Windom Holds Off Cummins to Win at Bloomington

Chris Windom. (Mike Campbell photo)

From Richie Murray

BLOOMINGTON, IN (September 11, 2020) — After a victory slipped through his fingertips on the final lap of a midget race last weekend, Chris Windom was determined not to play it as conservatively this time around in Friday’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.

“I learned that lesson last week in the midget race,” Windom testified after taking the lead at Bloomington on third lap from Kyle Cummins, then held off Cummins’ pesky resurgence down the stretch to claim his 27th career USAC National Sprint Car feature win, equaling him with Kevin Thomas Jr. for 18th all-time.

The triumph was Windom’s second career USAC score at Bloomington, and first since the 2011 season in his Hayward Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – OilFire – B & H Contractors/DRC/Claxton Mopar. On that occasion, Windom rolled the bottom to victory. This time, the path required a road of a different kind.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve been pretty good here; I just never got that second USAC win,” Windom explained. “Notoriously, I feel like I’m better at running the bottom here, but it was cool to get a win running the top.”

In the process, Windom took over the point lead in the new USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings, making it two different series he currently leads along with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.

Windom came into the night 2nd, trailing by four points to Bacon, but the beginning of the feature also saw him trailing in an unexpected way. The first two tries at the start of the feature saw both instances aborted by race officials. Windom, who was determined to have jumped both starts, was moved back a row from his 2nd place starting position to the outside of row two when the green flag finally put the race into motion.

Cummins, who had been elevated into Windom’s slot on the front row, stepped out to the early lead around the outside of pole sitter Brent Beauchamp in turn three on the opening lap. As Beauchamp slid up the track on entry in the third turn, Windom ducked under to move back into 2nd with Cummins just ahead.

On the third lap, the door swung wide open for Windom as Cummins slid up the racing surface himself in turn two. Windom cut under and took off with the lead like a thief in the night.

From there forward, Windom constructed a one second lead that ultimately ballooned to two seconds as he cut through lapped traffic in the midst of the middle stages of the 30-lap main event. All the while, Windom was persuaded by his surroundings to change his exploration route, and adjusting accordingly on the fly.

“I was running the bottom early on and I felt like we had really good speed,” Windom recalled. “The longer the race went on, the track started going away. It was tough to run the bottom because there was grease and it was slick. If you didn’t hit it just right, you’d lose all your time in the corners. I felt like, once I got to lapped traffic, some of the lapped cars were maintaining speed up top so I thought the top was probably the better place to go. So, I moved up at the point.”

Windom’s multiple second lead evaporated on the 19th lap when 10th running Sterling Cling levitated over the banking between turns three and four, landing on all fours before coming to a complete stop to bring out the yellow.

That instance changed the ballgame for Windom, and for Cummins too, who now had a shot at redemption without the hindrance of traffic. Just the open road and thoughts of victory racing through his mind. Cummins took a run on the bottom of turns one and two on the lap 19 restart, pulling even alongside with Windom for the length of the back straightaway. Windom utilized the constant speed of the high line in this case and ripped around Cummins to put a lockdown on the position.

“I knew Kyle was going to be good here; he’s always good here,” Windom reinforced. “They can get their car really good about anywhere through the middle. He showed that on that restart where he was able to slide up next to me, but I felt that if I stayed on the top and didn’t make a mistake, the momentum was going to prevail.”

Three stoppages occurred in the stretch run during the final 12-lap run, including one for Shane Cottle who went up in smoke with an engine issue while running in the 5th position with five laps remaining, plus Anton Hernandez’s flip over the turn three banking on lap 25. On each said restart, Windom’s theory proved true, as he carried the momentum topside to establish a five-car length lead on what would be the final, lap 25 restart.

However, Cummins began to inch closer to Windom on each successive circuit, and coming to the white flag, Cummins took aim for the race lead in turn three. Nonetheless, with one shot to take and one shot only, Cummins fired that shot with an attempted slider on the bottom of the third turn that sent him sliding straight up the racetrack as Windom opened up his advantage to secure the position once and for all.

“I actually didn’t see him,” Windom said, referring to Cummins on his bid for the lead. “I was focused hard on not running off the curb there. I knew he was probably close if he was hitting the bottom just right, but I was watching and waiting until I saw someone. If I had to dive down, I was going to dive down, but I felt if I kept running smooth laps up there, we were going to be okay.”

Windom’s margin of victory was 0.948 as his second series victory of 2020 propelled him to the point lead by 23 points over Chase Stockon. Cummins finished 2nd – his fifth consecutive top-2 finish with the series dating back to August 2. Kevin Thomas Jr. finished 3rd, his best result with the series since mid-June. Stockon was 4th after starting 13th to earn KSE Racing Products / B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger honors. Brent Beauchamp finished 5th and has top-seven results in all three of his USAC starts this season.

Kevin Thomas Jr., meanwhile, earned the 29th quick time of his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career during Fatheadz Qualifying Friday night at Bloomington. That puts KTJ just one behind Pancho Carter for 10th all-time in that category.

USAC NOS Energy Drink National Sprint Car Championship
Bloomington Speedway
Bloomington, Indiana
Friday September 11, 2020

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature)
1. C.J. Leary
2. Brayden Fox
3. Robert Ballou
4. Kevin Thomas Jr.
5. Anton Hernandez
6. Isaac Chapple
7. Carson Short
8. Brandon Mattox

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature)
1. Shane Cottle
2. Chase Stockon
3. Chris Windom
4. Stevie Sussex
5. Jake Swanson
6. Brady Short
7. Harley Burns
8. Zach Hampton

AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature)
1. Jordan Kinser
2. Kyle Cummins
3. Brent Beauchamp
4. Brady Bacon
5. Jonathan Vennard
6. Tye Mihocko
7. Justin Grant
8. Chris Phillips

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature)
1. Sterling Cling
2. Dave Darland
3. A.J. Hopkins
4. Jadon Rogers
5. Dakota Jackson
6. Logan Seavey
7. Alec Sipes
8. Robert Bell

INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature)
1. Logan Seavey
2. Carson Short
3. Dakota Jackson
4. Anton Hernandez
5. Brady Short
6. Jake Swanson
7. Isaac Chapple
8. Brandon Mattox
9. Tye Mihocko
10. Jonathan Vennard
11. Alec Sipes
12. Justin Grant
13. Harley Burns
14. Zach Hampton
15. Robert Bell
16. Chris Phillips

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses)
1. Chris Windom (2)
2. Kyle Cummins (4)
3. Kevin Thomas Jr. (6)
4. Chase Stockon (13)
5. Brent Beauchamp (1)
6. Stevie Sussex (5)
7. C.J. Leary (9)
8. Justin Grant (24)
9. Robert Ballou (17)
10. Brady Bacon (14)
11. Dave Darland (16)
12. Dakota Jackson (18)
13. Jake Swanson (22)
14. A.J. Hopkins (3)
15. Jadon Rogers (20)
16. Carson Short (15)
17. Shane Cottle (7)
18. Anton Hernandez (12)
19. Sterling Cling (8)
20. Brayden Fox (19)
21. Jordan Kinser (10)
22. Brady Short (21)
23. Logan Seavey (11)
24. Brandon Mattox (23)