By Richie Murray
Pevely, Missouri (June 1, 2020)………They say first impressions can make a lasting impression.
The first impression by the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars two years ago at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 was something nobody there would soon forget. It was a barnburner between former roommates Jason McDougal and Kevin Thomas Jr. that saw six lead changes in a 30-lap span, including the final one, with just four laps remaining.
Now the time has arrived for the second act by these top-notch racers at the 1/3-mile, high-banked bullring in Pevely, Missouri, and the curtain rises this Sunday, June 7, as part of a doubleheader weekend with the series competing at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa the night before on Saturday, June 6.
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Cullman, Alabama’s Thomas is up for a little bit of redemption this time around after winning his heat race, leading a total of 12 laps, and up until four laps remaining, during the feature and finishing second in the 2018 round.
The Daigh-Phillips Motorsports machine, with which McDougal won his heat, led five laps and raced to victory at I-55 two seasons ago, is now wheeled by Marion, Ill. driver Carson Short, who will make his USAC debut at the track.
Robert Ballou, the Rocklin, Calif. native and 2015 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion, is returning to USAC after missing the past year due to a serious arm injury suffered in a Sprint Car accident at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. Ballou set the standard at I-55 in his 2018 heat race, establishing a USAC track record for 8-laps at 1:44.38 before finishing 3rd in the feature.
Fort Branch, Indiana’s Chase Stockon led early in the 2018 affair at I-55, controlling 11 laps early, the two more during mid-race to lead a race-high 13 laps total before, ultimately, finishing 9th.
Korey Weyant, great nephew of National Midget Hall of Famer and four-time Indianapolis 500 starter Chuck Weyant, was the hard charger at I-55 in 2018, rising up to drive from 18th to 10th in the final tally.
Fourteen of the 22 starters from 2018 are pre-entered for this Sunday’s event, including top-five finisher Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), a recent USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget winner at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. on May 23. Defending USAC AMSOIL National Sp\rint Car champ C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) took 6th, USAC Triple Crown champion Dave Darland (Lincoln, Ind.) 7th, 2017 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car titlist Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) was 8th, 2016 series Rookie of the Year Isaac Chapple (Willow Branch, Ind.) and 2014 & 2016 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) notched 20th.
In 2018, Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) was 12th, Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) was 13th, Patrick Budde (Bartelso, Ill.) was 16th and Mitch Wissmiller (Saybrook, Ill.) 22nd. All are entered for this Sunday’s race.
Sunday’s I-55 event will mark the 22nd visit to the Show Me State for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars, dating to Gary Bettenhausen’s victory in 1970 at I-70 Speedway in Odessa. Four-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Steve Butler leads all drivers with three victories. Tony Stewart won two, including his first career USAC win in 1992 at I-44 Speedway in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, each garnering one career USAC National Sprint feature win in the great state of Missouri are Bob Cicconi, Eric Gordon, Gary Bettenhausen, Gene Lee Gibson, Jack Hewitt, Jason McDougal, Jeff Swindell, Jerry Coons Jr., Jon Stanbrough, Josh Wise, Levi Jones, Rich Vogler, Robert Ballou, Sheldon Kinser, Tony Elliott and Tyler Courtney.
Spectator tickets are also now on sale for the June 7 race at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, exclusively at http://usactickets.com. Seating capacity is limited to 1,200 for this event.
The grandstands for the I-55 event will be limited to 1,200 spectators. Adult general admission tickets are $30 and $10 for children age 12 and under. Pit passes are $30 for USAC/UMP members and $35 for non-members. UMP A-Mods will run as the support class. At I-55, pits open at 1pm Central and grandstands at 3pm with hot laps scheduled to begin at 5pm.
All USAC National events will be streamed live, and available on-demand, on FloRacing.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-155, 2-Chris Windom-146, 3-Justin Grant-140, 4-C.J. Leary-138, 5-Logan Seavey-135, 6-Kyle Cummins-130, 7-Chase Stockon-129, 8-Carson Short-118, 9-Dave Darland-96, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-95.
PAST USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RESULTS AT I-55 RACEWAY:
FEATURE: (30 laps – starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jason McDougal (2), 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4), 3. Robert Ballou (3), 4. Tyler Courtney (6), 5. Justin Grant (11), 6. C.J. Leary (8), 7. Dave Darland (7), 8. Chris Windom (10), 9. Chase Stockon (1), 10. Korey Weyant (18), 11. Isaac Chapple (9), 12. Mario Clouser (14), 13. Jadon Rogers (13), 14. Chet Williams (17), 15. Scottie Gretzmacher (16), 16. Patrick Budde (21), 17. Adam Parmeley (22), 18. Wade Seiler (19), 19. Chuck Walker (20), 20. Brady Bacon (5), 21. Joe B. Miller (12), 22. Mitch Wissmiller (15). NT