HECTIC MID-AMERICA MIDGET WEEK BRINGS MIDGETS TO 5 RACES IN 4 STATES ACROSS 5 NIGHTS
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
The compasses are all pointed toward the middle of the United States this coming week for five races in six nights as the season hits a busy, hectic stretch of summer with two new tracks and a host of new events ready to welcome the USAC P1 Insurance National Midgets for its annual, popular swing that sports a new look.
The expansive week of racing includes four racetracks in four different states. The week kicks off on Tuesday, July 10 with the series' first visit to the state of Oklahoma in 43 years when the road takes us to Red Dirt Raceway in Meeker, Okla. Back in 1975, John Batts and Sleepy Tripp earned successive victories at the Oklahoma City Sports Arena.
One night later, on Wednesday, July 11, the series returns to the birthplace of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward for the ninth running of the "Chad McDaniel Memorial" at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kansas.
After one night off, on Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14, the two-night, inaugural Riverside Chevrolet "Midwest Midget Championship" presented by Westin Packaged Meats and Schmidt's Sanitation at Jefferson County Speedway in Fairbury, Nebraska debuts. The first night on Friday will feature a $3000 winner's share leading into Saturday night's finale which sees the ante upped to $5000 for the main event winner.
Teams can enter the event at: https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2018-midwest-midget-championship-fairbury-nebraska. Competitors must pre-enter to be eligible for the increased Saturday purse. Pre-entry is good for both nights of the "Midwest Midget Championship:" $50 for USAC members and $70 for non-USAC members. The deadline for pre-entering is Tuesday, July 10.
The series hits the trail the following night, on Sunday, July 15, for its second debut at a new track in a six-day span, Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex in Sweet Springs, Missouri for the "John Hinck Championship." It will be the first "Show-Me State" showcase for the USAC National Midgets since Jerry Coons, Jr. victory at Eldon's Lake Ozark Speedway in 2006.
Tuesday night's opener at Red Dirt Raceway and Sunday's closer at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex mark two of the three new tracks the series will visit during the 2018 season, along with the new Dirt Track at IMS being recently announced. Norman, Oklahoma's Christopher Bell, the 2013 series champ, will compete in both bookend events at Red Dirt and Sweet Springs for his only USAC Midget appearances of the week.
Past winners of the ninth-running of Wednesday's "Chad McDaniel Memorial" at Solomon Valley include Scott Hatton (2012), Christopher Bell (2013 & 2017), Bryan Clauson (2014 & 2016) and Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2015). The 2011 event was rained out.
USAC National Midgets have raced at Jefferson County's 1/5-mile dirt oval in each of the past two seasons. Phoenix, Arizona's Chad Boat (2016) and Minden, Nevada's Tanner Thorson (2017) scored each of those victories.
The USAC National Midget championship race is one of the closest seen in quite some time with the top-five separated by a mere 30 points. Series Rookie Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif. continues to hold down the series lead by a scant four points over Phoenix, Arizona's Boat. Reigning series champ Spencer Bayston of Lebanon, Ind. is third, nine points out of the lead. Another rookie, Zeb Wise of Angola, Ind., is fourth, 21 points back from the leader. Indianapolis, Indiana's Tyler Courtney is 30 points from the lead in fifth.
The swing of events is a homecoming of sorts for several regulars with the series, including Broken Arrow, Oklahoma's Brady Bacon (6th in points), Collinsville, Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas (11th in points), Paola, Kansas driver Tucker Klaasmeyer (14th in points), Broken Arrow, Oklahoma's Jason McDougal (16th in points), Bethany, Oklahoma's Matt Moore (19th in points) and Stillwater, Oklahoma's Zane Hendricks (22nd in points). McDougal, Moore and Hendricks are among this year's highly-talented Rookie class.
Six USAC National Midget races have been held thus far in the 2018 season. Seavey won the opener at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin on March 10. Courtney captured the victory at the "Kokomo Grand Prix" at Indiana's Kokomo Speedway on April 13. The Indiana Midget Week title was won by Spencer Bayston as Kyle Larson (Montpelier), Chad Boat (Lincoln Park), Bayston (Lawrenceburg) and Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Kokomo) picking up the checkered flags.
On Tuesday at Red Dirt, the front gates open at 5pm. The drivers meeting takes place at 6pm with cars hitting the track at 6:30pm.
On Wednesday at Solomon Valley, the drivers meeting is schedule for 6pm with cars set to take to the track at 6:30pm.
On Friday and Saturday at Jefferson County, front gates open at 4pm. The drivers meeting is set for 5:30pm with cars on track at 6pm.
On Sunday at Sweet Springs, the pits open at noon, grandstands open at 3pm, drivers meeting at 5pm with the cars getting on track at 5:30pm.
PIERSON WINS "SUMMER NATIONALS" MIDGET FEATURE AT LINDA'S
Jonesville, PA........Adam Pierson of Bradford, Vt. led the final five laps of Saturday night's "Summer Nationals" USAC Eastern Midget race at Linda's Speedway, capping a two-night event at the Pennsylvania oval. Andrew Layser led the first 25 laps but slipped to third behind Pierson and Alex Bright at the checkered flag. Brett Arndt and Brenden Bright rounded out the "top-five."
FEATURE: (30 laps - Held July 7) 1. Adam Pierson, 2. Alex Bright, 3. Andrew Layser, 4. Brett Arndt, 5. Brenden Bright, 6. Shawn Jackson, 7. Kenny Miller, 8. Ryan Wilson, 9. Jason Rice, 10. Brett Conkling, 11. John Anderika, 12. Tommy Kunsman Jr., 13. Reed Salony, 14. Ryan Greth, NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-25 Layser, Laps 26-30 Pierson.
NEW USAC EASTERN MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Layser-667, 2-Jackson-643, 3-A.Bright-632, 4-Greth-578, 5-Miller-575, 6-Pierson-428, 7-Conkling-415, 8-Kunsmzn-352, 9-Arndt-338, 10-Rice-325.
NEXT USAC EASTERN MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 20 - Pottsville, PA - Big Diamond Speedway
COURTNEY CAPITALIZES IN LINCOLN PARK'S "SPRINTACULAR"
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Putnamville, Indiana.........The roots of Tyler Courtney's association with Lincoln Park Speedway run deep. In fact, his grandparents, Mike and Verla Farrar, owned and operated the joint for nearly two decades between 1981 and 1996.
Courtney didn't get to experience much of his family's era at the helm of the 5/16-mile dirt oval since he was a little tyke at the time. But on Friday night, he was able to experience what it was like to own victory lane at Lincoln Park, leading the final eight laps, and taking advantage of late-race misfortune that befell race leader Kevin Thomas. Jr., to win the 4th annual "Bill Gardner Sprintacular."
Courtney had been knocking on the proverbial door at LPS in recent years, finishing in the runner-up spot in his first ever USAC appearance at the track in 2013 and again in his most recent stop there during the summer of 2017.
Courtney, a four-time series winner coming into the 30-lapper, began the race from the fifth spot while fellow four-time winner Thomas rocketed to the lead around pole sitter Jordan Kinser on the opening from his outside front row starting position.
The going got rough early with fifth-place driver Brady Bacon suffering a flat left rear tire on the second lap. On the ensuing restart, a tangle ensued between multiple cars exiting the fourth turn. Past track champ Brent Beauchamp became the victim suffering the worst wound as he rode over a wheel and barrel-rolled down the front straightaway. He walked away unscathed.
Immediately following the red, Thomas opened a half-straightaway lead on the field and it wasn't long before the leaders entered the tail end of lapped traffic. On the 10th lap, Thomas and Isaac Chapple had a close encounter of third turn kind, but Thomas escaped and continued to dominate with authority.
On lap 17, what would prove to be the move of the race came to fruition, when Courtney slipped by A.J. Hopkins for the second position in turn one. The two made contact with each other in the process with Courtney's rear bumper and Hopkins left front wheel shaking hands. Yet, Thomas remained off into the great wide open ahead of Courtney who, at that point, seemed to have merely captured the battle for second in the background.
However, the topsy-turviness of racing would rear its head on the 23rd lap when race leader Thomas bucked the turn two cushion with his right rear tire, jackknifing the car to the right off the corner and sending him into a pair of aerial spirals before landing backdown on all fours beyond the ledge of the track. Though Thomas would bid adieu to his fifth win of the year, his health was okay and, in fact, he would restart the race from the tail, eventually driving up to a 16th place result.
Courtney had no qualms about "inheriting" the lead. To be in a position to take advantage of these opportunities, one must place themselves in a position to win. That's what he did and where he was tonight and has been for pretty much throughout the entire 2018 season.
"It's all about putting yourself in the right position," Courtney explained. "There are going to be nights where KT's going to be on the winning side of that. There'll be nights where somebody else is on the winning side of that and I'll be on the losing side, and so on and so forth. But you must put yourself in a position to be on the winning side of that. We're doing that night in and night out. As tough as this series is, to put yourself in a position to win every night is crucial, especially in this tight points championship that we got going on right now."
Multiple cars would occupy the space between new leader Courtney and second-place A.J. Hopkins for the lap 23 restart. Courtney swiftly launched away as Hopkins quickly excused the two lapped cars to pull within earshot of Courtney, creating a top-two breakaway from all challengers.
The breakaway became just a single party in the final laps as Courtney made a reservation for two in victory lane for he and his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/Priority Aviation - Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy to win the 11th USAC National Sprint Car feature of his career, tying Daron Clayton, Greg Leffler and Chase Stockon for 44th all-time.
Hopkins, Jason McDougal (from 22nd), Chris Windom (from 21st) and Kinser rounded out the top-five. The finishes by Hopkins, McDougal, and Kinser were all career bests in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition.
Meanwhile, Courtney became the first to reach his fifth series feature win of the season and took over possession of the series point lead by six over Thomas heading into the 31st edition of "Indiana Sprint Week," which begins July 20 at Plymouth Speedway. While Courtney is optimistic, he remains realistic.
"Both of those numbers going into 'Indiana Sprint Week' are cool, but, unfortunately, we're not even halfway through the season yet. You just have to keep racing like you've been racing, and it will piece itself together. I think we're in a really good spot. We have a really good car and group behind us."
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 6, 2018 - Lincoln Park Speedway - Putnamville, Indiana - 4th"Bill Gardner Sprintacular"
QUALIFYING: 1. Carson Short, 21, RCM-12.467; 2. Kody Swanson, 3R, Rock Steady-12.560; 3. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-12.734; 4. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-12.793; 5. A.J. Hopkins, 4J, 4J Motorsports-12.840; 6. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-12.874; 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-12.884; 8. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-12.896; 9. Jordan Kinser, 70, Hurst-12.897; 10. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-12.903; 11. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-12.951; 12. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox/Nigg-12.966; 13. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-13.047; 14. Brian VanMeveren, 24B, Silvers-13.102; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-13.113; 16. Nate McMillin, 24m, McMillin-13.129; 17. Thomas Meseraull, 5B, Briscoe-13.129; 18. Tim Creech, 2c, Creech-13.143; 19. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.179; 20. Brent Beauchamp, 34, Olson-13.198; 21. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-13.210; 22. Colten Cottle, 5c, Cottle-13.225; 23. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-13.287; 24. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-13.323; 25. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-13.335; 26. Ben Knight, 16K, Knight-13.349; 27. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.398; 28. Jason McDougal, 21K, Krockenberger-13.433; 29. Shelby VanGilder, 22v, VanGilder-13.517; 30. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.525; 31. Kyle Cummins, 3c, EZR/Cummins-13.558; 32. Matt McDonald, 5m, McDonald-13.666; 33. Shane Cockrum, 04, Burton-13.773; 34. Brady Ottinger, 4B, 4J Motorsports-14.190; 35. Harley Burns, 16, Rolison-14.242; 36. Eric Burns, 99B, Gasway-14.278; 37. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-14.706.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Meseraull, 2. Kinser, 3. Ballou, 4. Hopkins, 5. Short, 6. Schmidt, 7. Cockrum, 8. VanGilder, 9. Boespflug, 10. Bell. 2:12.38
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Creech, 2. C. Cottle, 3. Leary, 4. DiMattia, 5. Andretti, 6. Swanson, 7. Knight, 8. VanMeveren, 9. Ottinger. NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Grant, 2. Stockon, 3. Thomas, 4. Bacon, 5. Windom, 6. Clouser, 7. Chapple, 8. H. Burns, 9. Cummins. NT
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Darland, 3. Beauchamp, 4. Mattox, 5. Hodges, 6. McDougal, 7. McMillin, 8. McDonald, 9. E. Burns. NT
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer) 1. Short, 2. McDougal, 3. Clouser, 4. Hodges, 5. Windom, 6. Swanson, 7. Chapple, 8. McMillin, 9. VanGilder, 10. Schmidt, 11. Bell, 12. Ottinger, 13. Boespflug, 14. E. Burns, 15. VanMeveren, 16. Cockrum, 17. McDonald, 18. Knight. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (5), 2. A.J. Hopkins (4), 3. Jason McDougal (22), 4. Chris Windom (21), 5. Jordan Kinser (1), 6. Thomas Meseraull (13), 7. Dave Darland (20), 8. Brandon Mattox (12), 9. Robert Ballou (17), 10. Josh Hodges (9), 11. Brady Bacon (6), 12. C.J. Leary (10), 13. Carson Short (7), 14. Kody Swanson (8), 15. Chase Stockon (11), 16. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2), 17. Isaac Chapple (23), 18. Mario Clouser (19), 19. Justin Grant (15), 20. Tony DiMattia (3), 21. Tim Creech (14), 22. Brent Beauchamp (16), 23. Colten Cottle (18). NT
**Andretti flipped during the second heat. Beauchamp flipped on lap 2 of the feature. Thomas flipped on lap 23 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-22 Thomas, Laps 23-30 Courtney.
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Courtney-1260, 2-Thomas-1254, 3-Windom-1241, 4-Ballou-1102, 5-Stockon-1086, 6-Bacon-1080, 7-Darland-1042, 8-Leary-994, 9-Grant-983, 10-Boespflug-833.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 20 - Plymouth Speedway - Plymouth, Indiana - 31st "Indiana Sprint Week"
UNPREDICTABILITY IS THE CORRELATION FROM FRIDAY'S LPS SPRINT ROUND TO ISW
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Putnamville, Indiana.........Momentum seemingly is at the forefront of a lot of the success that is found over a prolonged period of time.
With the final USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car race prior to the 31st edition of "Indiana Sprint Week" looming this Friday night, July 6, at Putnamville, Indiana's Lincoln Park Speedway, one would assume it's important to have a good showing to carry the "Big Mo" into the seven-races in nine nights series that runs from July 20-28.
However, a dig into the numbers show that isn't necessarily the case, believe it or not.
Since USAC began sanctioning "Indiana Sprint Week" in 1996, only once has the driver winning the final race prior to the start of ISW gone on to win ISW. J.J. Yeley did it in 2003. But the Phoenix, Arizona native was nearly unbeatable that season whether it was pavement, dirt, before ISW, during ISW or after ISW, racking up a USAC record 23 victories across USAC's three national divisions to become just the second driver to win all three titles in a single season.
Yeley is also one of only two to have won the final race before ISW and actually win a race during ISW that same summer. Yeley won on the pavement at Indianapolis Raceway Park five days before notching another victory in the ISW opener at Twin Cities Raceway Park in North Vernon, Ind. He'd also win the next night at Gas City, then again at Tri-State and Bloomington.
Another Triple Crown champion, Dave Darland, is the only other to translate that success into ISW gold. He won the leadup to ISW at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisc., then followed it up with a pair of wins at Lincoln Park and Kokomo during ISW. Though the ISW championship did not go to Darland, for good measure, he collected a win in the first race after ISW at Eldora for a fine bookend-shaped exclamation point!
Besides the two success stories of Yeley and Darland, the rest of the history has been spotty at best, with only four other drivers claiming top-5 finishes in the race leading up to ISW before winning the ISW title. We'll keep in mind that from 1996 through 2011, the final race before ISW was held on the pavement at venues such as IRP, Salem, Mansfield, Toledo and Richmond.
While many drivers throughout the years have been successful on both the dirt and pavement surfaces, in some of those years, the driver may not have had a ride on both surfaces or simply did not compete at the time, such as Kevin Thomas in 1996, Yeley in 1997, Darland in 1998, Cory Kruseman in 2002 & 2005, Jon Stanbrough in 2006 & 2010.
Although, in those years that the driver did not compete on both, the results weren't exactly foretelling that a championship run was on the horizon: Tony Elliott (14th in 1999), Jay Drake (10th in 2000), Darland (9th in 2001 & 13th in 2007), Levi Jones (18th in 2004, 4th in 2008, 12th in 2009 & 6th in 2012), Chris Windom (17th in 2011), Bryan Clauson (9th in 2013 & 4th in 2014), Robert Ballou (23rd in 2015), Brady Bacon (3rd in 2016) and Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5th in 2017).
Since 2013, though, the event before ISW has been held at Lincoln Park, site of this Friday's "Bill Gardner Sprintacular." The translation of success from the "Sprintacular" has been hit or miss over the last five seasons.
Chad Boespflug, the 2013 winner at LPS, went on to finish 8th in the LPS ISW round and 14th in ISW points. Jerry Coons, Jr. won the leadup at LPS in both 2014 and 2015. In the 2014 ISW round, he finished 19th at LPS on his way to a 10th place finish in ISW points. In 2015, his LPS ISW results was a solid 3rd and a 12th place finish in points. Robert Ballou was perhaps the most successful, finishing 4thin the LPS ISW round and 2nd in the ISW standings. Most recently, in 2017, the LPS leadup was rained out. However, Tyler Courtney won the final scheduled race prior to ISW at Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Speedway (now BAPS Motor Speedway) and finished 3rd in ISW points.
Long story short, the line of correlation from the final tune-up race and success in Indiana Sprint Week appears to be as faded as a chalk line on a dirt track after the opening lap. Despite similar competition, the circumstances and the results have played out differently.
What it proves though is unpredictability. Perhaps teams that hit the proverbial wall in that leadup race retool and adjust, in the following time off, providing them a new outlook once they hit ISW. Unpredictability may be the correlation that's played out the most over the past two decades. And who can complain about that?
USAC CHAMP HINES AND LEADER CARD RACERS FILE FIRST BC39 ENTRY
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana.........USAC Triple Crown champion Tracy Hines and Leader Card Racers have signed in as the first entry for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC P1 Insurance National Midget event at the new Dirt Track at IMS, located inside turn three of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 5-6.
Hines, the 2000 Silver Crown, 2002 National Sprint and 2015 National Midget titlist, returns to USAC competition for the first time since the season-ending "Turkey Night Grand Prix" in 2015. Nowadays, Hines' full-time gig is as the director of operation for ThorWorks, one of the entities of ThorSport Racing, yet he remains a racer, competing in about 12 races a year, just for fun and only when the time allows for it, as he puts it.
The majority of his racing these days is in a winged sprint car during the summer months near his Sandusky, Ohio home. Yet the lure of racing at IMS still shines brightly for the New Castle, Indiana native, as he relishes the opportunity to make his mark at the legendary venue.
"For me and what IMS is doing for short track racing, from the social media standpoint to the acknowledgement of how good the USAC national open wheel drivers are, it's prideful for someone who's spent so many years trying to build the USAC brand to be one of the premier series in short track racing," Hines said. "For the speedway to follow suit and carry it on and show how important it is, words can't explain that."
Hines will take the wheel for a team that has an illustrious history on the famed, adjacent 2.5-mile - Leader Card Racers. The Wisconsin-based team owned by the Wilke family has three Indianapolis 500 titles to its name with Rodger Ward in 1959 and 1962, then again in 1968 with Bobby Unser.
The team has earned 134 USAC victories and collected wins in many of the biggest races in the sport of midget racing, including the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, the Four Crown Nationals, Hut Hundred, the Turkey Night Grand Prix, Pepsi Nationals, Copper World Classic and the Belleville Midget Nationals.
But a win at IMS, especially the inaugural edition on the dirt track, would have a significance that would be extra special to Leader Card Racers' Chris Wilke, the great grandson of the team's patriarch, Bob Wilke.
"It would be huge not just for me, but my family," Wilke said. "Our last win at Indy came in 1968 and I've always wanted to compete at the Speedway to follow in my great grandfather's footsteps. The reality of showing up with an IndyCar at the Speedway one day is more of a dream than a reality. I'm not saying it couldn't ever happen, but now I have an opportunity to go to the Speedway and feel like I can be competitive and hopefully leave my mark like the three generations before me have done. It would just be very special and I'm just very glad that we have an opportunity to go there and do this."
Hines made a splash in his debut for the Wilke team at a UMARA-sanctioned Midget race at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois back in 1996, winning the "Illinois State Championship." Since then, Hines and the Wilkes racked up nine USAC National Midget feature wins between 2002 and 2006. Although Hines ran for other teams in the following years, the two sides remained close-knit.
"I consider Greg, Chris, Mark, and everybody who's a part of the (Wilke) team, as family," Hines said. "I first ran with them in 1996 and I drove off-and-on for them for 10 years. I've always had a great relationship with them and I feel like I've always been a brother figure to Chris. He's turned into a great young man and he's going to carry their legacy on (fourth generation)."
Wilke remembers the first meeting with Hines in that 1996 race, which marked the beginning of the pair's partnership that included numerous victories and memories together from coast-to-coast.
"I would've been 12 years old at the time when I first met Tracy," Wilke recalls. "Now I'm 34 and Tracy's been a mentor in my life and someone I've always looked up to. He's ageless when it comes to talent and there's very few guys who can go their whole career and be successful every time they strap into a racecar."
Now the pairing has returned, Wilke is not only thrilled by the opportunity to compete at IMS, but for the shot in the arm it can provide to all midget racing.
"What better place to put a dirt track than inside the world's greatest track," Wilke exclaimed. "I think it's probably long overdue. It's going to be a good show and it's going to attract a lot of eyes being on Brickyard weekend. Not just a lot fans' eyes, but a lot of NASCAR eyes and national eyes on midget racing. We've produced some of the best racers in the country and the talent produced is second to none."
The inaugural Driven2SaveLives BC39 leads up to the 25th running of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line honors late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increases awareness of Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.
The Driven2SaveLives BC39 will include a unique format, concluding with a 39-lap feature Sept. 6 in the richest Midget racing event in recent history. The race will feature more than $70,000 in purse and incentives, including a $15,000 winner's purse - the largest in Midget racing.
Dirt and asphalt racers from around the country have expressed interest in the event, with a large and diverse field - including NASCAR Cup Series drivers - expected to compete.
Competitor entry and details for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 are now live at http://www.theBC39.com/.
WEST COAST POINT LEADER LIGGETT WINS BATTLE No. 1 AT VENTURA
Ventura, CA........Austin Liggett of Tracy, Calif. continues to lead the USAC West Coast Sprint series after winning Saturday night's "Battle at the Beach #1" co-sanctioned by VRA at Ventura Raceway. Liggett passed Shannon McQueen on lap five and led the rest of the 30-lapper to beat Ryan Timmons, Jake Swanson, Troy Rutherford and Kyle Smith. "Battle at the Beach #2" is scheduled at Ventura July 14.
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Austin Liggett, 2. Ryan Timmons, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Troy Rutherford, 5. Kyle Smith, 6. Shannon McQueen, 7. Jeremy Ellertson, 8. Tristan Guardino, 9. Danny Faria Jr., 10. Tom Hendricks, 11. Rick Hendrix, 12. Steve Hix, 13. Koen Shaw, 14. Scotty Farmer, 15. Britton Bock, 16. Ryan Stolz, 17. Joey Bishop, 18. Austin Ervine, 19. Ricky Lewis, 20. Charlie Butcher, 21. Kyle Edwards, 22. Kaleb Montgomery, 23. Brandon Wiley. NT
**Wiley flipped on lap 6 of the feature. Montgomery flips on lap 10 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 McQueen, Laps 5-30 Liggett
NEW USAC WEST COAST SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Liggett-652, 2-Guardino-554, 3-Timmons-500, 4-McQueen-480, 5-Hix-474, 6-Shaw-454, 7-Richard Vander Weerd-441, 8-Faria-421, 9-Bock-403, 10-Jace Vander Weerd-390.
NEXT USAC WEST COAST SPRINT CAR RACE: July 14 - Ventura (CA) Raceway - "Battle of the Beach Race #2" - co-sanctioned with VRA
LINDA'S HOSTS EASTERN MIDGET FRIDAY/SATURDAY DOUBLE DIP
Jonestown, Pennsylvania.........Tommy Kunsman, Jr. stands ninth in the current USAC Eastern Midget standings, but his victory in the series opener at Linda's Speedway in Jonestown, Pa. has him among the favorites for this weekend's back-to-back races, Friday and Saturday, July 6-7 at the quarter-mile dirt oval.
Andrew Layser enters the race with a slim six-point lead over Shawn Jackson, with Ryan Greth holding down the third spot in the points.
Alex Bright, fourth in the standings, has a series-leading three wins so far this year, while Kunsman and Steven Drevicki own the other victories so far in 2018.
Spectator gates open at 5pm with cars set to hit the track at 7pm. Adult general admission tickets are $8. Kids tickets age 6-12 are $3. Children age 5 and under are free! Pit passes are $25 apiece.
USAC EASTERN MIDGET SERIES STANDINGS: 1-Andrew Layser-540, 2-Shawn Jackson-534, 3-Ryan Greth-511, 4-Alex Bright-500, 5-Kenny Miller-500, 6-Brett Conkling-327, 7-Mike Meyers-303, 8-Adam Pierson-288, 9-Tommy Kunsman, Jr.-267, 10-Steve Buckwalter-250.
DREVICKI NURSES 12-POINT EAST COAST SPRINT LEAD HEADING TO NEW EGYPT SATURDAY
New Egypt, New Jersey.........Only 12 points separate Steven Drevicki and Chandler Leiby in the latest USAC East Coast Sprint standings going into this Saturday's event at the New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway.
Drevicki is 2-for-3 in the series so far this year, winning at Delmar's Delaware International Speedway and Pennsylvania's Bedford Speedway, while Ryan Godown won at Big Diamond Speedway in Pottsville, Pa. in May.
Leiby has a pair of podiums and a seventh in three starts this season.
Racing begins at 7pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25.
USAC EAST COAST SPRINT POINTS: 1-Steven Drevicki-215, 2-Chandler Leiby-203, 3-Joey Biasi-199, 4-Eddie Strada-183, 5-Ryan Greth-165, 6-Ryan Quackenbush-157, 7-Ryan Godown-144, 8-Mark Bitner-136, 9-Carmen Perigo-127, 10-Larry McVay-126.
SPRINTACULAR ARRIVES FOR USAC SPRINTS FRIDAY IN PUTNAMVILLE
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Putnamville, Indiana.........The final event leading up to Indiana Sprint Week provides an opportunity for teams to get their equipment and their minds sorted and take some last-minute notes on a track they will see on the trail twice in less than a three-week span.
That's the plan for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars this Friday night, July 6, when they hit the 5/16-mile dirt oval of Lincoln Park Speedway for the 4th running of the "Bill Gardner Sprintacular."
But, if you think this is just a simple test and tune-up for the July 26 return, think again. There's no breather in any racing event on the USAC calendar. This race unofficially begins another session of a crucial summer stretch that will show who's up to the challenge to wear the crown at the end of the season and who's going to be Kirk Cameron'd and left behind.
Interestingly enough, each of the three contenders who've separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the series' standings have yet to win at Lincoln Park.
Series point leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. has fond memories of Lincoln Park as it was the site in which he clinched the Indiana Sprint Week title in 2017. At the end of May of this year, he was victorious in the Sprint Car portion of the "Indiana Midget Week" show at LPS.
Along with Thomas, Tyler Courtney is the only other driver with four USAC National Sprint Car wins in 2018. He's second in points, 38 back in second in the series' standings. Courtney has bookended his career-best runs at LPS coming into Friday's event, scoring runner-up finishes in his first ever outing with USAC at the track in 2013 and in his most recent at last year's "Indiana Sprint Week" round.
Chris Windom, also 38 behind KTJ and third in points, is coming off a second-straight "Eastern Storm" title on the strength of back-to-back wins a couple weeks ago at Williams Grove and Port Royal in Pennsylvania. However, back on the relative "home turf" of LPS, Windom has managed just a single top-five, which came during the "Indiana Sprint Week" round of 2013.
On the flip side, no other driver in recent years has achieved more success in USAC National Sprint Car competition at LPS than Rocklin, California's Robert Ballou. The 2015 series champ has won two out of three, including the most recent race at the track in July of 2017. He's also a past victor of the "Bill Gardner Sprintacular" in 2016. In 2014, LPS was the launching pad of his resurgence, ending a near two-year winless drought in the process.
During the recent "Eastern Storm" race at Pennsylvania's BAPS Motor Speedway, Ballou won the 29th USAC National Sprint Car race of his career, passing Levi Jones and J.J. Yeley to move into sole possession of 13th on the all-time list.
The two winningest active drivers in the series have found their share of success at LPS throughout the years. Along with Ballou's three, Dave Darland has collected a record-tying five wins at LPS in 1997, 1998 1999, 2005 and 2012. The two-time track champ (1990 & 1991) has more wins and starts in the series than any other driver with 60 and 713, respectively. He's even scored already at LPS earlier this season with a non-USAC-sanctioned victory on April 21.
LPS holds a special place in Chad Boespflug's heart as it served as the venue for his first career USAC victory, which he picked up in 2013. The Hanford, California driver is currently 10th in points and is aiming to return to victory lane for the first time in 2018.
Brady Bacon bagged USAC National Sprint Car wins in the months of May and June. Now, as the calendar moves to July, the two-time series champ appears to be on full-stride with his own team, sixth in points, and headed to a track he's once conquered with the series, back in 2015.
Lincoln Park's Independence Day Weekend USAC appearance has been an annual treat since the 2013 season and the "Bill Gardner Sprintacular" since 2015. Jerry Coons, Jr. won the inaugural in 2015 and Ballou in 2016. Mother Nature snagged the win in 2017.
In 32 prior USAC National Sprint Car visits to LPS, no driver has doubled up with multiple wins in a single-season. Darland and Sheldon Kinser are the winningest drivers in the series' history at LPS. Kinser won the first appearance in 1981.
Pits open at 4:30pm while the spectator gates open at 4:45pm. The drivers meeting will take place at 5:15pm with cars scheduled to hit the track at 6pm.
USAC/CRA SPRINT CARS RETURN TO PERRIS AUTO SPEEDWAY SATURDAY
(Perris, CA, June 19, 2018) Race fans will get their final chance to see sprint cars at Perris Auto Speedway until the middle of August when the Amsoil USAC/CRA Series and PAS Senior & Young Gun Sprints converge on the famous Riverside County half-mile clay oval this Saturday, June 23rd. Spectator gates will open at 5:00 P.M. with racing at 7:00.
Saturday's race will be the third appearance of the year for sprint cars at The PAS. Six-time series champion Damion Gardner of Concord scored his 43rd USAC/CRA win at the track when he bested the field in April and Yorba Linda's Austin Williams scored the win at the Salute to Indy on Memorial Day weekend. For Williams, who is known as "The Big Game Hunter," it was his third ever win at The PAS and his second at the Salute to Indy in the past three years.
Fans got some extra bang for their buck at the Salute to Indy when what seemed like a scene from the movie "Slap Shot" broke out between some rival crews in the work area during the main event. The confrontation quickly extinguished itself, but it did add some extra spice to the night. Saturday will be the first race in the series since the night of the donnybrook.
"Sprint Car racing is a very passionate sport and sometimes tempers boil over," promoter Don Kazarian said on Monday. "You put 22-sprint cars on a dirt track inches apart at 100 miles per hour and occasionally somebody is going to get upset. It is part of the sport. Fortunately, it does not happen often. Even if there are drivers and crews who do not like each other, for the most part, they do respect each other on the track."
Saturday's USAC/CRA field should be the biggest of the year at The PAS. Some Arizona teams will be making the trek across the desert for the race and California Highway Patrol officer Jeff Dyer of Bermuda Dunes will be making his season debut in the 410 series. A regular for several years in the California Lightning Sprint Car Series, Dyer, who grew up in Chino, is anxious to move up and be a regular in USAC/CRA.
Amsoil USAC/CRA Points
1. Damion Gardner – Concord, CA – 374
2. Jake Swanson – Anaheim, CA – 359
3. Brody Roa – Garden Grove, CA – 353
4. Cody Williams – Corona, CA – 291
5. R.J. Johnson – Laveen, AZ – 267
MESERAULL MAGNIFICENT AT WEEDSPORT, WINDOM WEARS THE EASTERN STORM CROWN
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Weedsport, New York.........Thomas Meseraull returned to victory lane and Chris Windom returned to center stage as the king of "Eastern Storm" for the second consecutive year Tuesday night in the debut at Weedsport Speedway for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars.
With a one-point lead over Kevin Thomas, Jr. heading into the 30-lap main event, the arithmetic to earn the "Eastern Storm" title was clear for Windom: beat KTJ and the championship is his.
Windom started from the tenth position while Thomas rolled off from seventh despite a multitude of misfortune that dogged him throughout the early portion of the night. In his heat race, the Dynamics, Inc. machine suffered a blown engine that sent the team into a thrash to swap the engine out and slide another bullet in between the frame rails.
From the get-go, the two were involved in a midfield dog-fight that had them stuffed in a four and five-deep croissant of traffic on the outer edges of the top-ten.
Meanwhile, up front series Rookie Timmy Buckwalter was challenging pole sitter and fellow Pennsylvanian Tony DiMattia for the race lead, which he would conquer on the third lap with an inside pass midway down the back straightaway. One lap later, Thomas Meseraull would slot into second behind Buckwalter.
Back to the title chase, Windom and Thomas were involved in sea of organized chaos with racecars occupying the track from top to bottom to left field. Windom, who fell as deep as 13th in the first third of the race, inched his way forward until he was able to sneak by Thomas on the 12th lap for the 11th spot.
Back at the front, it was a two-car breakaway with Buckwalter and Meseraull separating themselves from the crowd. The two were set to duke it out as Meseraull climbed to the inside of Buckwalter between turns one and two.
However, on the 14th lap, Buckwalter's bid to become the first "first-time" USAC National Sprint Car feature winner of the 2018 season came to an abrupt halt when he bounced off the turn one wall, then ricocheted into Meseraull and spun sideways against the turn two wall. Buckwalter would restart from the tail, ultimately finishing 13th while Meseraull soldiered on as the race leader.
"He was doing a great job," Meseraull praised. "He was entering higher into (turn) one and catching the curb earlier and I was slide jobbing myself. I'd run it in on the bottom of one and catch the curb as late as I could because I felt like I wasn't hitting it so hard. Basically, he got in real high and, honestly, I thought I crashed him, but I didn't intend to. Then (Crew Chief) Sean (Michael) told me he got into the fence and got the thing all upset. My line was a lot different and I really didn't have anywhere to go. It was very tricky into one. The only way I could describe it is you go down the straightaway and there's a 90 degree turn and there's only 100 feet until I make it all work. That sounds like a lot, but it's not."
On the ensuing restart, Courtney emerged as the main contender to Meseraull's throne. Meseraull was undeterred, using the turn two concrete as an extension of the racetrack by bouncing his right rear off the wall to propel him down the back straight, something that was brought into the discussion between driver and crew chief earlier in the night.
"In the heat race, Sean told me Tyler (Courtney) was gone in the heat race," Meseraull recalled. "He said 'you got to slide it in there and bang it off the wall. That's what Tyler's doing.' I told him, exact words, 'Don't worry, I'll crash it in the feature. He says, 'No, no, no. I'm not saying you weren't driving it hard. So, I said, 'Oh, I know I was driving it hard. I'm just saying I will hang it out and bang it off the fence come feature time. Don't worry.'"
Courtney was hot on the heels of Meseraull's Chris Dyson Racing/Thetford - ProtectAll - Norcold - Penske Shocks/Maxim/Speedway Chevy by the midway point. Both were entering low in turn one, then sliding up to the outside turn two wall in unison. Meseraull felt the pressure and kicked himself into another gear as he hit lapped traffic with less than five laps to go. Instead of waiting, picking and choosing, he got into the zone, utilizing a line influenced by Buckwalter laps before.
"It was really the first time I got to the outside of a car," Meseraull remembered. "I pretty much just picked Buckwalter's entry and ran it in their harder and banged the wall sooner. The curb was better there, but I didn't feel I had as much time to let the car to slow down before I got to it. We put the Knoxville mufflers on tonight to try to kill some horsepower out of the Speedway motor, so it was quiet. I could hear Tyler behind me, then all of a sudden, I could hear somebody thundering. I could hear him, I could hear him. It put me in attack mode. I'm just fortunate he didn't get quite close enough because that car's been rolling really good lately."
On the final lap, Courtney was within a couple car lengths of Meseraull, looking for any slippage that he could take advantage of, but Courtney connected with the turn two wall just a tad too much, allowing Meseraull to break away and close out his first series victory of the year over Courtney, Justin Grant, Windom and Dave Darland.
It had been a bit of a struggle for Meseraull and the CDR team through the first five races of "Eastern Storm" as they fought to find the right combination following finishes of 9th, 11th, 20th, 12th and 9th. At Weedsport, the team found the Midas touch. Incidentally, the issue was not a lack of horsepower, but too much underneath the hood.
"I don't actually know what kind of power this thing makes," Meseraull admitted. "I can imagine it makes over 900. The motors have a curve to them. When you're coming off the corner, the thing gets about 3000 to 4000 RPMs. You don't have to be touching the gas and it will just explode on you. With my motor, you pretty much have to run it on the peddle. if you want half throttle, you run half throttle. If you want full throttle, you stand on it. With this motor, you give it half throttle and it's just screaming. We had it choked up, muffled down, we got the smaller injectors and we got more air filter. We literally did everything to choke it down. We were running the same gear we'd run at Terre Haute here tonight. I would've run 40 points less in my car. I think that was really the key. We took out a bunch of gear. The thing would come off the corner, it would be kind of lazy and it wouldn't blow the tires off down the straightaway. You really have to be able to get this thing to the ground. Our car rolled across the scales at 1400 pounds with me in it and it makes over 900 horse. You can do the math. It's ridiculous."
Meseraull provided the first win for car owner and two-time American Le Mans Series champion driver Chris Dyson, the first New York car owner to win a USAC National Sprint Car feature since 1991 when Dick Hammond and Gohr Racing were victorious with driver Danny Smith at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois.
While Meseraull owned the night, the week belonged to Windom, who collected two wins among his five "podium" finishes and a fourth-place result en route to his second consecutive "Eastern Storm" crown.
"It was pretty simple going in, we knew we had to beat him," Windom said point blank. "I got bottled up the first ten laps or so and it seemed like every move I made was wrong, which got me really frustrated. I fell back to 12th or 13th at one point, but I knew we had a good racecar, so I didn't want to overreact. I had to start picking my battles and I started picking the cars off and I drove all the way to fourth. It's been a grueling week for everybody on this team. it shows what they're made of to be able to come out and do this six nights straight without any issues and bring home the title."
Windom is keenly aware that eight of the previous 11 "Eastern Storm" champions have ultimately won the USAC National Sprint Car title later that season. Windom believes the correlation ultimately lies in the jelling process that takes place over a weeklong period of long days and long nights, which ultimately pays valuable dividends throughout the remainder of the year.
"When you can come out here and run like this six nights in a row, it really brings you together," Windom said. "Especially for Derek and I, we've had our ups and downs this year. We've been good, but this is really a momentum booster for us to come out here and do this. Hopefully it correlates with the rest of the season and we can go back-to-back. We're just going to keep trying to win as many races as possible, do our jobs and I think we'll be just fine."
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 19, 2018 - Weedsport Speedway - Weedsport, New York - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-15.483 (New Track Record); 2. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-15.497; 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-15.605; 4. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-15.610; 5. Thomas Meseraull, 20, Dyson-15.619; 6. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-15.678; 7. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-15.796; 8. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-15.804; 9. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-15.804; 10. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-15.838; 11. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-15.879; 12. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-15.905; 13. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-16.064; 14. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-16.354; 15. Ryan Godown, 4F, R & M-16.370; 16. Eric Jennings, 14E, Pinkerous-16.774; 17. Joey Biasi, B1, Shaup-16.800; 18. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-17.110; 19. Ryan Susice, 79, Mahoney-17.490; 20. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-NT; 21. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. Windom, 2. Leary, 3. Boespflug, 4. Bacon, 5. DiMattia, 6. Jennings, 7. Susice. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Meseraull, 3. Grant, 4. Chapple, 5. Westfall, 6. Biasi. 2:10.62 (New Track Record)
CHALK STIX/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. Darland, 2. Stockon, 3. Buckwalter, 4. Godown, 5. Thomas, 6. Bell. 2:16.73
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Thomas Meseraull (3), 2. Tyler Courtney (11), 3. Justin Grant (5), 4. Chris Windom (10), 5. Dave Darland (12), 6. Brady Bacon (6), 7. Robert Ballou (20), 8. Matt Westfall (14), 9. Chase Stockon (9), 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (7), 11. Isaac Chapple (8), 12. Ryan Godown (15), 13. Timmy Buckwalter (2), 14. Chad Boespflug (13), 15. Ryan Susice (19), 16. Eric Jennings (16), 17. C.J. Leary (4), 18. Joey Biasi (17), 19. Tony DiMattia (1), 20. Robert Bell (18), 21. Jarett Andretti (21). NT
**Ballou flipped during qualifying. Andretti flipped during qualifying.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 DiMattia, Laps 3-13 Buckwalter, Laps 14-30 Meseraull.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Robert Ballou (20th to 7th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Timmy Buckwalter
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Chad Boespflug
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-1217, 2-Courtney-1179, 3-Windom-1179, 4-Ballou-1050, 5-Stockon-1046, 6-Bacon-1030, 7-Darland-983, 8-Grant-950, 9-Leary-949, 10-Boespflug-823.
FINAL EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Windom-452, 2-Thomas-433, 3-Courtney-419, 4-Ballou-397, 5-Bacon-382, 6-Stockon-358, 7-Darland-355, 8-Grant-334, 9-Buckwalter-299, 10-Meseraull-296.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 6 - Lincoln Park Speedway - Putnamville, Indiana - "Bill Gardner Sprintacular"
KTJ TAKES HOFFMAN TO THE CENTURY MARK IN BRIDGEPORT USAC SPRINT DEBUT
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Swedesboro, New Jersey.........Hemmings, Cannon, Vogler, Butler, Stanley, Faas, Irwin, Michner, Darland, Tyler, Hines, Stanbrough, Coons, Clayton, Larson, Hagen, Bacon, Boespflug.
There's a whole host of names who've been a part of the ride that's taken the Hoffman Auto Racing/Dynamics, Inc. team to the brink of 100 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car points-paying victories.
Only one driver can say he was in the driver's seat of the ride that pushed the venerable team over the century mark: Kevin Thomas, Jr., who drove to victory for the fourth time in USAC Sprint Car competition this season in round 5 of "Eastern Storm" on Monday night in the series' debut at Bridgeport Speedway.
"It's an honor to be the driver to get them that milestone," Thomas exclaimed. "It's something special and something you'll remember until the day you die or tell your grandkids. I'm glad they've given me this opportunity to run for them this year. It's very special to me and this team. There's a lot of people who'd like to be on a team like this. I'm just glad the guys behind me are with me."
The Cullman, Alabama native set the tone early, as he has done time and time again this season, by setting quick time in qualifying for the fourth-straight night and for a remarkable tenth time overall through the first 16 events of the 2018 season.
"It's nice to start off the day with a smile on your face," Thomas said with a grin. "There are times when you hot lap and qualify 10, 12th quick and you're a miserable bastard at the end of the day and it screws your whole night. I'm very temperamental and I wear my feelings on my shoulder. Setting quick time helps me a lot mentally. It gives me a little bit of extra confidence that I can conquer whatever racetrack we're at. Whether I do or don't, it gives me the feeling that helps with momentum and even communicating with the crew and things like that. You just feel focused. We've been rolling off fast times and it's actually been making my crew mad since we have to start sixth every night. It's hard to pass these guys who are that fast unless they make a mistake."
Those individuals he eluded to were, yet again, the ones he'd have to contend with on this night, namely Chris Windom and Tyler Courtney. Chad Boespflug led the opening lap before giving way to third-starting Windom who raced to the lead underneath Boespflug entering turn three on the second go-around.
Meanwhile, Courtney, who had been shuffled back to third on the opening lap after starting from the outside of the front row, had worked his way back into contention and was draped all over the orange No. 5 of Windom. Courtney initially ducked low off turn four on lap eight to challenge the reigning Eastern Storm champ, then a lap later, changed course by riding the lip around the outside of Windom exiting turn four to take the point.
The lead was short-lived as Windom slid Courtney back on the very next lap between turns three and four to reclaim the prime real estate out front.
With those two engaged in their own tug-of-war, Thomas was chiseling ever closer to the front, lying just a car length behind Courtney for second when the yellow flag fell for a spin by both Jarett Andretti and Robert Bell between turns three and four.
On the ensuing restart, Courtney took the dirt highway a lane higher than Windom, working, working intensely for the next two circuits on how to navigate his way to the brink. On the 14th lap, Courtney attempted a slider on his apparel trailer mate Windom entering turn three. Courtney's right rear and Windom's left front connected, bouncing Windom out of the lead and fighting to regain his marbles until slotting back into third behind Courtney and Thomas.
Courtney's joyride as the leader only lasted another half lap, ending when Thomas outlasted Courtney down the middle of the back straight into turn three. A highly-motivated Windom was able to skirt past Courtney a lap later to return to the runner-up position.
Once again, the group at the front consisted of the trio who's captured 11 of the 15 victories with the series this season, three drivers at the peak of their game battling for supremacy every night, which takes full concentration, effort and attention to every detail.
"I was driving my ass off," Thomas admits. "They're racing for the same things I'm racing for. They're driving their asses off and I'm driving mine off too. When you get three drivers like that who've been running together all week, all year, it's great competition. It's fun that it's gotten to the point where it's this competitive each and every week no matter if we're at Putnamville or in the middle of the east coast, I-80 or Knoxville."
Though a sterling start, and a spot among the most consistent, has put him solidly into the series point lead, Thomas hadn't yet won during Eastern Storm, something he changed by leading the final 16 laps at Bridgeport to win over Windom, Courtney, Bacon and Stockon.
Thomas admits he got a little too lax after a hot late May and early June run. It's the competition that keeps Thomas motivated, something he's relishing even if he doesn't always come out on top.
"I'm really enjoying getting beat sometimes because it kind of wakes me up," Thomas explained. "In 'Indiana Midget Week,' we won a bunch of sprint car races and I kind of got comfortable. I was getting my ass kicked out here and it's made me sit up in the seat a little bit. They're doing the same thing. We're all just really fast right now, all the way down to qualifying. Some of us aren't even good qualifiers, but we're qualifying 1-2-3-4-5, all right together. I don't like getting beat, but this is a competition sport. You get beat sometimes and, sometimes, you get beat a lot. That's just the way it is."
Bridgeport's new 3/8-mile dirt oval is one of three first-time venues on the USAC Sprint Car trail this season. Yet, to Thomas, Bridgeport didn't seem much like a stranger, more like a long-lost brother or cousin to a track near his home base in which he has had much recent success.
"This track is just a stretched-out Gas City," Thomas observed. The dirt's actually similar. It's got that dark dirt. It's got a lot of grip no matter where you go. It's got a D-shaped backstretch and a wall on the front stretch. We didn't necessarily run the same setup, but we had the same balance on the racecar and it worked. We could've went out there and sucked and it would've been a different story. The judgment call from Davey (Jones) and Brad (Alexander) on what to do with the racecar, they hit it right on the money."
Windom leads the Eastern Storm standings by a single point over Thomas entering the final stop Tuesday at New York's Weedsport Speedway. Ballou runs third, 38 points back, ahead of Courtney (-39) and Brady Bacon (-67).
Contingency award winners Monday night at Bridgeport Speedway included Brady Bacon (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner, KSE Racing Products Hard Charger & Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Chase Stockon (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Robert Ballou (Chalk Stix/Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner) and C.J. Leary (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 18, 2018 - Bridgeport Speedway - Swedesboro, New Jersey - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-16.013 (New Track Record); 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-16.050; 3. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-16.099; 4. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-16.130; 5. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-16.197; 6. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-16.259; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-16.287; 8. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-16.291; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.294; 10. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-16.303; 11. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-16.307; 12. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-16.344; 13. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-16.367; 14. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-16.385; 15. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-16.386; 16. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-16.523; 17. Joey Biasi, B1, Shaup-16.602; 18. Thomas Meseraull, 20, Dyson-16.717; 19. Ryan Godown, 3x, Wasitowski-16.904; 20. Mark Bitner, 15, Bitner-17.421; 21. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-18.416; 22. Kyle Lick, 8, Lick-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer) 1. Bacon, 2. Grant, 3. Leary, 4. Windom, 5. Thomas, 6. Buckwalter, 7. Godown, 8. Lick. 2:46.73
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer) 1. Stockon, 2. Darland, 3. Courtney, 4. Westfall, 5. Biasi, 6. DiMattia, 7. Bitner. 2:45.31 (New Track Record)
CHALK STIX/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer) 1. Ballou, 2. Daum, 3. Andretti, 4. Boespflug, 5. Meseraull, 6. Chapple, 7. Bell. 2:46.59
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6),2. Chris Windom (3), 3. Tyler Courtney (2), 4. Brady Bacon (13), 5. Chase Stockon (5), 6. Robert Ballou (9), 7. Dave Darland (8), 8. Justin Grant (7), 9. Thomas Meseraull (18), 10. Isaac Chapple (12), 11. Chad Boespflug (1), 12. C.J. Leary (10), 13. Timmy Buckwalter (16), 14. Jarett Andretti (4), 15. Joey Biasi (17), 16. Matt Westfall (14), 17. Zach Daum (15), 18. Tony DiMattia (11), 19. Kyle Lick (22), 20. Mark Bitner (20), 21. Ryan Godown (19), 22. Robert Bell (21). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Boespflug, Laps 2-8 Windom, Lap 9 Courtney, Laps 10-13 Windom, Lap 14 Courtney, Laps 15-30 Thomas.
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-1166, 2-Windom-1110, 3-Courtney-1104, 4-Ballou-998, 5-Stockon-993, 6-Bacon-964, 7-Darland-917, 8-Leary-910, 9-Grant-875, 10-Boespflug-782.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Windom-383, 2-Thomas-382, 3-Ballou-345, 4-Courtney-344, 5-Bacon-316, 6-Stockon-305, 7-Darland-289, 8-Grant-259, 9-Buckwalter-255, 10-Boespflug-247.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 19 - Weedsport Speedway - Weedsport, New York - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
MADMAN BALLOU TAPS BAPS FOR FIRST VICTORY OF 2018
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
York Haven, Pennsylvania.........A lot of the pub lately has gone to a core group of racers who've dominated the win column this season.
One driver notably absent from that group coming into Sunday night's round 4 of "Eastern Storm" at BAPS Motor Speedway was the second-winningest active driver in the series, one who's eyes hadn't laid sight on victory lane in 11 months.
Despite that, Robert Ballou never doubted he would soon return to the promised land. The tide was turning for the 2015 series champ from Rocklin, California native in recent weeks and it was only a matter of time before the Robert Ballou Motorsports/Suburban Subaru - Berks Western Telecom - J. Davidson Scrap Metal/Twister-X/Ott Chevy would be back on the front page.
"I know I can do it," Ballou reiterates. "There's never been a doubt in my mind that I couldn't do it. I just need the tools. I've been going around and round with (crew chief) Jimmy Jones, who's basically taught me everything I know about sprint car racing. He said the car looked fine. It didn't feel fine, I don't care what it looked like. He only has one eye, so I keep saying 'maybe you're looking out of the wrong eye because this thing's just terrible. If you'll give me what I want, I'll win the damn race.' Finally, the last couple nights, we've pretty much been doing it Robert's way. It's not that I know what I'm doing because I'm pretty much a dumbass or I wouldn't be owning a sprint car, but if I can get comfortable, I can do this every night."
Ballou's 29th career USAC National Sprint Car victory moved him past Levi Jones and J.J. Yeley into sole possession of 13th on the all-time list. His 31-race winless streak coming into BAPS was chock full of changes in crew chiefs, chassis, shocks, what have you. But the mentality and the mindset of Ballou had never wavered, and like Frank Sinatra, he prefers to do it his way.
"We just keep changing racecars," Ballou said. "Unfortunately, in the game of motorsports, I don't want to say there's a lot of mental, but there's a lot of mental. If you're comfortable, you're comfortable. If you're not, you're not. I haven't been comfortable other than when I run my old racecars. We've tried everything, and I haven't felt comfortable. It's one of those deals in which I have no choice at this point but to find racecars that make me comfortable. This thing here is from 2006. Not too many people would even bring a car from 2006 to the racetrack. It makes me feel comfortable and makes me feel like I can do what I need to do. Ultimately, then, I can give forth a better effort."
"I know I didn't get as many wins as I have at this point from not being able to do it," Ballou points out. "Some people have doubted me. Some people say I haven't been comfortable since my crash. Ultimately, I know I've been comfortable a few times when I went back to my old cars. Everyone else runs new cars and you think you need a new car, but maybe I just need an old car. They don't even make the shocks that I run anymore. They haven't made them for like three or four years now."
Ballou occupied the outside of the second row at the beginning of the 30-lap main event as pole sitter Dave Darland jumped out front at the start, sliding to the top side in turn one. Fifth-starting Windom had won the previous two nights at Williams Grove and Port Royal and looked every bit as capable on this night of becoming the third driver in the history of Eastern Storm to win three-in-a-row (Levi Jones in 2010 & Ballou in 2015) when he slid past Isaac Chapple in turn three to slot into second by the end of the first lap.
Meanwhile, back in third was Ballou who, despite being overtaken by Windom on the opening lap, felt it in his mind, body, soul and his right foot that he was going to be a contender. Although, at first, the confidence was more confidential.
"I didn't realize they watered the track and I thought, man my car really sucks. Maybe I need to pull off and try again. I noticed everyone else was spinning their tires. It was pretty greasy for a lap or two so that let us get it buzzed in. I knew right away that I had a racecar that was probably a top-three car. When we took off, I got a really good run into one. By the second lap, I knew, unless they weren't showing their whole hand - sometimes it's a poker game around here - as long as they were showing their full hand, I had them covered."
By lap three, Windom was already staking his claim for the top spot when he threw a slider on Darland entering turn one. Windom swept past, but Darland crossed over and out-drag raced Windom down the back straight, beating him into turn three to reclaim his lead.
The very next lap, it was déjà vu all over again, with Darland able to withstand the Windom assault momentarily off turn two. Windom, the 2016 BAPS Eastern Storm winner, was steadfast in his stick-to-itiveness, hitting pay dirt off turn four a half-lap later to drive under Darland for the race lead.
On lap six, Ballou blitzed past Darland for the runner-up spot inside off turn two, then instantly clamped down on the defending Eastern Storm and USAC National Sprint champ for first. Lap eight saw Ballou attempt to pounce, but Windom sensed it, taking the middle line, sliding himself instead, to prevent the opposing slider on the entry into turn one.
Over the next lap and a half, the two would flip-flop the lead on both ends of the track with a bound and determined Ballou successfully capturing the point off turn four. Sometimes when you're in the zone, you feel like a superhero. It's something we all marvel at. And that left Ballou no doubt that this race was firmly in his hands and, ultimately, was his race to lose.
"I knew my racecar was awesome," Ballou continued. "I could run a lane below everybody, I could run the bottom or run where they were. Whenever you can get a racecar to do exactly what you want it to do, it's hard to be beaten. Comfort's everything in these things. You feel like you can do anything. You turn into Superman. That's what I felt like tonight. I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything."
Ballou would be mired in lapped traffic for the bulk of the remaining two-thirds of the feature, only allowing Windom to pull as close as four car-lengths to Ballou down the stretch in a torrid caution-free pace. Windom hung within the length of a regulation-size tug-of-war rope with the checkered in sight. But a right rear tap of the of the turn two outside guardrail with two laps remaining courtesy of Windom all but put the winner's trophy on the top shelf, too far to reach.
Ballou's navigation led him to victory lane for the first time this season over Windom, Courtney, Thomas and Timmy Buckwalter. Furthermore, he became the first two-time USAC Sprint Car winner at BAPS.
Ballou moves into third in the latest Eastern Storm standings with a pair of races remaining Monday at New Jersey's Bridgeport Speedway and Tuesday at New York's Weedsport Speedway. Windom remains the leader by a mere six points over Thomas with Ballou, standing 26 markers back from the lead.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2018 - BAPS Motor Speedway - York Haven, Pennsylvania - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 69, Dynamics-17.384; 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-17.494; 3. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-17.607; 4. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-17.729; 5. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-17.761; 6. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-17.780; 7. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-18.000; 8. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-18.017; 9. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-18.041; 10. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-18.113; 11. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-18.118; 12. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-18.167; 13. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-18.169; 14. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-18.198; 15. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-18.227; 16. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-18.326; 17. Thomas Meseraull, 20, Dyson-18.360; 18. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-18.430; 19. Jerry Coons, Jr., 39, Hogue-18.485; 20. Joey Biasi, B1, Shaup-18.647; 21. Kyle Moody, 13K, Kaylor-18.663; 22. Trey Hivner, 7H, Hivner-19.167; 23. Dan Shetler, 7K, Shetler-19.392; 24. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-19.490; 25. Mark Bitner, 15, Bitner-19.534; 26. Todd Zinn, 23, Zinn-21.359.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Thomas, 2. Buckwalter, 3. Leary, 4. Andretti, 5. Bacon, 6. Grant, 7. Coons, 8. Hivner, 9. Bitner. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Chapple, 2. Boespflug, 3. Daum, 4. Westfall, 5. Windom, 6. Biasi, 7. Shetler, 8. Zinn, 9. Meseraull. 2:29.99
CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Ballou, 3. Stockon, 4. Darland, 5. Perigo, 6. DiMattia, 7. Moody, 8. Bell. 2:29.02
INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer) 1. DiMattia, 2. Grant, 3. Coons, 4. Meseraull, 5. Moody, 6. Biasi, 7. Shetler, 8. Hivner, 9. Bell, 10. Zinn, 11. Bitner. 3:52.20 (New Track Record)
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Robert Ballou (4), 2. Chris Windom (5), 3. Tyler Courtney (9), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6), 5. Timmy Buckwalter (7), 6. Dave Darland (1), 7. Chase Stockon (12), 8. Brady Bacon (10), 9. Justin Grant (16), 10. Jarett Andretti (3), 11. Chad Boespflug (8), 12. Thomas Meseraull (17), 13. C.J. Leary (13), 14. Matt Westfall (14), 15. Zach Daum (11), 16. Tony DiMattia (15), 17. Isaac Chapple (2), 18. Joey Biasi (20), 19. Kyle Moody (21), 20. Carmen Perigo (18), 21. Dan Shetler (22), 22. Jerry Coons, Jr. (19). 9:37.32 (New Track Record)
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Darland, Laps 4-8 Windom, Laps 9-30 Ballou.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Justin Grant (16th to 9th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: C.J. Leary
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: C.J. Leary
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Trey Hivner
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-1086, 2-Windom-1035, 3-Courtney-1032, 4-Ballou-935, 5-Stockon-922, 6-Bacon-895, 7-Leary-865, 8-Darland-858, 9-Grant-819, 10-Boespflug-735.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Windom-308, 2-Thomas-302, 3-Ballou-282, 4-Courtney-272, 5-Bacon-247, 6-Stockon-234, 7-Darland-230, 8-Buckwalter-215, 9-Grant-203, 10-Boespflug-200.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 18 - Bridgeport Speedway - Swedesboro, New Jersey - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
FACCINTO TAKES BAKERSFIELD WESTERN STATES MIDGET MAIN
Bakersfield, CA........Michael Faccinto of Hanford, Calif. won Saturday night's 30-lap Light Up the World USAC Western States Midget feature at Bakersfield Speedway. He passed Jake Swanson on lap 21 and led the final 10 laps to beat Swanson, Robby Josett, point leader Alex Schutte and Robert Dalby.
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Michael Faccinto, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. Robby Josett, 4. Alex Schutte, 5. Robert Dalby, 6. Cody Swanson, 7. Frankie Guerrini, 8. Randi Pankratz, 9. C.J. Sarna, 10. Shannon McQueen, 11. Clayton Ruston, 12. Kyle Beilman, 13. Marvin Mitchell, 14. Ashley Heredia, 15. Tristan Guardino, 16. David Prickett, 17. Daniel Anderson, 18. Dylan Ito, 19. Sterling Cling, 20. Ronnie Gardner, 21. Ariel Biggs, 22. Bryan Drollinger. NT
**Cling flipped on lap 11 of the feature. Ito flipped on lap 20 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-14 Dalby, Lap 15 Schutte, Laps 16-20 J.Swanson, Laps 21-30 Faccinto
NEW USAC POINTS: 1-Schutte-220, 2-Faccinto-195, 3-McQueen-187, 4-Dalby-183, 5-Josett-180, 6-Guerrini-168, 7-Ruston-158, 8-Gardner-154, 9-Cory Elliott-146, 10-Sarna-140.
NEXT RACE: July 21 - Petaluma (CA) Speedway - "Jack London Hall of Fame Night" - co-sanctioned with BCRA
WINDOM REPEATS PORT ROYAL RULERSHIP AT EASTERN STORM NIGHT 3
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Port Royal, Pennsylvania.........It takes a complete effort from top-to-bottom to win an Eastern Storm title. You must run up front each and every night with no aberrations. You must be prepared to go to battle night-after-night and shield yourself from the mental, physical and mechanical exhaustion.
Chris Windom and the Baldwin Brothers Racing team did just that one year ago. In fact, they also did it one night earlier at Williams Grove Speedway. One year later - and one night later - the pairing has begun to write additional verses to their ever-growing book of feats, nearly similar to the first one he penned, repeating his 2017 Port Royal Speedway victory by winning again Saturday night in the third race of "Eastern Storm."
Points, and history, are on the Canton, Illinois driver's side as he and the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car head into the second half stretch of the six-race tour with races at BAPS, Bridgeport and Weedsport looming.
For example, every driver who's won back-to-back races in the 12-year history of "Eastern Storm" has gone on to win that year's title: Cole Whitt (2009), Levi Jones (2010), Bryan Clauson (2012 & 2016) and Robert Ballou (2015).
Over the past four years, every driver who's won at Port Royal has gone on to win the Eastern Storm title.
Eight of the 11 Eastern Storm champs have gone on to win that year's USAC National Sprint Car title.
It's an omen, or a correlation, that has Windom and the Baldwin Brothers Racing team grinning and appreciative of the roll they are on. For it was this month last year that turned the tide for the team on its way to the USAC title.
"This boosts our confidence a bunch," Windom exclaimed. "When you get rolling like this, everything seems to go a lot easier. You cherish these moments because, when you get on rolls like this, they don't always stay. When you're on top, you want to keep the momentum rolling as long as you can. We want to win this Eastern storm title again and, obviously, we want to win the USAC championship again. We're racing for the big picture, but we're also racing to win races. Right now, we're doing that, and things are really clicking."
Each of the two winners from the first two nights of "Eastern Storm" were staged side-by-side on the front row for the start of the 30-lap feature. Windom began the race from the pole position, yet it was Brady Bacon who used the ledge to power around Windom to nab the early lead.
The first stoppage arrived early as Pennsylvanian Trevor Kobylarz rode out a wild series of flips along the outside, front straightaway wall exiting turn four. He would walk away unscathed, but the same couldn't be said of his racecar.
On the ensuing restart, Windom took a shot at Bacon, nudging ahead for a moment until Bacon's momentum up top catapulted him back by and allowed him to gain a little leg room between he and Windom down the back straightaway.
Bacon opened as much as a three-quarter of a second advantage on the field, then on the 11th lap, bumbled over the turn two cushion ever so slightly, allowing Windom to chop the gap substantially and close on the tail of the No. 99. On both laps 12 and 13, Windom was able to slide past Bacon for the lead, but each time, Bacon answered with a killer crossover off turn two to burst back into the lead.
On lap 14, Bacon took a defensive line, sliding himself through the middle on his entry into turn one, denying Windom a third consecutive shot at the top spot.
"You can throw a slide job from pretty far back here into turn one," Windom explained. "I remembered that from last year. So, if anything, I'd say I used what I learned last year to help me tonight. I wanted to see how far I could clear Brady there and if it was going to stick. He crossed me over a few times, so I knew if I threw another one, I needed to clear him by a bunch or he was just going to keep crossing me over."
Windom wouldn't have to stress about the situation at hand for too long, however, as Bacon began to slow between turns one and two with a broken left rear shock and torsion arm. He would restart from the tail of the field, but would only manage to reach 12th at race's end, a serious blow to the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver's bid for a second "Eastern Storm" title.
An oft-used tactic at Port Royal is the second-place driver utilizing a massive slider on the leader in turn one. Windom was fully aware of this as he used one of his own on Ballou in the final laps of last year's race to snare the win. With Thomas behind him, Windom needed to be fully on his game. In turn three, Thomas took his chance, sliding wheel-to-wheel with Windom through the corner, yet Windom prevailed with the lead off turn four on the high side.
"I think once the top really came in, I felt like I got better even at the end of the race," Windom recalls. "I saw the 69 car sliding across the middle there, trying to clear slide jobs on me and I knew that wasn't going to work. If he cleared me, he cleared me, but if he didn't, I knew it wasn't going to last for long, so I just tried to keep ripping the same line up top. These big tracks are huge momentum places. Even if you're not the fastest car, if you can keep your momentum rolling up top, you're going to be in good shape."
With five to go, Windom had laid down a one-plus second lead as he rocketed away to certain victory. One big fear of a late-race caution at Port Royal is setting up the second-place driver for a one last ditch effort slider into turn one. However, Windom's fear at this moment in time was catching lapped traffic too early, which he did down to the final gun, getting hung up enough to have Thomas pose a threat on the final lap after Windom had to split between the cars of Carmen Perigo and Kyle Moody to find some clearance.
Thomas was unable to reel Windom in as Windom released the stranglehold of the gridlocked traffic on the last lap, breaking through for his third series victory of the year over Thomas, Tyler Courtney, Robert Ballou and Dave Darland.
"I was hoping I wasn't going to catch those lapped cars before the checkered," Windom admitted. "I knew I was going to when we came to the white (flag). They didn't necessarily do me any favors, but they were racing their own race too. I'll be honest, I got nervous. I thought (Thomas) was going to try and throw a big one on me in the last corner. He didn't and I'm lucky for that."
With the victory, Windom equaled two of his fellow USAC stars - Thomas and Bacon - within the top-25 of the all-time USAC National Sprint Car list with his 21st career victory.
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (1), 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6), 3. Tyler Courtney (4), 4. Robert Ballou (5), 5. Dave Darland (10), 6. Chase Stockon (7), 7. Justin Grant (12), 8. Chad Boespflug (9), 9. Timmy Buckwalter (16), 10. C.J. Leary (17), 11. Jerry Coons, Jr. (11), 12. Brady Bacon (2), 13. Isaac Chapple (18), 14. Matt Westfall (15), 15. Jarett Andretti (8), 16. Tony DiMattia (14), 17. Joey Biasi (21), 18. Carmen Perigo (20), 19. Kyle Moody (22), 20. Thomas Meseraull (3), 21. Robert Bell (23), 22. Zach Daum (13), 23. Trevor Kobylarz (19). NT
**Kobylarz flipped on lap 3 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-17 Bacon, Laps 18-30 Windom.
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-1011, 2-Courtney-960, 3-Windom-959, 4-Stockon-864, 5-Ballou-854, 6-Bacon-842, 7-Leary-822, 8-Darland-797, 9-Grant-770, 10-Boespflug-687.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Windom-232, 2-Thomas-227, 3-Ballou-201, 4-Courtney-192, 5-Bacon-189, 6-Stockon-176, 7-Darland-169, 8-Grant-151, 9-Buckwalter-150, 10-Boespflug-148.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 17 - BAPS Motor Speedway - York Haven, Pennsylvania - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
WINDOM GROOVES AT THE GROVE FOR EASTERN STORM NIGHT 2 WIN
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.........Chris Windom grew up racing and winning at Williams Grove Speedway.
No, not in the physical sense. But he was a regular at the famed track in his younger days every time he sat down in front of the tube and plugged in his PlayStation 2.
Winning at The Grove in virtual reality is one thing. Winning at the half-mile dirt oval in real life is the real deal. Now, the Canton, Illinois wheelman can say he's done it twice in two different types of racecars.
Two years following his spectacular Silver Crown win there, Windom returned to Williams Grove victory lane, this time in a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car, Friday night in round two of the 12th annual "Eastern Storm" tour.
Windom lined up 5th in the 23-car field for the 30-lapper as Robert Ballou spurted to the lead from his outside front row starting position. Thursday night Grandview winner Brady Bacon was electrified as well, knifing between Timmy Buckwalter and C.J. Leary to migrate from 4th to 2nd heading into turn three.
Ballou and Bacon were the class of the field early on, gapping the third-place car of Leary to the tune of a half-straightaway by the 5thcircuit. Ballou, who swept all three races of the 2015 Eastern Storm series, was aiming to put his name on the board as a winner for the first time this year with USAC. He was at the right place as nearly half his 28 career series wins have come on tracks a half-mile in length. Ballou proved his prowess on the bigger venues by negating Bacon for nearly the first two-thirds of the race.
By that point, Windom held down the third spot and was searching the Pennsylvania countryside for a way to rope the top-two in. The heavy racing surface providing lightning-quick lap times throughout the night, with newly-established track records set in qualifying and the heats, but proved to be a challenge for drivers trying to pick their way through a murderer's row of front runners that included the three most recent series' champs.
"It was just so locked down and heavy, and with a full fuel load, we couldn't really get on the throttle early on," Windom explained. "It finally started cleaning off a little bit on entry at both corners. I kind of started to haul it in there a little harder and try to get into a groove instead of just sliding wherever your car was going to go. (The track) started moving up and the bottom came in a little better, which worked out in our favor."
On the 20th lap, Bacon remained in attack mode, ready to swat the lead out of Ballou's hands at a moment's notice. In turn two, it finally came to fruition as Bacon powered off the bottom to rip by Ballou for the race lead. One lap later, Windom parroted the act, jetting past Ballou for 2nd.
Windom was now on the charge and Bacon was his intended target. Windom took a chance on laps 24 and 25, nearly nipping the inside guardrail with his left front rubber on corner entry in his pursuit of Bacon. Bacon's car began to shower sparks out of the rear as Windom zeroed in on the 26th go-around. Windom stuck a nose underneath Bacon between turns one and two, completing the process by the time the two hit the back straightaway to secure the top spot.
"The track finally started blowing off some with about 12 laps to go," Windom recalls. "(Bacon) was leading and I don't think he knew that he was missing the bottom or there was even more moisture. This place is so tough to get by a guy down the straightaways. I wanted to make sure that, when I made my move, I cleared him. I know he's a smart racecar driver. If I would've showed him a nose, he probably would've moved down, and I would've never been able to get by him."
Windom began to stretch his lead and the red-carpet, yellow brick road entrance to victory lane was a near certainty as the white flag loomed on the horizon. That is, until the yellow flag intercepted the proceedings for a turn 4 spin by Trevor Kobylarz, thus setting up a green-white-checkered finish and a chance for the two champs to duke it out one more time.
"A million things go through your head when you get a late-race caution," Windom admits. "It's the worst thing possible in racing. I was searching around under caution looking at the top to see if it looked like it could be coming in. I didn't think it was, so I figured if I just hit my marks and stayed right on the bottom, no one was going to be able to drive around the outside of us. It was easy to miss it there at the end, though, to slide up a groove and let a guy duck under you. I knew if I just hit that, I figured I'd be okay."
One night earlier, after losing the lead to Kevin Thomas, Jr. late in the going, Bacon's bid for a win seemed futile until the final two laps when he figuratively rose from the grave to reclaim the lead on his way to victory in the Eastern Storm opener.
Windom wasn't about to let this one slip through his hands, gapping Bacon by five car-lengths as he led the field into turn one.
Windom was never fazed and never threatened following the final restart, finishing out his night with a 0.558 margin of victory over Bacon, Ballou, Thomas and series Rookie Timmy Buckwalter, who scored a career-best fifth-place result.
The win was the 20th of Windom's career, making him the 27th USAC National Sprint Car driver to reach the 20-win mark.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 15, 2018 - Williams Grove Speedway - Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 69, Dynamics-19.509 (New Track Record); 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-19.723; 3. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-19.751; 4. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-19.861; 5. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-19.943; 6. Thomas Meseraull, 20, Dyson-19.991; 7. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-20.011; 8. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-20.027; 9. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-20.122; 10. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-20.168; 11. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-20.187; 12. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, RT-20.220; 13. Kyle Moody, 13K, Kaylor-20.237; 14. Jerry Coons, Jr., 39, Hogue-20.290; 15. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-20.330; 16. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-20.384; 17. Joey Biasi, B1, Shaup-20.406; 18. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-20.462; 19. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-20.468; 20. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-20.473; 21. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-20.586; 22. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-20.678; 23. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-22.196.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. Daum, 2. Ballou, 3. Grant, 4. Moody, 5. Thomas, 6. Stockon, 7. Westfall, 8. Perigo. 2:42.99
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. Coons, 2. Leary, 3. Windom, 4. Darland, 5. Buckwalter, 6. Biasi, 7. Boespflug, 8. Bell. 2:42.81 (New Track Record)
CHALK STIX/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer) 1. DiMattia, 2. Andretti, 3. Courtney, 4. Kobylarz, 5. Bacon, 6. Meseraull, 7. Chapple. 2:44.08
FEATURE: (30 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (5); 2. Brady Bacon (4); 3. Robert Ballou; (2); 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6); 5. Timmy Buckwalter (3); 6. Dave Darland (11); 7. Chase Stockon (7); 8. Tyler Courtney (9); 9. Justin Grant (10); 10. C.J. Leary (1); 11. Thomas Meseraull (8); 12. Jerry Coons, Jr. (14); 13. Isaac Chapple (21); 14. Chad Boespflug (20); 15. Kyle Moody (13); 16. Joey Biasi (17); 17. Matt Westfall (22); 18. Jarett Andretti (15); 19. Trevor Kobylarz (12); 20. Carmen Perigo (19); 21. Zach Daum (16); 22. Tony DiMattia (18); 23. Robert Bell (23). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-19 Ballou, Laps 20-25 Bacon, Laps 26-30 Windom.
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-932, 2-Courtney-884, 3-Windom-882, 4-Stockon-803, 5-Bacon-797, 6-Ballou-781, 7-Leary-773, 8-Darland-735, 9-Grant-715, 10-Boespflug-634.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Windom-155, 2-Bacon-149, 3-Thomas-148, 4-Ballou-128, 5-Courtney-124, 6-Stockon-115, 7-Darland-107, 8-Andretti-103, 9-Buckwalter-99, 10-Boespflug-99.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 16 - Port Royal Speedway - Port Royal, Pennsylvania - 12th Annual "Eastern Storm"
BACON BURSTS TO VICTORY IN GRANDVIEW EASTERN STORM OPENER
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.........Brady Bacon seems to have a flair for the dramatics every time he arrives at Grandview Speedway.
For the second-straight year, the two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ ran down the race leader on lap 38 of 40. Last year, C.J. Leary was the victim. This time, the target was Kevin Thomas, Jr., one of the hottest sprint car drivers in America at the moment. No small task to tackle by any means.
Akin to a buzzer beater at the end of a stick and ball sport, Bacon saved his most memorable shot for the end, staying loyal to his guns on the bottom of the one-third mile dirt oval to win Thursday night's "Eastern Storm" opener for the second consecutive year.
Late-race heroics are always a joy to witness from the grandstand. And it's certainly a joy to the one witnessing it through his own helmet visor as the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native did - and he wouldn't prefer it any other way.
"It actually makes it little more special," Bacon said regarding the late-race pass for the lead. "It doesn't sound that great if you start on the pole, lead every lap and win the race without any challenges. That's an easy payday, but it gets your adrenaline pumping a little bit with the ups and downs. When you think you're going to run second, but then you find something, get excited and make that finishing move that gets you to the lead and the win at the end. That gets your adrenaline pumping and makes it a little sweeter, especially when you beat someone as good as they are right now."
As exciting as it was, perhaps it was more meaningful in the race that it came in. One year ago, Bacon's Grandview victory was the first for the team since the passing of Bryan Clauson. Yet, the race also carries the name of 2009 Grandview winner, Jesse Hockett. Someone who Bacon felt a kinship with as they raced sprint cars together from coast-to-coast.
"I was really close with Jesse," Bacon remembers. "We had similar career paths. We ran a lot of non-wing, wing and 360 races together and became really good friends there when he had his accident. It's definitely special to win anything with his name attached to it."
Bacon started on the pole for the first of four 40-lap features on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car calendar this season. Despite a track rework prior to the feature, the 2014 Eastern Storm champ wasn't deterred from his plans set-up-wise on the Brady Bacon Racing.
"We set it up pretty much the way we had it before the track prep because we knew it was going to go away," Bacon recalls. "It actually lasted a lot longer than we thought. It definitely made for some good racing as it stayed faster and not quite so slow and slick at the end. Once it started cleaning off, we got to where we could move around the track a bit. Fortunately, I had a car good enough regardless of what it threw at us."
However, the early-going was all Chad Boespflug as he pounced to the lead on the opening lap from the outside of the front row. Boespflug cut a rug in the middle lane to lead the first 12 circuits with Bacon staged a lane lower on the bottom rail a car length back.
By the 13th lap, the leaders were working to put a lap on the tail end of the field. As Boespflug drifted high to get around the lapped car of Carmen Perigo, Bacon stayed glued to the bottom, which paid off handsomely as he followed Perigo off turn four, then shot to the right-side pocket in front of Boespflug to grab a solid lead at the stripe.
Following a Justin Grant flip on the 16th lap, Thomas repeatedly wreaked havoc with Bacon's lead up front, painting the outside wall with a pallet of brown dirt as he buzzed the outside of turn two on the 23rd lap, a move that very nearly paid off.
Thomas would apply layers of pressure on Bacon until lap 30 when he saw the door to the outside of Bacon swing wide open off turn two. Thomas took the welcome mat and slammed the door on Bacon, cutting down to the inside rail to steal Bacon's line heading into the third turn.
The race appeared to be over. The race was in the refrigerator, the door was closed, the lights were out, the butter was getting hard, the eggs were cooling, and the Jell-O was jigglin', to steal a line from Chick Hearn.
But, no! Thomas re-opened the door for Bacon with three laps remaining, drifting off the bottom to the middle of the track, allowing Bacon to scoot by on the bottom for the lead off turn four. Bacon dead-bolted the door and boarded it up with 2x4s on the final two circuits to secure his $6000 winner's share ahead of Thomas, Chris Windom, KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Tyler Courtney and fast qualifier Jarett Andretti.
With the victory, Bacon moves into the top-25 on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list to equal Greg Weld and, ironically, Kevin Thomas, Jr.
"He was in a better position than me when he was behind me because he could move around and try some stuff," Bacon explained. "I was stuck to the bottom unless someone proved me otherwise. (Thomas) got by me and he was actually pulling away a little bit. I moved around and found some stuff. We had our car set up pretty tight for the end of the race and once the track cleaned up and we got our tires hot, I moved up a little bit in three and four. When you're running second, there's nothing left to lose."
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 14, 2018 - Grandview Speedway - Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania - "Jesse Hockett Classic" / "Eastern Storm"
QUALIFYING: 1. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.978; 2. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-14.008; 3. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.048; 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 69, Dynamics-14.184; 5. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-14.377; 6. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.378; 7. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-14.388; 8. Thomas Meseraull, 20, Dyson-14.497; 9. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.497; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.505; 11. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.509; 12. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-14.541; 13. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-14.582; 14. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-14.637; 15. Jerry Coons, Jr., 39, Hogue-14.730; 16. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-14.761; 17. Joey Biasi, B1, Shaup-14.780; 18. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.818; 19. Kyle Moody, 13K, Kaylor-14.830; 20. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-15.099; 21. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, RT-15.101; 22. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-15.145; 23. J.R. Berry, 74JR, Berry-15.156; 24. Ryan Godown, 3x, Wasitowski-15.157; 25. Kyle Lick, 8, Lick-15.284; 26. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-15.916; 27. Eric Jennings, 14E, Pinkurous-16.017.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Ballou, 2. Thomas, 3. Darland, 4. Andretti, 5. Bacon, 6. Chapple, 7. Moody, 8. Daum. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Leary, 2. Meseraull, 3. T. Buckwalter, 4. Boespflug, 5. DiMattia, 6. Biasi, 7. Perigo, 8. Bell, 9. Berry. NT
CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Westfall, 3. Windom, 4. Coons, 5. Grant, 6. Stockon, 7. Godown, 8. Kobylarz, 9. Jennings. 2:09.42
INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer) 1. Stockon, 2. Chapple, 3. Perigo, 4. Daum, 5. Kobylarz, 6. Lick, 7. Biasi, 8. Jennings, 9. Moody, 10. Bell, 11. Godown. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (1), 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 3. Chris Windom (4), 4. Tyler Courtney (12), 5. Jarett Andretti (6), 6. Chad Boespflug (2), 7. Chase Stockon (7), 8. Robert Ballou (10), 9. Thomas Meseraull (8), 10. Justin Grant (9), 11. Dave Darland (16), 12. Matt Westfall (18), 13. C.J. Leary (11), 14. Isaac Chapple (21), 15. Tony DiMattia (5), 16. Zach Daum (13), 17. Timmy Buckwalter (14), 18. Jerry Coons, Jr. (15), 19. Joey Biasi (17), 20. Kyle Lick (22), 21. Trevor Kobylarz (20), 22. Carmen Perigo (19). NT
**Daum flipped during the first heat. Grant flipped on lap 16 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-12 Boespflug, Laps 13-29 Bacon, Laps 30-37 Thomas, Laps 38-40 Bacon.
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-861, 2-Courtney-829, 3-Windom-801, 4-Stockon-745, 5-Leary-723, 6-Bacon-722, 7-Ballou-710, 8-Darland-675, 9-Grant-663, 10-Boespflug-597.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Thomas-77, 2-Bacon-74, 3-Windom-74, 4-Courtney-69, 5-Andretti-69, 6-Boespflug-62, 7-Stockon-57, 8-Ballou-57, 9-Meseraull-53, 10-Grant-47.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 15 - Williams Grove Speedway - Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania - "Eastern Storm"
USAC EASTERN MIDGETS BACK AT BAPS THIS SUNDAY
York Haven, Pennsylvania (June 14, 2018).........The USAC Eastern Midget season resumes this Sunday, June 17 at BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Pa. The event will be held in conjunction with the 12th annual edition of "Eastern Storm" featuring the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship. Alex Bright, currently fourth in the standings, was the winner when the series visited BAPS in April.
Racing gets going this Sunday at 7pm. Adult tickets are $25, seniors $15, students $15 and pit passes are $35.
Shawn Jackson holds a 34-point lead over Andrew Layser in the latest USAC Eastern Midget standings following last Friday's race at Bedford, Pa., won by Steven Drevicki.
Drevicki, of Reading, Pa., led all 20 laps and completed a "clean sweep" of the Bedford USAC Eastern Midget/Eastern Sprint Car "doubleheader. Layser took second in the Bedford Midget feature ahead of Kenny Miller, Jackson and Jason Rice.
USAC EASTERN MIDGET SERIES STANDINGS: 1-Shawn Jackson-469, 2-Andrew Layser-435, 3-Ryan Greth-396, 4-Alex Bright-375, 5-Kenny Miller-360, 6-Mike Meyers-303, 7-Adam Pierson-288, 8-Tommy Kunsman Jr.-267, 9-Brett Conkling-257, 10-Johnny Smith-191.
1. Tyler Courtney 1260
2. Kevin Thomas 1254
3. Chris Windom 1241
4. Robert Ballou 1102
5. Chase Stockon 1086
6. Brady Bacon 1080
7. Dave Darland 1042
8. C.J. Leary 994
9. Justin Grant 983
9. Chad Boespflug 833
1. Logan Seavey 131
2. Justin Grant 128
3. Zeb Wise 126
4. Chad Boat 125
5. Ryan Robinson 117
6. Brady Bacon 106
7. Spencer Bayston 100
8. Tyler Courtney 91
9. Kevin Thomas Jr. 84
10. Tanner Carrick 75
1. Kody Swanson 137
1. Justin Grant 137
3. Chris Windom 110
4. Jerry Coons Jr. 81
5. Travis Welpott 80
6. David Byrne 75
7. Austin Nemire 72
8. Aaron Pierce 70
8. Bobby Santos 70
10. Matt Goodnight 67
10. Tyler Courtney 67
1. Damion Gardner 237
2. Brody Roa 221
3. Jake Swanson 212
4. R.J. Johnson 164
5. Cody Williams 154
6. Charles Davis Jr. 133
7. Logan Williams 132
8. A.J. Bender 128
9. Matt Rossi 126
10. Austin Williams 119