PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. – The official start of summer begins this weekend with the return of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing to Lincoln Park Speedway.
Lincoln Park will host its 35th visit by the series this Saturday. Twelve of those 35 wins will be represented among five drivers in this weekend’s lineup that includes Dave Darland, Robert Ballou, Chad Boespflug, Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney.
Darland leads all drivers with six Lincoln Park victories, in 1997, ’98, ’99, ’05, ’12 and the series’ most recent trip, in July of 2018. The Lincoln, Ind., driver will have a new ride for the event in Dwight Cheney’s No. 42, with whom he last competed for in USAC National competition during the 2011 Oval Nationals at California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
Ballou, 10th in the standings, has been victorious with USAC at Lincoln Park on three occasions. The 2014 triumph was the first USAC win for his own familiar white No. 12. The 2015 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion won again in the summer of 2016 and followed it up with a repeat winning performance in 2017.
Speaking of firsts, Lincoln Park was home to Boespflug’s first USAC win in 2013, wiring all 30 laps to win that night for car owner Paul Hazen. The Hanford, Calif., native is back in the seat of the Eberhardt/Zirzow Racing No. 98e and stands 11th in the series standings with a win on the local level at Kokomo earlier this season.
Running second behind Boespflug that day six seasons ago at Lincoln Park was a young Courtney, his best USAC finish up to that point and would remain so until 2016. Since then, Courtney has won a title and 19 races with the series, including last year’s final pre-Indiana Sprint Week tune-up at Lincoln Park as well as the series’ most recent race, last Saturday at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. The Indianapolis, Ind., driver, who stands second in points, has deep roots with Lincoln Park. His grandparents, Mike and Verla Farrar, owned and operated the track from 1981-96.
Bacon is fresh off a pair of USAC victories in four starts among two different divisions. The Broken Arrow, Okla., pilot was victorious in the Eastern Storm Sprint Car opener at Grandview, then captured his first Silver Crown win last Friday at Williams Grove. Bacon, who’s sixth in the standings, won at Lincoln Park during the 2015 campaign.
Chris Windom, third in points, was the most consistent driver in the two Lincoln Park races a year ago, finishing in fourth and second. However, the Canton, Ill., driver has yet to win a USAC race at Lincoln Park in his career. Just less than two weeks ago, the 2016 USAC Silver Crown and 2017 AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ finished fifth in a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget race there.
The last time Hoosier rubber touched Indiana soil in USAC Sprint Car competition, Chase Stockon was the man, winning the 49th running of the Tony Hulman Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track. Like Windom, Stockon hasn’t earned a USAC victory at Lincoln Park, where he finished ninth a year ago. The Fort Branch, Ind., driver’s consistency of 10 top-10s in 10 starts this year has elevated him to fourth in the standings.
The only other driver to have collected top-10 finishes in all 10 starts thus far is C.J. Leary, the series point leader and recently-crowned Eastern Storm champ. Leary took a seventh-place finish at Lincoln Park last year. Leary, who has earned five Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying times this season, scored his first USAC quick time at Lincoln Park in 2014.
Fifth in points, Kevin Thomas Jr. has two fast qualifying times at Lincoln Park, in 2014 and ’17. Although the Cullman, Ala., native remains on the hunt for Lincoln Park USAC win number one this Saturday, he came close last summer while leading just eight laps from the checkered when he bucked the turn two cushion and flipped, denying him the victory. He followed that up with fourth-place finish at Lincoln Park last July.