A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Stops Friday Show & Cummins Takes Finale at Bubba’s Raceway Park
Friday, February 17 – Earlier in the week Friday was the day that the weather forecasters were predicting some rain for Florida but as the week moved on the forecast dropped. Come Friday morning the forecast was back up to 50% + prediction of rain rolling in off the Gulf of Mexico from 5 PM to 7 PM. The build ups off the west coast of Florida are hard to predict and can be hit or miss. We chowed down at Ford’s Garage in Kissimmee on some good burgers and onion rings before heading north toward Ocala. Found a parking spot in the handicap area for Ken Wagner and Pat and I went into the grandstands to swap out our blankets for a blue tarp before returning to the car.
The weather started to get cloudy around 5 and a light rain started to fall about a half hour later. It was not enough to cancel the show at this time but would surely delay the start. The rain let up and around 6:15 the announcement was made that the driver’s meeting would be at 6:30 with cars on the track at 7. Around 6:30 it began to mist again, and the volume picked up once again to a light rain. Surprisingly the call was made before 7 that this evening was not going to happen. Looking around the parking lot we feel it was more of an economic call as the locals stayed home on this unpredictable night and after having a good crowd the night before any profits made on that evening would disappear if they ran tonight. Really can’t blame them for the decision. The only of five shows running this evening that managed to get a complete program in was East Bay and they did so with two rain delays.
Saturday, February 18 – The game plan was to pack up and leave the condo a day early and sleep in Lake City Saturday night and make the long tow back to Indiana on Sunday. Before venturing over to the track though the clan coordinated to meet just east of the track at Sam’s St. John’s Seafood House for a wonderful meal of various kinds of seafood delights. Irvin and Mary Jane’s shared dish looked to be enough to feed the entire crew!!! Times like this are what racing is all about. Good friends and good food to go along with the racing. It doesn’t get better than that!!
Back to the track where 27 USAC sprint cars would be joined by 13 250 micro sprint competitors on this evening with the sprint cars pushing off at 6:38 to lap the 3/8 mile D-shaped clay oval to see who would come out on top of the heap for fast time. It would turn out to be Chase Stockon for the 32nd time in his USAC sprint car career moving him past Sheldon Kinser into sole possession of 11th place on the all time qualifying list with a time of 13.979 seconds.
The USAC sprints would return first to the grid to do battle in their qualifying heat races before the micro sprints would contest two heats for their group. CJ Leary looked strong in heat one motoring his BGE Dougherty #15X out front to capture this one over Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon and Matt Westfall in one loaded heat race. Emerson Axsom continues to show his prowess in Florida by claiming the second heat in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC over Brady Short, Mitchel Moles, Kyle Cummins and Justin Grant. Thomas Meseraull had the Dyson #20 humming in heat three besting Jason McDougal, Carson Garrett, Robert Ballou and Daison Pursley. These drivers were all locked into the 35 lap main event for the evening. Two micro sprint heats followed with Michael Mason and Chris Kennedy scoring the wins.
The sprint car semi was next up on the race card and England’s Tom Harris had a rough one in this event spinning twice and eventually rolling over in turn four. The scariest moment of the evening happened in the semi when Kevin Newton climbed the homestretch wall and careened into the catch fence to the left of the starter’s stand mangling several sections of fencing and posts and coming close to breaking through the fence into the crowd area. Newton was sore but OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for the second Benic Honest Abe Roofing #16. An hour plus delay ensued before a makeshift repair was made to the fencing and the section behind the fence was cleared of spectators who were relocated to other seating areas of the track. Jadon Rogers in the Baldwin/Fox #5 would eventually win this wild race over Logan Seavey, Jake Swanson, Joey Amantea, Eddie Tafoya Jr., Cameron Smith in an ill sounding sprinter and Brandon Mattox. Tom Harris would return to the semi but was a lap down and was awarded a provisional for his never ending efforts.
The 15 lap micro sprint feature would be next on the agenda with Chris Kennedy winning for the second straight night besting Zach Larose and Dakota Yeingst in the seven minute event. This was a fine filler division with not an overflow of entrants and perfect to give the sprint car teams some time to work on their steeds between heats and semi and feature.
The front row of Brady Bacon and Kyle Cummins would lead the 23 car field to the green flag for the 35 lap feature at 10:43 with Bacon jumping out front looking for his second straight points paying win of 2023. Lap four would see the caution wave as Robert Ballou pulled up lame on the homestretch with a broken camshaft while running eleventh and ending his race prematurely. On the restart Justin Grant made his move from fifth catching and passing Cummins for second. These two went back and forth over the next five laps exchanging position until Cummins secured second again on lap nine. Cummins began to reel in Bacon for the lead and ran side by side as the pair reached lap traffic on lap eleven. Bacon used this as a wake-up call and sprinted away from Cummins by over a second or two. Bacon maintained his advantage as Cummins and CJ Leary hooked up in a tussle for the runner up position with ten to go. The leaders continued to pick their way through traffic as the race dwindled down to six to go and things started to get really hectic. Bacon approached a group of cars running his preferred inside line. It was decision time for Bacon to stay down low or go upstairs and he went to the top in turn one with four to go picking off Daison Pursley and giving him some breathing room for the moment. Turn three would be Bacon’s Waterloo as he searched for a way by the lappers. Cummins seized the opportunity and closed on Bacon rapidly. Exiting turn four with just three to go, Cummins got the advantage and swept by Bacon to grab the lead. Cummins would not surrender the lead over the last few laps even though the lap traffic was heavy and he swept under the checkered flag at 10:56 to garner his first win of 2023 and his 15th USAC National sprint car win moving him into a tie for 39th on the all time list. Bacon would have to settle for second as it looked like he might make it two straight but fell short with seventh starting CJ Leary third, Justin Grant fourth and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom would come home sixth with fast timer Chase Stockon seventh, Matt Westfall eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. ninth from sixteenth and the Irvin King Hard Charger award to boot and Logan Seavey ending up tenth. The two nights of racing at Bubba’s Raceway Park were good contests and the track surface held up well getting a little black on the final night. Overall we were pleased with the racing here.
It was a big win for Cummins and crew in more than one way and we would be remiss if we didn’t give you the whole story of the week. After Cummins set fast time at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday, he blew an engine in the heat and was done for the night. The Rock Steady crew decided to sit out the second night of the non-points paying program at Volusia and regroup for the final three nights of points racing at Bubba Raceway Park as they look to contest the USAC National sprint car championship. On Wednesday’s practice night at Bubba’s after installing their second engine of the week it blew up after only two laps of practice and this is where the “fun” began. With no more spares available a call was placed to fellow Haubstadt competitor, Chet Williams, who was in Texas at the time and the situation was explained to him. Without hesitation Williams made the trek back from Texas to Indiana and then loaded a trusty engine of Cummins which was used in 2022 to win several big races into the back of his pickup truck and began an additional 12 drive from Indiana to their hotel in the Ocala area. It was installed in the hotel parking lot and Cummins drove the car to fifth on Thursday. The nightmare scenario would have a happy ending when Cummins stormed by Bacon late in the race on Saturday to score the $10,000 to win race. A big cowboy hats off to Chet Williams and Jay Harrington for their yeoman effort to help their fellow racers and to the entire Cummins crew for their dedication and hard work to turn around a bleak situation into a winning one!!!
That’s it from Florida and our next outings probably will not be until March so a slight hiatus for the next two weeks or so until we return with our next report. In the meantime if you are in the northeast it is time for the sprint car openings with Lincoln Speedway going on Thursday evening with temperatures in the 70’s during the day but dropping into the 40’s at night. Dress warm and enjoy. In the meantime comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.comAnd as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Has Memorable Night At Opening Night At Bubba’s Raceway Park
Thursday, February 16 – Wags, Steve, Pat and I loaded up the car and headed north on the Florida Turnpike toward Bubba’s Raceway Park for night one of three of the Winter Dirt Games XIV for the USAC National sprint car series. Twenty seven USAC sprints would be joined by 12 250 micro sprints for a two division program with the little guys being a fine filler division and time for their big brothers. We arrived early to tie down our blankets and then headed down I-75 a few exits to dine at the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant which we had another delicious meal of authentic Mexican cuisine.
Back to the track and time to settle in for the night of racing action which commenced with time trials for the 28 sprint cars on hand pushing off at 6:39. Newcomer Eddie Vancil caught an infield tire between turns three and four and launched himself into a series of two to three rollovers before landing back on his wheels but his night was over early. Jason McDougal in one of the three KO Motorsports entries set fast time around the unique D-shaped 3/8-mile dirt oval with a lap of 13.791 seconds in his run.
The USAC sprints would be first up to run their heat races with the top five moving directly to the main event. Mitchel Moles would punch his ticket to the big dance with a victory in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ in heat one Logan Seavey, Brady Bacon, Tom Harris and Robert Ballou who suffered ignition issues and went to a backup car and came from the rear. Jadon Rogers motored the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 to an impressive win in heat two beating Chase Stockon, Emerson Axsom, Jake Swanson and Thomas Meseraull. Matt Westfall in the Marshall #33M captured heat three over newcomer Brady Short, CJ Leary, Justin Grant and Carson Garrett. Two heat races were run for the 12 micro sprints on hand with Zach Larose and Chris Kennedy winning their respective heats.
Kevin Thomas Jr. struggled in his heat race but came back to win the semi over another driver who has struggled in Florida, Kyle Cummins who has suffered two blown engines. Daison Pursley came back from a semi tangle and work area visit to claim third with Joey Amantea fourth, Brandon Mattox fifth, Hunter Maddox sixth and Steve Irwin nailing down seventh.
Next up was the 15 lap 250 micro sprint feature which would go non-stop in five minutes with a good battle for the lead between Zach Larose and Chris Kennedy for the race lead with Kennedy prevailing in the Bubba Army sponsored #2. Michael Mason came home third for the last podium position.
It was now time for the 30 lap USAC National sprint car points opener, with CJ Leary and Emerson Axsom bringing the 22 car field to the green flag of one of the few black starters in racing. CJ Leary took the early lead over Emerson Axsom. Lap two saw Brady Bacon get a big break when he slid across Thomas Meseraull’s front bumper battling for fourth and sat sideways dead in the water until Jake Swanson plowed into his left side nerf bar cracking a header on the Dynamics #69 but also push starting his engine so Bacon never stopped and would regain his starting spot on the restart. Leary would lead the first nine laps of the feature before Axsom surged by to lead the next 13 laps as Bacon lurked in third behind the two front runners. Bacon went past Leary for second on lap 21 and proceeded to pick off Axsom two laps later just before the caution appeared for the second time on lap 25 when sixth running Meseraull and ninth running Daison Pursley tangled off turn four causing eighth running Thomas Jr. to come to a halt exiting the corner. On the restart Axsom made a strong run on the top side at Bacon but Brady was able to fend off the advance leading the final five circuits of the event to score his 47th career USAC National sprint win breaking a tie for fourth with the legendary Jack Hewitt who joined Bacon in victory lane and tying him for third on the all-time win list with Tracy Hines. It was also his fifth Ocala win to boot. Axsom came home second with Leary third, Justin Grant fourth and Kyle Cummins finishing fifth after starting tenth. Thomas Meseraull led the second five across the line with Matt Westfall completing a fine night in seventh with Logan Seavey coming home eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Robert Ballou coming from dead last (22nd) to garner the Irvin King hard charger award taking down tenth.
It was a good competitive feature running in a timely manner ending at 9:32. Nice job by all parties involved.
Check back tomorrow for night two of the Winter Games XIV to see who nails down the win at Bubba’s Raceway Park. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. In the meantime, get out there and enjoy any racing in your area if possible and plot the racing season on paper for 2023. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. Be safe and have fun.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Pursley's Amazing Recovery Continues With First USAC Sprint Car Victory At Volusia
Tuesday, February 14 – It was night two of the special non-point USAC sprint car event at Volusia Speedway Park and the crew was back in town to take in the action along with the DirtCar late models for a great doubleheader. After having an excellent meal at Dudley”s in Deland it was onward to Barberville and the ensuing racing action. Dudley's in in a strip mall in Deland and may not look like much from the outside but it is definitely worth the trip as the food was simply delicious and the desserts are to die for as they are all made fresh daily.
The format was for both USAC and DirtCar to run group time trials three at a time with the USAC sprinters getting the first nod pushing off at 6:23. For the second night in a row a new track record was set with Thomas Meseraull being the new record holder setting the new mark with a time of 16.362 around the half mile dirt oval. The DirtCar late models were next up with Renner, South Dakota's Blair Nothdurft surprising the field setting the fast time with a time of 15.609 seconds.
Next up were the 26 USAC sprints which would battle in three heats with the top five locking into the 30 lap, $10,000 to win feature event. Jake Swanson picked up where he left off last night winning the first heat race in a new eight lap track record time of 2:17:38. Carson Garrett, Thomas Meseraull, Matt Westfall and Emerson Axsom following. CJ Leary came home first in heat two defeating Chase Stockon, Garrett Aitken, Tom Harris and Jason McDougal. Heat three fell to Brady Bacon turning back Robert Ballou, Mitchel Moles, Daison Pursley and Logan Seavey.
The DirtCar late model field swelled to 51 necessitating six heats with the top three moving into the 25 lap feature event. Blair Nothdurft continued his breakout night scoring the win in one over Brent Larson and Mason Zeigler. Heat two went to the Floridian Kyle Bronson over Brandon Sheppard and Ricky Thornton Jr. “Big Sexy” aka Brandon Overton nailed down heat three over Ashton Winger and Chris Madden. Bobby Pierce prevailed in heat four besting Dylan Thompson and Cade Dillard. Dale McDowell claimed heat five beating Hudson O'Neal and Kyle Strickler. The sixth and final heat was won by Tim McCreadie over Brian Shirley and Dennis Erb Jr. All heats were completed by 8:29.
The USAC sprint semi was next on the dance card with the top seven moving into the main event. Kevin Thomas Jr. who was nipped at the line in heat two for the last qualifying spot came back to win the semi over Jadon Rogers, Justin Grant, Eddie Tafoya Jr., Joey Amantea, Cameron Smith, a Pennsylvania winged driver having some fun without the wing and Brian Ruhlman.
The DirtCar late models would run three B mains with Frank Heckenast Jr., Kyle Larson and Nick Hoffman taking the wins. All qualifying was in the record books by 9:02.
It was now feature time with the USAC sprint cars getting the nod to kick off the festivities with the front row of Daison Pursley and CJ Leary leading twenty of their friends to Dave Farney's green cloth. Pursley went to the early lead as second starting Leary and fourth starting Robert Ballou banged wheels between turns one and two both continuing. Pursley would lead the first 18 laps going through lap traffic and holding his edge. Emerson Axsom stayed close the entire time and finally made his move for the lead diving low in turn two on lap 19 to wrestle the lead away from his fellow 18 year old competitor. Many thought this one was over at this point but there is no such thing as quit in Pursley's DNA. After being laid up fifteen months ago after a vicious USAC midget crash at Arizona Speedway and being paralyzed this kid has fought his way back to drive a race car again. Pursley chased Axsom over the next five laps changing his line to the top and motoring by Axsom to retake the lead with five to go.
Though Axsom again stuck with him Pursley was not to be denied and flashed underneath Farney's double checkers to score his first USAC National sprint car win besting Axsom with Leary battling back for third, Thomas Meserall fourth and Jake Swanson, last night's winner, hauling in for fifth. Jason McDougal led the second five across the line with Brady Bacon seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Matt Westfall taking down tenth.
It's been an amazing road for Pursley and the 18 year old doesn't look like he is done yet. What a feel good story this one was!!!
We still had another feature to run with the 26 car field taking the green flag at 9:45. Tim McCreadie led lap 1 of the feature before Bobby Pierce slid McCreadie off turn four to lead lap 2, McCreadie would power by Pierce to retake the lead on lap 12. The only caution appeared on lap 21 when third running Brandon Overton came up lame with a flat right rear tire stopping in turn four. On the restart Hudson O'Neal, last night's winner, went to the top entering turns one and two sweeping by Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce to take over second and go after McCreadie. The cushion bit O'Neal entering turn one on lap 24 sending him bouncing and allowing Pierce to sneak by for second and ruining O'Neal's chances to make it four wins in a row. McCreadie would hold the lead over the next six laps and came across the line first at 9:56 besting Pierce, O'Neal from eleventh, Brandon Sheppard from eighth and Kyle Bronson.
A fine night of racing tonight in both divisions with the sprints coming out on top for the excitement factor on the evening. The comeback story of Daison Pursley out shadowed everything else and we were glad that we were there to see it.
That's a wrap on this one as we ventured to the asphalt of New Smyrna Speedway tonight before picking back up the USAC sprints as they travel north to Ocala to race Bub's Raceway Park on Thursday through Saturday. Check back for the next report and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing on ice or indoors or outdoors if your area allows it. In the meantime comments, news, stories videos and anything else of interest can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the feedback that you send along. We love what we do and try to tell it like it is no matter which way it is. Take care and stay warm.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
USAC Sprints Kick Off Their Season At Volusia Speedway Park
Monday, February 13 - Joining us in the condo this week are Steve Kimmel, Arizona truck driver and big race fan, and Ken “Wags” Wagner, former California resident now living in Oklahoma and known for Wags-time and The Wags Dash on the coast where he collected money doing the year to run a race to give back to the little guys of wingless sprint car racing.
Eight of us stopped off at the Essex Seafood House west of Volusia on Route 40 for a delicious lunch of seafood of various kinds before heading over to Volusia Speedway Park for a night of USAC sprint car and DirtCar late models on the fast ½ mile.
USAC group qualifying would start the program at 6:10 with 28 sprinters taking time with Kyle Cummins in the Rock Steady #3R setting fast time with a new track record of 16.398 seconds around the ½ mile oval. The DirtCar late models were next up for their group qualifying with Brandon Overton notching quick time with a lap of 15.784 seconds.
It was right into heat racing as the USAC sprints took the green flag on heat one of three at 7:02 with Jason McDougal powering the KO Motorsports #5M to the front outrunning Brady Bacon in the Wedgewood Farms #98 in the first of two non-point shows to start off the season in Florida. Matt Westfall, Kyle Cummins and Kevin Thomas Jr. back in the Dutcher #17GP rounding out the first heat qualifiers. Heat two would go to Thomas Meseraull in the Dyson #20 charging from sixth to win over Logan Seavey in the Benic #2B, Tom Harris in from England in his #84, Chase Stockon and Mitchel Moles back in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ trailing. Robert Ballou who always looks good on the big ovals took down heat three besting CJ Leary in his new mount, the BGE Dougherty #15X, Jake Swanson in the Team Arizona #21AZ, Jadon Rogers in the Baldwin #5 and Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC.
The 46 car field of late models would run four heats with Chris Madden taking heat one from sixth, Tim McCreadie would garner heat two, Bobby Pierce would nail down heat three and Nick Hoffman back from his late season roadway accident would win heat four in a strong run.
The USAC B main of semi would be captured by USAC sprint car rookie, Daison Pursley, in the third KO Motorsports entry over Justin Grant, Carson Garrett, Garrett Aitken, Joey Amantea, the lone USAC Eastern Coast runner in attendance, Steve Irwin and Brandon Mattox holding off Cameron Smith for the last qualifying position. The late models would contest two B mains with Dalton Wilson and Ricky Thornton Jr. winning those events. All qualifying was in the books by 8:32 in impressive fashion.
By 8:51 it was time of go USAC sprint car feature racing as the 22 car field approached starter Dave Farney's green flag. Jake Swanson bounded off the inside of the front row to take the early lead from Chase Stockon and proceeded to be the rabbit as he lengthened his lead lap after lap. Thomas Meseraull slipped by Stockon for second in turn two of lap two and took up the chase. Swanson had almost a two second lead as he was approaching lap traffic already by lap nine. Kyle Cummins running fifth at the time dropped to the infield with engine woes on Lap eleven. Shortly thereafter Stockon reloaded and passed Meseraull for second on lap fifteen and Brady Bacon ripped the top of turn two to take third away from Meseraull. The only yellow of the event occurred on lap seventeen when T-Mez pulled up in turn four with a right rear flat tire. Meseraull would return but was never a factor again.
On the restart after his massive lead was wiped out Swanson put the pedal to the metal and jumped back out front. Robert Ballou was the man to watch as he found something on the inside of the track as he moved forward from seventh. Lap twenty two saw him execute a slider in turn two to wrestle third from Bacon as he continued to move forward. On the last lap entering turn one Ballou used the slider move on Stockon to take second but did not have enough time to close on Swanson as the California native raced under the double checkers at 9:05 as he extended his late season surge into the new year claiming the opening night victory over Ballou with Stockon riding home third, Bacon fourth with Justin Grant slipping by KTJ on the last circuit to nail down fifth after starting fourteenth to claim the Irvin King Hard Charger Award. The second five was led across the line by 12th starting Kevin Thomas Jr. with CJ Leary seventh after starting 11th, Emerson Axsom eighth, Daison Pursley ninth and Mitchel Moles tenth. It was a decent race with passing in the middle of the pack but Swanson was long gone notching his fifth podium finish in his last nine starts.
We still had the 25 lap DirtCar late model feature to contest with the green waving at 9:20. Bobby Pierce lead the first two laps until Nick Hoffman blasted by to take the lead. Only one caution would slow this one also but it was Hoffman's undoing. Tim McCreadie and Pierce stormed by Hoffman on the lap fourteen restart and swapped the lead back and forth. Hudson O'Neal who started sixth suddenly was in the hunt as he closed on the top two. On lap fourteen restart in turn two O'Neal disposed of McCreadie and made a nifty move in turns three and four to move by Pierce to take the lead on lap sixteen. The battle would rage behind O'Neal but the driver of the Rocket house car would prevail being as hot as Swanson has been notching his third straight win after taking the last two of the Lucas Oil event at East Bay. Crossing the line second at 9:30 was McCreadie for his third consecutive second place finish at Volusia with Chris Madden making some late moves to garner third with Hoffman battling back to claim fourth with Ricky Thornton Jr. surging from twenty second to claim fifth at the finish. This was a very competitive feature and the late models out shined the sprint cars on this evening.
That's it for this effort and check back tomorrow for night two of our Volusia tour with the same two divisions participating. Comments, news, words of wisdom and other things can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. In the meantime get your 2023 schedules together so you can get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever your travels take you. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Until tomorrow take care out there and be kind to one another.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Friday, February 10 – The original plan was to head northeast to the Volusia Speedway Park to take in the partially rained out show from Thursday (WOO sprint car feature & three UMP modified features before turning around and starting a completely new program which was Big Gator night moved up from Saturday). Got all that? We played the rain game contest and it didn’t look good for Volusia with East Bay and Auburndale being the other two options. We wanted to see open wheel racing so East Bay was out with Auburndale hosting what was billed as the USAC Eastern midgets along with four other divisions. The USAC Eastern midgets were made up mostly of NEMA midget drivers from New England with a mixture of other drivers from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Indiana running wings on top.
The fields were not large in any divisions tonight, but the midgets (14) had the largest contingent of cars. The legend cars (10), Crown Vics (9), bandoleros (6) and scramblers (5) rounded out the field of entrants for racing on this evening. Three lap time trials for the USAC Eastern midgets started off the activity on the night beginning at 6:45 and ending at 7:02. Chase Locke, a 17 year old driver from Chester, New Hampshire who has been racing since he was 8 set the fast time around the ¼ mile paved oval with a time of 12.737 seconds.
The heat racing began at 7:09 with one heat for the Crown Vics and bandoleros and scramblers before the legend cars contested two heats and the midgets spun off three heats with Jake Trainor of Massachusetts in the famous Seymour #29 copping heat one over Ryan Macartney of New York and Chase Locke of New Hampshire. Heat two fell to P.J. Stergios of New Hampshire over Jeremy Utley of Massachusetts and Brady Allum of North Carolina. Heat three was taken by Mack Leopard of Ohio besting J.T. Bierman of Pennsylvania and Todd Bertrand of Connecticut.
The first of five features took the green at 8:01 and the bandoleros put on a good show with TJ Moon of North Carolina beating Hudson Ruff from all the way down in New Brunswick, one of the Maritime Providences of Canada and Case Hockman from just down the road in Apollo Beach, Florida. The Crown Vics ran their 25 lap feature with only one caution with Jimmy McLeod winning over George Gorham III and Sean Osteen who put on a good battle for second after tangled early in the event while running first and second. The 30 lap legend car feature was next on the agenda and went non-stop with Minnesota’s Tyler Ledbetter staving off North Carolina’s Kaleb Bradley and fellow Tar Heel, Josh Williams. The local scramblers would contest 25 laps with only one caution with Zach Deus in victory lane by 9:01.
The 50 lap USAC Eastern midget feature took the green flag at 9:07 with the first eight in time trials inverted giving the front row to Chris Lamb and Dakoda Armstrong. At the drop of the green Armstrong, the New Castle, Indiana veteran, rocketed off the outside of the front row and became the rabbit in this one as the chase was on. This feature would go non-stop in 11 minutes with Armstrong never being headed but there was some good dicing behind the race long leader. Jake Trainor started fifth and caught P.J. Stergios late in the race for second with Chris Lamb fending off fast timer, Chase Locke, for fourth after Locke moved by JT Bierman two laps from the finish. The final checker waved at 9:18 and kudos go out to track management for running a tight program and not trying to stretch a show out with small car counts. We enjoyed the relaxed night of racing without the big crowds and heavy traffic like the previous four nights.
Oh, by the way our decision to go to Auburndale looked pretty good after rain delayed the show at Volusia Speedway Park with the second WOO sprint car feature ending at 12:46 with the UMP modifieds still to follow. A 10:15 arrival back at the condo was a little nicer than a 2:30 arrival back here!!! It gets rougher when you get older!!!
That’s it for now but check back soon as the weather will play a big role the rest of the weekend before clearing off to start the new week ahead. Until then correspondence can reach us at eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back to see where we end up next. Take care and stay warm if you are north of Florida.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Visiting The Dark Side
Every year when we vacation in Florida we take in the Winternationals at the East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Florida. During their Winternationals run they have six straight days of Lucas Oil Late Model racing and we enjoy watching them several nights during this week. As some people refer to people who are primarily sprint car fans and who go to watch late models it is visiting the dark side. Well, in this case we have been doing this for numerous years now and suggest to people who just watch one form of racing to come check out the late models especially at East Bay as they put on a whale of a show!!! And after the Winternationals in 2024 there will be no racing period at East Bay so next year is the last you will be able to visit this racy track known as the Clay By The Day. For those of you who prefer the sprints and midgets check back daily after this column as we take up following the open wheel beasts in the upcoming days.
Monday, February 6 – The 47th East Bay Winternationals would kick off tonight with 57 cars scheduled to run group time trials followed by six heat races with the top three locking into the feature event with three B mains transferring an additional six (2 from each) to the feature event. Time trials commenced at 6:25 and by 6:53 Tanner English had set the standard for the evening with a time of 14.871 seconds around the ¼ mile clay oval. The six heat winners were Kyle Bronson, Hudson O'Neal, Brandon Overton driving the John Anderson #2x this evening, Tyler Erb, Dennis Erb Jr. and Ashton Winger completing all heat racing in just 47 minutes. Three B mains followed with fast timer, Tanner English, taking one of them with Tyler Millwoood and Ryan Gustin the other winners. All preliminary qualifying was wrapped up by 8:20. During the night Pat got to talking with the gentleman in front of her who was Brian Keagy of Bedford, PA. Brian was catching a new track every night down here in Florida but was most excited about sharing his search for speedways that have fallen by the wayside over the years. He had many photos of his visits to these former tracks and some very interesting stories of his search travels and experiences along the road. It was great meeting and talking with Brian. Good luck out there Brian and be safe.
The 30 lap feature took the green flag at 9:14 with Tyler Erb launching off the outside of row one to take the early lead. Ashton Winger tried high in turn four in the early portion of the race but Erb cleanly ran him high into the cushion where Winger bobbled and continued to do so through turns one and two losing any chance of ever challenging again. Hudson O'Neal, the Martinsville, Indiana driver, who is now the house car pilot of the Mark Richards Rocket #1 came home second with Tyler Millwood the first to successfully maneuver the high side advanced from 20th to finish third with Brandon Overton fourth and Dennis Erb Jr. rounding out the top five.
Tuesday, February 7 – Night two at The Clay By The Bay saw time trials begin at 6:50. Dennis Erb Jr. set fast time with a lap of 14.797 seconds and shortly thereafter it was time for the six heat races for the 58 car field. The first two heats went smoothly with Ashton Winger and 19 year old Garrett Smith winning but on a caution in heat three the turn one and two lights went out causing an hour and fifteen minute delay while they tried to restore the power to the lights in those areas and ended up bringing in several temporary lights to illuminate the affected turns. Kyle Bronson would collect his second heat checker in two nights along with Hudson O'Neal in heat four and Brandon Overton in heat six. Brandon Sheppard won heat five. The three B mains went to Brian Shirley, last night's winner, Tyler Erb, and Logan Roberson with all qualifying ending by 10:06.
The green flag on the 30 lap main event would drop at 10:26 with Ashton Winger blasting to the front. Winger would hold off the race long challenges to score his first career Lucas Oil LM win over O'Neal with Brandon Sheppard nabbing third, Brandon Overton in another good run in the Anderson #2X fourth and Dennis Erb Jr. rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:41, not bad considering the delay for the light outage. Winger was one happy young man and thanked numerous people for getting him here including his dog!!!
Wednesday, February 8 – The weather continued to be very pleasant with temperatures in the 80's as the week progressed. Group time trials started at 7:12 and wrapped up at 7:41 as Jensen Ford was the surprise fast timer at 15.001 seconds but that would turn out to be the highlight of his night as he failed to qualify for the 40 lap feature event later in the evening. Heat winners for the third straight night went to Kyle Bronson and Brandon Overton with Ryan Gustin, Jonathan Davenport in his first night of racing, Tyler Erb and Garrett Smith. For the second night in a row the previous night's winner, this time Ashton Winger, would be forced to run the B mains which he won along with Will Herrington and Tyler Bruening.
Ryan Gustin and Tyler Erb would bring the 26 car field to the starter at 9:29 with Gustin taking the early lead. Four cautions would slow the action but each time Gustin was able to hold serve turning back Erb on each restart. The top three ran out front all night but there was some real good racing from fourth to twelfth. Brandon Sheppard in the family car had his best run of the week using the outside to move forward from ninth to fourth at the finish nipping Jonathan Davenport at the end. All racing was in the book by 9:53 with the second straight first time Lucas Oil late model winner standing in victory lane celebrating his big win.
Thursday, February 9 – It was night four of the 47th East Bay Winternationals and the weather was the best it has been with temperatures soaring to near 90's with an abundance of sunshine to boot with some clouds mixed in. Once again group time trials opened the show starting at 7:00 and quickly were spun off completing at 7:31 with Hudson O'Neal sitting at the top of the speed charts with a time of 14.903 seconds for the evening. By 7:45 the first of six heat races were off and running with Dennis Erb Jr., John Henderson back in his own #2X after recovering from an injury, Max Blair, Hudson O'Neal, Ricky Thornton Jr. and Shane Clanton making his debut tonight. Brandon Overton broke a drive shaft in his heat race in the Wells #76 and was forced to run one of the B mains which he won but he dropped out early in the main even. Chase Junghans and Tanner Engish scored the other two B main wins. For the third straight night the previous night's winner, Ryan Gustin, was forced to run one of the B mains and in another twist all three previous A main victors had to run in the B mains.
An almost one hour break for track prep pushed the start of the 40 lap $10,000 to win feature to 10:34. Dennis Erb Jr. and Hudson O'Neal graced the front row of expanded 30 car field for the start of the feature and the front two did battle until O'Neal moved the Rocket house car to the point. Max Blair who made his first race of this series powered the Briggs #111 past Erb for second and took up the chase of O'Neal. The front three manuevered the middle of the track to perfection as the battle roared behind them with many of the favorites buried deep in the starting field. Garrett Smith was the most impressive of the lot racing forward from 12th to fourth late in the going and passing Tim McCreadie among others on the way to the front. When the checkered waved at four ticks before eleven it was Hudson O'Neal in for his first victory of 2023 probably taking some of that pressure to win off his back in a good run for the Indiana native. Max Blair closed to his bumper to the last three laps and pulled alongside O'Neal in turn four but just didn't have enough to pass the front runner. Dennis Erb Jr. came home third with Garrett Smith fourth and Tim McCreadie rounding out the top five. Jimmy Owens had a fine run from eighteenth to sixth, Shane Clanton finished seventh with Tanner English moving from twenty first to eighth with Garrett Alberson fifteenth to ninth and Tyler Erb placing tenth after starting twenty sixth. The track prep helped the guys starting in the back a surface that they could move forward on.
That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow for some open wheel action with midgets on the pavement at Auburndale tomorrow and USAC sprints on the big ½ mile at Volusia Speedway Park on Monday. Until then get out there and attend a race in your area if possible or maybe even an ice race in your area or firm up your 2023 calendar in the comfort of your living room. Comments, news, annoucements and other interesting items can reach us at our new email at eckel9K77@ gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and he hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Stay warm and be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Saturday, January 28 - Our annual journey south to Florida began on January 27th positioning ourselves to attend the Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia on Saturday, January 28th. We had never been to Boyd’s before and decided to stop by to take in the 15th annual Cabin Fever which consisted of eight (too many) divisions topped by the super late models. Group qualifying for the Iron Man super late models pushed off at 1:20 with Booger Brooks setting fast time. The other divisions either ran group qualifying and late chance races or heat racing such as the street stocks and the modiifieds.
By 5:44 the first of eight features took the green flag with the street stocks running their 15 lap feature event. It was a well run feature with only two cautions. David Clark would prevail over the 13 car field to score the first victory of 2023.
The 40 lap super late model feature was next on the agenda taking the green flag at 5:58. It was an interesting run with JT Seawright grabbing family honors besting Sam Seawright in this one with Christian Hanger, Booger Brooks coming from the rear of the field after a early race tangle to notch fourth with Landon Gentry nailing down fifth at the finish.
That was our signal to exit stage left and head down the road through Atlanta at night before finding our nesting place in Macon that evening.
Sunday, January 29 –This day was spent traveling the rest of the distance down into Florida in the drizzle and rain until we hit the Georgia/Florida line where the rain subsided and the sun and warmth appeared. We checked into our condo in the Kissimmee area and went out for dinner.
Monday, January 30 - Since the sprint cars have not ventured into the Sunshine state or the Peach state yet we decided to head north to Ocala and take in the Lucas Oil Late Model series at Bubba’s Raceway Park. A good field of 38 late models pulled into the pit area to do battle with time trials commencing the program before 6 PM. Young Georgia driver, Ashton Winger, set fast time with the first heat hitting the track at 6:59. Four heats were spun off in just 37 minutes with two B mains following. Kyle Larson who flew into Gainesville this day at 4:30 PM had a rough night jumping one of the heat restarts and being set back a row and failing to qualify for the feature. He had to qualify through one of the two B mains barely taking the last qualifying position in B main two. His night ended early with a tangle with several other cars in turn two in the main event and he was done for the evening.
The 40 lap main event would take the green flag at 8:48 as the best in the business raced into turn one. Jonathan Davenport known as Superman in the late model ranks came from third to take the lead from Ashton Winger early and lead the remainder of the race besting the front row of Winger and Dennis Erb Jr. Tyler Erb and Devin Moran who advanced from 12th rounded out the top five in a very well runprogram ending at 9:12.
February 1-3 – The next few nights were spent traveling west into the Tampa area attending some UMP modified shows at East Bay Raceway Park with some fine and timely racing occurring in those days. Fifty six mods participated on the evening with local driver, Travis Varnadore, fending off 17th starting Kevin “Buzzy” Adams and Lucas Lee. Evening number two saw Kentucky’s Tyler Nicely advancing from ninth to win over Pennsylvania’s Drake Troutman and Florida’s Bryan Bernhardt who came from 24th and last to grab the last podium position. The next night the field swelled to 60 cars with Drake Troutman taking the lead late but a controversial jumping call placed Troutman two positions back at the finish giving Lucas Lee the win over Tyler Nicely and Troutman.
February 3-4 - Continuous rainy weather across Georgia and South Carolina caused early cancellation of the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series for the second straight year at the Senoia Raceway in Georgia. So instead we stayed closer to our Florida home and ventured over to the Auburndale Speedway after spending the day shopping for fresh vegetables and fruit.
Auburndale was a local Saturday night show with four divisions of cars highlighted by the Sportsman division who would run a 75 lap main event. Other divisions included A mods, scramblers and Crown Vics. Time trials were run for the sportsman while heat racing was spun off for the other divisions. I would like to say that the 75 lap sportsman feature was a good one but a total of 13 cautions and red flags would say otherwise. Not to say that there were not moments of excitement and controversy but when it was all said and done Brandon Morris who we felt jumped the last two restarts prevailed over Steve Gill and Daniel Webster (not of the dictionary fame). Jeffrey White won the best feature of the evening in the A mod division after a fine battle for the lead for numerous laps with the front two never touching in their battle. The scramblers fell to TJ Crews and as the time pasted 10:30 on this cool evening we decided to call it an evening and had friend, Bill Burns, take off his rookie stripes after witnessing his first race at Auburndale and head back easterly toward Mystic Dunes.
That’s it for this report and check back soon as we get into the bulk of our Florida race schedule with daily reports forthcoming. Until then if you are north of the Mason-Dixon line try to stay warm and get out your paper, pen and schedules out to plot your racing schedule for the new season. In the meantime news, comments and other points of interest can reach us at our new email address of eckel9K77@gmail.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the kind comments sent our way. It sure is good to be out there once again enjoying the sport we love. Take care and be good.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Championship Saturday Wins Go To Roahrig, Santos & T. Swanson at IRP
Saturday, October 22 – After a very good night at Gas City last night tonight's venue was the Indianapolis Raceway Park who have had a resurgence this year presenting numerous open wheel programs and of the three we have attended in 2022 we believe this was the biggest crowd of the year. Saw that fellow Trackchaser, Jeremy Vogel, was in town for a visit and was sitting one row below us to the left of us. Had a nice chat with him and his wife between races and enjoyed meeting both of the racing enthusiasts from Lima, Ohio with Jeremy growing up in Allentown, PA. We arrived at 3:40 missing the 500 Sprint Car Tour qualifying with CJ Leary in the Klatt #5 sprinter setting fast time where everyone's two time trial laps are combined for their overall time. Leary clocked a 40.858 seconds around the 0.686 mile asphalt oval for fast time honors. We were just in time for the pavement midget time trials with a disappointing 14 midgets on hand. Jake Trainor would spin off the quickest time in the midgets with a combined time of 42.460 seconds. The USAC Silver Crown series would be third up for their time trials with Kody Swanson recording the quick time of 41.773 seconds giving him three bonus points for quick time and deadlocking the championship race going into the 100 lap main event. All qualifying was completed by 4:30.
The first of three championship races would feature the 500 Sprint Car Tour racing for 40 laps around the .686 mile oval. The green flag would drop on the 23 car field at 5:26 with CJ Leary going to the point at the start with second starting Tyler Roahrig slipping from second to sixth after a bad start for him. Kody Swanson unlike Roahrig blasted from his fifth starting spot to take over the runner-up position in turn one on the opening lap. Swanson wasted little time passing Leary for the lead entering turn one on lap two and turned into the rabbit extending his lead over the next several laps. Roahrig meanwhile regrouped after his bad start and quickly moved past Dakoda Armstrong for fourth on lap three. Swanson increased his lead as the laps spun off with Roahrig continuing his comeback catching and passing Bobby Santos III in turn two on lap 15. Swanson encountered lap traffic for the first time on lap seventeen as Roahrig used turn two to take second from Leary on lap 21. Leary got freight trained dropping to fifth one lap later as Santos and Kyle O'Gara worked their way by. O'Gara moved by Santos to take third in turn one on lap 27 with some distance to make up to catch Swanson and Roahrig. With ten to go Roahrig was reeling in Swanson as the big advantage was disappearing. Roahrig was on Swanson's tail tank with seven to go looking for a way around him. Roahrig used the high side of turn two on lap 34 to grab the lead away from Swanson and the amazing comeback was complete. With two to go Armstrong snuck by Leary for fifth in turn one. At 5:41 Tyler Roahrig flashed under the double checkers winning the battle with Swanson second who won the war taking the 500 Tour Sprint Car championship with O'Gara claiming third, Santos home fourth and Armstrong rounding out the top five. Jake Trainor brought the Seymour #29 in for sixth with Leary seventh, Tanner Swanson eighth, Billy Wease ninth and Kyle Robbins wrapping up the top ten.
The National Midget Pavement Championship feature was next on the agenda with the 14 car field brought to the green flag by the front row of Tanner Swanson and Johnny Zych at 6:17. Things got hairy early as Zych looped his midget in turn two and lightly rolled over in front of the field. Cole Carter and Justin Grant were also involved with only Grant able to return. Bobby Santos III moved to the outside of the front row on the restart and at the drop of the green he was out front like a rocket ship. Nathan Byrd powered the Bertrand #47 into third from seventh in turn four on lap three. Byrd rolled off of turn three on lap seven and slowed with mechanical woes ending his afternoon early. Kyle O'Gara who spun to the apron in turn two on the opening lap incident was the man on the move and inherited third after Byrd's misfortune. Santos controlled the lead as he was the class of the field holding a straightaway lead in the latter stages of the race. Lap twenty seven saw Jake Trainor dropped a cylinder coming out of turns three and four pulling pit side while running second. Lap twenty nine would see fourth running Kody Swanson slow on the homestretch with mechanical woes. By the time the checkers waved at 6:44 Santos had opened over a four second win and cruised home winning both the battle and the war bringing the Jeff West Three Stooges #98 in first and taking the point championship to boot winning over O'Gara, Tanner Swanson, Grant coming back to finish fourth with Nick Hamilton closing out the top five. That win for Santos is his 14th win at IRP moving him within one of the all-time leader at IRP, Tracy Hines.
To set the stage for the 100 lap season final for the USAC Silver Crown series we have to go back to Friday's practice where point leader, Logan Seavey, broke a cam in his motor and the team had to pull their engine and install the engine from their dirt champ car. After time trials where Kody Swanson turned fast time and was awarded 3 bonus points for that it was all knotted going into the main event. Also on a side note Kaylee Bryson lost her brakes during practice and slammed the third turn wall tearing up the right front of the Pierce #26 and her crew went to work to repair the damage. She was able to take her time trial and started the 100 lap event in 19th position of the 21 cars on hand. Now to the race itself.
Nineteen grand dames of the Silver Crown series would take the green flag at 7:14 with pole sitter, Kody Swanson, bounding into the early lead. Kody's younger brother, Tanner, trailed in second and Logan Seavey rode third. Lap eleven saw Bobby Santos III slid by Seavey for third off turn three with Justin Grant and CJ Leary also passing Seavey. Lap twelve saw the championship race come to an early end when Seavey slowed and pulled pit side ending his chance at the championship. Kody Swanson continued to pace the field with Tanner right behind in full chase mode. Lap traffic was encountered by lap thirty as the front two picked their way through. Tyler Roahrig was making waves as he move forward with his Legacy Autosports team making their Silver Crown debut cracking the top five from ninth by lap thirty five. Tanner made his first move for the lead diving low in turn four on lap forty eight but Greg Cory was there and blocked his progress allowing Kody to motor ahead once again. The point race was officially decided on lap fifty one when Swanson received three bonus points for leading the most laps of the race at this point.
Lap sixty six decided the race winner when Kody encountered the cars of Nathan Byrd and Brian Tyler on the tail end of the lead lap in turn four with Tanner diving low on the homestretch and taking the lead in turn one. The caution appeared one lap too late for Kody as 13th running Kyle Robbins spun on the homestretch with 15th running Jake Day clipping him folding his front end and turning into the inside wall to bring out the caution. On the restart it was Tanner first, Kody second, Leary third, Roahrig fourth and Santos fifth. Leary used a patented Kody move diving hard and low entering turn one swiping second away from Kody and took up the chase of Tanner. Lap eighty one saw Davey Hamilton Jr. enter the top five with an outside sweep of Santos in turn one and Grant followed by Santos in turn two. With ten to go Roahrig raced up against the wall between turns three and four and moved alongside Kody off the turn moving ahead as Kody checked up for Travis Welpott on the homestretch. Tanner opened up some ground on Leary over the final ten laps and came across the line first at 7:55 for his first series win in over two years beating Leary with Roahrig turning in an impressive third with Kody Swanson fourth and Davey Hamilton Jr. fifth.
The fourth place finish gave Swanson and his two teams the Silver Crown championship which was Swanson's seventh such title. Justin Grant led the second five across the finish line in sixth with Santos seventh and Byrd eighth the final car on the lead lap. Mario Clouser came home ninth in another strong performance on the pavement and could have been on the lead lap if the Robbins caution had come two laps sooner. Billy Wease drove to the tenth place finish.
It was a good afternoon/early evening run in our third visit to IRP in 2022 with the sprint car feature the best of the lot. Should be interesting in 2023 with IRP management moving full steam ahead adding the Hoosier 100 paying $25,000 to win next April along with other open wheel events.
That's it for this report and this weekend and check back next weekend as we go on the road to catch wingless sprint cars in another state. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip also to catch a track on your hit list. Comments, news, stories and other tidbits of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and giving your views and comments so we can make this what you want to come back and read week after week. Take care and be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Westfall & Gehrke Score Wins At Fall Festival Of Speed Night One
Friday, October 21 – The weather forecast for the weekend is good with temperatures warming up into the 60's to 80's through the weekend. This was good news as during the week temperatures hovered in the 40's to 50's during the day and dropped into the 40's and 30's during the night. Racing is on our dance card for Friday and Saturday with Friday finding us traveling northeast on the backroads of Indiana in a patchwork quilt type of meandering as most of the east-west routes between Crawfordsville and Gas City are under some sort of construction and other routes are needed to travel to our destination.
Tonight was night one of two for the Fall Festival Of Speed at Gas City I-69 Speedway with wingless sprints (41), USAC SpeeD2 Midwest Thunder midgets (29) and non-wing 600 micros (14) on the agenda. The night of racing began at 6:57 with a series of dash races for each of the divisions including one for the four Wisconsin WingLess sprints that still showed after their division was cut from the program. Jake Swanson won the wingless sprint car portion of the dash races. In group qualifying for the D2 midgets Jim Jones flipped in turns three and four and he climbed from his wrecked machine uninjured but his mount was done for the evening.
Next up were five wingless sprint car heats with the top three moving directly into the 25 lap main event paying $2000 to win. Action started early as Paul Dues caught a rough spot in turn one wrong and began to spin like a helicopter in the air never really turning over but bouncing off the race surface several times quite hard. Dues would return for one of the two B mains later in the evening. Tye Mihocko would wheel the Paul #24P to victory in heat one over Kyle Shipley and Cody Gardner. Ryan Thomas turned turtle in heat two also catching the rough area in turn one wrong and he would also return for B main two later. Jake Swanson scored the win in heat two in the Daming #5T beating Harley Burns and Zack Pretorius. Anton Hernandez guided the Benic #2B to the win in heat three over Matt Westfall and Derek Crane. Travis Berryhill in the Wingo #77S cruised to the win in heat four over the improving Colin Grissom and Corbin Gurley at least the third generation of the famous Gurley racing family. The fifth and final heat fell to young Jack Hoyer in the famous Paul Hazen #57 and the youngster is looking better and better each outing beating Rylan Gray and Brayden Clark.
The USAC D2 midgets were up next with four heats for their 28 remaining entries and they put on some very exciting heat races. Matt Lux up from the TQ midget ranks scored the win in heat one over Stratton Briggs and Chris Dickey. Heat two went to Jakeb Boxell besting Abby Hohlbein and Carl Peterson. Drew Rader scored the heat three win over Kyle Dager and Ryan Moran. The fourth heat was a doozy as the top four cars swapped positions lap after lap with veteran Chett Gehrke charging from fourth in turn two on the final lap to win this thriller over Bryce Massingill and Alex Watson. The wingless 600's heats went to Dylan Cromer and Michael Magic.
The sprints would return for their two B mains with the first three moving on. Dustin Ingle garnered B main one over Brian Hayden and Steve Irwin. Travis Hery captured B main two besting Gabriel Gilbert and Clayton Rossman. The D2 midgets would contest one B main with Jerry Coons Jr. notching the win in this one joining his son Cale running in the 600 micros this evening. All preliminary qualifying was completed by 9:05 with just the three A mains left to run. A short break was taken to manicure the racing surface before the main events.
By 9:27 the front row of Kyle Shipley and Jack Hoyer brought the 21 car starting field to the green flag with Hoyer getting the early advantage Sixth starting Tye Mihocko was coming quickly moving into second in turn three on lap two. The first caution would appear on lap seven when Clayton Rossman stopped in turn three after tangling with other car. Hoyer continued to lead Mihocko on the restart until lap ten when the second caution appeared for Travis Hery stopping on the backstretch. Hoyer continued to pace the field on the restart and visions of his first sprint car win might have been dancing in his head at this point. Mihocko would dash those dreams as he powered to the inside of Hoyer exiting turn four racing to the halfway mark and took the lead. Lap fourteen saw Mihocko, Hoyer and Matt Westfall go three wide exiting turn four as the track was multi-grooved with Westfall coming from third to first as they raced down the homestretch. Hoyer bobbled off turn four on lap fifteen allowing Jake Swanson to pass for third. Anton Hernandez decided to get into the tussle as he powered his #2B on the high side battling with Mihocko and Swanson for position. The third caution interrupted the fine battle as Corbin Gurley slowed in turn four and rolled to a stop on the homestretch on lap twenty three. The following lap saw the fine runs of two top five runners, Hoyer and Hernandez, end as Hoyer stopped with mechanical woes as Hernandez and Swanson tangled on the backstretch going for the lead with Swanson running over the left front of Hernandez causing terminal damage including a broken axle ending Hernandez's night on the end of a hook. On the green, white, checker sequence Westfall protected the bottom exiting turn four to take away any slider by Mihocko as Swanson pounded the cushion. Westfall was able to fend off the challengers as he raced under the checkers at 9:44 for his second Gas City win of 2022 after starting eighth with sixth starting Mihocko second, Swanson third, 12th starting Zack Pretorius fourth and 10th starting Rylan Gray notching fifth. Dustin Ingle marched from 16th to sixth with Clayton Rossman garnering a good seventh after starting 21st and last with 15th starting Brayden Clark eighth, 20th starting Steve Irwin ninth and Travis Berryhill rounding out the top ten.
The USAC D2 midgets were rolling onto the racing surface as victory lane ceremonies began and shortly thereafter their 20 car field took the green flag at 9:52. Matt Lux took the early lead from his second starting position and would lead the first three laps until the first of three cautions appeared when Drew Rader spun to the inside of turn four. Jakeb Boxell took the lead in turn two on the restart down low and led the next four laps. Fourth starting Bryce Massingill passed Boxell for the lead on lap eight and would lead until Isaac Chapple stopped in turn four on lap nine. At this point Jerry Coons Jr. had used the extreme inside groove to march from 17th to 4th. Massingill would continue to lead on the restart and paced the field until lap fourteen when Alex Watson spun in turn four to bring out the third and last caution. On the restart it was a three car battle for the lead among Massingill, Coons and Chett Gehrke who had provided the fireworks in heat three. Gehrke won the battle and took the lead with Coons second and Massingill dropping to third. Coons tried everything he could to track down Gehrke but Chett was not to be denied and crossed the finish line first at 10:05 besting Coons with Stratton Briggs stealing third from Massingill in the final laps with Massingill fourth and Boxell rounding out the top five. Though we opted out at this point we will let you know that dash and heat winner, Dylan Cromer, came from fifth to win the 600 micro feature over Cale Coons who equaled his dad's finish of second with Parker Leek coming home third.
It was a very good night of racing and the sprint and D2 midget features would have to rank in our top five races of 2022 as Gas City hit it out of the ballpark on this evening leaving us feeling good as we ended our 2022 season at the ¼ mile bullring of Grant County.
That's it for this report but check back tomorrow to read our rundown on tonight's pick of venues to go racing at.
Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun and be safe. Also comments, news, quotes, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we like to hear from you all to see how we are doing and if there is anything else you would like us to report on to make a visit to any of the tracks that we visit more informative. Let us know. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bryson The Show But Cockrum Gets Redemption At Springfield
Saturday, October 15 – The rescheduled Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield was set to run today on the mile dirt oval and it was a beautiful fall day that greeted us as we arose. The sun was shiny and the wind was minimal though the temperatures would not rise out of the 50's but no rain was in the forecast and we were going racing!!! We arrived in Springfield a lot after 11 AM and found our Michigan friends, Allan and Nancy Brown, and headed into the elevator and up into the massive grandstands to take in the 59th running of the Bettenhausen 100. We decided to sit about 10 rows up toward turn four as Allan was having problems climbing due to his chemo treatments but with no canvas roof on the infield stage everyone had an unobstructed view of the entire one mile dirt oval for today.
The USAC Silver Crown division was in town and the point race will come down to the final two races of their schedule, today at Springfield and next Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park with Kody Swanson and Logan Seavey coming into today's race deadlocked at the top of the point standings. The day did not start out good for Seavey as he suffered mechanical woes in hot laps and pitted early for repairs. Logan was ready when it came his turn for time trials and he only turned one lap in the Rice #22 before pulling pit side with smoke coming from the engine compartment but not before sitting eighth fastest time of the 32 grand old dames or as some people call them the fat bottomed girls. The Rice crew went to work and once again by feature time Seavey was ready to rumble.
The entry list was originally 38 cars but by the race day there were 32 cars on hand and two of them did not even make it out of hot laps with Anthony Macri in the potent Sean Michael #9 and Emerson Axsom in the Nolen #20 never taking a timed lap. So the field was down to 30 and after time trials no last chance race would be necessary. The Silver Crown qualifying kicked off exactly at 12:15 and by 1:01 it was Justin Grant in the Hemelgarn #91 clocking the quick time with a lap of 30.850 seconds around the Land of Lincoln dirt mile oval. The biggest surprise of qualifying was Kaylee Bryson in only her third Silver Crown start placing her Pierce #26 on the outside of the front row for the 100 lap main event. It would not be the only surprise Bryson would supply on the day. Danny Long was another driver who had engine problems during qualifying and logged the slowest time of the day by far. Long was fortunate to get his problems resolved and would start last ending up finishing 16th when it was all said and done.
The 30 car field was ready to go by 2:10 with Justin Grant and Kaylee Bryson bringing the field to the green flag. The second surprise by Bryson was beating Grant into turn one and taking the early lead. In the 52 year history of the USAC Silver Crown division a woman has never started on the front row nor led a single lap but Bryson accomplished both in short order leading lap one. Bryson would pace the first nine laps with CJ Leary moving by Grant on the homestretch on lap nine to take second and take up the chase of the high flying Bryson who moved to the high side while Leary used the low side to chase Bryson. Grant remained third with Shane Cockrum picking off Kody Swanson for fourth with Swanson dropping to fifth. Lap 12 saw Logan Seavey move from eighth into fifth off turn four dropping Swanson back another position. Meanwhile Brian Tyler was making a charge after starting back in 22nd having advanced to 13th by lap 15. Leary was reeling in Bryson by lap 18 using the low groove while Bryson continued riding the rim at the point. Lap 22 at the line saw Leary lead for the first time but Bryson was not done and raced into turns one and two against the fence and caught back up to Leary racing down the backstretch side by side before Bryson edged back out front between turns three and four and had the lead back as the top two crossed the line on lap 24. Bryson went back to a two second lead over the next eight laps riding the outside before the scariest incident of the day occurred in turn two as Bryson put Dallas Hewitt and Mike Haggenbottom a lap down as they raced low through turn two for position. Haggenbottom ramped over Hewitt's wheel sending him into the inside guard rail and into a series of end over end flips landing at the start of the backstretch in the middle of the track. Haggenbottom's machine was severely damaged but Haggenbottom was able to climb out of his mangled car uninjured after the hard crash.
Jake Swanson was the man on the move at this point advancing from 23rd to 10th before the stoppage. On the restart Cockrum dusted off Grant for third in turn two and one lap later Leary passed Bryson in turn three but again Bryson regrouped and stormed back by in turn three on lap 34. By lap 40 Bryson and Leary had built up a big lead on the rest of the field with Cockrum trailing in third. Jake Swanson and Matt Westfall hooked up in a good duel battling for tenth racing side by side for several laps before the halfway mark. At the lap 50 mark it was Bryson, Leary, Cockrum, Grant and Shane Cottle. Davey Ray was running a strong race back in sixth with Seavey seventh, Kody Swanson lurking in eighth, Tyler ninth and Westfall wining the race for tenth at the moment.
Seavey bumped off Ray for sixth on the homestretch on lap 52 and another big moment in the event came on lap 57 when Leary broke coming off turn four and pulled to the pit area while running second ending his day early. On the restart on lap 62 Cottle moved into third and on lap 65 Jake Swanson steed gave up the ghost with running 12th as he drove into the pits. Lap 72 saw Korey Weyant shred a tire on the backstretch bringing out the caution again. On the restart on lap 75 it was Cockrum diving to the inside racing down the straightway and clearing Bryson for the lead in turn two. Shane Cottle slipped by Bryson for second between turns three and four on lap 80 with Seavey continuing Bryson's drop moving by for third on lap 81. Cockrum constructed a two second lead over the next ten laps rolled to a stop in turn one. On the restart Cockrum assumed the lead and pulled away from Cottle and Seavey. Lap 95 saw sixth running Grant's power-plant go up in a cloud of smoke in turn one bringing out the last caution. On the restart with three to go Swanson made his move motoring by Bryson for fourth in turn two.
Meanwhile Cockrum was in command up front and pulled away from the field and flashed under the double checkers at 3:37 getting redemption after losing the race at Du Quoin and scoring his first win on the Springfield mile in the process. It was Cockrum's fifth career Silver Crown win in the series with Shane Cottle finishing off a strong run taking second with Logan Seavey third, Kody Swanson fourth and Kylee Bryson rounding out the top five after an amazing afternoon running up front and leading 73 laps in the process. Seavey leaves Springfield with a three point edge over Swanson with the title on the line as they move to Indianapolis next Saturday to decide the championship.
Brian Tyler had a fine run placing sixth with Matt Westfall taking seventh, Kyle Steffens turning in another strong mile performance to finish eighth, Chase Stockon scoring his highest Silver Crown finish in his rookie season in ninth and Davey Ray bringing the beautiful Cornell #8 home tenth. Other notable runs were turned in by Travis Welpott finishing 11th and Patrick Bruns 12th.
It was a good and interesting race and the performance of Bryson was very impressive and somewhat unexpected. Now it is onto IRP.
That's it for this weekend but check back next weekend as we have two races on our race docket. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or catch a show on the road. News, comments and other things of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care, be safe and stay warm in the fall race outings.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Stockon & Grant Score Wins At Harvest Cup At Tri-State
Saturday, October 8 – A beautiful fall day awaited us as we ventured down the back roads of Indiana on our way to Haubstadt, Indiana. The leaves are starting to turn making it a pleasant and relaxing journey as we meandered southward. Making a lunch stop at Gasthof Amish restaurant in Montgomery on the way south made for a delicious buffet of roast beef, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and catfish among many things a delightful experience. After stuffing our stomachs it was time to complete the trip to Haubstadt pulling onto the parking lot of the Tri-State Speedway, the finely groomed semi-banked ¼ mile bullring located in Gibson County. Securing our parking spot we listened to the end of game two of one of the American League Wildcard playoff games that we started listening to starting our trip in Crawfordsville and still going strong when we arrived in southern Indiana. Oscar Gonzalez finally ended the marathon 0-0 tie with a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 15th inning to move Cleveland into the next round against the New York Yankees. We also made it to the hotel after the races to catch our Philadelphia Phillies sweep the St. Louis Cardinals after some nail biting moments in the bottom of the ninth winning 2-0 and moving forward to play the Atlanta Braves in the next round.
Steve Kimmel saved us top row seats on the backstretch and we took the walk around turns three and four to sign in at the pit shack and ran into Burline Skidmore, our friend from Illinois, who we chatted with for a time before returning to the backstretch and gathering the warm clothing up to take into the track. It was a nice sunny day during the daylight hours reaching into the 60's but as the sun disappeared behind the horizon you felt the temperatures drop quickly. By the end of the night it was down into the 40's and quite cold.
The Harvest Cup paying $5000 to win to the MSCS sprint cars in their final event of 2022 was ready to go with group time trials in heat groups first up with Jason McDougal in the Brian Davis/KO Motorsports #5M setting the fast time over the 34 car field with a four car inversion from the time trials to set the heat lineups. Next up were the USAC National Midget series with 27 entries blistering the ¼ mile oval with Jason McDougal again setting fast time, this time in a backup Dave McIntosh/Robert Dalby #08$ which he didn't know he would be driving until 24 hours ago to the tune of 13.621 seconds. There was also a fine field of 33 MMSA mini sprints on hand for the open wheel tripleheader and they had hot laps before the heat races started.
First up were the MSCS sprint cars racing in four qualifying heats with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Chase Stockon would draw first blood capturing heat one and with the victory would wrap up his third straight MSCS point title. It was an intense battle with Robert Ballou coming home second, Kyle Cummins third and Justin Grant finishing fourth. Jadon Rogers would pick up where he left off last time at the Haubstadt Hustler winning heat two in impressive fashion besting Brady Short, Brandon Morin who was racing his last event before calling it quits and retiring and young Adyn Schmidt. Heat three fell to Kendall Ruble beating Jason McDougal, Aric Gentry and Collin Ambrose. The fourth and final heat was taken down by Kevin Thomas Jr. back in the Michael Dutcher #17GP tonight over Anton Hernandez, Carson Garrett and Stan Beadles.
Three heats for the USAC midgets would be next on the agenda with the top five going directly to the 30 lap feature race. Justin Grant looked strong in heat one besting Bryant Wiedeman, Jason McDougal, Dominic Gorden and Buddy Kofoid. Thomas Meseraull brought the second RMS entry home victorious in heat two joining his teammate Grant as heat victors beating Ethan Mitchell, Taylor Reimer, Brenham Crouch and Kaylee Bryson to the finish. Cannon McIntosh would score heat win #3 in the highlight of his night which went downhill from there over Zach Daum, Daison Pursley (the miracle man coming back in the same year after severe injuries), Jacob Denney and Mitchel Moles. All the sprint heats and midget heats were good ones as we looked forward to the upcoming features. The MMSA mini sprints contested four heats and now all heat qualifying was finished and the B mains or semis would soon follow.
The MSCS B main was first up with Critter Malone taking this one in a race marked by the sprint car debut of Kayla Roell from Dillsboro who has been racing MMSA mini sprints and was given the chance to run one of the KO Motorsports #5's. She finished ninth and starting 14th passing several cars in the B. Dustin Beck, the former UMP modified runner, in his beautiful #75 finished second with CJ Leary third and Geoff Ensign taking the last qualifying position.
The USAC midget semi was won by Chase McDermand in one of Chad Boat's steeds besting Adam Taylor (driving a midget with a half sprint car engine in it), Kyle Cummins, Chance Crum, Hayden Reinbold, Maria Cofer and Talin Turner.
After a short track prep session with only a watering and vehicle run in left the surface in prime time condition with multiple lanes for the feature events.
The 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature would get the honors to run first on the evening with the green flag waving at 9:06 on the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kendall Ruble. Ruble would grab the early lead on the backstretch on the opening lap passing Thomas. Jadon Rogers and Thomas hooked up in a good battle for second with Rogers assuming the position in turn two on lap three. Rogers began to pressure Ruble for the top spot over the next seven laps until Thomas made a resurgence catching and passing Rogers in turn two on lap eleven. Chase Stockon was all over Rogers attempting to take away third as Anton Hernandez raced his way from eighth to fifth and began poking his nose inside Stockon. Lap 13 saw Thomas, Rogers and Hernandez who slipped by Stockon for fourth almost three wide in turns one and two. Stockon turned up the wick over the next few laps first getting back by Hernandez then Rogers for third. Lap seventeen saw Stockon dive low off turn four and pull alongside Thomas for second at the line edging ahead with a slider entering turn one for second. Stockon went low in turn two to grab the lead from pacesetter Ruble on lap nineteen. One lap later a spinner brought out the second and final caution of the race.
On the restart Stockon gunned it off turn four and did a wheelie exiting the turn and retained the lead entering turn one as Thomas slipped by Ruble low in one for second. Kyle Cummins was coming quickly at this point and by lap twenty one took third from Ruble entering turn one. At this point smoke began to blow from the engine compartment of Thomas' #17GP as the lap counter showed twenty two down. Cummins was several car lengths back of the front two but was gaining ground as we hit lap twenty four. The smoke increased from Thomas' steed by lap twenty six as Stockon paced the pack. Cummins dove low on the homestretch on lap twenty eight to wrestle second from Thomas and tried to reel in Stockon over the remaining two laps. Stockon would not be denied tonight as he flashed under the checkered flag at 9:20 scoring the $5000 pay day with Cummins settling for second, Thomas holding on for third, Carson Garrett maybe turning in his best run in a sprint car coming home fourth from 12th and Robert Ballou rounding out the top five. Anton Hernandez would claim sixth with Kendall Ruble seventh, Jason McDougal eighth, Jadon Rogers fading to ninth and Brady Short rounding out the top ten.
It was an excellent race and might have been the best one we saw the entire season with some superb performances by the front three especially and quite a few others. Stockon would end up first in the MSCS sprint car points with McDougal second, Garrett third, Cummins fourth and Collin Ambrose finishing fifth.
We still had the 30 lap USAC midget feature to run and the crowd was in a buzz after the first one anticipating another good feature. Even though there were nine cautions in this one when they were racing it was great action. Jacob Denny took the Mounce/Stout #61 to the point at the start but trouble early for Justin Grant who started seventh and fourth starting Zach Daum when they hooked together on lap 3 (Grant's right side nerf bar & Daum's left front tire) off turn three and continued through turn four and onto the homestretch where they detangled but Daum was clipped by Daison Pursley at this point and spun in the middle of the track. Daum was forced to restart at the tail of the field and would make a tremendous march forward the rest of the race.
On the restart Thomas Meseraull and Cannon McIntosh got together and stopped on the track with Pursley and Jason McDougal also involved sending them all to the rear. On the next restart Denney and Buddy Kofoid hooked up in a slide fest over the next five laps exchanging sliders and the lead 13 times in this time frame. As the pair crossed the line on lap 11 Kofoid was scantly in front when shortly thereafter the caution appeared again for a multi-car tangle in turn four involving Mitchel Moles, Taylor Reimer and Kyle Cummins.
The green dropped again with Kofoid jumping into the lead with Denney and Grant behind as Grant was able to ride in third while the other two swapped sliders and work different lines to determine where his car felt the best to run the rest of the way. Kofoid opened up a two second lead over Denney as Grant went to work on Jacob. A lap 15 slider saw Grant take second from Denney and Justin took up the chase. Meanwhile Messeraull was flying from the rear (19th) up to 5th by lap 16 and sliding by Brenham Crouch for 4th on lap 19.
Grant meanwhile was all over Kofoid with six to go. Grant threw his first slider on Kofoid entering turn one with five to go to take the lead but Kofoid crossed over in turn three to take the lead back. Grant countered and retook the lead off turn four as the pair raced to the line. T-Mez meanwhile was not content riding fourth and dusted off Denney exiting turn four with three to go. As the top three crossed the line for two to go Messeraull made an amazing move down low at the end of the homestretch entering turn one to blast by both Kofoid and Grant for the lead!!! Unfortunately for T-Mez it was called back as Denney running fourth, Crouch running fifth and McIntosh running eighth tangled in between turns three and four bringing out the caution flag.
Grant led on the restart and with two to go Kofoid threw it low in turn three and slide in front of Grant in turn four but Grant swung to the inside off turn four and raced back out front as the white flag waved diving low in turn one to block any slider attempts by Kofoid. Racing down the backstretch Kofoid and Grant bumped front bumper to rear nerf bar just before entering turn three. Grant dove low taking away the slider route and roared off turn four taking the double checkered flags for the first time since April when he won the first three USAC midget races of the year. Kofoid came across second with Meseraull third, Zach Daum marching all the way back to fourth from the rear and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Kaylee Bryson led the second five coming from 12th to 6th with Dominic Gorden advancing from 16th to 7th, Bryant Weideman 8th from 14th, Ethan Mitchell 9th and Kyle Cummins rebounding to finish 10th. It was a good race with Grant and Kofoid being like two heavyweight fighters exchanging haymakers toe to toe for 15 rounds.
There was still the MMSA mini sprint feature to go but it was cold and we didn't think this one could outdo the other two so we exited stage right and headed to our hotel up in Princeton just in time to catch the ninth inning of the Phillies/Cardinals game and bite our nails as the Redbirds challenged in the bottom of the ninth but the Fightn' Phillies prevailed!!!
That's it for this past weekend as hopefully a doubleheader lurks on the horizon for this coming weekend as we move to the middle of October. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area before the winter sets in on us. News, comments, stories and words of wisdom can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our column and check back next weekend to see where we end up. Take care and be safe and stay warm.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Santos Wins Tony Elliott Classic At Anderson
Thursday, October 6 – Sometimes the races you don't plan ahead of time turn our to be good ones. This was the case on Thursday evening when we decided to go to the 7th Annual Tony Elliott Classic for the 500 Sprint Tour at the ¼ mile Anderson Speedway. We did not know about the race until Pat saw it on social media on Tuesday and she mentioned to me that Anderson was running Thursday and did we want to go as on Friday we had nothing planned as the weather was going to turn colder and we didn't feel like driving 3 ½ hours west to Wayne County Speedway for the USAC midgets. So instead we decided to take in the program of the 500 Sprint Tour (24), Kenyon midgets (13) and Midwest champ karts (18) running on the high banks of Anderson.
We arrived around 6:30 and our friend from Arizona, Steve Kimmel, made a rare plane flight into St. Louis to take in the racing at Anderson, Wayne County and Tri-State in his last Midwest trip of the year and first in years without hauling in freight with his tractor trailer. He joined us in turn one to sit as sprint car qualifying was run earlier with Tyler Roahrig setting fast time circling the small oval at 11.203 seconds edging out Taylor Ferns for quick time. The top ten in time trials would be inverted to start the feature which is one of the highest inversions we have seen all year.
The Kenyon midgets would start off the night of racing six minutes early at 6:54 with the first of two heats for their entries with Jackson Macenko scoring the first heat win over Kyle Ford and Clayton Gaines. Dameron Taylor notched heat two winning over Logan Huggler and Ryan Huggler. The Midwest champ karts would follow with two entertaining heats before a short break before the 30 lap Kenyon midget feature was called to the post.
The green flag would drop on the 12 car field at 7:37 and a good, competitive feature would ensue. Dameron Taylor would take the lead midway through from his third starting position and go on to win the main event over Kyle Ford with Ryan Huggler coming from sixth to third, Logan Huggler fourth and Isaac Johnson advancing from 12th to fifth at the finish at 7:47.
MAVTV was in town to show the 500 Sprint Tour Tony Elliott Classic scheduled to go 100 laps with the field quickly assembling on the infield area and after taking about ten warmup laps the green would fall on the 23 car field at 8:12. Chris Neuenschwander would pounce into the early lead from his second starting position and would pace the field for the first half of the race. Neuenschwander would open up a good lead with the field dicing it out behind the pacesetter. Derek Bischak, Bobby Santos III, Dakoda Armstrong and Kyle O'Gara would chase him in the beginning. Santos would slip by Bischak for second in turn three on lap fifteen and take up the chase of Neuenschwander. Kyle O'Gara passed Armstrong for third in turn one for third on lap twenty one and began to reel in Santos. Emerson Axsom in the Nolen car draped with Driven To Save Lives livery was on the march from seventh in fifth on lap twenty two. Kody Swanson and Tyler Roahrig were lurking just outside the top five at this point. The first caution would appear on lap thirty four when Kyle Robbins got his sprinter into the turn four wall to bring out the caution.
On the restart Neuenschwander continued to lead but Santos was nipping at his heels. Axsom gained another spot on the homestretch on lap forty to claim fourth. Santos got the opening he needed entering turn one on lap fifty three and moved by Neuenschwander for the lead at that point with O'Gara also slipping by for second. One lap later Axsom would take over third as Neuenschwander began to slip backwards. Kody Swanson finally cracked the top five with a turn two pass on lap sixty three as it was time to move forward. Santos continued to pace the field but the top five were all nose to tail in his tire tracks. Lap eighty one saw the last caution appeared when seventh running Billy Wease slowed in turn three to slow the action.
On the restart Santos got a good jump and went to the point with O'Gara and Axsom in tow. Swanson and Roahrig pulled a double pass of Dakoda Armstrong on the backstretch to move into fourth and fifth on lap eighty three. O'Gara seemed faster than Santos but it was difficult to pass on this cool evening and a couple of instances O'Gara chrome horn found Santos' rear bumper but O'Gara never tried to turn Santos in any corner as he was glued to Santos as they raced around the bullring. Santos was able to hold off the constant challenges of O'Gara and raced under the checkers at 8:44 taking the Elliott Classic with O'Gara second, Axsom a fine third, Swanson fourth and Roahrig rounding out the top five. Taylor Ferns would finish sixth with Dakoda Armstrong seventh, Caleb Armstrong eighth, Travis Welpott ninth and Nathan Byrd finishing tenth.
It was a well run program and good sprint car and midget features to boot and we watched half of the 44 lap champ kart feature which Mitchell Staats ended up winning before we departed the grounds after bidding farewell to Steve and see you Saturday at Haubstadt. Sometimes the unplanned ones turn out to be pretty good ones!!
That's it for now but check back Sunday or Monday for our report on USAC midgets, MSCS sprints and MMSA mini sprints from Tri-State Speedway in the Fall Harvest race. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and if in the northeast it is Oswego time and Super Dirt Week there. Be safe and be good and have fun wherever you end up. Comments, words of wisdom, news, stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy hearing about the tracks that we visit on a typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Swanson Prevails On Windy Day At Circle City
Sunday, October 2 – It was a nice day on this Sunday when we left Crawfordsville with temperatures in the high 60's and plenty of sunshine. We were taking in our third race of the weekend with the Circle City Raceway on the grounds of the Marion County Fairgrounds our destination. When we arrived at Circle City we knew we were in trouble as we exited the car and were greeted by a stiff wind blowing in our face. The two main enemies of a dirt track are wind and sunshine and Circle City had both today which didn't bode well for them or us.
Circle City Raceway is usually on the dry side to start with and with the conditions today it was even worse. Track maintenance after hot laps was the first order of business pushing the starting time back to 4:35 for the four division program featuring the wingless 410 sprints (24), the winged Racesaver 305 sprints (18), the wingless 600's (13) and the UMP modifieds (11). It was HARF (Hoosier Auto Racing Fans) night so admission for card carrying members was free saving us $16 on the day.
The wingless sprints would kick off the show contesting three heats with Matt McDonald holding off everything thrown at him by Jake Swanson to score the first heat win with Ricky Lewis third and Brandon Morin fourth. The second heat would see Brent Beauchamp pass Scotty Weir for the lead midway through the race and go on to win heat two chased by Weir, Michigan invader, Steve Irwin, making his Circle City debut and Travis Berryhill. Noah Whitehouse led the opening two laps in heat two before getting bit by the turn one cushion, biking and rolling over. The third heat race went to Bloomington's Hunter Maddox who we believe scored his first ever heat win anywhere in a sprinter over Thomas Meseraull, Rylan Gray and Gabriel Gilbert. Trey Osborne would also become a victim of the cushion in heat three this time in turn four rolling over the Chris Phillips #6T.
The winged 305 sprints were next to the post with Jeff Wimmenauer triumphing over Kevin Newton, Rod Henning and Nate Franklin. John Paynter Jr. captured heat two besting Bryce Norris, Shane O'Banion and Alex Nalon. Two heats were run for the wingless 600's taken by Mike Landis and Bruce Newlin Jr. The UMP modifieds ran two heats with Jarod Deckard and Derek Groomer winning.
After all the heat racing more track prep was performed before the first of four feature events hit the track surface.
The 25 lap wingless 410 sprint cars would be first up with the 24 car field brought to the green flag by the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Scotty Weir. Scotty would move to the early lead from the outside of the front row with T-Mez in pursuit. Lap two saw Brent Beauchamp motoring from sixth into fourth and making his presence known. Robert Brown Jr. lost the handle on his sprinter between turns one and two bringing out the first caution on lap four. The field went back to green again with Weir pacing the field trailed by Meseraull and Matt McDonald. The red would appear on lap nine when Rylan Gray and Zack Pretorius tangled in turn two with Pretorius getting upside down in the mishap. Pretorius was OK after the tumble.
That this point all the sprinters were moved to the inside of the oval and the water truck was dispatched onto the surface to water. To us it did not seem that bad and we couldn't understand why this was ordered. The field was re-fired after several minutes and the cars circled the oval for 13 laps running in the water laid down.
The green reappeared with Weir at the point and looking strong in the Landon Simon #24. Meanwhile Jake Swanson was moving forward taking fourth on lap ten and third in turn three on lap twelve. One lap later Gray stopped in turn three to bring out another caution. On the restart Collin Grissom got in too hot in turn three and rammed into the side of Steve Irwin who spun up against the wall with front end damage. Irwin was done for the day and Grissom restarted albeit with a crushed tail tank on the right side of his sprinter.
Weir remained the leader with Messeraull in his tire tracks with Hunter Maddox running a strong third. Swanson made his move for third on Maddox on the homestretch and took the spot starting lap seventeen. Smoke began to blow from the engine compartment of Weir's car and when the yellow waved on lap twenty for Derek Crane hitting the turn one fence Weir turned left into the infield done for the day with the smell of oil in the air.
Meseraull was the new leader with Swanson and Maddox in tow. Messeraull led until lap twenty two when Swanson slipped by and assumed the lead. One lap later Ryan Thomas lost a drive shaft in turn two and rolled to a stop in turn three to bring out the fifth and last caution of the race. On the restart Swanson was able to stave off the challenges of Meseraull and would go on to lead the final two laps taking the checkered at 7:07 for his first win at Circle City besting Meseraull who would be crowned the 2022 Circle City track champion in the Tyler Sturgeon #77AU with Brent Beauchamp third, Matt McDonald fourth and Travis Berryhill advancing from 11th to finish fifth.
With three features to run and the wind never letting up we decided to call it a night and stop for dinner on the way back home which ended up being the highlight of the day with Bubba's in Greenwood serving up some delicious grub.
Management at Circle City now has a year under their belts and can sit down during the off season and analyze year one and things they need to do to improve racing at Circle City. The biggest thing that needs to be addressed at the track is the racing surface itself as they need to hire someone to manicure the surface after sifting out the many rocks that fly into the grandstands every week being their first priority. If this isn't done someone is going to be seriously injured and a law suit is only one rock away. Don't get us wrong we are not bashing Circle City as they have done many good things over the course of the year and the facility minus the track surface is top notch with fine restroom facilities, wonderful aluminum grandstands and good concessions as big pluses. The biggest thing they did in 2022 was bringing dirt racing back to the Indianapolis area with a wide variety of racing divisions offered which is greatly appreciated by many. Their admission prices are quite reasonable up front in addition to also offering a senior citizen discount and having free nights also.. We are just suggesting upgrades that need to be tackled before the first green flag drops on the 2023 season at Circle City and keeping the dust down and reworking the track surface can only pay dividends with the neighbors. We will see what 2023 brings to Circle City.
That's it for this installment and we only have one race on the agenda for next weekend as the Midwest tracks begin to close their doors for the season. In the meantime especially in the east, get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the nice comments and other things sent our way.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Overcomes Fear To Cop USAC Sprint Run At Lawrenceburg
Saturday, October 1 – It was a beautiful fall day with plenty of sunshine with temperatures in the 70's. It made the 2 ½ hour drive down to Lawrenceburg much easier on the mind and the soul. Also the fact that we arrived in Lawrenceburg and found the price of gas to be $3.68, a whopping 41 cents cheaper than the price when we left Crawfordsville, which was an added bonus. The Lawrenceburg Speedway is a beautiful facility with plenty of concrete everywhere and the aluminum grandstands are second to none for room and comfort. Usually though the track surface is not the greatest on the big 3/8 mile dirt oval and call me a creature of the past but I enjoyed the old track configuration and dirt much better. Tonight would be a different matter as it was the Fall Nationals with $10,000 on the line to the winner of the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature and the racing action would be fierce and very exciting.
Twenty two qualify USAC sprint cars and eighteen UMP modifieds graced the turn three and four pit area for tonight's racing with time trials for the sprint cars the first order of business commencing at 6:14 with a two at a time format allowing them to complete time trials in just 11 minutes. CJ Leary would stand at the top of the speed charts for the ninth time in USAC sprint competition touring the high banked 3/8 mile oval in 13.926 seconds exactly one second off the track record of Levi Jones who posted a $100 bonus for anyone who broke the record today. After UMP modified hot laps and opening ceremonies it was right into racing with the first USAC sprint car qualifying race hitting the track at 7 PM, the scheduled time of opening ceremonies.
The top five qualifiers would move directly to the 30 lap main event and 18 year old and one day youngster, Emerson Axsom, wheeled the Clauson/Marshall #47BC to the opening heat victory in an intense battle among the top five. Logan Seavey would place second with Matt Westfall third, Justin Grant fourth and fast timer, CJ Leary, rounding out the top five. Chase Stockon looked strong in a KO Motorsports entry capturing heat two besting Brady Bacon, Max Adams, Thomas Meseraull and Anton Hernandez in another competitive heat race. The third heat was a wild affair with Jason McDougal in the second KO Motorsports entry held off the fierce challenges of Kevin Thomas Jr. back in a second Michael Dutcher #17 for the first time in seven years coming home second with Kyle Cummins third, Jake Swanson fourth and Robert Ballou fifth. The UMP modifieds would run three heats for their 18 cars on hand and ran very well also with all heats completed by 7:38.
There would be no semi for the USAC sprint cars so it was now feature time. The front row of Logan Seavey and Kyle Cummins would bring the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:07. Seavey and Cummins swapped the lead back and forth over the first two laps before the red appeared when Saban Bibent got crossed up exiting turn two and collected Keith Sheffer II, first time starter, Trip Gerrald, and JJ Hughes with Hughes getting the short end of the stick ending up side down to the melee. Only Sheffer was able to continue after the mishap.
On the restart Seavey took command ripping the lip with Kyle Cummins in hot pursuit but Seavey was able to quickly stretch his lead to a half straightaway over the next several laps. As the Cheney #42 paced the field the race was for second with Cummins and Grant hooked up in ding dong battler for the runner up position. Grant threw two sliders to try to wrestle second away from Cummins in turn three on lap 15 and in turns one and two on lap 16 but Cummins countered both times and edged ahead of Grant to retain second as Seavey pulled away to a two second lead.
Lap 17 would bunch the field back together as CJ Leary slowed while running sixth with a flat right rear tire and would pit and return to the action. The restart would see things scramble up in turn two as Cummins jumped the cushion allowing Grant to scoot by for second with fourth running Thomas Meseraull checking up behind Cummins causing a chain reaction with the next two in line, Anton Hernandez and Mitchel Moles getting together. Hernandez went sideways and lost a slew of positions before gathering it back up again. Max Adams then spun into the infield in turn three bringing out the caution and creating a second chance for both Cummins and Hernandez (docked two spots for jumping on the restart) as they were lined up back in their starting positions before the restart.
On the lap 17 restart Seavey bogged down a little giving Cummins the break he was looking for using a slider in turn one and taking the lead in turn two. Lap 21 saw Cummins jump the turn two cushion with Seavey getting a head of steam down the backstretch and diving to the low side to take the lead but Cummins countered off the turn four cushion and past Seavey back for the lead down low in turn four. Lap traffic came into play in the late stages and with two to go Cummins made a ballsy move in turns one and two but lost some time and momentum passing Jadon Rogers with Seavey closing the gap again. Cummins ended up buying some ground before Seavey was able to dispose of Rogers and take up the chase again. Cummins was candid in his victory lane interview that he considered this his biggest victory as going into turn three and four intimidates him and he was able to overcome his fear to his drive to victory.
With the checkered waving at 8:31 it was Cummins first across the line for his second straight USAC victory of the weekend with Seavey second, Grant third, Mitchel Moles coming from 10th to 4th and receiving the hard charger award with Brady Bacon advancing from 11th to 5th at the finish. Anton Hernandez would finish a strong sixth with Meseraull seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Max Adams rebounding from his earlier spin to place tenth.
It was a very good race at the Burg and with the early hour we decided to proceed up the road and stop at LaRosa's for a medium pepperoni pizza as a late dinner. It was a very enjoyable night with excellent racing probably one of the best runs we have ever seen at Lawrenceburg.
That's it for this segment but we are not done for the weekend as we head over to the Marion County Fairgrounds in about an hour to catch Sunday night racing at the Circle City Raceway where your HARF membership affords you free admission for the program of wingless sprints, winged 305 sprints, 600 micros and UMP modifieds starting at 4 PM. Until tomorrow get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the fall is upon us and racing is in its final stages of the season. News, comments, stories and other bits of interest can reach us at email@example.com. Be safe out there and be good.
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of WOO late model series announcer, Rick Eshelman, who took his own life over the weekend in what seems like a senseless act. So everyone we ask for you to be more vigilant around your friends and family so we can hopefully pick up on signs of mental troubles and reach out to these people to offer our love and support.
And speaking of love and support our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina affected by Hurricane Ian. If you are able please donate to relief efforts with groups like the American Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse and others who will try to assist these people in their low points of their lives.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Two In A Row In USAC Sprints At Kokomo
Friday, September 30 – It was a cool night at Kokomo Speedway on this Friday but the action was hot. Thirty two USAC sprint cars (down to 30 by heat time) were joined by twenty three Racesaver 305 sprints and twenty one thunder cars for a good night of racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana. This race was originally scheduled to be run at Terre Haute but a disagreement between the Vigo County Fair Board and the promoters at the Action Track had Scott Ronk asking the O'Connor family if they would host the event and they graciously agreed to do so.
Things would get underway with time trials for the USAC sprint cars commencing at 6:36 with 32 sprints taking time. When it was all said and done by 7:04 it was once again Mitchel Moles setting fast time around the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.306 seconds. Evan Mosley took a hard ride into the turn one and two fencing during his second qualifying lap after biking and twisting and turning into the catch fence ending his evening prematurely.
USAC sprint car heat racing would be the first heat racing of the evening kicking off at 7:44 with Jadon Rogers winning a very competitive heat one besting Brady Bacon, Mitchel Moles and Chase Stockon. Logan Seavey would wheel the Dwight Cheney #42 to victory in heat two over CJ Leary, Robert Ballou and Kyle Cummins. Thomas Meseraull steered the Tony Epperson #2E to the win in heat three outrunning Jake Swanson, Geoff Ensign back in the Baldwin #5 and young Jack Hoyer getting the call in the Paul Hazen #57 for the first time. During the running of this heat Harley Burns got crossed up in turn two with Kevin Thomas Jr. ramping over his right rear tire and rolling over in the process. Thomas returned for the heat but pulled off a lap later as a stuck lifter from the rollover ending his evening early also. According to his Twitter account it was the last engine for his team and he was looking for a ride for tonight's race at Lawrenceburg. The fourth heat was captured by Max Adams in the Michael Dutcher #17GP beating Jason McDougal, Matt Westfall and birthday boy, Emerson Axsom (18th), in another hotly contested heat race.
The Racesaver 305 sprint cars would take to the track to contest three heats with Alex Nalon, Carson Dillion and Justin Clark from Ohio and in contention for the national title taking down heat wins. The thunder cars would run three competitive heats before the USAC sprints returned for their semi event which had some top guns in it. Point leader, Justin Grant, scored the win in the semi over Anton Hernandez, Dave Darland, Harley Burns, Zack Pretorius and Brandon Mattox. The USAC sprints were the only ones who needed to run a B main so after some track prep it would be right into the three features.
The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature dubbed Lets Just Race would be called to the post first led to the green flag at 9:15 by the southern Indiana duo of Kyle Cummins and Chase Stockon. Surprisingly Stockon got the jump on the start powering into the early lead. By lap three Jake Swanson was challenging Cummins for second and swept by him between turns three and four to take second. Swanson quickly caught Stockon and the pair raced side by side for the next three laps with Swanson dove low in turn one on lap six. The race stayed green until lap ten when Harley Burns again got out of shape off turn four with Dave Darland launching over his wheel and beginning a series of end over end flips down the front stretch ending up past the starter's stand as the crowd went silent. Darland climbed from the battered sprinter moments later to the relief of the crowd with reports of a broken roll cage. This red allowed Cummins to regroup as the Byrum #3R was too tight and Kyle went to work inside the cockpit making shock adjustments which would be spot on and change the complexion of the race.
On the restart Swanson was on top with Stockon second and Cummins third. Emerson Axsom stuck his nose on the low side to draw even with Cummins racing for third but Cummins was able to hold off the challenge and remain in third. Cummins executed a slide job on Stockon to claim second on lap thirteen in turn three and was all over Swanson in short order. Lap fifteen saw Cummins throw a slider on Swanson in turn one and by turn two Swanson was able to stave off the charge. One lap later Cummins used the same move in turn one and this time it worked and Kyle was in front. Swanson was not done sliding Cummins in turn three but drifted high in turn four and Cummins went to the point which he would not give up. Cummins pulled away over the final fourteen laps and looked to be home free but the caution waved with one to go when CJ Leary and Anton Hernandez banged wheels battling for ninth on the homestretch with Hernandez getting the short end of the straw spinning backward on the homestretch luckily being avoided by everyone behind.
When the race returned to green it was Cummins surging away and at 9:35 it was Cummins across the line first for his second straight win in USAC competition at Kokomo beating Jake Swanson, Chase Stockon, Emerson Axsom and Mitchel Moles to the finish. It was Cummins' three USAC win of 2022 and his 13th career USAC win. It was also Cummins fifth top five finish in USAC racing at Kokomo in 2022 setting a new record in this statistic.
Brady Bacon gained a few points advancing from 12th to 6th at the finish with Jadon Rogers 7th, Justin Grant from 15th to 8th, Logan Seavey 9th and Robert Ballou moving from 16th to 10th.
The 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint feature was next on tap with the green dropping at 9:51. Jordan Welch would lead the early stages of this race with Jeff Wimmenauer and Bradley Sterrett chasing. Three cautions would slow the action with Sterrett passing Welch for the lead in turn two on lap eleven and never looking back. Welch would hold off the field to finish second with Ethan Barrow moving from sixth to finish third with Wimmenauer taking fourth and Justin Clark rounding out the top five at 10:06.
It was good racing all night long but the company of friends, Gary Dean and Sally Ebling along with Max and Susie Niemann, makes it extra special.
That's it for this report but check back tomorrow or Monday for reports from Lawrenceburg and Circle City as our “typical weekend” continues. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Season Final Goes To Beauchamp At Lincoln Park
Saturday, September 24 – The fall season is now upon us with the temperatures only in the low 70's but dropping into the low 60's after the sun set. It would be the final night of racing for the year at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana, the closest track to our house, and therefore considered our home track. It would be the eleventh time that we have attended racing at the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval and we enjoy our visits as it is one of the most comfortable places to view racing sitting in the concrete grandstands in your fold out chair with a cooler between the seats and an unobstructed view of the entire track makes for a pleasant night of racing.
A five division program consisting of non-wing sprints (24), super stocks (18), UMP modifieds (17), bombers (20) and mod lites (7) for a grand total of 86 cars. The first sprint car heat would take the green at exactly 7:30 with the top five moving directly into the 25 lap main event which would decide the point champion in each division. Young Zack Pretorius claimed heat one over an young gun, Harley Burns, with Jesse Vermillion, Matt McDonald and Tyler Roth towing in from Springfield, Illinois placing it in the field. Brent Beauchamp established himself as a serious contender tonight blasting from sixth to take down heat two over Californian Frankie Guerrini, Arizonian Kyle Shipley, Brian Hayden and Aaron Davis. The third heat went to young Brayden Fox contending for the point championship with Tye Mihocko and Geoff Ensign tonight. John Sluss followed in second trailed by Mihocko, Crawfordsville's Chad Davenport and Allen Howard Jr. Ensign was the point leader coming into tonight's action but was not in attendance as he got the golden opportunity to drive the Baldwin #5 orange crate at Eldora tonight and who could blame him. That left the door open for Fox and Mihocko who had to finish ninth or better and the one who finished ahead of the other would be crowned the point champion. Noah Whitehouse turned turtle as he collided with another sprinter in turn four and executed a soft Tommy tipover in heat three and was OK.
Next up were the super stocks for their three heats with Terre Haute's Paul Wright taking heat one, Brazil's Larry Raines claiming heat two and Terre Haute's Travis Heramb nailing down heat three. The UMP modifieds would contest two heats with Jamie Lomax and Tyler Loughmiller taking heat wins. The bombers spun off three heats and the mod lites ran one heat.
The sprint car B main would provide the final five entrants for the 25 lap feature event with Blake Vermillion winning this one over Ivan Glotzbach, Kyle Johnson, Cody Williams and Stan “Beetle Juice” Beedles the last man in.
The 20 lap super stock feature would be the first one to the post to give the B main sprinters time to regroup taking the green flag at 9 PM. Justin Massie would pace the field for the first nine laps before fifth starting Larry Raines would take over the lead. Raines would lead the remainder of the distance and the 60 year old Raines who admitted in victory lane after also clinching the point title that he was going to retire at the end of 2021. His crew said lets do it again in 2022 and Raines captured his first point title in many years of trying and encouraged the crowd to never give up on your goals no matter what your age. Some sage advice Mr. Raines!!! Massie and Travis Heramb trailed Raines to the finish at 9:15.
It was now time to determine the 2022 sprint car champion at Lincoln Park with the front row of Brent Beauchamp and Zack Pretorius bringing the 20 car field to Brian Hodde's green flag at 9:35. Beauchamp would power into the early lead and would pace the field over the first four laps until Tyler Roth and Allen Howard Jr. spinning in turn two to bring out the first caution. On the restart it was Beauchamp to the point chased by Pretorius and Brayden Fox. Tye Mihocko was on the move from his ninth starting position and picked off Harley Burns for fourth on lap six and three laps later passed Fox for third just before Brian Hayden lost the handle in turn two with Mihocko retaining the third position.
On the restart Beauchamp was quick to go back out front with Mihocko racing side by side with Pretorius through turns one and two before completing the pass as the pair raced down the backstretch. The final stoppage would occur on lap thirteen when Kyle Johnson made contact with another sprinter in turn four and executed a slow roll with everyone OK. Beauchamp was back out front on the restart with Mihocko and Pretorius in tow. Fox started to make the point run interesting as he slipped by Pretorius for third on lap fifteen making the top three Beauchamp, Mihocko and Fox. Beauchamp was up to the challenge and would not be headed over the final ten laps crossing the line at 9:55 for his third win of 2022 at LPS in the Jeff Wilson owned #34 besting Tye Mihocko who would edge Brayden Fox by two points for his first LPS point title and the third for car owners Jamie and Michelle Paul and their potent #24P. Pretorius would come home fourth with Frank Guerrini rounding out the top five. Harley Burns paced the second five in sixth with Kyle Shipley seventh, Aaron Davis eighth, Matt McDonald ninth and Jesse Vermillion taking down tenth.
We decided to take in the 20 lap UMP modified feature which went green at 10:06 with only one caution slowing the action. Matt Mitchell of Rensselaer took the lead from the start with Jamie Lomax applying pressure the entire distance but Mitchell was up to the task and crossed the line first at 10:12 with Lomax second, Tyler Loughmiller, the junior at nearby DePauw University, claiming third and giving him enough points to take the 2022 LPS modified championship. Will Bennett rode home fourth and Wes McClara, former super stock driver, moving into the UMP modified class had a fine run advancing from fourteenth to finish fifth.
It was a good night of racing at Lincoln Park and we left satisfied with witnessing a well run program spun off in a timely manner.
That's it for this installment but check back next weekend as we plan on making it a three race weekend if the weather cooperates. In the meantime plot your fall racing as the year is getting long in the tooth and racing will soon be done as colder weather sets in. Get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. News, comments, stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. Thanks for reading our efforts and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
James Dean Classic Doubleheader At Gas City To Thomas & Kofoid
Thursday, September 22 - After it being 91 degrees yesterday in Indiana today's high was projected to being 63. A cold front rolling in from Canada is the culprit and we realized going in that tonight at Gas City I-69 Speedway was going to be a cold one with temperatures dropping into the low 50's with winds between 10 and 20 mph blowing in our faces!!! We arrived later than usual (6:20) and found a very good crowd on hand for the fourth James Dean Classic featuring a doubleheader of USAC sprint cars and midgets. Thirty six sprint cars were joined by twenty three midgets for the show tonight on the ¼ mile bullring located in Grant County with time trials the first order of business for both open wheel classes. We settled into our seats in the last section of grandstands going into turn one about three rows from the top with the dirt balls flying into the entire length of the homestretch stands including our area.
The USAC National Sprint Cars would open the program with their time trials starting at 6:42 and concluding at 7:04. Kyle Cummins continues his late season surge romping to fast time with a lap of 11.585 seconds around Gas City. The USAC National Midgets would follow pushing off for their timed laps at 7:17 and finishing up at 7:36 with Maria Cofer setting her first fast time in USAC national midgets with a time of 12.052 around the ¼ mile bullring. Cofer became the eighth different female driver to set fast time in a USAC National Midget history.
The USAC sprint cars would contest their four heat races first with the top four moving directly to the big 30 lap feature event. Kyle Cummins established himself as the man to beat charging from sixth to score the win in heat one besting Logan Seavey, Scotty Weir in the Simon #24 and Shane Cottle. Brent Beauchamp triumphed in his own sprinter in heat two out dueling CJ Leary, Geoff Ensign and Thomas Meseraull in the best sprint heat of the evening. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from fourth in the BGE Dougherty #15K to claim heat three over Jadon Rogers, Max Adams in the Dutcher stead and Brady Bacon. Chase Stockon looked impressive in heat four winning over Justin Grant, Mitchel Moles and Harley Burns.
The USAC midgets would spin off three heats for their 23 car field with everyone advancing into the 30 lap main event. Taylor Reimer looked strong winning heat one beating Mitchel Moles, Maria Cofer and Bryant Wiedeman. Thomas Meseraull captured heat two besting Tanner Carrick, Ethan Mitchell and Cannon McIntosh who came back from a time trial roll in turn two earlier to take fourth. Buddy Kofoid dominated heat three besting Alex Bright making a guest appearance in one of the Malloy #25's, Justin Grant and Brenham Crouch.
No B main was needed for the midgets so only the sprint cars would run a B main with Robert Ballou rebounding from a heat altercation to win this one over Jason McDougal, Jake Swanson, Colten Cottle, Emerson Axsom and Matt Westfall the last man in. Management and USAC were working hand in hand to move this program along quickly as the evening turned colder and it was greatly appreciated. The wind did die down some but it was still cold.
The 30 lap USAC midget feature would be the first main event to take to the track as the sprint car B main cars made final preparations for their upcoming main event. The front row of Keith Kunz teammates, Brenham Crouch and Kaylee Bryson, would bring the field to the green flag at 9:18 with Bryson grabbing the early lead. Bryson would pace the first seven laps with Crouch on her tail until another Kunz car, Bryant Wiedeman, caught the turn three cushion wrong and went for a wild ride before ending up roll cage side down in the middle of turns three and four. Wiedeman was OK after his big ride but the same could not be said for his mount.
On the restart Bryson bounced several times in turn three and four allowing Crouch and Buddy Kofoid to draw even as the trio raced to the start/finish line. Crouch's advantage went away quickly when he emulated Bryson's bumpy ride in turns one and two allowing Kofoid to slip into second. Lap 12 saw a surging Jacob Denney in a Malloy stead blast by Kofoid to garner the second position on his march forward. Kofoid tried to counter in turn one diving low but also went bouncing right into the side of Denney sending him off of turn two and by the time Denney recovered he had dropped to eighth. Kofoid retained second but Bryson was able to increase her advantage by quite a margin as she was looking to capture her first USAC national midget win. Kofoid regained his composure and started to reel Bryson back in. By lap eighteen Kofoid threw his first slider on Bryson in turn one and momentarily took the lead but Bryson crossed over in turn two and was back in front. Kofoid executed the same move a lap later this time giving Bryson little choice but to back out of it giving the lead to Kofoid. Bryson attempted to slide Kofoid in turn three but hopped again giving Kofoid the lead for good. Buddy motored away over the final ten laps while the battle raged behind him for second through fifth among Bryson, Crouch, Denney and Crum.
When the checkered waved at 9:34 it was Kofoid across the line first for his tenth USAC win of the year and the first driver to notch double figures in a single season since Rich Vogler in 1988. It was also a historic win for car owner, Keith Kunz, who notched his 133rd career USAC owner win tying him for first with Steve Lewis and the famous white #9's. With the win Kofoid also looks like he is in the driver's seat literally to score his second straight USAC National Midget title as his point lead increased to 161 points with 11 races to go.
As Kofoid crossed the line Blake Brannon flipped his midget on the cushion in turns three and four but the race was official with Kofoid the winner trailed by Kaylee Bryson who finished second and equaled the best finish for a female driver in USAC National competition since Sarah McCune at Winchester in 1999. Brenham Crouch came home third with Chance Crum fourth and Jacob Denney rounding out the top five. Ethan Mitchell led the second five across the line in sixth with Cannon McIntosh recording a fine seventh after starting twenty third with Thomas Meseraull eighth, Tanner Carrick ninth and Justin Grant notching tenth.
We still have the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature to run and by 9:59 the green flag waved on the 22 car field. Kevin Thomas Jr. who only qualified 11th fastest got a big break when five of the top six qualifiers did not advance through the heat races giving Thomas the pole for the feature event. Thomas who has been on a tear winning two of the last four events (it could easily have been three if a flat didn't derail him while leading at Tri-State last Saturday) took the early lead from Logan Seavey by sliding up in front of him entering turn one on the opening lap. Thomas increased his lead by over two seconds through the first five laps as Seavey chased. As Thomas paced the field up to the halfway mark it was Kyle Cummins who was making inroads from his sixth starting position moving into third and closing on the front two.
The track began to change with it becoming slick and Thomas' advantage was dwindling as they moved past the halfway mark as everyone tried to figure out where to run to move forward. By lap seventeen Seavey was ready to pounce as the lead was down to near nothing. On lap twenty Seavey drove low in turn three and by turn four was the new leader of the event. Thomas came off the top and went to the bottom to draw closer back to Seavey. On lap twenty two Thomas was able to move back by Seavey into the top position once again. Seavey was not quite done as he powered on the high side into turns one and two with two to go and drew even with Thomas once again. Thomas slid by Max Adams on the low side in turn three and went to the top off turn four with Adams going low and back by Thomas as Seavey moved closer entering turn one but got a little too high in turn two allowing Thomas to scoot away and back under Adams entering turn three. KTJ was able to hold off Seavey as they raced to the checkers at 10:06 in the non-stop event with Cummins third, Robert Ballou advancing from 11th to fourth and Justin Grant motoring from 14th to fifth. I mentioned earlier that Cummins has been on a roll as well as Thomas as Kyle recorded his eighth consecutive top four in USAC sprint competition.
Mitchel Moles finished sixth with CJ Leary seventh, Emerson Axsom eighth, Brent Beauchamp ninth and Brady Bacon struggling in the feature to come home tenth. It was some good racing on a cold night and we were glad to get back in the Rogue and warm up on the ride home.
Check back Sunday as we venture down to Lincoln Park Speedway for their season final Saturday and we will bring out report to you. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as fall arrives. Comments, news, opinions or anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we enjoy hearing from you all. And thanks for reading our efforts and hope you will continue to see where a typical weekend ends up in the next few weeks. Take care and be good.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Lindberg Wins The Battle, Werkmeister The War At I-90
Thursday, September 8 – We left for our vacation on Thursday afternoon and made our way across Illinois and into Iowa. We stopped on Thursday night in Cedar Rapids for the night and decided to take in a Double A Midwest League between the South Bend Cubs and the Cedar Rapids Kernels won by the Kernels 2 to 1 in a well played game.
Friday, September 9 – This was a day spent for the majority of the day driving in our rental car making short stops as we traveled through northern Iowa and northern Minnesota before passing into South Dakota. In Minnesota we stopped to check out the beautiful Jackson Motorplex which has been added to our hit list for the future and the Worthington Speedway also in Minnesota. We spent the evening in Brandon, South Dakota but did not attend Huset's Speedway as they were not running on this evening.
Saturday, September 10 – Traveling north in South Dakota on this day we ended up in De Smet, one of the childhood homes of Laura Ingalls, the author who ended up writing a series of books about her childhood growing up in South Dakota and other states. Many will remember the TV series, Little House On The Prairie, starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert as Laura that was based on her books. We retraced our steps and ended up in Hartford as the evening was planned to visit a new race track, the I-90 Speedway, a 3/8 mile high banked black gumbo dirt oval.
The program would consist of four divisions of 96 total cars headlined by the IMCA Racesaver 305 sprint cars (23). Also on the program were USRA hobby stocks (29) strong, USRA B mods (24) and street stocks (20). They would run all their heats in just 1 hour and 15 minutes moving along at a very good pace. The hobby stocks ran four heats while the B mods also ran four heats, the street stocks three heats and the 305 sprints contesting four heats.
Heat one in the 305 sprints went to Logan Kafka over Dalton Domagala, Amelia Eisenschenk, a feature winner here in 2022 and Andrew Sullivan. Jesse Lindberg captured heat two outdistancing Bayley Ballenger, Jared Jansen and Nate Barger who was tied for the points leader going into tonight, the last race of the season. John Lambertz powered to the win in heat three defeating Micah Slendy, co-point leader Koby Werkmeister and Ryan Serrao. The fourth and final heat was won by Lee Goos Jr. turning back Nicholas Winter, Bryan Park and Cole Olson. Jeremiah Jordahl scored the B main win over Dillon Bickett, Renn Weber and Wade Hansen the last man in.
It was now feature time with the hobby stocks taking center stage first for their 12 lap main event with Josh Bradley getting the win over 10th starting Tracy Halouska and Brandon Jurrens. Next up were the B mods for their 15 lap feature and Derek VanVeldhuizen scored his first win of 2022 in the last race of the year over Tyler Tesch and Aaron DeThury in a good race. The 18 lap street stock feature was next on the dance card and Pat and I agreed that this one was the best feature of the evening with plenty of side by side racing sometimes four wide with John Hoing moving from seventh to the front and scoring the big win over Garet Deboer, Brady Klaassen with his brother, Colby coming from eighth to fourth with Dustin Gulbrandson coming home fifth.
The stage was now set for the 20 lap IMCA Racesaver 305 sprints with the point title on the line between 11th starting Koby Werkmeister and 14th starting Nate Barger. At the drop of the green at 10:01 it was Jesse Lindberg to the point and never looking back in this one. Koby Werkmeister moved ahead of Nate Barger half way through the race as Barger began to fade dropping back as Werkmeister moved as high as sixth. Late in the race Werkmeister began to fade also either with car problems or playing it a little safe. When the checkered flag dropped at 10:13 it was Lindberg in for the win with Lee Goos Jr. making the biggest charge from 11th to 2nd at the end with Dalton Domagala third, Logan Kafka fourth and Bayley Ballenger rounding out the top five. Koby Werkmeister would come home ninth and win the war securing the 2022 point title with Nate Barger limping home in nineteenth at the end.
It was a good night of racing with the entire program wrapped up in just over two hours in a well tuned show and some good racing witnessed on this cool evening.
That's it for now as we continue our vacation in South Dakota so there will not be any reports next weekend but will pick up again the following weekend. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and have fun. News, comments, rumors or anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and continue to check back to see where our typical weekend takes us next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Wins Again At Kokomo & Also Clinches Point Title
Sunday, September 4 – Once again weather was on everyone's mind as Sunday dawned cloudy with rain forecasted for the day. After attending church and eating lunch we came back to the house and checked the weather for Kokomo and it looked much better with predictions in the 30% range. As we packed up and prepared to leave for Kokomo we noticed a pop up shower hit the Kokomo area around 4 PM. As Pat monitored the Kokomo Facebook I drove the Rogue out on Rt. 47, one of various roads on our trip to Kokomo as road construction has made for interesting roads to transverse in our journey to the City Of Firsts. Kokomo got this nickname from a significant number of technical and engineering innovations particularly in the automobile industry which is still a big part of the Kokomo economy.
Upon arriving at Kokomo we parked our vehicle with the back facing the big aluminum grandstand on the backstretch and kicked back for a while. It was not long before Roger Farrell spotted us and dropped by to chat. Soon after we saw our Bloomington friends, Jen Kelley and Dan Hetser, walk by and we gave them a wave. We ended up sitting right in front of them during the evening so we had plenty of time to chat.
The race tonight was in honor of Vince Osmun, a sprint car driver who died in a B main flip at Kokomo on September 27th, 1997. He was 34 when his life was cut short and it is nice to see Kokomo honor the little guy in racing also who was a resident of Kokomo. A three division program with fireworks was on the dance card tonight and a fine field of 37 wingless sprints, 30 UMP modifieds and 29 street stocks turned out for the event. During hot laps for the sprint cars Sterling Cling clipped an infield tire in turn three and rolled several times quickly climbing from the car uninjured. He would return for his heat a little later.
Sprint car heats were the first racing action on the docket with the first of four qualifying heats taking the green at 8:04 with the top four moving into the 25 lap feature. A good race battle was contested between Critter Malone and Max Adams in the family car before Adams took the lead late in the event and scored the victory over Malone, Cole Bodine and Jack Hoyer. Kyle Cummins picked up where he left off last Saturday by breezing to the heat two win over Kyle Shipley also in his own car, Trey Osborne trying the dirt after mostly running asphalt and Travis Hery. CJ Leary motored to victory in heat three in the Gray #81 easily besting Jadon Rogers, Scotty Weir and Saban Bibent. Colten Cottle powered the Paul Hazen #57 to the win in heat four beating Rylan Gray, Zack Pretorius and Tye Mihocko in his own car.
The UMP modifieds would run four heats also with Nick Richards, Dylan Woodling, Derek Losh and Michael Kettnich scoring heat wins. The street stocks also ran four heats won by Rick Paul, Chris Hunter, Trevor Bitterling and Brad Battering. All heats were in the books by 9:18.
The sprint cars would run two B mains with only the top two advancing to the rear of the feature event. Ricky Lewis put on a good display of passing to capture B main one outrunning Sterling Cling who squeezed by Brian Hayden in turn four on the final lap to earn his way into the feature. Ryan Barr ran a good race in B main two besting Evan Mosley who was the last man in.
Weather was reported to be moving in at this point so the fireworks which were next on the schedule were pushed back to last on the card after the three features. First up would be the 25 lap sprint car feature with the Kokomo Speedway point title on the line. Coming into the evening Justin Grant held the point lead but was in Wisconsin scheduled to run a USAC midget but the show at Angell Park was canceled due to saturated grounds and the track crew unable to work the track into racing shape. This left the points race wide open with Scotty Weir sitting in second in the points and looking to take his second track title of 2022 after winning one at Gas City on Friday. Kyle Cummins was lurking in third just 11 points behind Weir with Cole Bodine only 14 points back. Cummins was scheduled to run at Tri-State in Haubstadt tonight but an early call for rain saw him and his crew make the long haul to Northeast Indiana to try to pull off the championship.
The 20 car field was led to the green flag by Max Adams and Colten Cottle at 10:24 and by lap one third starting Kyle Cummins had stormed into the lead passing both of the front rowers. CJ Leary from fourth took second away from Adams in turn two on lap seven and took up the chase of Cummins for the top spot. The first caution of the event waved on lap eight when Critter Malone and Jack Hoyer tangled in turn two with Hoyer doing a complete 360 and then stopping on the track. At this point the race took a disastrous turn for Scotty Weir as he pulled the Petersen # 4P onto the infield road out of the race with mechanical woes ending his bid for the point title.
On the restart Cummins went to the point with Leary and Adams chasing. Jadon Rogers hooked up in a spirited duel with Adams for third with sliders and crossovers exchanged before Rogers was able to wrestle the third position away from Adams in turn two on lap thirteen. One lap later a double flip occurred in turn two also in two separate incidents with Saban Bibent dumping the Wedgewood #98 hard with Sterling Cling catching the wall behind him several yards away with Cling also going over for the second time on the evening. Bibent was finished for the evening but like the EverReady Bunny lo and behold Cling returned from the pit area for the restart.
On the restart Leary challenged Cummins for the lead with a big slider between turns one and two with Cummins expertly crossing over to retain the lead. Over the next five laps these two professionals squared off toe to toe swapping the lead back and forth several times each lap. Lap nineteen saw Leary use the slider again in turn two to take the lead but Cummins was not done yet. The pair raced close never touching in the next three laps with Cummins storming by on the homestretch coming for two to go. On the white flag lap Rylan Gray looped his sprinter in the action spot of the track tonight, turn two to set up a green, white, checker showdown. Cummins protected the inside off turn four coming for the green and stayed low entering turn one to ward off the slider attempt by Leary. They raced closely around the track over the final few laps with Cummins crossing the line first at 10:43 getting another win at the Howard County bullring over Leary, Rogers, Adams and Cottle. Cummins also clinched the Kokomo Speedway point title, his first, not bad for a guy who lives 3 ½ hours away but in his limited appearances his dominance was enough to give him the track title. Critter Malone led the second five across the line in sixth with Cole Bodine coming up short 32 points to Cummins in seventh. Tye Mihocko placed eighth with Jack Hoyer rebounding for ninth after finishing second at Gas City on Friday with Kyle Shipley rounding out the top ten.
We decided to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature and it turned out to be a good one. Derek Losh grabbed the lead from Dylan Woodling on lap six and many figured this one was over with but nobody told Nick Richards about this. Richards moved into second and pressured Losh several times over the remaining fourteen laps of the event and nosed in front a few times in the process. But when it was said and done at 11:02 Losh would stand in victory lane another time this year with Richards second, Todd Sherman a fine third, Garrett Jameson fourth and Woodling fading to fifth at the finish.
It was time to call it a night and head southeast toward Crawfordsville satisfied with another good night of racing at the baddest bullring in Indiana.
That's it for a while as he head out to South Dakota for vacation starting Thursday but check back next weekend as we are scheduled to take in some racing in the Mount Rushmore state over the vacation. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road and catch some racing elsewhere. But either way be safe, have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, stories, news or other points of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you continue to enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Drives To Early Morning Win In Josh Burton Memorial At Bloomington
Friday, September 2 – It was cloudy and 81 degrees when we left Crawfordsville at 2:45 and by the time we turned into the parking lot at the Bloomington Speedway it was sunny and 89 degrees with lots of humidity. What a difference a two hour drive in Indiana will give you weather wise.
On tap tonight was the 8th Josh Burton Memorial honoring the young man who was killed in a sprint car accident at Bloomington in 2013 driving the family #04 with the family keeping his memory alive by sponsoring an event for him for eight years now. This is always a nice event and we enjoy attending as it is nice to honor a young man gone too soon. This program was rained out on Memorial Day weekend and rescheduled to Labor Day weekend. A five division program (too many) was on the race card with MSCS sprints bringing a fine field of 48 sprinters joined by 23 MMSA mini sprints, 15 UMP modifieds, 25 super stocks and 19 hornets for a grand total of 130 cars plus fireworks. We knew it was going to be a long night but we never expected it to be as long as it turned out to be.
The MSCS sprints would be running for $10,000 to win tonight and would contest five heats with the first three across the line moving directly to the big payoff race. CJ Leary in the Gray Auto #81 romped to the first heat win over the team cars of Carson Garrett and Kevin Thomas Jr. Jadon Rogers won a hotly contested heat two besting defending Burton winner, Jake Swanson, and Jordan Kinser in one of two Jerry Burton entries for the evening. Jason McDougal in one of two KO Motorsports cars drove his #5M to victory in heat three and continues to impress in this ride in 2022. Brent Beauchamp and McDougal's teammate, Chase Stockon, chased him across the line in a highly entertaining race. Kyle Cummins coming off his big Smackdown win last Saturday scored the win in heat four over Geoff Ensign at the wheel of the Gass #17G and AJ Hopkins in the second Jerry Burton #04. The fifth and final sprint heat went to Brady Bacon in one of two Wedgewood Motorsports #98's over Robert Ballou and Brandon Mattox in a strong run.
The MMSA mini sprints were next on the docket bringing a field of 23 strong with three heats scheduled for them. Cody Knieriem would capture heat one over Kayla Roell and Bryan Brewer. Heat two went to current MMSA point leader, Brad Strunk, over Jeremy Schnepper and Mike Larrison. The third heat went to one of the neater names in racing, Elijah Knoke (pronounced ka-no-key) besting Gage Green and Scott Bradley.
The UMP modifieds would run two heats next followed by three competitive heats for the super stocks and three heats for the entertaining hornets.
The MSCS sprints would come back to run their D main with the first five moving to the rear of the C main with Alec Sipes taking this one. The fireworks were next on the card and this is where the wheels came off the wagon. After a fine display when the lights were turned back on they did not light in turn two, three and four. A reset was done with turn two turning on but turns three and four did not fire up. At this point some Yankee ingenuity took place as about a dozen trucks, cars, jeeps, UTV's and flat beds were lined up in the infield pointing their headlights out onto the banks in turns three and four. After close to an hour delay the sprint car C main was called to the track and spun off their event with Saban Bibent winning this one over Koby Barksdale, Ricky Lewis, Max Adams and Alec Sipes all moving to the B main. Next was the dash for cash for the MSCS sprints which also would determine the top five starters for the feature event. CJ Leary would grab the win in this one besting Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins, Jadon Rogers and Jason McDougal. At this point they tried bringing in another big tow truck to illuminate turns three and four with some success. The sprint car B main would take the final five into the 30 lap main event making for a twenty car starting field to vie for $10,000 to win big prize. Mario Clouser would prevail in the B beating Thomas Meseraull, Lee Underwood, Andy Bradley and Max Adams the last man in.
At this point the night took another bizarre turn as it was never said by the announcers as such but the order of the feature events were revamped with the MMSA mini sprints now called to the post for the first feature of the evening as the clock struck 12. We believe that the sprint car drivers asked for more lighting in turns three and four before they ran their feature event so the call was made to bring in a truck with two portable pole lights on the bed of the truck.
So the 20 lap MMSA feature went green at 12:14 with Brad Strunk quickly charging into the lead, one which he would never yield. Bryan Brewer made a nice run forward to finish second at the end with Scott Bradley also making a good run to claim third with Kayla Roell fourth and Adyn Schmidt rounding out the top five at 12:32.
The lights were still not here so the 20 lap UMP modified feature was called to the post and the 15 car field went green. Jordan Wever was able to hold off Derek Groomer to win this one which ended at 12:50. Well, the sprint car feature will be next, right? No, the super stocks were called up next and luckily these guys put on a good feature going non-stop while the truck with its two lights set up in the infield. Matt Boknecht passed Derek Groomer late in this feature to gain the win with this checkered waving at 1:12.
Finally the 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature was called to the post with CJ Leary and Brady Bacon leading the 20 car field to the green flag at 1:25. Leary went out front at the start using the low groove while Bacon ripped the lip around the ¼ mile bullring. Bacon caught and passed Leary off turn four on lap eight and looked to be in command of the tussle. Leary continued to work the bottom and gained ground lap after lap on Bacon passing him back at lap thirteen to the surprise of many, Bacon included. Bacon would slide off the backstretch several laps later returning but losing valuable ground and positions. Jason McDougal worked his way into second from fifth and began to pressure Leary for the lead but Leary was up to the challenge and pulled away. Geoff Ensign was making some big moves up from his ninth starting spot passing Kyle Cummins and Brady Bacon along the way. This one was going to go non-stop in just seven minutes with Leary flashing under the flag stand at 1:32 winning the $10,000 prize with McDougal second, Ensign third in a fine run, Bacon fourth and Cummins rounding out the top five. Chase Stockon came from 13th to 6th at the finish with Kevin Thomas Jr. from 11th to 7th, Robert Ballou 8th, Brandon Mattox finally getting a good run after much heartbreak this year coming from 15th to 9th with Mario Clouser racing from 16th to 10th.
The hornets still had their feature to run but we cried uncle, gathered up our belongings and headed toward the exit as over half the people had left before us never getting to see the sprint car main event which is a shame.
We knew coming in that they always start later than normal due to the pre-race tribute where all the pit people come to the rim of the track to honor Josh Burton as Patrick Sullivan makes a speech and we understand, accept and enjoy that part of the program. What management needs to do in the future for this important event is cut the number of divisions to three at the most and the fireworks as five divisions and fireworks is just too much and if you have any problems such as what happened tonight the results are disastrous. We are sure no one except maybe CJ Leary went away from this night happy over all that played out on this long, long evening.
Saturday, September 3 – This was a day with rain in the forecast and the first to wave the white flag was DuQuoin Fairgrounds and the USAC Silver Crown series as overnight rain into the morning has postponed this event to Labor Day Monday with the Silver Crown race to go green at 1 PM. The next to fall to the rain was our third choice of the day, the Indianapolis Speedrome, and the last and our first choice was the Lincoln Park Speedway as rain hit the track around 5 PM and shortly thereafter the black flag was waved on this one also.
That's it until at least Monday as Sunday's plans do not look promising as rain continues to be the spoiler. But check back soon to see what plays out in the next couple of days and where we might end up. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, be safe, have fun and stay hydrated. News, stories, comments, opinions and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. As always thanks for reading our efforts as we try to give to give you the facts so you can decide if you want to visit somewhere new or not.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull Comes From The Tail To Win At Circle City
Sunday, August 28 – It was going to be a hot one today with temperatures pushing into the 90's with plenty of sunshine. After spending three days at Kokomo for Smackdown XI you would think we would be raced out but no. There was one more day to the weekend and Circle City Raceway was running so there was where we were headed and with it being HARF (Hoosier Auto Racing Fans) night with free admission for HARF card carriers it was a no brainer!! Joining us on the evening was Pennsylvania's Bill Burns making his rookie appearance at Circle City before heading back east to the Keystone State. Pop up showers had rolled through parts of the Indianapolis area and while we were sitting in the lobby at Bill and Judy's hotel one hit that area. As we later drove toward the track there were sections of the ride where rain had never dropped but the Marion County Fairgrounds was not one of them. Upon arrival around 5:30 we ventured into the big aluminum grandstands and noticed water standing in parts of the walkways. The track crew was working the track and it was looking pretty good but we realized that the 6 PM starting time would not happen. It was really not a bad thing as the track was in the best condition we have seen it for any of our five visits here. It even built up a cushion in the corners which made for better racing as the sprinters bounced their right rears off of it touring the track.
The race card tonight would consist of three divisions, the wingless sprints (19), the UMP modifieds (16) and super stocks (7). A surprise visitor in the sprint car division was England's Tom Harris looking to expound upon his making the starting field for the final night of Smackdown for the first time in three tries.
The first of three sprint car heats would take the green flag at 7:05 with the before mentioned Harris bolting into the lead and never looking back scoring the win in heat one over Travis Berryhill, Thomas Meseraull and Matt McDonald. The Banbury, Oxford resident looked strong in his heat and established himself as a contender for the 25 lap sprint feature. Scotty Weir in a tight battle with T-Mez for the Circle City point title ( 1 point separation coming into tonight) made his presence known by winning heat two in the Landon Simon #24 besting Brandon Spencer, Rylan Gray and Noah Whitehouse. Ryan Thomas in the Wingo Brothers #77 scored the win in heat three beating Collin Grissom, Nic Harris venturing in from Illinois and Kayleb Bolton.
The UMP modifieds would run two heats with Nick Richards winning heat one over Derek Groomer and Jack Dossey, a crossover from the Indianapolis Speedrome where his family has had a glorious history in the figure 8 division. Jordan Wever claimed the win in heat two over Jeff Deckard and Todd Sherman. The super stocks followed with one heat with Austin Phelps the winner.
No B mains would be needed so the three features would be next on the race card.
The front row of Tom Harris and Ryan Thomas brought 17 of their fellow competitors to the green silk at 8:15 with Harris taking the early lead. It would only last for one lap until Andrew Cockman spun in turn two on the first lap. On the restart Harris bounded back out front and seventh starting Thomas Meseraull was moving forward up to fourth on lap three. Collin Grissom brought out the next caution when he got sideways in turn four and slowed on lap four. The green unfurled again but turn two saw Meseraull get an unintentional tap from teammate Travis Berryhill causing him to spin and sending T-Mez to the tail for the restart. We only stayed green for one more lap when Rylan Gray and Matt McDonald tangled in the notorious turn two with McDonald stopping on the track.
Harris continued to pace the field on the restart with Thomas second and Scotty Weir third. Thomas lost the handle in turn four when he jumped the cushion and spun with Weir being involved and done for the evening putting a hit on his track championship hopes. Weir is currently the point leader at both Gas City and Kokomo and was in contention for this championship also. On the restart the order was Harris, Gray and now Koby Barksdale as the top three. Lap eleven saw Meseraull move back into the top five with a turn two pass and closed on Berryhill.
Everything was going Harris' way until lap nineteen when young Gray attempted a slider in turn one on the leader which resulted in Gray slamming into the side of Harris turning him straight into the turn two wall. Harris hit the wall hard sending his sprinter into the air and vaulting his machine up and over the wall landing on the outside of the wall with steam spewing out of the wrecked sprinter. What looked like a sure win for the UK resident was now over in a cloud of steam. Gray would take over the lead at this point and on the restart led Barksdale and Meseraull to the green. Lap twenty two saw Gray bobble on the cushion but he retained the lead as Meseraull slipped by Barksdale for second. Gray again wrestled with the cushion off turn four on lap twenty three and this time it cost him valuable ground and the lead as T-Mez slid underneath. Thomas stopped on the backstretch bringing out the seventh and final caution of the event. Meseraull was ready to go on the ensuing restart and mashed the loud pedal and leaped back out front and would pace the remaining two laps to notch his third win of 2022 at Circle City beating Gray, Barksdale, Berryhill and Brandon Spencer to the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Kayleb Bolton, Chris Phillips, Collin Grissom, Nic Harris and Noah Whitehouse.
The 25 lap UMP modified feature was next on the schedule with Nick Richards the early leader. Jordan Wever moved by Richards quickly and paced the field until lap thirteen when Derek Groomer passed Wever in lap traffic with a nifty move and would lead the remaining twelve laps to the finish at 9:35 besting Wever, Richards, Todd Sherman and Jeff Deckard.
We decided to pass on the six car super stock feature which was won by Josh Litton of Paragon.
That's it for this report wrapping up four races in four nights and check back over the weekend as we have three races penciled in for Labor Day weekend. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take yourself on the road to catch some action someplace new. Either way be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but certainly not least is thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next on a typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Gives Field A Beatdown In Smackdown Final
Saturday, August 27 – Another beautiful sunny and bright day greeted us on Saturday with temperatures in the low 80's once again. It was travel brochure material for the city of Kokomo as it was picture perfect. We arranged to meet Steve Kimmel, Irvin King and his wife, Bill and Judy Burns and long time West Coast open wheel follower, Ken Wagner, for lunch at Foxes Trails. A fine meal was had by all and the conversation among the group was very enjoyable. A fun time was had by all. From there it was over to the track for Bill and I to walk the pit area talking and taking in the work being done before the final night of racing would commence while Pat visited with various other friends during that time.
On the line tonight was a prize of $15,000 to win plus $500 to lead a lap with $1500 to start which could translate into $35,000 to win if you led the entire 40 lap distance.
There would be three qualifying races first off with the top three advancing into the 40 lap Smackdown final. The first qualifier started out a little ragged as Kevin Thomas Jr., the pole sitter was called back twice for jumping and placed back a row for the third restart. Chase Stockon jumped out front on the third start and would not be headed with Thomas rebounding to score second with Anton Hernandez nailing down third. The second qualifier was won by Ohio's Matt Westfall as he turned back Jadon Rogers and Logan Seavey in the process. The third qualifier saw Parker Frederickson involved in a tangle in front of the starter's stand twisting and turning upside down several times before coming to a halt. Frederickson was gingerly removed from his battered sprinter and taken to the hospital complaining of back pain as our prayers go out to Parker for a speedy recovery. Frederickson has struggled in the past but this year was a breakout one for the low budget #34 team with them winning a GLTS feature in Michigan and several strong runs in BOSS sprint car action and Circle City racing (3rd) in 2022. Mitchel Moles would claim qualifier three besting Thomas Meseraull and Dave Darland.
Next up on the race card would be the King Of The Hill event which pits the top eight in points over the previous two days of racing in three lap match races with the winner moving forward to take on the next opponent. It started out with #1 Kyle Cummins taking on #8 Brady Bacon with Cummins winning this match up but not before almost dumping the Rock Steady #3R in turn three when he biked his sprinter and barely held on to the car and for the win over Bacon. In the next match up #4 Emerson Axsom defeated #5 Justin Grant in a bit of a surprise. CJ Leary, the #2 seed took down #7 Robert Ballou while #3 Jason McDougal won over #6 Jake Swanson. The next round saw Cummins dispose of Axsom with Leary taking out McDougal. The final had Leary defeating Cummins for the King Of The Hill title and the honor of starting first in the 40 lap main event. Mario Clouser would triumph in the B main over Cole Bodine, Max Adams, England's Tom Harris and Scotty Weir. Brandon Mattox and Alex Bright would take provisionals to swell the starting field to 24 for tonight's final.
After driver introductions and a group photo of all the starters it was time to drop the hamma at 9:43 on the 24 car starting field led to Tom Hansing's green flag by CJ Leary and Kyle Cummins. Cummins went to the point on the start and led lap one until entering turn one Brandon Mattox caught the left rear tire of Scotty Weir sending him into several vicious end over end flips ending up sitting in the middle of turn one. Thankfully another ambulance ride was not needed as Mattox climbed from his sprinter and was OK. The race went green again for the last time as the remaining 39 laps would be non-stop with Cummins dominating the entire race leading every lap adding an additional $20,000 to his winner's share of $15,000 for a grand total of $35,000 to beatdown the field in Smackdown XI.
In between the start and the finish there was some good racing behind Cummins but they could have run 75 laps and we don't think anyone would have touched the Hank Byram #3R. Cummins raked up lap money as the race went on with Leary and Swanson chasing. Brady Bacon began to surge forward from eighth as he closed on Swanson and the battle was on for third with ten to go. Also a nice race was going on for positions five through eight with Robert Ballou, Kevin Thomas Jr., Emerson Axsom and Jason McDougal going at it tooth and nail. With Cummins long gone with over a four second lead Bacon made his bid for third in dramatic fashion lifting the front end of the #69 as he raced past Swanson for third on the homestretch with just four laps to go. There was no stopping Cummins in this one as he flashed under Tom Hansing's double checkered flags at 9:59 scoring his first Smackdown final win in grand fashion in a beatdown with an over four second lead over Leary, Bacon, Swanson and Ballou. Kevin Thomas Jr. turned in a good performance advancing from 12th to 6th at the end with Justin Grant seventh, Emerson Axsom eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top ten. It was Kyle Cummins second USAC National sprint car win of 2022 and his 12th of his career.
It was a fun three days of racing with plenty of racing action and plenty of friends to share the experience with and the people part is always the best part of the big events as you get to see so many friends during this time.
That's it for this report but check back Monday as we are not done yet for the weekend as we head south to Indianapolis and the Marion County Fairgrounds to take in the show at the Circle City Raceway with another round of wingless sprint cars along with some other divisions. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the season is moving into the fall season and soon winter will be upon us. News, comments, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you continue to enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care, be kind and stay hydrated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Thomas Jr. Rides The Top To Take Night Two Of Smackdown XI
Friday, August 26 – Today was going to be a good day. The day dawned sunny and bright with temperatures in the low 80's. Bill Burns and I planted our car early at the track for a good parking spot and returned to the hotels and later dined on Italian food before venturing back over to Kokomo Speedway for night two of Smackdown XI. Bill and I walked the pit area and chatted with several drivers and other fans before making our way back to the vehicle. The cars were starting to push off for engine heat followed by hot laps as we made our way into the grandstands for tonight's racing action. Alex Banales was done for the week but new additions for tonight were Derek Crane from Wisconsin, Keith Sheffer II from Michigan and Zack Pretorius of Indiana so the car count was up to 43.
Once again time trials was the first order of business with the first car pushing off at 7:14. At 7:42 it was Kyle Cummins for the second night in a row sitting on top of the speed charts coming out last of the 43 entries and posting the quickest time of 12.715 seconds around the ¼ mile oval.
The four heat races for the USAC sprinters would be next on the race card with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event with some stacked heats with 11 or 10 cars making it a real challenge to advance to the A main. Heat one saw the action turn nasty when Justin Grant fed Mario Clouser the right rear tire battling for the last qualifying position as they raced in turn two early with Clouser turned into the wall and rolling over a few times. Clouser was OK after his assist into the fence. Jason McDougal in one of the KO Motorsports entries continues to impress notching the win in heat one over Thomas Meseraull, Jake Swanson and Kyle Cummins. Brady Bacon who has never won a USAC sprint feature at Kokomo claimed heat two over CJ Leary, Dave Darland, the People's Champ, and Emerson Axsom who smooth driving style is noticed by many. Carson Garrett from Colorado in one of two BGE Dougherty steads looked impressive by winning heat three over Jadon Rogers, Matt Westfall and Mitchel Moles. Dalton Stevens bad luck continued in heat three when he got caught up in a tangle not of his making and rolled his sprinter on the homestretch for the second time in two nights. Logan Seavey powered the Baldwin/Fox #5 to victory in heat four beating Kevin Thomas Jr. in the second BGE Dougherty entry, Anton Hernandez who continues to run strong and Chase Stockon.
The sprint C main was next on the agenda with the first four moving forward to the tail of the B main. Pennsylvania's Alex Bright captured the C beating Cole Bodine, Dustin Clark and Corey Smith to the finish. The Texas contingent's bad luck continued as 59 year old veteran Paul White, the 2001 USAC Silver Crown champion (not 1957 as Dalton Stevens joked earlier in the pits), rolled his sprinter in turn two during the C main ending his night early.
The B main would take the top six finishers into the A main with everyone gaining back their times to determine the starting field for the A main. Justin Grant, last night's winner, would triumph in this one and would line up 15th on the starting grid. Robert Ballou would finish second with Max Adams third, Scotty Weir, the Gas City and Kokomo points leader fourth, hometown boy, Parker Frederickson fifth in a nice run and Korbyn Hayslett, the college student from Ohio, grabbing the final ticket into the 30 lap main event. The field was now set and next up to run would be the night two 30 lap feature of Smackdown XI.
The green flag would drop on the 22 car field at 10 PM with Jake Swanson motoring into the early lead with Emerson Axsom and Kevin Thomas Jr. battling it out side by side for the second position. Swanson would pace the field for the first nine laps until Chase Stockon brought out the first caution when he slowed on the track to slow the action. Swanson moved to the point on the restart but Thomas made his first bid for the lead with a low side move entering turn three but Swanson hammered the throttle and retained the lead as the pair raced to the flag stand. Lap ten saw Thomas have the drive to charge by Swanson for the lead down the backstretch. In turn two on the next lap third running Kyle Cummins caught the turn two wall with his right rear and slowed his momentum enough to allow CJ Leary to scoot by and take over third. Thomas was cruising up top and up front until the caution appeared on lap twenty three when Thomas Meseraull and Logan Seavey got together on the inside of turn two while running just outside of the top ten. Thomas was on the loud pedal on the restart and moved away once again and over the remaining seven laps maintained a second lead and crossed the start/finish line at 10:15 notching his first USAC sprint win of 2022 and first ever for his new team BGE Dougherty. It also was Thomas' 37th career USAC National sprint car win moving him into the top ten on the all-time win list tying him with three time USAC point champion, the late Sheldon Kinser, for the tenth position. Jake Swanson would cross the line second followed by Leary, Cummins and Axsom. Brady Bacon brought it home sixth with Jason McDougal seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Justin Grant ninth and Mitchel Moles claiming tenth.
It was a good race and a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of Thomas who had been struggling with the new team with an engine change performed after last night's racing. After the first two races going into the big $15,000 to win final the top eight in points are locked into the 40 lap final. Kyle Cummins is the top dog after the first two nights with CJ Leary second, Jason McDougal third, Emerson Axsom fourth, Justin Grant fifth, Jake Swanson sixth, Robert Ballou seventh and Brady Bacon the last man locked in with these drivers taking part in the King of the Hill three lap match races to determine the first four rows for Saturday night.
That's it for now but check back tomorrow for the final's report and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun, be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, news and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we travel the highways and byways of America we enjoy bringing out stories to you and appreciate your feedback on our writings. Keep reading and thanks for everything.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Wins But Cummins Is The Show At Smackdown XI Opener
Thursday, August 25 – The weather forecast all week had been for good weather for the latter part of the week but wouldn't you know it pop up showers appeared in the forecast for tonight between 40% and 60%. Later in the day the forecast improved and it was throw it down for the opener of Sprint Car Smackdown XI at Kokomo Speedway. Forty one sprint cars signed in for the opener and as the crowd settled into their seats time trials were the first order of business.
The first car pushed off at 7:07 and early into time trials Texan visitor, Dalton Stevens, flipped and rolled his sprinter in turn four on his second lap of qualifying. Stevens was OK and would be able to return for the B main later in the evening. When it was all said and done at 7:36 Kyle Cummins sat on the top of the speed charts with a time of 12.617 seconds around the Kokomo oval. In this single division program the four heat races with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap preliminary feature were next up on the docket.
Kyle Cummins established himself as one of the favorites for the evening with his run from sixth to first to win the first heat over Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon and Mario Clouser, who told me that he will be running for the USAC Silver Crown championship in 2023 with the Kazmark team and will be running DuQuoin and Springfield in the fall. Heat two was captured by young Anton Hernandez in the Benic #2B besting Max Adams in the Michael Dutcher #17GP, Thomas Meseraull in the Epperson #2E and Robert Ballou. Jadon Rogers continues to run strong in the last several weeks taking down heat three over Logan Seavey, Mitchel Moles and Justin Grant. CJ Leary established himself as a contender triumphing in heat four over Cole Bodine, Jake Swanson and Jason McDougal.
Next up was the C main with the top four advancing to the rear of the B main with Carson Garrett beating Dustin Clark, Tayte Williamson and Alex Bright making the trip in from Pennsylvania. Alex Banales took a nasty ride during the C main in turn one after biking and digging his right front into the surface and launching himself end over end several times into the catch fence in between turns one and two. Banales was OK after the wild ride but the same could not be said for the Baldwin Brothers #5X which suffered heavy damage.
Emerson Axsom would grab the B main win besting Chase Stockon, Dave Darland, Matt Westfall, Scotty Weir and Alex Bright eating some alphabet soup moving from the C to the B into the A main in a good run. After some track maintenance it was time for the opening 30 lap feature event of Smackdown XI.
Kyle Cummins slated to start sixth in the main event had a bleeder malfunction as cars pushed off and rushed into the pit area to change his tire. Cummins would be forced to start twenty second on the grid and turned out to be the show.
Robert Ballou and Justin Grant brought the starting field to Tom Hansing's green flag at 10:03 with Grant motoring out front by turn two. Grant would pace the field for the first fifteen laps on the fast ¼ mile oval with Ballou and Brady Bacon in tow. All eyes were on Kyle Cummins as he sliced his way forward like the proverbial hot knife through butter cracking the top ten by lap twelve. Lap sixteen saw the only caution of the race fly when fourth running Brady Bacon suffered a flat right rear tire and slowed on the track. Bacon was able to change the tire and returned to finish 11th at the end. On the restart Grant surged back out front but Cummins relentless march forward continued with him disposing of Jadon Rogers for sixth in turn one and Emerson Axsom for fifth in turn three. Cummins was far from done at this point. He slid by Anton Hernandez in turns one and two on lap seventeen and caught and passed Jason McDougal for third low in turn three on lap nineteen. The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Cummins continued to press forward closing the gap between him and Ballou as the laps ticked off.
With three to go Cummins was to Ballou's rear bumper in turn one as both closed on Grant also. Coming to the white flag Cummins swung to the top off turn four and pulled alongside Ballou on the homestretch beating him to the line to take second. The top two raced through turns one and two and into turns three and four with Cummins closing rapidly in turn four. He dove low in four to attempt to pass Grant but ran out of time as Grant raced under the double checkers to grab his fifth USAC win of 2022 and his sixth lifetime at Kokomo also making it five USAC wins in the last six starts at Kokomo. Cummins crossed the line second with Ballou third, McDougal fourth and Axsom checking in for fifth after starting tenth. Jadon Rogers led the second five to the finish with CJ Leary seventh, Thomas Meseraull eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Mitchel Moles rounding out the top ten. The opening night win was also Grant's 33rd career USAC sprint win moving him into 15th on the all time win list moving past Rollie Beale for the position.
It was a very good race and the run by Cummins was amazing and the best we have witnessed at Kokomo in quite some time and had the fans buzzing after the checkered flags waved. Our Pennsylvania friend, Bill Burns, was screaming as the checkers waved in pure excitement over what he had just witnessed.
That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow to see what happen at night two of Smackdown XI as the fans line up to purchase Kyle Cummins' t-shirts at his stand after his Thursday night performance. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or pack the car and get your ass (#GYATK) to the baddest bullring in Indiana for night two of Smackdown. Comments, news, stories of anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and thanks for the comments sent to us. Be safe, stay hydrated and enjoy your time at the track.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain & Beauchamp Win On Saturday With Rain Sunday's Winner
Saturday, August 20 – We awoke on Saturday morning in Litchfield and the skies were overcast but it was not raining so we prepared to head out toward Springfield. Just before leaving around 8:30 I checked Twitter and was surprised to see that the USAC Silver Crown race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds was already postponed for the day because of overnight rain into the morning hours. Upon traveling north toward Decatur we realized why they had postponed as the roads were wet and along the sides of the roads were numerous puddles. The Illinois State Fairgrounds race has been rescheduled for October 15th so be sure to get out and catch that one on the new date. After getting gas in Decatur for $3.49 we checked the weather forecast again for Macon where we had planned to go after Springfield but at the time it was 70% at 7 PM and 80% at 8 PM so we decided if we were going to get rained out we would do it back at Lincoln Park Speedway which is 45 minutes from home rather than Macon which is an hour and forty five minutes from home. Thankful for everyone who stuck it out at Macon as they raced on Saturday night but so did Lincoln Park so everyone won out on this evening. We stopped on our trip back for lunch at the Covered Bridge Restaurant in Eugene, Indiana where we had a fine meal and checked out the Eugene Covered Bridge before heading over to Putnamville for the evening's racing.
On tap for this evening at Lincoln Park were the MSCS sprint cars (26), the MMSA mini sprints (17), the UMP modifieds (17), super stocks (17) and bombers (8) for a grand total of 85 cars in the five division program. MSCS combines their hot lap sessions with qualifying to determine the starting lineups for the heat races. Colorado's Carson Garrett turned the fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 13.271 seconds around the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval.
Heat racing starting the side by side racing portion of the program began at 7:23 with the first of three heats for the MSCS sprint cars with the top five moving directly into the 30 lap main event. Brandon Mattox fended off the advances of Chase Stockon to capture the heat one win with Geoff Ensign third, Seth Parker fourth and Brayden Fox fifth. Shane Cottle back in action for the first time since his nasty flip at Tri-State during ISW won heat two in a good duel with Jadon Rogers with Carson Garrett third, Koby Barksdale fourth and Harley Burns fifth. Heat three saw a grinding crash occur on the homestretch when Mario Clouser tried to fill a hole and got into AJ Hopkins with Kent Schmidt ramping over Hopkins rolling his sprinter toward turn one. Schmidt climbed from the car but was later transported to the hospital for observation. Brent Beauchamp went on to win heat three besting Tye Mihocko, Anton Hernandez, Mario Clouser and AJ Hopkins.
The MMSA mini sprints would contest two heats with Cody Knieriem in his beautiful #44 taking down heat one beating Brandon Deputy and Scott Albrecht. Bryan Brewer triumphed in heat two over Kayla Roell and Brad Strunk. The UMP modifieds ran three heats with Will Bennett, Jimmy Hayden and Jeff Deckard winning. The super stocks ran three heats while the bombers only needed one heat for their lowest field of the year at 8.
Sam Scott ran a strong race to cop the MSCS sprint B main over Jason McDougal, Alec Sipes, Collin Ambrose and Kevin Newton the last man to qualify. Rookie of the year contender, Brandon Smith, would take his first provisional of the year to join the starting field. All qualifying was in the books by 9:10 with the five feature events next on the card.
The 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature would take the green flag at 9:20 with Chase Stockon taking the early lead. Second starting Brent Beauchamp would nip Stockon at the line to start lap three to grab the lead. Jason McDougal was coming to the front in a hurry from his 17th starting position moving into ninth by lap nine. Mario Clouser brought the red flag out as he flipped the Jack Yeley #2 in turn one on lap ten ending his evening early. On the restart Beauchamp retained the lead with Stockon second and Jadon Rogers now up to third. McDougal was now up to seventh and still slicing through the field. Rogers disposed of Stockon for second in turn two on lap fourteen and went to work on Beauchamp. Rogers threw a nasty slider in turn two on Beauchamp for the lead but it was negated as Alec Sipes and Kevin Newton tangled below the starter's stand to bring out the caution. Sipes was not happy with Harley Burns and let him know as he drove by.
On the restart Beauchamp was the leader with Rogers and now Shane Cottle mixing it up in a battle for second. Lap nineteen saw the front three almost side by side in turns three and four as the race for the lead intensified. Rogers momentarily edged out front but as they crossed the line Beauchamp was again in front. He almost gave it back in turn two as he bobbled on the cushion but Rogers fell short in his quest to take the lead racing down the backstretch. Meanwhile a little further back in the pack McDougal had caught Mihocko for fifth and began to pressure Stockon for fourth. Beauchamp was able to gain a slight advantage over the final five laps but Rogers was all over him but unable to execute the pass as the checkered waved at 9:42 with Beauchamp across the line first followed by Rogers and Cottle. Jason McDougal was able to wrestle fourth away from his teammate Stockon in the last two laps to take fourth with Stockon dropping to fifth. Tye Mihocko led the second five across the stripe in sixth with Koby Barksdale coming home seventh after starting 11th with Anton Hernandez eighth, Geoff Ensign, the current LPS point leader, ninth and AJ Hopkins rounding out the top ten.
The MMSA mini sprints would be next up with their 20 lap main event with 15 cars taking the green flag at 9:53. Exactly five minutes later the non-stop race was in the record books with Bryan Brewer taking the lead on lap four and leading the rest of the distance to score his second win of the weekend winning the night before at Bloomington. Brad Strunk motored home second and retained the point lead with Cody Knieriem third, Brandon Deputy fourth and Kayla Roell rounding out the top five.
We decided to stay to watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature with the green dropping at 10:08. Derek Losh really earned this one starting tenth and not taking the lead until lap 14 but at the end he stood once again in victory lane for the fifth time in 2022 at LPS besting a strong running Matt Mitchell, Sydney Landes motoring from 12th to third with Will Bennett fourth and Tyler Loughmiller rounding out the top five at 10:28.
We decided to call it a night at this point and headed for the exits happy with the show we had witnessed and the fact that we had sneak one in for the evening.
Sunday, August 21 – We would not be so lucky for our scheduled Sunday race with the wingless sprints and other divisions scheduled at Circle City Raceway as they succumbed to the rains of the late evening and early morning recording our 24th rainout of 2022 so far.
That's it for now but check back Friday, Saturday and Sunday for our reports on Smackdown XI where the USAC National sprint cars will do battle for three nights with the final night paying $15,000 to win ($35,000 if you can lead the entire distance) with $1500 to start. Be there for all the action at the baddest bullring in Indiana this Thursday through Saturday. In the meantime pack your bags or get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your own area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, comments, stories, videos and any other things of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Swanson Comes Back To Capture First Win At WWTR
Friday, August 19 – Today was another race that had been penciled in on the calendar as it was time to visit the 1.25 mile banked asphalt oval known as the World Wide Technology Raceway or simply Gateway by many. We had wanted to see a race here for a while now and the USAC Silver Crown series running an 80 lap, 100 mile race on a Friday night was the attraction for us. Also on the bill for today was IndyCar and Indy Light qualifying for their Saturday night races plus practice for the IndyCars.
We started the 3 ½ hour trip to the St. Louis area around 1 PM making a stop at Cracker Barrel for a quick lunch before heading southwest toward Madison, Illinois, the site of the World Wide Technology Raceway. The ride was smooth and we arrived in the orange parking area before 5 PM Central Time. We were surprised by the easy off and easy access to the race track grounds and the equally easy exit after the racing was completed. Upon our arrival in our grandstand seats in Section 4, Row 34 USAC Silver Crown qualifying for the 22 car field on hand had already taken place with Kody Swanson touring the big 1.25 mile oval in a time of 30.675 seconds which was a new track record in the ninth time that the USAC Silver Crown division has run here and the first time g since 2016 to capture the pole position for the 40th time in his career. That calculated out to an average speed of 146.699 miles per hour around the 1.25 mile oval.
Looking at my phone I saw on Twitter that Ohio traveler, Rich Berry, was also in attendance tonight and I contacted him via Twitter and he was in Section 36 but graciously volunteered to come down to Section 4 to sit and chat with us for the evening. Talking while the IndyCars practiced for close to an hour was not easy but we did so anyhow.
By 8:20 it was time for pre-race festivities including a fine rendition of the National Anthem by a young lady it was time to drop the green flag on the depleted 19 car field as Kaylee Bryson, Kyle O'Gara and Mike McVetta did not even make it to the starting grid. It was 8:32 when the hamma dropped with Kody Swanson leading the opening lap before Greg Cory and Tom Paterson tangled in turn one with Cory sliding backwards into the turn one wall eliminating two more entrants on lap two. On the restart Swanson led again until turn three where Bobby Santos III dove underneath Swanson to take the race lead on lap nine after running seven laps under yellow. Justin Grant would be the next driver to take command powering under Santos in turn two on lap ten to assume the race lead. Davey Hamilton Jr. was coming quickly forward from his seventh starting spot to challenge Grant for the lead. Hamilton Jr. dove under Grant entering turn one running down on the rumble strips to take the lead on lap eighteen in a fearless run to the front. Meanwhile Swanson was going in the wrong direction dropping back to sixth by lap twelve and remaining there up to lap twenty.
Troubles occurred for second running CJ Leary on lap twenty one entering turn three when his right rear tire went flat sending him into the safety barrier but Leary was able to limp to pit road for repair work and a new show before returning numerous laps down and taking him out of the hunt for the win though he would soldier on finishing nine laps in arrears but still able to claim tenth at the finish. On the lap twenty five restart Swanson reloaded and went back to work restarting in fifth. He picked off Seavey and Santos in quick succession to move back to third and went after Grant who was holding down second. An outside move in turn two on lap twenty nine saw Swanson power into second and took up the chase of Hamilton Jr. Swanson closed on Hamilton Jr. and got a good draft off turn four and down the front straight to pull alongside him entering turn one where he completed the pass and the comeback to retake the lead on lap thirty three. It was far from over at this point as Hamilton Jr. stayed right with Swanson never letting him get too comfortable up front.
The next caution appeared on lap forty nine when Travis Welpott running inside the top ten blew a left rear tire and ended up against the turn one safety barrier. On the restart Hamilton Jr. dove low in turn one to grab the lead but Swanson was up to the challenge and by the time the pair exited turn two Swanson was back on top on lap fifty seven. Santos brought out the next caution on lap fifty nine when he stopped exiting pit road on the access road in turn one after pitting a few laps before with tire issues. The same scenario played out on the lap sixty one restart with Hamilton Jr. edging out front in turn one and Swanson blasting back by in turn two to retain the lead. The man making some noise at this point was Mario Clouser in the Kazmart #92 as he started picked off cars in a late run to the front. First was Nathan Byrd then Justin Grant and he closed on Taylor Ferns as the laps clicked off. Swanson started to pull away at this point and had opened up a two second lead by lap seventy four when third running Ferns had mechanical woes rolling to a stop on the homestretch ending her impressive run six laps short of the finish but she would still have enough laps at the end to be credited with ninth just ahead of Leary at the finish.
Hamilton Jr. would have one more try to unseat Swanson but Kody was up to the task powering away as they raced down the backstretch on the lap seventy eight restart as eyes were on Clouser to see if he had anything for Hamilton Jr. He challenged Hamilton Jr. in turn three on the restart but fell short of passing him. Over the last two laps Swanson pulled away to over a one second lead and the double checkers waved at 9:39 with Kody Swanson claiming his first WWTR victory on a track that he had previously never even led a single lap. It would now go down as his 37th career Silver Crown victory and he also became the first driver to win at 14 different venues for the Silver Crown series. The old mark of 13 was held by JJ Yeley and was surpassed tonight.
Davey Hamilton Jr. completed a strong performance tonight garnering second with Mario Clouser getting his highest finish in the Silver Crown division in third with Justin Grant riding home fourth and Nathan Byrd finishing fifth. Positions six through ten went to Kyle Robbins, Eric Gordon, Bryan Gossel, Taylor Ferns and CJ Leary.
It was a good, competitive and interesting race with the beginning third and the last third the best with the middle third mostly with the competitors “riding” until the latter part of the race. All in all an enjoyable night of racing in the shadows of the Gateway Arch in Madison, Illinois.
Check back tomorrow to see how we finished up the weekend with trips to the Illinois State Fairgrounds and Macon on the dance card. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, comments, points of interest and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our typical weekend ends up.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Kofoid Takes High Limit Open Debut At Lincoln Park
Tuesday, August 16 – It was one of those nights that you circle on your calendar when it is announced and look forward to attending as the year progresses. What I speak of is the inaugural race for the newly formed High Limit Sprint Car Series co-founded by Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet to allow the winged sprint car drivers and teams to have more opportunities to run for bigger bucks during the week such as the super late models have done on Flo Racing. It was nice to see Sweet doing various duties during the evening with a headset on including issuing wrist bands to fans as they entered in the pre-sale line. The first event was scheduled to take place at the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval of the Lincoln Park Speedway located in beautiful downtown Putnamville, Indiana. Since it is only a 45 minute drive from our house in Crawfordsville it was what you call a no brainer. We purchased tickets online ahead of time for $5 off the admission price of $40 which also allowed you to enter the grandstands a half hour before the general admission patrons were allowed to enter. A big line with chairs and people were lined up early before the early bird opening of 3:30 was to roll around. It was a nice day with temperatures in the high 70's with mostly sunny skies making this a great day to go racing.
The Kyle Larson High Limit Open would be the first winged 410 sprint car race at Lincoln Park since June 8th of 2016 when the WOO sprints ran here with Donny Schatz holding off David Gravel in a green, white, checker finish to score his eighth WOO win of that year. The last race before the above mentioned was when the National Sprint Tour hosted a race at LPS in 2006 in which Tim Kaeding was the winner. Who would take home the big bucks ($22,022) tonight?
A good 35 car sprint car field was on hand with a good mix of drivers from various venues of racing. There were four Cup drivers on hand (Larson, Briscoe, Bowman and Stenhouse Jr.), ten normally wingless drivers (Bacon, Grant, Thomas Jr., Leary, Stockon, McDougal, Hayden, Moles, Scott & Axsom) and seven All Stars (Courtney, Wise, Windom, Peck, Schuerenberg, McGhee #11 & Gee). We were disappointed in the All Star turnout as we felt Cap Henry and Bill Balog would also be in town along with Ohio drivers, Cole Duncan and Brandon Wimmer. Bill Rose, who lives just outside of Crawfordsville, was also a surprise no-show with the short drive down to Putnamville and the big bucks on the line being factors of while he would surely be there. But even with some of the no-shows it was still a solid field with plenty of good drivers ready to do battle.
Sprint car time trials would kick off the program with the first car taking the green flag at 6:49. When the time trials were completed at 7:16 it was a bit of a surprise with Cup regular, Alex Bowman, setting the fast time touring the 5/16 mile in a time of 11.599 seconds. Bowman would go on to have a very solid night for someone who does not race winged sprinters that often. The other division on hand were the local bomber division with an invite to the top twenty in points with seventeen of them turning out to do battle. The bomber division usually put on some good racing and after some hot lap tangles they settled down and ran two nice heats and a non-stop feature to boot. On a normal Saturday night at LPS the bombers are usually last and next to last and with five divisions on a Saturday night we usually are long gone before they race their feature. We have always said that their heat racing is competitive and we were glad to see them finally run a feature event especially in front of a large crowd and perform so well.
Next up on the race card was four heats for the 35 car sprint car field with the top five moving directly to the 35 lap main event with the top two advancing into the six lap dash race that would determine the top eight starters in the feature. Alex Bowman easily won the first heat impressively over Cory Eliason, Buddy Kofoid, Chris Windom and Justin Peck. Justin Sanders, the California driver who hooked up with the Swindell Speed Lab team to run Knoxville (where they made the Saturday starting field & also received the best appearing car) won heat two over Brady Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brent Marks and Mitchel Moles. Tim Crawley from Arkansas driving for Ohio's Landon Simon tonight was battling for the last qualifying position when he was forced off the edge of turn two and rolled over on the backstretch. Crawley was OK after the mishap. Kyle Larson would score the heat three win besting Zeb Wise, Chad Kemenah, Jason McDougal and Hunter Schuerenberg. The fourth and final heat would fall to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. beating Zach Hampton who drove from seventh, Riley Goodno, Travis Philo and Justin Grant. All four heats were spun off in a half hour and the two bomber heats followed with Joseph Raber and Andrew Pollock winning.
It was announced before the dash race that Kyle Larson had placed a bounty on himself for $10,000 with the stipulations that he had to finish somewhere in the top ten for the others to collect on if he didn't win. For instance if Larson finished second the winner would receive the entire $10,000. If he finished fifth the four in front of him would split evenly the $10,000. This made the upcoming feature even more interesting!!
The six lap dash race was won by Brady Bacon beating Zeb Wise, Justin Sanders, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Cory Eliason, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Zach Hampton.
The sprint car B main was next on the agenda with the top four joining the rear of the 20 car field already assembled. Defending All Star point champion, Tyler Courtney, captured this one over CJ Leary, Chase Stockon and Cale Thomas subbing for the injured Parker Price-Miller in the McGhee #11. Marcus Dumensy rolled his sprinter in turn four during the B main ending his night early.
Up next would be the first of two feature races with the bomber division scheduled to go 20 laps. It was nice to see the fans respond to announcer, Patrick Sullivan, when he asked them to stand and wave to send off the starters in the bomber feature and the fans did so with the drivers waving back. The green would drop only once in this race as the bombers went non-stop with Joseph Raber taking home the win over Josh Foxworthy and Jordan Almanza, the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans 2021 co-driver of the year with Kody Swanson, taking third.
Now it was time for the big 35 lap winged sprint car feature taking the green flag at 9:32. Brady Bacon scooted into the early lead and would lead the first 18 laps extending his lead to over two seconds before the caution appeared for a tangle between Zach Hampton and Chad Kemenah in turn four. They got one additional lap in before Kyle Larson came to a stop in turn two with a flat tire while Brent Marks also slowed on the homestretch. Both drivers would go to the work area and return for the remainder of the race. On the ensuing restart Justin Sanders swept to the outside and grabbed the lead away from Bacon in turn two. The race moved into the 20's with Sanders leading Eliason who slipped by Bacon for second. Buddy Kofoid was moving forward from his ninth starting position slipping into the top five by lap 21 and sliding by Stenhouse for third on lap 23. Kofoid was on a mission as he reeled in the top two passing Sanders for the lead entering turns three and four coming for six to go.
Kofoid would maintain a two car length lead over the remaining six laps and flashed under the checkered flags at 9:51 winning his biggest paying sprint car race in his career with Justin Sanders coming home second with Cory Eliason third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fourth and Zeb Wise rounding out the top five. Alex Bowman ended a solid night placing sixth with Bacon fading to seventh, Hunter Schuerenberg getting the hard charger of the evening advancing from 19th to eighth with Tyler Courtney coming in ninth after starting 21st with Kyle Larson rallying from the tail of the field to invoke the $10,000 bonus by finishing tenth and adding an extra $1111.11 to each of the nine finishers in front of him.
Kofoid who had teamed up with midget driver Brenham Crouch's father Leighton and Bernie Stuebgen of Indy Race Parts to field a two car team in 2022 with Cory Eliason the other driver making it a very profitable for this team. The grand total on the evening in winnings for Kofoid was $23,622 and that is some cool cash. Kofoid is on a roll recently winning the BC39 midget race at the dirt track at IMS also so the guy is white hot right now. The top three finishers were all from California where they prefer a somewhat slick track with good cushions and this is what Lincoln Park delivered on this evening with the famous turn four cushion living up to its reputation.
It was an enjoyable and entertaining night of racing and hopefully this race will become a regular staple on the High Limit racing schedule going forward. Good field of cars and a smooth, well run program allowing fans to head home at a good hour on a work day for many of them having them yearning for more.
That's it for now as a busy weekend is planned with a possible four race schedule on the drawing board depending on as usual the weather. So check back Sunday or Monday for an update on where a typical weekend takes us. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated and use protection from that intense sun. News, comments, stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for your continued support reading our column and commenting on it. It is a labor of love and we try to bring it to you in the eyes of a race fan and give you information about the tracks we visit so you can decide if you might want to visit them also.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Circle City Sunday Show Falls To T-Mez
Sunday, August 7 – It is getting to be old hat but the weather on Sunday was hot. It was mostly sunny and the humidity was sky high again which made sitting in an aluminum grandstand without any covering over it a little crazy but if Circle City was running we were going to be there. With the senior price of $8 it is a true bargain and after attending a fine program the night before at its sister track, The Indianapolis Speedrome, it was on the dance card for sure. Upon climbing into the very nice high aluminum grandstands we ran into our friends, Jimmy and Tonya Hillegas, and stopped to chat with them before placing our blanket down on the aluminum higher up from the track. The next order of business was to head underneath the grandstands and sit at a picnic bench out of the intense sun and enjoy the shade and nice breeze underneath while hot laps and track prep went on before the start of the evening's action. On tap were wingless sprints (25), USAC D2 midgets (19), hornets (10) and Crown Victoria's (7).
The dust was excessive in hot laps and extra time was taken to water and run in the track before the first of four heats races for the wingless sprint cars pushed off at 6:25. Justin Owen would take the first heat race outrunning Parker Frederickson, Matt McDonald, Collin Grissom and Rylan Gray. Heat two went to Brent Beauchamp besting Ryan Thomas, Scotty Weir in the Landon Simon #24, Sterling Cling and Seth Parker. Thomas Meseraull drove the Tyler Sturgeon #77AU tonight as Todd Hobson has returned to Australia and won heat three over Koby Barksdale, Aaron Davis, Travis Berryhill and John Sluss. The fourth and final heat was captured by Jake Swanson making his return behind the wheel after his nasty flip and hospitalization in the Team AZ #21AZ defeating Derek Crane, Brayden Clark, Tayte Williamson and Kayleb Bolton.
Next up were the USAC D2 midgets who would spin off three heats with Zach Wigal taking heat one over Jakeb Boxell and Josh Yenser. Carl Peterson triumphed in heat two beating Stratton Briggs and Ryan Moran. Bryce Massingill captured heat three besting Wes Pinkerton and Ian Creager. The hornets would run two heats and the Crown Vics had one heat.
No B main was needed for the wingless sprints with all 25 cars starting the 25 lap main event.
Track maintenance was performed two more times during the course of the evening and eventually dragged the program to the three hour mark after the second of four features (the D2 midgets) was finished. The racing was good when running but the amount of time spent on working the track was much too long and better track maintenance during the week would have cut the time on race-day. With the size of the field this show was much too long of an event.
The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature would be the first called to the post and took the green flag at 8:18. Brent Beauchamp went to the early lead with Jake Swanson slipping into second from fourth on lap three. John McVey took an end over end flip between turns three and four on lap three to bring out the red. McVey was OK after his wild ride but his sprinter was not. On the restart Jake Swanson dove low in turn two to grab the top spot from Beauchamp with Thomas Meseraull advancing to third up from seventh. Swanson clipped the inside marker tire in turn four and pulled to a stop sending him to the rear on lap four. One lap later Seth Parker slowed to a stop also in turn four to bring out another caution.
On the ensuing restart Meseraull worked his way underneath Beauchamp in turn three for the lead with Ryan Thomas taking second at the line on lap seven. Lap ten saw another caution appear as Collin Grissom bounced in turn two and stalled his sprinter bringing out another yellow. Ryan Thomas caught and passed T-Mez for the lead racing down the backstretch on the restart with Scotty Weir slipping by Beauchamp for third on lap twelve. Thomas was looking good and had a chance to score his first ever sprint car win but spun in turn four all by himself on lap sixteen to lose his chance at that first win. T-Mez was the new leader and his second chance would not be wasted as he powered away on the restart. Meanwhile Jake Swanson was slicing his way from the tail taking over fifth on lap twenty. Rylan Gray brought out the eighth and final caution on lap twenty three when he slowed and stopped on the backstretch.
Meseraull was up to the challenge when racing resumed and pulled away to a comfortable lead in the last seven laps with eighth starting Koby Barksdale unable to close the gap. When the checkered flag flew at 8:57 it was Meseraull in for the win over Barksdale with Parker Frederickson turning in a fine performance to garner third trailed by Scotty Weir and Jake Swanson. Brent Beauchamp led the second five across the line in sixth with Sterling Cling seventh, Travis Berryhill eighth, Harley Burns ninth and Fresno California's Billy Lawless rounding out the top ten.
The 20 lap USAC D2 midget feature was next on the dance card with the 19 car field taking the green flag at 9:07. Bryce Massingill would started first almost dumped his midget in turn one opening the inside lane for third starting Zach Wigal would took the lead. Only three cautions would slow this one and on each occasion Wigal moved back to the point on the restarts. It wasn't an easy victory as Michael Magic made a late race challenge from tenth to finish second with Stratton Briggs coming across third with 11th starting Chris Dickey placing fourth and 15th starting Alex Watson charging forward to finish fifth. It was now 9:27 with two features to go and we decided we had seen what we came to see and exited stage right.
Stopping for gas on the south-side of Indianapolis at Pilot for $3.69 a gallon we may have missed being in the middle of a pileup on I-465 as when we returned to the highway the traffic was now backed up for over a mile. We thanked Jesus and cheaper gas for keeping us out of that one.
That's it for now and it looks like a trip to Michigan is on the weekend agenda but with no open wheel divisions on the racing cards for the three tracks we will be visiting there will not be any columns this weekend. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and keep hydrated in these blistering temperatures. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Adams Scores Redemption Win At Gas City
Friday, August 5 – It was a partly cloudy and very humid Friday and the sun was intense as we set out for the Gas City I-69 Speedway for our Friday fix of racing. On the way over we stopped in the lovely little town of Cicero which is on a lake at Big Dog's Smokehouse BBQ where my beef brisket was wonderful but Pat's pulled pork was not as good but it was still a neat place inside decorated well and worthy of a return visit.
I placed the blanket down high in the wooden grandstands in front of the announcing booth before returning to the car to stay out of the sun as long as possible. A small crowd turned out for the night of racing and the hot weather could have been the main factor. On tap tonight at Gas City was the non-wing sprint cars (24), UMP modifieds (11), street stocks (8) and hornets (8). The car count was also down tonight but the sprint car count was good enough to provide some good racing on the evening.
The first sprint car heat took the green flag at 7:35 and in the early going things happened quickly as Anton Hernandez behind the wheel of the Benic #2B challenged Matt Goodnight down low entering turn one with Hernandez at an odd angle with Goodnight reacting by turning to the right and into the side of Zack Pretorius with the two of them tumbling several times ending up in turn two. Neither driver was injured but both cars were done for the evening. Young Saban Bibent would go on to win heat one in a good run over Harley Burns, Anton Hernandez, Jadon Rogers and Brandon Morin. Colten Cottle would steer the famous Paul Hazen #57 to victory in heat two besting Kyle Shipley, Jack Hoyer, Sterling Cling and Dustin Ingle. Max Adams would claim heat three in the family owned #5X over Scotty Weir, Cole Bodine, Travis Hery and Tye Mihocko.
The street stocks and hornets would contest one heat each before the UMP modifieds ran two heats with Dylan Woodling and Derek Losh winning. The sprint car B main was next on the race card with seven entrants making the call and management making the call to wave off the B main and add all the entries to the starting field increasing the starting field to 22.
The 25 lap street stock feature would be the first feature of the evening and it turned out to be a good one even though there were only eight starters. Bill Lewis moved his white #14 out front early and never looked back and if he did he would have seen a fine battle for second involving four drivers. Lap eight saw Andy Bishop break up the party by charging to the inside of James Headley Jr. with James Headley also picking off his son for third. Lewis would flash under the checkered flag at 8:58 for his first win in a year and a half with Bishop second and Headley third in a good, competitive race.
Scotty Weir and Kyle Shipley would lead the 22 car starting field to the green flag at 9:10 with Weir wrestling away the early lead. Max Adams would quickly power by both Harley Burns and Kyle Shipley to take over second and put the pressure on Weir for the lead. Weir would pace the first ten circuits as the pair weaved through lap traffic in the good race for the lead. Adams would sneak by Weir to claim the top spot on lap eleven but it was not only by any stretch of the imagination. Adams would lead for the next seven laps until Colin Grissom looped it in turn four sitting on the top of the corner to bring out the first caution of the event on lap eighteen.
On the restart Weir made a challenge to Adams diving low in turn two to take the lead back but all hell broke loose on the backstretch when fourth running Anton Hernandez got sideways in front of the rest of the field with Kyle Shipley and Brayden Clark with no where to go piled into the sideways Hernandez with Brandon Morin joining the frackus moments later getting the worse of the pileup ramping over one of the cars and flipping over. Morin broke a driveshaft which hit his foot and caused some concern with Morin suffering an ankle injury which didn't require a hospital trip. Hernandez had turned into a one man wrecking crew on this evening!!
On the next restart Weir dove low in turn one on Adams & grabbed the lead but it was short lived as he biked his sprinter causing him to bounce three times like a beach ball on Beach Bash night and turn the lead and several other positions dropping to fifth at this point. Cole Bodine now running in the top three saw his race end prematurely when he caught the cushion wrong and flipped in turn four. Adams powered back to the lead on the ensuing restart with Saban Bibent and Colten Cottle in pursuit. Weir picked off Cottle for third on lap twenty three. Adams was not going to let this one slip away a second time and distanced himself by several car lengths from Bibent as the laps clicked off. Weir tried to pass Bibent numerous times over the remaining seven laps but the 17 year old high school student was up to the task holding off the current point leader to the finish. Max Adams crossed the finish line at 9:39 scoring the win, his first since suffering burns at Gas City last year and the road to redemption had been traveled as the happy winner celebrated in victory lane. Colten Cottle would place fourth with Tye Mihocko rounding out the top five. The second five consisted of Jadon Rogers, Sterling Cling, Harley Burns, Korbyn Hayslett from 22nd and Jack Hoyer.
A well run program giving you options to stay for more if you wanted or to leave and tonight we chose to leave as the almost two hour ride home leaving at that point gets us home before midnight. Derek Losh won the UMP modified feature after we left and Landon Arcaro scored the hornet win.
That's it until Monday as we head east on I-74 to Indianapolis where we are going to see wingless sprints and other divisions at the Circle City Raceway. Check back to read about our night there. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, items of interest and news can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and get well soon wishes to our friend, Jen Kelley, who is recovering from Covid.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Free Sprint Car & Midget Races At IRP Go To Tyler Roahrig & Kyle Larson
Monday, August 1 – What better way to start off the month of August than a free race to spectators covered by sponsor, Bald Spot Sports, at the 0.686 mile asphalt oval of the Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg. On tap tonight for the doubleheader of open wheel racing would be the 500 Sprint Car Tour and the USAC affiliated midgets taking on the just over a half mile speedway. The 500 Sprint Car Tour brought a good field of 26 cars for tonight's racing while the midgets were slightly down from previous appearances with only 20 making the tow to the Indianapolis area. It was a beautiful day to go racing with temperatures in the high 80's with partly cloudy skies but when the sun was fully out it was quite intense. After making the long walk from the parking area we settled out butts in Section 208 in the shade of the scoring tower and suites as a nice breeze passed across the grandstands.
Time trials would determine the lineups for the two 30 lap feature events but with a twist as an inversion pill would be drawn after qualifying which turned out to be the number 10. This would make for more exciting racing as the faster qualifiers would have to pass cars to get to the front. The sprint car qualifying was the normal two laps with the fastest of the two your time but the midget qualifying was your two laps combined to determine your time. Tyler Roahrig who has developed into one of the men to beat each and every time out knocked down the fastest lap with a time of 20.455 seconds around the fast oval. Chuck Gurney Jr. who continues to impress in his limited midget appearances had the combined fastest laps of 42.357 seconds.
While they prepared to line up the sprint car feature the man behind me asked what I was doing with the notes and so forth. I explained that we write a column for Hoseheads.com and we had a conversation in which I found out his name was Mike and he was an Indiana State Trooper. He also during the conversation kept referring to his friend that was with him and how he had raced midgets, sprints, Silver Crown and Indy Cars and I turned around to check his friend out. He looked very familiar and he commented on my Tracy Hines t-shirt and how he had raced as a teammate to Tracy on the Steve Lewis team. I asked him his name and it turned out to be veteran open wheel racer, Donnie Beechler, who raced all of the above in addition to winning the 1995 Chili Bowl and was a four time starter in the Indianapolis 500 with his highest finish being a 12th place finish. Beechler also finished third twice in IRL races at Phoenix and Kansas Speedways in 2000-1. We chatted and joked for a time before the sprint car feature was ready to go green at 7:36. This event was the 63rd running of the Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial which was run for years at the Salem Speedway.
Dakoda Armstrong stormed out to the early lead trailed by Kenny Schrader and Billy Wease. We would witness the first 22 laps stay green until Doug Fitzwater looped his sprinter in turn two to bring out the only caution of the race. In between the start and lap 22 we have some fierce racing among several drivers as they made their way to the front. Armstrong paced the field until Billy Wease charged by on lap 20 for the lead. Kody Swanson ran third for quite a while with Tyler Roahrig all over him looking for a way around with a couple of shots in the shorts for good measure. Roahrig got a run down the backstretch on lap 19 and cleared Swanson for third in turn three. As Wease moved out front on lap 20 Roahrig made a bold outside run on Armstrong through turns three and four to take second. Wease led at this point with Roahrig closing quickly. The Fitzwater spin brought Roahrig to Wease's tail tank as the green flag waved once again. The lead went back and forth between inches and several car lengths until the final lap when Roahrig pulled close to Wease down the backstretch and went to the inside entering turn three and squeezed by Wease to grab the lead as the pair raced through turn four and down the homestretch as the checkers waved at 7:51 with Roahrig scoring the big win from tenth with a disappointed Wease coming so close but not close enough. Kody Swanson would finish third after starting eighth with Bobby Santos III fourth and Dakoda Armstrong settling for fifth. Kyle Larson doing double duty this evening came home sixth with Tanner Swanson seventh, Kyle O'Gara eighth, Taylor Ferns ninth and CJ Leary edging out Kenny Schrader for tenth.
It was a very good race and we looked forward to seeing how the midgets ran their feature.
The initial start of the 30 lap midget feature took the green at 8:23 but it was called back twice as third starting Kyle Larson jumped the gun both times with the second time costing him having to restart fifth instead of third. Todd Bertrand took the early lead from Kyle O'Gara with Kody Swanson powering from sixth in second in one lap with Larson moving from fifth to third in that time frame also. Larson was wasting no time as he disposed of Swanson off turn four on lap two and caught and passed Bertrand in turn two for the lead on lap three.
Larson was off to the races at this point and by lap five had a half straightaway lead over Bertrand and Swanson. Bobby Santos III was cranked up and moving quickly passing Swanson for third on lap five and breezing by Bertrand into second on lap six. Santos began to whittle into the big lead of Larson as all eyes were focused up front to see if Santos could catch Larson. Santos was reeling in Larson slowly but surely as we pasted the ten lap mark. He drew even closer by lap sixteen only to see his mount slow dramatically on the homestretch and pulling his mount to the infield area out of the race. This would give Larson clear sailing from this point forward as Kyle O'Gara was a straightway behind in second at this point. Two notable marches forward were being made by Nick Hamilton in the Irwin #7K from 11th and Cole Carter from 14th.
When the checkers waved at 8:42 it was Larson by a country mile or over six seconds besting O'Gara with Hamilton claiming third, Carter notching fourth and Swanson holding on for fifth. Tanner Swanson also turned in an impressive drive after suffering problems that sent him pitside in the beginning but not losing any laps due to the two false starts claiming sixth with Dakoda Armstrong seventh after starting 15th, Todd Bertrand eighth, Jake Trainor ninth and Maria Cofer tenth after starting 17th. It was Larson's second midget win at IRP with the other coming way back in 2011.
It was later found that the Jerome Rodela #25 was DQ'd in post-race inspection due to the right rear wheel width was 5/16 of an inch too wide. Officials still awarded the win to Larson but the $5000 winner's share was forfeited by the winning team due to the infraction.
It was a real good night of racing at IRP with a good crowd and competitive racing in both divisions with plenty of passing and took us back to the days of Thursday Night Thunder and all the wonderful broadcasts from here. Hopefully the sprint and midget racing at IRP will continue to grow and the crowds will come out to support this iconic track.
That's it now until the weekend where it looks like we will stay local for our racing. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area while being safe and staying hydrated. Comments, news, stories or anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy bringing you our “fan's perspective” of wherever we visit.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou Closes ISW22 With Wire To Wire Win At Tri-State, Grant ISW Champion
Saturday, July 30 – Weather wise you could not have asked for much better for round seven of Indiana Sprint Week as temperatures were in the mid 80's with plenty of sunshine which was intense but surely welcomed instead of the opening weekend weather for the series. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Vincennes for Friday through Sunday so we didn't have to worry about taking the nearly three hour trek northward to Crawfordsville after the racing at Tri-State Speedway on Saturday night which can make for a late night of driving as unfortunately we are not getting any younger. Before departing for Haubstadt we found a new eating place (at least for us) called the Pub 'N' Grub at 15 South 4th Street in Vincennes which was delightful with plenty of delicious grub and a mug of Peach Leinenkugel beer to wash it all down. The burgers were huge and very good tasting and the loaded fries were to die for. We were happy to have a frig back at the hotel to store the leftovers to take home on Sunday.
Then it was southward down Route 41 toward Haubstadt and our last stop on the ISW22 tour at the finely manicured Tri-State Speedway right next to the highway in Haubstadt. A good crowd of fans and a good field of USAC sprint cars (42) and MMSA mini sprints (21) were pitside to do battle on the final evening in southwestern Indiana. We settled into our backstretch seats three rows from the top toward turn three as the track crew groomed the banked ¼ mile black clay oval for tonight's racing.
USAC time trials started off the night commencing at 6:14 and early into qualifying Shane Cottle threw the Hodges #74X into turn three and biked his stead going up on his right side wheels and then end over end several times into one of the turn three advertising billboards denting it and almost clearing the fencing altogether. Cottle returned to the racing surface in a grinding thud as the safety crews rushed to his damaged sprinter. After a few anxious moments
Cottle was removed from his battered sprinter and transported to the hospital where it was reported later in the evening that he had been released with no broken bones nor a concussion. It was truly a wild and scary ride for Cottle and everyone who witnessed it and we will were relieved to hear that Shane was OK. Well, on a good note it happened again. Mitchel Moles scored his fifth quick time in seven rounds circling the ¼ mile bullring in a time of 13.442 seconds in an amazing time trial run in ISW22 only surpassed by Richard “The Gasman” Griffin who did it six times back in 1997.
The format would be the same as it has been the entire Indiana Sprint Week with four heats for the 43 USAC sprints on hand with the top four advancing directly into the 30 lap main event and the rest either running in the C or B mains. Robert Ballou made an impressive statement in heat one blasting from the third row to the lead in two laps on his way to winning the first heat over Critter Malone, Mitchel Moles and Emerson Axsom. Chase Stockon looked strong in heat two claiming the win over teammate, Jason McDougal, Kyle Cummins and Justin Grant. Kevin Thomas Jr. looked impressive in heat three and a contender for the evening scoring the win in this one over Logan Seavey, Shane Cockrum and Xavier Doney, the youngster from Missouri getting the opportunity to run one of the potent KO Motorsports machines. Heat four went to Thomas Messeraull in one of four KO Motorsports entries at their home track charging from sixth to a quick lead winning over CJ Leary, Dustin Beck making his first USAC National sprint car main event and Matt Westfall. With Brady Bacon not qualifying through the heat races Justin Grant clinched the ISW22 point crown and the sweet looking rocking chair that goes along with it.
The MMSA mini sprints would run three heats for their invitational race with 21 cars making the tow to Haubstadt. Heat winners were Brandon Deputy, Cody Knieriem and 14 year old female racer, Kayla Roell, who has a good following here at Tri-State where she scored her first feature win last year here.
Next on the agenda was the sprint car C main where Eddie Vancil got some air time flipping his sprinter in turn two which he emerged from unscathed. Sam Scott would prevail in this one edging Donny Brackett, Koby Barksdale and Travis Berryhill to move to the tail of the B main. Briggs Danner would capture the B main completing an impressive rookie ISW run having qualified for all seven rounds of ISW22. JJ Hughes who earlier had qualified 11th quickest came home second in this one outdistancing Brady Bacon in the process. Kendall Ruble, Jadon Rogers and Brody Roa rounded out the qualifiers which the impressive Texan, Dalton Stevens, coming up one spot shy of joining the 22 car starting field but the young Texan also had a good run in his rookie run in ISW22 and look forward to seeing his return in 2023.
The 20 lap MMSA mini sprint feature was run between the sprint C and B mains with Kayla Roell pulling off our second career win outrunning big winner, Brad Strunk, in the process to the delight of the large crowd who greeted the happy winner in victory lane with a loud round of applause. Brad Strunk and Brandon Deputy chased the 14 year old gal to the finish.
All that was left was the 30 lap USAC National sprint car feature with the front row of Justin Grant and Robert Ballou bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:03. Ballou motored into the early lead with Grant in his tire tracks as the lead duo opened some real estate between themselves and the rest of the pack. By lap eleven Ballou encountered lap traffic for the first time and maneuvered through with no difficulty even increasing his lead in the process. Shortly thereafter saw Kendall Ruble flip entering turn two with heavy damage to both ends of his #17 but the driver was OK after the hard ride.
On the ensuing restart Grant began to apply pressure to Ballou and pulled even with Ballou exiting turn four on lap fourteen as Thomas Meseraull zipped by Logan Seavey to take over third. The heavy favorite ever time the sprints visit Tri-State, Kyle Cummins, was beginning to march forward from fifth passing Seavey for fourth on lap 15 and storming past T-Mex for third exiting turn four on lap 17. Meseraull countered in turn two sliding under Cummins but getting slightly sideways causing Cummins to run up and over Meseraull's left front tire sending T-Mez into a spin collecting sixth running Kevin Thomas Jr. in the incident. Thomas would restart and manage a 12th at the finish but Meseraull was done for the evening.
On the restart Ballou slammed the loud petal to the floor and took off opening up a second and a half advantage over Grant and Cummins. Lap 22 saw Cummins edge by Grant for second exiting turn two and the race for the lead was on. Cummins began to cut into Ballou's gap as the laps clicked off but it looked like Ballou had enough of a lead to hang on but the caution flag waving changed all that as Dustin Beck slid and stopped in turn two on lap 28 to bunch things up for a green, white and checker run to the finish. The green waved once again and Ballou went to the bottom as he knew that Cummins likes to run the bottom at Haubstadt. Ballou was able to maintain about a two car length lead over the final two laps and breezed under the double checkers at 10:26 winning his first Indiana Sprint Week victory since 2017 holding off the six time USAC sprint car winner at Tri-State, Kyle Cummins, and Justin Grant, the 2022 ISW point champion for the first time in his career and the first time for TOPP Motorsports owner, Kevin Birchmeier. Chase Stockon would come home fourth with Logan Seavey notching fifth, CJ Leary sixth, Brady Bacon seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Critter Malone rounding out the top five. The win by Ballou was also his 36th career USAC National sprint car win tying him for 11th on the all time list with Kevin Thomas Jr. and also made it six winners in six races in ISW22.
That's it until Tuesday when we come back with a report from the pavement doubleheader of sprint cars and midgets from Indianapolis Raceway Park. So in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area of the country and be safe and stay hydrated. And thanks for reading our column and the emails that you send to us with words of encouragement and other things.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Second Half Run Secures Round Six Of ISW From 10th For Cummins At Bloomington
Friday, July 29 – The weather has turned for the better in the last few days for Indiana Sprint Week as today was sunny with temperatures in the mid 80's with the humidity level low. This brought out probably the largest crowd we have ever seen at the red hills of the Bloomington Speedway as both parking and seating was at a premium with people, motor homes and cars everywhere!! The gates opened slightly before five as the crowd piled into the grounds and we grabbed some real estate on the second tier of the hill overlooking turn one to watch 43 USAC sprint cars and 17 Racesaver winged 305 sprint cars perform their magic on the high banked red clay of the finely manicured facility on the southern edge of the university town of Bloomington. Tonight was dubbed the Kinser Memorial honoring the famed Kinser family of Bloomington and the ones who have left us much too soon.
Time trials for the USAC sprint cars was the first order of business with the first car taking the green at 6:53. Once again for the fourth time in six races the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ was fast time with Mitchel Moles at the controls clocking a time of 11.039 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. The Racesaver winged 305 sprinters hot lapped next before the USAC sprint cars returned at 8:05 to start the first of their four heat races with the top four transferring directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening.
The night ended much too early for Tye Mihocko battling up front for a transfer position when suddenly the Epperson #2E was airborne and turning end over end several times before landing in the grass outside of the turn four banking. Mihocko was OK after the wild ride but the same couldn't be said for the Epperson ride as their night was done. CJ Leary went on to score the victory in heat one over Jason McDougal, Brady Bacon and Mitchel Moles. Jadon Rogers who has been running well lately installed a new engine after last night's event at Lincoln Park and the new power plant took him to victory lane in heat two of the evening over Carson Garrett, Max Adams and Brandon Morin leaving Briggs Danner and Chase Stockon on the outside looking in. Kevin Thomas Jr. won heat three in the BGE Dougherty #15K besting Shane Cottle, Justin Grant and Emerson Axsom in a good affair. One of the pleasant surprises of ISW22 has been the performance of Surry, Texas driver, Dalton Stevens, who has qualified for half the races of the series to date and topped his surprising showing winning heat four in an impressive fashion passing Koby Barksdale late to win this heat. Robert Ballou and Matt Westfall trailed the other two to lock into the main event.
The Racesaver 305 sprints would contest two heat races with Bryce Norris winning heat one over Bradley Sterrett and Jordan Welch. The second heat was captured by Ethan Barrow turning back Rod Henning and Jeff Wimmenauer. It was right into the C main for the USAC sprints with Brody Roa taking down the C for the second straight night trailed by England's Tom Harris, Brayden Fox and Xavier Doney who might have wished he finished out of the top four after making contact with Davey Ray in the B main and flipping off of turn three shortly thereafter. Chase Stockon who tangled and spun in his heat race had to win the B main to qualify for the feature race with Kyle Cummins also making it in through the B with Brandon Mattox, Jordan Kinser in the Burton #04, Briggs Danner and Brody Roa punching their dance card into the big dance. Roa ran the alphabet from the C to the B to the A in a fine run edging Logan Seavey on the last lap in the B for the final qualifying spot. Seavey would have to use a provisional to tag the field making a 23 car starting field.
They dropped the hamma on the 23 car starting field at 10:03 with Brady Bacon jumping into the early lead over CJ Leary and Justin Grant with the front three going to the top in the early going. Bacon led the tandem around the ¼ mile bullring up to the halfway mark as the front runners began to encounter lap traffic as tenth starting Kyle Cummins caught the group and joined in the fun racing in fourth at that point. Leary closed the two second gap in the lap traffic to two car lengths and closing. Robert Ballou was using the low side to his advantage making up huge chunks of real estate charging from 14th to crack the top five and reeling in the front four. Lap eighteen saw Ballou go a little too low in turn three driving over the infield tire markers causing him to bounce like a ball several times in the middle of turns three and four and Ballou was clipped by Mitchel Moles turning him sideways and rolling over once in the process. His fine run was over even though he was able to return for the final 12 laps but was only able to salvage a 17th place finish at the end.
Kyle Cummins came to life as the race restarted choosing the middle groove to attempt to work his way past the top three and work it he surely did. He picked off Grant for third on lap 18 and Leary for second one lap later and went to school on Bacon at that point. Cummins cut the gap in a hurry by lap 20 and the lead pair raced side by side to the stripe for the next two laps with Bacon barely holding sway until Cummins was able to edge ahead of Bacon battling down the backstretch on lap 22. Logan Seavey's fine run from 23rd to 8th came to an abrupt end as he drifted off turn two and tried to save it only to be slightly clipped by ninth running Jadon Rogers causing him to stop off the turn. He restarted but would only manage to finish 18th after the stirring charge from the tail.
On the restart with seven to go Cummins hit the fast pedal and motored off to nearly a two second lead over the remainder of the distance and after having engine woes the previous night at LPS and down to their final motor he was able to score the big win tonight besting Brady Bacon with Justin Grant slipping into third, CJ Leary fourth and Jason McDougal turning in a fine ride also coming from 16th to fifth at the finish. Kevin Thomas Jr. finished sixth with Chase Stockon seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jadon Rogers ninth and Emerson Axsom moving from 15th to claim tenth. This was Cummins sixth ISW career win to go along with his eleventh career USAC National sprint car win to boot.
It was a good race with many things to watch and everyone would go home talking about the run of Cummins in this one.
To allow the huge crowd to evacuate the parking lot we decided to sit tight and take in the 20 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature event. Ethan Barrow streaked from his first starting position into the early lead and never looked back in this one outdistancing second starting Bryce Norris and sixth starting Jeff Wimmenauer to score the popular win taking the final checker at 10:56 in a well run program on this Friday night. Bradley Sterrett and Rod Henning would round out the top five in this affair.
We move onto the final night of ISW22 traveling to southwestern Indiana to the fine speed plant of Tom and Loris Helfrich in Haubstabt with Justin Grant holding a 49 point lead based on his run of five straight top five in the five features contested in the six rounds of this year of competition.
So check back later in the day on Sunday to see how Indiana Sprint Week ends up in its 35 year of operation. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Any comments, news items, rumors or facts can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and the many emails you send us to let us know that you enjoy the write-ups as we try to give you the reports from a fan's standpoint and what we observe during the evening of racing.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Moles Gets Second Chance To Score Round 5 Of ISW At Lincoln Park
Thursday, July 28 – It was a nice day today in Indiana with temperatures in the 80's and sunny but a bit humid. On tap tonight was round five of the 35th Indiana Sprint Week which would be taking place at the 5/16 mile banked dirt oval of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. We arrived just a tad past 4:30 and a long line of fans were waiting to purchase their tickets for tonight's racing. Lincoln Park is a fantastic place to view racing as the concrete grandstands with wooden planks have wide enough spaces between the rows to sit up your lawn chair and kick back to watch some good racing as there is not a bad seat in the house. Max and Suzie Niemann saved us a space in front of them so we could all chat easier as we settled in for a night of racing. Time trials were the first order of business and pushed off at 7:11. With just three cars left to time it started to rain as a cell of dark clouds moved over the speedway grounds and everything was halted. Over two hours later after a youman's job by the Lincoln Park track crew the time trials were started from the top as per USAC rules but in a good move USAC officials went to a two at a time format cutting the time for the 52 car field to only 20 minutes before time trials were completed at 10:03. One of the strangest events of the evening Thomas Meseraull arrived ready to drive the Jack Yeley #2 but upon arriving in the pit area he found Cactus Jack bolting in Anton Hernanadez's seat and T-Mez was without notification without a ride for the evening. I noticed on Twitter that Chase Briscoe sent a tweet to T-Mez about getting the band back together and his father, Kevin Briscoe, chimed in that he was in so it looks like the Briscoe #5B may be back for the last two events on the ISW schedule with T-Mez at the keyboard. Stay tuned for updates on this. What made this situation even more bizarre was that Kyle Cummins suffered a blown engine during the first time trial session and was assigned the Yeley #2 for round two of time trials making this probably one of the shortest stints in a mount for Hernandez. Brady Bacon by the way set fast time tonight with a spin around the 5/16's mile at 12.848 seconds to be at the top of the speed chart.
The first of four USAC sprint car heats took the green flag at 10:19 with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event later in the evening. Dave Darland was able to fend off the constant challenges of Kevin Thomas Jr. to take heat one with Brent Beauchamp third and Brady Bacon coming home fourth. The second heat race went to Tye Mihocko in the Epperson #2E besting Jason McDougal, Emerson Axsom and Shane Cottle. Brayden Fox wired the field in heat three taking an easy win over Mitchel Moles, Robert Ballou and Mario Clouser who fed Texan Dalton Stevens a right rear in turn two a few laps from the finish to secure fourth at the finish. AJ Hopkins made the local folks happy capturing heat two back in the Burton #04 beating Jadon Rogers, Logan Seavey and CJ Leary.
The C main was quickly lined up and spun off with California driver, Brody Roa, taking this one over Scotty Weir in the Benic #2B again, Brandon Mattox and Xavier Doney. The top six would move on from the B main weaved into the starting field getting their times back to start further up in the lineup. Second quickest time trialer, Matt Westfall, made short order of the race up front holding off Ryan Timms, Chase Stockon, Justin Grant, Briggs Danner and Kyle Shipley the last man in after a superb battle between Shipley, Max Adams and Dalton Stevens for over half the race.
Letting no grass grow under their feet race officials had the cars on the track quickly and at 11:37 the front row of Jadon Rogers and Mitchel Moles led the 22 car field to Tom Hansing's green flag with Rogers taking the early lead. Rogers led lap one until turn one when Moles was able to dive low and race side by side with Rogers the entire length of the backstretch until edging ahead in turn three to secure the lead. The field raced around the juiced up oval without much passing occurring with Moles using the inside to fend off Rogers and KTJ. At the halfway mark the track began to widen and Moles chose to move his line to the top but after leaving the bottom open for three laps and with Rogers drawing alongside numerous times Moles decided to go back to the bottom. Meanwhile Brady Bacon began to march forward from sixth and settled into fourth behind Shane Cottle as the laps clicked off. Bacon was able to polish off Cottle for third high in turn two with two to go. Bacon was gaining momentum and as the group exited turn four coming for the white flag Rogers bumped Moles getting him out of sorts as Bacon pounced on the opportunity and raced high with the trio almost dead even entering turn one. Bacon surged by the pair exiting turn two and dove low when they reached turn three having the lead as the caution appeared when 8th running Kevin Thomas Jr. and 10th running Robert Ballou tangled in turn one and came to a stop negating the brilliant move by Bacon to grab the lead.
With a second chance to win Moles made no mistakes over the last two laps as he powered away to a several car length lead and crossed under the double checkers at 11:57 for his first career ISW victory and his second career USAC National sprint car victory of his career. Jadon Rogers finished a stout second with Bacon settling for third with Cottle fourth and Justin Grant completing a great race charging from 14th to place fifth at the end. CJ Leary claimed sixth with Briggs Danner from 12th to seventh with Brent Beauchamp eighth, Ryan Timms ninth and Dave Darland grabbing tenth.
It was an interesting enough of a race to keep your interest and we are all glad that they were able to get this one in with all the rain we have suffered through this ISW.
That's it for now but check back tomorrow to see what happens at round six of ISW from the Bloomington Speedway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our column and check back often to see where we end up.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Takes Torrid Battle In Round 4 Of ISW At Kokomo
Tuesday, July 26 - It was a cloudy, overcast day as we exited Crawfordsville on our way to Kokomo to attend round four of Indiana Sprint Week and we ran through some misty rain before finally running out of it. We arrived around 5:30 and found the front parking lot almost full but upon entering the frontstretch grandstands we were surprised that so many sections were sparsely occupied. Maybe it was because it was a Tuesday, a normal workday plus the weather was a little suspect but as the starting time drew closer the fans rolled in and filled the empty areas of both the front and backstretch grandstands to make the atmosphere feel more like an Indiana Sprint Week event.
By 7:02 the first of a strong 44 car field of USAC sprint cars went under the clock in the one division program of racing on the fast ¼ mile bullring located in Howard County. Everyone was wondering if Mitchel Moles would make it four straight fast times in ISW competition but when it was said and done Moles was only ninth fastest and tonight CJ Leary had established a new track record of 12.284 seconds that Dave Darland had held going back to 2014. It was also Leary's eighth fast time of 2022. Critter Malone was not so fortunate as he took a tumble in turns one and two during his qualifying run. He was OK after the incident.
Heat action was next on the dance card with four scheduled races for the 44 strong sprint car field in attendance commencing at 7:50 PM. Fireworks erupted early in heat one when Briggs Danner and Sterling Cling banged wheels in between turns one and two with Cling getting the worse of the contact sending him into the outside wall and flipping several times in the process. Cling was able to make repairs and return for the B main later in the evening. Ryan Timms driving the Keith Kunz #67 scored his first USAC sprint car heat win beating Mitchel Moles, CJ Leary and Tye Mihocko. Heat two was claimed by Jadon Rogers in a fine run holding off Brady Bacon the entire distance with Emerson Axsom third and Kevin Thomas Jr. riding home fourth. Heat three saw a very unusual occurrence as winner, Chase Stockon, after taking the checkered flag rolled over in turn four on the cool down lap. Stockon was OK and the crew was able to repair the damaged car for the feature. Stockon defeated Justin Grant, Matt Westfall and Robert Ballou in this competitive race. Kyle Cummins who has established himself as a favorite each time he shows up at Kokomo dominated heat four beating Shane Cottle, Jason McDougal and Cole Bodine grabbing the last qualifying spot on the last lap to the delight of his grandparents, Junior & Nola, who were sitting right near us. In the fourth heat Jake Swanson who was running second at the time suddenly veered toward the fourth turn wall hitting it hard and flipping into the catch fence while his throttle stuck for several seconds. He was taken from the car and went to the hospital with minor injuries but no broken bones. An updated Twitter from Jake today had the apparent cause of the accident being due to him being hit by a rock knocking him unconscious which might explain the stuck throttle being his foot on the gas pedal.
It was next into the C main where the starting front row was an all international affair with Australia's Todd Hobson and England's Tom Harris leading the field to the start. Both fell on misfortune as Hobson suffered a flat tire while Harris spun on the homestretch while running second. Harris was able to return and finished two spots out of moving to the B. Max Adams back in the Benic #2B for the second straight night took down the C main over Brody Roa, Brandon Mattox and Travis Berryhill. The B main would shortly follow with Kokomo Speedway point leader, Scotty Weir, wheeled the Petersen #4P plain Jane sprinter to victory in this one besting Logan Seavey, Briggs Danner, Jack Hoyer, Dave Darland and Brent Beauchamp at the finish. Brandon Mattox would use a provisional for the second straight race to join the starting field giving us 23 cars to start the main event.
Now the field was set for the 30 lap USAC National sprint car feature with the front row of Mitchel Moles and Robert Ballou bringing the 23 car field to the green flag at 9:50. Ballou bounded into the early lead of this one chased by Moles and others. Ballou would pace the field for the first seven laps with Justin Grant taking over second from Moles with a turn four pass on that lap. Two laps later the first caution of the race waved when third running Moles biked his mount in turn one contacting the outside wall and spinning around damaging both the front and rear ends of his machine ending his night prematurely.
Ballou led on the restart but Grant went to work and closed the gap several times until edging by Ballou exiting turn four on lap eleven for the lead. Lap thirteen saw Jason McDougal loop his mount in turn three to bring out the second caution. The action really heated up on the lap thirteen restart as Ballou dug deep and raced side by side with Grant over the next four laps edging ahead of each other in portions of the track but each time at the line Grant held sway by inches as the pair put on a crowd pleasing duel never touching each other in the intense battle. Ballou would lead at the line on lap sixteen but Grant led on lap seventeen as the war raged up front. Ballou led lap eighteen with Grant ahead on lap nineteen in the spirited tussle. Grant would lead laps nineteen and twenty but Ballou was not finished as he surged ahead off turn four to lead lap twenty one. Lap twenty two saw Grant grab back the lead for the seventh and final time but Ballou was still lurking right behind.
The leaders caught lap traffic on lap twenty five and Grant was able to open some ground on Ballou at this point. Lap twenty six saw Kyle Cummins make a late race surge to sweep by Ballou for second as he tried to reel in Grant for the top spot. Cummins was making things very interesting as he moved closer and closer to Grant and coming to the white flag Cummins was on Grant's bumper entering turn three but bobbled on the cushion in turn four costing him some ground and time to catch Grant. As the pair raced around the track for the final lap Cummins tried to reel in Grant but Justin was able to stave off the final challenge and raced under the black and white flag at 10:04 to score his fifth career USAC sprint car win at Kokomo by 0.155 seconds over Cummins, Ballou, Leary and Brady Bacon. Emerson Axsom led the second five finishing sixth with Ryan Timms notching seventh, Jadon Rogers a fine eighth, Chase Stockon ninth and Briggs Danner rounding out the top ten after starting sixteenth.
It was a special win for Grant in many ways with one of them being the fact that the race was one of designated ten on the year in the Master of Going Faster named for his father in law, Bubby Jones, with many of the family celebrating in victory lane. Another special moment was when Grant was asked how special it felt to become the all time feature winner at Kokomo since the new track configuration in 2005 winning for the 25th time and passing two legends of Kokomo of Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough. That is some heady company and Grant was choked up to look back over the years when he first came here to Kokomo and saw Darland and Stanbrough dominating at the Howard County oval. The last two cherries on the sundae were that it was his sixth ISW win tying him for sixth all time with six wins in ISW history and it was his 32nd career USAC National sprint car win moving him into a tie with Rollie Beale for 15th on the list and passing Tyler Courtney in the process.
It was an excellent night of racing at Kokomo and will have everyone chomping at the bit to see the next round for all the right reasons.
Wednesday, July 27 – The news came around 11:30 that round five of Indiana Sprint Week was canceled and not to be rescheduled at the Action Track at Terre Haute as the massive storm that hit St. Louis yesterday also dumped 5 to 7 inches on both Terre Haute and Bloomington making the grounds at Terre Haute too saturated to allow them to run the event tonight.
That's it for now but check back Friday for the round five report from Lincoln Park Speedway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, tidbits and comments can reach us at email@example.com. And get well soon Jake Swanson. Last but not least thanks for continuing to read our columns and hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you as he try to write our reports in a fan's perspective so you can decide if you would want to attend any of the tracks that we report on.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Goes Up Top To Score ISW Win At Circle City
Monday, July 25 – Today was cloudy but no rain predicted so that was good for two reasons. First, cloudy helps keep the track from taking too much sun and drying out and two we were going to see a race after two nights of disappointment. So at 4:15 it was off to the Indianapolis area for round three of Indiana Sprint Week at the quarter mile dirt oval on the Marion County Fairgrounds called the Circle City Raceway. Pulling onto the grounds of the track area we found a decent crowd already on hand at 5:25 and many in the grandstands even though the scheduled gate opening on their website was 5:30. Oh, well we still found a good seating place in the higher aluminum grandstands added on to the original sections just to the right of the starter's stand and kept our eyes out for our friends, Max and Suzie Niemann, who would be sitting with us on this evening.
Indianapolis businessman, Kevin Garrigus, also the owner and operator of the Indianapolis Speedrome and others have done a fine job with renovating the facility with nice rest rooms, good concession stands (though a tad pricey), stone and pavement everything, a nice scoreboard and big screen on the backstretch and good seating and lighting just to name a few things. The big thing management needs to work on is the track surface itself. There are just too many rocks or stones of all shapes and sizes constantly pinging off the aluminum grandstands the entire evening. Some of them are larger ones which could do injury to spectators or worse. We would hate to see a lawsuit and legal problems for this facility after all that they have put into revitalizing the track. Just food for thought for management and probably will have to wait until the off season but surely needs to be addressed.
A fine field of 43 USAC sprint cars were joined in the turn three and four pit area by 19 UMP modifieds for tonight's racing program. The action began at 7:02 with USAC sprint car time trials and when they were all said and done by 7:37 it was none other than Mitchel Moles setting fast time for the third straight night with a new track record of 12.005 seconds around the quarter mile bullring. Three straight fast times has not been accomplished since 1997 when Richard “The Gas Man” Griffin from New Mexico pulled off the feat in that year. Following time trials for the sprints the UMP modifieds took to the track for two hot lap sessions before the sprint cars returned to contest their four heat races with the top four advancing to the big 30 lap main event.
CJ Leary drew first blood capturing the first heat race besting Jake Swanson, Kevin Thomas Jr. qualifying for his first ISW race of the series and Shane Cottle. Chase Stockon won heat two triumphing over Brady Bacon, Scotty Weir back in the Petersen #4P and Texan Dalton Stevens making his first USAC National sprint car feature holding off Cole Bodine in the process. Frankie Guerrini took a tumble on the homestretch in this heat after getting jumbled up with Justin Grant and others in a chain reaction. Robert Ballou claimed heat three over Kyle Cummins, young Ryan Timms also making his first USAC National sprint car feature driving the Keith Kunz #67 and Jason McDougal. Emerson Axsom nailed down the fourth heat over Briggs Danner who continues to impress, Brody Roa qualifying for his second straight ISW feature and Logan Seavey staving off the advances of Brent Beauchamp to finish fourth. Three UMP modified heats followed with Justin Gregory, Derek Groomer and Todd Sherman taking down wins.
After some track prep the sprint car C main was called to the post with the top four finishers moving to the back of the B main. Cole Bodine won this one over Brandon Mattox, Zack Pretorius and Sterling Cling. The B main would follow soon thereafter with fast timer, Mitchel Moles, winning and earning the 11th starting position for the main. Justin Grant, Brent Beauchamp, Matt Westfall, Dave Darland making his first ever Circle City start and Matt McDonald the last man in. Brandon Mattox would use a provisional to make it a 23 car starting field for the 30 lap feature race.
At the drop of the green flag Briggs Danner jumped to the early lead over fellow front row starter, Kevin Thomas Jr., leading the first seven laps of the contest. Brady Bacon passed Danner for the lead but it was negated when Scotty Weir swiped the cushion in turn four and came to a stop. One lap after the restart Bacon again made his move taking the lead down low in turns three and four on lap eight. CJ Leary who started eighth was working his way forward rising to third on lap nine and grabbing second from Danner slipping under him in turn four on lap twelve. Leary went to work on Bacon for the lead and almost moved out front at the start/finish line the next two laps around but was unable to pull the move off for the lead and tucked in behind Bacon on the low side. These two ran like this with Danner staying true to the top until lap twenty four when a flat left front caused seventh running Kyle Cummins to dig into the surface sending him on his lid with Brent Beauchamp, Mitchel Moles and Brody Roa with no where to go piling into the crash. All were able to continue with the exception of Cummins.
On the restart suddenly 12th starting Justin Grant was in the hunt sliding by Danner for third in turns one and two and committing to the high side to track down the two front runners. Danner snagged the cushion bouncing him all around and made contact with another car dropping him from fourth all the way back to fourteenth at the finish spoiling a fine performance by the young man from Allentown, PA making his first ISW week long appearance. Meanwhile Grant began to gain ground on Bacon and Leary using the high side and with five to go Leary made the decision to rather than follow Bacon on the bottom to take the challenge and move to the top to see if he could track down Bacon. With three to go Leary had the advantage at the line by inches and over the last two laps opened a several car length advantage over Bacon and flashed under the double checkers at 10:09 for his third win of 2022 in USAC competition and his sixth career USAC ISW win. It was also Leary's 19th career USAC National sprint car win of his career. Grant nipped Bacon for second at the wire with Bacon slipping back to third, Chase Stockon fourth and Jason McDougal rounding out the top five. Matt Westfall led the second five across the line after starting 16th with Shane Cottle rebounding from a lap two spin to march from 23rd to 7th with Jake Swanson eighth, Robert Ballou ninth and Ryan Timms in his USAC sprint debut garnering tenth.
It was a good, competitive feature with plenty to watch and was entertaining right down to the finish.
As about half the crowd filed out we decided to let the traffic dispense some and settled in to watch the 25 lap UMP modified feature. At this point the track had slicked up so most of the drivers went to the huggy pole after Jordan Wever from third moved by Todd Sherman five laps into the event. Derek Groomer from fifth was able to sneak by Sherman for second as the laps ticked off. By 10:41 after six cautions slowed the action Jordan Wever received the checkered flag over Groomer, Sherman, Kentucky's Ben Harmon and Nick Richards.
That's it for round three of ISW, the 35th edition, and check back tomorrow to see what happens in round four of ISW where the action moves to the Kokomo Speedway, the baddest ¼ mile bullring in Indiana. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing wherever you are and be safe and stay hydrated. News, stories, comments and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks as always for reading our efforts and we hope that you continue to enjoy the writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Take care and be kind.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Double Winner At Indiana Sprint Week
Saturday, July 23 – Early morning severe thunderstorms rolled across Northern Indiana and continued into the middle of the afternoon causing USAC and Kokomo Speedway to postpone round two of Indiana Sprint Week until Tuesday, September 26th which will be a standalone program with sprint cars only.
Sunday, July 24- After chatting with some Australian travelers in the hotel lobby before departing our Hampton Inn we loaded up the Rogue and pointed it south on Route 931 and 31 toward Westfield. We stopped in Westfield at I Love Mac & Cheese for lunch and both of us enjoyed our picks of Short Rib Philly and Bacon Cheeseburger selections. From there we hooked into I-465 south until connecting with I-74 west heading to our Sunday night destination of the Lawrenceburg Speedway for now what would be round two of Indiana Sprint Week.
We arrived early and filled up on $3.99 Sinclair fuel before heading over to the track grounds and sitting and reading for a while. We left at 2:30 to drive over to LaRosa's which was closed except for take out or delivery for renovations so we picked Maverick's instead for an early dinner. Returning to the fairgrounds we secured our parking spot and waited for the gates to open at five. I went in and placed our blanket down in Section G under the roof which would turn out to be a good location for two reasons as it turned out. One was because of the hot temperatures, our thermometer in the Rogue read 97 degrees in the afternoon, with the other reason coming later in the evening.
A good field of 42 sprint car entries graced the third and fourth turn pit area at Lawrenceburg for tonight's racing along with 14 UMP modifieds. The first order of business was time trials with two sprinters at a time touring the big 38 mile high banked dirt oval kicking off at 6:21. By 6:43 they were completed with Mitchel Moles recording his second straight fast time of ISW touring the high banks at 13.910 seconds. Up next after UMP modified hot laps were heat race qualifying for the USAC sprinters with the top four moving directly to the 30 lap main event. Mitchel Moles showed that he was the man to beat as he blasted from his sixth starting spot to cop the first heat besting Saban Bibent placing second with Jake Swanson back in the Team AZ #21AZ third and Sterling Cling, the current Lawrenceburg point leader, fourth. Heat two saw defending Lawrenceburg point champion, Nick Bilbee, holding down the locals turf claiming this one over Briggs Danner, Max Adams and Emerson Axsom in a hotly contested heat. Robert Ballou went fourth to first in one lap in heat three for the lead and the eventual win beating California driver, Brody Roa, Chase Stockon and Scotty Weir wheeling the Scott Benic #2B tonight. The fourth and final heat fell to Justin Grant in the TOPP Motorsports #4 turning back Kyle Cummins, CJ Leary and Jason McDougal. The UMP modifieds spun off two quick heats for their 14 car field before the sprint car C main was called to the track as everyone's eyes were divided between their cell phones tracking the weather and the racing on the track. Xavier Doney, the young driver from Missouri, pulled the upset in the C main passing Friday night's winner, Shane Cottle, late in the 10 lap contest to post the win trailed by Cottle, Texan Dalton Stevens and Brandon Mattox. Within ten minutes the B main was going green where Doney's fine run came to a halt when he flipped in turn three during the B. Logan Seavey would wheel the Baldwin/Fox #5 to the win over Brady Bacon, Joss Moffatt, Matt Westfall, Cole Bodine and Thomas Messeraull edging Tye Mihocko in a spirited battle for the last qualifying position. Jadon Rogers would elect to use a provisional to tag the field. The weather app was showing a good chance of rain by 9 PM as the 30 lap A main was ready to push off on the track at 8:18. A few minutes later it began a light rain and the starting field was waved off the track and back to the pit area to wait it out. As lightning flashed off the backstretch we waited it out for an hour and the rain picked up and just before 9:30 the remainder of the program was canceled with it being declared completed. All points earned from time trials, heat races and making the feature would be added onto the totals for the week with the purse divided equally between the feature starters.
It was a tough one to swallow but everything humanly possible was done to move the show along as quickly as possible but the rain unfortunately arrived about 45 minutes sooner than predicted and cost us all being able to watch the feature events. Rain ends up being the double winner on this weekend and hopefully does not add to his win total the remainder of the week. So we move onto round three later this afternoon at the Circle City Raceway in the Indianapolis area where we will pick up and move forward from.
Until tomorrow when the next installment of A Typical Weekend comes your way get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch some racing at a track you have been waiting to attend. Either way, enjoy yourselves, stay hydrated and be safe out there. News, comments, words of wisdom and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and come back often to see where the roads lead us to our next race.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Wild Night Of Racing With White Flag Pass For Win Goes To Cottle At Gas City
Friday, July 22 – On a day that CEO Vince McMahon announced his retirement from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) the first night of Indiana Sprint Week reminded you more of an WWE show than it did sprint car racing. Tumbles galore and flying drop kicks highlighted the evening of racing at Gas City I-69 Speedway for the opener of ISW #35. The villain, Robert Ballou, was involved in four separate incidents during the evening and did not make too many friends on the night. We will get to all the happenings in due time but for now we will regress to the start of the adventures.
Pat and I started out the travels on Thursday afternoon leaving our home in Crawfordsville and traveling to the Delaware County Fair in Muncie to take in an evening of autocross racing sitting in the large covered grandstand at the fair. It was entertaining and the slam bang style of racing carried over to the next night at Gas City. We drove over to Kokomo to stay at the Hampton Inn for the next three nights and left the hotel at 3 PM on Friday to make our way over to Gas City to find a parking spot and place down our blanket in the wooden grandstand as a large crowd filed in for the evening of racing on a sweltering day with temperatures in the 90's and bright and sunny. A fine field of 52 sprints were joined by 20 All Star TQ midgets to do battle on the ¼ mile bullring and do battle they did.
The action started off early with Pennsylvania's Austin Graby dumping his sprinter in turns three and four during hot laps. The tumbling continued in time trials as first Arizona's Kyle Shipley took the Michael Dutcher #17GP on a series of gyrations that would have made Hulk Hogan proud with the Arizona driver quickly climbing from the car OK after the wild ride. Next Kevin Thomas Jr. in the BGE Dougherty #15K, the defending ISW champion, biked his sprinter in turn three and went for a twirl rolling over once in the process. Both Shipley and Thomas (without brakes) returned to spin off one lap of time but the mishaps buried them deep in the time trial order (41st & 36th respectively) and made their nights even tougher. Mitchel Moles driving the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ clicked off his first career USAC sprint car fast time blistering the track with character to the tune of 11.927 seconds to set him up for a good evening.
Next up on the dance card were four heats for the 50 survivors from hot laps and time trials with the top four to advance to the 30 lap main event. Emerson Axsom won heat one on the last lap passing Logan Seavey for the win with Mitchel Moles managing third and young Jack Hoyer fourth making his first ever USAC National sprint car main. Heat two saw CJ Leary charging from fifth to claim this one over Jake Swanson, Scotty Weir and Chase Stockon. Jadon Rogers held off the thundering herd in heat three beating back Justin Grant, Kyle Cummins and Brady Bacon who recovered after tangling and spinning off turn four earlier in the heat to come back to qualify. Allentown, PA ISW rookie, Briggs Danner, made it look easy in heat four besting Matt Westfall, Robert Ballou and Jason McDougal. Ballou was involved in a multi-car tangle in this heat which ended Dave Darland's night early on the business end of a tow truck.
The Tony Stewart All Star TQ midgets would contest three heats for their 20 car field with Rylan Gray topping Kaylee Bryson and Matt Lux in heat one. Robbie Roland copped heat two over Dylan Powell and Tate Martz. Joey Paxson scored the win in heat three over John Heydenreich and Logan Prickett.
The sprint car C main was next on the agenda with Max Adams in one of the Goodnight stable cars winning over Kevin Thomas Jr., Koby Barksdale and Harley Burns. The sprint car B main was next with Tye Mihocko wheeling the Tony Epperson #2E taking this one over Shane Cottle, Brent Beauchamp, Thomas Meseraull, Cole Bodine and Chad Boespflug the last man in. Kevin Thomas Jr. came up two short of making the starting field after passing numerous cars on his way forward.
The 20 lap TQ midget feature would go next to give everything in the sprint car feature time to fine tune their mounts. Joey Paxson jumped to the early lead from first and began to power away. It would not be an easy victory as Kaylee Bryson motored her #34 from sixth into second and pressured Paxson over the stretch run but mechanical woes sent Bryson pitside with only a handful of laps remaining. Paxson would go on to score his fifth win of 2022 over Robbie Roland, Matt Lux, Cory Clay and John Heydenreich advancing from deep in the field to claim fifth at the end.
The USAC sprint car 30 lap feature went green at 10:33 with Robert Ballou outgunning Justin Grant into the early lead. Ballou would remain out front through the first half of the feature using the low side to retain command. Lap fourteen saw Grant make his move for the lead in turn three and complete it in turn four running up and over the front end of Ballou. In turn one Ballou countered Grant's aggressive with one of his own short sliding Grant with the two leaders hooking bumpers briefly with Ballou retaking the top spot. The caution flew shortly thereafter when a cone ended up on the homestretch and on the restart Ballou went back to work and so did Grant. Diamonding turns one and two Grant was able to squeeze by Ballou for the lead on lap sixteen. Meanwhile Shane Cottle was using the inside to perfection steadily working his way forward from his tenth starting spot cracking the top five as the race progressed. Lap nineteen saw the battle develop for second with Ballou, Brady Bacon and CJ Leary in a tight cluster with Leary off road racing over the turn two inside tires bouncing around as he attempted to make a move to pass the other two but he was able to recover without losing much ground. Lap twenty saw Bacon challenge down the backstretch on the high side racing into turn three where the pair banged wheels with Bacon getting the short end of the stick tumbling four times before coming to rest on all fours. Brady quickly exited the damaged machine, looked it over and proceeded to march across the infield to turn one where Ballou was parked on the track. An animated conversation followed but Bacon retained his composure and professionalism and after speaking his piece climbed on the front of an ATV for the ride back to the pit area. On the lap twenty one restart the battle raged as Grant led with Ballou and Cottle in tight formation entering turn three where the trio went three wide with Grant retaining the lead with Cottle slipping by Ballou down low for second. Grant continued to lead with Cottle and Ballou following until Leary made his move in turn one to take third away from Ballou. As the pair raced hard off turn four with Leary high and Ballou down low to the white flag Ballou slid high toward the wall and contacted Leary's stead on the homestretch sending Leary into the homestretch wall flipping over onto his roll cage and spinning in the middle of the track like a top. Luckily no one hit the upside down Leary and he quickly crawled from his wrecked sprinter and sprinted across the infield toward Ballou's sitting sprinter on the backstretch. With a prime WWE move Leary executed a flying drop kick into the cockpit of Ballou's car with Leary ending up on his rump on the race track. He scrambled to his feet and launched his left leg again into the cockpit of Ballou. In my opinion Ballou was at fault for the incident but the actions of Leary were over the top and USAC should sit Leary down for the next two rounds of ISW for his unprofessional actions.
We still had a race to finish and after things calmed down the field was realigned and the green waved once more on a green, white and checker scenario. On the restart Cottle dove low in edge in front of Grant in turn one with Grant countering in turns three and four to ike out the lead at the line with the white flag waving. Cottle again dove low entering turn one and went back out front and would race around the ¼ mile to complete the tenth to first charge at the line at 10:57 picking up the popular win like he did three years ago here at Gas City also with a last lap pass for the win. The 51 year old resident of Kansas, Illinois became the seventh driver over the age of 50 to win a USAC National sprint car race joining the likes of Bob Kinser (age 54), Terry Pletch (age 52), Dean Shirley, Hank Lower and Dave Darland (all age 51) in that exclusive club of winners. Also of Cottle's nine career USAC National wins six of them have occurred here at Gas City. Grant came across the line second and in a funny moment during his podium interview he felt like he scored a victory because he did not get taken out by Ballou in the feature!! Mitchel Moles edged Ballou at the line for third but we looked forward to hearing the reaction and interview if Ballou had placed third. Ballou rode home fourth with Chase Stockon rounding out the top five. Kyle Cummins finished sixth after starting seventeenth with Scotty Weir seventh, Tye Mihocko eighth after starting sixteenth, Jake Swanson from 20th to ninth and Emerson Axsom placing tenth.
It was a wild night of action and we look forward to tonight at Kokomo where the caravan travels to for night two of ISW #35.
That's it for this one but check back tomorrow to see what happen at Kokomo if they are able to run as severe thunderstorms roll through the area even as we type so hopefully we will see racing again tonight. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. Comments, news and other tidbits can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and we appreciate the feedback that we receive from you all. Keep it coming and keep reading.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Cummins Tops MSCS Bob Darland Memorial At Kokomo
Saturday, July 9 – We slept in this Saturday morning before getting ready to leave the house and head toward Kokomo to attend the races that evening. We had three planned stops first though with stop one in Darlington to support a fund raiser for Emeree Wilcox, a 3 ½ year old little girl, battling a rare form of cancer and the community rallied around the family to help out with some of the associated medical costs for Emeree. Next up was Ollie's, a bargain store in Kokomo, to shop for some household items and some reading material. Success on both accounts. The third stop was to eat Italian food and our first choice Martino's in Kokomo was closed for vacation so he headed to the southern part of Kokomo to dine at PASTArrific which ended up being a very good choice also. The food was excellent and the prices were reasonable. Finally it was over to the Kokomo Speedway for our night of racing where the MSCS sprint cars would be racing for the first time along with the Racesaver 305 sprint cars in the Bob Darland Memorial honoring the father of Dave Darland who was a long time mechanic and car owner. A fine field of 38 MSCS non-wing sprints were in attendance along with 16 Racesaver 305 sprint cars.
The qualifying format for MSCS differs some the normal time trial format in that each heat group qualifies at the same time during hot laps. After the 38 sprints had finished hot laps Jason McDougal in the KO Motorsports #5M had turned the ¼ mile bullring in a time of 12.809 seconds. The Racesaver 305 winged sprints also ran hot laps/qualifying determining their starting positions in their heat races.
At 7:57 the first of four MSCS sprint car heats took to the track almost a half hour after the posted starting time. We are beginning to become concerned that it seems that Kokomo is being lax at their starting time and that is never good. The difference of starting on time and the races ending at a good hour (10 PM instead of 10:30) is a big deal if a person has a distance to travel or plans for the next day. Enough on that. Let's get to the racing.
The top four from the MSCS heats would advance to the main event with Critter Malone capturing the first heat besting Dave Darland, Carson Garrett and Chad Boespflug. Scotty Weir wheeled the plain Jane painted Petersen #4P to victory in heat two beating Jason McDougal, Max Adams jumping into one of the Goodnight stable cars and Kevin Thomas Jr. charging from eighth to fourth. Shane Cottle brought the Hodges #74 to the front in heat three for the win over Chase Stockon, Kyle Cummins and Zack Pretorius. Cole Bodine notched heat four over Colten Cottle, Mitch Wissmiller and Aaron Davis. The Racesaver 305 sprints would contest two heats with Bradley Galedrige winning heat one and Jordan Welch winning heat two.
The MSCS sprints would run both a C main and B main with four from each advancing one step closer to the main event. Ryan Thomas copped the C main to move to the B main along with Ryan Barr, Garrett Aitken and Corey Smith. The B main fell to Missouri invader, Wesley Smith, besting Aussie Todd Hobson, Sterling Cling and Jack Hoyer. All qualifying was done and all that was left were the two features.
The 30 lap MSCS sprint car feature would be the first called to the post with the 20 car field taking the green flag at 9:33. Scotty Weir who started first would out-drag Cole Bodine to take the early lead. Shane Cottle had the Hodges #74 on the prowl moving past Bodine for second on the backstretch on lap seven and went to work to catch Weir. Kyle Cummins who was on a rail passed Bodine for third after starting eleventh in turn three on lap 13. A caution waved shortly thereafter and on the restart Cottle charged by Weir to take the lead. Cummins worked his way by Weir also and took up the chase of Cottle. Cummins stalked Cottle for several laps and raced by Cottle as the pair raced to the line to complete lap 19. At the same time Jason McDougal was marching forward from sixth taking third on the same lap. Cottle who was running a great race in second saw his evening come to an abrupt ending when a hub or axle brought as he set up to slide into turn three with Cottle pounding the turn three wall twirling around in the air but never going over in the bone jarring incident. On the restart Critter Malone got sideways in turn two with Mitch Wissmiller with no where to go made contact causing Malone's sprinter to lightly roll over onto his roll cage. Both were finished for the evening. On the ensuing restart Cummins was quick on the loud pedal and sprinted away from McDougal with Kevin Thomas Jr. motoring from fourteenth to third by Wier in turn three. Cummins was in control of the race until lap 28 when Colten Cottle stopped the Hazen #57 with mechanical woes in turn three. One more restart and Cummins was up to the challenge pulling away over the last two laps and flashed under the double checkers at 10:02 beating McDougal, Thomas Jr., Weir and Bodine. Chase Stockon scored sixth with Max Adams seventh, Todd Hobson in his best US run from 18th to 8th with Dave Darland ninth and Wesley Smith with an impressive run from 17th to 10th. A good race with lots of passing and intrigue involved in this one.
The Racesaver 305 sprints still had their 25 lap feature to run with the initial green flag dropping at 10:22. Rod Henning took the lead on lap two off turn four and looked in command of this one until John Paynter Jr. found the top side to his liking and began to close the gap on Henning from his fifth starting position. Paynter passed Henning on the backstretch as the pair worked its way around lap traffic with Paynter using the high side as Henning went low on the lapper. Paynter was the new leader and now looked to be the man to catch but Henning never gave up the chase and with one to go he caught and passed Paynter in turn two to regain the lead and would go on to win the race at 10:32 with Paynter second and Jeff Wimmenauer moving from seventh to claim the last podium spot at the finish.
It was a good night of racing and looking back you wish that Friday had been a better night that they could have raced both nights with MSCS and we look forward to a return appearance from MSCS in 2023.
Plans are up in the air for where we will go next weekend but check back Saturday to see where we end up on Friday. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. News, rumors, comments and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for checking in with your thoughts at various times.
In a sad closing note we came across the passing of veteran open wheel driver, Terry Babb, who succumbed to an apparent heart attack while racing and leading the sprint car feature at St. Francois County Raceway in Missouri. He was able to pull to the pit area where emergency crews worked on him but he passed away. May God be with him and his family in this time of grief and sorrow and he will be sorely missed. Babb was 55.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant From Eighth Takes Bill Gardner Sprintacular Night Two At LPS
Saturday, July 2 – It was another hot day in the 90's in Indiana and after having a late breakfast at the Breakfast Company in Crawfordsville with Allan and Nancy Brown we headed south on Route 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville for night two of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular at the Lincoln Park Speedway. The co-sanctioned USAC/MSCS sprint car program would be USAC rules tonight with 52 cars signing in for the evening's events. They would be joined on the card tonight by the Midwest Mini Sprints (MMSA) who brought a good field of 30 cars and the Racesaver 305 winged sprints (15) for an all open wheel evening.
Time trials were the first order of business with the first car taking the green flag at 6:54. The 52nd and last car out for time trials, Chase Stockon, stopped the clock with a time of 12.944 seconds around the 5/16 mile high banked dirt oval, to set fast time to the delight of the large crowd on hand who showed their pleasure with a loud round of applause. It was Stockon's 29th career USAC sprint car fast time tying him with Don Branson for 14th on the all-time list.
The USAC sprint cars would contest four heats tonight with 13 cars in each heat race. This makes for heat racing with a purpose as only four would advance directly to the 40 lap, $10,000 to win main event. Emerson Axsom got the best of the boys in heat one scoring the win over Robert Ballou, Chase Stockon and Tye Mihocko edging out Brady Bacon sending the four time USAC champ to the B main. Jake Swanson took down heat two beating Zack Pretorius, Brent Beauchamp in his own #11 tonight and Brian Hayden. The People's Champ, Dave Darland, won a very popular heat three to a thunderous ovation over Kyle Cummins, Cole Bodine and Harley Burns holding off Jadon Rogers to capture the last qualifying position. The fourth heat fell to Justin Grant edging CJ Leary, Mitchel Moles and Brandon Mattox.
The MMSA mini sprints would take to the track next for their three qualifying heats with Cody Knieriem, Brad Strunk and Brandon Deputy winning their respective races. The Racesaver 305 sprints would run two heats for their 15 car field with Bryce Norris and Ethan Barrow the victors.
The USAC/MSCS C main fell to Evan Mosley over Aussie Todd Hobson, Sterling Cling and Alex Sipes with all four moving to the tail of the B main. Logan Seavey would rebound from a rather mundane heat race performance to capture the B main outrunning Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon , Shane Cottle, Jason McDougal and Jake Scott the last man in through qualifying. Four provisionals would be added, two each from USAC & MSCS with Jadon Rogers, Carson Garrett, Aric Gentry and Ryan Bond making it 26 cars to start the 40 lap feature race.
At the drop of the green flag at 10:27 on the 40 lap feature race CJ Leary jumped out to the early lead and led the first lap over fourth starting Kyle Cummins who was pounding the cushion. Leary would lead the first two laps until Cummins surged ahead in turn two just before the first caution appeared for Jake Scott who spun in turn two. Leary was placed out front for the restart but Cummins again passed him this time exiting turn three on the restart. Cummins looked like he was jet powered at this point extending his lead over the field to over three seconds as the race approached the halfway mark. On lap thirteen Austin Graby and Jake Scott tangled in turns one and two with Graby sliding sideways and coming to a halt. On the restart Cummins still led with Leary in second with eighth starting Justin Grant entering the picture in third. Grant caught and passed Leary for second down the backstretch and set his sights on Cummins. Grant pulled alongside Cummins in turns three and four on lap fourteen but Cummins held off that challenge. Lap seventeen saw Grant make another run for the lead between turns three and four and this time it worked and we had a new leader. The caution appeared one lap later for a three car jingle in between turns one and two involving Brady Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Dave Darland. Brandon Mattox was also involved clipping one of the cars on the way by and folding his front end and ending his night. Lap nineteen saw Logan Seavey bolt by Cummins in turn four to take second away after starting 11th. Emerson Axsom up from ninth slid by Cummins on lap twenty two in turns three and four to take third away. Cummins tussled with the cushion in turn one allowing Jason McDougal up from 12th to motor by to take fourth. Grant, Seavey and Axsom ran low in turns one and two and went up top in turns three and four as the laps ticked off. With four to go Tye Mihocko jumped the turn four cushion and went sideways but was able to continue but a quick caution slowed the action. On the restart Grant went to the point and used the cushion through turns three and four to retain the lead with Seavey in tow. Seavey attempted to go low in turn one to pass Grant but Justin took the line away at that point. Grant raced to the white flag with Seavey and Axsom behind. Axsom went real low to slide by Seavey for second coming off turn four for the white flag. Grant raced over the start/finish line at 10:49 counting his $10,000 as he passed by. Axsom finished second with Seavey third, McDougal fourth and Cummins rounding out the top five. Shane Cottle led the second five to the line after starting 14th with Robert Ballou seventh, Mitchel Moles eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and CJ Leary fading to tenth.
Next up was the 20 lap MMSA feature with Mike Larrison taking the early lead. Larrison would lead the first four laps until sixth starting Brad Strunk passed him on that lap. Strunk would not be headed the rest of the way and crossed the line at 11:21 winning over Larrison with Kayla Roell advancing from eighth to third, Brandon Deputy fourth and Cody Knieriem rounding out the top five.
There was still the Racesaver 305 sprints to run but we decided to call it a night and headed for the exits after the full night of racing.
That's it for now and check back next weekend as we are looking at a doubleheader with the MSCS sprint cars traveling to northeast Indiana for $5000 to win each night. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take the show on the road and check out some racing in another part of this great country. Comments, news, racing stories or other things of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks for your continued interest in this column as we enjoy bringing them to you for your reading pleasure or displeasure. Be safe and stay hydrated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Tops Night One Of Bill Gardner Sprintacular At Lincoln Park
Friday, July 1 – Tonight would be night one of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular honoring the founder of the Indiana Open Wheel website who passed away eight years ago of cancer and this is the eighth running of this event. The program would consist of MSCS/USAC sprint cars in a co-sanctioned event run with MSCS rules on this evening and would not be a USAC points paying show. It would be the 43rd time that USAC has run sprint cars at the 5/16 mile banked oval in its history and the 58 sprint cars entries were the most for a USAC sprint car event since the Western World held at Manzanita Speedway in 2008. On the racing card in addition to the three regular Saturday night divisions, the UMP modifieds (17), super stocks (26) and bombers (12) making for a grand total of 113 cars in the backstretch pit area for tonight's racing action.
With the MSCS rules in play tonight no individual time trials were run but instead six groups of group qualifying by heats with young Ryan Thomas setting overall fast time with a lap of 12.439 seconds. There would be six heat races for the sprints with only the top three moving directly into the main event. The remainder would run the alphabet starting with a D, C and B with four moving from each upward to the next one. The heat racing was fabulous with the first one a battle of #5's with Chase Stockon winning in the KO Motorsports #5S passing Logan Seavey late with Jason McDougal grabbing the last qualifying position off the final corner edging Brent Beauchamp at the finish. CJ Leary made a nifty move to get to the front in heat two Matt Westfall who had a race long battle with Jadon Rogers who ended up third. Heat three went to the grandson of recent USAC Hall of Fame inductee, Galen Fox, Brayden Fox who worked the inside expertly besting Kyle Cummins and Carson Garrett. Kevin Thomas Jr. notched heat four beating Tye Mihocko in the Eperson #2E and Justin Grant. Robert Ballou used the inside to win heat five and used the interview afterwards to criticize the preparation of the track surface turning back Dave Darland and Sterling Cling edging out Koby Barksdale. The sixth heat went to Brady Bacon over Shane Cottle and Jake Swanson in the Daming #5T.
The UMP modifieds would contest two heats with Jake Leitzman and Derek Groomer winning those. The super stocks would run three heats and would be the only other division besides the sprints to need a B main and the bombers ran two heats for their 12 car field.
The alphabet soup portion of the show was next with Seth Parker capturing the D main over Max Adams, Tony Helton and Jake Scott. Jesse Vermillion turned turtle in turn four during the D main and was OK after the spill. The C main would fall to Geoff Ensign beating Cody Trammell, a recent feature winner at Paragon, Cole Bodine and Blake Vermillion. Mitchel Moles in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ triumphed in the B main chased across the line by Brandon Mattox, Emerson Axsom and Koby Barksdale.
The 30 lap MSCS/USAC feature would take the green flag at 11:13 with Kevin Thomas Jr. bounding into the early lead. Exiting turn four on the first lap Thomas caught the cushion wrong and bounced his car every which way but loose dropping from the lead back to fourth. In the mayhem that ensued C J Leary dove low off turn four and powered by Thomas, Stockon and Robert Ballou to grab the lead. Robert Ballou recovered and drove low in turn one and took the lead off turn two from Leary at that point. A few laps later Thomas started to make a comeback picking off Stockon to take back third and went to work on Leary as Ballou opened a healthy lead. By lap twelve Thomas used the bottom line to slide by Leary for second and only Ballou was in front of him. Mitchel Moles brought out the caution spinning in turn three on lap fourteen to slow the action and regroup the field wiping out Ballou's four second lead. On the restart Leary changed lines and went higher and the top began to work for him. He passed Thomas for second on lap fifteen and one lap later caught and passed Ballou for the lead at the line. Leary now was the one pulling away and with six to go Ballou decided to try the high side and when Brady Bacon up from sixth nearly passed him on the top reverted back to the bottom to try to catch Leary. It was not to be as Leary maintained a two plus second advantage flashing under the checkered at 11:27 as all hell broke out behind him as second running Robert Ballou caught the turn four infield tractor tire and spun directly in front of third running Kevin Thomas Jr. who slid into him taking both cars out of a good finish which Ballou later apologized to Thomas on Twitter for referring to himself as a dumb ass in the process. Brady Bacon would inherit second with Kyle Cummins moving up to the last podium position with Chase Stockon claiming fourth and Shane Cottle advancing from 12th to 5th at the finish. Tye Mihocko came home sixth with Jake Swanson seventh, Justin Grant up from 16th to 8th, Logan Seavey ninth and Jadon Rogers settling for tenth. During the feature some raindrops fell but nothing to cause any alarm.
We decided to stay to watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature but also decided to pack up the folding chairs and sit on the benches for this one. It was a good thing that we did as a light rain began to fall around lap seven of the modified race. It could have been the cause of the tangle between turns three and four when the top two tangled and spun bringing out the caution. We all retreated up under the overhang for a few minutes as the cars ran around the track under caution. We all decided to head to the van parked out front and call it an evening and looking for the results today seemed to indicate that none of the other features were completed.
That's it for today's column and check back Monday to catch the report of night two of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular from Lincoln Park. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take your act on the road to take in one of your bucket list tracks. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where our next typical weekend ends up. Take care, be safe and stay hydrated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Swanson, Swanson & O'Gara Score Thursday Night Thunder Wins At IRP
Thursday, June 30 – A beautiful day awaited us as we awoke with temperatures reaching the low 90's, sunny and with low humidity made for a very nice day. The plans for today were to head over to Brownsburg after Pat was finished working and to attend the Thursday Night Thunder Throwback at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. The race tonight was a triple-header featuring the 500 Sprint Car Tour (20), the Brown's Oil pavement midgets (20) and USAC Silver Crown (12) for a special shootout race for the grand old dames for 25 laps with only 10 starting and no points awarded. Also another big item was that IRP was offering free, yes I said free cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chips, Pepsi products, water and cookies!!! The cherry on the sundae was with your HARF membership card you received a $5 discount off the admission price allowing you all of the above for just $20. You can't beat that!!!
Management handed out a race schedule and they stuck right to it all evening long with only the last race of the night, the midget race starting later than the schedule indicated but a blown engine earlier in the evening took extra time to clean up and pushed things back a bit but still a very good night of racing completing before 10 PM (9:52 to be exact) making it a well run show on a week night and sending everyone away happy after witnessing some good racing and filling their bellys with food.
Sprint car time trials started off the evening and when they were all said and done, Mr. Fast Time, CJ Leary, had stopped the clocks with the fastest time of the evening at 20.536 seconds around the .686 mile asphalt oval. The Silver Crown cars were next up for their qualifying with 12 cars vying for 10 starting positions. In a different format after the two laps were added together the top 10 were established with the drivers on the outside looking in, Brian Tyler and Russ Gamester, having a second chance to bump someone from the starting field. Both drivers took up the challenge and promptly knocked Travis Welpott and Derek Bischak for the top ten. Welpott and Bischak would get the same opportunity with no one getting a third chance if the same four were involved in the bumping process. It happened this way and both Welpott and Bischak sent Tyler and Gamester packing. The midget time trials were next on the card with Bobby Santos III posting fast time with a lap of 20.998 seconds.
USAC held their Hall Of Fame inductions on the homestretch next before we went into the start of the feature event racing. It was good to see Galen Fox, Johnny Vance and Jay Drake inducted into the USAC Hall Of Fame.
The first of three main events would have the 500 Sprint Car Tour 30 lap feature taking the green flag from Tom Hansing at 8:15. Taylor Ferns, the female driver from Michigan, would take the early lead. Tyler Roahrig's evening came to an abrupt end when blow the engine in his machine in turn one and spun leaving a lot of fluid on the surface which needed to be cleaned up with kitty litter. On the restart Ferns went back out front but starting lap five she slowed in turn one and rolled around to the backstretch where she stopped ending our night prematurely also. Tanner Swanson in the Aaron Pierce #26 was the new leader with his brother, Kody, hot on his heels. They would run that way the rest of the race with Kody several times drawing close and even alongside on numerous occasions but never got the bite to pull by Tanner for the lead. At the double checkers at it was Tanner Swanson across the line first chased by Kody Swanson with Kyle O'Gara finishing third, Dakoda Armstrong notching fourth and fast timer, CJ Leary, advancing from tenth to fifth at the finish.
The 25 lap USAC Silver Crown Shootout feature was next on the dance card with the front row of Nick Hamilton and CJ Leary bringing the 10 car field to Tom Hansing's green flag. Kody Swanson who started third dove to the apron entering turn one and passed both members of the front row to take the lead in a ballsy move. Leary passed Hamilton to take second off turn two and took up the chase of Swanson. Swanson would lead Leary and Nick Hamilton through the first fifteen laps with Tanner Swanson making some aggressive moves advancing from ninth to fourth at this time. As the cars entered turn two sparks flew from the left rear of Leary's machine with a flat left rear tire causing the second place runner to spin and ruining his evening. On the restart it was Kody Swanson leading Nick Hamilton and now Tanner Swanson with tenth starting Bobby Santos III now in fifth. Tanner wasted no time disposing of Hamilton for second as they exited turn two on the ensuing restart and took up the chase of Kody. One lap later saw Santos use the same move on Hamilton to drop Nick to fourth. As the laps ticked off Kody Swanson pulled away from Tanner Swanson and Santos to a two second bulge. Taylor Ferns made a last lap, third turn pass of Hamilton to garner fourth at the finish. Kody Swanson flashed across the line first for the 14th time at IRP leaving him one behind the all-time IRP winner, Tracy Hines, who has 15. Tanner Swanson came home second with Bobby Santos III third, Taylor Ferns fourth and Nick Hamilton rounding out the top five.
We still have one more race to run with the 35 lap midget feature taking the green flag at 9:35. The mighty midgets would proceed to put on the best show of the entire evening over their 35 lap feature distance. Jake Trainor and Kyle O'Gara brought the 20 car starting field to the start at 9:35 with Kody Swanson jumping from third to pull alongside Trainor racing side by side with the youngster around the oval for the entire first lap with Trainor leading by a whisker at the start/finish line. Trainor would lead until turn one of lap two when Kody Swanson motored by to take the lead. Chuck Gurney Jr. moved from fifth to second passing Trainor for the spot in turn two on lap three. On lap later Trainor was shuffled back to fourth when Bobby Santos III made his pass. Meanwhile Kyle O'Gara who started second had been shuffled back all the way to fifth at this point. O'Gara started his comeback on lap five bumping Trainor back to fifth. O'Gara followed Santos until lap eleven when he edged by Santos for third. He continued his resurgence catching and passing Gurney in turn four for second on lap sixteen. He began to cut the deficit on leader Swanson lap by lap and at the line to start lap twenty one O'Gara streaked by Swanson to gain the lead. In the next several laps Gurney and Santos slipped by Swanson to take over second and third as it turns out Swanson's left rear was losing air with Cole Carter taking fourth in turn three on lap twenty eight. Two laps later the caution appeared for Todd Bertrand who stopped in turn three with Swanson diving onto pit road for the crew to take a look at the car. Swanson would not return to the race and ended up 15th in the final results.
On the restart O'Gara went back to the point with Gurney sticking his nose underneath O'Gara between turns one and two but O'Gara streaked down the backstretch fending off the brief challenge. O'Gara who over the past ten years had collected various podium finishes but never a first and tonight he was not going to let this one slip away. Over the remaining ten laps he pulled away to a comfortable margin and sailed under the double checkers at 9:52 for his first career win at IRP over an impressive Chuck Gurney Jr. who does not drive often but when he lays down the wrenches on the Keith Kunz stables he is a pretty good race car driver like his dad was. Buddy Kofoid who ran a steady, heady race advanced from tenth and had a crowd pleasing duel with Bobby Santos III the last several circuits with Kofoid edging Santos at the line to grab the last podium finish. Santos finished fourth and Jake Trainor rallied back to nail down fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Cole Carter with Nick Hamilton coming from 18th to 7th with Tanner Swanson eighth, Blake Brannon ninth and Dakoda Armstrong tenth. It was by far the best feature of the night with more passing in this one than probably the other two combined.
It was a very good night of racing and the free food was a real bonus and the $20 admission price was the topper. We enjoy dirt racing more than asphalt but this one was worth the time and effort and we recommend catching one of the programs coming up at IRP. You won't be disappointed.
That's it for this one and check back tomorrow for night one of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular featuring the USAC/MSCS sprint cars from the Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville where if you don't stay in line the prison is just down the road!!! Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, stories of interest, news and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Axsom Turns Around & Hits Lincoln Park To Take Win
Saturday, June 25 – We left the house around 10 AM to do some local sightseeing in our hometown of Crawfordsville. We have only lived here eight years and still had not visited the Rotary Jail and Lane Place, two of the sightseeing sites in our town. The Rotary Jail Museum is located on the main street running through town which is also Route 231. There were 12 built and it is the only one still in existence with an operating rotary. The gentleman who conducted the tour was very informative and we enjoyed finally seeing this attraction. Then it was off to Lane Place across from the municipal building in town. Lane Place was built by Henry Lane, a senator from Indiana who helped get Abraham Lincoln elected as president. He was governor for two days and realized this was not for him and turned the governorship over to the Lt. Governor and went back to the US Senate where he felt he could serve his state and country better. A student from Wabash College gave us a fine two hour tour of Lane Place showing us many artifacts collected over the years. It was truly enjoyable.
After lunch at Second City Cafe (very good meal) we returned home, gathered up our cooler and snacks and out the door we went headed south on Route 231 for Putnamville, the home of the Lincoln Park Speedway. What started out to be a four division program topped with fireworks turned into a six division (too many divisions) program with fireworks. Added to the program during the middle of the week were steel block sprint cars and hornets. With competition from Paragon on Saturday the Spikers are turning into back gate promoters trying to cover their bottom line. On this evening especially there was no need to add two divisions and 18 cars to the total as a very good crowd turned out for the evening of racing and fabulous fireworks.
The non-winged sprint cars would be the only division running three heats for their 20 car field while the steel block sprints (9), the UMP modifieds (17), the super stocks (13), bombers (12) and hornets (9) would only contest two heats each. The non-winged sprints would kick off the program at 7:29 and the action started early as Cole Bodine got loose up front and jammed up the cars behind him with Jake Scott ramping over Harley Burns' left rear sending Burns into a series of gyrations like a helicopter spinning numerous times in the air before finally touching down and turning onto his side. Burns was OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for his sprinter. The epitome of the phrase “Going from hero to zero” after winning his first career sprint car win the night before at Gas City. Cole Bodine would go on to win the first heat over Jake Scott, Tye Mihocko and Brandon Spencer. Heat two went to the popular AJ Hopkins besting Ryan Thomas, Zack Pretorius and visiting Riley Kriesel from Warshaw, Missouri. Emerson Axsom who earlier was headed north to the USAC sprint car race at Wilmot, Wisconsin which was rained out diverted to Lincoln Park and came home the winner of heat three. Alec Sipes chased him across the line with Brayden Fox third and Geoff Ensign fourth.
The steel block sprints were next on the agenda with Tony Helton scoring the win in heat one and Shayna Ensign, wife of Geoff Ensign, winning heat two. The UMP modifieds spun off two heat with Levi Kissinger and Matt Mitchell winning. Two heats were run for the super stocks, bombers and the hornets were all put into one heat of 9.
It was still too early to shoot off the fireworks so at 9:23 the 19 car starting field of wingless sprints took the green flag from Brian Hodde with Emerson Axsom advancing from third running side by side with AJ Hopkins took the lead at the line to lead lap one. Tye Mihocko was gobbling up huge chucks of real estate blasting from seventh to second off of turn four on lap two. They stayed green until lap seven when Ryan Thomas lost the handle in turn four and looped his #77 to bring out the caution. On the restart Axsom went back to the point trailed by Mihocko and Hopkins. The track was a little dry tonight as rain was predicted at 6 PM but never came so less water was added beforehand. This factor found the majority of the field going huggy pole on the inside with AJ Hopkins trying to make the outside work. Brayden Fox slipped by Hopkins for third on lap eight before Jake Scott brought out the second and final caution on lap ten spinning in turn four. Axsom scooted out front on the restart dogged by Mihocko and Fox. Hopkins briefly made his way back to third at the line to start lap fifteen but lost it again to Fox on lap eighteen. Axsom made no mistakes over the last seven laps and cruised under Brian Hodde's checkered flag at 9:36 to score the win over Mihocko, Fox, Bodine and Hopkins who never gave up on the top.
The steel block sprints were next up to run their 15 lap feature event taking the green flag at 9:47. Billy Winsemann, who organized the new steel block sprint division, bounded off the pole and would lead the entire distance in this five minute, non-stop race besting Shayna Ensign and Michael Clark.
The fabulous 20 minute firework display was next on the score card and was delightful to watch. This display has to be the best we have ever seen at any race track throughout the entire country. It is 20 minutes of non-stop action with fireworks being shot into the air one after another with an occasional ground display ending with a giant flaming boom from the last ground display.
The 20 lap UMP modified feature was just the opposite of the steel blocks as they suffered seven cautions throughout their 20 lap feature. Matt Mitchell would score the win beating Levi Kissinger, Jeff Deckard, Will Bennett and Rob Brickert with the checker waving at 10:20.
At this point with three features still to go and seeing the divisions we most wanted to see we packed up the gear and headed for the exits to take the short 40 minute jaunt back up Route 221 to Crawfordsville.
That's all we wrote in this installment and check back Friday as we have a Thursday night special on the dance card. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and keep hydrated. News, stories, comments and anything other tidbits of information can reach us at email@example.com and it was good hearing from you, Robert Altman, and your views on the Bloomsburg column. As always thanks to all that read our column and give their thoughts on various topics that we discuss. Keep reading and keep the emails coming. We enjoy it all.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou In Late Race Pass For MSCS Win At Terre Haute
Friday, June 24 – It was south on Route 47 past Turkey Run State Park and then south on Route 41 through Rockville and southward to the city of Terre Haute where we dined at Bandana's BBQ before heading over to the Vigo County Fairgrounds for a night of racing at the Terre Haute Action Track. On tap tonight was a program consisting of MSCS sprint cars, super stocks and UMP modifieds The car counts were lean at 17 sprint cars, 16 super stocks and 10 UMP modifieds but the track surface was in fine shape and would provide a good track to race on.
MSCS run hot laps which double as qualifying with Kevin Thomas Jr. in his new ride, the BGE/Dougherty #15K, as a teammate to Carson Garrett setting fast time with a lap of 20.017 seconds around the historic half mile. Each division would run two heats each with the MSCS sprints being first up with the KO Motorsports #5S of Chase Stockon having a spirited duel with Robert Ballou before turning back Ballou for the win with Brian Hayden and Brayden Fox making his first half mile start fourth. Kevin Thomas Jr. led the majority of laps in heat two before motor woes on the last lap ended his evening early with the other KO Motorsports entry, the 5M of Jason McDougal, scoring the win over Mitch Wissmiller, Riley Kreisel of Missouri and Aric Gentry. The super stock heats were captured by Austin Phelps and Kenny Carmichael Jr. while the UMP modified heats were taken by Kenny Carmichael Sr. and Everett Bradham with all qualifying completed by 8:44 after starting at 8:00.
The 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature would be the first one called to the post with Mitch Wissmiller and Robert Ballou bringing the 15 car starting field to the green flag at 9:18. Ballou took the early lead from Wissmiller in turn two but at the line to complete lap one fourth starting Chase Stockon powered by Ballou for the lead. Stockon led the first five laps with Jason McDougal slipping back early but moving back to fourth in turn four on lap five. McDougal slipped by Wissmiller for third on lap eight with Stockon and Ballou well out in front at that moment. Stockon continued to pace the field and maintain a comfortable lead until Ryan Bond brought out the only caution of the race on lap nineteen when he banged the wall in turn two and road the fence onto the backstretch to force the yellow.
On the restart Stockon bobbled in the middle of turn one allowing Ballou to throw the big slider underneath which he pulled off exiting turn two and we had a new leader. Ballou would pull away to a several car lengths over the remaining six laps and would race under the checkered flag at 9:31 winning over Stockon, McDougal, Wissmiller and Brian Hayden. It was a good, solid run for the field with some good racing up front.
Next up was the 15 lap super stock feature with Austin Phelps darting from the first starting position into the lead, one which he would not surrender the remainder of the distance in the non-stop feature. Kenny Carmichael Jr. chased Phelps the entire distance with Scott Ricketts coming home third, Tom Plotz fourth and Doug McCullough fifth at 9:59.
We decided to call it an evening at that point and head north toward Crawfordsville for a good night of sleep.
That's it for this installment but check back tomorrow to see where we ended up for our Saturday night racing fix. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, news, words of wisdom and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as usual thanks for reading our efforts and the kind words sent our way by many.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Bookends Eastern Storm With Win At Bloomsburg
Sunday, June 19 – We made another leisurely drive up Rt. 15 along the Susquehanna River to the town of Selinsgrove where we stopped for lunch at one of our favorite Pennsylvania eating places, Skeeter's BBQ, where a good sized Father's Day crowd was on hand. After a delicious meal of pulled pork we crossed the Susquehanna River and continued up Rt. 11 to our Sunday night destination, the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway, smack dab in the middle of the town of Bloomsburg. When we say smack dab in the middle we are not kidding as only about 20 feet separate the fencing of the pit area and local resident's housing across the street. Here in lies the problem that management at Bloomsburg Fair Speedway has to work at to overcome. Usually running their races on Sunday night or during the week they need to become more of the good neighbor and run an efficient program completing at 10 PM at the latest and keep the dust to a minimum. They missed on both accounts with the second of three features ending at 9:51 with still one more to run so we don't know for sure as we exited after the SpeedSTR 20 lap feature but we can probably say without much doubt that they didn't complete the last feature in the remaining 9 minutes before the 10 PM mark. The second account, the dust factor, they sadly failed miserably on as the track showed signs of dust as the cars circled the track before the first green in hot laps and continued the entire evening with clouds of dust drifting out to the parking lots and we are sure into the nearby neighborhoods not making it any easier for management to be good neighbors. Yes, it was sunny and windy but the amount of dust that bellowed off the track surface was more due to lack of proper preparation of the surface rather than the other two factors. Enough of that, let's get on with the racing at hand.
After chatting with many friends both outside and inside of the grandstand area we settled into our seats toward turn one to watch the night of racing. The car count for all divisions was in the middle teens for tonight's racing with the USAC sprint cars having their lowest count of the week tonight with only 17 cars on hand as some headed home early and some just skipped the Sunday night racing. Also in the pit area were 16 SpeedSTR cars (think ugly version of a midget/Silver Crown cross breed) and 15 IMCA modifieds. Time trials commenced at 7:00 with two cars taking hard flips or rolls in turn one during the time trials. First Brandon Mattox flipped several times between turns one and two while a bit later in time trials Jadon Rogers backed his car into the turn one wall rolling over in the process. Both drivers would return for the feature event. Jake Swanson of Anaheim, California in the TeamAZ #21AZ set fast time with a lap of 15.993 seconds around the 3/8 mile dirt oval.
Only two heats would be needed for the USAC sprint cars pushing off at 7:54 with Allentown, PA's own Briggs Danner in the Mike Heffner #5G taking down heat one besting Robert Ballou, Brady Bacon, Alex Bright and Logan Seavey. The second heat also went to a driver from Pennsylvania, Tim Buckwalter of Douglassville, winning over Thomas Meseraull back after a night off due to the Dyson operation focusing on their Silver Crown effort at Port Royal, Emerson Axsom, Chase Stockon and CJ Leary. The SpeedSTR's would also contest two heat races with Billy Pauch Jr. and SpeedSTR developer, Richie Tobias, winning the two heats. The IMCA modifieds followed with two heats and no B mains would be needed.
The first feature of the evening would showcase the USAC National sprint cars with the front row of Chase Stockon and Brady Bacon bringing the rest of the field to Warren Alston's green flag at 9:10. Bacon used the high side to take the early lead with Stockon nipping at his heels. Stockon challenged Bacon for the lead in turn two on lap five with the pair racing side by side down the backstretch into turn three where Stockon went high and Bacon dove low with Bacon retaining the top spot. The racing was tight behind the front two with Justin Grant and Logan Seavey battling it out for third as the race progressed. On lap eight Seavey jumped the curb in turn two with fifth running Jake Swanson almost launching himself skyward ramping over Seavey's tire. Swanson landed safely and the pair continued on none the worse for the wear. Grant found his way by Stockon for second in turn two on lap fourteen as Bacon began to check out from the rest of the field as the race remained green. Grant closed on Bacon as the race wore on and with five to go was within striking distance of the leader but Bacon again put the hammer down and pulled away to a comfortable margin. The checkered flags flew 10 minutes after the start in a caution-less feature event as the dust bellowed off the track surface making it difficult for everyone to see including the drivers as all three podium finishers commented on their difficulty of seeing during the race. Bacon ended up winning the first race and the last race of Eastern Storm but fell five points short of winning the Eastern Storm points championship which fell to third place finisher, Logan Seavey. Stockon came home fourth with Swanson rounding out the top five. That was career win #44 in USAC National sprint car competition for Bacon moving him within one win of tying the number 5 man, Larry Dickson on the list. Briggs Danner finished sixth and wrapped up a good Eastern Storm week with Robert Ballou seventh, Emerson Axsom eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and CJ Leary tenth. T-Mez was the Irvin King Hard Charger with a +3 increase. That might show you the lack of passing in this one!!!
Next up was the 20 lap SpeedSTR feature with the front row of Billy Pauch Jr. and Richie Tobias bringing the field to the green flag at 9:34. Pauch would bound into the early lead with Tobias in pursuit. Tobias slowed on lap four with a broken steering unit ending his night prematurely. Loudon Reimert took up the chase with Alex Bright right behind in third. Bright's car came up lame on lap 11 ending his night also too early. On the restart Pauch worked the bottom to perfection as Reimert and now Mike Bednar battled it out for second. Bednar slipped by Reimert into second with six to go and another caution allowed him to start alongside Pauch on the restart. Bednar raced side by side with Pauch but Pauch was able to edge ahead again. Pauch maintained the lead over the last five laps and raced under the double checkers at 9:51 with Bednar second, Reimert third, Dillon Steuer and the veteran Tom Mayberry nailing down fifth.
It was a disappointing night after coming off the high from Saturday at Port Royal where all the racing was superb and looking back from last year when we saw the USAC midgets run here and rated it our best PA midget week race. There is an alarming realization that if current management does not up their game and fix the various problems which are mainly the surface and time frame the future for racing at the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway does not look bright.
Check back Saturday for our next installment which will be local in Indiana as we stay closer to home after our week's adventure to Pennsylvania. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, other viewpoints, news and more can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and your feedback on our writings. It is appreciated.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Seavey Doubles In Barn Burners At Port Royal
Saturday, June 18 – We started the day with a nice lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant in the Harrisburg area, Fiesta Mexico, before taking a leisurely drive along the Juniata River into the town of Millerstown where we turned west and crossed the Juniata River. About two miles outside of town on Rt. 17 we spotted a sign for Hall's Ice Cream just up the road on the left. We decided to stop and have some homemade ice cream and we are so glad we did. Hall's has been in business for 75 years and tasting the quality of the ice cream would could see why. It was delicious. I had a two scoop glass bowl of honey cinnamon and honey raspberry while Pat went with the old favorite, strawberry, and we enjoyed them both. Continuing on our drive we turned right on Rt. 74 marveling about the beauty all around us driving through a valley with mountain ranges on each side of us. Rt. 74 would take us up and over the one mountain range and eventually Rt. 75 which took us straight into the town of Port Royal. The Eastern Storm tour was making an appearance at the half mile dirt oval basically in the downtown area on the Juniata County Fairgrounds where the USAC sprint cars would be joined by the grand old dames of USAC, the Silver Crown series, and the regular winged 410 sprint cars for a dynamite triple header of open wheel racing.
The car counts are as follows: USAC sprint cars bringing 21, the winged 410 sprints with 25 and the USAC Silver Crown series showing up with 30 strong. Eleven drivers would pull double duty on the evening racing in both the USAC sprint cars and Silver Crown divisions. They were CJ Leary, Logan Seavey, Jake Swanson, Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon, Shane Cottle, Justin Grant, Matt Westfall, Dallas Hewitt, Mark Smith and Brian Ruhlman.
The USAC sprint cars would be the first to time trial starting at 6:35 with CJ Leary being interviewed by 6:49 after clicking off a lap of 18.617 seconds around the half mile. The USAC Silver Crown series were next up with their time trials running two at a time pushing off at 7:28 and completing their runs by 7:51 with CJ Leary for the second time tonight setting fast time with a lap of 21.402 seconds to capture the pole for tonight's 50 lap main event.
The USAC sprints would contest three heat races with the top five moving into the inversion draw. Brady Bacon put on a driving clinic in heat one racing all over the track using many different lines before zipping by CJ Leary late to capture this one. Justin Grant carded third with Alex Bright fourth and Chase Stockon coming home fifth. Logan Seavey motored out front in heat two and grabbed the win over Matt Westfall, Emerson Axsom, Brian Ruhlman and Shane Cottle. Mark Smith from nearby Sunbury nailed down heat three besting Robert Ballou, Briggs Danner, Jake Swanson and Steven Drevicki.
The winged 410 sprints would run three heats also for their 25 car field with the veteran Mike Wagner capturing the heat one win over Tyler Bear, Steve Buckwalter and Blaine Heimbach. Jeff Halligan triumphed in heat two beating Anthony Macri, Tyler Reeser and Trenton Sheaffer. Logan Wagner joined his dad as a heat winner taking the third heat over Michael Walter II, Jon Stewart and Kassidy Kreitz.
The Silver Crown cars would report to the track for their Last Chance Qualifier where the top eight finishers would advance to the 50 lap feature event. Chase Stockon in the new Pink Racing #69 won the 12 lap race chased across the line by Jimmy Light, Carmen Perigo, Mike Haggenbottom, Austin Nemire, Mark Bitner making his Silver Crown debut, Travis Welpott with the last man in being Tom Paterson.
With all qualifying completed it was time for some track prep before the first feature of the evening, the 30 lap USAC National sprint cars would be called to the post. Briggs Danner who has been showing signs of brilliance during Eastern Storm would blast into the early lead from first and control the opening two laps until bouncing off the turn two cushion on lap three and cracking his wheel cover pushing mud into the rim of the right rear tire and slowing to a halt to bring out the caution. He hustled to the work area changing a tire and returning to the action. CJ Leary inherited the lead and would hold the top spot when Brady Bacon made a challenge for the lead on lap four but dropped back with Emerson Axsom filling the void low in turn one and two scooting by Bacon to take second. The caution would wave on lap seven when Justin Grant had a right rear shoe go flat. Grant went to the work area where the tire was changed and he was back on the track but restarting at the tail of the field. He would not stay there long. On the restart Axsom led but Leary was ganged up on with Bacon, Logan Seavey and Shane Cottle blasting by dropping Leary from second to fifth in one fair swoop. Axsom would lead through lap twelve when Bacon closed to his rear nerf bar but not past the youngster. Seavey instead would throw a big slider on Bacon in turn one sliding by to take second. Jake Swanson moved into the mix on lap fourteen taking fourth while Justin Grant was cracking the top ten after restarting last from his flat tire. At the halfway mark Seavey passed Axsom for the lead. Suddenly Alex Bright was in the hunt using the low and middle grooves advancing from sixteenth to third passing Bacon for that position on lap eighteen and easing by Axsom one lap later for second. With ten to go Seavey had a straightway lead with Bright trying to close the gap. Seavey was on rails with Bright running the middle and maintaining a comfortable advantage over the rest of the pack as the laps wound down. With four to go all eyes were on Grant as he swept by Axsom for fourth on the fence in turn two and used a slider entering turn three on the final lap to take away third from Bacon. Seavey flashed under Warren Alston's double checkers at 10:11 with an amazing 5+ second lead beating Bright, Grant, Bacon and Axsom to the finish. It was Seavey's second win of Eastern Storm and his eighth career USAC National win in a dominating performance. Matt Westfall came home sixth with Robert Ballou seventh, Chase Stockon eighth, Steven Drevicki ninth and Briggs Danner battling back from his troubles to finish tenth.
The 410 winged sprints would get their chance next to perform in front of the large crowd on hand taking the green flag at 10:27. Tyler Bear took the early lead but a Blaine Heimbach spin in turn two brought out a quick caution. On the restart Jeff Halligan moved from sixth to third while Logan Wagner charged from seventh into fourth. Logan's dad, Mike, came from fifth to trail leader Bear in the early going until Zach Newlin brought out the second caution on lap seven. On the restart the veteran Mike Wagner moved by Bear for the lead and was looking strong in this one. Lap nine saw Dylan Cisney turn turtle on the homestretch after contact with Justin Whittall bringing out the red flag. Jeff Halligan slipped by Bear for second on the restart with Anthony Macri making his presence known charging from eighth to storm by Bear for third also. With eight to go Macri passed Halligan for second and took off after Mike Wagner. With six to go Macri slid under Wagner for the lead exiting turn four with Wagner racing hard and driving alongside Macri on the homestretch before the pair banged wheels with Wagner spinning off the outside wall toward the infield fence ending his night with much disappointment. On the ensuing restart Logan Wagner was able to sneak by Halligan for second and attempted a slider between turns one and two which fell short allowing Macri to go top side and retain the lead. The final few laps were spun off with no more challenges with Macri breezing under the checkers at 10:53 copping his sixth win at Port Royal in 2022 besting Logan Wagner, Halligan, Ryan Taylor making a late march from 16th to 4th with Mike Walter II rounding out the top five.
Don't go away yet as we still had the big 50 lap USAC Silver Crown race to run with the green waving on the front row of CJ Leary and Brady Bacon at 11:25. Leary got the early jump and would lead the first 15 circuits with Bacon in tow. Shane Cottle cracked the top five on lap 12 moving the Hodges #74 by Kody Swanson at that point. Bacon made a run at Leary on lap 14 pressuring the Greenfield, IN driver as they moved down the backstretch. Bacon edged ahead briefly but Leary regained the top spot between turns three and four and led as the pair crossed the start/finish line to start lap 15. With the front two battling it out for the lead it allowed Matt Westfall to close ground on them. Lap 16 saw Westfall slip by Bacon for second using the low side in turn one and went to work on Leary pulling alongside as they crossed the start/finish line with Westfall motoring by as they entered turns one and two on lap 17. Three laps later on lap 20 Bacon slipped by Leary as the front runners worked their way through lap traffic. Westfall continued to pace the field with Bacon second and Leary third. Cottle moved into fourth on lap 24 and by lap 28 had caught and passed Leary to move into third. Lap 30 saw Justin Grant slow in turn two with suspension problems ending his evening prematurely. On the ensuing restart Logan Seavey lurking in fifth took it to the high side blasting from fifth to second but Bacon was able to re-pass Seavey and retain second. Lap 33 saw Seavey edge back by Bacon with some contact from the Macho Man showing his displeasure but Seavey retained the position. Seavey began to reel in Westfall using the Macri line up against the fence as they approached the 40 lap mark. With nine to go Seavey bouncing his mount off of turns one and two was able to still pass Westfall to take the lead in turn two with nine to go. As the leaders approached lap traffic with seven to go Jake Swanson running sixth at the time spun in turn three to bring out the caution. On the restart Seavey retained control but Westfall was right there pressuring him. With five to go Westfall dove low entering turn three and edged ahead with Seavey countering low in turn four with the pair racing side by side into turn one. Seavey slid a little on the low side allowing Westfall to power off turn two with the lead with four to go. Westfall powered away to a five car length lead and looked to be in charge. Seavey had other thoughts and the five car length lead closed to one as the pair entered turn two with two to go. Seavey not once, not twice but three times bounced his right rear off the wall causing the wheel cover to dislodge and fly into the air landing in the outside groove necessitating the yellow to wave and setting up a green, white, checker race to the finish. Westfall used the middle of the track to lead Seavey on the restart as the pair raced around the half mile oval with Seavey staying true to the high side as they crossed the line to begin the last lap. Seavey again bounced off the turn two wall several times but it enabled him to get a good run down the backstretch as Westfall led in the middle leaving the space between Westfall and the wall open to Seavey. Logan filled the space racing down the backstretch with the pair banging wheels about midway down the backstretch as the pair ran dead even at this point. Seavey cleared Westfall entering turn three and dove low to block Westfall's favorite line as they drifted through turns three and four with both slipping up the banking as they exited turn four in a race to the checkers with Seavey barely winning at the line over Westfall with Bacon third, Dallas Hewitt who ran a steady race all race long almost edging Bacon at the line for third with CJ Leary crossing in fifth. Shane Cottle finished sixth with Shane Cockrum seventh, Kody Swanson eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Carmen Perigo advancing from 19th to tenth at the finish.
As announcer Jeff Ahlum would say this one was “Wow, Wow and Wow!!!!!” What a race!!! This one was fabulous and when USAC decided to move some of the races to the half miles it turned out to be a great move with the first two dirt races on the dirt halfs being very good contest with the drivers running their Silver Crown machinery like they were racing sprint cars slinging them into the turns with reckless abandon. And the Speed Palace aka Port Royal did not disappoint delivering a grand night of racing in all three divisions with the only downside being the length of the program that extended almost to midnight. But the racing was second to none and was the best racing of USAC Eastern Storm and the overall best show we have seen all season long.
That's it for this report and check back tomorrow for Sunday's USAC Eastern Storm final held at the Bloomsburg Fair Speedway in Bloomsburg, PA. In the meantime plot your upcoming race schedule and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, pearls of knowledge and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next. We hope you enjoy our writings as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Grant Wins Gnarly USAC Eastern Storm Race At Williams Grove
Friday, June 17 – A call from our Arizona friend, Steve Kimmel, a truck driver by trade in the early afternoon had us making arrangements to pick him up at the nearby Flying J truck stop at exit 77 on I-81 so he didn't have to drive his cab over to Williams Grove Speedway that evening. We dined at the Perkins at the truck stop and had our favorite dessert, Wildberry pie, to top off the meal. From there it was off to the Williams Grove Speedway, the historic half mile where the USAC sprints were on the schedule for the first time since 2018 with their first visit to the iconic oval way back in 1956 so these two entities have a long history together. Tonight would mark the third race of the Eastern Storm series as USAC lost their scheduled race Thursday at Selinsgrove due to a dismal forecast with tornado watches in several central Pennsylvania counties including Snyder where Selinsgrove is located. Safety is the number one precaution and people will not come out to support your race if the weather is so questionable and if promoters lose money they will not be in business for long and instead of racing at a track instead people will be greeted by locked gates and bemoan the fact that another race track has closed.
The race program at Williams Grove would consist of the USAC National sprint cars bringing 23 cars to the big dance while the regular winged 410 sprint cars would add 21 cars to the count assembled in the pit area to do battle this evening. USAC time trials would start the racing program off at 7:15 with two at a time timed laps for the sprinters and the action heated up quickly as the first two qualifiers entered turns one and two with Korbyn Hayslett, the college student from Ohio, entering turn one with a little too much speed biking his sprinter on the right side and going into a series of flips between turns one and two. Hayslett was fine after the tumble but was done for the evening leaving us with 22 cars to contest the heat races. Jake Swanson who had gone out first with Hayslett would establish the quick time which would stand up after another 21 cars toured the half mile with a lap of 20.065 seconds. Hot laps for the winged 410's would follow before the USAC sprints would return for their three heat races.
The first heat was a good battle between Robert Ballou and Brady Bacon swapping the lead back and forth before Bacon edged ahead and garnered the win over Ballou, Jake Swanson, Emerson Axsom and Chase Stockon. Reading, PA's Steven Drevicki surprised the field in heat two holding off Alex Bright, CJ Leary, Matt Westfall and Briggs Danner for the win. Justin Grant nailed down the heat three win besting Shane Cottle, Tim Buckwalter, Mark Smith and Logan Seavey.
The winged 410 sprints would do battle in three heats also with Jeff Halligan looking strong in heat one beating Chad Trout, TJ Stutts and Brent Shearer to the line. Lucas Wolfe powered to the front in heat two and claimed the win over Austin Bishop, Tim Glatfelter and Justin Whittall. Billy Dietrich claimed heat three over Chase Dietz, Kyle Moody and Dylan Norris. All qualifying was completed by 8:46 and neither division would need a B main so the feature events were all that were left on the docket to run.
By 9:21 the front row of Justin Grant and Matt Westfall brought the 22 car field to USAC's eastern starter, Warren Alston's green flag with Westfall taking the lead through the first two corners. Grant raced back to pull alongside Westfall through turns three and four and at the line to complete lap one Grant was scored the leader. Logan Seavey used the high side to take second away from Westfall on lap three and began the pursuit of Grant. The race was behind the high flying Grant as Ballou, Westfall, Leary, Bacon and Swanson swapped positions back and forth. By the halfway mark Grant's lead had increased to three seconds over Seavey as the Topps Motorsports #4 was cruising out front. In the meantime Alex Bright was making up ground coming forward from his 13th starting position entering the top five by the halfway mark and showing no signs of letting up. Bacon and Ballou resumed their heat battle in the feature with the pair sparring for the third spot as Bright closed on these two. Entering turn two Bright went low and pulled off a two for one pass taking third and scampering off to try to chase down Seavey and Grant.
With Grant still holding a comfortable lead even though he had pounded the cushion at both ends of the speedway on various occasions losing some momentum but still over two seconds ahead the caution waved on lap 25 when Dallas Hewitt spun in turn four and ended up with his tail tank against the turn four wall. On the restart the top three were three wide exiting turn two with Grant still on the point with Bright sliding by Seavey to take over second. With three to go Seavey regained second from Bright on the homestretch. Seavey and Bright duked it out for second with Bright back in second with two to go. Grant was going to win or be defeated on the high side and he almost suffered the latter. Grant jumped the curb in turns three and four with two to go lifting his sprinter completing off the racing surface for a moment but recovering after losing momentum and time with Bright and Seavey drawing closer. On the white flag lap racing through turns three and four Grant again pushed the gnarly cushion to the limit almost losing his total momentum off turn four with Bright diving low to try to out drag Grant to the line but Justin had enough to race under the double checkers at 9:41 only two tenths of a second to spare over Bright with Seavey third, Bacon fourth and Westfall rounding out the top five. Thomas Meseraull would come home sixth with Tim Buckwalter seventh, Briggs Danner eighth, CJ Leary ninth and Steven Drevicki tenth. Robert Ballou would free fall all the way back to 12th after running in the top five most of the race. This was Grant's first USAC sprint car win since February and his 30th career USAC sprint triumph tying him for 17th on the all-time list with Chris Windom. It was also his TOPPS Motorsports 22nd career win moving that team into the top twenty in owner wins. Grant loves gnarly tracks and his victory lane quote of “Sprint car racing is suppose to be gnarly” drove home his point of his love of pounding the cushion to the fullest.
We still had a 25 lap winged 410 sprint car feature to run with the green dropping on the field at 10:03. This one would go non-stop in just nine minutes with some good racing wrapped up like a package with a bow in between. Lucas Wolfe would jump to the early lead and hold sway for the first five laps until Jeff Halligan rallied back to take the lead in turn two. Billy Dietrich moved by Wolfe for second on the homestretch on lap seven and went to work on Halligan who looked like he might be on his way to his first career Williams Grove victory. Billy Dietrich had other plans in mind and went to the high side to snag the lead away from Halligan on lap sixteen. Chase Dietz would started sixth was on the move and passed Halligan for second on lap nineteen and closed in on Dietrich. Two laps later he took the lead from Dietrich in turn two and would stave off the challenges of Dietrich who was trying to make it the second Dietrich (brother Danny won with All Stars at Limaland) to win on the evening but it was not to be as Dietz raced under the checkered at 10:12 for his second straight win at Williams Grove in the Trone #39 trailed by Dietrich, Halligan, Wolfe and Tim Glatfleter advancing from eighth to fifth at the finish.
That's it for this column as we head north to beautiful Juniata County, the home of the Port Royal Speedway for another night of USAC Eastern Storm action where the USAC sprint cars are joined by the USAC Silver Crown series and the winged 410 sprint cars. In the meantime get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area or join us at the Speed Palace for a good night of racing. Either way be safe and stay hydrated and have fun. Comments, news or other relevant information can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts as we enjoy hearing from you all and this is what keeps us pounding the keyboard to bring you our perspective of what we see on the trail as we go here and there.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Seavey Scores USAC Sprint Win At Bridgeport
Wednesday, June 15 – The hot temperatures have arrived in the Northeast with the thermometer reaching into the 90's with plenty of sunshine. We left from our hotel in Pottstown and traveled southward to the Blue Route and across the Commodore Barry Bridge into New Jersey heading toward the Bridgeport Motorsports Park. But before we pulled into Bridgeport a side trip to Sewell, NJ was needed so we could dine at the Steak Out where they have some of the finest cheese steaks in the area. You have to understand that we love living in Indiana but they don't have cheese streaks like the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area we were visiting so a stop at Steak Out was a must. After filling our belly with cheese steaks and pepperoni cheese fries all washed down with unsweetened ice tea it was back down I-295 to the Repaupo Station Road exit and Floodgate Road where the 4/10 mile progressive banked dirt oval of the Bridgeport Motorsports Park is located. Doug Rose has remodeled the former 5/8 mile dirt oval to its current 4/10 mile configuration based on the Lawrenceburg Speedway but we must say it is a better version than the original model. The progressive banking makes for more racing grooves and better side by side racing than its counterpart in the state of Indiana.
It was a hot one today with the sun beating down on the large grandstand and we were thankful for the covered pavilion behind the main grandstands where we took shelter until the hot laps began. The entire facility is well maintained and the bathrooms are very nice which is a big plus especially for the females in attendance. There is also a nice playground area for the kids located next to the pavilion and good concession stands with a wide variety of selections. The grandstands are large and extend the entire length of the homestretch offering unobstructed views of the entire facility as there is also nothing in the infield area obstructing your vision lines and the lighting is very good also. The South Jersey oval nicknamed the Kingdom Of Speed has never looked better.
It was nice to sit in the shade of the official's tower and the luxury boxes out of the sun and with a nice breeze it made for an enjoyable day and night of racing thanks to Rich Rauser saving us seats.
The program for the evening would consist of two divisions, the USAC National sprint cars with 22 cars in town, up from 20 last night and the 602 sportsman modified type cars which brought a good field of 33 entries. The USAC sprint cars would push off for time trials beginning at 6:49 and wrap up by 7:04 with CJ Leary setting fast time for the second straight night with a lap of 14.779 seconds around the 4/10 mile high banked dirt oval which was a new track record in the process.
Next up would be three heat races for the 602 sportsman which were competitive contests with Tom Sherby, Craig Whitmoyer and Bob Lineman Jr. winning their respective heats. The USAC sprint cars would spin off three heats also with the top five finishers moving into the feature invert. Robert Ballou would capture the first heat win in his own #12 outdistancing CJ Leary, Tim Buckwalter, Thomas Meseraull and for the second night in a row Briggs Danner grabbing the last invert spot on the final lap. Heat two went to Jadon Rogers in the Engler #14 besting Matt Westfall, Alex Bright, Justin Grant and Alex Banales. Brady Bacon garnered the heat three win beating Chase Stockon, Brandon Mattox, Logan Seavey and Emerson Axsom. The 602 sportsman would be the only ones needing a consie with Travis Hill scoring the win.
The combination of hot temperatures and bright sunshine are not good friends of a dirt racing surface and some dust occurred during the evening which would be expected but the track crew did a great job massaging the track surface throughout the entire evening and the track stayed very racy the entire evening with minimal down time.
Next up would be the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature with the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Emerson Axsom bringing the rest of the 22 car starting field to the green flag at 9:24. Axsom took the early lead but that only lasted until turn three when Axsom drifted high in turn three and caught the wall rolling to a stop. Axsom went to the work area but would not return as brake line issues were discovered ending his night much too early. On the restart Meseraull went to the point with Logan Seavey running in second. Alex Banales would quickly bring out the red flag when he tagged the wall in turn three and flipped over several times. Banales was OK after his wild ride but the same could not be said for the second Baldwin #5X as it was towed back to the pit area. On the restart Meseraull went out front but third starting Briggs Danner slid by Seavey for second in turn one and went to work on Meseraull. T-Mez continued to cruise out front in the Dyson #20M looking for his sixth win of the year in the sixth different car he has piloted. Lap 16 saw Korbyn Hayslett and Charles Davis Jr. get together and spin in turn two bringing out another yellow flag at that point.
On the restart Danner executed a slider entering turn one to take the lead but Meseraull was up to the challenge and counted taking the lead back in turn two. The veteran blocked Danner from executing another slider in turn three by turning low and remained on top of the field. Lap 19 saw the entire complexion of the race change when Meseraull suddenly slowed on the homestretch out of fuel after a new member of the Dyson team forgot to fill the tank before the start of the race. T-Mez went to the work area and would return and came back to notch eighth at the finish after letting one slip through his hands after a bizarre turn of events.
Briggs Danner would assume the lead on the restart and the USAC East Coast competitor was in prime position to pull off the upset and take down his first career USAC National sprint win. Danner pulled away on the restart with CJ Leary, Seavey and Robert Ballou right there to make it all interesting. Seavey suddenly found some extra traction up top and you could see the Baldwin #5 was going to be a car to watch. Seavey slid by Leary for second in turn three on lap 25 and closed the gap noticeably on Danner in the next two laps. Coming down the homestretch to complete lap 27 Seavey was on Danner's tail tank and looking for a way around. Seavey slid by Danner entering turn one on lap 28 and secured the lead for the first time. The caution would appear just as the lap was completed when eighth running Jake Swanson executed a 360 spin which is an automatic caution. On the lap 29 restart Seavey was the leader with Danner in second but Danner was not nose to tail as they came to the line which brought out another caution and cost Danner any chance at winning as he was docked one position for jumping. Chase Stockon would move to second ahead of Danner with Leary right behind the young Danner. Leary raced into the first two turns and passed Danner for third and that would be the way this one would end up at 10:00 with Seavey scoring the win by half a second over Stockon would captured another podium finish with Leary third, Danner fourth and Robert Ballou taking fifth after starting ninth. Jadon Rogers turned in another strong performance on night two finishing sixth with Alex Bright advancing from twenty second to seventh, Meseraull rebounding for eighth, Matt Westfall ninth and Brady Bacon a quiet tenth as he was never in contention for the win after scoring the victory the night before.
We debated watching the 602 sportsman feature event but the deciding factor was the two hour haul to the Harrisburg area where we would be setting up camp for the next four days winning out in this decision.
A good night of racing on a nicely prepared surface left us discussing much as he headed first north then west to the North Harrisburg area and a good night's rest.
As we write this column it has already been posted that night three of USAC Eastern Storm has been postponed at Selinsgrove because of rain overnight with more predicted for later in the afternoon causing management to pull the plug early enough to avoid any unnecessary driving and waste of expensive fuel to only get rained out.
So that's it for now and check back on Saturday for the next installment of A Typical Weekend when we travel to Williams Grove for another USAC Eastern Storm race. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road and catch one of your bucket list tracks that you have always wanted to visit. Either way be safe and stay hydrated and enjoy yourself. Comments, words of wisdom, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our observations as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Bacon Opens Eastern Storm At Grandview With Win
Monday, June 13 – The adventure began on Monday afternoon when we left Crawfordsville heading eastward to Pennsylvania for USAC Eastern Storm week for the USAC National Sprints. Everything was proceeding along nicely as we closed on the city of Columbus, Ohio. Suddenly I looked down at the dashboard and the dreaded tire pressure light came on the rented Rogue from Enterprise. We are on I-70 and the shoulder was minimal due to road construction. We had snagged a nail in the left rear tire and the tire deflated rapidly. The best option was to drive on the tire to the nearest exit which was about 1 ½ miles away. Knowing that no travel service was going to attempt to change the tire on that area of the interstate it was the right way to go. Pulling into a BP parking lot the call was made to Enterprise Road Assistance which quickly dispatched a vehicle to our site. Within 30 minutes assistance arrived and in 10 minutes the donut tire had been installed and we were on our way to the John Glenn Airport in Columbus to hopefully exchange the vehicle for another one. That was not going to happen as they had no cars to spare with a line of about eight people waiting but the manager was able to give us good advice on what we could do the next day after driving to our hotel in Zanesville, 64 miles away. Enterprise has authorized dealers who service their vehicles with the dealer sending Enterprise the bill. I arose at 7:30 to be at the Firestone dealer by 8 but upon arrival found out that the storms that rolled through Zanesville knocked out the power in his area. He gave me a name of another tire dealer and off I went there. This one use to broker with Enterprise but not anymore but he was kind enough to give me the name of an assured Enterprise partner, National Tire Company, and off I went again. Upon arrival I was greeted by a nice man at the counter and he stated that they would take care of it as soon as possible. Less an a half hour later a new tire was mounted and I was on my way back to the hotel before 9 AM. Thanks Enterprise and National Tire for making a stressful situation much easier and smoother. So now after showering and packing the Rogue we were off to the Grandview Speedway for night one of the USAC Eastern Storm and below are the details.
Tuesday, June 14 – We pulled onto the parking area at Grandview at 5:30 PM, signed in at the pit booth greeted by Vicki Gehris and then off to find a parking space in the large parking area. We ran into many Eastern friends on our way to the front gate along with a few of our Indiana buddies also. By the time we entered the front gate hot laps were underway for the 358 modifieds (28) and the USAC sprint cars (20) for the Thunder on the Hill program promoted by Bob Miller and dubbed the Jesse Hockett Classic to honor the Missouri driver who died from electrocution around 10 years ago.
The night would start off with time trials for the USAC sprints cars starting at 7:26 and wrapping up at 7:38 with CJ Leary turning the quickest lap with a time of 13.713 seconds.
The USAC sprint car heats would be first on the dance card with three heats for the 20 sprinters on hand. While battling for position in heat one Emerson Axsom and Robert Ballou tangled with the result being both drivers backing into the wall with Axsom turning over in the mishap. Both drivers were OK but Axsom would be forced to go to a backup car for the feature and thus would start 20th and last. Arizona driver, Charles Davis Jr., would take down the first heat besting CJ Leary, Jadon Rogers and Brandon Mattox in the process. Ohio's Matt Westfall would capture heat two beating a late closing Justin Grant, Korbyn Hayslett and Chase Stockon. Thomas Meseraull in the Chris Dyson #20M tonight making the sixth different car he has wheeled in 2022 wining with the previous five and looking to make it six in the upcoming feature won the final heat. Shane Cottle in the local Hogue #39 claimed second with Brady Bacon third and Jake Swanson fourth.
The 28 car 358 modified field would contest three heats also with Timmy Buckwalter doing double duty, Eddie Strada and Alex Yankowski capturing heat wins. The 358's would be the only ones needing to run a consie or B main with Ron Kline nailing down that one.
The next event on the docket would be the 40 lap USAC sprint car Jesse Hockett Classic paying the winner $6000 to win. The front row of Jadon Rogers and Brady Bacon would bring the 20 car field to Warren Alston's green flag with Bacon getting the early jump into the lead bringing fourth starting Briggs Danner of nearby Allentown along in his draft. The two would run this way the entire distance with Danner never letting Bacon get too far away. The front two would stay this way until Bacon began to encounter lap traffic around lap 14. Entering turn one Bacon chose the low side to attempt to put a lap on Alex Banales while Danner remained on the top and pulled off the double pass of the two exiting turn two. Racing down the backstretch with Danner having the slight edge on Bacon but midway down the backstretch Danner caught the wall with his right rear which also turned his right front into the wall allowing Bacon to scoot back by. Bacon's second chance would not be in vain as the four time USAC champ would not make the same mistake twice and went back up high. Lap 21 saw the first caution appear when Shane Cottle came up lame in turn four and stopped. Bacon bolted out front on the restart and held a comfortable lead until lap 28 when the second and final caution appeared when Logan Seavey pulled up with a left front flat while running in fourth. He would return and end up a disappointing 13th at the finish. Bacon opened up over a second advantage on the restart and raced under the double checkers at 9:53 posting his fifth USAC win at Grandview after having a four straight streak snapped last year making him the king of USAC at Grandview. Danner raced home second with Chase Stockon third, Justin Grant from 11th to 4th and Robert Ballou finishing 5th after starting 12th, a row back after being late for the eight minute lineup horn earlier. CJ Leary ended up sixth with Thomas Meseraull seventh, Jadon Rogers eighth, Jake Swanson ninth and Emerson Axsom the Irvin King Hard Charger advancing from 20th to 10th at the finish.
We still had the 30 lap 358 modified feature to run with Billy Pauch Jr. and Eddie Strada bringing the 25 car starting field to the green flag. Pauch Jr. assumed command and look to be on his way to the win until the only caution of the race appeared on lap 19. This gave the crafty veteran, Craig VonDohren, the chance to challenge on the double file restart and passed Pauch in turn two to take the lead which he would hold until the end at 10:28. Pauch Jr. and Brian Kressley hooked up in a high, low duel over the final 11 laps with Kressley edging ahead with two to go. VonDohren came home first with Kressley second, Pauch Jr. third, Duane Howard fourth and Eddie Strada hanging on for fifth.
A good night of racing run in timely fashion and look forward to night two at the Bridgeport Raceway Park in New Jersey.
Check back tomorrow for the story on Bridgeport and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. And as always thanks for reading our efforts. Take hydrated and be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
McIntosh Breaks Through For USAC Midget Win At Kokomo
Saturday, June 11 – Another day, another dismal weather forecast. We monitored the weather on various weather sites and it didn't look promising for Kokomo but when you have people in for Indiana Midget Week you go to the race until they either run it or they pull the plug. The weather was dry when we arrived shortly after 5 and we sat in the backstretch parking lot for a while until the cars first came to the track to put heat into their engines. Everyone in our group took their gear including small umbrellas and rain coats and parkas and picked a row and settled in for the night of racing. After two sessions of hot laps for the wingless sprint cars it began to sprinkle. The intensity picked up and many headed for their vehicles including us. USAC and Kokomo kept at it working the track back into shape and the evening was ready to go at 9:16 with time trials for the 32 USAC midgets on hand. Cannon McIntosh toured the ¼ mile bullring spinning off a time of 13.115 seconds to set fast time for the evening with time trials coming to a close at 9:36.
After some track grooming the first of four USAC midget heats took the green flag at 9:57. Bryant Wiedeman would claim the heat one win on the juiced up track besting Mitchel Moles, Cannon McIntosh and Brenham Crouch. Dominic Gorden would pace heat two beating Justin Grant, Sam Johnson and Jace Park edging Logan Seavey for the last qualifying position after a spirited battle. Jacob Denney continues to be the emerging star shining in IMW pacing the field in heat three outrunning Jason McDougal, Buddy Kofoid and Kyle Cummins. Taylor Reimer notched heat four over Kaylee Bryson, Maria Cofer and Thomas Meseraull as the gals showed their speed in this one. The nineteen car sprint car field would contest two heats with the veteran Dave Darland showing no ill effects from his last Sunday flip here and his stroke from a year ago taking the win over Scotty Weir, Justin Grant, Zack Pretorius and Tyler Hewitt. Thomas Meseraull, back in the Cheney #42 tonight took down heat two over Cole Bodine, Emerson Axsom, Colten Cottle and Brandon Long.
The midget B main was next on the agenda with the top six moving into the 30 lap main event. Hayden Reinbold captured his first ever B main beating Ethan Mitchell, Logan Seavey, Kaidon Brown, Chance Crum and Chase McDermand.
Giving time for the B main cars to work on a few adjustments the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature was called to the post first. It was 11:02 when the first and only green flag dropped with Thomas Meseraull beating Justin Grant to the punch and grabbing the early lead. T-Mez was looking strong and paced the field through the early going on the fast track. Sixth starting Emerson Axsom had the Clauson/Marshall #47BC motoring as he charged into third racing out of turn three on lap eight. Meseraull was in control until lap sixteen when he messed up in turn one just as Justin Grant was setting up to throw a slider on him entering the turn and Grant was now the leader. Grant and Meseraull continued to pace the field with Axsom a distance behind but the youngster started to find some extra speed or a better line around the quick ¼ mile and began to close the gap on the front pair. With two to go Meseraull and Axsom threw some sliders at each other on both ends of the track with Meseraull retaining second until the last laps when Axsom found his way around T-Mez and would cross the line at 11:08 second behind winner, Grant. Meseraull finished third with Scotty Weir fourth and Cole Bodine a solid fifth.
As the USAC midget field was lining up for their 30 lap feature event the rain returned sending the midgets pit side and sending many people for the exits as they thought this one was over early. Well, about half the crowd missed the midget feature as they left either thinking it would not happen or it was too late to sit out another rain delay. We hung out in the grandstands with our umbrellas up until the rain let up and just 20 minutes later the field was back on the track taking the green flag at 11:51. Justin Grant who started second took the lead from first starting Jason McDougal on the start and would pace the field for the first eight laps with visions of sweeping the night on his mind. Some of the young guns had plans of their own with Cannon McIntosh from sixth and Jacob Denney from ninth coming forward with McIntosh catching Grant and taking the lead on lap nine in turn one. The red would appear on lap ten when Kaidon Brown caught the fourth turn wall and flipped. The Australian was OK after his tumble and was towed back to the pit area. On the restart Buddy Kofoid made a mad dash into turn one charging from fifth to third but caught the cushion wrong in turn two and gave the spots back to Jason McDougal and Jacob Denney.
McIntosh paced the field with Grant not far behind. McDougal was third but Denney cleared him on lap nineteen and went after Grant for second. Racing off turn four Grant and Denney touch wheels with Denney sliding sideways but retaining control and racing on. Mitchel Moles moments later slid sideways on the homestretch and spun to a halt on the inside bringing out the second and last caution of the race. With ten to go McIntosh's big lead was wiped out but on the restart he bounded back to the point. Denney continued to work the bottom to perfection and exiting turn four racing to lap twenty one he drove by Grant for second. Denney tried to close ground on McIntosh but Cannon was not going to let this one get away and maintained his advantage. At 12:07 McIntosh flashed under the double checkers winning his first IMW event along with his fourth career win in the division and first since September of 2020 at Gas City. It has been a tough IMW for McIntosh and his crew with mediocre finishes so far including a nasty flip at Lawrenceburg destroying one of their mounts. Tonight was redemption as the fast timer also claimed the win over Denney with Grant third, McDougal fourth and Kofoid rounding out the top five. Kaylee Bryson would pace the second five in sixth with Bryant Wiedeman seventh, Brenham Crouch eighth, Thomas Meseraull ninth and Taylor Reimer claiming tenth.
Credit goes to Kokomo and USAC for not throwing in the towel earlier and sticking it out ending the program at a not too bad time of just after midnight. We would like to see Kokomo management work on getting the scoreboard operational and work on the speaker system on the backstretch as you cannot hear the announcer even when the cars are not running. Don't think that is asking too much.
Sunday, June 12 – It was not to be today as the last race of Indiana Midget Week which was rained out on Wednesday was again rained out on Sunday at Circle City Speedway as the crappy weather continued in Indiana. If Crawfordsville was any indication of the rain that Circle City received on Sunday we can see why they canceled as it poured several times here during the day with Circle City pulling the plug around the noon time hour. It was an anti-climatic ending to IMW but sometimes there is just nothing you can do. Buddy Kofoid comes away with back to back USAC Indiana Midget Week titles outpointing Justin Grant by 36 points with Jacob Denney third with Kaylee Bryson fourth and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top five in IMW points. The USAC National midget points for the year are as follows: 1) Buddy Kofoid – 761; 2) Justin Grant – 715; 3) Bryant Misdemeanor – 581; 4) Mitchel Moles – 580; 5) Thomas Meseraull – 569. The next USAC National Midget race is July 8-10 at Usenet's Speedway in South Dakota.
That's it for now and check back Wednesday as we make our way East to take in the USAC Eastern Storm for the USAC sprints with the USAC Silver Crown series running at Port Royal on Saturday, July 18th. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and hope to see many of our Pennsylvania friends in our trip back to the Keystone State. Comments, news, stories and anything else of interest can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and the nice comments from many of you. Take care, stay hydrated, be safe.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain Stops Indiana Midget Week Program At Gas City
Friday, June 10 – Today would be round five of USAC Indiana Midget Week and the venue was the ¼ mile bullring located in Gas City with the sprint car on a pole marking the entrance to the speedway. The weather would be a factor tonight as we knew beforehand that potential rain was predicted for the area starting around 9 PM. We hoped that management would push the program along quickly and beat the rain heading our way.
Time trials pushed off at 6:53 for the 35 USAC midgets on hand with the session wrapping up at 7:14 with Washington's Chance Crum posting his first ever fast time in USAC competition turning the ¼ mile oval with a time of 12.087 seconds.
Management was moving things along nicely with the first of four heat races for the USAC midgets taking the green at the exact scheduled starting time if 7:30. Jacob Denney, last night's winner at Lincoln Park, made a great move to pass Dominic Gorden in the third turn on the last lap to capture heat one with Justin Grant third and Ethan Mitchell fourth. Mitchel Moles powered to victory in the second heat race besting Bryant Wiedeman, Taylor Reimer and Logan Seavey. Kaidon Brown took down heat three in fine fashion outrunning Mariah Ede, Kyle Cummins and Brenham Crouch. Jerry Coons Jr. continues to impress scoring the win in heat four and had some to the point constructive criticism for Kaylee Bryson's driving in the heat. Buddy Kofoid came home third with Jason McDougal nailing down fourth.
The wingless sprint cars would contest three heats for their 26 car field with Ohio's Matt Westfall winning heat one over Emerson Axsom, Brayden Fox, Jadon Rogers and Ricky Lewis. Cole Bodine edged out Korbyn Hayslett to win heat two with Scotty Weir third, Dave Darland fourth and Ryan Thomas fifth. In the final heat on the start Charles Davis Jr. made an ill advised dart to the inside on the start running up and over a competitor's wheel entering turn one and went for a tumble losing his tail tank in the gyrations that resulted. Davis was OK after the mishap. Thomas Meseraull driving the Cheney #42 tonight won this one over Sterling Cling, Dustin Ingle, Tyler Hewitt and Tim Creech.
At this point some drops began to drip from the sky as the midget semi was brought to the track. After running around under caution for several laps the rain picked up and the cars were sent back to the pit area. It never rained real hard but the forecast was not promising and by 9 PM the decision was made to cancel the remaining program. Walking to the car before the official rainout I figured we had dropped $60 and would not get to see the features but in a very nice gesture promoter, Larry Boos, had it announced that the rain checks would be good for any Gas City program the remainder of the year while the USAC release said the rain checks are good for Indiana Sprint Week and the James Dean Classic. Either way it was good will shown by management to honor rain checks for the faithful that showed up on this evening after all heat racing had been completed. They did not have to do so and we thank them for this great gesture.
Onto Kokomo for tonight which will now be round five of IMW where the weather is unstable once again and we can only hope and pray that any showers or rain miss us tonight. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe out there. Comments, news or any other items of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Denney Scores First Career USAC Midget Win At Lincoln Park
Thursday, June 9 – All the gathered clan at Crawfordsville (Dale, Bill, Judy, Pat and I) would make the short trip south on Rt. 231 to take in round 4 of USAC Indiana Midget Week at Joe Spiker's playground, the 5/16 banked clay oval in beautiful downtown Putnamville. A fine field of 38 USAC midgets (high for IMW so far) and 32 wingless sprint cars were joined by 4 mod lites for this evening of racing. Things started happening early when in hot laps for the sprints Nate McMillen flipped end over end several times in turn four which necessitated a ride to the hospital to have one of his legs checked out. We were delayed until a replacement ambulance could arrive about 20 minutes later but there is nothing you can do in such a situation.
Time trials would be the first order of business with the first car coming to the green flag at 7:18 and in between the start and end of time trials Ethan Mitchell on his time trial run dug his right side tires into the cushion resulting in him rolling over and having to be towed back to the pit area. Ethan would return for his scheduled heat race but with no time he was forced to start at the rear of the field for every event he raced in. The other big news from time trials was that the top four qualifiers were all females led by Jade Avedisian with quick time of 12.538 seconds and she was followed by Kaylee Bryson, Taylor Reimer and Mariah Ede. It certainly was girl's night out at LPS with the gals showing up their male counterparts!!!
The wingless sprint cars would frolic in the dirt first in heat action running four qualifying heats with the top four moving forward. Brady Bacon in the Longworth #410 claimed heat one over Thomas Meseraull tonight in the Tony Epperson #2E, Travis Berryhill and Zack Pretorius. Jake Swanson scored heat race two over Charles Davis Jr., AJ Hopkins and Geoff Ensign. Harley Burns continues to impress winning heat three over Brandon Spencer, Alec Sipes and Derek Crane down from Racine, WI. Jake Scott, the former Paragon champ, triumphed in heat four beating Brent Beauchamp, Brayden Fox and Emerson Axsom.
The USAC midgets would follow with four heats also with the top four moving into the 30 lap main event. Kyle Cummins in the Styres #3G powered to the heat one win over Jade Avedisian, Zach Daum in the second Bundy #9M and Jace Park. Kyle Jones making his first IMW start of the year staked claim rights on heat two outrunning Kaylee Bryson, Sam Johnson and Mitchel Moles. Brenham Crouch scored the win in heat three in one of eight Keith Kunz entries over Jerry Coons Jr. from nearby Greencastle in his first IMW start of 2022, Bryant Wiedeman and Thomas Meseraull. Buddy Kofoid, the defending USAC midget champion and current IMW point leader, in another Kunz car captured heat four over Logan Seavey, Justin Grant and Jacob Denney.
The midgets would need a C main where the top four would tag the tail of the B main with Ethan Mitchell coming from the tail to win this one over Jeff Schindler, Bryan Stanfill and Chett Gehrke in the Roell #4K. The sprint car B main would be next to the plate with the top four joining the rear of the twenty car starting field with Cole Bodine taking down the win over Ryan Thomas, Tye Mihocko and Brian Hayden the last man in. The midget B main was next on the dance card with the top six advancing into the 30 lap feature event. Cannon McIntosh having a rough IMW won this one over Taylor Reimer, Chase McDermand, Brady Bacon, Mariah Ede and Maria Cofer with Jason McDougal in the Reinbold/Underwood #19 not making the starting field.
The 30 lap USAC midget feature would get first honors to the track with Jacob Denney and Jerry Coons Jr. bringing the 24 car field with two provisional additions of Ethan Mitchell and Hayden Reinbold to the initial green flag. The race did not stay green for long as Mariah Ede was every which way but loose and somehow did not flip in turn three on the first lap straightened by Thomas Meseraull who slid into the incident. The complete restart saw Denney and Coons race side by side for the entire first lap with Coons edging ahead at the start/finish line to lead lap one. Lap three saw the second caution wave when fast timer, Jade Avedisian, clipped the turn four tractor tire and spun with Taylor Reimer running up and over Avedisian's left front wheel and continuing but Chase McDermand was collected in the aftermath of the incident slamming into the side of Avedisian's car. Avedisian and McDermand were done for the evening.
On the restart Coons powered out front again and began to distance himself from the rest of the field as the veteran was looking real good and had people wondering if he would be able to pull this one off. As the laps clicked off Coon's big lead began to dwindle as Denney was gaining ground and moving closer and closer. Entering turn three on lap 20 Denney was able to pull even with Coons using the low side which he was running the entire way so far. Exiting turn four Denney nosed in front passing Coons for the top position. Lap traffic was now in play and both front runners handled it well with Denney maintaining up front with an occasional surge by Coons but not enough to go back out front. Coons encountered some heavier traffic with three to go allowing Zach Daum to slip by him for second and take up the chase of young Denney. Daum closed the gap to about three car lengths as the pressure was on but time ran out for Daum to make a serious challenge and at 10:02 the 17 year old Ohio driver would cruise across the finish line for his first career USAC National midget win besting Daum, Coons, Brenham Crouch and Mitchel Moles. Brady Bacon came from 14th to finish 6th with Kyle Cummins seventh, Justin Grant up from 16th to 8th, Buddy Kofoid ninth and Kaylee Bryson ending up the top female taking down tenth at the end.
We still had a 25 lap sprint car feature to run with the green flying at 10:18 with Thomas Meseraull taking the lead in turn two from Charles Davis Jr. on the initial lap. Lap two saw Brian Hayden and Emerson Axsom tangle off turn four with Cole Bodine caught up in the incident also. Meseraull led when the race went back green with Davis in tow. Jake Swanson polished off Jake Scott for third in turn one on lap six and one lap later breezed by Davis to secure second. The second and final caution appeared on lap ten when Brayden Fox lost the handle in turn four. T-Mez would lead Swanson and Davis on the restart with Brent Beauchamp starting to make his presence known from his eighth starting position. Beauchamp moved by Davis for third on lap twelve and charged by Swanson for second racing down the backstretch on lap sixteen. Swanson battled back to retake second from Beauchamp on the homestretch on lap twenty three as Meseraull continued to pace the field. Over the remaining seven laps the top three remained the same and at 10:29 PM Thomas Meseraull raced under the checkered flag scoring his fourth win of 2022 (three in sprints & one in a midget) in his fourth different mount that he has driven in 2022. Swanson came home second with Beauchamp third, AJ Hopkins fourth after starting ninth with Brady Bacon rounding out the top five. Emerson Axsom drove from the rear of the field to finish sixth with Davis seventh, Geoff Ensign 14th to 8th, Jake Scott ninth and Tye Mihocko from 19th to 10th.
It was a good night of racing on a nicely prepared surface (the best of the four times we have been there) ending in a decent time and was fun to watch if the grizzled vet was going to win or if the kid would pull it off. And it was nice to hear Jerry Coons Jr. praise the “kid”, Jacob Denney, in the podium interview as this young man knows how to run clean and with respect for his fellow competitors and show that it can be done but maybe it is because he runs for a smaller team and doesn't pay for his ride so the pressure to perform is not there. But no matter what the story is it is refreshing to see someone race respectfully and not run into others to advance to the front. Jacob Denney has a bright feature in the sport and good luck to him going forward.
That's it until tomorrow when we cover round five of Indiana Midget Week being run this evening at Gas City Speedway as the forecast improves and we hope that they are able to get this one in. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. And thanks for continuing to read our efforts and check back often to see what is new.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull Stops Kofoid's Streak At Four With Win At Tri-State
Sunday, June 5 – Today was round three of USAC Indiana Midget Week and the day was picture postcard perfect with temperatures in the middle 80's, sunny with a slight breeze. We left right from church and traveled down to Montgomery, Indiana and one of our favorite places to eat, Gasthof Amish Village, where the buffet is delicious and the price is right at $16.99. They have a good selection with the roast beef and the meatloaf the top choices for us today. From there we ventured the rest of the way over to Haubstadt and arrived around 3:30 Central time. We placed our blanket on the top row of the backstretch grandstand where the sun is at your back and upon exiting to go back to the car we ran into our new Pennsylvania friend, Mike, who invited us over to their truck where they had a tent set up to sit under. Around five Pat had a Lebanon bologna with cooper cheese, mustard and potato chips crunched on top brought straight from PA by Mike and his son, Austin. She was in heaven with the treat from Pennsylvania. I opted for a taco which was very good also. Two of our other friends from Pennsylvania that we were saving seats for tonight, Bill Burns and Gordy Killian, found us and shortly thereafter we ventured into the backstretch grandstands to watch hot laps before time trials began.
On tap tonight with the USAC National midgets (29) were the MSCS sprint cars (32). Action began at 6:49 with time trials for the USAC midgets with Buddy Kofoid setting fast time by 7:07 as he established himself the early favorite in this event as he tried to tie the USAC record of five in a row set by Rich Vogler as he has won the previous four USAC midget races.
The MSCS wingless sprints would be the first ones to contest their heat races with four scheduled for the 32 sprinters on hand. Jason McDougal in one of four KO Motorsports entries on the evening captured heat one with Jadon Rogers charging from ninth to second with Chase Stockon third and Nate McMillen fourth at the finish. Heat two went to Critter Malone, who had scored the last MSCS win at Tri-State and threw his helmet into the ring to make it two in a row. Carson Garrett, Harley Burns and Brandon Long trailed the high flying Critter. Sam Scott's sprinter lifted its front end powering off turn four in heat two and started flipping before landing back on the track. Scott was fine after his wild ride. The odds on favorite every time the sprints run at Haubstadt, Kyle Cummins, checkered first in heat three over Kendall Ruble, Aric Gentry and Brady Short. Emerson Axsom claimed heat four besting Brady Bacon, picking up a one off ride in one of the KO Motorsports #5B, with teammate Kent Schmidt third and Collin Ambrose coming home fourth.
The USAC midgets would contest three heats with the top five moving into the 30 lap main event. Brenham Crouch in one of seven Keith Kunz's steeds scored heat win one over Kyle Cummins, Buddy Kofoid, Taylor Reimer and Chase McDermand. Heat two was another Kunz victory with youngster Cade Lewis prevailing over Justin Grant, Mitchell Moles, Cannon McIntosh and Zach Daum. Thomas Meseraull broke up the Kunz juggernaut winning heat three in the RMS entry over Bryant Wiedeman, Chris Windom making his first start of the year in USAC midget competition in one of Chad Boat's car, Dominic Gorden and Ethan Mitchell.
Both divisions needed B mains to fill their fields with the sprint car tussle won by Koby Barksdale beating Dustin Beck, Ryan Bond and Brandon Mattox. The midget B main was captured by Jade Avedisian over Jason McDougal at the keyboard of the Reinbold/Underwood #19 with teammate, Hayden Reinbold, third, Kaylee Bryson fourth, Jacob Denney fifth, Mariah Ede sixth and Chris Baue seventh. No provisionals would be taken and Logan Seavey was one of the notables who would load the Malloy #25 early as he did not qualify.
The 25 lap MSCS sprint cars would be the first to test the newly reworked surface with Critter Malone getting the jump on Kyle Cummins on the start. Malone would lead until lap two when he hopped the cushion getting sideways and saving it but dropping back to around fifth before resuming. Cummins would now lead but it would be a short one as his mount pulled to the infield with mechanical woes shortly after. Jason McDougal would now be the leader and he started to pull away. Emerson Axsom took up the chase running in second but McDougal was cruising up front. Malone was elbows up working his way back to the front as the race went on as the black #7 was on rails. He caught Axsom in the late stages of the race to make his way back to second but did not have enough time to reel in McDougal and the Hutson John Deere #5M flashed under the checkers in the non-stop feature in six minutes with Malone finishing second, Axsom third, Chase Stockon fourth and Brady Bacon bringing the third of four KO Motorsports entries in for fifth. Kendall Ruble was next across the line in sixth with Jadon Rogers seventh, Brady Short eighth after starting 15th, Aric Gentry ninth and Carson Garrett placing tenth. It was a good, competitive race and was fun to watch especially Malone who made quite a run back to the front.
We still had the 30 lap USAC midget feature to run with Taylor Reimer and Thomas Meseraull bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:10. Meseraull would surge into the lead in turn two at the start and entering turn three Bryant Wiedeman challenged teammate Reimer for second forcing her up the banking where she lost valuable ground dropping back to eighth. In frustration Reimer stormed into turn one and slammed into Zach Daum sending both of them spinning and bringing out the first of nine cautions or reds in the feature. In the meantime Buddy Kofoid had positioned himself nicely advancing from sixth up to third by the first caution and on the restart disposed of Wiedeman making the pass on the backstretch and went after Meseraull. Kofoid made his first move for the lead on lap four throwing a slider on T-Mez in turn three with T-Mez countering off turn four. The top two continued to duke it out with Meseraull in command until the next important moment occurred on lap fourteen when Meseraull approached the car of Chris Baue as the pair raced down the backstretch. Meseraull went low to put a lap on Baue while Kofoid hammered the high side in turn three and edged ahead. Baue went high off turn four taking the lane away from Kofoid and allowing T-Mez to retain the lead as they raced into turn one. Baue's motor went up in smoke on lap seventeen and on the restart Kofoid pulled a slider in turn three taking the lead for an instant until Meseraull countered off turn four to go back to the point. Justin Grant began to make his presence known form the fifth starting position after a ding dong battle for third with Bryant Wiedeman before securing the position. Grant made up big chunks of real estate closing on the front two in the early 20's of the race. Lap twenty four saw Grant move by Kofoid in turn two but Kofoid moved back by in turn three with some slight contact. Jade Avedisian and Cade Lewis tangled between turns three and four on lap twenty six to bring out the caution and set the stage for an exciting finish. Kofoid threw the slider in turns three and four again on the restart but T-Mez was prepared and countered in turn four to retain the lead once again. Kofoid and Grant began exchanging sliders over the next two laps until Ethan Mitchell turned turtle in turn four with two to go. On the ensuing restart Kofoid and Grant went back to war racing down the backstretch with Grant cutting Kofoid off. Entering turn three Grant went high with Kofoid sliding low Grant attempting to diamond the turn to block Kofoid's slider with the two tangling with Grant flipping over while Kofoid bounced up and down but was able to keep going. Grant was able to restart and pulled alongside Kofoid to express his displeasure before joining the rear of the field where he would eventually finish ninth. Meseraull controlled the restart with Kofoid on his heels and as they exited turn four coming for the checkered instead the yellow waved again when Chris Windom, Cade Lewis and Brenham Crouch stopped for coffee in turn one. This would set up a green, white, checkered scenario. Meseraull went to the point with Kofoid attempting his favorite slider move in turns three and four as they raced to the white flag but T-Mez prevailed and entering turns one and two Kofoid bobbled for an instant on the cushion solidify Meseraull's lead as they raced down the backstretch. At 10:52 Meseraull flashed under the double checkers for his third straight USAC midget win at Tri-State snapping the four race win streak of Kofoid in the process. Kofoid would finish second with Mitchel Moles from 10th to 3rd, Kaylee Bryson in the most impressive run of the night driving hard but cleanly from 22nd to 4th and receiving the Irvin King Hard Charger Award with Kyle Cummins rebounding from an earlier mishap to come back for fifth. Zach Daum led the second five across the line in sixth with Taylor Reimer seventh, Chase McDermand from 16th to 8th, Justin Grant ninth and Dominick Gorden rounding out the top ten. It was an exciting race but it was not a good race with too many cautions and reds because too many drivers are driving above their heads.
After this race tonight we are really down on midget racing as there are too many kids running in midgets that have no fear and more importantly no respect for their fellow drivers. They are financed by their father and mother who are like the little league parents that expect their child to be the star and in this case are throwing money into the mix putting even more pressure on the kids to perform so they are driving over their heads and causing more and more wrecks. These kids are use to playing the racing video games and hitting reset after a crash but they need to realize this is real life, crashes can hurt or even kill people and mommy and daddy will get tired of digging into their pockets to finance this insanity. Don't get me wrong I am not saying all the kids are to blame as some of them are actually good such as Kaylee Bryson, Corey Day, Buddy Kofoid, Jacob Denney and Ryan Timms but the majority are out of control and need to have someone sit down with them and set them straight. The different racing organizations need to have some meetings with these youngsters and establish ground rules and set penalties or consequences for their out of control behavior. If you lose a few drivers and teams then so be it. It is better than losing the support of the fans who are getting sick and tired of watching this poor excuse of what midget racing has become.
That's it for now and check back Thursday as round four of USAC Indiana Midget Week rolls into the Marion County Fairgrounds outside of Indianapolis at the Circle City Raceway. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. Comments, news, stories and other bits of information can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for the kind remarks on our writings. We enjoy doing it and don't get paid for it we just do it for the love of racing.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Hopkins On Top At Lincoln Park
Saturday, June 4 – We decided to step off the USAC Indiana Midget Week tour as two long trips in two days (Lawrenceburg & Haubstadt) was going to be too much for us with gas prices and ticket prices. So instead of 2 ½ hours one way to decided to drive 40 minutes one way down to beautiful downtown Putnamville and take in the show at the Lincoln Park Speedway where it was Fan Remembrance Night. Josh Boller's Indiana Pro Late Model carried photos of many of the LPS loyal fans who have passed on his roof and the second 50/50 winner received the roof at the end of the evening. Considering that Lawrenceburg and Paragon were also running a decent field of 24 non-wing sprints pulled into the pit area joined by 19 Indiana Pro Late Models, 19 UMP modifieds, 16 super stocks and 13 bombers for a grand total of 91 cars in the backstretch pits to present a Saturday night of entertainment.
Heat racing pushed off at 7:25 with three heats for the sprinters with Jake Swanson claiming heat one over Harley Burns, Mario Clouser, Jackson Slone and Garbiel Gilbert back in action after a flip on Friday at Bloomington. Heat two went to Charles Davis Jr. besting Evan Mosley, Geoff Ensign (his wife won the steel block sprints down the road at Paragon on this same evening), Brayden Fox and Brandon Spencer. Seth Parker ran a strong heat three holding off the advances of AJ Hopkins to win this one with Ivan Glotzbach, Travis Thompson and Brian Hayden. The Indiana Pro Late Models were next on the dance card and spun off three very competitive heat runs with brothers, Tory and Tyler Collins, winning two of them and Raymond Humphrey winning the other. Richie Lex, Brayden Watson and Rob Brickert scored UMP modified heats. The super stocks and bombers contested two heats each before the sprints returned for the only B main of the evening. Late arriving Kent Christian tagged the tail of the field and at one point had moved into qualifying position before dropping back a few positions. Trying to make up ground on the high side he jumped the turn one cushion and flipped over several times before stopping. Christian was OK after the tumble but was probably wondering why he rushed to get to the track and then had this happen!!! Zack Pretorius would triumph in the B main beating Ryan Thomas, Texan Brandon Long, Josh Hodge and John Sluss who had Davey Ray, Friday night's sprint victor at Bloomington turning the wrenches on his sprinter tonight.
The 25 lap Indiana Pro Late Model feature was the first feature called to the post with the green flying at 9:13. What ensued was a very good race with only two cautions and multiple position changes. It would be the best feature race of the evening. Tyler Neal battled hard from his eighth starting position to get to the front taking the lead late in the event. Neal would score his second win of the year staving off former LPS regular, Steve Peeden, with Tory Collins third, Tyler Collins fourth and Raymond Humphrey rounding out the top five at 9:27.
Next up on the program card would be the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature brought to the green flag by Harley Burns and Seth Parker. The green did not remain out long as Evan Mosley clipped an inside tractor tire which sent him flipping down the homestretch on the initial lap. Mosley was fine after the wild ride but the same could not be said for his damaged mount. On the restart young Burns would lead the first four laps before Seth Parker would go to the point. Jake Swanson and AJ Hopkins tangled exiting turn four with Hopkins' car bunny hopping through the turn with both cars continuing not losing any positions at that time period. One lap later saw Burns spin in turn one ruining his good early run. Parker led on the restart with Hopkins and Swanson in pursuit. Hopkins used the high side off turn four to pass Parker for the top spot on lap eight with Swanson working his way by Parker shortly thereafter for second. The top two would run closely pulling away from the pack behind. Lap twenty saw eighth starting Geoff Ensign moving by Paker on the homestretch to take down the last podium position. While all eyes were on the lead battle veteran Brian Hayden had made a steady march from 15th to catch Parker for 4th with only two to go. Hopkins was able to hold off Swanson to garner the win in the Sturgeon #77 at 10:10 with Ensign third, Hayden fourth and Parker hanging on for fifth in a good run. It was a decent enough feature run with a good race between Hopkins and Swanson the highlight.
We decided to stay for one more feature with the 20 lap UMP modified feature taking the green flag at 10:20. A good battle for the lead between Tyler Loughmiller and Will Bennett ensued with Bennett finally taking control in the middle of the race. Bennett would go on to win the feature with Brayden Watson coming home second with point leader, Rob Brickert, nailing down third with Loughmiller slipping to fourth and female competitor, Sydney Landes, taking down fifth at the finish at 10:41.
It was a good night of racing in beautiful downtown Putnamville and at that point we decided to call it a night as we had a long drive ahead the following day and decided to hit the sack hopefully before midnight.
That's it for this segment but check back tomorrow as we bring you round three of USAC Indiana Midget Week from the finely manicured facility in Southwest Indiana, the Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area, stay hydrated and be safe. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and commenting on them when we see you at the races. We enjoy giving you our perspectives on where we travel and hope it helps you all when you decide to go somewhere different.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Kofoid For Second Year In A Row Cops Indiana Midget Week Opener At Bloomington
Friday, June 3 – Finally a beautiful sunny day for race day here in Indiana with no chance of rain!!! Tonight would be opening night of the 18th Annual Indiana Midget Week with the ¼ mile high banked red clay oval of Bloomington Speedway hosting the opener. It never gets old as you climb the hill outside of turn one and reach the top and gaze upon the well manicured grounds with the green grass contrasting the red clay of Bloomington. We secured our lawn chairs in the main section of the grandstand in front of the concession stands sitting with our friends, Max and Susie Niemann, for the evening. Before the racing began we did some bench racing with our many friends in attendance before the hot laps began for the 32 USAC midgets and 22 wingless sprints that graced the backstretch pit area for tonight's racing along with six mod lites. As the buildings behind us shaded us from the sun it became more comfortable to sit and talk.
Time trials would start off the racing program for the USAC midgets at 6:50 with Thomas Meseraull suffering a broken rear end on his time trial attempt and leaving him with no time after the 32 cars clocked in. Meseraull was behind the eight ball before the night even began but repairs were made and he returned to tag the rear of the third heat of the evening. Justin Grant in the other RMS entry spun off fast time of 11.974 seconds around the ¼ mile bullring. In effect for the whole week due to tire shortages is that all cars must run the same right rear tire the entire evening (harder compound) with a same compound used tire as a backup in case a flat or cut tire happens.
The USAC midgets would be the first class to take to the track for their four heat races with the top four moving directly into the 30 lap main event with the top six in time trials inverted for the starting lineup. Any of the top six time trialers that did not qualify through the heat races would be replaced by the next fastest qualifiers that did qualify in the heat racing. Cannon McIntosh scored the win in heat one in his dad's car besting Justin Grant, Kaylee Bryson and Brenham Crouch. Buddy Kofoid coming off a USAC midget victory last night at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois captured heat two in one of seven Keith Kunz entries on the evening beating Jason McDougal, Sam Johnson and Chance Crum in a very entertaining heat race. Ethan Mitchell brought his dad's entry home first in heat three over Mitchel Moles, Jacob Denney and Thomas Meseraull from eighth. The fourth and final heat fell to Logan Seavey in the Malloy mount staving off Kyle Cummins, Maria Cofer and Jade Avedisian for the win. Taylor Reimer took a scary ride over the turn one banking after wheel to wheel contact with another competitor which resulted in her turning sideways, digging in and flipping several times end over end landing upside down on the far side of the turn one banking. She was uninjured and returned to qualify later in the B main. All the heat races were very good as the drivers handled choppy track conditions well.
The wingless sprint cars would run three heats with everyone advancing to their 25 lap main event. Emerson Axsom in the Clauson/Marshall #47BC prevailed in heat one over AJ Hopkins, Brady Bacon in the Longworth #410 and Davey Ray. Geoff Ensign in the Burton #04 captured heat two winning over Jake Swanson, Brandon Spencer and Sterling Cling who went bank sliding earlier in the race and came back to qualify. Buckeye, Arizona's Charles Davis Jr. nailed down heat three over Harley Burns, Matt Thompson and Ryan Thomas who fed a right rear tire to Gabriel Gilbert sending him rolling over turn two in this one.
The midget B main was next on the dance card with the top six moving on into the 30 lap main. Jace Park in one of the Boat cars triumphed over Brady Bacon doing double duty, Taylor Reimer back from her wild ride, Rylan Gray, Bryant Wiedeman and Dominic Gorden the last man in by qualifying. Chase McDermand and Hayden Reinbold would use provisionals to join the field tonight.
At 9:25 the front row of Kyle Cummins and Chance Crum would bring the 24 car starting field to Brian Hodde's green flag with the front row going side by side almost the entire first lap before Crum edged out front. Chance was looking good out front pacing the field and he was beginning to look like he might score his first career USAC National midget win as he held off Cummins and Buddy Kofoid. The field was streaking around the high red banks in a blistering pace as Thomas Meseraull was also attacking the track moving forward from his 22nd starting position. At the halfway mark Kofoid charged by Cummins for second in turns one and two but just a lap later Kofoid gave the spot back as he stumbled on the turn one cushion with Cummins moving back by. With nine to go Cummins chose the high side in turn one with Kofoid using the low side to take second in turn two and closed on Crum. Lap traffic was now in play as the leaders dance above and below them as they raced for the lead. With seven to go Crum's low side path was hindered by Rylan Gray as Kofoid used the opportunity to pound the cushion in turn one and two to slip by Crum for the lead. With four to go Crum was not finished as he entered turn one low as Kofoid bobbled on the cushion and Crum was back out front. The lap car of Hayden Reinbold hit the turn three cushion causing him to spin before the lap was completed reverting the restart field to the previous lap and giving the lead back to Kofoid. On the restart Kofoid was like the rabbit bounding back out front and leading the remaining four laps to score his third straight win and leaving many to wonder “what if” the caution had not appeared would Kofoid have been able to re-pass Crum over the last four laps. The win for Kofoid was his 12th career USAC midget win and #125 for car owner, Keith Kunz. Crum would cross the line second with Cummins third, Kaylee Bryson fourth in a fine run by the young lady with Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Bryant Wiedeman would finish sixth after starting twelfth with Cannon McIntosh seventh, Jacob Denney eighth, Mitchel Moles ninth and the Irvin King hard charger award going to Thomas Meseraull finishing tenth after starting twenty second. A real good run for all the midget drivers and a well run event.
We still had the 25 lap wingless sprint car feature to contest with Harley Burns and Jake Swanson pacing the 22 car field to the green at 9:53. The top two ran side by side the entire first lap with Swanson edging Burns at the line for the race lead. The only stoppage of the race would occur on lap six when Brandon Morin became an innocent victim of two others tangling in turn two with Morin turning sideways and rolling over. Brandon was OK but done for the evening. The action up front on the restart was ferocious as none less than four drivers raced side by side through turns one and two before sixth starting Emerson Axsom powered to the lead. Axsom looked strong at this point but it was far from over. Axsom bobbled on the cushion in turn one allowing fourth starter, Charles Davis Jr. to slide under him in turn two for the lead. Axsom and Swanson battled back but Davis was now the leader. Axsom's night got worse on lap nineteen when he slid high in turn four and over the banking returning on the homestretch but in effect spoiling any chance to win this one. Tenth starting Davey Ray was methodically working the bottom side as he moved forward into contention as the race wore on. Ray caught Swanson for second with four to go and took up the chase of the high side running Davis. Ray caught Davis with two to go and they raced side by side over the final two laps with Davis holding the slight edge. Coming into turns three and four for the final time Ray stuck it to the bottom and pulled alongside Davis as they entered turn four. It was a drag race to the finish line with Ray pulling off the march edging Davis by scant feet at the line to record the popular win. Davis had to settle for second as it looked like the Arizona driver would win his first race at Bloomington but it was not to be. Jake Swanson came home third with Geoff Ensign rebounding to finish fourth and Matt Thompson in a fine ride advancing from ninth to fifth at the finish at 10:12. Axsom would end up sixth at the end. This one surely had the crowd buzzing and was one of the best sprint car features we have seen at Bloomington in quite a while. The sprint cars one upped the midgets on this night with that feature run.
If night one of Indiana Midget Week was any indication of what lie ahead we are in for a great seven nights of USAC midget racing!!!
Check back tomorrow as we go off the midget week tour for one day and conserve some gas and stay closer to home (40 minutes as opposed to 2 ½ hours one way) taking in the action at Lincoln Park Speedway tonight. Until next time get out there and support some good short track racing in your area, be safe and have fun and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, news, short stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and check back often to see where we end up next on a typical weekend.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Leary Parks It At BC Indiana Double At Kokomo
Sunday, May 29 – Who would have thought it would be almost the end of May and we would be making our first visit of the season to Kokomo Speedway, our favorite dirt track in Indiana. Indeed it was as Kokomo has gone to a limited race schedule in the last few years and this year only have 14 events on their calendar and one of them is a monster truck show and two have already been rained out.
Our back-roads ride to Kokomo was interrupted by road construction on Rt. 28 (road was closed in both directions) so an alternate route was figured out and we continued on. We pulled into the backstretch parking area at 6 PM and found a parking spot before heading to the large aluminum backstretch grandstands to secure our seats for the evening. For the second straight evening we had the pleasure to be joined by friend and Wisconsin track/race chaser, Todd Shannon, after he had attended the Indianapolis 500 and make the trek northward. Tonight was the BC Indiana Double made famous by Bryan Clauson who raced in the Indianapolis 500 during the day and then came to Kokomo to run his wingless sprint during the evening. We hope the hour late start to the racing tonight was because of management allowing people attending the 500 to make their way up to Kokomo and is not the normal going forward. Even though most everyone had the following day off on Monday leaving the track at almost midnight is too long of an evening when you have driving ahead of you before arriving home.
The three division program of wingless sprint cars (41), UMP modifieds (24) and thundercars (21) were ready to go at 8:30 with the first of five heat races for the wingless sprint cars. The top three finishers would move into the 25 lap feature event and Matt Goodnight kicked off the racing evening with a victory in heat one over Dave Darland and Koby Barksdale. Heat two would fall to the Gray #81 of CJ Leary besting Max Adams and Ricky Lewis. Colten Cottle would steer the Hazen #57 to the win in heat three over Jake Swanson and Tye Mihocko in his own car after wrecking the Paul #24P last weekend. Sixteen year old Jack Hoyer in his nice looking #11 staved off the challenges of Shane Cottle to capture heat four with Sterling Cling claiming third. Hoyer in his rookie season in sprint cars after running 600 micros in the past was impressive in this one and looks to have a bright future in sprint cars. Alex Banales in the Baldwin Brothers #5X took down heat five after almost taking down the turn two fence on one circuit but recovered and held off Justin Grant and Cole Bodine for the win.
The UMP modifieds ran three competitive heats with Dillon Nussbaum, Jaime Lomax and Derek Losh scoring wins in their respective heat races. The thundercars ran three heats also before the sprints returned for their two B mains. Travis Berryhill nailed down B main 1 in a race which featured a double flip in turn two during the running of the event. Thomas Meseraull back in the Cheney #42 and GLSS traditional sprint car winner, Keith Sheffer Jr. from Michigan, grabbed the other two qualifying positions. Ohio's Korbyn Hayslett staked out the win in B main two over Scotty Weir and Parker Frederickson, the low buck operator out of Kokomo. Good to see both Sheffer and Frederickson made the starting field for the main event.
It was 10:33 when the front row of Matt Goodnight and CJ Leary brought the 21 car starting field to the green flag. The green would stay out only for a short while as Dave Darland ramped over the right rear wheel of Max Adams and flipped in turn four coming to complete lap one. Darland was OK after the scary ride. The race restarted with Leary again assuming the lead with Goodnight in tow. Shane Cottle would move the Hodges #74 into third on lap two in turn one. We would stay green until lap six when Max Adams caught the cushion and the turn two fence and went for a nasty tumble landing upside down. Adams was able to climb from the car uninjured in the mishap. One lap later Koby Barksdale jumped the turn two cushion, bounced off the wall and was tapped by another car from behind which caused him to lightly roll over before coming to rest on all fours. Racing resumed once again with Leary at the point with the field chasing. Justin Grant was the man on the move from his seventh starting position cracking the top five by lap seven with a turn four pass. Lap nine saw Grant take both fourth and third between turns two and three as the Ione, California native was coming to the front in a hurry. Grant grabbed second on the homestretch on lap twelve and went to work to reel in Leary. It seemed Grant was closing for a while but racing through lap traffic Leary was able to hold a few second advantage for the remainder of the distance and raced under the checkered at 11:09 scoring the big win over Grant with Cottle third, Jake Swanson from 8th to 4th and Tye Mihocko with a strong run from 14th to claim 5th. Cole Bodine finished sixth, Jack Hoyer a fine seventh, Scotty Weir eighth from 19th, Korbyn Hayslett ninth from 17th and Thomas Meseraull tenth from 18th.
The 20 lap UMP modified feature was next on the agenda and went green at 11:18. Derek Losh got the early jump to the lead with Dillon Nussbaum and Jamie Lomax in pursuit. Losh opened a comfortable lead but there was real good racing behind him for positions two through six. Nick Allen broke through the pack and took over second from his fifth starting position. Allen made the race up front interesting as he closed on Losh in the latter stages of the race but Losh was able to fend him off and flashed under the checkered flag at 11:30 trailed by Allen, Nussbaum, Lomax and Bradley Jameson in a strong run.
We decided to take in the 15 lap thundercar feature and after a few hiccups in the beginning they went on to present a competitive feature run with Sheldon Oberle first across the line at 11:53 for the win. It was a long night of racing but all the features were enjoyable to watch as we discussed them on the ride back to Crawfordsville.
That's it for this installment of A Typical Weekend with Indiana Midget Week on the horizon starting Friday night at Bloomington Speedway as we look forward to attending as many as possible. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and take a moment to reflect on what Memorial Day means to each and every one of us as remember freedom is not free, a price was paid by many brave souls. And last but not least thanks for reading our efforts and hope you are still enjoy our views of the tracks and racing that we visit during the year.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Rain & Cummins Highlight Memorial Week So Far In Indiana
Wednesday, May 25 – Today was the annual start of what we call Memorial Week in Indiana as this whole week is filled with racing and Monday is Memorial Day where we honor the many brave souls who gave their lives for their country to allow us to remain free. We cannot say enough about these many man and woman who gave all serving the USA so others would not be under anyone else's rule. Thank You!!!
The weather again was a big part of the story as Wednesday dawned overcast with rain looking like to would begin at any time. During the day in Crawfordsville it rained several times but cleared later in the day. We decided to make the 40 minute drive over to the Marion County Fairgrounds to support Circle City Raceway and the USAC National sprint cars which would be running this evening. After arriving shortly after 6 PM and finding a parking spot the rain first appeared with a few drops but picked up momentum in the next few minutes just after the first hot lap session ended. We never left the Rogue as the rain continued for the next 45 minutes before letting up. The Circle City track crew went to work to try to work the track back into racing shape. A water truck broken axle sending the left rear tire flat to the racing surface did not help the situation. Finally around 8:45 PM with great difficulty bringing the track back around with the high humidity the decision was made to cancel the race for the evening.
Thursday, May 26 - After a night long rain extending into the late morning had the black flag waved before noon on night two of the USAC National sprint cars at Circle City. Another one bites the dust!!!
Friday, May 27 - Friday's forecast was a little better in areas but for the most part racing would not happen on this evening either. Bloomington's Josh Burton Memorial was one of the first to throw in the towel along with Farmer City to the west in Illinois after having Thursday evening rain into Friday morning. The only remaining option was Indianapolis Raceway Park with a four division open wheel extravaganza but the weather looked iffy there also. A 6 PM forecast of heavy rain played out and pushed the starting time back several hours until the asphalt track was dried out again. We decided to not go to Brownsburg but instead watched some TV shows until the USAC portion of the program came on Flo Racing. Both features were competitive events with Bobby Santos III winning both the midget 30 lapper and Silver Crown 100 in a spirited battle with Kody Swanson. Female driver, Taylor Ferns, came home third and became the highest finishing woman in Silver Crown history and a win could be in her future as she drove a hard and heady race. The Silver Crown 100 was over slightly before midnight on a cold evening where we were glad we only had to turn off the lights and head to bed instead of warming up on the 40 minute ride home probably arriving back in Crawfordsville around 1 AM.
Saturday, May 28 – Finally the weather broke and Saturday was beautiful with temperatures in the 70's with plenty of sunshine and lower humidity. Tonight's destination was the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, IN, just below Greencastle which for us is about a 35 minute commute. We left early to drive below Greencastle to Cloverale where we picked up four gallons of freshly picked strawberries for a steal. Sunday would be spent by Pat making some of them into strawberry jam and freezing the rest for later use. From there we stopped at Lou's Diner in Cloverdale and feasted on a double cheeseburger named the best burger in Putnam County on National Hamburger Day.
We arrived early at Lincoln Park, even before the gates opened and had a nice conversation with a gentleman parked across from us visiting for the 500 from Iowa. We showed some Hoosier hospitality and gave him a big hand full of strawberries to munch on. Upon entering the track and placing our chairs about three rows from the top we surveyed the track and noticed a small pond outside of turn two at the back against the fencing so we knew it was wet and spongy in turns one and two which would pose a problem the entire night. Wisconsin's Todd Shannon by chance sat in the row behind us and after a while noticed that we were sitting in front of him and said hello. We chatted off and one the rest of the evening. It would be a five division program on the evening with MSCS sprints with a fine field of 47 cars in the pit area losing one, Mario Clouser, after he lost an engine during hot laps. The MMSA mini sprints brought 33 to the big dance while the super stocks had 20 entries, the UMP modifieds also with 20 and the bombers adding 16 to the total for a grand total of 136. A huge field of cars were joined by a huge crowd close to Indiana Sprint Week figures. Unfortunately the unruly track and the large car count would make for a late evening in beautiful downtown Putnamville and though the crowd was large we don't think the out of towners will return next year with such a long show. Sometimes you have to prepare for the unexpected and perhaps on this night in the future only four divisions with the lowest car count of the four only running a feature would be more appealing to the out of towners. We noticed the Indy 500 attendees leaving long before any of them saw a feature event and that is not good. We understand there is nothing you can do about the terrible weather and amount of rain we have had this week and the track work was indeed necessary but in the long run the long night could hurt attendance in the future.
Racing got underway over an hour later than the scheduled starting time commencing at 8:05 with the MSCS sprints contesting five heat races with the top three moving on to the 25 lap, $2500 to win main event. Brayden Fox would capture the first heat outrunning Koby Barksdale and AJ Hopkins in this one. Evan Mosley looked strong in heat one which would carry over to the feature winning heat two besting Brandon Mattox and Brent Beauchamp. Kyle Cummins notched heat three turning back Jason McDougal and Thomas Meseraull. Jake Swanson claimed heat four over fellow California driver Frank Guerrini and Brady Short. The fifth and final heat fell to Shane Cottle over Chase Stockon and Kyle Shipley. The MMSA mini sprints would run four heats with Kayla Roell, Michael Larrison, Brandon Deputy and Sam Hinds capturing heat wins.
The 20 super stocks ran three heats before the sprint C main was run with Brian Hayden winning and advancing to the back of the B main along with Charles Davis Jr., Geoff Ensign, Brandon Spencer and Garrett Aitken. Justin Meneely took a nasty flip on the homestretch during the C main. The UMP modifieds spun off three heats next for their 20 car field with the bombers competing in two heats before the sprint car B main hit the track with the top five across the line joining the rear of the feature event. Alec Sipes had a strong run to take down the B win over Braydon Cromwell, Cody Trammell in a second Mosley entry, Zack Pretorius and Travis Berryhill beating out Dave Darland for the last qualifying position on the last lap. A B main for the MMSA mini sprints was needed before we would get into the first of the five feature events which would feature the wingless sprint cars.
The front row of Shane Cottle and Jake Swanson would bring the 21 car field to the green flag for the first and only time at 11:12 with Carson Garrett using a provisional to join the field. Cottle would bolt to the early lead with Swanson in second. Third starting Kyle Cummins would dispose of Swanson for second on lap two and took up the chase of Cottle. Cummins would track down and catch Cottle on the backstretch on lap four for the lead with Cottle returning the favor on the homestretch to start lap five. Cottle would lead two more circuits before Cummins would take the lead for the final time on lap six on the homestretch. Evan Mosley moved into fourth on lap nine and led the second pack behind the top three. Cummins would enter lap traffic around the halfway mark and began to pick his way through the backmarkers. Jake Swanson slipped by Cottle on lap seventeen and tried to reel in Cummins but Cummins would not be caught. The non-stop affair would checker at 11:18 in just six minutes with Cummins home first followed by Swanson, Cottle, Mosley and Chase Stockon from tenth to fifth. Brandon Mattox would lead the second five to the checker with Brent Beauchamp seventh, AJ Hopkins eighth, Jason McDougal ninth and Koby Barksdale rounding out the top five. We decided to call it a night at this point and packed up the chairs and headed to the parking lot and the Rogue.
Check back Monday as we listen to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio while tying this column and prepare to head northeast soon to take in the season opener at Kokomo Speedway with the BC Double starting at 7:30. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area on this Memorial Day weekend and be safe and stay hydrated. Comments, words of wisdom, news and stories can reach us at email@example.com. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and keep doing so as we enjoy hearing your comments about our columns.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Ballou Becomes Three Time Winner Of Hulman Classic At Terre Haute
Saturday, May 21 - This day turned out to be a total washout as heavy thunderstorms south of us caused Terre Haute and Lincoln Park to throw in the towel for Saturday and reschedule their shows for Sunday evening which is usually a crap shoot and questionable under the current economic conditions.
Sunday, May 22 – The day dawned with sunshine and temperatures in the 50's. It warmed up somewhat during the day into the middle 60's but it was cool with a jacket or sweatshirt needed if venturing outside during the day. A South blowing wind also contributed to the coolness. Pat was still not feeling up to snuff so a solo trip down to Terre Haute was on the agenda. While writing this today (Monday) I had earlier come across an article about a recall from Jif Peanut Butter due to Salmonella concerns with certain lots of their peanut butter produced. It so happens that we purchased a 16 oz jar of Jif while in Arizona in March and brought the unused portion back to Indiana. Since this past Tuesday Pat has been eating English muffins with peanut butter and bananas on top and on Thursday evening into Friday morning developed gastrointestinal problems which continued through the entire weekend. Upon examining the article more closely I noticed a listing of lot numbers and grabbed the Jif from the pantry and checked the lot number on it. Sure enough the lot number on our jar matched one on the list and the mystery was solved. Currently Pat is feeling better and we hope in the next day or so this runs its course and she is back to normal.
Now back to the race at hand. Our friend, Steve Kimmel from Arizona, was in town during the weekend and he saved us seats at Gas City and Terre Haute Steve is a truck driver by trade and delivers loads all over the country. He showed me his diesel cost for his truck on Sunday at Terre Haute up to that point and it was over $2000. Things are totally out of hand with these gas prices as you all well know!! Also made two new friends from the Evansville area sitting in front of me and gave them some information on the USAC drivers. The one, Vance “Cowboy” Thompson, wanted to know how I knew all these things and I simply told him by reading and listening. He thought I should become an announcer!!! Look out Pat Sullivan!!!
I arrived around 5 and found a parking spot in our usual location on one of the access roads and worked my way into the track. Hot laps were underway for the USAC sprint cars on hand (25) and they were joined on this night by the Racesaver 305 winged sprints (17) and the UMP modifieds (10) for a three division program. It was the 52nd running of the Tony Hulman Classic and only three drivers had won this USAC National sprint car event three times. They are Cary Faas, Levi Jones and Chris Windom with Jones and Windom winning theirs three straight years. Well, this year another driver would join that prestigious list as Robert Ballou added his name to the list in the 2022 version of this race. Here is how it went down.
Time trials pushed off at 6:07 and by 6:30 it was CJ Leary being interviewed on the homestretch after setting the fast time of 19.527 seconds around the half mile dirt oval located on the Vigo County Fairgrounds. After hot laps for the 305's and the UMP modifieds it was time to contest the three USAC sprint car heats with the top five advancing to the Hulman Classic. Chase Stockon drew first blood with a strong run in heat one beating CJ Leary, Emerson Axsom, Jason McDougal and Justin Grant. Brandon Mattox, the local guy from Terre Haute, held off a torrid challenge from four time USAC sprint champion, Brady Bacon, to score the popular win in heat two with Max Adams third, Jadon Rogers fourth and Robert Ballou notching fifth. What was especially impressive beside Mattox's great run was one by Robert Ballou who suffered a flat tire with three to go, started at the rear and with elbows up drove into the last qualifying position for the main event and preserved his fifth starting spot in the feature after setting second fastest time. Logan Seavey blistered the field in the third heat looking for redemption after being DQ'd the evening before after finishing second due to his machine being underweight afterward. Mitchel Moles making his debut in the Reinbold/Underwood #19AZ this weekend finished second with Brian Hayden third, Charles Davis Jr. in from Arizona fourth and another Arizona resident, Sterling Cling wrestling away the last qualifying position in the late going.
The Racesaver winged 305 sprints would take to the track next for their two heat races with Bradley Galedrige holding off two heavy hitters in Ethan Barrow and Justin Clark to score the win. Rod Henning triumphed in heat two besting Jordan Welch and Bryce Norris for the win.
Next up were the UMP modifieds to run their 15 lap feature (no heats) which took the green flag at 7:49. It was not much of a race as Will Krup dominated the event beating Brian Shaw and Kenny Carmichael Sr. in the 11 minute feature. The USAC sprint semi was next on the dance card with Jake Swanson breezing to victory in that one defeating Nick Bilbee, Matt Westfall, Dustin Clark, Shane Cockrum, Cole Bodine and Brandon Morin taking seventh after a spirited race long battle with Nate McMillin for the last ticket into the feature.
The 15 lap Racesaver 305 sprint cars were next on the schedule for their 15 lap tussle with Rod Henning playing the rabbit and taking off from the pole to lead all 15 laps with a late race challenge from Bradley Galedrige making it not a cakewalk. Ohio's Justin Clark came from eighth to third at the finish with Ethan Barrow fourth and Alex Nalon, great grandson of Duke Nalon, rounding out the top five.
That left us with the 30 lap Tony Hulman Classic yet to run with the front row of Logan Seavey and Brady Bacon leading the remaining twenty cars to the green silk at 8:56. Seavey took control at the start with Bacon on his heels. Robert Ballou was coming quickly from fifth by using the low side and was up to second at the line to complete lap one. Bacon came right back and took by second on lap two but it was only for an instant as Ballou blasted back by on lap three. Meanwhile Seavey checked out to the tune of an almost a three second lead by the halfway mark with Ballou, Bacon, Justin Grant and CJ Leary all chasing. Seavey made a nifty move splitting Brandon Morin and Brian Hayden entering turn three which gave him some more breathing room at that point. Suddenly Ballou was making up some serious real estate as the race counted down to ten to go. Ballou closed to two car lengths on lap twenty four entering turn two and like he was shot from a cannon blasted down the backstretch and down to the rail for a slider in turn three which he pulled off exiting turn four for the lead. Bacon was taking notes on all this and dove low entering turn one to take second away from Seavey but the red flag appeared as eighth running Jadon Rogers tagged the turn four wall and flipped over. That negated Bacon's pass and on the restart Ballou led with Seavey and Bacon in pursuit. Ballou was able to pull away over the next several laps as Bacon was finally able to duplicate his turn one move earlier to move by Seavey but had some ground to make up at this point with only two to go. Bacon was on the attack as he cut into Ballou's lead by about half as they raced down the backstretch for the final time. Bacon made one last attempt diving low in turn three and drawing alongside Ballou but Ballou's momentum was too much to overcome with Ballou streaking across the finish line at 9:22 with his second win in the last three races with Bacon second, Seavey third, Grant fourth and Leary rounding out the top five. It was also Ballou's 33rd career USAC sprint win moving him into sole position of 14th place on the all-time win list ahead of Rollie Beale. Jake Swanson advanced from 11th to finish 6th with Emerson Axsom 7th, Max Adams from 13th to 8th, Dustin Clark pocketing the hard charger award marching from 19th to 9th with Jason McDougal coming from 17th to 10th at the finish. Ballou made not have been far off in his interview after his win at I-70 saying that it looked like it would be the Bacon and Ballou show in 2022. This feature was by far the best of the evening and the early finish allowed everyone to get back on the road and home in a decent hour to prepare for the work week ahead.
Another typical weekend is in the books and next week is one of the busiest for us of the year as it is Memorial Day week where if the weather cooperates it will be 5 races in 5 days starting on Wednesday and wrapping up on Sunday. Only time will tell. Comments, news, stories and anything else can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime plot your upcoming week and weekend and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take it on the road for some action. Either way stay hydrated and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and for the comments on our column and we hope you continue to enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Meseraull In A Thriller At Gas City
Friday, May 20 – The forecast for today was sunny skies with temperatures in the high 80's with gusty winds from the southwest at 20 to 30 mph. This combination of sun, high temperatures and lots of wind can be disastrous for a dirt track and we were worried that the track conditions for our Friday night destination, the Gas City Speedway, would be less than ideal. To our pleasant surprise the track held up very well the entire evening with only minimal dust appearing during the wingless sprint car feature. A tip of the hat to Larry Boos and the entire track crew at Gas City for providing an excellent racing surface under trying circumstances. Now let's get to the evening of racing.
The Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) were in town this evening and the pits were filled with 35 wingless sprinters to do battle along with 12 hornets, 17 D2 midgets and 16 street stocks to round out the program. BOSS runs group qualifications broken into four groups with AJ Hopkins in the Wingo Brothers #77 setting fastest overall time around the ¼ mile bullring with a time of 12.222 seconds. The D2 midgets would also do group qualifying sessions to determine the starting positions for their heat races. Stratton Briggs would be fast timer with a lap of 13.297 seconds in group qualifying.
The BOSS sprint cars would be first to the grid for their heat racing with the top four finishers moving into the 25 lap main event. Scotty Weir in the Petersen #4P went to the front in the first heat and scored the win over Cole Bodine, Kyle Shipley and Tye Mihocko. Colten Cottle wheeled the Hazen #57 to victory in heat two over Jack Hoyer, Matt Goodnight and Jamie Frederickson. Heat three fell to Thomas Meseraull in the Cheney #42 out of California besting Dave Darland, Ricky Lewis and Koby Barksdale. Korbyn Hayslett, the college student out of Ohio, captured heat four beating Paul Dues, Isaac Chapple and Jesse Vermillion.
The hornets would follow with one heat for their 12 car field before the D2 midgets would take to the track to contest their two heats for their 17 car field. The first heat would go to Stratton Briggs over Drew Rader and Wes Pinkerton. Heat two was taken by Kyle Dager besting Abby Hohlbein and Carl Peterson. The street stocks would run two heats for their 16 car field before the sprint cars would return for B mains with three to qualify into the main event.
Ryan Thomas scored the first B main win over JJ Hughes and Cody White. The second B main went to Saban Bibent over Travis Hery and Brian Ruhlman. The 22 car field was now set for the 25 lap feature event. A medical emergency in the grandstand area toward turn one delayed the program about twenty minutes which is something you cannot avoid with the person transported to the hospital before racing could continue.
The 20 lap D2 midget feature would be the first division to take to the track for their main event and would take the green flag at 9:27 with second starting Kyle Dager taking the lead from first starter, Carl Peterson, on the high side of turn two on the opening lap. The first eight laps would stay green with Dager increasing his lead by several seconds. A rash of cautions slowed the middle portion of the race with four yellows appearing between laps nine and twelve. Briggs and Rader had a good battle over the last eight laps for the third position as from that point forward the race stayed green and Dager paced the field up front. Wes Pinkerton made a late race charge from sixth to claim second with Drew Rader riding home third, Stratton Briggs fourth and Bryce Massingill, a recent winner at Circle City who had mechanical problems in his heat, marched from 13th to round out the top five with the checker waving at 9:39. This was Dager's first career win in the D2 midgets.
Landon Arcaro was the third different leader taking the lead on lap 8 after a good race up front between the top three. Arcaro would lead the remaining seven laps to score his first ever win at Gas City in a brand new car prepared for him.
Now it was time for the 25 lap BOSS sprint car feature with the front row of Thomas Meseraull and Korbyn Hayslett bringing the 22 car field to the green flag at 10:01. Hayslett got the advantage using the top of turn two to grab the lead away from Meseraull on the opening lap. Hayslett would pace the first four laps until T-Mez returned the favor on Hayslett in turn two. Arizona's Kyle Shipley in the Michael Dutcher #17GP powered by Hayslett for second on the backstretch on lap six and took up the chase of T-Mez who had opened up over a two second lead. Hayslett was not done yet and reloaded and closed in on Shipley. Lap 12 saw Hayslett take back second before the only caution of the race appeared on lap 13 when Ricky Lewis and Jamie Frederickson tangled in turn two to bring out the yellow. Meseraull's big lead was wiped out at this point. On the green Meseraull powered back out front Hayslett and Shipley in tow. Shipley regained second using the low side of turn four one lap later. Shipley found some extra speed and tracked down and passed T-Mez on the inside of turn three on lap 17 to take the lead and pulled away. Shipley looked like he might pull off his first career win at Gas City but Meseraull never gives up. T-Mez tried several different lines and started to reel in the leader. Lap twenty two saw Meseraull regain the lead but Shipley was not rolling over and came back one lap later to reclaim the top spot. A small bobble off turn four was just enough for Meseraull to make another run and at the white flag he edged ahead entering turn one. T-Mez scampered away and was able to hold off the final advances of Shipley to score the popular win at 10:11 trailed across the line by Shipley with Dave Darland looking strong in his return to racing after sitting out for a year after suffering a stroke coming home third after a tough battle with Scotty Weir who notched fourth with Hayslett holding on for fifth. Isaac Chapple moved from 12th to finish 6th with Cole Bodine 7th, Colten Cottle 8th, Tye Mihocko 9th and Koby Barksdale advancing from 15th to 10th at the finish.
With the street stocks still to come we decided to pull out as the long trip home was still ahead and it was going to be almost impossible to top the wingless sprint car feature so why bother. We arrived back in Crawfordsville around midnight fully satisfied with the well run show we witnessed and impressed at how well the race surface held up after all the sun and wind attacked it. Again a fine job by everyone involved in the track prep and race direction keeping the program moving along in a timely manner.
That's it for this report and while tying it we found out that the Hulman Classic at Terre Haute tonight (Saturday) have been postponed due to rain and the forecast moving forward for the rest of the day. The Action Track will return to run the Hulman Classic tomorrow (Sunday) with hot laps starting at 5 PM. Looking forward to this one. News, comments, notes of interest and anything else can reach us at email@example.com. And hopefully the weather is better in your area so you can get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. In the meanwhile be safe and have fun. And last but certainly not lease we want to thank you for reading our efforts and hope you continue to enjoy our thoughts and opinions we bring to you so if you thinking of visiting one of the tracks we write about you will have pertinent information to process and help your enjoyment of a visit there.
A Typical Weekend
By Pat and Bruce Eckel
Wrapping Up The Weekend With Action At Circle City
Sunday, May 15 - We started out the morning in Columbia, Missouri at our Drury Inn where we had a nice breakfast at the buffet with real plates and metal utensils!! Then we jumped on I-70 east and began to make the long journey across Missouri and Illinois toward Indiana. As we continued East the gas prices rose from $3.99 to $4.15 when we had burned off enough to make it worthwhile to fill it back up. As we approached St. Louis the prices rose into the $4.39 range and as we crossed the border into Illinois they jumped to $4.59 a gallon. Ouch, as this could affect people's driving and vacation plans especially depending on what type of vehicle they drive. Spoke with our pastor on Tuesday and after returning from a hospital visit to Indianapolis with an empty tank and a twenty cent discount his gas bill was an incredible $105!!!!! Continuing with the present story we motored up I-70 and stopped at our favorite restaurant in Illinois, the Blue Springs, and ended our delicious family style meal sharing a slice of their famous mile high chocolate pie topped with melange. Simply heavenly!!! But the trip was not over yet as we continued on to the Circle City of Indianapolis and our destination, the Circle City Raceway in Marion County. On tap this evening was a four division program consisting of wingless sprint cars (27), D2 midgets (17), 600 micros (11) and UMP modifieds (19). We were joined by Gordy Killian making his way back home after a four track swing with two new tracks in the middle of the sandwich.
The wingless sprint cars would start off the night of racing action with four heats taking the first four finishers to the 25 lap main event. Thomas Messeraull aka T-Mez captured heat one from third in one of the Tyler Sturgeon entries over Scotty Weir in the Landon Simon car with Travis Berryhill third in the other Sturgeon car with young Rylan Gray coming home fourth. Heat two went to AJ Hopkins in the Wingo Brothers #77, one of five #77's entered this evening. Kyle Shipley finished second with Zack Pretorius third and Tim Creech in his pink and white sprinter fourth. Matt Westfall dropping by on his way home from Missouri took down heat three besting Ricky Lewis in the Wolfe #43, Frank Guerrini, another California transplant and Matt McDonald. Ryan Thomas, a local boy would win heat four in the third numbered 77 car over Chad Boespflug, Koby Barksdale and young Saban Bibent.
The D2 midgets were next on the agenda running two heats with Stratton Briggs beating Ryan Thomas, doing double duty on the evening, and Ian Creager. The second heat fell to Gunnar Lucius over Abby Hohlbein and Josh Yenser in an all Ohio sweep. Bruce Newlin Jr. and Justin Harper triumphed in the 600 micro heats while John Demoss and Derek Groomer won UMP modified heats.
Only the sprint cars would need a B main with Cole Bodine copping the win over Sterling Cling, Derek Crane making the trip down from Wisconsin and Colin Grissom.
At this point the track was dusty and slick and the track maintenance of watering the top side would do little to alleviate the situation. The front row of AJ Hopkins and Ricky Lewis brought the 20 car field to the green flag at 8:15 with Lewis wrestling the lead away from Hopkins exiting turn four on lap one. Lewis would hold the top spot until Hopkins executed a turn four slider on lap four to regain the lead. Hopkins would pace the field with Lewis and Matt Westfall in tow. The first caution flew on lap twelve when Travis Berryhill and Kyle Shipley tangled in turn two. On the restart Scotty Weir attempted a slide or die move on third running Thomas Meseraull banging his left front and sending T-Mez sideways where Chad Boespflug finished off his spin sending T-Mez to the back of the field. The field was slip sliding around the oval until lap fifteen when Cole Bodine and Ryan Thomas locked horns in turn two bringing out another caution. One lap later Koby Barksdale and Rylan Gray bumped with Gray spinning in the middle of the turn. From that point on it was all Hopkins as he paced the field over the remainder of the race. Westfall would finish second with Weir third, Zack Pretorius fourth in a good run from tenth with Frank Guerrini nailing down the fifth spot at the finish at 8:39. It was an emotional victory lane as Hopkins stated that this was his first win since his father died late last year.
The 20 lap D2 midget feature was next to the post with the green dropping at 8:50. Stratton Briggs would jump to the early lead over Josh Yenser and many folks knowing how fast Briggs is in the D2's might have figured this one was over. Briggs would lead until eighth starting Bryce Massingill would execute a high side sweep by Briggs on lap nine securing the lead at the line. Massingill would pace the field the remainder of the distance but good racing was occurring behind him with ninth starting Michael Magic passing Briggs late in the contest to claim second at the finish at 9:06 with Briggs third, Ian Creager fourth and Josh Yenser holding on for fifth.
With rain moving eastward we decided to forgo the last two features and head into the brewing storm where we encountered rain as we approached Brownsburg on I-74 and continued the rest of the way home to Crawfordsville. Somehow Circle City was able to sneak in the last two feature events with Bruce Newlin Jr. winning the 600's and Derek Losh claiming the UMP modified win.
That's it for now but check back on Saturday as we will stay local this weekend in Indiana planning on stops at Gas City on Friday for BOSS sprints and Terre Haute on Saturday for USAC sprints. In the meantime get out there and enjoy some upcoming midweek shows in your area at one of your local tracks. Comments, news and other items of interest can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and hope that you enjoy our perspective on the events that we travel to. And be safe out there in your travels.