By Richie Murray
Bloomington, Indiana (April 13, 2021)………The springtime appearance of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars on the red clay of Bloomington Speedway has been a familiar sight over the past decade.
With the early season absence of a year ago in the rearview mirror, the series is set to kick off a trifecta of southern Indiana races this weekend with Bloomington leading off on Friday, April 16, followed by Tri-State Speedway on Saturday, April 17 and Paragon Speedway on Sunday, April 18.
With just three races in the books for 2021, the mid-April races launch the series into overdrive with a trio this weekend, and four more the following week in Pennsylvania for Keystone Invasion. That means it’s real now, and an early season awakening, or slumber, could spell the fate for those wanting to get their season rolling in the right direction.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) is fourth in the standings after finishes of 9th, 9th and 3rd in his three most recent series starts in 2021. The USAC career Triple Crown champion ended a nine-year absence from Bloomington Speedway’s victory lane in USAC Sprint Car competition during the Fall of last year by leading the final 28 laps en route to victory. He also won back in 2011 and set fast time in 2013.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) leads the standings following his victory on April 3 at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway. The three-time series champ won his first Bloomington USAC Sprint Car race in April of 2019. Bacon earned the 30-lap USAC Sprint track record at Bloomington that same night at 6:47.18. No driver owns more USAC National Sprint Car fast qualifying times at Bloomington than Bacon with five.
Second in points, Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has finished inside the top-four of all three series events this year, including a win on the second night at Ocala. Just like Bacon, Grant similarly boasts finishes of 1st, 2nd and 4th. The 2020 USAC Silver Crown champion finished a career-best 3rd at Bloomington in the summer of 2019, and finished 8th in his most recent USAC Sprint appearance there last fall.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), a Bloomington USAC Sprint Car feature winner in July of 2018, owns three career quick times with the series at Bloomington and also possesses the series’ one-lap track record at the quarter-mile oval at 10.685 sec, set in April 2019. The 2019 series champion won his heat race and finished 7th in his latest Bloomington appearance last Fall. He led the first five laps and finished as the runner-up at Lawrenceburg on April 3.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) set quick time and finished 3rd last Fall with the USAC Sprint Cars at Bloomington. The season opening Ocala, Fla. winner has won on three different occasions with the series at Bloomington, including his very first career series victory in 2012 as well as in 2017 along with a last-lap win in 2019. His three scores at Bloomington are tied for the most among active drivers alongside Dave Darland. Bryan Clauson leads all-time with five. Thomas also owns Bloomington’s 10-lap track record for the series at 1:51.72, set in April 2017.
Leading USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year contender Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) hasn’t yet made an appearance with the series at Bloomington in his career. Sixth in the standings entering Bloomington, Thorson has, however, made six career USAC National Midget starts at the track between 2013-2019, with a best finish of 5th in 2014 while earning fast qualifying time that same night. He also enters the weekend as the most recent USAC National winner, taking the checkered in last Sunday’s Midget feature at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Okla.
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), the 2012 USAC CRA Sprint Rookie of the Year and 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Champion, just recently made his first career USAC National Sprint Car feature start at Bloomington in the Fall of 2020, finishing 13th. Swanson, a recent west coast transplant to his new residence of Danville, Ind., is one of 15 drivers to compete in all three feature events thus far with the series in 2021 and stands seventh in the points.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), moved from his 17th starting position to finish 9th in last Fall’s USAC National Sprint Car race at Bloomington. The 2015 USAC National Sprint Car champion has been a perennial hard charger throughout his career, moving from 22 to 9th at Lawrenceburg in his most recent USAC start on April 3. Ballou currently ranks 8th in the series standings.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) is the only driver to lead laps in each of the two most recent USAC National Sprint Car features at Bloomington. He nearly won the Summer 2019 Indiana Sprint Week round, leading a lap at the midway point, then spun to a stop while trying to avoid contact. He led the first two circuits en route to a runner-up finish behind Windom last Fall, and is 9th in USAC points coming in.
Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) made his first appearance inside the top-ten of the USAC National Sprint Car standings after setting quick time and finishing 6th at Lawrenceburg on April 3. The 2020 series Rookie of the Year finished 15th at Bloomington last Fall.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) owns the 12-lap USAC Sprint Car track record at Bloomington, set in April of 2017 at 2:20.84, and was the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger last Fall with a 13th to 4th performance. Stockon won the non-sanctioned Josh Burton Memorial at Bloomington in September 2020.
Dave Darland (Lincoln, Ind.) has recorded three Bloomington USAC National Sprint Car victories during his illustrious career in 2007, 2013 and 2018. The 2018 win of which was the moment he became the first driver to reach both the 60-win mark with the series as well 700 starts! Most recently with USAC at Bloomington, Darland finished 8th after starting 13th in July of 2019 and finished 11th from 16th in Sept. 2020.
Making his USAC debut in the Epperson Racing No. 2E at Bloomington this Friday night is Carson Short (Marion, Ill.). The one-time USAC National Sprint Car winner set quick time at Bloomington with USAC in 2017.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), likewise, will be making his debut with a new ride in USAC competition aboard the Michael Dutcher Motorsports No. 17GP. The 2018 USAC National Midget champ has been superb throughout his career at Bloomington, finishing 3rd in his first Bloomington USAC Sprint appearance in 2018 and 2nd in his first USAC Midget run there in 2019.
Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), the 2020 Most Improved USAC National Driver, earned the first of his two career USAC National Sprint Car top-five finishes at Bloomington Speedway, taking 5th there in 2019.
Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) has been a USAC National feature winner at Bloomington, in a midget, during the 2010 season. He won his heat race in the USAC Sprint Cars’ most recent Bloomington appearance seven months ago, as did Jordan Kinser (Bedford, Ind.) and Sterling Cling (Tempe, Ariz.), a 2019 USAC Regional Midget feature winner at Bloomington, all of whom are expected to compete this Friday.
Brady Short, Brent Beauchamp and Davey Ray have all won USAC National feature races at Bloomington. Short (Bedford, Ind.) won his first career USAC National Sprint Car race there in 2006. Beauchamp (Fairland, Ind.) won his first with the series at Bloomington in 2016 and started on the pole and finished 5th last Fall. Ray (Davenport, Iowa) captured a USAC National Midget win at Bloomington in 2008. Ray’s most recent USAC Sprint start at Bloomington came in 2004 where he finished 9th.
A.J. Hopkins (Brownsburg, Ind.) captured Bloomington’s track championship in 2020 and is a multi-time winner there on the local level and remains a prime contender to breakthrough and win his first career USAC National Sprint Car feature this weekend.
Brayden Fox (Avon, Ind.) has a team that has won twice with USAC at Bloomington, first with father Brad Fox in 1997 and again with Jon Stanbrough in 2010. Fox made his first start with the series at Bloomington in 2020, finishing 20th.
Max Adams (Marion, Ind.) and Brandon Morin (Jasonville, Ind.) look to make a return to the starting field of a USAC Sprint Car event at Bloomington after doing so in recent years, while a bevy of drivers aim to make their first series start at the track, including USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year contenders Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.) and Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), Bloomington USAC National Midget veterans Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) and Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.), plus Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.), Ricky Lewis (Ventura, Calif.), Harley Burns (Brazil, Ind.), Eric Perrott (Sumner, Ill.), 2019 USAC CRA and Southwest Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Eddie Tafoya Jr. (Chino Hills, Calif.), Travis Berryhill (American Canyon, Calif.) and more!
This Friday at Bloomington, pits open at 3pm ET, grandstands at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm and hot laps at 6:30pm. Advance tickets are on sale at TracPass.com. Due to county regulations, the capacity is limited to 50 percent, and the county has a mask mandate in effect. If online sales hit the capacity number, there will not be tickets sold at the gate. General admission tickets are $25 while children age 10 and under are free. USAC Member pit passes are $25 apiece & $30 for non-members, with kids age 10 and under $15.
The event will be streamed LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-224, 2-Justin Grant-220, 3-C.J. Leary-195, 4-Chris Windom-179, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-174, 6-Tanner Thorson-173, 7-Jake Swanson-144, 8-Robert Ballou-142, 9-Kyle Cummins-138, 10-Jadon Rogers-135.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2020 FEATURE RESULTS: (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). NT
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT BLOOMINGTON SPEEDWAY:
3-Dave Darland & Kevin Thomas Jr.
2-Chris Windom, Kevin Briscoe & Tony Elliott
1-A.J. Anderson, Bob Kinser, Bobby East, Brad Fox, Brady Bacon, Brady Short, Brent Beauchamp, C.J. Leary, Chad Boespflug, Cory Kruseman, Hunter Schuerenberg, J.J. Yeley, Jack Hewitt, Jay Drake, Jerry Coons, Jr., Jon Stanbrough, Kevin Thomas, Larry Martin, Rich Vogler, Rick Hood, Sheldon Kinser & Tracy Hines
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT TRACK RECORDS AT BLOOMINGTON SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 4/12/2019 – C.J. Leary – 10.685 – 84.230 mph
6 Laps – 7/25/2003 – Kent Christian – 1:13.96 – 73.012 mph
8 Laps – 7/18/2008 – Jesse Cramer – 1:36.63 – 74.511 mph
10 Laps – 4/14/2017 – Kevin Thomas Jr. – 1:51.72 – 80.559 mph
12 Laps – 4/14/2017 – Chase Stockon – 2:20.84 – 76.683 mph
30 Laps – 4/12/2019 – Brady Bacon – 6:47.18 – 66.310 mph