From Richie Murray
(April 28, 2022) — An extraordinary moment in the history of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship racing at Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway arrives this Saturday night, April 30, during the 10th running of the Spring Showdown, co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series.
The venerable southern Indiana 1/4-mile dirt oval hosts its 50th USAC National Sprint Car event, becoming just the 11th racetrack to reach that milestone, joining Ohio’s Eldora Speedway (203); the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track (168); Winchester (Ind.) Speedway (143); Salem (Ind.) Speedway (105); Indianapolis (Ind.) Raceway Park (79); Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway (71); Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway (67); Reading (Pa.) Fairgrounds (60); New Bremen (Ohio) Speedway (59); and Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway (50).
The 2021 Spring Showdown, much like the first, the 47th, the 48th or the 49th USAC Sprint Car events held at Tri-State, had its fair share of memorable moments, all the way down to the last drop. Kyle Cummins, who has long since honed his knack for taking the most extraordinary moments and making them seem almost ordinary at Tri-State, did so once again this time last year.
In his 11th to first charge during the 2021 Spring Showdown, Cummins ran down Jadon Rogers just four laps from the finish to deny the teenager’s first career USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship victory of his own. By doing so, Cummins earned a “first” for himself.
Up to that point, Cummins had won practically every named race at Tri-State, but the first eight editions of the Spring Showdown had eluded him until April of 2021. Cummins’ journey that evening entailed continuous alterations, trials and errors and improvements on the car throughout the course of the night following mag trouble, and even prompted a phone call to his father, Mark, a sprint car hero himself at Tri-State during the 1980s and 1990s, who arrived on the scene and helped pitch in.
Now, this Saturday night, Kyle will attempt to become the first driver to go back-to-back at the Spring Showdown, which enters its 10th edition in what will be the 50th USAC National Sprint Car feature held at the 1/4-mile dirt oval since Rick Hood captured the initial victory in September of 1983.
While no driver owns more Tri-State USAC Sprint Car victories than Cummins, he needs one more to stand alone at the top. He’s currently tied at six with Kevin Thomas Jr. Six of Cummins’ 10 overall USAC Sprint Car victories have come at his home track of Tri-State.
Cummins is among four past Spring Showdown winners in this Saturday’s field. That group includes Stephen Schnapf (Newburgh, Ind.) who stunned the field in 2020 to become the only driver to capture his first career USAC National Sprint Car win during the Spring Showdown.
Just two drivers have started all eight previous Spring Showdown events since the inaugural edition in 2012: Cummins and Chase Stockon from nearby Fort Branch, Ind. Stockon scored in the 2016 Showdown and has yet to finish outside the top-11 in his 10 previous Spring Showdown feature starts. Stockon also possesses the 12-lap track record for the series at TSS, a 2:42.02 set on 9/14/2013.
Brady Short (Bedford, Ind.) is a two-time winner at Tri-State with the USAC National Sprint Cars, earning back-to-back wins in 2015. The first of those two visits to victory lane resulted in a 30-lap track record, a mark of 7:31.50 that was set on 7/18/2015 and still stands to this day. B. Short has never finished outside the top-ten in his seven Spring Showdown starts, with a best of 4th on three occasions in 2013-15-17.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has been solid in his past four Spring Showdown runs, all of which have resulted in top-five finishes: a 3rd in 2017, a 5th in 2018, 5th in 2020 and 4th in 2021. In July of 2021, he became a first-time USAC National Sprint Car winner at Tri-State during Indiana Sprint Week.
Likewise, Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) is also a USAC National Sprint Car feature winner at Tri-State. In fact, he’s the only driver to have both his first career USAC National Sprint Car (2016) and World of Outlaws (2020) wins come at TSS. His best Spring Showdown performance came in 2016 with a 3rd place result.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) was victorious with USAC at Tri-State in July of 2014, his lone win at the track under USAC sanction thus far. He’s been the runner-up at the Spring Showdown on three occasions, in 2013, 2015 and again in 2020.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) has made a start in each of the past eight Spring Showdown features, leading a lap and finishing 5th in 2016, then setting fast time in qualifying and leading a race-high 14 laps en route to a runner-up result in 2018.
Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) earned his best career USAC National Sprint Car result in the 2021 Spring Showdown, leading 26 of the 30 laps before finishing as the runner-up. Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) finished on the podium in his Spring Showdown debut in 2018.
Spring Showdown top-ten combatants include the likes of Tanner Thorson, Kendall Ruble and Kent Schmidt. Thorson (Minden, Nev.) collected an 8th in 2021 with Ruble (Vincennes, Ind.) finishing one spot behind. Kent Schmidt (Owensville, Ind.), meanwhile, earned himself a 10th in 2016.
Heatseekers bubbling just outside the chart of a top-10 hit performance at the Spring Showdown are Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson (11th in 2021); Fort Branch, Indiana’s Donny Brackett (11th in 2020); Loomis, California’s Max Adams (12th in 2021); Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (13th in 2018 & 2020); Pittsboro, Indiana’s Critter Malone (13th in 2021); Newburgh, Indiana’s Chet Williams (14th in 2017) and Robards, Kentucky’s Aric Gentry (17th in 2020).
The Spring Showdown Rookie class is stout. Point leader Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) is among those on the first-timer list. Axsom charged from 23rd to 5th at TSS in USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship competition in 2020. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) is among the event Rookies as well, having won the 2019 USAC National Midget feature there during the Harvest Classic.
Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) has competed in just about every type of racecar and just about every racetrack in the Midwest. However, the one-time USAC National Sprint Car feature winner has not yet made a feature start at the Spring Showdown.
Fellow Spring Showdown first-timers for Saturday include 2021 MSCS Rookie of the Year Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.), Ryan Bond (Haubstadt, Ind.), Sam Scott (Patoka, Ind.), Eddie Vancil (Olney, Ill.), Koby Barksdale (Norman, Okla.), Dylan Moan (Sumner, Ill.), Cindy Chambers (Bloomington, Ind.) and Stan Beadles (Owensville, Ind.).
Saturday’s Spring Showdown features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship (co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series) and the Midwest Mini Sprint Association.
Pits open Saturday at 3pm (Central), with grandstands opening at 4pm, the drivers meeting at 5pm and hot laps at 6pm.
General admission tickets for Saturday are $25 for ages 19 and up. General admission for students ages 13-18 is $20. Children ages 12 and under are free.
The Spring Showdown can be watched live and on-demand on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3u7ID2N.