USAC
 

 

 

WINDOM STRIKES AGAIN FOR 2ND STRAIGHT "JIM HURTUBISE CLASSIC" VICTORY

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Terre Haute, Indiana.........Since its inception more than six decades ago, the Terre Haute Action Track has had distinct eras that seem to resonate with a particular driver.

Lately, this era at the famed half-mile dirt oval has belonged to Chris Windom who ran fourth with just four laps remaining and used a daring late-race move on Kevin Thomas, Jr. to capture his third-straight USAC victory at Terre Haute in Friday night's USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car "Jim Hurtubise Classic".

The Windom/Baldwin connection has now netted four USAC Sprint Car feature wins at Terre Haute dating to 2011. The victory also allowed Windom to join Jack Hewitt as just the second driver to win the "Hurtubise Classic" three times. Windom also became the first to win back-to-back "Hurtubise Classic" races since Hewitt in 1990-1991.

"This place is special to me," Windom praised. "Crew chief Derek (Claxton) and I are always good here. Even when we don't have the fastest car, we just dig deep at the end of the race and get the wins here. I wish we could race here about ten times a year!"

Terre Haute served as a sweet renaissance for the Canton, Illinois driver who hadn't been victorious in the series in nearly three months. Although, the 30-lap feature wouldn't start as triumphantly for the second-place driver in the series standings as it would turn out.

For much of the race, Thomas maintained the dominant car. In the first half, Thomas was clicking off laps a half-second faster than second-running Robert Ballou as he extended his lead to a full-straightaway by the seventh lap.

By the 12th lap, Windom had worked his way to third with a turn two slider on Aaron Farney, then set forth on a mission to run down Thomas and Ballou running one-two.

By mid-race, Ballou was able to hang with Thomas, staying within three car-lengths from the tail of the 9K as the cushion pushed all the way to the concrete at the exits of turns two and four while the two past Action Track winners worked the tail end of lapped traffic. Thomas continuously gapped himself from Ballou by chipping away one car at a time, first getting around the outside of Chapple exiting turn four. As soon as Ballou cleared Chapple, Thomas had regained precious ground once again by diving under Mario Clouser in turn three to pin Ballou, the 2015 USAC champ, behind the trailing car.

With six laps remaining, Windom traded sliders with Farney and fell to fourth where he would remain with four laps to go with the race seemingly out of reach. However, a domino of circumstances befell the front runners to aid Windom's resurgent emergence. First, as Ballou worked on Thomas for the race lead, his right rear tire gave way, sending him to the infield work area for fresh rubber, thus, relegating him to the tail for the lap 27 resumption.

Though standing third in line on the restart behind Thomas and Farney, Windom knew this was the moment of attack to have any chance at victory. Windom dove to the bottom of turn one as the green dropped, disposing of Farney and pulling alongside Thomas before falling back into line in second behind Thomas exiting the second turn.

However, the move would quickly be negated as Chapple slowed to a stop in turn two, sending Windom back to third and forcing him to repeat the exercise once again.

On take two, it appeared to be a carbon copy of the events that had just transpired moments before. Windom dove to the bottom of one, leaving Farney behind as he went toe-to-toe with Thomas before ducking in behind the leader exiting two. That's where he knew his golden opportunity had arrived.

"I just tucked in behind KT and there was a little strip of rubber off turn two you could catch," Windom explained. "I caught that and slid him going into turn three. For the first three-quarters of the race, we weren't the best car, but sometimes on those late-race restarts, you just got to dig deep and make something of it. I knew that was my only shot to get there and I knew there was less than five to go. I knew I had to do something."

Shortly thereafter, on lap 28, second-running Thomas began to slow coming off turn two with, as it turns out, a lack of fuel. That created a bunch up that collected Thomas, the third-place running car of Farney and fourth-running Boespflug who all climbed over each other to varying degrees down the back straightway, yet all remained afloat and continued. Eighth running Shane Cottle wasn't as fortunate, though, and came to a stop while trying to avoid the wreckage to no avail.

On the ensuing restart, Windom broke away while second-running Thomas coasted on fumes to the inside and Boespflug slid by Farney for the runner-up spot. Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant would follow suit on the final lap to take over third and fourth, respectively, as Farney fell to fifth.

Meanwhile, Windom rose head and shoulders above the fray to win by a tick under two seconds over Boespflug, Courtney, Grant and Farney, who gingerly walked away from a nasty-looking barrel-roll flip down the front straightaway underneath the checkered flag after contact with Grant. Farney climbed from the car under his own power, but was transported to the hospital for further observation.

For the second year in a row, Hanford, California's Chad Boespflug finished in the runner-up position behind Windom in the "Hurtubise Classic." This occasion occurred under different circumstances as Boespflug utilized a brand-new crew after shuffling the deck in an attempt to right the ship that had seen its share of choppy waters over the past several weeks in his Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green - PAC Springs/Maxim/Claxton.

"We made some changes over the past couple weeks," Boespflug acknowledges. "We're just trying to get things fun and exciting again. I hired Robert (Brown) and A.J. (Parker) to come help. Things went well tonight right from the start. In hot laps, we didn't have the speed we wanted, but we found something pretty good for qualifying and just continued to progress. It's comforting to work with Robert at such a fast pace to get this thing comfortable. We were actually too good early and really good at the end. The car definitely came to us in the end. It's good to finally run second again after running so terribly the past month and a half or so. It's been pretty up and down to run second, then run bad, then good, then bad."

"Early in the night with a new crew, it can definitely make you tentative, I guess, especially with the tendencies the car has had in the past several races," Boespflug believes. "I tip-toed into it and wasn't as comfortable as I wanted to be early. In qualifying, we made the right changes, got it great and made another good, big change for the heat race. At that point, I had a lot of confidence in what Robert was going to do next. Were we a second-place car? I think we were close, at least third if everything worked out. I'll take it any way I can get it. It's a race to the end, not the middle."

Following a pair of victories in the two most recent series races at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in August, Tyler Courtney emerged from his 16th starting position to score a solid third.

"We have a really good racecar," Courtney stated. "I put us behind the eight ball in qualifying. It's not what you want to do at a place like this, especially without cautions. We were mired back there in 10th or 11th. With some luck on those cautions, it really played into our hands. You have to get every spot you can if you want a chance (at the championship) at the end of the year, but it's tough when Chris (Windom) and Justin (Grant) run top-five too."

"We had to run everywhere guys weren't," Courtney said. "I made sure that if I had to wait one more lap to get a better run to make sure I cleared a guy so I don't have to mess with him again after that. On restarts, I made sure to protect myself or, if I got a really good run into one, I'd try to kill a guy's momentum and slide him off into one, then hopefully clear him off of two and get the rubber coming off to propel down the back straight. It was tricky to not blow through it and to make sure not to run over the guy you're sliding because you knew he was going to have a run coming down the hill. Luckily, we were in the right place at the right time. A couple times, guys were banging wheels there, but we came out mostly unscathed. We had a couple dings and dents here and there, but that's racing. Sixteenth to third, coming off two wins and another podium, you can't be disappointed about that."

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 15, 2017 - Terre Haute, Indiana - Terre Haute Action Track - "Jim Hurtubise Classic"

QUALIFYING: 1. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-20.477; 2. Justin Grant, 11, McGhee-20.602; 3. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-20.674; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-20.873; 5. Aaron Farney, 15F, DCT-20.880; 6. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-20.953; 7. Scotty Weir, 17G, On The Gass-21.069; 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KT-21.083; 9. Dave Darland, 17GP, Dutcher-21.136; 10. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-21.225; 11. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-21.238; 12. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-21.263; 13. Carson Short, 21, RCM-21.307; 14. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-21.316; 15. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-21.418; 16. Nate McMillin, 24, McMillin-21.516; 17. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-21.529; 18. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-21,588; 19. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-21.735; 20. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-21.767; 21. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-21.779; 22. Patrick Budde, 90, Budde-21.982; 23. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-22.101; 24. Steve Thomas, 20, Thomas-22.404; 25. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-22.457; 26. Eric Burns, 99, Gasway/Rolison-23.996. (Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-21.986-Time Disallowed).

FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Ballou, 4. Short, 5. Weir, 6. Mattox, 7. McMillin, 8. Robbins, 9. Budde. 2:51.95

SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. K. Thomas, 2. Courtney, 3. Cottle, 4. Leary, 5. Farney, 6. Grant, 7. Chapple, 8. Clouser, 9. Burns. 2:52.56

THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Bacon, 3. Boespflug, 4. Darland, 5. Gentry, 6. Hodges, 7. Andretti, 8. Hughes, 9. S. Thomas. 2:56.68

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Hodges, 3. Andretti, 4. Clouser, 5. Chapple. 6. Hughes, 7. Robbins, 8. Mattox. 9. McMillin, 10. Budde, 11. S. Thomas. 12. Burns. 4:34.38

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Aaron Farney, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Brady Bacon, 8. Scotty Weir, 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Jon Stanbrough, 12. Robert Ballou, 13. Jarett Andretti, 14. Josh Hodges, 15. Carson Short, 16. Kyle Robbins, 17. Mario Clouser, 18. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19. Shane Cottle, 20. J.J. Hughes, 21. Isaac Chapple, 22. Aric Gentry. NT
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**Farney flipped at the checkered flag.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-26 K. Thomas, Laps 27-30 Windom.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Brady Bacon (22nd to 7th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Jarett Andretti

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1-Grant-1732, 2-Windom-1650, 3-Courtney-1564; 4-Boespflug-1552, 5-K. Thomas-1519, 6-Stockon-1482, 7-Leary-1339, 8-Bacon-1302, 9-Ballou-1217, 10-Andretti-1145.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: September 16 - Haubstadt, Indiana - Tri-State Speedway - "Haubstadt Hustler" - Co-sanctioned by MSCS

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2ND HALF SURGES MAKE PRIME CONTENDERS OUT OF USAC SPRINT VETERANS

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Since the beginning of Indiana Sprint Week in mid-summer, a handful of drivers have turned on the proverbial switch to convert themselves into prime contenders down the stretch of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season.

With 11 races taking place since the beginning of ISW on July 8 and now 11 events remaining on the series schedule, let's take a look at some of the biggest movers and shakers in the series over the past couple of months heading into this weekend's pair of Indiana events Friday at the Terre Haute Action Track and Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.

Rocklin, California's Robert Ballou was absent for the first six events of the 2017 season, which put the 2015 USAC National Sprint Car champ in a deficit that would practically be impossible to overcome to get into title contention.

However, since the ISW opener at Kokomo Speedway, no driver has accumulated more points than Ballou, which has helped him climb all the way to ninth in the standings. He has just one win in that span since July - the ISW finale at Lincoln Park Speedway - but has finished in the top-five in seven of those 11 features, and only one result outside the top-ten, a race in which he was running third before an accident on the final lap.

Like Ballou, Kevin Thomas, Jr. missed some time at the very beginning of the season, but quickly got back into the swing of things utilizing extreme consistency, but particularly of late. In July, the Cullman, Alabama native captured his first Indiana Sprint Week title, notching one victory at Bloomington Speedway. Additionally, he picked up his second-straight "Special Event" win on #GYATK Night at Kokomo in August, which has advanced him from sixth to fourth in the series standings.

Along with C.J. Leary, the winningest driver in that span since the beginning of ISW is Tyler Courtney. Both have three wins apiece, but Courtney has the third-most points over the past two months which has shot him from 7th to 3rd in the points since then - the biggest move of any driver in the series. Courtney won at Randolph County Raceway in Moberly, Missouri to end July, then won the final two nights of "Sprint Car Smackdown VI" at Kokomo to vault himself to a season-leading five series victories.

Ione, California's Justin Grant has been at the forefront of the standings since his season-opening win at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. Along the way, he's picked up four series wins, but none since the beginning of June at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway. He's earned the fourth-most points in the series since ISW, but the National Sprint Car series point leader has managed to increase his lead from 65 coming into ISW to 93 currently with a string of strong qualifying runs, top-fives and top-tens.

Leary, of Greenfield, Indiana, has the fifth-most points since July with those three victories, including back-to-back scores during Indiana Sprint Week at Lawrenceburg Speedway and Gas City I-69 Speedway as well as a triumph on the opening night of "Smackdown" at Kokomo in August. He currently resides seventh in the overall standings.

Since the 8th of July, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings appear as so: 1-Robert Ballou-719, 2-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-701, 3-Tyler Courtney-687, 4-Justin Grant-604, 5-C.J. Leary-602, 6-Chad Boespflug-591, 7-Chris Windom-576, 8-Brady Bacon-533, 9-Josh Hodges-515, 10-Chase Stockon-512.

With the title race on the line over the next two months, these next 11 stops will be crucial. With drivers like Courtney and Thomas surging at the right time, perhaps their names could enter the fray for the title if those at the top like Grant (1st) or Chris Windom (2nd) do not continue the consistency they've had throughout the season. It may be a long season calendar-wise, but every race does count, especially at this juncture.

On Friday night at Terre Haute, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm with cars set to hit the track at 6pm (eastern time). Adult grandstand admission tickets are $25, infield admission is $15 and children 10 and under are free.

For Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm with on-track activities set to begin at 6pm (central time). Adult tickets are $25, students (age 13-18) are $20, children 12 & under are free.

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DARLAND TEAMS WITH DUTCHER THIS WEEKEND FOR TERRE HAUTE & HAUBSTADT USAC SPRINT RACES

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

USAC's winningest National Sprint Car driver Dave Darland will take over the reins of the Michael Dutcher Motorsports No. 17GP this weekend when the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship makes stops on Friday to the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track on Friday, September 15 and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. on Saturday, September 16.

Darland has yet to compete for Dutcher's team in USAC competition this season, instead driving much of the year aboard the Phillips Motorsports No. 71p and, most recently, in the No. 40 for Mark Hery. However, Darland has had success with Dutcher in 2017 in local Indiana sprint car action, capturing the victory last Saturday night at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.

Darland also made three starts in Dutcher's Silver Crown car in 2016, finishing in the top-ten twice, including at Terre Haute, site of this Friday's "Jim Hurtubise Classic."

Darland will be the fifth driver to wheel Dutcher's sprinter in USAC competition this season, following Jeff Bland, Jr., Stevie Sussex, Ryan Bernal and Tyler Thomas, who came within a lap of scoring a huge victory in August's "Sprint Car Smackdown VI" at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.

Dutcher's cars have won at both Terre Haute and Tri-State Speedway with USAC. In 2013, Kevin Thomas, Jr. drove Dutcher's ride to a pair of Tri-State victories and a Terre Haute win during Indiana Sprint Week where, ironically, it was Darland who Thomas had to hold off in the final laps.

The pairing of Darland and Dutcher could be a boon for both sides as both aim for their first "Hurtubise Classic" win. Darland remains in search of his first USAC National victory of 2017, a streak he has kept intact since 1993! Dutcher, the 2012 USAC Mechanical Achievement Award winner, hasn't scored a USAC National Sprint Car win since February of 2015 at Florida's East Bay Raceway Park with Kevin Thomas, Jr., a span of 102 races.

Darland has won five times at Terre Haute: twice in sprints, once in Silver Crown and twice in midgets. However, Tri-State hasn't been as kind to Darland, one of the few places he has yet to reach victory lane, and where he hopes to snap that record in this Saturday night's "Haubstadt Hustler," which pays $12,500 to win!

On Friday night at Terre Haute, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:15pm with cars set to hit the track at 6pm (eastern time). Adult grandstand admission tickets are $25, infield admission is $15 and children 10 and under are free.

For Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm with on-track activities set to begin at 6pm (central time). Adult tickets are $25, students (age 13-18) are $20, children 12 & under are free.

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USAC EAST COAST SPRINT CARS SET TO DEBUT IN 2018
 
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
 
USAC Sprint Car racing is coming eastbound on a full-time basis in 2018 when the newly-formed USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series makes its debut.
 
USAC's newest division joins the slate after series director Curt Michael and the United Racing Club conducted a pair of wingless sprint car events during the 2017 season.
 
"The very first one at Big Diamond, we had 16 cars and the place was packed," Michael explained. "(The promoter) took two races this year because he's seen it's something to build on. The next time out at Path Valley, we had 26 cars and I think it's only going to get better."
 
Michael believes the series, which will utilize engines that are 360 c.i., 358 and under in size, creates a place for young drivers competing in wingless micros to step up to where they can run sprint cars without the wing, a foundation he saw being laid down in this past year's events.
 
"They're cool cars and it's different," Michael said of wingless sprint car racing. "The biggest thing is these kids coming up are racing 600 micros, 270s and SpeedSTRs. It's a big thing in the lower ranks. We brought in a whole bunch of new guys to race with us this year. It didn't hurt URC's wing deal. We even had a couple wingless guys buy wing cars."
 
The East Coast and, particularly, the state of Pennsylvania is obviously well-known for wing sprint car racing. Michael, who, himself, has made a living racing with the wing as a 9-time URC champion and will continue to race with URC in addition to his new side endeavor leading the USAC East Coast Sprint Cars, sees an opportunity for a different breed of racing to feed the appetite of drivers, teams and fans in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware region.
 
"I know there's a lot of classes and that's a bad thing in racing," Michael admits. "But on the east coast, nobody can tell me where to go to see wingless sprint cars. It's one thing we don't have out here yet, but it seems like fans and racers want it. There's no doubt about it that it's cheaper. I've done both now. It's less fuel, it's easier on the tires, you don't need wings and you don't need a big trailer. I'm not putting down the wing deal, but it's a fact. It's cheaper to run a wingless sprint car."
 
Michael is adamant that the USAC East Coast Sprint Cars will not be competing with URC, where he serves as vice-president. The wingless series will be competing on URC's open weekends. A full 2018 schedule is in the works and will be announced at a later date.
 
"It just seems like it would be best if I did it on my own on the side and didn't book against URC races," Michael explained. "I'm hoping both series will help each other. URC is known as a wing series, which it will remain, and the USAC East Coast Sprint Cars will be the wingless series."

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WINDOM AIMS TO MAKE UP GROUND AS USAC SPRINTS HEAD TO TERRE HAUTE(FRI.) AND HAUBSTADT (SAT.)

By Richie Murray - USAC Media

As one curtain closes on the final weekend of summer, another curtain rises on a spectacular stretch of racing that hits the Midwest over the next few weekends that will play a pivotal role in determining the next USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion.

With nearly three-quarters of the schedule in the history books, the season comes down to its dramatic conclusion. The top-seven in USAC National Sprint Car standings have yet to hoist a USAC National Sprint Car title trophy and, after a three-week break to mentally prepare, these driven souls are champing at the bit to see who's the boldest, who's the wisest and who can put themselves in position to capture the ultimate prize.

First up this weekend is Friday night, September 15th "Jim Hurtubise Classic" at western Indiana's Terre Haute Action Track. The legendary "Herk" was unstoppable on the half-mile from late 1960 through the 1962 season where he was an undefeated 5 and 0.

While no driver has since equaled that mark, Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois does happen to have his own current streak of two wins at Terre Haute, albeit in two different kinds of racecars: a Silver Crown Car in May's "Sumar Classic" and capped off the Midwest portion of the Sprint Car season a year ago in the "Hurtubise Classic" when he outdueled Chad Boespflug for the victory in a 30-lap race that saw 26 unofficial lead changes!

Windom, who's won three times in a USAC Sprint Car at Terre Haute in his career, trails series point leader Justin Grant by 93 markers heading into this weekend's two events. But this pair of races could be where he could make up significant ground. Windom is the only driver to win USAC features at both Terre Haute and at Haubstadt, Indiana's Tri-State Speedway this season, home of this Saturday night, September 16th $12,500-to-win "Haubstadt Hustler," co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series.

In fact, Windom is one of 14 drivers to have won USAC National Sprint Car features at both Terre Haute and Haubstadt in his career. Another driver on that list is Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr., who has been on a roll of late, taking three out of six at last week's USAC/CRA "California Sprint Week" tour at Calistoga, Watsonville and Hanford.

Recent series champions Robert Ballou of Rocklin, California and Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma have mastered the task of winning at both the Wabash Valley half-mile fairgrounds oval and at the two dragstrips connected by a pair of turns in southwestern Indiana. So has Chase Stockon and Jon Stanbrough, who are both still seeking their first victories of the 2017 season.

Justin Grant may very well be on his way to a first USAC National Sprint Car title, but he hasn't yet won at either of this weekend's venues. However, his two most recent series wins have come on half-mile tracks like Terre Haute and, in his last two Haubstadt appearances, he hasn't qualified or finished outside the top-four.

Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney leads all drivers with five USAC National Sprint Car victories this season, including the series' most recent event, where he collected a big payday in "Sprint Car Smackdown VI" at Kokomo Speedway. "Sunshine" took third in his most recent Terre Haute visit and has finished in the top-three in two of his last three Haubstadt appearances.

On Friday night at Terre Haute, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:15pm with cars set to hit the track at 6pm (eastern time). Adult grandstand admission tickets are $25, infield admission is $15 and children 10 and under are free.

For Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway, pit gates open at 3pm, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at with on-track activities set to begin at 6pm (central time). Adult tickets are $25, students (age 13-18) are $20, children 12 & under are free.

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2018 USAC SPRINT SEASON OPENERS SET FOR OCALA FEB. 15-16-17

For the eighth consecutive year, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season is set to launch in Ocala, Florida at Bubba Raceway Park where "Winter Dirt Games" will open the 2018 season.

Dates have been set for the annual three-race weekend at the D-Shaped dirt oval on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 15-16-17, with an open practice beginning the festivities on Wednesday, February 14.

"One of USAC's great traditions over the last several years has been kicking off its season at Bubba Raceway Park," said Levi Jones, USAC Series Coordinator. "Over the last seven years, 'Winter Dirt Games' has quickly become one of USAC's marquee events and has annually produced some of the best racing action we see all season."

Eighteen USAC National Sprint Car events have been held at the Ocala, Florida track since 2011 and it has proven to be a harbinger of good things for drivers who've won the season opener there in recent years. In fact, three of the four most recent USAC National Sprint Car champions have begun their season as a winner in Ocala: Bryan Clauson (2013), Brady Bacon (2014) and Robert Ballou (2015). Current series point leader Justin Grant won the 2017 season opener at Bubba's.

Clauson is the winningest USAC Sprint Car driver at Bubba's with four victories in four different seasons. Damion Gardner has won three times while Tracy Hines, Bacon and Ballou have each scored a pair of victories. Darren Hagen, Dave Darland, Thomas Meseraull, Justin Grant and Hunter Schuerenberg have all won once.

While "Winter Dirt Games" has certainly proven to be a top-notch event among drivers seeking to get their season started off on the right foot, it's also been the same for fans who exit the winter weather for a much-needed foray into the "Sunshine State" to witness the most competitive racing series' lone appearance in the state during the year.

"'Winter Dirt Games' is one of those events fans and teams circle on their calendars each year," track owner Bubba Clem said. "We can't wait to have the USAC Sprint Cars back at Bubba Raceway Park once again in 2018 to kick off the start of a great racing season."

Additionally, further USAC dates in Florida during February 2018 are under discussion

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2017 points
National
Sept. 15
1. Justin Grant 1732
2. Chris Windom 1650
3. Tyler Courtney 1564
4. Chad Boespflug 1552
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. 1519
6. Chase Stockon 1482
7. C.J. Leary 1339
8. Brady Bacon 1302
9. R. Ballou 1217
10. J. Andretti 1145

National Midgets
Aug. 17
1. Spencer Bayston 1293
2. Brady Bacon  1233
3. Shane Golobic 1219
4. Tanner Thorson 1198
5. Tyler Courtney 1171
6. Justin Grant 1167
7. Chad Boat 1032
8. Holly Shelton 933
9. Tanner Carrick 857
10. Jerry Coons Jr. 808

Silver Crown
Sept. 3
1. Kody Swanson  624
2. Jerry Coons Jr. 519
3. Chris Windom  458
4. Justin Grant 415
5. David Byrne 387
6. Aaron Pierce  380
7. Bobby Santos  350
8. Joss Moffatt 269
9. Joe Liguori  258
10. Damion Gardner 248

USAC/CRA
Sept. 9
1. Damion Gardner 1135
2. Brody Roa 1062
3. Jake Swanson 1049
4. Mike Spencer 869
5. Austin Williams 801
6. Cody Williams 731
7. Logan Williams 675
8. Max Adams  623
9. Chris Gansen  611
10. Matt McCarthy 524

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