From Lonnie Wheatley
WHEATLAND, Mo. (June 19, 2010) – California native Robert Ballou completed a sweep of the weekend’s Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless racing action by charging to victory lane in Saturday night’s 30-lap feature event at Lucas Oil Speedway.
But, after a convincing Friday night romp at Creek County Speedway, Ballou had his hands full throughout Saturday night’s main event with the persistent challenges of Brady Bacon atop the “Diamond of Dirt Tracks” clay oval.
The 21-year-old was up to the challenge though, taking over the Sprint Bandits TNT points lead with his third series win of the year aboard Dallas Mulvaney’s Don Ott-powered MPHG Promotions No. 81 Triple-X.
“This place has been pretty good to us, we won the last time here a couple of years ago too,” Ballou commented after the $3,000 triumph.
Ballou celebrated his ninth career TNT triumph with some Hockett-esque donuts on both the back and front straightaways before handing off the winner’s hardware to Jesse Hockett’s father, Jack, in victory lane.
While Casey Shuman earned the pole position for the main event by rallying from the tail of the field to win the night’s first heat race and then racing from sixth to first in his qualifier, it was front row outside starter Ballou gunning into the early lead with fifth-starter Bacon working past second row starter Gary Taylor by the fifth round as Shuman slipped to fourth.
Bacon closed in on Ballou and began pressuring for the point, pulling alongside in Mike and Megan Eubanks’ Wesmar-powered Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple-X exiting turn two just as the race’s first caution flew with eleven laps in the books for Mitch Wissmiller’s disabled mount on the backstretch.
Ballou and Bacon broke away from the field once again on the restart, with the fight for the lead once again intensifying in traffic until a caution flew on the 20th lap for a Steven Cross spin in turn three.
Before a lap was completed on the ensuing restart, sixth-running Travis Rilat tried to thread the needle between a pair of cars in turn four and tangled with fourth-runner Justin Grant before getting upside down in turn four. Both rejoined the chase at the tail.
With just eleven laps remaining, Bacon wasted no time challenging for the top position. Bacon pulled alongside exiting turn four on the 24th lap, but Ballou held strong on the top side of the track to maintain command and ultimately beat the Broken Arrow, OK, shoe to the stripe by two car-lengths.
“I knew he was there,” Ballou explained. “He was gonna have to get me on the bottom because I couldn’t run down there, I had to be up top.”
Ballou and Bacon were chased to the stripe by Washington state native, who claimed the show position in Jack Yeley’s No. 2 entry.
Shuman crossed the stripe fourth, with Patrick Stasa rounding out the top five and collecting a $500 bonus as the night’s top finishing 360-ci powered competitor.
Hailing from Kingman, KS, Stasa battled throughout with fellow 360-ci racers Anthony Nicholson and Kyle Bellm, just edging Memphis-area shoe Nicholson at the stripe for fifth.
Nicholson settled for sixth, while Mike Hess charged from 23rd to seventh with 360-ci power as well after brake problems sidelined heat race and qualifying race runs.
Rilat and Grant rebounded from the lap 20 incident to salvage eighth and ninth place finishes, respectively, with Bellm shuffled to tenth in the final circuits.
Shuman, Bacon and Taylor topped Saturday night’s heat race action, with Shuman, Ballou and Grant winning the qualifying races.
Andy Helm flipped in hot laps, with Chad Meinholdt, Curtis Evans and Matt Sherrell each tumbling in heat race action. All but Sherrell, who flipped while leading on the last lap of the third heat race, returned for feature action.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Results
Lucas Oil Speedway:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 4g-Casey Shuman, 2. 19-Patrick Stasa, 3. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 4. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 5. 91-Jeff Stasa, 6. 1a-Adam Jones, 7. 21-Chad Meinholdt. DNS: 18-Mike Hess.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 81-Robert Ballou, 3. 50off-Travis Rilat, 4. 90-Patrick Budde, 5. 04-Brad Graham, 6. 77-Rob Hockett, 7. 1p-Curtis Evans. DNS: 12-Andy Helm.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 2-Gary Taylor, 2. 5-Justin Grant, 3. 98-J.C. Bland, 4. 19s-Steven Cross, 5. 88-Chad Tye, 6. 15-Jeff Wingate, 7. 35-Matt Sherrell, 8. 23-Mitch Wissmiller.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 4g-Casey Shuman, 2. 19-Patrick Stasa, 3. 2-Gary Taylor, 4. 23-Mitch Wissmiller, 5. 77-Rob Hockett, 6. 19s-Steven Cross, 7. 90-Patrick Budde. DNS: 35-Matt Sherrell.
Qualifier Two (8 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 50off-Travis Rilat, 3. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 4. 1a-Adam Jones, 5. 98-J.C. Bland, 6. 04-Brad Graham. DNS: 21-Chad Meinholdt, 18-Mike Hess.
Qualifier Three (8 Laps): 1. 5-Justin Grant, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 4. 15-Jeff Wingate, 5. 91-Jeff Stasa, 6. 88-Chad Tye. DNS: 1p-Curtis Evans, 12-Andy Helm.
Lucas Oil Speedway Sprint Bandits TNT Main Event:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 2-Gary Taylor, 4. 4g-Casey Shuman, 5. 19-Patrick Stasa, 6. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 7. 18-Mike Hess, 8. 50off-Travis Rilat, 9. 5-Justin Grant, 10. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 11. 98-J.C. Bland, 12. 88-Chad Tye, 13. 15-Jeff Wingate, 14. 91-Jeff Stasa, 15. 19s-Steven Cross, 16. 90-Patrick Budde, 17. 04-Brad Graham, 18. 77-Rob Hockett, 19. 23-Mitch Wissmiller, 20. 21-Chad Meinholdt, 21. 1a-Adam Jones, 22. 12-Andy Helm, 23. 1p-Curtis Evans. DNS: 35-Matt Sherrell.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top 10): 1. Robert Ballou 665, 2. Travis Rilat 661, 3. Brady Bacon 647, 4. Casey Shuman 627, 5. J.C. Bland 566, 6. Anthony Nicholson 559, 7. Matt Sherrell 507, 8. Jesse Hockett 412, 9. Gary Taylor 382, 10. Ray Allen Kulhanek 377.