By Lonnie Wheatley
TULSA, Okla. (August 11, 2010) – It’s just a few short days away, as the Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Midwest Swing fires off Sunday night with the first of five events that will take place over a seven-night stretch.
This year, four tracks are set to host the wild, wingless, 410-ci TNT Sprint Car action including two new venues and two familiar stops along the TNT trail.
The action starts in new territory, with Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, IA, hosting the week’s lidlifter on Sunday night. It will mark the first Sprint Bandits TNT event at Rapid Speedway, as last year’s scheduled event was rained out.
On Monday night, the action shifts to Nebraska Raceway Park’s I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, NE, for the Sixth Annual TNT Husker Nationals, an event that was topped by reigning TNT champion Brady Bacon last year.
Tuesday night, it’s on to the Missouri State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, MO, for the first wingless 410-ci Sprint Car event atop the historic half-mile clay oval since Jack Hewitt reached victory lane in September of 1993.
Then, after two nights off to regroup, the action shifts to Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, KS, for the annual Ron Shuman Classic on Friday and Saturday, with Saturday night’s finale offering up a $10,000 winner’s share. Bacon put the clamps on the 2009 TNT title by becoming the seventh different driver to capture the coveted pedal car trophy that goes along with the lucrative score.
The five-night Tour ‘N Topless run will put the finishing touches on the 2010 Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT title chase, which is currently led by Rocklin, CA, native Robert Ballou.
The 21-year-old Ballou has topped three of five TNT features thus far in 2010 and holds an 18-point advantage over 20-year-old Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, OK. Other full-time TNT contenders include Casey Shuman (Tempe, AZ), J.C. Bland (Springfield, IL), Anthony Nicholson (Bartlett, TN) and Matt Sherrell (Owasso, OK) with California’s Kyle Larson and Washington native Gary Taylor splitting time during the week aboard the Jack Yeley entry.
A number of other stout contenders will drop in over the course of the week, including two-time Husker Nationals champion Dave Darland among others.
Round One – Rapid Speedway (Rock Rapids, IA)
When: Sunday, August 15
Description: 3/8-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: 0.5 miles east of US 75 on SR 9, then 0.5 miles south on South Tama St. (at the Lyons Co. Fairgrounds)
Race Time: 8:00 p.m.
Track Phone: 712-472-3742
Notes: Just a stone’s throw or two from Sioux Falls, SD, Rapid Speedway hosts the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT for the first time after last year’s scheduled event was rained out.
Round Two – I-80 Speedway (Greenwood, NE)
When: Monday, August 16
Description: 4/10-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: Between Omaha and Lincoln off I-80 Exit 420, then 0.4 miles north on SR 63, then west
Race Time: 7:00 p.m.
Track Phone: 402-659-3301 or 402-342-3453
Notes: Annually the site of some of the most intense TNT racing of the week, I-80 Speedway hosts the Sixth Annual TNT Husker Nationals on Monday night. Levi Jones topped an action-packed 2005 TNT feature, Robert Ballou shocked the world with his first wingless win in 2006, Dave Darland gave the Trucker’s Team their first TNT win when he nipped Tim Kaeding at the line by 0.052 seconds in 2007 and then repeated aboard a Scott Benic entry in 2008 before Brady Bacon rallied from the 14th starting position for the win in 2009.
Round Three – Missouri State Fair Speedway (Sedalia, MO)
When: Tuesday, August 17
Description: ½-mile slightly-banked dirt oval
Location: At the Missouri State Fairgrounds, 0.5 miles south of US 50 on US 65
Race Time: 7:30 p.m.
Track Phone: 660-827-0198 or 816-522-8343
Notes: Fair goers taking in the first Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT stop at the Historic Half Mile will catch the first wingless, 410-ci Sprint Car event at Sedalia in nearly 17 years. Jack Hewitt won the last wingless affair on September 5, 1993.
Rounds Four & Five – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
When: Friday and Saturday, August 20-21
Description: ½-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: Off I-435 Exit 18, then one mile northwest on SR 5
Race Time: 7:30 p.m. on both nights
Track Phone: 913-299-2040
Notes: After three nights of $3,000 to win events, the week culminates with Lakeside Speedway’s $10,000 to win Ron Shuman Classic on Saturday night, August 21. Brady Bacon nabbed the coveted pedal car to put the caps on the 2009 TNT crown, with other past winners including Robert Ballou (2008 and 2007), Brad Sweet (2006), Bud Kaeding (2005 and 2002), Jesse Hockett (2004 and 2003), Troy Rutherford (2001) and Tony Elliott (2000).
Current Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Driver Points (Top Ten):
1. Robert Ballou (Rocklin, CA) 665, 2 Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) 661, 3. Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK) 647, 4. Casey Shuman (Tempe, AZ) 627, 5. J.C. Bland (Springfield, IL) 566, 6. Anthony Nicholson (Memphis, TN) 559, 7. Matt Sherrell (Owasso, OK) 507, 8. Jesse Hockett (Warsaw, MO) 412, 9. Gary Taylor (Snohomish, WA) 382, 10. Ray Allen Kulhanek (Montgomery, TX) 377.
Past Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Champions:
2005 – Levi Jones
2006 – Jesse Hockett
2007 – Robert Ballou and Tim Kaeding
2008 – Dave Darland
2009 – Brady Bacon
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Career Feature Wins:
Robert Ballou 9, Brady Bacon 6, Levi Jones 5, Cory Kruseman 3, Dave Darland 2, Jesse Hockett 2, Brady Short 2, Jerry Coons, Jr. 1, Tim Crawley 1, Dickie Gaines 1, Darren Hagen 1, Bud Kaeding 1, Travis Rilat 1, Brad Sweet 1, Chris Windom 1.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT on the Web:
Those unable to catch all the action in person can listen to every Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT event live at www.racinboys.com.
Official results, championship point updates, photos and race notes will be available at www.sprintbandits.com.
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series is available at www.sprintbandits.com.