By Mike O’Leary
May 6, 2012 – The top sprint car racers in the Midwest will head north to Gas City I69 Speedway for Friday’s King of Indiana Sprint Series program. The fast quarter-mile has earned the reputation as one of the best prepared and most competitive racing facilities in the state.
With a pair of rainouts the last two weekends, Robert Ballou heads the KISS standings, with some of the hardest drivers close on his tail. Five-time KISS King Jon Stanbrough trails by only 15 points, and Damion Gardner is 20 behind. Just behind these hard chargers sit four of the best young drivers in the area, Wes McIntyre, Blake Fitzpatrick and Coleman Gulick and Hunter Schuerenberg. Veterans Bud Kaeding, Dave Darland and Jonathan Hendrick fill out the top ten. With four races remaining and only 61 points separating them, the door to the throne is still wide open.
One reason for the popularity of the KISS series is the variety of tracks that the series competes on, and thus the range of challenges facing the drivers. The four ovals still ahead provide a good example of the differences that the racing teams face. While all four are classic banked dirt tracks, there are critical differences in not only the length of the straightaways, the angle and radius of the turns, and the composition of the clay surface that define the racing at that track.
In the northeastern part of the state, Gas City is the shortest and the racing is always wheel-to-wheel throughout the pack. With the well-groomed surface and fan-friendly track operation, it remains one of state’s most popular racing facilities. The next two venues, Lawrenceburg Speedway and Tri-State Speedway, are high-banked and much faster, and always provide several good lines for racing. The fourth track, Paragon Speedway, is known for it’s long, fast straightaways and tight, but quick turns. As each of these powerplants require different approaches and provide unique challenges, they showcase the skill of both the crew and the drivers.
Jon Stanbrough is the only driver to have earned more than one KISS victory at Gas City I69 Speedway, having won in 2007 and 2008. While Tony Elliott, John Wolfe, J.J. Yeley and Michael Burthay claimed wins during the first four KISS years, the most recent events have been claimed by Bryan Clauson (2009) and defending KISS champion Dave Darland (2010).
Gas City I69 Speedway is located 1/4 mile west of I-69 at Exit 59, on Highway 2. Grandstand admission for the KISS program is only $20 and kids 12 and under are free with a paying adult; pit passes are $30. The program will include Gas City’s modifieds, street stocks and thunder cars. The track opens at 4:00, with the draw closing at 6:30 and racing beginning at 7:30. More information is available at www.gascityi69speedway.com.
All KISS main events pay $2,500 to win, and $250 to start. This year, the KISS promoters have also included tow money, where any car that does not transfer to the feature will collect at least $100. Additionally, the point fund has increased to $4,200, with the series champion earning $1,200. Second in points will collect $900, and third through fifth will receive $800, $700 and $600.
KISS Points: 1. Robert Ballou 230, 2. Jon Stanbrough 215, 3. Damion Gardner 210, 4. Wes McIntyre 194, 5. Blake Fitzpatrick 187, 6. Coleman Gulick 184, 7. Hunter Schurenberg 178, 8. Bud Kaeding 175, 9. Dave Darland 170, 10. Jonathan Hendrick 169
2012 KISS SCHEDULE
April 22 – Terre Haute Action Track – Robert Ballou
April 29 – Kokomo Speedway – Rain
May 4 – Bloomington Speedway – Rain
May 11 – Gas City I-69 Speedway
May 19 – Lawrenceburg Speedway
May 27 – Tri-State Speedway
June 2 – Paragon Speedway