By Danny Burton
Danny Burton’s Hoosier Race Report appears courtesy of OpenWheelRacers.com
How often have you read the box score of a race and noticed that the leader started on the pole and led the whole race? Quite possibly you assumed that the race in question was a snoozefest. Quite possibly you might be wrong. Friday night, June 8, Cole Whitt did just that at the Bloomington Speedway. He started on the pole and led flag to flag to win $1700 (extra money thanks to Safety-Kleen) worth of satisfaction. But what the box score didn’t show was that this was a fine race, with lots of passing going on behind the young Mr. Whitt and, had the race lasted a bit longer than 25 laps, a seasoned veteran might have counting the big money.
Another beautiful Indiana Friday afternoon it was as, once again, I pulled into the parking lot at Bloomington not long before the invocation. Awaiting me was 32 sprint cars and nearly 100 cars in all.
Arizona youngster Chad Boat won the first of four heats over fellow front row starter Chris Babcock. John Paynter was third with Kenny Carmichael Sr. fourth. The second heat was way better than average as Casey Shuman held on for the win, despite some smoke from the motor. Jared Fox came from last to make it a close second with Bobby Stines third. Kenny Carmichael Jr. was fourth. Brady Short checked out to win the third heat. Danny Holtsclaw was a comfortable second, leading Jon Sciscoe. Jeff Bland Jr. took the final transfer spot on the last lap. In the final heat, Andrew Prather had a good run spoiled as he tumbled just outside the backstretch after running over the high banks of turn two. Brett Burdette won the heat, leading Cole Whitt, Dickie Gaines (tonight in Tom Busch’s 4B), and Ty Deckard to the main event.
Kent Christian had been shuffled off to the B Main and looked to be a lock to transfer. But he bicycled off turn two early and had to really work. Dakoda Armstrong won the B, taking Shawn Krockenberger, Ricky Williams Jr., and Todd Kimmel with him to the feature. Christian? He made it back to fifth, but ran out of laps.
Whitt and Babcock were the front row for the 25 lapper, as much of the track had turned black. Predictably many would choose the low line, but quite a few others in the 20 car starting field would go high. Chad Boat would try the high groove and run second early, but fade away, spinning his tires. Babcock was around Boat when the first yellow flag waved on lap five as Casey Shuman’s motor gave it up.
On the re-start, Burdette, Boat, Sciscoe (already from 11th), Short, Gaines and Paynter trailed the two leaders. The second segment of the race lasted about eight laps as Sciscoe, among others, was on the move, taking third before getting together with Short and spinning out a lap later.
We were halfway through the race and now Whitt led Babcock, Short, Gaines, Boat, Carmichael Sr., Paynter, Stines, Bland, and Kimmel for the final all-green portion. Carmichael was on the march. By lap 15 he was fourth. Lap 17 saw him third and then second a lap later. In his best ride of the year, Carmichael was closing on the leader, but ran out of laps as Whitt still earned his win. Carmichael came from 13th to finish second. Dickie Gaines came from 12th to take third. Brady Short, flying home from Pennsylvania and back to USAC action on Saturday, finished fourth. Jeff Bland Jr. came from 15th to come in fifth. The second five was Babcock, Paynter, Kimmel (from 20th), Ricky Williams (from 19th), and Boat.
Shelby Miles won the modified feature. In the super stock main, Troy Clark made it two in a row.
This coming Friday the King of Indiana Sprint Series brings its act to the red clay high banks for what should be another fine night of racin’, Hoosier style.
Winging It To Salem
Aaron Pierce showed up at Salem hoping to end Kevin Feeney’s recent domination of the high banks in winged sprint action. Sure enough, in what was probably the best winged sprint car race I’ve seen at Salem, Pierce made his way through traffic, endured a near black flag (after getting too much of a jump on a re-start), and won the 30 lap feature going away.
My wife’s recovery from major surgery has continued. She decided that her first trip back to a race track with me would be to a place she enjoys, the Salem Speedway. On Saturday night the Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series invaded the high banks. It was also Hoosier Auto Race Fans night and you-know-who had some free memberships to what is maybe the best race fans’ group around, along with t-shirts, for each feature winner. Tonight’s race would honor the memory of one of Salem’s favorite sons, Calvin Gilstrap. Some of us recall Calvin racing around Indiana on both dirt and pavement in the 60’s and 70’s. Calvin lost his life in 1976 at Bloomington.
Fast qualifier Kevin Feeney won the first heat by a huge margin over Greg Wheeler and Ryan Myers. Pierce won the second heat, leading Tim Cox and Jerry Caryer. The ageless Hank Lower took the third heat, leading Jason Fuller and Greg Kaiser home.
My “work” began with the mini-stock feature as Martin Belcher won the 25 lap race. The kid from Brooks, KY had himself a new HARF t-shirt, a membership in the club, and a nice trophy that held his baby girl. David Baynes took the street stock 50 lapper, holding off Frank Kimmel Jr.
Up next was the sprint feature. Jonothan Kettlewell and Ryan Myers led 16 others to the green. Myers led early over Tim Cox and Kevin Feeney, all the way up from eighth. Cox took the lead on lap eight as Feeney closely followed. But neither could afford to forget about Aaron Pierce. Briefly bottled up at the start from his seventh starting spot, Pierce began his charge a bit later. Fourth by lap nine, the flying Mike Blake 81 was third a lap later and was right on Feeney’s tail tank.
For the next ten laps or so was as good as it can get, be it Salem or anywhere else. Weaving in and out of traffic, Cox, Feeney, and Pierce waged a battle that had people on the edge of their seats. Lap 18 saw Pierce get around Feeney. For me it was a tug-on-Superman’s-cape moment. I could not recall the last time I’d seen Feeney passed in a winged sprinter at Salem. Four laps later Pierce passed Cox for the lead, and the red flag flew, in what appeared to be an mistake, but maybe it was just as well. Fans needed to catch their breath anyway. On the re-start Pierce was penalized for jumping the start and was nearly black flagged when he was none too anxious to get back behind Cox. And then, weirdly, the red flew again when a bank of lights went out briefly.
So, with another re-start on lap 22, we had Cox back in the lead, followed by Pierce, Greg Wheeler, Myers, Gregg Kaisor, and Lower. Cox held on for three laps, but Pierce was not to be denied. The young man, who spends much of his time running in USAC’s Silver Crown division, won going away, leading Cox by several car lengths. Wheeler was third and Kaisor was fourth. Myers rounded out the top five. Feeney spun again on lap 26 and was scored 12th at the end.
Todd Kempf used a three wide pass midway through the super stock feature to lead Alan Middleton and Chuck Barnes Sr.
The HOSS sprints head for Baer Field at Fort Wayne this coming Saturday night. Salem next runs on June 23 with all of its stock car divisions running.
Elsewhere around the state, Jon Stanbrough did it again, winning both at Jacksonville, IL and at Haubstadt on successive nights. Billy Puterbaugh Jr. did the same, winning at both Gas City and Putnamville. At Lawrenceburg, there is in Indiana at least one guy named Dave who knows how to promote. Once again, the ‘burg hosted another great night of racing with A.J. Anderson bringing home Paul Hazen’s 57 home first. Greg Johnson was the dirt late model winner at Brownstown. Jeff Parr was the late model winner way up at Angola. Donnie Gentry was the big winner at Paragon.
Rapidly spending Paris Hilton’s inheritance, I’m…
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