It’s Thomas Again In Sprint Week

Kevin Thomas Jr. (17rw) races under Brady Bacon Wednesday night at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. (David E. Heithaus photo)
Kevin Thomas Jr. (17rw) races under Brady Bacon Wednesday night at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. (David E. Heithaus photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — When the story of the 26th annual Indiana Sprint Week is complete, the plot that most fans will remember is how a young racer from Alabama locked down the first half of the series.

On Wednesday, at the Terre Haute Action Track, Kevin Thomas Jr. scored his third consecutive USAC AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series victory, tallying three wins in four Sprint Week races.

“This was definitely a big win for us,” Thomas said as the crew prepared to load the No. 17 Rotondo/Weirich Blackjack Oil Maxim into its hauler. “To win three in a row, much less in Sprint Week, is kind of unheard of. We started off last week a little slow and I made a few mistakes. Then we clicked off two wins right there at the end. I think that we’re still just carrying our momentum on to this part of the week.”

Jon Stanbrough collected second, with Brady Bacon, Robert Ballou and Chase Stockon in the top five. The victory gave Thomas a 14-point lead over Dave Darland in the Indiana Sprint Week standings, with Stanbrough just 13 points further behind.

When the green flag dropped, Thomas quickly showed that he hadn’t lost anything over the two-day break between races. From the third row, he made a brilliant charge across the bottom of turn two to grab second, then drove deep into three to take the lead from Brady Bacon. In the first six laps, Thomas opened a 20 car-length lead over Bacon and Dave Darland with all three cars carving smooth lines against the cushion.

By mid-race the leaders had begun to lap slower cars and as they did the distance between them shrank and grew with each turn. By the 18th lap, they were nose to tail, with just a car length between them. Bacon ran along the inside a couple of times, mostly to let Thomas know that he was there. And although he was able to work even in a turn, Thomas quickly pulled ahead again as they drove off the turns. Gary Taylor slowed to a stop in turn two on the 27th lap, bringing out the first caution flag.

Thomas charged ahead on the restart, but Bacon slipped over the cushion in turn two, letting Darland, Ballou and Stanbrough hustle past. With a big head of steam, Darland dove inside of Thomas going into the third turn, but Thomas edged ahead as they cleared turn four.