INDIANAPOLIS – Spring is in the air and that means racing season is back in the Hoosier State, as USAC moves to the midwest now with two events this weekend inside the Indiana border.
The first is a Saturday night shootout for the USAC Sprints at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Ione, California’s Justin Grant has been dominant in the early part of the season after picking up the victory in the USAC National Sprint Car opener at “Winter Dirt Games VIII” in Ocala, Florida. He followed that up one night later by finishing second to Hunter Schuerenberg and, by virtue, stands at the top of the series standings heading to the Burg.
Grant’s early season success would not cease and desist at that moment. Less than a month after Ocala, Grant scored the USAC National Midget season opener in February’s “Shamrock Classic” at Du Quoin’s Southern Illinois Center. The feat made him the first driver to win both the USAC National Sprint and National Midget season openers in the same season.
Grant’s odds just might be in his favor as two of his five career USAC Sprint wins have come at the high-banked three-eighths-mile oval in Lawrenceburg.
Hanford, California’s Chad Boespflug, the 2011 Lawrenceburg track champion, finished a strong second and fourth in the two Ocala races and sits third in points. Tied for seventh in the series standings are C.J. Leary and Jarett Andretti, who each have a Lawrenceburg track championship under their belt: Leary in 2013 and Andretti in 2016.
Chase Stockon, a Lawrenceburg winner in the fall of 2012, is fourth in the standings. Brady Bacon took the checkered at Lawrenceburg in the summer of 2015 and is fifth in points. Thomas Meseraull, a Burg winner in the fall of 2015, sits sixth while 2010 winner Jerry Coons, Jr. is tied for ninth. Hunter Schuerenberg (second) and Chris Windom (tied for ninth) are each seeking their first USAC win at Lawrenceburg.
In last year’s Midwest opener at Lawrenceburg, it was a war of attrition as car after car fell by the wayside on a chillingly cold and blustery day. But, in the end, the veteran Dave Darland conserved his machine from the wear and tear, surviving the 30-lapper to extend his miraculous streak of USAC National victories to 24 consecutive seasons.
Lawrenceburg has played the host of several April USAC National Sprint Car stops on-and-off since 2006. Previous April Lawrenceburg winners include Jon Stanbrough (2006), Levi Jones (2007), Josh Wise (2009), Jerry Coons, Jr. (2010), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2013), Grant (2014), Logan Jarrett (2015) and Dave Darland (2016). Darland leads all drivers with seven career USAC National Sprint Car wins at Lawrenceburg and is the only driver to win a series race there in three different decades.
Pit gates open for Lawrenceburg’s season opener at 3pm while the front gates open at 5. Cars hit the track for hot laps at 6pm with opening ceremonies set to get underway at 7. Adult admission is $25. Kids 7-12 are $7. Children 6 and under are free! Pit passes are 30 bucks.
Then on Sunday, the USAC Silver Crown drivers will hit the dirt in Terre Haute. The Sumar Classic boasts one of the largest entry-lists in nearly two decades.
A trio of USAC’s most popular stars are the latest to file their entries for this Sunday’s “Sumar Classic” USAC Silver Crown season opener at western Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.
The addition of Dave Darland, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney to the April 2nd race brings the field to 35 entries.
Lincoln, Indiana’s Darland, a 2008 “Sumar Classic” winner, will join the field for his first ride in the Phillips Motorsports No. 27. Darland has had substantial success with the Phillips’ sprint car in recent years, racking up 17 wins with the team between 2013 and 2015. Darland is one of just six members of the USAC Triple Crown club in which a driver has won the title in each of the club’s three national divisions during their career: Silver Crown, AMSOIL National Sprint and National Midget. Darland is tied for sixth on the all-time Silver Crown win list with 14 victories.
Justin Grant nearly won the “Sumar Classic” one year ago after leading the first 93 circuits of the 100-lap event, ultimately finishing second behind C.J. Leary. The Ione, California native seeks redemption on Sunday as he aims to notch his first career series win. Grant has gotten off to an incredible start thus far in the 2017 season after collecting season-opening wins in USAC’s National Sprint (Ocala, Fla.) and National Midget divisions (Du Quoin, Ill.), the first driver ever to accomplish the feat. Grant’s Silver Crown team sports a new look, taking the No. 91 this season as car owners Chris Carli and Ron Hemelgarn have teamed up with Grant for a run at the series title.
Indianapolis, Indiana’s Tyler Courtney takes the wheel of Hans Lein’s No. 97 for Sunday’s “Sumar.” Courtney has made just a handful of starts in the Silver Crown division, but his most recent run in a champ car at last fall’s “4-Crown Nationals” at Eldora Speedway resulted in a career-best third-place finish after qualifying for the pole position. Courtney was also a winner in the AMSOIL National Sprint Car series in 2016 after storming to the front from the 24th spot to capture his first career USAC National win during “Indiana Sprint Week” at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
Thirty-five drivers and cars are on the list of expected competitors for this year’s 100-lap showdown on the famed half-mile dirt oval. The list includes some of the most decorated racers in USAC history as well as one of the strongest fields top-to-bottom seen in several seasons.
USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. is entered for the event along with additional past Terre Haute Silver Crown victors Bud Kaeding (2006), Kody Swanson (2014), Shane Cockrum (2015) and defending winner Leary, who continued a streak of different “Sumar” winners last April that dates back to 1999.
Defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom begins his title defense with the return of Kazmark Racing, who is fielding a car in the series for the first time since 2001. Reigning USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon eyes the addition of one of the few missing pieces to his racing resume: a victory in the Silver Crown series. Five-time and defending USAC/CRA AMSOIL Sprint Car titlist Damion Gardner plans to make his first Silver Crown feature start since 2008.
Past Silver Crown series winners also make up the bulk of the “Sumar” driver lineup, including Aaron Pierce, David Byrne and Shane Cottle.
The event, which debuted with Donnie Beechler’s 1995 score, could see some history made as the expected turnout will likely result in the first qualifying race for the series since the 2008 “4-Crown Nationals” at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway. The qualifying race will be 15 laps, with the top-8 finishers transferring to the final four rows of the 24-car main event.
The first ever Silver Crown event held at Terre Haute was in 1980 when Gary Bettenhausen drove the Delrose-Holt Racing machine to the victory. This will be the 17th edition of the “Sumar Classic.”
Pit gates open at 1pm while the grandstands open at 3pm. Silver Crown hot laps begin at 3:30pm with Silver Crown qualifying pushing off at 4:40pm. Racing begins at 5:15pm.
Tickets for the “Sumar Classic” can be purchased now at http://www.usactickets.com/. Adult infield tickets start at just $15 while children age 10 and under are FREE! Adult grandstand tickets are $25. Fans will receive a free pit pass upgrade with an advanced general admission ticket purchase, which is good for pit entry after 3pm only. Pit Passes are $30 for USAC/UMP Members and $35 for non-members.
“SUMAR CLASSIC” ENTRY LIST (35 CARS)
07 JACOB WILSON/Crawfordsville, IN
08 JOHNNY PETROZELLE/Denton, NC
2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL
4 JOE LIGUORI/Tampa, FL
5 J.C. BLAND/Springfield, IL
6 DAMION GARDNER/Corona, CA
7 DAVID SHAIN/Sullivan, IL
14 ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH
18 KENNY GENTRY/Henderson, KY
20 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN
27 DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN
30 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA
32 JOSS MOFFATT/Columbus, IN
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI
42 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL
48 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA
54 MARK SMITH/Sunbury, PA
55 CASEY SHUMAN/Tempe, AZ
63 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA
71 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL
75 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN
81 SHANE COTTLE/Kokomo, IN
89 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
92 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL
97 TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN
99 KOREY WEYANT/Springfield, IL
118 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN
120 HUNTER SCHUERENBERG/Sikeston, MO
201 DAKOTA JACKSON/Elizabethtown, IN