PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. — Exactly six weeks after basking in the limelight as the Indiana Sprint Week champion, Chase Stockon earned his first USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory of the season during the first of two features run Saturday night at Lincoln Park Speedway.
While Stockon’s triumph won’t officially go in in the books as an official Indiana Sprint Week victory, it did come in an event that resumed Saturday, having been suspended for a month and a half following a heavy storm on the final night of July when it was then part of the ISW series, the night in which nearly all the preliminary events had been completed.
“I know it’s a bit delayed, but I’m definitely glad to get another (Indiana) Sprint Week win,” Stockon said.
Stockon, in making his 316th consecutive feature start, ran his annual checkmark in the win column to nine consecutive years, picking up a USAC win each year since the 2012 season, an active streak that is second only by Brady Bacon’s 10 straight years dating back to 2011.
Polesitter Stockon initially shared the front row alongside Darland, the winningest USAC Sprint Car driver at the five-sixteenths-mile dirt oval with six victories. Stockon grabbed the early lead while Darland fought with Carson Short before emerging with the second position in the early going.
Meanwhile, defending series champ and fourth starting C.J. Leary made the topside work to his liking and surged up through the thick to beat Stockon to the line by one car length at the stripe on the 10th lap. Stockon called it a comeback and was able to stick even Steven with Leary at the exit of turns two and four before, ultimately eking out his own one car length advantage at the conclusion of lap 14.
As Leary fought to regain the position, Stockon nipped Leary again at the line under the crossed flags indicating halfway to completion of the 30-lap feature.
Nonetheless, Leary was undeterred, digging in to supplant Stockon from the top of the throne once again by a single car length at the line. That proved short lived as Stockon gained a big drive off the bottom of four to re-corral the race lead once and for all on the 17th circuit.
In that instant, it became more than just a two-horse race with Darland, Logan Seavey and Brady Bacon each joining the fray along with Leary, while Stockon suddenly left his home on the bottom to try the top. Darland nearly took advantage of Stockon’s switch with 10 laps remaining by securing the bottom line, just missing out on leading the 20th lap by inches.
Darland became pinned behind the car of Colten Cottle on the tail end of the lead lap on the bottom of turn two as he raced side-by-side with Leary for the race lead. Nose-to-tail contact was made between Darland and Cottle, sending Cottle sideways and veering off into the infield to maintain control while Darland lost his stride of momentum, allowing Seavey to shoot the gap into second.
A lap later, the event’s fastest qualifier, Brent Beauchamp, slowed to a stop on the back straightaway to end the lengthy green flag run and restack the deck in a single file manner without the aid, or hindrance of traffic, in the distance.
Stockon continued to tiptoe around the tires of the infield variety when racing resumed with nine laps left. Darland followed Stockon on the limbo line while Bacon jostled into third on lap 24, then to the runner-up spot on lap 25 when Darland left the door open on the bottom of turn two for Bacon to scoot on by.
Bacon made every attempt to try to reel himself into lead contention at the end, but a slight issue with a cut tire placed him into conservation mode instead of attack mode for the final five-lap run to the checkered. Searching high and also stalking the bottom, Bacon couldn’t catch Stockon, who was the picture of perfection on the low line to win by a 0.819-second margin over Bacon, Darland, Leary and Seavey.
“I could feel those guys breathing on me there toward the end of the race. I was just trying to hit my marks and make no mistakes,” Stockon revealed after leading a race-high 25 laps. “The topside around here was just a little bit too far around for me tonight.”
Bacon finished second.
“We got a cut in our tire there at the end,” Bacon explained. “I kind of felt it getting soft, so I had to get a little conservative. It was really good on the bottom of three and four and I hadn’t been down there as much as them, so I didn’t exactly know what to do. We were better than them in one and two, but (Stockon) got to start in front and keep his nose clean. We might’ve used our stuff up a little bit to get there.”
Darland came home third, his best finish of the USAC season.
“We had a good race, but those guys just beat me a little bit,” Darland said. “I didn’t really want to see that yellow; traffic was going to help me. We were decent, but they were too. I knew Chase wouldn’t screw up too many times too often. Then brady came through and he had a good racecar too. There on that yellow, I was just hoping I could run real low around one and two on the restart and maybe get Chase out in the slick or something, but it was better to be up in the middle off turn two. He was in the right spot and he knew what he was doing, so there’s always a lot going through your mind of just what you’re going to do and what’s going to happen. It didn’t work out for the win, but we had a good run, a good finish and we’re happy about that.”
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