By Richie Murray
Indianapolis, Indiana (September 15, 2022)………The first two rounds of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship racing at Indianapolis, Indiana’s Circle City Raceway have been all about the escape.
Tanner Thorson escaped lapped traffic carnage to slip through for a victory in 2021 while C.J. Leary found his escape by making a beeline straight to the top which propelled him to victory lane during the final laps this past July at the quarter-mile dirt oval.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) will attempt to repeat at Circle City this Friday night, September 16, when the series makes its third ever visit to the Marion County Fairgrounds venue.
In doing so, Leary will try to become the first driver to win back-to-back USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car features on an Indianapolis dirt track since Tom Bigelow did so during his record 14-win season in 1977.
Leary is also one of two drivers to finish inside the top-five in both of his USAC National Sprint Car starts at Circle City, also scoring a 5th in 2021.
The other driver who fits the mold is four-time champ Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), who was 4th in 2021 and 3rd in 2022. In fact, Bacon even finished 3rd in the only USAC National Midget race held at the track. He also claimed victory in the first sprint car race without a wing at the track, with MSCS, in 2021.
Series point leader Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has twice placed within the top-ten at Gas City in USAC National Sprint Car competition with a 9th in 2021 and an excellent 12th to 2nd charge this past July. Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) went 3rd in 2021 and 8th in 2022 while Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) collected a 10th in 2021, then upped his performance to 4th in July. Stockon’s Circle City resume includes possession of the 10-lap track record of 2:06.03, which he pinned down a couple months ago.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) chimed in with a 5th earlier this summer while Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) turned in one of his finest runs of the campaign with a 6th and 2015 series champion Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) tallied a 9th. In 2021, Emerson Axsom and Kevin Thomas Jr. both sported top-tens at Circle City with Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) notching a 7th and Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) an 8th.
Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) recorded the fastest lap ever turned by a USAC Sprint Car at Circle City in July of 2022 when he stopped the clock with a 12.005 in what was his first ever visit to the track. However, he was relegated to a 21st place finish in the feature.
The Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Sprint Car made a visit to Circle City in July and finished in the 10th position with driver Ryan Timms at the wheel. This Friday, Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) gets the nod as he plans to make his first series appearance in nearly a full calendar year, since an 8th place result at Tri-State Speedway on this same weekend in 2021. In one career USAC National Midget start at Circle City in 2021, Pursley made a nice charge from 17th to finish 9th.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) has won on three occasions this year at Circle City in local sprint car competition. He’ll wheel the Epperson Racing No. 2E this weekend as he aims to improve upon his lone USAC start at Circle City, which credited him with an 18th place finish in 2021.
Logan Seavey and Kyle Cummins are shooting for better days ahead at Circle City this time around. Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), who recently scored a Silver Crown win on the mile at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds, was an 18th place finisher at Circle City in July.
Cummins (Princeton, Ind.), meanwhile, comes in riding a streak of six consecutive top-four finishes in USAC National Sprint Car competition, including the most recent series race during Sprint Car Smackdown at Kokomo in which he collected a $35,000 prize.
Also returning to Circle City USAC Sprint Car lineup this Friday night are Brownsburg, Indiana’s Matt McDonald (12th in 2022), Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (13th in 2022), Norman, Oklahoma’s Koby Barksdale (13th in 2021), Worthington, Indiana’s Jadon Rogers (15th in 2021), Loomis, California’s Max Adams (16th in 2021) and Columbus, Indiana’s J.J. Hughes (20th in 2021).
First career Circle City USAC National Sprint Car appearances are on the horizon this weekend for 2022 Bloomington Speedway and Lincoln Park Speedway track champion Geoff Ensign (Sebastopol, Calif.) as well as Anton Hernandez (Arlington, Texas) and Gabriel Gilbert (Greenwood, Ind.).
Meanwhile, a handful of others have raced locally and successfully at Circle City this season and aim for a first USAC start at the track this Friday night. Among the group are Yorktown, Indiana’s Zack Pretorius (4th in May), San Rafael, California’s Frankie Guerrini (5th in May), Brazil, Indiana’s Harley Burns (9th in August) and Anderson, Indiana’s Collin Grissom (8th in August), who will be making his USAC debut.
Friday night’s event features both the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midgets Presented by Mastin & Cain Warehousing Services.
Pits open at 3pm ET with the front gates opening at 5:30pm, the drivers meeting at 6pm, hot laps at 6:30pm and qualifying and racing to follow.
General admission tickets will be available at the ticket booth on the day of the event. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for Seniors, Veterans, Military, First Responders and Teachers with ID – Presented by the Hoosier Lottery. Kids ages 9-12 are $10 while children age 8 and under are free.
Friday’s event can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3OivVbj.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-1886, 2-Brady Bacon-1774, 3-C.J. Leary-1745, 4-Robert Ballou-1725, 5-Emerson Axsom-1653, 6-Logan Seavey-1557, 7-Chase Stockon-1397, 8-Matt Westfall-1307, 9-Jadon Rogers-1271, 10-Jake Swanson-1201.
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT CIRCLE CITY RACEWAY:
1-C.J. Leary & Tanner Thorson
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT CIRCLE CITY RACEWAY:
2021: Tanner Thorson (9/17)
2022: C.J. Leary (7/25)
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT CIRCLE CITY RACEWAY:
1 Lap – 7/25/2022 – Mitchel Moles – 12.005 – 74.969 mph
10 Laps – 7/25/2022 – Chase Stockon – 2:06.03 – 71.412 mph
PAST USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RESULTS AT CIRCLE CITY RACEWAY:
SEPTEMBER 2021 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tanner Thorson (2), 2. Chris Windom (1), 3. Jake Swanson (10), 4. Brady Bacon (6), 5. C.J. Leary (3), 6. Shane Cottle (5), 7. Emerson Axsom (9), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (4), 9. Justin Grant (11), 10. Chase Stockon (12), 11. Jason McDougal (13), 12. Robert Ballou (20), 13. Koby Barksdale (14), 14. Matt Westfall (16), 15. Jadon Rogers (22), 16. Max Adams (7), 17. Brent Beauchamp (17), 18. Thomas Meseraull (8), 19. Brandon Mattox (21), 20. J.J. Hughes (15), 21. Ricky Lewis (18), 22. Travis Berryhill (19). NT
JULY 2022 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. C.J. Leary (8), 2. Justin Grant (12), 3. Brady Bacon (4), 4. Chase Stockon (7), 5. Jason McDougal (3), 6. Matt Westfall (16), 7. Shane Cottle (22), 8. Jake Swanson (5), 9. Robert Ballou (10), 10. Ryan Timms (6), 11. Dave Darland (18), 12. Matt McDonald (20), 13. Brandon Mattox (P-23), 14. Briggs Danner (2), 15. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 16. Emerson Axsom (9), 17. Brent Beauchamp (14), 18. Logan Seavey (19), 19. Brody Roa (21), 20. Dalton Stevens (17), 21. Mitchel Moles (11), 22. Kyle Cummins (13), 23. Scotty Weir (15). NT