AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: June 25, 2016 - Kansas City, Kansas - Lakeside Speedway
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Chad Boespflug, 8. Aaron Farney, 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Max McGhee, 11. Riley Kreisel, 12. Clinton Boyles, 13. Bret Mellenberndt, 14. Joe Bares, 15. Chris Parkinson, 16. Rob Caho, Jr., 17. Kenny Potter, 18. Landon Simon, 19. Isaac Chapple, 20. Mike Ell, 21. Warren Johnson. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Ballou.
KSE HARD CHARGER: Bret Mellenberndt (20th to 13th)
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-1,339, 2-Meseraull-1,278, 3-Ballou-1,203, 4-Stockon-1,203, 5-Darland-1,163, 6-Leary-1,121, 7-Boespflug-1,051, 8-McGhee-972, 9-Windom-903, 10-Farney-793.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 26 - Kansas City, KS - Lakeside Speedway
BOESPFLUG BREAKS OUT FOR 3RD WIN OF SEASON AT EAGLE
Coming into the 2016 season, it had been three seasons since Chad Boespflug visited USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory lane. Now, as the calendar nears the edge of the month of June, the Hanford, California native found the perfect balance on both ends of the racetrack, running the bottom in turns one and two and the topside of turns three and four to perfection to grab his third series win of the year in Friday night's "Rumble in the Bullring" at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway.
On the start, Boespflug shot to the lead from the pole position, sliding up in front of fellow front row starter Isaac Chapple at the flag stand, occupying the high line into turn one. Chapple, the top-rookie in series points, fought back on the bottom of the back straightaway to take the lead from Boespflug.
As the frontrunners came out of turn four, Chapple was in the middle of a three-wide sandwich, just barely nipping Mellenberndt (inside) and Boespflug (outside) to lead the initial lap of the 30-lap feature. The lead was short-lived, however, as Boespflug would carry the momentum from the outside to retake the top spot on the second lap.
On the third circuit, third-running Stockon got squirrely through turn two, sliding sideways down the back straightaway as he wrestled to regain control of his machine. Max McGhee, with no place to go, plowed into the left side of Stockon's car. The two came to a stop, bringing out the race's first yellow. While both would require a visit to the work area in the pits, both would return to action.
Shortly after the restart, two drivers in a position to solidify their best result of their respective seasons - Chapple and Mellenberndt - waged war for second on lap six. Mellenberndt snuck his nose underneath Chapple at the exit of turn four, but Chapple's left rear tire ramped over the right front tire of Mellenberndt, send Mellenberndt with a collapsed front end straight up to the outside wall as C.J. Leary nailed the front end of Mellenberndt's stopped car.
Meanwhile, Robert Ballou, while trying to avoid getting caught in the incident, veered left to steer away from contact. Just behind Ballou was Landon Simon, who ramped over the left side wheels of Ballou, sending him into a wild series of flips down the front straightaway. He was uninjured.
By lap seven, seventh-place starter and previous night's feature winner Brady Bacon had become a player, soaring around the outside of Chapple for second in turn two. Thirteenth place starter Dave Darland also got by the fading Chapple for third on the topside a half-lap later.
Three laps later, Darland, a two-time USAC Sprint Car winner at Eagle, made a bid for second on the bottom of turn two past Bacon, securing the post down the back stretch.
Bacon would remain within arm's length of Darland as the two closed the gap on leader Boespflug throughout the middle-stages of the race. An intense three-car clash between the three ensued, but was put to rest after the red flag was displayed for a Brandon Stevenson tumble on lap 15.
On the restart, Boespflug was able to put his car anywhere he pleased, maintaining his unique line lap-after-lap, running the bottom of turns one and two and up on the cushion in turns three and four.
On lap 17, Chris Windom and Thomas Meseraull became entangled coming off the fourth turn. Meseraull vaulted over Windom's left side wheels and landed on the sidewalls of his own left side tires while Windom was sent into a 360 degree spin. Though Windom continued on without coming to a stop, by rule, he had to restart from the tail of the field.
With Bacon glued to the bottom side of the racetrack and Darland up top, Bacon was able to grab the second spot for good with ten to go. However, Boespflug rode off into the distance, leading with a half-straight advantage with two-thirds of the race's story already written.
A lap 24 caution for McGhee's meeting with a turn three infield tire set up a six-lap shootout between Boespflug, Bacon and Darland. The Hoffman 69 came alive with Bacon at the controls in the final laps as he ran the short way around while Boespflug rode the fence.
With three to go, Bacon reached into his bag of tricks, briefly swapping lines to mimic Boespflug's tracks on the high-side of turns three and four before returning to the bottom one lap later.
Heading toward the final two turns on the final lap, Bacon appeared to edge slightly ahead of Boespflug between turns three and four, but Boespflug had the momentum, rocketing down the hill out of turn four toward the finish line to take the victory by 0.363 of a second for his third victory of the year, thereby quadrupling his USAC win total in the first four months of the 2016 season.
Rounding out the top-five behind Boespflug were Bacon, Darland, Meseraull and Ballou.
Boespflug's Eagle victory joins his "#LetsRaceTwo" Eldora Speedway victory back in May and his recent "Eastern Storm" triumph at New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway on his USAC resume this season. Boespflug led the final 29 laps.
"I felt really comfortable ripping the top in (turns) three and four and I took my time up there on the last lap," Boespflug explained. "I could see Brady down there, but I knew I was getting a good run off of turn four. I tried to just start slowing down and making sure I hit my marks. We're kind of hit-and-miss right now, so we're working on a balance. These bigger, high-banked tracks seem to be to our liking right now, so if we can get the flatter tracks figured out we'll be good to go."
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma's Bacon earned his series-leading 13th top-five finish in 19 starts, taking second at the checkers and extending his point lead to 51 over Meseraull in the standings heading into back-to-back nights Saturday and Sunday at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.
"The last five laps, somebody had hit the infield tire and knocked it out onto the track and that hurt me going into (turn) three because I couldn't stay on the bottom all the way around the other end," Bacon said. "I moved up the last few laps and started catching the crumbs and I wish I would've tried that a lap earlier because I almost got him at the checkered. Chad never messed up too bad, even though the track was tricky tonight. It was fun, though, to get to move around and get to run the top and bottom. We survived the bumper cars at the beginning and kept our momentum rolling."
Lincoln, Indiana's Dave Darland was the victor of the two most recent USAC Sprint races at Eagle in 2014 and 2015. On Friday night, Dave was in the hunt once again throughout the duration of the event, taking third at the finish.
"We were good early around the top and gained a lot of spots that way," Darland recalled. "The track was slick, so a lot of places you had to be easy on the throttle and try to hit the cushion at the right spot to carry enough speed. Those guys were getting off both corners really well, but we did what we could and we're happy with a podium."
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 24, 2016 - Eagle, Nebraska - Eagle Raceway - "Rumble in the Bullring"
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 17GP, Dutcher-13.247, 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.321; 3. Thomas Meseraull, 66, Amati-13.417; 4. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-13.439; 5. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR-13.503; 6. Chad Boespflug, 98E, NineEight/EZR-13.568; 7. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.571; 8. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-13.614; 9. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-13.626; 10. Rob Caho, Jr., 78, Caho-13.685; 11. Chris Windom 5, Baldwin-13.827; 12. Joe Bares, 19, TEST-13.828; 13. Dave Darland, 11, Walker/Curb-Agajanian-13.880; 14. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-13.902; 15. Robert Ballou, 1, Ballou-13.982; 16. Clinton Boyles, 77, Hockett-13.995; 17. Ryan Kitchen, 21, Kitchen-14.086; 18. Terry Richards, 18, TR's Tool Service-14.427; 19. Brandon Stevenson, 0, Stevenson-14.626; 20. Alex Schriever, 0x, Davis-14.677.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Darland, 3. Leary, 4. Mellenberndt, 5. Caho, 6. Stevenson, 7. Boyles. NT-
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Kitchen, 2. Simon, 3. Farney, 4. Chapple, 5. Stockon, 6. Schriever, 7. Windom. 2:02.07
BENIC ENTERPRISES/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Boespflug, 3. Meseraull, 4. McGhee, 5. Richards, 6. Bares. 1:59.60
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chad Boespflug, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Rob Caho, Jr., 7. Ryan Kitchen, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Aaron Farney, 10. Joe Bares, 11. Isaac Chapple, 12. Alex Schriever, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Chase Stockon, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Clinton Boyles, 17. Brandon Stevenson, 18. Terry Richards, 19. Bret Mellenberndt, 20. Landon Simon. NT
**Simon flipped on lap 6 of the feature. Stevenson flipped on lap 14 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Chapple, Laps 2-30 Boespflug.
KSE HARD CHARGER: Dave Darland (13th to 3rd)
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-1,259, 2-Meseraull-1,208, 3-Stockon-1,134, 4-Ballou-1,125, 5-Darland-1,089, 6-Leary-1,070, 7-Boespflug-991, 8-McGhee-923, 9-Windom-838, 10-Bryan Clauson-774.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 25 - Kansas City, Kansas - Lakeside Speedway
THORSON TURNS UP THE HEAT IN VICTORY AT THE DITCH
West Memphis, AR.........On a hot muggy night in West Memphis, Tanner Thorson became the first repeat winner of the 2016 USAC Midget National Championship season, using a sensational turn three slide job on lap 11 to scoot past Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Carson Macedo, which proved to be the winning move, taking the win in the series' first ever visit to the state of Arkansas Friday night at Riverside International Speedway.
At the start of the 30-lap main event, outside front row starter Chad Boat took the first step forward, sliding across the nose of pole-sitter Carson Macedo to the lead at the entry of turn one.
Series rookie Macedo would fight back, inciting a barrage of sliders with Boat throughout the first couple of circuits that each culminated with Macedo leading at the stripe.
On the third lap, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., running fourth, got an enormous run off the turn two banking. As he attempted to split the gap between the cars of Boat and Macedo, the gap quickly closed. Stenhouse ramped over the left rear tire of Boat, sending himself into a mid-air 180-degree spin, launching him off the gumbo surface like an over-inflated basketball before smacking the back of the rollcage against the track, bouncing completely over once, and then slapping the sidewalls of his right side tires off the ground which propped him up on all fours as he stayed on the gas and drove away.
The amazing, spectacular, highlight-reel save by Stenhouse resulted in a red flag. Despite Stenhouse's ability to initially drive the car away from the scene, Stenhouse's Bryan Clauson Racing mount received a myriad of mechanical issues that came about due to the incident including a broken shock, radius rod, and a bent axle. Stenhouse was unable to continue, ending his return to his home track located just 30 miles northwest across the Mississippi River from his native Olive Branch, Mississippi.
Fifth-running Bryan Clauson's trying night came to an abrupt end, pulling into the infield on the eighth lap and having to settle for a disappointing 15th place result. This came after Clauson's RKR/Dooling team thrashed to replace the rear-end of the number 63 just prior to the feature.
By the 11th lap, ProSource Fast Qualifier and fifth-place starter Thorson had reeled in race leader Macedo. With Macedo set up high at the entrance to turn three, Thorson throttled to the bottom in a daring move that allowed him to slide up in front of his teammate as Macedo got squirrelly and lost substantial ground to the flying Thorson.
Thorson was on a rail, on a one-way track and never looking back as he posted the fastest lap of the race one circuit later on the 12th lap. With less than ten to go, Thorson had extended his advantage to a full-straightaway over second-place Macedo.
At the checkered, Thorson had delivered a proverbial spanking to the rest of the field, winning by nearly five seconds and lapping all but the top-eight finishers: Macedo, Boat, Bayston, Brady Bacon, Ryan Greth, KSE Hard Charger Shane Golobic and Ryan Robinson.
It was Minden, Nevada native Thorson's sixth career USAC National Midget victory and his second in the series' first seven races of the 2016 season in his Keith Kunz - Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD - JBL Audio/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
"These guys work their butts off," Thorson praised. "That was breathtaking. The track was awesome. It was racy and you could move around. The slide jobs were a lot of fun and you could run the bottom down in turns one and two to sneak by some guys.
Lemoore, California's Carson Macedo led the first 10 laps of his USAC National Midget career on his way to earning a series' career-best second place finish.
"This team puts great cars underneath all of us," Macedo said. "I felt like I was good enough to win; I just spent too much time up top. I didn't know Tanner was so good down on the bottom and then he got by me, so then I could see where he was running. Being a rookie in the midget, everywhere we go is new to me, so it's nice to come back and use what we learned tonight. We'll try to do that tomorrow. I know I'll have a good car under me, so it's up to me."
Chad Boat, of Phoenix, Arizona, had yet another solid run finishing in the third spot for the second straight series race.
"We'll take a third tonight," Boat contented. "Tanner was just a little better than us tonight, but it's two thirds in a row, so we're building momentum. It was a decent night for us; it just kind of felt like we were missing something all night. But we'll work on it and come back tomorrow and go for the dub."
USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2016 - West Memphis, Arkansas - Riverside International Speedway
1. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.508; 2. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 17, Clauson-13.767; 3. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.767; 4. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Dooling-13.794; 5. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.807; 6. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.831; 7. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.884; 8. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-13.893; 9. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.914; 10. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.914; 11. Matt Sherrell, 35, Sherrell-14.110; 12. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-14.127; 13. Cody Brewer, 96, Central-14.195; 14. Kyle Jones, 54, Hefler-14.285; 15. Nick Bailey, 89, Bailey; 14.300; 16. Shane Golobic, 17w, Wood-14.319; 17. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-14.497.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Robinson, 2. Thorson, 3. Sherrell, 4. Boat, 5. Bayston, 6. Bacon, 7. Brewer, 8. Walker, 9. Bailey. NT
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Macedo, 2. Daum, 3. Clauson, 4. Shelton, 5. Greth, 6. Stenhouse, 7. Golobic, 8. Jones. 2:23.15
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Carson Macedo, 3. Chad Boat, 4. Spencer Bayston, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Ryan Greth, 7. Shane Golobic, 8. Ryan Robinson, 9. Zach Daum, 10. Gage Walker, 11. Holly Shelton, 12. Matt Sherrell, 13. Cody Brewer, 14. Kyle Jones, 15. Bryan Clauson, 16. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 17. Nick Bailey. NT
**Stenhouse flipped on lap 3 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-10 Macedo, Laps 11-30 Thorson.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Shane Golobic (16th to 7th)
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bayston-455, 2-Clauson-427, 3-Bacon-417, 4-Thorson-393, 5-Boat-382, 6-Golobic-343, 7-Macedo-312, 8-Daum-301, 9-Tyler Thomas-275, 10-Robinson-266.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 18 - West Memphis, Arkansas - Riverside International Speedway - "40 for Shorty"
8 INITIAL 2016 USAC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES ANNOUNCED
CLENDENEN, DAVIES, HIGMAN, HINNERSHITZ, KING, O'CONNOR, STEWART & TATTERSALL
The initial eight 2016 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame have been announced and four more, selected by popular vote from a list of 16 eligibles distributed through social mediums, will be announced June 20.
The fifth annual USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held July 21 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. in conjunction with the "Rich Vogler Classic" USAC Silver Crown race.
The eight-member class of inductees announced today includes five drivers, two officials and a car owner-chief mechanic. They are (alphabetically) Russ Clendenen, Jimmy Davies, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Dick King, Pat O'Connor, Tony Stewart and Bob Tattersall.
Online voting for the final four 2016 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame will be available on the USAC website Monday (June 20) at www.usacracing.com.
Clendenen, of Dayton, Ohio, probably supervised more USAC racing events than anyone in history, spanning several series, primarily including the National Championship Series and the National Sprint Cars. Involved in Midwestern oval-track racing for more than five decades, he started as a mechanic for driver Everett Saylor, the 1937 Central States Racing Association champion. After the war, he turned to officialdom and was an assistant to AAA Midwestern Supervisor Bob Martindale. In 1958, he succeeded Martindale and, after his retirement as a full-time official, he was honored in 1982 with the prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award for his lifelong contributions to the sport. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 94.
Davies, of Gardena, Calif., was three-time USAC National Midget Champion, taking consecutive titles in 1960, 1961 and 1962. His 48 career Midget victories still rank sixth on USAC's all-time National Midget win list. A winner at age 20 in the ill-fated 1949 Del Mar, Calif. AAA 100-miler which claimed the life of Rex Mays, Davies would eventually compete in five Indianapolis 500s, recording his best finish of third in 1955. He also won USAC's Pacific Coast Midget title in 1960 and scored three victories in the prestigious "Night Before the 500" classic. Proficient in his appearances "down under," Davies won the 1963 Australian Speedcar Grand Prix and the 1963 and 1964 South Australian Speedcar titles. He lost his life in a 1966 Midget race at Santa Fe Park Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill. and in 1984 was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Higman, of Lafayette, Ind., was instrumental in the growth of USAC's National Midget Series in so many ways, from providing top-flight cars for the top drivers to his insightful assistance into rules making as part of USAC's Advisory Board of Directors. His list of major drivers ran the gamut of America's greatest talent and he was directly responsible for USAC Midget Championships for drivers Bob Wente (1963), Mike McGreevy (1966) and Larry Rice (1973). The only man to build a successful turbo-charged Offy Midget engine, he served as the crew chief for Indianapolis 500 driver Jigger Sirois who nearly stole the pole starting position in 1969. Bob's enormous contributions resulted in his induction into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1995. He was also awarded USAC's "Jim Blunk Award" for contributions to Midget racing in 1973 and the prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award in 1988. Bob passed away January 13, 2010.
Hinnershitz, of Oley, Pa., was one of Eastern America's all-time motorsports heroes, claiming USAC Eastern Sprint Car crowns in 1956 and 1959 after winning AAA Eastern titles in 1949-1950-1951-1952 and 1955. He grabbed 11 victories in USAC Sprint racing and competed in a trio of Indianapolis 500s in the 1940s, scoring a ninth-place in 1948 and a 10th in 1941. Inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1990, he also was honored by the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. Hinnershitz died on August 1, 1999.
King, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., joined USAC as an official in 1966 and as its Safety Director for the Championship Series in 1967. Three years later, he became the chief steward for the Championship Series and in 1972 became Assistant to the USAC Executive Director and Competition Director. He served as USAC's President and Chief Executive Officer from 1976 to 1997 and also held the title of Chairman of the Board between 1979 and 1981. In 1984, he also took on the additional responsibilities of President of USAC Properties, Inc. King directed USAC through its most turbulent times, after the 1978 plane crash in Indiana which claimed the lives of eight key officials. In 1997, he was awarded USAC's most prestigious honor, the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 73.
O'Connor, of North Vernon, Ind., earned the respect of everyone with is demeanor on and off the race track and in 1958 graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in a build-up to that year's Indianapolis 500. He unfortunately perished in a first-lap crash in that year's race, but his career in the sport is legendary. Despite his somewhat brief career (10 years), he captured USAC's inaugural Midwest Sprint Car championship in 1956 and earlier had won 1953 and 1954 Midwest titles under AAA sanction. He scored eight wins in USAC's Sprint car campaign and was generally regarded as one of the "Kings of the Hills," extremely proficient at the high-banked Salem and Winchester, Ind. and Dayton, Ohio ovals. In 1956, he scored a popular victory in the "Pee Dee 200" National Championship race at the Darlington, S.C. Raceway. In 1957, he led the American contingent as they tested at the spectacular Monza, Italy Autodrome, then competed in the famed "Race of Two Worlds." His best Indianapolis 500 finishes in five starts were eighth-places in 1955 and 1957. In 1995 he was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
Stewart, of Columbus, Ind., became the first driver ever to claim all three of USAC's National championships in a single season (in 1995) and is one of only six USAC "Triple Crown Champions." He won the 1994 USAC National Midget title, then added the Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown honors the next season. Proficient in virtually every form of motorsports, he has earned three NASCAR Cup championships (2002, 2005 and 2011) and a 1997 Indy Racing League title. He has 27 USAC National Midget wins to his credit, as well as 10 wins in the Sprint cars and three in the Silver Crown series. A member of the National Midget Hall of Fame (2001), his list of impressive motorsports awards and accolades continues to grow. In five Indianapolis 500 appearances, he started first in 1996, finished fifth from the front row in 1997, was ninth in 1999 and sixth in 2001. His charitable contributions through his Tony Stewart Foundation are endless. In addition to his USAC driving titles, he also has seven Sprint Car Owner championships as well as seven in the Silver Crown Series as an owner.
Tattersall, of Streator, Ill., continues to rank fourth on USAC's all-time Midget winners list with 63 total victories. In 1969 he claimed the USAC National Midget Championship. As an ambassador for America, he travelled to New Zealand and Australia, winning over 50% of his races during a 13-year stretch! In 1966, he passed a Rookie Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but was unable to secure a starting spot in the 500. Starting in stock cars, he switched to Midgets in 1950 and earned a pair of UARA Midget crowns. He debuted in USAC in 1960 and, in the ensuing 11 years, he never finished worse than eighth in the standings. In 1971, he passed away after a bout with cancer. In 1984, he was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
STENHOUSE RETURNS HOME FOR "40 FOR SHORTY" IN USAC MIDGETS' ARKANSAS DEBUT
This Friday and Saturday night, the USAC Midget National Championship hits the state of Arkansas for the first time in the 61-year history of the series for the inaugural "40 for Shorty" presented by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis.
Stenhouse, a regular for Roush Fenway Racing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit will be on hand, not only at promoting the event, but will also be competing, getting behind the wheel of a midget in a USAC-sanctioned event for the first time since winning last December's "Junior Knepper 55" at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Illinois.
On both Friday and Saturday, Stenhouse will race in the USAC Midget portion of the program in the number 17 owned by longtime friend, USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson, who will also be competing in the event. Furthermore, on Friday, Stenhouse will also pilot a 360 sprint car and, on Saturday, he will jump into the seat of 305 Sprint Car alongside his midget racing duties.
"Shorty for 40" honors the legacy of Howard "Shorty" Chambliss, a man who owned the number 40 sprint car that Stenhouse piloted often in the early part of his racing days and was an integral part of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.'s racing career, especially early on when Ricky was just beginning to make a name for himself.
"Having this event in honor of the 'Shortman' is something that is very close to the heart," Stenhouse said. "He was a longtime family friend who I'd known forever. Dad and him would always be working on their racecars in the garage, and dad took care of his cars when he was racing at the end. He gave me a chance and helped push me to be better with lots of advice that he had learned racing all the years he did. Even in NASCAR, he was one of my biggest supporters."
Stenhouse is thrilled to be returning to his "home track" in West Memphis. A native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, located about 30 miles southeast of West Memphis, east of the Mississippi River, Stenhouse's goal has been to race a midget on the quarter-mile track known as "The Ditch."
"Racing a midget at Riverside International Speedway has been a dream of mine," Stenhouse acknowledged. "It's one of the tracks I loved racing at growing up combined with a car (midget) that is probably my favorite to drive of any. In 2007, the midget was my calling, I feel like, and we won enough that it helped continue my rise through my racing career.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back home and racing with the friends I grew up around and getting back into a midget and sprint car," Stenhouse said. "It's been about 2009 since I've raced at Riverside and it's a place a lot of great racers learned to race on. I grew up going there as a kid watching my dad every single week until I started racing there. It has always been one of my favorite dirt tracks. It will be great to see all the fans who still support the race track every week as well as the ones who support me from the time I started and throughout my career."
Friday night's June 17th event at Riverside features a 30-lap $3000-to-win USAC National Midget feature along with 360 Sprint Cars and Stock Cars. Saturday night's June 18th program will be highlighted by a 40-lap $4040-to-win USAC National Midget feature as well shows for 305 Sprint Cars and Stock Cars.
On both Friday and Saturday, the pit gates for "40 for Shorty" will open at 3pm. Spectator gates open at 5:30pm with the on-track action getting underway at 6:30pm.
Tickets are just $20 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids age 5 and under. Adults can purchase a two-day pass for $35, a $5 discount at the gate. Pit passes are $30 each day.
CLAUSON CORRALS WILD GRANDVIEW EASTERN STORM OPENER
Bechtelsville, PA.........Since starting his third Indianapolis 500-mile race a little over a week ago, Bryan Clauson has been on an absolute tear. Along with picking up the recent "Indiana Midget Week" championship, the Noblesville, Indiana driver had won five of his last six non-wing sprint car starts coming into Tuesday night's "Jesse Hockett Classic" - "Eastern Storm" opener at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday night, Clauson chalked up his series-leading fourth USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory in 2016, as well as tallying his 10th overall USAC-sanctioned win, leading the last 17 laps after a torrid battle up front that saw four different leaders and a bevy of others battle tooth and nail in a see-saw war of supremacy.
Pleasant surprises and front row starters Tony DiMattia and Jarett Andretti led the field to the green at the start of the 40-lap event - the longest race on the USAC National Sprint calendar this season.
Andretti got the jump from the outside as the 22-car pack headed for turn one, but it was DiMattia who found the grip to pull ahead into the lead exiting turn two.
By the end of the opening lap, fourth-starting Kevin Thomas, Jr. used the outside groove to motor past Andretti for the second spot.
DiMattia was able to hold off continuous pressure from Thomas until the sixth lap when Thomas outdueled DiMattia up top in the second turn for the lead.
After a yellow for Bret Mellenberndt, on the ensuing restart, Andretti made quick work of DiMattia for second, sliding up in front of DiMattia to secure the position in turn two.
Andretti, whose best career finish coming into the night was a seventh at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway one year ago, was having the race of his life as he rapidly reeled in Thomas, blasting by him on the backstretch on lap 12. Thomas reared back as he took a shot at him in turn three, but Andretti was able to ward him off for the time being.
As the barrage of sliders between the two continued, Andretti and Thomas stuck like glue as the two ran side-by-side through turns one and two on the 13th circuit, but Thomas was able to assume control to regain his lead.
A yellow on lap 16 halted the action and bunched the field up, but it didn't slow down the clash between Thomas and Andretti up front as Andretti immediately took to the high line on the restart. As the two drag raced down the back straightaway, Thomas pinched Andretti toward the wall, forcing Andretti to crossover at the entrance of turn three. As the two hit the start/finish line on lap 17, it was a dead heat.
A five-car race for the lead ensued with Thomas heading a tight-knit slew of drivers that included himself, Andretti, Chris Windom, Clauson and Robert Ballou. Windom catfished the bottom to take second from Andretti on the 18th lap, but one lap later, Andretti used the middle-road to slingshot around both Windom and Thomas for the lead at the exit of the second turn.
Andretti flew into turn three, nearly knocking down the wall as he sprayed the ecstatic Pennsylvania crowd with Grandview Speedway soil, emerging through the fourth corner four-wide with Thomas, Clauson and Windom underneath him heading for the stripe on lap 19.
All the while, Clauson's car seemingly got stronger on the bottom as Andretti blitzed the cushion lap-after-lap. Clauson disposed of both Windom and Thomas to move from fourth to second in one fell swoop off of turn two on the 21st lap.
By lap 24, the bottom/middle of the track was the place to be as the top began to go away, causing Andretti to begin to fade and Clauson to have it made, as he flipped the figurative switch and cruised by Andretti for the lead and began to pull away.
Despite a caution with 12 to go, a result of contact between Shane Golobic and Shane Cottle, that erased the lead he'd built, no one could match Clauson after the last restart. Clauson was able to seal the deal, winning by a full straightaway and taking his second "Eastern Storm" victory at Grandview, backing up his win in 2012. He was followed to the line by Thomas, Windom, Thomas Meseraull, Andretti, Ballou, Max McGhee, Brady Bacon, DiMattia and Dave Darland.
Clauson's victory was the fourth of his career in "Eastern Storm." The 2011 and 2012 "Eastern Storm" champion now moves into sole possession of eighth on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list, surpassing Sheldon Kinser with his 38th career series wins
"When everybody was all over each other there through the middle part of the race, I just needed to find a clean lane," Clauson explained. "We got moving around and I didn't even really know until the very end, when the bottom got cleaned off, where exactly I needed to run. On the restarts, I just tried to keep my momentum up so I could react more than anything. I kept looking over my shoulder and didn't see anybody, but this place changes so much over 40 laps, you always have to be on your toes. These last eight or nine days have been special. My guys are giving me fantastic cars to drive right now and it's making my job easy."
Cullman, Alabama's Kevin Thomas, Jr. led 12 laps on his way to a second place finish, his third top-three finish in his last four USAC National Sprint Car appearances.
"That battle with Andretti was fun," Thomas exclaimed. "He stepped it up tonight and kept everything clean. I was kind of out to lunch, though, honestly. I missed the setup pretty bad and, when it laid rubber at the end, that helped me. I felt like we had about a sixth place car, but we held on and got a good run out of it."
Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois won KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors for his run from the 14th starting position to third, running as high as second just before the midway point.
"I was all over the place when I was moving forward," Windom said. "I picked up a lot of ground diamonding turns three and four when guys would slide up and I could get them on the bottom. But, we got to the lead battle and, just because the track is so narrow going into turn one, I ran out of room and jumped Thomas' right rear and fell back to sixth or seven. Derek (Claxton) gave me a great car, though, and we could drive back to a podium run."
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 7, 2016 - Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania - Grandview Speedway - "Eastern Storm" - "Jesse Hockett Classic"
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-13.664; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.778; 3. C.J. Leary, 17GP, Dutcher-13.876; 4. Robert Ballou, 1, Ballou-13.900; 5. Thomas Meseraull, 66, Amati-13.934; 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 4J, 4J Motorsports-13.937; 7. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-13.952; 8. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-14.015; 9. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.032; 10. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.039; 11. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-14.099; 12. Shane Golobic, 60, Ely-14.107; 13. Shane Cottle, 3, Franckowiak-14.126; 14. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, Becker-14.141; 15. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.219; 16. Mark Smith, 3R, Rock Steady-14.289; 17. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR-14.294; 18. Dave Darland, 11, Walker/Curb-Agajanian-14.313; 19. Jerry Coons, Jr., 39, TWH-14.326; 20. Kyle Moody, 99m, Moody-14.341; 21. Chad Boespflug, 98E, NineEight/EZR-14.341; 22. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-14.489; 23. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.559; 24. Joey Biasi, B1, Biasi-14.628; 25. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-14.711; 26. Dustin Smith, 77, Smith-14.860; 27. J.R. Berry, 74JR, Berry-15.222; 28. Dick Mahoney, 79, Mahoney-15.358; 29. Michael Hamer, 47, Hamer-15.527; 30. Harris Kohen, 0, Kohen-16.329.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Chapple, 3. Cottle, 4. Meseraull, 5. Bacon, 6. Clauson, 7. Perigo, 8. Hamer. 1:56.30
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Mellenberndt, 3. Andretti, 4. Thomas, 5. Kobylarz, 6. D.Smith, 7. Stockon, 8. Kohen. NT
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Simon, 3. Coons, 4. McGhee, 5. Farney, 6. Berry, 7. Leary. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Biasi, 3. DiMattia, 4. Golobic, 5. M.Smith, 6. Moody, 7. Mahoney. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Stockon, 3. Bacon, 4. Leary, 5. M.Smith, 6. Farney, 7. D.Smith, 8. Kobylarz, 9. Hamer, 10. Perigo, 11. Moody, 12. Berry, 13. Kohen. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Chris Windom, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Jarett Andretti, 6. Robert Ballou, 7. Max McGhee, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Tony DiMattia, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Shane Golobic, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Chase Stockon, 15. Aaron Farney, 16. Jerry Coons, Jr., 17. Landon Simon, 18. Mark Smith, 19. Bret Mellenberndt, 20. Isaac Chapple, 21. Shane Cottle, 22. Joey Biasi. NT
**Berry flipped during the semi.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 DiMattia, Laps 6-11 Thomas, Lap 12 Andretti, Laps 13-18 Thomas, Laps 19-23 Andretti, Laps 24-40 Clauson.
KSE HARD CHARGER: Chris Windom (14th to 3rd)
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-855, 2-Meseraull-855, 3-Stockon-755, 4-Darland-735, 5-Ballou-721, 6-Leary-715, 7-Boespflug-665, 8-Kyle Cummins-658, 9-McGhee-616, 10-Clauson-508.
NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Clauson-80, 2-Thomas-73, 3-Windom-72, 4-Meseraull-68, 5-Ballou-66, 6-Andretti-64, 7-McGhee-57, 8-DiMattia-52, 9-Bacon and Darland-51.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 8 - Abbottstown, PA - Lincoln Speedway - "Eastern Storm"
1. Brady Bacon 1259
2. T. Meseraull 1208
3. Chase Stockon 1134
4. Robert Ballou 1125
5. Dave Darland 1089
6. C.J. Leary 1070
7. Chad Boespflug 991
8. Max McGhee 923
9. Chris Windom 838
10. Bryan Clauson 774
. 1. Shane Golobic 70
2. Brady Bacon 61
3. Spence Bayston 55
4. Tanner Thorson 52
5. David Budres 49
6. Zach Daum 43
7. A.Hernandez 41
8. Chad Boat 37
9. T.Thomas 35
10. Holly Shelton 33
1. Kody Swanson 617
2. Jerry Coons Jr. 475
3. A.J. Fike 431
4. Chris Windom 405
5. Shane Cockrum 357
6. Aaron Pierce 354
7. C.J. Leary 339
8. Austin Nemire 316
9. Justin Grant 304
10. David Byrne 300
1. Damion Gardner 1266
2. Mike Spencer 1221
3. R.Vander Weerd 1169
4. Jake Swanson 1035
5. Austin Williams 1024
6. Brody Roa 984
7. Matt Mitchell 799
8. Cody Williams 760
9. Logan Williams 663
10. Ryan Bernal 563