By Richie Murray
Indianapolis, Indiana (September 15, 2021)……… A dirt track in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana last played host to a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship event 37 years ago.
This Friday night, September 17, the newly opened Circle City Raceway will bring the Thunder and Lightning division of USAC back to Indianapolis as the headliner at the site of the Marion County Fairgrounds on the southeast side of Indy.
Twenty-eight previous dirt USAC National Sprint Car races have been held inside Indianapolis between 1961-1984, with all but one of those occurring at the one-mile Indiana State Fairgrounds. The first of those 28 was held at Indianapolis Raceway Park during its brief tenure as a .686-mile dirt track for one weekend in 1961. It was paved shortly after and remains so to this day six decades later.
One previous USAC National event has been held at the track thus far with the NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship taking center stage in June during Indiana Midget Week, which produced a first-time series winner in Corey Day.
Sprint Cars were also on hand that night and became the first taste of Circle City Raceway’s 1/4-mile dirt oval for several drivers expected to take part in this Friday’s event.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon (Dynamics #69) won the Midwest Sprint Car Series feature that evening after earlier winning his heat race. The three-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion’s fortunes extended to the midget as well where he set quick time and established the one-lap track record before going on to finish a solid third in the feature.
San Jose, California’s Thomas Meseraull (Yeley #2) finished as the runner-up to Bacon in the sprint car that night and was running as high as sixth just before midway of the midget feature before experiencing trouble, which knocked him out of contention. Like Bacon, Meseraull has winning experience at Circle City, winning a winged sprint car feature there in July.
Sutter, California’s Logan Seavey (Baldwin-Fox #5) took third in the sprint car and was the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger in the midgets, carving his way through the field to a seventh-place result after starting 22nd. Seavey’s sprint car teammate, Lafayette, Indiana’s Alex Banales (Baldwin-Fox #5x) finished 17th.
Fairland, Indiana’s Brent Beauchamp (LB #29) won the first sprint car heat at Circle City in June, then scored a fourth place run in the feature. Meanwhile, Fort Branch, Indiana’s Chase Stockon (KO #5s) rounded out the top-five that night.
Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. (KT #9K), a six-time USAC Sprint winner in 2021, notched a runner-up finish in the Indiana Midget Week A-Main. His midget teammate, Franklin, Indiana’s Emerson Axsom, will compete in the Clauson Marshall Newman No. 39BC Sprint Car on Friday night. CMR previously scored a pair of All Star Circuit of Champions wins at Circle City Raceway in May with driver Tyler Courtney and again at CCR in a midget with Day.
USAC’s top National Sprint Car Rookie, four-time winner from Minden, Nev. Tanner Thorson (Reinbold-Underwood #19AZ), charged from 16th to 8th in the midget in June at Circle City. Canton, Illinois’ Chris Windom (Hayward #19), the 2017 USAC Sprint Car champ, won his midget heat, then finished 12th in June’s feature. Ione, California’s Justin Grant (TOPP #4), who leads USAC Sprints in 2021 with seven wins, was a 21st place finisher in the midget feature following a mid-race tangle.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Jason McDougal (KO #5m) was one of four drivers to make the feature lineup for both the sprint and midget features at Circle City, finishing 22nd in the sprint and 24th in the midget back in June.
Norman, Oklahoma’s Koby Barksdale (Knight #16K) will wheel the car that finished 21st during June’s sprint car feature. He’ll be joined by several other drivers and teams taking their first shot at the newest venue on the USAC schedule.
Friday night’s event at Circle City will present racing action for both the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midgets.
Tickets are available at https://market.myracepass.com/store/tickets/?i=1225941&store=28122 or at the gate on race day. Adult general admission tickets are $25, kids aged 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
Pits open at 3pm ET with grandstands opening at 5:30pm and hot laps at 6pm with qualifying & racing immediately following.
The entire event from Circle City this Friday can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-2271, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-2215, 3-Justin Grant-2176, 4-C.J. Leary-2023, 5-Tanner Thorson-2019, 6-Chris Windom-1912, 7-Jake Swanson-1841, 8-Robert Ballou-1749, 9-Chase Stockon-1460, 10-Kyle Cummins-1183.
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS ON INDIANAPOLIS DIRT TRACKS:
3-Pancho Carter, A.J. Foyt & Joe Saldana
2-Billy Cassella & Sheldon Kinser
1-Larry Dickson, Bubby Jones, Lealand McSpadden, Don Nordhorn, Ken Schrader, Billy Shuman, Ron Shuman, George Snider, Dick Tobias & Bruce Walkup
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS ON INDIANAPOLIS DIRT TRACKS:
1961: A.J. Foyt (5/28 at Indianapolis Raceway Park)
1973: Billy Shuman & Don Nordhorn (6/8 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1974: A.J. Foyt & A.J. Foyt (5/24 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1975: Joe Saldana & George Snider (5/23 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1976: Pancho Carter & Larry Dickson (6/4 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds) and Sheldon Kinser, Bruce Walkup & Pancho Carter (7/31 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1977: Tom Bigelow & Tom Bigelow (5/27 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds) and Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter & Tom Bigelow (7/2 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1978: Lealand McSpadden, Billy Cassella & Dick Tobias (5/26 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1979: Tom Bigelow, Bubby Jones & Billy Cassella (5/25 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1980: Sheldon Kinser (5/26 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1981: Joe Saldana (5/22 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1982: Ron Shuman (5/28 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1983: Ken Schrader (5/21 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)
1984: Joe Saldana (5/12 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds)