By Richie Murray
Speedway, Indiana (July 11, 2019)………Brody Roa continues a long tradition of top-shelf western U.S. Sprint Car racing talent who packs his things up, loads the hauler, and migrates to the Hoosier state for the summer to tackle NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week.
The Garden Grove, Calif. native is poised to make his fourth appearance, and third-straight, in the week-long summer tradition in the Hoosier state July 18-27 at venues such as Gas City, Plymouth, Kokomo, Lawrenceburg, Terre Haute, Putnamville, Bloomington and Haubstadt.
Roa, who leads both the AMSOIL USAC/CRA and USAC Sands Chevrolet Southwest Sprint Car standings coming into Indiana Sprint Week, has already notched a pair of wins in CRA competition at Perris and Santa Maria, Calif. and once in the Southwest series at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz.
But Indiana Sprint Week presents an entirely different challenge. Not only in terms of the competition side side of things and the mostly-unique tracks, to him, on the slate, but also in terms of the workload. The USAC/CRA schedule consists of only two occasions where the series races three-straight nights. At Indiana Sprint Week, right off the bat, it’s five races in a row when you factor in Roa’s Eldora Speedway debut the night before ISW begins. After two nights off in mid-Sprint Week, it’s time to get back after it for four more consecutive nights to close out the event.
Roa’s game for it and has shown continuous improvement in each of his previous three visits. His first year at ISW in 2014 saw results of 19th at Terre Haute and 12th at Bloomington in six appearances, both starts coming after utilizing a USAC/CRA provisional. He finished 31st in the standings.
After a couple years of retooling and picking up a USAC West Coast Sprint Car title in 2016, Roa returned to ISW in 2017, making a steady climb to 17th in the standings after making all five features he competed in. He showed flashes with an 8th at Lawrenceburg, but step one of making the show was complete, a tall task in this rough and tumble event.
Roa had a slight uptick in the 2018 ISW standings, earning 16th in the final tally, earning more at the top end with two top-ten runs, a 9that Lawrenceburg and a 10th at Putnamville serving as his best.
This year lies the hope for Roa to take one step further and begin competing for top-fives on a consistent basis at ISW. Roa continues a long line of west coast contingent who have made their mark in the Midwest over the years, which began in earnest during the 1997 season when SCRA regular J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, Ariz.) took the racing world by storm, winning two races and the ISW title in his first try. Meanwhile, that same week, five-time SCRA champ Richard Griffin (Silver City, N.M.) was six-for-six on fast qualifying runs. The only race Griffin didn’t record fast time, he was absent after returning to the west coast to compete in an SCRA event at Perris. Fellow west coaster Cory Kruseman (Ventura, Calif.) filled in the role nicely as fast qualifier that night.
The following year, in 1998, was the highwater mark for western representation at ISW, with drivers Griffin, Yeley, Rodney Argo, Gary Howard, Jeremy Sherman, Troy Cline, Josh Pelkey, Rickie Gaunt, Rip Williams, Cary Faas, Mike Boat and Scotty Burns, just to name a few, making the long tow to Indiana. The group had their way in qualifying with Sherman picking up fast time at Kokomo, Gaunt at Bloomington and Williams at Paragon, but, ultimately, USAC regulars owned the feature events and the title, won by Dave Darland.
That changed a bit in 1999 with the western invasion in full swing. Kruseman stepped up to the plate with a pair of victories at Bloomington and Kokomo, the first two of his USAC career. Kruseman went on to become one of ISW’s most accomplished drivers, winning 12 in total to rank third all-time while also collecting a pair of titles in 2002 and 2005. Yeley’s prowess on the trail in 1997, meanwhile, opened eyes that vaulted him into the starting field for the 1998 Indianapolis 500 where he finished 9th, recovering after a first-lap spin.
Since then, the number of west coast drivers visiting ISW has been whittled down to a few per year, with Roa, plus five-time USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion R.J. Johnson (Laveen, Ariz.) and 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car titlist Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) making the tow.
Like many of those great names who have made the venture before him, Roa has dreams of becoming the next western driver to make a splash at Indiana Sprint Week. He’s already been making a name for himself on the west coast over the past decade and stands atop two different point standings. Next, his aim is to make a name for himself at Indiana Sprint Week.
2019 NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK SCHEDULE
Thursday, July 18: Gas City I-69 Speedway (Gas City, IN)
Friday, July 19: Plymouth Speedway (Plymouth, IN)
Saturday, July 20: Kokomo Speedway (Kokomo, IN)
Sunday, July 21: Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)
Wednesday, July 24: Terre Haute Action Track (Terre Haute, IN)
Thursday, July 25: Lincoln Park Speedway (Putnamville, IN)
Friday, July 26: Bloomington Speedway (Bloomington, IN)
Saturday, July 27: Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)