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SANTOS RECLAIMS THRONE AT LOR'S "RICH VOGLER/USAC HALL OF FAME CLASSIC"

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Brownsburg, Indiana.....July 20, 2017 - From 2006 through the early part of the 2010s, Lucas Oil Raceway was Bobby Santos' jam. It was a place that had become special to the Franklin, Massachusetts driver, for it was there that he scored his first career USAC Silver Crown and National Sprint Car victories. Along the way, he tallied enough of them at LOR to place him within the top-five on the track's all-time USAC win list.

Yet, after 2012, the win column at the .686-mile paved oval was void of Santos as the Swanson brothers (Tanner and Kody) began their era of domination, notching wins in seven of the eight Silver Crown races held at the place since Santos' last triumph in 2012.

Thursday night, the Santos era was reborn at LOR as he outdueled Tanner Swanson early in the going, then held the point for the remainder of the 100-lapper despite having to withstand constant heavy pressure from Swanson for the majority of the event to earn his eighth overall victory at LOR, tying him with the event's namesake Rich Vogler on the track's all-time win list after capturing the "Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic."

Ever since he was a child, Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park) was a special place for Santos, even long before he ever first set foot on the property.

"I grew up always hearing about it as a kid in Massachusetts," Santos recalls. "Then, I got the opportunity to come here and race against guys like Dave Steele, J.J. Yeley and Tracy Hines. From the first time I came here 13 years ago, I've always loved this place. It just took to my driving style right away. I won some races here, but since then I've been off. For a couple of those years, I fell out of love with it, but now I'm back in love with it."

The perception of USAC Silver Crown (presented by TRAXXAS) racing is that the 100-lap races are marathons and not sprints. Drivers will settle into a groove until about halfway before making their move. The opening laps of Thursday's race were anything but as pole sitter Tanner Swanson and third-starting Bobby Santos waged war in a wheel-to-wheel, side-by-side fistfight for the first three circuits, each taking their turn at the front: Santos (lap 1), Swanson (lap 2) and Santos once again on the third lap where he would finally secure the spot.

"They're long races and it's important to pace yourself, but at the same time, sometimes you have to make things happen early," Santos explains. "I got by Tanner, then pinned him down on the bottom and made him work harder than I was working those first five laps. As crazy as it sounds, I think that pinning him down on those first five laps made a difference in my car versus his at the end."

Tanner acknowledges the importance of track position, especially at a place like LOR where it may take multiple laps to set up and complete a pass.

"It's tough here because it's so narrow on entry," Tanner details. "You've got spotters, so you know if a guy's going to try do something to you. They can kind of protect their line if they need to, which we all do. When you're racing guys as good as Bobby Santos, my brother Kody and Aaron Pierce, they know where to put their car so it's hard to get around them. If you've got two cars going the same speed, that makes it tough on you."

By the 15th lap, Santos led a four-car breakaway with Tanner Swanson, Kody Swanson and Aaron Pierce in hot pursuit as the frontrunners finally settled in. At that point, and through much of the first half, Santos admits that when he distanced himself from Tanner for a bit, he thought he had it "nice and smooth." However, following a lap 42 restart, the sprint began.

Third-running Kody Swanson lost two spots on the front-straightaway as the green flag waved, dropping him to fifth as Pierce and Jerry Coons, Jr. scooted by for third and fourth, respectively. Meanwhile, Tanner hung right with Santos and was ready to pounce if the opportunity arose.

On lap 58, Tanner took a chance on Santos as they came up to lap Tyler Courtney who was making his pavement Silver Crown debut. Santos, the master craftsman that he is, executed the first of several lapped cars without a flinch, denying Tanner a golden opportunity. Though lapped cars can be disruptive to the leaders at times, often they can prove to be just as beneficial. Either way, they have, and always will be, a part of the deal.

"Lapped cars are tough," Santos plainly states. "Everyone did a good job holding their line. Some of them were on the top and some of them were on the bottom, so we had to go inside and out. I think a handful of us are pretty fast here and you're going to deal with lapped cars. It's part of the race and, sometimes, being the guy out front is actually a disadvantage with lapped cars. I just had to work hard to not allow that to hurt us."

Santos and Tanner remained tied together in this high-speed dance, separated by no more than, at most, two car lengths at any point. Each time, it appeared Santos had won another battleground by overtaking another lapped car. Yet, each time, there was Tanner, mimicking Santos' every move and losing absolutely no ground.

Lap after lap, Tanner was Tom and Santos was Jerry in this game of cat-and-mouse when they were finally able to clear the bulk of lapped traffic with 25 to go, leaving no traffic ahead of them for half a track. The breathing room would quickly subside as the two re-entered rush hour with 15 remaining, but if Tanner was waiting for a mistake by Santos down the stretch, he wasn't seeing it as Santos was picture perfect after both dove under Coons with 11 to go.

Tanner was waiting, watching and thinking where he could make his move. An opportunity appeared to be on the horizon as a four-car group battled two and three-wide a half-straightaway ahead. Tanner knew this was the spot he'd been anxiously waiting for.

"I ended up getting Kody in lapped traffic here in the July race a couple years ago," Tanner remembers. "That's your best chance to make a move. I tried to get up on the horse and run him down before we got to them. It's tough to tell where lapped cars are going which makes it tough to make a play on a guy."

Approaching the gaggle with cautious optimism, that opportunity nearly blew up in front of both Santos and Tanner with eight laps to go as Annie Breidinger, having a solid top-ten run in her series debut, got sideways and tagged the turn three SAFER barrier before continuing on in front of the leaders. That brought out the yellow, thus sending the lapped cars to the tail and presenting a clear track ahead for Santos and Tanner on the green-white-checkered restart.

Though disappointed by the yellow, a chance still existed. After all, during a green-white-checkered run to end May's event, it was Santos who beat Tanner for second.

"I was going to try and make it exciting," Tanner admits. "But we just didn't get that good of a restart. The motor stumbled a little bit and that was all she wrote. You just can't give a guy like Bobby Santos two car-lengths with two laps to go. He knows how to finish off these races."

That, he did. Santos picked up the throttle and, as he did, for 400 consecutive turns, did not turn a wheel wrong and finished off a Hall of Fame-worthy performance on a night honoring the 12 newest inductees to the USAC Hall of Fame, defeating Tanner Swanson, Aaron Pierce, Kody Swanson and Chris Windom to the line for his eighth career Silver Crown victory, moving him into sole possession of 13th on the all-time Silver Crown win list.

It's been a storybook beginning to Santos's season in his DJ Racing/Simpson Race Products/Beast/VDS Chevy, following a win at Phoenix in April, a second at LOR in May and now another victory at LOR heading into next Friday's Hemelgarn Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic at Ohio's Toledo Speedway.

Speaking of fitness, that is something that Santos took to heart in the offseason as he aimed to get back on top of his game.

"I never thought it was important when I was young," the 31-year-old Santos admits. "But the last couple years, it's come into play for me. This year is the best I've felt in a long time. As you get older, you've got to do it. I just learned that the hard way the last couple years."

Just as important, though, is the dedication he and the DJ Racing crew had on getting their racecar better. It's a racecar that Santos admits was a solid car the last couple years, but not a winning racecar until this year.

"We were disappointed with the way we've ran the last couple years," Santos said point blank. "We were good, but we were a third to fifth-place car. Winning races is what it's all about. It keeps making you work harder when you win. But when you're on a losing streak, it gets depressing and it's hard to get out of. This winter, we really went to work on getting our engine better, our car better and myself better. To this point, it's paying off."

Of course, continuously working on the car to get it more competitive is the ultimate goal of all who race, but when you have to deal with the likes of Kody and Tanner Swanson each time you compete, you are going to have your work cut out for you. It's something Santos realizes is not an easy task.

"We had to work our butt off for the last 70-plus laps," Santos stated. "Kody and Tanner are awesome. It's an honor to be able to beat those guys. They're two of the best and to beat them it means a lot. The last race here in May, we learned something and we finally got on the same page as those two guys. It feels great to retake the throne after this one, but I'm sure they'll be back strong the next time."

Kingsburg, California's Tanner Swanson's plans for this year called for competing in only three Silver Crown events and, the majority of the time, he makes the most of each opportunity as evidenced by a third and second in his two LOR runs this season. Tanner feels he didn't leave much on the table in his final event of 2017, but thinks he could've been more aggressive at certain times, in hindsight, in his Bowman Racing/Brickers Pub - Bowman Properties/Beast/Kistler Chevy.

"Santos had the car to beat all night," Tanner credits. "There at the beginning, I kind of played with him and didn't want to wear myself out. I probably should've been a little more aggressive and tried to get the lead there and set my own pace. He was moving at the start and when we got to about lap 50 or 60, I realized I was going to have to pressure him if I was going to do anything. We ran him down, but couldn't do much once we got there. I think last year we would've been able to lap the field like that. Everybody else has gotten their stuff figured out. We're just going to have to step up our game a little bit more."

Back in May's "Carb Night Classic," Muncie, Indiana's Aaron Pierce was a lapped car. This time around, he was a contender from the moment he first hit the track, finishing third in his Sam Pierce/Sam Pierce Chevrolet - G & G Racing Fuel/Beast/Chevy.

"We've been coming here for the last few years," Pierce begins. "We've qualified fifth and we've run fifth. We had fast time a couple years ago and had a good car that night, but we just couldn't get our car to race well. I think we learned a little bit tonight. In May, they lapped us, so at least we're on the same straightaway with them now. Maybe if we can pick it up, learn a little more from them and use what we learned, we can be up here again next time. I kick myself a lot of times for not running hard enough at the beginning. I told myself tonight that I wasn't going to take it easy at the beginning. I was going to try to run as fast as I could run the whole race."

Contingency award winners Thursday night at Lucas Oil Raceway include Tanner Swanson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Annie Breidinger (KSE Hard Charger) and Joss Moffatt (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES (presented by TRAXXAS) RACE RESULTS: July 20, 2017 - Brownsburg, Indiana - Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis - "Rich Vogler USAC Hall of Fame Classic"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Tanner Swanson, 02, Bowman-21.038; 2. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-21.045; 3. Bobby Santos, 22, DJ Racing-21.085; 4. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-21.319; 5. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn/Carli-21.386; 6. Ryan Newman, 2v, Vance-21.498; 7. Jerry Coons, Jr., 20, Nolen-21.555; 8. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-21.616; 9. Damion Gardner, 6, Klatt-21.618; 10. Chris Windom, 92, Kazmark-21.764; 11. Joe Axsom, 120, Nolen-21.915; 12. Davey Hamilton Jr., 98, RPM/Gormly-22.127; 13. Kevin Studley, 57, Studley-22.209; 14. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-22.728; 15. Bill Rose, 75, Rose-22.751; 16. Joe Liguori, 4, Liguori-22.891; 17. Tyler Courtney, 99, RPM/Gormly-23.145; 18. Joss Moffatt, 32, Williams/Wright-23.236; 19. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-23.420; 20. Annie Briedinger, 80, Briedinger-24.053; 21. Shane Cottle, 81, Williams-NT.

FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Bobby Santos, 2. Tanner Swanson, 3. Aaron Pierce, 4. Kody Swanson, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Jerry Coons, Jr., 8. David Byrne, 9. Davey Hamilton, Jr., 10. Annie Briedinger, 11. Kevin Studley, 12. Tyler Courtney, 13. Joss Moffatt, 14. Matt Goodnight, 15. Patrick Lawson, 16. Joe Liguori, 17. Joe Axsom, 18. Ryan Newman, 19. Bill Rose, 20. Damion Gardner, 21. Shane Cottle. NT
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Santos, Lap 2 T.Swanson, Laps 3-100 Santos.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Annie Briedinger (18th to 10th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Joss Moffatt

NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES (presented by TRAXXAS) POINTS: 1-K.Swanson-341, 2-Windom-290, 3-Coons-278, 4-Byrne-237, 5-Santos-213, 6-Pierce-197, 7-Grant-192, 8-Gardner-184, 9-T.Swanson-167, 10-Liguori-154.

NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR RACE (presented by TRAXXAS): July 28 - Toledo (Ohio) Speedway - Hemelgarn Racing Super Fitness "Rollie Beale Classic"

Categories : News, USAC Silver Crown
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The United States Auto Club.

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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

Ryan Newman's USAC Silver Crown Johnny Vance Racing ride for this Thursday night's Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana.



RYAN NEWMAN TO PAY TRIBUTE TO FALLEN RACING HEROES IN THURSDAY'S VOGLER/HALL OF FAME CLASSIC

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Johnny Vance's stealth black Beast with its golden yellow lettering and shimmering cherry red wheels was one of those cars that always caught your attention, even as it sat still in the pit area.

Though it had been four years since the Aristocrat Products USAC Silver Crown car had competed in an event, there was always that suspicion that the Dayton, Ohio-based beauty out of Dayton, Ohio would roll out of the trailer and make its return to an event somewhere along the line.

After Vance's passing in June of this year, those hopes seemed to be dashed as the realization came that one of the great USAC car owners of our time would no longer be in the trenches of competition after three-plus decades, three National car owner titles and 52 National wins.

But, alas, the roar of the engine under the hood of the No. 2 would no longer remain silent as arrangements were made to have 2008 Daytona 500 winner and 1999 USAC Silver Crown champ Ryan Newman take the wheel of Johnny's car once again for one more ride in this Thursday night's "Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic" at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana.

The car was fired up for the first time this past Monday at Mike Bowman's shop. The car was put together as the crew went through everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure everything would be a go. Once the letters "NEWMAN" were adorned across the visor, the ride was officially Newman's, a ride that is especially important in light of recent events.

"Johnny's stepson (Jonathan Hadaya) and Johnny's widow (Fadia) gave me permission to take the car over to Bowman's shop to get it ready for the race," Newman explains. "To me, this is about paying tribute at the Rich Vogler Classic. That makes it very special for me to be able to jump in this car."

The abundance of tributes to our recently fallen racing heroes are linked between Vance's car and the namesake of the race, Rich Vogler. Newman was the recipient of the Rich Vogler Memorial Scholarship, which he used to pursue an engineering degree at Purdue University. Vogler was Vance's first driver in 1981 after purchasing the equipment from the late Don Seibert. The driver who had the ride in Vance's sprinter immediately prior to Newman was Dave Steele, who lost his life this past March in a racing crash at DeSoto Speedway in Bradenton, Florida. In addition, the last driver to turn a lap at speed in Vance's Silver Crown car prior to Monday was Bryan Clauson during a test at Lucas Oil Raceway a few years back. Clauson lost his life in an accident at the "Belleville (Kans.) Midget Nationals" last August.

The significance of the track is not lost on Newman either. The .686-mile paved oval is where Vance won his final USAC race as a car owner, with Tracy Hines, in July of 2010. Yet, it's also the venue that hosted both Newman's first career USAC National Midget victory in 1997 as well as his initial Silver Crown triumph in 1999, both of which were televised on ESPN's "Saturday Night Thunder" program. It was an era and a showcase that Newman believes served as a launching pad for an opportunity in NASCAR.

"Oh, it's huge," Newman acknowledges. "There's a lot of people who, due to the (ESPN Thunder) TV shows, became famous in the open wheel world because of IRP. The quality and quantity of good racecars and racecar drivers that competed on that racetrack, made it the place to race and the place to win."

Fittingly, Lucas Oil Raceway (Indianapolis Raceway Park as it was known at the time) was the location of Newman's first USAC Sprint Car start for Vance in August of 1999, a second-place finish behind Vance's former driver, Dave Steele. But it was an auspicious beginning for Newman and Vance that included a productive, but brief tryout at the famed, lightning-fast high banks of eastern Indiana's Winchester Speedway, where Newman earned the ride.

"(Vance) auditioned me at Winchester Speedway," Newman recalls. "We met at the racetrack and he had Kenny Irwin, Jr. drive it first. It was just Johnny, Kenny and myself. We had problems with the car all afternoon; it was sputtering, missing and misfiring. We changed the mag, changed the fuel pump and changed a bunch of stuff before we realized we had a bad sparkplug. After changing out the sparkplugs, I finally got on the track where I ran about three laps before I came back onto pit lane. Johnny said, 'That's it. Load it up.' I said, 'What's the matter?' He said, 'That's all I needed to see!' It was pretty cool to have Kenny there. Kenny was Johnny's other son, his racing son, I guess you could say. For me, personally, to go to a place like Winchester and have Kenny there who had run so well for Johnny, it was really special."

Four days later, that three-lap Winchester test would work wonders as Newman drove to his first career USAC National Sprint win at the half-mile. The following May, Newman would win his second at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, which would prove to be both Newman and Vance's final USAC National Sprint Car wins.

The list of drivers who've won in Vance's equipment are some of the who's who of open-wheel short track racing: Vogler, Steve Kinser, Jack Hewitt, Jac Haudenschild, Joe Saldana, Gene Lee Gibson, Steve Butler, Jim Mahoney, Irwin, Steele, Tony Elliott and Tracy Hines. Ryan Newman is appreciative of the opportunity he had to race with an individual like Vance who was so entrenched in the sport in a variety of avenues.

"To drive one of his Sprint Cars and Silver Crown cars was an honor," Newman praised Vance. "After I won the (Silver Crown) championship in 1999, he gave me an opportunity to defend it. He had an amazing career long before I drove his racecars. From what he did as a car owner and as a steward for USAC, he had seen it all and done it all. He sponsored cars, he owned cars and he knew what it took to win by always having a good driver and a good wrench."

The summer Silver Crown race prior to Brickyard 400 weekend has become an annual tradition for Newman that allows him an opportunity to return to his roots and race with and against people he considers family.
"Silver Crown cars are fun to drive and it's nice to go back and see people I consider family," Newman said. "It's just some of the faces are getting older like mine," Newman said with a laugh. "My whole family will be there - my mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law. I've never been to a high school reunion, but I imagine this is way cooler than that."

The 39-year-old South Bend, Indiana native has become one of the most successful drivers to transition from USAC to stock cars during his 16-year career as a full-time competitor in NASCAR's premier series that includes 18 wins, 51 poles and a 2nd place points finish in 2014. Yet, he still harkens back to his years in the USAC Silver Crown Series that taught him the trade on not only how to compete, but to win, in longer races.

"The 100-lappers prepared me well," Newman stated. "With a Silver Crown car, there's a balance of running hard and managing your tires. You never knew what was going to happen with cautions throughout the race either. I remember running 100 laps straight at Pikes Peak one year. You never quite knew what you're going to have to fight. In the end, you had to manage your tires because you had to manage the fuel load. Carrying 60-70 gallons was a different feel. It was unique and it wasn't what you did in a midget or sprint car. That definitely translates to the stock cars. Overall, I think the best drivers in the world come from open wheel racing because they know they can't just plow through the guy in front of them. You have exposed tires and you're going to end up tipping yourself over. There's a sense of skill and finesse that goes into an open wheel driver's mind that he can carry with him to make him one notch better than the guy who's raced with fenders his entire life."

Pits open for Thursday night's event at 2pm with grandstands set to open at 4pm. Practice for the Silver Crown cars begins at 5:30pm with ProSource Qualifying set for 6:30pm. The 6th Annual USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremony is slated for 8pm while engines for the 100-lap main event are scheduled to fire off at 8:45pm.

Adult general admission tickets are $25 while children 11 and under can get in for just $10.

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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

Robert Ballou (Left) won the Indiana Sprint Week finale at Lincoln Park Speedway while Kevin Thomas, Jr. (right) captured his first ISW title. (David Nearpass Photos)



BALLOU BAGS PUTNAMVILLE FINALE; THOMAS TAKES INDIANA SPRINT WEEK TITLE

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Putnamville, Indiana.....July 16, 2017 - Separated by just 23 points entering Sunday night's Indiana Sprint Week presented by Camping World feature at Lincoln Park Speedway, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Robert Ballou each knew what was on the line.

Win the race and the points will take care of themselves is the motto you'll often hear, but as the race wore on, the two ISW title contenders would find themselves on two separate paths: Ballou with a stranglehold up front and Thomas attempting to overcome a tumultuous beginning that, at one point, had him teetering on the edge of squandering the title.

Ballou maintained his presence at the front for all but the first lap to score his second USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship victory of the season while Thomas, having to finish eighth or better, thrived in the final eight-lap stretch to finish a hard-fought fifth to win the ISW points title, a feat he came so close to accomplishing in 2013 when he led the standings entering the final race of the series before seeing it slip away, something he wasn't going to let happen this time around despite a turbulent road to get there.

"Right before the feature, I knew it was 23 points going in," Thomas said. "It does put a little pressure on you, but I normally like pressure. You don't want to think about points, but at the end of the day, no matter who you are, it's in the back of your head when it's Indiana Sprint Week. This is such a historical week. Everybody wants to win it."

Thomas did what he needed to do early in the night, gaining a coveted six-point bonus for recording ProSource/B & W Auto Mart Fast Qualifying time, which put him on the outside of row three for the 30-lap feature with the six-car invert. On the other hand, that set up his nearest combatant, Robert Ballou, on the pole position, though he wouldn't escape to the point without a fight. On the opening lap, Ballou stuck to the bottom while Chad Boesplfug ripped around the top off turn two to grab the lead momentarily. Ballou fought back on the bottom, hopping his way off the fourth turn and pulling the wheels off the ground, just missing the lead by a small margin as the two crossed the stripe. Ballou stayed true to the bottom on lap two, but this time, much, much smoother as he gunned it off four to blast by Boespflug for the lead.

"We set up to run the curb," Ballou said. "But when I stuck the bottom at the start, it seemed pretty good down there. Chad got around me right away and for some reason, I was able to stick the entry really well which is something I couldn't do all week. I think if we had this setup at Gas City, we would've been a hell of a lot better."

A little further back, things weren't going as pristine for Thomas. On lap nine, Thomas stumbled on the turn two curb, dropping him from sixth to eighth, the furthest back he could run with Ballou leading in order to maintain his slim point lead, which stood at two with a third of the race completed. Thomas was fully aware of the situation as the pressure mounted and the laps clicked away.

"It does put a little pressure on you," Thomas admits. "I normally like pressure, but right there at the start, I got a good jump and I kind of got shuffled around. From there, I just made some bad driving mistakes. I jumped the cushion a few times, then I got flustered. I got a run on Kyle Cummins, jumped his right rear going down the backstretch and almost turned it over. I made a lot of dumb mistakes, to be honest. I knocked my floor pan off and the gas pedal wouldn't even go all the way down. It was touching the brake; I couldn't even use the brakes!"

By the halfway point, last year's Lincoln Park ISW feature winner Brady Short put on a patented charge to the front as he moved into second from his tenth starting spot and began applying pressure to Ballou for the race lead just prior to a yellow for Josh Hodges with ten to go. Thomas remained mired in seventh with a five-point buffer as the caution briefly silenced the beehive of competitors that surrounded him.

On the lap 21 restart, Ballou darted away from Short while Thomas picked up a much-needed spot as he raced into sixth past C.J. Leary. Two laps later, Leary's successful ISW that included a pair of wins, ended with a tumble in the rough in turn three to end his night. The Greenfield, Indiana driver walked away from the incident. Bernal was also involved, but would restart from the tail, practically eliminating multiple contenders who were in the midst of a battle in the trenches with Thomas for positions sixth, seventh and eighth.

But a late red flag period can, at times, make a profound impact on the race whether it knocks a driver off his rhythm or, conversely, allows them to exhale and regroup. Perhaps, it allows teams to make adjustments on the car that can go one of two ways. This time around, it brought about different initial reactions between Ballou and Thomas.

"I was worried to be honest with you," Ballou admits. "We had issues where my tires would get too low. They build up a bunch of heat and, when they cool off, they lose a pound or two. When the bleeder bleeds off to a certain poundage, they cool off and lose more air and its harder for them to build back up when they get too low. I was trying to spin them as much as I could, but nothing helps really. It's tough."

On the other hand, the red flag was a welcome sight through the eyes of Thomas.

"Normally I don't like stoppages like that. This time I did," Thomas explains. "I made a few shock adjustments because I was pretty tight out there for where I was having to run. I just really wasn't running a great enough race to be able to run the cushion the way I'd normally want to. I had to make a few adjustments to be able to rotate on the bottom and to not get myself tight. I knew I had to go get going and I knew I had to do something. I just had to keep myself calm and get back to doing what I wanted to do and pass some race cars. Sometimes you like to see the red, sometimes you don't. This time, I did. I had time to gather my thoughts and had to make a few decisions."

As the green fell for the restart with eight laps to go, Ballou was unsure of what to expect in regards to how his car would react.

"I was biting my tongue when I headed into turn one on the restart," Ballou details. "You aren't sure if you're going to tip over, if it's going to toss the nose or what's going to happen. It's a guessing game and I hoped I entered the corner just right. It was tricky, but that's what makes racing racing."

It worked out for Ballou as he was able to distance himself from Short who wound up losing his spot on the restart to Tyler Courtney, who slalomed through turn two to the runner-up spot on the bottom. Yet, he remained a second behind Ballou as the laps waned until a yellow with three to go for the turned around car of Tyler Thomas put a halt to the action. Kevin Thomas, Jr., meanwhile, had found a happy place and resided comfortably in fifth as he settled into a groove after a hectic beginning.

Ballou had yet another solid restart on lap 28, keeping Courtney and Boespflug at bay as those two tussled for the runner-up spot a second behind as he finished off the final three laps handily in his Robert Ballou Motorsports/Deaton's Waterfront Services - Lucas Oil/Twister-X/Ott ahead of Courtney, Boespflug, Short and Kevin Thomas, Jr., who stamped his name in the record books as the champ of the 30th edition of Indiana Sprint Week.

Thomas earned a custom-cut Bridgeport Rocker courtesy of John Youngs and a $5000 dollar award amongst his prizes for the title run that concluded with what he calls "the ugliest fifth-place of (his) racing career." Yet, they don't award points for style in this form of racing. Just results. That result was good enough for an 11-point victory in the most rigorous stretch of the USAC National Sprint Car season.

"It's just a relief to be able to win this thing," Thomas exhaled. It's a lot of hard work not only from myself and my family, but the guys back at the shop. Both of them have day jobs and they are as hard-working and passionate about the team as hard as anybody I've ever seen. Like Saturday night at Haubstadt, we ran second and I think they were as mad, if not madder, than I was. That's what I like to see. It's an intense week and you have to be intense about it."

Over a seven-race stretch, one position here and one position there can make all the difference in a title run. With qualifying, heat races and even the semi-feature offering points toward the final tally, each and every time a driver hits the track, it means something. It's something Thomas took advantage of this time around.

Sunday night's Indiana Sprint Week (presented by Camping World)
feature winner Robert Ballou of Rocklin, California.(Gene Crucean Photo)

"You can't let one little point or one position get away from you because it can be a matter of one, two or three spots in the end," Thomas points out. "Robert and I have raced together for a long time. He's a past Indiana Sprint Week champion and, to be able to do what we did and beat those guys, it's truly remarkable."

It was the Indiana Sprint Week round at Lincoln Park in 2014 where Ballou turned the corner to his string of modern-day success that we have become accustomed to. Yet, the Rocklin, California native and 2015 USAC National Sprint Car champion admits he still struggles here despite the success that also includes a July victory in 2016.

"I struggle here," Ballou acknowledges. "I like my racecar to be tight and you can't have a tight racecar here. I came from winged sprint cars originally. I still like to be straight and fast. That's why I go so well on the big joints. This is one of the first tracks I was able to figure out and was able to run well at consistently. You have to be careful on the curb and you have to tiptoe around the bottom."

Ballou's Indiana Sprint Week certainly had its bright spots with a runner-up result at Gas City and concluded with his first USAC win in over two months in the ISW finale. But, Ballou admits it's still a struggle at times as he and the team attempt to return to the consistency that had become so commonplace over the last three years.

"We changed everything," Ballou said. "We were changing a gear when they blew the eight-minute horn. We never give up. We tried to throw the kitchen sink at it. We're just trying to get our program back together. We've just been a tick off every single night. We're close, but we just got to keep putting one foot in font of the other and we'll get there."

Contingency award winners Sunday night at Lincoln Park Speedway include Kevin Thomas, Jr. (ProSource/B & W Auto Mart Fast Qualifier), Chris Windom (Simpson Race Products 1st Heat Winner), Josh Hodges (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Heat Winner), Robert Ballou (Chalk Stix 3rd Heat Winner), Chase Stockon (Indy Race Parts Semi-Feature Winner), Josh Hodges (KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Ryan Bernal (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: July 16, 2017 - Putnamville, Indiana - Lincoln Park Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" - Presented by Camping World

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KT-12.594; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-12.628; 3. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-12.638; 4. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-12.643; 5. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-12.662; 6. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-12.675; 7. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-12.774; 8. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-12.790; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-12.814; 10. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-12.849; 11. Ryan Bernal, 17GP, Dutcher-12.886; 12. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-12.909; 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 21K, Krockenberger-12.928; 14. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-12.966; 15. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-12.995; 16. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.013; 17. Dave Darland, 17x, Dutcher-13.065; 18. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-13.081; 19. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-13.106; 20. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.163; 21. Brent Beauchamp, 34, Olson-13.181; 22. Jon Stanbrough, 77, Wingo-13.220; 23. Nate McMillin, 24m, McMillin-13.372; 24. Joe B. Miller, 51B, Miller-13.545; 25. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Windom, 2. B.Short, 3. Coons, 4. Boespflug, 5. K.Thomas Jr., 6. T.Thomas, 7. Cummins, 8. Stanbrough. 2:10.33

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hodges, 2. Darland (#17x), 3. Bernal, 4. Courtney, 5. Andretti, 6. Stockon, 7. Grant, 8. McMillin. 2:11.08

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Leary, 3. Meseraull, 4. Beauchamp, 5. Farney, 6. Swanson, 7. Robbins, 8. Miller. NT

INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Cummins, 3. Swanson, 4. Grant, 5. T.Thomas, 6. Stanbrough, 7. McMillin, 8. Robbins, 9. Miller. 2:45.90

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Chad Boespflug, 4. Brady Short, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Justin Grant, 7. Josh Hodges, 8. Aaron Farney, 9. Chris Windom, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Thomas Meseraull, 12. Chase Stockon, 13. Ryan Bernal, 14. Jerry Coons Jr., 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Tyler Thomas, 17. Kody Swanson, 18. Nate McMillin, 19. Kyle Cummins, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Jon Stanbrough, 22. Brent Beauchamp. NT
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**Leary flipped on lap 23 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Boespflug, Laps 2-30 Ballou.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Josh Hodges (14th-7th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Ryan Bernal

NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Grant-1,360, 2-Windom-1,337, 3-Boespflug-1,233, 4-K.Thomas Jr.-1,199, 5-Courtney-1,168, 6-Stockon-1,159, 7-Leary-1,018, 8-Darland-938, 9-Meseraull-932, 10-Brady Bacon-913.

FINAL INDIANA SPRINT WEEK Presented by Camping World POINTS: 1-K.Thomas Jr.-416, 2-Ballou-405, 3-Courtney-362, 4-Meseraull-358, 5-Windom-344, 6-Leary-332, 7-Boespflug-331, 8-Darland-315, 9-B.Short-293, 10-Grant-289.

NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: July 29 - Kansas City, Kansas - Lakeside Speedway

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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CUMMINS' LAST LAP, LAST CORNER MOVE NETS SPECTACULAR HAUBSTADT ISW VICTORY

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Haubstadt, Indiana....July 15, 2017 - As soon as the yellow light switched on for the final caution period of the evening, Kyle Cummins devised a plan.

It was a plan born out of necessity that Cummins felt served as his best bet to compete for a victory in the closing laps of Saturday night's penultimate Indiana Sprint Week presented by Camping World round at Tri-State Speedway.

Kevin Thomas, Jr. seemingly had the event stowed away for safe-keeping after leading the first 27 circuits of the 30-lap event, but a double-dose of yellow flags in the final laps would turn the tide for Cummins of nearby Princeton, Indiana.

Following a yellow for a Donny Brackett spin between turns three and four with three to go, Cummins hatched his plan after deciphering that he had no way of passing Thomas had he maintained his line on the bottom. This time around, Cummins had full intentions of executing his plan of attack, but decided at the last instant to abort the mission.

"I knew on that one yellow (on lap 28), I was going to the top," Cummins remembered. "I looked up there and thought the bottom looked so much better. As soon as we took the green, I went in there on the bottom and I felt like it was already too late."

Cummins would soon receive a reprieve when tenth-running Dave Darland's car went up in smoke as Thomas rounded turns three and four and was seemingly headed home to take the checkered. The plan was renewed and Cummins wasn't going to let this second chance slip away.

"As soon as it went yellow, I knew 100 percent what I was going to do," Cummins exclaimed. "It was so much better up top. The bottom was good, but once everyone was running it, it started getting slick and you really had to chock it up getting in. We got the car to where, once I loosened it up a little bit to be able to get in a little harder on the top, that thing came around there and man, was it good!"

After serving as Thomas' shadow throughout the entire duration of the event prior to the final caution, Cummins decided the lower portion of the track was not among the options if a win was in the cards. On the green-white-checkered restart, Cummins went topside while Thomas remained tried-and-true to the bottom.

Cummins' first shot was fired when he diamonded off of turn two and used a huge run to dive to the bottom of turn three on the white flag lap. Thomas anticipated Cummins' presence and snubbed him from the lead, diving to the bottom simultaneously with Cummins to protect his spot for the time being.

On the final lap, Cummins came off turn two like a Concorde on takeoff, staying to the outside of Thomas rather than diving to the inside this time around. Thomas slid up the track from the entrance of turn three to the exit of four, allowing Cummins to counterpunch underneath. Lines changed, wheels banged, a smoke signal lifting into the sky off Cummins' right rear rubber in a drag race off four to the finish line where Cummins swiftly prevailed for a spectacular single car-length victory in his Rock Steady Racing/ProGlide Bearings/Mach-1/Cummins for his third career USAC National Sprint Car victory and his second ISW win in as many seasons.

"As soon as it went yellow, I'm like, 'okay this is perfect,'" Cummins explained. "I was too tight to run the top, but I decided I was going to run the top and forget about the bottom, so I adjusted my shocks to only run the top. On lap 29, I found out it was way faster to run the top. However, he was up in the way, so I tried to dive him and I had to let off going into three or we would've collided. That set me up for the next lap. I went up to the top and he didn't come out as far, allowing me to get around him on the outside. Going into (turn) three, I had my mind set to run all the way around the top. When I saw him, I figured we were going to run into each other coming out of four, so I tried to diamond her down. He got on her and got a little tight. It let me get down, get the power to the ground and get to the checkered flag first."

Cullman, Alabama's Thomas led the first 29 and three-quarters of a lap before surrendering the position to Cummins, but wasn't able to finish off the one that paid the most in his KT Motorsports/Abreu Vineyards - KT Construction Services/DRC/Speedway Chevy.

"On the last restart, I saw Kyle peek underneath me," Thomas recalls. "He's always good here and he's going to find a way that's faster. That's exactly what he did. He waited until the last lap, got a good run off (turns) one and two to pull alongside me going down the backstretch. I probably dove into turn three a little too hard. I didn't necessarily miss my marks, but I maybe could've slowed down a bit more to make my corner a little shorter and not load the right rear so much to where it lifted the front wheels off the ground. That's just the way it goes sometimes. When you give a driver like Kyle that many opportunities, he's going to find the sweet spot and he did."

Although the spectacular highlight-reel, last corner, last lap pass for the win is certainly the moment of the night everyone will remember, the most crucial pass of the night may very well have occurred in the second heat when sixth-quickest qualifier Cummins snagged the fourth and final transfer spot from Critter Malone in the second heat race. Without that pass, Cummins would've been relegated to a feature starting spot outside of the fourth row instead of the outside front row position he would begin from due to the inversion of the fastest six qualifiers to transfer through each of the heat races.

"Track position is crucial, especially when it goes green for a long stretch like that," Cummins said. "We would've been starting a few rows back. We might've gotten there, but without having a yellow, most likely, we wouldn't have been able to catch him. There might've been lapped cars between us too at some point, so that was really important to get that spot."

Despite becoming the most synonymous name in sprint car racing at Tri-State Speedway over the past several years due to his mounting success, surprisingly, he and the team found the early-going to be a struggle to even be able to contend for a transfer spot.

"This thing was like driving a modified," Cummins remembers. "I couldn't get her turned. It was pushing and I was doing all I could do to get into fourth there. On the white flag, I really didn't think I was going to get him. I went in there and it looked like he got tight, just like I did. It's Sprint Week, so I had to drift up. The difference between starting on the front row and starting seventh is a big deal. That was probably the biggest move to put us in position to win.

Following a top-five run at Kokomo on the opening night of Indiana Sprint Week last Saturday, Cummins has had a tumultuous time obtaining the results they expected with finishes of 21st at Lawrenceburg, 18th at Gas City and a DNQ the previous night at Bloomington serving as the lead-in to his epic Haubstadt performance Saturday night, where he feels right at home.

"It seems like even when we're not all that good, we've still got a chance here," Cummins said. "I've raced here enough to where I can manipulate the car or, at least, get it to be competitive. This is my motor. It doesn't run nearly as hot. I knew I could run the whole race and be on the gas hard and not have to worry about it overheating. At Kokomo, we were good, but we had a little problem right before the feature and made a little mistake. At Lawrenceburg, we just had a rough go of it and got into the wall. We didn't know at the time that it bent the rear end. At Gas City, we weren't that good. In Terre haute hot laps, I was terrible. At Bloomington, we were awful. After last night, we all looked at each other and threw everything we had at it. It just wasn't working. We pulled the rear-end out today and it was bent pretty good. We put a new rear-end on and it brought the car back to life. I wish we would've found out about it earlier and it might've turned out to have been a lot better week for us overall."

The sight of Kyle Cummins and Hank Byram's Rock Steady No. 3R hasn't been as prevalent this year as much as it had been during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, only making a smattering of series start in 2017 due to mechanical issues. Cummins was set on running his own No. 3c when time allowed, but an 11th hour agreement between Cummins and Byram pit the dynamic duo back together for ISW and their victory at Haubstadt.

"(Car owner) Hank (Byram) only has his one motor," Cummins explained. "It got hot here in the spring race. The heads were so old, they were giving up. He had to take a break and he actually still hasn't gotten his motor back. I was jumping back and forth between Rick Pollock's car and my own car. I knew I was going to get my motor, so I figured if I was going to get my own motor, I was going to run my own car. We ran down here and won the first night. I was going to run Sprint Week, but I didn't have the equipment, didn't have the time and didn't have any spares. I just had the car I had. Hank offered me a deal where I'd put my motor in his car and we'd make it a bit easier on both of us. I felt comfortable in the car and I knew we'd be pretty good, so we decided to get back together."

"I don't know how much more we'll run," Cummins added. "It depends when he gets his motor back. We haven't raced much, once a month it seems, which makes it tough coming off a year like we had last year. I felt at the beginning of the year that we were battling issues here and there. Now we're throwing different motors in and changing stuff around. This car had to be clipped and redone. We finally got this car running pretty good and ready to finish out the season."

Meanwhile, with his second-place run, Thomas extended his Indiana Sprint Week point lead to 21 heading into the final series event Sunday, July 16 at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. Though Thomas gained a little bit of breathing room with the uptick in the point differential between he and Robert Ballou, it's certainly not enough for him to breathe easily and

"You just have to be aggressive," Thomas mandates. "You can't points race in this deal because, at the end of the day, you'll get beat. It's just like what happened tonight. I raced defensively instead of offensively and I got beat. That's just something you can't do in racing. Some people are capable of point racing, but I'm not. Sunday at Putnamville, we're going to be aggressive and be the fastest in everything we're in tomorrow. Hopefully it works out. If it does, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

Meanwhile, just behind the leaders, a battle for the third-spot was nearly as furious with Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney nabbing the spot from new USAC National Sprint Car point leader Justin Grant on the final lap in his TOPP Motorsports/TOPP Performance Race Parts - Custom Pump & Controls/Maxim/Claxton.

"We were really good at about the halfway point," Courtney said. "We got to fourth and that put us in position to run down Justin at the end. I just wasn't able to clear him in traffic. Luckily, we got a yellow toward the end and I was able to run it as hard as I could on the top those last couple of laps, then get him there coming to the checkered. We ran second down here at the end of last year, but we kind of struggled in the spring. To run third at a track we're notoriously bad at is like a win for us."

Contingency award winners Saturday at Tri-State Speedway include Justin Grant (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products 1st Heat Winner), Josh Hodges (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Heat Winner), Jarett Andretti (Chalk Stix 3rd Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Indy Race Parts 4th Heat Winner), Carson Short (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Brady Short (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 15, 2017 - Haubstadt, Indiana - Tri-State Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" Presented by Camping World

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.362; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-13.474; 3. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.562; 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KT-13.712; 5. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.771; 6. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.788; 7. Ryan Bernal, 17GP, Dutcher-13.791; 8. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-13.838; 9. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.859; 10. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-13.860; 11. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-13.891; 12. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.898; 13. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-13.918; 14. Critter Malone, 7, Seven-13.945; 15. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.008; 16. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.021; 17. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.036; 18. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-14.049; 19. Garrett Aitken, 32A, Aitken-14.051; 20. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.075; 21. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.084; 22. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-14.102; 23. Brian Karraker, 23, Karraker-14.128; 24. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-14.138; 25. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-14.138; 26. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.351; 27. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-14.369; 28. Koby Barksdale, 22, Barksdale-14.409; 29. Stephen Schnapf, 61m, Edwards-14.417; 30. Donny Brackett, 4B, Brackett-14.421; 31. Brian Wallace, 27, Wallace-14.491; 32. Tyler Clem, 14c, Clem/TSR-14.518; 33. Katlynn Leer, 77K, Leer-15.030; 34. Alec Sipes, 99, Sipes-16.000; 35. Ted Hines, 12x, Hines-16.143.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Grant, 2. C. Short, 3. Roa, 4. Courtney, 5. Darland, 6. T. Thomas, 7. Schnapf, 8. Schmidt, 9. Leer. 2:16.90

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hodges, 2. B. Short, 3. Meseraull, 4. Cummins, 5. Malone, 6. Stanbrough, 7. Mattox, 8. Brackett, 9. Sipes. 2:16.72

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Andretti, 2. Ballou, 3. Boespflug, 4. Bernal, 5. Karraker, 6. Farney, 7. Aitken, 8. Wallace, 9. Hines. 2:17.29

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. K. Thomas, 2. Stockon, 3. Windom, 4. Jackson, 5. Leary, 6. Gentry, 7. Barksdale, 8. Clem. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Brackett, 4. Leary, 5. Karraker, 6. Schnapf, 7. T. Thomas, 8. Wallace, 9. Farney, 10. Clem, 11. Aitken, 12. Schmidt, 13. Gentry, 14. Mattox, 15. Malone, 16. Hines, 17. Barksdale, 18. Sipes. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Robert Ballou, 7. Jarett Andretti, 8. Chad Boespflug, 9. Ryan Bernal, 10. Carson Short, 11. Chris Windom, 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Brady Short, 14. Brody Roa, 15. Chase Stockon, 16. Jon Stanbrough, 17. Brian Karraker, 18. Josh Hodges, 19. Aaron Farney, 20. Donny Brackett, 21. Dave Darland, 22. Dakota Jackson, 23. Stephen Schnapf. NT
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**Clem flipped during heat 4.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-29 K. Thomas, Lap 30 Cummins.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Carson Short (16th to 10th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Brady Short

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-1304, 2-Windom-1283, 3-Boespflug-1161, 4-K. Thomas-1131, 5-Stockon-1111, 6-Courtney-1094, 7-Leary-984, 8-Brady Bacon-913, 9-Darland-888, 10-Meseraull-885.

NEW INDIANA SPRINT WEEK Presented by Camping World POINTS: 1-K. Thomas-348, 2-Ballou-327, 3-Meseraull-311, 4-Leary-298, 5-Windom-290, 6-Courtney-288, 7-Darland-265, 8-Boespflug-259, 9-Grant-233, 10-B. Short-225.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 16 - Putnamville, IN - Lincoln Park Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" - Presented by Camping World

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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THOMAS LEAVES NO DOUBT IN BLOOMINGTON "SHELDON KINSER MEMORIAL" SCORE

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Bloomington, Indiana.....July 14, 2017 - Indiana Sprint Week at Bloomington Speedway is pretty much where it began for Kevin Thomas, Jr. five years ago.

Fourteen USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car wins and five Indiana Sprint Week victories later, the Cullman, Alabama native finally made a return visit to Bloomington victory lane, leading the final 28 laps of Friday night's 29th Annual "Sheldon Kinser Memorial" to score his second series victory of the year and vaulting him into the ISW presented by Camping World point lead with two events remaining.

With a full decade under his belt as a mainstay on the USAC Sprint Car scene as well as Bloomington Speedway, the 25-year-old, who made his first Bloomington USAC appearance as a teenager back in 2007, has a fair share of experience on the red, Southern Indiana clay.

"I've run a lot of laps here," Thomas admits. "It's pretty special to come back here and do this again. We run here as much as we can, local shows and with other organizations and, over 10 years here now, it's been a pretty good bit. It's just the number of laps. I'm just really comfortable here."

"Tonight was nice and slick to a big ol' curb," Thomas continued. "We made good decisions. We've been trying some things at local shows to help us out whenever it gets like that here. My crew made all the right calls in the pits and gave me a great racecar. It was pretty nice to drive tonight, especially up there against that treacherous curb. It's hard to keep your concentration for that many laps in a row, but having a car like I had makes it easier. Once you're out front, you have to keep your nose clean and run a smart race, pick off lapped cars whenever you can and try not to make any mistakes, which is hard to do up there. Everything with our package we have right now runs well. It's just a joy to drive."

Thomas would begin the 30-lap event from outside of the second row, and took quick action to get to the front. Coming off the second turn on the opening lap, pole sitter Chad Boespflug spurted away to the lead while Robert Ballou (bottom), Thomas (middle) and Thomas Meseraull (top) battled three-wide for second. Bloomington's tight confines made it a tough proposition for all three to successfully make it to turn three unscathed, and that would prove to be the case.

2017 Sheldon Kinser Memorial winner Kevin Thomas, Jr. (David Nearpass Photo)

Midway down the back straight, Thomas and Meseraull made contact. Meseraull's left front wheel served as a launching pad for Thomas who hopped his right rear tire over Meseraull's wheel, collapsing Meseraull's front end and concluding a night that proved crushing to the San Jose, California's Indiana Sprint Week title hopes, dropping him from second in the standings (13 back) to fifth and 28 out of the lead with just two events remaining.

It was an incident in which Kevin Thomas, Jr. put the full blame squarely on his own shoulders.

"I got a decent start," Thomas recalls. "I rolled the middle and got up beside Thomas. Honestly, it's just a lack of concentration on my part. I caught myself looking at the bottom at Boespflug and I let my right rear slide out a little bit too far and I ran Thomas out of room. That was 100% my fault. He didn't do anything wrong and it's just unfortunate what happened to him. They've been good all week. It's not the way we want to race because he doesn't race like that and I try not to race like that. It's just an unfortunate circumstance for him. He's been good all week and he was good tonight. I just lost concentration on my end."

With the incident occurring on the opening lap, there were still 30 laps to try to retain that focus that is so sorely needed to compete at a winning level. With that situation weighing on his mind, Thomas had to regain his composure and get back to the task at hand.

"When you make contact, then yellow comes out immediately and you see his front end knocked out like that, it's a disheartening because he and I have raced for a long, long time. We don't usually make contact. He's got a wife and kids. He's here to make a living too. To take his night away from him like that is not cool on my part."

When action resumed, many believed the race would be won on the bottom including leader Boespflug, but Kevin Thomas, Jr. had his car set up to run the top and he didn't intend to stray from that notion. Thomas was able to inch a bit closer on the first three circuits as the two ran side-by-side, Boespflug around the infield tires and Thomas riding the ledge.

Boespflug clung to the lead by a car length at the line at the conclusion of lap three, but Thomas made some headway on the following lap and, coming off four, surged ahead of Boespflug as he hung his right-side tires off the front straightaway curb at the start/finish line to secure the point. Boespflug took one more run at Thomas on lap four, attempting a half-slider in turn three to no avail, allowing Thomas to step through the door and slam it shut as he left the rest of the field behind.

By the tenth lap, Thomas had built up a full-straightaway lead with Troy, Ohio's Lee Underwood holding down the second spot in one of the most remarkable drives all week, one lap after he blew by Boespflug on the bottom for the runner-up position. By halfway, lappers were everywhere, suffocating the high and low-lines on each end of the quarter-mile, but Thomas had no intentions of leaving his comfort zone up top.

"I just don't run the bottom," Thomas said without hesitation. "It's just one of those things. If I could run in the top-five on the top and not have to run the bottom, it's probably what I'm going to try to do. I just don't have enough patience to run the bottom. I'm not very good at it. We set up to run the top as much as we can. It's just a comfort level up there for me. I thought about going to the bottom a few times in lapped traffic. I think I tried it one time and I completely missed the bottom. I knew I couldn't do this any longer, so I just stuck it out, tried to get a little bit closer to the lappers, then I just slid them."

Just after halfway, Boespflug found his second wind, discovering his groove on the high-side to sweep past Underwood for second on lap 18 with eyes affixed on catching Thomas in the gridlock of lapped traffic that lie ahead. Still trailing by nearly three seconds, Boespflug would need a caution or something drastic to occur in front of Thomas in the closing laps, and it nearly did.

With six to go, the cars of Max McGhee and C.J. Leary became hooked together rear bumper to front bumper, respectively, right in front of Thomas, which briefly caused a bit of consternation for the race leader. The two eventually were able untangle at the exit of turn four before continuing, but luckily for Thomas, he was able to take evasive action to avoid catastrophe.

"I did see that," Thomas recalls. "It's just one of those deals. You have to look far enough ahead, but you still have to concentrate as much as you can on the cushion you're running. It can bite you just as much as those two beating and banging on each other. Something can happen and you might get into them. It's a little bit of both. You have to concentrate really hard on what the cars are doing in front of you. You have to get your momentum up before you get there, then whenever they make a mistake, just squirt by and get yourself out of the problem. That's really all you can do in that situation."

With no caution coming out for the incident, it became a split-second decision that could've ultimately decided the race. As Boespflug charged at Thomas with a full-head of steam, it was the line Thomas had already established that he believes helped him navigate through the potential hazards as they occurred.

"If you try to wait and go to the bottom, say somebody knocks their front end out, then turns down the track and you get taken out of the lead, that's just one thing you don't want to happen. I feel like the top is the easiest way out of trouble. There's normally so much banking on these tracks that when something happens, it usually ends up going to the bottom. I think you have a little bit more space if something does happen, so I just stick to the top. If something happens, you can drive off the top of the track, especially here since there's no walls. If you can get slowed down and turn underneath it, you've got to stick to the top. You can't open yourself up too much for the guy behind you. It's just a fine line right there, but it's a gamble you have to take."

No such trouble stood in Thomas' path on the final five revolutions around the oval, though he did have to contend with a three-way battle for 16th between Justin Grant, Carson Short and Shane Cottle that formed a Red Rover Wall of sorts with two to go that prevented him from breaking free. The pack would thin out and Thomas would win out, finishing off a dominating performance in his KT Motorsports/Abreu Vineyards - KT Construction Services/DRC/Speedway Chevy over Boespflug, a series-best performance for the unrelated Tyler Thomas, followed by the surprise of ISW - Lee Underwood - who came home a career-best fourth while Robert Ballou rounded out the top-five.

With the victory, Thomas now holds down a five-point advantage in the ISW standings. With two shows remaining, Thomas plans to block out any thoughts on so-called "points racing."

"In the first part of the week, I was actually paying attention to the points," Thomas recalls. "I'd been running (terrible). Tonight, it was another gameplan, a different mindset. We're just here to win now. If you win the race, the points will take care of themselves. As far as that old points racing crap, I'm kind of over it. That's not what I do. Whenever I do, I don't make good decisions and I'm not aggressive. It's just not the way I like to run races. We're just going to go out there to win every race. If we do, we do. If we don't, we don't. If something happens and we get taken out like Meseraull did tonight, that is what it is. It's just the way this week can go. It's a tough week. You want to be in position to capitalize on the opportunities you do have and hope that nothing bad happens to you."

After a tumultuous past month that hadn't seen a top-five finish in the last 30 days, Hanford, California's Chad Boespflug has seemingly gotten back on a track, following up a fourth-place run Monday night at Gas City with a runner-up finish Friday night at Bloomington in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton. It's been a turnaround a long-time coming after their confidence was shaken following a string of results that had not lived up to their expectations.

"When things don't go the way you want them to go and the late nights at the shop and the early mornings come and go, things can seem like they're falling apart," Boespflug explains. "(Crewmen) Davey (Jones), Richard (Hoffman) and myself have had to pep talk each other at times to try and get things going. We all believe in each other and that's the key. I think saying what we did to each other lit a fire under our butts and got us going again."

Like many, Boespflug stayed on the bottom early before gravitating to the top where he seemed to pick up speed about halfway through and worked his way back to second.

"I just hung out on the bottom too long," Boespflug laments. "Early on, I thought that was going to be the place. The top cleaned off pretty good for Kevin, so I jumped up there and ran one lap in one corner at the top, then went to the bottom and vice-versa. I kind of jumped around a bunch, but that didn't seem to work, so I just stuck to the top. I was kind of tip-toeing, getting my speed up. Lee (Underwood) got underneath me and I really had to hustle to get back around him. I was getting closer to KT about halfway through, then the rubber came and we were all running the same speed around the top."

Collinsville, Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas' last few weeks revolved around rebuilding a car that had been heavily-damaged in the non-sanctioned "No Way Out 40" at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway a few weeks back. That comes in addition to minor setbacks and missing a few shows that proved a setback to the 21-year-old who first stepped into a USAC Sprint Car at this point one year ago. On Friday night, all the pieces came together for T. Thomas and his Jerry Burton-owned/Jerry Burton Masonry - Johnson's Taxidermy/DRC/Foxco to record a best-career USAC National Sprint Car finish of third.

"It's really special to me, especially to do it in the Jerry Burton car," Thomas beamed. "We've been battling so many small problems that's kept us from qualifying well and getting through our heat race. Plus, we missed a couple nights and, prior to all of this, we had to rebuild the car a couple weeks ago after a crash. We got it together tonight. We qualified really well and got through the heat race and ran up front in the feature tonight. I just tried to be real patient there. I rolled around the bottom - felt like for maybe too long - but once we got up to the top and got around Ballou and Underwood, this car was on a roll.

"We've been battling a lot of different issues all year," Thomas explains. "There's nothing we could've done. It's just been bad luck, really. We were finally able to get everything dialed in tonight. This is by far the best night we've had all year. I never would've dreamed we would've run top-three at Sprint Week this week, but it feels pretty damn cool."

Brownsburg, Indiana driver A.J. Hopkins was released from the hospital early Saturday morning after a frightening semi-feature incident in which he ramped over the right rear wheel of another car, sending him flipping through a fence located between turns one and two where he eventually came to a rest in a parking area, making contact with a couple of pickup trucks along the way.

Contingency award winners Friday at Bloomington Speedway include Carson Short (ProSource Fast Qualifier), C.J. Leary (Simpson Race Products 1st Heat Winner), Robert Ballou (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Heat Winner), Brody Roa (Chalk Stix 3rd Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Indy Race Parts 4th Heat Winner), Brady Short (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Josh Hodges (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 14, 2017 - Bloomington, Indiana - Bloomington Speedway - 29th "Sheldon Kinser Memorial" - "Indiana Sprint Week" Presented by Camping World

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. Carson Short, 21, RCM-10.842; 2. Ryan Bernal, 17G, On The Gass-11.032; 3. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-11.037; 4. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-11.069; 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KT-11.078; 6. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-11,095; 7. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-11.127; 8. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-11.151; 9. Lee Underwood, 24L, Underwood-11.155; 10. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-11.162; 11. Hunter Schuerenberg, 44, Pace-11.170; 12. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-11.181; 13. Jeff Bland, Jr., 66w, Waltz-11.194; 14. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-11.210; 15. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-11.262; 16. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-11.290; 17. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-11.318; 18. Garrett Aitken, 32A, Aitken-11.326; 19. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-11.326; 20. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-11.357; 21. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-11.367; 22. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-11.372; 23. Brody Roa, 91T, BR-11.386; 24. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-11.482; 25. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-11.483; 26. Matt McDonald, 5m, McDonald-11.500; 27. A.J. Hopkins, 4J, 4J Motorsports-11.530; 28. Jon Stanbrough, 77, Wingo-11.551; 29. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-11.553; 30. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-11.597; 31. Brent Beauchamp, 34, Olson-11.612; 32. Jerry Coons, Jr., 21K, Krockenberger-11.652; 33. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-11.711; 34. Shelby VanGilder, 22v, VanGilder-11.813; 35. Katlynn Leer, 77K, Leer-11.820; 36. Jamie Williams, 31, Williams-11.842; 37. Koby Barksdale, 22, Barksdale-11.916; 38. Alec Sipes, 99, Sipes-12.415; 39. Brady Ottinger, 4B, 4J Motorsports-12.630; 40. Tyler Clem, 14c, Clem/TSR-(Time of 11.864 disallowed).

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. K. Thomas, 3. Bland, 4. B. Short, 5. C. Short, 6. Grant, 7. Andretti, 8. Farney, 9. Barksdale, 10. Underwood. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Swanson, 3. Bernal, 4. Hodges, 5. McDonald, 6. Sipes, 7. VanGilder, 8. Aitken, 9. Mattox, 10. Windom. NT

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Roa, 2. Jackson, 3. Courtney, 4. Meseraull, 5. Beauchamp, 6. Hopkins, 7. McGhee, 8. Leer, 9. Ottinger, 10. Schuerenberg. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Darland, 3. Cottle, 4. T. Thomas, 5. Stanbrough, 6. Coons, 7. Williams, 8. Clem, 9. Cummins, 10. Stockon. NT

C-MAIN: (10 laps) 1. Coons, 2. Beauchamp, 3. Farney, 4. Williams, 5. Barksdale, 6. Clem, 7. VanGilder, 8. Ottinger, 9. Sipes, 10. Leer. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. McGhee, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Grant, 4. Underwood, 5. Stockon, 6. Windom, 7. C. Short, 8. Coons, 9. Aitken, 10. Stanbrough, 11. Beauchamp, 12. Mattox, 13. Andretti, 14. Williams, 15. Barksdale, 16. Cummins, 17. Farney, 18. Hopkins. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Lee Underwood, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Jeff Bland, Jr., 7. Chris Windom, 8. Tyler Courtney, 9. Chase Stockon, 10. Brady Short, 11. Dave Darland, 12. Hunter Schuerenberg, 13. Josh Hodges, 14. Ryan Bernal, 15. Kody Swanson, 16. Justin Grant, 17. Carson Short, 18. Shane Cottle, 19. Dakota Jackson, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Jarett Andretti, 22. Brody Roa, 23. Max McGhee, 24. Thomas Meseraull. NT
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**Hopkins flipped through the fence outside turn two during the semi. He was transported to a local hospital for observation.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Boespflug, Laps 3-30 K. Thomas.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Brady Short (22nd-10th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Josh Hodges

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Windom-1,236, 2-Grant-1,229, 3-Boespflug-1,102, 4-Stockon-1,071, 5-K. Thomas-1,053, 6-Courtney-1,025, 7-Leary-944, 8-Brady Bacon-913, 9-Darland-859, 10-Meseraull-816.

NEW INDIANA SPRINT WEEK Presented by Camping World POINTS: 1-K. Thomas-270, 2-Ballou-265, 3-Leary-258, 4-Windom-243, 5-Meseraull-242, 6-Darland-236, 7-Courtney-219, 8-Brady Bacon-203, 9-Boespflug-200, 10-Hodges-187.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 15 - Haubstadt, IN - Tri-State Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" - Presented by Camping World

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

LEARY REIGNS FOR 2ND STRAIGHT NIGHT AT GAS CITY

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Gas City, Indiana………July 10, 2017 – "Once you win one, the floodgates will open and you’ll begin to win a bunch of them.”

That’s the sentiment C.J. Leary had heard time and time again over the past few seasons, much to his chagrin, as he came within a whisker of breaking through on several occasions.

“I’ve heard it my whole career,” Leary admits. ‘Once you get the monkey off your back, the wins will come easier.’ I didn’t believe them. It took me 140 starts to get my first USAC National Sprint Car victory and it took me 28 to get the second one.”

But, it only took one more start to go from win number two to USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory number three on the third Monday night event in Indiana Sprint Week history, blitzing around the outside of Robert Ballou with five laps remaining to win round three of Indiana Sprint Week presented by Camping World at Gas City I-69 Speedway.

Leary, Sunday’s Lawrenceburg winner, became the first driver to win consecutive Indiana Sprint Week features since Bryan Clauson in 2013. Leary’s seen fire and he’s seen rain, but one or the other would have to win over the other on this night.

Lately, the fire has been Leary who has been en fuego since the beginning of ISW while the rain has been, well, it’s usual self lately. Monday night’s makeup was originally intended as the opener prior to being washed away by the elements last Friday. Yet, on this night, each driver was competing in a pair of races: the 30-lap main event and a race versus Mother Nature that saw the program proceed at a rapid pace with a checkered flag that dropped before nightfall, 8:50pm local time to be precise.

Leary began the race from the outside of the front row, yet, early on, an encore performance from the night before did not appear to be in the cards as he dropped from the front row to fifth on the opening lap. But the 21-year-old second generation driver dug into the high side and went to work as Shane Cottle zipped away on the bottom to lead the opening pair of laps.

On the third circuit, Kokomo winner Thomas Meseraull ripped the top around the outside of Cottle to claim the lead exiting turn four. Robert Ballou followed suit, making the same maneuver to get to the runner-up spot off the second turn. Like he did two nights earlier, Meseraull hurried to the front and appeared to be in total control as he built a more than one-second lead ten laps in.

By halfway, the frontrunners had entered traffic where Meseraull leaned on the cush and Ballou tip-toed around the infield tires. The track’s equilibrium was in perfect balance with the top and bottom proving perfectly equal as Meseraull’s and Ballou’s machines rode in unison as if they were bolted down to a carnival carousel on laps 19, 20 and 21. Neither had budged an inch in either direction as the two shadowed one another with Meseraull leading each time at the stripe by a slim margin.

The action would come to a halt with 10 laps remaining as Ryan Bernal’s mount nosed into the outside turn four guardrail with 10 laps remaining, necessitating a yellow and a lap 21 restart with Meseraull at the head of the class and a surging Robert Ballou right on his rear bumper.

However, under caution, third-running Leary made a key adjustment that would ultimately pay large dividends.

“This thing was digging hard on the top,” Leary explains. We were just kind of riding along. I didn’t think we were going to have anything for them at the end really, but when the yellow came out, we adjusted on the shocks after starting off kind of tight. The car finally came to us. We adjusted from there and became a lot better.”

Still mired in third, Leary would still have to find a way around superstar veterans Meseraull and Ballou on the restart, a tall task to ask from anybody. Leary’s first domino fell when Meseraull drifted high at the exit of turn two, falling off the shelf and over the cushion, dropping him out of the lead as Ballou slipped by on the bottom for the lead and Leary was there to strike as well, taking advantage of the fortuitous occurrence to grab second.

Ballou firmly planted his talons on the bottom while Leary took ownership of the top lane, the only place he felt he needed to be down the stretch.

“It was treacherous around the top,” Leary detailed. “I had to hit my marks, but I really had to run it hard to keep the rest of the field behind us. I think I might’ve stumbled a little bit on the top a time or two, but it was so easy to make a mistake and not get the run down the straightaway that we needed. On the bottom, you could tiptoe around the tires and you could get a pretty good spurt off. But, the longer the race went on, the slicker the bottom got. The top pretty much stayed the same.”

Leary took the long way around, but little-by-little, it began to pay off as he shrunk Ballou’s lead down to a sliver and eventually grabbed the top spot with five to go. Meanwhile, Chris Windom had entered the fray and was able to limbo past Ballou between turns one and two with just four to go. It was a rubber match as the two made contact on exit with Windom’s right rear and Ballou’s left front meeting face-to-face. Ballou’s front wheels took a hop as he lost momentum and fell to a distant third momentarily. Windom then used a big drive on the bottom to surge underneath Leary off of four to take the lead at the line.

However, before the completion of the lap, Hunter Schuerenberg and Tyler Thomas made contact back in the pack, sending Thomas into a 360 spin. Though he managed to keep it rolling, by rule, the spin required a yellow, which meant the lineup would revert to the most-recently scored lap, relegating Windom all the way back to third for the restart behind Leary and Ballou.

Ballou wasn’t keen on letting Leary slip away down the final stretch, keeping tabs on the black 30 and getting a drive off the bottom to come within inches of leading the 27th lap despite clipping one of the infield tires exiting four that briefly lifted his front wheels.

Ballou kept at it, though, and was able to take a two car-length advantage over Leary into turn three on lap 28. However, once again, the infield tires proved a nemesis for “The Madman” as Ballou clipped the same tire with the left front, forcing him sideways and his wheels pointing toward the sky. When he came back to the earth on all fours, he clipped a second tire at the exit of four, slowing him down just enough to allow the unfettered Leary to break free by five car-lengths, an advantage he would not surrender in the final two laps to win for the second night in a row aboard the family-owned Leary Racing/Leary Construction – Highsmith Guns/DRC/1-Way Chevy over Ballou, Windom, Chad Boespflug and Brady Bacon.

When It rains, it pours, figuratively speaking, of course. As the race against the rain was defeated, Leary’s confidence is at an all-time high right now after changes in personnel as well as bits and pieces on the car prior to Indiana Sprint Week where he now holds a 13-point lead in the series with four races remaining, picking back up at the Terre Haute Action Track Wednesday following a day off Tuesday.

“(The changes) are really paying off,” Leary said. “My confidence is up and I think it kind of showed tonight. We got her qualified up-front at a track that’s not really one of my better tracks. Last night, people could’ve said it was my best racetrack and blah, blah, blah, but not tonight. To go back-to-back in Indiana Sprint Week is unreal. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I really wish we were racing tomorrow. We got the roll going and I don’t want to stop now.”

“We’re going to take it night-by-night and we’re not going to start counting the points until the end,” Leary added. “We can pat ourselves on the back for a little bit Tuesday on our day off, then get prepared for the final four nights and we’ll see where we end up.”

Rocklin, California’s Robert Ballou led five laps on his way to a runner-up result in his Robert Ballou Motorsports/Deaton’s Waterfront Services – Lucas Oil/Don Ott-powered Twister-X chassis, a car that Ballou estimates is around 15 years old, but still gets the job done.

“Unfortunately, if you can’t find your comfort level, you’ve got to try something else,” Ballou explains. “I put these Twister-X cars together from Jimmy Crawford who sent them out here from California. We’re just trying to get things back in line with some old cars. I’ve ran this car before. They’re good cars and I’m comfortable in them. We pulled a car out the first night at Kokomo on Saturday and you just can’t pull a car out and expect to pick back up where you left off. It’s been years since we’ve run it. But I knew if we could put it together in time, it would be good and it’s been pretty good so far.”

On a wild lap scramble for position at the front with four laps to go, Ballou dropped from first to third in one sequence. But a yellow flag fell in his favor moments later, serving as his saving grace and placed him back in position with an opportunity to win on the final restart.

“I got lucky. I got lucky,” Ballou reiterated. “A lot of times things fall in your favor and a lot of times they don’t fall in your favor. Tonight was one that fell in my favor. When the track is slick and you have to drive it off the right front, rotate around the tires and get off the corner, that’s not Robert Ballou. We were a tick off all night. I couldn’t get the thing stuck on the right rear the way I wanted to and to where I feel comfortable. I couldn’t hit my marks as good as I wanted. It got so narrow and tedious that I’d lose the right rear, then I’d have to wait on it. I was holding everybody up, let’s be honest. But it’s racing and C.J. found a way around me.”

“Hats off to the O’Connors,” Ballou praised the family operating the track. “Everything was against them weather-wise, so I have to commend them for taking on the task and doing what they did. But we missed the setup a little bit. We’re inching closer and closer every night. I still feel a little rusty and I feel I haven’t quite caught my stride yet. We’re getting closer and we’re getting the racecar more comfortable. If I’m not comfortable, it’s kind of like what Donny Schatz says along the lines of ‘if the driver isn’t comfortable, it’s over with.’ I just haven’t found that perfect comfort level yet that makes me fast every night. We’re almost there at certain tracks and I believe the rest of this week should show that.”

Chris Windom had an ignition box fall by the wayside prior to his heat race, forcing him to go through the semi to earn a spot in the feature lineup. Windom recovered with a solid third-place run, though it came with a bit of heartache after being caught out by a yellow after taking the lead with four laps remaining. There are no days off for Windom to lick his wounds as he has a test scheduled Tuesday to prepare for his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut July 19 at Eldora Speedway before returning to redemption in the Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Mopar sprinter Wednesday at Terre Haute, a place in which he’s won the two most recent times he’s visited.

“It was pretty frustrating knowing we were the best car and had a caution come out soon as we take the lead,” Windom laments. “It was hard to pass and I knew we were dead in the water after that. I’ve got the easy job of driving the car, so I’m always ready to get back in the seat, but my guys definitely need a day off to regroup for the second half of the week.”

Contingency award winners Monday at Gas City I-69 Speedway include Chase Stockon (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Josh Hodges (Simpson Race Products 1st Heat Winner), Aaron Farney (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Heat Winner), Robert Ballou (Chalk Stix 3rd Heat Winner), Kody Swanson (Indy Race Parts 4th Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Jarett Andretti (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 10, 2017 – Gas City, Indiana – Gas City I-69 Speedway – “Indiana Sprint Week” – Presented by Camping World

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-11.837; 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-11.925; 3. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-11.930; 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-12.014; 5. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-12.032; 6. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-12.057; 7. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-12.138; 8. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-12.144; 9. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-12.158; 10. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-12.183; 11. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-12.198; 12. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-12.203; 13. Hunter Schuerenberg, 44, Pace-12.208; 14. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-12.244; 15. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-12.292; 16. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-12.317; 17. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-12.359; 18. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-12.429; 19. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-12.435; 20. A.J. Hopkins, 4J, 4J Motorsports-12.458; 21. Matt Westfall, 54, Westfall-12.462; 22. Tyler Hewitt, 97x, One More Time-12.498; 23. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-12.505; 24. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-12.596; 25. Ryan Bernal, 17GP, Dutcher-12.596; 26. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-12.625; 27. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-12.643; 28. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-12.766; 29. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-12.772; 30. Tyler Clem, 14, Clem/TSR-12.798; 31. Kyle Robbins, 17R, KR-12.907; 32. Ted Hines, 12x, Hines-12.918.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Hodges, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Leary, 4. Stockon, 5. Westfall, 6. Bernal, 7. Cummins, 8. Goodnight. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Farney, 2. Grant, 3. K. Thomas, 4. Boespflug, 5. Darland, 6. Hewitt, 7. Clem, 8. Chapple. 2:08.22

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Andretti, 3. Cottle, 4. Roa, 5. Bacon, 6. Courtney, 7. Jarrett, 8. Robbins. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Swanson, 2. Meseraull, 3. Hopkins, 4. T. Thomas, 5. Stanbrough, 6. Short, 7. Hines, 8. Windom. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Darland, 3. Windom, 4. Courtney, 5. Short, 6. Cummins, 7. Bernal, 8. Stanbrough, 9. Hewitt, 10. Chapple, 11. Westfall, 12. Jarrett, 13. Hines, 14. Robbins, 15. Clem. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Chad Boespflug, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Thomas Meseraull, 8. Justin Grant, 9. Chase Stockon, 10. Josh Hodges, 11. Tyler Courtney, 12. Dave Darland, 13. Jarett Andretti, 14. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 15. Kody Swanson, 16. Brady Short, 17. Hunter Schuerenberg, 18. Kyle Cummins, 19. Aaron Farney, 20. Tyler Thomas, 21. Brody Roa, 22. Ryan Bernal, 23. A.J. Hopkins. NT

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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Cottle, Laps 3-20 Meseraull, Laps 21-25 Ballou, Laps 26-30 Leary.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (18th to 11th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Jarett Andretti

NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Grant-1186, 2-Windom-1173, 3-Boespflug-1017, 4-Stockon-1014, 5-K. Thomas-964, 6-Courtney-960, 7-Bacon-913, 8-Leary-903, 9-Darland-801, 10-Meseraull-778.

NEW INDIANA SPRINT WEEK Presented by Camping World POINTS: 1-Leary-217, 2-Meseraull-204, 3-Bacon-203, 4-Ballou-188, 5-K. Thomas-181, 6-Windom-180, 7-Darland-178, 8-Courtney-154, 9-Hodges-135, 10-Andretti-128.

NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: July 12 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Terre Haute Action Track – “Don Smith Classic” – “Indiana Sprint Week” – Presented by Camping World

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

LEARY LOWERS THE BOOM FOR FIRST ISW WIN AT THE BURG

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Lawrenceburg, Indiana.....July 9, 2017 - C.J. Leary will be the first to tell you how difficult it is to win a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature. It requires a number of things to line up accordingly leading up to the event and, throughout the night, it takes a combination of skill and even good fortune to have a good run, let alone a winning performance at night's end.

It took 140 long nights to get the elusive first USAC Sprint win last August, but only 28 to earn his second Sunday night in round two of Indiana Sprint Week presented by Camping World at Lawrenceburg Speedway.

However, the drought seemed more prolonged in Leary's eyes as good fortune seemed to elude him regularly this season. Mired back in eighth in the standings and sans a victory throughout the first half of the season, the team thrashed to find the right combination that would pay dividends for them in the immediate future.

"It's been a real trying season," Leary admits. "All year, if it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all. We kept trying different stuff and nothing seemed to be working."

Prior to Sprint Week, however, the Leary's made a few changes to the puzzle pieces that make up the core of the team. There were adjustments made to the shock package and the installation of a new engine, but the biggest change was a switch on the one turning the wrenches. Enter Donnie Gentry as the new crew chief, the very same individual C.J. had in his corner when he drove Shane Wade's No. 66 to his career USAC Sprint win at Kokomo Speedway's "Sprint Car Smackdown" 11 months ago.

"Donnie and I had some chemistry last year when we won at the Smackdown together," Leary recalls. "What he does with the racecar works really well with my style. This is one of my best racetracks and Donnie's got a really good setup for it. The biggest key of the night, though, was qualifying up front and getting track position against the best racecars and the best drivers in the country."

Leary's third-place qualifying time was his best run since Eldora in early May, setting him up for a spot on the outside of row two for the start of the 30-lapper. Initially, though, it was Brady Bacon who held down the position on the opening laps as he rode the rim around the outside of pole-sitter Hunter Schuerenberg in turns one and two.

By lap three, Leary, the 2013 Lawrenceburg track champion, was eager to pounce as he slid Bacon for the point at the entrance to turn one. Bacon quickly counterpunched, ducking low to retake the lead as the two hustled down the back straightaway. But that would only prove to be a momentary maneuver as Leary entered the ring once again, ripping the outside between turns three and four to blast around Bacon for the lead exiting the fourth corner to turn the tables - no microphone needed - from the occurrences at the recent "Eastern Storm" stop at Pennsylvania's Grandview Speedway.

Leary's 2017 misfortunes reached a high-water mark in that June event in which a lapped car disrupted his line entering turn one three laps from the end, thus concluding his bid for victory that night after a stirring late-race drive on the high side to rip the lead away from Bacon.

"I've won eight races here at Lawrenceburg in the past," Leary points out. "We kind of got the set up down and we kind of know what the racetrack's going to do. After the heat race, we just knew it was going back to being classic Lawrenceburg, right against the fence with big sliders. That's right up my alley. Passing Bacon early was key before the track went completely slick and we were all running about the same speed at the end."

The Greenfield, Indiana driver was hellbent on avoiding that situation this time around as he absolutely hammered the field for the next several laps. He continued to wreak havoc on the competition even as he began to encounter lapped traffic, constructing a full-straightaway lead on the high-banked half-mile dirt oval when the night's only caution fell on lap 13 for a loose infield tire that successfully rolled its away from the exit of turn four to the entrance of turn one after being clipped and dislodged by a car.

Leary seemed to be synched in rhythm while the remainder of the field sang the blues, but the 21-year-old who paints water towers for a living with the family business, wasn't too bent out of shape when he saw yellow.

"The yellow actually helped bail me out of heavy lapped traffic," Leary said. "It put me back in the clear air and allowed me to pull away a little bit on the restart. I got a little bit of a lead and was able to ride in traffic, so I didn't have to push it too hard. I think if we would have had another yellow somewhere along the way, it would've been the same result."

Leary's large lead was gone, but so was lapped traffic and so was Leary as he instantly reestablished his full-straightaway, 3.5 second lead with just 10 laps remaining. But, just as things seemed well in hand, lady bad luck was leering in the second turn as Leary worked his way through the back of the field. Previous night's Kokomo fifth-place finisher Kyle Cummins was next on Leary's radar when he bounced hard off the turn two concrete and gathered to remain control just as Leary was clamping down on him to put him a lap down.

"It happened right in front of me," Leary remembers. "I was really worried he was going to chock it down or just come right down in front of me. I was hoping to get by him when he did that, but I had to take an extra lap to get back around him."

Luckily, for both Leary and Cummins, it was a case of "no harm, no foul" and both continued without issue. Thirty laps seem so short on paper, but anything and everything can happen in such a small window of time. Leary was wary of that and he wasn't going to allow that to faze him on this occasion.

"I've led a lot a lot of races, but I've given plenty away," Leary acknowledges. "Three or four or five of them, I can't even remember now. It's been so many. I caught lapped traffic and it was tough because everyone's so fast. I had been leading and hadn't heard anybody or seen anybody. Right there at the end with five to go, I was on Carson Short's tail and I couldn't get around him. Lapped traffic was thick on the top and bottom and I finally just drove it in there, but I wasn't completely sure how hard I had to push the racecar at the end."

Everything seemed well in hand coming off the final corner on the final lap, but there was one last scare for good measure that Leary chalks up to a simple racing deal. Carson Short and Jon Stanbrough were racing for the 16th position heading to the stripe just as Leary came off turn four to take the checkered flag. Short occupied the bottom and Stanbrough the middle right at the line as Leary barely squeezed by on the outside of both between Stanbrough's right side wheels and the wall. Leary and Stanbrough banged wheels, but fortunately for both, crisis was averted and Leary was able to celebrate his second career USAC National Sprint Car victory and his first in Indiana Sprint Week.

"He actually came up higher than I expected him to," Leary said. "I thought he might be able to see me up there because I had been next to him a couple laps in a row. They both went to bottom on the last lap and I figured he knew I was going to be up there. But it's just a racing deal. He didn't mean it by any means. I'm just lucky enough I had a good lead and I was just glad I didn't tear up the racecar because it's really fast this week!"

To Leary, his first series win a year ago was one of the most memorable nights of his career. Yet, winning in the family-owned number 30 is at another level of special significance after he and his dad, Chuck, have sacrificed and endured long days and nights of frustration to finally get the Leary Racing/Leary Construction - Highsmith Guns/DRC/1-Way Chevy to victory lane.

"Winning in Shane Wade's car was awesome, especially because it was my first and it was at the Smackdown, another really competitive event," Leary acknowledges. "Dad and I work our butts off all week, every week just so we can get to the racetrack. My mom and dad, we all come to the track together as a family. Picking up a win here tonight is so special for Dad and I both. Mom couldn't make it here tonight. She stayed at home since she wasn't feeling so hot. But all the time and hard work that goes into these racecars makes it all worthwhile and so rewarding. To pick up an Indiana Sprint Week win means the world to me. We've dreamed of winning these races, and to do it as a family at Lawrenceburg, there's isn't anything more fitting than that."

After a third-place run the night before, Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma snared a strong runner-up finish after leading the first two laps at Lawrenceburg in his Dooling-Hayward/B & H Contractors - Dooling Machine/Spike/Stanton Mopar.

"I finally caught the invert right tonight," a relieved Bacon said. "C.J. was just better than us. No one was going to stop him tonight. I was hoping that, maybe, the top would go away and we'd be able to catch him that way, but it didn't and, sometimes, that's the way it goes. He was just really, really fast tonight."

Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr. earned KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors, finishing third from his ninth starting spot in his KT Motorsports/Abreu Vineyards - KT Construction Services/DRC/Speedway Chevy.

"Last night, I kind of got caught behind the eight ball as a driver," Thomas recalls. "I didn't keep up with the track. I think we did a much better job of that tonight. We made the right changes on the racecar. I didn't really prefer to start that far back in the feature, so we had to pass some good cars. It's a long, tough week. To knock off a podium finish this early is good for morale. Things can go so well one night and bad the next. We didn't have the finish we wanted last night, but tonight shows that if everybody works hard and makes a good, fast racecar, you can bounce back and have a night like we did tonight."

Contingency award winners Sunday at Lawrenceburg Speedway include Dave Darland (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products 1st Heat Winner), Kody Swanson (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Chalk Stix 3rd Heat Winner), Carson Short (Indy Race Parts 4th Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Ryan Bernal (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 9, 2017 - Lawrenceburg, Indiana - Lawrenceburg Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" - Presented by Camping World

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.854; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-13.927; 3. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.009; 4. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-14.016; 5. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-14.093; 6. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-14.093; 7. Shawn Westerfeld, 89, Westerfeld-14.157; 8. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.185; 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 44, Pace-14.191; 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-14.223; 11. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.246; 12. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.271; 13. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-14.284; 14. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-14.303; 15. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-14.308; 16. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-14.310; 17. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-14.317; 18. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-14.336; 19. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-14.348; 20. Ryan Bernal, 17GP, Dutcher-14.359; 21. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-14.413; 22. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-14.544; 23. Garrett Abrams, 32G, Abrams-14.587; 24. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.653; 25. Dickie Gaines, 44x, Soudrette-14.654; 26. Nick Bilbee, 17N, Bilbee-14.680; 27. Michael Fischesser, 44s, Fischesser-14.736; 28. Kyle Robbins, 17R, KR-14.744; 29. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.798; 30. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.841; 31. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.917; 32. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-14.967; 33. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-15.108; 34. Ted Hines, 12x, Hines-15.187; 35. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-15.204; 36. Tyler Clem, 14, Clem/TSR-15.291; 37. Joss Moffatt, 5J, Moffatt-15.324; 38. Tom Harris, 5E, Harris-15.388; 39. Ty Tilton, 42T, Tilton-15.538; 40. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-15.621; 41. Chris Olding, 21M, Olding-18.065.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Courtney, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Bacon, 5. Boespflug, 6. Chapple, 7. Gaines, 8. Mattox, 9. Moffatt, 10. Farney. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Swanson, 2. Meseraull, 3. K. Thomas, 4. B. Short, 5. Cummins, 6. Roa, 7. Bilbee, 8. Stockon, 9. Hines, 10. Harris. 2:26.30

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Andretti, 4. Clouser, 5. Westerfeld, 6. Simon, 7. Hughes, 8. Abrams, 9. Fischesser, 10. Tilton. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. C. Short, 2. Hodges, 3. Grant, 4. Windom, 5. Ballou, 6. Bernal, 7. Robbins, 8. Clem, 9. Jarrett, 10. Goodnight. 2:31.10

C-MAIN: (8 laps) 1. Mattox, 2. Simon, 3. Hughes, 4. Harris, 5. Jarrett, 6. Goodnight, 7. Clem, 8. Hines, 9. Moffatt, 10. Olding. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Bernal, 2. Cummins, 3. Ballou, 4. Roa, 5. Farney, 6. Chapple, 7. Bilbee, 8. Boespflug, 9. Westerfeld, 10. Abrams, 11. Harris, 12. Mattox, 13. Fischesser, 14. Hughes, 15. Robbins, 16. Simon, 17. Gaines, 18. Stockon. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 4. Dave Darland, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Thomas Meseraull, 8. Brody Roa, 9. Brady Short, 10. Jarett Andretti, 11. Josh Hodges, 12. Tyler Courtney, 13. Ryan Bernal, 14. Justin Grant, 15. Hunter Schuerenberg, 16. Jon Stanbrough, 17. Carson Short, 18. Kody Swanson, 19. Chad Boespflug, 20. Aaron Farney, 21. Kyle Cummins, 22. Chase Stockon, 23. Isaac Chapple, 24. Mario Clouser. NT
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Bacon, Laps 3-30 Leary.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Kevin Thomas Jr. (9th to 3rd)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Ryan Bernal

NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Grant-1,130, 2-Windom-1,107, 3-Stockon-957, 4-Boespflug-951, 5-Courtney-918, 6-Thomas-918, 7-Bacon-851, 8-Leary-825, 9-Darland-758, 10-Meseraull-716.

NEW INDIANA SPRINT WEEK Presented by Camping World POINTS: 1-Meseraull-142, 2-Bacon-141, 3-Leary-139, 4-Darland & K. Thomas-135, 6-Windom-114, 7-Courtney-112, 8-C. Short-111, 9-Ballou-109, 10-Cummins-93.

NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: July 10 - Gas City, Indiana - Gas City I-69 Speedway - "Indiana Sprint Week" - Presented by Camping World

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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