By Danny Burton
Danny Burton’s Hoosier Race Report appears courtesy of OpenWheelRacers.com
This is the 19th Father’s Day that I’ve spent without my dad here on Earth with me in the physical sense, and not just spiritual. Children never really get over a loss such as a parent, spouse, child, or loved one, but we deal with it in one way, shape or form. How we deal with is, of course, the key. So on this Father’s Day weekend I went to see a bit of racin’ Hoosier style, as my dad and I did for many years in my youth. I like to think that he was there with me in a sense. He’d have been pleased perhaps. And I’m sure that the fathers of both Kent Christian and Tim Spindler, this weekend’s winners at Bloomington and Lawrenceburg, were pleased too.
Friday afternoon, and it was a typical Hoosier day, which is to say hot and humid. I try not to be very vocal about it, but I’ve always preferred our summers here to our winters, even though our winters are a good bit milder than others I could name (Hi, Rich B.!). But summertime racing in Indiana is like no other experience, to be sure.
28 sprint cars were in the pits for another Friday night of racing at the Bloomington Speedway. Notable was the presence of Dickie Gaines, back from nasty Eldora Speedway injuries and the absence of Derek Scheffel, due to his car not being race ready.
Kent Christian ran off with the first heat from his fifth starting spot with Jon Sciscoe, A.J. Clark, Danny Holtsclaw, and Dakoda Armstrong trailing the Plainfield veteran. Chris Windom ran away with the second heat, beating Steve Rone, Josh Cunningham, Kenny Carmichael Jr., and Aric Gentry to the line. Jared Fox was the third heat winner. Joining him in transferring to the feature was Dickie Gaines, who took second on the last lap from Brent Beauchamp. The ageless Dave Peperak and Arin McIntosh were fourth and fifth.
Kevin Briscoe did the racing equivalent of forgetting the car keys as he left his Mitchell home without his driver’s suit. His wife stepped up and brought it in time for his heat, though the track champ had to sit out hot laps. Not making the main event through his heat, Briscoe proceeded to win the B Main from 12th. Mitch Cunningham was second and Chris Babcock was third. Cole Whitt came from 15th (last) to finish fourth and Kevin Studley was fifth.
Speculation among my fellow experts and myself revolved around whether or not we’d see a first timer winner tonight, namely Chris Windom, the pole-sitter. And Jon Sciscoe was starting on the outside of the front row; he, too, would be a threat. Behind them were Rone, Gaines, Christian, Fox, Clark, J. Cunningham, Beauchamp, and Holtsclaw. Sure enough Windom did lead the first lap over Gaines and Sciscoe. But Gaines slid over the banking on lap two, ending his chance to win, but making it a treat to watch Dick’s son charge his way through the field. Meanwhile, Windom stretched his lead out over Sciscoe, Christian, Rone, Fox, and Holtsclaw. A lap 12 yellow may well have been the turning point as the field gathered behind Windom. Christian took second soon after and began to work on Windom for the lead. And on lap 23, Christian took the lead, holding it to the checkered. Windom was a strong second and would have to wait a bit longer for his first win at Bloomington. Sciscoe was third and Holtsclaw came home fourth. These two did play a bit of bumper tag after the race, after a bit of hard racing under the green flag. Kevin Briscoe was fifth after starting 16th. The second five was Rone, Fox, Carmichael Jr., Gaines (after his early spin dropped him to 20th and last), and Josh Cunningham.
The sprint race was over at 9:50 p.m. and there was still a hint of daylight in the sky, a new experience for Hoosier race fans this year.
Jeff Bland won the modified feature and Winston Howe was the super stock feature victor.
More of the same is scheduled for Bloomington this coming Friday. Sounds like a winner to me.
Saturday saw yours truly working late and having to go to a very attractive “Plan B”, namely going to Lawrenceburg as opposed to Eldora. Finding out that race fans tend to drive a bit faster than gamblers, I arrived at the bullring across the street from the casino in time for the anthem and to jot down the heat race lineups.
Breezy and hot weather made for a tough job of track preparation and the numerous yellow flags may have been the results of that. Or maybe it was just hard racin’ instead?
26 sprint cars were on hand for three heat races. Tony Beaber won the first heat over Troy Link (from 9th and last), Derek Franks, Kevin Briscoe, and Bart Pletch (with Terry watching from atop the team’s hauler). The homeboys had themselves a bad draw in the second heat with Jamie Williams, Tim Spindler, and Joss Moffatt making up the rear of the lineup. This race was a multi-caution affair and finally timed out with Ted Hines leading. Spindler was second after tangling with Brent Beauchamp with the kid getting the worst of it. Toby Beck was third, followed by Brad Stevens and Rodney Stone, who recovered from an early shunt. Brad Sweet, in a Jack Yeley creation, won the third heat with Chris Windom second. Rick Vaughn was third with Broc Burton (in a new car) and Mike Weber also transferring into the main. Josh Cooley had a third place spot locked up when he gassed it a bit too hard coming out of turn four and smacked the wall on the front straight. Josh was not pleased with himself.
At some point during heat races for the modifieds, mini-sprints, and super stocks, the track was re-worked. After getting an Eldora update from my friend Jerry, I wandered around a bit and happily found an old friend of my dad’s. Last winter I wrote about standing in line for a viewing of yet another friend’s dad and striking up a conversation with a guy who had been a total stranger until then. This guy, Doug, was the son of my dad’s buddy from days gone by. I’ve seen Doug at Bloomington a couple of times this year, and have always asked about his dad, Junior (well, that’s what dad always called him). As it happened Doug and his dad had been to an auction just across the river and decided to drop by and I was glad that they did. So while promoter Tom Wieck graded the track we did a lot of catching up, telling stories, etc. What could have been a long, drawn out, and boring time turned out to be a pretty special hour or so.
Action resumed and the breeze had changed, meaning that wet weather was somewhere in Indiana, but not at Lawrenceburg just yet. The sweet smell of the distillery told me that the wind was now out of the southwest.
The B Main was taken by Joss Moffatt with Larry Beck, Dakoda Armstrong, Cole Whitt, and Brent Beauchamp all moving on to the feature.
The draw for the feature saw Hines and Spindler in the front row. Behind them were Sweet, Link, Beaber, Windom, Franks, T. Beck, Vaughn, and Briscoe. Spindler took the lead on the first lap and never looked back. That would have been a good strategy, because had he done so, he would have had a good look at Troy Link, among others, for much of the race. Near the mid-race mark the red flag waved after a slow tipover by Broc Burton, with Chris Windom sliding into the black and white 0. Both were able to re-start. Spindler was followed by Beaber, Link, Briscoe, and Hines. A lap 11 caution for Toby Beck, who had running as well as he ever has at the ‘burg, saw Link at this point in second ahead of Briscoe, Beaber, Hines, Franks, Sweet, Pletch, Stone, and L. Beck. After a lap 14 caution Briscoe hit a turn two rut and nearly capsized, losing about three spots. Second place seemed to be a hot potato as people would take it and then give it back as Spindler went on his merry way. Link was on the Columbus, Indiana racer’s bumper for the last few laps until he slipped over turn two with a flat tire on the last lap. Brad Sweet drove a heads-up race to take second as Kevin Briscoe recovered to take third. Ted Hines and Tony Beaber rounded out the top five. Positions six through ten were Link, Stone (from 14th), Pletch, Larry Beck (from 17th), and Windom. It was Spindler’s first sprint car feature win.
The curfew was approaching as the feature winner briefly celebrated. Late models are running at the ‘burg tomorrow (Monday) night. The regular program will be next Saturday with kids who can prove that they have a B average in school this past year getting in free. Rumor has it that John LeVan is doctoring up his transcript and paying a visit to the Hoosier state. Heh.
Elsewhere around Indiana the rain won out at Paragon. About 60 cars were there. Shawn Krockenburger won at Lincoln Park with 19 cars on hand. Gas City had a first time winner in Bart Grider on Friday night and 26 cars present. At Shadyhill my man Jesse Bitterling was the modified winner. And my man Rich Boteler was a winning car owner at the Hill as Brad DeYoung brought it home first in I-MOD action. Lenny Brinkley was the super street stock winner. Brownstown was also rained out. Tonight’s KISS race at Kokomo is rained out. Shannon Babb won in late model action at Kamp’s speedway with Dan Hamstra the modified winner. Dave Darland won at Lima in USAC racing on Friday night while yet another first time winner, Matt Westfall, prevailed at Eldora on Saturday night. Mat Neely left the 24 Hour Truckers team, went back to his own car, and was the overall winner of USAC’s Buckeye Nationals.
Tragedy hit short track racing as Fred Brownfield, the head of the National Sprint Tour, was killed at Gray’s Harbor Speedway. Racing has lost one of its most visionary and hard working leaders. More importantly, a wife lost a husband and some kids lost their daddy so close to this day where we honor our dads. May they be comforted in the years to come by the memories they have of their dad.
Kyle Stuchell took a nasty tumble at Eldora. His injuries are not believed to be life threatening, but Kyle will be sitting out for awhile. All the best to him and his.
As of June 19, it’s 5 years, 2 months, and 5 days until I join the KMA Club of postal retirees. Chuckling as I picture Mr. LeVan trying to figure out what “KMA” means, I’m…
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