By Lonnie Wheatley
SEDALIA, Mo. (August 17, 2010) – In a torrid seesaw battle for the 2010 Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless championship, Robert Ballou recaptured the TNT points lead by winning Tuesday night’s 25-lap feature at the Missouri State Fair Speedway.
Ballou battled past race-long leader Daron Clayton on the 19th round and went on to win the first wingless, 410-ci Sprint Car event atop the historic ½-mile dirt oval since Jack Hewitt graced victory lane in 1993.
Ballou’s fourth series win of the year aboard Dallas Mulvaney’s Don Ott-powered MPHG Promotions No. 81 Triple-X put him seven points ahead of Brady Bacon, who finished third behind Bryan Clauson after Clayton crashed out of contention on what would have been the final lap.
While Ballou started the feature inside the second row, it was Clayton earning the pole position for the third night in a row. And, after outgunning reigning TNT champion Bacon for the lead at the drop of the green flag, it looked much of the way as if Clayton would take his second win of the week.
Ballou, who slipped around Bacon for second on the tenth round, explained that, “Early on I didn’t think I could run him (Clayton) down. But as the fuel load burned off, the car kept getting better and better.”
After getting around Bacon, Ballou challenged Clayton several times around the midway point to no avail. But with heavy traffic a steady factor most of the way, Ballou pounced on opportunity by diving underneath Clayton entering turn three on the 19th round.
With Ballou in the top spot, Clayton tried to climb back into contention, front wheels clawing at the air exiting turn four on several occasions.
With Clayton within three car-lengths as the white flag flew, Ballou masterfully sliced through a pair of lapped cars in turns one and two to apparently seal the deal. But, before Ballou could get through three and four and motor on down the stretch to the checkered flag, Clayton tangled with Chris Parkinson’s lapped machine in turn three.
Parkinson vaulted over the turn three railing and out of the park, with Clayton tumbling as well to bring the race to a stop after 24 caution-free laps. Parkinson was transported to a local hospital for observation, with Clayton walking away from his mangled machine uninjured.
Set for green-white-checkered run to the stripe, Ballou had a pair of lapped cars between himself and the surging Bryan Clauson aboard the Hockett Racing No. 75 and Bacon. Clauson and Bacon both disposed of the lapped cars in turns one and two and tried to reel in the leader.
Clauson very nearly pulled off the feat, closing to within a couple of car-lengths before the checkered flag flew upon Ballou’s tenth career TNT triumph.
Clauson settled for runner-up honors, with Bacon in the show position aboard the Tel-Star Communications No. 99.
Up to third behind Clayton and Ballou at the midway point, New Yorker Coleman Gulick crossed the stripe fourth, with Mike Hess bringing his 360-ci powerplant across the stripe fifth for a $500 bonus.
Hunter Schuerenberg was sixth, with Casey Shuman in seventh. After flipping in the night’s opening heat race, Cali teen Kyle Larson sloughed off Jack Yeley orders to pull pitside after one lap and responded with a charge from 22nd to finish as the final car on the lead lap in eighth.
J.C. Bland was ninth, with Patrick Stasa completing the top ten.
Bacon, Schuerenberg and Ballou topped heat race action for the 22-car field, with Clauson, Clayton and Gulick topping the qualifying races.
The Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Midwest Swing continues with Thursday night’s feature event at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, NE, before moving on to Kansas City’s Lakeside Speedway for the $10,000-to-win Ron Shuman Classic on Friday and Saturday.
Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Midwest Swing
Missouri State Fair Speedway Results:
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 75-Bryan Clauson, 3. 14-Coleman Gulick, 4. 18-Mike Hess, 5. 23-Mitch Wissmiller, 6. 91-Jeff Stasa, 7. 93-Taylor Walton, 8. 2-Kyle Larson.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 35-Hunter Schuerenberg, 2. 92-Daron Clayton, 3. 4g-Casey Shuman, 4. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 5. 21-Chris Parkinson, 6. 1p-Curtis Evans, 7. 19-Patrick Stasa.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 43-Frank Brown, 3. 98-J.C. Bland, 4. 15-Jeff Wingate, 5. 19x-Mitchell Moore, 6. 90-Patrick Budde, 7. 9c-Tony Crank.
Qualifier One (8 Laps): 1. 75-Bryan Clauson, 2. 4g-Casey Shuman, 3. 81-Robert Ballou, 4. 98-J.C. Bland, 5. 21-Chris Parkinson, 6. 9c-Tony Crank, 7. 23-Mitch Wissmiller. DNS: 2-Kyle Larson.
Qualifier Two (8 Laps): 1. 92-Daron Clayton, 2. 18-Mike Hess, 3. 35-Hunter Schuerenberg, 4. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 5. 19x-Mitchell Moore, 6. 91-Jeff Stasa, 7. 19-Patrick Stasa.
Qualifier Three (8 Laps): 1. 14-Coleman Gulick, 2. 99-Brady Bacon, 3. 15-Jeff Wingate, 4. 43-Frank Brown, 5. 1p-Curtis Evans, 6. 90-Patrick Budde, 7. 93-Taylor Walton.
Missouri State Fair Speedway Sprint Bandits TNT Main Event:
“A” Feature (25 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 75-Bryan Clauson, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 14-Coleman Gulick, 5. 18-Mike Hess, 6. 35-Hunter Schuerenberg, 7. 4g-Casey Shuman, 8. 2-Kyle Larson, 9. 98-J.C. Bland, 10. 19-Patrick Stasa, 11. 43-Frank Brown, 12. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 13. 15-Jeff Wingate, 14. 91-Jeff Stasa, 15. 90-Patrick Budde, 16. 92-Daron Clayton, 17. 21-Chris Parkinson, 18. 1p-Curtis Evans, 19. 19x-Mitchell Moore, 20. 9c-Tony Crank, 21. 93-Taylor Walton, 22. 23-Mitch Wissmiller.
Lucas Oil Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top 10): 1. Robert Ballou 984, 2. Brady Bacon 977, 3. Casey Shuman 953, 4. J.C. Bland 866, 5. Anthony Nicholson 846, 6. Travis Rilat 661, 7. Matt Sherrell 572, 8. Patrick Stasa 511, 9. Jeff Stasa 483, 10. Jesse Hockett 412.