July 28, 2020

The Hoosier Race Report

Two in a Row 

Columbus, IN - CJ Leary withstood the best efforts of Chris Windom and won for the second time in three nights in Indiana Sprint Week/USAC festivities at the Lawrenceburg Speedway. With the merry band of pranksters taking a couple of days off, Leary will take a moment to celebrate his 12th win at Lawrenceburg since 2008, the year that the current configuration commenced.

As I've walked through the pits the past few nights, I needn't be an expert to notice that most of the 48 have a slightly better chance of winning the feature than I do. So why do they bother to even show up? Maybe their expectations are different from others. In addition, unlike me, they can say that they competed. I haven't and it's unlikely that I will. My guess is that many reading this can say they haven't either.

With all that, I'll say that I root for every one of them. I know a few USAC racers (and a few former racers) and I like all of them. While I don't root for any of them to win, I do hope that they can all load the car on the trailer after the race. At the end of the day, maybe that’s all which matters.

New players included Chase Jones, Dallas Hewitt, Steve Thomas and Ty Mihocko, along with Lawrenceburg regulars JJ Hughes, Shawn Westerfeld and Saban Bibent.

Justin Grant went out early to set his quick time of 14.070, though several others tried mightily to top it.

Justin Grant made a late pass work as he won the first heat. Thomas Meseraull, Tyler Courtney and pole sitter Jerry Coons Jr. also made the show.

The second heat saw Jarett Andretti lead Chase Stockon, CJ Leary and Robert Ballou home.

Shane Cottle won the third heat over Chase Johnson, Chris Windom and Eddie Tofoya Jr., who made his very first ISW feature.

Carson Short was the fourth heat winner, pacing Max Adams, Brady Bacon and Gas City winner Logan Seavey.

Unlike the night before, the C main was tame. Dakota Jackson led Shawn Westerfeld, Anthony D’Alessio and Max Guilford to the semi-main.

The caution plagued B main was won by JJ Hughes with Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins trailing. Behind them, mayhem combined with the thrill of victory, etc., prevailed.

Matt Westfall tapped Chase Jones, who spun, tipped over and collected Dustin Smith. Both Smith and Jones (has a ring to it) saw feature starting spots go poof! Those who had been seventh on back were racing their hearts out and a few of them benefitted. But Sterling Cling had a left front tire going down and on the restart was passed by Dave Darland and Jadon Rogers. So... the final three were Westfall, Darland and Rogers.

Gas City winner Logan Seavey and Kokomo winner CJ Leary landed in the front row and Leary got the drop on Seavey and everyone else. Right away, things slowed down as K. Thomas and Courtney found themselves parked next to the wall, about 100 feet apart. Sunshine especially may have felt like banging his head against that wall after his disappointment the night before and now this. While the field circled under the yellow, Andretti ducked into the pits with a flat tire. KT and Jarett rejoined the crowd.

The green waved and two more laps were completed when Jadon Rogers flipped for the second night in a row. Westfall and Coons were also involved; they returned to the fun. Leary led Seavey, Bacon, Grant and Windom.

Again, Tom Hansing brought out the green flag and again Leary tried dearly to check out. But on the seventh lap Max Adams stopped on the track and again Tom reached for his yellow flag. There was no change up front within the top five.

On this re-start, Grant passed Bacon for third. A lap later Windom passed Bacon for fourth. But he had to give it back as a stray tire rolled down the straightaway. It was Grant’s and he was parked in turn four as the yellow waved one more time. Leary still led, but things were a little different behind him. Seavey was second, ahead of Bacon, Windom and now Stockon. Johnson, the inexperienced kid, had moved from 12th to sixth, by the way.

Again, the green came out and again Windom passed Bacon, now for second place. Leary had stretched out his lead somewhat during the middle stages of the thirty lapper. But Windom began inching his way to the front, closer and closer. Finally, on lap 23 he threw a slider at the leader, falling short and dropping back. From there, Leary was never threatened in any way. Those of us who kept expecting the unexpected are still waiting, thankfully.

Behind Leary and Windom was Bacon. Stockon was fourth and Short completed the race in fifth place as Seavey faded some to finish sixth. Cummins came from 15th to capture seventh. Grant did a fine job of hustling back to take eighth after his misfortune. After running as high as sixth, Johnson settled for ninth. Ballou was tenth after starting 22nd and earning the KSE Racing Products / Irvin King Hard Charger award.

Leary’s margin of victory was 1.057 seconds.  After the race he spoke of how being on the family team seems to be a good fit. Windom lamented the lapped traffic. Bacon thanked his sponsors. Ballou said he needed to qualify better and expressed concern over the rocks he found on the track.

In national championship points Grant retains a healthy lead over Bacon. However, Bacon leads Grant by five points in Sprint Week points. Despite Leary’s winning two of the three events so far, his 13th place finish at Gas City has hurt.

Next stop, the Terre Haute Action on Wednesday.

Trying to drink while wearing a mask, I’m…

Danny Burton