By Richie Murray
Haubstadt, Indiana (April 12, 2023)………Nestled near the crevice where the three Midwest states of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky meet, Tri-State Speedway stands proud and tall where it has welcomed race fans for more than a half century since its grand opening in 1957.
Now, this Saturday night, April 15, the Tri-State area is where the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Series converge for the 10th running of the Spring Showdown.
It’s slated to be the 52nd USAC National Sprint Car event held at the track since the series debuted on its quarter-mile confines in 1983.
A spectacularly talented field is set for Saturday’s southern Indiana run, and while we’re here, let’s run through six storylines we’ll be watching at the 2023 Spring Showdown.
KTJ & CUMMINS WAGE THEIR WAR AT THE TOP
On the track, there’s been little separation when it comes to Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins at Tri-State Speedway, and the same goes for the stat chart. Both drivers are tied for the all-time lead in USAC National Sprint Car feature victories at Tri-State with six apiece and each will try to top each other for the record this Saturday night.
Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) is the lone two-time winner of the Spring Showdown, which began back in 2012. KTJ won the event in both 2013 and 2018, and if you’re a fan of numerology, every five years seems to be the trend thus far for him at this event.
Meanwhile, Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been synonymous with success at Tri-State, and he finally racked up his first victory in the Spring Showdown with a pass for the lead four laps from the finish line during the most recent running of the event in 2021.
TAMING TRICKY TRI-STATE
For many, it can take several trials before a driver finally gets the hang of Tri-State Speedway. It’s fast, it’s paper-clippy in nature and it takes a different kind of knack to get the car and driver dialed in for success than it might in other places.
Along with Thomas and Cummins, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon are also among those individuals vying to repeat their Spring Showdown success from years earlier.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) won the event in 2015, and also owns a runner-up result in 2014 and a 5th most recently in 2021. Stockon, from nearby Fort Branch, Ind., collected the Spring Showdown victory a year after Bacon’s in 2016 and also possesses a pair of thirds in 2013 and 2021, plus a pair of fifths in 2012 and 2015.
KNOWIN’ IT LIKE THEIR BACK HAND
For Cummins, Stockon and Brady Short, Tri-State Speedway is home in more ways than one. Cummins and Stockon both reside within a stone’s throw of the track while Short routinely makes the relatively short southern Indiana jaunt to The Class Track. This trio has found the edge to succeed regularly at TSS over much of the past two decades.
Cummins owns a record 34 MSCS wins, the majority of which have come at Tri-State while both Short and Stockon reside inside the top-five of MSCS’s all-time win list. Cummins’ five MSCS titles in 2007-08-09-14-19 are an all-time record while Short has grabbed four in 2011-15-16-17 and Stockon each of the last three in 2020-21-22.
Although they have often been on the road with USAC as well throughout much of their careers, their MSCS success is unparalleled. Their Tri-State USAC prowess is staggering too with the three possessing practically 20 percent of all USAC Sprint wins at the track.
JADON & THE FOOTSTEP FOLLOWERS
During his most recent run with the series at Tri-State Speedway last Fall in the Haubstadt Hustler, Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.) broke through for his much-anticipated first career USAC National Sprint Car victory. This came after finishing as the runner-up in the most recent edition of the Spring Showdown in 2021.
It brings to mind a number of other possible first-time USAC National winners who could emerge this Saturday. Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) has already won with USAC this year during a non-points special event at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in February. However, Pursley, this year’s leading Rookie of the Year contender, aims to put one in the win column during a full USAC points race, and what better place to do it than Tri-State where he once finished as the runner-up in an MSCS show and earned his first career top-10 result with the USAC Sprints, both in 2021?
Same goes for Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), who finished third in MSCS points for 2022 and was named the series’ 2021 Rookie of the Year. He has been solid in his outings thus far with USAC in 2023 and has numerous laps around Tri-State where he’s been a regular for the past two-plus seasons.
Critter Malone (Pittsboro, Ind.) would be a highly popular winner on Saturday. He has been a winner on the MSCS tour at Tri-State in each of the past two seasons in 2021-22 and has regularly been fast and impressive any time he steps foot at Tri-State, also finishing 4th with USAC in late 2020. His most recent USAC win came in the National Midget ranks back in 2002 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
THE BLOOMINGTON / TRI-STATE DOUBLE
Tri-State caps the weekend double that first brings the USAC National Sprints to Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway 24 hours earlier on Friday night, April 14.
The Bloomington/Tri-State double has become a fixture for the series with the two tracks contesting events on consecutive nights 19 different times since 2006. Since that point, not a single driver has swept both events in the same weekend.
Fourteen drivers have triumphed at both tracks in their USAC Sprint careers: Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins, Dave Darland, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Tracy Hines, Rick Hood, Cory Kruseman, Hunter Schuerenberg, Brady Short, Jon Stanbrough, Kevin Thomas Jr., Chris Windom and J.J. Yeley.
Furthermore, only three individuals have won at both tracks within the same season: J.J. Yeley (2003), Kevin Thomas Jr. twice (2017 & 2021) and Dave Darland (2018). Only one of those won at each place within the same week (Yeley), but none have done so within the confines of the same weekend.
One driver in this weekend’s lineup owns a USAC Sprint win at Bloomington but is still on the hunt to complete the task with a follow-up USAC triumph at Tri-State, that being 2019 USAC National Sprint Car champ C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.).
A FIRST “FIRST” AT THE SPRING SHOWDOWN
The list of drivers who haven’t won the Spring Showdown yet in their careers is just about as impressive as the scroll of individuals who have. There’s a slew of series champions, feature winners and track titlists who are champing at the bit (not chomping – that’s grammatically incorrect) to change that fact come Saturday, namely Robert Ballou, Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull and Brady Short, all of whom have already won USAC National features at Tri-State in their careers.
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), a two-time USAC Sprint winner at TSS in 2014 and 2022, has come oh-so-close to winning the Spring Showdown, finishing 2nd on three occasions in 2013, once more during his 2015 championship season and again in 2020.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) has finished the Spring Showdown inside the top-five in each of his last four starts – 3rd in 2017, 5th in 2018, 5th in 2020 and 4th in 2021. Grant, the reigning USAC National Sprint Car champ, was a TSS USAC Sprint victor in the summer of 2022.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) has made a splash as the winningest USAC National Midget driver at Tri-State with three victories, all of which have come in the past three seasons in 2020-21-22. He aims to improve upon his Spring Showdown best thus far, a 9th in 2016. Likewise for Jason McDougal who won a USAC National Midget feature at Tri-State in 2019 and won with MSCS at Tri-State in 2022. He shoots for his very first Spring Showdown start on Saturday.
Furthermore, Brady Short (Bedford, Ind.) has never finished outside of the top-10 in any of his eight previous Spring Showdown starts, putting together an incredible string of consistency with a 6th in 2012, 4th in 2013, 5th in 2014, 4th in 2015, 8th in 2016, 4th in 2017 and a 10th in 2020.
Additionally, a number of other USAC regulars are seeking their first turn at chalking up a USAC triumph at Tri-State. C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) won four times at TSS with MSCS in 2017-18 and the 2019 USAC Sprint king took the runner-up spot in the 2018 Spring Showdown.
Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) will take in his first Spring Showdown experience this weekend after timing in quickest during qualifying last summer at TSS and collecting three combined top-10s at the track in 2022 between his appearances with the USAC Sprints and USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
Series winners Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) will be making their Spring Showdown debuts while Sutter, California’s Logan Seavey (3rd in 2018), Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson (11th in 2021) and Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (13th in 2018 & 2020) make their return to the event this weekend.
Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana will host the 10th running of the Spring Showdown this Saturday night, April 15, at its 1/4-mile, high-banked dirt oval, and culminates with a 30-lap, $5,000-to-win feature event for USAC and MSCS.
The Spring Showdown features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship (co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series) as well as the Midwest Mini Sprint Association.
Pits open at 3pm Central, grandstands at 4pm, drivers meeting at 5:15pm and cars get on track at 6pm followed immediately by qualifying and racing.
Adult general admission tickets are $25, students (ages 13-18) $20 & children 12 and under free. Pit passes are $30 (all ages).
If you’re unable to make it to the track, you may also watch this Saturday’s event LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3ZjeooQ.
SPRING SHOWDOWN USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS
2-Kevin Thomas Jr.
1-Brady Bacon, Daron Clayton, Kyle Cummins, Stephen Schnapf, Hunter Schuerenberg, Chase Stockon & Chris Windom
SPRING SHOWDOWN USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS
2012: Hunter Schuerenberg (5/12)
2013: Kevin Thomas Jr. (5/11)
2014: Daron Clayton (4/26)
2015: Brady Bacon (4/18)
2016: Chase Stockon (4/16)
2017: Chris Windom (4/15)
2018: Kevin Thomas Jr. (4/28)
2019: Rained Out
2020: Stephen Schnapf (6/14)
2021: Kyle Cummins (4/17)
2022: Rained Out
TRI-STATE SPEEDWAY USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS
6-Kyle Cummins & Kevin Thomas Jr.
2-Robert Ballou, Hunter Schuerenberg, Brady Short, Jon Stanbrough & Chase Stockon
1-Brady Bacon, Steve Butler, Dave Darland, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Blake Fitzpatrick, Damion Gardner, Justin Grant, Tracy Hines, Kenny Jacobs, Levi Jones, Casey Riggs, Jadon Rogers, Stephen Schnapf, Carson Short, Chris Windom & J.J. Yeley
TRI-STATE SPEEDWAY USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS
1983: Rick Hood (9/4)
1984: Steve Butler (5/28) & Rick Hood (9/2)
1988: Kenny Jacobs (8/7)
1989: Rick Hood (6/3)
2000: Cory Kruseman (7/30)
2001: Tony Elliott (5/13) & Jay Drake (7/22)
2002: Tracy Hines (5/19) & Cory Kruseman (7/21)
2003: J.J. Yeley (7/20)
2004: Cory Kruseman (7/18)
2005: Cory Kruseman (7/17)
2006: Jon Stanbrough (7/15) & Daron Clayton (9/2)
2007: Daron Clayton (7/21)
2008: Hunter Schuerenberg (7/19)
2009: Levi Jones (7/18)
2010: Blake Fitzpatrick (7/17)
2011: Damion Gardner (7/16) & Casey Riggs (9/17)
2012: Hunter Schuerenberg (5/12), Jon Stanbrough (7/21) & Daron Clayton (9/15)
2013: Kevin Thomas Jr. (5/11) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (9/14)
2014: Daron Clayton (4/26), Robert Ballou (7/19) & Daron Clayton (9/13)
2015: Brady Bacon (4/18), Brady Short (7/18) & Brady Short (9/19)
2016: Chase Stockon (4/16), Carson Short (7/16) & Kyle Cummins (9/17)
2017: Chris Windom (4/15), Kyle Cummins (7/15) & Kevin Thomas Jr., (9/16)
2018: Kevin Thomas Jr. (4/28), Dave Darland (7/28) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (9/15)
2019: Kyle Cummins (7/27) & Kyle Cummins (9/14)
2020: Stephen Schnapf (6/14), Kyle Cummins (8/2) & Chase Stockon (9/19)
2021: Kyle Cummins (4/17), Justin Grant (7/31) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (9/18)
2022: Robert Ballou (7/30) & Jadon Rogers (9/17)
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT TRI-STATE SPEEDWAY
1 Lap – 7/30/2000 – Levi Jones – 12.644 – 71.180 mph
6 Laps – 7/17/2005 – Hud Cone – 1:20.59 – 67.006 mph
8 Laps – 7/15/2006 – Shane Hollingsworth – 1:49.6565.664 mph
10 Laps – 9/2/2006 – Dave Darland – 2:09.026 – 9.757 mph
12 Laps – 9/14/2013 – Chase Stockon – 2:42.02 – 66.658 mph
30 Laps – 7/18/2015 – Brady Short – 7:31.50 – 59.801 mph
PAST SPRING SHOWDOWN FEATURE RESULTS:
2012 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Hunter Schuerenberg, 2. Levi Jones, 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4. Daron Clayton, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Brady Short, 7. Jeff Bland Jr., 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Kyle Cummins, 10. Wes McIntyre, 11. Jon Stanbrough, 12. Damion Gardner, 13. Casey Shuman, 14. Casey Riggs, 15. Dave Darland, 16. Jonathan Hendrick, 17. Chase Briscoe, 18. Chet Williams, 19. Dakota Jackson, 20. Tracy Hines, 21. Brandon Mattox, 22. Nic Faas, 23. Bobby East. 9:33.03
2013 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Brady Short, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Levi Jones, 7. Wes McIntyre, 8. Landon Simon, 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 10. Brady Bacon, 11. Casey Shuman, 12. Kyle Cummins, 13. Tracy Hines, 14. Nick Drake, 15. Chase Briscoe, 16. Danny Holtsclaw, 17. Shane Cottle, 18. Dakota Jackson, 19. Josh Burton, 20. Daron Clayton, 21. Seth Parker, 22. C.J. Leary, 23. Tyler Courtney, 24. Bryan Clauson, 25. Jon Stanbrough. NT
2014 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Daron Clayton, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Jon Stanbrough, 4. Hunter Schuerenberg, 5. Brady Short, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. C.J. Leary, 9. Jarett Andretti, 10. Chase Stockon, 11. Carson Short, 12. Kyle Cummins, 13. Robert Ballou, 14. Tracy Hines, 15. Thomas Meseraull, 16. Bradley Sterrett, 17. Dave Darland, 18. Shane Cockrum, 19. Jeff Bland Jr., 20. Brandon Mattox, 21. Kevin Thomas Jr., 22. Chris Windom. NT
2015 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Brady Short, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Carson Short, 11. Chase Briscoe, 12. Aaron Farney, 13. Jon Stanbrough, 14. Logan Jarrett, 15. Ted Hines, 16. Shane Cockrum, 17. Chet Williams, 18. Donnie Brackett, 19. Justin Grant, 20. James Lyerla, 21. Jeff Bland Jr., 22. Travis Hery. NT
2016 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Carson Short, 4. Chad Boespflug, 5. C.J. Leary, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Robert Ballou, 8. Brady Short, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Kent Schmidt, 11. Dakota Jackson, 12. Justin Grant, 13. Landon Simon, 14. Dave Darland, 15. Aaron Farney, 16. James Lyerla, 17. Isaac Chapple, 18. Matt Goodnight, 19. Brandon Morin, 20. Kody Swanson, 21. Nevil Algieo, 22. Max McGhee. NT
2017 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Brady Short, 5. Carson Short, 6. Jarett Andretti, 7. Aaron Farney, 8. Max McGhee, 9. Kevin Thomas Jr., 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Chase Stockon, 12. Stevie Sussex, 13. Tyler Courtney, 14. Chet Williams, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Landon Simon, 18. Brandon Morin, 19. Kyle Cummins, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Clinton Boyles, 22. Aric Gentry, 23. Dakota Jackson, 24. Donny Brackett, 25. Josh Hodges. NT
2018 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (5), 2. C.J. Leary (6), 3. Logan Seavey (7), 4. Dave Darland (4), 5. Justin Grant (2), 6. Chris Windom (10), 7. Robert Ballou (20), 8. Kody Swanson (1), 9. Carson Short (3), 10. Chase Stockon (14), 11. Joe Stornetta (19), 12. Tyler Courtney (15), 13. Brandon Mattox (21), 14. Brady Bacon (18), 15. Donny Brackett (9), 16. Stephen Schnapf (12), 17. Isaac Chapple (16), 18. Kyle Cummins (8), 19. Collin Ambrose (22), 20. Aric Gentry (13), 21. Brian Karraker (11), 22. Tyler Thomas (23), 23. Stevie Sussex (17). NT
2020 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Stephen Schnapf (1), 2. Robert Ballou (2), 3. Kevin Thomas Jr. (15), 4. Carson Short (4), 5. Justin Grant (5), 6. Chris Windom (9), 7. Chase Stockon (11), 8. Brady Bacon (10), 9. Jadon Rogers (12), 10. Brady Short (21), 11. Donny Brackett (6), 12. C.J. Leary (7), 13. Brandon Mattox (16), 14. Charles Davis Jr. (14), 15. Kendall Ruble (13), 16. Max Adams (17), 17. Aric Gentry (20), 18. Kent Schmidt (24), 19. Dustin Clark (19), 20. Logan Seavey (23), 21. Dakota Jackson (8), 22. Kyle Cummins (3), 23. Anton Hernandez (22), 24. Jonathan Vennard (18), 25. Dave Darland (25), 26. Chayse Hayhurst (26). NT
2021 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (11), 2. Jadon Rogers (5), 3. Chase Stockon (1), 4. Justin Grant (7), 5. Brady Bacon (8), 6. Robert Ballou (12), 7. Kevin Thomas Jr. (6), 8. Tanner Thorson (13), 9. Kendall Ruble (19), 10. Chris Windom (4), 11. Jake Swanson (2), 12. Max Adams (15), 13. Critter Malone (14), 14. Kent Schmidt (3), 15. Paul Nienhiser (22), 16. C.J. Leary (16), 17. Cole Bodine (23) (P), 18. Carson Short (21), 19. Shane Cottle (17), 20. Chet Williams (18), 21. Nic Harris (20), 22. Brandon Mattox (10), 23. Aric Gentry (24) (P), 24. Stephen Schnapf (9). NT