By David Smith Jr.
Hutchinson, Kansas – July 14, 2012 – In what many veterans of racing at the Kansas State Fairgrounds are claiming the best 360 sprint car show ever seen atop the famed half mile, Jeremy Campbell took the lead just past the races midway point and withstood several late race challenges to claim the National Championship Racing Association of Park City, Kansas presented by Precise Racing Products 360 sprint car feature victory Saturday night and claiming the sprint car portion of the 56th annual Hutchinson Grand Nationals.
Marc Robe and Campbell started on the front row for the twenty lap championship event with Robe taking the early lead as the green flag fell. Campbell stayed to five car lengths behind while fifth starting Kevin Swindell moved into the third position.
Lap three saw Swindell, aboard the famed Ochs Brothers #1x, moved past Campbell and into the runner up position on lap three and would set his sights on the leader.
The features first caution flag fell on lap nine when Zach Chappell came to a stop in the middle of turn three with a busted front end.
The restart was Swindell’s time to move as he drove underneath Robe entering turn one and two moved into the lead heading down the back stretch. Robe drifted from his running line briefly allowing Campbell to sneak by and into the second position.
With Swindell running the bottom of the track, Campbell found the extreme top to his liking and entering turns one and two, drove around the third generation driver and into the lead on lap twelve.
Campbell, aboard the #24b Gary Swenson owned, Terry’s Body Shop sponsored Eckley powered Schnee chassis, would open up a ten car length lead with five laps to go. But Swindell was determined to get back to the front and slowly cut the leaders advantage by two car lengths with two laps to go.
Swindell moved to Campbell’s rear bumper taking the white flag lap and entering turn one, dove low to set up an attempted slide job. However his attempt would come to an abrupt halt as he slammed into the back of a lapped car and spun to a stop at the top of turns one and two. Damage was too extensive to the Ochs Brothers machine and was done for the night.
This would put Danny Jennings, who was running third for most of the race, on to the leaders rear bumper on the restart but behind them both, eyes were on Luke Cranston and current series point leader C.J. Johnson as both drivers came from deep in the field and into the third and fourth positions respectively.
Cranston, who started fourteenth aboard the familiar #e85 Danny King owned sprinter, dove underneath Jennings on the restart and looked to have moved into the runner up position. However the pass would be all for naught as the nights final caution flag fell when Jeff Stasa and Barry Gifford got together on the back stretch.
Two laps remaining on the final restart saw Campbell again jump out front and Cranston’s attempted move past Jennings for the runner up position not able to happen set up a two car showdown on the final lap. However, Jennings could not get close enough to mount a challenge and Campbell went on to claim the $3000 victory and Hutchinson Grand Nationals trophy. He would also become the tenth different 360 sprint car driver to win this prestigious event. The victory would also be the second in a row for car owner Swenson, who won the event last year with Jordan Boston doing the driving.
“I got a call on Tuesday asking if I would be interested in driving the car this weekend and said I would,” said Campbell in victory lane.”I saw him (Kevin) a couple of times down there but knew I could use the lapped traffic to my advantage. I ran the top when I saw one of my crewmen signal to move up there and it ran a lot better than the bottom. I have always heard about this race and now I can see why everybody wants to win it.”
Jennings would finish second while Cranston’s run ended with a third place finish. Eleventh starting Johnson came home fourth while Robe settled for a fifth place finish.
The eight lap heat races for the twenty-three car field were won by Robe, J.D. Johnson and Mike Peters while C.J. Johnson claimed the eight lap “B” feature.
The next event for the NCRA 360 sprint car series will be this coming Saturday, July 21st at 81 Speedway in Park City, Kansas. From there the tour heads to the Garfield County Fairgrounds and Enid Speedway in Enid, Oklahoma for a Sunday night appearance, the first for the tour since the 2004 race season.
The series would like to take this time to thank their sprint car division partners and sponsors for the 2012 race season:
Park City, Kansas, Hoosier Racing Tires, Sunoco Race Fuels, Vertex Magnetos, Rod End Supply, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, The Joie of Seating, Ultra Shield, Hooker Harness, Precise Racing Products, Taylor Cable Products, XXX Racing Chassis, Super Shox, Competition Suspension, JE Racing
NCRA 360 Sprints
Kansas State Fairgrounds/Hutchinson, Kansas
1st Heat: 1 ) Marc Robe 2) Jeremy Campbell 3) Danny Jennings 4) C.J. Johnson 5) Patrick Stasa 6) Luke Cranston 7) Jordan Weaver 8) Wyatt Burks
2nd Heat: 1) J.D. Johnson 2) Kevin Swindell 3) Jake Martens 4) Zach Blurton 5) Barry Gifford 6) Jordan Whitehead 7) Jeff Stasa 8) Kip Hughes
3rd Heat: 1) Mike Peters 2) Taylor Velasquez 3) Zach Chappell 4) Gavin Punch 5) Jon Freeman 6) Kris Miller 7) Michelle Decker
B Feature: 1) C.J. Johnson 2) Zach Blurton 3) Patrick Stasa 4) Luke Cranston 5) Barry Gifford 6) Jon Freeman 7) Michelle Decker 8) Jordan Weaver 9) Jeff Stasa 10) Jordan Whitehead 11) Kris Miller 12) Kip Hughes DNS: Wyatt Burks
A Feature: 1) Jeremy Campbell 2) Danny Jennings 3) Luke Cranston 4) C.J. Johnson 5) Marc Robe 6) Patrick Stasa 7) Jon Freeman 8) Zach Blurton 9) Taylor Velasquez 10) Jake Martens 11) Jeff Stasa 12) Gavin Punch 13) Jordan Weaver 14) Michelle Decker 15) Barry Gifford 16) Kevin Swindell 17) J.D. Johnson 18) Zach Chappell 19) Jordan Whitehead 20) Mike Peters