By Danny Burton
Danny Burton’s Hoosier Race Report appears courtesy of OpenWheelRacers.com
Brady Short is a fine young man who began driving modifieds at the Bloomington Speedway a few years back, graduating to sprint cars just last year. His improvement has been steady and his dedication unending. And on Friday night, July 14, at Bloomington, all of that paid off as he won his first USAC sprint feature, round two of Indiana Sprint Week.
57 cars were signed in for the nights’ action on a hot and humid night in the hills of southern Indiana. The heat, humidity, and threat of rain failed miserably in its attempts to hold down the size of the crowd. Folks came from many parts of our nation to see a unique spectacle, open wheeled sprint cars with no wings, hustling around a narrow high banked quarter mile red clay oval at terrific speeds.
Local boy Jared Fox surprised most everyone with an 11.357 second lap during qualifications. Two non-qualifiers’ heats would be run, with the fastest 32 locked into their respective heats, of which there would be four. Inevitably during Sprint Week, some good runners load up way too early. Tonight it was people like Alan Ballard, here from California, Tim Spindler, Danny Holtsclaw, Johnny Rodriguez (another visitor from the west coast), and Matt Westfall, recent USAC winner at Eldora.
Josh Ford and Jonathan Vennard ran one/two in the first non-qualifiers heat, moving on to heat races, while Hunter Schuerenberg won the second NQ eight lap heat over Damion Gardner.
Scotty Weir won the first heat over Bryan Stanfill, Brad Sweet, and Casey Shuman. Levi Jones was the winner of the second heat with A.J. Anderson second. Shane Hollingsworth and Cory Kruseman also transferred into the feature. The third heat was marred by a Daron Clayton flip with Dave Darland winning. Brady Short was second, followed by Kent Christian and Jerry Coons Jr. Clayton was unhurt, but done for the night. Jon Stanbrough came from fourth to take the last heat over Darren Hagen, Dickie Gaines, and Bryan Clauson.
The B Main, as is the norm for Sprint Week, looked like a typical A Main with all the heavy hitters taking their last shot at making the feature. Caution free, it was fast and furious all the way with Jared Fox taking the win. Following him into the feature (and with all getting their times back from qualifications) was Shane Cottle, Bobby Stine, Thursday night Twin Cities’ winner Mat Neely, Brandon Petty, and Kevin Briscoe. Tony Elliott was the first alternate, which would come into play when his teammate, Hollingsworth, didn’t answer the call for the feature.
Christian and Stine, both winners in weekly action at Bloomington this year, led Sweet, Cottle, Coons, Fox, Shuman, Hollingsworth, Clauson, and Petty in the original starting lineup. But Hollingsworth dropped out, while Sweet, Shuman, and Dave Darland were apparently a bit tardy in lining up. With Little Shu and Sweet both in the inside row, people like Clauson, and Briscoe benefited. And when there was a messy start with Petty, Fox, Weir, Cottle, and Stanfill all involved the lineup was jumbled even more with all but Stanfill (who was finished for the race) re-starting on the tail. Neely, Short, and yes, Darland all moved up after this shakeup.
So finally the race began and it was worth the delays. But then came yet another delay, this a red flag for a lap two Bryan Clauson flip in turn two. The fast kid was okay, but yet another Keith Kunz bullet (Bullet Chassis, get it?) was damaged. On the re-start, Christian took a fairly brief lead over Stine, who took command and tried to check out, leaving the dog fights behind him. Christian held tough, holding off a snarling pack that included Coons, Neely, and Short. Halfway through, 15 laps, and Stine’s reign at the top was about to end. Short was second and about to take over, with Neely, Coons, Sweet, Christian, Darland, Kruseman, and Briscoe trailing. Short took over, leading lap 16, slowed only by a lap 22 yellow flag. As it turned out, no one had anything for the kid from Bedford, Indiana. Neely was a tough second, followed by Coons, Briscoe (who came on quite quickly at the end), and Sweet, with another steady race in fifth. Positions six through ten were Darland, Shuman, Weir, A.J. Anderson, and Christian. Stine faded late and finished 14th, after a great early run. Jon Stanbrough was a disappointing 11th. In fact, the second ten contained some really heavy hitters, too, showing the level of competition that shows up for this fiercely contested series of races.
As this is written, I’ve a long, but rewarding drive ahead of me. Haubstadt, Indiana is a small town in the far southwestern corner of this great state. Short track fans know the town for the crown jewel of a race track that lies up against U.S. 41. The trip there-and back-is worth every aching mile driven.
Keeping busy trying to prove that the term “internet media” is not an oxymoron, I’m…
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