By Richie Murray
Haubstadt, Indiana (August 2, 2020)………Sunday’s NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week finale at Tri-State Speedway turned out to be a homecoming of sorts for a pair of drivers who reside within a stone’s throw of the Haubstadt, Ind. track.
Kyle Cummins, about 15 minutes down the road in Princeton, continued his mastery of the quarter-mile dirt oval by winning Sunday’s 30-lap feature all while putting his name atop the leaderboard in terms of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature victories at Tri-State with five, alongside Daron Clayton and Kevin Thomas, Jr.
Meanwhile, the series’ Ironman in consecutive feature starts at 310, Chase Stockon, hails from Fort Branch, a literal seven-minute drive northbound on US 41 from the track. Of those 310 consecutive USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts, perhaps few have generated the same type of personal satisfaction as did capturing his first Indiana Sprint Week title after a decade-straight of trying.
Entering Sunday’s feature, six drivers remained mathematically eligible to secure the Indiana Sprint Week title. Stockon trailed Justin Grant by just five points, and those two, along with Brady Bacon, C.J. Leary, Chris Windom and Logan Seavey, were separated by a mere 35 points between them.
Cummins, who had been eliminated from ISW title contention following the heat races earlier in the evening, now simply had visions of a feature win dancing on his mind and was slotted to start the feature event from the pole position. Stockon, meanwhile, started 7th and Grant 11th.
The initial two attempts of taking the green flag resulted in a pair of stackups, the first of which saw a four-car turn one pile-up involving between Kent Schmidt, Jadon Rogers, Stevie Sussex and Critter Malone. The ensuing try saw Bacon, Malone and Aric Gentry stop on the front straightaway prior to hitting the start/finish line. Bacon, who trailed the ISW points by nine entering the feature, pulled off to the work area under yellow and briefly returned, only to drop to the infield prior to the race’s resumption to finish 23rd.
The third start was the charm, but this time Chris Windom, 5th in the ISW standings coming into the A, ripped around Cummins from his outside front row starting position to lead the opening lap. Cummins didn’t allow Windom to distance himself too far and roared to the lead past Windom on the second lap with a turn three slider. Fourth starting Shane Cottle mimicked the turn three maneuver past Windom a lap later for 2nd while Garrett Aitken slotted himself into 3rd.
By lap seven, Cummins had established a full-straightaway lead over Cottle, and by lap nine, was amidst a flurry of traffic at the tail end of the lead lap. However, a yellow for 6th running Tony DiMattia, making his first series start of 2020, rode the top of the turn four wall before coming to a rest on all fours back on the racing surface, which halted the action on the 10th lap.
Aitken, making the best run of his USAC Sprint Car career in just his sixth series start, threw his hat into contention with a turn one slide job for 2nd by Cottle on the 11th lap. A lap later, Aitken tagged the wall in turn two causing him to lose a couple spots while, behind him, four drivers on the fringes of the top-ten – Carson Short, Kevin Thomas Jr., C.J. Leary and Brandon Mattox – were stacked deep and stopped in turn one.
The timely yellow for Aitken put the Paris, Ill. driver back in second behind Cummins where he proceeded to slide by Cummins for the race lead in turn one. Quickly, Cummins cut back under Aitken at the exit of turn two to retain the lead, then slid himself through turn three to disavow any countermeasure from Aitken for the time being.
Following a plethora of precipitation that fell in recent days, Cummins hypothesized that the track had a much different feel than on this night than he is accustomed to. In response, Cummins found comfort up top that gained him a straightaway lead just prior to the yellow. Then came Aitken.
“I was being patient, not doing anything crazy, and all of a sudden here he comes, and I was like ‘oh,’ it’s time to step it up a little bit,” Cummins recalled. I just turned down and got him back. I could tell I was really going to have to step it up, and after that, I kind of moved my line around on the track a little bit. I moved a little bit more down to the bottom, then I got super tight, so I was grabbing shocks. Every yellow, I kept loosening it up, loosening it up. Even at the end I was still super tight.”
For virtually the entire second half of the race, Cummins’ progress was unimpeded at the front, and a watchful eye was turned toward the ISW title race. Point leader Grant, who had yet to finish outside the top-10 in his first 15 series starts to the season, was mired back in 13th. Simultaneously, Stockon was surging down the stretch, to 4th by Windom with three laps remaining and to 3rd two laps from the finish by Aitken, who began to run out fuel just prior to losing the second position to Cottle.
Cummins finished off his masterpiece with a 1.423 margin of victory in picking up his 7th career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win, equaling the likes of Kevin Doty, Darren Hagen, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Doug Kalitta, Jim Keeker, Bobby Santos, Brady Short, Kevin Thomas, Bobby Unser and Josh Wise. Cottle, Stockon, Aitken and Windom rounded out the top-five at the finish.
Following a one-race winless “streak” in sprint car competition at Tri-State back in June, Cummins has since gotten off the schneid by picking up back where he left off, winning an MSCS race there on Independence Day Weekend, then winning Sunday night’s USAC return despite having to search and find the winning combination throughout the evening aboard his Rock Steady Racing/Mid-America Safety Solutions – Greenwell Auto Body – Lucas Oil Center/Mach-1/Foxco Chevy.
“We didn’t get that last USAC win here because of some motor problems,” Cummins remembered. “We won the time after, although I didn’t feel great, and even the beginning of the night tonight, I didn’t feel like I normally feel here. We changed a couple things. Like in the beginning of the week, we’d kind of been trialing a little bit. Since COVID, we didn’t really get any testing, really.”
Chase Stockon (sitting) rests comfortably in the Bridgeport Rocker annually awarded to the NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week championship team each year by the chair’s constructor, John Youngs (right).
(Rich Forman Photo)
For Stockon, his raceday morning began at 6:30am watching his son, Parker, compete on a dirt bike in the 50 JR class of the Southern Indiana Grand Prix Series at Red Fox T-N-T in Tennyson, Ind. Young Parker finished second in the race that had a gate drop of 8:20am. Around 13 hours later that same day, Chase was back in his starring role behind the wheel, capturing his long-coveted Indiana Sprint Week driving championship in the KO Motorsports/Hutson John Deere – Ravens Manufacturing – AMSOIL/Velocity/Fisher Chevy.
“This is pretty sweet,” Stockon admitted. “It probably won’t sink in until tomorrow or Wednesday or something this week, but we’re going to bask in the glory of it right now.”
After nearly capturing victory at the Terre Haute Action Track in the previous Indiana Sprint Week race which ran to completion, Stockon and the KO Motorsports team, which he joined on a full-time basis just one month prior, bounced back with authority.
It was a week Chase classified as a trying week with the missed opportunities, both on-track and due to mother nature, despite being the only driver in the series to finish within the top-five in all five ISW feature races in 2020, a consistent run that made him the third-straight driver to win ISW without the aid of a feature win, and the 12th overall in the 33-year history of the series along with Randy Kinser (1988), Gary Trammell (1990). Bob Kinser (1991), Tony Elliott (1999), Levi Jones (2004-08-12), Robert Ballou (2015), Brady Bacon (2016), Chris Windom (2018) and C.J. Leary (2019).
“It’s been a trying week for us,” Stockon said. “This is a lot of redemption for us. We were really good here tonight, just trying to be careful and trying to win a race at the same time. It’s all big picture for us. I got to thank my guys and everybody on the side of this car that made it all possible. I think it just shows how strong we are as a team. Nobody got down and everybody kept their chin up. We just powered forward.”
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 2, 2020 – Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT ONE: 1. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-13.933; 2. Garrett Aitken, 32, Aitken-13.938; 3. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.943; 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-13.986; 5. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.991; 6. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.083; 7. Brady Short, 11p, Short/Pottorff-14.229; 8. Dakota Jackson, 17, On The Gass-14.237; 9. Jonathan Vennard, 54, KO-14.254; 10. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-14.275; 11. Stevie Sussex, 77w, Wingo-14.465; 12. Brayden Fox, 53, Fox-14.516; 13. Chayse Hayhurst, 20, Hayhurst-14.584; 14. Kendall Ruble, 17K, Ruble/Martin-14.637; 15. Chris Phillips, 6p, Phillips-14.781; 16. Stan Beadles, 84, Beadles-14.844; 17. Dustin Smith, 77, LG-15.166; 18. Logan Hupp, 69JM, Gindling-15.231; 19. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-15.379; 20. Sam Scott, 7s, Scott-15.693; 21. Eric Perrott, 45, Perrott-16.393.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT TWO: 1. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.854; 2. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-13.879; 3. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-13.882; 4. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-13.899; 5. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.929; 6. Jadon Rogers, 61m, Edwards-13.950; 7. Chase Johnson, 68, Thomas-14.013; 8. Max Adams, 37, Felker-14.063; 9. Carson Short, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-14.133; 10. Critter Malone, 7, Seven-14.133; 11. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.155; 12. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.272; 13. Dave Darland, 36d, EZR/Curb-Agajanian-14.399; 14. Kent Schmidt, 5K, KO-14.439; 15. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-14.540; 16. Max Guilford, 79BT, Goodnight-14.618; 17. Brandon Morin, 98, Morin-14.765; 18. Anthony D’Alessio, 01, D’Alessio-15.461; 19. Michael Clark, 8, Clark-15.689; 20. Ryan Bond, 7R, Bond-15.703; 21. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-17.099.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Tony DiMattia, 4. Brady Short, 5. Stevie Sussex, 6. Chayse Hayhurst, 7. Chris Phillips, 8. Kurt Gross, 9. Jonathan Vennard, 10. Eric Perrott, 11. Dustin Smith. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Aric Gentry, 3. Dakota Jackson, 4. Garrett Aitken, 5. Kendall Ruble, 6. Brayden Fox, 7. Stan Beadles, 8. Logan Hupp, 9. Sam Scott, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 6. Dave Darland, 7. Chase Johnson, 8. Brandon Morin, 9. Michael Clark, 10. Robert Bell, 11. Carson Short. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Critter Malone, 3. Shane Cottle, 4. Jadon Rogers, 5. Brandon Mattox, 6. Kent Schmidt, 7. Max Adams, 8. Max Guilford, 9. Ryan Bond. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Stan Beadles, 2. Max Guilford, 3. Dustin Smith, 4. Ryan Bond, 5. Michael Clark, 6. Kurt Gross, 7. Sam Scott, 8. Robert Bell, 9. Eric Perrott. 2:29.074
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Johnson, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Carson Short, 4. Kent Schmidt, 5. Stevie Sussex, 6. Brandon Mattox, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 9. Dustin Smith, 10. Chayse Hayhurst, 11. Chris Phillips, 12. Brayden Fox, 13. Max Guilford, 14. Ryan Bond, 15. Jonathan Vennard, 16. Stan Beadles, 17. Kendall Ruble. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (1), 2. Shane Cottle (4), 3. Chase Stockon (7), 4. Garrett Aitken (3), 5. Chris Windom (2), 6. Robert Ballou (8), 7. Dakota Jackson (16), 8. Carson Short (17), 9. Critter Malone (18), 10. Jadon Rogers (13), 11. Brady Short (15), 12. Logan Seavey (6), 13. Justin Grant (11), 14. Tony DiMattia (5), 15. Dave Darland (23), 16. Brandon Mattox (21), 17. C.J. Leary (9), 18. Kent Schmidt (22), 19. Aric Gentry (19), 20. Chase Johnson (14), 21. Dustin Smith (24), 22. Kevin Thomas Jr. (10), 23. Brady Bacon (12), 24. Stevie Sussex (20). NT
**Stan Beadles flipped during the semi.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Chris Windom, Laps 2-30 Kyle Cummins.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-1,079, 2-Chase Stockon-1,002, 3-Chris Windom-996, 4-Brady Bacon-980, 5-C.J. Leary-965, 6-Carson Short-871, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-817, 8-Dave Darland-717, 9-Logan Seavey-655, 10-Brandon Mattox-642.
FINAL NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-Chase Stockon-367, 2-Justin Grant-345, 3-Chris Windom-332, 4-Kyle Cummins-326, 5-C.J. Leary-322, 6-Brady Bacon-322, 7-Logan Seavey-312, 8-Shane Cottle-298, 9-Carson Short-286, 10-Robert Ballou-266.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-79, 2-Tanner Thorson-58, 3-Logan Seavey-57, 4-Justin Grant-52, 5-Robert Ballou-43, 6-Andrew Layser-44, 7-Daison Pursley-42, 8-Chase Stockon-39, 9-Thomas Meseraull-38, 10-Shane Cottle-35.
FINAL NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Robert Ballou-26, 2-Shane Cottle-25, 3-Carson Short-17, 4-Matt Westfall-17, 5-Kyle Cummins-14, 6-Thomas Meseraull-14, 7-Chris Windom-12, 8-Justin Grant-11, 9-Chase Stockon-11, 10-Chase Johnson-10.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: August 26, 2020 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – #GYATK Night (Non-Points Special Event)
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
ProSource Indiana Sprint Week Passing Master Champion: Robert Ballou
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Logan Seavey
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Kyle Cummins
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: C.J. Leary
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Chase Stockon
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Chase Johnson
KSE Racing Products / B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger: Dakota Jackson (16th to 7th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Justin Grant
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Dave Darland
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Max Adams
Jim Spridgeon / Rich Murray Hard Work Award: Kent Schmidt
Jerry Medlin Last Running Car in the Semi: Brayden Fox
Everything Dirt Racing Hard Luck Award: Stevie Sussex