KOKOMO, Ind. — For the second time this year, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. managed to make a big pitcher of lemonade out of a pile of lemons.
This time the stakes were bigger as it was the second stop of the 26th Indiana Sprint Week and the result was Thomas’ fourth USAC AMSOIL national sprint car series victory of the year.
Battling from the eighth starting slot at Kokomo Speedway, Thomas dominated the last twenty laps of the feature and won by three seconds over Wes McIntyre.
Dave Darland finished third to take the Sprint Week point lead, followed by Christopher Bell and Chris Windom.
The prospects for a victory didn’t look bright for Thomas earlier in the evening. Battling for third position in the second heat race, he and Kyle Cummins made contact in the fourth turn, which sent Thomas hard into the outside wall. With both left side tires shredded and other damage evident, the Rotondo-Weirich crew hustled to complete repairs in time for Thomas to run the B Main, before coming back to win the feature. Three months earlier, at Gas City I-69 Speedway, Thomas had taken a tumble in his heat and then rebounded to claim his first victory.
“These guys just bust their ass and they do everything they can for me. They give me great race cars night in and night out. I couldn’t ask for anything better than these guys,” Thomas said of his Mike Dutcher-led team after the victory.
Jerry Coons Jr. led the opening laps, as Chad Boespflug, McIntyre and Darland fought for second. McIntyre charged into the lead on a lap five restart, as Thomas caught Darland and took fourth. On another restart after Ryan Bernal flipped in turn two, Thomas took third from Coons. Boespflug took the point when he got under McIntyre in the third turn on lap nine with Thomas on his tail. Thomas claimed the lead two laps later, passing Boespflug as they exited the fourth turn.
Thomas opened an eight car-length lead, as McIntyre, Boespflug, Darland and Windom scrapped over second. Eventually, McIntyre broke free, working quickly on the top, and slowly began to reel Thomas in. On the 19th lap, McIntyre pulled even through turn three, but bounced off the turn four wall, and Thomas opened three car-lengths. More importantly, Thomas found that the top of turns three and four were very quick and steadily pulled away.