By Mike O’Leary
May 9, 2011 – With a commanding victory in last Friday’s King Of Indiana Sprint Series opening event, 2009 champion Brady Short leads the series to the Gas City I-69 Speedway for the second stop on this year’s trail. But for Short, the popular Gas City oval could be the biggest challenge he faces, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Friday The 13th.
Last week, Short found a line midway up Bloomington Speedway’s banks that his car really liked, and swept from third to first, passing Bobby East and Kent Christian. But while the Bedford driver showed everyone the fast way around, the racing was wheel-to-wheel and the track proved tricky for the cars behind him. Jon Stanbrough charged from 14th to third, and several others also showed the mettle to dig from the deep in the pack, including Casey Shuman and Bryan Clauson.
But Gas City could be a different story for Short. Each track on the KISS schedule is unique, with its own nuances and challenges. Each one has to be raced differently. Frankly, Gas City is a track that has allowed Short little success. Take last year’s opening event, where Short came into the race as the 2009 KISS champion, but left without making the feature. The I-69 facility can be tough. Short drew a sixth place starting spot for his heat, quickly moved to fourth, but while battling Matt Westfall for third on the seventh lap, they made contact and Short lost a position, finishing sixth. When there are 44 cars in the pits, the B-Main is usually a real scrap. Short started eighth, but got caught up in an opening lap wreck and restarted on the tail. Even though he passed enough cars to finish tenth, it was still several slots shy of the transfer. This year, Brady is determined to turn his Gas City luck around and come out strongly at the end of the night.
While Gas City has been a real thorn for some drivers, it is always action packed and filled with drama. Dave Darland is the defending winner of Gas City’s KISS event, scoring a huge triumph a year ago for his second KISS victory. But just behind Darland, Levi Jones and Bryan Clauson put on a memorable show as Clauson fought to get past Jones for second for much of the race. Then, on the final lap, the two made contact going into turn three and both cars spun. Clauson was able to keep his car running and took the checkers, while Jones sat sideways in the groove.
Demonstrating the challenge that drivers face when unloading at Gas City, several track champions have scored KISS wins there, including John Wolfe and Michael Burthay, but only one driver has won the race more than once. Jon Stanbrough scored back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008. A driver with more recent success is Missourian Hunter Schuerenberg, who captured the April 29th USAC race at the track.
Friday’s racing program at Gas City I-69 Speedway includes UMP modifieds, street stocks and thunder cars. The track opens at 4:00 and racing is scheduled for 7:30. General admission is $15, and pit passes are $30, while kids (6 and under) are admitted free general admission with a paid adult. Track rules, and more information and directions are available at www.gascityi69speedway.com.
KISS events pay $2,500 to win, $250 to start the feature and the B-Main pays $100 to the first six drivers who do not transfer to the feature and $50 to all remaining B-Main starters. Drivers draw for heat race starting positions, and features will be 30 laps. Under KISS guidelines, each track is responsible for conducting the event in accordance with their track rules. The $3,600 point fund awards the top five point finishers, with $1,000 going to the 2011 King of Indiana Sprints. For the fifth year, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine is sponsoring the KISS Champion’s helmet, with original artwork by Van Horn Tint & Accessories.
2011 KISS SCHEDULE
May 6 Bloomington Speedway Brady Short
May 13 Gas City I-69 Speedway
May 21 Lawrenceburg Speedway
June 19 Tri-State Speedway
June 25 Paragon Speedway
June 26 Kokomo Speedway
KISS Points: 1. Brady Short 180, 2. Bobby East 175, 3. Jon Stanbrough 170, 4. Jon Sciscoe 165, 5. Kent Christian 160, 6. Dave Darland 156, 7. Shane Cottle 152, 8. Danny Holtsclaw 148, 9. Jerry Coons Jr. 144, 10. Casey Shuman 140