By Richie Murray
West Burlington, Iowa (June 5, 2020)………The storylines for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars’ first visit to West Burlington, Iowa’s 34 Raceway this Saturday, June 6, are plentiful. With a long wait of nearly four months since the last time we saw them in action, there’s no more waiting to be had. So, let’s get right to it.
RUST VS. REST
During an unprecedented time for the series with a hiatus of 112 days between USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car events, how will drivers and teams fare after such a long layoff? Basically, it’s been another offseason to endure these past four months after the regularly scheduled three-month offseason during the winter months.
Some of Saturday’s driver lineup have been able to compete and win in the meantime, such as Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), who captured the second night of the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget T-Town Midget Showdown at Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway on May 23 as well as a POWRi Midget feature in Grain Valley, Mo. the very next night. Same for Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) and Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), who captured POWRi Midget victories at Grain Valley and Oklahoma’s I-44 Riverside Speedway, respectively.
Not much rust, if any, were shown by them and others who have copious amounts of dirt track racing experience. For some others, it may take a few laps to get back into the comfort groove, but the rust issue has seemed minimal to this point. But, like every “new” season, there’ll be things teams will continue to work on getting ironed out as they get back on track.
357 days since his last USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car start, “The Madman” Robert Ballou returns to competition with USAC Saturday at 34 Raceway. The Rocklin, Calif. driver is back after being sidelined for nearly a year following a broken arm suffered during a sprint car crash at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in June of 2019, a race in which he won! The 2015 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion driver and owner and 29-time feature winner with the series, has been in competition the last couple of weeks in a winged sprint car in Pennsylvania.
LEARY RETURNS TO THE 30
Defending USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion C.J. Leary will be sporting a new, but familiar number this weekend as the Greenfield, Ind. driver will be back behind the wheel of the family-owned Leary Racing No. 30, the same team and car number that the 2019 series champ raced to six of his nine career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature victories.
Leary will retain the services of 2019 USAC Chief Mechanic of the Year Davey Jones as the crew chief. Leary had competed in the first two events of the 2020 season at Ocala, Fla. for Gene Gile Racing, accruing a Fatheadz Eyewear fast qualifying time on the second night of the season and brought home finishes of third and seventh in his two outings, and now resides fourth in the standings coming in.
3-IN-A-ROW FOR BACON?
No driver has ever won three consecutive features to begin a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season. None. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon aims to become the first after already doubling up with two-straight wins in the first two events of 2020 in Ocala, Fla. Only eight times has a driver even won two consecutive to start a USAC National Sprint Car season, and none in a decade prior to Bacon this season. Both of his two victories required yeoman’s work from the two-time series champ (2014 & 16) after starting 9th each night.
DARLAND’S 34 PROWESS
Dave Darland (Lincoln, Ind.), the 1999 USAC Sprint champion, possesses the one-lap track record in both the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car and USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget at 34 Raceway. The series’ all-time winningest driver at 62 victories and a National Sprint Car Hall of Famer to boot, he’s also led 37 of a possible 60 laps at 34 Raceway in USAC Sprint competition at 34 Raceway, winning in 2013 and was leading when encountering a mechanical issue in 2010.
DAIGH-PHILLIPS STRONG AT 34
The car that Darland raced to a new track record and victory at 34 Raceway in 2013 was the Daigh/Phillips Motorsports No. 71p. In fact, the team has won the most recent USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car races at both of this weekend’s venues, including Sunday’s track, Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri, with driver Jason McDougal. Nowadays, the seat belongs to Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) who has two races under his belt with the team in February at Ocala. The pairing showed improvement from one night to the next, qualifying 4th and finishing 6th in the feature, and could be a force this weekend.
WINDOM KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
Chris Windom has knocking all over the door for a breakthrough USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory at 34 Raceway. Not only did he finish 2nd in the feature behind Levi Jones in 2010, he was the runner-up again to Darland in 2013. He’s been strong and consistent with his new Hayward Motorsports sprinter thus far in 2020, clicking off fast time in the opener and scoring finishes of 5th and 2nd to possess 2nd in the standings coming in.
34 EXPERIENCE ABOUNDS
Although it’s been seven years since the last USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car visit to 34 Raceway, a number of drivers can count on their little bit of USAC experience at the track to help them navigate through Saturday night’s festivities. In addition to Darland and Windom, Ballou was 5th there in 2013. Bacon led the first 13 laps of the 2013 event, but a broken rear axle suffered while leading relegated him to a 19th place finish. Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. was 9th in 2013. Ludlow, Illinois native Steve Thomas was 13th in 2013. Terry Babb (Decatur, Ill.) had a career best USAC night there in 2010, recording fast qualifying time and finishing 5th in the feature. Patrick Budde (Bartelso, Ill.) was 16th in 2010.
The Goodnight racing team has entered two cars for this Saturday at 34 Raceway, one for 2016 Gas City USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winner Scotty Weir (Marion, Ind.) and one for Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.). The team was a force with Darland behind the wheel of the Goodnight No. 39 in 2010, qualifying 5th and leading the first 20 laps of the 30-lap feature before a mechanical issue plagued the car while leading with less than 10 laps to go.
CAR COUNT BOOM
It’s been a long wait, and drivers are eager to get back on the track. Saturday at 34 Raceway presents one of the first opportunities for many, and first for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars in four months. The previous two USAC Sprint events at the track have resulted in car counts of 20 and 22. This weekend’s confirmed pre-entry list has doubled those numbers with 44 drivers and cars expected!
HERNANDEZ LEADS ROOKIE RACE
The race for USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year is young. Anton Hernandez (Arlington, Texas) was mightily impressive at Ocala, Fla. in February, becoming the first driver since Jason McDougal in 2018 to finish within the top-8 in his first ever series start. He leads all Rookies thus far, with additional entries coming this Saturday from Sterling Cling (Tempe, Ariz.), Chris Phillips (Plainfield, Ind.), Anthony D’Alessio (Apollo Beach, Fla.), Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), among others.
RETURN OF THE SAVAGE
It’s been seven years since “The Savage” Kurt Gross last made a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature lineup. For the first time in quite a while, he appears on the pre-entry list for a series event. The fuel dealer out of Washington, Ind., Gross will be behind the wheel of the No. 1x in each of this weekend’s events.
It’s a doubleheader USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car weekend this coming Saturday, June 6, at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa and Sunday, June 7, at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55!
Grandstand ticket sales are now live for the June 6 race at 34 Raceway at https://market.myracepass.com/store/tickets/?i=1208706&store=12037. Grandstand seating is limited to 50 percent capacity, so make sure to act fast so you don’t miss out! Pits open at 3pm Central, drivers meeting at 5:45pm and cars on track at 6pm.
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.
TOP-10 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 34 RACEWAY USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RESULTS:
2010 FEATURE: 1. Levi Jones, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Shane Hmiel, 4. Damion Gardner, 5. Terry Babb, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Henry Clarke, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Bryan Clauson, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Kyle Robbins, 12. Ricky Williams, 13. J.C. Bland, 14. Casey Riggs, 15. Ryan Jamison, 16. Patrick Budde, 17. Chad Branson, 18. Matt Harms, 19. Tracy Hines. NT
2013 FEATURE: 1. Dave Darland, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Tracy Hines, 8. Kyle Cummins, 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 10. Tyler Courtney, 11. Keaton Dobbs, 12. Nick Drake, 13. Steve Thomas, 14. Tyler Shoemaker, 15. Shane Cottle, 16. Matt Sutton, 17. Hunter Schuerenberg, 18. Andy Huston, 19. Brady Bacon, 20. Mike Houseman, Jr. NT
ENTRY LIST: USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT 34 RACEWAY
01 ANTHONY D’ALESSIO/Apollo Beach, FL (D’Alessio-Parallax Motorsports)
1x KURT GROSS/Washington, IN (Kurt Gross)
4 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (TOPP Motorsports)
4x BRAYDON CROMWELL/Lone Jack, MO (Braydon Cromwell)
5 ANTON HERNANDEZ/Arlington, TX (Baldwin Brothers Racing)
5v JESSE VERMILLION/Greencastle, IN (Vermillion Racing)
6 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Clouser Motorsports)
6p CHRIS PHILLIPS/Plainfield, IN (Chris Phillips Racing)
6R FRANK RODGERS/Lucas, IA (Frank Rodgers)
9K KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL (KT Motorsports)
11w WYATT BURKS/Topeka, KS (Burks Racing)
12 ROBERT BALLOU/Rocklin, CA (Ballou Motorsports)
14 JADON ROGERS/Worthington, IN (Kyle Rogers)
16 ANTHONY NICHOLSON/Millington, TN (Nicholson Motorsports)
16K BEN KNIGHT/Mooresville, IN (Tom Knight)
17 DAKOTA JACKSON/Elizabethtown, IN (On the Gass Racing)
18 TERRY RICHARDS/Denton, NE (TR’s Tool Service)
19 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Hayward Motorsports)
19AZ LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Reinbold Underwood Motorsports)
22 SCOTTY WEIR/Marion, IN (Goodnight Racing)
22s SLATER HELT/Harrisonville, MO (Shawn Helt)
24 LANDON SIMON/Tipp City, OH (Landon Simon Racing)
27 STEVE THOMAS/Ludlow, IL (Steve Thomas)
28 BRANDON MATTOX/Terre Haute, IN (Brandon Mattox Racing)
28K KORY SCHUDY/Springfield, MO (Jon Sawyer)
29 MITCH WISSMILLER/Saybrook, IL (RMB Motorsports)
30 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Leary Racing)
32 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (32 TBI Racing)
33m MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (Ray Marshall Motorsports)
34 STERLING CLING/Tempe, AZ (Sterling Cling Racing)
36d DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN (EZR/Curb-Agajanian)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
52 ISAAC CHAPPLE/Willow Branch, IN (LNR-Isaac Chapple Racing)
52F LOGAN FAUCON/Elkhart, IL (Logan Faucon Racing)
56 MITCHELL DAVIS/Auburn, IL (Mitchell Davis)
57 ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL (Artz & Sons)
69 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Dynamics, Inc.)
71 ROBERT BELL/Colfax, IA (Bell Racing)
71p CARSON SHORT/Marion, IL (Daigh-Phillips Motorsports)
73 BLAKE VERMILLION/Greencastle, IN (Vermillion Racing)
75 DUSTIN CLARK/Washington, IN (Dustin Clark Racing)
77 DUSTIN SMITH/Russiaville, IN (Smith Racing)
88 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL (Terry Babb)
90 PATRICK BUDDE/Bartelso, IL (Budde Racing)