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    The Hoosier Race Report

    by Danny Burton

    The Hoosier Race Report: The Broom Boys

    Night Two of the Kokomo Grand Prix saw not only Rico Abreu duplicating his victory of the night before, post-race donuts and all, but both of his teammates joining him on the podium Saturday night. Few, if any, can doubt now that the Keith Kunz operation totally dominates midget racing in the Midwest. They have the total package, speed, handling and talented racers in Mr. Abreu, second place Tanner Thorson and third place Christopher Bell.

    The weather at the Kokomo Speedway was even nicer than Friday. The cast of characters was pretty much the same as the night before. And once again, Dave Darland was quickest in qualifying with a 13.319 lap. Again the track held up well as Darland was 44th, next to last, to qualify.

    For fans the weather was close to perfect, but the relentless wind proved to be a major challenge for much of the evening in terms of track preparation. Like a driver chasing the handling of a car, Reese O’Conner and crew re-worked the racy quarter mile oval until they nailed it in time for the B and A Mains.

    The first of the four heats was a high speed freight train around the top side. Pole sitter Steve Buckwalter was the engineer with Chris Windom second. Dave Darland and Parker Price-Miller also moved on to what would be a 40 lap feature.

    In the second heat Bryan Clauson tried the bottom with limited success as Spencer Bayston took the Corey Tucker hot rod to the line first. Clauson, Tanner Thorson and Alex Bright transferred as a killer B Main was shaping up.

    Jake Blackhurst kept the streak alive; he was the third pole sitter to win his heat. Michael Pickens was second, a good bit behind the winner. Further back was Austin Brown, who held off Rico Abreu for third.

    The night’s first yellow flag waved in the fourth heat. Again, pole man Colton Cottle ran away with the win over Brady Bacon, who did some hustling to get that spot. Tracy Hines was third and Tyler Courtney aided in sending Darren Hagen, among others, to the B.

    Things got ugly at the start of the C Main. I had decided to watch the ten lapper from the pit bleachers. As the field took the green and headed my way, Isaac Chapple took a nasty ride in turn two right in front of me. He sat in the car for a few minutes before exiting to cheers and expressions of relief. Jake Neuman won with Chet Gehrke, Justin Peck and Daniel Robinson all tagging the B.

    Peck’s night got worse as he tipped it over on lap three of the B. He re-started only to flip again, this time much harder a lap later. Big Steve’s comment was that Justin had to go to the pits because of the two flip rule. Ouch.

    The most recent track massage session worked—big time. The B Main was as good as Kokomo gets, which is to say very good. Christopher Bell stalked Kevin Thomas Jr. much of the race and beat the Alabama native to the line at the checkered. Those moving on to the show were Darren Hagen, Caleb Armstrong, Tyler Thomas, Zach Daum, Andrew Felker and Shane Hollingsworth.

    The continued attempts to fix the track paid dividends, both in the short and long term. Here in the Hoosier state this business of a promoter going the extra mile for fans and racers is not that uncommon and the O’Conner family is either the best or among the best, depending upon each race fan’s mileage. The final touchup before the feature did the trick as well, making sure the boys and girls had a track to race on.

    Tyler Courtney had a great start from his second row position and led the first three laps. The red flag waved when Spencer Bayston flipped, the last flip of the night but far from the last yellow. K. Thomas had started eighth but was hooked up, thanks in part to his B Main/test session. He took the lead on lap four and dearly wished to check out. Christopher Bell would have none of that.

    Bell’s time at the top, both of the track and the standings, lasted only five laps. As Austin Brown stopped on the backstretch, Bell smacked the wall in turn four. He bounced to a near stop and limped to the pits with an issue with his right rear, along with K. Thomas, who pitted with a flat tire. Both rejoined the field at the tail.

    Enter Rico Abreu. The popular Californian had started fifth and had hung around the top five for much of the early part of the race, searching for a groove. With Bell and K. Thomas’s misfortune, Bryan Clauson led Abreu on the re-start until Rico grabbed the lead running on the top in turn two. It was lap 14 and one could think that Rico might have himself a sweep—if he stayed out of trouble for the next 26 laps.

    Over the next 10-15 laps Abreu and Clauson put some distance between themselves and the others. BC did a remarkable job staying as close as he did. Steve Buckwalter stopped on lap 29, bringing out a yellow. Abreu and Clauson would have unwanted company in the form of Pickens, Thorson, Hagen, Hines, Bright, Windom, Bell (who had passed a few cars) and T. Thomas.

    The next few laps were crazy weird. The boys had just taken the green when Bright lost a tire and nearly collected Bell, who continued. A couple of laps later, Clauson was on the cushion in turn two and began the bouncing act. Pickens had nowhere to go and clouted BC. Along came Hagen who was collected by Pickens. Just like that, three of the leaders were out.

    The sixth caution resulted in Abreu leading his teammate Thorson (who did a fine imitation of Bryan Clauson using the bottom groove), Hines, T. Thomas, Bell, Windom, K. Thomas, Courtney, Felker and Daum. Five laps after the green waved, Bell was third with his two teammates ahead of him. Windom dropped out just before the last yellow waved when Courtney stopped on lap 37.

    With the Kunz boys running one-two-three on the last re-start, two dirty words came to my head: team orders. We’ll never know and it doesn’t matter much. At any rate, they finished in the same order as they had been when the last green flew. It is, after all, a team.

    Abreu, Thorson and Bell were followed by Hines, T. Thomas (from 17th), K. Thomas, Felker (from 18th), Daum, Parker Price-Miller and Shane Hollingsworth, who navigated his way from 24th.

    The Kokomo Grand Prix was co-sanctioned by USAC and POWRi. Seems like it came off pretty well. Whatever bickering, if any, was done behind closed doors. I would have loved to see more fans on both nights, but what can one do? Overall, it was a plus and I’d not be offended if all concerned schedule this again next year—with similar weather, maybe with a little less wind.

    Nervously eyeing Will Power in my rear view mirror, I’m…

    Danny Burton


     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Obstacle? What Obstacle?

    We should all be continually amazed and appreciative at the obstacles that people overcome in their lives. To use the term “handicapped” to describe such people is as laughable as it is insulting. Those who routinely overcome what most of us would consider an obstacle or roadblock deserve our appreciation and praise. Rico Abreu is one such person. He has the required heavy right foot, lightning reflexes and desire to win. His height, or lack of it, is no obstacle to him. Perhaps if anything, it spurs him on to greater success. And, on the opening night of the inaugural Kokomo Grand Prix at the Kokomo Speedway, Mr. Abreu commandeered the lead on the first lap and never looked back. He led all 30 laps and survived a collision at the finish line as the checkered flag waved. Once again, excitement had been the norm at the O’Conner family’s racy little bullring.

    Few might argue that the Kokomo Grand Prix doesn’t sound as elegant, or even sexy, as the Monaco Grand Prix, but the racing is just as intense at Kokomo—with a lot more overtaking—oops, make that passing. It involved the race track, USAC and POWRi all putting this two day event together. This insured a healthy car count and a track that is noted for speed, thrills and close competition. The race was rained out last year, causing much angst and disappointment. But the weather was close to perfect. It would take more than perpetual road construction to keep my now five year old navigator and me away.

    We left home very early and arrived at the track long before wheel packing began. Time was occupied by the grandson sitting in Shane Hollingsworth’s car (courtesy of Shane and Rich Winings) and then Chris Windom’s Liberty Village black beauty. Bryan Clauson was nonplussed when Karston politely declined an offer to sit in BC’s Chili Bowl winning ride. Maybe it was because when he races, he pretends to be Bryan, among others.

    Again, it didn’t matter when one qualified; Dave Darland, in the RW/Curb-Agajanian rocket at least for the weekend, set fast time with a 13.299 lap. Out of the 43 cars (of 46) who qualified, Dave was 33rd in line.

    Among those not able to turn a lap, Darren Hagen had a night he’d just as soon consign to the dustbin. He was able to start the first heat last/12th. He worked his way to fifth quickly and was threatening Taylor Ferns for the last available transfer. But his slider thrown at the young lady failed; she didn’t even flinch as Miss Ferns sent Hagen to the C Main. Chris Windom (who stormed from fourth to the lead on the first lap), Kevin Thomas Jr. and Darland led Ferns to the A Main.

    The second heat saw Steve Buckwalter exit after a tangle with New Zealander Michael Pickens. Pole sitter Shane Cottle won as Christopher Bell stalked him, waiting for an opening but not desiring to press the issue. Brady Bacon and Justin Peck also transferred.

    Shane’s nephew Colton Cottle won the third heat from the pole. Tyler Courtney picked up the quality ride that is the Wilke-Pak team in the off-season and finished second. R. Abreu just nipped Shane Hollingsworth at the line for third.

    Tracy Hines had a great start and took the early lead of the fourth heat, but Davey Ray had other ideas and took the lead midway through the race. B. Clauson was second with Hines hanging on to third. Zach Daum had his hands full holding off Austin Brown to advance.

    With 46 cars, a C Main was held and Darren Hagen pretty much had his way, winning from the back. POWRi ace Andrew Felker was second with Seth Motsinger and Pennsylvania’s Kyle Lick tagging the B.

    The 12 lap B was won by the third racer in the Keith Kunz stable, Tanner Thorson. Michael Pickens, scheduled to spend his winter/our summer here, provided the excitement and a bit of controversy. He had a meeting with Justin Grant which ended with last week’s Lawrenceburg winner parked for the night and not pleased with Mr. Pickens’ style. After the re-start, Pickens smacked the turn two wall and did a helicopter imitation without flipping—somehow. His night was done with another damaged car. In a separate incident, Steve Buckwalter flipped. All were okay, but had work to do before the next night. Easing into the big show were Thorson, Alex Bright was second after starting ninth. Jerry Coons Jr., Austin Brown, Darren Hagen (who came from the back), Daniel Robinson, Seth Motsinger and Tyler Thomas would all reload for 30 more laps.

    The opening lap of the feature was one of the most spectacular I had ever seen—ever since the first lap heat. Like Chris Windom, Rico Abreu rocketed from fourth to first in less than a half lap. That was that, but hometown favorite Dave Darland made a valiant effort to reel in the Californian. Like the B, this race was plagued by intermittent yellow flags; most all for one car incidents. A pattern emerged where Abreu would wave good-by until the next yellow light. On each re-start, off he’d go again, most always riding the rim, literally inches from disaster.

    It was one of the rare times that passing was difficult at Kokomo; the high line was far and away the most favored by the leader. There wasn’t enough grip on the bottom and several tried from time to time. If there is to be a predominantly a one groove track, people tend to enjoy it more, especially from the bleachers and, in many cases, from the cockpit.

    It doesn’t mean there was no excitement or bad racing. It was almost fitting that Rico took the checkered flag behind a slowing Taylor Ferns and nearly trashed his Kunz-mobile. He missed a spirited fight for second behind him as Darland held off Bell assume the runner-up position on the podium. Chris Windom was fourth and Tracy Hines made a late charge to take fifth. Kevin Thomas Jr. finished sixth over a fading Bryan Clauson. Zach Daum, Shane Hollingsworth and Tanner Thorson were the rest of the top ten.

    Other than the usual thank you’s from the winner to his supporters, the most interesting comment was that Rico was extremely pleased that he ended up in Victory Lane this time because on his last visit here, he left the track in an ambulance.

    All involved loaded up and went home or retreated to a motel, RV, or any other sleeping arrangement in order to do it again on the next night—which is nearly here as this is scribbled.

    For me, Rico’s comment about leaving the track in an ambulance and returning to conquer was telling. It spoke volumes about a young man overcoming yet another obstacle and savoring the triumph over setbacks and his peers.

    On the lookout for kissing Congressmen, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Sometimes the Hare Wins

    As the Sumar Classic began at the Terre Haute Action Track on Sunday evening, I could see with my own eyes Tracy Hines, seasoned veteran, and Kody Swanson, young lion, on the front row. I commented to my racing buddy Kenny that this might be a case of the tortoise and the hare. He agreed. Sure enough, Swanson led 98 of the 100 laps and breezed to victory over Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. Bobby East and Zach Daum.

    The USAC Silver Crown division has struggled for years, but better days may well lie ahead as new Silver Crown chief Andy Hillenburg is doing all he can to bring this series back to where it could be again. The Sunday race at the Action Track was a good start. 24 cars were expected with 21 showing up.

    Local boy Jake Simmons got off to an ugly start, flipping in turn one as hot laps began—while I was walking through the tunnel to the infield. Later Jake would return for a cameo appearance in the feature and would finish 20th, ahead of Jarett Andretti, whose car wouldn’t fire for the feature.

    Tracy Hines went out fifth and set fast time with a 21.112. Kody Swanson went out 20th and had the second fastest time, 21.159.

    The first part of the 100 lapper was plagued with yellow flags and one red flag for a Dakota Jackson flip. Through it all, Swanson led until a re-start saw Chris Windom take the lead for one lap before giving way to Hines, who also led a lap. Swanson then decided that this would be enough of that foolishness and took the lead for good on lap 38.

    At about the same time Hines was the first to abandon the high line that most everyone was using and began bottom feeding. Soon the others followed and there would be no more brushes with the wall as someone must have sprayed some Cushion-Be-Gone up there. Somehow no one smacked the wall terribly hard, though many came close.

    As things settled down and the field spread out, Swanson expanded his lead and did his best to stink up the show. He failed, unless one expects close finishes to every race they see.

    After running strong early, Windom had to retire when his motor began sounding like my sinuses when they act up. This was lap 71.

    Zach Daum, Shane Cockrum and Dave Darland provided some tension late in the race. All three were battling for fifth place as the laps wound down. But the leader was fast approaching. For a few laps Swanson was held up as Hines cut the wide margin to a merely healthy margin. But things were sorted out. Daum took fifth, followed by Cockrum and Darland. Swanson lapped them all, which meant that only four cars were on the lead lap.

    Double dippers, guys who raced on Saturday and Sunday included Bobby East, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr., Chris Windom, Dave Darland and Shane Cockrum. Darland was second at Lawrenceburg on Saturday and seventh on Sunday. Coons had a fine weekend, third both nights.

    All in all, it was a good day. Depending upon one’s expectations, it could be called a decent car count. (Which year do you want to compare the 21 car count with? Go back far enough and you’ll find SC races that started 18 when these cars were a part of USAC’s storied Championship Trail.) The crowd was decent. Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace showed up for race their modifieds and Schrader won. And, for the third time in my life, I had the pleasure of carrying a baby boy to the infield fence and showing him the cars as they had some extra practice time. That, folks, is a treat.

    The Silver Crown Series next travels to Lucas Oil Raceway Park next month. One race does not a season or final judgment make. It remains to be seen if Mr. Hillenburg is to be the Moses who leads this division out of the wilderness. The “full field” may not have been “full,” whatever that is, but it beat the 15 cars at the Action Track the last time I saw them at the wicked fast half mile. We’ll take it.

    Mailing my prized crying towel to Sebastian Vettel, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: A Game of Inches

    Be it life, tiddly winks or racing, inches matter. An inch, even a fracture of an inch, can mean life or death. Certainly in any game or sport, an inch can mean the difference between victory and, say, fifth place. So it went for Jon Stanbrough on a chilly Saturday night at the Lawrenceburg Speedway. On a re-start with only two laps to go, Stanbrough and his Mike Dutcher rocket, caught a rut in turn one and didn’t stop bouncing until he was in fifth place. The recipient of Stanbrough’s misfortune was Justin Grant, who only came from 11th to win the 30 lap USAC feature.

    There are those who may say that Grant would have passed Stanbrough anyway and it was true that he was coming on strong. But that’s another subject for another time. While we speculate, let’s also ask what might have happened had the yellow not waved? Could Justin have caught Jon? There are those who would say that it wasn’t likely, but, again, we can never know for sure. The checkered flag ends the race but not the speculation.

    It promised to be cold, but for my traveling companion and me not nearly cold enough to keep us home. We were prepared, with multiple layers and a nice little blanket for the little guy. I’ve been to many races where the weather was much colder.

    This was my first Indiana race for 2013. March was spent in North Carolina and I was sure to see some stock car racing. Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC; Hickory Speedway in Hickory, NC; Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC and Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC are four bullrings that would be well suited for sprints, but, except for rare visits, one isn’t likely to see sprints at any of them. It was the way it was. They were race cars on a race track and I was happy to be there.

    But the need for sprint car speed and action was real and ready to be fulfilled. Apparently I wasn’t alone. Despite the cold weather, it was a decent sized crowd.

    The crowd was decent in the pits too, helped along by Lincoln Park’s postponement of the tribute to Bill Gardner/Indiana Open Wheel Racin’ Fest. 42 teams answered the bell. The track may have had some “character” but it held up all night. There was zero dust and time trials were conducted on a track that didn’t change radically. Jon Stanbrough was the next to last car to qualify and he set quick time with a 13.727 lap.

    Bryan Clauson won the first heat. Unfortunately for BC, it would be his high point of the night. There was the almost obligatory post-race bumping between Stanbrough and Thomas Meseraull after some real cutting and slashing during the heat.

    Robert Ballou won the second heat with notables Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. heading for the B. Thomas would experience miseries in the feature.

    Justin Grant came from fourth to win the third heat. Jerry Coons Jr. had what turned out to be an oil leak that looked worse than what it was. He’d excel later.

    Chase Stockon made it three out of four who won their heat from the fourth starting spot. Travis Hery took the early lead in the Most Improved category. He outran 2013 ‘burg track champ C.J. Leary to take third. And Leary edged Daron Clayton, in Hank Byrum’s mount, for the last transfer.

    Given the condition of the track, it was a tribute to the guys that there were only two flips all night—with several near misses. In the B, Ted Hines was fighting for sixth, the last available. But he may or may not have clipped a tire going into turn one and took a tumble. Ted was okay, but it looked like the car would need a little work. None of my mates could recall the last time the older of the Hines brothers had gotten upside down. Most certainly it was the first time my little companion had seen Ted crunch it.

    Bacon and Thomas ran one/two to make the feature. The show was Logan Jarrett, who came from 14th to grab sixth on the last lap, sending both Brady Short and Jeff Bland home too early.

    For the 30 lapper, Dave Darland and Thomas Meseraull were the front row occupants. TMez was driving the SST 41, a car that Dave knows quite well. Darland led the first five laps before the yellow waved. During the caution, Meseraull exited with a lack of brakes. Chris Windom had charged from tenth to third and found himself with a flat tire. He returned and re-started in the back, but was never a factor.

    A second yellow waved a lap later. I blinked and looked twice at Logan Jarrett, who had started 22nd/last and had already moved to 12th. Stanbrough powered around Darland on the outside coming out of four to take the lead on the tenth lap.

    Not long after that, Bryan Clauson hit a rut and nearly tipped it over. He was collected by Chris Gurley. Along came Kevin Thomas Jr. who smacked Gurley and did tip over, bringing out a red.

    On the re-start Stanbrough pulled away with a lead nearly the length of the straightaway. But Grant was coming on. After a terrific duel with Darland the native Californian took second and set sail for the leader. But it appeared that the only way Grant could catch Stanbrough would be via a caution light.

    Quite unintentionally C.J. Leary provided Grant the break he needed. C.J. brought out a caution on lap 28 when he stopped in turn one. On the re-start Stanbrough didn’t play it safe. He barreled into turn one like a kid half his age. But he caught a hole and bounced multiple times. By the time Jon recovered he was fifth, where he finished. Grant, of course, took complete advantage and coasted to the win over Darland and Jerry Coons Jr., whose Edison motor was still smoking. Brady Bacon brought the Hoffmanmobile home fourth ahead of Stanbrough.

    The time was 10:25 p.m.

    Granted (to coin a phrase), the track was rough. No doubt internet keyboard experts somewhere will complain if they haven’t already. But one must consider the adventures that come with track prep. Quite often weather calls the tune and any promoter plays the hand dealt him or her. On Saturday both the promoters of Lincoln Park and Lawrenceburg did just that. As it happened, LPS had to pull the plug early. With a world class drainage system, the ‘burg raced. Many of us can remember when the old configuration was under water after a rain.

    But there’s no guarantee that Jon Stanbrough is buying or even cares about the above. But, for an inch or two, this story might well have been about Stanbrough winning yet another race. Ah, well. Except for your very last race, there’s always another one on the horizon.

    Running through the pits and looking for dead celebrities, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Assault of the Five Senses

    My position is that no sport assaults its fans’ senses like sprint car racing. Each of the five senses that most of us have knows when we’ve been to a sprint car program. All five take a beating, but aren’t apt to complain. In fact, we should be thankful. The last time I checked, we weren’t meant to check out of this life/race with all five senses unused. The constant ringing in my ears is proof enough for me.

    Sight: Of course, I’m being subjective. But I do love the sight of a freshly mowed baseball playing field, the crisp white lines before the game starts, the players warming up, the vendors hawking their wares and the look in my grandson’s eyes.

    But even that pales when compared to a full pit of sprinters, an infield so green you shade your eyes from the seeming glare, a full parking lot, a well prepared dirt track (especially Bloomington’s beautiful red clay), push trucks lined up and ready to do their duty, sprints three wide coming out of turn two (or four), the three or four wide salute to fans, shiny new paint jobs and/or sponsors on cars, and even a flagman who knows, loves and does his job—well. And that doesn’t even count the pretty girls, always an added attraction.

    Sound: I’m a sucker for the sound of a baseball hitting a bat, a wooden bat, of course. And that sudden whap! when a baseball hits the catcher’s mitt just right.

    But nothing compares to the sound of 20 or more 410 c.i. engines firing up as they come out of turn four to take the green flag. Or the rumbling sound the engines make coming into the pits, usually accompanied by the occasional revving the engine. And maybe a few of you have heard a child imitate these same sounds. For me, it’s been months since I’ve heard my grandson make that noise as he pretends to race. He may have outgrown this so it may have to be added to the memory bank.

    I should add that the sounds of a good public address announcer are one of the more underrated blessings at your local bullring. A good P.A. person does their part to excite the crowd. True, the key word is “good.”

    Smell: Nothing compares to the smell of methanol. It may be an acquired smell, but nevertheless, it’s an aroma to be savored. At a paved sprint car race, I appreciate the rich smell of tire rubber. A car owner might say it’s like smelling money burning.

    Then there is the food smell. Popcorn, hamburgers, pizza and Kokomo’s pork chop sandwich are a few of the smells that come to mind. For those with the sweet tooth, funnel cakes and others like it rule.

    Close your eyes next time you’re at the track and follow your nose. Maybe not literally; you may bump into the guy carrying four beers. But the point is to appreciate the smells of a race track even more.

    Taste: Closely related to smell is taste—if you’re talking food here. Mosey through the parking lot and enjoy fried chicken leg a friend offers you. Have a cold beverage of your choice to go with it. Walk a bit farther and more friends are celebrating a birthday. Have some cake. Thirsty? Have a beer for the birthday boy. Head through the gate and check out the choices. Prepare to spend some money, especially if you have kids with you. Sandwiches, drinks, French fries, peanuts, popcorn plus various desserts—elephant ears, candy, funnel cakes. Ideally one can associate certain items on a menu with certain tracks. At Tri-State, I’m good for a double cheeseburger. At Kokomo, it’s the pork chop sandwich. At Lincoln Park, it’s that huge bag of popcorn.

    Touch: During the race, one of the few things you may wish to touch might be the dirt pellets that bombard you during hot laps at Gas City. Personally I get a kick out of watching the grandkids try to dodge them—always failing, but always laughing at each other.

    Don’t forget seats. Some are more comfortable than others. Lawrenceburg’s seats with backs are a treat to aging backs.

    One treat that isn’t mentioned very often is when old friends from out of state make the pilgrimage to the non-wing sprint car’s Mecca, namely Indiana. Hearty hugs and handshakes abound. Information is exchanged. Often, sad to say, less than grand medical news is shared, often concerning a mutual friend. Many of us are at that age; the golden years aren’t always that.

    But just as often new friends are made.  People who know of each other finally meet and bingo! a new friend is made. This, too, is part of the whole experience. To avoid or shun it entirely is one’s own loss.

    Finally, if you bring young people with you at a sprint car race, take them to the pits every chance you get. You will find a group of racers who will be more than willing to let a kid sit in a race car, fenders or no. What cooler feeling for a kid is sitting in a race car and let their imagination go? Convincing the youngster that it’s time to get out of the car may be the toughest job of the night. Watching hard core racers melt at the sight of a kid enjoying him or herself while sitting in a race car is worth whatever the price.

    You may be making a fan for life, or a driver, or a mechanic.

    This is being written while hiding out in the mountains of western North Carolina. We’ve spent the month of March down here, vacationing from our Indiana retirement. I’ve been to four races whole down here. Being North and South Carolina, the races I’ve seen were stock cars, dirt and pavement.

    It’s too easy to point out the differences between short track racing down here and racing in my home state. They’re too obvious, at least the cars are. Tracks down here are a bit more casual about moving the show along. No one seems to be in a hurry. Lots of things we Hoosiers expect and take for granted are foreign down here. But there’s plenty of common ground.

    Racers still races. Fans still cheer and/or boo. The sights are pleasing to the eye, even with the excess of sheet metal. Shut your eyes and it will be difficult to tell the difference between the sound of a sprinter and that of a dirt late model. Concession stands aren’t all that different when it comes to smell. But each section of America has its own special food choices. While Perris has wine, down here it’s either boiled peanuts of fried bologna sandwiches (not a favorite). Good tasting food can be found; I stumbled onto a nice helping of French fries at Hickory, the same night I met Bobby Allison. And Greenville-Pickens Speedway had a pre-race autograph session with the drivers. Kids had a field day. I chatted briefly with Nick Drake, who is going stock car racing this year, but said he hopes to head north and race his sprint car a few times this year.

    The itch is alive and well. God willing, April will find us hitting the ground running. Schedules are pretty much set. Winter stubbornly inches away and warm weather begins to assert itself. The old truck has been serviced and is ready. It’s all good.

    Soon to emerge from Bat Cave, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Racing Flags 101

    It was a hot Saturday night in sprint car America. A father and son were enjoying boys’ night out as mom and sister went to a movie for girls’ night out. The two males were headed to Port Royal, or Eldora, or Lawrenceburg or Perris or…well, you get the picture.

    The ten year old boy was not lacking in self-confidence. But while he thought he knew a good bit about sprint car racing, he was always ready to learn from his dad.

    They arrived before hot laps began. Dad had sprung for pit passes, which he did on occasion. The son never failed to be awestruck at how many people in the pits his dad knew.

    One of those was the flagman, a former driver who still loved hanging around race tracks. He was maybe the friendliest person around and greeted the father and son as if they were long time friends.

    After the two fans finished chatting with the flagman, they began the trek back to the grandstand. The son asked his dad a question about lapped cars. The older man saw a teaching moment and seized upon it.

    “Son,” he said, “let’s talk about the flags and I’ll be better able to answer your question.” The boy had little choice but to listen.

    As they ambled to the bleachers, the father said, “Son, I know you’re aware of what the green flag is, as well as most of the others. But let me tell you that these racing flags also have a lot to do with your everyday life.”

    The kid was all ears, but a bit skeptical.

    “As the green flag starts the race, so it does with our lives. In our lives we need to get up, go and do from the day we are born. In this life we only get one lap. So it would make sense for us to make the most of this and run that lap as best as we can. There will be times we may take the corner too fast; we may even spin out, but we can get it righted and move on.

    “In our lives there will certainly be yellow flags. On the track it means to slow down; there is trouble somewhere. In life it means to slow down, yes, but it means we sometimes need to slow down and take inventory of our lives. There are times that we need to check ourselves out. Maybe our life needs revamping. Maybe we need to identify things about us we don’t like and then make every effort to change them.”

    “So, Dad. What about the red flag? Does that mean we just stop?”

    “Sure does. But it can also mean that in our lives, the worst things can happen.”

    “Do you mean like when Grandpa died?”

    “Exactly. Or at least something like that. Bad things happen and there’s no avoiding it. We stop whether we want to or not and deal with whatever it is. We reflect; we grieve, or else we’ll be worse off. Ignoring the red flag in a race or life is about as intelligent as running a red light at a busy intersection.

    “Son, I assume you’re familiar with the blue flag with the yellow stripe?”

    “Sure, Dad, but we don’t see it much—except during the feature.”

    “You got it, bud. Just like in the race, in life we don’t set the same pace. It pays us to be halfway courteous and get out of the way of people setting a quicker pace. You never know. Somewhere down the road we may be setting a quicker pace than someone and we’d want them to give us room to pass. If you give someone a hard time while they try to pass, that may well come back and bite you later. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 30 lap feature or fighting traffic on the freeway.

    “Bet you’re wondering about the black flag about now.”

    “Yeah, Dad. But let me take a shot at it.”

    “Go ahead.”

    “Sometimes we do bad things and have to pay for them. In a race it means we probably won’t win…..Was that close?”

    “Very. When life shows us the black flag, it can mean that we stumbled, messed up, you name it. While the racing black flag might mean that your race is over, in life, it can mean much more. Sure, we have stumbled, but we also have the chance to get back up and recover—to race or try again. Just like the red flag, the black flag can be a learning experience, however painful or expensive it may be.”

    The father and son had finished their long walk back to the grandstand. The boy turned around and could see sprint cars, four-wheelers and push trucks gathered together, waiting for hot laps to begin.

    “Well, Dad, are there just two flags left? Or am I missing one?”

    “Nah, you’re correct. Just the white and checkered. You may have them figured out, but humor me a bit, will you?”

    “Sure, Pop. All it’ll cost you is a hot dog and a Dr. Pepper.”

    “As you know, the white flag means the end is near, but not quite there. You have to maintain and run another good lap. If you’re in a close fight with someone, you want to beat them, but realize that crashing should not be an option. You don’t want to crash so close to that reward that awaits.

    “Neither do you necessarily want to cruise home. After all, the race isn’t quite over. There’s still the checkered flag. In a race, you’ll see racers cross that finish line and, most always, ease up. Some will be disappointed; others will be upset. More than a few will happy, if for no other reason they were able to push the car into the hauler in one piece.

    “When you think about it some, our lives are like that. Not long before he died, my Grandpa told me this. He said we need to be ready to take that checkered flag, but we also should be ready for whatever came next. Now, just like a racer who doesn’t know what the next race will bring, we can’t know what it’s like after we cross the finish line. But I like to believe that your Grandpa and mine are somewhere, having a great time at the races somewhere in the mystic, watching some of the guys they watched when they were here. But hey. That may be just a dream or something I imagine.

    The boy looked at his dad with a sad face. “I miss Grandpa.”

    Dad looked at his son and gently cuffed the back of the boy’s head. “So do I, but think of the good times we all had. Think of the good times to come. And maybe most of all, think of the good times that are now. You gotta remember, son, there’s no avoiding either if we’re going to live in this world and, especially, hang around race tracks. There’ll be both good times and bad.

    “Just know that the checkered flag means the end of one chapter—or race—and maybe the beginning of another. Just like life.”

    The boy was on the edge of boredom. “Dad, can I sit with Uncle Marv tonight?”

    “Sure, but why? Are you afraid of Dave?”

    “Not a bit. It’s just that I do better at picking winners than Uncle Marv. Dave and Gregg are pretty good at picking race winners.”

    “Son, I’m sure that Uncle Marv will be delighted to hear that. Let’s get something to eat. Look, there’s Bob and John at the picnic table. Go sit with them while I get us something to eat.”

    Dozing through another Super Bowl, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: The Hope of Christmas

    (The following is made up, but it could well be true. At least that’s what I like to think.)

    The old racer lay in his hospice bed and knew that his personal checkered flag was in plain sight. Too much booze, cigarettes and so-called good times had brought him here.

    As he lay there, his sadness was almost overwhelming. He didn’t necessarily regret the booze, cigarettes and ladies, but now, at the end, he could see what kind of person he had been at the core. Sure, he had his race fans out there somewhere, but there were no doubt many more who booed, ridiculed or cursed his very name. With all the success he had enjoyed, it was overshadowed in many folks’ minds by his boorish behavior to most that he met.

    And now, with the end in plain sight, he was finally looking at himself with honest eyes and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

    It was a struggle to keep his eyes open and he dared not close them. He wasn’t giving up just yet. If he closed his eyes, there would be total darkness and frankly, that scared him. He’d never thought about the afterlife, at least not until the past few days when he was fighting to keep his eyes open. But keeping his eyes open was becoming such a chore.

    Though he had no way of knowing it, a visitor was approaching the room.

    Not just any visitor, but this was one of the old racer’s adversaries. For the few years their careers overlapped, the younger man’s accomplishments outshined most others. With track championships, USAC wins, he had the respect and admiration of most all who either saw him race or encountered him off the track. He had the almost comically infuriating ability to both outrun and outnice people he raced. Fans loved him, mostly because his humble interviews were not an act. Fellow drivers at least respected him, even when he beat them—and that was rare among drivers.

    But at the moment, he approached the old man’s room with considerable apprehension. He was questioning his decision to even come here. His wife had encouraged it, but he wasn’t about to blame her. He knew this was the right thing to do. Despite the fact that the dying racer had been an ass a good part of the time, he didn’t deserve all that he was going through right now. Maybe the younger man could find some words that would comfort his old competitor.

    The door was open so the younger man entered the room slowly, trying to determine if the dying racer’s eyes were open. They were—barely.

    The visitor said, warily, “Earl? Are you awake?”

    The old man could hear a voice, but couldn’t respond.

    The visitor approached the bed slowly and said, “This is Kenny. We raced each other a couple of times.” A brief pause and, “Earl, squeeze my hand if you can hear me.”

    Kenny took the old man’s hand and, sure enough, Earl gave it a weak squeeze.

    For a solid minute, except for Earl’s labored breathing, there was silence. Finally, after a quick prayer and deep breath, Kenny spoke. “Earl, I came here to say good-by. But I also came here to say that all is forgiven. What’s done is done. We both know that you’re about to cross that finish line, man. But I’m here to tell you that whatever you’ve done that maybe you shouldn’t have done is in the past. Now’s a good time to wipe that slate clean. Squeeze my hand, Earl, if you buy that.”

    Sure enough, Kenny felt a bit of pressure on his hand.

    After another moment of silence, Kenny said, “It’s time for me to go, Earl. May your next journey be a good one. Maybe at your next stop you can do some serious bench racing.”

    Despite the emotional and physical pain, Earl smiled and squeezed the young racer’s hand. Kenny slowly and deliberately disengaged his hand, laid the old man’s hand on the other, and left the room with a tear or two in his eyes.

    The old man knew his fellow racer had gone. It was strange but the younger man’s words had left him with a peaceful feeling. He was still sad and remorseful for his past deeds, but, at the same time, a weight was off his shoulders. He even smiled a bit. He looked up at the ceiling and could have sworn he saw images of other racers who had already taken that checkered flag. He wondered, were they beckoning him to join them? Well, why not?

    A strange feeling came over him, a light, almost giddy feeling. Each breath was more difficult. It was time to let go. Apprehension mixed with relief as the old man inched away from one realm into another. His very last thought before he slipped away was that now he had some hope of better things. The smile was gone, replaced by a peaceful countenance on his face.

    He shut his eyes and the Great Flagger pointed the checkered flag at the old racer, who crossed over the line with a promise of a new adventure.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and any other special day at this time of year, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: The Future of Racing

    The little boy was lost in thought—thinking God knew what. One could see the four year old intently studying the sprint car that was parked in the pit area, needing some mud scraped off before the B Main, and wondering what it would be like to not merely sit in the car (old hat to him) but actually drive it.

    Meanwhile, his grandfather was “busy” chatting with a team member of the J.R. Douglas car on another Saturday night at a Hoosier bullring, namely Lincoln Park Speedway. Soon the conversation turned to the little boy. The grandfather opined that he could not and would not buy the boy a quarter midget or any other kind of car for quite awhile. Instead he figured that the little guy could start at the bottom, doing the small jobs that people take for granted—such as cleaning the mud off the car after hot laps.

    J.R.’s friend immediately went over to get a bucket with water and a washing glove. He set the bucket by the boy and the youngster picked up the glove and began his chore, washing the Lincoln Park mud off the 09, along with an older boy who was with the Douglas crew.

    The little boy was already happy to help, but then the crew member pulled two dollars out of his wallet and gave the money to the boy, whose eyes lit up. Even four year old kids know about money.

    After many thanks and good luck wishes, the boy and the old man hiked to the other side of the track to watch the B Main and sprint feature. Hoosier sprint fans know that the souvenir stand at LPS is right behind the bleachers. Not long after we finished the long walk, the little boy talked the grandfather into looking at something he found at the stand; naturally it was a toy sprint car. But there was one problem.

    The car was four dollars and the boy only had a dollar his mom had given him and the two he had earned. Could he borrow a dollar off Grandpa?

    Anyone reading this can guess the answer. Soon enough the boy had another race car to add to his collection. Without any kind of encouragement or pressure, the tyke had roamed the pits, sat in a few cars, washed part of one, bought another car and made a bunch of great memories for all who encountered him.

    From an early age, this child has shown an uncommon interest in racing, especially of the open wheel variety. He loves this crazy activity more than his brother, his parents and his uncle—combined. He has never been pushed to go; all I’ve done is ask him. The answer he gives is obvious.

    Starting last year, 2012, he began accompanying me to races quite often, when his schedule permitted. Soon enough he was sitting in sprint cars nearly every time he went to a race. My only rule was insisting that he ask a driver or crew member permission to sit in the car. Unfailingly, his request is granted. It’s amusing to see these tough, macho guys melt at the sight of a kid wanting to sit in the car. The smiles all round are priceless; racers have something in them that loves kids that show such interest.

    2013 saw him continuing to not only watch but learn. My friends and I get a kick out of him telling people who’s driving which car. I wondered at the start of the year how he’d handled the annual ride swapping that goes on here. I wondered about nothing. Right off the bat, he picked up on all the changes, even the one offs. By year’s end he was doing better with double digit numbers as well.

    He does equally well with tracks, at least the ones he frequents. Watching videos online, he can usually tell which track it is. He learned that both Gas City and Kokomo have the sprint car up in the air. He’s learning that different tracks have different friends. If Bob and Monica are at Kokomo, then Marv and Gregg will be at Lawrenceburg. Lincoln Park, Bloomington and Kokomo are all situated for him to go to the fence after the feature and get a good look at the winning driver, who he may well already know.

    In a world where many race fans can’t tell a sprint car from a midget, this kid can. He knows of Indy car and Formula One cars and will soon, I’m fairly sure, be able to tell the differences between them—as well as the many types of stock cars. Like Grandpa, he leans toward open wheel machines, but will watch stock cars on TV as a substitute (except the top three NASCAR series).

    In my mind at least, even more important than all the names and numbers that he’s learning, are the intangibles. Karston is learning about people of all ages and gathering a sense of what is right and what is wrong. In addition, like two of his great-grandfathers (my late father and father-in-law), he knows few, if any, strangers. Once he’s comfortable with people, he is friendly as can be—and doesn’t care how young or old they are.

    For 2014 the plan is to start teaching him which roads take us to whichever tracks. In October this lesson began with my pointing out road signs and telling him that this is the way we go to Kokomo. (county roads—I-65—U.S. 31—all north)

    This guy reminds us that learning need not stop when one graduates from school at any level. When one reaches a goal of learning or anything else, one needs to set new goals; the bar needs to be set a bit higher. The sky is the limit, or at least it should be. Too often our limit is the one we see in the mirror.

    I’ve heard more than once people comment that soon this kid should have Grandpa or someone buy him a race car. My response is that he will have to pass many more tests and learn a lot more before he climbs into a race car. He will have to start at the bottom and work his way up. This, of course, includes washing the mud off a car after hot laps. Should the interest continue, he can move on to more challenging jobs. We’ll have to see; there is time.

    He may find himself becoming bored with this and move on to something else. Already he has developed an interest in baseball and football. And so what if he does? It’s still a kid we’re speaking of here. Like his big brother, he needs to grow up on his terms as much as he can. Grandpa may dream of big brother designing a race car with little brother driving it, but both most likely will have different ideas. That’s fine as long as they do their best and do good as well.

    The clichés are so true about grandchildren being so much fun. There’s more time to enjoy them and watch them grow up. It’s the same with time and how it flies, or seems to fly. Before we know it, grandkids are grown and our own kids begin to know the trials of being adults.

    We close with another story, one which is summed up by the title of this. Those who have heard this story, please forgive me as we share it again. Karston and I were at Gas City/I-69 Speedway for opening night of Indiana Midget Week in 2012. Darren Hagen had won that night and Karston wanted to go down to the fence and see the winner (and especially his car) up close. This we did and I had to hold him so he could see.

    After the winner’s interview, Hagen came to the fence and went through the gate. This was no big deal until he made a beeline for us. Darren took off the white Mopar cap he was wearing and gave it to Karston. If that wasn’t enough, he did the same with his USAC winner’s medallion. We hadn’t done anything special; apparently this feature winner noticed this kid in the crowd with that look of wonder that kids have when they are in awe of what they’re seeing. Hagen had it right when he explained to me, “This is racing’s future right here.” He was right. And the cap is covered with autographs while the medallion is there for him to wear whenever he wants to play racing (running around the family room, pretending to be whoever he thinks of at the time racing at whichever track he thinks of).

    The little boy is learning about life; he’s growing up almost as we speak. And, from where I sit, he could not have a better classroom than an Indiana bullring to do his learning.

    Bullying Richie Incognito, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Battle of the Gray Haired Gang

    While it’s true that youth must be served, it’s also true that experience serves us well. Mix in Kokomo Speedway’s last race of 2013 with some extra walking around money, add some seasoned veterans who aren’t shy about slicing and dicing with each other and that sums up your typical 25 lap feature at the O’Conner family’s pride and joy. At the end it was Jerry Coons Jr., sprouting a few more gray hairs than he did just a few years ago, holding off a fast closing Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough to take home the trophy and some cold (very cold) cash.

    The Kokomo pits were jammed on an otherwise lovely autumn evening in northern Indiana with 119 cars and four of the five classes being open wheelers. 32 of these were sprinters with the usual assortment of USACers and area runners.

    One of these, Gas City 2013 champ Scotty Weir, was quickest in group qualifying. His 12.774 was more than good enough.

    Heat races were high speed, one groove affairs with passing quite an accomplishment. C.J. Leary won the first with front row mate Gary Taylor second. Chris Windom was third and Braylon Fitzpatrick grabbed the last transfer.

    Like Mr. Leary, Wes McIntyre won the second heat from the outside front row spot with Mr. Coons finishing second. Dave Darland took third and Shane Cottle showed that one could pass as he came from eighth to finish fourth in a heat that sent some good cars to the B’s.

    Scotty Weir came from fourth to annex the third heat as Josh
    Spencer started and finished second. Adam Byrkett and Travis Hery no doubt benefitted from a mid-race encounter that left Justin Grant on the hook with some serious thrashing in his near future. Aaron Farney sideswiped the Elson machine, which was then tagged by Jamie Fredrickson. All three had B main appearances waiting.

    Jon Stanbrough won the fourth heat; Bloomington champ Brady Short was second. Blake Fitzpatrick took third and Robert Ballou, with an invisible 12 on his tail tank, finished fourth.

    The two consis would advance two each and Kyle Robbins left all others behind in winning the first of the two. Jarett Andretti was second.

    The second semi took awhile to get going as there seemed to be a bit of confusion in starting order. Mike Terry Jr. held off Grant as Justin tried every which way to pass, but failed, seeing that Terry had the preferred high line. Not to worry, the feature had its share of passing.

    Logan Jarrett and Chris Gurley were added to the field, making 22 to start.

    Taylor, Coons, Leary, Stanbrough, Spencer, McIntyre, Weir, Short, Windom and Darland were the front half of the field and Coons jumped out to a lead that was negated when Byrkett spun, the first of two spins which sent Adam packing. After the first slowdown, Coons again took over until lap five when poor Byrkett did it again.

    The next green flag segment lasted only two laps until WesMac spun in turn two. It was Coons, Taylor, Darland (from tenth already), Stanbrough and Windom on the third re-start. Behind Coons a terrific dogfight broke out among Darland, Taylor, Stanbrough, Windom, Weir and Cottle—all wanting second.

    The low groove had made an appearance and people were using it. Slowly but surely, Darland and Stanbrough broke away from the pack to chase Coons. As they gained on the leader, neither could decide who would run second as they passed and re-passed each other as they inched closer to Coons.

    But it wasn’t happening; Coons won by at least a couple of car lengths over Darland, with Stanbrough close behind. It made for a gray haired podium, but none of the three minded too much.

    Windom took fourth as Taylor slowly faded to fifth. Weir was sixth and Ballou rambled from 16th to take seventh. Short started and finished eighth. Robbins came from B-land, 17th, to end up ninth. Andretti did the same, scooting from 19th to tenth. And Gurley deserved mention as he came in 11th after starting last.

    Maybe the youngsters wish the older fellows would fade away, but it ain’t happening yet. For the time being the Hoosier sprint scene will include the likes of Jerry, Dave, Jon—and others such as Tracy (Hines) and Shane, along with the local boys who continue to race with quality results.

    Youth must be, and sometimes is, served, but not yet—or not on the cold Friday night at the 2013 Kokomo Klash.

    A bit later, Shane Cottle simply checked out to win the midget feature. Chris Miller won the 600cc mini-sprint A main. Nick Speidel won the UMRA TQ Midget feature, the UMRA point championship, all this after already winning the MTQRL championship.

    Sprint car racing in Indiana is, as far as I know, done for the year. Granted, USAC and its caravan is headed West, but Hoosier tracks are quiet for a few months. It’s been quite a year, with the highest highs and too many of the lowest of lows.

    Soon it will be time to hunker down for the winter and, before we know it, the spring will be on the horizon as race fans’ thoughts turn to…..?

    Avoiding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ locker room, I’m…

    (the gray haired) Danny Burton

     

     

    The Hoosier Race Report: Doubler

    As this is written in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Bryan Clauson is two for two this weekend so far. Friday night saw him win at Gas City in his own car. Saturday night was a repeat at Lawrenceburg as Clauson took the lead just past the halfway mark and beat a loaded USAC field. Once again, talent, hard work, good luck and a ton of desire yielded excellent results.

    The great weather deity again gave Indiana a lovely day. Tonight’s riding partner was a bit older than my usual companion, but about as much fun. Given his health issues the past few years, ol’ Dave has been battling as hard as any racer he loves to watch, with good enough results.

    37 race teams arrived at the ‘burg, ready willing and able. The track was the same: ready, etc. It held up quite well, with Clauson going out last and setting fast time. With the USAC sprints’ points race getting extra attention, BC had to pleased with the three points for fast time.

    Young Aaron Farney, mentored by Robert Ballou, ran off with the first heat win. Joss Moffatt held off Clauson for second. Justin Grant stole fourth from Jerry Coons Jr. at the line, sending the Monte Edison owned team to the B.

    C.J. Leary won the second heat, but had an oil line issue after taking the checkered and bailing out after he stopped the car on the backstretch as flames began to spread. C.J. was okay and Ted Hines had a good view of the excitement from second place. Dave Darland was third with Chris Windom taking fourth ahead of B bound Kevin Thomas Jr.

    The third heat saw Chad Boespflug, again in Mike McGhee’s car tonight, take the lead from Scotty Weir late to win. Daron Clayton was third with Gary Taylor ending up fourth. Logan Jarrett led a group to the semi.

    Tracy Hines’ unsatisfactory qualifying effort landed him on the front row where he left all others behind in the fourth heat. Fellow front row starter Tyler Courtney was second and Chase Stockon was third. Shawn Westerfeld, ‘burg regular, impressed with his fourth quick time trial and his fourth place finish put him in the A.

    Brady Bacon had missed the call for the first heat, but his qualifying effort was good enough to start him third in the B. He took the lead from Thomas on the second lap and led the rest of the way. KT was second and Coons took third. Jarett Andretti was fourth and Matt Westfall finished fifth ahead of Kyle Cummins. Robert Ballou just missed getting around Cummins for the last musical chair available and used a provisional.

    Who would be able to pass front row starters Dave Darland and last year’s winner of this race Chase Stockon? Second row gunners Grant and Westerfeld? Or the third row’s Taylor and Clauson? Further back was Thomas, Westfall, Bacon and Boespflug.

    Stockon took the lead at the green and held off Darland while Clauson advanced to fourth on the first lap behind Grant. Five laps later Clauson was up to third as Darland got around Stockon for the lead, if only for a lap. Two laps later Dave bobbled only slightly and Clauson pounced, now second and after the leader, who soon would commence wrestling with lapped traffic.

    BC is about as good as anyone around at handling lapped traffic. At Gas City the night before he had beaten Kevin Thomas Jr. on the last lap in large part because he had negotiated the lappers better than KT. And on lap 17, Clauson did it again, passing Stockon to take a lead he’d not give up.

    Stockon didn’t exactly fold up his tent. The young man from Sullivan, but now living right down the road from here hung tough, not giving Clauson much room for error. He finished second ahead of Darland, who was just a bit off for the night. Thomas came from seventh to take fourth. Grant was fifth as the guy who now occupies Grant’s former ride, Gary Taylor in the Hery 40, took sixth. Coons gave the Edison 10 a good ride, coming from 12th to seventh. Boespflug was eighth with Bacon starting and finishing ninth. Chris Windom was tenth.

    Just like Gas City, this race was all-green.

    Clauson’s lead over Darland is now a whopping 13 points as the boys leave the Midwest for the sunny Southwest—Canyon Speedway, Peoria, Arizona on October 25.

    (The following is a made up conversation, but it could have been real.)

    “I’m tellin’ ya, Clauson cheated!” “Huh?” “Yes, he did cheat.” “How could you tell?” “Did you see how he pulled those guys coming out each turn? He didn’t spin his wheels once!” “You know, maybe you’re right.” “I know I’m right, man. Clauson has had them guys put traction control on that car. USAC should check that out and ban him now.” “You don’t understand.” “Huh?” “You’re half right. He does have traction control.” (a smirk) “So you do say I’m right?” “Yeah, but it ain’t what you think.” “Whaddya mean??” “His traction control is right there.” (points toward Victory Lane) (Squints) “Where?” “Right there. See that right foot? There’s his traction control right there.” (Stomps off in disgust while his ex-buddy chuckles)

    Shutting down, but only for a few hours, I’m…

    Danny Burton

     



    dlb1600@yahoo.com


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