GAS CITY, Ind. — Tracy Hines came out on top of a wild AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series feature on Friday at Gas City I-69 Speedway, taking the lead late to register his 46th career win in the series.
That ties him with Jack Hewitt for third on the all-time list. The New Castle, Ind., driver started 10th and raced under Shane Cottle on lap 25 to win in The Carolina Nut Company – Hansen’s Welding No. 4 DRC/Stanton Chevy.
“Jack was a mentor to me, and I learned a lot from him when I was younger and raced against him, so it’s neat to be up there with him. The bottom didn’t really come in tonight so much as the top got tough to run and slowed down just enough. We were even through three and four, but we finally got a launch off two on the bottom. I lost my rhythm a little before the last restart and probably went too slow trying not to miss it, but I wasn’t letting anybody under me,” Hines said.
Bryan Clauson shot to the lead from outside the front row, but Cottle used the bottom to take the top spot on lap two. Fast qualifier Brady Bacon was on the move, however, and he shot between Clauson and the wall to get to second on lap five. On lap seven, Bacon used the high side of turn-two to take the lead from Cottle.
After three quick yellows on laps thirteen and 14, Bacon brought out the next caution as he spun to a stop in turn-four on lap 15. Cottle re-assumed the lead.
Three laps later, third-running Dave Darland bounced to a stop in turn-three and his night was done. That restart proved critical, as Hines and Scotty Weir found the bottom line and made their move to the front. Hines slipped under Weir for second and then shot past Cottle out of turn-two for a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
After a restart with three laps to go, Clauson rebounded from an earlier bicycle on the cushion to charge from fifth all the way to second on the high side aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“I felt like I was a step behind all night; I went to the bottom and the top was fast, and I jumped to the top and the bottom came in. I figured if I stuck to the top at the end, it might come back to me. There was kind of a hole or something up in the cushion that you couldn’t see up there, and I just carried a little too much speed. I was lucky to sit it down after it bicycled. With some of the problems other guys had, we didn’t want to throw away a good points night,” Clauson said.
Weir rounded out the podium, tying his career-best finish in the Todd Keen-owned Williams Auto Parts – Spirit Medical Transport No. 18x DRC/Claxton.
“When the cushion is big and nasty enough that Darland has problems, I don’t need to play on it anymore. So I found the bottom off two and got going. I got to third and went back to the top, and Tracy just went right under me. We’ve had a great start to the season, for sure,” Weir said.
Cottle ended up fourth with Chris Windom fifth.