BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Casey Shuman scored the sprint car victory on Bloomington Speedway’s opening night, wresting the lead from Nick Bilbee just four laps from the checkered flag.
“In the past, this hasn’t been one of my best race tracks,” Shuman admitted. “Last year we came here quite a bit and I feel like I am getting the hang of it, especially when it’s rough and heavy, I like that.”
Jarett Andretti paced the first five laps, quickly building a comfortable margin over Bilbee and Shuman. But Bilbee slipped past just after a restart when Andretti pushed up the track in turn four.
The three stayed close as they began lapping slower cars, and on the 19th circuit Andretti looked inside of Bilbee in turn four and the two made contact. Bilbee’s machine jumped sideways, but held onto the lead as he powered down the fronts straightaway.
Wheeling the Krockenberger No. 21k Spike, Shuman took advantage of Andretti’s miscue and grabbed second. Two laps later, Bilbee left the door open in turn one, and Shuman quickly took the spot. Shuman held onto the lead through a restart with just one lap remaining, as Bilbee and Andretti ran second and third. Brady Short finished fourth.
In his pit after the 25-lap feature, Shuman explained the importance of being patient. “It’s so narrow, and kind of one lane, you have to be careful and just wait it out. You can’t do anything stupid. If you start searching around, or try to do something dumb, you might end up losing three spots. Early on we got up there in third and just tried to wait it out — wait for them to make a mistake and just kind of pick them off one by one. And it worked out.”
A couple of pits away, Bilbee was satisfied with his second place finish. “There at the start we were really good. About halfway through, I moved up in three and four and the car bicycled real bad. From then on it didn’t quite feel the same. The car got a little tight on the right rear, whether we lost a little air pressure, I don’t really know what happened, it just wasn’t quite as good at the end as it was at the start. I heard Casey coming and he got me with four or five to go. I kind of missed my mark and he got up underneath me there. Once he got by me, that was that.”