Rookie Leoffler Is USCS Southern Thunder Champ

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Connor Leoffler won this year’s USCS Southern Thunder regional title. (USCS photo)

ATLANTA – Sixteen-year-old USCS national rookie-of-the-year Conner Leoffler claimed the USCS Southern Thunder Tour regional series title during the 24th season of USCS action.

Leoffler, from Myrtle Beach, S.C., rode two stops in victory lane to the Southern Thunder title. It was part of a season that saw him earn seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes during the USCS Southern Thunder Tour’s 13 point-paying events.

The talented first-year winged sprint car driver bested 76 different drivers during the 13 USCS Southern Thunder events, which averaged 23 entries per race during a COVID-19 shortened regional schedule.

Leoffler also finished in the runner-up spot for the national title, just 41 points shy of the crown behind defending and 13-time USCS national champion Terry Gray.

The young gun additionally finished in fourth in the tough USCS Mid-South regional series standings at season’s end as well.

Veteran points chaser Gray, from Bartlett, Tenn., finished 51 points behind Leoffler in second place in the final USCS Southern Thunder regional standings.

In addition to his 2020 national crown, Gray finished in the runner-up spot in the competitive USCS Mid-South regional series as well.

Kyle Amerson claimed third in the final Southern Thunder regional series standings. Amerson picked up his first two career wins in United Sprint Car Series competition during 2020 Southern Thunder regional series competition.

Amerson won the prestigious Randy Helton Memorial Race at Dixie Speedway in July and then parked in victory lane again at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., in September.

A medical student away from the race track, Amerson was a no-show early in the season at one event, but his two wins, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 2020 marked his best-ever season in USCS Southern Thunder Tour competition.

Mallie Shuster was fourth in the USCS Southern Thunder Tour regional series point standings. He competed in every event in that series and had enough top-10 finishes and points awarded via his USCS Hoosier Speed Dash finishes to earn a highlighted spot.

He also finished fourth in the USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour presented by K&N Filters national point standings.

The other half of a father-and-son team, Jim Shuster finished fifth in the USCS Southern Thunder Tour regional series point standings.

He also competed in every event in that series and had enough top ten finishes and points awarded via the USCS Hoosier Speed Dash finishes in the series to garner a strong result.

Jim Shuster also finished in third in the USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour presented by K&N Filters national points.

Jeff Willingham, the 2012 USCS National Rookie of the Year, finished in sixth place in the USCS Southern Thunder regional series after the 2020 season points were totaled.

National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Danny Smith from Chillicothe, Ohio finished behind Willingham in seventh place in the standings.

The Midwest veteran had seven top-10 finishes to go with his three top-fives, but missed several events due to sponsor commitments at his home track in Ohio.

Terry Witherspoon, from Jacksonville, Fla., finished the Southern Thunder season ranked eighth in the standings, with season wins leader Mark Smith and Lance Moss filling out the top 10 in points.