By Richie Murray
Lawrenceburg, Indiana (March 30, 2021)………Since the beginning of time, springtime has signified the awakening, the rebirth of nature, warmth, and by virtue, life outdoors in many states where its residents have hunkered down during the winter months, daydreaming of that moment when 800 horsepower open wheel machines come to life on the dirt tracks across the country.
Well, my friend, that day arrives this Saturday, April 3, when the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship makes its Midwest debut for 2021 at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway for its traditional springtime show in April, which dates back to the 2006 season.
For a variety of reasons, see: rain and COVID-19, the series hasn’t participated in an April event at Lawrenceburg since the 2017 season after Mother Nature claimed 2018 and 2019, and the worldwide pandemic stole the date in 2020.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) was the victor back in April 2017 at Lawrenceburg, which remains his only USAC National Sprint Car win at Lawrenceburg in 32 starts. The career USAC Triple Crown champ’s USAC resume with the series at the 3/8-mile dirt oval includes a solid average finish of 8.28. Among drivers expected to be in Saturday’s field, he’s the lone individual with both a USAC Sprint and a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature win at the track.
No driver has won more often, and started more often, at Lawrenceburg with the USAC National Sprint Cars than Dave Darland. The career USAC Triple Crown champ has made 54 series starts at “The Burg,” averaging a feature finish of 8.52 throughout the years. His April 2016 score at Lawrenceburg was his seventh and most recent with the series at the track after earlier victories in 1998 (twice), 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Series point leader Justin Grant enters Saturday as the winner of the most recent USAC National Sprint Car race, in February at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park. The Ione, Calif. native and reigning USAC Silver Crown titlist won at Lawrenceburg in April of 2014, one of his four career USAC wins at the track in a span of 25 starts, boasting an average finish of 6.92. Grant has won at least one USAC Sprint race at Lawrenceburg in two of the last three years, in 2018 and 2019, and also won his first career series race there in 2012.
Likewise, Kevin Thomas Jr. comes into Saturday carrying a February Ocala win as well as four career USAC National Sprint Car wins at Lawrenceburg. The Cullman, Ala. driver won at Lawrenceburg with a last lap triumph back in 2013. He added additional wins there in mid-2013, and twice more in the Fall Nationals during the 2017 and 2019 seasons. His 24 starts at the track have resulted in a 9th place average finish. He will arrive at Lawrenceburg as the second-place driver in the standings.
Three-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon is the most recent series winner at Lawrenceburg, taking the Fall Nationals of 2020 after original winner Tyler Courtney’s car was light at the scales in post-race tech. Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) also won at “The Burg” in 2015 and comes into Saturday’s 30-lapper third in the series point tally. He’s made 26 USAC Sprint starts in his career at the southeastern Indiana dirt oval, and his average result of 6.15 is tops among Saturday’s expected entrants with at least five starts there.
C.J. Leary is a past track champion at Lawrenceburg in 2013. The 2019 USAC National Sprint Car king is fifth in the standings after taking over the reins of the Bill Michael owned No. 77m for the 2021 campaign. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) powered to the victory at Lawrenceburg during last July’s Indiana Sprint Week round and also captured the very same ISW round back in 2017. Leary owns a finishing position of no worse than fourth in his last four starts at Lawrenceburg with a 3rd, 4th, 1st and 4th in 2019-2020.
Robert Ballou and Chase Stockon each have shared triumphs with the series at Lawrenceburg in the early part of their USAC careers. Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) notched his win in the summer of 2011 and hasn’t finished outside the top-ten in USAC Sprint competition at Lawrenceburg since 2014. Meanwhile, Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) made his first trip to victory lane with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Lawrenceburg in 2012.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) leads all “Rookies” in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car division in 2021, standing fourth in the points after two rounds. He’s made five career feature starts at Lawrenceburg with the USAC National Midgets, finishing as the runner-up twice in both 2017 and 2018, while taking 4th in 2019. Fellow series Rookies Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.) and Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.) are set to make their USAC Sprint debuts at the track.
Jadon Rogers, the 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, finished 22nd in his first Lawrenceburg USAC appearance last year.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has made two appearances inside the top-ten in his two most recent USAC Sprint starts at Lawrenceburg, a 7th and a 6th, in 2020. New Indiana transplant Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) set quick time during Fatheadz Qualifying in last October’s Fall Nationals at Lawrenceburg, finishing 9th in the A-Main.
Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) has made three prior starts with the series at Lawrenceburg, while Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) has made 13, finishing a best of 8th in 2004. Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) ran 10th in his first ever USAC National Sprint Car feature start at Lawrenceburg in the Fall of 2020. Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), the 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver, started his first series feature at Lawrenceburg in July 2020, taking 18th.
A slew of track champions have more than held their own when USAC makes a visit to Lawrenceburg. Dickie Gaines (Mitchell, Ind.), the 2003 and 2019 champ, won with USAC at the track in 2005. Three-time track champ Joss Moffatt (Columbus, Ind.) – 2007, 2009 and 2015 – has made seven USAC starts at Lawrenceburg. Guilford, Indiana’s Shawn Westerfeld (2014 champ) set fast time with USAC in July of 2015 as did 2020 champ Nick Bilbee (Indianapolis, Ind.) with a fast time in 2018. Bedford, Indiana’s Jordan Kinser (2017 champ) and Rushville, Indiana’s Garrett Abrams (2018 champ) have been perennial regulars with the USAC tour at Lawrenceburg over the past half-decade.
The USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship will be joined by the KOI Auto Parts UMP Modifieds and Bessler’s U Pull & Save Hornets on Saturday night, April 3.
Pits open at 3pm ET, front gates open at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5pm and hot laps at 6pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.
Adult general admission tickets are $25, kids 7-12 are $7, children 6 and under are free. Pit passes are $30. Advance tickets are on sale now at www.TracPass.com.
Lawrenceburg Speedway is located at 351 E Eads Pkwy, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025. The track phone number is (812) 539-4700 and their website can be found at www.lawrenceburgspeedway.com.
You can watch the full event LIVE on www.FloRacing.com and listen to the event LIVE on the USAC app.
Follow along with live updates on USAC’s social media accounts at www.facebook.com/usacracing, www.twitter.com/USACNation and on Instagram @usacnation.
Live timing for the event can be found on the Race Monitor app.
Lawrenceburg Speedway – 3/8 Mile Dirt Oval – Lawrenceburg, Indiana
1 Lap 7/9/2008 Levi Jones 12.926 104.441 mph
8 Laps 9/28/2013 Tracy Hines 1:51.91 96.506 mph
10 Laps 7/10/2008 Cole Whitt 2:18.19 97.692 mph
12 Laps 10/1/2016 Stevie Sussex 2:51.39 94.521 mph
30 Laps 10/1/2016 Josh Hodges 7:21.09 91.818 mph
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT LAWRENCEBURG SPEEDWAY:
(64 Points Races, 1 Special Event)
1. (7) Dave Darland
2. (5) Jon Stanbrough
3. (4) Justin Grant, Jack Hewitt & Kevin Thomas, Jr.
6. (3) Kevin Briscoe, Bryan Clauson & Rick Hood
9. (2) Brady Bacon, Tony Elliott, Levi Jones, C.J. Leary, Danny Milburn & Brian Tyler
15. (1) Robert Ballou, Jeff Bland, Jr., Mark Cassella, Jerry Coons, Jr., Tyler Courtney, Kevin Doty, Jay Drake, Dickie Gaines, Damion Gardner, Josh Hodges, Logan Jarrett, Thomas Meseraull, Rodney Ritter, Jr., Brady Short, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas, Chris Windom, Josh Wise & J.J. Yeley
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT LAWRENCEBURG SPEEDWAY:
1983: Danny Milburn (9/18)
1984: Rick Hood (6/9) & Danny Milburn (9/16)
1985: Rick Hood (6/8)
1986: Rick Hood (6/7)
1988: Jack Hewitt (6/4)
1989: Rodney Ritter, Jr. (7/1)
1992: Kevin Thomas (8/8)
1993: Jack Hewitt (7/10)
1994: Jon Stanbrough (6/18)
1995: Jack Hewitt (7/1)
1996: Mark Cassella (8/31)
1997: Brian Tyler (7/19) & Brian Tyler (8/30)
1998: Kevin Doty (5/30), Dave Darland (7/18) & Dave Darland (8/29)
1999: Kevin Briscoe (6/5), Jack Hewitt (7/22) & Tony Elliott (8/28)
2000: Kevin Briscoe (7/22) & Tony Elliott (8/26)
2001: Dave Darland (7/26)
2002: Kevin Briscoe (7/25)
2003: J.J. Yeley (5/31), Jay Drake (6/1) & Jon Stanbrough (7/24)
2004: Jon Stanbrough (7/22)
2005: Dickie Gaines (7/21)
2006: Jon Stanbrough (4/22)
2007: Levi Jones (4/21), Jon Stanbrough (7/11) & Dave Darland (7/12)
2008: Jeff Bland Jr. (7/9) & Brady Short (7/10)
2009: Josh Wise (4/18), Dave Darland (7/10), Jerry Coons Jr. (8/22 Special Event) & Damion Gardner (10/2)
2010: Jerry Coons Jr. (4/17) & Dave Darland (7/9)
2011: Robert Ballou (7/10), Levi Jones (10/1)
2012: Justin Grant (7/15) & Chase Stockon (9/29)
2013: Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4/6), Kevin Thomas Jr. (7/14) & Bryan Clauson (9/28)
2014: Justin Grant (4/5) & Bryan Clauson (9/27)
2015: Logan Jarrett (4/4), Brady Bacon (7/12) & Thomas Meseraull (10/3)
2016: Dave Darland (4/2), Bryan Clauson (7/10) & Josh Hodges (10/1)
2017: Chris Windom (4/1), C.J. Leary (7/9) & Kevin Thomas, Jr. (9/30)
2018: Tyler Courtney (7/22) & Justin Grant (9/29)
2019: Justin Grant (7/21) & Kevin Thomas, Jr. (10/5)
2020: C.J. Leary (7/26) & Brady Bacon (10/3)