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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    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 Cottle battled three wide and had all the fans drooling by the time the checkered fell. Cottle was the driver not making the cut as only the top four advanced to the A main. Heat two was equally good with three and four lacking some of the excitement of the first two. But you had a sense it was going to be good.


     

    The midget field numbered 21 with three heats and the 600’s ran three heats for their field of 25. The thundercars came out in full force numbering 44 strong and ran off their four heats with next to no issues. In all 14 heats were run off in 1 hour and 35 minutes and two of the divisions had to be pushed off to start. Only two cars got on their cages. That of David Hair in the second sprint heat as he had some serious air time in turn three and the car caught fire when it came to rest on it's wheels. David popped out of the car almost immediately to the delight of all.


     

    After a brief break to hand out the track awards to the top 5 in points the program went right into the two B main events for the sprints with Shane Cottle picking up the first and Travis Hery the other. Dallas Hewitt turned turtle in one of the B's and was OK after exiting the car. Again the thundercars did not run badly in during their two B mains and before we knew it, it was feature time.


     

    Dave Darland was on the pole in the Hery #40 and you knew that was a perfect combination to pick up the win. But Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins made up the remainder of the front two rows and you knew they all thought differently. Yet no one from those front two rows would come home the victor. I must admit when the green dropped and all cars went to the high side I was a bit disappointed. Where was the side by side racing I came to see? Then on lap 9 the caution came out when Ted Hines spun the #12 in turn 2. When racing resumed it was Kokomo at its best. They were everywhere. The low side was being used by some and then there was Tyler Courtney using a line like no one else diamonding turns three and four before motoring down the homestretch. Shane Cottle, the B main winner was in the mix as he charged from his 17th starting position to the front. KTJ as hot as any driver right now, went backward on the high side. Windom used the low side and the racing was wild and furious. It really looked like "The People’s Champ" Dave Darland was going to capture the event when lap traffic came into play. Courtney worked his way into second and no one was running the line he was. Darland on the other hand was high and in front of him were some slower cars that would break his momentum just enough to set up the last corner run for Courtney. Darland came charging out of turn four on the high side in traffic and Courtney diamonded off shooting down low where the track was clear. Courtney got by Darland’s front end right before they crossed line sending Courtney to BC victory lane. As our good friend and Grandview Speedway announcer back in Pennsylvania would say, it was a "Wow! Wow! Wow!" finish. Kokomo at its best. Darland had to settle for second with Shane Cottle coming home third from his seventeenth starting position. Chris Windom was fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. fifth.


     

    The midget 25 lap even was next and although not as good as the sprints it did not lack excitement. Shane Cottle picked up the win followed by Gage Walker, who had a very nice run. Chris Windom was third, Landon Simon was fourth and Jerry Coons Jr. rounded out the top five. Although it was only 10:50 we chose to head toward the gates.


     

    It was an awesome night of racing. Three years ago Bruce and I picked up and moved to Indiana from Pennsylvania friends and family thought we were a little crazy. Even some of our race friends did not understand. I mean we had the mighty 410 winged sprints of Central PA, the PA Posse, in our backyard. Do not get me wrong, when it come to 410 winged sprints I still bleed PA Posse. But after seeing the wingless sprints at Kokomo Speedway 14 times in 2017, there is no place in this country that I would rather be then right here in Indiana. How many years do I have to live here before I can say I am a Hoosier?


     

    Saturday, October 21 - Today was another gorgeous fall day with temperatures topping out at 80. Today's destination was the Tri-State Speedway in southwest Indiana or simply called Haubstadt after the nearby town of the same name. Haubstadt was running their previously rained out Harvest Cup tonight was the MSCS sprints topping the card racing 30 laps for $5000 to win. A good field of 27 sprinters, 24 UMP modifieds and 25 MMSA mini sprints filled the turns one and two pit area as we settled in for the last night of sprint car racing in the Midwest. Group time trials were held for each division with a zero inversion pill picked by a youngster for the sprint cars meaning that the feature would start straight up from how they finished in the qualifying heats so hard racing would prevail in the heat action. Heat one saw near Fort Branch resident, Chase Stockon, grab the win over Kevin Thomas Jr., CJ Leary, Chase Briscoe in his own car and Nate McMillen. Heat two saw the racing get dicey as first Brandon Mattox spun up front in turn four and with no where to go Kent Schmidt slid into him and up and over taking a soft roll. Later in heat two Collin Ambrose got together with Ben Knight on the backstretch right in front of us battling for a qualifying spot with Ambrose pounding the wall head on and launching into a series of rolls before stopping further down the track. Ambrose took a while to exit the machine and didn't look too steady as he made his way to the ambulance. When racing resumed Kyle Cummins went to the point and stayed there winning over Chet Williams, Stephen Schnapf (a sprint car rookie coming out of the modified ranks & looking good in his rookie champaign), Ben Knight and Parker Frederickson. The final heat went to Carson Short who held off Donny Brackett, Robert Ballou, Aric Gentry and Jadon Rogers. The sprints took a long 45 minutes to complete their heat racing. The modified and mini sprint heat qualifying followed and next up was the sprint car B main. Tyler Thomas would bring the Dutcher #17GP across the line first in this one defeating Brady Short, the 2017 MSCS point champion for the third year in a row, Brian Wallace, Mitchell Davis and Brandon Mattox punching the last ticket to the big dance.


     

    The 30 lap MSCS sprint feature would take the green flag at 9:05 and the race would go non-stop in eight minutes. Chase Stockon jumped to the early lead and held the top spot until seventh starting CJ Leary shot out front like a rocket and from that point on it was watch and see if the lap traffic would slow the pace of the high flying Leary. It was actually difficult to follow the race as many of the sprinters have black in their color schemes and they all kind of blend together. It was a high speed contest and with the exception of Leary and fifth finishing Chase Briscoe who started tenth passing was at a premium. The track just might have been too perfect if you know what I am saying. Leary flashed under the checkered flag at 9:13 scoring his first ever MSCS triumph and taking home $5000 to boot. Stockon came home second with Kyle Cummins third, Kevin Thomas Jr. fourth and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five. Fast qualifier, Chet Williams, brought it home sixth with Stephen Schnapf seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Donny Brackett ninth and Brady Short claiming tenth. With the long (2 hour 45 minute) ride home and the hour time change we decided to call it a night and head northeast toward our Crawfordsville home.


     

    It was not the usual Haubstadt WOW factor but still a decent way to end our 2017 outdoor sprint car season. Until next time get out there and catch the remaining shows in your area and be safe. Winter will soon be upon us and we will long for another racing season to come quickly. As always notes or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading and hope we provided some entertainment and facts and figures during the 2017 racing season.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic At Terre Haute

    Tuesday, October 10 - Well we are back from our 14 day Norwegian Cruise Lines sail of the Baltic Sea visiting Taillon, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark and Berlin, Germany in a grand tour with lots of good memories and lots of pictures to cherish. Our friends, Allan and Nancy Brown were along for the journey and it crossed out one of the bucket list items for Mr. Brown on his list. The only two things bad about the trip was the cold weather and the fact that Pat and I both got colds from the wet and damp weather. But the experiences that we enjoyed more than outweighed the lingering effects of a cold. Now the only thing is to knock off the five pounds I gained on the trip!!

    Saturday, October 14 - It was time to get back to our first passion of racing and on the docket for the evening was the rescheduled Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic postponed from earlier in the year at the Terre Haute Action Track. On the dual card tonight were the USAC National Sprint Car series and UMP modifieds with 30 and 18 cars pitside respectively. Sprint time trials kicked off the action at 6:21 and twenty five minutes later Dave Darland had surprised the 30 car field setting fast time of 19.895 seconds around the big half mile driving the Goodnight #39G. Some short track maintenance later and the first USAC sprint car heat was summoned to the track at 7:19 with four cars to qualify. Darland showing that his first time was no fluke blasted from sixth to control heat one winning over fourth starting CJ Leary, five starting Chase Stockon and second starting Scotty Weir in the Gass #17. The second heat saw Brady Bacon move from third to the front where he stayed outrunning sixth starting Kevin Thomas Jr., fifth starting Jarett Andretti and Shane Cottle in the Dutcher #17GP. Heat three was won by Kyle Robbins who played the rabbit from first trailed by fifth starting Robert Ballou, fourth starting Kyle Cummins and sixth starting Justin Grant. The fourth and final heat went to fourth starting Tyler Courtney over sixth starting Chris Windom, Josh Hodges and Chad Boespflug. Yes, there was lots of passing in the heat races which made for very good viewing. The sprint semi would go to Michigan runner Joe Bares in a good run turning back Joss Moffatt, Jerry Coons Jr., Stevie Sussex in the Pollick #21x, Brandon Mattox and Dylan Shaw turning in a fine run after having engine problems and not being able to run in his heat sneaking by Isaac Chapple late in the event

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature would go first with the green waving at 8:42 with Kenny Schrader going to the point from first and never being headed in this one. It wasn't much of a race but the good sized crowd was very appreciative of Schrader in victory lane. By 9:10 it was time for the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature honoring Tony Hulman and Don Smith, two locals that shaped the happenings at the Action Track. Chase Stockon would grab the lead from Jarett Andretti on the start and lead the first seven laps until two time defending Hulman/Smith winner, Robert Ballou, slowed in turn three with mag box issues and would not return. Stockon went to the front on the restart and looked strong running the high side of the legendary half mile. He was looking to end a 15 month dry spell in USAC sprint racing winning for the last time at Terre Haute and tonight might be the night. Kevin Thomas Jr. made a wild move in turn two on Jarett Andretti forcing him high toward the turn two wall with both drivers retaining control and continuing with Andretti losing numerous spots. My opinion is that Thomas needs to learn to control some of his gung ho moves and harness his energy as he is too good of a driver to have to keep apologizing in victory lane several times a year. Tyler Courtney was coming from 11th, Brady Bacon from 13th and Jerry Coons Jr. from 14th toward the front. With ten to go Stockon was still in front with Thomas trailing in second with Dave Darland becoming quicker and quicker making up big chunks of real estate. The veteran Darland was beginning to look like the top contender to take the top spot. With seven to go Thomas attempted a move for the lead entering turn three and taking the lead entering turn four but catching and jumping the cushion returning the lead back to Stockon and also surrendering second to Darland. The entire complexion of the race changed on lap 25 when the leaders approached lap traffic in turns three and four with Dylan Shaw in his first USAC start trying to move high for the leaders but instead jumping the cushion and flipping over in turn four. The red appeared and the drivers were probably plotting their strategies. On the restart the battle began with Darland chasing Stockon high entering turn one with Thomas diving low sliding back Darland into second. Thomas fired his first salvo for the lead entering turn one on lap 27 sliding up in front of Stockon in turn two for the momentary lead but Stockon was able to counter the move off turn two and retake the lead. Entering turn three on the same lap Thomas made the same move that he used on lap 23 catching the cushion just right this time and wrestling the lead away from Stockon. Chris Windom who runs Terre Haute very well was able to pick off both Darland and Stockon in the last five laps to move to second but ran out of time to make a serious run at Thomas who flashed under the checkered flag at 9:36 with his third USAC victory in the last five races and fifth overall USAC triumph. A very excited Thomas in victory lane stated that "Winning the Hulman is such a great honor." "Not many people have one of those rifles (awarded every year to the Hulman winner). To be able to have one of those sitting up in your living room is pretty amazing. This is such a legendary track. It's tough to get around and tough to tame." From the disappointed third place finisher, Chase Stockon, came these words. "I knew we were going to have to get out front and I committed to run the top the whole race because, anytime you win here, it’s going to be on the top," Stockon explained. "We were able to pull away through the middle of the race, but I don’t if under that red flag, our tire pressure just went down too much or what the deal was. We couldn’t really get going after that restart. We won the ‘Don Smith Classic’ and the ‘Jim Hurtubise Classic,’ but it’s very, very disappointing after leading 27 of the 30 laps to not hang that (Hulman Classic) rifle on the wall."

    The top five was rounded out by Brady Bacon in fourth from 13th for the hard charger award and Dave Darland also dropping to a disappointing fifth at the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant, CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins and Jerry Coons Jr. It was another good race at Terre Haute and Bob Sargent and his crew have done a good job grooming this surface to make racing here as good as we have seen it in over ten years during the past two years of regular attendance.

    Until next weekend where we have our last two open wheel races in the midwest planned for two of our favorite tracks, Kokomo and Haubstadt (TriState) keep going to your local short tracks before they close for the season and the winter sets in. Comments or news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.


     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Fall Sprint Car Double At Bloomington, Fall Nationals At Lincoln Park & Bill Waite Jr. Memorial At LaSalle Highlight Busy Racing Weekend

    Friday, September 22 - We were looking forward to the unique format for tonight's Fall Sprint Car Double at Bloomington Speedway. There would only be two classes of race cars, non-wing 410 sprint cars and RaceSaver 305 winged sprint cars, running in the program with each division contesting two features, one of 25 laps in distance and the other 30 laps in distance, with the 410 overall winner receiving $4000 and the 305 overall winner taking home $1200. The track tire rule was waived for the 410's for the evening. Each division would run group qualifying during hot laps with the fastest timer in each group receiving $100 and an automatic berth in the first feature. The timed qualifiers would draw for starting positions with the remainder of the fields running in 15 lap qualifying races to determine the 20 car starting fields. Points would be awarded for your finishing position in the features and the finishing order of the first feature would be completely inverted for the second feature with only the cars running at the end of the event being inverted. Anyone who drops out of the first race must start at the tail of the second race with everyone having to use the same right rear tire in both main events. Points would be calculated after the second feature and any ties would be broken by whoever finished higher in the second race. Pre-entered cars were eligible for a bonus of $1000 in the 410's if you won both races and $500 for the 305's.

    It sounded like a great idea with a good payout with $300 to start the 410 feature and $225 to start the 305 feature but for many reasons this event would only draw 16 non-wing sprints and 20 RaceSaver 305 sprints. Factors such as it being late in the year with some drivers already parked for the year, Lincoln Park also racing on this evening and Eldora running the USAC Four Crowns event on Saturday had to have played a role in the disappointing turnout of sprints. But still with some good money on the line we didn't understand while more 410's did not make the trip. Group qualifying/hot laps kicked off at 7:04 with the three non-wing fast timers being Braxton Cummings, Brady Short and Jeff Bland Jr. and Michael Koontz. On the 305 side of qualifying fast timers were Jeff Wimmenauer, Terry Arthus, Dakota Jackson and Ethan Barrow. They all would be locked into the first two rows of the feature lineups later in the evening. For some reason this evening there did not seem to be a sense of urgency on management's part with the first 15 lap qualifier for the non-wing sprints not taking the green until 8:01. Hunter O'Neal, one of two sons of late model racer, Don O'Neal, looked good in winning the qualifier over Lee Underwood and Bub Cummings. The 15 lap winged 305 qualifier was a hairy one with four flips executed in three separate tussles. Between the flips, the clean up and the transferring of people from one ambulence to another the shortened 305 qualifier (12 laps) was won by Andy Bradley. Almost 2 1/2 hours into a two division program the first 410 feature took the green flag with the caution followed by the red as Braxton Cummings pulled to a stop on the homestreach while Billy Cribbs took a flyer out over the turn two banking rolling several times. Jeff Bland Jr. went to the front on the restart from his second starting position with the Waltz #18W and would not be headed. Brady Short took up the chase and the lead increased and then descreased depending upon the point of catching lap traffic. But Bland was never really challenged in this one and flashed under the checkered at 9:47 winnng over Short with Hunter O'Neal running a strong third followed by Ethan Barrow from ninth and Stephen Schnapf, the modified driver turned sprint car driver advancing from eleventh to claim fifth on a very fast and tacky surface. The 25 lap 305 feature would see the green at 10:06 and the winged machines buzzed around the track in record time. Dakota Jackson started second and was in command until two to go when a backmarker refused to yield to the leader and when Jackson went high in turn three to pass him he ran over his right rear tire and slid off the turn and out of the lead. Ethan Barrow, doing double duty, inherited the lead and didn't pass on his golden opportunity and led the final two laps winning over Jeff Wimmenauer, Ryan Tusing, Andy Bradley and Jared Fox.

    The second non-winged feature was inverted with Short and Bland starting in row four and the green dropped at 10:35 with Travis Welpott taking the early lead with Short getting out ahead of Bland on the start. Short sliced his way toward the front catching and passing Welpott in turn four on lap eight for the lead with Bland close on his heels. The same as race one the lead wavered as the top two weaved their way through the lap traffic. When the checkered waved at 10:52 it was Brady Short across first with Jeff Bland Jr. second, Ethan Barrow third with Hunter O'Neal capping off a good evening with two top fives and Travis Welpott nailing down fifth. Bland and Short tied for the top spot but the tiebreaker was who finished higher in race two so the $4000 top prize went to Brady Short. With it being almost 11 and still no sense of urgency we headed for the exits along with many others. Reports filtered back to us that the final checker of the evening waved at 11:45, much too late for a two division program with only one qualifying race in each division. Alfred Galedrige won race two for the 305 sprints with Jeff Wimmenauer coming home third which was good enough to claim the $1200 grand prize. We came away from this one disappointed on the evening but you can't win them all.

    Saturday, September 23 - After a very busy morning and early afternoon we headed south to Lincoln Park Speedway. With unusually hot temperatures for the end of September, the mercury was up in the mid 90’s. We pulled onto the grounds at 5:45 and were not expecting a very big crowd as during the year we always tried to be here by 5:00. The crowd was not big and we were able to park in our normal area, up the embankment along the cemetery. Tonight LPS was adding two extra divisions with the UMRA TQ midgets and the MMSA mini sprints. At this time of the year the car counts start to decline as younger drivers might be returning to school and many teams are simply running out of the money to keep going. We also knew the sprint car count would be low because Eldora Speedway was running the Four Crowns and the USAC regulars will all be at the Ohio track. Also Twins Cities Speedway in North Vernon, Indiana was running a non-wing event. Only 3 of the 6 divisions would require three heats versus two and there would only be one B main before the features were to start. The sprints had 21 cars running three heats and the modifieds and bombers each had 22 cars running three heats. The other cars counts were; TQ’s 17, mini sprints 14 and super stocks 12. Racing started at 7:14 and everything was running along smoothly without a hitch. Eleven of the fifteen heats were in the books when the red came out for a fan needing medical assistance in the frontstretch stands. The fan needed to be transported to the hospital and there was a 25 minute break until racing resumed when the ambulance returned. During this time the track crew worked on the track, especially turns one and two where the cushion was just not developing as planned.

    At 8:45 racing resumed and the remaining super stock heat and the three bomber heats were run off followed by the only B main for the modifieds. The sprint feature was first of the six and it took the green at 9:24. Both Bruce and I picked Brent Beauchamp for the win as he was flying in his heat race. Beauchamp started 8th with our other pick, Jeff Bland starting directly in front of him in 6th. One of the other contenders found his night cut short when on lap 2 a change reaction found Shane Cockrum tangling with Kent Schmidt on the homestretch. Neither was able to continue. When racing resumed Bland charged to the lead and two laps later Beauchamp was in second. Bland had already build a substantial lead in those two laps but Beauchamp was catching him and around lap 12 he was directly behind the #18W of Bland. Just as the leaders were getting into lap traffic the second caution waved. Is it my imagination or does this always seem to happen? Right as it is going to get really good the caution comes out. Several laps later Brady Ottinger found himself up against the billboards in turn three and four and the caution waived for the third and final time. We were waiting for a shootout between Bland and Beauchamp but it neverhappened. One lap after racing resumed the #34 of Beauchamp came out of four and made a turn into the infield grass. Bland went on to pick up his first win of the year at Lincoln Park with Tim Creech, Kent Christian, Zack Hampton and Matt McDonald rounding out the top five.

    The 20 lap TQ feature was up next and probably the best of the night that we saw. It started out with an early red. After which there were only two minor cautions. We saw these guys race several times throughout the year and they always put on a good show. Jason Setser started out in 6th and in less than a lap was in the top spot. But he did not run away with the event. Matt Hedrick chased him down and with 3 laps remaining and he was right on the bumper of the #12s. As they raced the final lap side by side Hedrick passed Setser for the lead coming out of four, only to have Setser inch by him at the line for the win. It was a good race. Following Setser and Hedrick was Aaron Percell. Immedicately following was the mini sprint 20 lap feature which only saw the caution wave once. Ryan Barr picked up his first win ever in the MMSA mini sprints and it was a very happy victory lane. Scott Bradley and Jesse Vermillion followed Barr across the line. We decided to stay for one more feature as we always enjoy the modifieds here at LPS. This race which was 20 laps saw 5 cautions and RJ Pruitt picked up the win. We were in the car and heading home before 11:00. It was a very well run show and even with the ambulance delay the entire show would be over before midnight. Yes, the big name USAC boys were not there tonight but sometimes it is nice for the little guy to get those top 5 finishes. We still saw a good night of racing among all divisions. I must say my very favorite track to watch the races is Lincoln Park. You take in your folding chairs set them up in the stands and use the normal seats for a foot rest. Probably 85% or more of the fans use this approach to watch the races. It is like sitting at home in your easy chair it is so relaxing and there is nothing to block your view. You got your cooler by your side and just sit back and enjoy. Yes, this is my favorite track to watch a race. Now if they would only come up with a lap counter.

    Sunday, September 24 - Today was a longer road trip taking I-74 west into the Land of Lincoln. The unseasonably hot weather continued with temperatures in the 90's as we made the three hour trek over to LaSalle, Illinois and the LaSalle Speedway for our first visit to the 1/4 mile facility. Upon early arrival we found an already good crowd on hand and headed right in to secure our blanket high in the nice metal grandstand with wooden seats which stretched the entire length of the homestretch. The walls are concrete slabs with good fencing attached all the way around with the pit area located outside of turns three and four allowing for an unobstructive view of the entire race track. After returning to the car to relax and be out of the sun for a while we were amazed by some of the parking jobs done by some of the later arrivials. We were happy we decided to park along the grass edge of the parking lot allowing us to have a good chance of escaping after the races were over. On tap tonight at LaSalle was the 7th Annual Bill Waite Jr. Memorial, a triple header event featuring the IRA/MOWA winged sprints, late models and the Badger midgets. Good fields of 31, 28 and 26 respectively filled the pit area and provided the fans some good bang for their $25 admission. Two sets of time trials for the sprints and the late models kicked off the night of racing at 5:30 with Carson Macedo setting fast time of 11.77 seconds around the 1/4 mile in the Joe Gaerte #3G.

    The Badger midgets kicked off the heat racing action at 6:53 with Adam Taylor, 2017 Badger midget champion, Robbie Ray, and Scott Hatton scoring heat wins. The IRA/MOWA sprint heats were next up with four events providing some good racing action. IRA regular Ben Schmidt would take heat one holding off Bret Tripplett and Carson Macedo. Heat two saw MOWA racer Jimmy Moughan scoring the win over Brooke Tatnell and AJ Bruns in his Donny Schatz lookalike car. Scotty Thiel another IRA representative nailed down heat three over Bill Balog who came back after contact racing with Kris Spitz with Spitz taking a tumble and Kyle Marten. The final heat saw MOWA point leader, Brad Loyet, win outrunning Scott Neitzel and Chris Urish. Three late model heats were spun off then it was time for the midget and sprint B mains. All qualifying was completed by 8:29 and after some track prep it was feature time.

    The first feature would be the Badger midgets going 20 laps around the bullring. Kurt Mayhew soared into the lead at the drop of the green and led the first four laps until Scott Hatton moved to the front. Adam Taylor was using the high groove to power forward from seventh into second and began to track down Hatton. Taylor was able to get close but Hatton was up to the challenge and held him off until the checkered waved at 9:04 with Robby Ray taking third, Kevin Olson placing fourth after starting ninth and Zach Boden bringing the Hans Lein #2 from eighth to fifth. It was an entertaining race and enjoyable to watch the Badger midgets for the first time in quite a while. The 30 lap co-sanctioned IRA/MOWA sprint car feature was called to the post at 9:17 with a cool $5000 on the line. Brooke Tatnell jumped to the lead from his second starting position at the drop of the green flag. Tatnell set a torrid pace with fifth starting Brad Loyet and seventh starting Spencer Bayston in the Kevin Swindell #39 pulling off numerous sliders on their way to the front. The only stoppage occurred at the halfway point when Bret Tripplett and Bill Balog tangled in turn two with Tripplett flipping over in the mishap. He quickly climbed from the car and went to have a discussion with Balog. He was escorted back to his car and the incident was cleaned up. Before the restart Loyet was placed in front of Ben Schmidt even though he had no passed him. The auto scoring was down according to an IRA twitter the next day and manual scoring was being used and a mistake was made at that point which they acknowledged but it cost Schmidt a big position. Tatnell went to the point on the restart with Loyet in tow. Loyet stayed close but Tatnell was able to hold sway and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:36 with Loyet second, Bayston coming home third with Joe B. Miller placing fourth and fast timer, Carson Macedo, rounding out the top five. Another entertaining feature with one more to go but the fact that we were three hours from home and losing another hour crossing back into Indiana we decided to forgo the late model feature and hit the road happy with our visit to a new track and the good racing witnessed.

    We will be out of the loop for the next several weeks as an overseas cruise awaits us this coming week. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the racing season is winding down but there are still some good races out there to see. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for the kind words as we enjoy hearing from you all and it makes us feel good to hear that you enjoy what we are sending your way.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Busman's Holiday In New England

    Sunday, September 10 - After watching the legend cars on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on our way to our vacation spot in Ashland, New Hampshire our destination today was across New Hampshire and into upper New York state to take in a race at the now dirt surfaced Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh. We had not been to Airborne since May 5th of 1991 when it was an asphalt oval and looked forward to a return there to see the facility operate as a dirt oval. The 4/10 mile dirt oval was in good shape for tonight's action as no less than six divisions would take to the track for racing on this evening. The sportsman and pro stocks are the two main divisions that were racing here tonight but we were also interested in the Tobias SpeedSTR's that run weekly at Action Track USA in Kutztown, PA but they also have a contingent of Canadian SpeedSTR participants and 13 of them were on hand along with the Canadian slingshot contestants who brought eight to the dance along with 24 sportsman, 29 pro stocks, 10 renegades and 9 strictly stocks. Even though they started right on time at 5 PM the volume of cars in the pit area along with the sportsman and pro stocks running time trials in addition to heat racing would make for a long evening. Management ran a very efficient program with the next division coming trackside as the previous one pulled into the pit area off of turns one and two which kept things moving along nicely. All forms of qualifying were completed in a little less than two hours with Stephane Messier and female racer, Sabrina Blanchet, taking the two SpeedSTR heat races.

    Right after the last of the heat races they went right into the first feature event of the evening and spun them off in good order. The slingshot feature had some controversy when young Felix Roy spun out the leader but a good call by management sent the aggressive youngster to the tail of the field for the restart. Jim Pollard was able to hold off Roy over the remaining laps to score the win with Jim Gaines third overall and first in the junior slingshot division. Next up was the 25 lap SpeedSTR feature which featured some good, hard racing with only one caution slowing the action. Pierre Hebert would score the win in this one over a fast closing Sabrina Blanchet and her teammate, Codie Aubin,. The renegade feature was next before the championship pro stock 35 lapper would take to the track at 8:57. The pro stocks executed a fine display of driving with CD Beauchamp passing Rob Yetman late in the main event to score the win with Nick Stone crossing the line third, Jocelyn Roy fourth and Byron Wescott rounding out the top five with the checker waving at 9:26. We wanted to stay to watch the sportsman 50 lapper but with nearly a four hour tow back which included a ferry ride we pulled the plug and headed for the exit on the cool evening.

    Friday, September 15 - This would be our last weekend in New Hampshire and we really enjoyed our time here taking in the beautiful scenery and mingling with the friendly people. We viewed close to 20 covered bridges, took an hour and a half hike in the Franconia State Park to visit the Flume (a rocky area with gorgeous waterfalls and lush vegetation. Also we rode the cog railroad up the side of Mount Washington, the highest point in the east at 6288 feet, and gazed on the surrounding countryside on what our brakeman described as the nicest day of the year on top of the mountain. Speaking of mountains we visited the House in the Clouds, a beautiful mansion built high above the surrounding mountains and woods and also took a boat ride on Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire and passed many impressive lakeside homes on our way to Wolfeboro, a quaint town on the eastern shore of the lake. It was an enjoyable trip and we are glad to took it. Now back to the racing.

    On Friday we decided to attend the closest track to our resort, the Legion Speedway in Wentworth, NH, only about a 30 minute drive from Ashland. The last time we had visited Legion it was called Norway Pines and sat in the woods with trees of the same name. That was in September 2nd of 1995, a long time ago. I noticed upon entering the grounds to place our blanket down that something was different. I talked with some of the locals and on the last time we were there the track was in a different location. Before when you entered the track the homestretch was right in front of you while this time when I entered the fourth turn was the first thing I encountered. The owners had turned the track what I would term sideways from where it was previously. Tonight's program would consist of five divisions with the USAC D2 midgets (14) making an appearance on this evening with former PA resident and current Indiana resident, John Heydenreich, among the 14 entrants. Late model sportsman (13), sportsman modifieds (6) and a new wingless sprint car club formed in 2016 by Dan Bowne would bring nine wingless 360 sprinters to the party and the mini stocks (15) with the biggest field rounded out the participating classes.. Action got underway at 7:10, just 10 minutes off the scheduled starting time and proceeded well the entire evening. The D2 midgets ran two heats for their group with Will Hull and Eric O'Hearn winning. The Wingless Auto Club ran a solo heat for their troops with Dillon Cook looking strong in this one.

    The feature order was the same as the heat order with the USAC D2 midgets taking the green flag at 8:22. About midway through Jim Mossman, a retired postal worker, caught the homestretch wall which threw him into a hard flip down the straightway. He climbed from the car uninjured but undoubtedly sore. Seth Carlson from Massachusetts who also races asphalt midgets with the NEMA club would advance from sixth to claim the win over seventh starting Derek O'Hearn and third starting Will Hull all in midgets owned by former supermodified owner, Skip Matczak, who looks like the Keith Kuntz of New England midget racing. The late model sportsman fumbled through their 20 lap feature which was cut to 15 due to five cautions and a time limit with Toby Stark winning. The 20 lap wingless sprint feature was next to the post with Dillon Cook walking away from the field but there was some good racing for positions three through five with Mark Cole taking second with Sam Comeau placing third at the finish in the eight minute feature with only one caution. The track had held up nice during the heat racing but the 25 minute break between the two took its toll on the surface with dust being stirred up in each of the features. It was not that bad and just a brief dusting off of the clothes when we got to the car was all that was needed. We decided to stay and watch the 20 lap sportsman modified feature and they ran good but with only six cars and Jason Sanville taking off at the beginning it was not all that entertaining. This one ended at 9:32 and we decided to skip the mini stocks and head back to the resort to pack and prepare to leave the next day.

    That's it for this time and until next week where we are looking to make it a triple weekend of sprint car racing at Bloomington, Lincoln Park and LaSalle take care and get out there and enjoy some short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

    Also our condolences go out to the family of Ted Christopher, one of the top asphalt modified drivers of all time who perished in a plane crash on his way to the races on Long Island at Riverhead Raceway this past Saturday. You either loved him or hated him but you have to admit he was usually the show. Besides modifieds the versatile chauffeur drove supermodifieds, TQ midgets and stock cars all with success and he will be sorely missed by one and all. God's Speed, TC!!!!!

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Vince Osmun Memorial At Kokomo

    Sunday, September 3 - It was a tough call today as three good events were all taking place on the same day. I really wanted to go to DuQuoin for the Silver Crown cars on the mile but the 8 PM start on a Sunday night would cause us to have to spend another night in a hotel and after spending big bucks in the South Bend area on Friday night the thought of another hotel bill dimmed the enthusiasm for this event as the days of four hour drives are off the board for the most part. Tri-State was running a MSCS sprint car program but the three hour haul was less appealing than the one and one half hour tow over to Kokomo so the Vince Osmun Memorial won out. This was our 13th visit to the 1/4 mile bullring in 2017 and tonight the program would consist of four classes plus fireworks for a full night of racing. The sprint cars would kick off the qualifying with three heats for their good 28 car field considering that Haubstadt and DuQuoin had both drawn away some of the other normal entrants. Chances were high we would have a first time winner in the sprint cars as only Scotty Weir was a previous winner at Kokomo of the 28 entrants. AJ Hopkins made a statement early wheeling the Ottinger #4J to an impressive victory in heat one over Colten Cottle subbing in the Paul Hazen #57 tonight for his uncle who was steering the Silver Crown car on the Illinois mile at DuQuoin and Ted Hines in a strong run. Heat two saw Isaac Chapple shake the monkey off his back claiming this one over Mitch Wissmiller and Josh Spencer. The final heat saw Tyler Hewitt score the win over Scotty Weir, tonight in the Simon #22S out of Ohio and Landon Simon. The UMP modifieds were next up with four heats for their fine 32 car field with the midgets checking in with 23 cars and three heats with Kyle Schuett showing some speed in heat one, Chase Jones strong in heat two and Stevie Sussex, the driver out of Laveen, Arizona, sticking around after a Smackdown ride did not materialize and getting the call to drive the sprint and midget for the Balwin Brothers on the evening. Twenty two hornets wrapped up the heat qualifying. Ty Tilton did a nice job in winning the sprint car B main while Gary Loney won the midget B main. Track prep was next on the agenda with the sprint car feature the first to be called to the post.


     

    At 9:31 the green flag dropped on the 25 lap sprint car feature with Mitch Wissmiller grabbing the early lead. AJ Hopkins quickly found the high side to his liking and executed a turn four, lap four pass for the lead on Wissmiller. Another car on the move was 11th starting Stevie Sussex who is known as a gasser and went to the cushion at the drop of the green flag. By lap 10 Sussex used a wild homestretch move diving between two cars about midway down the straightway and taking second entering turn one. The only caution of the event would fly on lap 12 when Kyle Simon looped the #23 in between turns three and four to slow the action. On the restart the top two went up top and the race was on. Hopkins was having a wrestling match with the cushion beating it and jumping it on just about every lap. Hopkins managed to open up a good lead again but in the later stages of the event Sussex was coming strong closing the gap as he drove the Baldwin Brothers orange crate against the wall tagging the right rear on the wall for about ten straight laps. At 9:39 Hopkins brought the Ottinger #4J under Brian Hodde's checkered flag first for his first career win at Kokomo beating the invader, Sussex, who finished second with sixth starting Scotty Weir taking third with tenth starting Kyle Robbins claiming fourth and Ted Hines wrapping up a fine night by nailing down the fifth position. Isaac Chapple came home sixth with Josh Spencer taking seventh (needed to finish third or higher to claim the point championship) with Ty Tilton turning in an impressive performance coming from sixteenth to eighth. Garrett Abrams managed a ninth and Colten Cottle rounded out the top ten. The modified 20 lapper was next up with third starting Jamie Lomax scoring the win over Nick Allen, Randy Lines, Dillon Nusbaum and Devin Wright. The 20 lap midget feature would take the green flag at 10:15 with Stevie Sussex against the wall the entire way around scooting to the lead. Lap 7 would see contender, Justin Peck, slow on the homestretch while running third and rolling to a stop to bring out the first of five cautions. Sussex was not to be denied in this one as he flew around the outside lap after lap until the checkered waved at 10:33. Chase Jones would execute a turn four last lap pass of Zeb Wise for second with Kyle Schuett fourth and Mitchell Davis taking fifth. We decided to call it a night at this point satisfied with the program we had just witnessed.


     

    Until next time where a vacation in New Hampshire looms take care and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area as the season is starting to wind down and the engines will soon be silent. 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

    Wild Finish On Final Night At Kokomo's Smackdown VI

    Saturday, August 27 - For the final day of Smackdown we were once again blessed with beautiful weather. After doing a little shopping at a local antique store and eating at the Half Moon Restaurant we pulled onto the parking lot at Kokomo Speedway at 3:15. Once again we were able to find a good parking spot behind the homestretch stands and just sit back and relax.

    We entered the stands when we heard the sprints coming out for wheel packing shortly after 6:00. There was an excitement in the stands as the racing the previous night was really good and tonight was the 40 lap finale. There were no time trials tonight, only four qualifying heats and the King of the Hill for the top 8 in points. Hot laps followed wheel packing and at 7:42 the green fell on the first heat. Heats were 10 laps with only 7 cars in each. However, only the top 2 would make it to the A main. The heats were run off quickly with Chad Boespflug, Jarett Andretti, Chris Windom and Justin Grant taking the top honors and it was on to the King of the Hill. It was noted that some of the drivers are not overly excited with this qualifying procedure but it can be fun for the fans. In King of the Hill two drivers are pitted against each other in a 3 lap dash with the winner moving on to the next round. The pairs, made up of the top 8 in points after the Thursday and Friday events, were Brady Bacon/CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins/Tyler Thomas, Hunter Schuerenberg/Robert Ballou and Kevin Thomas Jr./Tyler Courtney. After round one the pairs came down to Leary/T. Thomas, Schuerenberg/ K. Thomas and the final was definitely going to be won by a Thomas, as Tyler and Kevin took to the track for the final 3 lap event. Kevin Thomas Jr. won the dash and earned the top starting spot for the finale.

    Tonight the Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets of UMRA were on the card. They brought the highest number for the support divisions that ran during Smackdown. They were 20 strong and they ran two heats that were both very entertaining. The 15 lap B main for the sprints followed and the event definitely saw action. There were 19 cars vying for the final 6 qualifying positions. Mario Clouser was racing hard with British invader Tom Harris when they collided on the homestretch before entering turn one. Clouser continued on and would qualify, but Harris found the #5 flipping and ending his night. The race for the final spots was furious with Tyler Hewitt racing into fifth on the final lap to secure a spot in the main event on his birthday. The B Main ended and there was no delay in bringing out the TQ main event. There was some real competitive racing during the 20 lap event as several times the TQ’s ran three wide in the turns. The event also had a triple flip coming out of turn four on lap 7. All drivers were ok. In the end Jason Goff picked up the win followed by Aaron Percell and Brent Watson.

    Now the race we were all waiting for. The 40 lap main event paying $10,000 to the winner. The pageantry prior to this event is always a favorite. Each driver is announced and walks down in front of the homestretch stands as the crowd cheers them on. The green dropped at 10:34 and Tyler Thomas immediately jumped into the lead. For the first 15 laps everything seemed to be running fine. Then T. Thomas caught the tail end of the field and found it difficult to get by Isaac Chapple. KT was closing in and Thomas decided to slightly move Chapple so he could get by. Well slightly might not be the correct word. They did connect and Chapple launched into the turn two fence and flipped. When racing resumed Robert Ballou took over second and KT moved back to fourth. A couple of laps later Boespflug found himself involved in a turn four tangle. Racing now was becoming hot and heavy among the top 10 competitors. Brady Bacon and Josh Hodges, who started 18th, were battling for 6th when they connected on lap 26 giving both competitors a flat tire. Although Hodges made the contact with Bacon I believe it was just hard racing. Both restarted but two laps later Bacon would spin in turn 4 bringing out the 4th caution of the event.

    The remaining laps saw some real close and competitive racing with the exception of the leader. T. Thomas was in total command until the caution came out on lap 39. This caution would change the entire complexion of the race. By this time KT was back in second and it was green white and checkered. On the final lap in turn two Thomas hit the turn two wall with KT immediately behind him. KT also hit the wall and flipped hard. KT immediately emerged from the car unhurt. We were now back to green, white, checkered. Thomas now was being followed by Chris Windom and he was running well on the inside. I looked at Bruce and said I think he can pass him. The next couple laps which should have been the last two were so incredible I do not know how to describe them. Windom pulled a slide job on Thomas and took over the top spot and Thomas shot back underneath. They both appeared to be totally out of control but then they were running for $10,000. Going down the back stretch on lap 40 they collided and Thomas ran over the left front tire of Windom ending his bid for the win. Windom was furious and he threw his steering wheel at Thomas as he drove by the next time. Take three for the green, white and checkered. Thomas was in command but while the action was going on between Thomas and Windom, Tyler Courtney moved into second past Ballou and had something to say about the finish. Courtney would pass Thomas and go on to win for the second night in a row, picking up the $10,000 big check. Tyler Thomas who led nearly the entire race had to settle for second with Robert Ballou finishing third. Scotty Weir finished fourth in the Gass sprinter and Dave Darland from 15th finished fifth.

    The excitement did not stop with the three takes of the final laps. From our seats in Section B we could immediately see Chris Windom walking out of the pit gate toward the top three cars sitting on the homestretch. Of course Courtney was in the BC Victory Lane and you knew it was not Ballou he was going to see. You also knew he was not going to congratulate Thomas on his second place finish. I do not understand why the USAC officials allowed him to make the walk all the way down the track to the 17 of Thomas where be proceeded to throw punches at Thomas while he was still in the car. Thomas was smart and had not taken off his helmet. I am sure Courtney was confused as he heard boos from the crowd and did not realize they were for the actions on the track and not for him. USAC might want to rethink the green, white, checkered when the caution comes out on lap 40. Why not throw the green and white simultaneously. Tonight that extra lap caused a lot of damaged cars and flared tempers.

    No one could say they left Smackdown without seeing excellent and exciting racing. We already know we are going to renew our seats on the homestretch for Smackdown VII. As one of our PA friends said to us, "This is why you moved to Indiana." He is right!!!

    That's it for this weekend and check back next weekend for more racing notes and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area. 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

    Action Packed Night Two of Kokomo Smackdown

    Friday, August 25 - The weather continues to be great with the temperatures cool and with the only thing heating up being the racing action. The two division show tonight would consist of USAC sprints (38) and Indiana Series midgets (11). In a pre-race interview Thomas Meseraull revealed to the fans that they were parked for the weekend as T-Mex had suffered a concussion from his time trial flip on Thursday. Sprint time trials would kick off a little earlier tonight at 6:33 with almost half the field getting just one lap to qualify as many were late for wheel packing earlier. Tyler Thomas, the new hot shoe for the Michael Dutcher #17GP, set fast time with a lap of 12.554 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Tyler Courtney set second fast time on his first time trial lap but jumped the cushion in turn four the second time around and flipped the TOPP Motorsports #23C doing some damage to his sprinter. His crew along with help from many others went to work to repair the battered car and by heat two the #23C reappeared but miss qualifying by one position. After sprint time trials the midgets ran hot laps/group qualifying and were completed quickly as by 7:20 the first of four sprint car heats were ready to rumble. Shane Cottle in the legendary Paul Hazen #57 would make no mistakes in his heat tonight scoring the win over fast timer, Tyler Thomas, with last night's winner, CJ Leary third and Tyler Hewitt qualifying for his first Smackdown race of the week. Heat two would see a big upset as England's Tom Harris would blast to the lead and hold off Kyle Cummins, Brady Short and Justin Grant to score his first ever USAC win of any kind. The fans gave him a fine round of applause  appreciating his effort against the best in the wingless world. Dave Darland, a three time Smackdown finale winner, garnered heat three in the Hery #40 winning over Chris Windom, Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple back after last night's frightening flip in the B main. The last heat was taken by Chase Stockon on the last lap sliding by Brady Bacon off turn four for the win. Bacon had made an aggressive move low in turn three the previous lap routing Robert Ballou off the bottom to the chagrin of Ballou who showed his displeasure by pulling and slowing in front of Bacon down the backstretch and into turn three gesturing as he drove slowly in front of Bacon. Even Stockon mentioned in his victory lane interview that he benefited from Bacon's dirty move. Don't know what was up with that!! Ballou finished third in this one with Jarett Andretti snagging the last qualifying position. Two midget heats followed with Justin Peck and Colten Cottle taking the wins.


     

    Tonight a C main would be needed with four to advance to the B. Robert Bell took a roll in turn one after making contact with another competitor but was OK after the mishap. Matt Goodnight of Winchester, IN would go onto victory and advance to the back of the B. The B main was next up with some heavy hitters chomping at the bit to grab one of the six positions available to move onto the 30 lap main event. Kevin Thomas Jr. drove his own #9K to victory over Tyler Courtney, Kody Swanson, Aaron Farney, Scotty Weir and Josh Hodges as the last man in. Chad Boespflug would be forced to burn a provisional to join the field starting twenty third on the grid. While the teams prepared for the 30 lap feature the midgets ran their 20 lap feature with a good three car battle up front for the lead taken by Justin Peck in the Irwin #7K winning over the Clauson/Marshall entry of young Zeb Wise with Colten Cottle third, TQ midget grad Nick Speidel fourth and Kyle O'Gara, brother in law of Sarah Fisher, taking fifth. Chris Baue took a nasty flip in turn one on lap 13 and fortunately was OK after the hard tumble.


     

    Now it was time for the 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car feature and the green would wave at 9:14 on the 23 car field. CJ Leary who started fourth attacked the cushion on the start and blasted by everyone as they exited turn two to take the lead on lap one. As Leary charged into turn one on the start of the second lap he caught the berm wrong, pounded the wall and stood his car on its nose before returning to earth. What looked like a repeat win for Leary ended much too early. The rough start to the feature continued on lap two when Kody Swanson got sideways off turn four, hit the infield tire and launched into a series of flips ending his night much too early also. Hunter Schuerenberg assumed the lead on the restart with Justin Grant and Tyler Thomas in tow. Lap eight saw Thomas bid for the lead with a slider on Schuerenberg between turns one and two with contact between the two as they exited turn two. Tyler was sideways on the backstretch but retained control and continued. Tyler Courtney made his presence known catching Grant for third and Thomas for second on one fair swoop on the backstretch on lap nine. Courtney continued to work the bottom to perfection passing Schuerenberg for the lead on lap ten. Courtney paced the middle portion of the race but Schuerenberg inched closer to the leader as the bottom began to fade. Courtney moved to the middle with six to go and was able to repel the Schuerenberg march. Shane Cottle lost the handle on his racer on the homestretch shortly thereafter and brought out the yellow and bunched the field back up. While Courtney had held sway up front many noticed the advances of Kevin Thomas Jr. from ninth and Brady Bacon from eighteenth into the top five. On the restart bedlam brought out behind Courtney as Scheurenberg, Thomas Jr., Bacon and T. Thomas went to war for second. Tyler Thomas pulled an amazing move off turn four from the top groove to the bottom splitting KTJ and Bacon to snag second entering turn one. Coming off turn four on lap 27 T. Thomas was high with KTJ countering low with wheel contact between the two sending T. Thomas sliding back to fourth. Bacon took advantage of the tangle and blasted by the other two into second as the crowd roared. Bacon stuck his nose underneath Courtney entering turn three on the last lap but Courtney was able to stave off the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:40 for his fourth USAC sprint car win of the year and first ever at Kokomo. Brady Bacon would finish second with Kevin Thomas Jr. third, Tyler Thomas fourth and Hunter Schuerenberg taking fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Robert Ballou, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Scotty Weir and Chris Windom. What a fine night of racing was witnessed by one and all at Kokomo tonight and this sort of racing is what makes it the baddest bullring in Indiana!!!


     

    The top eight in Smackdown points are locked into Saturday night's final with Brady Bacon on top of the points followed by Kevin Thomas Jr., Hunter Schuerenberg, Tyler Thomas, Kyle Cummins, Robert Ballou, Tyler Courtney and CJ Leary. Check back soon for the report on the final night of Smackdown VI from Kokomo Speedway. Enjoy the good short track racing in your area and be safe. Thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Smackdown VI Kicks Off At Kokomo

    Thursday, August 24 - It was a beautiful August day with temperatures in the 70's with lots of sunshine and a good breeze to boot. It was a fine way to kick off the official night one of Smackdown VI at the 1/4 mile Kokomo Speedway. Last night's track was a struggle after being over-watered but tonight the surface was in tip top shape for the night of racing. Thirty eight wingless sprint cars were joined by fourteen 600 winged micro sprints for the two division show with time trials opening the program at 6:50. Late in the session Thomas Meseraull in the Chase Briscoe #5B pitched it sideways on the high side entering turn one and caught the cushion wrong and went for a ride ending up midway through turn one in the fencing. The bent up race car was towed to the pit area and it was a very short night for T-Mez on this Thursday. By 7:23 Justin Grant had placed the McGhee #11 at the top of the heap in time trial action with a time of 12.685 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring to become the fast timer on the evening.


     

    From there a short break for some track maintenance, 600 warmups and to give time to the sprint car teams to prepare for their upcoming heat races it was time to go heat racing at 7:54. The track was in excellent shape allowing many grooves to be explored during the running of the four heats and many drivers tested one or several of them in the course of their heat race. Aaron Farney grabbed the heat one victory outrunning Scotty Weir, Robert Ballou and Justin Grant in the process. Heat two saw a strong run from Jarett Andretti winning over Chase Stockon, Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold entries out of Arizona and Chad Boespflug. Dave Darland put the Mark Hery #40 on the top to win heat three over Chris Windom, Kyle Cummins and CJ Leary catching a break to place in the top four qualifiers after veteran Shane Cottle made a rare mistake and spun by himself in turn four while running fourth. This would play out big for the feature. New Mexico's Josh Hodges making his first Smackdown start a good one by notching heat four beating out Tyler Courtney, Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr., Wednesday night's winner. The winged 600's ran two smooth heats with Kole Kirkman from Kokomo and Craig Ronk from Warsaw dominating. The 21 car sprint B main was next on the agenda with six more cars to move on to the big 30 lap feature event. Tyler Thomas brought the Michael Dutcher #17GP home first out-pacing Shane Cottle, Mario Clouser, Brady Short in the other Reinbold entry, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E and Brian Karracker. This race had a nasty ending as Logan Jarrett and Isaac Chapple were battling for a qualifying position as they entered turn four on the final lap with Chapple colliding with Jarrett causing both of them to take some wild flips before landing back on the track. There was a hush until everyone realized that both drivers were OK and a loud round of applause went out and a big sigh of relief. Some of the concern was due to the fact that Chapple had just returned from sitting out for a while after suffering injuries from another nasty ride at Terre Haute in hot laps before the rains came on that program.


     

    The 15 lap 600 micro sprint feature would report to the post and take the green flag at 9:08. The event almost went non-stop until second place runner, Devan Myers, slowed on the homestretch with one to go when mechanical woes hit the #75. In the meantime Craig Ronk had made shambles of the field lapping many of the 14 starters until the caution appeared. This gave Kole Kirkman one last shot to unseat Ronk but on the restart Kirkman's mount did not fire properly and he headed pit side handing second over to Cailin Hunt where she would finish in her pretty #1 with Jordan Welch bringing his #23J in for third behind the high flying Ronk.


     

    By virtue of his fourth place finish in heat three sixth quickest timer, CJ Leary, would bring the field to the green flag along with Hunter Schuerenberg with the front row running side by side for almost the entire first lap with Leary edging out front as they exited turn four. Kevin Thomas Jr. made some heady moves in the first lap charging from eighth to fifth by the end of the first circuit. Trouble occurred at the flagstand on lap 4 when Kevin Thomas Jr.'s left rear made contact with Justin Grant's right front causing Grant's steering to go awry with Grant sliding straight toward the turn one wall but able to brake before any impact was made and luckily no one else was involved in the tussle. Grant returned later but finished 22nd in the final rundown which was point costly to the current USAC National Sprint Car point leader. On the restart Brady Bacon found his way around Schuerenberg for second as Leary took off again. Lap traffic tightened things up as the leaders approached the backmarkers near the midway point of the event. No sooner did the leaders reach the back of the field the caution appeared as Shane Cottle spun backwards toward the turn three wall minus a front tire which bounded down into the infield. This was a big break for Leary as he would have a clear track on the restart on lap 23. Leary took to the top on the restart and pulled away from Bacon in the Dooling-Heyward #63. Leary flashed under Tom Hansing's checkered flag winning almost to the day of his first USAC National sprint car win here last year besting Bacon with Robert Ballou driving a good race from ninth to third with KTJ fourth and Schuerenberg holding on for fifth in a good run. Chad Boespflug tried his darnedest to pass Schuerenberg but had to settle for sixth with Kyle Cummins seventh, Kody Swanson from thirteenth to eighth in a very good run considering the night before he did not even make the starting grid. Chris Windom claimed ninth after starting fifteenth and Josh Hodges rounding out the top ten.

    It was a very good night of racing with multiple grooves and much side by side racing and good battles throughout the field which is what you come to expect when you visit Kokomo and tonight no one left disappointed. Come back soon to read about the final two nights of Smackdown VI where no fewer than six Hoseheads.com columnists were in town to provide flag to flag coverage of this prime time event for wingless sprint car racing. Until next time get out there this weekend and experience some good short track racing wherever you may be and above all be safe. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for reading our efforts as you all make it worthwhile.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All Star Sprints At Susquehanna & #GYATK Night At Kokomo

    Sunday, August 20 - It was the last day of our eight day trip back East for some racing and to visit with friends and the racing part would take place at the same venue that the trip started at that being the Susquehanna Speedway near Newberrytown, PA where the All Star Circuit Of Champion Sprint Cars would be making their first appearance in 26 years!! After a nice breakfast at the B & B we headed out and spent a day of antiquing in Adamstown where there are numerous shops to tickle your fancy and we both did so picking up many treasures to add to our collections. Of special interest was the purchase of 20 vintage midget race car photos taken by various photographers including the late Bruce Craig of Phillipsburg, NJ, a good friend of mine before his passing several years ago. They will be displayed in one of our picture albums for years to come.

    We arrived at the track in late afternoon and already found a good sized crowd on hand. It was a much larger crowd that we expected and were thankful at our Pennsylvania friends had placed an extra blanket down for us and we were able to converse and just enjoy each other's company for one last time this visit. Time trials kicked off at 6:55 for the fine 36 car field on hand and when things were said and done it was Kunkletown's favorite son, Ryan Smith, setting fast time with a time of 15.317 seconds. After a short break it was right into heat racing for the All Stars with four in number advancing the top five to the main event. Lance Dewease wheeled the Donnie Kreitz #69K to victory in heat one over Tim Shaffer and Ryan Smith. Heat two saw Brock Zearfoss in the family owned #3Z claim the top spot beating Dale Blaney and Max Stambaugh. Eighteen year old Anthony Macri scored the heat three win over Mark Smith and Rico Abreu. The final heat went to Greg Hodnett in the Mike Heffner #27 over Lucas Wolfe and Danny Dietrich who had a race long battle for second. On the card with the All Stars were the PA Sprint Series 305's who brought a big field of 37 cars to the party. They ran their heats off in good fashion and by 8:53 all heat racing was completed. The two dash races for the All Stars with five in each race would determine the top ten starting positions in the feature with the first dash being the inside row starters and the second dash determining the outside row starters. Greg Hodnett took dash one with Anthony Macri notching dash two. The 410 sprint B main went to Sammy Swindell in town this weekend to driver the Coldren #07 in place of the injured Doug Esh. Two B mains for the 305's followed with all qualifying in the books by 9:37.

    The green would wave on the Justin Snyder's Salute To The Troops 30 lap All Star sprint feature at 10:09 with Greg Hodnett assuming command the lead. Turn two on lap two saw the first caution appeared as Cory Haas, Rico Abreu and Ryan Smith got together and spun. On the restart Lucas Wolfe passed Macri for second and took up the chase of Hodnett. Lap traffic came into play on lap 8 and Hodnett's lead shrunk as the slower cars were difficult to pass and Wolfe closed the two second gap. Hodnett was able to maneuver the traffic and open up his lead once again. The second and final caution appeared on lap 25 when Tyler Esh spun on the backstretch and slowly moved off force the stoppage and wiped out Hodnett's nearly four second lead. On the restart Hodnett went back to the bottom and took off again and at 10:27 flashed under the checkered flag again with nearly a two second lead to score his first All Star win in over two years beating Lucas Wolfe, Lance Dewease, Anthony Macri and Brock Zearfoss to the finish. Since we were driving two hours back toward Indiana this evening we decided to forgo the 305 main event and head for the exits and the PA Turnpike after bidding farewell to our PA friends. A good eight days of racing and visiting only suffering one rainout over the eight day period.

    Wednesday, August 23 - Tonight was #GYATK (or Get Your Ass To Kokomo) night at Kokomo Speedway, the free night of racing offered by the O'Connor family as part of their sixth running of the Smackdown events run Thursday through Saturday at the classic 1/4 mile bullring in The City Of Firsts named so because of innovations developed in Kokomo mainly in the automotive industry. The atmosphere was electric as it seemed every nook and cranny was filled by some sort of RV or car parked to witness this four nights of wingless racing Nirvana. The track was over watered but with the cooperation of the 44 car field on hand who came out and ran in the wet surface things were able to still kick off with hot laps/group time trials by heats at 7:32. By the start of the first heat at 8:18 it was still wet and difficult to pass on and basically one groove on the top. Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 drew first blood tonight taking heat one of six over Mario Clouser and Tyler Courtney with only three advancing to the main event. Heat two saw Jarett Andretti stave off Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold #19's out of Arizona (the other being wheeled by Brady Short). This heat also had some controversy as first starting Justin Grant in the McGhee #11 looked as if he had some help spinning off turn four before the green flag waved. Many felt (including us) that it was unfair to relegate him to the rear as the green had never waved to start the event. If that is an USAC rule then maybe it should be reviewed on a case to case basis and if unassisted you go to the rear but if assisted you retain your starting position. Heat three saw Dave Darland bring the Hery #40 across first over Robert Ballou and Brandon Mattox. In heat four Clinton Boyles caught the fence in turn two and took a couple of nasty rolls before coming to a halt. Boyles was OK but done for the evening. Chris Windom in the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 won turning back CJ Leary (the night's overall fast timer) and Kyle Cummins in the Byram #3R. Alabama native, Kevin Thomas Jr., scored the win in heat five bringing his own #9K with new sponsorship from Jam-It-In Storage home first over Tyler Thomas and Josh Cunningham in a fine run to move onto the big dance in his Jesus Saves #3. Travis Welpott scored the biggest upset of the night cashing in his up front starting spot to win heat five over Aaron Farney and Brian Karracker.

    Next was suppose to be a C main but instead because of a few scratches it was decided to run a 22 car B main instead with just four to qualify. Believe me this one was packed and quite a few cars would load up early as there were no provisionals in this non-points USAC program and you had to race to get in. some notables not making tonight's field were Justin Grant, Brady Short, Kody Swanson, Isaac Chapple, Tyler Hewitt, Kyle Robbins, Logan Jarrett and 15 others had a short night. By the way Chad Boespflug brought the Hoffman #69 in the B main win over Brady Bacon, Colten Cottle and Chase Stockon the last man in. By 10:07 it was feature time with Chris Windom and Jarett Andretti pacing 20 other drivers to the green flag with Windom jumping to the point on the start. Kevin Thomas Jr. started fourth and worked on Jarett Andretti passing him for second with an inside pass in turn three on a lap four restart and went after Windom. Thomas looked inside and outside on the leader and Windom chose to protect low with Thomas blasting to the high side to take the lead on the backstretch right in front of us on lap eight. Windom inched back up alongside Thomas as they charged down the homestretch with Thomas in front at the line by inches. At this point Thomas started to check out and instead the battle was on for second between Windom and Dave Darland with Darland seizing the spot on lap 10. They ran this way until lap 19 when Windom found a second wind and passed Darland with a turn one slider on lap 19 which Darland countered as they raced side by side down the backstretch. Windom was able to hold off Darland in turn four and reclaim the second spot at that point. Thomas was long gone at this time and breezed under the checkered flags at 10:21 claiming this event for the second straight year winning over Windom, Robert Ballou who picked off Darland for third late in the contest with Darland fourth and Tyler Courtney snatching fifth on the last lap from CJ Leary. The second five was filled by Leary, Andretti, Cummins, Farney and Meseraull. It was a good race not great but good and was a real bargain for the price and hopefully brought out some local folks to check out what all the commotion is on the north side of town and the racing and atmosphere will bring them back in the future.

    Check back soon as we will try to bring you our views of Smackdown VI as it unfolds the next three days at Kokomo. Until then get out there and enjoy some midweek and weekend good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for commenting and letting us know you enjoy our efforts as it keeps us going.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Midgets Visit The Clyde & Linda's Along With Action At The Action Track

    Tuesday, August 15 - Some wet stuff dropped upon us in the morning but by afternoon things were bright and sunny. The USAC midgets had a return date to the Clyde Martin Speedway in the wilds of Brickerville, a tiny 1/8 mile dirt oval with good banking and even better racing. Tanner Thorson thrilled the capacity crowd last year as he spun early and returned from the rear to grab the victory after a last corner, last lap pass to win. Tonight would find 22 USAC midgets and a fine field of 47 600 micro sprints to do battle at the Clyde on this evening and again the crowd turned out in good numbers to pack the joint. Midget time trials started the program at 7:02 and by 7:18 Clauson/Marshall driver, Shane Golobic, had set fast time with a lap of 10.554 seconds around the 1/8 mile oval. The 600's would spin off four competitive heats with Heath Hehnly, Nash Ely, son of former 410 sprint car driver, Dave Ely, Jacob Severn and Alex Bright scoring victories. Three heats races would follow with Justin Grant winning heat one over Golobic and Spencer Bayston. Ryan Greth executed a snap roll in turn two in this one battling for the lead and would return later to run the feature. Heat two saw local Tim Buckwalter wheeling the Seymour Enterprises #29 with sponsorship from Bentley Warren's Saloon in Maine adnoring the hood triumph over Tanner Carrick and Tanner Thorson, teammates out of the Keith Kuntz stables. The third heat saw Alex Bright again score the win for the local contingent beating Adam Pierson from Vermont (looking impressive in his runs in the series) and his teammate, Andrew Layser. Then the turning point of the night occurred when the track grader came out to cut off the top of the cushion but by mistake cut the cushion completely down and returned the track back to the shape it was in prior to warmups, smooth and narrow. This took any chance away from someone being able to use the cushion to advance forward in the feature and made the track difficult to pass on.

    The green would fall on the 22 car starting field at 9:13 and quickly the red waved as the front row of Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant tangled in turn two with Grant launching over the right front tire of Courtney and flipping high into the air for the second straight night. Grant was OK after landing but the midget was not so good. On the restart Tanner Thorson moved to the outside of the front row and took the lead from Courtney and never looked back. Brady Bacon passed Spencer Bayston for second on lap four and took up the race long chase of Thorson for the remaining 36 laps to no avail. Passing was at a premium going forward slowed by two reds and four yellows. The last slowdown occurred on lap 21 when Kenny Miller III and Holly Shelton tangled with Shelton flipping multiple times before climbing unhurt from her bent machine. When the checker waved at 9:43 it was Thorson in for his second straight win at Clyde Martin winning over Bacon with Courtney third, Bayston fourth and Golobic rounding out the top five. Chad Boat slipped by Tim Buckwalter late to take sixth with Buckwalter following with Tanner Carrick eighth, Tony DiMattia ninth and Landon Simon tenth. It was a big letdown as the track never came around in the short period that they ran the feature and I'm sure almost everyone walked away disappointed especially if they were in attendance last year for the barnburner that took place at the Clyde. There was still a 30 lap 600 feature yet to run and the bulk of the crowd stuck around to watch these guys go at it. It was the better of the two features with fourth starting Tim Buckwalter taking top honors over Heath Hehnly, Jarid Kunkle, Bradley Brown from tenth and Ryan Groff with the final checker waving at 10:31. From there it was a short seven mile ride back to the Brownstone Bed and Breakfast in nearby Reinholds but it was made more difficult by fog that settled in on the country backroads on the trip back.

    Wednesday, August 16 - It was hot but it was also sunny. The day started with a very nice dinner at the home of Bill and Judy Burns in Mohrsville, PA. After a delicious meal Bruce and I set out for my dad’s house before heading to the Action Track at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Bill was also heading to Kutztown along with Dale O’Brien, our Green Bay buddy now living in Florida. It would be my Dad’s first trip to the races this season and he was looking forward to going to Kutztown. He often talks about going to the Fairgrounds at Kutztown when he was a boy and seeing the cars run on the mile track that years ago sat in the same area as the now current 1/5 mile track. It was fair week so we were arriving early to get a place to park and seats in the stands. Kutztown draws a good crowd on a weekly basis and we thought with the fair it could draw even more people. It was also the final race of the year as college would be back in swing and this track only runs when the University of Kutztown is not in session giving them a short season compared to most tracks in the area. Strangely with all the rainy weather in the area this year, the track did not suffer a single rainout. But we had nothing to worry about because Dwight Bucks of Topton, PA was saving us seats for the event. If there is one thing that is very plentiful at Kutztown it is cars. The weekly show consists of the speedsters, 600 micro sprints and slingshots. Tonight the pits were packed. The slingshots ran earlier in the fair week and tonight they only ran a scramble, a B main and their A main. A scramble is a race for the cars that did not qualify the previous week for the A main. They run 10 laps and the winner automatically qualifies for the A main on that night. This will always give everyone a chance from the previous week. There were 27 slingshots that completed in these events. There were 72 600’s competing in 2 scrambles, 7 heat races, 2 D mains, 2 C mains, a B main and a 60 lap A main. The speedsters were 29 strong running 3 heats, a B main and a 30 lap A main. Yes, it was a lot of racing. There were cars that spun, cars that flipped and during the B main for the speedsters a car ripped down a huge section of the homestretch fence. Yet after starting at 6:15 and running 20 preliminary events, the first of the three A mains took the green at 9:29. The night belonged to Billy Pauch Jr. and Tim Buckwalter. In both the 600’s and the speedsters they were battling for the point championship. If you won the event you won the title. The crowd was divided between the two and everyone seemed to have their favorite. The speedsters did not disappoint. It was an epic battle for the win between the two right down to the end. They ran side by side and sometimes touched but never caused the other to spin. In the end it was Tim Buckwalter winning the race and the championship, from his 8th starting position. Billy Pauch Jr. settled for second after starting on the pole. Jeff Hartman, Matt Janisch and Matt Westfall rounded out the top five.

    Now for the 600’s and the same scenario for Buckwalter and Pauch. Tonight was an extra distance race of 60 laps and the cautions ran high. Ten times it waved. Unfortunately the race was cut short for Pauch when he tangled with Eric Bodine and he hit the wall. Buckwalter would finish second and go on to win the point championship. Kyle Spence won the event. Kyle Lick, Eric Bodine and Jesse Maurer rounded out the top five. The night ended with the slingshot feature and at 10:53 the final checkered of the evening fell. Not bad, 23 races in a 4 hours and 15 minutes and this included a 13 minute delay for fence repairs. We all enjoyed the events of the night and did not say good bye but see you tomorrow.

    Thursday, August 17 - The final night of the Eastern swing for the USAC midgets would take place at the Linda's Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval near Jonestown, PA right off of I-78. It was the first visit for USAC at Linda's and a good crowd turned out for the night's events in though the All Star Sprints were also running tonight at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville. Our whole gang sat together for one last time as we had some good conversations before action began at 7:03 with USAC midget time trials. Brady Bacon in the Fred Manafort #76M would cop the fast time award with a lap of 12.474 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Twenty two USAC midgets would run three heats with Adam Pierson taking heat one fending off Holly Shelton and Spencer Bayston. Tanner Carrick would score heat two triumphing over Tanner Thorson and Justin Grant back in the saddle after two previous horrible evenings of racing. Heat three saw Tyler Courtney win over Chad Boat and Tim Buckwalter. The 600 mini sprints brought a stout field of 50 cars to the dance with five heats needed to qualify their big field. Austin Quick scored heat win number one over 15 year old Indiana invader, Zeb Wise. Tim Buckwalter won heat two, Jimmy Glenn heat three, Kyle Lick heat four and Tyler Brehm notching heat win number five. In a nice gesture by track management since there was no B main needed for the midgets they decided to allow the USAC midgets to run their 30 lap feature before running the 600 C and B mains. This would allow the traveling teams to get about an hour and a half jump on the long tow back home with many of them headed to the Springfield mile on Saturday afternoon for an USAC Silver Crown race.

    Chad Boat and Shane Golobic would bring the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:48 with Boat going to the early lead. Boat found the middle groove to his liking as he pulled away from the field. Lap traffic encountered by lap 11 allowed Golobic and Courtney to close the gap as it was difficult for the leaders to pass the tail enders. Two quick cautions just before the halfway mark allowed the track to clear in front of Boat and he was home free from this point. Lap 22 saw Eric Heydenreich flip on the backstretch entering turn three. He walked away uninjured after the wild ride. Golobic was able to close on Boat in the last nine laps sticking his nose underneath Boat several times but Boat was able to hold off the late challenges and flashed under the checkered at 9:09 to score his second win in the four race series and further establish himself as Mr. August in the USAC midget ranks. Golobic finished second with Spencer Bayston claiming third, Tyler Courtney stepping in for fourth with Justin Grant salvaging a fifth out of the evening. We were disappointed again as the top five all started in the top five thus there was not much passing taking place. The 25 lap 600 feature went green at 10:15 with Ryan Groff going to the point and holding off all challengers to take the big win. Austin Quick would finish second with Jim Radney advancing from 12th to 3rd with Tim Buckwalter fourth and BJ Antonio taking fifth at 10:24 in a well run program.

    That's it for this installment and next column will cover our Sunday visit to Susquehanna Speedway for the All Star Sprints and then it is onto Kokomo Speedway for Smackdown and four nights of wingless racing on the baddest bullring in the country. Until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and stay dry. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Long Night At Mansfield & USAC Midget Barnburner At Susquehanna & Path Valley

    Friday, August 11 - After spending a frustrating night last Friday at Shadyhill we decided to skip the MSCS show there and instead took in a Class A baseball game in Fort Wayne where the Tin Caps play to crowds over 7000 fans a night and rank in the top 2% of all minor league ballparks. Some of the reasons are that they start on time, provide good entertainment at a reasonable price ($10 for the best seats in the house), do many fan friendly promotions during the game, have a variety of food choices at reasonable prices and are family friendly. That's what brings out people to a venue to spend their hard earned money and that is where many of our race tracks in this country are falling far short of. The days of opening the gates and people will show up has pasted a long time ago. The game was very entertaining with the Tin Caps coming back from a 5-0 deficit and winning 8-7. To cap off the evening a very good fireworks display was shot off at the end and not very many people left before the final firecracker went off in the sky.


     

    Saturday, August 12 - We continued working our way East by traveling from Fort Wayne over to Mansfield, Ohio to attend the Great Lakes Dirt Nationals at the very nicely maintained Mansfield Motor Speedway, a 4/10 mile semi-banked dirt oval with ample seating for the large crowd that turned out for the evening and morning of racing. A very impressive three division open wheel contingent of sprint cars of all engine sizes turned out to take their shot at the big bucks on the line tonight. In the packed pit area were 63 winged 410 sprint cars, 36 BOSS wingless sprints and 40 winged 305 sprint cars. This was going to make for a long night of racing which was anticipated but not as long as it turned out to be. Each division would run hot laps/time trials which kicked off at 6:50 and wrapped up at 8:49. Phil Gressman in the winged 410's was the first one to get upside down during one of the sessions and his evening was shortened.

    Following the qualifying sessions the 25 lap makeup BOSS sprint car feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 9:05. Dustin Smith from Russiaville, Indiana took his #77 to the front and ran a flawless race to score the $1500 win over Chad Wilson with Paul Dues advancing from 10th to claim the final podium position. Michael Fischesser and young Tyler Gunn rounded out the top five in this one. Next up were the six winged 410 sprint car heats and at this point it was where the train began to go off the tracks. A better system needs to be put into place for pushing off the heat races rather than what was currently used. Having every team with their four wheelers roll the sprinters onto the track and then have push vehicles push them off they should take advantage of the former asphalt pit road to line up the first three heats ahead of time with spacing so each push vehicle can come behind and push them off into turn one would save a lot of time and when you have this many cars (and how many more will they get for $100,000 to win in April of 2018) to push off in three divisions. Caleb Armstrong, Byron Reed, central PA's Brock Zearfoss, Jimmy Seger, Travis Philo and Dean Jacobs won their respective races. BOSS ran their four heats next with Shane Cottle, Tyler Gunn (doing double duty), Dustin Smith and Dallas Hewitt scoring wins. The 305's ran four heats next and then it was right into the B mains where every division needed two to complete the qualifying. We noticed during the course of the heats leading up to the B mains that the crowd started to thin as people headed for the exits without seeing the bulk of the features that they came to see. Promotion should take note and realize that the majority of those who left will not be returning and when people are leaving before things are completed that your program is too long. Some people would counter with that you should expect a long evening but in this day and age people are looking to be entertained in a timely manner (see Friday above) and leave with a good taste in their mouths so to speak. You would think that the promotional team would improve on their presentation of events as their previous attempts in Indianapolis and St. Louis turned into nine plus hour marathons and tonight was no exception!! The best performance of the evening occurred in the second winged 410 sprint B main when Port Royal's current point leader, Dylan Cisney, charged from ninth to claim second and the last qualifying position for the evening pounding the cushion all the way around the track. So what did management do before bringing out the wingless feature was knock down the cushion and take away any chance of someone using it to provide entertainment in the upcoming event.


     

    At 1:25 AM the 30 lap, $5000 to win BOSS sprint car feature took the green flag with Shane Cottle going to the front from his second starting position. Cole Ketchum's flip in turn three on lap four brought out the only stoppage of this event with the driver OK. Cottle would control the contest from start to finish with Michael Fischesser making a late run but not being able to make a real serious challenge for the top spot. Dustin Smith finished third with CJ Leary coming from 12th to 4th with Cody Gardner rounding out the top five at 1:44 AM. The $15,000 to win winged 410 sprint feature was next and took the green flag at 2:03. Two quick reds in the opening lap, one for a pileup in turn two and the other for a triple flip in turn three, had management deciding to cut the number of laps from 30 to 20. To us this seemed unfair to the paying fan who spent seven hours up to this point waiting to see the 30 lap feature and now at 2:30 AM they decide that time is an issue and cut the laps from their featured race and also the following 305 sprint car feature by 10 laps. Should have thought about some time saving measures around four hours earlier!! Then during one of the restarts leader, Jimmy Seger, brought the field around slowly with several cars three or four rows back jumping on the restart with the call to place Seger (of all people) one spot back for bringing the field to the green too slowly!! What happen to the leader dictates the start of the race?? My feelings on this matter is you just took $15,000 out of the hand of Seger for doing nothing wrong as with the track conditions locked down at this point I question if anyone would have passed him for the lead otherwise. Caleb Armstrong was gifted the top spot at this point and pulled away to an easy victory over Adam Kekich who made a late race pass of Seger for second with Seger third, Mark Smith fourth and Brock Zearfoss fifth with four of the top five finishers all starting within the top five with only Zearfoss making any headway advancing from 12th to fifth at the finish at 2:54. As the bulk of the remaining crowd exited the grandstands the announcer commented that you should stay for one more race as what's one more race at this hour. Well, for the fan who had to travel a distance to return home that is the difference between leaving the track at 3 AM and not 4 AM when the 305 feature ended. If you want to build a loyal following of fans for the future the management must look into ways of shortening the length of the racing program as most people do not want to be at a race track for nine to ten hours as they will find something more entertaining at lesser hours to fill their need for enjoyable entertainment.


     

    Sunday, August 13 - There are good races, there are great races, there are awesome races and there is Susquehanna. Sunday night was the opening night of the USAC midgets Eastern swing and the opening race was at Susquehanna Speedway and it would be a time to visit with our racing friends from Pennsylvania and visit family while we also enjoy some good midget racing in the whole process. It was good again to see our friends such as Dwight, Gary, Marshall, Ed, Bill, Bruce, Doug and Stephanie, Bezz and Karen, Hoppel, Rouser, Wendell and Dale and to swap stories and compare notes from races visited during our times apart. It was also nice to return to some of our former haunts and marvel at the wonderful job that the Gobrecht family and general manager, Kolten Gouse, had done to bring this facility back to life. It went from a dump to a showplace with improvements continuing all the time. Really wish though that they would have constructed the large starter's stand out of another material that you could see through as the large structure obstructs your view of turn three from almost everywhere in the nice aluminum grandstands.


     

    It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 80's, perfect weather for a good night of racing. One big thing which was a great improvement from our last visit was the track surface which was well groomed and virtually dust free the entire evening. Things kicked off at 7:06 with time trials for the 28 midgets on hand and were quickly spun off ending at 7:30 with Tyler Courtney setting fast time at 17.719 seconds. Two other divisions joined the midgets on the card with 600 cc micro sprints (10) and extreme stocks (12). Two perfect filler classes to allow the midgets time to prepare their cars between time trials, heats, B main and feature. The two 600 heats were up first and Tyler Walton and Dexter Strausser looked strong winning their respective races. The three USAC midget heats were next with Tyler Courtney running away with heat one though the racing from second through fifth was intense. Heat two saw Brady Bacon prevail in an excellent race coming from the rear after an early race tangle. Tanner Thorson passed Holly Shelton on the white flag lap to capture heat three before the extreme stocks polished off their two heats. It was then right into the midget B main where two time 2017 ARDC winner, Adam Pierson from Bradford, Vermont, earned the victory in a fine performance.


     

    Lined up and waved off at 9:14 was the 30 lap USAC midget feature with Tanner Thorson taking the initial lead. Brady Bacon caught and passed Thorson for the lead on the backstretch on lap five and dominated the middle portion of the event leading laps six to twenty two until Thorson retook the top position. Thorson looked like the man to beat at this point until the caution waved with just two laps to go when top five running Brady Bacon slowed to a stop on the backstretch with a broken u-joint. On the restart Thorson went to the point once again with Justin Grant who was fifth just a few laps earlier taking advantage of the tough breaks of others sitting in third. Grant took second from Bayston on the restart but a quick caution for the disabled Jim Radney placed Bayston back in second. On the second restart Bayston used a slider in turn one to take the lead with Thorson countering in turn two but not able to reclaim the lead as the pair raced to the white flag. On the final lap Thorson drew alongside Bayston down the backstretch with Grant also diving low to make it three wide for a brief instance. Entering turn three side by side the Kuntz teammates played chicken seeing which would lift first with both of them jumping the cushion in turn four with Grant seizing the opportunity turning hard left and driving by both of them as they fought to regain control and race back to the line. It was enough time for Grant to roar toward the finish line and hold off Thorson for the unlikely win with Bayston settling for third followed by Shane Golobic and Tanner Carrick moving from 17th to 5th at the wire earning the hard charger award in the process. Boy, did this finish have the crowd buzzing!!   WOW, WOW, WOW!!!  It was awesome and a great start to the USAC midget Eastern swing.


     

    Monday, August 14 - Last year rainy weather totally disrupted this Pennsylvania swing of the USAC midget series with only one date (Clyde Martin) being able to run their scheduled program. Tonight's weather looked questionable earlier in the week but improved as the day drew closer. The bad weather according to the radar was going to pass below us up in the hills near Spring Run, PA where the 1/4 mile bullring of the Path Valley Speedway Park is located. Action got underway slightly before 7 with time trials for the 24 car field with 23 actually being able to take time. When qualifying was finished at 7:12 Keith Kuntz Motorsports driver, Spencer Bayston, stood quickest with a time of 11.213 second around the 1/4 mile which was a new track record. The wingless super sportsman, a 358 engined car with self starters which raced for years at Silver Springs with wings, were the support class and brought 19 cars to the clash. One of their heats were run before the National Anthem was played (odd order of events) with Carmen Perigo winning. The other two heats were run after the three USAC midget heats were spun off with Bill Brian Jr. and John Wolfe scoring wins. Tyler Courtney won heat one of the midgets with Spencer Bayston blasting from fourth to second on the last lap with Ryan Greth taking third. Heat two saw Justin Grant score the second straight heat win for the Clauson/Marshall team with Brett Arndt second and Chad Boat third. The third heat saw new entrant, Tim Buckwalter, in the Seymour Enterprises car out of Massachusetts, taking top honors over a pressuring Tanner Thorson and his teammate, Holly Shelton.


     

    The skies began to cloud even more as the 30 lap USAC midget feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 8:15. Brayton Lynch powered to the early lead and led the first nine laps before Tanner Thorson made a nifty move passing both Lynch and Brady Bacon down the backstretch to assume the lead. The leaders encountered lap traffic with 13 to go and that was when things got real interesting. On lap 20 Thorson dove low in turn four to clear Shawn Jackson while Bacon went high to pass Jackson entering turn one. Contact between the two saw Jackson spinning to bring out the first caution. On the restart Bacon and Thorson took turns throwing slide jobs at one another until five to go when Bacon dove low in turn three sliding across in front of Thorson who countered in turn four forcing Bacon over the cushion and into a half stall with fourth running Spencer Bayston having no where to go jumping Bacon's right rear and flipping over twice. Once back underway Thorson retained the lead but now Tyler Courtney was in hot pursuit. Coming for the checkered in turn three Courtney made his move diving low making contact with Thorson as he slid up the banking sending Thorson into a spin in turn four with his car standing on his tail in the process. The two had raced hard earlier with Courtney ending up above the cushion in four continuing but losing several positions and the move at the end might have been a payback for the earlier confrontation. Justin Grant running fourth at the time did not have the luck he did on Sunday slamming into the rear of third running Chad Boat and dumping his car end over end in the mishap. On the restart new leader, Courtney, stumbled on the cushion in turn one allowing second running Boat to easily pull off his slider exiting turn two. Courtney made one last attempt entering turn three coming for the checkered but wasn't close enough to make a serious run with Boat flashing under the checkered at 8:41 scoring the win over Courtney with PA runner, Ryan Greth, scoring his first national podium finish in third. Holly Shelton claimed fourth with Brayton Lynch holding on for fifth. The second five was led by Tim Buckwalter in the Seymour midget grabbing sixth in a good run with Tanner Carrick seventh, Brett Arndt eighth, Bacon coming back for ninth and Landon Simon rounding out the top ten. The win for Boat was his fifth career USAC National midget win with all his victories coming in the month of August. Well, Reggie Jackson of major league baseball was known as Mr. October then Chad Boat could be called Mr. August for his performances in this month. There was still a 30 lap wingless super sportsman feature to run as the sky started to spit some rain droplets. The green waved just ten minutes after the midget checker and even though there were six cautions in this one when they were racing the action was good in this one. Tony Jackson scored the win at 9:19 with veteran Carmen Perigo coming home second with Derek Sheaffer third, Craig Perigo fourth and Steve Wilbur fifth. We were fortunate on this evening with the rain as when we traveled east on the PA Turnpike toward Carlisle we noticed many areas of the highway and the shoulders where you could tell that rain had passed through these areas. Maybe Mother Nature owed us one after the miserable weather we all had last year for this week.


     

    Until the next installment where we continue on the Eastern swing of the USAC midgets here in Pennsylvania take care and get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always we appreciate everyone reading our column.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing or Lack Of It At Shadyhill & Action At Lincoln Park

    Friday, August 4 - With Bloomington having the next two Fridays off we looked for somewhere to go to get our racing fix. Shadyhill Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval in Medaryville, an 1 1/2 straight north from us looked to be the one to fit our bill. They were offering free admission to their special Friday night show (they normally run UMP modifieds on Saturdays) that would consist of midgets and two classes of 600 cc mini sprints, one running with wings and the other without wings. We arrived plenty early at 4:30 to find about 20 other people milling about. According to their website hot laps were scheduled for 6 but only afterwards did we find on their Facebook page that warmups were scheduled for 7 this evening. Our thoughts are that more people will check a track's website before sifting through a track's Facebook page and tracks should keep their website up to date (unlike Shadyhill's website which was still advertising last week's races) so the majority of visitors can know what is going on. The weather out here took a turn for the colder with the temperature showing 64 degrees on the weather website with feels like temperature of 56 degrees. Also it was overcast with many ominous clouds passing over nearby but this did not seem to stir a sense of urgency in track management to move the program along at an increased pace. Hot laps commenced at 7:15 with the two midgets (didn't expect many with Belleville & Pevely both running but certainly expected more than two), and ten wingless mini sprints and ten winged mini sprints but four or five of those were doing double duty racing in both classes so the grand total was around 16 for three classes. After the first set of hot laps (Yes, I said first set) the announcer proclaimed that they would run a second set as the drivers had never driven on this track before. In the first hot lap session each division was given around eight laps which we feel was more than enough to dial their cars in for the heat races and the second session was needless. Nonetheless the second session was completed around 8 and the announcer proclaimed that the driver's meeting would now take place. What??? Why didn't they use the time between 6:30 and 7 to have the driver's meeting and not after hot laps. By 8:20 Justin Peck was driving his midget down the entrance ramp between turns three and four with the American flag in hand for the National Anthem. Well, wouldn't you know it, the rain came and stopped all on track activities. Pat went out to the car parked nearby and grabbed two big umbrellas but not before the rain had started to come down heavier. So now I was wet and cold as the wind picked up and it was about 8:35 when the rain stopped. The best thing of the evening occurred next (no they did not cancel) as a beautiful double rainbow appeared off the backstretch which was amazing!! Track drying began slightly before 9 and continued for at least the next 30 minutes. We don't know what time the racing began as we decided to cut our losses (only gas money and food at this point) and call it an evening as the final nail in the coffin were the two Saturday night regulars standing behind us talking. The one said to the other that she did not arrive home last Saturday until 2:30 Central Time while the other fellow who lived in Eastern Time announced that he arrived home at 3 AM. Sorry but being at the race track (no rain on that Saturday) that long is not my idea of fun and after seeing the lack of a sense of urgency by track management tonight we weren't about to find out how long this program was going to take before it was finally completed!! This coming Friday is a MSCS wingless sprint car show with one other division and we can only hope they run it better than this one. I know two people that will not be there this Friday!! Can you guess who?

    Saturday, August 5 - The original plan was to use our rainchecks from the BOSS sprint car rainout early in the year at Lawrenceburg tonight but the 2 1/2 hour drive wasn't appealing and we decided instead to make the short 40 minute drive south on US 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville to visit the Lincoln Park Speedway. We understood going in that the sprint car field would be lean as not only Lincoln Park was running but also Lawrenceburg, Haubstadt with MSCS and Waynesfield with BOSS. Twenty one sprinters pulled into Lincoln Park with the biggest surprise being Mitch Wissmiller from Illinois bypassing Haubstadt to tow over to LPS. We also understood that the evening had the distinct possibility of being longer than usual as three makeup features from a partial rainout on July 22nd would start out the evening's action. The makeup super stock feature was the first action of the evening taking the green flag at 7:17. They cooperated and spun off their 20 lapper in only nine minutes with just two cautions. The first of two bomber features was next up and the first one went non-stop 15 laps in just four minutes. The second bomber feature took slightly longer at seven minutes with one caution but you can't complain when 45 laps of feature racing were spun off in 40 minutes with just three cautions total. At this point promoter, Joe Spiker, and his crew were not quite happy with the narrow racing surface and went to work to remedy the situation. A half hour later they were done and the first of three sprint car heats took Brian Hodde's green flag. Tim Creech looked strong in winning heat one over fast closing Jon Stanbrough in the Paul #24P this evening charging from seventh to claim the runnerup position with Travis Berryhill bringing the Wingo #77s home third. Heat two saw fourth starting Billy Cribbs hang it up on the cushion to grab the win over Mitch Wissmiller and AJ Hopkins in the Ottinger #4J. Heat three saw new Columbus, Ohio resident, Brent Beauchamp, dominate this one winning over veteran Kent Christian and Crawfordsville's own Chad Davenport. The UMP modifieds spun off three good, competitive heats before the super stocks and bombers ran their heat races. Only the modifieds needed a B main and by 9:53 it was time for the 25 lap sprint car feature.

    Brent Beauchamp wasted no time going to the point grabbing the lead from fourth on the opening lap and distancing himself from the rest of the field. Billy Cribbs brought out an early caution looping it in turn two on lap 6 with only one other caution slowing the action. Though a race for the lead never materialized the action further back more than made up for the domination by Beauchamp. Kent Christian, third starting Jon Stanbrough and eighth starting AJ Hopkins battled with each other throughout the entire main event with Hopkins making a nifty outside move in traffic late in the event to wrestle second from Stanbrough who was momentarily trapped down low. Beauchamp flashed under Hodde's checkered flag at 10:05 winning over Hopkins with Stanbrough claiming the show position. Nate McMillen came from tenth to secure fourth with Matt McDonald also making a strong run advancing from eleventh to fifth at the finish. We decide to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature next up with Cole Parker scoring the win over seventh starting Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Rob Brickert. The 20 lap super stock feature was next to the post with Steve Peeden, the UMP national points leader, dominating winning over makeup feature winner, Jonny Newgent. This one was over by 11 PM and a tip of the hat to the LPS staff in presenting a well run program on this evening. Other tracks (see above) could take some lessons from this full well executed show extremely well.

    Sunday, August 6 - At the beginning of the weekend the chances of seeing a race at Kokomo on Sunday looked slim. But that was Friday and it was now Sunday and the forecast changed about a hundred times in that three day period. By the time we left for Kokomo around 4 PM the rain prediction had dropped to 15% for the entire evening. Tonight was the Bob Darland Memorial held in honor of Dave Darland's father, a former racer himself and car owner for his son in his early career. In a class act Dave went around the pit area to each of the competitors racing tonight and thanked them for attending the races tonight to honor his father!! A field of 27 sprint cars, 21 midgets and 6 hornets were parked in the pit area ready to tackle the 3/8 mile of fine Indiana real estate. The three sprint car heats kicked off the show at 6:53 with Tyler Thomas becoming the third different driver in two weeks to buckle into the seat of the Dutcher #17GP promptly going out and winning heat one over Dave Darland and Robert Ballou. Heat two found Chris Windom in a new Baldwin Brothers #5 (after flipping the previous weekend at the USAC stop at Moberly) scoring the win over Kyle Cummins taking a ride in the Pollick #21X on the evening with Justin Grant bringing the McGhee #11 home third. Chad Boespflug drove the Cincinnati based Hoffman #69 home first in this one besting Nick Bilbee and Kyle Robbins. The midget heats were next up and were good ones with Ray Search from Wisconsin, Chris Windom and Justin Peck claiming victories. Ray Smith won the lone hornet heat. All qualifying was completed by 7:54 when the sprint car B main was checkered with home town driver, Shane Cottle, winning over Logan Jarrett, Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 tonight, Corey Smith and Travis Berryhill punching the last ticket to the big dance. After minimal track prep the sprint car feature was called to the grid.

    The busy Brian Hodde waved the green flag at 8:23 on the twenty car starting field. Chris Windom shot to the lead at the start and the race was on. Cummins, Boespflug, Darland, Thomas and Bilbee gave chase. From our vantage point on the top row of the new backstretch high rise grandstands we marveled at the racing through turns three and four where the field was three and four wide, two and three rows in tow. The first caution appeared on lap 12 when Logan Jarrett spun in turn four. Jarrett hit the wall in turn one on lap 19 to bring out the caution and bunch the field back up. One lap late Chad Boespflug caught and passed Windom for the lead with a slider in turn one and looked to be a strong candidate to win the $3000 on the line. Lap 26 saw Boespflug bobble and almost spin exiting turn four on the bottom with Dave Darland taking advantage and roaring around the outside for the lead. Lap 29 saw Jarret Andretti in his new Weld sponsored blue #1 catch the homestretch wall and slow before pulling into the infield. Darland was probably on edge on the restart but handled int smoothly motoring against the cushion and flying under the checkered flag at 8:37 winning his second Bob Darland Memorial. It was a very emotional win for the 50 year old driver who teamed with his father and won 100 features together in the family owned #36D. He exited the car to the applause of the crowd on hand and pumped his arms in the air celebrating a win that meant so much to him. Boespflug came home second with Robert Ballou coming from seventh to third, Chris Windom dropping to fourth and Tyler Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Shane Cottle in a good run moving from 16th to 7th with Kyle Cummins eighth, Scotty Weir in an impressive run advancing from 18th to 9th and CJ Leary rounding out the top ten.

    We still had the 20 lap midget feature to go with Justin Peck going out front at the start. Kent Christian doing double duty also looped the #38 in turn two on lap 7 to bring out the first caution. Justin Dickerson turned over in turn two a few laps later bringing out the caution and he was OK after the hard tumble. Chris Windom nipped Peck at the start/finish line to end lap 10 for the lead and would survive three more cautions and one red for a hard flip by Jon Watson in turn two before holding off a late challenge by Chase Jones. Peck settled for third at the finish with Kyle O'Gara fourth and Aaron Leffel fifth overall and first in the D2 midget division which run with the regular midgets in the Indiana series between Kokomo and Montpelier. This one was done by 9:22 and we decided to head for the exits and the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Crawfordsville satisfied with another good and well run program at the baddest bullring in Indiana.

    Next column will find us working our way back East taking a baseball stop in Fort Wayne on Friday and a race stop in Mansfield, Ohio on Saturday before heading to night one of the USAC midget East swing into Pennsylvania where we are praying for much better weather than last year. Until next time take care, be safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or somewhere on the road. And as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Indiana Trifecta At Bloomington, Lincoln Park & Kokomo

    Friday, July 28 - It was off to the red clay hills of Bloomington for some racing action for the evening. We didn't expect a high number of wingless sprints as Rt. 44 was running a BOSS sprint show and the USAC boys were off to Kansas and Missouri for the weekend. They did manage to draw 16 sprints to go along with 16 super stocks, 15 hornets and 23 winged MMSA mini sprints. The action started early as Kendall Ruble went for a hairy ride flipping off turn one during warmups not quite getting the distance that AJ Hopkins did a few weeks ago but ending his evening very early. Racing began at 7:37 with only two sprint heats with Brady Short taking heat one over Casey Shuman at the controls of the Krockenberger #21K tonight after his WAR sprint group was flooded out early at Valley Speedway and Jordan Kinser. Heat two was exciting as Ethan Barrow edged Jeff Bland Jr. by inches to take the win with Thomas Meseraull bringing the Chase Briscoe #5 home third. Three heats were needed for the MMSA mini sprints and each was competitive with Bloomington North graduate, Cindy Chambers, winning heat one. Howard McCormick bagged heat two with Rod Henning scoring heat three. No B mains were needed and all qualifying was completed by 8:34.

    There was little down time with the 25 lap sprint car feature called to the post at 8:49. The track had built up quite a good cushion in the turns and as the green flag waved the entire field went up top and rode the cushion. Brady Short took full advantage of his second starting position and went to the lead after the initial false start when first starting Ethan Barrow jumped the start. Short would never be headed in this one with minimal passing throughout the field. Every track has this type of night once in a while and tonight it occurred here at Bloomington. Fourth starting Jeff Bland Jr. finished second with sixth starting Thomas Meseraull claiming third with Ethan Barrow finishing fourth and Casey Shuman rounding out the top five. Only a Lee Underwood spin in turn two on lap three slowed this contest which was completed in nine minutes. After the sprints the remaining features picked up in quality with Jamey Wilson winning over Steve Peeden and Aubrey Eagan in the super stocks. The hornet feature might have been the best race with many position changes and good battles with Donnie Modesty prevailing. The last feature of the evening with the mini sprints produced the best finish of the night when Rod Henning used a last lap, last turn pass of longtime leader, Justin Lewis, to steal this win with Drew Dorsett a close third with Jesse Vermillion fourth and Dave Dorsett rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:14. Not a slew of cars in any division but an efficiently run show had people on the road at a good hour.

    Saturday, July 29 - In the late afternoon we decided to take in a Midwest Cross Country Racing (MWXC) event featuring the UTV's at Parkers Paradise near Crawfordsville, our home town. The one hour main event was scheduled to kick off at 5 but a medical emergency with one of the previous race's motocross riders necessitated a medivac helicopter to be brought in to remove the injured rider. This caused the race to be delayed an hour before starting. The nearly three mile course went through many wooded areas making it difficult to view. Twenty two UTV's split into three divisions made their land rush starts and off they went. Matt Rowell won the pro open division while Jayson Frazier won the heavy 900 cc division and Michael Plank claimed the lite 800 cc division.

    This caused us to arrive late at our Saturday night destination of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville missing the three sprint heats and two of the three modified heats before we settled in for the evening. We were glad we came as the sprint car feature turned out to be a classic. More on that later. The MMSA mini sprints running wingless tonight joined the normal four division program of wingless sprints, UMP modifieds, super stocks and bombers on this evening. Even though the mini sprints ran their heats last they had a quick turnaround of their 15 car field and were called to the post first for their 20 lap feature. It was a good run with only one caution and taking just 10 minutes before last night's runnerup, Justin Lewis, scored his second win of the year over Scott Bradley, Illinois invader, Mitchell Davis, Cody Trammell and Jesse Vermillion. Next up on the docket was the 30th running of the Putnamville Clash paying $3000 to win to the driver who crossed the line first. The green waved at 9:30 with first starting Dave Darland in the Michael Dutcher #17 tonight after the Hery #40 had engine woes the previous night and having him switch plans from Lawrenceburg to here to run. Tonight Lincoln Park built up the biggest cushion we have seen all year and the veteran Darland worked the cushion to perfection. Darland led the first nine laps until Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #18W (usually ran as a 305 at Bloomington) working the low, low side to perfection passing Darland for the lead exiting turn four on lap 10. It didn't last long as Darland grabbed the lead back the next lap. Through the entire middle stages of the contest Darland and Bland went at it tooth and nail running side by side lap after lap even switching lines for a five lap stretch with Bland getting too close for comfort with Darland returning to the top. While this classic battle was unfolding fifth starting Thomas Meseraull was making up big chunks of real estate pounding the cushion and joining the battle which expanded to three cars now. Two late cautions on lap 21 and 27 stacked up things and put the pressure on Darland on the restarts. Meseraull worked his way past Bland for second around lap 25 and was all over Darland on the last restart. Meseraull attempted two sliders on Darland entering turns two and four in the last two laps but couldn't quite pull them off and backed out. Darland flashed under the checkered at 9:47 beating out Meseraull and Bland. Brent Beauchamp placed fourth and Dakota Jackson scored a top five. This race is a prime example of whey we moved to Indiana to watch wingless sprint racing. It was awesome!!! Darland was very excited in victory lane as the checkers are not as many for the 50 year old driver as in the past but he sure can still do it on any given night and the fans truly appreciated it. The story behind Darland running the Dutcher #17 was interesting as Dutcher was involved in an auto accident with his toter truck over a week ago and currently does not have a hauler to carry his sprinter in. Darland realized that the Hery car would not be ready for

    Lawrenceburg's BOSS show so he placed a call to Dutcher with the two teaming up for the evening with Darland lining up a trailer to haul the #17 in and the rest is history as they say.

    Sunday, July 30 - It was a beautiful day for a race. The sky was bright blue, the temperatures were in the mid 80's and our favorite track was running. Kokomo Speedway was running the Kokomo Klassic that was rained out the previous week and we decided on the way over we were going to try the new grandstand on the backstretch. We arrived early at 4:00 and were able to get top row seats in the new stands. Wow! What a different view. First off you are up much higher and you can see the entire track from the inside berm to the stripes on the corner walls. No they are not painted stripes. They are stripes made by scrapping the clay nuggets off the walls so the drivers can tell where the track stops and the walls begin. Seeing the cars being pushed off was in the pits was something you never saw before. Aside from all of the track and pits views you never saw before there was one big item missing. The sun in your eyes. When on the homestretch the sun sets over turn two and the sun does not go down until after 9:00 in the summer so the sun is always a factor when watching a race at Kokomo, but not if you are sitting on the backstretch.

    USAC was running in Missouri so you knew the car count would be down, but keep in mind this race was not scheduled for this date. It was rained out last Sunday. There were 22 sprints, 14 midgets and 6 hornets. There was no need for any B mains. It would be heats and features with the sprints running three, midgets running two and only one for the hornets. I thought tonight they might not even need to turn on the track lights. The first heat was won by Thomas Meseraull in the Dutcher 17. Yes that is the same car that Dave Darland drove to victory Saturday night at Lincoln Park. Darland was back in the Hery #40. T-Mez won over Max McGhee and Logan Jarrett. Heat two went to Shane Cottle over Billy Cribbs and Josh Spencer with Dave Darland picking up heat three at the line over Colten Cottle and Travis Hery. Justin Peck and Justin Dickerson picked up the midget heat wins. The hornet heat followed and at 7:40 all that was left were the features. Intermission followed and for some reason tonight it seemed longer than usual. At 8:31 the green dropped on the 30 lap Kokomo Klassic and Max McGhee sprung to the lead. That was short lived when on lap 2 he jumped the cushion coming out of two and the car nearly stopped. The view of this from the backstretch was unbelievable. It almost looked like everyone was going to stop. For a moment the cars slowed, jumbled up and then Dave Darland shot through the middle of the scramble and into the lead. I am sure that move looked awesome from the seats on the homestretch but from the backstretch it was jaw dropping. Racing continued until Travis Hery did a Tommy Tip-over in turn 2 around lap 10. On the restart it was Darland, McGhee, T-Mez and S. Cottle. Once racing resumed the action among the top 4 was fast and furious. McGhee was all over Darland and slid pass him in two to take the lead down the backstretch. Darland would have no part of it as he slid him back in turn three and four. A few laps later McGhee, T-Mez and Cottle exited turn four running three wide. With only a handful of laps left McGhee’s bid for the win ended when his #17 came to a halt in turn 2. We would later learn that the #17 ran out of gas. When racing resumed there was a lapped car between Darland and T-Mez and Darland was able to motor to his second win in as many days. The People’s Champ once again found himself in victory lane. Two wins in two different cars in two days. No one was disappointed.

    The midget feature was next and it ran non-stop with Justin Peck handily picking up the win. He lapped all but position two, three and four. Even though it was only 9:10 we decided to leave and not watch the hornet race. Maybe a lot of the big names were not on hand tonight but those who were put on one hell of a feature. The crowd that I thought looked down, was on the homestretch, but up until a few weeks ago there were no backstretch seats. If you would have taken everyone from the backstretch and put them on the homestretch it would have been a decent crowd. I have a feeling as more fans try the new seats they too will migrate to the back. The racing turned out to be as good as the accompanying weather.

    Until next time where local races seem to be on the agenda for this weekend get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outlaw Karts & Sprints In Indiana & Illinois

    Tuesday, July 18 - We are in the middle of a heat wave here in the Midwest and as hot it as we decided to go to the Hendricks County Fair and take in the sights and some outlaw kart racing at the arena at the fair. Indy Race Parts are trying hard to bring outlaw kart racing to Indiana and we appreciate their efforts. The outlaw karts are very big in California and also in North Carolina but not much else anywhere else in the country. They are fun to watch and must be fun to run when you have drivers like Tyler Courtney, Damion Gardner, Joey Saldana Brinton Marvel and Tanner Thorson show up on a hot Tuesday night to race at Hendricks County. For this venue to be successful in the midwest two things are needed, more cars racing and better organization from the Indy Outlaw Kart group. You have to remember you only have one chance to make a first impression and especially when you are running an event at a county fair you must run the program like a fine tuned watch. That means starting on time and running a quick paced program that will bring the curious in and get them back out in a timely manner to enjoy the fair after watching a good race. That did not happen on Tuesday and we think the organizers who are planning to run a bi-weekly show at Hendricks County starting next month missed a golden opportunity to bring in a new base of fans to watch their racing if the program was short and snappy. The scheduled starting time for the racing was 7 PM and it was not until 7:45 when the first green flew on the first open outlaw kart heat. And with only 9 open outlaw karts and 3 250cc outlaw karts along with 1 box stock there was no need to run two sets of heats for each class and not start the first feature until 9 PM. On this night only run one set of heats, do some track maintenance and get the features on the track quickly. If you start on time (7PM) and run one set of heats and two features the entire show could have been over by 9 PM with the fans returning to the fair having time to enjoy both activities. We noticed USAC race director, Levi Jones, and his family sitting in the stands and leaving after a while to return to the fair never witnessing the feature events. That might be a good indication that the show was too long. Believe me I am not trying to bash the Indy Kart organization but only trying to give some good, sound advice on how to attract fans, both new and old, to their future shows. We would love to see them become successful and bring a new form of racing to the area and attract new, young drivers to participate.

    To the show itself, Tanner Thorson and Damion Gardner took the two open outlaw kart heats while Carson and Caden Kvapil, 14 and 10 year old sons of NASCAR racer Travis, won the 250 cc heats. The 20 lap 250 cc outlaw kart feature took the green at 9 PM and had only one caution taking only four minutes to run. Carson Kvapil dominated winning over his brother, Caden, and Reece Saldana, older son of Joey Saldana. The open outlaw kart feature was not as cleanly run with five cautions slowing the action in this 20 lapper. Tanner Thorson ending up winning this one from third with teammate, Damion Gardner, second after starting fourth with Carson Kvapil doing double duty finishing third with Kenneth Cross fourth and Brinton Marvel rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 9:34.

    Friday, July 21 - Tonight was a trip over into the Land of Lincoln to attend the Champaign County Fair where they were running a WAR East wingless sprint and POWRi D2 midget program on the 1/4 mile oval located at the fairgrounds. It was extremely hot when we arrived with the temperature reading 97 degrees and the heat index hitting 111 degrees!!! We had a little problem figuring out where to park for the races and finally were directed to a parking lot near the entrance of the fair. We walked part of the midway over to the large covered grandstand that ran the entire length of the homestretch and secured a seat with good viewing lines avoiding the poles holding up the roof and being able to clearly see the entire race track. The poles also had fans on them which helped with the oppressive heat. One level of concrete barriers were set up as walls in part of the turns and the entire homestretch and backstretch but an area of concern was no protection (no fencing of any kind separating the track from the pits) for the race teams pitted off of turns three and four. In fact during the sprint feature one car flipped off of turn four halfway distance to the parked rigs sitting there. That is a big area of concern that should be looked into before next year if they are going to have the event again.

    Action got underway at 7:06 with the first of four heats for the 26 car field of WAR East sprints on hand. Steve Thomas would take heat one over Korey Weyant and Bret Tripplett. Heat two saw Chris Windom in his second WAR start of the year winning over Justin Grant and Jerry Coons Jr. Heat three saw Landon Simon wow the fans with a run from fifth to win this one over Wade Seiler and Tommy Rockwell. Heat four saw "super" Mario Clouser take the win over Mitch Wissmiller and Terry Babb. The sprint heats were spun off in 21 minutes on a track that was somewhat dusty in turns one and two but fine everywhere else. The track crew worked hard on the surface and by feature time it was in good shape. A disappointing six car field was on hand for the D2 midgets with Jack Routson taking their only heat race. Some track maintenance was done and by 8 PM the sprint car B main was trackside. Cameron Knell would score the win and move to the feature event.

    The 15 lap D2 midget feature would be the first to the post with the green flying at 8:09. For six cars it was a competitive race with Jack Routson prevailing over a fast closing Brad Greenup and Wyatt Teare. All that was left was the 25 lap WAR East feature with the front row of Mitch Wissmiller and Mario Clouser bringing 18 of their friends to the green flag at 8:43. The race quickly went to red when Chris Parkinson dumper his sprinter in turn one on the initial start. He was OK and shortly thereafter it was back to green. Mario Clouser went to the front and would lead the first lap until Cameron Knell flipped into the pit area off turn four was no injuries incurred. Clouser went back to the lead on the restart as Mitch Wissmiller dropped out with mechanical woes at this point. Clouser looked strong and would lead until turn four on lap 14 when third starting Chris Windom passed him for the top spot. Windom began to stretch the lead as Clouser and Babb battled for second. Seventh starting Justin Grant was picked off cars in the latter stages of the race. As Clouser and Babb negotiated lap traffic Babb made contact with one of the lap cars leaving enough room for Grant to sneak by for third. As the checkered waved at 9:11 it was Windom in for his second win in two WAR appearances with Clouser second, Grant third, Terry Babb fourth and Landon Simon rounding out the top five. It was a decent night of racing and it was nice to see racing return to a venue which used to have racing there on a half mile oval which you could still see outside the 1/4 mile oval . We were glad we made the slightly over an hour drive to take in this event.

    Saturday, July 22 - Normally we arrive at Lincoln Park around 5:00 but today we were in no hurry to leave the house. With temperatures still in the 90's and a heat index at 100+ it was hot. As a matter of fact some tracks canceled due to the heat. Then there was that constant threat of thunderstorms and in Indiana that seems to be a daily occurrence. Today we would leave an hour later and we pulled onto the grounds at 6:00 and the crowd was sparse. I was surprised when we walked into the stands and there was next to no one there. Everyone must have felt as we did because by the time hot laps started the stands started to fill up and even though down from the norm it was good considering the weather.

    The sprint car count was down a bit with 17 sprints, 27 modifieds, 14 pro stocks and 31 bombers. In total they ran 12 qualifying heats and went right into the B mains, which were only needed for the modifieds and bombers. All this time the fans were not only watching the action on the track but also watching the black clouds and flashes of lightning to our south. If you wanted to see blue skies you needed to look north and here we were in the middle. Thankful to not have the baking sun on us but happy we did not need to take cover from the lightning. By 9:20 all qualifying was complete and management did not waste time calling out the sprints for their main event. It was amazing how the weather to our south looked a lot more threatening once the sun went down and darkness started to set in.

    The sprint feature took the green at 9:28 and I being a Kevin Thomas Jr. fan thought he would move quickly to the lead from his second row starting position. But KTJ dropped back to 5th while his second row partner, AJ Hopkins, jumped to the lead. KTJ was able to battle back to 2nd but had Jeff Bland Jr. to contend with. There was only one caution and that came out on lap 16 for a spin in turn four. This bunched up the front three but Hopkins was never really challenged as he went on to win the event. KTJ and Bland had a good race for second in the final circuits with KTJ coming out in second and Bland settling for third. Pole sitter Jerry Coons Jr. finished fourth and Brandon Mattox rounded out the top five. The race took less than 10 minutes to run.

    At this time we decided to stay for the modifieds but pack up the folding chairs in the event we had to make a fast exit as it started to feel like rain. The modified feature was quick. It went non-stop and was over in less than 6 minutes. It was also a very good race. Kenny Wallace made a visit to LPS and he started on the pole but he did not run away with the event. He worked for the win and the racing between Wallace, Josh Boller and Jacoby Hines was some of the best of the night. Wallace who is always an exciting interview sounded tired as he thanked the Indiana fans for coming out in the heat. We decided to watch the pro stock feature as it was only 10:00 when the green dropped but soon after the rain started to fall and we hightailed it toward the car. Both the pro stock and bomber features were rained out. But hats off to Joe Spiker and crew for taking a risk on a night when other tracks were canceling due to the heat or the rain. They took a chance and the fans took a chance on them by supporting the show. Although it was hot as Hades I was happy we went.

    Sunday, July 23 - After coming back from church we logged onto the Internet and found out that heavy rain had rolled through the Kokomo area in the morning forcing them to call their racing activities for the evening due to saturated grounds. Later in the afternoon while watching the Brickyard 400 on TV a weather alert came on with a tornado warning for the Kokomo area and eastward. At that point it really seemed like the correct call had been made on the night of racing. The Kokom Klash is rescheduled for this coming Sunday.

    That's it for another typical weekend of racing from us and we hope you enjoy reading these efforts as much as we enjoy writing them for you. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. This weekend will find reports from Bloomington, Lincoln Park, Kokomo and a new venue thrown into the mix. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bloomington, Tri-State & Lincoln Park Wrap Up A Rough Indiana Sprint Week

    This year's Indiana Sprint Week did not come without a lot of problems for USAC, the drivers and crews and the fans. Rain plagued the seven nights of racing over two weekends starting with the opener being rained out last Friday at Gas City. Monday night's raindate for Gas City brought more iffy weather though they did get it in with some yeoman work from the promoters, USAC and the drivers and crews. Unfortunately for the O'Connors the weather and other factors kept the crowd way down from the original Friday night date and surely was a financial loser for them. Wednesday was another day lost to the torrential rains that engulfed the Vigo County Fairgrounds in Terre Haute accompanied by strong winds which knocked down branches, limbs and entire trees casting the south side of Terre Haute into darkness. The rain returned on Thursday ruining the night of promoter, Joe Spiker, at Lincoln Park. Finally the weekend looked clear for the final three at Bloomington, Tri-State and the rescheduled one at Lincoln Park on Sunday. Pat and I also suffered through some trying times during this week plus also with illness and plane delays playing prominent in our racing plans. Sit back and read what transpired over the final four days of the 30th Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC sprint cars and enjoy.

    Thursday, July 13 - The weather again was a factor tonight at Putnamville, the home of the Lincoln Park Speedway, the 5/16 mile dirt track located just north of I-70. The forecast looked good for most of the day until a large green and yellow blob appeared west of Putnamville with dead aim on the track around 5:30. Thunder soon was heard and shortly thereafter drops of rain hit our windshield. The drops turned to a steady downpour and the plug was pulled for the evening with the race being rescheduled as the final on Sunday evening. I dropped off Pat later at the Indianapolis Airport as she had to make a business related emergency flight back to New Jersey on Friday morning to sooth some ruffled feathers of one of their largest school accounts before returning in the same afternoon to be picked up and shuffled off to Bloomington for Friday's action.

    Friday, July 14 - I knew the day was not going to go well when I received a call in the late morning from Pat telling me that her afternoon flight out of Newark, New Jersey had been canceled due to the imminent arrival of President Trump into the same airport. Yes, you can say she was trumped by Trump!!! Since there was no alternate flights out of Newark on that day she diverted to Philadelphia where a connector flight would get her back from Chicago to Indianapolis at midnight. Scratch one of us for a Bloomington Friday night. I left the house at 3 and arrived at the 1/4 mile red clay oval at Bloomington at 5. A good parking space was secured and off it was to the pit shack to sign in and then take the hike up the steep hill to place my lawn chair high in turn one on the hill in front of the walkway. Then everyone had to clear the grandstand area so the front gate and ticket booth could be opened for business. I decided to take a stroll through the pit area taking in the sights and sounds that can only be experienced in that venue. Then it was back to the grandstand side and my seat and a cold water to enjoy the stories of Donald Davidson, Richie Murray and Pat Sullivan about Sheldon Kinser. About fifteen minutes later I developed a sharp pain in my lower stomach and headed for the restroom for relief. Upon entering the concrete pill box structure I was almost floored by the heat (must have been close to 100 inside) but when nature calls you must do what you must do. Close to a half hour later I was still in the bathroom drenched in sweat and not feeling particularly well. A nice man summoned the EMT's for me and they arrived giving me oxygen and cold compresses and loaded me into the ambulance for a ride to Indiana University Bloomington Hospital for a visit to the emergency room. After spending four hours on a hallway gurney and going through a battery of tests it was determined that I was suffering from dehydration. So a phone call to our buddy, Phil Meyer, at the track had him retrieving my chair, cooler and writing pad from turn one. Scratch person two from a Friday night at Bloomington Speedway. During the course of the evening I witnessed the arrival of AJ Hopkins who took a nasty ride during the B main over turns one and two and clearing the chain link fence along the roadway visiting a couple of pickup trucks parked on the other side. Hopkins was released the next day which was good news and I was released by 11 PM, just in time to grab a yellow cab and return to the emptying grounds to retrieve my car and scoot out to the airport to pick up Pat which I was able to do by 12:40. It sure was a bad day for us both as neither one of us was able to watch Kevin Thomas Jr. win at Bloomington on this evening.

    Saturday, July 15 - Both of us slept in on Saturday and arose to a sunny day which lifted our spirits and I was feeling much better than the night before. We prepared a cooler to take with us (with plenty of water in it) and set off down Rt. 231 South toward Haubstadt where the Helfrich family in their 60th year prepare the fine black dirt at the Tri-State Speedway twelve times a year for fast and furious racing action and tonight would be no exception. We have never seen a finer prepared track with more farm equipment than any other track in the country. It is almost never dusty and is so tacky and racy that we wish it was about two hours closer than what it is. We arrived early around 3 and were directed by the sheriff's deputies to park in the grassy area behind the backstretch grandstands where a game of corn hole was being played in front of us after we parked. It was somewhat shady as we relaxed after placing our blanket down in the stands. By 6:23 it was time for the USAC National sprints to begin their time trials. Thirty five cars later it was Justin Grant being interviewed in the infield after setting fast time around the 1/4 mile at 13.362 seconds. Tom Helfrich was not totally satisfied by his racing surface and the crew went to work to bring it to perfection. By 7:32 the first of four heats took the green flag with sixth starting Justin Grant looking strong powering to the lead and taking heat one over Carson Short, Brody Roa and Tyler Courtney. Heat two saw New Mexico youngster, Josh Hodges, claiming the win over Brady Short, Thomas Meseraull and Kyle Cummins taking the last qualifying spot on the last lap passing Critter Malone which would turn out to be a very important pass. Jarett Andretti continues to impress winning heat three over Robert Ballou, Chad Boespflug and Ryan Bernal. Heat four saw 15 year old Florida driver, Tyler Clem, get caught up in a chain reaction in turn two and flipping over several times. Clem was OK and returned to run the B main. Kevin Thomas Jr. went to the pit area during the red and returned starting seventh on the restart. Thomas promptly marched to the front and scored the win over Chase Stockon, Chris Windom and Dakota Jackson. The UMP modifieds ran two heats for their 19 car field before the sprints returned for their B main with six going to the big dance. Critter Malone powered to the early lead from his fifth starting position and looked real good until the car rolled to a halt entering turn one. Dave Darland inherited the lead on the restart and fought off Jon Stanbrough, Donny Brackett, two time ISW winner, CJ Leary, Brian Karracker and Stephen Schnapf making his first USAC event in his first attempt. Schnapf is a former modified competitor and has already won a sprint car race at Chandler in his rookie season.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was ready to go green at 9:19 with the front row of Ryan Bernal and Kyle Cummins bringing the field to the green flag. Remember Cummins grabbed the last qualifying spot in heat two and with the top six times inverted he was second on the start. If Cummins had not qualified in his heat race the best he could have started qualifying through the B main would have been eighth. So you can see how important this pass was. Kevin Thomas Jr. started third and went to the front as they approached the flagger to complete lap one. Thomas seemed to be in control outracing the field with the exception of Cummins who was his constant shadow. Meanwhile behind the top two a race long epic battle was taking place among Thomas Meseraull, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. They swapped slide jobs and positions constantly with Grant finally establishing himself in third in the latter stages of the contest. The race went green until lap 27 when Donny Brackett spun to the inside of turn four to bring out the caution. On the restart Cummins tested the outside with Thomas remaining faithful to the bottom. Cummins pressured Thomas but was unable to make the pass as they exited turn four to run to the checkered Dave Darland blew his motor in turn two and instead of the checkered being displayed the yellow was waved. We both felt that the checkered should have been waved at that point as Darland was running tenth and everyone cleared him on the backstretch as he continued to roll along finally stopping in turn four well out of harm's way of the leaders. This gave Cummins a second chance and with the new USAC format the race must end in a green, white, checker format. So it was back to lap 28 instead of the race being over. On the restart Cummins made a diamond move entering turn two diving underneath Thomas entering turn three. Thomas came down to block and held off Cummins as the front two took the white flag. Cummins got a big run off turn two on the outside and pulled alongside Thomas down the backstretch and entering turns three and four. Thomas got in a little hard and tried to slide in front of Cummins in the final two corners. Thomas washed up a little high exiting turn four allowing Cummins to dive to the bottom and the drag race was on to the finish line with the two banging wheels at the top of the homestretch. At the line it was Cummins stealing the win over Thomas by two lengths with Courtney also sneaking by Grant on the final lap to take the last podium spot with Grant fourth and Meseraull rounding out the top five at 9:31. A very happy winner danced on his roll cage almost falling and jumped to the ground spiking his steering wheel onto the track in pure elation. It was a classic finish and had the crowd in a tizzy as the local Cummins scored the big win back in the Hank Byram #3R with the engine supplied by Cummins. It doesn't get much better than that!!

    Sunday, July 16 - It would all come down to the race tonight that would decide the champion of Indiana Sprint Week 30 with just 23 points separating the top two in the point's race, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Robert Ballou. On a beautiful evening at one of our favorite spots to watch a race (it doesn't get better than sitting in your lawn chair in the concrete grandstands with a cool drink in one hand and some munchies in the other) Thomas drew first blood by scoring an extra six points by setting fast time of 12.594 seconds around the 5/16 mile oval of Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville. The three sprint car heats for the lowest car count of sprint week at 24 kicked off at 7:08 with Chris Windom taking heat one from the first spot winning over Brady Short, Jerry Coons Jr. in the Krockenberger #21K, Chad Boespflug and Kevin Thomas Jr. just barely getting into the top five. Heat two saw Josh Hodges from outside of the front row triumph over Ryan Bernal in one Michael Dutcher #17 with Dave Darland jumping into the other Dutcher #17 after mechanical woes shelved the Phillips #71P with Tyler Courtney and Jarett Andretti joining them in the feature. Robert Ballou got back a few points winning heat three outdistancing CJ Leary with Thomas Meseraull taking third after hopping badly in turn two losing the early lead. Brent Beauchamp came home fourth with Aaron Farney taking the last qualifying spot. The UMP modifieds were the second division on the card and ran three heats for their 17 car field before the B main was called to the track. Seven would advance from this one with Chase Stockon who had a rough week this week winning the B over Kyle Cummins, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E, Justin Grant, Tyler Thomas, Jon Stanbrough in the Wingo #77 and Nate McMillen punching his ticket to the prom. Only Kyle Robbins and first time USAC runner, Joe B. Miller of Missouri, being the only two not to advance.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would go first taking the green at 8:13 with Kenny Carmichael Sr., a former sprint car campaigner, taking the win as he did last year over Jeff Deckard and Tyler Rockmiller. The point's gap was still 23 as the 30 lap sprint car feature was about to begin with Robert Ballou and Aaron Farney bringing the field to the green at 8:40. Chad Boespflug in the Hoffman #69 went to the cushion on the opening lap and blasted from fourth into the lap off turn two on the opening lap. Ballou stuck to the bottom and hopped in turn four and did a wheel stand coming off the corner chasing after Boespflug. Ballou went to the point taking the lead off turn four on lap 2 and was where he wanted to be. Meanwhile Thomas was having his troubles bouncing from the outside berm and then to the inside berm as the car looked like it was having some problems but afterwards it turned out in the homestretch interview that it was the driver who was overly nervous and missing his marks and causing him to drop back out of the top eight where he had to finish to retain the point lead. Thomas ran up over Kyle Cummin's right rear going down the backstretch and almost launched himself off the backstretch. It was rough early going for Thomas but he calmed down and started to move forward again. Meanwhile Ballou was cruising up front and had the race well in hand. He was doing all he could do to wrestle the title away from Thomas. The man on the move was Brady Short who marched from tenth to third by the halfway mark and looked to be the fastest man out there. Short picked off Boespflug for second and became to close on Ballou. Lap 21 saw Thomas rally to sixth and take some of the pressure off himself. Two laps later CJ Leary's night ended early while running seventh when he caught the cushion in turn three wrong and dumped the Leary #30 over and was finished for the evening. On the restart Ballou jumped back out front with Tyler Courtney making his presence felt passing Short for second on the restart. Ballou continued to lead as the laps wound down until Tyler Thomas looped it in turn two with two to go. Boespflug passed Short for third on the restart as Thomas was in a happy place sitting in fifth. The remaining two laps went off without incident and Ballou flashed under the double checkers first with Courtney second, Boespflug third, Short fourth and Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Josh Hodges making a furious charge from the rear to grab seventh at the line with Farney dropping to eighth after running around the top five the entire race with Chris Windom ninth and Dave Darland advancing from 17th to 10th at the finish.

    Thomas claimed the ISW point title by 11 points over Ballou with Courtney claiming third. Thomas sat in victory lane with his custom Bristol rocking chair built by John Youngs and a big check for $5000 for winning the sprint week title while Ballou celebrated his win tonight at LPS. It wasn't a great feature but it was a solid feature with some good racing throughout. Any night of racing this week without the chance of rain was a welcomed change and we were glad the Spikers ran the raindate though again as at Gas City the crowd was down but in this case it still should have been a money maker.

    Until next time where weekend plans have us venturing into Illinois on Friday to a new track for WAR sprints and D2 midgets and then local for the rest of the weekend. take care and be safe. Also get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and get out that National Speedway Directory to find that new gem you want to visit.

     

     

       Contact Pat & Bruce at bruce.eckel@comcast.net

     


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