USAC Sprints Opening Midwest Season At The Burg

Seven Indiana Races
Lawrenceburg Speedway will host the Midwest opener for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series this weekend. (Dallas Breeze photo)

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – The USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship makes its Midwest debut this year at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway for its traditional springtime show in April, which dates back to the 2006 season.

For a variety of reasons, including rain and COVID-19, the series hasn’t participated in an April event at Lawrenceburg since the 2017 season after Mother Nature claimed 2018 and 2019, and the worldwide pandemic stole the date in 2020.

Chris Windom was the victor back in April 2017 at Lawrenceburg, which remains his only USAC National Sprint Car win at Lawrenceburg in 32 starts.  The career USAC Triple Crown champ’s USAC resume with the series at the three-eighths-mile dirt oval includes a solid average finish of 8.28.  Among drivers expected to be in Saturday’s field, he’s the lone individual with both a USAC Sprint and a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature win at the track.

No driver has won more often, and started more often, at Lawrenceburg with the USAC National Sprint Cars than Dave Darland.  The career USAC Triple Crown champ has made 54 series starts at Lawrenceburg, averaging a feature finish of 8.52 throughout the years.  His April 2016 score at Lawrenceburg was his seventh and most recent with the series at the track after earlier victories in 1998 (twice), 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Series point leader Justin Grant enters Saturday as the winner of the most recent USAC National Sprint Car race, in February at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park.  The Ione, Calif., native and reigning USAC Silver Crown titlist won at Lawrenceburg in April of 2014, one of his four career USAC wins at the track in a span of 25 starts, boasting an average finish of 6.92.  Grant has won at least one USAC Sprint race at Lawrenceburg in two of the last three years, in 2018 and 2019, and also won his first career series race there in 2012.

Likewise, Kevin Thomas Jr. comes into Saturday carrying a February Ocala win as well as four career USAC National Sprint Car wins at Lawrenceburg.  The Cullman, Ala. driver won at Lawrenceburg with a last lap triumph back in 2013.  He added additional wins there in mid-2013, and twice more in the Fall Nationals during the 2017 and 2019 seasons.  His 24 starts at the track have resulted in a 9th place average finish.  He will arrive at Lawrenceburg as the second-place driver in the standings.

Three-time USAC National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon is the most recent series winner at Lawrenceburg, taking the Fall Nationals of 2020 after original winner Tyler Courtney’s car was light at the scales in post-race tech. Bacon also won at Lawrenceburg in 2015 and comes into Saturday’s 30-lapper third in the series point tally.  He’s made 26 USAC Sprint starts in his career at the southeastern Indiana dirt oval, and his average result of 6.15 is tops among Saturday’s expected entrants with at least five starts there.

C.J. Leary is a past track champion at Lawrenceburg in 2013.  The 2019 USAC National Sprint Car king is fifth in the standings after taking over the reins of the Bill Michael owned No. 77m for the 2021 campaign.  Leary powered to the victory at Lawrenceburg during last July’s Indiana Sprint Week round and also captured the very same ISW round back in 2017.  Leary owns a finishing position of no worse than fourth in his last four starts at Lawrenceburg with a third, fourth, first and fourth in 2019-2020.

Robert Ballou and Chase Stockon each have shared triumphs with the series at Lawrenceburg in the early part of their USAC careers.  Ballou notched his win in the summer of 2011 and hasn’t finished outside the top-ten in USAC Sprint competition at Lawrenceburg since 2014.  Meanwhile, Stockon made his first trip to victory lane with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Lawrenceburg in 2012.

Tanner Thorson leads all rookies in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car division in 2021, standing fourth in the points after two rounds.  He’s made five career feature starts at Lawrenceburg with the USAC National Midgets, finishing as the runner-up twice in both 2017 and 2018, while taking 4th in 2019.  Fellow series Rookies Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.) and Carson Garrett are set to make their USAC Sprint debuts at the track.

Jadon Rogers, the 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, finished 22nd in his first Lawrenceburg USAC appearance last year.

Kyle Cummins has made two appearances inside the top-ten in his two most recent USAC Sprint starts at Lawrenceburg, a seventh and a sixth, in 2020.  New Indiana transplant Jake Swanson set quick time during Fatheadz Qualifying in last October’s Fall Nationals at Lawrenceburg, finishing ninth in the A-Main.

Mario Clouser has made three prior starts with the series at Lawrenceburg, while Matt Westfall has made 13, finishing a best of 8th in 2004.  Cole Bodine ran 10th in his first ever USAC National Sprint Car feature start at Lawrenceburg in the Fall of 2020.  Brandon Mattox, the 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver, started his first series feature at Lawrenceburg in July 2020, taking 18th.

A slew of track champions have more than held their own when USAC makes a visit to Lawrenceburg.  Dickie Gaines, the 2003 and 2019 champ, won with USAC at the track in 2005.  Three-time track champ Joss Moffatt – 2007, 2009 and 2015 – has made seven USAC starts at Lawrenceburg.  Guilford, Indiana’s Shawn Westerfeld (2014 champ) set fast time with USAC in July of 2015 as did 2020 champ Nick Bilbee with a fast time in 2018.  Bedford, Indiana’s Jordan Kinser (2017 champ) and Garrett Abrams (2018 champ) have been perennial regulars with the USAC tour at Lawrenceburg over the past half-decade.