By Lonnie Wheatley
ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa (August 15, 2010) – Daron Clayton broke back into victory lane in impressive style by sweeping through the opening night of the Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Midwest Swing on Sunday night at Rapid Speedway.
After convincing wins in both heat and qualifying race action, “The Modern Day Cowboy” gunned into the lead from the pole position and led all 30 laps en route to his first career Sprint Bandits TNT triumph, finishing off a perfect night worth $3,000.
“The car was flawless, I could drive it anywhere,” Clayton explained in victory lane after climbing out of the J&D Performance-powered Douglas Wheels/Cornwell Tools/Marvel Miracle Foundation No. 92.
After a half-lap triumph in the night’s opening heat race and then another easy win from fourth in his qualifier, Clayton outgunned fellow Sikeston, MO, shoe Hunter Schuerenberg for the lead at the drop of the green flag and was never challenged despite a pair of cautions and one red flag along the way.
Following the race’s final caution after 20 rounds, Clayton stretched his advantage out to a full straightaway by the time he reached the checkered flag for the first time in a long while. “It’s been a long dry spell, maybe this is what we’ve been needing to turn things around.”
After battling past Kyle Larson for fourth after a lap nine stoppage for a wild Robert Ballou ride off turn three, Casey Shuman advanced a pair of spots over the final ten laps to claim runner-up honors in the No. 4g entry.
With three lapped cars separating Clayton from Schuerenberg, reigning TNT champion Brady Bacon and Shuman, the Arizona native took advantage of traffic to take third from Bacon on the 22nd lap and then slid past Schuerenberg in the final pair of corners to snare runner-up honors.
Schuerenberg settled for the show position, with Bacon and Larson rounding out the top five. J.C. Bland crossed the stripe in sixth, while Patrick Stasa picked up a $500 bonus as the top finishing 360-ci competitor in seventh. Anthony Nicholson was eighth, with Mike Moore and Jeff Stasa completing the top ten.
After entering the night atop the point charts, Ballou fell into a tie for second with Shuman behind new point leader Bacon after his vicious tumble that resulted from a stuck throttle ten laps into the main event. While the MPHG mount was junk, Ballou was uninjured.
Clayton and Ballou won Sunday night’s heat races, with Bacon and Clayton victorious in the qualifying races.
Matt Sherrell suffered terminal engine woes in his qualifying race, while Mitch Wissmiller sailed off turn three in his qualifier with steering gear woes. Neither were able to make the feature call but are expected back for Monday night’s second round of Sprint Bandits TNT Midwest Swing action at Nebraska Raceway Park’s I-80 Speedway.
Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Midwest Swing
Rapid Speedway Results:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 92-Daron Clayton, 2. 35x-Hunter Schuerenberg, 3. 2-Kyle Larson, 4. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 5. 23-Mitch Wissmiller, 6. 98-J.C. Bland, 7. 69-Mike Moore. DNS: 51-Doug Martens.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 4g-Casey Shuman, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 35-Matt Sherrell, 5. 19-Patrick Stasa, 6. 2x-Gerod Olivier, 7. 91-Jeff Stasa.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 2-Kyle Larson, 3. 35x-Hunter Schuerenberg, 4. 81-Robert Ballou, 5. 2x-Gerod Olivier, 6. 69-Mike Moore, 7. 16-Anthony Nicholson. DNS: 51-Doug Martens.
Qualifier Two (8 Laps): 1. 92-Daron Clayton, 2. 4g-Casey Shuman, 3. 98-J.C. Bland, 4. 19-Patrick Stasa, 5. 91-Jeff Stasa, 6. 23-Mitch Wissmiller, 7. 35-Matt Sherrell.
Rapid Speedway Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Main Event:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 92-Daron Clayton, 2. 4g-Casey Shuman, 3. 35x-Hunter Schuerenberg, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 2-Kyle Larson, 6. 98-J.C. Bland, 7. 19-Patrick Stasa, 8. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 9. 69-Mike Moore, 10. 91-Jeff Stasa, 11. 2x-Gerod Olivier, 12. 51-Doug Martens, 13. 81-Robert Ballou, 14. 35-Matt Sherrell (DNS), 15. 23-Mitch Wissmiller (DNS).
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top 10): 1. Brady Bacon 777, 2. (tie) Robert Ballou and Casey Shuman 769, 4. J.C. Bland 688, 5. Anthony Nicholson 675, 6. Travis Rilat 661, 7. Matt Sherrell 572, 8. Jesse Hockett 412, 9. Gary Taylor 382, 10. Ray Allen Kulhanek 377.