By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (July 20, 2020)………In 2019, no longer did Shane Cottle have to answer the question of when his day would come during NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week.
It took 72 ISW feature starts for the Kansas, Ill. native to get his long-awaited breakthrough, and the way it all unfolded in the opener at Gas City I-69 Speedway was one that is not forgotten.
Starting 18th, Cottle picked his way through the field and positioned himself second with five laps remaining. Cottle worked the bottom as Leary operated up top and, on the final corner of the lap, Cottle surged ahead to beat Leary to the stripe for the win in one of the closest finishes in USAC racing history.
A glance at the timing showed Leary on top of the leaderboard as Cottle celebrated his triumph in victory lane. However, the transponder on the rear bumper of Leary’s car crossed the timing loop prior to the transponder on the tail of Cottle’s car, positioning Leary in front of Cottle on timing.
However, per USAC rule Part VI 9.4.C, a car will be officially credited with a lap only when its front wheels cross the start/finish line after completing one entire circuit of the course. The USAC chief scorer and race director unanimously agreed that Cottle’s front wheels crossed the start/finish line before Leary’s.
As far as finishes go, that’s about as good as it gets. Once again, for the ninth time overall, Gas City I-69 Speedway will host the Indiana Sprint Week opener on Friday, July 24. The quarter mile dirt oval has previously hosted the ISW opener in 2002 and each year between 2011-16, then again in 2019.
Cottle, a two-time track champion at Gas City in 2004 and 2009, has already won once in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition in his new pairing with Hodges Motorsports, taking the Bill Gardner Sprintacular on July 3 at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville. At Gas City, Cottle is always a threat. He’s won heat races in 2006-08-09-11-12-16 and has finished inside the top-ten on ten occasions, and inside the top-five six times: 1st (2019), 2nd (2013), 4th (2016) and 5th (2008-11-12).
Defending Indiana Sprint Week champion C.J. Leary captured the first of his three career wins in ISW at Gas City in 2017. The 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ led 29 of the 30 laps of the feature at Gas City last summer, missing out on the victory by centimeters at the line to Cottle.
Dave Darland, the winningest driver in Indiana Sprint Week history with 20 victories, has four heat race wins during ISW at Gas City in 2002-03-08-09 and was fast qualifier twice in 2013-14. The National Sprint Car Hall of Famer won the round in 2011, was 4th in both 2006 and 2012, and took 5th in 2013.
USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. will drive the Baldwin Brothers No. 5 throughout the entirety of 2020 Indiana Sprint Week. At Gas City ISW, Coons was the fastest qualifier in 2011, won heat races in 2008-09-10-14 and has finished inside the top-ten seven times with a best of 3rd in 2015.
Ironman Chase Stockon was victorious during ISW at Gas City in 2015, one of his five top-tens at the track during the hectic week of racing. The Fort Branch, Ind. native was the fastest qualifier in 2017, and also finished 10th in 2012, 9th in 2017, 8th in 2013, 5th in 2014, and captured a heat race victory in 2016.
Chris Windom, the 2011 and 2017 Indiana Sprint Week champion, won Gas City ISW heats in 2008 and 2010, and has been a stalwart at the front of the field for more than a decade. Windom (Canton, Ill.) owns eight top-tens and five top-fives there during ISW, including 3rd place results in 2014-16-17-19 and was the runner-up in 2011.
Current USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Justin Grant won heat races at Gas City ISW in his first appearance in 2010 as well as in 2015, while earning best finishes of 2nd in 2014, 8th in 2017 and 10th in 2019. The Ione, Californian won the Indiana Midget Week round at Gas City in 2019.
Marion, Indiana’s Scotty Weir was the 2013 track champion at Gas City, and over the years, he’s showed a penchant for producing results. His first and only USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win came in 2016 at GC. During ISW, he’s been a steady citizen with a fast qualifying time in 2008 and a heat win in 2019, plus six top-ten finishes, including a best of 3rd (2009), as well a 4th (2007) and a 5th (2010).
Brady Bacon, the 2016 Indiana Sprint Week king, has six top-ten feature finishes during ISW at Gas City with a best of 4th in 2019, while also gathering 5th place results thrice (2007-16-17), a 6th (2014), plus a heat victory in 2015 to go along with a 9th place finish in the final tally.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) was the king of Gas City in a sprint car during the 2019 campaign, winning on the regular en route to the season championship. During ISW at Gas City, Meseraull has won heat races in both 2011 and 2015 but is looking to produce his first career top-ten in the ISW series at the track since a 7th in 2017.
The Indiana Sprint Week champ of 2015, Robert Ballou possesses four career top-tens at Gas City with a 2nd in 2017 serving as the best run. The Rocklin, Calif. driver, who was also the 2015 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car titlist, was 3rd at GC ISW in 2011, 4th in 2015 and 8th in 2016, with heat scores in 2012-14-17 as he prepares for his first ISW run since 2018.
Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr., likewise, an ISW champ in 2017, scored 5th place feature finishes in both 2015 and 2019, where he also scored a heat race victory as he did as well in 2012. He has a 9th place finish there to his credit as well back in 2013.
Dakota Jackson (Elizabethtown, Ind.) and Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) return for Gas City after 7th and 8th place results in 2019 at Gas City. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), meanwhile, won a heat race at Gas City ISW in 2007. Just last Friday, he was the victor at GC in the 25-lap weekly sprint car program.
Tickets for Friday’s Gas City race, and all Indiana Sprint Week events, are available while supplies last exclusively at www.usactickets.com. Adult general admission tickets for Gas City are $25 while kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 apiece.
Pit gates open at 3pm ET at Gas City. All online ticket purchasers will be allowed an early 3pm (local time) entry into the grandstand. Hot laps begin at 6:30pm with racing to immediately follow.
Competitor entry for all seven events throughout 2020 NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week will open Wednesday night, July 22, at 8pm ET exclusively on www.usactickets.com.
The field will be limited to 48 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars at each event during ISW, July 24 through August 1. Walk-up entries will not be permitted. All entries must be made prior to the event, which will remain open until all 48 slots are filled. Please note that the purchase of an entry fee does not include a pit pass for admittance into the pit area.
Spectator tickets for the 33rd annual edition of ISW are also on sale at www.usactickets.com. ISW tickets will be sold exclusively online and there will be a limited availability based on COVID-19 criteria that is in place at each venue on the schedule for all ISW event throughout the Hoosier state. There is no guarantee of on-site ticket sales at any of the tracks if pre-determined attendance limits are met beforehand.
If you have any questions regarding entry to each ISW event, please email Kirk Spridgeon at email@example.com.
All seven ISW races will be aired live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr.
GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY INDIANA SPRINT WEEK HISTORY:
17 RACES, 1 RAINOUT (2002-2019)
FEATURE WINNERS: 2002 – Cory Kruseman (Kunz 67), 2003 – J.J. Yeley (Stewart 20), 2004 – Rained Out, 2005 – Cory Kruseman (Kunz 67), 2006 – Jon Stanbrough (Fox 53), 2007 (1) – Daron Clayton (Dynamics 69), 2007 (2) – Jon Stanbrough (Fox 53), 2008 – Cole Whitt (Kunz 67k), 2009 – Levi Jones (Stewart 20), 2010 – Jon Stanbrough (Fox 53), 2011 – Dave Darland (Roberts/Tate 21x), 2012 – Bryan Clauson (Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian 7), 2013 – Jon Stanbrough (Wade 66), 2014 – Jon Stanbrough (Dutcher 37rw), 2015 – Chase Stockon (32 TBI 32), 2016 – Tyler Courtney (TOPP 23c), 2017 – C.J. Leary (Leary 30), 2019 – Shane Cottle (Epperson 2)
MOST ISW FEATURE WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY: 5 – Jon Stanbrough
RACE WINNERS WHO HAVE GONE ON TO WIN THE INDIANA SPRINT WEEK TITLE THAT YEAR: 6 – Cory Kruseman (2002 & 2005), J.J. Yeley (2003), Jon Stanbrough (2006 & 2010) & Levi Jones (2009)
2020 NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK SCHEDULE:
Fri., July 24: Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana
Sat., July 25: Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana
Sun., July 26: Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Wed., July 29: Terre Haute Action Track – Terre Haute, Indiana
Thu., July 30: Lincoln Park Speedway – Putnamville, Indiana
Fri., July 31: Bloomington Speedway – Bloomington, Indiana
Sat., August 1: Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK CHAMPIONS
1988 Randy Kinser/Bloomington, Ind.
1989 Chuck Amati/Freeman Spur, Ill.
1990 Chuck Amati/Freeman Spur, Ill. & Gary Trammell/Bloomington, Ind.
1991 Bob Kinser/Bloomington, Ind.
1992 Kevin Thomas/Danville, Ind.
1993 Kevin Thomas/Danville, Ind.
1994 Kelly Kinser/Bloomington, Ind.
1995 Kevin Thomas/Danville, Ind.
1996 Kevin Thomas/Danville, Ind.
1997 J.J. Yeley/Phoenix, Ariz.
1998 Dave Darland/Lincoln, Ind.
1999 Tony Elliott/Kokomo, Ind.
2000 Jay Drake/Val Verde, Calif.
2001 Dave Darland/Lincoln, Ind.
2002 Cory Kruseman/Ventura, Calif.
2003 J.J. Yeley/Phoenix, Ariz.
2004 Levi Jones/Olney, Ill.
2005 Cory Kruseman/Ventura, Calif.
2006 Jon Stanbrough/Avon, Ind.
2007 Dave Darland/Lincoln, Ind.
2008 Levi Jones/Olney, Ill.
2009 Levi Jones/Olney, Ill.
2010 Jon Stanbrough/Avon, Ind.
2011 Chris Windom/Canton, Ill.
2012 Levi Jones/Olney, Ill.
2013 Bryan Clauson/Noblesville, Ind.
2014 Bryan Clauson/Noblesville, Ind.
2015 Robert Ballou/Rocklin, Calif.
2016 Brady Bacon/Broken Arrow, Okla.
2017 Kevin Thomas, Jr./Cullman, Ala.
2018 Chris Windom/Canton, Ill.
2019 C.J. Leary/Greenfield, Ind.