Cottle Rules Indiana Sprint Week Opener

Shane Cottle in victory lane at Gas City I-69 Speedway. (Jim DenHamer photo)
Shane Cottle in victory lane at Gas City I-69 Speedway. (Jim DenHamer photo)

GAS CITY, Ind. — Thursday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway Shane Cottle reminded everyone that it’s the leader at the checkered who gets the big check.

In a night of innumerable ups and downs for many drivers, Cottle used the low line to pass C.J. Leary on the last lap, win by inches and earn $5,000 in a 30-lap barn burner that opened the 32nd annual NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week featuring the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Championship

Cottle, 47, qualified by winning the B main, started 18th in the feature, only led on the last lap, and earned the race’s KSE Racing Products/B&W Auto Mart Hard-Charger award by improving his position more than any other driver in the 24-car field that was culled from 43 entries.

It was his first victory during Indiana Sprint Week in 72 attempts and it came in the Epperson Racing/Epperson Painting-PPG Maxim Claxton Chevy No. 2e. Cottle, who works in the flooring industry, also won the sprint car feature at Gas City on June 28 in a different car.

Leary, who won the most recent USAC Indiana Sprint Week event on the Gas City quarter-mile clay oval in 2017, led 29 of the 30 laps and finished second. His Reimbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical-Mesilla Valley Transportation Spike Foxco Chevy was just 0.002 seconds behind Cottle’s car when the pair took the checkered flag.

The finish was so close that the transponders, which are mounted at the rear of the cars, showed Leary first at the line, but the USAC rules go by when the cars’ front tires cross the line, and Cottle was deemed the winner in one of the closest finishes in USAC history.

“I could see him up there,” Cottle said. “When they’re out there in front of you, you just want to push the gas harder and harder, but you can’t. You just have to roll around there and keep the wheels under you. I messed up a couple times during the last six laps and I thought I gave it away.”

It was Cottle’s third career USAC sprint car victory. It’s safe to say Gas City is one of his favorite tracks, since all three have occurred at the Grant County oval that is an easy drive from either Indianapolis or Fort Wayne.

Chris Windom was the final podium finisher in the Goacher Racing/NOS Energy Drink-Parallax Power Supply-Jonathan Byrd’s DRC Claxton Mopar. Brady Bacon placed fourth in the Dynamics/Mean Green-Fatzheadz Eyewear-Tel-Star Triple X Hershey Chevy. Polesitter Kevin Thomas Jr. was fifth in Hayward Thomas Motorsports’ Speedtown Comfort-B&H Contractors DRC Speedway Chevy.

The winner of the 600cc non-wing micro-sprint feature, Devan Myers, started way back in the field just like Cottle did. He came from 19th in a 21-car field to win that 20-lap feature in the Vance and Hines No. 75 with polesitter Justin Harper right behind him at the checkered.

To see full results, turn to the next page.