By Richie Murray
Kansas City, Kansas (May 10, 2022)………For non-racing folk, when the weather gets nice, plans are made to head to the lake. For racing drivers, teams and fans alike, this weekend, the plans call for a trip to Lakeside.
For the first time in five years, the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship is tuned up to compete at the 4/10-mile dirt oval of Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. this Thursday night, May 12, for $6,000-to-win and $600-to-start.
The event is co-sanctioned by the Wholesale Batteries Midwest Wingless Racing Association that’ll compete in conjunction with the national series. The USAC National portion will pay full points toward the championship while the MWRA event is considered a non-points special event.
The weekend presents the first visit for the series to Lakeside since 2017. Two different Lakeside Speedways in KCK have contested a total of 18 USAC national events dating back to 1963. In that span, only one driver has scored multiple victories at the joint. That’s Robert Ballou.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) notched successive Lakeside victories during his 2015 championship season and again in 2016. Ballou also holds Lakeside’s 8-lap USAC Sprint track record of 2:17.20, set in 2017.
Four-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) is the reigning USAC Sprint winner at Lakeside, which came in 2017 when he led all 30 laps. In fact, in Bacon’s four series starts at Lakeside, in addition to his win, he’s finished 3rd in 2015, and was 2nd on both nights in 2016, the latter of which he led a race-high 19 laps before seeing the win slip away with two laps remaining.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) owns the one-lap USAC Sprint Car track record of 16.438 at Lakeside, set in 2017. In fact, he was also the fastest qualifier on night one at Lakeside in 2016. He’s yet to finish outside the top-six in his four attempts at Lakeside with a best of 2nd in 2015, plus 4th place results on night two in 2016 and in 2017, with the 6th place finish coming on night one of 2016.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) won his heat race and finished 2nd in his only previous Lakeside USAC Sprint start in 2017. On May 1, Grant became the second quickest driver in USAC history to win a Silver Crown race, National Sprint Car race and NOS Energy Drink National Midget race in a season.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car champ, has been a consistent top-ten finisher in his four previous runs at Lakeside, bested with a 6th in 2017 to go along with a 7th in 2015, and an 8th & 9th across two nights in 2016.
Series point leader, and the lone multi-time series winner in 2022, Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), is making his Lakeside debut as are top-ten pointsmen, Sutter, California’s Logan Seavey (6th) and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Jason McDougal (7th).
Series feature winners making their Lakeside debuts include 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champion and 2021 USAC National Most Improved Driver, Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), plus Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio).
Also making Lakeside debuts are a handful looking to make their first appearance into USAC National Sprint Car victory lane – 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) and 2020 Rookie of the Year, Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.).
It’s a similar scenario for three-time USAC National Midget feature winner Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) who’ll make his USAC national debut at Lakeside following a 3rd place result there with MWRA in August of 2020. Ricky Lewis (Oxnard, Calif.), Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.) and 2021 POWRi WAR Sprint Car champ Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) will also be on board for their initial Lakeside USAC national runs.
USAC national regulars will be joined by a number of representatives from the USAC Midwest Wingless Racing Association series.
The 2020 MWRA titlist, Wyatt Burks (Topeka, Kan.), is the winningest driver in series history with eight scores. He’s made one previous USAC national start at Lakeside, finishing 16th in 2016. In 2020 with MWRA at Lakeside, Burks never finished outside the top-two in three starts, winning in August and finishing as the runner-up in both June and October.
Five-time MWRA winner Wesley Smith (Billings, Mo.) finished 4th with MWRA at Lakeside in both August and October of 2020. Chris Parkinson (Gladstone, Mo), the 2014 WAR Sprint Car champion, has made three previous USAC National starts at Lakeside with a pair of 15th place results in 2016 serving as his best. The third generation of the legendary Parkinson family, grandson of Ralph and son of Junior, Chris finished 4th with MWRA at Lakeside in June of 2020.
Joining the group are a number of drivers shooting for their first career USAC National Sprint Car feature start of any kind. Among them are one-time MWRA feature winner Xavier Doney (Odessa, Mo.) who was 3rd with MWRA at Lakeside in August of 2021.
Mix in MWRA regulars and Lakeside experienced wheelmen such as Zach Clark (Olathe, Kan.) who took a 10th and 9th with MWRA back in 2020; Dakota Earls (Independence, Mo.), a 13th place finisher in 2021; Chad Tye (Independence, Mo.), 13th in 2020; and Justin Johnson (Platte City, Mo.), 17th in 2021, along with first-timers Chase Howard (Olive Branch, Miss.) and A.J. Gilbert (Tonganoxie, Kan.).
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, USRA Stock Cars and USRA B-Mods are on Thursday night’s event card.
Tickets will be available at the gate on race day. General admission tickets are $25 and, for seniors/military, they’re $20. Tickets for children aged 12-15 are $10 while kids aged 11 and under are admitted for free. Pit passes are $35 for members and $40 for non-members.
Pit gates open at 3pm CDT with the grandstands/ticket office opening at 5pm and hot laps at 6:30pm, immediately followed by qualifying and racing.
The Spring Showdown can be watched live and on-demand on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
Thursday’s USAC National Sprint Car event kicks off a mega three-race weekend for the series in Kansas and Missouri, followed by the first appearance of the series to Osborn, Missouri’s U.S. 36 Raceway in a decade on Friday night, May 13, and the first run at Odessa, Missouri’s I-70 Motorsports Park’s dirt track in 40 years on Saturday night, May 14.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Emerson Axsom-281, 2-Justin Grant-278, 3-Chase Stockon-261, 4-Kyle Cummins-238, 5-Brady Bacon-230, 6-Logan Seavey-224, 7-Jason McDougal-216, 8-Robert Ballou-204, 9-Buddy Kofoid-200, 10-C.J. Leary-188.