From Mike O’Leary
Haubstadt, IN — With a powerful performance, Jeff Bland Jr. scored his first King of Indiana Sprint Series victory at Tri-State Speedway, Saturday, in an event co-sanctioned with MSCS. Bland outran series point leader Jon Stanbrough in the closing laps to win by five car lengths. Brady Short finished third, followed by Hunter Schuerenberg and Billy Puterbaugh Jr.
“It was pretty tough,” Bland said following the victory celebration. “I used my patience, that I hardly ever use, but I just rode there. Everybody tells me to just ride until the end. I rode and it worked out.”
The race was busy, with a lot going on through the thirty laps. Daron Clayton grabbed the lead from Robert Ballou through the second turn. On the third circuit, Jonathan Hendrick somersaulted through the third turn, bringing out the red flag. Ballou charged past Clayton on the restart and opened a car length advantage. On the 10th lap, Stanbrough drove under Clayton and took second, quickly followed by Bland. At the midway point, Ballou was dicing through packs of slower cars, with Stanbrough and Bland following closely. On the 19th circuit, Ballou found open track, and Bland worked his way into second, passing Stanbrough as they fought through traffic. Ballou quickly reestablished a half-straightaway gap, while Short joined the battle for second. But a yellow on lap 23, bunched the leaders again.
On the restart, Blake Fitzpatrick got high in turn one, bounced off the wall and flipped down the track, into the cars of Ted Hines and Jonathan Vennard. Two laps into the next green flag run, Kurt Gross ran low into turn one, caught a rut, and flipped his machine.
Driving the ServPro/Auto Credit DRC, Bland drove inside of Ballou on the restart and they ran side-by-side the next circuit, before Ballou edged back ahead in turn two. Bland charged back, pulling even coming off turn four. Then, going into the first turn on lap 27, Ballou ran high, clobbered the wall and tumbled into Clayton.
While the track workers cleared his machine, Ballou walked to the front stretch, leaned in to speak with Bland, and then unhooked one of the spark plug wires. Track officials quickly directed Ballou from the track and replaced the plug wire. Ballou was disqualified for his actions.
After starting fifth, Bland held off Stanbrough and Short through the final three laps for the victory. Schuerenberg came from tenth to fourth to retain second in the KISS standings. Interestingly, the top four in KISS points finished second through fifth.
“I could drive that aggressive because the car was so good. It’s what it liked and it was sticking everywhere I went and it was perfect,” Bland noted, giving a nod to his mother and father. It was his first KISS appearance of the year. “It’s big. It’s the first ever I won a KISS race and this is my favorite place to win. The fans are great here, and it’s just such a big race every time I come here, all the good drivers come here. It was a big night for me to win here.”
“I’m a little disappointed obviously that I ran second,” Stanbrough allowed afterward. His run in the Fox Brothers/Jarvis Enterprises DRC gave him a 55 point lead going into the final race. “It’s better than crashing or not finishing the race. I was running second behind Robert and just got caught up in some lapped traffic, and that very well may have cost me an opportunity to win the race. Once lapped traffic got cleared and I was in third, the top was so fast you know, hard to do anything anywhere but on the top. We were fortunate to stay out of Robert’s accident and I think we were as fast as Bland, but you just couldn’t pull off the cushion. I saw Brady down on the bottom and he couldn’t do anything with either one of us down there. So, it’s just one of those deals where the top is just so much faster and has so much more momentum and speed, when you get out in the lead, that’s where you need to stay because it’s so hard to pass.”
On the other side of pit lane, Ballou provided his perspective on the incident that put him out. “He ran me up coming off of turn four and I had nowhere to go,” he explained. “I was still right there, outside of him and he kept running up, up, up, and I had nowhere to go. I ran out of real estate.”
The 10th Annual KISS tour will conclude and the champion crowned on Saturday, June 26, at Paragon Speedway. The pit gate will open at 4:00, the grandstands at 5:00, with racing at 7:30.
King of Indiana Sprint Series, 5th Round
Tri-State Speedway, June 5, 2010
Heat 1: 1. Jon Stanbrough 53 (3), 2. Robert Ballou 81 (2), 3, Chase Stockon 32 (4), 4. Hunter Schuerenberg 35 (6), 5. Jonathan Vennard 9t (7), 6. Ethan Barrow 15 (5), 7. Patrick Budde 90 (8), 8. Matt Humphrey 74 (1), 9. Jim Shelton 41 (9)
Heat 2: 1. Brady Short 36 (2), 2. Kurt Gross 1x (4), 3. Billy Puterbaugh Jr. 71p (1), 4. Jonathan Hendrick 68 (6), 5. Kyle Cummins 3c (7), 6. AJ Anderson 34 (5), 7. Aric Gentry 10 (3) 8. Ryan Tussig 16 (8), Brandon Mattox 28 (9)
Heat 3: 1. Daron Clayton 92 (2), 2. Jeff Bland Jr. 38 (1), 3. Blake Fitzpatrick 10f (3), 4. Ted Hines 12 (5), 5. Hud Cone 14 (9), 6. Mark Perry 3m (4), 7. Dakota Jackson 3d (6), 8. Adam Nigg 25n (7), 9. John Irvin 88 (8)
B Main: 1. Anderson (2), 2, Perry (3), 3, Nigg (9), 4. Barrow (1), 5. Gentry (5), 6. Jackson (6), 7. Budde (4), 8, Irvin (10), 9. Humphrey (7), 10. Shekton (8), Tussig, Mattox DNS
Feature (30 laps): 1. Jeff Bland Jr. (5), 2. Jon Stanbrough (4), 3. Brady Short (6), 4. Hunter Schuerenberg (10), 5. Billy Puterbaugh Jr. (8), 6. Chase Stockon (7), 7. Ted Hines (12), 8. Jonathan Vennard (13), 9. Mark Perry (17), 10. Daron Clayton (2), 11. Kurt Gross (3), 12. Blake Fitzpatrick (9), 13. AJ Anderson (16), 14. Adam Nigg (18), 15. Hud Cone (15), 16. Kyle Cummins (14), 17. Ethan Barrow (19), 18. Aric Gentry (20), 19. Jonathan Hendrick (11), DQ – Robert Ballou (1)
2010 King Of Indiana Sprint Series
Gas City I-69 Speedway Friday, May 14 Dave Darland
Kokomo Speedway Sunday, May 16 Jon Stanbrough
Bloomington Speedway Friday, May 21 Rain
Lawrenceburg Speedway Saturday, May 22 Brady Short
Tri-State Speedway Saturday, June 5 Jeff Bland Jr.
Paragon Speedway Saturday, June 26
The King of Indiana Sprint Series is organized and conducted by the individual Indiana sprint car race track promoters to provide the best sprint car racing. Many thanks to the series sponsors, including Indiana StoneWorks for the B-Main, Simpson Performance Products, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine and Van Horn Tint & Accessories for the champion’s helmet, Elliottbrand Web Designs, in Westport, IN, and Kiva Networking in Bloomington for the KISS website (www.kissracing.com).