INDIANAPOLIS – After more than 100 days off, the stars of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series is set to return to competition this weekend with a pair of events in Iowa and Missouri.
The series will first visit 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, on Saturday evening before visiting Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Sunday night.
Only twice before has the series visited the three-eighths-mile dirt oval at 34 Raceway, both of which came within the last decade. Numerous drivers in this Saturday’s 44-car field have previous experience at the West Burlington track, in those two events as well as a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget event there in 2010, with some finding a fair amount of success.
USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Point leader Brady Bacon is undefeated thus far with the series, winning the first two events of the season in Ocala, Fla., during the month of February and leads the standings.
Bacon led the first 13 laps of the 2013 30-lap main event at West Burlington, but a broken rear axle suffered while leading relegated the 2014 and ’16 champ to a 19th place finish.
Chris Windom has been close, but no cigar, in both of his USAC Sprint starts at West Burlington. The Canton, Ill., native who resides second in the points, won his heat in 2010, but finished second in the feature behind Levi Jones in 2010 and was the runner-up to Darland in 2013.
Justin Grant, a recent USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victor at Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway on May 23, owns a pair of West Burlington top-10 results. The Ione, Calif., driver finished sixth in 2010 and a best of fourth in 2013.
Chase Stockon made his lone appearance at West Burlington in 2013, winning his heat and placing sixth in the A-Main.
Perhaps no driver has had as much success across the board with USAC at West Burlington over the past decade than has USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car division’s winningest driver, Dave Darland. The National Sprint Car Hall of Famer out of Lincoln, Ind., led the first 20 laps in 2010 before a tire issue forced him back to 10th at the checkered. In 2013, he returned as fast qualifier, then won the feature, leading the final 17 laps of the 30-lapper.
Darland also recorded fast time in a USAC Midget there in 2010 before finishing eighth in the feature. To put a stamp on it, Darland possesses both the USAC Sprint (14.554) and USAC Midget track records at West Burlington (15.726).
Also in that 2010 USAC Midget race at West Burlington who are also entered for this Saturday’s showdown, this time in a sprint car, are Zach Daum who finished an impressive second that night, as well as Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.), a 6th place finisher that evening.
Among the others who’ve made one previous USAC Sprint appearance at West Burlington were Kevin Thomas Jr., Robert Ballou and Steve Thomas. Terry Babb had a career-best USAC night at West Burlington in 2010, recording fast qualifying time and finishing fifth in the feature. Patrick Budde was 16th the same night.
Ballou will be making his return to USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing for the West Burlington event after being sidelined for nearly a year following a broken arm suffered during a sprint car crash at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. The 2015 USAC Sprint champ and 29-time feature winner last competed with USAC at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway in mid-June of 2019.
One day after the race at 34 Raceway, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series will head to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., which first hosted the series two years ago.
That event was a barnburner as former roommates Jason McDougal and Thomas swapped the lead six times in a 30-lap span at the third-mile dirt bullring, including the final lead change that came with four laps left that saw McDougal take the win.
Thomas is up for a little bit of redemption this time around after winning his heat race, leading 12 laps and finishing second in the 2018 round.
The Daigh-Phillips Motorsports machine, with which McDougal won his heat, led five laps and raced to victory at I-55 two seasons ago, is now wheeled by Carson Short, who will make his USAC debut at the track.
Ballou set the standard at I-55 in his 2018 heat race, establishing a USAC track record for 8-laps at 1:44.38 before finishing third in the feature. Stockon led early in the 2018 affair at I-55, controlling 11 laps early, then two more during mid-race to lead a race-high 13 laps ultimately finishing ninth.
Korey Weyant, great nephew of National Midget Hall of Famer and four-time Indianapolis 500 starter Chuck Weyant, was the hard charger at I-55 in 2018, rising up to drive from 18th to 10th in the final tally.
Fourteen of the 22 starters from 2018 are pre-entered for this Sunday’s event, including top-five finisher Grant, C.J. Leary, Darland, Windom, Isaac Chapple and Bacon.
Other entrants for Sunday’s race who raced at the track in 2018 include Mario Clouser, Jadon Rogers, Budde and Mitch Wissmiller.
Sunday’s I-55 event will mark the 22nd visit to the Show Me State for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars, dating to Gary Bettenhausen’s victory in 1970 at I-70 Speedway in Odessa. Four-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Steve Butler leads all drivers with three victories. Tony Stewart won two, including his first USAC win in 1992 at I-44 Speedway.