By Dick Jordan
The first of two scheduled “Thursday Night Thunder” USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series events at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. kicks off a busy week for USAC participants. The series returns to ORP July 1. Thursday’s race will be the first for the USAC Sprint Cars at ORP since Bobby Santos III’s victory in 2007.
Saturday night, the series makes its first Michigan appearance in 10 years when it returns to Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. It will be the first USAC Sprint race at Berlin since Page Jones’ victory in 1994. The USAC Regional and USAC/WOMS Midgets share the billing Saturday at Berlin.
Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. is the new series point leader after his “near-sweep” in last week’s four “Eastern Storm” events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Jones won races at Bechtelsville and New Oxford, Pa. and New Egypt, N.J., then finished second to Chris Windom by inches in the finale at Minersville, Pa.
Windom, of Canton, Ill. finally found the winners circle Friday night at Big Diamond Raceway as he beat Jones to the checkered flag by .028 seconds to win the final race in the 2010 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car “Eastern Storm” series. Windom passed Jones on lap 38 and led the final three laps in his Jeff Walker Racing Hoosier Tire/Jam-It-In Storage Maxim/Claxton. Jones had passed Ricky Williams on Lap 36 after Williams had led the first 35 laps. Tracy Hines ended up third, ahead of Williams and fast qualifier Bryan Clauson. Windom’s victory was his first in 68 career series starts after six runner-up finishes!
Jones wound up as the champion of the “Racer’s Challenge” presented by RW and our Partners as the top point scorer in the four Eastern Storm events.
Jones won Thursday night’s 40-lap feature at New Egypt Speedway, the first USAC Sprint race in the Garden State in 32 years! Jones trailed Chase Stockon for the first 22 laps, then put his Tony Stewart Racing Bass Pro Shops/Armor All Maxim/Kistler Chevy into the lead on lap 23 and never looked back. He led the final 18 laps to beat Windom, Clauson, Dave Darland and Stockon. Jones was the fastest qualifier for the third straight night!
At Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, Pa. Wednesday, Jones passed Clauson on lap 31 and led the final 10 laps for the win. Windom took second ahead of Clauson, Johnny Mackison and Brian Montieth. Clauson led the first three laps, Damion Gardner led for eight and Clauson went back to the front for another 19 laps before Jones made the winning move.
Jones’ victory in Tuesday night’s 40-lap race at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. came in the inaugural “Jesse Hockett Classic,” honoring the memory of the late driver who won last year’s Grandview feature and recently succumbed to injuries suffered in a shop accident. Jones trailed Windom for the first 28 laps, then traded the lead back and forth with Windom on laps 29, 30 and 31 before leading the final 10 laps. Clauson finished second ahead of Gardner, Windom and Darland. Drivers Caleb Armstrong, Jerry Coons Jr. and Shane Hmiel all flipped during the program and Armstrong was taken to a local hospital in Allentown for treatment of a mild concussion and bruised lungs.
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Levi Jones-872, 2-Damion Gardner-830, 3-Bryan Clauson-797, 4-Tracy Hines-742, 5-Jerry Coons Jr.-742, 6-Chris Windom-729, 7-Henry Clarke-627, 8-Dave Darland-559, 9-Robert Ballou-470, 10-Ricky Williams-443.
RACER’S CHALLENGE (Presented by RW & Our Partners) SPRINT POINTS
1-Levi Jones-286, 2-Chris Windom-260, 3-Bryan Clauson-255, 4-Damion Gardner-217, 5-Tracy Hines-201, 6-Dave Darland-195, 7-Henry Clarke-193, 8-Ricky Williams-192, 9-Mark Bitner-155, 10-Chase Stockon-154.