By Linda Mansfield
GAS CITY, Ind., July 18 – The tide turned for Matt Westfall Friday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway in the 25-lap non-wing sprint car feature that headlined the quarter-mile dirt track’s “Beach Night Bash” show. After being close many times, the Pleasant Hill, Ohio-based driver was victorious over Shane Cockrum of Benton, Ill. and C.J. Leary of Greenfield, Ind. on a highly competitive night that saw 36 sprint car drivers sign in at the pit shack. The five-division program attracted 115 race cars in all.
Joey Paxson of Connersville, Ind. won the 20-lap feature for Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions TQ midgets, while Derek Losh of Rensselaer, Ind. led all 20 laps of the modified feature for his third victory of the year here. James Headley of Marion, Ind. did that one better, as he is undefeated in the four 15-lap hornet features held at Gas City so far this year. The Dirt Track Truck Series made its first appearance at Gas City during the action-packed program, with Chris Hicks of Fort Jennings, Ohio dominating that 15-lapper.
The sprint car feature got off to a rough start. Max Guilford of Auckland, New Zealand spun in Turn 4 to bring out a yellow, Carson Short of Marion, Ill. and Clinton Boyles of Brownsburg, Ind. both flipped hard in Turn 2 to bring out a red, and then something broke on the right-front of polesitter Kevin Thomas Jr.’s car, sending the Cullman, Ala. native to the pits before one lap was in the books. Anton Hernandez, a native of Arlington, Texas, led the first lap before Sterling Cling of Indianapolis brought out another yellow when his car developed a flat tire in Turn 2.
Hernandez remained the leader on the restart but Westfall passed him in Turn 4 working lap three and led the rest of the way. Cockrum used the low side in Turn 4 to pass Hernandez for second working lap six and then chased Westfall to no avail. Leary dipped under Hernandez in Turn 2 working lap 11 for third. By that time Westfall had a healthy lead over Cockrum. The best battle of the race was between Leary and Hernandez for third, with Leary getting the show spot. Hernandez hung on for fourth and Scotty Weir of Marion, Ind. came from 13th to fifth.
Also advancing eight positions was Brayden Fox of Avon, Ind., who started 17th and finished ninth. He and Weir tied for the extra $100 given to the hard charger of the race by A.J. and Matt Brookmyer.
Matt and Gene Goodnight of Hartford City, Ind. own Weir’s Maxim/Claxton that is sponsored by Quality Pallet, The Pallet Builders and Benic Enterprises.
The Brookmyers also awarded a Hoosier right-rear tire to the first sprint car non-qualifier, who was Lee Underwood of Cornelius, N.C. His DRC/Foxco is sponsored by Air Ease, Line-X of Troy and Erwin Chrysler.
Westfall’s yellow No. 33M is a Maxim fielded by Ray Marshall Motorsports of Forest, Ohio and powered by a Hampshire-prepped engine. Buckeye Machine and DPI Ink are among the team’s sponsors. Phil Westfall is the winning chief mechanic.
Ayrton Olsen of Brownsburg, Ind. was pressured by Matt Lux of Shelbyville, Ind., Paxson and Tate Martz of Rushville, Ind., but he still led the first 11 laps of the TQ midget feature until his fortune changed drastically and he flipped in Turn 2. Paxson led one lap on the restart until Lux passed him to the outside in Turn 4. Paxson got the lead for good when he dipped under Lux at the start-finish line on lap 16.
Another yellow set up a two-lap dash to the checkered but Paxson held on for the victory in Oogie Goff’s No. 19 Kawasaki. Fehrman Car Wash, Crabtree Auto Sales, Yaryan Eye Care, High Speed Automotive and Paxson Flooring are among the companies represented on the winning TQ.
Lux finished second and Martz placed third. Defending champion Cory Clay of Morgantown, Ind. was fourth and Leary, who was doing double duty, finished fifth.
Losh started on the pole of the modified feature and had things his way throughout that 20-lapper despite three yellows that allowed his rivals to get close. Todd Sherman of Churubusco, Ind., ran second the entire distance. Aaron Orr of Columbia City, Ind. finished third followed by Tony Anderson of Lima, Ohio and Dillon Nusbaum of Warsaw, Ind.
Superior Sales and Service, Aggressive, R & R Transmission, Rensselaer Iron and Metal and Talbert Manufacturing sponsor Losh’s No. 21.
Hicks started on the pole and led all 15 laps of the truck feature. Chris Bitters of Harrod, Ohio started right behind him and ran second the entire way. Vince Wagoner of Delphos, Ohio placed third. Leslie Hurd of Lima, Ohio came from last to fourth and Tony Anderson, also doing double duty, finished fifth.
Defending hornet champion James Headley Jr. of Wabash, Ind. led the first eight laps of that 15-lap feature pressured by his father, but then Headley Jr. limped to the infield with mechanical difficulties. His dad then cruised to another victory. Eddie Tucker Jr. of Troy, Ohio finished second followed by Kolton Sollars of LaFontaine, Ind. Mark Casto of Marion, Ind. came from 15th to fourth and Brad Evans of LaFontaine, Ind. finished fifth.
Headley’s Tree Service and Dudding’s Heating and Cooling put up $200 for the winner of a five-lap trophy dash featuring non-feature winners of that division. Sollars, the driver of the Central Waste No. 33, was the happy winner of the cash and an uncommonly tall trophy.
Besides Short, Boyles and Olsen, three other drivers flipped during the course of the evening. Cody White of Fremont, Ohio flipped in Turn 4 and on the frontstretch with two laps down in the second sprint heat. Zack Pretorius of Yorktown, Ind. flipped in Turn 1 with three laps down in the third sprint heat. Dusty Ratliff, of Van Wert, Ohio, flipped his truck in Turn 4 with three laps down in that division’s heat. All climbed out of their crumpled vehicles, but Ratliff was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. On Saturday afternoon he said he didn’t stay in the hospital overnight and had no broken bones, but he was dealing with a sore shoulder. “I don’t ever want to do that again,” he added of his scary flip.
Gas City will host the opening round of “USAC Sprint Week” for the USAC AMSOIL national sprint cars this coming Friday, July 24.
To help facilitate the purchase of tickets and pit pass upgrades and comply with state COVID-19 requirements, fans are urged to purchase tickets online at usactickets.com. Tickets are $25 each, with children 12 and under admitted free. Pit pass upgrades are an additional $5 for adult ticket purchases.
Fans purchasing online tickets will be admitted starting at 3 p.m., one hour prior to those who buy any “walk-up” tickets that might remain available on race day. Early entry will give fans the chance to put their blankets or seat cushions on their seats and then visit the pit area for a $5 pit pass upgrade.
Hot laps are slated for 6:30 p.m. with racing at 7:30 p.m.
The speedway offers free on-site camping (no hookups) and parking for those attending the event.
Last year this race generated one of the closest finishes in USAC history, as Shane Cottle of Kansas, Ill. took the lead on the last lap and nipped eventual 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Champion C.J. Leary at the finish line by 0.002 of a second.
The remaining schedule for 2020 is on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com. Fans and competitors can also follow it on Twitter: @GasCitySpeedway; Instagram: @GasCitySpeedway and Facebook: GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas.
Gas City I-69 Speedway is located on State Road 22, approximately a half-mile west of I-69, exit 259.
Non-Wing Sprint Group 1 Qualifying: 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12.330; 2. C.J. Leary, 12.397; 3. Adam Byrkett, 12.570; 4. Lee Underwood, 12.751; 5. Scotty Weir, 12.831; 6. Billy Cribbs, 12.867; 7. Robert Brown, 13.160; 8. Cooper Welch, 13.511.
Non-Wing Sprint Group 2 Qualifying: 1 Korbyn Hayslett, 12.541; 2. Ricky Lewis, 12.544; 3. Dakota Jackson, 12.625; 4. J.J. Hughes, 12.712; 5. Cody White, 12.784; 6. Aaron Davis, 12.943; 7. Cole Ketcham, 12.952; 8. Jack James, 13.805; 9. Brian Vaughn, 14.342.
Non-Wing Sprint Group 3 Qualifying: 1. Thomas Meseraull, 12.316; 2. Brayden Fox, 12.386; 3. Matt Westfall, 12.506; 4. Anton Hernandez, 12.506; 5. Brayden Clark, 12.607; 6. Sterling Cling, 12.634; 7. Max Guilford, 12.671; 8. Zack Pretorius, 12.676; 9. Shane O’Banion, 14.021.
Non-Wing Sprint Group 4 Qualifying: 1. Carson Short, 12.392; 3. Dallas Hewitt, 12.444; 3. Aaron Leffel, 12.495; 4. Shane Cockrum, 12.614; 5. Dustin Ingle, 12.649; 6. Clinton Boyles, 12.651; 7. Matt Goodnight, 12.734; 8. Evan Mosley, 12.857; 9. Travis Welpott, 13.623.
Non-Wing Sprint Heat 1 (8 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Adam Byrkett, 4. Scotty Weir, 5. Lee Underwood, 6. Billy Cribbs, 7. Robert Brown, 8. Cooper Welch, 9. Tye Mihocko (DNS).
Non-Wing Sprint Heat 2 (8 laps, 4 transferred): 1. J.J. Hughes, 2. Dakota Jackson, 3. Korbyn Hayslette, 4. Cole Ketcham, 5. Aaron Davis, 6. Brian Vaughn, 7. Jack James, 8. Ricky Lewis, 9. Cody White (DNS).
Non-Wing Sprint Heat 3 (8 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Anton Hernandez, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Thomas Meseraull, 4. Sterling Cling, 5. Brayden Fox, 6. Max Guilford, 7. Brayden Clark, 8. Shane O’Banion, 9. Zach Pretorius.
Non-Wing Sprint Heat 4 (8 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Carson Short, 2. Shane Cockrum, 3. Clinton Boyles, 4. Dustin Ingle, 5. Dallas Hewitt, 6. Evan Mosley, 7. Matt Goodnight, 8. Aaron Leffel, 9. Travis Welpott.
Non-Wing Sprint B Main 1 (10 laps, 2 transferred): 1. Brayden Fox, 2. Max Guilford, 3. Lee Underwood, 4. Brayden Clark, 5. Robert Brown, 6. Cooper Welch, 7. Shane O’Banion, 8. Billy Cribbs, 9. Tye Mihocko (DNS), 10. Zack Pretorius (DNS).
Non-Wing Sprint B Main 2 (10 laps, 2 transferred): 1. Dallas Hewitt, 2. Evan Mosley, 3. Ricky Lewis, 4. Matt Goodnight, 5. Aaron Leffel, 6. Aaron Davis, 7. Jack James, 8. Travis Welpot, 9. Brian Vaughn, 10. Cody White (DNS).
Non-Wing Sprint Feature (25 laps, with starting position in parenthesis): 1. Matt Westfall (5); 2. Shane Cockrum (8); 3. C.J. Leary (6); 4. Anton Hernandez (3); 5. Scotty Weir (13); 6. J.J. Hughes (2); 7. Thomas Meseraull (11); 8. Adam Byrkett (9); 9. Brayden Fox (17); 10. Dustin Ingle (16); 11. Dallas Hewitt (18); 12. Korbyn Hayslette (10); 13. Max Guilford (19); 14. Evan Mosley (20); 15. Cole Ketcham (14); 16. Dakota Jackson (7); 17. Sterling Cling (15); 18. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 19. Carson Short (4), 20. Clinton Boyles (12).
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-2, Hernandez; laps 3-25, Westfall.
Margin of Victory: 4.224 seconds.
Gas City I-69 Speedway
Gas City, Indiana
Friday July 17, 2020
1. Matt Westfall
2. Shane Cockrum
3. C.J. Leary
4. Anton Hernandez
5. Scotty Weir
6. J.J. Hughes
7. Thomas Meseraull
8. Adam Byrkett
9. Brayden Fox
10. Dustin Ingle
11. Dallas Hewitt
12. Korbyn Hayslett
13. Max Guilford
14. Evan Mosley
15. Cole Ketcham
16. Dakota Jackson
17. Sterling Cling
18. Kevin Thomas Jr.
19. Carson Short
20. Clinton Boyles