By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (September 21, 2021)………”Racing is the only time I feel whole.”
Those words uttered by James Dean speak for many of us. Most certainly is it true for those who’ll experience the racing firsthand this Thursday night, September 23, at Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway, which is located about 15 minutes northeast of Dean’s hometown of Fairmount, and about 25 minutes East of Eden.
The fourth annual James Dean Classic provides a chance to feel “whole” with a full assortment of both USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars and USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets, a Giant of a night with a USAC doubleheader that comes around quite rarely.
All three past James Dean Classic winners are set to compete in the Sprint Cars this Thursday at the quarter-mile dirt oval, which will host its 37th USAC National Sprint Car event.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) chimes in as the most recent James Dean Classic winner in 2020 and was also 3rd in 2019 and 8th in 2018. Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) is one of two drivers to finish all three features inside the top-five, wining in 2019 and finishing 4th in both 2018 and 2020, and was also quick time in 2018. Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) scored the inaugural “James Dean” win in 2018 and was 4th in 2019.
Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) has won three career USAC National Sprint Car features at Gas City dating to 2006. He won twice more in 2008 and 2019 while also adding two track championships along the way in 2004 and 2009. At the 2020 James Dean Classic, Cottle charged from 15th to finish 5th.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has won two of the past three USAC National Sprint Car features at Gas City, but he finished 21st in his only James Dean appearance in 2020. The 2018 USAC National Midget champ captured Indiana Sprint Week feature wins at Gas City in both 2020 and 2021.
Three-time champ and current USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) won with USAC at Gas City in 2015 and has been a top-10 finisher at the James Dean Classic two years running – 7th in 2019 and 2nd in 2020. The 10-lap track record holder set quick time during qualifying at the 2020 event.
Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) makes his return to Gas City where he scored his first career USAC National Sprint Car victory in 2016 after spinning out on the opening lap, restarting on the tail, then driving by everyone. He finished as the runner-up at the James Dean Classic in a sprint car in 2019.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) can count himself as a winner at Gas City, taking the opening round of Indiana Sprint Week in 2015. Along with Windom, he’s the only driver to finish inside the top-five of all three James Dean Classics with a 3rd in 2020 and a 5th in both 2018 and 2019.
Same for C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), a winner of ISW at Gas City in 2017. The 2019 series champion scored a best of 2nd at the first James Dean Classic in 2018, then was 6th in 2019, the same year in which he also recorded fast time during qualifying.
Track champions Scotty Weir, Thomas Meseraull and Max Adams have all had their share of successes at Gas City. Marion, Indiana’s Weir, the 2013 and newly crowned 2021 titlist, captured his only career USAC National Sprint Car win at the track in 2016. He was a best of 11th at the James Dean Classic in 2019.
One-lap track record holder Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), the track champ in 2010 and 2019, took 21st at the 2019 “James Dean.” The Gas City king in 2020 was Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.), a 10th place James Dean Classic finisher in 2019.
Davey Ray (Davenport, Iowa) returns to USAC National Sprint Car competition for the first time since May. Ray makes his first James Dean Classic appearance after being victorious in the inaugural Indiana Midget Week series race at Gas City in 2005.
Similarly, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) was a USAC National Midget winner at Gas City back in 2015, which was his first USAC National victory of any kind. He was 4th in a midget at the 2020 James Dean Classic and was 6th in his USAC Sprint Car debut at GC in July of 2021.
James Dean Classic experience runs rampant throughout the field with Isaac Chapple (Willow Branch, Ind.) collecting his best career finish of 3rd in 2018, a race in which he led 25 of the 30 laps. The 2016 series Rookie of the Year was also 9th in 2019.
USAC National Sprint Car winners Robert Ballou, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall return to the fold at Gas City. The 2015 USAC champion, Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) went 18th to 8th in 2020. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) tallied an 8th in the 2019 Dean Classic and was 5th during Indiana Sprint Week this past July. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) garnered 12th place results in back-to-back James Dean’s in 2018 and 2019.
Back in the James Dean Classic lineup this Thursday are Worthington, Indiana’s Jadon Rogers (7th in 2020); Auburn, Illinois’ Mario Clouser (23rd to 9th in 2020); Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (11th in 2020); Penngrove, California’s Chase Johnson (13th in 2020); Winchester, Indiana’s Matt Goodnight (14th in 2019); Lapel, Indiana’s Evan Mosley (19th in 2020); and Troy, Ohio’s Dallas Hewitt (20th in in 18).
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) won his heat, then led a feature lap and finished 4th in his most recent Gas City run with the USAC National Sprint Cars. Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) has James Dean Classic Midget experience, finishing 17th in 2020.
Aiming for a first James Dean Classic feature start is two-time Lawrenceburg Speedway track champion Nick Bilbee (Indianapolis, Ind.) and four-time Paragon Speedway champ Jake Scott (Morgantown, Ind.), along with USAC East Coast and Sportsman ace Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), Chris Phillips (Plainfield, Ind.), Ryan Barr (Piqua, Ohio), Braxton Cummings (Bedford, Ind.), Max Guilford (Auckland, N.Z.), Paul Dues (Minster, Ohio), Jack James (Harlan, Ind.) and more.
In a doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship at Gas City on Thursday, Sept. 23, adult general admission tickets are $30. Kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members. Pit gates open at 3pm ET with the grandstands opening at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5:45pm and hot laps at 6:30pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.
Thursday’s event from Gas City can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-2392, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-2324, 3-Justin Grant-2275, 4-Tanner Thorson-2145, 5-C.J. Leary-2140, 6-Chris Windom-2034, 7-Jake Swanson-1964, 8-Robert Ballou-1842, 9-Chase Stockon-1559, 10-Logan Seavey-1213.
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 4/26/2013 – Thomas Meseraull – 11.441 – 78.665 mph
6 Laps – 7/18/2003 – Bud Kaeding – 1:18.03 – 69.204 mph
8 Laps – 7/11/2008 – A.J. Anderson – 1:41.67 – 71.266 mph
10 Laps – 7/10/2015 – Brady Bacon – 2:01.65 – 73.983 mph
12 Laps – 9/26/2019 – Chad Boespflug – 2:28.28 – 72.835 mph
30 Laps – 7/8/2011 – Dave Darland – 6:25.08 – 70.115 mph
JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
1-Justin Grant, Kevin Thomas Jr. & Chris Windom
JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2018: Kevin Thomas, Jr. (9/28)
2019: Chris Windom (9/26)
2020: Justin Grant (9/25)
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
3-Shane Cottle & Tracy Hines
2-Cory Kruseman, Dave Darland, Hunter Schuerenberg, Logan Seavey, J.J. Yeley & Kevin Thomas Jr.
1-Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson, Tyler Courtney, Daron Clayton, Jay Drake, Justin Grant, Levi Jones, C.J. Leary, 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) & Justin Grant (9/25)
2021: Logan Seavey (7/26)
PAST JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC SPRINT CAR RESULTS:
2018 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4), 2. C.J. Leary (5), 3. Isaac Chapple (2), 4. Chris Windom (6), 5. Chase Stockon (3), 6. Dave Darland (12), 7. Kyle Cummins (18), 8. Justin Grant (7), 9. Tyler Thomas (8), 10. Clinton Boyles (20), 11. Shane Cottle (9), 12. Matt Westfall (13), 13. Brady Bacon (14), 14. Carson Short (16), 15. Tyler Hewitt (22), 16. Tony DiMattia (15), 17. Tyler Courtney (17), 18. Jason McDougal (1), 19. Josh Hodges (11), 20. Dallas Hewitt (21), 21. Dustin Ingle (19), 22. Thomas Meseraull (10). NT
2019 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (1), 2. Tyler Courtney (7), 3. Justin Grant (3), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2), 5. Chase Stockon (8), 6. C.J. Leary (6), 7. Brady Bacon (4), 8. Jason McDougal (17), 9. Isaac Chapple (9), 10. Max Adams (15), 11. Scotty Weir (14), 12. Matt Westfall (20), 13. Tye Mihocko (18), 14. Matt Goodnight (10), 15. Harley Burns (12), 16. Cody White (16), 17. Cole Ketcham (13), 18. Dustin Ingle (19), 19. Dave Darland (21), 20. Chad Boespflug (11), 21. Thomas Meseraull (5), 22. Dustin Clark (23), 23. Shane Cottle (22). NT
2020 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (8), 2. Brady Bacon (5), 3. Chase Stockon (3), 4. Chris Windom (22), 5. Shane Cottle (15), 6. Dave Darland (2), 7. Jadon Rogers (4), 8. Robert Ballou (18), 9. Mario Clouser (23*), 10. Carson Short (17), 11. Brandon Mattox (10), 12. Kevin Thomas Jr. (12), 13. Chase Johnson (16), 14. Scotty Weir (19), 15. Kyle Cummins (7), 16. Brandon Long (11), 17. Clinton Boyles (9), 18. Ricky Lewis (14), 19. Evan Mosley (21), 20. Kendall Ruble (20), 21. Logan Seavey (6), 22. Anton Hernandez (13). (Feature winner C.J. Leary (1) was disqualified for a tire violation.) NT