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

THE MADMAN IS BACK; BALLOU RETURNS TO VICTORY LANE AT ELDORA AFTER 8-MONTH RECOVERY

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Rossburg, Ohio......... May 13, 2017 - Thursday, he was medically cleared. Friday, he was back in a racecar. Saturday, he was back in victory lane.

The timeline of events that led to Ballou's triumphant return to the top after an agonizing eight-month recovery from serious neck injuries sustained in a racing accident last September is as remarkable as it comes.

The storybook journey took the Rocklin, California native and 2015 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion to the front of the field on lap 18 of the 30-lap feature Saturday on night two of #LetsRaceTwo at Eldora Speedway after chasing down Chris Windom in lapped traffic to capture his first win in nearly a year.

Eldora was a fitting stage for Ballou's return, but it was just happenstance that the first leg of his road back to the racetrack took place at a venue that has served him so well over the past decade. It's the same place where he earned the first three of his 27 career series victories as well as the first #LetsRaceTwo feature in 2015. But, most importantly, it's a place - physically and mentally - that put him into a comfort zone as he put into perspective how fortunate he was to have another moment such as the one he had in front of large, raucous crowd Saturday night.

"Being able to come back and race a sprint car again is a victory in my mind," Ballou said. "I was faced with some circumstances where, in reality, I should've died. Obviously, someone wasn't done with me and I'm still here. It's sure been a long road. To come back at Eldora, I think everybody was excited fanwise, but I think they were all pretty leery. I've always loved this place, though. It comes pretty natural to me."

Just two days prior, Ballou's status was still uncertain as he awaited medical clearance from Dr. David Schwartz that would give him the go-ahead to get back behind the wheel of a racecar. Thursday night, he received official word and, from that point, it was a bit of a thrash to get everything ready to go for the next two nights.

"Our new Eagle chassis was sitting in the shop and hadn't been touched until about a week ago," Ballou admits. "I said, 'Hey, there might be a chance we could get going in June, so we need to get the ball rolling.' I had been going to work every day and spending every night in the shop. I didn't even get stickers or bumpers on the car until 2pm on Friday afternoon!"

Getting back in racing mode is not only difficult on the psyche after a serious incident such as Ballou's, the stakes are high when your racing career and your livelihood depends on your results on the track. Ballou admits that the situation is dire in some areas, but his level of success over the past three years has paid large dividends, and bills. Being out of commission for three-quarters of a year, however, put him in a difficult bind when he was sporting a brace instead of a firesuit.

"Fifteen days before I crashed, I bought a house," Ballou recalls. "I was out of work for 21 weeks and I couldn't afford my shop and my house at the same time without any income. I was pretty fortunate over the 2014 and 2015 seasons to bring in enough prize money to put a second and third car together and get a truck and trailer. I've got all the parts; I just don't have any money left. If we can keep winning before my parts supply runs out, hopefully we can get our bank account built back up and get back to where we were."

On the first night back on track, Ballou admits he and crew chief Derrick Bye were a bit behind the curve at the beginning of the night, but each time they hit the track, they got a little more comfortable and a little faster as the competitive juices began to flow again, helping get the two back into the same high-standard mode that drove them to 21 series victories from 2014 to 2016.

"I was pretty rusty Friday night and we have a new chassis that we're trying to figure out," Ballou explained. "We probably played it a little too conservative to start. We were trying to play catch up all night. You can't play catch up in this game. If you get caught behind the eight-ball, the night's over before you ever get back on the right side. That was ultimately the issue the first night. Tonight, we pretty much picked up where we were left off before the accident."

Saturday night, it looked like 2015 all over again as the white No. 12 was fast right from the get-go. He timed in fourth, ran second in his heat and began the main event from the outside of the second row.

By the end of lap one, Ballou had instantly climbed to second and was already challenging Windom for the top spot. Ballou dove to the bottom at the entrance of turn one, sliding up in front of Windom to take the lead. However, Windom came right back at Ballou, returning the favor by mimicking the same move that had just been put on him on the opposite end of the track to snatch the lead back in turn three.

"Once I slid Chris and got past him, he got me back in the next corner," Ballou details. "He was setting a pretty torrid pace that I thought would be difficult to keep up for 30 laps. When you go green for so long like we did tonight, it's really tough to keep the tires from blistering and, once they get hot and blister, it's pretty much over with. My car is generally better on long runs as it is. At times, he started getting tricky into one. I was running a lane above him and, at times, it was a little treacherous. There were a few times I thought I was going to knock the fence down."

Windom and Ballou ripped the high side as they put their right rear tires right up against the concrete to separate themselves as the cream of the crop of the 22-car field. The two were identically as fast as the other, turning similar times around the half-mile with the interval never wavering a tenth of a second in either direction from their five-car-length separation between one another throughout the first half.

The two entered lapped traffic by lap 10 with much of the back end of the field cooperating by running the bottom, providing them an unobstructed lane up top. The treacherous moment Ballou mentioned came on the 12th lap in traffic as Ballou negotiated the car of Corey Smith. Ballou had committed to the topside as Smith simultaneously headed for the groove up against the wall in turn one. Ballou was able to slip by with nary a foot to spare between his left side wheels and Smith's right side as "The Madman" continued his pursuit of Windom and the race lead.

With 13 laps remaining, the leaders encountered 15th-running Josh Hodges running the high groove. Windom left the trusty high line to slide Hodges in the third turn. As he slid through the middle of the racing surface, Ballou stayed the course up top and jetted around the outside of Windom exiting turn four to take the top position.

"Chris went to the bottom and left me a wide-open racetrack," Ballou said. "I had already caught him and I was better in (turns) three and four than he was. He was about the same speed in (turns) one and two unless I really pushed it. It was tough to push it as hard as he was so that I could even catch him in the first place, but I caught him in traffic and, as soon as he left the door open, I had a lot more left in the racecar and I just opened it up."

Ballou began to check out and seemed poised for victory until the first and only stoppage of the night's feature occurred with five laps to go when polesitter Landon Simon got upside down in turn three. He walked away unscathed.

One thing Ballou had yet to deal with thus far in his return was leading a late-race restart, but the champ was put to the test in a five-lap shootout. Yet, Windom, nor anybody for that matter, had anything left in the tank to make a bid in the end as Ballou vanished into the distance to take a 1.8 second victory over Windom, Brady Bacon, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney.

"When there's five laps to go, lapped traffic has gone away and you're the leader, you end up being a sitting duck," Ballou explained. "Eldora's famous for the restart slider, so I tried to move down. I wasn't going to slide myself because I've seen that bite people as well, but I tried to move down to make sure I didn't hit the hole after the red flag when the tire pressure started getting lower. Tire pressure drops under a red flag and my tire really lost a lot of air. I ended up hitting a hole anyway. It really rolled up on and got tight on me, then it was tight in the next corner, which made me nervous. There's nothing to lean on in (turns) three and four and it was still tight. A lap of spinning the tires rose the pressure again and, from that point forward, we were pretty good."

Canton, Illinois driver Chris Windom led the initial 17 laps as he sought his first Eldora USAC Sprint win since 2013, but would have to settle for second in his Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving - AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Mopar.

"I knew our tire was pretty blistered there at the end," Windom said. "(Crew Chief) Derek Claxton gave me a great racecar, as always. We were good the first half of the race, but I kind of caught traffic wrong and couldn't pick my way through those battles exactly like I wanted to in traffic. Robert got by me there and he was better than us at the end."

Two-time series champion Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma recorded ProSource Fast Qualifying time on both nights at #LetsRaceTwo, and on Saturday, took his best series finish of the season, a third, in his Dooling-Hayward/B & H Contractors - Dooling Machine/Spike/Stanton Mopar.

"Last night, we were a little free in the feature and didn't tighten it up enough. Tonight, we got a little too aggressive and were a little too tight," Bacon explains. "We just missed a little bit both nights. We're creeping up there, though. We were fast at the beginning of both nights this weekend, which is what we struggled with in Ocala, Florida. We're getting there. We had a few small issues and weren't quite right, but we were still up there competing for the win. I'm pretty happy with that."

Troy, Ohio's Dallas Hewitt, who finished second in Friday night's feature, was involved in a violent flip in the first heat race on Saturday night in which he made contact with the wall and catch fence. Hewitt was transported to the hospital suffering from a concussion and was awaiting X-ray results on a hand injury at press time.

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Eldora include Brady Bacon (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Scotty Weir (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Aaron Farney (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Josh Hodges (Chalk Stix/Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner), Justin Grant (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 13, 2017 - Rossburg, Ohio - Eldora Speedway - "#LetsRaceTwo"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-15.541; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-15.626; 3. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-15.653; 4. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-15.663; 5. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-15.718; 6. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-15.784; 7. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-15.820; 8. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-15.828; 9. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-15.926; 10. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-15.992; 11. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-16.026; 12. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-16.052; 13. Scotty Weir, 22s, Simon-16.069; 14. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-16.098; 15. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-16.104; 16. Dallas Hewitt, 16, Kaser/Seeling-16.137; 17. Kyle Simon, 23s, Simon-16.159; 18. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-16.201; 19. Tyler Hewitt, 97x, One More Time-16.302; 20. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-16.369; 21. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-16.416; 22. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-16.543; 23. Toby Alfrey, 5A, Alfrey-16.867.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Weir, 2. Ballou, 3. Bacon, 4. Courtney, 5. L. Simon, 6. Goodnight, 7. T. Hewitt, 8. D. Hewitt. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Farney, 2. Sussex, 3. Darland, 4. Boespflug, 5. Stockon, 6. Chapple, 7. K. Simon, 8. Alfrey. 2:12.89

CHALK STIX/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Hodges, 2. Leary, 3. Windom, 4. Thomas, 5. Grant, 6. Clouser, 7. C. Smith. 2:14.83

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Tyler Courtney, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Stevie Sussex, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Scotty Weir, 10. Aaron Farney, 11. Chad Boespflug, 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 14. Josh Hodges, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Corey Smith, 17. Tyler Hewitt, 18. Mario Clouser, 19. Matt Goodnight, 20. Landon Simon, 21. Kyle Simon, 22. Toby Alfrey. NT
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**D. Hewitt flipped during the first heat and was transported to the hospital for further evaluation. L. Simon flipped on lap 26 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-17 Windom, Laps 18-30 Ballou.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Justin Grant (11th to 4th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FEATURE FINISHER: Kevin Thomas, Jr.

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-594, 2-Boespflug-528, 3-Windom-508, 4-Stockon-497, 5-Courtney-399, 6-Jarett Andretti-338, 7-Thomas-332, 8-Leary-331, 9-Darland-317, 10-Shane Cottle-292.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 19 - Granite City, Illinois - Tri-City Speedway - "River Town Showdown"

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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The United States Auto Club.

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

GRANT GUIDES THE WAY TO VICTORY ON NIGHT ONE OF #LETSRACETWO AT ELDORA

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Rossburg, Ohio.........May 12, 2017 -- Eldora Speedway is the venue the Justin Grant/Sam McGhee Motorsports tandem truly kicked into gear last September as they raced to their first USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature win.

On Friday's night one of #LetsRaceTwo, the two showed that the magic touch from eight months ago at the Big E has no signs of wearing off as they raced to their second USAC victory in as many tries at the western Ohio dirt oval.

It was the third series victory for driver Justin Grant in 2017 after a season-opening triumph in Ocala, Florida and an April score in Plymouth, Indiana in the Sam McGhee/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco. It was also the third career Eldora victory for Grant, a driver who is quick to pass the credit for his prowess at Eldora to the 17-year-old McGhee who turns the wrenches on the No. 11.

"I've got Sammy (McGhee). That's what I've figured out about this place," Grant exclaimed. "I can't say enough about this crew and this racecar. They all work their tails off and they do a heck of a job. It's an amazing car to drive."

Yet, in humble fashion, McGhee instantly identifies Grant's communication and detail-oriented style as the staple of their success, which has yet to see a finish outside the top-four in a USAC race this season for the series point leaders.

"It's all about being able to read the track and know exactly what your driver likes and dislikes," McGhee believes. "That's so important here at a place like Eldora where you carry so much speed. Justin is very detailed in communicating to me what he needs to get to the front. We've been clicking because we're both young, passionate about what we do and have a mutual respect. That's translated into the success we've had since we teamed up last season."

Grant began the 30-lap event from the fifth position as polesitter Kevin Thomas, Jr. sprinted to the lead at the drop of the green with Chris Windom and Chad Boespflug in tow.

An incident involving Corey Smith and Nick Bilbee in turn one on the third lap would prove to be the first, and only, stoppage of the night. When racing resumed, an intense, unwavering early-race battle at the front of the pack would ensue involving Thomas, Windom and Boespflug.

Windom began to apply pressure to Thomas for the top spot by lap seven, but soon, a train that included Grant and 11th starting Shane Cottle gassed their way to the front with race leader Thomas just within reach.

Grant closed to the tail of Thomas' tail tank by lap 10 and used a patented Eldora slider in turn three to rip the lead away as Thomas countered underneath. In a drag race to the line, Grant held the advantage by a single wheel. Thomas charged right back at Grant after getting a run on the bottom of turn three, but Grant denied the anticipated Thomas' slider after switching to the low line to momentarily ward off the challenge.

Meanwhile, Cottle was a man on a mission using the middle to low line to close on race leader Grant by the midway point while Thomas and Windom found their second wind and began to reel the leaders back in on the high side.

On the 18th lap, Cottle got a big run on Grant on the bottom of turn one, but Grant slammed the door to fend off the veteran driver who was seeking his very first Eldora USAC win. Grant acknowledges it was a move out of necessity because the bottom was the place to be at that point in the race, but not one that he normally would give a try.

"There's quite a bit of risk to it," Grant acknowledged. "Normally, I'm not one to do that. Not because I have any moral objections to it, but I'm usually just not very good at it. I could tell (Shane) Cottle was working me up off the bottom. The top was still really dirty off (turn) two and there wasn't a cushion to find yet. I fired off one lap onto the bottom and figured if it's not good, I'll just run a slider on myself and get back to the cushion off (turn) two. It stuck and drove off turn two, so I thought 'Well, okay. That was pretty good.'

Cottle refused to fade away and came back at Grant with 10 laps remaining, engaging in a side-by-side battle for the lead that now saw mid-field starters Thomas Meseraull and Dallas Hewitt enter the top-five. Lap-after-lap, the contentious scramble for position was uncertain with the top-five participating in a scramble for position that appeared as if it were a restrictor plate race at Talladega.

Grant moved back to the top in the final stages as Hewitt found a little magic of his own, slicing through the middle to third and, with four laps remaining, sliding across the front bumper of Thomas to grab second.

It was now a two-man trophy-dash between Grant and Hewitt for the win. On laps 28 and 29, Hewitt made up ground off of turn two to pull himself within the shadows of Grant. Yet, Grant played a little more defense as the sound of Hewitt's engine was within earshot and denied Hewitt any notion of claiming the position.

On the final lap, Hewitt made one final go of it, lifting the left rear entering turn one as he kept Grant within sight. But, Grant was out of reach, holding off a torrid charge by a bevy of competitors in the second-half of the 30-lapper to score his second-straight Eldora USAC National Sprint Car victory over Hewitt, Thomas, KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Chase Stockon (from 21st) and Meseraull.

In a topsy-turvy race that seemingly witnessed every position behind him change lap-by-lap, Grant avoided every bullet that was aimed at him, never relinquishing his lead as he maintained control for the final 21 laps. The Ione, California native used a mixture of his own experience as well as what he's learned over the years at Eldora watching how other savvy veterans got the job done.

"If a guy wouldn't get all the way to the cushion, we'd drive around him. If a guy would get to the cushion, we'd slide him," Grant explained. "I was able to pick and choose my lines and, when I caught a guy, I'd just go where he wasn't. We kept getting pressured near the end and, as thin as the cushion was against the fence, I was just trying not to beat myself. When someone would get under me and pressure me, I'd step it up. Then, it would get quiet and I'd settle back down. I was trying to run only as hard as I had to."

"I started doing the big slide off turn three and catching the cushion off turn four," Grant continued. "Tracy (Hines) used to be good at that here when it would get slick. After watching him do that for years, I figured I'd give that a try since there wasn't much getting into turn three. I started hearing guys and began to get pressure getting into turn three again and I could tell the bottom in turns one and two was slowing down. I was already thinking in my mind, 'Okay, I'm going to move back to the top as soon as I start getting some pressure.' I felt the pressure and got back to the top. After a few laps, I felt like I got away from them a bit. Then they came back and got to me again! I knew I had to step it up and I started blocking sliders in three. I just tried to run a smart race and be in the right lane and not beat myself."

Grant is a driver who likes to be spectacular, running the high-line that gets the highlights and sells t-shirts, but on this night, it didn't matter to him where he ran. All that mattered was getting the "W" and picking up the check for him and his team in victory lane.

"As I'm running around the bottom of turns one and two, I was thinking, 'Man, I want somebody to drive by me off the top of turn two so I could just be done down here," Grant said with a laugh. "As much as I rant and rave about running the bottom at Eldora, I would've never heard the end of it if I had won a race on the bottom. It pays the same, but it's just not nearly as cool."

The Hewitt name is synonymous with Eldora Speedway due to Jack's all-time record of 24 USAC victories at the joint. On Friday night, Troy, Ohio's Dallas Hewitt nearly pulled off the first Hewitt victory at the track since his uncle Jack's "4-Crown Nationals" sweep in 1998. After kissing the concrete early in the feature, Hewitt recovered mightily, coming oh-so-close to his first career USAC victory, taking home second in his Kaser-Seeling Motorsports/Larry's Electric - Lone Star Pawn Shop/Eagle/Kistler.

"I had a good run on Justin (Grant) there toward the end, but I think he might've heard me," Hewitt suspected. "He kind of came down on me a little bit more than he was running the laps before. I could've been a little meaner and maybe gave him a wheel coming off turn four, but it was a good clean race and I'll take a second at a USAC race at Eldora any day. We've been so close here so many times. We junked our other car at Lawrenceburg a few weeks ago, so we just threw this one together. It isn't the prettiest piece, but it gets the job done."

Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr. led the first nine laps and earned his best result of the year with a third-place finish in his Pace Brothers Racing/Pace Performance Coating - DC Dyno/DRC/J & D.

"For me to run the top 30 laps here is nothing short of a miracle," Thomas deadpanned. "I'm just pumped to be up here. I really wanted that win, though. I don't get to start up front very much, so I wanted to capitalize on it.

Contingency award winners Friday night at Eldora include Brady Bacon (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Dave Darland (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Scotty Weir (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Chase Stockon (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and C.J. Leary (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 12, 2017 - Rossburg, Ohio - Eldora Speedway - "#LetsRaceTwo" - "Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-16.960; 2. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-17.182; 3. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-17.276; 4. Thomas Meseraull, 9x, SC-17.469; 5. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-17.487; 6. Chad Boespflug, 69. Dynamics-17.551; 7. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-17.594; 8. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-17.623; 9. Dallas Hewitt, 16, Kaser/Seeling-17.636; 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-17.688; 11. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-17.691; 12. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-17.739; 13. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-17.873; 14. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-17.890; 15. Chad Wilson, 14, Wilson-17.975; 16. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-18.001; 17. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-18.009; 18. Scotty Weir, 22s, Simon-18.037; 19. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-18.103; 20. Dustin Smith, 77, Gagliardi-18.122; 21. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-18.203; 22. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-18.265; 23. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-18.271; 24. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-18.369; 25. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-18.479; 26. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-18.617; 27. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-18.743; 28. Lee Underwood, 24L, Underwood-18.932; 29. Riley VanHise, 96, VanHise-18.962; 30. Tyler Hewitt, 97x, One More Time-19.431; 31. Matt Westfall, 54, Westfall-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. C.Smith, 3. Chapple, 4. Bacon, 5. D.Hewitt, 6. Sussex, 7. VanHise, 8. Farney. 2:15.49

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Weir, 2. Bilbee, 3. Boespflug, 4. Thomas, 5. Leary, 6. Clouser, 7. DiMattia, 8. T.Hewitt. 2:17.37

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Hodges, 3. Grant, 4. Windom, 5. Cottle, 6. Wilson, 7. Goodnight. 2:16.90

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Ballou, 3. Andretti, 4. D.Smith, 5. Meseraull, 6. Simon, 7. Underwood. 2:15.89

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Cottle, 3. D.Hewitt, 4. Meseraull, 5. Farney, 6. Wilson, 7. Simon, 8. Sussex, 9. Clouser, 10. Underwood, 11. Goodnight, 12. T.Hewitt, 13. VanHise, 14. DiMattia. 3:38.42

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Dallas Hewitt, 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Robert Ballou, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Tyler Courtney, 10. Chris Windom, 11. Scotty Weir, 12. Aaron Farney, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Jarett Andretti, 15. Chad Wilson, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Chad Boespflug, 18. Josh Hodges, 19. Landon Simon, 20. Dustin Smith, 21. Isaac Chapple, 22. Corey Smith, 23. Nick Bilbee. NT
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-9 Thomas, Laps 10-30 Grant.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Chase Stockon (21st-4th)

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-525, 2-Boespflug-480, 3-Windom-434, 4-Stockon-433, 5-Andretti-338, 6-Courtney-336, 7-Cottle-292, 8-Thomas-290, 9-Leary-285, 10-Darland-262.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 13 - Rossburg, OH - Eldora Speedway - #LetsRaceTwo

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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The United States Auto Club.

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

Phoenix, Arizona.........It had been eight years since the United States Auto Club competed at Phoenix Raceway. Since then, the track has been slightly reconfigured, repaved and renovated.

On Saturday, to Bobby Santos, it was still the same Phoenix Raceway he knew and loved back in 2009 when he raced to a USAC National Midget victory at the one-mile tri-oval.

In his return, Santos used his experience and bravado to outduel David Byrne in a wild west shootout, racing past Byrne using a massive run off turn four, then fending off his comeback attempt off turn two a lap later to capture his seventh career USAC Silver Crown presented by TRAXXAS victory at the "Phoenix Copper Cup."

Santos took the pole position for Saturday's 100-mile event after recording the top speed in Friday's ProSource Qualifying session. And, right from the drop of the green flag, Santos put that speed on full display as he sprinted to the lead.

However, sixth-starting Tanner Swanson's day came to an immediate end as he slowed to a stop just after taking the green. After the restart, the man on the move was seventh-starting Byrne. By lap 16, the Shullsburg, Wisconsin native had worked his way to fourth with an outside pass of Damion Gardner off turn four. It took Byrne just three more laps to grab third, using the high line off four to take third from Justin Grant.

In rapid-fire succession, Byrne disposed of Kody Swanson on lap 20 after switching to the low-line, outpacing the two-time series champ exiting the fourth turn for the second position and, on lap 22, Byrne corralled Santos, beating him to the bottom in turn one to take the lead.

Meanwhile, Swanson and Grant were engaged in a torrid battle for third. But, by lap 25, Grant, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader, was grinding the right side of his car into the baby blue-colored SAFER barrier, ending a solid run for the talented Ione, California driver.

Under the yellow, race control deemed that Byrne had jumped the previous restart, relegating him back to second in the running order behind Santos for the lap 31 restart. Byrne wasted absolutely no time getting back to the front, snagging the top spot from Santos on lap 33 where he would remain for the next 60 laps.

Earlier in the afternoon, Chris Windom was announced as the new driver of the No. 2 regularly driven by Patrick Lawson. Windom made heavy wall contact in Friday's practice, sidelining his Gene Kazmark Racing No. 92 for the remainder of the weekend.

Windom would start at the tail of the 16-car field, but that didn't faze the Canton, Illinois driver as he raced from the back to eighth by lap 39, when suddenly, his new ride went up in smoke, sending him to pit road and putting an end to his three-race win streak in the series as well as his run of 13-straight top-five Silver Crown finishes.

Byrne quickly distanced himself from Santos on the ensuing restart, but little-by-little, Santos erased most of the gap, shaving off a half-second of Byrne's one-plus second lead prior to a yellow for Damion Gardner's hard hit with the turn four wall caused by a broken right front wheel.

When action resumed with 31 laps remaining, Santos threw his first dart at Byrne. Santos wrestled the lead away from Byrne with an inside move entering the first turn. Byrne came right back at Santos, hitting the bottom of turn three to retake the position as a freight-train of Santos, K. Swanson, Aaron Pierce and Davey Hamilton followed.

Yellow flags continued to haunt Santos as yet another caution fell when USAC's winningest female driver Toni Breidinger, making her Silver Crown debut, stalled in turn two just as Santos had closed on Byrne's rear bumper.

Byrne took advantage of his newfound breathing room to distance himself from Santos on the restart with 18 laps to go. But, yet again, all it took was a handful of laps and Santos was back in the game. With 12 laps remaining, the gap was a mere single car-length as Santos continued to reel him in.

Santos repeatedly looked to the outside, peeking his nose to the right armguard of Byrne on laps 89 and 90 when he veered a little too high, into the marbles, which cost him valuable ground in the race for the win.

As had been the case all afternoon long, Santos struck back, using a high-low crossover off turn four on lap 92 to pull wheel-to-wheel with Byrne down the front straightaway. Byrne was credited with the lead at the start/finish line, but the lead wasn't long for this world as Santos outpaced Byrne into the first turn to capture the point. Byrne fought back with all his might in turn three, but slid up off the bottom, allowing Santos to speed away.

A three-car breakaway of Santos, Byrne and K. Swanson ran nose-to-tail in the final laps with Santos continually using a big run off turn two to ward off all potential challengers. Swanson relentlessly worked on Byrne for second, finding the outside groove to his liking as he sped around Byrne for second off turn two.

Swanson quickly charged at Santos, but the sand in the proverbial hourglass had run out, as Santos crossed under the double-checkered flags for his first series victory in nearly two years at Iowa Speedway, the last Silver Crown victory on pavement by a driver not named Kody or Tanner Swanson until Saturday at Phoenix.

The victory, though, was a homecoming of sorts for the Franklin, Massachusetts native who scored a victory the last time USAC visited Phoenix. Despite the changes the track surface has undergone over the past several seasons, the story remained the same for the pavement hot shoe in his DJ Racing/Simpson Race Products/Beast/VDS Chevy.

"This track's different, but in my opinion it still races like the old Phoenix, which I think definitely helped," Santos believes. "I have some experience here and I knew where I could take advantage and put myself in a position to be there at the end."

Four separate yellow flag periods seemed to plague Santos throughout the 100-lap event, stalling his charge to the lead. But, despite the setbacks, the past NASCAR Whelen Modified champion believes his timing was just right on this afternoon.

"I really believe it's the timing to pass here that's most important," Santos said. "With my experience, (turns) three and four are such important corners. Making your speed there and getting it done down the front stretch has been my experience and I don't feel that has changed. My team put me in position to hold a champion off as well as an excellent racer like David. I definitely had to work my butt off for this one. David was wicked fast in the beginning and then Kody challenged us at the end. There's no time to sit down in the seat. All three of us were pushing as hard as we could."

Kingsburg, California's Kody Swanson took second in his DePalma Motorsports/Radio Hospital - Hampshire Racing Engines/Beast/Hampshire. Yet, despite taking over the point lead in the latest Silver Crown standings, the 2014 and 2015 series champ was looking for more.

"Because I race for points, people want to look at the points," Swanson said. "I feel something I'm good at is surviving long races. After the (championship) heartbreak last year, my focus has been to win races when we can. Not that I wasn't before, but I really want to focus on that. Today, even with the late yellows, I didn't think I had anything for these guys. As the race played out, suddenly I was in the hunt at the end. We found something a little bit different, but it was too little, too late. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not figuring it out soon enough. Being here on the podium is a good day, but I would've liked for it to have gone a little longer and I'd have liked to have figured it out a little sooner."

David Byrne led a race-high 69 laps in his Byrne Racing/Stoops Freightliner Truck Country - Bytec, Inc./Beast/J & D Performance machine. Byrne was strong all day, but feels that without the late race cautions, the "Copper Cup" was his.

"I wish it would've gone green all the way," lamented Byrne. "We were real sporty there at the start, but to say I'm disappointed is an understatement."

Contingency award winners this weekend at Phoenix Raceway include Bobby Santos (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Jerry Coons, Jr. (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Chris Windom (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP (presented by TRAXXAS) RACE RESULTS: April 28-29, 2017 - Phoenix, Arizona - Phoenix Raceway - "Phoenix Copper Cup"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: (April 28) 1. Bobby Santos, 22, DJ Racing-25.362; 2. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-25.499; 3. Davey Hamilton, 99, RPM/Gormly-25.607; 4. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn/Carli-25.609; 5. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-25.666; 6. Tanner Swanson, 201, Nolen-25.682; 7. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-25.768; 8. Damion Gardner, 6, Klatt-26.078; 9. Henry Clarke, 75, Rose-26.342; 10. Davey Hamilton Jr., 98, RPM/Gormly-26.656; 11. Joe Axsom, 120, Nolen-26.906; 12. A.J. Russell, 3, Finkenbinder-27,390; 13. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-27.416; 14. Toni Breidinger, 80, Breidinger-28.067; 15. Shane Butler, 15, Thompson-30.978; 16. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-NT; 17. Chris Windom, 92, Kazmark-NT.

FEATURE: (100 laps - April 29) 1. Bobby Santos, 2. Kody Swanson, 3. David Byrne, 4. Davey Hamilton, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Shane Butler, 7. Aaron Pierce, 8. Toni Breidinger, 9. A.J. Russell, 10. Henry Clarke, 11. Joe Axsom, 12. Damion Gardner, 13. Chris Windom (#2 Lawson), 14. Justin Grant, 15. Tanner Swanson, 16. Davey Hamilton Jr. NT
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Santos, Laps 22-30 Byrne, Laps 31-32 Santos, Laps 33-92 Byrne, laps 93-100 Santos.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Jerry Coons, Jr. (15th to 5th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Chris Windom

NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP (presented by TRAXXAS) POINTS: 1-K.Swanson-130, 2-Coons-116, 3-Windom-110, 4-Byrne-102, 5-Gardner-88, 6-Pierce-75, 7-Santos-73, 8-C.J. Leary-67, 9-Hunter Schuerenberg-61, 10-Davey Hamilton-61.

NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE (presented by TRAXXAS): May 25 - Indianapolis, IN - Indiana State Fairgrounds - "Hoosier Hundred"

Categories : News, USAC Silver Crown
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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

GRANT BREATHES EASY WITH VICTORY IN USAC SPRINTS' FIRST PILGRIMAGE TO PLYMOUTH

Plymouth, Indiana April 21, 2017 ......... Early on in Justin Grant's sprint car racing career, a fellow competitor told him that he wouldn't last more than eight laps without consciously remembering to breathe while he was racing.

Justin heeded that advice, and a handful of years later, the Ione, California native is finding the greatest success of his driving career. He could breathe easy after all was said and done Friday night after holding off a late-race charge from Chad Boespflug while mired in lapped traffic to collect his second series victory of the season in the first ever visit by the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship to Indiana's Plymouth Speedway.

The win came as a sigh of relief to Grant after a breathtaking moment in ProSource Qualifying that almost ended his night before it even began.

"I tried to end our night pretty early on during qualifying," Grant said with a grin. "I was coming to the green (flag) and about spun out. I went ahead, turned around and went back and tried to gain a little composure. I took a breath, came back and restarted my qualifying attempt. I went down into (turn) three on the first lap and all but turned over. Getting into three, my speed and the calculations I was running in my head, I figured I was going to go ahead and make it over the fence. It went ahead and sat down and I was able to salvage a respectable time on the second lap. Fortunately for me, a couple guys missed the transfer through the heat races and that put us on the front row."

Grant took full advantage of his seat on the outside of the front row, racing to the lead up top as polesitter Thomas Meseraull slid up the track in turn two, allowing Grant to breakaway to a substantial advantage.

By lap three, Grant was ahead by a half-straight. The lead had grown to the length of a straightaway with just five laps down as Meseraull, Chris Windom, Boespflug and Shane Cottle scrambled for positions two through five. Ten laps into the 30-lap event, Grant held a staggering half-lap lead as he began to negotiate lapped traffic.

"I felt like our car was pretty good," Grant said. "It was launching down the straightaways pretty fast. I was going as fast as I was comfortable going through the holes. I didn't know we had a straightaway lead or anything like that, but I thought we had a buffer. I couldn't hear anything. Normally, you can hear a guy behind you, but I couldn't hear anybody."

Though he possessed a suffocating stranglehold on all those who followed, Grant's lead would begin to shrink mightily by the halfway point as the drivers near the tail end of the field were running high, low, top and bottom as they engaged in their own battles for position ahead of Grant's black and red No. 11.

"Getting into lapped traffic, they were all two-wide for three or four rows in front of me," Grant recalls. "I was really just trying to keep myself calm, stay patient and wait for holes to open up so I could pick my way around those guys and not get caught up in something I didn't need to get caught up in."

Each lap, Boespflug chomped a significant chunk out of the interval between he and race leader Grant. On lap 23, Grant found himself entering turn three as he sought to overtake Aaron Pierce. Boespflug attempted to capitalize on the bottom to no avail as Grant clung to the lead by the cuticles of his fingernails. Grant then found his second wind, disposing of Pierce and Jarett Andretti to set himself free of the mounting pressure from Boespflug.

"I knew we had slowed down a ton in that group of lapped cars. I knew somebody was going to be coming pretty quickly. I was just kind of hoping things would open up. I saw Boespflug poke a nose under me in the middle of (turns) one and two. When I saw him, I decided I had to start taking some chances and be a little more aggressive. I kind of moved our way by a few of those guys and was able to open up a few lanes where I could start sliding guys and move around. As soon as I started clicking a couple lapped cars off, I felt comfortable and confident that we'd be alright."

Meanwhile, 18th starting Tyler Courtney seemingly came out of nowhere, shooting to the top around Boespflug in turn two with just a pair of laps remaining to grab second. By then, though, Grant was long gone once again where he would pull away for a commanding 3.5 second victory over Courtney, Boespflug, Meseraull and Stevie Sussex.

Grant's victory in the Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco was his first since the season-opening "Winter Dirt Games" in Ocala, Florida. His sixth career score ties him with the likes of Jac Haudenschild, Jan Opperman, Tom Sneva, George Snider and Dick Tobias on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list.

Additionally, team owner Sam McGhee revisited Plymouth Speedway victory lane for the first time in six seasons, but this time, it was in a different role. The now 17-year-old McGhee drove to victory lane after winning a USAC Ford Focus Young Guns Midget feature at Plymouth in 2011 when the track was pavement.

Back to Grant, though, who established the 30-lap mark at Plymouth Friday night during a caution-free, green-to-checker feature finish in a time of 7:36.34 that saw all 22 starters finish. By Grant's estimation, 30 laps non-stop in a sprint car doesn't take long, but it can, without a doubt, be taxing on the mind.

"A sprint car race is 30 laps, but they're 30 intense laps," Grant explains. "Things are happening so fast and everybody's so quick, if the race gets away from you, you're not getting it back. It's mentally challenging and you just really have to try and make sure to breathe and that's the biggest thing, especially when the track's rough. You actually have to tell yourself to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out to just keep some oxygen going and to stay focused."

After four-straight sub-top-ten performances to begin the season, Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney bounced back in just about the most spectacular way imaginable, driving from the outside of the ninth row to finish second without the aid of a single yellow flag in his TOPP Motorsports/TOPP Performance Race Parts - Custom Pump & Controls/Maxim/Claxton.

"This is what we all needed, not only for me as a driver, but as a team," a proud Courtney beamed. "We struggled at the beginning of the year. We changed a few things this week and it worked out. Our car was the best it's been in a while. We screwed up in qualifying on a tough racetrack and that put us deep in the field. It makes it pretty hard to win races from that far back, especially with the caliber of guys we have running in the series. You can't slouch off at any point in the night. Getting behind the eight-ball is tough, but we rebounded to get a podium here in front of a hometown crowd for my car owner who grew up here in Plymouth."

"I knew we were good from the start," Courtney continued. "I was hoping we weren't too good too early, but I was able to find a different line than everybody out there through (turns) one and two, which is where I passed a bunch of guys. I knew once I started seeing Chad (Boespflug), Thomas (Meseraull), Chris (Windom) and those guys, I had to be getting close to the front, but I still couldn't see Justin. I knew I hadn't passed him yet, so I knew it was still a long row to hoe. We needed a yellow, but we didn't quite get one. To get second, I'll take it. This is the best second has ever felt!"

Third-place finisher Chad Boespflug briefly clamped down on Grant for the race lead late in the going Friday night at Plymouth, yet he also closed to within one-point of Grant for the series point-lead in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton heading into Eldora Speedway's "LetsRaceTwo" on May 12-13.

"I just started to really hone in on my line when I got to Justin (Grant) in lapped traffic there," Boespflug replays. "I tried to roll the bottom a few times and realized I was a little freer than I had been all night. Come to find out, we had a bleeder stick in the right rear, or actually shut off. We just grew too much pressure in the right rear. We got to Justin's rear bumper there, kind of, and it was just time to try and make some moves. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out for us tonight. We slipped back to third there at the end, but overall, great night again.

Contingency award winners Friday night at Plymouth Speedway include Chase Stockon (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Stevie Sussex (Indy Race Parts Semi Winner), Tyler Courtney (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Landon Simon (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 21, 2017 - Plymouth, Indiana - Plymouth Speedway

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.016; 2. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.195; 3. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-13.254; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.284; 5. Tyler Hewitt, 97x, One More Time-13.364; 6. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-13.369; 7. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.417; 8. Thomas Meseraull, 00, SC-13.448; 9. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-13.462; 10. Colten Cottle, 1RL, Lambertson-13.511; 11. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-13.531; 12. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-13.613; 13. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.625; 14. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.630; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-13.691; 16. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-13.712; 17. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.715; 18. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.741; 19. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-13.746; 20. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-13.879; 21. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-13.933; 22. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-13.961; 23. Josh Spencer, 66J, Spencer-14.000; 24. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-14.017; 25. Chad Wilson, 14, Wilson-14.724; 26. Lee Underwood, 24L, Underwood-14.254; 27. Ethan Barrow, 15, Barrow-14.320.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Short, 3. Grant, 4. Andretti, 5. Windom, 6. C.Cottle, 7. Goodnight, 8. Wilson, 9. Farney. 2:16.91

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Darland, 3. Leary, 4. Meseraull, 5. Spencer, 6. Robbins, 7. Underwood, 8. Pierce, 9. Hewitt. NT

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. Courtney, 3. S.Cottle, 4. Chapple, 5. Simon, 6. Sussex, 7. Stanbrough, 8. Smith. 9. Barrow. 2:22.50

INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Sussex, 2. Hewitt, 3. Stanbrough., 4. Robbins, 5. C.Cottle, 6. Pierce, 7. Farney, 8. Wilson, 9. Underwood, 10. Barrow, 11. Goodnight, 12. Smith. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Chad Boespflug, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Stevie Sussex, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Jon Stanbrough, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11. Brady Short, 12. Colten Cottle, 13. Landon Simon, 14. Kyle Robbins, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Aaron Pierce, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Tyler Hewitt, 20. Aaron Farney, 21. Isaac Chapple, 22. Josh Spencer. 7:36.34
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Grant

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (18th-2nd).

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Landon Simon

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-445, 2-Boespflug-444, 3-Windom-386, 4-Stockon-364, 5-Andretti-297, 6-Courtney-282, 7-Leary-239, 8-S.Cottle-234, 9-Hunter Schuerenberg-230, 10-Simon-228.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 12-13 - Rossburg, Ohio - Eldora Speedway - "#LetsRaceTwo"

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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WINDOM TURNS THE TIDE, TAMES BOESPFLUG TO TAKE TRI-STATE'S SPRING SHOWDOWN

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Haubstadt, Indiana April 15, 2017 ......... One night after victory slipped through his fingers and into the hands of Chad Boespflug during a spectacular late-race duel at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, Chris Windom wouldn't let opportunity escape his grasp once again in Saturday night's "Spring Showdown" at Tri-State Speedway, co-sanctioned by USAC and MSCS.

However, an average finish of 12th over 13 career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts at Tri-State didn't bode well for Windom's odds coming into the event at the quarter-mile paperclip in southern Indiana.

But stats are just that. Stats. They are simply numbers that tell of what has occurred in the past, but are not the be-all, end-all figurative crystal ball that foretells what the future holds.

Windom reversed his fortunes in more ways than one Saturday night, taking the present into his own hands on a breakout night at a venue that has stuck in his craw and served as a thorn in his pride for much of the past decade.

By the fourth lap, he had swiped the lead from Boespflug, then fended off each proceeding challenge for the remaining 26 laps to take his 16th career USAC National Sprint Car feature victory, equaling Damion Gardner and moving him into the top-30 on the series' all-time win list.

Neither lapped traffic nor repetitious restarts nor even a one-lap shootout could stay this driver from the swift completion of his appointed goal of taming Tri-State Speedway, which he had long yearned to tame. This was a piece of redemption that would elude him no more. Drastic changes were not a necessity. A measured approach, and confidence to boot, can go a long way in knocking down barriers.

"We've tried to stick to our guns all year," Windom said. "We've kept everything the same. We haven't had the best results here in the past, but we didn't come down here and try to change everything. We just kept everything like we had been and we've been running well. If you would've told me in the last three years that I'd win a race here, I would have said you were crazy. I can't thank Derek (Claxton) enough for what he's been doing for me, and Billy (Grace) also. They've had this car so good. It's a winning car every single night. It's just really up to me to go out and get the job done."

And get the job done he did. Though, he would start the 30-lap main event from the outside of the second row, directly behind Boespflug. Right from the get-go, and as a continuation from the previous night's proceedings, Boespflug and Windom were practically attached at the hip as the duo immediately took ownership of the top-two positions exiting turn two on the opening lap.

On the fourth lap, Windom saw an opportunity as he put a slider on Boespflug for the lead entering the first turn. Windom made slight contact as he slid up in front of Boespflug as the pair hit the back straightaway nose-to-tail at the exit of turn two, but the early-race lead was his, a feat his experience told him was of utmost importance at Tri-State.

"I knew it was tough to pass and, when I saw an opening, I went for it," Windom admits. "Chad (Boespflug) went to the top and I threw a slider on him. I got into him a little bit, so I told him I was sorry after the race. I felt a little bad about that. But, this is one place you want to get to the lead as quickly as possible. I just wanted to be in command of the race and that's what we did."

In a reversal of roles from the night before, Windom took the middle to high route while Boespflug zipped along the bottom. Boespflug unloaded the chamber as he fought to reclaim ownership of the top spot, pulling even to the inside of Windom multiple times on both ends of the racetrack until a yellow for Josh Hodges reshuffled the deck, putting Boespflug in line behind race leader Windom on the ensuing restart.

Boespflug momentarily willed his way to the lead with a turn one slider when action resumed, but Windom as well as Justin Grant held the momentum and were able to blast by to take first and second, respectively. Although, Grant's newfound position would be short-lived as Boespflug got back around for second by the time they hit the third turn.

On lap nine, the most harrowing incident of the night came when Donny Brackett rode over a wheel of another car and barrel-rolled several times down the front straight before coming to a rest on all fours. The toll on Brackett's ride was substantial, but he was fortunate to walk away from the wreckage.

On each restart through the middle stages of the race, Boespflug consistently poked his nose ahead of Windom on multiple occasions on the bottom line. Yet, every single time, Windom's drive off the second and fourth corners was adequate to hold Boespflug at bay.

With 12 to go, Windom met up with a logjam of lapped cars at the tail end of the field. Windom was forced to alter his line to the bottom which, in turn, allowed Boespflug to peel away several layers of Windom's one-plus second lead over the next eight laps, to less than a half-second. That's when third-running Kyle Cummins' car went up in smoke on lap 27, coasting to a stop in turn four before collecting past "Spring Showdown" winner Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple.

Under yellow with four laps remaining and a crucial restart looming, Windom discovered himself in an uncanny position to the one he was in at Bloomington. A mixture of factors raced through his mind as he tried to avoid a moment of personal déjà vu.

"I was pretty nervous," an unabashed Windom admitted. "Normally, I'm not, but I'm not used to restarting a race out front here. I honestly wasn't sure where the best spot to restart was. It just seemed like every time I'd get rolling, a caution would come out. I didn't feel that great the first or second lap after a restart, so it was starting to make me feel a little nervous at the end. I knew if I could just hold my line around the bottom, it would be tough to go around the outside of us."

Windom was up to the challenge, mastering the course when he bolted away from Boespflug and was on his way to a surefire victory. After taking the white flag and hitting his marks in turns one and two for what he anticipated would be the last time, Landon Simon and Brandon Morin tangled in turn three. That, in turn, set up yet another stress test for Windom to endure - a one-lap free-for all between he and Boespflug for sprint car racing glory.

Once again, though, Windom answered the bell when he stood on the loudpedal and passed under Tom Hansing's green and white flag on the lap 30 restart. Distancing himself to a half-second advantage, Windom passed the exam with flying colors to become the first repeat winner on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour in 2017 over Boespflug, Grant, B & W Auto Mart/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Brady Short (from 20th) and Carson Short.

Windom led a top-three across the line that consisted of the first three drivers in series points. Though Windom suffered a couple of setbacks in the season-openers at Ocala, Florida in February that stifled his point accumulation, he has since gone on a tear with 1st, 2nd and 1st place finishes in his last three runs, a fact that has his him excited of what lies ahead.

"It's exciting when we can all go the track and have this much confidence," Windom explains. "It's a long season. Chad (Boespflug) and Justin (Grant) seem to run second and third every night I win, so that makes it hard to catch up. As long as we keep sticking with what we're doing, we'll be just fine."

Chad Boespflug has been a model of consistency to begin his campaign for the Hoffman Auto Racing team. The Hanford, California native has racked up finishes of 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 1st and 2nd to start the season and just narrowly missed becoming the third-straight driver in as many weeks to sweep the full slate of USAC National events during a single weekend. He led the opening three laps of the event before, ultimately, earning a solid second-place run in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton.

"We're just continuing to put good nights together," Boespflug said. "Chris (Windom) and I dueled it out last night and I thought we were going to get him again there in lapped traffic tonight. It was a great night overall to come back with a second and be back on the podium, especially here. The three of us up here on the podium have never run worth a darn here. We were talking before the feature how we're never any good here. For us three to be standing up here is pretty cool."

Likewise, Justin Grant of Ione, California has his Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates - Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Maxim/Foxco rolling where he continues to lead the points by three markers over Boespflug after finishes of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 3rd to begin the season.

"This place has historically not been very good to me," Grant concedes. "I'm usually pretty slow here, but Sam's car actually gets around here really well. I'm just happy to come out of here with a podium and move on to the next one."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway include Jarett Andretti (B & W Auto Mart/ProSource Fast Qualifier), Chase Stockon (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Chris Windom (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Brady Short (KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Tyler Courtney (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 15, 2017 - Haubstadt, Indiana - Tri-State Speedway - "Spring Showdown" co-sanctioned by MSCS

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.383; 2. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.400; 3. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-13.425; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.447; 5. Carson Short, 21, RCM-13.458; 6. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-13.511; 7. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2, Motsinger-13.582; 8. Max McGhee, 4J, 4J Motorsports-13.610; 9. Dave Darland, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-13.661; 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 44, Pace-13.746; 11. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-13.763; 12. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-13.784; 13. Chet Williams, 38, Williams-13.788; 14. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-13.797; 15. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-13.803; 16. Clinton Boyles, 98, Boyles-13.864; 17. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-13.884; 18. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-13.884; 19. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.893; 20. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-13.939; 21. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-14.043; 22. Brandon Morin, 98x, Morin-14.066; 23. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-14.221; 24. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.274; 25. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.520; 26. Tyler Rust, 10T, Rust-14.595; 27. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.774; 28. Brian Wallace, 27, Wallace-14.976; 29. Jim Shelton, 41, Shelton-15.766; 30. Donny Brackett, 4B, Brackett-(Time of 14.031 disallowed); 31. James Lyerla, 11L, JL-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. C. Short, 3. Andretti, 4. Williams, 5. B. Short, 6. Schmidt, 7. Darland. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Gentry, 3. K. Thomas, 4. Brackett, 5. Farney, 6. Cummins, 7. Morin, 8. Rust. 2:16.58

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Grant, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Sussex, 5. Jackson, 6. Mattox, 7. Hodges, 8. Lyerla. 2:19.01

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Simon, 3. McGhee, 4. Courtney, 5. Boyles, 6. Chapple, 7. Wallace. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Cummins, 2. Hodges, 3. B. Short, 4. Farney, 5. Darland, 6. Boyles, 7. Chapple, 8. Mattox, 9. Jackson, 10. Morin, 11. Lyerla, 12. Rust, 13. Schmidt, 14. Wallace. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Brady Short, 5. Carson Short, 6. Jarett Andretti, 7. Aaron Farney, 8. Max McGhee, 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Chase Stockon, 12. Stevie Sussex, 13. Tyler Courtney, 14. Chet Williams, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Landon Simon, 18. Brandon Morin, 19. Kyle Cummins, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Clinton Boyles, 22. Aric Gentry, 23. Dakota Jackson, 24. Donny Brackett, 25. Josh Hodges. NT
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**Rust flipped during the semi. Brackett flipped on lap 9 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Boespflug, Laps 4-30 Windom.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Brady Short (20th to 4th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Tyler Courtney

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-369, 2-Boespflug-367, 3-Windom-330, 4-Stockon-295, 5-Andretti-259, 6-Schuerenberg-230, 7-Hodges-212, 8-Courtney-208, 9-Leary-206, 10-Cummins-191.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 21 - Plymouth, IN - Plymouth Speedway

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

BOESPFLUG BESTS WINDOM IN CLASSIC BATTLE OF BLOOMINGTON

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Bloomington, Indiana April 14, 2017 ......... On a restart two-thirds of the way into Friday night's 30-lap USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, Chad Boespflug found himself playing defense on Chris Windom.

Some say defense wins championships, but in auto racing, a driver has to be on the offensive. And that's exactly what the Hanford, California native did after seeing his lead slip away on the 22nd lap. Down the stretch, Boespflug attacked the topside and went after Windom, instigating a compelling, five-lap, hair-raising wheel-to-wheel showdown in which the two were locked into a constant side-by-side battle.

After ripping off lap-after-lap that appeared as if he was on a single-car qualifying run, Boespflug emerged ahead of Windom on the white flag lap, leading the final two circuits to take his first career Bloomington victory and first as a driver for the legendary Hoffman Auto Racing/Dynamics, Inc. team.

"It's awesome to drive for the Hoffmans," Boespflug exclaimed. "To have the success we've had with so far with a fourth, two seconds and now a win, it's extra special all the way around. It's just a great group effort. Everybody works so hard when we get to the track. They don't complain or anything; they just do what's needed to be done and it shows every night when we get to the racetrack. It's an honor to get a win for Mean Green, the Hoffmans and everybody involved."

A lightning quick racing surface was prepared for the series' first visit to the southern Indiana staple in 2017. New 10-lap and 12-lap records were established during the preliminary events, setting the course for an action-packed main event.

At the start of the feature, outside front-row starter Boespflug asserted himself to grab the race lead from polesitter Dave Darland entering the first turn where he immediately settled in on the rim of the quarter-mile red clay oval.

A lap three caution for Hunter Schuerenberg fell after the sixth-place-running driver came to a stop on the wrong side of the banking between turns one and two, but that only momentarily put a clamp on Boespflug's run. On the ensuing restart, Darland held the low line while Boespflug occupied the top, which he used to pull away and extend his advantage in the early sequence.

Meanwhile, Windom, the series' most recent winner at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway two weeks prior, was on the move. After blitzing from sixth to third on the opening lap, Windom made his next move when he disposed of Shane Cottle and Dave Darland for the second position on lap eight and now had only race leader Boespflug to contend with.

However, Windom still trailed Boespflug by more than a second at the moment, but he unrelentingly kept digging on the bottom while Boespflug remained up top when the two came upon lapped traffic. Most of the lappers occupied the low line, forcing Windom to migrate to the top where he and third-place Darland followed in hot pursuit.

A pair of yellows for the stopped cars of Josh Hodges and Max McGhee brought about a pair of yellow flags, thus creating a clear track ahead of the leaders when racing resumed. Yet, the clear track didn't signal a utopian path to victory for Boespflug. Not only did he have to contend with Windom hot on his tracks, the uncontrollables began to enter his mind, though he let them slide to the back of his mind as he kept his thoughts focused on what he could control - the race at hand.

"About halfway through, the car got really soft on the right rear," Boespflug explained. "I wasn't sure if I had a tire going down or a shock broke. I had to rally through and not worry about that. I just had to worry about my race."

The lap 21 restart, in particular, was beneficial to Windom as Boespflug took a lower than usual line into turn one, entering the middle of the track which presented Windom an opportunity he refused to let slip through his fingers. Boespflug fought to gain a foothold in the middle, but by then, Windom was wheel-to-wheel underneath Boespflug. Boespflug quickly got back to the cushion and was able to nip Windom by the narrowest of margins at the flagstand on lap 21, but a lap later, Windom hit his marks perfectly on the bottom to jump out front and officially take the lead on the 22nd go-round.

"When Chris got around me there, I was overprotecting more than anything," Boespflug remembers. "I was racing behind me instead of in front of me. That allowed him to get around me."

At that moment, Darland, hanging in contention and running third, blew a left rear tire at the start/finish line, ending on this night a bid to extend his record-streak of USAC National features to 25 consecutive years.

When action resumed with seven laps remaining, Windom got a solid jump that spurted him out to a five-car-length lead ahead of Boespflug. With seemingly nothing to lose, Boespflug ventured back to the high side and put it all on the line.

Little-by-little, Boespflug drew closer and, with only five laps remaining, was side-by-side with the 2016 Silver Crown champ. Lap-after-lap, the two appeared as if they were engaged in a game of slot car racing, with both smooth on the rail, running distinctive lines with neither able to budge ahead by more than a foot or so at any particular point.

Lap 26, 27 and 28 all resulted in Windom clinging to a scant lead at the line, but Boespflug was still wide open on the outside, a move that would pay large dividends as he raced around Windom to grab the lead coming to the white flag.

On the final lap, as Boespflug inched away, Windom took one final, last ditch effort, but it wouldn't be nearly enough as he slid up behind Boespflug off the final corner, as Boespflug darted under the checkered flag to take his first series victory of the season and became the fourth different winner in as many races in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton, ahead of Windom, Chase Stockon, Justin Grant and B & W Auto Mart/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Kevin Thomas, Jr.

"Chris stayed on the bottom and I thought, 'well, here's my shot," Boespflug said. "Right before that last yellow, I was hanging with him there a little bit. I just had to stand up on the wheel and, when I saw that white flag, I didn't lift for the entire last lap. I just held her to the floor!"

It was a reversal of fortunes for Boespflug who finished second to Windom last October at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in a fierce battle that was reminiscent of Friday night's Bloomington classic. At Terre Haute in the Fall of 2016, the two swapped the lead 26 times, unofficially, without banging wheels or turning a wheel wrong.

Running out front and continuously hitting your marks is something that takes an enormous amount of concentration, but Boespflug believes when you race wheel-to-wheel in the situation he did, it allows you to take your mind off the methodical aspects of driving, and just race.

"It's actually better when you're racing somebody because you forget about everything you're thinking about," Boespflug said. "You just drive the hell out of the racecar, really. You're just focusing on what you have to do and hitting your marks. Chris raced me as clean as can be and I felt I did the same thing. He ran the bottom and I ran the top for five laps, side-by-side and didn't touch each other at all."

Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois, came up just short of becoming the series' first repeat winner of 2017, finishing second after leading seven laps in his Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving - AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton.

"We were pretty good on the top and bottom," Windom said. "I felt like we were a little stronger on the bottom and I was kind of committed to it. I didn't want to be switching from the top to the bottom because it's easy to miss your marks doing that. I got to the lead and it just started to slick off a little too much. With five to go, I felt like I had to slow down a little too much. By the time I realized I needed to get back to the top, Chad was already next to me with two or three laps to go. He ran three or four perfect laps there on the top and it was just enough to get back by us."

Fort Branch, Indiana's Chase Stockon is still trying to piece his season back together after a series of setbacks on and off the track. A late February tornado swept through Fort Branch, damaging his home, shop, toterhome, trailer and pickup truck. His first race following the tornado resulted in an opening lap flip at Lawrenceburg. Despite the stressful times, Stockon was able to put it all together Friday night for a solid third-place run in his 32 TBI Racing/Superior Tank & Trailer - Crescent Electric Supply/DRC/Fisher.

"We fought issues with this thing," Stockon admits. "This is the same car we had at Lawrenceburg. We straightened it up and Joe (Devin) fixed it. We've had motor issues, bent butterflies and trying to get it to idle right. We finally got it fixed this morning, then loaded up and came straight here (to Bloomington). The way things have been going, we're definitely relieved. It makes it that much sweeter."

Contingency award winners Friday night at Bloomington Speedway include C.J. Leary (B & W Auto Mart/ProSource Fast Qualifier & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Brent Beauchamp (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Tyler Thomas (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 14, 2017 - Bloomington, Indiana - Bloomington Speedway

PROSOURCE/B & W AUTO MART QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-10.771; 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-10.830; 3. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-10.891; 4. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-10.924; 5. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-10.963; 6. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-10.975; 7. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-10.995; 8. Stevie Sussex, 17GP, Dutcher-10.995; 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2, Motsinger-11.001; 10. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-11.023; 11. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-11.030; 12. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-11.033; 13. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-11.034; 14. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-11.056; 15. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-11.100; 16. Jeff Bland Jr., 38, Bland-11.100; 17. Brent Beauchamp, 34, Olson-11.121; 18. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-11.153; 19. Max McGhee, 4J, 4J Motorsports-11.165; 20. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-11.169; 21. Clinton Boyles, 98, Boyles-11.182; 22. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-11.190; 23. Kevin Thomas Jr., 44, Pace-11.206; 24. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-11.249; 25. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-11.254; 26. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-11.264; 27. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-11.276; 28. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-11.286; 29. Michael Koontz, 17x, Koontz-11.506; 30. Kody Swanson, 2E, Epperson-11.556; 31. Dakota Jackson, 66w, Waltz-11.560; 32. Brandon Morin, 98x, Morin-11.574; 33. Shelby VanGilder, 22v, VanGilder-11.853; 34. Dylan Shaw, 12K, Meneely-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Beauchamp, 2. Boespflug, 3. Boyles, 4. Schuerenberg, 5. Leary, 6. Chapple, 7. Goodnight, 8. Koontz, 9. VanGilder. 1:51.92

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Andretti, 3. Darland, 4. Windom, 5. Hodges, 6. Farney, 7. Simon, 8. Swanson, 9. Shaw. 1:53.02

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. K.Thomas, 2. McGhee, 3. Cottle, 4. Grant, 5. Bilbee, 6. Short, 7. Jackson, 8. Mattox. 1:51.72 (New Track Record)

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. T.Thomas, 2. Coons, 3. Bland, 4. Cummins, 5. Stockon, 6. Stanbrough, 7. Sussex, 8. Morin. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Leary, 3. Short, 4. Bilbee, 5. Hodges, 6. Stanbrough, 7. Farney, 8. Sussex, 9. Jackson, 10. Simon, 11. Swanson, 12. Chapple, 13. Goodnight, 14. Koontz, 15. VanGilder, 16. Mattox, 17. Morin. 2:20.84 (New Track Record)

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chad Boespflug, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Brady Short, 7. Jeff Bland Jr., 8. Kyle Cummins, 9. Brent Beauchamp, 10. Nick Bilbee, 11. Tyler Thomas, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Shane Cottle, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Tyler Courtney, 17. Jon Stanbrough, 18. Dave Darland, 19. Isaac Chapple, 20. Max McGhee, 21. Clinton Boyles, 22. Landon Simon, 23. Jerry Coons Jr., 24. Hunter Schuerenberg. NT
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**Morin flipped during the fourth heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Boespflug, Laps 22-28 Windom, Laps 29-30 Boespflug.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Kevin Thomas Jr. (20th-5th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: C.J. Leary

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Grant-294, 2-Boespflug-291, 3-Windom-249, 4-Stockon-246, 5-Schuerenberg-201, 6-Andretti-192, 7-Hodges-186, 8-Cottle-175, 9-Courtney-166, 10-Cummins-157.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 15 - Haubstadt, IN - Tri-State Speedway (Co-sanctioned by MSCS) - "Spring Showdown"

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

BACON BRINGS HIS BROOM, SWEEPS KOKOMO GRAND PRIX

Kokomo, Indiana April 9, 2017 .........The month of April has quickly become the "sweeps" period for USAC's national series as Brady Bacon became the second driver in as many weeks to complete an undefeated weekend by capturing both nights of the "Kokomo Grand Prix" at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway.

One week after Chris Windom claimed victories in consecutive nights at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car and Silver Crown action, respectively, it was Bacon's turn to do a little spring cleaning of his own as he cleared out space in his cabinet to bring home a pair of brand-new trophies earned this weekend in USAC National Midget competition.

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native took the lead from Tanner Thorson just shy of the midway point of the 30-lap affair after starting from the outside of the fifth row, then promptly dominated the second-half to grab his fifth-career USAC National Midget feature win, and third at Kokomo.

Sunday night was nearly identical to Saturday night for Bacon. For the second straight evening, he entered the Midget feature just after posting a runner-up finish in the Kokomo Sprint Car main event. Yet, it would take Bacon just a little bit longer to reach the point as opposed to the night prior, but not by that much.

Polesitter Chad Boat would control the pace early on as he slid up to the top to grab the lead in turn one on the opening lap. Outside second-row starter Tanner Thorson would instantly pose a threat as he took a peek to the inside of Boat off turn two on laps three and four.

On the sixth circuit, Thorson made his charge on the bottom, but Boat was able to hold onto his advantage by the skin of his teeth, more accurately the circumference of a single front wheel. One lap later, Thorson duplicated the same move, but this time was able to get enough of a run off turn four to propel him to the lead by a single wheel over Boat.

Boat wouldn't accept this fate without a fight and, instead, worked his way back around the topside to retake the lead from Thorson on the eighth lap. However, the move was negated due to a yellow for the turned-around car of ProSource Fast Qualifier Justin Grant, which reverted the running order back to the last completed lap.

Meanwhile, lurking in the shadows was third-running Bacon who had already overtaken seven positions in the first seven laps. After the green flag dropped for the restart, Thorson led the way on the bottom as Boat stayed true to the top. Bacon followed Thorson's lead and used the low line to motor past Boat for second.

The chase was on as Thorson led a train on the bottom with Bacon in tow as he aimed to escape the rapid pursuit of the previous night's winner. On the 13th lap, with little room for error and Bacon ready to pounce, Thorson left the door cracked open at the exit of turn four, which was just enough daylight for Bacon to squeeze through to snare the race lead away.

Just as it was the night before, Bacon put his Bob East-wrenched, FMR Racing/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions - Black Watch Farms/Beast/Toyota anywhere he pleased, running the bottom between turns one and two and using a diamond pattern on the other end of the racetrack in which he'd enter on the cushion in turn three and exit turn four on the bottom.

The interval between he and Thorson continued to expand in the final laps, growing to a substantial 4.5 second margin as Bacon took the checkered ahead of Thorson, Tyler Courtney, Rico Abreu (who charged from 22nd to 4th after flipping earlier in the night during time trials) while Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Bacon's victory puts him in an exclusive club of drivers who've tallied at least three USAC National Midget wins at Kokomo, joining Rich Vogler (7), Mel Kenyon (6), Jimmy Davies (3) and Bob Wente (3). Bacon's monumental weekend has given him a healthy early-season point cushion where he stands with a 30-point lead in the standings as the series takes an extended break before returning May 19 at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.

"We had to work a little harder tonight," Bacon remarked. "We were able to get to the front really quickly and then the track changed quite a bit. It got pretty treacherous with some holes on the bottom. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time every time and made some good decisions. I'm just glad to have a car I can be confident moving around in, especially here. You've got a lot of options and there's a big difference between the top and bottom. The car worked great wherever it went. We've worked so hard and, last year, we got our package together and we're finally getting the results to show for all that hard work."

Minden, Nevada's Tanner Thorson followed up a third-place run the night before with a second-place finish Sunday night in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio - TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota, getting back into the groove after a tough opening to the season in Du Quoin, Ill. back in March.

"We just took what it gave us tonight," Thorson stated. "We've had a pretty good car here the last two days. We definitely wanted to win that one, but Brady just beat us. He was better through the holes tonight, but we'll back and we'll come to the next race even stronger."

Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney took a wild tumble while running third in Saturday night's feature at Kokomo. Sunday night, the team rolled out the backup car for Courtney and took a well-earned third-place finish in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/Driven 2 Save Lives - Indiana Donor Network/Spike/Stanton SR-11.

"After the start I've had this year in the midget and sprint car, to get a podium here is a pretty good confidence booster," a rejuvenated Courtney exclaimed. "Hopefully, moving forward from here will be just a little smoother sailing than the start of the year. I can't thank everybody who came to the shop last night and busted their butts. We found out just last night that our car was junk and they finished putting this backup car together, came back to the track and kept faith in me. I've got all the faith in the world in them and their racecars and what they do in the shop. I think it showed tonight."

Contingency award winners Sunday night at Kokomo Speedway include Justin Grant (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Alex Bright (Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher), Jake Neuman (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Race Winner) Tanner Carrick (Chalk Stix Third Heat Race Winner), Tyler Thomas (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner) and Rico Abreu (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger).

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USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 9, 2017 - Kokomo, Indiana - Kokomo Speedway - "Kokomo Grand Prix"

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.081; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7B, Brown-13.199; 3. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.246; 4. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.247; 5. Dave Darland, 11, Gray-13.347; 6. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.350; 7. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.385; 8. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.402; 9. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13.452; 10. Davey Ray, 33, Team RAYPRO-13.530; 11. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.554; 12. Shane Golobic, 17w, Clauson-Marshall/Wood-13.574; 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 25, Petry/Goff-13.577; 14. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.625; 15. Tanner Carrick, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.626; 16. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.658; 17. Alex Bright, 77, Bright-13.690; 18. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-13.804; 19. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.828; 20. Tyler Nelson, 88T, Nelson-13.869; 21. Ryan Greth, 4R, Lesher-13.981; 22. Chase Jones, 22, Petry/Goff-13.992; 23. Kyle Schuett, 9K, Schuett-14.114; 24. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-14.118; 25. Anton Julian, 44, Pace-14.167; 26. Bear Wood, 8JR, LW Racing-14.516; 27. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-14.603; 28. Ray Seach, 2, Seach-14.664; 29. Rico Abreu, 21, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-NT; 30. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-NT.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bright, 2. Abreu, 3. Grant, 4. Greth, 5. Coons, 6. Klaasmeyer, 7. Darland, 8. Julian. 2:19.35

COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Neuman, 2. Ray, 3. Robinson, 4. Shelton, 5. K. Thomas, 6. Jones, 7. Wood, 8. Walker. 2:18.80

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Carrick, 2. Bayston, 3. Bacon, 4. Courtney, 5. Windom, 6. Shane Cottle (#9K), 7. Dickerson. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. T. Thomas, 2. Thorson, 3. Boat, 4. Golobic, 5. Nelson, 6. Lynch, 7. Seach. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. K. Thomas, 2. Darland, 3. Windom, 4. Coons, 5. Jones, 6. Nelson, 7. Cottle, 8. Lynch, 9. Dickerson, 10. Wood, 11. Klaasmeyer, 12. Julian, 13. Seach. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Rico Abreu, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Spencer Bayston, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Shane Golobic, 9. Ryan Robinson, 10. Holly Shelton, 11. Davey Ray, 12. Jerry Coons, Jr., 13. Alex Bright, 14. Tyler Thomas, 15. Tyler Nelson, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Brayton Lynch, 18. Ryan Greth, 19. Chad Boat, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Chris Windom, 22. Chase Jones, 23. Tanner Carrick. NT
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**Abreu flipped during qualifying. Klaasmeyer flipped during the semi. Julian flipped during the semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Boat, Laps 7-12 Thorson, Laps 13-30 Bacon.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Rico Abreu (22nd to 4th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Alex Bright

NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-216, 2-Bayston-186, 3-Thorson-175, 4-Coons-169, 5-Grant-168, 6-Golobic-151, 7-Neuman-125, 8-Darland-120, 9-Courtney-113, 10-Robinson-113.

NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 19 - Granite City, Illinois - Tri-City Speedway

Categories : Midgets, News, Short Track, USAC
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