By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (September 21, 2020)………When it comes to USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway, expect the unexpected with last lap heroics and deep-in-the-field charges becoming the norm in recent times.
There’s been no repeat winner in each of the previous 11 USAC Sprint races at Gas City since 2014, and the bulk of those winners will be in competition this Friday night, September 25, for the 45th visit by the series to the quarter-mile dirt oval as part of the James Dean Classic, night one of the Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double in a doubleheader with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) enters as the point leader in both the National Sprint and National Midget divisions of USAC. The 2017 USAC Sprint champ comes in as the reigning winner of the James Dean Classic at Gas City, which marked his first career victory at GC with the series, winning in what was his 20th start at the track.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) had led the series points entering last weekend’s set, but now stands just eight points out of the lead with a total of three races remaining with the series as he seeks a third career championship after previous titles in 2014 and 2016. Bacon has won a series-high five times this season and finished 8th at Gas City in July. He won a USAC Sprint race at Gas City in the Spring of 2015 and won locally there in August’s Twin 20’s.
The top-three title contenders for the series’ crown have all previously won USAC Sprint races at Gas City. Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.), third in points and 36 out of the lead, won the Indiana Sprint Week opener at GC in 2015. He was the runner up in the ISW opener this past July and was the runner-up finisher in last Saturday’s Haubstadt Hustler at Tri-State Speedway.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), fourth in the standings, has never won a USAC Sprint Car race in his career at Gas City. However, he has won with USAC and in a Sprint Car at GC over the past year and change. He was victorious with the USAC National Midgets during Indiana Midget Week 2019 at Gas City. He won again during IMW 2020 at GC, but it came during the sprint car portion of the event. He finished 3rd during Indiana Sprint Week at GC in July.
Shane Cottle, Dave Darland and Kevin Thomas Jr. each possess multiple USAC National Sprint wins at Gas City in their careers. Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) earned his first two in 2006 and 2008 before scoring a photo finish victory during ISW in 2019. The 2004 and 2009 track champ charged hard through the field from 21st to 7th in July’s USAC Sprint round.
Darland (Lincoln, Ind.) has corralled two of his record 62 wins with USAC’s National Sprint Car division at Gas City in both 2009 and 2011. He’s coming off his best series finish of the season just last Friday at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track where he finished 2nd.
Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) won at Gas City in a USAC Sprint Car for the first time in 2013, then again in 2018 during the inaugural James Dean Classic. He nearly won July’s race, leading twice for two laps before being involved in a tangle while going for the win on the final lap.
Thomas’ foe throughout July’s back and forth 30-lapper was Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.). The 2018 USAC National Midget champion reigned victorious in that one after leading 28 laps of the distance. He was also the fastest qualifier during this past June’s Indiana Midget Week round.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) nearly became a two-time Gas City USAC Sprint winner in 2019, finishing 2nd. The 2019 series champion scored his first victory at GC during Indiana Sprint Week during a spirited duel with another series champ (2015) in Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), who’s also eying a first USAC win at Gas City, along with Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) and Rookie Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), a 55-point leader over Anton Hernandez (Arlington, Texas) in the series’ Rookie of the Year battle.
A pair of Gas City Sprint Car track champions will be in action with Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) and Clinton Boyles (Greenwood, Mo.). Meseraull captured the 2010 and 2019 track titles at Gas City, winning July’s Mid-Season Championship race and finished 5th during Indiana Sprint Week with USAC in late July.
Boyles, meanwhile, was the 2018 GC champ, and is a recent victor on the local level at Gas City, snagging the victory there on September 11. Last weekend, he made his debut for the Daigh-Phillips Motorsports team at Terre Haute and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., which will be in the seat of for this weekend’s events at Gas City on Friday and Kokomo on Saturday.
The former occupier of the Daigh-Phillips ride is Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) who finished 6th for the team in July during ISW. Short, a one-time USAC Sprint winner, took over the reins of the Michael Dutcher Motorsports ride last week. Dutcher owned cars have won two in USAC Sprint races at Gas City, in 2013 with Kevin Thomas Jr. and in 2014 with Jon Stanbrough.
Three-time 2020 USAC Sprint winner Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) finished 4th this summer with USAC at Gas City. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) scored a 10th in that same event. Westfall had won the week prior at Gas City on July 17. Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.) snared the Labor Day Weekend Classic locally at Gas City on Sept. 4. Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.), a three-time USAC Silver Crown winner, was the winner locally at Gas City on June 26.
There are no limits on the number of entries for the event. Pit gates open Friday for Gas City at 3pm ET, front gates at 5pm, drivers meeting at and hot laps at 6:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.usactickets.com as well as at the gate on raceday.
Both nights of this weekend’s Double Double can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1,511, 2-Brady Bacon-1,503, 3-Chase Stockon-1,475, 4-Justin Grant-1,430, 5-C.J. Leary-1,425, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1,228, 7-Carson Short-1,136, 8-Dave Darland-1,092, 9-Kyle Cummins-1,012, 10-Logan Seavey-971.
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
1. (6) Jon Stanbrough
2. (3) Shane Cottle & Tracy Hines
4. (2) Cory Kruseman, Dave Darland, Hunter Schuerenberg, J.J. Yeley & Kevin Thomas Jr.
9. (1) Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson, Tyler Courtney, Daron Clayton, Jay Drake, Levi Jones, C.J. Leary, Logan Seavey, Chase Stockon, Scotty Weir, Cole Whitt & Chris Windom
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2002: Cory Kruseman (7/19)
2003: J.J. Yeley (5/30) & J.J. Yeley (7/18)
2004: Tracy Hines (4/30)
2005: Jay Drake (6/3) & Cory Kruseman (7/20)
2006: Shane Cottle & Jon Stanbrough (7/19)
2007: Jon Stanbrough (6/14), Daron Clayton (7/13) & Jon Stanbrough (7/14)
2008: Shane Cottle (4/18) & Cole Whitt (7/11)
2009: Dave Darland (4/17) & Levi Jones (7/11)
2010: Tracy Hines (4/16) & Jon Stanbrough (7/10)
2011: Hunter Schuerenberg (4/29) & Dave Darland (7/8)
2012: Hunter Schuerenberg (4/27) & Bryan Clauson (7/13)
2013: Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4/26) & Jon Stanbrough (7/12)
2014: Tracy Hines (4/25) & Jon Stanbrough (7/11)
2015: Brady Bacon (5/15) & Chase Stockon (7/10)
2016: Scotty Weir (5/20) & Tyler Courtney (7/8)
2017: C.J. Leary (7/10)
2018: Kevin Thomas, Jr. (9/28)
2019: Shane Cottle (7/18) & Chris Windom (9/26)
2020: Logan Seavey (7/24)