the program to start almost an hour late but promoter, Jerry Gappens Jr., keep the crowd entertained interviewing many fans and giving away some prizes. Gappens proved to be knowledgeable and witty in his banter with the patrons.

    The first of three wingless sprint car heats took the green at 8:25 with Garrett Abrams going out front and never being headed. Clinton Boyles, who has won the past three sprint features, and Shane Cockrum chased him across the line. Shane Cottle won heat two from the first starting spot over CJ Leary and Tyler Hewitt. The third heat went to Ohio's Matt Westfall opting for Gas City instead of the BOSS race at Lernerville besting Isaac Chapple and Scotty Weir in the Gass #17. Weir started fifth and had the lead using the outside by the time they exited turn four to complete lap one. A few laps later he lost the handle in turn two and spun while leading. He started in the rear and worked his way back up to third after restarting seventh. No B main would be needed for the 21 count sprint car field with three heats contested for the 20 UMP modifieds on hand, two heats for the 12 thundercars on hand and two heats for the 15 FWD compacts in attendance. Intermission was highlighted with a $200 coin scramble for the youngsters on the homestretch before the 25 lap sprint car feature was summoned to the track.

    Before the start of the Jerry Gappens Sr. Memorial 25 lap sprint car feature his son spoke from the heart on the homestretch with family gathered around and several times he got choked up. You could tell that he admired and cherished his father and it was an emotional moment. Gappens Sr. was a former promoter at Terre Haute and also a track preparer at Kokomo Speedway in later years. The start of the feature was at the drop of Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:34 with Garrett Abrams to the early lead. By the exit of turn four on lap one it was three wide for the lead with rim riding CJ Leary taking command at the line. Leary worked the outside while Matt Westfall took a turn at working the bottom groove which the majority of the field was also utilizing. The top two went at it tooth and nail over the next several laps with Westfall nipping Leary at the line to lead lap four. Lap six saw Leary edge ahead at the line until two laps late on lap eight when Westfall nosed in front again at the start/finish line. Meantime seventh starting Shane "The Chief" Cockrum steered the Jamie Paul #24P into third working by Shane Cottle, Abrams and Clinton Boyles and started to close on the leaders. The laps started ticking off with Westfall in control trailed by Leary and Cockrum. Lap 16 saw Cockrum wrestle second away from Leary exiting turn four and he began to stalk Westfall for the lead. The first and only caution appeared on lap 21 when Luke Harbison slowed to a stop in turn four. On the restart Westfall went back out front but Cockrum and Leary were right there on his heels. Leary took back second from Cockrum on lap 23 staying true to the top side as one of the few to use it the entire evening. Exiting turn four to take the white flag the threesome were side by side by side racing to the line. They remained that way all the way around the track for the final lap with Leary almost getting Westfall in turn two. But Westfall found a little extra exiting the turn and held sway. Coming off turn four it was three wide for the win with Westfall on the extreme bottom, Cockrum in the middle and Leary on the lip with Leary finding some bite to steal the win by half a car length at the wire with Westfall second and Cockrum settling for third. Even though the track was dusty and slick you not going to get a better finish than that one maybe all year!!! It was an emotional victory lane as this was the first career victory for car owners, Scott and Ryan Pedersen with an engine built by Red Pedersen, with many hugs being exchanged in victory lane. The Pedersen #4P is a real throwback to days gone by as the car is plain white with a small #4P on the tail tank and is towed to the track on an open wheel trailer. We were very happy for the Pedersen clan but at the same time it was heartbreaking for Matt Westfall and the Ray Marshall Motorsports #33M who miss by mere inches of scoring his second career win at Gas City. Shane Cottle placed fourth with Clinton Boyles having his three in a row streak snapped when he finished fifth.

    The 20 lap UMP modifieds went green at 9:49 with Randy Lines jumping off the outside front row to take the lead one he would never relinquish. Dillon Nussbaum and Andy Bishop chased him the entire distance drawing close on several occasions but never able to pass the high flying Lines. After four cautions and 13 minutes the checkered waved at 10:02 with Lines flashing across the line first. We decided to skip the fireworks and the last two features as it is a two hour tow back home and we had a busy day planned for Saturday before heading over into Illinois for our Saturday night race. Gas City made a good comeback after the late start and it turned out to be an enjoyable night of racing with a great finish in the sprint car feature.

    That's it for now but we have two races planned in Illinois for Saturday and Sunday but Sunday does not look good at this time. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and try to keep cool and hydrated as the heat is brutal. Notes, comments and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    50 States & Bob Darland Memorial At Kokomo

    Friday, June 22 & Saturday, June 23 - Mission accomplished!!! We left on Thursday evening for the Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana from Indianapolis. We arrived around 11:20 PM and took a shuttle over to our hotel in Jenner. The next morning, Allan and Nancy Brown from Michigan, picked us up at our hotel and the whirlwind tour of the deep south began. After dining at a nice little breakfast spot we ventured down near the waterfront where we took a combo four hour bus and paddle ship tour of the city of New Orleans. After touring New Orleans the group headed east into Mississippi where our destination for the evening was the Hattiesburg Speedway. The overall purpose of this trip was to bag the two remaining states that Pat and I had never seen a race in or even visited before. This would allow us to join a small group, we became #13 & #14, to ever see at least one race in all of the 50 states in the Untied States. A weather front was moving through and early in the evening it started to get very windy and we thought our plan was in jeopardy. The announcer correctly passed on that the weather approaching had broken up and we would be OK. Thank goodness as the six division show prodded along and after watching three of the divisions including the headliner of the Mississippi State Late Model Series we called it an evening at 11:20.

    We stayed in the Hattiesburg area for the evening and arose the next morning to get on the road again as we were heading back over into Louisiana with our destination being Baton Rouge, the state capital, where we toured the capital building and saw the city and surrounding area from the 28th floor of the capital building making this the tallest capital building in the United States. We drove around the city stopping to take photos of the Old Govenor's mansion and the old capital building and other sites before pointing the Chariot toward our Saturday night destination of the Baton Rouge Speedway. Allan and Nancy surprised us upon arrival by presenting us with a poster proclaiming this evening as the night of our 50th state to witness a race in. Thanks again Allan and Nancy!! In fact Allan and Nancy were with us as we logged our last four new states on the road to 50. I would like to tell you that both nights were great racing but I would be lying with tonight's card filled with nine divisions and starting 45 minutes late. By 11:30 PM we had witnessed four of the nine features including the open wheel modifieds and decided to call it an evening and head back to the hotel. We had accomplished what we had come to do and by 4 PM on Sunday afternoon we would be back in Indiana heading out of the airport by 4:30 with our weekend not complete until we caught another race at Kokomo Speedway.

    Sunday, June 24 - We cleared the Indianapolis Airport by 4:30 and were heading north shortly thereafter on Rt. 31 north toward Kokomo. There was time to make a pitstop at Wilson's Farm Market for some fruit, vegetables and of course ice cream before continuing the trip northward. We arrived in plenty of time to secure some good seats high in the tall aluminum grandstand on the backstretch where we had the bright sun at our backs. Tonight was the Bob Darland Memorial and Bob's son, Dave, would be one of the 30 sprint cars in town to do battle on the 1/4 mile bullring in Kokomo. In fact Darland blasted to the front in heat one and walked off with the win beating Clinton Boyles, Isaac Chapple, Jarett Andretti and Kody Swanson. Heat two would see Shane Cottle in the Phillips/Daigh #71P capturing the win over Robert Ballou, CJ Leary, Mario Clouser and Colten Cottle. Heat three saw Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Dooling/Hayward #63 nail down the win turning back Chris Windom, Brent Beauchamp, Thomas Meseraull in his own #00 and Dakota Jackson. The other two divisions on hand, the hornets (8) and the thundercars (14) ran their heats next before the sprint B main was contested. Tijeras, New Mexico's Josh Hodges claimed the 12 lap B main beating back Critter Malone, Ted Hines, Tyler Hewitt and last man in, Tony DiMattia.

    The 30 lap Bob Darland Memorial sprint car feature was be the first called to the post and would take the green flag at 8:37. Shane Cottle would power to the lead with Kevin Thomas Jr. and Robert Ballou having a great battle for the second position. Thomas would take over second and take off after Cottle. Turn four on lap 5 saw Thomas storm by Cottle for the lead and many figured this one was over but Chris Windom who has been white hot at Kokomo had other plans. Windom made a brilliant two for one move entering turn one to move by Ballou and Cottle to grab second on lap 10 and the chase was on. Thomas commanded the point as the leaders entered lap traffic by lap 12. The Baldwin Brothers #5 with Windom at the helm worked the lap traffic to perfection and took the lead making it look easy on the homestretch to start lap 17. Thomas kept him honest closing several times including the final lap but Windom was up to the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 8:44 in the non-stop event taking his third straight and four of the year already at Kokomo. Thomas would chase him home in second with Ballou notching third, Dave Darland came across the line fourth with Shane Cottle rounding out the top five. It was a good run by everyone and Windom is certainly on a roll at the baddest bullring in Indiana. It was still brilliant daylight so we chose to stick around and take in the remaining two features. The 15 lap hornet feature was a competitive affair with Josh Gambin scoring the win. The final feature of the night was the 15 lap thundercar feature with a good three way battle for the top spot with Lee Hall able to hold off Wally Kerst and Jesse Simmons when the final checker waved at 9:12 with the sun just setting with the track not having to turn on the lights for this racing program.

    That's it for this weekend but check back next Monday to see where we end up with plenty of choices for the upcoming weekend. So get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe in your travels. Notes, comments and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as this is way we do this.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Five Of Eastern Storm At Bridgeport 3/8's Falls To Thomas

    Monday, June 18 - Today would be the last day in our B & B in Reinholds and also our final night of racing on the Eastern Storm tour. We would be heading back west after the races tonight and make the remainder of the trip on Tuesday instead of treking off to New York state and the Weedsport Speedway. It was another hot, sunny day with temperatures in the 90's and the humidity about the same in percentage points. Pat, the Jersey traveler due to her work in the insurance industry knew of a place in Sewell, New Jersey where she wanted me to sample the steak sandwiches. The Steak Out lived up to its billing and then some as we dined on steak sandwiches and mega fries before venturing over to the Bridgeport Speedway which was hosting night #5 on the USAC Eastern Storm tour. We found some shade along the tree line but it didn't help much as the humidity was bad and you just felt your shirt getting wet just sitting in a chair.

    After a while we repositioned ourselves closer to the entrance and pulled in a spot next to Pennsylvania resident and former midget driver, Paul Weisel. We shot the shit and also discussed some preliminaries on our December/January trip to New Zealand before grabbing our gear and heading into the track to find Bill Burns who was saving us seats for the evening. Also in attendance was my brother, Bob, and his friend from the area, Seth, who we went over to and chatted for a while along with friends, Marshall Kern and Gary Grim, before time trials began. At 6:55 the USAC sprint car time trials got underway for the 22 car field and when it was all said and done it was Kevin Thomas Jr. setting fast time for the fourth straight night and for the tenth time this year out of 16 races with a lap of 16.013 seconds around the new 3/8 mile carved into the infield area of the 5/8 mile oval with their 1/4 mile inside the 3/8's. The newest track uses part of the homestretch of the big 5/8's mile before veering into the infield for turns one, two, three and four. We feel it has great potential and if they were able to round and widen turns two and three (might not be able to due to lighting) it would be a very racy oval indeed. As it stands it still was racy and at the same time being challenging to figure the fast way around. After time trials the USAC sprints came back with their three heat races with Brady Bacon scoring heat one outracing Justin Grant, CJ Leary, Chris Windom and Kevin Thomas Jr. Chase Stockon looked strong in heat two winning over Dave Darland, Tyler Courtney, Matt Westfall and Joey Biasi. Robert Ballou tightwalked the high side to claim heat three beating Zach Daum, Jarett Andretti, Chad Boespflug and Thomas Meseraull. The other class on the card was the 600 micro sprints and they would contest two heats for their eighteen car field with Brandon Pavel and Jon Keller scoring heat wins. No consies or B mains were needed and next up was the 20 lap 600 micro sprint feature.

    The 600 feature was spun off in good order with only two cautions with Mike Rutherford dominating from his first starting position winning over fifth starting Alex Bright and Jason Swavely who came from outside the top ten in a late charge. The common theme in the podium interviews was that everyone felt that the 3/8's mile was a little too big for the micro sprints to run on and they preferred the 1/4 mile oval instead.

    It was now time for the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature with the green waving at 9:19. Chad Boespflug led the opening lap before third starting Chris Windom slipped underneath him in turn two on lap two to assume the lead. Tyler Courtney worked his way by Boespflug for second and began to reel in Windom. He first looked low in turn four on Windom on lap eight and then moved to the top on lap nine and was able to wrestle the lead from Windom at that point. Windom used a slider in turns three and four to take back the top spot quickly. A double spin by Jarett Andretti and Robert Bell in turn four brought out the caution and allowed Kevin Thomas Jr. to close the gap. On the restart Courtney stepped up high and tested the territory up top to find a new opening to the lead. Lap 14 saw a major turning point in the race as Courtney attempted a slide job in turn three which didn't turn out so good with Courtney's right rear slapping Windom's left front causing the leader to slide high in turn four allowing both Courtney and Thomas to slip by. Again Courtney's lead was shortlived as Thomas passed Courtney down the backstretch into turn three. On lap later Windom was able to also dust off Courtney for second. From that point on these three diced it out front leaving the others to gather up the crumbs. Windom closed several times in the remaining circuits but never really made a serious challenge and Warren Alston's double black and white flags waved over the Alabama native at 9:33 giving Thomas his first Eastern Storm victory of 2018 and for the famed Hoffman team it was their 100th point paying USAC national sprint car victory. Windom trailed Thomas and takes a one point lead into the final round of the Eastern Storm at Weedsport Speedway. Tyler Courtney claimed the final podium position with Brady Bacon ending an impressive evening marching from 13th to fourth with Chase Stockon knocking down the fifth spot. Robert Ballou came home sixth with Dave Darland seventh, Justin Grant eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and Isaac Chapple taking tenth. It was a good race and ranks in the top two of the five we witnessed with maybe Grandview being slightly better. The track was in good shape dusting up in the feature but that might have been due to USAC telling the track crew not to lightly water the track between the micro sprint feature and the sprint car feature.

    That's it for now and this coming weekend will find us flying to New Orleans for a quck weekend revolving around notching races on Friday and Saturday in Mississippi and Louisiana, the only two states that we have not seen a race in and becoming the 11th and 12th people to witness racing in all fifty states. So check back next Monday to see if we make it to 50 and get back in time to take in the Bob Darland Memorial at Kokomo all in the same "typical" weekend. In the meantime your summer assignment is to get out there on the road and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you may end up. Notes, comments and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And to wrap it up as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep checking back to see where we next end up.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Four Of Eastern Storm At BAPS Produces First Win Of Year For Ballou

    Sunday, June 17 - Today was Father's Day and we dined at the 81 Diner below Newberrytown before heading back up I-83 to the BAPS Motor Speedway, formally the Susquehanna Speedway. It was round four of the USAC Eastern Storm tour with the USAC National Sprints teaming up with the USAC Eastern Region Midgets and 360 sprints on tonight's racing card. As the norm for the week the USAC sprints kicked off the night's activity at 6:52 with time trials for their 26 car field boasted by four new entrants, Mark Bitner, Trey Hivner, Dan Shetler and Todd Zinn and missing Trevor Kobylarz who flipped hard at Port Royal the night before. Once again Kevin Thomas Jr. in the famous Hoffman #69 set fast time for the ninth time this year but not a new track record as in the previous two nights with a time of 17.384 seconds as the last man out for time trials. The 25 car 360 sprint field would be next up running three heats with Greg Hodnett taking heat one over Mark Smith and Chad Layton. Doug Hammaker scored heat win #2 over Adam Carberry and Ryan Greth. Davie "No Panic" Franek won heat three over Derek Locke and Stevie Buckwalter. The USAC sprinters were next up also running three heat races. The first heat was a torrid battle up front with Kevin Thomas Jr. and Tim Buckwalter pulling a double slide job in turn two on CJ Leary for the lead and Thomas pulling a close slide job on Buckwalter which he apologized for in his heat win interview for the win. Jarett Andretti and Brady Bacon trailed the top three across the line. Isaac Chapple looked strong winning in heat two over Chad Boespflug, Zach Daum, Matt Westfall and Chris Windom. Tyler Courtney breezed to the third heat win over Robert Ballou, Chase Stockon, Dave Darland and Carmen Perigo who has had many laps at this track in his super sportsman days.

    The 14 car USAC Eastern Region midget field would not run heats and only a 20 lap feature which was next up. Alex Bright started in the tenth hole and quickly sliced his way to the front with some daring moves and was never headed. Steve Buckwalter chased from ninth to second with Ryan Greth third, Kenny Miller fourth and Andrew Layser rounding out the top five in a mundane race interrupted by five cautions and one red for a turn one flip by Brett Arndt on lap 13. The USAC sprint B main was next on the docket with Tony DiMattia prevailing over Justin Grant, Jerry Coons Jr., Thomas Meseraull, Kyle Moody, Joey Biasi and Dan Shetler punching his card for the big dance for the first time.

    With all the prelims in the books it was feature time and the USAC National sprints would be the first to the post to run their 30 laps main event. Dave Darland would race into the lead from his first starting position sliding to the top in turn one. Chris Windom was making some fast moves from his fifth starting spot to second passing Isaac Chapple in turn three on lap one to grab second as he looked for three wins in a row. Windom went to work on Darland for the lead throwing big sliders in turn one on consectitive laps with Darland able to crossover in turn two and retain his lead. Windom continued to pressure Darland and pulled off the pass for the lead in turn four a half lap later. Lap 6 saw Robert Ballou execute a pass in turn two for second and take off after the leader. For the next almost two laps the front two diced it out swapping the lead at various points on the track as the dust bellowed and make it very difficult for both the drivers and fans to see. Ballou took the lead coming off turn four to start lap 10 and he would not relinguish it for the remainder of the race. Lap traffic was navaged over the remaining portion of the race with Windom never letting Ballou get that far ahead but never seriously challenging the rest of the way. Ballou was hooked up and was able to run anywhere on the track with equal success. At 9:44 Ballou flashed under the double checkers for his first win in 11 months and his 29th career USAC sprint car win passing Levi Jones and JJ Yeley to move into 13th on the all time list. Windom would finish second with Tyler Courtney advancing from ninth to the third podium position. Kevin Thomas Jr. took fourth with Tim Buckwalter, turning in another fine run, claiming the fifth spot. Dave Darland, Chase Stockon, Brady Bacon, Justin Grant and Jarett Andretti would round out the top ten in the non-stop feature that was run in just 11 minutes.

    The 30 lap 360 winged sprint car feature went green at 10:12 with Doug Hammaker going to the early lead closely chased by Davie Franek. Hammaker set the pace for many laps with Greg Hodnett working his way by Franek for second from his sixth starting position . Hodnett reeled in the leader and worked his way by several laps later. Hodnett was gone at this point but the race for second through sixth was intense with several different drivers duking it out. Surprisely after the first race it was not as dusty as the USAC feature and you could follow them pretty good all the way around the oval. Franek moved by Hammaker late to grab second but Hodnett was history. Steve Buckwalter, Mark Smith, Derek Locke, Adam Carberry and Lucas Wolfe went hard at it for positions three through seven through the entire race. When the checkered waved at 10:26 it was Greg Hodnett in for the win trailed by Davie Franek, Doug Hammaker, Steve Buckwalter and Lucas Wolfe. It was a good race with lots of position swapping throughout.

    The USAC sprint car race was disappointing as the dust was so bad that you could not see them coming off turn four and going into turn one. The dust was a great hinderence to trying to enjoy watching the main event. BAPS Motor Speedway has come a long, long way since the Fisher days but with all the improvements they need to work on the track surface and get the dust problem under control because the track can and does produce good racing action but you must be able to see it to enjoy it. I know it was hot and sunny but a better and deeper soaking would have done wonders. And when the drivers mention the dust in the podium interviews you know it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

    Check back Tuesday for our last report from Bridgeport Speedway during the Eastern Storm tour. We are not following the caravan north into New York for the last event on the schedule at Weedsport Speedway. Hope for a big cushion and lots of action for our New York friends for their invasion for Eastern Storm. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Three Of Eastern Storm Goes To Windom For Second Year In A Row At Port Royal

    Saturday, June 16 - Another day of sunshine greeted us on Saturday with temperatures moving into the high 80's by the afternoon but pleasant conditions with low humidity and no wind made it an enjoyable day. Round three of the USAC Eastern Storm tour would move into the Juniata Fairgrounds, the site of the half mile Port Royal Speedway. A good crowd filed into the facility and lined the large aluminum grandstands that extend down the entire homestretch and into turn four. We sat with Eastern buddies, Ron Oswald, Ron Klose and Gary Grim and saved seats for Dan McCollum and Bing Metz. We also ran into John Bayliss and his son from New Jersey and chatted with them. It is always fun to see old friends and get caught up on news and other things.

    The track was prepped and ready to go by 7:23 with the USAC National Sprint Car series starting things off with time trials for their 23 car field. As happened last night Kevin Thomas Jr. would set fast time with a lap of 18.583 seconds which also was a new track record for the second night in a row. Thomas broke the track record at Port Royal set in 2015 by Shane Cottle. Three heats would be next on the dance card and just like last night Zach Daum would win heat one over Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Tim Buckwalter and Dave Darland in a closely contested affair. Heat two would see a repeat heat winner from last night with Tony DiMattia taken charge of the field trailed by Robert Ballou, CJ Leary, Jarett Andretti and Thomas Meseraull. A new 8 lap track record was set in heat three as was one the night before, this time it was Tyler Courtney doing the honors with a time of 2:35:19 outracing Matt Westfall, Isaac Chapple, Brady Bacon and Chad Boespflug. Joining the USAC guys on the evening were 20 winged 410 sprints who ran two segmented heat races with passing points awarded in each six lap segment. I have to give it to Port Royal as they try to mix it up with various options for qualifying to make things interesting. This format was indeed interesting but a bit confusing as it seemed the entire first segment should have been inverted but it was not. Anyhow the heat winners after the second segments were Western PA driver, AJ Flick, who won the night before at Lernerville and Greg Hodnett who flipped the night before at Williams Grove. An old timers parade of vintage cars were next on the racing surface along with a Port Royal Hall of Fame induction of Jim Shaffer before we were ready to start the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature.

    The front row of Chris Windom and Brady Bacon would bring the remaining 21 cars down to Warren Alston's green flag at 9:54 with Bacon getting the early jump to the lead. The red flew early as Trevor Kobylarz tangled with two other cars and careened into the turn four wall before turning sideways and rolling and flipping along the homestretch wall in a nasty ride. All were relieved when Kobylarz climbed from his destroyed racing machine. Windom challenged on the restart but Bacon used the high line to maintain the lead and start to pull away. Lap 11 saw Bacon jump the cushion in turn two allowing Windom to chop into the lead and in the next two laps the entertainment level spiked as Windom used a turn one slider move to move by Bacon but Brady was able to use a fine crossover move in turn two to stave off the challenge of Windom. The fun was over as Bacon slowed the next lap with a broken left rear shock and torsion arm turning the lead over to Windom. Bacon was able to make repairs in the work area and return but his chances of winning were out the window or is that windom! On the restart new second place runner, Kevin Thomas Jr. tried a turn three slider move on Windom put couldn't quite pull it off. Windom pulled away to a comfortable lead and with five to go entered a gaggle of lap traffic that allowed Thomas to make one last ditch effort to derail the high flying Windom from the podium. Thomas drew close but not close enough and at 10:22 Windom raced under the double checkered flags for his second straight win on the Eastern Storm tour and also his second straight year of winning at Port Royal. Some further interesting statistics about the Eastern Storm are that all drivers in the 12 year history of this series that have won back to back races have went on to win the Eastern Storm points title. Also over the past four years anyone that has won the race at Port Royal has gone on to win the Eastern Storm points title. In addition eight of the eleven past champs of Eastern Storm have went on to win the USAC National Sprint point championship. It sure seems like things are looking up for the defending USAC National Sprint Car Champion, Chris Windom. Thomas came home second with Tyler Courtney third, Robert Ballou fourth and veteran Dave Darland rounding out the top five. Chase Stockon paced the second five with Justin Grant seventh, Chad Boespflug eighth, Tim Buckwalter up from 16th to 9th and receiving the hard charger award with CJ Leary rounding out the top ten. It was a good race not a great race but decent none the less.

    The 25 lap winged 410 sprint feature was next with Greg Hodnett and AJ Flick bringing the field to the green flag at 10:40. Hodnett quickly went to the point with Flick in tow. Brock Zearfoss was slicing quickly to the front from sixth and took over third in turn three on lap one. The top three flew around the outside of the big half mile oval in downtown Port Royal with Mike Wagner moving into fourth in turn four on lap nine. Kody Lehman stopped on the backstretch on lap 10 to bring out the caution and bunch the field back together. On the restart Hodnett was still the leader but Zearfoss moved by Flick for second in turn three and one lap later Wagner caught Flick for third in turn four. Lap 15 saw the first red of the race appear as Trenton Sheaffer dumped it hard in turn one. He was OK after his hard ride. On the restart Hodnett held sway and one lap later on the homestretch contact was made between Zearfoss and Wagner with Wagner taking the second position. All of a sudden Rick Lafferty made a big charge catching Wagner on the backstretch and taking away second on lap 18. Zearfoss returned the favor on Wagner charging in turn three with Wagner looping it to bring out the caution on lap 23 and being relegated to the rear of the field. On the ensuing restart TJ Stutts made a bonzai move entering turn three clipping Steve Buckwalter battling for fourth with Stutts flipping over in the process. Stutts was removed from the car on a backboard and transported to the hospital with no report on his condition at this time. After the lengthly delay things got back underway and the remaining two laps were spun off without incident with Greg Hodnett crossing the finish line at 11:32 for his second Port Royal win of 2018 and his 52nd career Port Royal win. He was followed by Lafferty, Port Royal resident, Dylan Cisney, up from 13th to 3rd, Zearfoss and Ryan Taylor. Taking 52 minutes to complete this one will not go down as a classic!!

    That's it for now check back shortly for our report from BAPS (aka Susquehanna) for the next round of USAC Eastern Storm. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and stay safe and dry. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Two Of Eastern Storm Goes To Windom At Williams Grove

    Friday, June 15 - The sun was shining and the wind had died down on this beautiful Friday morning as we walked down the stairs at our B & B to partake of the delicious breakfast being served. Today was round two of the USAC Eastern Storm tour and the 1/2 mile paper clip shaped oval at Williams Grove Speedway was the venue for tonight's action. Twenty three USAC wingless warriors would be joined by twenty one winged 410 sprints, the regular class at Williams Grove. The track was in good shape and very heavy which would be good for the USAC drivers. The Eastern tradition of beating down the cushion was performed several times during the course of the evening because we can't have the winged cars running on a track with a cushion. Cushions are evil in Pennsylvania.

    The USAC sprints would kick off the evening of racing with their time trial session for their 23 car field at 7:47 with the track record broken four times in a row on the fast heavy track and eight drivers ended up under the existing wingless track record all together with Kevin Thomas Jr. putting the Hoffman #69 at the top of the speed chart with a time of 19.509 seconds around the big half mile. Three eight lap heats would follow for the USAC boys with Pocahontas, Illinois driver, Zach Daum, blistering the field in heat one taking down the win over Robert Ballou, Justin Grant, local Kyle Moody and Kevin Thomas Jr. Heat two saw another new track record, this one being the eight lap track record for wingless sprints, with Jerry Coons Jr. knocking off nearly eight seconds from the previous one with a time of 2:42:81 over the eight lap distance. CJ Leary, Chis Windom, Dave Darland and PA runner, Tim Buckwalter, would trail. Heat three saw Malvern, PA driver, Tony DiMattia, score the win in heat three as the IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis) student came home to get the popular win over Jarett Andretti, Tyler Courtney, Trevor Kobylarz and Brady Bacon. The winged 410's were next up and the first heat produced a scary moment when a sprinter did a wheelie on the homestretch and veered left as Greg Hodnett was trying to drive by low to pass him with Hodnett being squeezed into the inside guard rail and taking a nasty series of flips and rolls along the metal guard rail before coming to a halt on the front stretch . Hodnett climbed from the sprinter shaken but otherwise OK. Matt Boland notched the win in heat one over Freddie Rahmer and Rick Lafferty. Heat two saw Frankie Herr, the Super Sportsman star, drive the Bower #75 to victory over Mallie Shuster and Anthony Macri. Jordan Givler, a 358 graduate, took the third heat besting Lucas Wolfe and TJ Stutts. No B mains were needed so the next racing would be the two feature events.

    Robert Ballou went out front from his second starting position at the drop of the green flag at 10:07 with Brady Bacon from fourth slicing his way past Leary and Buckwalter to take up the chase. Ballou, the big track master, was looking for his first win of the year with Bacon in hot pursuit over the first twenty laps. Bacon made his move on the inside of turn two on lap 20 and came off the turn with the lead for the first time in the evening. Chris Windom duplicated the move one lap later and Ballou was suddenly third and his first win was out the window. Windom went after Bacon and stalked the leader until edging underneath Bacon in turns one and two pulling off the pass as they exited turn two to proceed down the long backstretch on lap 26. It looked like Windom was home free but a white flag spin by Trevor Kobylarz in turn four would set up a green, white, checker scenario and you never know what is going to happen. Well, there were no late race surprises as Windom stomped the petal and took off leaving Bacon and the rest of the field in his wake. He flew under the checkered flags at 10:25 for his 20th career USAC sprint car victory outdistancing Bacon, Ballou, Thomas and Tim Buckwalter who scored his best USAC sprint car finish. Dave Darland came home sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Tyler Courtney eighth, Justn Grant ninth and CJ Leary dropping to tenth at the finish.

    There was still the matter of the winged 410 sprints to run on this evening with the green dropping at 10:43. Mallie Shuster did a wild, big wheel stand on the green flag and almost caused a massive pileup but everyone somehow missed the slowed sprinter and Shuster limped to the pit area with suspension damage. Matt Boland went to the point and held the top spot until lap five when Frankie Herr streaked past him on the backstretch. Young Freddie Rahmer took away the second spot with a turn three pass of Boland on lap six. Lucas Wolfe, up from sixth, made his presence known with a homestretch pass of Boland to relegate him to fourth. Rahmer went to the inside of turn two to wrestle the lead away from Herr on lap 11 with Wolfe taking second at that point. The top two ran nose to tail over the next eight laps with Wolfe all over Rahmer applying intense pressure. Lap 19 saw Wolfe nip Rahmer at the start/finish line for the lead and shortly thereafter Boland fine night ended early while running fourth with a shredded tire in turn four. On the restart Wolfe jumped back out front and on lap 22 TJ Stutts took third from Herr in turn four and began to reel in Rahmer. Three laps later Wolfe raced under the checkered flag for his second Grove win of the year besting Rahmer with Stutts up from ninth for third with Brian Montieth making a late charge from 12th to fourth with Herr hanging on to nail down fifth.

    It was a good night of racing with some good action on the track and the surface was in good shape and even Robert Ballou gave the track crew praise for their effort. We enjoyed sitting with Dan McCollum who we met last year at Kokomo and the New Jersey resident saved us seats for the evening.

    Next up is round three at the beautiful Port Royal Speedway in the quiet town of the same name where it is anything but quiet on a typical Saturday night during the summer and tonight will be no exception. So check back soon for the next report from the USAC Eastern Storm tour coming at you. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area wherever you may be and be safe. Words of disappointment or encouragement can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or @bruceeckel11 on Twitter. 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

    Bacon Sizzles In Eastern Storm Opener At Grandview

    Thursday, June 14 - We awoke to sunshine but also that nasty four letter word that is trouble to any dirt track, wind. The day's temperature rose into the mid to upper 80's and the wind continued. That plays havoc on a dirt track and tonight the Grandview Speedway would be the victim. The track crew did their best and worked on the surface four times during the evening of racing and in the sprint car feature the track held up longer than anyone expected. The late change back played into the hands of Brady Bacon but we are getting ahead of ourselves so lets go back to the beginning. We arrived early enough to be able to visit with many of our Eastern friends before the racing began on the 1/3 mile high banked oval with boiler plate as walling on the outside.


     

    By 7:28 the first car pushed off for sprint car time trials for the 27 USAC sprinters in house including 17 regulars and 10 local racers. By 7:45 Jarett Andretti had set fast time with a lap of 13.978 seconds around the 1/3 mile dirt oval. Three heat races would follow starting at 8:06 with Robert Ballou capturing heat one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Dave Darland, Jarett Andretti and Brady Bacon in a hotly contested affair. Heat two saw CJ Leary cop the win over Thomas Meseraull in the Chris Dyson #20, Tim Buckwalter, Chad Boespflug and Tony DiMattia. The final heat saw Tyler Courtney take the Clauson/Marshall/Newman #7BC to the front beating out Matt Westfall, Chris Windom, Jerry Coons Jr. in the Tim Hogue #39 and Justin Grant. The 358 modifieds brought a whopping 43 entrants to the party setting up four heats which would pound the wind swept track surface even more necessitating more track work to be performed. Such is life at Grandview. The B main for the sprints was run after the modified heats on an ice rink with Chase Stockon claiming the win over Isaac Chapple, Carmen Perigo, Zach Daum invading from Illinois, Trevor Kobylarz, Kyle Lick and Joey Biasi, the last three representing the local contingent supporting the racing tonight. Two 358 modified consies followed before additional track work was performed to wipe the surface into shape for the upcoming 40 lap Jesse Hockett Classic for the USAC sprint cars.


     

    At 10:27 it was feature time with the green flag waving in the hand of USAC Eastern starter, Warren Alston, with Chad Boespflug getting the hole shot from his second starting position into the early lead. Boespflug ran the middle to perfection with Brady Bacon in tow working the inside groove for the first 12 laps. Bacon grabbed the lead going into turn one on lap 13 as the pair worked lap traffic. Lap 16 saw Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant tangle in turn four with Grant rolling over but he was able to continue. Kevin Thomas Jr. was now on the tail tank of Bacon and ready to pounce on the leader. He stalked Bacon until lap 30 when the opportunity arose and Thomas jumped to the outside to take the lead entering turn two. Thomas was now out front and most everyone figured this one was over considering the year Thomas is having. No one reminded Bacon of this fact as he stayed close to the leader as they weaved through lap traffic as the laps ticked off. The decisive moment occurred in turn four with three to go when Thomas drifted to the middle of the turn leaving the bottom open and Bacon powered his sprinter low and came out of the turn with the lead once again. Bacon moved ahead and was not going to give up the lead again and flashed under the double checkers at 10:49 scoring his 21st career USAC National Sprint Car win tying Greg Weld and Kevin Thomas Jr. for 25th on the all-time win list. Thomas was second and visibly upset afterwards sitting on his roll cage for several minutes. Chris Windom came home third with Tyler Courtney coming from the rear of the field after his lap 16 tangle to notch fourth with fast timer, Jarett Andretti rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten at the line were Chad Boespflug, Chase Stockon, Robert Ballou, Thomas Meseraull and Justin Grant also from the back after his light roll. The track held up well for the feature considering the wind and the pounding the surface took over the course of the evening. The 30 lap 358 modified feature ran on a progressively slicker surface with Ryan Godown claiming the win passing Brett Kressley who finished second on a late double file restart with Duane Howard third, Jeff Strunk fourth and veteran Frank Cozze fifth with the final checker waving at 11:17.

    All in all a good night of racing on the tricky 1/3 mile at Grandview enjoyed by a large crowd that turned out to welcome the wingless sprinters back to the East Coast.


     

    Check back soon for the next installment of the Eastern Storm tour from the legendary Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicburg, PA. In the meantime get out there wherever you are and enjoy some good short track racing in your locale. News or notes can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net on on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Action Track USA Provides Plenty Of Action

    Wednesday, June 13 - We started our eastern trek on Tuesday evening traveling as far as Zanesville, Ohio before bedding down for the evening. Upon awakening we checked the weather forecast for Kutztown, Pennsylvania which looked iffy at best and headed out the doors and toward the Keystone state. Along the journey we gave a phone call to one of our racing buddies, Dwight Bucks, and asked him if he could save us three seats at Action Track USA in Kutztown for tonight's running of their three division program. Adding to the excitement of the evening would be the bonus program offered to any USAC sprint car driver competing at the Action Track. An extra $2000 would be paid to any sprint car driver winning in any of the three divisions at Kutztown on Wednesday night and then winning at least one main event on the six race USAC Eastern Storm tour. Eight drivers took up the challenge with Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom racing in the 600's and the SpeedSTR's while Dave Darland, Thomas Meseraull, Matt Westfall and Justin Grant would race in the SpeedSTRs only.

    A mad scramble race opened up the program with the winner locking only locking into the feature for this evening in the 600 divison. This was followed by timed warmup sessions for the strong field of 32 SpeedSTRs on hand with the top two locking into the Flying Farmer 40 honoring Oley's own and one of the best sprint car drivers of all time, Tommy Hinnershitz. USAC Silver Crown driver, Steve Buckwalter of PA, and Matt Westfall of Ohio who is running the full Eastern Storm locked into the top two qualifiers. Five heats would be needed for the 50 car 600 field crammed into the pit area with Joey Kay, Danny Buccafusca, Collin White, Jay Hartman and Kyle Lick taking heat wins in some very competitive races. The SpeedSTRs would run three heats for their 32 car field with Briggs Danner, Anthony Perrego and Pat Bealer triumphing. The final division running heat races were the slingshots with three heats needed for their 22 car field. The 600's would need two C mains and one B main while the SpeedSTRs would run one B main. Damon Paul would win the 600 B main while Tyler Ross would take the SpeedSTR B main. Of the USAC drivers only Kevin Thomas Jr. qualified in the 600's (through the heat) while Dave Darland, Chris Windom and Justin Grant qualified through the heat races in the SpeedSTRs. Westfall did not have to run a heat as he locked in with his time. Bacon, Courtney and T-Mez were added to the starting field in the SpeedSTRs.

    The 40 lap, $3000 to win, Flying Farmer 40 took the green flag at 8:32 with Briggs Danner taking the early lead. A good battle developed between Danner and Billy Pauch Jr., up from tenth in the middle stretch of the race with Danner bobbling and Pauch grabbing the lead. Fast timer, Steve Buckwalter, decided to try the outside about two thirds of the way through and was making up ground and passing many drivers on his way to the front. He blasted by Pauch after some sliders were exchanged over a two lap period and would cross the start/finish line at 9:03 for his first ever SpeedSTR win outdistancing Pauch, Matt Westfall up from ninth, Dave Darland from 15th passing Kutztown hot shoe, Tim Buckwalter, on the last lap off the final turn for fourth. The 600 feature was next up and this 25 lapper was not one of the better we have seen at the Action Track as the track went away and was quite dusty with little passing in the event. Kenny Miller III won his first Kutztown 600 race and was very talkative in victory lane. Joey Kay came home second with Jay Hartman third, Danny Buccafusca fourth and Eric Ankiewicz rounding out the top five. All of the top five started in the top six. Last but not least were the slingshots, a miniature version of an eastern modified. Nick DelCampo won his first ever slingshot win at the Action Track and his interview was quite entertaining as he told of his struggle to win here for several years and about the long (2 1/2 hour two one way) every week to get there and that he was very weak from having a virus and was not going to come tonight because of this but his father talked him into it. Cody Kline came home second with Kyle Smith rounding out the top three. The entire program was completed by 9:50 and several times during the evening raindrops were felt and seen but the wet stuff held off and the entire show was run. We enjoy seeing some good friends including Will White of Quakertown who saw Pat's post on Facebook from tonight's action and found us in the grandstand after the races were over. A good night of racing to open up the week and we hope and pray for good weather for the rest of the week.

    Until tomorrow when we will post our story from Grandview and round one of the Eastern Storm take care and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and if you are in Pennsylvania get out and see the best wingless sprint car drivers in the country visiting your area. News, quotes and thoughts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Three Division POWRi Show At Jacksonville & Two Rainouts End Speedweek

    Friday, June 8 - It was another scorcher in Illinois as temperatures settled in the low 90's with plenty of sunshine. We had spent the evening previous in Litchfield, a town off of I-55 and also a town where Route 66 passes through. Pat went shopping for new sneakers and after purchasing a new pair and wearing them out of the store we searched for somewhere to eat lunch. We found a restaurant named the Ariston Cafe which opened in 1924 the same year Route 66 was opened and is on the National Historic Registry of historical buildings. The food was wonderful, the service was excellent (Josie) and the desserts were grand. It was an enjoyable experience from beginning to end (where Josie came outside while we were taking some photos of the exterior and took a picture of us standing in front of the eatery). If you're passing through or near Litchfield look up the Ariston Cafe and enjoy some good food.

    From Litchfield we traveled up to Springfield where we would be spending the next two nights at our hotel. After checking in and bringing the luggage into the room and encountered a group of New Zealand race fans staying at the same place we ventured across I-72 to Jacksonville, the site of the 1/4 mile Jacksonville Speedway. On tonight's agenda was a three division program of open wheel racing all sanctioned by POWRi. It would be the POWRi midgets, 600 micro sprints and the WAR wingless sprints on the card with over 100 cars in the pit area and overflow area. Jacksonville is a nice 1/4 mile dirt oval with a large old wooden grandstand that runs the length of the homestretch with some additional seating on the backstretch in the pit area. Racing kicked off at 7:07 with the first of five heats for the POWRi midgets (39) with Tanner Carrick winning the first of three straight wins for the Kuntz stable for the evening over Terry Babb and Jake Neuman. Heat two saw Tucker Klaasmeyer score the win over Karter Sarff and Shane Cockrum. A third Kuntz entry piloted by Ryan Robinson won heat three over Broc Hunnell and Texan Ryan Hall. Tanner Thorson broke up the Kuntz dominance with a win in heat four besting Tyler Thomas and Logan Seavey in a race that saw Zeb Wise catch the cushion wrong entering turn one and flipping over several times before coming to a stop in turn two. Wise was transported to the hospital where it was found he suffered a broken collarbone and will be out of action for four to six weeks. A tough break (no pun intended) for the 15 year old up and comer who was looking better in each outing this year. Kyle Schuett scored the win in heat five, his second heat win in two days, over Joe B. Miller and Zach Daum.

    The 600 micro sprints contested five heats also for their 40 car field with Jeremy Camp, Andy Bishop, Jason Harms, Harley Hollan and Blake Carrick capturing heat wins. The 26 car WAR sprint field spun off three heats with Zach Daum winning the first one over Joe B. Miller and Landon Simon. Terry Babb ran away in heat two besting Dalton Camfield and New Mexico invader, Josh Hodges. Korey Weyant triumphed in heat three over Mitch Wissmiller and Colten Cottle. The B mains for the midgets were taken by Sam Johnson over Austin Brown and Broc Hunnell and by Andy Malpocker beating Ryan Hall and Brayton Lynch. The two 600 B mains were captured by Zac Taylor and Brandon Anderson. Katlynn Leer scored the WAR sprint B main win. Up to this point that was a lot of racing and everyone needed a break so it was intermission time and the track crew didn't get a break as they went to work on the racing surface during this down time.

    Now it was time for the 30 lap POWRi national midget race with the green waving at 10:09. Tanner Thorson went to the early lead and was looking for three in a row. Thorson's lead did not last long as Tucker Klaasmeyer blasted by and into the lead on lap two. Klaasmeyer started to stretch his lead with Thorson and Tyler Thomas in pursuit. Things remained green until lap ten when a four car pileup in turn four saw Ryan Robinson and Andy Malpocker get upside down in the scirmish. Robinson was able to rejoin the field at the rear. On the restart Thorson tries a big slider in turn three but Klaasmeyer counters in turn four and retains the lead. The caution flies again on lap 12 for a spun Shane Cockrum in turn four. On the ensuing restart Thorson uses a turn one slider to take the lead but only briefly as Klaasmeyer counters. Thorson tries again in turn three but then slows dramically in turn four and pulls to a stop on the homestretch. Thorson retreats to the work area but the crew is unable to remedy the problems and he is done for the evening and three in a row is out the window. The top five is now Klaasmeyer, Thomas, Tanner Carrick, Joe B. Miller and Zach Daum. Shortly after the restart Thomas slows while running second and pulls off the track on the homestretch. Klaasmeyer continues to lead but the man on the move is ninth starting Logan Seavey who is now into third. Lap 16 sees Brayton Lynch, Terry Babb and Cannon McIntosh tangle in turns three and four with Lynch and Babb getting the worse of it ending up upside down. Tanner Carrick attempts a turn one slider on Klaasmeyer on the restart but Klaasmeyer is able to cross over and stay out front. Seavey is able to take second from Carrick as Carrick bobbles on the cushion. Seavey now is in hot pursuit of Klaasmeyer for the lead as things heat up all over the track with Carrick now locked in a race for third with Zach Daum while right behind these two Miller, Karter Sarff and Robinson from the tail duke it out. Lap 22 is the turning point of the race as the two leaders race hard into turn four with Seavey throwing a big slider on Klaasmeyer and Klaasmeyer does not back off the trottle as Seavey slids high and the two bang together with Klaasmeyer tagging the wall with Seavey grabbing the lead. Klaasmeyer suffers a flat right rear tire from the wall contact and exits to the work area. They are unable to return Klaasmeyer to the track before they are ready to go back to the green so a good run for Klaasmeyer is over. On the restart Daum throws a slider on Seavey for the lead but he counters. Then Robinson and Daum hook up in a slider fest with Robinson finally taking second but Seavey is long gone. As the checkers wave at 10:43 it is Logan Seavey across the line first for his fourth career POWRi victory beating Ryan Robinson who turned in a spectatular run to finish second with Daum third, Miller fourth and Sarff fifth. It sure was a wild one!!

    The 20 lap 600 micro sprint feature was next on the card and they were off at 10:50 with Blake Carrick the early leader. Harley Hollan, last night's 600 winner, wasted no time going to the front with a slider on Carrick in turn two on lap two to take the lead. Hollan led until lap ten when the red appeared as Brandon Anderson flipped between turns three and four. On the restart sixth starting Joe B. Miller took the lead from Hollan and that was all she wrote as he moved away and crossed the line at 11:00 in score his 33rd career POWRi 600 win, the all-time leader in the division, besting Hollan with Aaron Andruskevitch taking third with Jake Andreotti fourth and Andy Bishop, opening night winner, rounding out the top five. We were not done yet as the WAR sprints had a Wildcard race to run yet with the front row of Landon Simon and Korey Weyant bringing the twenty car field to the green flag at 11:10. Korey Weyant takes the early lead on the outside. Joe B. Miller charges into second storming by both Simon and Daum. Miller tries a slider for the lead but Weyant counters and remains out front. Miller is all over Weyant's tail tank like white on rice and dogs him for several laps until throwing another slider that sticks just before the halfway mark and goes out front. Miller pulls away from the field as the others race it out behind him. Landon Simon takes second from Weyant and then Weyant and Daum battle for third. A late race pileup in turn one involving six cars happened with two of the top five, Daum and Weyant, caught up in the tangle ending their fine runs. On the restart Miller would have two lap cars in between he and Simon to give him some cushion with Mitchell Davis in third with five laps to go. Miller powered back out front and cruised over the remaining laps to score the big win at 11:29 over Simon. Late race charges by Slater Helt up from 13th to 3rd with Colten Cottle coming back for fourth and Josh Hodges stacking out fifth.

    It turned out to be an amazing night for Joe B. Miller with two wins on the evening and a fourth in the midget event. I have held off some commenting on some of the driving in the midget division but now I will express my opinions. It seems that a lot of the young drivers racing today have an unrealistic view of the racing world. I believe the combination of on-line racing, the lack of respect for other people and mindset of well if I wreck or wreck someone else there is always another piece of equipment to strap plus the many who are advancing through the outlaw kart racing where contact is norm are the factors that have caused midget racing to become less enjoyable. Before the Kuntz and Clauson/Marshall teams take offense this is not directed solely at them but for the majority of 14 and 15 year olds coming into the midget racing division. I think Zach Daum summed it up pretty good in the podium interview at Jacksonville when he stated "I was sitting back a little waiting for the idiots to wreck" to sum up the state of midget racing today. I still enjoy midget racing and will continue to attend midget races but I am hoping that some of the younger drivers will take this statement to heart and reign in their out of control racing and sliders gone wrong attitude. Enough said!!!

    Saturday, June 9 - The call came early on a dreary, thunderstorm type of day as a nasty thunderstorm rolled through the Macon area causing cancellation of tonight's POWRi midget racing at the 1/5 mile bullring in central Illinois. We decided to stop and explore an antique shop in the afternoon before Dale O'Brien contacted us with information that Ealeyville Speedway near Springfield was running starting at 5 PM. We dined with Judy and Bill Burns at Smokey Bones before venturing over to the small dirt track located on the property of the Ealey family for a night of outlaw kart racing. Four outlaw karts in two divisions, both unlimited age limits, combined to run a 15 lap feature with Joey Saldana in attendance as two of his sons were racing, one in the outlaw karts and the other in a junior division. The youngest, Ragan, scored his first ever win in his class. It was a good way to spend an evening that otherwise would have been spent in a hotel room watching TV. The racing was decent and it was a fun way to spend an evening that cleared up and get a new track to boot. Wyatt Weiss won the outlaw kart race with Reece Saldana second. Thanks Dale for doing the legwork and coming up with this dirt kart track in Illinois.

    Sunday, June 10 - We awoke to cloudy but not threatening skies and temperatures in the 80's. The last night of POWRi midget Speedweek was scheduled for Lincoln Speedway in Lincoln, Illinois but upon checking the weather forecast it did not look good especially but during the late afternoon hours where it was 60%. Lunch at Bob Evans was on the agenda and after that we found an antique store to walk around in. When we came out of the antique store at 2:30 the skies looked ominous and it started to rain. Fifteen minutes later the official call was made by POWRi that the last night of Speedweeks was rained out. The majority of the weekend ended up soggy but we managed to only suffer a rainout on Sunday. Back home by 7:30 and sitting in the recliner finishing up this report.

    So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. Also as always thanks for reading our efforts. Heading back East for the USAC Eastern Storm with another six straight nights of racing if the weather cooperates so check back Thursday or Friday for the first installment of the Eastern Storm week.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND


    By Pat and Bruce Eckel


    Night Two Of Illinois Speedweek at Fayette County


    Thursday, June 7 - Another hot Illinois day was upon us with temperatures reaching into the high 90's. We checked out of our hotel at noon and arranged to meet Bill and Judy Burns along with Dale O'Brien at exit 30 off I-70 to eat lunch at the Blue Springs Cafe which was once featured on The Food Network for their mile high pies. Everyone gathered around 12:30 and in we went to eat some fine family style meals with all the fixings. It was Dale's first taste of apple butter but I don't think we made another convert. We are not going to make him a Pennsylvania Dutch food lover!! From there we headed north to the track area and found a nice antique store where Pat laid down some money for some more adornments for the house before heading over to the fairgrounds. We found a nice building used for livestock and were able to park our vehicle underneath to be out of the direct sun which was intense. The blankets were tied down in the middle section of the covered grandstand and we settled back for a while to try and keep cool. It was not working so the air conditioner was turned on for a half hour to really cool us down. Bill Burns arrived later and we walked with him over toward the grandstand where we purchased POWRi Speedweek t-shirts and I bought a cold beer while Pat opted for the strawberry lemonade. I noticed yesterday on Twitter that our buddy, Rich Berry from Ohio and his son, Chad, were going to be in attendance so we saved extra seats so the two of them could join us for some good bench racing before the night's action began.


     

    The action began early as Blake Carrick flipped one of the Kuntz entries in turn one during warmups and was done for the evening. By 7:30 the five POWRi midget heats were ready to push off for the good 40 car field in the pit area for the evening. Cannon McIntosh continues to impress in the series with a heat win in heat one over Trey Marchum and Zach Daum. Heat two saw Kyle Schuett win this one over Andy Malpocker and Presley Truedson who got into the side of Ryan Hall earlier in the heat causing Hall to dump it in turn four. Ryan Robinson was ripping the cushion in heat three running away from Tucker Klaasmeyer and Tyler Thomas in the process. Logan Seavey scored another Kuntz win in heat four holding off eighth starter, Tanner Thorson, and Alex Bright. The fifth and final heat went to Clauson/Marshall entry, Zeb Wise, beating out Tanner Carrick and teammate Cole Bodine in only his third midget start. The POWRi 600's would contest four heats with Keith Day Jr., Kyle Schuett doing double duty, Aaron Andruskevitch (feel sorry for him when he was younger and had to learn how to spell his name in school) and Jake Andreotti. The top 16 from each division were locked into the features by passing points which led us to two midget B mains and one 600 B main. Ace McCarthy used the cushion to score B main one over Jake Neuman and Shane Cockrum. Karter Sarff, last night's hard charger, claimed B main two over Cole Bodine making his first midget A main and Sam Johnson. The 600 B main was taken by Brandon Anderson.


     

    Next up on the card was the 30 lap POWRi midget feature with a front row of Tanner's, Thorson and Carrick, leading the 23 car field to the green flag with Thorson jumping to the early lead. Tyler Thomas from fourth tries an early slider in turn two on Thorson for the lead but is not able to pull it off and fars several spots back. Carrick stays right on the tail of Thorson and throws a slider for the lead but Thorson counters and maintains the top spot. The first caution appears on lap six when Ryan Robinson stopping off turn four with a shredded right rear tire and heads pitside to the work area and will return to the rear of the field. On the restart Thorson moves comfortably out front but the fierce battle is for positions two through five among the youngsters, Carrick, Klaasmeyer, Seavey and Wise. Klaasmeyer slides Carrick for second but Carrick responds and reclaims the second spot as Thorson continues to pull away. Lap 12 sees the caution waved again as Jake Neuman rolls to a stop on the inside of the backstretch. On the restart the top five is Thorson, Carrick, Klaasmeyer, Wise and Seavey. Most everyone is up on the cushion with Klaasmeyer and Wise swapping sliders for third with Wise securing the spot on lap 14. Thorson continues to blister the field opening up a straightway lead with twelve to go. Karter Sarff loops it in turn two to bring out the caution. Ryan Robinson has worked his way back up to eighth at this point from the rear of the field. One lap later Sam Johnson looses the handle and spins in turn two. Lap 22 sees a four car pileup in turn four with Ace McCarthy launching it high in the air for a series of flips. He is OK but Presley Truedson is shaken up in the grinding crash and transported to the hospital to be checked upon. This causes a 15 to 20 minute delay as a backup ambulance is called to the track to replace the departing one. On the last restart Thorson pulls away once again but Carrick, Wise and Seavey duke it out for second. Zach Daum is now on the scene and passes both Wise and Seavey in one swoop for third. The racing from second to fifth is extremely entertaining in the closing laps with Thorson pulling away up front. At 10:28 Tanner Thorson storms by the double checkers with his second straight win with Tanner Carrick claiming second with Logan Seavey crossing over off turn four to edge Zach Daum for third with Zeb Wise rounding out the top five. The second five is started by Tucker Klaasmeyer in sixth with Ryan Robinson coming from the rear to seventh. Positions eight through ten were garnered by Tyler Thomas, Cole Bodine in a fine run from 20th and Shane Cockrum. It was a very good race only marred by the big crash and subsequent delay.


     

    There were still 20 laps to run for the 600 micro sprints and Jeremy Camp went on top when the green flag waved. Camp continues to hold the top spot with Andruskevitch dogging him. Harley Hollan make his presence known passing Andruskevitch for second and closing on Camp. All eyes are on Austin Schaeffer as he pounds the cushion moving forward from his 13th starting positon. At the halfway mark Hollan makes his move and sneaks by Camp to take the top spot. Schaeffer and Andruskevitch swap a series of big sliders before Schaeffer wrestles away third. With two to go Andruskevitch loses a left rear tire and fifth running Gunner Ramey launches over it and into a series of end over end flips and quickly climbs from the car under his own power to everyone's relief. On the restart Hollan assumes the lead and races off in the night and crosses the finish line at 10:59 for his second career POWRi 600 win. Schaeffer finishes second after starting 13th with Camp third, Jason McDougal from ninth to fourth and Jake Andreotti from eighth to fifth.


     

    All in all a very good night of racing at a new track for us and we would like to return sometime to see sprints run at this facility.

    Until tomorrow when we report from Jacksonville Speedway with more POWRi midget and 600 action along with WAR sprints take care and be safe. Quotes or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy sending them out.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wild Night One of POWRi Midget Speedweek at Belle-Clair

    Wednesday, June 6 - Wednesday dawned bright and sunny with temperatures in the 80's in Crawfordsville. Pat worked until close to 1 PM before we started our southwestern trek toward the Land of Lincoln. By the time we were cruising down I-57 the temperatures had risen into the 90's and it was going to be hot. The Belle-Clair Speedway, a 1/5 mile semi banked dirt oval on the Belleville Fairgrounds, was our destination for the evening and we arrived around 5:30 after stopping to check into our hotel plus eating dinner at the Bandana's Barbeque in Collinsville which we highly recommend. With the hour time difference we were able to do all this with the help of Bill Burns and Dale O'Brien who secured seats for us in one of the two old wooden covered grandstands located on the homestretch, the other being on the backstretch. Warmups kicked off at 6 PM for the fine POWRi National Midget field of 47 along with 47 car for the POWRi 600 field. B mods were also on the card and 24 turned out to do battle. POWRi's format is different than USAC with no time trials for either division but instead passing points are awarded in the heat races with the top 14 in points locking into the main event with the highest point person starting first. The remaining eight positions are filled by running two B mains with the top four from each lining up by finish after the top fourteen.

    The midgets started the night of action on this tiny oval with Collegeville, Pennsylvania's Alex Bright blasting around the rim of the oval winning heat one over Shane Cockrum and Jake Neuman. Heat two saw Andrew Felker prevail holding off eighth starting Cannon McIntosh and Joey Wirth. Tanner Carrick, the 16 year old driver from California, garnered heat three winning over Tanner Thorson and Karter Sarff, a 15 year old out of Kansas. This heat saw Tyler VanToll take the first flip of the night in turn four. Heat four saw Terry Babb advance from eighth and in the process built up the highest point total and guarantee him the pole position for the main event outrunning Dalton Camfield and Presley Truedson, one of the two female drivers in the field. The other female, Holly Shelton, took a nasty flip entering turn one challenging for the lead and ending up in turn two before she stopped. She was OK but done for the evening. Seventeen year old Ryan Robinson came from sixth to score heat five over Tyler Thomas and Tyler Robbins. Ace McCarthy became the third flip victim in heat five going over in turn three. The sixth and final heat went to Joe B. Miller holding off seventh starting Logan Seavey and Zeb Wise. Nick Knepper flipped in turn three but was able to restart and finish the heat. The 600 micro sprints also ran six heats with heat winners being Harley Hollan, Andy Bishop, Austin Schaeffer, Jeremy Camp, Jordan Howell and Slater Helt. All heat racing was in the books by 8:28.

    The two midget B mains were next up after the B mod heats with Joey Wirth scoring the B main one victory from Zach Daum, Andy Malpocker and Kaleb Currie. Thomas Chandler became the fifth driver to turn turtle on the evening in B main two before 15 year old Zeb Wise won this one over Austin Brown, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Nick Knepper. Two B mains were also run for the 600's with Michael Brummett and Ayrton Gennetten nailing down the wins. All the preliminaries were over and next up would be the 30 lap POWRi midget feature event.

    The green flag would wave at 10:08 with second starting Ryan Robinson powering into the early lead. The first yellow waved on lap 2 with Tyler Thomas resting high on the cushion in turn three and he was done for the evening with a broken pitman arm. On the restart Robinson was back to the point with Logan Seavey moving into third. Seavey dispatched Terry Babb for second one lap later and was going after Robinson. Alex Bright was now up to third from tenth and making some noise. Also Tanner Thorson raced into fourth from his ninth starting position and was a player in the game now. The red waved on lap 6 when Zeb Wise caught the cushion and flipped in turn three. At this stop in the action some impressive progress had been made by Nick Knepper up from 22nd to 10th and Karter Sarff up from 23rd to 11th. On the restart Robinson still led with Seavey, Bright, Thorson and Jake Neuman up from 14th to 5th in tow. Bright throws a massive turn one slider at Seavey and slides into second with Thorson moving to third on the next lap. Nick Knepper loses the handle in turn four on lap nine to slow the action. On the restart Bright uses his turn one slider to wrestle the lead away from Robinson but Robinson is not done as he pulls at turn three slider and the two race off four side by side as they hit the line with Bright the leader on lap 12. Tanner Thorson decides to participate in the slide fest and throws one at Bright for the lead. Bright returns the favor and regains the top spot and the top two exchange sliders all over the track for the next few laps. Suddenly Robinson throws a slider in turn three for second on Bright and bounces in front of him and somehow keeps control and the second position. Nick Knepper's adventurous evening ends on lap 16 with a turn four flip to shut things down for a few minutes. On the next restart Thorson go to the front trailed by Robinson, Bright, Babb and Seavey with Sarff up to seventh. Robinson, Bright and Babb all get together in turn three and save themselves but this allows Thorson to move far ahead. Thorson opens up a straightway advance as he enters lap traffic. With five to go Thorson had over a 3 second lead over Robinson as Karter Sarff cracks the top five from 23rd. On the last lap Ryan Robinson attempts a slider in turn four on a lap car and contact is made with Robinson turning his mount over. The race is official with Tanner Thorson scoring his first midget win for car owner Clyde Lamar but it is Thorson's seventh career Speedweek victory, tops on the list. Alex Bright comes home second with Karter Sarff nailing down a fine third with Terry Babb claiming fourth and Logan Seavey rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Jake Neuman, Tanner Carrick, Andy Malpocker from 19th to eighth, Shane Cockrum ninth and Ryan Robinson credited with tenth. It was a wild race on a lumpy track but the berm was awesome and the racing was awesome also.

    The 20 lap POWRi 600 feature was quickly called to the post as a curfew loomed and it went green at 10:40. All time POWRi 600 winner (32 times) , Joe B. Miller went to the early lead with the snarling pack nipping at his heels. Andy Bishop throws a turn one slider at Miller and takes the lead but Miller returns the favor in turn three and leads exiting turn four. Lap seven saw the turning point of the contest when Miller slowed off turn four with smoke flowing from his machine and rolling to a stop on the homestretch. Bishop inherited the lead at this point with Jason McDougal and Harley Hollan in tow. Bishop worked the cushion while McDougal worked the bottom, two extremely different lines of work. Nathan Benson slides McDougal for second and shortly thereafter the red appears when Slater Helt dumps it big time in turn three. Helt was OK after his wild ride. Austin Schaeffer pounding the cushion takes third from McDougal right before the halfway mark. Things start to calm down a bit if there is such a thing at Belle-Clair but the front runners make some distance between themselves. At 10:53 Andy Bishop flashes under the checkered flag for his first career POWRI 600 victory beating out Jason McDougal who worked his way back to second with Austin Schaeffer third, Nathan Benson fourth and Harley Hollan rounding out the top five.

    It was a fun night of racing with some intense action but I just wish Tanner Thorson would pass someone without getting into them!!

    Until the next report from Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Illinois keep dry and safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for taking time to read our efforts.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Indiana Midget Week Wraps Up At Lawrenceburg & Kokomo

    Saturday, June 2 - Still trying to dry out on Saturday morning (blankets from Bloomington) we decided to grill some hot dogs on the grill for lunch. After that it was time to head southeast on I-74 toward the Lawrenceburg Speedway, the 3/8 mile high banked dirt oval in the town of Lawrenceburg, the home of Seagram's Distillery. Tonight was a three division program consisting of the USAC midgets (24), the wingless sprints (30) and the UMP modifieds (18) ready to do battle on the high banks of Lawrenceburg.

    Time trials for the USAC midgets opened the program at 6:40 with Spencer Bayston in one of the Keith Kuntz entries setting fast time with a time of 14.511 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. Twenty minutes later the three midget heats were trackside with 3 time defending champion of this race, Rico Abreu, making it be known that he would like to make in four straight with a convincing win in heat one over Zeb Wise, Tanner Thorson, Tanner Carrick and Spencer Bayston. Heat two saw Ryan Robinson take it to the front beating out Kuntz teammate, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Kevin Thomas Jr., Chad Boat and Logan Seavey. Tyler Thomas looked strong winning heat three over Tyler Courtney, Brady Bacon, Matt Moore and Justin Grant. Four sprint car heats would follow with Kevin Thomas Jr. driving the Dooling/Hayward #63 to victory after passing Nick Bilbee with Garrett Aitken third and Jarett Andretti fourth. Brady Bacon driving the Richard Hoffman #69OT(Old Timer) car not the Hoffman Racing #69 which will still be driven by Kevin Thomas Jr. in all USAC sprint races won easily over RJ Johnson, Mike Miller and Charles Davis Jr. Heat three saw Dallas Hewitt take the Keen #18 to the point winning over Jordan Kinser, Joss Moffatt and Isaac Chapple. The final heat for the sprints saw CJ Leary take the plain Jane #4P to victory over Thomas Meseraull, Kody Swanson and Matt Westfall. Two UMP modified heats would follow behind the sprint B main was called to the post. First time visitor, Clinton Boyles in the Paul Hazen #57 which usually does not run good here, claimed the victory over JJ Hughes, Michael Fischesser and Tony DiMattia qualifying with Lawrenceburg point leader, Dickie Gaines, failing to qualify after being docked two positions for hitting the restart cone a decision that his car owner did not agree with and voiced his displeasure on IOW. Rules are rules and Lawrenceburg shows that they do not play favorites. All preliminary racing was now completed and we were ready for the first feature of the evening which would be the 30 lap USAC midget main event.

    When the green flag dropped at 9:14 Tyler Courtney moved to the point from his first starting position. Lap two saw Indiana Midget Week contender, Tanner Thorson hit a rough spot between turns one and two and took several bounces like being on a trampoline before rolling to a halt on the backstretch. Thorson pitted and returned to the field but would have to start last (23rd) on the restart and his title hopes looked dim. On the restart the top four locked up in a good battle for the front positions with Courtney leading Justin Grant, Chad Boat and Spencer Bayston. Courtney stayed true to the bottom along with Boat while Grant and Bayston raced up high. By lap 18 Grant wanted the top spot and executed a slider entering turn three to grab the lead but Courtney countered and had the lead back exiting turn four. Courtney started to experiment now using the cushion in turns one and two then diving low in turns three and four. Bayston meanwhile continued to rip the cushion and moved to third on lap 19 and second on lap 20. Lap 22 saw Bayston charge by Courtney on the outside entering turn one. One lap later Grant who was running third blew a right rear tire entering turn one and dumped his Clauson/Marshall entry and ended his evening prematurely. All this time the battling was up front but Thorson had sliced his way through the field and was back in contention for the remaining seven laps of competition by driving into fifth. On the restart Bayston hit the pedal and took off with the field in pursuit. Thorson got by Tanner Carrick for fourth and was nipping at Boat for third when fellow Oklahoma drivers, Matt Moore and Zane Hendricks tangled on the backstretch with Hendricks dumping it for the third time this week. The Okie has had his troubles even though he was an innocent victim in all of them. With five laps remaining it was still anyone's race and on the restart it was again Bayston out front with Thorson making an impressive dive between Boat and Courtney in turn three going from fourth to second in one swift move. Thorson closed the gap on Bayston and the crowd was buzzing in anticipation of the last few laps. With the leaders coming to the white flag lap entering turn three Thorson threw a slider at Bayston and drew alongside but did not have enough to continue and tucked behind the leader. Between turns one and two Thorson slid high losing ground and taking away any chance of slide jobbing Bayston in the last two corners. As the black and white napkin waved Bayston streaked over the line at 9:45 for his first USAC midget win of the year besting Thorson, Boat, Courtney and Carrick. It would also be Bayston's fifth career USAC midget win and gave him a shot at the IMW title treking to the last race of the series Sunday night at Kokomo.

    We were far from done as the 25 lap sprint car feature was next on the agenda and went green at 10:08. Jordan Kinser went to the early lead but outside front row companion, Kevin Thomas Jr., passed Kinser on the backstretch after one lap was completed to become the new leader. Brady Bacon was on the move from his fifth starting spot into third on the homestretch by lap four and took second in turn three on lap six. CJ Leary was another making up some ground moving into third from seventh on lap eight. Bacon was closing on Thomas while Leary was closing on the pair in front of him. The only caution of the event waved on lap 14 when Michael Fischesser looped it in turn three. Thomas moved back out front on the restart with Bacon trailing. Leary executed a pass of Bacon in turn four on lap 16 and went after the leader. The gap was closing and it was starting to look very interesting as Leary cut the gap. Lap 20 saw the turning point of the race as Leary jumped the ledge in turn three and four allowing Bacon to regain second. Thomas' lead was now comfortable and he clicked off the remaining five laps with no further challenges to score his third sprint car victory during IMW and his eighth overall sprint car win of the year on eight different tracks!!! Very impressive!!! Bacon came home second at the finish with Leary third, Thomas Meseraull fourth with Jarett Andretti advancing from 13th to lock down the fifth position with the checker waving at 10:19. With a 2 1/2 hour tow back to Crawfordsville it was time to call it an evening and head for the exits as tomorrow has another race to go to.

    Sunday, June 3 - The day was cooler than the previous ones this week, a pleasant day in the 80's with plenty of sunshine and wind. The key word of this statement is wind. It plays havoc on a dirt track and Kokomo would suffer the wrath of the relentless wind of 20 miles per hour. Dale, Pat and I were traveling from Crawfordsville while Zeke, Celia, Bill and Judy were venturing north from Lawrenceburg. The meeting place for a late lunch would be the Half Moon in Kokomo, a very fine restrauant with delicious food. After dining and filling our stomachs the girls were dropped off at the hotel with the exception of Pat and the rest traveled over to the track where we had seats tied down in the backstretch grandstand. It was the final night of Indiana Midget Week which was shortened by two nights because of rainouts at Gas City and Bloomington. Coming into the last night of racing Tyler Courtney was the IMW point leader with 228 points. The rest of the top five was Tanner Thorson at 212, Spencer Bayston at 208, Chad Boat at 204 and Logan Seavey at 190. Any of these drivers could capture the title.

    By 6:47 the USAC midget time trials were set to go with 28 midgets answering the call. By 7:07 Rico Abreu had set the fast time at 13.503 seconds. Next up were three heat races for the 22 car sprint car field. Justin Grant in the Topps Motorsports #4 won this one over Chris Windom, Kody Swanson and Jarett Andretti. Brian Karraker held off everyone to capture heat two trailed by Tyler Hewitt, Shane Cottle and Clinton Boyles. Heat three saw Isaac Chapple prevail and this guy is looking better each and every race. CJ Leary, RJ Johnson and Tony DiMattia chased. Next up would be the four heat races for the midgets. Tucker Klaasmeyer, one of the new Kuntz drivers in 2018, would garner heat one while another of the new Kuntz drivers, Sam Johnson, took a nasty flip in turn two in this one. Alex Bright, Holly Shelton and Jason McDougal would be the other transfers. Heat two saw Justin Grant win over Tanner Carrick, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Ryan Robinson. This heat got a little nasty when Tanner Thorson dove low on Ryan Robinson in turn three and banged him hard to make the pass. Robinson returned the favor between turns one and two but it was not over as Thorson dove low in turn four and ran Robinson up to the fence. Thorson was totally out of line and should have been spoken with. Brady Bacon prevailed in heat three beating out Chad Boat, Spencer Bayston and Logan Seavey. The fourth heat saw Tyler Courtney triumph over Tyler Thomas, Zeb Wise and Brayton Lynch. Only the midgets needed a B main with Tanner Thorson running away from the field with Justin Dickerson second, Jerry Coons Jr. third, Chase Jones fourth, Tyler Nelson fifth and Sam Johnson punching the final ticket to the big dance.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature would be first tonight unlike all the other nights of IMW with Justin Grant taking the early lead from Tyler Hewitt on the backstretch. Chris Windom was wasting no time as he rocketed from sixth to second on the first lap. Windom threw a turn two slider on Grant on lap three and was the new leader. Shane Cottle was making some noise on the bottom and advanced from eighth to third. The leaders worked lap traffic well with Windom continuing at the point. Grant closed at various times and on lap 16 off turn four went back to the lead. Windom came back two laps later and re-assumed the lead and would go on to score his second straight win at Kokomo over Grant with Cottle third, Leary fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. charging from 20th to finish fifth.

    The 30 lap midget main took the green at 9:45 with Kevin Thomas Jr. to the lead but he jumped the cushion between turns one and two dropping him several spots in the lineup before recovering which handed the lead over to Tyler Courtney. Courtney used the low side to build up a good sized lead as most of the others pounded the cushion but with little success. Lap nine saw a big turning point of the race as two contenders for the IMW title, Zeb Wise and Spencer Bayston, tangled battling for fifth. Both drivers suffered flat tires and pitted and returned at the rear of the field. On the restart Courtney worked the bottom while Thomas was back up to second using the cushion as his companion. Lap 11 saw Thomas edge ahead at the line for the lead but Courtney was not done went side by side for two full laps before Thomas nudged ahead bringing Jason McDougal in his wake on lap 14. Ryan Robinson turned turtle soon thereafter bringing out the red. On the restart Thomas went back to the point chased by McDougal and Justin Grant. On lap 17 Grant edged ahead of McDougal on lap 17 after exchanging sliders. Grant closed on Thomas and on lap 22 in turn four attempted a slider on the leader but Thomas held sway. On lap 25 Logan Seavey attempted a slider on Grant between turns one and two crashing instead into the side of Grant sending him into the wall and flipping over collecting two more point contenders, Courtney and Thorson in the process. Spencer Bayston was suddenly in the thick of the battle from the tail moving into the top five. Thomas again went out front on the restart but now Seavey was able to move by McDougal for second and the chase was on. Meanwhile Bayston charged into third with three to go and was in the hunt. Seavey made two slide jobs but Thomas countered each time and Thomas raced over the start/finish line with his first USAC midget win in almost three years with Bayston passing the cushion pounding Seavey off turn four for second with Seavey third, McDougal fourth and Tyler Thomas up five positions to fifth. With his second place finish Spencer Bayston was able to wrestle away the IMW point title from Tyler Courtney. It was a wild race and a wild ending to the week which was filled with much excitement. Though the track was very dusty and slick it was still an entertaining program of racing. Nothing you can do about a constant wind which never let up the entire day.

    That's it for another typical weekend and check back in the middle of the week as we venture over into Illinois to take in the sixth running of the POWRi Illinois Midget Week. Until next time stay safe and dry and take in some good short track racing in your area. Quotes or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as it is a pleasure to bring them to you.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Indiana Midget Week Action Continues With Action At Lincoln Park & Bloomington

    Thursday, May 31 - The traveling band plotted our strategy with Zeke arriving in the early afternoon placing blankets on two rows to accommodate our expanded group of seven with the addition of Bill and Judy Burns and Zeke's wife, Celia. Upon arrival in the late afternoon the crew brought in their lawn chairs as is norm at Lincoln Park Speedway, the host of tonight's USAC midget Indiana Midget Week event. As we all settled in and snacked on treats brought by Zeke, aka Snackman, we spotted friends, Max and Susie Nieman, who came over to converse with the group.

    By 6:44 it was race time with the 32 car midget field starting their time trial session. When it was all said and done by 7:10 their was a new track record for the second straight midget week contest with this time Kevin Thomas Jr. setting fast time with a lap of 12.535 seconds around the 5/16 mile oval in Putnamville. The pilot of the Dooling/Hayward Motorsports #63 broke the track record of 12.641 seconds set by Brad Sweet in 2010. The midget heats were next on the agenda and kicked off at 7:27. In the first midget heat Holly Shelton established a new ten lap track record at LPS of 2:11:64 besting the mark set by Steve Buckwalter in 2016. Shelton was also able to fend out fast time Thomas in this one with Spencer Bayston and Jerry Coons Jr. joining the big dance. Heat two saw Logan Seavey blast to victory over Tucker Klaasmeyer, Ryan Robinson and Chad Boat, the only non-Kuntz car in the top four. Brayton Lynch in the Rusty Kuntz #1K blistered the field in heat three winning over PA driver, Alex Bright, Justin Grant and Zeb Wise. Tanner Thorson had a strong run in heat four outdistancing Tyler Courtney, Rico Abreu and Zane Hendricks.

    Four sprint car heats followed for the fine 33 car field on hand with Kevin Thomas Jr. making a last corner, last lap pass of Brandon Mattox to win heat one with Shane Cockrum third and Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. fourth. Heat two saw Dave Darland piloting the Michael Dutcher #17GP tonight to victory over Jarett Andretti, Chad Boespflug behind the wheel of the Epperson #2E this evening and Tim Creech who is having a solid year so far. CJ Leary copped heat three over Colten Cottle, Tony DiMattia and Stevie Sussex. The Arizona invaders continue to impress with RJ Johnson in the Reinbold #19 taking heat four over Brady Bacon, Nate McMillen and Minnesota's Rob Caho. The UMP modifieds ran three heats for their 19 car field before the midgets returned to run their 12 lap B main. Brady Bacon would prevail in this one beating out Matt Moore, Jason McDougal, Ethan Mitchell, Tanner Carrick and Sam Johnson. Two sprint car B mains were contested with AJ Hopkins wheeling the Ottinger #4J home first over Isaac Chapple with Thomas Meseraull stomping in the second Reinbold #19AZ taking B main two over JJ Hughes. Now the fields were set for all three main events.

    At this point reports started to filter out in the crowd about approaching bad weather as the wind picked up in Putnamville. Suddenly there was great concern and people consulted their phones to check out the weather apps. It looked like we were on the fringe of the storm but darker clouds were forming and some sprinkles were felt as the 30 lap USAC midget feature was pushed to the post. Fingers and toes were crossed as the initial green flag waved at 9:26 with Tanner Thorson using the inside to surge to the early lead over second starting Chad Boat. Lap 2 saw Ethan Mitchell lose the handle in turn three to bring out the first caution. Thorson held the lead on the restart utilizing the inside through turns one and two and taking to the cushion through turns three and four. Kevin Thomas Jr. ruined his night when he also spun in turn three on lap eight to bring out the second yellow. On the restart a six car pileup in turn four resulted in young Zane Hendricks turning turtle as the red flag appeared and the sprinkles returned causing great concern. On the restart Thorson went back to the point with Boat cruising the middle groove in second. The turning point was on lap 17 when Thorson went high entering turn three and Boat dove to the middle emerging was the lead as they exited turn four. It was far from over that this point. For the next three laps the leaders exchanged sliders in an exciting display of racing swapping the lead back and forth on various parts of the track. Clauson/Marshall teammates, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney, were looming just behind the front two now waiting to make their moves. Grant, up from 11th made a fantastic move on a lap 21 restart splitting Thorson and Courtney to grab second and taking up the chase of Boat as the others did battle. With three to go Grant was close enough to Boat to attempt a slider in turn three and four but Boat moved lower to block the attempt at the run. Entering turn two one lap later Grant got sideways and lost quite a bit of ground to Boat. Over the last two laps Boat was able to maintain his lead and crossed under the checkered flag at 9:50 for his first midget win of 2018. Grant followed in second with Courtney third, young Zeb Wise fourth completing a two, three, four run for the Clauson/Marshall team with Tanner Thorson slipping to fifth at the finish. It was a real good race and keep you on the edge of your seat all race long.

    We still were not done as the sprints were next with their 25 lap main event. The green waved at 10:05 with RJ Johnson assuming the early lead with the first four racing under a blanket for the first half dozen laps. Johnson caught the big cushion in turn two on lap eight and rolled his mount over bringing out the red. Two laps later Stevie Sussex, another Arizona driver, found the same turn troublesome and rolled his stead also. Once things calmed down it was Terre Haute's favorite son, Brandon Mattox, at the front of the field and he continued to pace the field until lap 13 when Kevin Thomas Jr. executed a slide job through turns one and two allowing him to have the lead by the exit of turn two. Thomas would lead the remainder of the distance but it was not easy as Mattox stuck with him the rest of the distance. The checkered flew at 10:37 with Thomas scoring his seventh win of 2018 on the seventh different track of the year. Mattox held down second with Brady Bacon advancing from eighth to third with Dave Darland finishing fourth and CJ Leary turning in a fine run in the #4P to round out the top five. Leary's mount may not look like much (plain white with a number on it) but this car is capable of running with the best of them. We decided not to press our luck and packed up the gear and headed for the exits after this event. As we traveled north on Rt. 231 we realized how fortunate we had been as when we entered Greencastle, just five miles north of Putnamville we encountered very wet roads and traveled a distance in rainy weather. Last night we lost one to the elements but tonight we got one in. Things seem to even out sometimes.

    Friday, June 1 - I asked house guests, Dale O'Brien and Bill Burns, if they would be interested in visiting Wilson's Auto where Jacob Wilson, former 2 time winner of the Little 500 in Anderson, has his garage out back and they jumped at the opportunity to do so. Upon entering the reception area we were greeted by Jacob's mom who checked with her young son, Clint, to see if he could take us out back to check things out. We had a nice conversation with her and saw the owner's trophy from one of Jacob's Little 500 victories before proceeding to the back and entering the race shop. For the next hour we had a lively discussion with Clint while looking over the plethora of cars in the race shop with a mixture of dirt and asphalt machines used for sprint car racing both wingless and winged along with several Silver Crown machines for both surfaces. It was beyond our expectations and was very much appreciated by the three of us.

    By 3 PM it was time to head south toward Bloomington, the home of Indiana University and also the site of the 1/4 mile Bloomington Speedway. We arrived around 5 and ventured inside to find the blankets put down by Zeke in the fourth turn bleachers. By 7:10 the USAC midgets were ready to time trial as we noticed some dark clouds to the north of us. I went to look for one of our PA buddies, Steve Peters, and ran into Rich Rauser also from PA and fellow Hosehead columnist, Kevin Oldham and we all chatted for a spell. I excused myself to continue my search for Steve who I found sitting on the lower hill in turn one in his lawn chair. I sat next to him in the grass and we chatted for a while and after several minutes he questioned me on the dark clouds to the north of us and I assured him that they were moving north and we would be fine. Well, wouldn't you know it no sooner did the words leave my lips then it started to drip from the skies. I bid Steve farewell as I headed back toward our seats in turn four as the rain increased in volume. Pat handed me the second umbrella as I arrived and we headed toward the south parking lot and the car. By the time we made it to the parking lot the wind was blowing the rain sideways and even with the umbrella it was a futile effort as by the time we reached the car we were virtually soaked. Twelve of twenty eight midgets had time trialled before the rain struck and as we waited out the storm in the car we commented with the volume and intensity of the quick downpour it was unlikely that they would be able to resume. About twenty minutes later we noticed the first hauler breaching the entrance gate of the pit area, that being the one of Jarett Andretti, and we knew that it was done for the evening. A few minutes later the official word was posted on Twitter by USAC that the evening was a washout and it was over for the evening. To ease our sorrows we stopped at Steak n Shake in Bloomington where I indulged in a Orange Freeze shake along with my double steakburger to make me feel better. Then we piled back in the car still soggy from our drenching and pointed the rental west then north toward Crawfordsville. The clothes went into the dryer upon arrival back home followed by the blankets and finally the sneakers.

    Check back on Monday as we attempt to attend the last two stops on the USAC Indiana Midget Week schedule on Saturday at Lawrenceburg and Sunday at Kokomo and will deliver our reports. Until next time stay safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and dodge those rain drops!!! News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing them to you even though sometimes the rain can dampen our spirits.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Indiana Midget Week Kicks Off At Montpelier & Gas City

    Tuesday, May 29 - Today would be the start of six straight nights of USAC midget racing in the state of Indiana and the opening night venue would be the Montpelier Motor Speedway in the town of the same name. Our advance scout for today, Bill Burns of Pennsylvania, secured us good seats around 1:30 allowing us (Pat, Dale & I) to not have to leave the homestead in Crawfordsville until 3 PM. We cruised over to Montpelier using the back roads of Indiana and enjoyed the scenery and watching the farmers preparing their fields for another year. A slight pit stop was made at the Super 8 in Gas City to get our rooms and pick up our keys before venturing the rest of the way over to the track and we were on the grounds at 5:30. A nice crowd turned out for the opener including IMS CEO, Doug Boles to take in the racing tonight.

    Midget time trials started off the evening commencing at 6:45 with 36 midgets vying to set fast time including Argentina invader, Damian "El Perro"(The Dog) Lopez behind the wheel of the Rowden/Shuman midget. The Dog did not set fast time but instead "Young Money" Kyle Larson did at the tune of 13.712 seconds which was a new track record. The four heat races would be highly contested with Kyle Larson starting sixth and winning also setting a new track record for the ten lap distance in the process. Larson was chased by Alex Bright, Justin Grant and Spencer Bayston in this one. Heat two saw Tyler Courtney bring home top honors to the Clauson/Marshall stables with this win beating out Tucker Klaasmeyer, Rico Abreu and Chase Jones in the Ray #33. Ryan Robinson made a bonsai move entering turn one in heat two slamming into teammate Tanner Carrick and 18 year old Oklahoma racer, Zane Hendricks, with Robinson and Hendricks getting upside down. Heat three saw Tanner Thorson in the new Clyde Lamar #3C take charge in winning over Kevin Thomas Jr. from sixth, Brayton Lynch in the Rusty Kuntz #1K and impressive young racer, Kyle Cracker from Lewisberrry, PA in the second FMR entry as teammate to Brady Bacon. The final heat of the evening saw the new driver of the Petry Motorsports midget, Jason McDougal from Oklahoma, score the win over Chad Boat, Brady Bacon and Zeb Wise. Three sprint car heats for the 20 car field were next on the agenda with Arizona invaders, Charles Davis Jr. and RJ Johnson, in attendance. Heat one went to Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Dooling/Heyward #63 heading off Tyler Hewitt and Thomas Meseraull in the second Reinbold entry as teammate to Johnson. Matt Westfall of Ohio motored to heat win two over Joe Stornetta Jr. and Clinton Boyles. Isaac Chapple copped heat three over Brady Bacon and RJ Johnson. Three modified heats were run for their 20 car field before the semi-feature for the midgets was pushed off. During the event CJ Leary and Matt Moore got together off turn four with Leary taking a wild ride but quickly exiting his midget. He proceeded to run over to Moore's machine and threw several punches into the cockpit area before being restrained. I know he was upset over flipping but this kind of behavior is uncalled for and USAC should issue a fine or suspension for his actions. This type of behavior should not be condoned or looked over. Logan Seavey went on to win this contest over Tyler Thomas, Ryan Robinson, Jerry Coons Jr., Tanner Carrick and Jake Neuman. Next up would be the 30 lap USAC midget feature event.

    The drop of the green flag on the 30 lap USAC midget feature was at 10:05 with Kuntz driver, Tucker Klaasmeyer, taking the early lead and looking quite stout leading the first nine laps. Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Larson duked it out for second with Thomas throwing a big slider on Larson in turn one with Larson still able to thread the needle (Thomas and the cushion) around the top and secure second from him. Justin Grant brought out the first caution when he spun on lap 9. Then the 2016 Montpelier winner and fast timer out of the sixth position got a good run on the restart and passed Klaasmeyer for the lead with an outside move as Klaasmeyer went low and Larson had the momentum to go around him on the outside. Larson pulled away to a two second lead by the halfway mark. Numerous cautions started to slow the action and Larson used different strategies on the restarts trying to shake the second place runner, Tyler Courtney, up from 14th. Courtney hung close for a while but as the race progressed Larson was able to stretch his lead once again. The race was no longer for the lead but indeed there was some racing going on back in the pack. Logan Seavey, Kevin Thomas Jr., Jerry Coons Jr. from 13th, Tanner Thorson from 15th, Spencer Bayston and others were battling tooth and nail for positions three through eight. There were some tremendous tussles among the group and when the dust cleared and the checkered waved at 10:33 it was Larson in for the win and sweep of the evening besting Courtney with Seavey placing third, Jerry Coons Jr. working the inside to perfection to nail down fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten were filled by Tanner Thorson in the new Clyde Lamar #3C midget from California in an impressive debut came home sixth with Spencer Bayston seventh, Zeb Wise eighth, Rico Abreu ninth and Ryan Robinson taking tenth at the finish. Larson's impressive win was his fifth Indiana Midget Week win tying him for second with Christopher Bell for second on the list still four behind the all-time leader, Bryan Clauson, in Larson's only scheduled midget week start. It was also his 15th career USAC National Midget win tying him with Don Branson and Larry Rice for 45th place on the all-time list.

    The 25 lap sprint car feature took the green at 10:46 and even though the track was pretty much gone the sprinters put on an interesting run. Joe Stornetta Jr., the Napa, California driver, went to the early lead with Brady Bacon in tow. Bacon did not last long as he pulled up lame in turn four with mechanical woes. On the restart Kevin Thomas Jr. made a power move to go to the front and started to pull away. The guy seemingly liking the slick track conditions was Arizona driver, RJ Johnson, slipping and sliding forward from ninth into second. Johnson started to close on Thomas and all of a sudden this one was getting interesting. Johnson dogged Thomas for many laps until Thomas opened up some ground in the later stages of the 25 lapper. The checkered waved at one stroke before eleven with KTJ picking up yet another Indiana non-wing win in 2018 over an impressive Johnson with Matt Westfall filling the show position. Joe Stornetta Jr. hung on for fourth with Thomas Meseraull remaining true to the cushion finally prevailing for fifth. A combination of being tired and the dust factor had us throw in the towel at this juncture and head toward the exit along with many others. We pointed the Nissan Rogue west on 18 then south on I-69 to our home away from home in Gas City.

    Wednesday, May 30 - We arose around 8 and pulled the curtain open to find partly cloudy skies but not rain on the ground or falling. This was a plus as the remnants of Alberto were predicted to be heading our way out of the Gulf of Mexico. By 12 we were checked out and decided to ride over to the track to check on conditions and the policy of placing blankets on the seats early. When we pulled onto the grounds we noticed blankets waving in the wind so we gathered up several of our lighter variety and headed through the main gate to secure our seats for the evening's events. Good seats were reserved one row from the top in front of the scorer's tower and we returned to the SUV to plot our next move. It was decided to go downtown to a Mexican restaurant we had visited last year and have lunch. The meal was delicious and with our stomachs filled we crossed town to return to the speedway grounds. The skies were starting to cloud up more and things were starting to look grim. By 2 PM drops of rain started to hit our windshield and the wind picked up even more. The rain became more steady in the next 20 minutes and a few minutes before 2:30 we noticed the first race trailer headed toward the pit gate exit. It was soon followed by another and we knew that the night of racing was done before it started. A couple of minutes later the official word was posted on Gas City's Twitter account and we made calls to some of our racing friends to break the bad news before returning inside to retrieve the damp blankets and place them in a plastic bag we had along for such occasions.

    That's it for this installment and we will be back to you probably on Saturday after rounds two and three of Indiana midget week at Lincoln Park and Bloomington. Thanks for reading and get out there now that the weather is warm though rainy at times and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Short Tracking at Lincoln Park & Kokomo

    Saturday, May 27 - After doing some lawn work it was time to pack up the cooler, stop at Subway to pick up some sandwiches and head south on Rt. 231 toward beautiful downtown Putnamville, the home of the 5/16 mile Lincoln Park Speedway. We set up the lawn chairs behind the starter's stand one row from the top and settled in for the evening of racing. On tap this evening was a four division program of MSCS non-wing sprints, UMP modifieds, super stocks and bombers with 30 strong in the sprint car ranks including such drivers as Robert Ballou, Jon Stanbrough, Kyle Cummins, Carson Short Jeff Bland Jr. and Shane Cockrum just to name a few. Group qualifying for the sprinters was broken up into four groups by heats and was spun off in quick order. By 7:01 the first sprint car heat was trackside and racing was underway. Stevie Sussex took the Burton #04 to the front early and won over Dave Darland in the Ottinger #4J, Shelby VanGilder and Kellen Conover. Heat two saw Kyle Cummins stave off New Mexico driver, Josh Hodges, in for the summer, Koby Barksdale and Matt McDonald. The chief, Shane Cockrum, took the Paul #24P to victory in heat three over MSCS point leader, Carson Short, Robert Ballou and Tim Creech in a race where Clinton Boyles took a tumble on the first lap in turn one in the Paul Hazen #57 and was done for the evening. The final heat of the evening saw Jeff Bland Jr. wheel the Waltz #18W to victory over Jon Stanbrough, Brandon Mattox and Brian VanMeveren. Three UMP modified heats followed for their 26 car field and two heats for the 17 car super stock field before the sprint B main was run with Colten Cottle triumphing over Garrett Aitken and Nate McMillen.

    By 8:56 Brian Hodde dropped the green flag on the field and it would be the only green flag needed as the 25 laps went non-stop in six minutes. Jon Stanbrough would power to the early lead over Carson Short. Shane Cockrum slid wide in turn three on lap one and was never in contention for the remainder of the event. Jeff Bland Jr. wheeled to the outside of the backstretch on lap three to wrestle the lead away from Stanbrough with Carson Short passing Stanbrough for second shortly thereafter. Short was able to maneuver by Bland on the backstretch on lap ten to take over the top spot and moved away somewhat. Kyle Cummins was making steady progress as the laps clicked off finally motoring into second on lap 19 but shortly thereafter found him off roading into the infield taking himself out of the hunt. The dogs were barking and snarling behind Short but he was up to the task and held off the hungry pack flashing under the checkered flag at 9:02 winning over Bland Jr., Stanbrough, Ballou and Dave Darland. A good fast race was witnessed and being over at 9:02 gave the crowd options on staying to watch more or call it an early evening. We opted for watching the 20 lap UMP modified feature which did not go non-stop but had four cautions instead. By 9:40 this one was in the books with Jordan Wever scoring his second straight win over Randy Shuman, James Walters, Rob Brickert and Derek Groomer. It was an interesting run and at that point we decided to call it an evening after enjoying two good features on the evening on a nicely manicured track on a hot, sunny May day.

    Sunday, May 28 - Another scorcher greeted us on Sunday and we were glad that we didn't have seats for the Indianapolis 500 today as it would be very hot sitting in the aluminum seats at the big track. We hung out in the air conditioned house until late afternoon when we left for Kokomo to attend the BC Double, a race to honor the late Bryan Clauson who raced in the Indianapolis 500 and then headed north to run in the evening at the Kokomo Speedway. Our visiting friend from Florida by way of Wisconsin, Dale O'Brien, had seats for us on the backstretch in the new aluminum grandstands with the sun at our backs. We were disappointed that only 16 sprints were on hand along with 29 UMP modifieds and 16 hornets to due battle on the baddest bullring in Indiana.

    The first sprint car heat went green at 8:01 and the action started early as Tyler Courtney and Kevin Thomas Jr. banged wheels exiting turn four for the start with Thomas suffering a flat tire and done for the heat. Dave Darland in the Goodnight #36D tonight ended up scoring the win in heat one over Courtney, Joe Stornetta Jr. and Tyler Hewitt. Heat two saw young New Mexico native, Josh Hodges, rush to the front and fend off Chris Windom, Shane Cottle and Isaac Chapple in the progress. Three UMP mod heats followed along with two hornet heats on the dustless track surface even under bright sun and 97 degree temperatures. Hats off to the Kokomo track crew on a fine track prep job!!! Only the modifieds needed a B main before the 25 lap sprint car feature was called to the post.

    The green flag waved at 9:28 with a three wide race for the lead among Shane Cottle, Dave Darland and Tyler Courtney with Courtney taking the lead at the line to complete lap one. When they came to the line to complete lap two Dave Darland was your new leader. The battle up front continued through lap eight when Courtney rolled the top of turn two to reassume the lead. From this point Courtney was in control and looked like he was well on his way to his third win of the week after scoring at Terre Haute on Wednesday and Bloomington on Friday but it was not to be as exiting turn four to begin lap 20 Courtney ran up upon Matt Goodnight too quickly and climbed his tail tank rolling over lightly in the process. This would thwart Courtney's chance to join Kody Swanson as three time winners on the week of Indy and hand the lead back over to Darland. as many had watched the racing up front Kevin Thomas Jr. was slicing his way from 15th into the top five. This one was far from over and on the restart Chris Windom made his presence known as he stuck his nose under Darland several times in the next two laps. Coming off turn four to start lap 22 Windom passed Darland for the lead.

    Windom's lead was two car lengths three circuits later as he passed under the checkered flag with Shane Cottle sneaking by Dave Darland in the last two laps for second and Kevin Thomas Jr. barely falling short on stealing the third position from Darland at the line. Josh Hodges rounded out the top five in this thriller. We decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature and even though it was interrupted by five cautions it was still a fun race to watch. Jamie Lomax prevailed in this one holding off Derek Losh, Todd Sherman, Dillon Nusbaum and Josh Lolmaugh. In the hornet 15 lapper Chris Hillman had strict orders from the Honda factory to save face on the day (Dale O'brien gem not mine) and brought his Honda home first in the last event checkering at 10:16 in a real competitive feature. It was a good night of racing and the track did dust up in the last two features but considering the weather conditions we have seen much worst at other facilities on cooler, cloudy days.

    Check back soon as today is the start of six straight days of USAC midget racing as part of Indiana Midget Week with the first report to follow after the first two rounds at Montpelier and Gas City. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Following The Silver Crown Cars At Indiana St. Fairgrounds & Lucas Oil Raceway


     

    Thursday, May 24 - Another nice day greeted us on Thursday and we were happy as we knew the USAC Silver Crown Series would be racing this year at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 63rd Hoosier 100. As we approached the fairgrounds driving on 38th Street I glanced down at the temperature on the dashboard and noted it read 92 degrees. It was going to be a warm one indeed today at the Indiana State mile. A long line greeted us at the ticket booths at the mile and along the way said hi to fellow Hoseheads columnist, Kevin Oldham. Also spotted Hoseheads columnist, Danny Burton, roaming the huge covered grandstand during the evening as a huge crowd flowed into the track grounds. We were joined on this nice evening by Allan and Nancy Brown, Max and Suzie Neiman, Gary Dean in from Nebraska and Paul Anton from north of Detroit (who we haven't seen since a Turkey Night race at Irwindale Speedway. Celebrities in our section included included midget racer, Kevin Olson, sprint car driver, Hunter Schuerenberg, drag racer, JR Todd and son of Eddie Sachs and former Silver Crown owner, Eddie Sachs III.


     

    The question on everyone's minds tonight was if 3 time Silver Crown champ, Kody Swanson, the smooth California driver could match legendary Al Unser with four straight Hoosier 100 victories (1970-1973) on this hot, sunny Hoosier day. Time trials for the fine 38 car field in attendance kicked off at 6:40 and concluded 40 minutes later at 7:20 with Kody Swanson setting fast time of 33.522 seconds on the big mile, nearly one second faster than the second fastest timer, Shane Cottle. Things were looking good for Swanson at this point but would not be as easy as most people thought. An hour break was next with some track maintenance going on before the last chance qualifier was lined up with 13 strong with the final six spots on the line to join the 24 starters locked in by the time trials. The 12 lap LCQ went non-stop in eight minutes with Warsaw, Indiana's Neil Shepherd outrunning Arizona's Casey Shuman, Oklahoma's Brady Bacon, Indiana's Dave Darland, Pennsylvania's Steve Buckwalter and Illinois' Korey Weyant. Two provisionals would swell the starting field to 32 with the addition of Austin Nemire and Travis Welpott.


     

    The 16 car starting field for the UMP modifieds would run their 15 lap feature event first with the green flag waving at 8:41 with David Shain taking the early lead. It was short lived as entering turn one on lap one Tyler Nicely went to the point. Nicely would lead until engine woes sidelined him and gave the lead back to Shain. Only a few laps later Shain's night ended early as he drifted to a stop on the homestretch handing the lead over to Kenny Schrader. The rest of the race was all Schrader though Curt Spaulding kept him in sight and came home second with Jesse Snyder third, Justin Gregory fourth and Michael Kettnich rounding out the top five.


     

    It was now time for the 63rd Hoosier 100 with the green flag waving at 9:41. As expected Kody Swanson went to the point with Shane Cockrum in pursuit. Cockrum showed Swanson his nose entering turn one before settling back in behind Swanson on lap 12. Lap 20 saw Brian Tyler charge by Cockrum for second and quickly made up some serious real estate on Swanson. Lap 21 saw the first of three cautions appear and on the restart Swanson was still in command. Lap 24 saw Brady Bacon move into tenth after starting twenty fifth. Lap 29 saw Tyler take the lead with a good run down the straightaway passing Swanson before they entered turn one. Surprisingly Tyler opened up a huge 4 second lead until lap 40 when Kyle Robbins encountered the turn three wall bringing out the second caution. Tyler jumped back out front on the restart and took charge again. By lap 45 another driver was slicing his way to the front with Casey Shuman charging from 26th into 11th in the Bateman entry. The big turning point of the race occurred on lap 56 when Tyler hit a piece of brake rotor from Chris Windom's car entering turn one causing him to make hard contact with the turn one wall and handing the lead back over to Swanson. That really took the drama out of the event as it would have been quite interesting to see if Swanson was able to conserve enough tires and brakes to make a final run at Tyler but we will never know. That sometimes folks are the breaks (not pun intended) of racing and you take what you are given. With racing resumed it was a two dog race with Swanson on top with Cockrum trailing. In the latter stages of the race two drivers with good runs, Brady Bacon running sixth and Steve Buckwalter running eleventh, headed pitside prematurely ending their good runs early. Over the remaining laps the front two worked their way through lap traffic, neither one able to distance themselves from each other. Lap 88 saw the last caution wave when Tyler Courtney and Jerry Coons Jr. tangled in turn three battling for fifth with Courtney hopping Coons' right front causing the Nolen #20 to take a hard ride into the turn three fencing spinning and rolling over once before returning back to the racing surface. On the final restart Swanson moved back out front pulling away to a 2.7 second advantage flashing under the double checkered flags at 10:53 scoring his fourth straight Hoosier 100 tying Al Unser's record and moving within two of the all-time Hoosier 100 winner, AJ Foyt , with six wins. Also lost in the Hoosier 100 hoopla was the fact that this was Swanson's 21st career Silver Crown victory moving him within two of the all-time record holder, Jack Hewitt. Shane Cockrum came home with a well deserved second with Tyler Courtney claiming third, Shane Cottle fourth and Johnny Petrozelle advancing from 18th to 5th for his best career finish and giving himself a fine birthday present. Crawfordsville's own Jacob Wilson came from 21st to notch sixth with Joe Liguori grabbing a good seventh with David Byrne battling back from a pit stop for eighth with Dave Darland taking ninth after starting twenty eighth and being awarded the hard charger award with Dallas, Texas runner Austin Mundie rounding out the top ten after starting twenty four.


     

    There was some good performances throughout the entire race but in the end it all came down to Kody Swanson scoring the impressive win and bringing the curtain down on another exciting Hoosier 100 until next May. The DePalma Motorsports #63 and their driver certainly had their game together and are going to be tough to knock off the top rung looking for their second consecutive championship and four out of the last five titles.


     

    Friday, May 26 - So many options on this Friday evening and we usually head to Bloomington for the Josh Burton Memorial but tonight we wanted to honor another one of our racing heroes, Dave Steele, who was killed in a sprint car crash in Florida last year. The Lucas Oil Raceway near Brownsburg was hosting the USAC Silver Crown Series on the .686 mile pavement oval this beautiful evening called the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic which would also have two other races tonight one each for the USF2000 and the Pro Mazda Series and we wanted to attend to offer our support to his widow, Lynn, and honor his memory.  But first it was a must stop meal at the Pit Stop Barbeque in Brownsburg where the walls are lined with race car photos and there are even several race cars on the floors.


     

    Silver Crown time trials would kick off the evening of speed at 5:36 for the improving 23 car field that pulled into the facility to participate in this special event. A very impressive crowd turned out to take in the racing and there was a buzz in the crowd that we have not experienced at Lucas Oil in quite a while. Twenty minutes later the time trials were concluded with Tanner Swanson, brother of Kody, take top honors with a time of 21.010 seconds. The USF2000 series lined up on pit road to contest their Freedom 75 event for a distance of 75 laps or 30 minutes whichever came first. The 21 car field took the green flag at 6:09 with pole sitter, Kyle Kirkwood of Jupiter, Florida, taking the early lead. There was some good dicing for positions throughout the field as Kirkwood pulled away from the rest of the field. One red and one yellow slowed the action and the 30 minute time limit would win out over the 75 lap distance cutting the distance to 57 laps when the checker flew. Kirkwood was challenged in the last few laps when Kaylen Frederick closed in traffic and finished on his tail wing when the checker waved. Rasmus Lindh from Sweden was the third place finishers and joined the other two on the podium at the end. The Freedom 90 lapper for the Pro Mazda Series was next and went green at 7:08. Canadian Parker Thompson was the class of this race pulling away from the start and was never challenged as he flashed under the checkered flag at 7:46 in a rather uneventful race beating out Carlos Cunha of Brazil and Robert Megennis of the United States.


     

    Pat Sullivan conducted driver introductions and when they came to fast timer, Tanner Swanson, he was given the option to start first or go to the rear of the 23 car field for a chance to win an extra $5000 in addition to the posted $17,000 to win. Tanner took the challenge to the fan's delight and went to the rear of the field to start the 100 lap tussle. At the drop of the green the front row of Kody Swanson and Bobby Santos III went to war exchanging the lead over the first several laps until Swanson finally edged out front on lap 3 going down the backstretch. All eyes were on Tanner Swanson as he sliced and diced his way toward the front cracking the top ten by lap 7 and up to eighth by lap 12. The march continued as Tanner was seventh by lap 18 and sixth by lap 19 when the first and only caution appeared. Aaron Pierce was also running a fine race as he dogged Kody Swanson and never let him get too far ahead after advancing from sixth to the runnerup position. By lap 31 Tanner Swanson had worked his way into fifth getting by Justin Grant, fourth by lap 34 moving by Chris Windom and into third by lap 39 dispatching Bobby Santos III. Tanner had some ground to close on the top two but he was coming strong. By the halfway mark it was down to a three car race up front with Kody still leading over Pierce with Tanner applying the pressure on Pierce. Tanner and Pierce went at it tooth and nail over an extended period with Tanner squeezing by Pierce on lap 68 in turn three but it was countered by Pierce as Tanner drifted close to the wall and Pierce was second again. Lap 72 saw Tanner make a bold outside move in turn two clearing Pierce for second and the hunt was on for the lead. Tanner was closing steadily on his brother and was on his tail tank by lap 87 as they battled traffic. Tanner was able to pull alongside Kody several times in the ensuing laps but never able to make the winning move. With ten to go Tanner tried his turn two move again but a lap car thwarted his effort and Kody held on. At the same time Tanner started to suffer a low fuel issue allowing Kody to open the gap once again. The fine effort by Tanner was over for all reasonable purposes and Kody would flash under the checkered flag at 9:25 for his 22nd career Silver Crown win moving him within one of the all-time leader, Jack Hewitt. In the 44th Silver Crown event hosted at Lucas Oil Raceway it was Kody Swanson in for the win for the second night in a row and his three straight Silver Crown win in a row joining only eight other drivers to be able to accomplish this feat with the last one being none other than Dave Steele in 2005. His two Silver Crown wins in two nights has only been duplicated by two other drivers, Mario Andretti in 1974 and J.J. Yeley in 2003. The top five in the final rundown was Kody Swanson, Tanner Swanson, Aaron Pierce, Bobby Santos III and Chris Windom.


     

    It was an enjoyable evening and with Tanner going to the rear of the field it added even more drama to the event and had the crowd buzzing. Reading on Twitter the next day, Tanner Swanson noted that he told the challenge not because of the extra $5000 but for the fact that Dave Steele would have done something like that if he had been offered. I thought that was a great tribute to a fine racer would left us much too early and showed the great respect that the Swanson family had for Dave Steele.


     

    Once again check back on Monday as we will fill you in on our Saturday and Sunday adventures. Until next time get out there and enjoy the good weather and take in some good short track racing near you. Comments and news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or bruceeckel11 on Twitter. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.


     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Rain and More Rain Plus Hulman Classic at Terre Haute

    Saturday, May 12 & Sunday, May 13 - The month of May is turning out to be a real bummer as we lost our fifth and sixth race of the year to the wet stuff on a weekend in Pennsylvania. In fact our Sunday destination, BAPS Motor Speedway, was rained out for us on two consecutive Sundays!!

    Friday, May 18 & Saturday, May 19 - We were stoked to attend the River Town Showdown at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Illinois on Friday and Saturday at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri but Mother Nature had different plans and released rain on both days wiping out the entire weekend for the USAC National Sprint Car Series. Our alternatives also fell to the wet stuff with Lincoln Speedway in Illinois getting in almost all their heat racing on Friday before falling to the moisture and the POWRi midgets and 600's met a similar fate on Saturday after the Pevely drenching. We did salvage a Sunday afternoon major league baseball game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis vs. the Phillies but that is all we had to show for five days of planning. So far we have suffered eight rainouts on the year and five of them have been in May!! May, May go away let's try June instead.

    Wednesday, May 23 - Finally a nice, sunny day with temperatures in the high 80's but the price for such a beautiful day at Terre Haute is dusty, abrasive track conditions. The 48th Tony Hulman Classic started out with time trials kicking off at 6:55 for the 23 car field on hand (was 24 but Jarett Andretti never made onto the track and left early) with Kevin Thomas Jr. motoring the Hoffman #69 to fast time with a lap of 20.574 seconds around the half mile located on the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds. Some track maintenance was performed before the three heats for the sprint cars were run with three good preliminary races being spun off. The first heat saw Kevin Thomas Jr. blast from sixth to pass Nick Bilbee for the lead and the win with Kyle Cummins and Chris Windom trailing. Heat two saw Chad Boespflug advance from fourth to the lead holding off C J Leary, Tyler Courtney and Bill Rose. The final heat saw Justin Grant from second hold sway on a last lap, last corner slider by Robert Ballou to score the win with Dave Darland third and Brady Bacon fourth. Two UMP modified heats followed for their 14 car field and then it was intermission as the track crew went to work on the surface once again.

    The 30 lap Hulman Classic would be first up and the green flag would wave at 9:08 with front row starter, Tyler Courtney, taking the early lead from polesitter Shane Cottle. This would not last long as third starting Chase Stockon would use a turn one slider on lap two to assume the lead and pull away from the field with the exception of Courtney who would keep the leader within shouting distance. The top two weaved their way through lap traffic with Kevin Thomas Jr. moving into third from his sixth starting position but trailing the leaders by over a half straightway in the caution free event. The pivotal moment of the race would occur on lap 21 when Jadon Rogers tagged the wall in between turns three and four spinning and flipping into the middle of the track where Stockon avoided contact but Courtney was not as fortunate contacting the disabled sprinter with his right rear bending his wheel cover but nothing more serious. On the restart Courtney would make a patented turn one Terre Haute slider on Stockon and make it stick stealing the lead from the long time leader. Stockon has had this happen in the late goings while in the lead in previous races and once again he was the victim. Courtney powered off turn two as the leader and never looked back pacing the final nine laps to score his first ever victory at the Action Track beating out Kevin Thomas Jr., Shane Cottle making a late race charge after dropping back to as far back as sixth before rallying to take third over tenth starting Chris Windom and a disappointed Chase Stockon. Positions six through ten were filled by CJ Leary, Robert Ballou up from 12th to 7th, with Justin Grant who had advanced from 15th to 5th before the last restart and ending up eighth with Brady Bacon ninth and Chad Boespflug rounding out the top ten with the checker waving at 9:31. Courtney celebrated in victory lane receiving his first Hulman Classic rifle as his trophy for his big win. The happy winner said in his victory lane interview that the win here was unreal and that he had dreamed of this ever since he was a kid and it had now become reality. On the other side of the ledger Robert Ballou expressed his opinions of the track surface and preparation in no uncertain terms and his displeasure was heard loud and clear. Like him or not Ballou usually expresses what others think but are afraid to speak.

    Anyhow since it was still early and it was not that long of a drive back home we with the majority of the large crowd on hand decided to stay for the 15 lap UMP modified feature which ran non-stop in seven minutes with second starting Will Krup dominating and making it two straight at Terre Haute over Tyler Nicely, Brian Shaw, Ken Schrader and Dave Baldwin with the final checker waving at 9:49. This is the start of a very busy week for the 62 year old driver (will be celebrating #63 in five days) with races for him at Terre Haute, Indy mile and the Little 500 at Anderson. He inspires this 63 year old writer to work my way through all the daily aches and pains.

    Check back real soon (Saturday) for our Memorial Day week full of racing with reports from the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Lucas Oil Raceway. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area with comments reaching us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net or on Twitter @bruceeckel11. As always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Gas City, Fremont & Rain Highlight The Weekend

    Friday, May 4 - The weekend was once again upon us as we looked forward to taking in another full three days of racing on the first weekend in May. Racing would start out on Friday with our second appearance at the Gas City Speedway in the town of the same name. When your town is named Gas City we think it should be a requirement that you must have a race track and Jerry Gappens and his staff are trying to revitilize this joint on a weekly basis and if the start of the year is any indication then they are well on their way to making this a weekly outing for the many people in the area.

    Gappens has put together a variety of options on any given Friday night and tonight would be highlighted by the first ever visit by the Midwest Sprint Car Series (MSCS) at the 1/4 mile bullring of black clay in Grant County. The car count was only 20 but the combination of Limaland running wingless sprints and the Silver Crown series at Toledo hurt the car count by about a half dozen. The quality was there though with names like Bacon, Meseraull, Thomas, Leary and Cottle along with invaders Stockon, Carson Short, Ballou, Brackett and Aric Gentry made for a stout field. Things would kick off with group qualifying at 6:59 with three groups taking time and wrapping up at 7:08 with Chase Stockon fastest at 12.888 seconds. The three sprint car heats pushed off starting at 7:32 with Missouri's Clinton Boyles in the famous Hazen #57 claiming heat one over Shane Cottle, Thomas Meseraull in his own #00 and Joe Stornetta Jr. in the Pace #44 taking down the first four spots. Heat two would see Brady Bacon in his own #99 charging from fourth to nail down this one chased by Brandon Mattox, Tony DiMattia and Donny Brackett. The final heat would go to Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Dooling/Hayward #63 beating Isaac Chapple, Robert Ballou and Chase Stockon. The sprint car heat racing was completed in just 14 minutes with the two support divisions, the thunder cars (8) and the front wheel drive (10) spinning off their heats with all qualifying in the books by 7:59. At intermission a tarp was laid down on the homestretch and the youngsters were invited out for scramble for $200 worth of nickels in a fun time for the young ones.

    By 8:35 the green flag waved on the 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature with Brady Bacon jumping to the early lead from second. By lap five 7th starting Thomas Meseraull had hustled his way into the top five and looked like a challenger. Bacon encountered lap traffic by lap ten with Shane Cottle and Clinton Boyles duking it out for second on laps 11 and 12 before Cottle wrestled away the spot on lap 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. was getting racy first disposing of Boyles for third on lap 16 and went after Cottle for second. Thomas caught and passed Cottle in the third turn on lap 25 just before the only caution flag waved for a tangle between Stockon and Stornetta in turn four wiping out Bacon's almost five second lead. On the restart Bacon maintained the top spot but Thomas was all over him looking for a way by. Bacon was able to hold sway until three to go when he slid high to block Thomas entering turn one and Thomas diamonded off turn two to the inside to take the lead going down the backstretch. Thomas would go onto victory flashing under the checkered flag at 8:46 now $3000 richer winning over Bacon, Cottle, Boyles and Meseraull in a very good race run on a nicely manicured surface with no dust whatsoever. We decided to stay for the 15 lap thunder car feature and even with only eight cars it was a good race up front among the top three with D.J. Holt prevailing after a race long battle for the lead. Ervin Turner and Ron Flaugh chased him across the line at 9:03. Though we exited at this point the front wheel drive feature was over by 9:23 capping a fine early night of racing at Gas City. I purchased a t-shirt on the way out for a very reasonable $15 to support the cause and look forward to returning in the near future to support the efforts of the Gappens regime.

    Saturday, May 5 - The original plan for the day was to leave home around noon time and drive east on I-70 toward Crooksville, Ohio, the home of the Midway Speedway, which would be a new track for us. It was also along our route back to New Jersey where Pat was returning for some work duties which needed hands on attention and couldn't be accomplished remotely. I checked the weather for the Crooksville area on Friday afternoon where it was clear and zero percent chance of rain so we were off at noon. Upon reaching the southern side of Indianapolis Pat mentioned she was going to check the weather for Crooksville and wouldn't you know it it changed (thought this only happened in Indiana) from zero percent to between 50 and 70 percent for the hours of 6 PM to 11 PM. That led to a change of plans and after checking the forecast for Fremont, Ohio we pointed the Nissan Murano north up I-69 toward Rt. 24 and over into the Buckeye state via the northern route. By 5:30 we arrived in Fremont and worked our way over to the Sandusky County Fairgrounds where the 1/3 mile oval of the Fremont Speedway was located for the first time since May 23rd, 2009 in our only other appearance there after shaking the monkey off our shoulder after four previous rainouts.

    Already a good sized crowd had gathered for the Open Wheel Shootout which would feature three classes of sprint cars. The FAST (Fremont Attica Sprint Title) 410 winged sprints were on the card along with the wingless Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) and FAST 360/305 Challenge. The car counts were as follows: 26 FAST winged sprints, 28 BOSS sprints and 35 FAST 305/360 sprints making for an almost 90 car count. The 410 winged sprints would kick off the night of racing with time trials starting at 6:25 with D.J. Foos claiming fast time of 11.979 seconds by 6:40. Warmups for all divisions followed and it didn't take long for someone to turn turtle as 305/360 driver Cody Bova went for a ride in turn two. With a lot of work and help from his fellow competitors Bova was able to return to race later. The winged 410 sprints were first up for heats contesting three events with Cap Henry wiring heat one winning over Jess Stiger, DJ Foos, Chris Andrews and Nate Dussel. Shawn Valenti, SOD Fort Wayne winner last year, aced heat two over DJ Netto, Craig Mintz, Tyler Gunn doing double duty tonight and Mike Terry Jr. Heat three saw Stuart Brubaker prevail over Tracy Hines, Byron Reed, Broc Martin and Brian Lay. The BOSS sprints would run four heats with Tyler Gunn pacing heat one over Carmen Perigo from PA, Bill Rose from 7th and Ted Hines. Heat two went to Waveland, IN's Thomas Meseraull besting Steve Little, Mike Miller and Matt Westfall from 7th. Russiaville IN's Dustin Smith bagged heat three over Trevor Kobylarz, Cole Ketchum and Kyle May who spun and flipped over the finish line to grab the last qualifying position in this heat!! Chase Briscoe who earlier in the day was racing for Ford at Mid-Ohio took heat four after starting sixth beating John Watson, Matt Cooley from seventh and Joe Liguori of Tampa, FL. Four heats were needed for the 360/305 challenge race with Steve Rando, Bobby Clark, Max Stambaugh and Brandon Moore notching wins. Three B mains were run with Rob Chaney winning the 410's, Cody Gardener the BOSS and Kyle Sauder the 360/305's.

    The track had held up well to this point turning a little slick for the feature events though. The 30 lap 410 sprint car feature would take the green flag at 9:56 with the veteran Byron Reed pouncing into the lead. Reed would lose it and spin in turn one on lap two in a rare mistake by this veteran who was relegated to the rear of the field. On the insuing restart Tyler Gunn took a nasty flip in turn three going over about six times before stopping. He was OK and would race in the BOSS feature next. Cap Henry was the new leader and he would hold the point until crossing the start/finish line to start lap nine Craig Mintz make his pass for the lead. The two diced it out for seveal laps side by side with Henry retaking the lead on the homestretch on lap twelve and started to pull away. Shortly thereafter DJ Foos hit the homestretch wall hard and broke his right rear tire off the axle to bring out the caution. On the restart Henry went back out front with 16th starter, Rob Chaney, moving into the top five on lap 15. A restart with six to go was Henry's undoing as Mintz charged back around the #4 and pulled away for the win. Stuart Brubaker would edge by Henry on the last lap to take second with Henry third, Californian DJ Netto fifth after starting eighth and Chaney rounding out the top five at 10:25. Kudos go out to Chase Briscoe who raced from 17th to 6th at the finish in a fine run.

    The 25 lap BOSS feature went green at 10:40 with Dustin Smith setting the early pace. Chase Briscoe was coming to the front quickly from his seventh starting spot to second by lap 3. Smith seemed to be in control until five to go when he bounced around on the backstretch in lap traffic allowing Briscoe and Thomas Meseraull to race by for the top two positions. Smith would race behind the new top two for the remainder of the distance while with three to go Meseraull raced by Briscoe for the lead but the caution waved negating the move. On the restart Briscoe got a good restart and went out front by several car lengths. Meseraull was not finished yet and harassed the leader by running the cushion and showing his nose to the leader. Meseraull was never quite able to mount another challenge and the checkered flag waved at 10:59 on Chase Briscoe for his first ever win at Fremont in his first ever appearance at the track. Meseraull would have to settle for second with Smith third, Matt Westfall making a fine march from 14th to fourth and Bill Rose rounding out the top five after moving by Trevor Kobylarz late. We really wanted to stay for the 360/305 challenge race but with an hour and a half drive to our hotel ahead of us and an early rise the next day to complete our drive to Pennsylvania we decided to call it an evening. Read that Bobby Clark in his 305 held off a late lap, last turn charge by Matt Foos to claim his 36th career win at Fremont. We really enjoyed the evening and will make sure that it is not almost nine years until we get back to Fremont.

    Sunday, May 6 - We arose early on Sunday morning to continue our journey back East but before leaving the hotel we already knew that our Sunday night destination, BAPS Motor Speedway (aka Susquehanna) had thrown in the towel early on this dismal day of rain. Since we were north of the rain still we decided to check out minor league baseball schedules in Ohio and Pennsylvania but for the most part struck out as they were either not playing yet or were not playing at home today. We did find an AA game in Altoona, PA but we would have arrived at least a half hour after starting time and unlike the majority of short tracks baseball games start on time. We like to get there at least an hour before game time to walk the park and check out points of interest. So after stopping for lunch and later dinner at OIP (Original Italian Pizza) in Port Royal we ventured to our hotel and relaxed in the room watching some TV before going to bed for the evening. We will catch the postponed Kevin Gobrecht Memorial next Sunday before starting our return trip back to Indiana.

    Check back next Tuesday or so to read about this event and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area of the country. Any comments or thoughts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All USAC Weekend At Bloomington, Haubstadt & Terre Haute

    Friday, April 27 - Tonight would be the start of an all USAC weekend. Bloomington Speedway was hosting the USAC National Sprint Car series on this evening and we made our way down Rt. 231 and Rt. 46 toward the track trying to avoid the road construction as much as possible. Finally by 5:45 we entered the Bloomington parking lot, found a spot to park and signed in at the pit shack before making our way up the hill to the homestretch where our buddy, Max Nieman, was waiting for us with space reserved for our lawn chairs. After warmups were spun off it was time for USAC time trials which kicked off at 6:49 for the 28 sprint cars on hand. By 7:04 it was Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas setting fast time with a lap of 10.954 seconds around the high banked red clay at Bloomington. After Racesaver 305 sprint car warmups it was time for the first of four heats for the USAC sprinters pushing off at 7:33. Robert Ballou would draw first blood on the evening taking heat one over a hard charging Brady Bacon in his own car with Dakota Jackson third and Chase Stockon securing the final qualifying position. Heat two would see Bloomington opening night winner, Kyle Cummins claim this one over Chad Boespflug, Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 charging from sixth to third with Jerry Coons Jr. in the Krockenberger #21K taking the last qualifying spot. Heat three saw veteran Dave Darland in the Goodnight #36D coming off a win at Lincoln Park on the past Saturday wheeling to the heat victory over Nick Bilbee in the Epperson #2E, CJ Leary advancing from sixth to third with Jordan Kinser nailing down fourth. Justin Grant in the TOPP motorsports #4 suffered a flat tire in this heat and was relegated to the B main. The final heat saw a robust Tyler Courtney dominate in this one beating Lee Underwood, Isaac Chapple and Chris Windom who was just able to hold off the hard charging Logan Seavey in the Chase Briscoe #5B and Stevie Sussex in the Burton #04.


     

    The other two divisions on the evening's card were the 305 sprints and the super stocks which ran their heats after the sprint heats with three for the twenty 305's on hand and two for the ten super stocks in town. Next up was the sprint B main which went to fast timer, Tyler Thomas, holding off Napa, California's Joe Stornetta in the Pace #44, Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #18W, Logan Seavey, Justin Grant and Stevie Sussex. First alternate Kody Swanson in the Hank Byrum #3R would use a provisional to tag the end of the starting field.


     

    By 8:58 it was show time with the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature taking the green flag with the front row of Chase Stockon and Dave Darland racing side by side for the lead over much of the first half of the race only interrupted once on lap 3 when Robert Ballou and Dakota Jackson tangled in turn three with Jackson flipping over. Darland was one of the few using the high side while Stockon was loyal to the bottom with Darland leading by just inches. Stockon surged ahead on lap 7 and would retain the top spot until Darland regained the top spot at the line to start lap 13. From there it was Darland's race to lose and he was not about to let his 60th career USAC National win get away in his 700 career start in this division. Meanwhile behind the top two action was heating up between Chris Windom, Chad Boespflug, CJ Leary and the California youngster, Logan Seavey, who was mythologically picked off competitors from his 15th starting position. Windom would work his way by Stockon late with Seavey and Boespflug in tow. Leary would also sneak by the fading Stockon near the end but no one had anything for the high flying Darland who flashed under the checkered flag to the approval of the good crowd on hand to notch his 60th career USAC National sprint car victory. Windom would take second with Seavey in an impressive run for third with Boespflug fourth and Leary rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten would be filled by Jeff Bland Jr., Chase Stockon slipping to seventh with Brady Bacon advancing from 13th to 8th with Joe Stornetta ninth and Tyler Courtney rounding out the top ten.


     

    We decided to stay for the 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature and it turned out to be a good one, maybe even better than the USAC feature. Luke Bland and John Paynter Jr. in a pair of #23 battled each other over the first half of the contest with Ryan Tusing in his #26 making great headway from his 12th starting position into the top five. Andy Bradley and Kendall Ruble were also dicing with Tusing and Damon Fortune in the family #39 painted up like the old Fortune #39 raced for many years by Ken Schrader and Ricky Hood and others. Bland continued to lead over Paynter but with five to go Tusing to second away. With four to go Tusing caught Bland and passed him for the lead and would go on to an impressive victory over Bland, Paynter, Bradly and Ruble with the checker falling at 9:58. That was good enough for us on this chilly evening as we joined the majority of the remainder of the crowd walking down the sidewalk hill toward the exit gate and heading to Bedford where we would spent the night before proceeding westward toward Haubstadt with a few antique store stops along the way for night two of USAC weekend.


     

    Saturday, April 28 - After spending the night in Bedford, Indiana we headed south so I could visit an antique store in Orleans before traveling the remainder of the way to our Saturday night destination at Tri-State Speedway (TSS) in Haubstadt, Indiana. Most refer to this track as simply Haubstadt and it is one of the best in the state. Unfortunately Haubstadt is not close to home and actually is one of the furthest we attend in Indiana at a little under 3 hours away. It is also in the Central Time Zone, which is good when going but not good when coming home. This was the second night of our USAC triple weekend and I was excited because my favorite driver is awesome at this track and I was looking forward to the event.


     

    We arrived earlier then we needed to because we misinterpreted the USAC twitter indicated show starts at 6:00, all times central. We arrived at 3:30 only to find out it was racing at 7:30. But that was ok as I took a nap so I would remain awake for the ride home. The day was in the low 60’s but it was very windy and you knew it was going to be another chilly one in the stands, so I waited until I heard the sprints hot lapping before heading into. Bruce went in and put down a blanket when we got there so we had good seats in the backstretch stands. Thirty one sprints took time and CJ Leary was fastest with a time of 13.252. USAC inverts the top 6 in time trials in the heats, making it a better show to see the guys push forward from further back in the pack. Leary started 6th in Heat 1 and moved to the front to win the event. It was a good competitive race and the perfect way to start the night. Heats 2 and 3 were good with Chase Stockon and Kevin Thomas Jr. from 6th winning the events. It was heat 4 that saw some action. Dave Darland won the event in fine fashion but it was the battle for the final qualifying spot that had the fans on their feet. Chet Williams and Tyler Thomas were battling for the final spot when on the last lap in turn 2 the two made contact. Or maybe I should say Thomas made a move that did not work and sent Williams flipping over. It was not a violent flip but one that should have never happen.


     

    The modifieds were also on the card mostly as a filler class. They ran three heats for the 23 cars before the sprint B main came out. There were 14 cars vying for 6 spots and we almost saw a repeat of heat 4. Once again it was Tyler Thomas racing for the final qualifying position and Johnny Petrozelle held it. Once again it was the final lap but this time the location was turns 3 and 4. Thomas got into Petrozelle and both cars spun with neither qualifying. It was really sad for Petrozelle who would spend the rest of the night in the stands. As for Thomas, he took a provisional but it sure moved him down a couple of notches on my list. Tonight Tyler Thomas was just out of control and he is a better driver than that. The 30 lap A main started at 9:19 and Kody Swanson jumped out to the early lead. A lap 7 red when Kyle Cummins did a Tommy Tip Over stopped the race and Swanson remained in the lead when racing restarted. However 6 laps later fast timer CJ Leary took over the top spot. Now I have been a Kevin Thomas Jr. fan since we moved to Indiana and this will be our fourth summer. So I did not jump on the band wagon last year when KT became a big winner. Thomas runs this track well and last year I saw him get nipped at the wire here at TSS. Tonight he did not look like he was going to be in the hunt but then the Mean Green Hoffman 69 shot into action. In the end it was Leary and KT battling for the win with KT making the pass for the lead on lap 27. Logan Seavey was third with Dave Darland and Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Chris Windom was sixth and Robert Ballou who started back in 20th came home seventh. Once again it was an exciting finish for the fans and Haubstadt showed why it is known as one of the best dirt tracks in the country.


     

    The checkered fell at 9:40 and although that seems early it was Central Time and 20 minutes up the road it would be 11:00 not 10:00. We decided to skip the modified feature and head north. It was a really good night of racing and so far a good weekend here in Indiana.

    Sunday, April 29 - Tonight would round out our USAC three race weekend as we weaved our way on the backroads of Indiana taking our time while making our way down to the Vigo Co. Fairgrounds, the home of the 1/2 mile Terre Haute Action Track, where the grand old dames of the USAC division, the Silver Crown series, would be racing on his nice sunny spring afternoon and evening. A good field of 29 Silver Crown cars would be joined by 22 UMP modifieds to partake in the Sumar Classic on the big half mile which is the only one in Indiana. Time trials would kick off at 5:13 minus two entrants as Chris Windom lost the motor in one of the Nolen entries and Kody Swanson also had an engine let go and the Hampshire crew went to work replacing it but were not able to make it out for the time trial session. Windom would borrow the Bill Rose #66 with seventeens attached to the bodywork in various spots to still earn points for the Nolen crew. At 5:43 Tyler Courtney driving the Hans Lein #97 out of Wisconsin was being interviewed after setting fast time with a lap of 22.990, the only driver to crack the 23 second line.


     

    By the end of time trials the track had already rubbered up and was real dusty. The UMP modifieds took to the track at 6:14 to contest their three heats with Will Krup, Tyler Nicely and Brian Shaw running away with their respective races. Next up was the 15 lap last chance qualifier which would take the green flag at 6:43 with 12 entrants partaking in the event with 8 to qualify and join the other 16 locked in by time. Kody Swanson was ready to go in the LCQ and lined up 12th and last to start the event. Swanson would end up second behind winner, David Byrne, at the checker with Kyle Robbins third, PA's Steve Buckwalter fourth, Florida's Joe Liguori fifth, Matt Goodnight sixth, Neil Shepherd seventh and Mike Haggenbottom, another PA driver making his first ever Silver Crown start finishing eighth and grabbing the final qualifying position in his beautiful #24. The battle for positions five through ten were hotly contested with several drivers swapping the eighth spot back and forth over the final five laps with Austin Nemire and road race driver, Chris Dyson from New York, coming up just short. Nemire would use a provisional to tag the end of the field for the Sumar Classic 100. The 15 lap UMP modified feature went green in a cloud of dust with this contest dragging for a half hour with six cautions slowing the racing. Will Krup would win over AJ Fike and a rim riding Ken Schrader throwing up a cloud of dust through turns three and four advancing from 14th to finish third.


     

    The Sumar Classic 100 would see the green cloth wave at 8:08 with Jerry Coons Jr. in the second Nolen entry taking the early lead but the caution appeared on lap one when Brady Bacon in the Klatt #6 spinning in turn two and retiring to the homestretch pit area. On the restart Tyler Courtney running in the top three got sideways and spun in turn two forcing the fast timer to restart at the tail of the field. Coons jumped out front on the restart with the top three running three wide on the homestretch for several laps before Coons pulled away. CJ Leary caught and passed Coons for the lead on lap 11 and pulled away from the field until lap 36 when Justin Grant in the Hemelgarn #91 caught Leary in lap traffic and ran side by side with him down the backstretch before Grant assumed the lead in turn three and went back to the cushion. Lap 46 saw Joss Moffatt catch the homestretch wall coming off turn four and tumbling over bringing out the red flag and it was several minutes before the wreckage and fuel spill was cleaned up and racing resumed. Grant was out front on the restart and led until lap 57 when a three car pileup among Steve Buckwalter, David Byrne and Travis Welpott caused the yellow to wave. By lap 60 the top five was Grant, Coons, Shane Cottle, Shane Cockrum and Crawfordsville's own Jacob Wilson turning in a fine ride. Wilson's night came to an end just five laps later when Wilson, Cockrum and Casey Shuman collided in turn one all racing inside the top ten with Wilson getting upside down. No one was injured in the mishap and Cockrum and Shuman were able to continue. The man on the move when action resumed was 18th starting Kody Swanson who dispatched Coons for third and started to reel in Cottle and Grant. Lap 77 was a turning point when Swanson made a brilliant move between turns three and four grabbing the lead as the top three exited turn four to power down the homestretch. Swanson is just amazing in the Silver Crown division as he sure has driving these cars down to a fine art. Cottle executed a pass of Grant for second on lap 80 but to no avail as the yellow waved as Neil Shepherd looped his mount in between turns three and four. Swanson scooted out front on the restart with Grant and Cottle in his tire tracks. Cottle tried to make a sweeping move entering turn three on lap 83 on the inside clearing Grant for second but the momentum carried him up into Swanson and the two banged wheels with the pair spinning around with Cottle sliding toward the wall and Swanson doing a 360 and continuing but with a left rear flat tire. Swanson was able to pit on the homestretch and replace the flat shoe as caution withfield in the rear and Cottle was done for the evening. Grant was the leader on the restart with Coons, Leary, Courtney from the rear earlier and Cockrum in tow. Leary squeezed by Coons for second on lap 84 and tried to reel in Grant. In the meantime Swanson was coming like gangbusters from the rear and making up real estate in big chunks. Coons was fading as brake problems caused him to burn his tires sliding through the turns using them to slow down. Another driver turning up the wick at this late stage was Chris Windom moving from seventh to fifth over the next ten laps. With seven to go Swanson caught Courtney for third and one lap later overtook Leary for second. Now the race was on for the top spot. Swanson cut into the lead from 3.5 seconds to around 1.5 seconds but just ran out of laps and time with Grant holding on for his second career Silver Crown victory with Swanson taking second with Courtney third, Windom fourth in a borrowed car and Leary rounding out the top five. Filling out the top ten were Cockrum and Coons the last drivers on the lead lap with Joe Liguori eighth, Johnny Petrozelle ninth and Neil Shepherd rounding out the top ten. Kudos go out to Silver Crown rookie, Mike Haggenbottom, in his first start garnering a fine 11th place finish for his new team.


     

    It was tough seeing the race in the first half because of the sun setting off turns three and four (can't imagine how difficult it must have been for the drivers) but the racing among the top five was good and the last 25 laps of the feature go were very good and exciting to watch. Thought the overall program took a little long to run with only two divisions but we still came away enjoying the event.

    Until next week where weekend plans are starting to fall into place check back soon to see where we end up on another typical weekend. In the meantime as the weather starts to warm get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Season Openers At Gas City & Lincoln Park

    Friday, April 20 - As we made our way back from Pennsylvania after checking in on Pat's dad and deeming him capable of caring for himself after his latest medical problem we debated between the season opener at Gas City and the big $10,000 to win No Way Out 40 at Brownstown. Even though we knew most of the bigger names would be at Brownstown chasing the big money we decided to throw our support toward Gas City which would be reopening as a weekly track in 2018 after several years of only running a very limited schedule under the O'Connors. Jerry Gappens decided to fill the void in 2018 and return from New Hampshire to his native Indiana to try to breath new life back into the 1/4 mile bullring and return it to a weekly venture. When we moved to Indiana almost five years ago one of the reasons was the view weekly racing at Gas City and when their schedule was vastly reduced it left a void in our move. Even though he have attended Bloomington mostly since that time we were sure happy to hear the news of Gas City's return to weekly racing as it has always been one of our favorite stops in the Hoosier state.

    We arrived early and secured our blanket a row below the camera stand in the grandstand after checking out the facility which was looking spruced up nicely. A visit to check the new shirts out in the souvenir building and ducking our heads into the concession area to check out the menu and the prices (very reasonable) was accomplished before heading back to the car to relax for a while. By the time we returned to the grandstand area the stands had filled in nicely and everyone was ready to kick off the grand reopening of Gas City. At 8:02 (a half hour off the published starting time - need to work on that in the future & will write it off to opening night glitches) the first of three heat races for the 22 non-winged sprint cars hit the track with five to qualify in each race. Kyle Robbins would hold off the advances of Brandon Morin (good to see him back strong after last year's garage fire) with Tyler Hewitt third, Dallas Hewitt (no relation to Tyler) in the Keen #18 and Brandon Mattox chasing. Heat two would see Shane Cottle take his new steed, the Daigh/Phillips #71P, to the front and win out over Missouri's Clinton Boyles, the new pilot of the legendary Paul Hazen #57, Ted Hines, Matt McDonald and Matt Cooley. The final heat would see Isaac Chapple score the win and looked strong winning over Jarett Andretti, Travis Hery, Garrett Abrams and Lee Underwood. Parker Fredrickson bicycled in turn three in the third heat and flipped and rolled into turn four before coming to a halt. He climbed quickly from his wrecked sprinter quickly to the relief of the crowd. The modifieds would follow quickly with their three heats for their 24 car field joined by two heats for the thundercars(9) and hornets(10). All heat racing was completed by 8:57 and only the UMP modifieds would need a B main on the evening. Also wanted to mention that all during the course of the evening trivia contests were going on with prizes to the people with the correct answers and things such as this help to keep the crowd interested and people always enjoy winning prizes. These things and other promotions will help to bring the casual fan back again and create interest for them hopefully along with the racing.

    After an interesting intermission with people inside giant bouncing balls doing battle on the homestretch with the winner or the last person standing receiving a nice looking trophy it was time for the 25 lap sprint car feature. The green flag waved from the starter's stand by Brian Hotte with Kyle Robbins assuming the early lead. Shane Cottle did not waste much time charging from his fourth starting position grabbing the lead from Robbins exiting turn four on lap two. Jarett Andretti who started sixth moved into third on lap 3 and took up the chase of Cottle and Robbins. Landon Simon brought out the caution on lap 6 as he clipped the inside truck tire in turn two ending his night early. On the restart rookie Luke Harbison rolled his #40 over lightly in turn two bringing out the red. On the restart Cottle jumped back out front and steadily pulled away from Robbins and Andretti as the race progressed. Lap 12 saw the caution wave as Jamie Fredrickson spun between turns one and two with a little help from Andretti as he became frustrated with Fredrickson as he tried to track down Robbins. Cottle was cruising out front as Andretti continued to stalk Robbins for second. Finally with five to go Andretti got a good run off turn four and passed Robbins for the runnerup position. Andretti tried to track down Cottle but time ran out with Cottle flashing under the checkered flag at 9:56 with Andretti second, Robbins third, Chapple fourth and Brandon Morin nailing down fifth. Clinton Boyles slipped to sixth at the finish with Tyler Hewitt seventh, Brandon Mattox eighth, Ted Hines ninth and Garrett Abrams rounding out the top ten. Even though it was cold we decided to stay and watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature which Randy Lines won finishing at 10:24 before we decided to call it an evening. We hope that management will continue to run this format with the top classes running their features first as this gives the majority of the fans in attendance what they wanted to see in a timely manner. Also it gives them choices after that if they want to stay or call it an evening and head home.

    All in all a very good opening night at Gas City with a few glitches to be worked out but with hints of a bright future for the racy track in Northeastern Indiana. So if you are looking for something to do on an upcoming Friday night try checking out the happenings at Gas City Speedway as Jerry Gappens and his friendly staff try to bring back some good weekly entertainment for Grant County and the surrounding area.

    Saturday, April 21 - Let me start out by saying I have been to many different race tracks in my lifetime, 787 different tracks to be exact. Not many compared to some of my track chasing friends but way many compared to the average weekend race fan. If you were to come up to me and ask me, which track is your favorite to watch a race, I would tell you Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. 85% of the fans sit in their folding chairs and there is plenty of room between the benches to set them. When I am there I am sitting in my comfy chair with my feet up and my cooler with cold drinks, a sandwich and snacks by my side. The bathrooms are new and very clean. It is like I am relaxing in my living room. I love this place. It does not hurt that there is some darn good racing here also. Now with all that being said, I must say I was very disappointed this past Saturday at my favorite track to see a race

    Bruce and I arrived at 5:30 to find a long line at the ticket line. It was chilly and breezy but the fans were hungry for racing as Mother Nature has won most of the Indiana shows this spring. Tonight they were also having fireworks which always brings out the casual fan to see the added attraction. Now the website said hot laps at 6:00 and racing at 7:00. I had ever reason to believe everything would be starting on time. Track prep was already complete and we were surprised when the cars did not start to stage for hot laps at 6:00. They did not stage for hot laps at 6:30 either. It was close to 7:00 before the first sprint car hit the track for hot laps. The pits were full, 100 plus cars in the 4 divisions and it looked like it would be a late night. It was not until 8:15 until the first of 5 sprint heats took the green. Now the daylight was fading and fans were starting to wrap blankets around themselves. It surely did not set a good precedence for the first time visitor or the occasional visitor. Yes, a couple of days later we read on Indiana Open Wheel that the delay was drivers having to sign paperwork and other formalities that need to be done at the first race. But if that is the case tell the fans sitting in the stands why there is nothing happening on the track when it should be. Explain that this is not normal and what is happening. Don’t just ignore that fact that you are starting racing over an hour late.

    In total there were 20 qualifying events plus fireworks. The fireworks as usual are some of the best you will ever see at a race track and they only delayed the show 15 minutes. It was the bomber division that took 50 minutes to run 4 heats and later ran a lengthy B main. By the time the first feature of the night would take the green many fans had exited the parking lot.


    The 25 lap sprint A main went live at 11:53. After a 4 car tangle on lap 1 the race would go green for the next 12 laps. Dave Darland took the lead early and "The People’s Champ" would hold it until the end. Shane Cockrum was the show coming from 17th to finish 2nd with hard riding Tyler Thomas coming home 3rd and 9th starter Kevin Thomas Jr. finished 4th and Kyle Cummins rounded out the top 5. There were 4 cautions and 1 red flag during the event. Tonight they were running a second sprint feature for the 14 sprints that did not make it into the A. Normally we would have stayed to watch this race as well as the modifieds and the super stocks but with the checkered flag on the first sprint feature falling at 12:22 we called it a night at this point.

    I left, my favorite track to watch a race, disappointed. I did not expect opening night to be perfect but I did expect to be informed as to why what was supposed to be happening was not. Just tell the fans why there is a delay and apologize if you are running later than usual. Your loyal fans need to hear this and will understand. The casual or first time fan needs to know that this is not the norm.

    That's it for this week and check back next week as we are shooting for an all USAC weekend with USAC sprints at Bloomington and Haubstadt and USAC Silver Crown at Terre Haute. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two State, Two Race Weekend


    Friday, April 13 - It was race day for our first race in the Midwest since returning from Florida and we were chomping at the bit to see some good open wheel racing at our favorite track in Kokomo. The day was nice and warm but the never ceasing wind was a problem and made the evening somewhat uncomfortable. We arrived around 6, found a parking spot and headed to the front gate to plunk down our $20 to see night one of the Kokomo Grand Prix featuring the USAC National Midget Series and the non-winged sprint cars. Six drivers would be pulling double duty on the evening with Dave Darland, Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Tyler Thomas and CJ Leary being those drivers. A good field of 34 midgets and 23 sprints were on hand to do battle on the evening with action starting at 6:58 with time trials for the USAC midgets. Justin Grant in one of the Clauson/Marshall entries came out late (28th) and knocked his teammate, Tyler Courtney, off the top of the scoring tower to register fast time of 13.154 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring. Next up would be three heats for the sprinters with Kevin Thomas Jr. coming from fourth to the win behind the wheel of the Dooling/Hayward #63 (interesting development) over Jarett Andretti and Isaac Chapple. Chad Boespflug claimed heat two over Dave Darland in the Goodnight #36D and Pennsylvania bred and IUPUI student, Tony DiMattia. The last heat saw Chris Windom power the Baldwin Brothers #5 to the front and hold off Brady Bacon in his own #99 and Matt Westfall of Ohio in his new Marshall Racing steed.

    The USAC midgets would contest four heat races with Tucker Klaasmeyer in one of the Keith Kuntz stable cars taking heat one over Logan Seavey, Justin Grant who rebounded from an earlier crash and comeback from the rear to take third with Andrew Felker claiming the last qualifying position over Holly Shelton making her return from shoulder surgery. Heat two saw Jerry Coons Jr. pilot the Petry Motorsports #25 to the front with a great battle for the runnerup position with Kevin Thomas Jr. in the other Petry entry edging out Tyler Courtney and Kuntz driver, Tanner Carrick. Tyler Thomas steered his own mount to the heat three victory over Brady Bacon in the Manafort #76M, Ryan Robinson and Alex Schuett looking good in claiming the last qualifying spot. Thomas Messeraull wheeled the Dooling/Hayward midget to victory in heat four beating out Zeb Wise, Arizona's Chad Boat and defending USAC National Midget Champion, Spencer Bayston, in a stacked heat race. The B main would go to Holly Shelton over Dave Darland punching the keyboard of the second Tyler Thomas stable entry taking down second with PA's Alex Bright taking the show position. Kyle Craker, a 17 year old driver from Lewisberry, PA wheeled the second Manafort #76 into his first USAC National midget start with a fourth place finish with Chase Jones coming like gangbusters from 11th to 5th with Brayton Lynch nailing down the final qualifying position.


     

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature would be the first one called to the post taking the green flag at 9:04 under the beautiful MUSCO lighting recently installed which makes the track look like it is daytime. Kevin Thomas Jr. jumped to the early lead with Chris Windom in pursuit. Things were looking good for Thomas until Windom challenged on lap ten. What transpired at this point was a slide job city contest between the two leaders exchanging slide jobs and the lead at opposite ends of the speedway. Finally Windom was able to wrestle the lead away from Thomas on lap 15 and began to pull away. Adam Byrkett caught the inside tire off turn four and tumbled down the inside of the homestretch before coming to rest. He was OK after the wild ride. Windom was not challenged the remainder of the distance and scored the win over Thomas with Brady Bacon nipping Dave Darland at the line for third with Jarett Andretti rounding out the top five. This one was in the books by 9:18 as Windom parked it in BC victory lane and did the roll cage salute to the crowd.

    Now it was time for the 30 lap USAC midget Grand Prix feature with the green flag flying at 9:35. The first start was called back as officials felt that KTJ got a jump but on the second start Logan Seavey clearly had the advantage and it was not called back so I question why this was the case as I thought the pole man was the pace setter. Anyhow Seavey went to the point but the red waved as Matt Moore rolled on his side in turn four on lap one. On the restart it was Seavey out front again with Spencer Bayston applying an early challenge. Seavey held the point until a lap 9 red when Dave Darland and Jerry Coons Jr. got together with Darland performing a Tommy Tipover and was able to restart. The action heated up on the restart as Spencer Bayston did a slide job on Seavey in turn two causing the youngster to back off with Tyler Courtney diving low making it three wide down the backstretch. Seavey split the duo entering turn three and went to the cushion to re-assume the lead. Courtney hugged the bottom and had the lead on laps 10 and 11 at the line but Seavey remained loyal to the cushion and regained the lead once again. The next couple of laps were an exchange of sliders by the leaders in impressive style with Courtney taking first for good on lap 14. At the halfway point Courtney was extending his lead as Seavey tagged the homestretch wall allowing bottom running Chad Boat to steal second. Courtney was out front with five to go when Kyle Craker and Chase Jones collided on the backstretch with a scary moment as Jones shot across the track toward the infield almost collecting leader Courtney in his path. The near miss had to be an eye opener for Sunshine. With one to go Tyler Thomas pulled to a stop in turn four with motor woes necessitating a green, white, checker finish. Courtney had Boat on his heels on the restart but was up to the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 10:05 scoring his fourth career USAC midget win and first at Kokomo over Chad Boat (8th starter), Brady Bacon, Spencer Bayston and Justin Grant. The second five was led by 12th starting Zeb Wise with Logan Seavey fading to seventh with Thomas Meseraull (the hard charger) from 16th to 8th with Ryan Robinson ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounding out the top ten in another entertaining race at the baddest bullring.


     

    Saturday, April 14 - Since Pat's dad has had some medical issues we decided we were going to go back East for a few days to check in on him and originally we were going to stay for Kokomo the second night also but reviewing the weather on Friday the decision was made to go east one day earlier and hopefully outrun the wet weather for a least one day. As we left our hotel in Gas City on Saturday morning it was raining and the temperature had dropped to 49 degrees. Chatting with Bob from Michigan in the lobby who had also been at Kokomo the night before he agreed that racing did not look good for Saturday in Indiana. As we drove across Western Ohio the rain increase in intensity and the temperatures dropped into the low 40's. Keeping an eye on social media the tracks of Indiana began to concede to the cold and rainy weather with Kokomo, Lincoln Park, Haubstadt, Lawrenceburg and Brownstown pulling the plug. It was a good decision as we drove further east we finally outran the rain in eastern Ohio and the temperature change was dramatic. The thermometer rose from the low 40's into the 70's in a matter of less than 30 minutes!! It continued to rise and as we drove through Pennsylvania it topped out at 88. We also were listening to the Cubs baseball game from Chicago where it was rainy and the temperature was 37 with the winder chill factor at 27. They trailed the Braves at one point by 10 to 2 but rallied in the eighth to pull it out by a score of 14-10.


     

    Our destination for the evening was the half mile located on the Juniata County Fairgrounds located in downtown Port Royal. In the last few years this track has undergone a tremendous overhaul and since the last time we had visited the improvements have been overwhelming. The inside fencing are now painted Jersey barriers and the fencing above the outside fencing has been added almost all the way around the track. The biggest improvement though is the addition of MUSCO lighting all around the half mile which illuminates the entire surface like it was sunny out. Speaking of sunny out it was so all day long and this along with the high temperatures produced a slick track as the night went along which was not a surprise. A large crowd was on hand for the All Star Circuit of Champions Keith Kauffman Classic and thanks to our friends, Cindy and Kerry Meitzler, we were able to secure seats in row 11 toward the first turn.

    Time trials would kick off the night of racing with the first of 47 sprinters taking the green flag at 6:26. By 7:00 it was the Texan, Aaron Reutzel, securing the fast time with a lap of 16.473 seconds around the big half mile. Seven heats would be contested by the All Stars with four qualifying from each. The first heat was aborted early when 60 year old Jac Haudenschild got sideways entering turn two and a pileup ensued with Brock Zerfoss going over slowly. He would return for the B main. Greg Hodnett would go on to victory in this one over Aaron Reutzel, Anthony Macri and Coleman Gulick. Heat two would see West Virginia's Cale Conley triumph over Ryan Taylor, Dave Blaney and Blaine Heimbach. Heat three went to Port Royal's own Dylan Cisney beating Steve Buckwalter, Danny Dietrich and Paul McMahan. Mike Wagner took heat four over Daryn Pittman, TJ Stutts and Carson Macado driving the Joe Gaerte #3g. The fifth and final heat was won by Washington state's Trey Starks holding off Lance Dewease, Tim Shaffer and Carl Bowser. The late models ran three heats for their 28 car field before the sprint C main took to the track. Cole Duncan getting the call to drive the Indiana based McGhee #11 subbing for the ill Max McGhee ran away in this one. The two dash races to determine the first six rows of the main event were next up with Steve Buckwalter and Anthony Macri scoring wins in these events and they would share the front row for the 30 lap main event. The B main would determine the last four starters with Logan Wagner wheeling the Zemco #1 to victory over Aaron Ott, Jac Haudenschild and Gerard McIntyre Jr. in the Coldren #07. All qualifying was in the books by 9:28.


     

    The four abreast lineup was in full display and then it was time to go racing with the green flag waving on the Keith Kauffman Classic at 9:58. Anthony Macri got the jump on Steve Buckwalter and took the lead entering turn one. A red would fly early when TJ Stutts and Dave Blaney tangled in turn three with Stutts rolling over. On the restart Macri went to the point again and led until Aaron Reutzel stormed by Macri entering turn one on lap 12. The red would appear on lap 15 for a fuel stop and this would give Davey Brown Sr. an opportunity to tweak the Kreitz #69K for Lance Dewease and that would be just what he needed. On the restart Dewease grabbed second from Buckwalter and took off after Reutzel. Dewease made his move coming down the homestretch to complete lap 21 and moved by Reutzel for the top spot. Over the final nine laps the two leaders raced through lap traffic with Reutzel trying to close on Dewease. It was no avail as Dewease would score his second All Star win in two nights and his fifth consecutive All Star win at Port Royal. It was also Dewease's 108th career win at Port Royal trailing only Keith Kauffman (129) for all time wins here. One last note is that this win was the 37th All Star victory for Dewease tying him on the all time list with three legendary drivers, Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang and Danny Lasoski. Reutzel finished up second with Macri third, Buckwalter fourth and Greg Hodnett fifth. Dewease started seventh this evening after starting 13th and winning the night before at Williams Grove. Finishing in postions six through ten were Mike Wagner, Dylan Cisney, Ryan Smith who started 20th, Daryn Pittman who came in from Haubstadt after the second weekend WOO rainout and Ryan Taylor.


     

    That's it for this week and check back next weekend to see where we end up going in Indiana if the weather cooperates. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and as always thanks for reading. Any comments, news or questions can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net.


     


     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Some New & Interesting Developments In Midwest Racing

    Thursday, March 29 - Sitting around on another rainy miserable day in Indiana and with the weather forecast looking iffy for the USAC sprint car midwest opener at Lawrenceburg Speedway on Saturday (since I started writing this Lawrenceburg has cancelled) I decided to be productive and bring people up to snuff on happenings in the area.

    First up was the exciting news from David Byrd on Tuesday about 2017 USAC National Sprint Car Champion, Chris Windom, getting the opportunity to run an Indy Light entry in the 2018 Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The entry will be field by Belardi Auto Racing in partnership with Jonathan Byrd Racing and Baldwin Brothers Racing, the owners of his USAC sprint car ride. The Belardi race team is a good one having won the 2014 Indy Lights championship along with being the 2017 Indy Lights team champions. This is a great opportunity for Windom and also a chance to open the door for other dirt open wheel drivers in the area to get this type of chance in the future.

    Next up on the news scene was information coming out of Peru, Indiana, the site of the $10,000 to win 600cc Non-Wing World Championship at Circus City Speedway on May 23-26. Beside the $10,000 to win top prize and total purse of over $40,000 Clauson-Marshall Development has announced a partnership with Circus City for this event. The winner of the Non-Wing World Championship will be given the opportunity to test a midget at Circus City (date to be determined) alongside the other Clauson/Marshall midget drivers that raced at the Chili Bowl. It's a great opportunity to watch, listen, learn and drive from a diverse lineup of drivers.

    In more of a shocking type of announcement last week Brady Bacon announced that his year long partnership with Dooling/Hayward Motorsports had ceased with Dooling/Hayward proclaiming that they will indefinitely halt the sprint car portion of its operation. In turn Bacon has decided to field his own USAC sprint car to run for the USAC National Sprint Car Championship. In addition to the USAC sprint car schedule Bacon will race in winged sprints, midgets and Silver Crown cars in a schedule that will be in excess of 100 races run.

    On Tuesday via their Facebook page the non-wing sprint car team of 4J Motorsports owned by the Ottinger family announced that veteran driver, Dave Darland known as the People's Champ, will driver their sprint car in selected events throughout the 2018 season starting with the No Way Out 40 at Brownstown Speedway next Friday, April 6th in a race now paying $10,000 to win instead of $7500. Darland will also wheel the Goodnight #36D on the entire USAC National Sprint Car Championship tour.

    Last but not least Kokomo Speedway has announced that they are in the finishing stages of installing MUSCO lighting on their fine bullring just in time for their opening weekend of USAC National Midget racing on Friday, April 13th and Saturday, April 14th. Just another great improvement after having added a beautiful aluminum backstretch grandstand late in the 2017 season. The MUSCO lighting will just make it easier to witness some of the best racing in the country.

    That's it until next time where Lawrenceburg is on the rader so get out there in your area and enjoy some early season good short tracking racing and keep warm. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and any news, comments or other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net.

     

     

    Two Nights At Bubba Raceway Park for USAC Sprints & A Night In Between for 360's At East Bay

    Thursday, February 15 - Finally after seeing winged sprints, late models, mini sprints, UMP modifieds and the POWRi midgets I got to see my favorite division, the USAC sprints. Race #15 was at Bubba’s Raceway Park and along with the USAC sprints were the mod-lites. We arrived early on a beautiful day and strolled the pits. I took pictures of all the sprints and purchased my new #69 Kevin Thomas Jr. t-shirt prior to exiting the pits and taking our seats with good friends, Dale O’Brien and Steven Perrotto in the stands. There were 31 sprints in the pits which made me very happy and 48 mod-lites, not so happy. For some unknown reason warm-ups started late and when they ran warm-up sessions for the mod-lites they ran 8 sets of 6 cars each. Did not understand that one because there were 8 cars each for the sprints and the cars are much larger. To me it was a waste of time when we already started late. The surface tonight took on rubber early and by the end of the warm-ups you could start to see the rubber forming in the groove. KTJ set fast time, 13.750, in his first outing in the Hoffman #69 and at 8:22 we were ready to start racing.

    There were 4 sprint heats. Heat one saw Chase Stockon get into Mario Clauser in turn one sending Clauser flipping over hard. It would end Clauser’s night. The remaining heats were run off with little to do and Tyler Courtney, Chad Boespflug, CJ Leary and Carson Short took home the top honors. I would say the heats were not bad but they were not good. The 48 mod-lites ran 4 eight lap heats for the 48 cars. It took 40 minutes to run these mod-lite events and in my opinion that is too long for the filler division, and let’s admit it this is what the lite mods were a filler division. Minor track work followed, with little to no effect and the sprint B main and two mod-lite B mains were up next and by 10:25 the qualifying was complete.

    Again, there was more track prep and the green finally dropped on the 30 lap feature at 10:50. Before the night began I had mentioned to Bruce that I thought the entire show might be over before 10:30. Guess I was wrong! Chase Stockon jumped into the early lead and he would go on to win the event. The track did turn black, slick and dusty and I made the comment that we were at the ice races. The caution waved 7 times in the running of the 30 lap event and that is too many times for a sprint car race. However, despite all of these things I did not think it was a bad race. There was passing and some competitive racing during the event. No, it was not a Kokomo surface but then we were not at Kokomo. Taking everything into consideration it was decent racing. Chase Stockon won, as mentioned previously, with Kevin Thomas Jr on his tail at the finish. Justin Grant was third and Robert Ballou and Kyle Cummins rounded out the top five. The race was over at 11:17 and we chose not to stay around to see the mod lite feature. I am sure Bubba will work on the surface and it will be better for the remaining two races.

    Friday, February 16 - It was our condo guests, Kerry and Cindy Meitzler's last night of racing before heading back to Pennsylvania and Kerry wanted to see another new track for him on his vacation. So we headed west on I-4 and south on I-75 to Gibsonton to the East Bay Raceway Park, the site of the King of the 360's action on the 1/4 mile dirt oval near Tampa. A solid field of 35 sprints and 27 mini sprints filled the pit area but the crowd sure was scarce on the evening. The action kicked off at 7:24 with three 600 mini sprint heats which were followed quickly by four 360 sprint car heats won by local A.J. Maddox, Canadian Dylan Westbrook and Pennsylvania drivers, Mark Smith and Tim Shaffer. All heat racing was completed in less than an hour. Then it was right into the 600 B main won by Jerry Peters and the two 360 B mains taken by Danny Martin Jr. and Seth Bergmann and all preliminary events were in the books by 8:57.

    The 600 mini sprints would be first up for their 25 lap feature event and with Florida 600 driver, Robby Hoffman, starting on the front row many people had concided the race to him already. It was a very competitive and hard fought race with many drivers making hard charges with the best being Delaware's own Luke Thomas, a Bridgeport Speedway regular, chasing after Hoffman and closing the gap in the late stages. A cluster of slower cars approached by Hoffman caused him to hesitate and that was all Thomas needed catching him off turn four and outdragging Hoffman to the finish line to steal the win with Tyler Walton taking the show position. The 25 lap 360 sprint feature would take the green flag at 9:51 with Scotland, Ontario's Dylan Westbrook taking the early lead over Johnny Gilbertson. The Canadian youngster looked like he had things well in hand until the latter stages of the event when Sunbury PA's, Mark Smith, began to reel in the leader. On the homestretch to start lap 17 Smith squeezed by Westbrook to assume the point for the remaining eight laps. A race long intense battle ensued between Thomas Kennedy, the Manitoba driver and Iowa's Terry McCarl before Kennedy was able to grab third at the end. Smith came from eighth to score his third win in Florida this winter. A. J. Maddox ran a strong race to round out the top five at the finish at 10:05. A very good run program and some very good racing witnessed on the evening.

    Saturday, February 17 - We would round out our Speedweeks series of races with a return visit to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala for the final of the USAC sprints there. We met our good friends, Allan and Nancy Brown of National Speedway Directory fame, down the road from the track at Sam's St. John's Seafood House for a delicious meal before joining our Wisconsin buddy and seat saver, Dale O'Brien, for the night's festivities. Time trials kicked off at 6:30 for the 28 car field on hand with Alabama's Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 claiming fast time of 13.900 seconds around the D shaped 3/8 mile oval. Four heats would be contested for the sprinters with Robert Ballou drawing first blood nailing down heat one with a good race behind him among Kevin Thomas Jr., Isaac Chapple and Dave Darland running with the engine out of his teammate, Matt Goodnight's car, for the evening. Heat two saw the new combo of Kody Swanson and Hank Byrum win over Kyle Cummins, Jarett Andretti and Chris Windom. Heat three saw USAC rookie, Tim Buckwalter from Pennsylvania, score his first USAC sprint heat win beating out Carson Short, Chase Stockon and Chad Boespflug. The final heat saw Tyler Courtney in the Clauson/Marshall/Newman #7BC take the win over Brady Bacon, C.J. Leary and Garrett Aitken. Justin Grant was one of the others to went to the B main costing him the first position in the feature lineup from the top six inversion in time trials but he won the B main to start eighth.

    The green flag waved for the 30 lap USAC sprint feature at 9:41 and off shot Tyler Courtney to never be seriously challenged the entire distance. Chris Windom charged from fifth to second on the opening lap but would never make a serious run at the leader. The battle for third was a barn burner and if you didn't like this battle then you don't like racing. Chad Boespflug, Dave Darland, C.J. Leary and Kevin Thomas Jr. race hard with each other and at one point Leary jumped the right rear of a lap car sending him sliding and Thomas ran up and over Leary dropping them both back a ways. The only yellow waved on lap 27 when Garrett Aitken rolled to a stop in turn two. Windom had one last shot at Courtney on the restart but Courtney powered away and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:51 winning his second straight race over Windom with Boespflug third with Thomas rallying back for fourth with Dave Darland rounding out the top five. It was a good race and a good ending to the three race series here in North Florida.

    That's it for our Florida adventures and reports so it will be a while before we report on action from the Hoosier State and their season openers. Until next time plot out your race schedule and get ready for some good short track racing in your area and for you folks in Pennsylvania there is Lincoln Speedway on for their season opener next Saturday, February 24th. As always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    POWRi & USCS at Bubba & WOO at Volusia

    Friday, February 9 - Race #10 fell on Friday night, February 9th at Bubba’s Raceway Park. It was a gorgeous Florida day with temperatures in the 80’s and a bit humid. There was a crew of us sitting together, Dale O’Brien, Bill Burns, Allan and Nancy Brown, David Ludwig and of course Bruce and I. We were looking forward to the first ever visit of the Lucas Oil POWRi Midgets not only to Bubba’s but to Florida. We were hoping for 20 midgets and got 19 but the USCS 360 sprints were also on hand and we were anticipating around 25 and there were 35 in the pits including such stand outs as Mark Smith and Tony Stewart. Warm-ups started and seemed to go on forever. There were 5 sessions of 7 cars each for the sprints as they ran 5 heats with 7 in each. I thought 4 would have been plenty as only 7 cars seem to really string out around the fast oval. The midgets only ran 2 warm up sessions but would also run 3 heats. Neither division runs time trials but until all of the hot lapping was completed the first of the 5 sprint heats did not start until 8:20.

    As anticipated the heats were fast and furious and for the most part not all that exciting. Albeit they were fast and caution free but I prefer side-by-side racing. I must give credit to Mark Smith who won heat 4 for the sprints as he put on some fine moves on his way to picking up the win. The midgets ran a bit closer and by 9:21 all of the heats were in the books. The two 12 lap B mains for the sprints followed and Tanner Thorson was removed from Danny Smith’s Christmas card list after Thorson removed Smith from a qualifying spot in turn four, causing him to have a "Tommy Tip Over".

    The midget 30 lap A main was first on the card and the green dropped at 10:17. Tanner Thorson started in the pole position but it was not long before Kevin Thomas Jr. would take over the top spot and not relinquish it. Thorson and KTJ had some real nice racing slide jobs before KTJ started to pull away from the field. There were only 3 caution in the event. The second on lap 21 saw third place Chad Boat exit and on lap 28 second place Thorson came to a halt in turn 2. Although the race was decent there were no WOW factors. KTJ won in his first run with the Petry Motorsports Team as a full time partnership. He was followed by Ryan Robinson, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Matt Moore and Zane Hendricks.

    The card ended with a 25 lap A main for the 360 sprints and it was a long one. It took nearly 40 minutes and there was 1 red and 5 cautions. Carson Short lead the first 7 or 8 laps before Mark Smith took over from his 6th starting position. Smith would never be challenged for the lead and Short would remain in second. Tyler Clem came home in third after starting 15th and Tanner Thorson, driving double duty came from 19th to finish fourth. Tony Stewart rounded out the top five after starting 20th.

    The show was complete at 11:31. I thought a little late for what they had to run. After moving to Indiana I noticed there is a big difference between a winged track surface and a non-winged track surface. Problem is when you run a winged and non-winged program one of the divisions will not have the surface they need to put on a great sow. Unfortunately that all too often is the non-winged division. Tonight for the winged 360’s the surface was excellent. For the POWRi midgets, well let’s just say it was no Macon Speedway. If you were there and were disappointed a bit, venture out to Illinois in the beginning of June for Illinois POWRi Midget Week and be prepared to be blown away.

    Saturday, February 10 - Another nice day in the 80's greeted us and friends Kerry and Cindy Meitzler joined us for the week with racing taking place again at Bubba Raceway Park. On the way up we stopped at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing which is a must see even if you are not a drag racing fan. The displays are emaciate and each plaque gives a good history of the dragster you are standing in front of. The antique car museum is an added bonus and the stories behind each of the cars on display is just as interesting as the collection gathered. The lady in the souvenir store on premise was telling us about the 86 year old going on 60 Garlits who recently competed in a 50 mile bike race and plans in the next few weeks at making a run in a top fuel dragster to top the 200 mph mark at the age of 86. This place is a must see for all racing enthusiasts of any kind.

    Checking in at Bubba Raceway Park around 5 we encountered a fine field of 34 USCS sprinters and 18 POWRi midgets to contest in tonight's racing action. Five heats were first on the program for the sprint cars with Joe Swanson, Danny Martin Jr., Tony Agin, Terry Witherspoon and defending USCS point champion, Jordan Mallett, scoring heat wins. The POWRi midgets contested three heats with Zach Daum, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Joe B. Miller looking like the top candidates for the main event later in the evening. After intermission and some track prep two B mains for the USCS sprints were run with Wayne Johnson and Carson Short prevailing. By 9:25 all preliminary qualifying was completed and shortly thereafter it was feature time.

    The 30 lap POWRi midget main event would be the first one on the dance card and the green flag dropped on the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. & Tanner Thorson (with a MOPAR under the hood replacing the expired Toyota from night one) at 9:35. The first yellow appeared quickly on lap one when the newest member of the Keith Kuntz stable, Sam Johnson, pounded the turn four wall hard and piororated around before landing upright on the track surface with the youngster climbing from the car quickly. On the restart KTJ powered to the lead with Thorson in hot pursuit. Thorson was able to keep pace but never challenged Thomas for the top spot as the laps clicked off. The second caution appeared on lap 20 when female racer, Presley Truedson in the second Zach Daum entry, rolled to a stop with mechanical woes. One lap later the other female in the field, Michelle Decker, stopped with front end damage in turn two. Thomas checked out on the restart and cruised to his second straight POWRi midget win and the third of his career beating out Thorson with Daum third, Chad Boat roping fourth and Ryan Robinson bringing another Keith Kuntz entry home fifth. It was a good way for the Petry/Thomas entry to start out their new partnership and next week I'm sure Thomas hopes this will extend to his new USAC sprint car partnership with Hoffman Racing. We will see.

    The USCS sprints in their 22nd season of operation would close out the evening with their 30 lap main event. It was actually the better of the two features this evening even though Mark Smith dominated the entire event. The racing behind him was intense from positions two through eight with much dicing occurring throughout the 30 lapper. Seth Bergman, the Washington state native, would 9:24from 14th to claim 3rd with Carson Short blasting from 16th to nail down 4th and Florida's own A.J. Mattox coming from 10th to 5th at the final checker at 10:42. A highly entertaining feature go with much passing throughout.

    Sunday, February 11 - After having a wonderful lunch with Allan and Nancy Brown and Benny and Jane Trask at the North Turn Restaurant in Ponce Inlet and doing some good bench racing it was off to the Volusia Speedway Park for our first night of racing there. Thirty one WOO sprints would join 27 UMP modifieds on tonight's card in a good doubleheader program. Sprint time trials got underway at 6:28 and 20 minutes later Paul McMahan was acknowledged as the fast timer with a lap of 13.058 seconds in the Tom Buch #13 around the half mile oval. By 7:34 the first of three WOO sprint heats were underway with Shane Stewart bringing the Larson #2 home first over McMahan, Rico Abreu and owner, Kyle Larson. Heat two saw Donny Schatz triumph over Brian Brown, Greg Hodnett and Joey Saldana. The third and final heat race saw Jason Johnson prevail over Parker Price-Miller, Tim Shaffer and Dave Blaney. The track was fast and passing was at a premium at this point but that would all change in the main event. Three UMP modified heats were next followed by the sprint dash won by Brian Brown and the Last Chance Showdown claimed by Trey Starks, a race in which Brent Marks turned turtle and knocked down the turn one traffic light.

    By 9:24 it was time to unleash the WOO 410 monsters for the 40th time at the Florida speed plant in Barberville. Brian Brown went to the point at the start but it was not long before Donny Schatz was challenging for the lead and took the lead at the start/finish line to complete lap 2. The only caution of the event waved on lap 6 when a car slowed on the track. On the restart Brown got the jump on Schatz and retook the lead in turn three. Schatz went back out front on lap 10 and pulled away. Sheldon Haudenschild was slicing through the field from his 13th starting position and executed a fourth to second move in turn two on lap 16 and took up the chase of Schatz. He closed in the middle stages of the race but Schatz was able to expertly work the lap traffic and maintain a safe lead. Little Haud began to fade somewhat with Brad Sweet sweeping by in turns three and four on lap 25 for second. Sweet began to cut into the Schatz lead but with only five laps to go Schatz had a healthy margin and flashed under the double checkers at 9:35 for his 251st WOO win followed by Sweet, Haudenschild, Jason Johnson and Chad Kemenah up from 15th ending a fine Florida campaign for the defending All Star point champion. Positions six through ten were filled by Shane Stewart, Brian Brown, Paul McMahan, David Gravel and Parker Price-Miller. We decided to stay for the UMP modified feature with Nick Hoffman taking the lead on lap 13 from his tenth starting position and scoring his third win of the week over teammate, Will Krup and Zeke McKenzie with the final checker flashing at 10:09. It was just in time as rain started to drop on the grounds and by the time we got to the car it was coming down in buckets. About three miles east of the track as we drove back it had never rained and that is Florida weather for sure!!!

    That's it for now as we plot to take in sprint car racing at both East Bay and Bubba this week as speedweeks continue. News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Four Nights Of Action At East Bay

    Monday, February 5 - I know. I know. This is a open wheel web site featuring sprint cars and midgets but work with me on this and if you just like plain good racing read on. We go to the dark side every year at East Bay Raceway Park when they host the Lucas Oil Late Model Series (LOLMS) for six straight nights of good late model racing on the perfect track for them.

    Today was the warmest it has been in the week we have been down in Florida with temperatures pushing the 80's. During the evening hours it would still be in the 60's allowing for a one sweatshirt type night of racing. First off LOLMS knows how to run a race program with time trials for the 39 cars on hand starting at 6:34 and the final checker of the evening waving at 9:06!! And it would have been even sooner if the infield was not saturated with 3 inches of rain from the previous day making the infield virtually useless and causing management to allow the group qualifying to exit the track each time out the turn one exit. Four heats were spun off in a half hour followed by two B mains and all were completed by 8:07. The 30 lap main event would take the green flag at 8:52 with only two minor yellows slowing the action. And speaking of action boy there was loads of it this evening. Devin Moran went out front on lap 2 and led until lap 13 when Josh Richards, the fast timer, went to the point. Richards, the winner of the previous two LOLMS races in Georgia, was now first and most everyone thought this one is over but no one mentioned this to Moran who retook the lead on lap 16. All of a sudden Jonathan Davenport arrived on the scene taking second from Richards and hounding Moran for the top spot. Also Earl Pearson Jr. and Brandon Sheppard from 9th were battling in the top five and Richards was shuffled back even more. The top five battled tooth and nail over the remainder of the distance with Moran holding sway over Sheppard and the others. On the last lap Moran encountered lap traffic in turn three and dove low to pass while Sheppard threw it up high and the two came to the checkered flag side by side with Sheppard stealing the win by mere feet at the line!! It was a damn good race!!! Pearson came home third with Davenport fourth and 18th starting Scott Bloomquist nipping Josh Richards at the finish for fifth. Did I mention that it was really good!!

    Tuesday, February 6 - Today was even warmer with temperatures in the mid 80's and an even larger field of 45 cars was in attendance. Racing was good in the heats and B mains but the feature would top the night. Jonathan Davenport would control the race from his second starting spot but a late race restart almost saw Brandon Overton steal the win like last night. The racing for the positions behind Davenport was fericous with Overton making the late challenge but coming up short. Davenport ran into lap traffic entering turn one with Overton diving low and sliding almost in front of him but he gave Davenport enough room to sweep back by on the outside and hold on for the win. Brandon Sheppard backed up his win last night with a third tonight with Josh Richards coming from 17th to 4th and Tyler Erb rounding out the top five in a program that ended just before 10 PM. Bobby Pierce made a great run from 24th to finish just outside the top five in sixth after cracking the top five several times during the event. Another good night of racing and we look forward to Wednesday's action.

    Wednesday, February 7 - Night three saw another increase in cars up to 50 and that could rise other the next couple of days with the cancellation of the WOO late model weekend at Screven in Georgia because of persistent rain in that area. Six heats and two B mains were needed tonight and you know it is a stout field when Monday's winner, Brandon Sheppard, has to win the Strawberry Dash to qualify for the 40 lapper. Jimmy Owens went to the early lead with Brandon Overton slipping from second to fourth. Josh Richards who started third quickly went after Owens and took the lead on lap 4 as the action unfolded behind the leaders. Gregg Satterlee took second from Owens and Overton worked his way into the top three. Overton then dispensed of Satterlee and took up the chase of Richards. On lap 26 Overton powered by Richards for the lead off turn four and he would not be challenged over the remaining 14 laps on his way to his first ever win at East Bay. Richards would claim second with Satterlee third, Jonathan Davenport fourth and Bobby Pierce taking fifth after starting tenth. Another good night of racing but not as good as the previous two but they will be tough to beat. Again the program was completed by a very reasonable 9:41 PM. LOLM sure knows how to run an efficient show!!

    Thursday, February 8 - Today we made a leisurely drive over to Gibsonton stopping at Parkesdale Farms to have one of their world famous and delicious strawberry shortcakes which are huge and go for only $4.00 with other variations between $4 and $5. From there we had to stop at Bass Pro Shops with a Christmas exchange and discovered a restrauant attached advertising all you can eat fried shrimp for $10.99 which we decided to partake of. It was a very nice restrauant inside and the shrimp were very good and plentiful. Then it was off to our last scheduled night at the Clay by the Bay for another round of Lucas Oil Late Model action on the bullring in Gibsonton. Tonight the surface was racy but produced gritty dirt from the outset and continued throughout the entire evening. It made viewing difficult and took away from some of the enjoyment of the evening of racing. Fifty three cars were signed in for the evening but only 49 took part in the heat qualifying process. The heat racing was intense and the two B mains were hotly contested with opening night winner, Brandon Sheppard, making a beautiful turn three move on the last lap of his B main to grab the second and final qualifying position and earn the 21st starting position in the feature. The green flag waved on the 40 lap main event at 9:36 with the yellow quickly appearing. In the previous three nights of racing all the features only had two yellows but tonight produced seven yellows before the race was completed. Second starting Kyle Bronson, a local from nearby Brandon, took the lead away from first starting Scott Bloomquist on lap 2. Lap 5 saw Tyler Erb power by on the backstretch to assume the lead with Brandon Sheppard marching through the field entering the top five on lap 14. Just seven laps later Sheppard would pounce into the lead with a turn two pass and become the leader from deep in the pack. The racing was also heating up behind the leader with Bloomquist moving back to second after falling back in the middle stages of the contest and now applying pressure to Sheppard. The Bloomer was all over Sheppard for many laps but could not seem to find a way around the leader. Sheppard would hold on to take his second win of the Winternationals over Bloomquist with Devin Moran advancing from 11th to 3rd with Josh Richards claiming fourth and Tyler Erb moving from ninth to fifth at the end with the final checker waving at 10:10.

    It was a competitive ending to our visit to East Bay for the LOLM's and once again the racing was superb and we always look forward to watching the late models run here on the west coast of Florida and will return next year for another visit to the dark side. Until the next report from Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala where the POWRi midgets and USCS sprints are scheduled to run for the next two nights take care and maybe take in the TQ midgets racing indoors if you are in the Albany, NY area this weekend. News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Saved The Best For Last At Bubba Raceway Park

    Saturday, February 3 - It was the third and final night for the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars at the 3/8 mile D-shaped Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. After last night when the surface got black and slick tonight the track was again in good shape. During warmups the dirt balls or pellets flew into the grandstands reaching even the top rows and people were trying to take cover to no avail. I even spoke with a young lady in a Pilot afterwards who attended her first sprint car race which she enjoyed very much but she was surprised by the flying dirt. The track was in that good of shape!!

    Time trials commenced at 6:19 with 33 sprinters taking their turn with the track getting better as the night went on. In fact Kerry Madsen was last out and turned fast time of 11.581 seconds. Not as fast as the first night but the track held up better throughout the evening. I said it before but sometimes the track can be too good and passing is at a premium as everyone is fast and overtaking is a task. This is what happened in the heat racing action as passing was at a premium. Paul McMahan continues to impress in the Buch #13 nailing down heat one over Trevor Baker, Mark Smith, Chad Kemenah and Dave Blaney. St. Petersburg youngster, Tyler Clem, swept to the win in heat two over Sheldon Haudenschild, Rico Abreu, Carson Short and Max Stambaugh. Heat three saw Cale Conley also looking impressive in the early season winning over Danny Dietrich (48DD), Tony Stewart, Lucas Wolfe and Wayne Johnson. The fourth and final heat was won by Tim Shaffer (who always runs well here) beating Greg Hodnett, Kerry Madsen, Parker Price-Miller and Danny Smith in the most stacked heat of the evening. The Florida mini sprints took the wings off tonight and went topless running third heats for their 21 car field with Jaime Timkham, Kenny Brewer and Robby (apologize to him for misspelling in opening column) Hoffman. The two sprint dashes followed with Sheldon Haudenschild and Parker Price-Miller claiming the front row for the 30 lap feature to follow. The B main saw Coleman Gulick claim the win over Steve Buckwalter, Caleb Helms and John Garvin with Hunter Mackinson climbing the homestretch wall and flipping while in a qualifying position. Mackinson was uninjured in the incident.

    Now it was feature time with the Florida Mini Sprint Association (FMSA) the first ones up to contest their 20 lap main event. This one got off to a rocky start with two quick cautions with the one eliminating the winner of the first two nights, Robby Hoffman, from competition. Jaime Timkham jumped out front and looked strong early with Zak Gorski in pursuit. Soon young Trynt Lloyd had worked his way into contention taking over the third position from deep in the pack. On one restart near the halfway mark Gorski was able to stay with and eventually pass Timkham for the top spot. Once out front Gorski took off and left the field. When the checkered waved at 9:38 it was the sixth starting Zac Gorski flashing under the flagstand with a healthy lead with Timkham holding off Trynt Lloyd for second with Robbie Smith fourth and Kenny Brewer rounding out the top five. It was announced that Smith has secured a ride for next week's POWRi midget events and we wish the youngster success running with POWRi.

    All three All Star sprint feature events have started within five minutes of each other here at Bubba and our hats off to the All Star officials for tightening up their program to allow everyone to leave at a decent hour and not be out in the cold so long. The final took the green at 9:52 with Sheldon Haudenschild going to the point from his first starting position. Tyler Clem and Tim Shaffer took up pursuit of the leader as second starting Parker Price-Miller slipped backward to around seventh. The laps spun off quickly as the green remained out until lap 17 when the first caution flag flew with Haudenschild with a five second lead now wiped out. Many eyes had been on Chad Kemenah who started back in 16th and had cracked the top five right before the first caution. Kemenah has been on a tear here and was now in contention. Haudenschild surged back out front on the restart with Shaffer and Madsen now in tow. Kemenah moved into fourth just before the second caution waved on lap 22. Now Madsen was up to second and was looking to make a run at Haudenschild. Several times over the last eight laps Madsen pressured the young Haud who was up to the task. When the checkered waved at 10:04 it was Haudenschild in for his first Florida victory along with his first victory since becoming the driver of the Stenhouse/Marshall #17 and his 17th career All Star win. Kerry Madsen finished second with Chad Kemenah third, Tim Shaffer fourth and Parker Price-Miller rounding out the top five. Price-Miller went back and forth out of the top five and passed quite a few cars but they were the same ones several times!!! The second five was led by Paul McMahan with Tyler Clem scoring a good seventh with Greg Hodnett eighth, Mark Smith ninth and Danny Dietrich taking tenth.

    All in all a good night of racing with both of the feature events being competitive. Until next time with Lucas Oil late models and POWRi midgets and USCS sprints on the horizon take care and keep warm and dry. News and comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.


     


     

     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Two Of All Star Action At Bubba Raceway Park


    Friday, February 2 - It was race #4 of the year and the second night of the All Star

    Sprints at Bubba’s Raceway Park. I had to work during the day so Bruce and I did not

    arrive early enough to walk the pit area but we did have seats on the top row thanks to

    Zeke, our Clearwater, Florida racing friend. The first difference tonight I noticed was

    the weather which was a lot cooler and eventually seemed cold for even this northern

    girl. The second was the track was not as fast as the previous night and there were no new

    track records broken tonight. I briefly got to speak with the ASCoC flagger prior to the

    start of warm-ups and complemented him on how efficient I thought they ran the show

    the previous night but then added unfortunately when the feature started the drivers all

    got stupid. He just smiled and pretty much agreed. He did said they were spoken to.

    Warm-ups started at 6:50 followed by time trials at 7:15. As I mentioned no new track

    records tonight. After 35 cars timed Kerry Madsen had the fast time at 11.848. Warm-

    ups for the 21 mini sprints, an increase of 5 from the previous night, were next and real

    racing, I am not a time trial fan, began at 8:07, virtually the same time as the previous

    night. The four heats for the sprints were run off caution free with not a whole lot of

    action. Tyler Clem, Coleman Gulick, Tim Shaffer and Sheldon Haudenschild took the

    top honors. We moved directly into the mini sprint heats and tonight they were broken down

    into 3 heats due to the increased car count. A lot of the fans do not pay much attention

    to these cars but they really hightail it around the 3/8 mile D shaped track. It would be

    interesting to know the times they are turning when at full speed. Trust me that does

    not mean I want to see time trials for the mini sprints. I just wonder how fast they are

    turning the track.

    As the weather was getting a bit chilly, hats off to the ASCoC who decided to keep the

    show moving along. They scrapped the drivers coming out on the homestretch to pick

    for their starting positions in the dashes. This was done in the pits during the running of

    the mini sprint heats. The dashes followed the mini sprint heats immediately and

    within 10 minutes the first 5 rows of the main event could be penned in the book. The

    sprint B main followed and by 9:00 the fields were set and it was feature time for both

    divisions. There was a 30 minute intermission and the green dropped on the 20 lap mini

    sprint feature at 9:32. The event was run off with only 2 brief cautions and ended with a

    vegetable medley battling for the lead. There are 4 Todd’s Tomatoes and Wholesale

    Produce mini sprints and they are all very competitive and fast. It is like the Kuntz cars

    of mini sprints. In the end two of these colorfully decaled vegetable cars battled for the

    win. Robby Hoffman picked up the win for the second night in a row and Tyler Walton

    was second. Trynt Lloyd came home third.

    The start time of the feature was the exact same time as night one, 9:56. The previous

    night it took 1 hour and 10 minutes from initial green to checker. Tonight we were

    definitely hoping for a better result. They should have all had the first night jitters out of

    their system and get down to what they do best, race. First the track was different from​
    the previous night. Night one it was near perfect and I always say a perfect track does
    not necessarily produce the best racing. Tonight, night two, it got a little dusty and it
    slicked down and took on some rubber. However, I think night two was a better race.
    Yes, Tim Shaffer started from the outside pole and led all 30 laps on his way to picking
    up the $5,000 first prize but there was some good passing back in the pack. But best of
    all there were only two minor cautions for spins. Unfortunately the first happen on lap 8
    when lapped car John Garvin spun in turn four and collected second place running Tyler
    Clem and fourth place running Sheldon Haudenschild. It was a shame for both front
    runners as they both had very fast cars. The only other caution was on lap 20 when
    Carson Short spun the #21 in turn four. Shaffer looked dominant but in the end it was
    getting harder as his inability to get by a lap car almost cost him the race. With 5 to go I
    thought for sure that Kerry Madsen was going to take the win away. But in the end
    Shaffer hung on for the win followed by Kerry Madsen from 5th, Mark Smith, Coleman
    Gulick from 10th and Paul McMahan from 14th to round out the top 5. Chad Kemenah
    was 6th and Greg Hodnett finished 7th after starting 16th . Danny Dietrich, Tony Stewart
    and Parker Price Miller completed the top 10. The hard charger was Steve Buckwalter
    who moved up 10 positions. After starting 24th he came home in 14th. Not to mention
    the checkered fell tonight at 10:12. All in all it was not a bad race. For me it was
    definitely better than the first night. Looking forward to tonight even though it will be
    another chilly one. You know what they say, “The third times the charm”.
    It seemed some people on social media were complaining about the track conditions
    and the fact that the track did take on rubber and get slick. The previous night it did not
    take on rubber and they had 8 cautions and 2 reds. I am not taking sides and say it is
    okay for a track to blacken but if you go to enough races you know they all do from time
    to time. See you tonight at Bubba’s!

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Sprint Car Season Opener At Bubba Raceway Park

    Thursday, February 1 - After a long hiatus from this site we are back taking in our first sprint car race of 2018 Thursday night at the Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. After a pleasant day in the middle 70's we ventured an hour and a half from our base in Celebration to take in the season opener for the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1. After the sun set the temperatures dropped into the low 60's, still making for a pleasant night to watch sprint car racing in Florida. A decent crowd turned out for the first of three consecutive nights of All Star racing and the surface could not have been any better. Smooth and tacky the well groomed track surface produced a time trial session where 17 of the 35 entrants on hand broke the former track record of 11.840 seconds set by Daryn Pittman at an All Star event on February 8th of 2013. Fast time went to Ian Madsen who destroyed the previous mark with a time of 11.392 seconds for the session.

    Heat racing for the sprinters kicked off at 8:05 with four rounds with five advancing from each of the heats before a B main would add the other four starters to the 24 car field for the evening. Heat one saw the Illinois driver, Carson Short, attaching the foil for the evening as the guy who originally started out in non-winged action has run more winged events in the last year, mostly with MOWA and proved he is a quick learner capturing this one over Tim Shaffer, Caleb Helms and Greg Hodnett. Heat two saw Pennsylvania runner, Mark Smith, take top honors over Kerry Madsen, Rico Abreu and Danny Dietrich. Heat three saw West Virginia product, Cale Conley, prevail over Parker Price-Miller, Max Stambaugh and Dave Blaney, the new driver of the Groves #70. The last heat of the evening saw veteran Paul McMahan drive the Buch #13 to victory over series owner, Tony Stewart, Ian Madsen and Coleman Gulick, the youngster from Birmingham, New York who will race in winged and wingless action this winter at the Ocala speedplant. All heat racing was in the books by 8:31 with the Florida mini sprints being on the undercard and bringing a decent 16 cars to the dance ( a perfect filler division for the evening). Their first heat was run followed by the dash draw down on the track and then the second heat was run. Almost immediately the first of two dashes was brought to the speedway and the five lap event was run with Parker Price-Miller grabbing the win and the pole position for the main event. Dash two saw Tony Stewart triumph to earn the second starting position with the other eight participants lining up behind the top two starters. Only the B main remained and shortly thereafter Sheldon Haudenschild brought the Stenhouse/Marshall #17 home first over John Garvin, Hunter Mackinson and Bubba's boy, Tyler Clem. Danny Smith and Steve Buckwalter would be relegated to alternate status and fail to make the starting field.

    The 20 lap Florida mini sprint feature was next up and provided some good racing with one of the vegetable farm sponsored cars winning with Robbie Hoffman driving and the race ran with only one caution and took only nine minutes to spin off. The 30 lap All Star sprint car main event was green flagged at 9:56 and three yellow flags waved before one lap was completed. This was a prelude to what was going to happen the rest of the way and I would like to tell you it was a great race but I would be lying. Don't get me totally wrong as there were some good performances by various drivers but overall in a race marred with eight yellows and two more yellows which turned into open reds and fuel stops it was a stinker. After the initial string of yellows they ran until lap six when Coleman Gulick executed a series of end over end flips to bring out the first red and a fuel stop was executed at this time. Around lap 11 while battling for third Carson Short and Ian Madsen got together at the end of the homestretch with Madsen flipping over and landing by the pit gate. When racing resumed Price-Miller remained on the point with Tony Stewart and Rico Abreu in tow. In the meantime Chad Kemenah was making up big chunks of real estate advancing from 17th into the top five. The track was starting to take on some rubber and becoming slick as Kemenah used the inside to reel in the leaders. On lap 22 Kemenah passed Price-Miller for the lead on the homestretch and began to pull away. On lap 26 Wayne Johnson and Paul McMahan running just outside the top five tangled with Johnson clipping the front end of McMahan's machine collapsing the front end with McMahan crossing the turn and collecting Sheldon Haudenschild who had nowhere to go ending Mcmahan's evening early. On the restart Mark Smith who was running third spun on the backstretch collecting Rico Abreu in the process. It ruined good finishes for both drivers. After that the last four laps went off without incident with Kemenah winning handily over Stewart, Dave Blaney from 13th, Parker Price-Miller and Carson Short at 11:05. It was a long event and many people headed for the exits on the lap 26 fuel stop but that's the way it goes sometimes and you can't do nothing about drivers spinning and wrecking and so forth. You just hope that the next race is better than this. For Chad Kemenah, the six time and defending All Star point champion, it was a good way to start off the year scoring his first Florida win and his thirty four overall All Star victory.

    Check back in the next couple of days for night two and three of the All Star Sprints at Bubba Raceway Park and until next time sit down and start plotting your 2018 racing schedule if you have not made the trip down to the Sunshine state. Comments or questions can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading and be safe.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outdoor Midwest Sprint Car Season Comes To A Close At Kokomo & Haubstadt

    Friday, October 20 - The season might be near the end but the warm temperatures in the air and the hot action on the track keep us yearning for more. Friday it was the final sprint race of the 2017 racing season at Kokomo Speedway and it left the fans wishing there were more. It was the 11th Annual Kokomo Klash and the weather was perfect. The high was in the upper 70’s with bright sunshine and for late October you cannot ask for more. We arrived at 6:30 and they were already more than halfway through group timing for the 4 divisions of sprints, midgets, 600 mini sprints and thundercars. There was a nice crowd on hand for night one of the two day event and we immediately entered to secure our seats. It was nice to see longtime friend, Benny Trask sitting near our usual spot and we took up seats with him.


     

    There were 36 sprints in the pits and the heats would be starting heads up from the timing. Kokomo made it known there was a lot to run and they were not going to mess around as the first sprint heats started at 7:28. Dave Darland immediately charged to a nice lead but the race we all witnessed for third, fourth and fifth was classic Kokomo. Tyler Courtney, Chad Boespflug and Shane