KOKOMO, Ind. — Kokomo Speedway has been the stage and Kevin Thomas Jr. has been the show during late August USAC appearances at the quarter-mile oval the past two seasons.
After winning three of four features during last year’s Sprint Car Smackdown, Thomas continued the roll Wednesday night to capture yet another victory at USAC’s AMSOIL National Sprint Car “GYATK Night.”
Thomas began the race from the outside of row two and quickly worked his way to the front past Jarett Andretti inside turn three for the second position on a lap-four restart and began his pursuit of Chris Windom for the lead.
Thomas showed a nose underneath Windom on both ends of the race track on the sixth lap. In response, Windom protected the bottom, thus opening up the topside for Thomas who blasted around the outside of Windom on the back straightaway on the following lap. Windom fought back to inch ahead on the bottom, but Thomas had the momentum up top to squeeze his way past Windom by a car length at the start/finish line.
“Once we got to Windom, I think he was searching a little bit,” Thomas said. “Whenever you’re leading like that, you’re not real sure where to go. I know he gets around this place well, but tonight, there wasn’t necessarily a defined line. I snookered him just a little bit when I showed him a nose on the bottom, but I knew my stuff was pretty good around the top too. Once I got him to go back down to the bottom, I was able to get my momentum and go around him on the top.”
Meanwhile, Dave Darland launched his way past Windom for second on lap 10 and began to reel in Thomas.
Darland’s run in second would be fairly brief, however, as Windom found traction to propel himself back past Darland with a turn one slider on lap 19, yet Darland was able to counter underneath to pull side-by-side with Windom down the back straight entering turn three, but it wasn’t quite enough to put him completely back in front of Windom who motored around the outside to secure second off turn four.
Despite Thomas being in the throes of lapped traffic, the second-place schism between Windom and Darland set Thomas off on an open course for victory as he opened the interval to more than three-plus seconds by race’s end to capture his second-straight Kokomo special event victory over Windom, Robert Ballou, Darland and Tyler Courtney.
“This is a good start to the weekend,” a confident Thomas remarked. “When tomorrow starts, we’re going to try our same things. It’ll be a bit different format tomorrow, so we’ll have to find a bit more speed sooner. We had a really good racecar in the feature, but I didn’t really drive it to its potential early in the night. I’m going to have to do a little better at that, but all-in-all, it was a good night for us. (My crew) gave me a nice, solid racecar. I can’t really say enough about that. It was nice and stable and it would go anywhere I wanted it to go in lapped traffic. I could run the top to keep my speed up and it was good, nice and tight around the bottom and would still rotate. These guys do a great job. They’ll be here all week. They bust their butts and make my job easy. We’re going to celebrate a little bit, but it’s another day tomorrow and we’ll be ready.”
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