BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After a victory slipped through his fingertips on the final lap of a midget race last weekend, Chris Windom was determined not to play it as conservatively during Friday’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.
“I learned that lesson last week in the midget race,” Windom said after his 27th USAC sprint car triumph.
The triumph was Windom’s second career USAC score at Bloomington, and first since the 2011 season in his Hayward Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – OilFire – B & H Contractors/DRC/Claxton Mopar. On that occasion, Windom rolled the bottom to victory. This time, the path required a road of a different kind.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve been pretty good here; I just never got that second USAC win,” Windom explained. “Notoriously, I feel like I’m better at running the bottom here, but it was cool to get a win running the top.”
Windom took over the point lead in the new USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings, making it two different series he currently leads along with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
The first two tries at the start of the feature saw both instances aborted by race officials. Windom, who was determined to have jumped both starts, was moved back a row from his second place starting position to the outside of row two when the green flag finally put the race into motion.
Cummins, who had been elevated into Windom’s slot on the front row, stepped out to the early lead around the outside of pole sitter Brent Beauchamp in turn three on the opening lap. As Beauchamp slid up the track on entry in the third turn, Windom ducked under to move back into second with Cummins just ahead.
On the third lap, the door swung wide open for Windom as Cummins slid up the racing surface himself in turn two. Windom cut under and took off with the lead like a thief in the night.
From there forward, Windom constructed a one second lead that ultimately ballooned to two seconds as he cut through lapped traffic in the midst of the middle stages of the 30-lap main event. All the while, Windom was persuaded by his surroundings to change his exploration route and adjusting accordingly on the fly.
“I was running the bottom early on and I felt like we had really good speed,” Windom recalled. “The longer the race went on, the track started going away. It was tough to run the bottom because there was grease and it was slick. If you didn’t hit it just right, you’d lose all your time in the corners. I felt like, once I got to lapped traffic, some of the lapped cars were maintaining speed up top so I thought the top was probably the better place to go. So, I moved up at the point.”
Windom’s multiple second lead evaporated on the 19th lap when 10th running Sterling Cling levitated over the banking between turns three and four, landing on all fours before coming to a complete stop to bring out the yellow.
That instance changed the ballgame for Windom, and for Cummins too, who now had a shot at redemption without the hindrance of traffic. ust the open road and thoughts of victory racing through his mind. Cummins took a run on the bottom of turns one and two on the lap-19 restart, pulling even alongside with Windom for the length of the back straightaway. Windom utilized the constant speed of the high line in this case and ripped around Cummins to put a lockdown on the position.
“I knew Kyle was going to be good here; he’s always good here,” Windom reinforced. “They can get their car really good about anywhere through the middle. He showed that on that restart where he was able to slide up next to me, but I felt that if I stayed on the top and didn’t make a mistake, the momentum was going to prevail.”
Three stoppages occurred in the stretch run during the final 12-lap run, including one for Shane Cottle who went up in smoke with an engine issue while running fifth with five laps remaining, plus Anton Hernandez’s flip over the turn three banking on lap 25.
On each said restart, Windom’s theory proved true, as he carried the momentum topside to establish a five-car length lead on what would be the final, lap-25 restart.
However, Cummins began to inch closer to Windom on each successive circuit, and coming to the white flag, Cummins took aim for the race lead in turn three. Nonetheless, with one shot to take and one shot only, Cummins fired that shot with an attempted slider on the bottom of the third turn that sent him sliding straight up the racetrack as Windom opened up his advantage to secure the position once and for all.
“I actually didn’t see him,” Windom said. “I was focused hard on not running off the curb there. I knew he was probably close if he was hitting the bottom just right, but I was watching and waiting until I saw someone. If I had to dive down, I was going to dive down, but I felt if I kept running smooth laps up there, we were going to be OK.”
Windom’s margin of victory was 0.948 as his second series victory propelled him to the point lead by 23 points over Chase Stockon.
Cummins finished second with Kevin Thomas Jr. third.
To see full results, turn to the next page.