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The Hoosier Race Report
by Danny Burton
The Hoosier Race Report: 2015
The Hoosier Race Report: Mr. Five
The Hoosier Race Report: Oldest
Driver Plus Oldest Car=Winning
The Hoosier Race Report: Closing the Book on 2015
The silence you hear or imagine is the void left by sprint cars as another Hoosier sprint car racing season has concluded for all intents and purposes. Though many fields still contain corn and other crops, many more have been harvested. The air has a distinct chill to it, even in the daytime. School is well underway and high school and college football take center stage as both Indiana and Purdue University’s football teams wallow in mediocrity—at best. And Halloween is not far away. But melancholy is often a waste of time. Especially if you are Thomas Meseraull, a/k/a TMez. Landing himself in the Shane Wade/Amati Racing Team’s ride has also landed him in Victory Lane twice in a row in USAC Amsoil sprint car action. After winning the feature at Eldora’s Four Crown a few weeks ago, Meseraull and Company won a cool $10,000 at the Lawrenceburg Speedway on a chilly Saturday night. Besides it being his second USAC win in a row, it was TMez’s tenth feature win overall this year.
For the second straight night my fellow Hoosier sprint freaks would brave chilly conditions. As it turned out, it wasn’t quite as cold on Saturday. But folks were still bundled up like Eskimos and my four layers were sufficient.
34 teams ignored the weather and the casino across the street, preferring instead to go racin’. Pennsylvania resident and IU student Tony DiMattia was camped in the pits with his recent acquisition from the Gentrys. USAC’s Silver Crown champ Kody Swanson stopped by, as did Illinois’ Terry Babb. For one last time we’d see the guy so many fans have “adopted,” namely Robert Bell, who has had the time of his life this year, open trailer and all. Dustin Ingle came down from northwest Ohio to race. Chad Boespflug was in Gene Nolen’s creation for the night. Mini-sprint standout Beau Stewart pulled up a seat at the table. And World of Outlaws’ Shane Stewart took off the wing and made some adjustments, wishing to try his luck and maybe pick up some extra walking around money.
C.J. Leary was 12th to take his two spins around the three eighths mile high banked monster. His 13.898 stood up against the rest, though Kyle Robbins tore off a 13.963 after Leary’s run. Surprisingly, DiMattia was second quick. Shane Stewart met disaster coming to the green flag. Barreling into turn three he lost the handle and flipped hard. Shane was okay but his outing minus the wing was done for the night and maybe for a long, long time. Some message board experts were correct in applauding Mr. Stewart for at least trying to tackle the ‘burg without his usual configuration.
Chris Windom led all but the first lap of the first heat, winning with Kevin Thomas Jr. second. Pole sitter Max McGhee was third and fast qualifier Leary was fourth. Kyle Cummins, Casey Shuman and Kody Swanson went to the B.
Brady Bacon let Aaron Farney lead the first lap of the second heat before assuming the lead and the win by a large margin. Farney was second by a good distance over Jerry Coons Jr. Pole sitter Dustin Ingle held on for fourth, sending Chad Boespflug and second quick Tony DiMattia B Main bound.
Logan Jarrett led all the way to win the third heat. Scotty Weir, in Todd Keen’s pride and joy, was second. Thomas Meseraull was a fairly tame third. Jarett Andretti was fourth and this meant third fastest qualifier KRob went to the B.
Robert Ballou had not helped his points situation with his less than ideal time trial. But it put him on the pole of the fourth heat and he won easily. Dave Darland, third in points, came from sixth to second. Justin Grant was third. Chase Stockon, second in points, started and finished fourth. Hall of Famers Jon Stanbrough and Tracy Hines went to the B.
Robbins started the consolation race on the front row and jumped out to the lead. By now the cushion in turns three and four was right against the wall, where many racers like it. Robbins was one of those guys until the sixth lap when he spun into the wall, a good night ruined. Kyle Cummins took over the lead but Kody Swanson wanted the lead, too. After a pair of yellows, the expectant daddy took the lead and held on for the win. Joining him in the Show would be Cummins, Stanbrough, Boespflug, Hines and Garret Abrams, who edged Casey Shuman, the new headman of the WAR sprint series.
Brady Bacon led the first lap of the feature from his outside pole beginning point, but Meseraull was having none of that. Before that all happened, Dave Darland had a second consecutive night of rotten luck as his car appeared to jump out of gear on the backstretch right after Tom Hansing’s green flag. Just like that, the People’s Champ went from his fifth spot to 22nd. It didn’t do him any favors in the points race with Ballou and Stockon.
On the re-start, Meseraull grabbed the lead from Bacon and kept his distance. Thomas passed Bacon as well but could not close on the leader. By the 12th lap, TMez began dealing with lapped traffic. Kyle Cummins, who had been flirting with the top five, slowed just before halfway and left the race. Stockon, who started tenth, was up to fifth just past the lap 15 mark. Ballou, who started 21st of 22, and Darland were both languishing in the back of the pack, but Robert did pick up some spots eventually. That would be crucial at race’s end.
Incredibly, Meseraull lapped Darland with nine laps to go. The top five of TMez, Thomas, Bacon, Stockon and Weir stayed the same for several laps. But Chase was soon under attack from Chris Windom, who had advanced steadily from the eighth row. When Stockon bounced off the wall on the white flag lap, he lost more spots.
But no one had anything for Meseraull. Thomas was a worthy second with C.J. Leary moving up in the race’s latter stages to take third. Bacon was fourth ahead of Windom, who had started 15th. Kody Swanson was a steady sixth. Stockon salvaged seventh and Weir was eighth. Stanbrough came from 14th to ninth. Ballou was the night’s hardest charger as he rallied late to grab tenth after starting halfway to the Ohio River.
Ballou lost six points off his point lead over Stockon, who now trails by 19 as the boys head West. Darland is now 24 behind Stockon.
The winner was his usual loquacious self, quite happy and not afraid to say it. He’s considered controversial by many because his words are not only frequent but also stinging at times to some. I don’t pay that much mind; all I know is the kid (they are all kids to me, the retiree) can wheel a race car and right now he and the Shane Wade gang have it together and are in a great position to play spoiler out West.
The modifieds took over as I hung around, still tired from the night before but not wanting to leave this place. At that moment April seemed a long way off before my hoped for return to the finest dirt tracks in the nation overall. Time marches on; in my opinion it’s a circle, not a line. So all we can do is aim for the next starting point in the circle next spring, assuming and hoping that it’s meant to be. But the idea is to live one’s life as if doing the things you should do and should enjoy will be the last time you get to do them. Things like enjoyment, appreciation and even legacies matter. Let’s take that with us going down the road.
Giving my old buddy Benjamin Netanyahu a history lesson, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Maybe Thomas Wolfe Was Wrong?
Mr. Wolfe, one of our better American authors (my opinion only), was the guy who wrote the book, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” It received critical acclaim, except for where his real life home was, namely Asheville, North Carolina. It seemed like the locals weren’t fond of ol’ Thomas and his unflattering description of the city.
But in racing, one goes go home all the time. Take that rascal Shane Cottle. Over the years, Shane has traveled many miles from his Kokomo home (even though he’s an Illinois native, I believe). He’s one of several Kokomo racers over the years who have excelled. And he did it again on a downright cold October evening at the Kokomo Speedway as he won the sprint car portion of the ninth annual Kokomo Klash, leading all 25 laps. It was ironic (and unfortunate for him), but another Kokomo standout, Dave Darland, dropped out of the feature before it even started with a stalled race car. So Kokomo boys bookended the field on the curtain closer for the thrill a minute quarter mile oval.
For what it’s worth, this didn’t apply to midget winner Spencer Bayston, who won the midget feature. He is based in nearby Lebanon, Indiana.
Somewhere in the mob scene that was the Kokomo Speedway pit area was a grand total of 29 sprints in the more than 160 race cars just off the north side of the track. Within this group were an assortment of players, some new ones and other familiar faces, cars and teams. Of note was Brandon Mattox, taking over the Jerry Burton owned 04 and Casey Shuman in the championship car driven by Scott Hampton at Lincoln Park Speedway this year.
Heat races would be based on time trials and would start straight up. The top five would move on from the three heats and the feature would line up with the same method. Group qualifying as usual and Justin Grant was quickest of the three groups to qualify, ripping off a 13.021 lap.
Dave Darland moved from the outside front row to the lead and win in the first heat. Pole sitter Jerry Coons Jr. was second. Mattox was third ahead of Michigan’s Joe Bares and Indy’s Travis Berryhill. Kyle Robbins spun on the first lap and found his way to the B. His night would get better.
Max McGhee took the lead on the second lap of the second heat and won. Front row starter Logan Jarrett, a part of the Kokomo gang, was second. Pole sitter Brady Short took third, with Jarret Andretti fourth. Kevin Thomas Jr. edged Casey Shuman for the last slot available.
Shane Cottle beat his front row mate Justin Grant to win the last eight lapper. Chris Gurley finished third ahead of Shane’s nephew Colton. Tony DiMattia started and finished fifth in a car the IU student recently bought from the Gentry family.
The sprint B was a yellow flag festival. When Brian Hodde’s checkered waved, it was the Shu winning, and taking with him KRob. Another homeboy, Josh Spencer, beat Canadian Lee Dakus by a right front tire width for third. And Chris Miller grabbed the last transfer over Mike Gass by a Kokomo Speedway pork chop sandwich. .
32 midgets were scattered through the pits with Tracy Hines making a rare non-USAC appearance, preparing to maintain his point lead in the USAC Midget series. Casey Shuman, C.J. Leary, Justin Grant, both Cottles and Michael Koontz were the double dippers, though Leary’s sprinter fell victim to engine gremlins.
Justin Peck has shown for some time now that he can wheel one of these tiny beasts with anyone and he won the first midget heat by a zip code. Kellen Conover, Nick Speidel and Dalton Camfield finished second, third and fourth.
Mr. Bayston started as well as he finished, winning the second midget heat. Justin Grant made a late pass to take second from Austin Prock. Dave Camfield was fourth and would move on.
Shane Cottle had fun in the third heat, winning from the second row. C.J. Leary came from the back to finish second. Wisconsin veteran Scott Hatton grabbed third after starting last and Kevin Studley settled for fourth.
Tracy Hines came from fifth to win the third heat. Casey Shuman started eighth and concluded the race second. Shane Hollingsworth, whose racing is limited these days, was third. Ryan Greth hung on for fourth.
Seymour, Indiana’s Logan Arnold won the B Main, which saw Ken Drangmeister take a mean ride down the backstretch. He was shaken, but okay. Michael Koontz was second, leading Justin Dickerson and Kurt Mayhew to the line.
Dave Darland was scheduled to start the feature on the pole, but while lining up, his Jeff Walker bullet just stopped on the track, unable to refire. This put Cottle on the pole with Max McGhee next to him as the boys took the green flag from Tony Elliott’s son Brandon, one last tribute to a guy who dominated at Kokomo over the years.
Cottle assumed the lead at the start as McGhee dropped back. The first yellow waved for Joe Bares on lap three as Jerry Coons Jr. had taken second from Logan Jarrett. A lap later Brandon Mattox spun. On this re-start, Brady Short had moved into third and was threatening Coons for second. But Jerry was up to that challenge and Justin Grant came on to pass Short midway through the 25 lapper.
Lapped traffic came into play at this time and the third yellow waved for a Grant/Mattox tangle when Justin tried an inside pass. It was Cottle, Coons, Short, Thomas (from 14th), Jarrett, McGhee, Casey Shuman (from 16th) Kyle Robbins (from 17th) and Travis Berryhill. Three laps later, on lap 14, it was McGhee’s turn to spin in turn two.
Cottle kept control but it was time for Kevin Thomas Jr. to shine. After the McGhee yellow, KT was fourth. After a couple of green flag laps, he passed Short and began pressuring Coons for second. There was time to catch Cottle, but, though he did close in somewhat, Thomas had to settle for second behind the local boy.
Coons hung on for third, ahead of Short. Jarrett was fifth. Shu did some serious moving coming in seventh. So did KRob, who finished eighth. Scotty Weir was ninth and Colton Cottle came on at the end to take tenth.
It had been cold and was getting colder but I hung around for both the Thunder Car feature, then the midget finale.
Peck and Bayston led 18 others to Brian Hodde’s green and Tracy Hines promptly spun out in turn three, a very rare event. Justin Peck took the early lead before Shane Cottle, hoping to double up, took the lead as Hines carved his way through the field.
But Cottle’s fine run ended on lap 10 as he coasted into the infield. Peck took the lead and tried mightily to check out, weaving through lapped traffic. Behind him were Shuman, Hines, Bayston and Hollingsworth. Shuman slowed and exited on lap 18 and Bayston passed Hines. But Peck bobbled in turn four and stopped in turn two with a broken torsion stop, bringing out the yellow after Hines had passed Bayston for second, then the lead.
With five laps to go it looked like Hines might complete an impressive recovery, coming from his early spin to lead. On the restart he took the bottom groove and Bayston was alone up top. The kid from Lebanon, home of another outstanding midget racer, kept at it and passed the veteran with three laps to go and sailed home for the pink and white checkered flag (a nod at the fight against breast cancer).
Hines held onto second with Hollingsworth third after starting 12th. Behind Shane was Shelbyville’s Nick Speidel. C.J. Leary was fifth.
It was just past 12:30 a.m., a very rare late night at Kokomo. My phone told me it was 34 degrees in Kokomo. This was the coldest I’d been at a race since March, when I was parked in North Carolina and settling for stock car racin’. It seemed like I had come full circle, but not quite.
I had one more track to say goodbye to before the curtain came down. The ‘burg awaited me and many others. Like folks say, Kokomo never disappoints. They also say “Get your ass to Kokomo” and if you want to see Hoosier sprint car racing at a high level, Kokomo, among others, needs to be on your list.
And unlike my buddy Thomas Wolfe, I was going home again.
This one was for Lloyd and Gail.
Designing new fourth down plays for the Colts, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Cut to the Chase
Despite the nice weather, it was the kind of night that would make promoters look for the sturdiest tree they could find and strike it vigorously with their head. Why? Well, the weather was near perfect, 75 cars jammed the pits, including 25 sprinters, plus there was at least a half dozen potential winners in the feature lineup. The track was ready to yield high speeds, close competition and passes for positions. But one had to remember that a larger form of competition exists outside the confines of TSS.
Multiple fall festivals dotted the landscape throughout the state this past weekend. No doubt some fans and race teams were in Illinois either racing or watching. And surely many people stayed at home watching the St. Louis Cardinals lose to the Chicago Cubs. Most of those fans in southwestern Indiana might have wished that they had gone to the races instead. That part of the state is predominantly Cardinals country (observed the Cincinnati Reds fan).
It would be the usual passing points format with the top 16 in points moving to the feature. The top four in the B Main would transfer too. The top six of the 16 would redraw for starting positions in the show.
But crowd or not, there was a race to run. Kevin Thomas Jr. started on the front row of the first heat and simply checked out, winning by a straightaway. Donnie Brackett came from seventh to take second. Brandon Mattox improved to finish third. Carson Short came from eighth to grab fourth. James Lyerla, Chet Williams, 2015 MSCS Rookie of the Year Brandon Morin and Nick Johnson trailed.
The second heat was loaded with hot dogs, with all the accessories. Chase Stockon passed Brady Short on the seventh lap to see Mo Wills' checkered first. Behind Mr. Short was the ageless Critter Malone. Kyle Cummins struggled to get fourth. Kent Schmidt was next, ahead of Brian Karraker, Kendall Ruble and Dylan Shaw.
Jeff Bland started the third heat seventh and was leading by the third lap. From there he ran away to take the win. Aric Gentry was second. Pat Giddens held off Jadon Rogers for third. Jim Shelton, Patrick Budde and Dave Gross finished up.
Chet Williams took the lead on the second lap and motored away to win the B Main. Dakota Jackson, after a heat race mishap and a family thrashing in the pits to get ready for the B, came from last to second. Patrick Budde was third. Brandon Morin overcame a broken shock, yet still made a late pass of young Kendall Ruble to take the last feature spot available.
Despite MSCS public relations ace Eldon Butcher’s assertion that the lineup he gave me was unofficial, I wasn’t surprised to find out it was correct all the same. Chase Stockon and Jeff Bland led 18 of their playmates to Mo Wills’ green one more time. These two took off and ran one/two, reaching lapped traffic by lap six. But an unwanted Donnie Brackett/Critter Malone meeting in turn four brought out a red flag.
The yellow waved soon enough and the gang lined up behind Mr. Stockon, who led Bland, Mattox, Thomas, Cummins, C. Short, B. Short (who had been honored before the feature for his 2015 MSCS championship), Karraker, Williams (already up from B Main land) and Gentry. Two laps after Mo waved his green flag on the restart, Mattox and Bland banged wheels coming out of turn two, with Brandon immediately sensing something bent or broken. He exited to the relative calm of the infield.
Cummins wasted little time in getting to second and began his chase of Chase. Both pulled away from third place Kevin Thomas. Bland and Brady Short were next as the crossed flags made their appearance.
Easily the highlight of the race was the mastery shown by Stockon in simply attacking lapped traffic. And Cummins was equal to the task, dogging his new neighbor’s tracks (Cummins is from nearby Princeton, while Stockon has moved to near Haubstadt). In, out and through traffic they raced with the leader not able to pull away any farther than six or seven car lengths. Behind them it was much the same for the guys still on the lead lap and even some of the lappers as well.
Stockon had lapped everyone up to sixth place when Brian Karraker slowed on the backstretch. What timing BK had; there was one lap to go. The green and white flags would be waved simultaneously, an honest one lap duel. This was pressure, at least it was potential pressure. But Stockon took care of that. He hit his marks expertly and there was nothing Cummins could do after Mo expertly waved both flags.
It was Stockon’s third MSCS win of 2015.
Behind Cummins was Thomas, who was less than pleased with his effort and finish. The Shorts, no relation, were fourth and fifth, Brady, then Carson. Critter Malone moved from 14th to finish sixth. Bland was seventh with Schmidt coming from 15th to finish eighth. Even more impressive was Williams, starting 17th after winning the B and bringing it home ninth. James Lyerla occupied tenth.
Another final visit to one of my homes away from home and reluctantly I ambled out to my wife’s car. The crowd wasn’t what it could have been; promoters can’t do business if only the hard core fans show up. There’s lots of competing events out there for casual fans, most of which have little to do with racing. But may the Lord have mercy. They missed a great night, from the on track racing to the cheeseburgers to the racing souvenirs.
Sipping a beer every time the TV announcers mention The Chase and getting tipsy quickly, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Race Track Reading 101
Over the years I’ve read most of the novels written by Louis L’Amour. Several of his characters had the ability to “read sign.” That meant they were able to find and keep a trail, often when looking for someone who was missing or an outlaw. In their own way, racers can read sign as well. Many times we’ve seen racers standing at the edge of a track while it’s being reworked, trying to figure out the quick way around. Whether it was Scotty Weir or his car owner Todd Keen plotting their race, the result couldn’t have been better. Seeing that the nonstop wind had finally done a number on the surface of the Gas City/I-69 Speedway, Weir went straight for the bottom groove and stayed there pretty much the whole race. His late race pass of Dave Darland gave the pride of Marion, Indiana the victory, his first of the year.
As my growing but still small fellow traveler and I motored northeast to Gas City, it was hard not to have the weather on our minds, well, at least my mind as I struggled to keep the little white Chevy truck on the road. The wind refused to take a break; it certainly wasn’t giving me one either. On we went, not knowing what we’d find for sure, but confident there would be loud and fast sprint cars in our near future.
Sure enough, there they were—at least most of them. 32 sprinters braved the elements to race on this last race of the year for Gas City. There were a few guys in unfamiliar cars, which is not all that uncommon for a local show. Justin Grant was still in the Baldwin Brothers machine. Dave Darland was in the Ohio based Jamie Paul car. Dakota Jackson was in the Stensland 41. Casey Shuman, new owner of the Wingless Auto Series/WAR, was in the 4J normally piloted by Lincoln Park champ Scott Hampton. C.J. Leary was in the S. Pederson owned 4P. A.J. Hopkins was in the Rick Davidson 42.
Four groups of eight did the group qualifying dance. Quickest in their respective pack were Max McGhee, Justin Grant, Kyle Robbins and Critter Malone, making a rare but welcome appearance. The four quickest in each group were inverted for their heats.
Robert Ballou started on the pole and held off Shane Cottle to win the first heat. Max McGhee was third with Canadian Lee Dakus, perhaps wondering if he was back up north in the cooler weather, bringing it to fourth.
Scotty Weir took the second heat, which featured two close battles behind him for position. Logan Jarrett shot to second from his sixth starting position. He kept it, edging Justin Grant to keep the runner-up spot. Chris Gurley beat Brandon Mattox by a wheel to grab the last transfer spot.
The third heat was taken by Dave Darland. Pole sitter Tyler Courtney was second. Kyle Robbins locked himself into the feature with his third place. And Nick Bilbee was fourth, meaning that he’d start 15th later.
A.J. Hopkins passed pole sitter C.J. Leary early to win the fourth heat. Behind Leary was Matt Goodnight. Critter Malone started and finished fourth.
The program was moving right along. All involved were committed, partly because it was so chilly and partly because rain was off to the southeast and heading for Grant County.
Brandon Mattox owned the B Main, holding off fellow front row started Colton Cottle. Casey Shuman was third and had his hands full with a snarling pack immediately behind him. Dakota Jackson made the feature by the length of one of my grandson’s miniature sprint cars. Michigan’s Dustin Ingle had to load up too early.
The redraw put Jarret and Hopkins on the front row, Weir and Courtney on the second. Weir made his move as Brian Hodde’s green flag waved. Scotty went straight to the bottom in turn one while most others went for the middle or top. The track had changed radically from a hammer down surface to one that was feeling the effects of the constant wind and the near 100 cars all over it.
Hopkins took the early lead. Jarrett had a bad start and ran over a right rear tire (Courtney’s?) and nearly flipped in turn four on lap two. Logan didn’t flip, to everyone’s relief seeing that he’s been off for several weeks with the aftermath of head injuries. But he landed hard on the rear tires and Brian waved the red, stopping the action. Jarrett was not hurt, but was done for the night.
Hopkins led as the green hankie waved again with Weir second. Scotty was the man, having figured out this tricky track. But Dave Darland was on the move. After starting seventh, he was fourth on the restart and quickly caught the leader.
Behind the front runners there was a serious dogfight that lasted for several laps with Hopkins, Grant, Robbins, McGhee, Ballou, Leary, Malone and Mattox, who was coming on strong from B Main-land.
Midway through the race Darland made his move, taking the lead, where else, on the high side. Dave spent part of his time taking away Scotty’s low groove but couldn’t stay away from the top, like many others. In other words, it wasn’t a huggy pole parade, far from it.
Max McGhee had been trying slide jobs for all he was worth, but brought out a yellow on the 19th lap. The prime suspects were Darland, Weir, Courtney, Cottle, Ballou, Grant, Mattox (from the B), Leary, Malone and Hopkins. Darland, one would think, had a great chance to wrap this one up, but Weir had other ideas and the execution of those ideas was at the bottom of the track. After a brief tussle with Courtney, Scotty stayed with his plan and it worked. With two laps to go, he got around the leader and rode it home to the checkered.
So what if the elements made for a tricky track? Racers raced, as they are known to do. Behind Weir was Darland, Courtney, Cottle and Ballou. Mattox came from 17th to take sixth from Grant at the end. Leary was eighth. Critter Malone came from 16th to take ninth. And Casey Shuman rambled from 19th to round out the top ten.
The time was 9:25 and an old man with his grandson were frozen with a two hour drive ahead. Saying our goodbyes to yet two other KTs, Mr. Tennant and son (that’s Kevin and Kellen), we headed south.
It was sad to say goodbye to another track for 2015, but it was inevitable. With Bloomington, Terre Haute and Lincoln Park, Gas City joins the list that we won’t be able to haunt again this year. But except for one time, there’s always next year, we can hope.
Saying goodbye to one of my treasured bullrings has been expected, but saying the same to a Hoosier sprint car legend certainly was not as Tony Elliott, with three others, perished in an airplane crash not too far from where I spend my month of March, in the upstate of South Carolina. Quite possibly inclement weather was a cause.
Many tributes to this extraordinary racer and man have already been put in place. It’s difficult to add any more. But one thing occurred to me after I’d had the chance to digest the sad news. As my uncle said about my dad as he spoke at Dad’s funeral, “He never knew a stranger.” It was my uncle the minister’s finest eulogy. Those words surely applied to Tony as well. We can never forget that ever present smile of a guy who was not just a great racer, but a sprint car fan too. RIP, sir.
Soon it’s off to Haubstadt one more time as the leaves begin to turn and the crops are coming in as we speak (thank you, Buddy Baker).
Rounding up the usual suspects, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Winning Ugly
By the time he reached Brad Dickison’s ever present microphone on Saturday night, Brent Beauchamp probably knew what he was going to say. He was happy that he’d won the 25 lap sprint feature at the Lincoln Park Speedway, the last of the year at the entertaining oval just east of Terre Haute, but he wasn’t all that pleased with how he had done it. Beauchamp had taken the lead with a less than perfect slide job on race long leader Jeff Bland with three to go. As he said to Brad at the start/finish line after the race, it wasn’t the way he wanted to win it. But, needless to say, he took the win, the trophy and the money, as racers do.
My last trip to beautiful downtown Putnamville, Indiana was uneventful—unless one counted the several drops of rain that periodically caused me to activate my windshield wipers, which kept saying, “make up your mind” to me all the way to Mooresville.
Sprint cars accounted for 21 of the 99 cars in the Joe Spiker pit garden. Several were at either Eldora for the Four Crown or the Tri-State Speedway for the MSCS sprints and the POWRi midgets. One shouldn’t worry about who is or is not at a given race; one should appreciate those who are there. Tonight some guys who don’t get to run up front all the time would do so.
The first heat had its drama. Ethan Barrow, in his first outing in a long time, shared his right rear tire with J. J. Hughes coming to the green. He led until a slight bobble put Hughes into the lead coming to the white flag. But J. J. got the left front up in the air coming out of turn two and broke the right front. Barrow regained the lead and won with Mitch Wissmiller, who had been gaining on the leaders, taking second from a limping Hughes at the line. Lee Underwood was fourth with Jaden Rogers, Eric Burns and Jamie Fredrickson trailing.
The second heat was tamer. Jeff Bland started on the pole and led all the way. Hunter O'Neal was second and Travis Berryhill came from last to take third. Jake Henderson, who spent most of his Saturdays this year at Paragon, edged Connor Donelson for fourth. Ben Phillips was sixth, ahead of David Hair.
The third and final heat was vintage Lincoln Park. Most every lap saw at least one position change. Brent Beauchamp shot from fifth to second on the first lap, then passed the ageless Troy Link for the lead a couple of laps later for the win. Shelby van Gilder was third, holding off 2015 Lincoln Park Speedway champ Scott Hampton. Kevin Studley, Chris Babcock and Dylan Shaw trailed.
After my last bar-b-que sandwich (thank you again, Bill Gardner), the support class heats, and the year-end awards presentations, it was time for the last feature at LPS this year.
The Killer B’s, Barrow, Bland and Beauchamp, occupied the first three spots in the A, along with Mitch Wissmiller. But Mitch brought out the first yellow as he barreled into turn three a bit too hot. He didn’t come close to tagging one of the billboards, but he did spin to a stop. On the complete restart, Troy Link got into the front stretch wall and dropped out. Bland led early and the next yellow waved on lap three.
Most all were sticking to the high side and three laps later the third yellow flag appeared. This one was full moon material as Ben Phillips and Steve Hair tangled. Shelby van Gilder stopped on track and Jamie Fredrickson spun at the other end of the original yellow.
The prime suspects were Bland, Beauchamp, Barrow, Hunter O’Neal, and Travis Berryhill—with Hampton, Hughes, Underwood, Donelson and the ageless Eric Burns making up the second five. This green flag segment lasted four laps until the yellow came out when Dylan Shaw spun in front of the leaders. Nothing had changed in front but Hampton had moved to fifth.
Slide jobs seemed to be the best way to pass. So far there had been no contact. The fifth caution flag waved on lap 15 after contact between Wissmiller and Donelson. It was still the B’s up front with Hampton fourth. Hughes was next with O’Neal, Berryhill, Wissmiller, Kevin Studley and L. Underwood the top ten.
Beauchamp had been right on Bland much of the time and made the pass on lap 19 with a less than pretty slider. But yellow number six waved when Shaw spun. No word if Beauchamp flipped the bird to the young man, but Brent did appear to signal to Bland that he knew the slider wasn’t too great.
On the last restart, Bland took off and pulled away briefly. But Beauchamp was coming on and tried another slider going into turn one. Again, it wasn’t an artistic success and Bland found himself over the turn two cushion—and in second place. And that was it as Beauchamp went on to win.
In the post-race interview, Brent was not overly happy with himself, saying that it wasn’t the way he wanted to win. But like most racers, he’d take it.
Behind Bland was Barrow and track champ Hampton. Hughes was fifth. O’Neal, Berryhill, Wissmiller (who came from the tail after his early spin), Studley (from 15th) and Jadon Rogers were the top half.
Don’t be fooled. Unless you are a die-hard partisan fan of Jeff Bland or whoever, the race winning move wasn’t a dirty one. And Brent Beauchamp isn’t a dirty driver. He knew it wasn’t his best move on the race track and that was that.
Having said that, I’m no fan of slide jobs because…all too often they end up with someone either making contact or else impeding the progress of the passed car, which was what happened on Saturday night. Granted they are certainly legal and when executed perfectly, they can be worth watching and appreciating.
Having said that, I’m a Brent Beauchamp fan—just as I’m a Jeff Bland fan. They are two young men who represent our passion well and their efforts are appreciated by many, including me.
Good-bye Lincoln Park—till we meet again.
Messing with Sasquatch one time too many, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: From Over the Fence to Victory Lane
In the blink of an eye, fortunes can easily become misfortunes. Sometimes in a different context changes aren't that quick. Nevertheless they are no less appreciated. Just ask Brady Short, who two weeks ago found himself sailing over the turn two fence at the Tri-State-Speedway. Fortunately his only discomfort was only a few extra aches and pains, the kind that one notices after a few years pass. But on a cool Saturday night at the fabled bullring in southwestern Indiana, Short returned to the scene of his scary ride and won the Haubstadt Hustler. With that win, Brady walked away with $10,000 after taking the lead when race long leader Kyle Cummins collided with a stationary car.
The rain and humidity had passed through the southern part of Indiana, replaced by cooler temperatures and a breeze out of the north. It was a long and leisurely drive on interstates 65 and 64.
I arrived at the track to find 30 sprinters waiting on me. The Hustler was a co-sanctioned affair between USAC and the MSCS. The feature would be 40 laps, almost an enduro for sprints in these parts. The passing point system would be used; heat races lineups were determined by the draw. The top 16 in passing points were locked into the feature.
The first heat began with a barrel full of ugly. A scramble at the start left Mike Terry Jr. with a flat tire. On the second try Nick Johnson got sideways and eventually Robert Ballou, Shane Cottle, C. J. Leary and Justin Grant were all collected. Ballou and Cottle were done for the race as Robert tipped it over. Dave Darland ended up winning with Leary second. Remember Mike Terry Jr.? He came back to finish third. Grant recovered to take fourth. Johnson, Robert Bell, Ballou and Cottle trailed.
The second heat was relatively tame. Kyle Cummins won with Chris Windom second. Chase Stockon moved up to third. Thomas Meseraull came from last to fourth. Jon Stanbrough, Aaron Farney, Jeff Bland and James Lyerla finished the rundown.
The third heat began on a sour note as Kevin Thomas Jr. slid into Chet Williams, bringing out a yellow. Williams was not overjoyed and let KT know it. Brady Bacon won from the pole with Daron Clayton, back to try and repeat last year's remarkable win, second. Short, Thomas, Brandon Mattox, Williams and Chad Boespflug followed.
Donnie Brackett impressed as he won the last of the heats. So did Dakota Jackson who finished second. Tracy Hines took third. Kent Schmidt banged wheels with Carson Short and was fourth. Short, Lee Dakus and Hunter Schuerenberg trailed.
The B main had its ugly moments. C. Short tipped over in turn four before a lap was completed. His long shot at the MSCS title got a lot longer. There was a turn four scramble on the restart, but the real fun was in turn two. Jeff Bland flipped with Jon Stanbrough trying and failing to miss the mess. He would burn a provisional later. Things settled down and Brandon Mattox won, some redemption after missing the show 24 hours earlier. Farney was second. Schuerenberg came from ninth to third. Ballou started 11th and finished fourth while Shane Cottle motored from 12th to fifth. Finally Chad Boespflug came from 13th to grab the last spot for the feature. Stanbrough and Lyerla used provisionals.
Passing points put two local favorites, Clayton and Cummins, in the front row. Yet again, a race got off to a rough start. Windom and Lyerla spun in turn one of the first lap. Trying again, this time Grant bounced to a stop in turn three. By now it was evident that Clayton had an ill handling beast on his hands. Soon he would exit the race.
This left Cummins in the lead and he tried to check out. By the time the next yellow waved on the ninth lap, Kyle was lapping people. Mo Wills waved the hankie when Hunter Schuerenberg got sideways and collected Stanbrough. There was still 31 laps to go and Cummins led Jackson, Leary, B. Short, Brackett, Bacon, Thomas, Darland, Meseraull and Stockon. One should have noted that Short had started 12th.
On the restart, Cummins motored away again, but Short was making his way to the front. Three laps after the restart he passed Leary for third. Then the Bedford Blaster (well, that’s what announcers call him) passed Jackson for second and he could see the white 3R car, which soon entered lapped traffic almost at the halfway mark. As Kyle negotiated the lappers, the Pottorff-mobile was gaining. Could it be? Would this be another wild finish?
Not exactly. As lap 35 approached it seemed that the margin between Cummins and Short had stabilized. Maybe the local (Princeton) kid would walk away with a nice pile of cash. But on lap 35 that pile wasn’t cash, if you get my drift. A tangle right at the start/finish line left Aaron Farney sitting in the groove. Cummins tried to miss him but instead his right rear caught Farney’s car. With a snap of the fingers, his race and outstanding effort was over. And guess who was now leading? Yep.
But wait. While most all were watching the Cummins-Short battle Kevin Thomas Jr. had made his way up to second. My knowledgeable USAC source said that KT had not won a USAC race since way back in February way down in Florida. This told me that the kid might be both hungry and anxious. But it wasn’t to be.
On the restart Short gradually pulled away and was the first to spot Mo’s checkered flag. Thomas settled for second. Jackson had a simply outstanding effort, the best I’ve seen him race in some time. The young man from Elizabethtown, Indiana was third and Brady Bacon was fourth. Stockon passed Darland late for fifth. Ballou had to make do with the Hard Charger award and money, coming from 20th to seventh. Windom came back from his early spin to take eighth. Leary was ninth and Meseraull tenth.
The quote of the night came from Dakota Jackson, who said, “…I was just running the race of my life and having so much fun running up there with those guys.”
For Brady Short, it was redemption of sorts. His flight over the fence two weeks earlier faded a bit more into the mists of memory, though it won’t be forgotten anytime soon. He started the night by accepting from yours truly the way too cool helmet for winning the King of Indiana Sprint Series championship again this year. After congratulating him on behalf of the 2015 KISS promoters and staff (Terre Haute, Gas City, Kokomo, Lawrenceburg, Bloomington, Tri-State and Paragon), he was asked if he’d put this one on the shelf to admire or would he use it? Guess it’s going on the shelf and will be a reminder of what’s been a special year for Short and the Pottorff team.
It was time for the long trip home via Vincennes to visit more family and then head east.
Loaning Donald Trump my selfie stick, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Seizing the moment
Most all of us have encountered situations that were urgent and needed a decision made quickly, as in a matter of days, hours or even minutes. And there may be times, especially while driving down the highway, that we need to make a very quick decision and hope it's the best. Robert Ballou found himself in a spot like that on a warm and humid Hoosier night at the Terre Haute Action Track. When leader Chris Windom bounced off the turn two wall on lap 27, Ballou had a quick decision to make. It put him in the lead and he went on to grab his first feature win at Terre Haute and his 10th USAC win of the year.
This would be the first of a two night treat, USAC sprints at Terre Haute, followed by the Haubstadt Hustler on Saturday a few miles south on U.S. 41. This one was named for two distinguished people in racing, Tony Hulman and Jim Hurtubise. Each in their own way gave much to this sport we all love.
There was a threat of rain; in fact Terre Haute had a fairly heavy shower on Friday morning. It headed east and I encountered scattered sprinkles on my way to Bloomington for lunch with a good friend who has taken the name of Mike O’Leary. From there it was go (north) west young man. Visiting with family in Terre Haute and then time to head to the track.
27 hungry racers stopped by for a few cheeseburgers and hot laps. Thomas Meseraull was in the Chuck Amati Racing Team’s hot rod, replacing Chad Boespflug who was in the Krockenberger family tradition.
In qualifying, the track stayed fast. Maybe the cloud cover helped. At any rate, Jerry Coons Jr. went out 26th and ripped off a 20.490.
Robert Ballou stated his case very well in the first heat, coming from third to first on the first lap in winning the first heat. Incredibly, Jon Stanbrough spun in turn four. Chase Stockon tried to miss him, but didn’t. Stanbrough restarted while Stockon headed for the pits and the B. Meseraull was second in his Amati debut. Coons was third with Indiana Sprint Week/Terre Haute winner Aaron Farney fourth. Stanbrough came back to finish fifth.
Brady Short led all the way to win the second heat. Shane Cottle gave him enough discomfort to last awhile, but settled for second. Chris Windom was third and Hunter Schuerenberg brought the Jeff Walker speed wagon in fourth. Kyle Robbins hung on for fifth.
C.J. Leary did a fine job of holding off Dave Darland to win the third heat. Behind DD was newlywed Kevin Thomas Jr. Justin Grant started and finished fourth. Tracy Hines brought out his backup car and had to start last. But he finished fifth and transferred into the show, even though he’d start last again.
Chase Stockon led 11 and one quarter laps of the B Main. But Brady Bacon made the pass in turn two of the last lap and won by a car length. Tyler Courtney was third. Jarett Andretti was fourth ahead of J.J. Hughes, who had a race long battle with sprint car rookie Mario Clouser. Chad Boespflug started and finished seventh.
Windom and Stanbrough were the first to see Mo Wills waving the green at them. Up next would be Thomas, Schuerenberg, Darland, Coons, Bacon, Stockon, Grant and Ballou. A mad scramble commenced immediately in turn one. While those ahead of him seemed to dither (actually fight for position), Darland sneaked low and grabbed the lead coming out of turn two. Ol’ Dave promptly began to check out and leave all others behind. As lightning made an appearance to the north, Darland was as fast as greased lightning, as it were. By lap eight he was a straightaway ahead of Thomas and Windom, plus Darland had already reached lapped traffic.
Ballou was busy too. From tenth he was sixth by lap four. Three laps later he was fifth. Another lap and he’d climbed to fourth and wasn’t done. And then came the first game changer.
Mario Clouser’s good night went bad in an instant as he flipped in turn two. Darland probably groaned as did his fans (I know this because I was sitting with one of them.). His huge six plus second lead was gone. Not only that, there was only one lapped car between him and his nearest pursuers.
Darland wasn’t the only one groaning (or offering various choice words). During the red Brady Bacon was pushed into the pits with a flat right rear tire, giving up fifth place.
The restart order was Darland, Windom, Ballou, Thomas, Stanbrough, Schuerneberg, Coons, Stockon, Cottle and Grant. A few things needed to be noted after the green waved. With Jarett Andretti opting to go to the rear, there was only one lapped car between Darland and Windom. Stanbrough and Thomas had a terrific fight for fourth place with Jon eventually making the pass of the Alabama native. And even more noticeable, Darland wasn’t able to stretch out his lead as he had done at the race’s beginning.
We had, for a few laps, a three car battle for the lead. Soon enough, lapped traffic came into play for the leaders, who were nearly a half straightaway ahead of fourth place Stanbrough. First Windom struck, passing for the lead in turn two on lap 23. Ballou was next, getting around the People’s Champ for second. Robert now had the leader in sight and seven more laps to make some noise. Then it happened, another turning point of the race. Windom had a decent lead when he smacked the wall in turn two (it was a wonder how many others kept from doing that). As Chris fought to regain control of his car, Ballou made his move, took the lead and led the last three laps of the race.
Ballou had seized the moment and made the most of it.
For the first time since J.J. Yeley’s 13 win season in 2003, a USAC racer had double digit feature wins.
Darland held on for third with Stanbrough fourth. Coons was fifth, trailed by Thomas, Stockon, Leary (from 18th), Bacon (nice recovery from the early flat tire) and Tyler Courtney, who walked away with the Hard Charger award (and some spending money) for coming from 21st to tenth.
Post-race, as the crowd filed out, I watched the top five finishers and their cars parked on the front straight. Four of them smiled painful smiles as they signed autographs and had maybe hundreds of pictures taken. They might vigorously disagree, but in some eyes and ways, they, too, were winners. Quite a few kids and a few adults walked away from their brief meetings with the top five runners quite happy—as it should be.
The best post-race comment came from the winner: “Sometimes, you have to have some luck, and it's especially true coming from tenth to win here." This statement is partly true. One must take advantage of that elusive luck and run with it. Ballou certainly did that.
As this is written, the Haubstadt Hustler is a few hours away. I’m thankful for the hour that I’ll gain driving there. A king is scheduled to be crowned and I have the crown.
As is the case most weekends, many Hoosier sprint car fans may wish they could be cloned. Both Lawrenceburg and Lincoln Park are running tonight. Any crackpot inventors in the house?
Trying not to make a fool of myself on social media and everywhere else—and failing—I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Restarts Matter
C.J. Leary found out the hard way that restarts matter. On a chilly Saturday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway, Leary was surprised by Brent Beauchamp, who briefly took the lead during the sprints’ 25 lap feature. But later in the race, Leary showed that he’d learned his lesson. Oftentimes a restart can change a racer’s race into a direction that one wishes to avoid. And another lesson learned was that a good racer never stops learning. It’s a never-ending process, this learning deal. Not unlike life itself.
Summer took Saturday off and this meant folks bundled up a bit before venturing outside. Shorts were replaced by long pants. T-shirts were covered by coats and jackets. I figured that if I was going to be cold, I may as well go see a race.
32 sprints helped jam the pits as 120 cars occupied much of the town of Putnamville. All cars had their hot laps and then…rain fell. A brief shower delayed things an hour or so. Blue skies were visible and the radar on my phone showed a tiny green dot—right over the track apparently.
The green flag waved at 8:15 for the first heat and the program ran like a clock the rest of the night. Brent Beauchamp took the lead on the second lap and won. C.J. Leary came from sixth to second. Kyle Robbins came from seventh to finish third. Jadon Rogers took fourth.
Front row starters of the second heat Troy Link and Bub Cummings ran side by side for a lap before colliding at the start/finish line. In the temporary craziness, Mike Gass sneaked through the crowd and took the lead. He checked out and led the rest of the way—after starting sixth. Cummings was second with Austin Prock third. LPS point leader Scott Hampton was fourth.
Jeff Bland won the third heat as two of the eight cars scheduled scratched. A.J. Hopkins was second. Shane Cockrum, in town to drive the Jamie Paul car, was third. J.J. Hughes, engine smoking and firing, passed Brandon Mattox late to take the last transfer.
Max McGhee came from third to lead all the way in the fourth heat. Chad Boespflug, second to Hampton in points, was in the Krockenberger machine for the night. He was second. Lee Underwood hung tough to take third. Jordan Kinser would start 16th in the feature, a tidbit worth remembering.
Troy Link may have led the first half of the B, but Brandon Mattox came on to grab the lead and win. Brandon Morin was second. Braxton Cummings and Mr. Link would start in the last row of the feature. Hot on Troy’s heels were Chris Babcock, Chris Gurely and Pat Giddens.
Bub Cummings and Leary were the front row for the feature and Leary took the early lead. Mattox brought out the first yellow on lap five, slowing Leary’s march. McGhee and Beauchamp trailed.
Beauchamp got around McGhee on the restart as Leary began to check out. But Hopkins lost a driveline on the front stretch and another yellow waved, courtesy of Brian Hodde.
It was Leary, Beauchamp, McGhee, Bland, Bub Cummings, Boespflug, Cockrum, Hampton, Prock and Kinser, from 16th to tenth in 11 laps. Beauchamp grabbed the lead on this restart, but Hughes stopped in turn three before a lap was completed. Brent had to give it back. C.J. took notice.
It didn’t happen on this restart. Leary controlled this session, which lasted until lap 18 when McGhee slid into Bland, who stopped in turn four. The top ten was shuffled a bit. Leary, Beauchamp, McGhee, Boespflug, Cockrum, Bub Cummings, Kinser, Hampton, Mattox and Kyle Robbins.
Up front nothing changed in the final seven laps. It was Leary all the way. Second through fifth stayed the same. Kinser moved to sixth after starting 16th. Robbins made a late charge to take seventh. Bub faded a bit to eighth. Hampton was ninth and ended up in turn one facing the wrong way after the checkered. He was not thrilled with Mattox, who had started 17th, dropped to last and made his way to tenth.
The close point race drew more of my attention than normal. Hampton finished as the 2015 Lincoln Park champ, leading Boespflug by one point at the end.
We’ll never know if Mr. Leary would have passed Mr. Beauchamp because another yellow flag waved before he had the chance. The restart was quite important as it turned out.
I’m reminded of the shower that could have washed out the festivities but didn’t. In a sense, the resumption of the program was a restart. And it was good. Sometimes life is like that.
Trying to sell my work ethic on eBay, I’m…
Dodging Raindrops and Yellow Flags
On a night when most people would have looked at the sky and the radar and said, “No way am I going to any races at Lawrenceburg tonight,” a few hundred hardy souls felt otherwise. Ignoring all the warning signs that rain was in the area, these souls gathered together for another night of racin’ at the ‘burg. When it was over, Kyle Cummins rumbled through the field, not unlike the thunder that reverberated through the area much of the evening, and won the 25 lap feature without benefit of any yellow flag periods.
This odyssey began on Friday night as my grandson and I headed north to Gas City, knowing there was a chance of rain. Sure enough, as far south as Shelbyville clouds could be spotted. The further north we went, the more ominous the clouds looked. Knowing that the O’Connor family would do all they could to have a race, we kept going, one of us awake and driving and the other sound asleep.
But the weather changed our plans. We ended up at a Gas City fast food place, discouraged but not despondent. The highlight ended up being the little guy playing the air trumpet and later the air piano to a jazz ensemble on NPR—before he had drifted off to sleep.
Saturday it was the opposite in that rain dogged us most of the way to Lawrenceburg. Dark clouds surrounded us and rain began falling in Decatur County. By the time we reached Greensburg, the main street (also State Road 46) was flooded all the way through town. Somewhere east of the little town of Napoleon the rain finally ceased, though there was a brief shower in Manchester. By the time we arrived at the track, thunder and lightning were on the scene. As we walked to our seats, fashionably late (missing sprint car hot laps), the crowd was urged to vacate the grandstand due to the lightning.
A few minutes later, all was well and the unpleasantness had moved east. In fact, the sun tried to come out while the Anthem was played.
Racing didn’t start all that late with 31 cars dismissing the chances of a cancellation. Of these 31, Garrett Abrams won the first heat over Tony Main, who had started right behind Abrams and followed him all eight laps. Cody Gardner was third and Cooper Clouse, one of several BOSS regulars who had stayed over after Moler Speedway’s Friday night rainout, was fourth.
The most impressive heat race effort was that of Jarett Andretti, who came from seventh to win. C.J. Leary came from fifth to second and Toledo, Ohio’s Chad Wilson was third. BOSS regular Brandon Spithaler was fourth.
Kyle Cummins drew the pole for the third heat and won by a large margin. Travis Hery held off Joss Moffatt and Landon Simon to take second.
Drew Abel won the fourth heat with Cincinnati’s Michael Fischessor second. Lawrenceburg Speedway champ and now BOSS regular Shawn Westerfeld was third. Justin Grant, in the Baldwin Brothers’ beauty, was fourth.
By chance I sneaked a peak at the radar and was not thrilled to see lots of green on the radar just north of the track. Some sprinkles began to fall, but not enough to stop the B Main. Dickie Gaines won with Kyle Wissmiller second. Joe Ligouri was third and Wampum, Pennsylvania’s Bob McMillan grabbed the last spot over Brit Tom Harris, who came from 11th to finish fifth.
The moisture was persistent as first modifieds and then hornets circled the track, trying to keep it somewhat dry. To their credit, they succeeded and the sprinkles stopped. It was time for the A.
Main and Hery led the 18 others to Tim Montgomery’s green flag and Hery jumped out to the early lead. Main hung tough, reluctantly giving up second to Abrams and third a few laps later to Leary. With the dogfight behind him, Hery continued to lead but couldn’t build up much of a margin.
A big reason for this was named Kyle Cummins. From eighth, he was sixth after two laps. Six laps later he was third after getting around Main, Abrams and Drew Abel. Both Cummins and Andretti were on the move. Leary, who had run as high as second, was shuffled back to fourth by the duo. Next up for Cummins was the leader, the formerly lonely Travis Hery.
The Princeton, Indiana native made his winning move on the 12th lap and began his ride into the sunset. But there was still business to be conducted behind him. A lap later Andretti passed Hery for second. And despite losing a few positions, Tony Main refused to go away even after Joss Moffatt pushed him back to fifth.
Moffatt was on the move after starting 11th. Lap 15 saw him fifth and a lap later he passed Hery for fourth. Next on his to-do list was passing Leary and that happened on lap 16. Now it would be Andretti’s turn. This took a little longer as the third generation racer was on his game tonight. But the deed was done late in the race and now this ‘burg champ could see the leader.
But laps had wound down and Cummins was plenty strong enough to maintain his lead and take his very first Lawrenceburg Speedway feature win. Moffatt was a strong second and Jarett Andretti was an impressive third. Leary, who had to be a pre-race favorite, was fourth and Justin Grant was the one who advanced the most, coming from 16th to fifth.
Tony Main may have slipped from the pole to sixth, but this was the best I’ve seen him run—ever. He was nipping at Grant’s heels for much of the race’s final half. The same was true of Hery, who was seventh after leading the first 11 laps. Garrett Abrams was eighth and Chad Wilson ninth. Landon Simon came from 15th to cross the line tenth.
The rain, wind, thunder and lightning had moved elsewhere and racers and a promoter got a deserved break. For that matter, so had the yellow flag, not to mention the red.
Nervously opening an email from Hilary Clinton, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: DD Smacks ‘Em Down
By the time they reach their mid-40s, most racers are either slowing down or thinking about slowing down. They hear how it’s a young man’s game and these kids today can’t be beat. But there are a few ornery ones. They defy the sands in the hourglass. They roar through their 40s by winning races. Some may make it even further and win races in their 50s. These guys, the more famous ones, have names like Steve, Sammy, or Jac. The guys we see here in Indiana have names like Shane, Jon, Tracy, Jerry and…Dave. That would be Dave Darland, still showing the younger ones how to get around one of the bullrings/jewels that dot the Hoosier landscape. For on a Saturday night with rain all around, ol’ Dave took away $10,000 and his third straight Smackdown feature at his home track, the Kokomo Speedway.
No small factor of Smackdown’s appeal was the format, not your normal USAC format. First off, the top eight in Smackdown points from the first two nights were locked into the feature. The popular King of the Hill answered the question of how the first eight spots would be determined. The top driver in points raced the number eight guy, a three lap dash. The other six would do the same. Winners advanced tourney style. The crowd loved it and the winner didn’t mind the $400 he’d get even before the green for the feature waved.
That took care of eight of the 22 starting spots. The top two from the four heats also made the show. That made 16. The last six were added after the B, with the top six moving on, just as USAC’s normal format allows.
Drama began even before racing started when Wednesday feature winner Chris Windom flipped in hot laps. After my grandson finished removing much of the mud from Shane Cottle’s car we went over to the Windom pit, like other ghouls, and watched the inevitable thrashing. Rick Pollock had a backup car to bring out. Several others pitched in, including some of Windom’s competitors.
The first ten lap qualifying heat was won by Jerry Coons Jr. C.J. Leary passed Scotty Weir midway through the heat to wrap up a feature spot.
Tyler Courtney ran off in the second heat, leaving Chad Boespflug to fend off both Hunter Schuerenberg and Brady Short, the passing King.
Justin Grant held off a pesky Tracy Hines to win the third heat. Max McGhee led the rest to the B Main.
Kevin Thomas Jr. won the fourth heat and missed a great race behind him. Shane Cottle had all he could handle as he fought most of the race with Jarett Andretti and Aaron Farney to secure his seat at the table.
The King of the Hill started and the Windom crew wasn’t quite ready, meaning he would start eighth in the feature.
First up was Chase Stockon, Friday’s winner versus Robert Ballou, Thursday’s winner. Stockon easily prevailed as Ballou exited the track right after taking the white flag.
The second battle was the best, or most competitive, or closest, of the night. Back and forth went Kyle Cummins and Jon Stanbrough. It was two of the best at their best. Both spent much of the three lap race side by side. Cummins won by .005 seconds, literally inches.
Brady Bacon easily bested Thomas Meseraull in the third match. Dave Darland, thanks to Windom’s no show for the KH, had a bye for the first round.
Round two began with Stockon outrunning Cummins in a battle of southwestern Indiana natives. The Bacon/Darland matchup was tense. But Bacon won, earning a place in the finale.
Bacon kept winning and picked up the $400 after beating Stockon in the final.
It was truly a special event within an event. My buddy KT and I agreed one reason this was so special is that it rarely happens. Kind of like Christmas for kids.
Several of us had been watching the radar all evening, hoping for the best. Sure enough, a few sprinkles fell and the B Main was delayed maybe ten minutes. The wet stuff left and a fast track became even faster.
The B was fast, furious and violent. Three reds stopped action. Hunter Schuerenberg took the early lead. Aaron Farney brought out the first red on lap seven in turn four. Two laps later Jarett Andretti and Brandon Mattox tangled on the front straight just shy of the flagstand. Mattox was not pleased and stated his case in a calm, cool and collected manner. Well, maybe not. On the white flag lap Travis Hery climbed the turn two wall and tipped over. All involved were uninjured.
Just before Hery’s misfortune, Brady Short passed for the lead. On the one lap restart, two of the top six positions changed hands. Max McGhee passed Schuerenberg for second at the end. Scotty Weir was fourth. Kyle Robbins was fifth and West Coaster Ryan Bernal ruined a great run by Ted Hines by taking the last spot on the last lap. KRob came from 12th. Hines came from 18th to finish seventh. Josh Spencer moved from 15th to eighth to no avail.
Bacon’s King of the Hill triumph put him on the pole for the 40 lap marquee event. But outside front row mate Stockon took the lead at the outset. Early on Bacon suffered a flat tire against the wall in heavy traffic, slowed, and brought out a yellow.
Bacon’s descent through the field put Darland in third behind Stockon and Cummins. Both Darland and Cummins attacked on the restart with Cummins taking the (short lived) lead on lap six. Despite Stockon’s best efforts, Darland took control on the next lap with the Elizabethtown, IN resident in the proverbial hot pursuit.
But the only thing slowing down Kokomo’s favorite son was a yellow piece of cloth, which waved for a Tyler Courtney involuntary work stoppage on lap 22 amidst a huge crowd. Darland’s lead went poof! Just like that. While the field circled the track Thomas Meseraull joined the crowd in the infield, out of the race after running as high as fourth.
The prime time players were Darland, Stockon, Cummins, Cottle (from 16th), Windom, Stanbrough, Thomas, Grant, Short and Ballou. Nothing changed up front when a lap 27 yellow came out for Claude Debris, who was spotted lying prone in turn two. Claude’s misfortune didn’t affect the one man freight train known as Dave Darland, who resumed his thrashing of the field when the green reappeared.
It was all over but the fighting for positions behind the leader/winner. Stockon and Cummins stayed put in second and third after trading positions about as often as my grandson gets hungry at a race. As Cottle faded later in the race, Windom came on to take fourth after a truly rotten beginning to his night. Thomas came from 12th to finish fifth. Stanbrough ran as high as fourth but took sixth. Grant advanced a bit near the end and grabbed seventh place money. Yet again, Brady Short, put on a passing clinic, coming from 17th to eighth. Leary was ninth and Tracy Hines started 15th and finished tenth.
On lap 38, things were coming to a close and the wind picked up. I could feel sprinkles. By the time Darland took the checkered, the sprinkles were more persistent and the temperature had dropped considerably. Given the hour, Karston and I took the long walk to the county line where my truck was parked. Before we left Kokomo the sprinkles had turned to rain.
I told that story to make an old point. Promoters are crazy, but in a good way. They will assume that they are racing and proceed until the rain hits—if it does. All the fretting we did earlier in the evening about the “unnecessary” parts of the program, the TQs, the driver introductions (which are kind of neat anyway as drivers walk in front of the bleachers and toss a t-shirt into the crowd), awards, charities and fireworks, was for naught. It worked out just fine.
I’d like to think that other promoters were watching this and wondering if they could pull this kind of event off. I’d like to think they could. Gamblers that many of them are, I’d not be surprised to see more of this type of deal: a two or three day extravaganza paying big money and gathering together racers and fans for a multi-day party/reunion/race.
Just watch out for those guys who are at that certain age. Turns out there’s plenty of room in the tank yet.
Chuckling as Indy Car tells NASCAR that “we don’t need no stinkin’ Chase,” I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Wild and Crazy
Night Two of Smackdown IV was another wild one, showing that the Kokomo Speedway is very tough to beat when it comes to the racing it yields. Friday night saw a bit of redemption for the feature winner. After getting passed for the lead and win on Thursday, Chase Stockon held off Dave Darland and survived two late race restarts to win.
A time of self-indulgence was what I had on Thursday. Slept in a bit; later I made the short trip to the Half Moon restaurant for lunch, now the dining experience of choice for discriminating sprint car fans from all over. I found a city park with lots of shade trees for reading, writing and walking. And I saw a good bit of Wildcat Creek and its resident geese.
But it was time to exchange some peace and quiet for some upheaval and loud sounds. The little track at the northwest edge of town beckoned.
Only minor changes were part of the car count. After taking attendance, 41 cars answered “Present.” Missing were Landon Simon, Colton Cottle and Casey Shuman. Brian Karraker was in the Jarrett family car after hurting his Thursday night.
Chase Stockon was third man out to try and qualify. He did good and his time held up for quite awhile—until Dave Darland came up with a 12.642 lap. Brady Short had to roll out a backup when his primary horse failed him. Robert Ballou just rolled—sailed actually. His rear axle broke, sending him into the turn two fence. Very unofficial reports said that he was knocked out for three minutes. At any rate, he emerged from the car and eventually brought out his backup. With Short, Ballou would be a good part of the show.
Californian Ryan Bernal and his front row mate Kyle Robbins ran one/two in the first heat, much better results than either had the night before. Scotty Weir came in third and Max McGhee came from seventh to take the last card for the show. Fighting for that transfer, Jarett Andretti briefly bobbled and nearly collected Darland. Ballou pounced and took fifth, but he could not get around McGhee. He was headed for C Main land, Darland for the B.
The second heat was a classic. Just the usual turn four last lap pass for the win. It was Stockon who pulled this one off. C.J. Leary was the victim who settled for second. Karraker was third and Jerry Coons Jr. came from seventh to fourth. Jon Stanbrough would run the B.
Kyle Cummins owned the third heat and Tracy Hines was second. Tyler Courtney took third and Chad Boespflug was fourth. Kevin Thomas Jr.’s struggles would begin with his exile to the B Main. Cole Ketchum’s struggles were even more trying as he flipped in turn one. He was okay, if a bit shaken.
One of several Kokomo boys in the field, Shane Cottle, won the fourth heat. Brady Bacon, one of two Oklahomans in the field (Frank Flud was the other), was second. The third row tandem of Chris Windom and Justin Grant were third and fourth with Windom closing fast on Bacon at the end. Hunter Schuerenberg went to the B and prepared to pass a lot of people.
Halfway through the C Main, Short and Ballou were running one/two and it ended that way. Josh Spencer and Dallas Hewitt also moved on to the B.
Dave Darland owned the B. Fellow Hall of Famer Jon Stanbrough was second. Brady Short came from 17th to finish third. Jarett Andretti was fourth. Robert Ballou came from 18th to take fifth. Hunter Schuerenberg was involved in an early race fracas and had to restart on the tail. In nine laps he came back to grab the last spot for the field of 22. Thomas and Karraker had to burn provisionals.
Hines and Windon led the boys to Tom Hansing’s pretty, if not totally clean, green flag. The Illinois native grabbed the lead on the first lap and did his best to check out. But a lap three yellow postponed that when Grant and Boespflug tangled in the backstretch, putting the Mark Hery 40 on the hook. Grant had tangled with Weir and incurred a broken front end, collecting Boespflug. Windom led Stockon, Hines, Weir and Darland, who had started seventh.
These front five maintained position as Andretti passed Stanbrough to take sixth. Darland passed Weir and a lap nine yellow for Cummins and Bernal meant that Stockon would again be on Windom’s nerf bar and Darland on Hines’. At this point Coons had come from 20th to 11th. Alas, it would be Jerry’s high point.
After the Cummins/Bernal prayer meeting, Stockon did give Windom some fits as they traded slide jobs for a few laps. Windom may have been fretting but fans loved the action of two pros who knew how to race. But he eventually pulled away. Darland worked his way around Hines, but his new nemesis was Schuerenberg.
Hunter had started 13th and was eighth at the lap nine caution. He alone, for the most part, had used the no man’s land groove, above the cushion and right against the wall. This paid off big time and with about ten laps to go he was knocking on Darland’s door. These two fought it out for several laps with Dave taking away Schuerenberg’s line to keep the Missouri native at bay. As Windom went on his merry way, these two were actually gaining on Stockon.
Tom reached for the white flag when the very rare occurrence occurred. Scrapping with lapped traffic, Windom admittedly became a bit impatient which resulted in a half spin. The yellow waved but Chris didn’t spin a full 360 degrees; as a result he was docked three spots. Stockon led Darland, Schuerenberg, Windom and Hines.
The boys made a lap when Schuerenberg’s high flying act came crashing to earth, or more specifically, the turn three wall. The red waved and Hunter was okay, a spectacular run ended with Molly Hatchett’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” coming to mind. Windom passed Hines in the one lap session. Stockon had to be sweating, knowing that the King of Kokomo was behind him and very hungry.
Sure enough Darland went low on the restart and had the lead for a second before Stockon regained the advantage. But Boespflug, who had come back from his early misfortune to reach the top ten, spun in turn one. Stockon would have to endure another restart.
But the Sullivan, Indiana native was up to the challenge to the green/white/checkered. It was his first ever Kokomo win and his second win of the year. Darland, Windom and Hines trailed with Stanbrough taking fifth. Again, Brady Short started in the back and passed a bunch of people. His journey began in the C and ended with him finishing sixth in the feature after starting 21st. Brady Bacon was seventh and Thomas Meseraull had his second straight decent finish, eighth. Robert Ballou was “only” ninth, but considering his earlier trial in qualifying, it wasn’t a bad night. Like Short, he came from the B to start the feature 22nd and finish ninth. And Kyle Cummins had something to cheer about as he came back from his early race shunt to take tenth and nearly pass Ballou at the line.
It was another vintage Kokomo night. And, as this is written, in a few hours they aim to do it again.
It’s Indiana’s “dirty little secret,” this brand of racing. With major corporate influence not on the level of “big time” racing, with drivers who don’t need “handlers” to schedule their appearances, this is grass roots racing at its best.
Reminding this Paul Newberry person that auto racing, especially Indy Car racing, doesn’t need a keyboard jockey claiming that it needs to be banned, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Wild and Woolly
On yet another cool, but beautiful Hoosier night, Smackdown IV began with its share of wildness and speed. When it was over Robert Ballou stood in Victory Lane with a trophy and some extra walking around money after passing Chase Stockon and leading the last six laps at the Kokomo Speedway.
44 cars, drivers, mechanics, and family members waltzed through the pit gate. Of note were Parker Price-Miller, who had practiced at the track the night before, Californian Ryan Bernal, Pennsylvania's Tony DiMattia and British Tom Harris, who had visited at Sprint Week last month (with unfortunate results). Silver Crown ace Kody Swanson was in a Ray Marshall machine and Thomas Meseraull was in a car owned by an Australian gentleman named Dawkins.
was 13th to qualify and set fast time with a 13.269 lap. One had to
admit that the track held up as Chad Boespflug went out next to last and
was second quickest.
Dave Darland's qualifying lap wasn't up to his usual effort. But he started the first heat on the pole and race away with the win. Ballou came from fifth to take second. Max McGhee started seventh and waded through traffic to finish third. Casey Shuman was fourth ahead of Jerry Coons Jr. by at least two feet.
Scotty Weir was in the Baldwin brothers' orange five tonight and won the second heat. Justin Grant, running a bit above the cushion, was second. Brady Bacon took third ahead of pole sitter Brian Karraker. Boespflug, Shane Cottle and Jon Stanbrough all prepared for the B.
Wednesday night winner Chris Windom won the third heat. Kevin Thomas Jr. came from sixth to second. Tyler Courtney was third and C. J. Leary made it to the show.
The fourth heat started out a bit wild with four wide racing into turn two before settling down. Jarrett Andretti won with Brandon Mattox second. Chase Stockon took third ahead of new father Thomas Meseraull.
44 cars made a C main necessary. Dustin Smith, who had a lot of laps on the old Kokomo configuration, won with veteran Ted Hines second. Josh Spencer came from the back to finish third. Michigan's Joe Bares would tag the tail of the B. Aaron Farney smacked the wall while leading.
The B main was riddled with strong cars throughout the field. Chad Boespflug won with Kyle Cummins second. Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr., Jon Stanbrough and Hunter Schuerenberg all moved on. Such luminaries as Cottle, Bernal and Swanson were done for the night.
Farney and Short took provisionals for the feature. Courtney and Stockon were the front row. Hines exited the track as the field lined up. Stockon took the early lead before the series of red flags began to dominate. Brian Karraker was first. Coming out of turn four he took a mean ride. Three laps later it was Leary's turn. This one was took place in the first turn. And three laps later Courtney climbed the turn two wall and tipped over. Along came Kevin Thomas Jr. and he was surely in the wrong place. Courtney's car collected the Mike Dutcher beauty. KT would restart.
Through all this Stockon maintained his lead. Finally the red flag and lights had a rest and the green took over. The Sullivan, Indiana native led and was looking like the one to beat. But Kyle Cummins looked as if he might have something for the leader. After starting seventh, Cummins had cut and slashed his way to second. Meanwhile Ballou had been biding his time, hanging around the top five. On the restart after the Courtney red flag, Ballou was third.
The cushion, especially in turn one, was tall enough for a shorter person to sit on, though there were no takers. Above the cushion wasn't a great place to sit either. Chris Windom was using that space to ride by the wall and dive bomb off the turn. It was working pretty well. From 17th he was up ninth on lap eight.
Jarrett Andretti's flat tire/stop brought out a yellow flag at the halfway mark. Stockon still controlled things up front and Cummins was second. Ballou was still third, sizing things up. Coons and Bacon trailed. Boespflug was sixth, but had been dealing with tremendous pressure from Windom. TMez was eighth with Brady Short now ninth after starting from the back. Jon Stanbrough was tenth.
Four laps after the restart Ballou labored mightily to pass Cummins. And when the Andretti machine caught fire (literally), the fourth red flag of the race waved. Ballou was now right behind Stockon with nine laps to go. Chase was able to fend off repeated challenges from the USAC point leader but Ballou made the pass on lap 25 and motored to the win.
Behind Stockon was Bacon, who passed a slowly fading Cummins to grab a podium finish. Not quite under the radar was Brady Short, who started last, 24th, and brought it home fifth. Having taken a provisional, he was ineligible for the Hard Charger money. The second five was Coons, Windom (from 17th), Meseraull (14th), Thomas (who recovered from his early misfortune and came back from the tail), and Scotty Weir, who started 16th.
Lots of cars incurred a good bit of damage but one has to think that they would be back a night later for round two.
The quote of the night came from the winner: “You gotta bide your time in some races, and tonight we just had to get closer to the end.”
Going into Friday night’s race, Ballou’s point lead over Stockon was 93 and with Dave Darland mired in 14th place, now he was behind Ballou by 119.
Loaning my hush puppies to Jimmy Buffett, I’m…
Only a few of the readers here might recall the pop music hit with the same title back in the early 60s. But many of all ages may know that Chris Windom’s nickname is The Bear. As the 2015 edition of the Kokomo Speedway’s Smackdown opened a day early, the Bear was running as he won the makeup feature from the Sprint Week rainout over an unhappy Dave Darland.
Much of the pre-event talk among fans was about Indiana road conditions, specifically road construction that seems to have rendered most rural and urban byways less than ideal for making the time that we wannabe Jon Stanbroughs are used to enjoying. I was fine on I-65, even with the single lanes northbound. On the way home was another story as I joined in the stop/go/stop/inch forward brigade. Northbound the headaches were caused by good old U.S. 31 at Westfield inching along, trying to enjoy the view of the football field, strip malls and the multitude of billboards. But I’d left home early so it was all good.
At the Sprint Week rainout it was decided to resume action at the point of the stoppage and to do this on the night before the Smackdown officially began. Two laps of the B main had been completed so the program would consist of the rest of the hooligan and the 30 lap feature. As an extra treat, general admission was free. Those lucky fans who held onto their admission wristbands not only would get in free, but would in effect have themselves a pit pass for the night.
Seven spots were available, not the usual six. This was because Josh Hodges, who had made the feature back in July, was back home in New Mexicao. The lineup was Thomas Meseraull, Tyler Courtney, Max McGhee, Landon Simon, Shane Cottle, Kyle Robbins, Cole Ketchum, Kyle Cummins, Jarett Andretti and Josh Spencer.
Courtney took the early lead over Meseraull and Simon before the night’s only red flag waved on lap four when Robbins flipped in turn two. Kyle was okay but had some work to do.
On the re-start Andretti was on the bubble, seventh. But attrition would ease the minds of the survivors. TMez had a sure feature spot locked up when his right rear tire went flat. And when Josh Spencer exited the track with mechanical woes, the feature lineup was set. Courtney won with Simon, McGhee, who edged Andretti for position, Cottle, Cummins and Ketchum all joining the big show.
With Darland on the pole, surely the hometown crowd was expecting another W in the Peoples’ Champ’s column. Darland nearly led the first lap but, like all the others, Windom led. A lap three yellow waved when Cummins and C. J. Leary tangled in turn three with C. J. done for the night.
On the re-start, Darland dove low going into turn one as Windom rode around the top, the normal Darland line. But Windom couldn’t pull away, try as he might. Controversy was on the horizon.
DD made the pass for the lead on lap 16 as both fought through lapped traffic. But yellow lights blinked as Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. tangled coming out of four. KT was not thrilled and let Bacon know it more than once just making sure Brady wouldn’t forget. USAC ruled that a complete lap hadn’t occurred before the yellow. Darland disagreed, but kept racing.
The race was just past halfway and the batting order was Windom, Darland, Bacon, Weir, Courtney, McGhee, Stockon, Chad Boespflug, Cottle and Robert Ballou. Again, on the re-start Windom went high and Darland low. Again, the results were the same.
A lap 22 re-start after a Casey Shuman yellow found Stockon in the top five after starting 15th. As nothing changed up front, Stockon got around fourth place Scotty Weir and began reeling in Bacon. Ballou was also advancing. A lap 28 yellow for Max McGhee found the USAC point leader on Weir’s nerf bar.
But the short segment of green flag racing yielded no more position changes up front. Windom was trailed by Darland and Bacon. Stockon was unable to get around the native Oklahoman and settled for fourth, moving up 11 spots. Ballou advanced even more, coming from 17th to fifth. Weir was sixth, with Aaron Farney coming from 14th to seventh. Brady Short started 13th and ended up eighth. Tracy Hines was ninth and Shane Cottle finished tenth.
The time was a little after 9:00 P.M. Folks who had to work the next day couldn’t complain about that. The rest of us didn’t mind either. There were three more nights of this, a bold move by the O’Connor family to grow this niche sport into something a bit bigger and better. As I told my buddy Gene Ingram, “smack me if you hear me complaining.” Gene, among others, probably would.
Providing lions some big guns so they can go dentist hunting, I’m…
You Pass Me; I Pass You Back
It’s not unusual to wait through a racing program that may be, well, ordinary before the green flag waves for the feature. Quite often the feature is well worth the wait. This was certainly the case on a mildly humid Hoosier Saturday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway. One came away not worrying about car counts, who is or is not present, and not minding the preliminaries (many support class heats and the always entertaining kids’ bike races). And one left the Lincoln Park Speedway appreciating the efforts of several young men—and a few of the others too. Topping that list was Brent Beauchamp, he who runs the 5/16 mile oval about as well as anyone around and who does it with fewer resources than many. After being passed by A.J. Hopkins on a late race re-start, Beauchamp came back and returned the favor, denying Hopkins the win, but thrilling some of the crowd and causing others to nod their heads in appreciation. It was that kind of night.
My riding companion and I arrived in time for wheel packing and hot laps. Refreshed from a decent nap, he was put to work again on the Babcock family’s mud splattered mount. Rather than earn another baloney sandwich, he was more than happy to ride shotgun in Bill’s golf cart as they pushed Chris and the car to the staging area. From there they headed for the pit bleachers. I know this because I eventually caught up with them.
Here is where a bow is due Joe Spiker and team. Allowing kids into the pits with an adult at any time during the program is a winner. Even more than building fans, a stroll through the pits is an educational experience in more ways than one. Our pit walk has no cameras, no celebrity sightings and no interviews of people who normally aren’t near a race track. But there is where a little kid can learn colors, numbers and eventually names. Should the kid show up often enough, he will place names with faces and many of those who populate the pits will come to know the kid as well. And if the kid is really lucky, he will be “mugged” by Chad Boespflug later in the evening.
21 sprints opted for Lincoln Park over other choices such as stay home and watch the NASCAR race. So what if the “big names” were elsewhere? One should not worry about who is or isn’t at a given track. One should appreciate who is in the house. What we had was a group of good racers with several capable of winning the feature. Maybe Brent Beauchamp was a favorite but others present could have taken the checkered first.
Max McGhee did a great imitation of a scared rabbit as he ran off with the first heat win. Jarett Andretti impressively held off Brent Beauchamp to win the second heat. And Mitch Wissmiller came from fifth to lead every lap of the third heat.
The re-draw left McGhee and Andretti on the front row. The green waved and Andretti led going into turn one, where he missed a great chance to flip in front of the field as his left rear tire got some serious air. But the yellow waved for Matt Brannin and Travis Welpott after they tangled in turn three. Andretti led at this point and would lead the first half of the race.
But, not unlike the night before at Bloomington, madness reigned as Wissmiller, Beauchamp, McGhee, A.J. Hopkins and Scotty Weir (a one off for Paul Hazen as Shane Cottle was off Silver Crown racing in Illinois) all fought for position on a track that encouraged passing. Beauchamp took the lead but it was called back for the race’s first yellow. That ended the madness for the time being.
The re-start read Andretti, Beauchamp, McGhee, Hopkins, Wissmiller, Weir, Nate McNillan, Justin Owen (his first ever visit to LPS as he’s a Lawrenceburg regular), Tyler Hewitt and J.J. Hughes. The yellow would wave again on lap 15 but not before Beauchamp passed Andretti for the lead.
The next green flag segment lasted until lap 22 before Weir bounced to a stop in turn two. Now A.J. Hopkins would be a serious player. Almost alone on the high groove, Hopkins had struggled to keep up with the lead pack. But before Weir’s misfortune, A.J. found some grip and speed. He passed Andretti and on the race’s last re-start was ready to win himself a sprint car race.
Sure enough, Hopkins got around Beauchamp to take the top spot, but the wily, still young, veteran wasn’t about to fold up his tent. After Hopkins led a lap Beauchamp took the lead back on the white flag lap. Hopkins had to settle for second. Andretti was third with Wissmiller fourth. Pole sitter McGhee was fifth. McMillin took sixth and Hughes seventh. Fifth row occupants Owens and Hewitt were eighth and ninth. Lee Dakus, with Chad Boespflug helping out in the pits earlier, was the hard charger of the race as he came from 21st to tenth.
For the second straight night I saw two above average features. Each night featured multiple passes for the lead as well as a good deal of competition among the frontrunners. Each night featured a racing surface that allowed people to race each other and they surely did.
Can’t ask for much more than that.
Lending Jared Fogle my copy of Dante’s Inferno, I’m…
The 2015 edition of the Sheldon Kinser Memorial is history and it will be remembered as one of the hardest fought races in a long time. Had he been able to see this one from wherever his seat was, I’d like to think that Mr. Kinser would have appreciated the efforts of the top six or seven finishers, led by one very pleased Nick Bilbee, who was in the thick of the fight for position virtually the entire race.
This would also serve as the curtain closer for Bloomington’s 2015 season. 29 sprints stormed the gates to populate the pits which had nearly 100 cars on another lovely Hoosier evening.
It was also the final event for the Indiana Sprint Car Series. The championship was either going to go to Dave Darland or point leader Jon Stanbrough. And those with MAV-TV will be able to watch the series on a tape delayed basis.
As great as that is, and it is truly great, being there was even better.
My riding mechanic fell asleep by the time we reached the Brown County line. This would mean that he’d be ready to rumble by the time the red clay oval came into sight. We meandered through the pits long enough for him to get a free baloney sandwich, courtesy of Chris Babcock’s dad Bill. This gave him the strength to spend a goodly amount of time on the playground at the top of the hill—when sprint cars weren’t on the track.
Dave Darland began the festivities with the first heat win. Jeff Bland slipped by Max McGhee coming off turn four to take second at the line. Bland had started sixth. Jordan Kinser was fourth.
Shane Cottle won the second heat and nearly lost it on the last lap when a lapped car slowed right in front of him in turn two. Chris Gurley was a close second after that. Chase Briscoe was driving Jamie Paul’s 24 tonight and took third. New Zealander Stephen Taylor was fourth. Jon Stanbrough was chasing Cottle early in the race when the engine emitted some smoke.
Brady Short was making his way to the front in the third heat when he, too, slowed and exited the track with power steering issues. Pole sitter Nick Bilbee won with Dakota Jackson second. There was a terrific fight for third and fourth. Chris Babcock edged Brandon Mattox for third while Mattox edged Jarett Andretti for fourth.
Kent Christian was leading in the fourth heat when he took a nasty, high flying ride in turn four early in the race. Kent was a bit wobbly but was able to ride back to the pits in a golf cart. Tyler Courtney took the lead on the re-start and simply lost track of the others. Aaron Farney spun out early in the heat, but came in second after making a nifty move from fourth on the last lap. Michael Koontz was third and Brandon Morin was fourth.
Brady Short came from deep in the pack to win the B. Jarett Andretti, Braxton Cummings and pole sitter Eric Edwards would all make the final show of the year.
Words were exchanged and deals were made in the pits before the A Main. Jon Stanbrough, needing to finish 11th or better should Dave Darland win the feature, found himself in Brandon Mattox’s car and would start last.
Chris Gurley and Jeff Bland led the SK Memorial’s version of the Wild Bunch to the green for the 30 lapper. Gurley took the early lead with Tyler Courtney annexing second right away. Courtney took the lead before Gurley immediately decided that wouldn’t do. Here came Nick Bilbee to grab second from Courtney. Both Jeff Bland and Shane Cottle wanted to play up front as well. Perhaps the others were a bit faster than Gurley, but not enough to get around the gentle giant for the first part of the race. At one point Courtney dropped as far back as fifth, but stubbornly held to the bottom groove. It would pay off later. And if five wasn’t enough, Dave Darland edged closer to make it six.
Near the halfway mark Brady Short had moved to ninth from 16th. Just sayin’…
At about the same time Bland was caught on the high side of a four wide deal and slid over the bank, but continued. Gurley was passed by Bilbee, who was passed by Courtney—still at the bottom end. But Bilbee wasn’t done, not by a long shot. He regained second on lap 22 and got around Courtney three laps later.
As far as the lead was concerned, that was that. But there was plenty of action behind the leader. Shane Cottle had hung around the top five all race and came on at the end to take second. Then there was Max McGhee, who started ninth and charged hard at the end to take third from Courtney. Darland was fifth and Short advanced ten spots to take sixth ahead of Jordan Kinser.
Darland may have “lost” the battle but he did well enough for car owner Jeff Walker, who won the owner’s championship of the ISCS. Jon Stanbrough, in Brandon Mattox’s car, did well enough to secure the driver’s title and that cool trophy that Sean Buckley is presenting.
Thus ended another year at Bloomington, too soon many will say. But it was good and certainly ended on a high note.
People can say it was a surprise winner. Okay, but let’s not call it a fluke. Nick earned it and I’d guess he will remember this one for a very long time.
Is it April yet?
Wondering why this Ashley Madison lady keeps emailing me, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Christmas
The Hoosier Race Report: Same Track, Same Result, Different Day
If it’s your time, you have to get it and enjoy it however long it lasts. Because, sooner or later, it won’t be your time anymore. Things happen and change. But until they do, revel in it. Appreciate it. And keep going out to the track either expecting to win or thinking you have a good chance to win. If you are Brady Short, these are the good old days, the ones that few people get to experience. Having fun at the track is great, no arguments there. But having fun and winning at the track? So rare, so fleeting, but so good. So it went for Mr. Short on a humid Saturday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway as he took the lead from his friend Jeff Bland midway through the 30 lap feature and cruised to yet another win. The Midwest Sprint Car Series sanctioned this one and Short proved that he can win, no matter who sanctions the race and maybe no matter where the race is held.
This was a more leisurely trip to beautiful downtown Putnamville, Indiana. The usual traveling brigade was increased by one as Dave Foist joined us for the 75 mile jaunt to the northwest. Dave has been battling health issues the past few seasons and was dealing with racing withdrawal. Hopefully, that was cured, at least for awhile.
29 sprint car teams drove past the local correctional facility (if they came from the west) and turned into the race track property, Joe Spiker’s pride and joy. With USAC running up near the North Pole, many of the remaining runners showed up. A stroll through the pits found Brent Beauchamp, MSCS point leader Carson Short, Illini Mitch Wissmiller and A.J. Hopkins among those who weren’t around the previous evening.
Shane Cottle, who compensated my small but growing partner for scraping the mud off Mr. Hazen’s car, had his way in the first heat. Mitch Wissmiller was second and Nick Bilbee third. C. Short came from seventh to fourth. Tyler Hewitt, also the beneficiary of the grandson’s cleaning expertise, started and finished fifth, which wasn’t quite enough to make the A under the MSCS passing points system. Shelby VanGilder was sixth, but crossed the finish line flipping hard. She would return.
Brent Beauchamp started on the pole and ran away with the second heat win. Casey Shuman was second by a large margin. Matt McDonald was third and Scott Hampton came from seventh to fourth. Kent Schmidt edged Chris Babcock for fifth. Joe Ligouri, struggling with an ill handling car, trailed.
Mario Clouser, better known for his midget racing success, was the early leader in the third heat, but Jeff Bland led the second half and won. Brady Short was second and Brandon Mattox third. Clouser took fourth, ahead of James Lyerla, Brandon Morin and Charlie Belden Jr.
A.J. Hopkins came from fourth to take the lead on the third lap and win the fpurth heat. New Zealander Stephen Taylor brought the Jeff Walker mount to second after starting seventh. Aric Gentry was third and Donnie Brackett fourth. Nate McMillin started and finished fifth.
McMillin won the B Main with Schmidt second. Hewitt took third and Babock made a late pass on Lyerla to earn the 20th starting spot in the main show. With a thrashing completed in time for the B, Shelby VanGilder had repairs made after her heat race miseries and was at least able to start the B.
The track had received some TLC before the B. Bland and Wissmiller led 18 of their mates to Mo Wills’ green flag.
The high groove was the most popular at the beginning as Bland took the lead. But B. Short was on the move. From his third starting spot he passed Wissmiller for second on the eighth lap. Shane Cottle was busy too. From sixth he moved forward and passed Mitch on the 13th lap for third as lapped traffic came into play. The stage was set. The principal players were in place.
Short reeled in the leader as the halfway mark came and went. The pass for the lead was made and a lap later the race’s first yellow waved for Taylor. The leading characters were B. Short, Bland, Cottle, Beauchamp, Hopkins, Shuman, C. Short, Bilbee and Hampton.
Only one lap was run before Carson Short spun in turn four. Beauchamp slid over the banking after the first re-start and lost two spots. The second reshuffling saw B. Short keep his lead and Cottle get around Bland on lap 23. But for the second consecutive night, he couldn’t catch the Bedford, Indiana native.
It was B. Short, Cottle and Bland making up the podium again, as they had done about 23 hours before. Beauchamp fought his way back to fourth at the end. Hopkins had dropped back early, but came on strong in the race’s second half to finish fifth, where he started. Shuman was sixth, a lot better than his Friday night headaches. Bilbee was seventh after starting 13th; his two good finishes were overshadowed by the podium boys. Nick had run fourth on Friday. Mattox, Brackett and Hampton were the bottom of the top ten. Tyler Hewitt at least ended the night on a high note. He came from 19th to take 11th at the end.
This was Short’s second straight feature win at Lincoln Park. It was also his second straight MSCS triumph. And Brady has won six of 13 MSCS events this year. Yep, it must be his time.
Thankful that sprint car races aren’t decided by fuel mileage, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: The Odds….
I’m not a huge (or even small) fan of horse racing, betting and setting the odds, but on a near perfect Friday night at the Lincoln Park Speedway, Brady Short had to be the heavy favorite—even more so after he drew the pole for the feature starting lineup. Boring, you say? Not exactly. Shane Cottle made sure of that. He motored from ninth to second on a very fast track and might have had something for the winner had things worked out a bit differently.
This was a very rare Friday night program at LPS. Bloomington and Gas City weren’t racing and it seemed like Joe Spiker looked at this, thought about it briefly, and said, why not? Indeed, why not, I thought as my fellow traveler and I fought Friday evening’s after work traffic, most especially in Mooresville. Quickly I figured out which day it was.
21 sprinters, fresh from watching and discussing the Presidential candidates’ debate, decided to visit beautiful downtown Putnamville, Indiana and its major tourist attraction. Speaking of odds, what would the odds have been for two different cars numbered 21k would show up? One was Casey Shuman, last week’s LPS winner, in the Kroc-mobile and Kody Swanson drove the other 21k, owned, I assumed, by Buckeye Kent Wolters.
Short’s win in his heat added to his perfect night. His pole position didn’t hurt. Kiwi Stephen Taylor, again in the Jeff Walker sprinter, was second, followed by Scott Hampton, Brandon Mattox, Chad Davenport, Jared Chastain, and Mike Gass, who was eliminated in a coming-to-the-green-flag shunt that saw him the innocent victim.
Nick Bilbee, who got a kick out of seeing my grandson’s penmanship in action, won the second heat. Kent Schmidt held off J.J. Hughes to take second. Nate McMillin, Eric Burns (yes, that Eric Burns), Levi Underwood and Dylan Shaw trailed.
Jeff Bland won the third heat as much of the passing came on the last lap. Kody Swanson was second as Shane Cottle passed Shelby VanGilder to grab third. Max McGhee, Chris Babcock and Casey Shuman were the rest.
There was no semi-main, but the track was reworked. The seldom used top received attention in an effort to widen the track and give the bottom groove some competition for attention. I’d rather be chained to a chair after having milk of magnesia forced down my throat plus having to listen to disco music for an hour than be in charge of track prep.
The front row for the feature would be Short and Bilbee. as there was no redraw. This format meant that last week’s winner, Mr. Shuman, would start last.
Brady predictably took off as the green waved as Nick had a bad start. Levi Underwood brought out the first yellow on lap three. The young New Zealander, Taylor, had charged to second at the start. A couple of laps after the re-start, Bland passed Taylor for second. Cottle was working his way forward on a lightning fast track that was uncharacteristically hard to pass on. As the green waved the second time, though, Cottle was up to sixth from ninth.
After about six laps of green flag racing, Short encountered lapped traffic. If anything, this increased his lead. By now second place Jeff Bland had Cottle behind him, an unhappy prospect at best.
The second yellow came out for Kody Swanson, who was parked in turn one facing the infield tire, as if he had been trying to move it. This was on lap 13 and the lineup of suspects was Short, Bland, Cottle, Bilbee, Taylor, Hughes, Mattox, Schmidt, VanGilder and McGhee. Two laps later, Casey Shuman’s bad night ended with him stopped on the backstretch. Penthouse, meet outhouse.
The race’s final re-start was uneventful as Cottle worked over Bland pretty good before taking second with seven laps to go. But Short was too far in front and was working the racing groove to perfection. Shane may have closed the gap a little, but the margin of victory was a half straightaway.
Jeff Bland held onto third place behind Short and Cottle at the end. Nick Bilbee hung around the top five all through the race and ended up fourth. Stephen Taylor had his best Hoosier outing so far, finishing fifth. J.J. Hughes was sixth and Brandon Mattox took seventh. Max McGhee rambled from 15th to finish eighth. Kent Schmidt and Shelby VanGilder were the rest of the top ten.
So the odds were that Brady Short would win. The long shot would have to wait for another day.
As this is written, LPS does it again tonight, with the MSCS in town. A larger car count is expected, for what that is worth. More money is available for the feature winner and that will bring out some hungry and/or greedy people.
Losing count of how many NFL players are in jail, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Throwback
The debate of the health of sprint car racing is nothing new; it will go on long after I’ve taken my personal checkered flag. As our society changes and a new culture of speed and competition evolves, who can know what sprint car racing will look like in the mid-21st Century? But a few things will hopefully endure, such as young men (and women) who have a true competitor’s fire to both go fast and win. A great example of this is Justin Grant, a California native who moved here a few years ago to seek fame and maybe a bit of fortune too. Mr. Grant won the Bob Darland Memorial at the Kokomo Speedway on a lovely Sunday night; it was his third 2015 win at the jewel of a race track in north central Indiana. After the race, Bob’s son Dave, spoke well of Grant, seeming to think that his dad would have appreciated the young man’s efforts in this business.
Let us not give up on this racin’ deal just yet.
After last Sunday’s rainout of the Darland Memorial, folks were more than ready to give this thing another try. 23 teams turned off Davis Road and set up shop in the pits. Soon joining them was my intrepid grandson, who lent a hand to the Josh Spencer crew scraping off some mud. This is a roundabout way of saying that Reece O’Connor and the gang dumped a lot of water on the track. Dividends would be paid later.
C.J. Leary was in the family car tonight and waltzed off to the win in the first heat. Max McGhee, Robert Ballou, Dave Darland and Scotty Weir trailed.
Justin Grant took the second eight lap heat and Logan Jarrett was second as some of the guys ventured down to the lower groove to see what was there. The high side was still the fast side, but, again, dividends would be paid later. Jon Stanbrough was third with Josh Spencer and Casey Shuman taking fourth and fifth.
Action and drama marked the third heat. Kyle Robbins tried to slide Tyler Courtney in turn two and they collided instead with Courtney flipping. Shane Cottle won with Chris Windom second. Chris Gurely was third and Lukas Smith fourth.
There was no B Main but there was still action on the track and action of another kind in the pits. Bicycle races were on the program and kids age five to ten took over the front straight. Meanwhile back in the pits, there was a controlled mob scene as various people helped out the Everhart team in repairing Courtney’s ride. Along with Tyler, those such as Shane Cottle, some of Jon Stanbrough’s crew and Tony Jarrett all pitched in and got the car ready to race in the 30 lap feature. There was nary a computer in sight (unless one chose to count the cell phones) to aid in the repair, just old fashioned muscle and brain power at work.
Along with the feature results, this, too, gave a bit of hope to either the future of Hoosier sprint car racing or else the state of it today. More than once I’ve seen competitors pitch in and fix a damaged car of a guy they would need to race later, no questions asked. It happened again on this night and for me it was probably the main story of the night. While less than ideal words and actions are not uncommon in racing, selfless acts aren’t exactly rare either.
To repeat: Let’s not give up on this racin’ deal just yet.
Leary and Jarrett led 19 of their closest friends to Brian Hoddy’s green flag. But Brian had to hastily get out the yellow as Kyle Robbins and Lukas Smith tangled in turn two. Smith was done and KRob re-started.
After Jarrett led the first few laps, it was Leary’s turn when Logan bounced off the turn four wall and dropped to third behind Leary and Grant. The leaders hit lapped traffic around lap ten and Grant began cutting into the leader’s margin.
Jarrett was running fifth when he flipped on lap 19 in turn four, apparently with some assistance. Logan strolled into the infield for a meeting with Stephen Taylor. Information and other things were exchanged and that was that. At any rate, it was a good race ruined for the local boy.
For the re-start Leary still led Grant. Chris Windom had been strong for the whole race and was third. Up next were Ballou, Darland, Stanbrough, Cottle, Weir, McGhee and Shuman. For Justin Grant, it was about to be his prime time.
A couple of laps after the re-start, Grant made his move and that was that. Flirting with the wall at both ends of the track, Grant led the last nine laps and was pulling away from everyone else. For sure the $3000 was nice, but winning at Kokomo against one’s peers might have been better. And to win a race named after a local resident whose accomplishments in racing were extraordinary to say the least—well, there was your icing right there.
Leary held on for second with Windom, Ballou and Bob Darland’s son Dave making up the top five. Shane Cottle was sixth and Scotty Weir passed Jon Stanbrough late to take seventh. Kyle Robbins, who had a miserable night up to the first lap of the feature, recovered to finish ninth and take home some Hard Charger cash after starting 18th. Casey Shuman was tenth.
Robert Ballou leads the Indiana Sprint Car Series point standings.
Grant has opened the last two months with wins at Kokomo.
Who knows? Maybe video games, drones and remote control racing will be the norm by the time my grandsons are grandfathers. In my lifetime I’ve seen life changing “advances” in every aspect of my existence. Many are good while others could be debated. Certainly this applies to the racing we love. But as the vehicles used for racing evolve, some things remain the same, namely the fierce competitive spirit that drives the Justin Grants of this world.
For that we should be thankful.
Delighted to read that I pay more taxes than one D. Trump, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Westerfeld at the ‘burg
It’s understandable if some Hoosier sprint fans don’t
know of Shawn Westerfeld or if they haven’t seen him race. He races at
the Lawrenceburg Speedway and also follows the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint
Series, which is based, logically enough, in Ohio. It’s a pity that many
Hoosiers haven’t been to the ‘burg to see Westerfeld and others race at
the three eighths mile, high banked oval in southeastern Indiana. But a
decent crowd saw him race on a beautiful Saturday night and win the 25
lap feature sanctioned by BOSS.
The Hoosier Race Report: A Matter of Inches
The Hoosier Race Report: Biding One’s Time=Clash Cash
Finally the End
We'll get this out of the way right now. It was hot. The temperature topped out in the mid 90s and no one disputed that.
While I spent part of my time pontificating and part of it people watching, I did notice that 34 cars had decided to stop by and have a look.
Justin Grant was the first of these to qualify and his lap of 13.421 held up. The track held up very well as Kevin Thomas Jr. went out last and was fifth quick.
Dave Darland started things off right by winning the first heat. Moe of the Three Stooges must told the boys to "spread out" because that's what Darland and second place Thomas did. Chad Boespflug had his hands full fending off the challenge of fourth place Justin Grant.
Aaron Farney has been beating his mentor on occasion lately with Terre Haute being the prime example. He did the same in the second heat, leading Robert Ballou to the line. Josh Hodges was third and Chris Windom rode home fourth.
The third heat got off to a less than ideal start when Jarrett Andretti rode over Zach Daum's tire and missed a good chance to flip. Andretti bounced to a stop as Daum spun. Kent Schmidt also spun to miss the wreck. Brady Short came from fifth to win and I should have taken notice then. Chase Stockon passed Jeff Bland late to take second. Hunter Schuerenberg withstood a good bit of pressure from Daum to finish fourth.
Dakota Jackson won the fourth heat from the pole. Kyle Cummins, in the family car tonight, was second. Brady Bacon, who entered the night only three points ahead of Ballou, was third. Jon Stanbrough started and finished fourth.
During the heats I was reminded why I think sprint car/bullring racing is so cool and more appealing than the so called big time sports. It was nothing earthshaking. Instead it was first Jon Stanbrough, then later Dave Darland coming to the pit bleachers to watch the other heats. No doubt they were "working" as they watched the track and their competitors, but one cannot imagine this happening in any other sport, major or niche.
C. J. Leary sat on the pole and led all the way to win
the B Main. Tyler Courtney was second. Scotty Weir brought the Jeff
Walker machine back to the line third. J. Andretti was fourth and
Californian Jake Swanson took fifth. Thomas Meseraull passed Zach Daum
on the white flag lap to take the last dance card.
No doubt that several were watching Ballou and Bacon, one of the few times that USAC fans watch the points closely. Bacon started eighth and Ballou tenth, but Robert was on the move early. By the tenth lap Ballou was definitely moving forward while the Hoffman Racing 69 was going the other way. In terms of the Sprint Week points, Ballou had the inside track, but the Mad Man wanted more.
Lap 10 was when the leaders began encountering lapped traffic. Thomas challenged for the lead at every turn as both he and Windom negotiated the lappers. On lap 16, KT took the lead on the inside and it was tempting to think this race might be his.
But, other than his crew, himself and maybe his fans, who would have thought that Brady Short would be a threat? His Indiana Sprint Week had been less than stellar until the C Main at Lincoln Park on Thursday night. But he passed cars by the bundle in both the B and A Mains at LPS and had to feel good going to his home track on Friday. But Bloomington rained out and there would be only one more chance to prove himself yet again worthy of challenging USAC regulars. His moment to shine was right around the corner, as it were.
Short sized up Windom for second and made the pass with ten laps to go. And before I had the chance to ask “could he do it?” he did it. Reeling in Thomas and fighting lapped traffic, Short made the pass when KT was very briefly held up by a slower car. That was all the Bedford, Indiana native needed. Lap 22 was his and on he went to his first USAC win in four years.
The action behind the leaders was no less compelling. Windom managed to keep third but Ballou ran down and passed Stockon near the end to take fourth. Josh Hodges, who has been impressive all summer here, was sixth behind Chase. Kyle Cummins picked up $300 extra for starting 16th and finishing seventh, $100 from Buck and Betty Rice and an extra $200 from the family of former USAC official Larry Williams, who was killed in an automobile accident on his way to Terre Haute last Wednesday. Justin Grant was eighth with Jon Stanbrough ninth. C.J. Leary, back in the family car, claimed tenth.
The post-race quote of note was by the race winner, who said, “Traffic is huge here, and you’ve got to know how to maneuver around them.” Again, probably without knowing it, Mr. Short showed how racing imitates life and vice versa. We can’t ignore traffic of any kind in our lives and our races.
My post-race meanderings gave me quite an insight of
where this carnival we called ISW is going. Both the race winner and the
points winner received the major attention. Ballou in particular was
besieged by fans wanting a word, an autograph or picture. I’m glad that
sprint car racing at this level is still fan friendly by and large. I’m
very pleased that most all of these guys are accessible to fans and have
no problem talking to them either before or after the race. And how cool
is it that USAC sprints are on TV, albeit on a limited basis?
When most folks had enjoyed their time talking to the 2015 Indiana Sprint Week champion, I took my turn. It was ironic that a guy who’d rather win a race than a point championship won said title despite not winning any of the six races. I asked Mr. Ballou if he’d remembered what had happened here at Haubstadt a year ago. Surely he did. He had won the feature that night as Bryan Clauson had taken the series championship. After the race my grandson had accepted the invitation to “drive” the car to the weight scale and then to the hauler. Robert remembered that too. And I asked, suspecting the answer, which felt better, winning a race or this, the championship? Without hesitation, the answer was, “a race.”
There’s nothing wrong with winning a championship of any kind; in fact, it’s to be applauded. It means that night in and night out, you’ve come to conduct serious business and doing what needs to be done to accomplish something very difficult to do. No matter who the racer is, he earns his championships and deserves the accolades that goes with it.
Winning a solitary race requires a different mindset. It’s more immediate gratification. There can’t be anything like crossing a finish line first ahead of your competitors. Perhaps you can win a race and struggle for the rest of the campaign. But don’t be misled. Nothing can take away that feeling of being the first to see that checkered flag waving.
Again, how ironic. Chase Stockon won at Gas City as ISW opened ten long days ago. He struggled the rest of the way until Haubstadt. Robert Ballou used consistency to win the title and the cool rocking chair that goes with it. One may have preferred the championship; the other prefers to win races. Both Chase and Robert accomplished much over the last few days, but it may be that neither got their wish.
I wonder if they could change places, would they?
Photoshopping and photobombing, I’m…
30 laps of pressure
First Time Winner
The Hoosier Race Report: Scared
The Hoosier Race Report: Chaos,
Homeboys and Furriners
The Next Dave Darland?
Granted, there is and will be only one Dave Darland, strictly speaking. But a young man who migrated here from California a few years back to chase his dream is surely making his mark on the Hoosier race scene. The young man is Justin Grant and he has always run well at the Kokomo Speedway. This year he won the King of Indiana Sprint Series feature at Kokomo in impressive fashion. And on another warm and humid Hoosier night, Grant won the initial event that will be part of the Indiana Sprint Car Series, the brainchild largely of Sean Buckley, headman of Jackslash.com and maybe the best video maestro around. Dave Darland was among the others chasing Grant to the line and might be wondering if this kid is a younger version of himself.
Mr. Buckley has put together a series of races and Kokomo was the opener. All will be broadcast later on MAV-TV. Someone has been hustling for sponsorship and their efforts have yielded quite a few extra goodies for drivers and teams. Heat winners, first non-transfers, guys who barely make it into the feature, hard chargers, heck, everyone but the guy who bounces the hardest off the cushion, all get some extra cash. Winners get some extra essentials such as a seat, uniform, a right rear tire and a painted helmet while winning car owners get a DRC chassis kit, brake kit and four shocks.
Then there is one cool trophy that will look good no matter where Grant or any other winner places it.
Given the exposure on TV and the holiday weekend, 37 sprint teams shoehorned their way into the pits that held a bit over 100 cars in all.
The format was four heats, two B’s and a 25 lap feature.
After “letting” Tyler Courtney lead for the first three laps, Dave Darland took the lead and the win in the first heat. He was followed by three number 23s. How strange is that? The leading 23 was Courtney, followed by Jimmy Light and Brian Karraker.
Two number 18s made up the front row of the second heat, Thomas Meseraull and Jarett Andretti. TMez won with C.J. Leary second and Andretti third. Aaron Farney was fourth and that meant Jon Stanbrough was headed for the B.
Justin Grant won the third heat, missing a great battle between Landon Simon and Shane Cottle for second. Kyle Robbins was fourth, sending Cole Ketchum, quick qualifier in his group, to the B.
Pole sitter Max McGhee won the fourth heat, a race stopped for a nasty crash/flip. Robert Ballou came out of turn two on the fifth lap and got into Josh Hodges, who bounced off the wall and collected Jerry Coons Jr. The Arizona native was sent into at least two nasty flips down the backstretch. The previous night’s winner at Lincoln Park was unhurt, but owner Monte Edison was looking at a big and unexpected expense. Hodges ended up second and Ballou third. Chad Boespflug was fourth.
The first of the two B’s was maybe the best race all night. At least it was the best finish. Only the top two would move to the feature and the finish was three wide. Inches separated winner Cole Ketchum and second place Josh Spencer. Chris Gurley was the recipient of the “Close but no cigar” award with his third place.
The second B was almost tame as Jon Stanbrough romped. Logan Jarrett was second by a large margin as well.
McGhee and Simon led 18 of their closest friends to the line and Max took off, leaving Landon to battle with Tyler Courtney, C.J. Leary, Thomas Meseraull and Justin Grant. McGhee stretched his lead until Leary broke free of the mob and began reeling in the leader. Over the next ten laps the distance between McGhee and Leary shrank. Meseraull and Grant were having their own mini-war for third.
But lap 18 saw Grant get not one, but two breaks. Kyle Robbins spun in turn four. The high line had been the popular way around but Leary was diamonding off turn four on occasion trying to pass or harass the leader. On this lap he went low and collided hard with KRob, ending the night for both of them.
That was a break for Meseraull and Grant. The running order was McGhee, Meseraull, Grant, Darland, Courtney, Simon, Ballou, Farney, Stanbrough and Cottle. But wait. TMez was circling the track with a right rear going flat. On the re-start, he dropped like a rock as Grant began chasing the leader.
Meseraull’s misfortune was Grant’s second break and he made the most of it. With four laps to go he passed McGhee for the lead and the win, pulling away at the end.
McGhee didn’t need to hang his head too much. At this rate, he will be winning races like this in the not too distant future. Darland came from eighth to third. Courtney, like McGhee, will quite possibly begin winning more races; he finished fourth. Ballou moved from 12th to a relatively quiet fifth. Another kid with promise is Aaron Farney, who came from 14th to sixth. The night’s Hard Charger was Jon Stanbrough, who may have passed more people than anyone else all weekend. On this night he rumbled from 18th to seventh. Hodges, Andretti and Boespflug completed the top ten.
The Indiana Sprint Car Series made a successful debut. Mr. B’s. next effort will be at Lincoln Park on July 25.
What’s that deal where USAC schedules seven races in nine nights all over Indiana? Oh, yeah. Sprint Week. It’s that time already? Be warned for some serious racing, starting July 9 at Gas City and ending at Tri-State/Haubstadt on July 18.
Weary of watching Big Ones at Daytona and during the Tour de France, I’m…
A Night For Remembering
A Night For Remembering
More than once I've watched a race that contained a driver who spent much of the race out front, trying to stink up the show. But late in the race he lost the lead and went home quite disappointed. This nearly happened to Shane Cockrum on Thursday night at the Terre Haute Action Track. But the Illinois resident hung tough and maintained the lead that he had lost late in the 100 lap feature in USAC Silver Crown competition. Officially Cockrum led 99 of the 100 laps with Jerry Coons Jr. leading lap 28. But a late caution waved just before C. J. Leary made the pass to come oh so close to taking the lead from Cockrum and maybe the win.
Again this division had a decent car count with 24 teams deciding to turn off of U. S. 41 into the Vigo County Fairgrounds. Kody Swanson was the fourth qualifier and to no one's surprise, he set fast time, circling the half mile oval in 20.712 seconds. Dave Darland was second quickest until his time was disallowed after the car flunked the width test. Kent Wolters suffered the same fate with both cars measuring more than USAC would permit.
The lineup in the front had Swanson on the pole with second generation racer Shane Cockrum on the outside front row. As the green waved, Cockrum somewhat surprisingly grabbed the lead from Swanson and began to ride off into the Terre Haute sunset. Jerry Coons Jr. assumed second at the outset but had his hands full trying to keep up.
About ten laps after a lap 13 re-start Coons began harassing the leader and actually took the lead. This was on lap 28 and Cockrum promptly made his own statement, taking back the lead. Through several yellow flags, Cockrum had little trouble holding Coons off with each re-start.
Meanwhile Dave Darland had been busy. After his demotion to the 11th row, the People's Champ had been passing more than anyone else. He was up to the 12th spot until his chances of contending went flat in the form of a right rear tire. The tire was changed but Darland's shot at a good finish was kaput.
After a Tyler Courtney spin on lap 42, Cockrum's lead stretched at one point to a half straightaway margin. Coons remained second with Brady Bacon in third. Shane Cottle was fourth and Kody Swanson had faded to fifth, puzzling Silver Crown watchers who have seen the Bob Hampshire workhorse dominate SC action the past couple of years. C. J. Leary had started fifth and was sixth at the halfway mark. Chris Windom led his teammate Tracy Hines and Justin Grant was ninth. Kevin Thomas Jr. was securely in tenth, where he spent much of the race.
Through three more cautions Cockrum had the field covered with another blinking yellow light setting up a tense finish. On lap 82, the field accelerated to the green flag, but the night's only red came out when Joey Moughan tipped over in turn four with Thomas ending up facing the wrong way. KT refired and tagged those left.
As is often the case in these 100 lappers, business began picking up as the end neared. C. J. Leary was now a player and wanted to make some noise. After the lap 73 yellow he was fifth. First he picked off Shane Cottle. After the lap 82 slowdown the next victim was Brady Bacon. And after the red flag on lap 88, it was Jerry Coons Jr. who had a nice view of the Leary team's tail tank. But then came a yellow flag that severely damaged Leary's chance of winning. The young man from Greenfield, Indiana had passed the leader but the yellow that waved for a spinning Tyler Courtney appeared just before the pass. Shane Cockrum had to breathe a sigh of relief.
On the lap 91 re-start no doubt many thought that Leary would get around the Hardy Boys' pride and joy, but the fire chief poured on some more coal and scooted away at the end. Jerry Coons, who used the high line all night, ran a strong third. Shane Cottle grabbed fourth over Brady Bacon. Justin Grant was sixth and Kody Swanson faded to seventh, but kept his point lead of 38 points. Chris Windom took eighth and Tracy Hines, still nursing a broken collarbone, managed a ninth. Kevin Thomas Jr. recovered from his late spin to finish tenth.
Thanks to some extended efforts by Andy Hillenburg and several other dedicated racers, this series is back on its feet. Its life support status is now history. And on a cool July evening, people left a USAC Silver Crown race pleased with what they saw.
Night one of four races in four nights was over.
Earning a big tip as Bernie Ecclestone's bell hop, I'm...
The Red Sea Parts
Take nothing away from a racer who puts himself into a position where he can either win or grab a good finish. One never can know how things will work out. Occasionally, or maybe even rarely, a racer who runs third late in a race ends up winning. So it went for Chad Boespflug on a cool Saturday night at the Paragon Speedway. He was running third when a midrace collision between the two leaders, Jon Stanbrough and Shane Cottle, left them heading to the pits and Boespflug in the lead. It was a lead he would not relinquish as he won the 68 lap Chuck Amati Memorial driving, fittingly enough, the Amati Racing 66, owned by Chuck’s grandson, Shane Wade.
Rain all over Indiana washed out Friday racing at Bloomington and a few tracks on Saturday as well, especially those north of Indianapolis. Paragon was racing, despite taking on its share of rain. The track was ready after a mighty effort by Keith Ford and crew. Water was more of an issue in parts of the pits and the parking lot and I came away with the wet tennis shoes to prove it. But if that was my biggest problem, I was in good shape.
34 teams roared through town to assume positions at the track which lies in suburban Paragon, population 659. Scattered through the roster were a few guys who may have raced against Chuck Amati, saw him race, or at least had heard of him. All probably knew that he was an extraordinary racer who was popular with race fans across the sprint car universe.
The first of four heats was won by Paragon semi-regular Andrew Prather. He led Nate McMillin to the line. Bub Cummings was third and David Hair, driving a retro designed car that he built himself, was fourth, making it into the feature.
Chris Babcock started on the pole and led all the way to win the second heat. Josh Cunningham, a winner of this race in 2012, made the feature by holding off Chris Phillips, who was third. Jordan Kinser, in the Hurst Brothers’ pride and joy, was fourth.
Chad Boespflug came from fourth to lead the first lap, as well as all the others, in winning the third heat. Dave Darland was a close second. Paragon regular Jake Scott was third. Jeremy Potts was fourth after trading positions multiple times with Nevil Algeio, who would try his luck in one of the B Mains.
Shane Cottle took the early lead in the fourth heat, but Jon Stanbrough made an outside pass midway through the heat and won. Behind Cottle was Kent Christian. Matt Brannin came from the last row to finish fourth.
Brandon Mattox had suffered mechanical troubles in hot laps, but things were fixed in time to tag the tail in the first B Main. He worked his way through the field and took the lead and the win. Behind him Eric Edwards and Nevil Algeio had a spirited fight for the remaining transfer spot. That ended when Algeio flipped in turn three, ending a trying night for him.
Jensen Scott led all the way to win the second B. Hunter O’Neal had missed his heat race and started in back. Like Mattox, he made his way to the front and finished second, earning the 20th starting spot in the feature.
The re-draw put Chris Babcock and Josh Cunningham on the front row. Jon Stanbrough would be lurking in the second row, but not for long. The same would be true for Shane Cottle, starting in the third row. Dave Darland and Chad Boespflug, in the fourth row, would be more than interested bystanders.
Babcock could say he led at least one lap of the Chuck Amati Memorial, but the red flag waved on lap two as David Hair and Brandon Mattox collided in turn two with Mattox getting upside down. His mostly uphill night was done. On the re-start, Cottle was on a tear. He had charged to second at the initial waving of the green, but he wasn’t done. After a lap he had taken the lead from Babcock and dearly wanted to check out but Jon Stanbrough would have something to say about that. After getting around Babcock for second, Stanbrough began his chase of the leader, one that would become easier as lapped traffic came into play.
As a lapped car slowed coming out of turn four, Cottle was blocked and delayed trying to pass the car. Stanbrough was in the higher lane and motored past to take the lead. Now things would get good. Slowly Cottle began to reel in the leader. Their battle was not unlike the Robert Ballou-Brady Short mano a mano scrap right here at Paragon two weeks before.
A yellow flag waved at lap 34, the halfway mark. This was a huge break for Chad Boespflug, who had steadily advanced from his eighth starting position. The Californian turned Hoosier was substantially gaining on both Stanbrough and Cottle. The yellow merely made it a bit easier.
The top ten at the halfway mark were Stanbrough, Cottle, Boespflug, Darland, Andrew Prather, Babcock, Chris Phillips, Bub Cummings, Jordan Kinser and Josh Cunningham. Cottle and Stanbrough resumed their fight as Boespflug held his own for a lap or two before reeling them in again. But then disaster struck for the two veterans up front. On lap 41 Cottle’s car appeared to drift into the turquoise blue 81. The two tangled and both went flipping down the backstretch. Both were okay, but no doubt displeased, especially Stanbrough.
And now, Boespflug found himself the pleased recipient of a major gift, courtesy of two of the best in the business. On the re-start, Darland hung tough for a couple of laps before the Shane Wade machine took off. Not quite 24 hours later, in the pits at the Kokomo Speedway, Chad said the engine needed a few laps to get the right amount of heat to make it go. Worked for me. At any rate, the final segment of 20 plus laps was nearly mundane as Boespflug had the field covered.
Darland was second, about six car lengths behind as the checkered flag waved. Chris Phillips, who needs to be considered when mentioning the most improved Hoosier sprint car driver this year, was third. Chris Babcock was a steady fourth. Bub Cummings came home fifth. Andrew Prather, who has done well at Paragon this year, despite a late start, was sixth. Jordan Kinser came from 14th to seventh. Josh Cunningham was eighth and Kent Christian was ninth, the first car one lap down. Matt Brannin started 16th and completed the top ten.
Each result usually brings up questions that can’t be answered. Tonight’s unanswered question will be, could Boespflug have caught Stanbrough and Cottle had they not wrecked? We can guess with or without the evidence but we’ll never know.
Given the excitement and excellence of the race, one might be prone to forgetting what I thought was the best story of the night. Shane Wade has been trying to win this race ever since Keith Ford began it after the death of his friend seven years ago. Finally, on a slightly cool Indiana evening, Chad Boespflug made it happen and promptly stated that it rated right next to his own first USAC win at Lincoln Park not long ago.
Memories and tradition certainly have their places in our lives. We’d best at least acknowledge this and appreciate the efforts of those who went before us. I’d guess that Shane Wade understands this and I think that Chad Boespflug does too.
Wishing that I could have fired Donald Trump, or at least his hair, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Chemistry 101
If you’re like me, you struggled in high school chemistry. But if you’re like me, you learned over the years that chemistry takes on more than one form. The chemistry that many of us know has to do with people getting along together, working on mutual problems, having the same goals, then working together to reach those goals. This is what seems to be happening with the Shane Wade/Amati Racing team and their driver, Chad Boespflug. Because on a warm and humid night Mr. Boespflug and company put it all together and won themselves a 25 lap feature at the Lincoln Park Speedway before a good sized crowd.
The pre-race pit stroll (walking sounds like too much work) took awhile. 128 cars of all types, 31 of which were sprint cars, filled up the LPS pit area pretty good. The usual players were there with a few surprises. Mitch Wissmiller made a rare Hoosier appearance. Lyndsey Ligouri was driving the family car tonight with Husband Joe turning wrenches and Grandpa Ralph supervising. J.J. Hughes and Dakota Jackson were home for the summer, taking a break from their higher education studies. With Paragon’s Chuck Amati Memorial falling victim to rain and high water, some of their regulars were present.
C.J. Leary won the first of four heats over Kent Christian. Nate McMillin was third. Spencer Bayston spent most of the race mired in the back of the pack. But, perhaps with some coaching, he tried the neglected upstairs groove and passed two cars on the last lap, both of whom spun in turn four of the last lap after Bayston had made the pass.
The dashing and debonair Shane Cottle held off Brady Short to win the second heat. Brent Beauchamp came from seventh to take third. Still a newlywed, Kevin Studley took the last ticket to the big show.
Chad Boespflug grabbed the early lead and cruised to the third heat win. Josh Hodges, enjoying Indiana’s summer rather than New Mexico’s, was second. Jeff Bland came from eighth, last, to grab third. Tyler Hewitt, who begged off when I offered him some popcorn, took fourth.
Pole sitter J.J. Hughes won the fourth heat. Mitch Wissmiller came from the back to take second. CoonorDonelson started and finished third. Jadon Rogers, all of 12 years old, was fourth. The race contained a very rare triple spin. Lucas Smith spun off turn two and Rogers with Matt Brannin both spun coming out of two.
Scott Hampton won the B Main from the second row Chris Babcock came from sixth to take second. Pat Giddens would race again as would Dakota Jackson.
Hughes and Boespflug saw Brian Hodde’s green flag first. But the next time around they were slowed as Chris Babcock brought out the yellow on the first lap. The boys tried again and Boespflug took off. First Hughes, then Leary held onto second before Shane Cottle came calling. So did Brady Short, who had started sixth. The race’s third yellow waved on lap six and by now Boespflug led Cottle and Short. The fourth caution waved a couple of laps later with no changes up front. Leary was fourth and Brent Beauchamp, who had started tenth, had already moved to fifth.
The next green flag segment lasted several laps until the race’s fifth yellow waved on lap 16. Despite his best efforts, Short had been unable to get around Cottle. Three laps after the re-start, Short made the pass and tried to reel in the leader. But it wasn’t going to happen. Boespflug won by a half straightaway over Short. Cottle was third. Josh Hodges had started seventh and stayed there for much of the race. But his car seemed to get better as the race went on and he finally passed Beauchamp late to take fourth. Beauchamp still had reason to be a bit pleased with his fifth. Kent Christian, steady as ever, was sixth. Jeff Bland was seventh and Leary faded a bit to eighth. Spencer Bayston took ninth. Hughes was the tenth to see the checkered.
Chemistry matters. Chad Boespflug, who is one of my grandson’s best race driving friends, entered 2015 with high hopes. He had plans to run the USAC schedule this year, but that went away fairly quickly. After a short time adrift, an opening came up with the Amati Racing team, led by Chuck Amati’s grandson, Illinois trucking business owner Shane Wade. Things began to click right away. Good finishes have come to these guys and gals; Saturday night’s LPS win confirms that the Amati team will be a force to be reckoned with both USAC and the weekly Hoosier bullring scene. They have meshed, one could say.
Let’s give them an A in Chemistry for now.
Gently refusing the request made by a couple of St. Louis Cardinals employees to borrow my computer, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Mano y Mano
From Whom the Bell…Tolls?
Versatility Has Its Rewards
The Joy of Improvement
Boss of BOSS
No matter where he and his team show up these days, Thomas Meseraull is finding himself in the winner’s circle, explaining how he won and carrying off some nice hardware and a bathtub full of cash. That’s a good sized bathtub. He did it again on a mild Saturday night at the Lawrenceburg Speedway in front of a good sized crowd, winning by a straightaway in the Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series sanctioned feature.
“Only” 27 cars dropped by the ‘burg for a night of racing. Lots of Hoosier tracks this year would give up their popcorn sales to get 27 cars. The cast of characters was a good mix of Lawrenceburg regulars and the guys running for BOSS points.
One should not have been too surprised to see Kody Swanson, USAC Silver Crown ace, on the track this evening. At any rate, he won the first of four heats over Brandon Spithaler, a dedicated young man who had gone back home in Pennsylvania to get a car for this show. The venerable Mike Miller was third, taking that from Chad Wilson at the line.
Garrett Abrams from Rushville continues to impress. He was a lonely young man in the second heat as he ran away and left the others to fight each other. Dustin Smith was second. Joe Ligouri came from last to finish third, right on the Kokomo veteran’s tail tank and ahead of Cody Gardner.
T. Meseraull drew the pole for the third heat and romped, though his margin wasn’t as big as I thought it might be. Home boy Drew Abel was second and BOSS regular Kirk Jeffrey was third. Youngster Cooper Clouse grabbed the last transfer spot.
Another BOSS regular, Michael Fischesser, won the fourth heat. Veteran Kent Wolters (one of the few left who have raced at both the earlier configuration of the track and the current) was second. A Lawrenceburg champ, Joss Moffatt, was third after trying multiple sliders and making a few of them work. Justin Owen took fourth and would start 16th in the feature.
Before the B, I found a shady spot in the pits to people watch. I had a good view of the Shawn Westerfeld pit where there was no sense of urgency. Earlier there had been as the 89 suffered a part failure which kept them out of their heat race. There was a good view of the old Seagram’s building, so old it was already old when I was young.
Aaron Middaugh won the B, but ‘burg regular and track champ Westerfeld made it interesting as he came from 11th/last to come up a car length short in taking second. Matt Goodnight was third and PA’s Bob McMillin had his hands full keeping Steve Little at bay and wrapping up the 20th starting spot for the 25 lap feature.
Abel and Fischesser led 18 more to Tim Montgomery’s green flag. Drew led the first two laps but Meseraull was on a serious charge. From eighth he was third after two laps. By lap four the California native swept into the lead and that would be that—as far as the lead was concerned. But there was a good amount of racing behind the leader.
The race had only one yellow, that being on lap six for a spin. The re-start showed Meseraull leading Abel, Swanson, Abrams, Fischesser, Smith, Moffatt (from12th), Ligpouri, Westefeld (from 16th), and Miller. TMez resumed his big lead as Abrams got around both Abel and Swanson to take second. As Abel faded Smith joined Swanson for a spirited fight for third. Moffatt joined the top five at mid-race.
By lap 20 Meseraull’s lead was a full straightaway and it was all over but the cheering. Nevertheless, Abrams’ second place was still impressive. Swanson held third over Moffatt, who came on strong at the end. Mike Miller, another past Lawrenceburg champion, quietly moved forward steadily to assume fifth at the end after starting 13th. Smith had a late issue, dropping to sixth. Westefeld’s charge to the front stalled with a result of seventh place. Abel was eighth with Ligouri ninth. Cooper Clouse came from 15th to take tenth.
Once again, the Ohio boys had crossed the state line and pout on another good show for a good crowd.
People might wonder why teams like the Keens (Meseraull’s car owners) and the Brady Short/Pottorff family don’t run with USAC either full time or more often. Some will make the absurd claim they are afraid of the competition. For me the obvious answer is why should they? Both hold their own with all comers. Both teams no doubt have a budget of sorts and it doesn’t include the traveling that USAC does—at least some of it. And maybe all concerned wish to stay home in Indiana to keep the traveling to a minimum.
At any rate, maybe both will appear for Indiana Sprint Week. Maybe one or both will win a USAC feature. No one should be surprised. Right now there is no shame in losing to Thomas Meseraull in the Keen machine. It’s their “time” and they are no doubt enjoying it.
Indiana Midget Week approaches as we get used to a new computer. The old Chevy truck is like a young colt, ready to run, not knowing or caring how old it is or how many miles lie ahead. The traveling companion (who does a mean imitation of a midget engine) is equally antsy.
Hopes are high, which is as it should be.
Fighting my personal aero push, I’m…
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Copyright © 2015 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers, writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042