Greenfield, Ind., driver CJ Leary led all 30 laps to win Sunday night’s USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week feature at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Leary also won Saturday’s ISW stop at Gas City I-69 Speedway. (Tim Thomas/L'burg Speedway)
Bursting into flames during an Indiana Sprint Week heat race Sunday night, Tyler Thomas’s No. 17GP car slows in traffic at Lawrenceburg Speedway. The Collinsville, Okla., driver was not injured. (Tim Thomas/L’burg Speedway)
Greenfield, Ind., driver Chase Jones flips his No. 11AG car during the Indiana Sprint Week semifinal round at Lawrenceburg Speedway Sunday night, July 16. Jones was not seriously injured. (Tim Thomas/L’burg Speedway)
LEARY LEADS FOR ALL 30 AT ISW L'BURG
LAWRENCEBURG - Entering USAC 2020 NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week, it had been three years since any driver had gone back-to-back, with consecutive victories in the annual tour of the Hoosier State.
The very same driver who achieved the aforementioned feat in 2017, CJ Leary, did it again in Sunday night’s third round of ISW at Lawrenceburg Speedway, leading for all 30 laps of the feature race.
The Greenfield, Ind., driver - reigning Sprint Week champion - equaled his USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series win output of 2019 in a mere two-night span.
“Man, that was a workout,” Leary exclaimed after surpassing Thomas Meseraull and Tony Stewart in USAC National Sprint Car wins, with his 11th career triumph. “Lawrenceburg Speedway was elbows-up tonight. I definitely had the spurs on, and it took all I had. Typically, it’s a breeze in the park for me since I have so many laps here. But tonight, it took everything I had, using all the experience I’ve put together the past 10 years here.”
That experience includes a sprint car track championship at Lawrenceburg during the 2013 season, plus the 2017 ISW score that launched him into a succession of ISW feature victories on two-straight nights that summer.
Coming into Sunday, Leary had been the only driver to finish inside the top five of the Lawrenceburg ISW event in each of the last four years - a streak he’s now run to five.
For Leary, track position was key Sunday, as is the case for most anybody in as tight and competitive a field on display each night throughout the ISW tour.
A solid qualifying performance and a transfer spot through the heat netted Leary a starting spot on the outside of the front row.
“We somehow sandbagged just enough two nights in a row to get on the front row,” Leary said, facetiously.
“It’s what I felt like we needed to do to win these races. Winning these races is tough, but the 30 car was on a rail tonight.”
Leary, in the Leary Racing/Valvoline-Gray Auto-Leary Construction/DRC/1-Way Chevy, snagged the advantage topside to defeat polesitter Logan Seavey at the exit of Turn 2 to lead the opening lap in a duel of the winners of the first two rounds of ISW.
At the completion of Lap 1 trouble erupted near the start/finish line, when contact between 10th-starting Kevin Thomas Jr. and 12th-starting Tyler Courtney resulted in terminal front end damage for Courtney, the 2018 Lawrenceburg ISW winner.
Thomas, meanwhile, coasted to a stop atop the banking in Turn 1. He returned to the fray and finished 12th.
More trouble ensued on the fourth lap, when Jadon Rogers took a tumble in Turn 2 to bring out the yellow flag, in an incident which also collected USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. Rogers was OK, while Coons rejoined the lineup for the restart, finishing 17th.
On the Lap 8 restart, following the stoppage of Max Adams in Turn 1, the man on a mission was fourth-running Justin Grant, who expunged Brady Bacon for third with a Turn 3 slider.
Grant then tried to execute the slide on Seavey for second, on the 10th circuit in Turn 1.
As Grant was side-by-side with Seavey entering the first turn, he took a quick skip and a hop up the banking, losing ground to Seavey.
With no warning between Turns 3 and 4, a half-lap later, Grant’s right rear wheel center broke, jettisoning the wheel, which careened off the outside wall before bouncing nearly the length of the front straightaway.
Grant managed to avoid wall contact, returning to action at the tail of the field on the ensuing restart. The series points leader’s attempt at equaling JJ Yeley’s 2003 record USAC National Sprint Car streak of 14 top five finishes to start a season came just short.
Grant’s run of 13 consecutive top fives ended there, although, after a reinstallation of his right rear wheel, he came from the back of the pack to finish eighth.
Around the halfway mark, Leary continued rolling, expanding his lead to 1.5 seconds, as the quest for second began to pick up steam.
First, Chris Windom slid by Seavey for the runner-up spot in Turn 1 on the 15th lap. Seavey countered back under to retake the position in Turn 3.
Windom, one lap later, mimicked the same Turn 1 maneuver a lap later to secure second, while Bacon faked high and ducked low to zip by Seavey for third on the bottom of 3.
Leary had upped his command to over two seconds at that point, yet it soon began dwindling as he picked his way through traffic.
Despite setting a substantially quicker pace, Leary had to force the issue a bit on occasion in order to remain on the attack, with Windom, Bacon and others clamping down in the latter stages.
“In lapped traffic, we were so much faster,” Leary recalled. “We came up on them quick, so you really just had to bomb them.”
Windom shrunk Leary’s interval to three-quarters of a second, and with seven to go, took his shot at the leader with a Turn 1 slider.
When Windom realized he wasn’t going to clear Leary, he pitched his car a little too far sideways and nearly spun - freely admitting later that he may have made the pass attempt a half-lap too early.
As Windom gathered it back up, Leary recouped his advantage, while Bacon closed for second. As it turned out, that proved to be the final challenge to Leary, as he raced to a 1.057 margin of victory over Windom, Bacon, Chase Stockon and Carson Short.
With Sunday’s victory, Leary’s 12th overall win at the track matched the previous summer’s Lawrenceburg ISW winner, Grant, as the winningest sprint car driver for the 3/8-mile track configuration, which began in 2008.
Bacon’s third finish moved him to the point lead of Indiana Sprint Week with four races remaining, by five points over Grant, with Chase Stockon third (-7), Leary fourth (-17) and Kyle Cummins fifth (-23).
Grant’s Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying time Sunday was his second in ISW, after previously setting the standard in Friday’s opener at Gas City.
It was also Grant’s 26th career USAC Sprint quick time, tying him with Jay Drake and Leary for 14th all-time.
Leary lucky Saturday
Leary’s Sprint Week win at Kokomo Speedway Saturday night followed an incident in Friday’s opener at Gas City, in which he was running fourth and collected multiple other front running cars.
Leary found lady luck back on his side at Kokomo. Following a spin by race leader Tyler Courtney with just three laps remaining, the Greenfield driver was fully en route to his fourth career ISW win.
Leary’s 10th career series victory moved him past Mario Andretti, Hunter Schuerenberg and Robbie Stanley for 49th on the all-time feature win list.
Seavey takes opener
Logan Seavey captured the victory in Friday night’s USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car feature at Gas City I-69 Speedway, good for the points lead for the 33rd annual NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week series.
Seavey, of Sutter, Calif., owned a six-point lead over Chase Stockon, of Fort Branch, Ind., and Justin Grant, of Ione, Calif., after Friday’s victory.
USAC Amsoil Sprint Car
NOS Energy Drink
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK
Race No. 3
Sunday, July 26
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT ONE: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.070; 2. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-14.233; 3. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-14.244; 4. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.289; 5. Tyler Thomas, 17GP, Dutcher-14.299; 6. Chase Jones, 11AG, Gray-14.339; 7. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-14.405; 8. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-14.485; 9. Thomas Meseraull, 2E, Epperson-14.490; 10. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.608; 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 5, Baldwin-14.644; 12. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.648; 13. Dennis Gile, 13, Gile-14.652; 14. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.694; 15. Dustin Smith, 77, LG-14.764; 16. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-14.847; 17. Shawn Westerfeld, 89, Westerfeld-14.864; 18. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-14.874; 19. Max Guilford, 79BT, Goodnight-14.986; 20. Scotty Weir, 22, Goodnight-15.173; 21. Ryan Barr, 21B, Barr-15.288.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT TWO: 1. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-14.196; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.252; 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-14.408; 4. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-14.455; 5. Chase Johnson, 68, Thomas-14.505; 6. Carson Short, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-14.613; 7. Dave Darland, 36d, EZR/Curb-Agajanian-14.614; 8. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-14.644; 9. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-14.722; 10. Max Adams, 37, Felker-14.767; 11. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-14.795; 12. Tye Mihocko, 5T, Mihocko-14.846; 13. Jadon Rogers, 61m, Edwards-14.961; 14. Dustin Clark, 75, Clark-15.146; 15. Charles Davis Jr., 47, Davis-15.192; 16. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-15.192; 17. Dakota Jackson, 17, On The Gass-15.280; 18. Anthony D'Alessio, 01, D'Alessio-15.328; 19. Chris Phillips, 6p, Phillips-15.367; 20. Steve Thomas, 27, Thomas-16.221; 21. Dallas Hewitt, 18x, Keen-NT; 22. Saban Bibent, 43, Tibbits-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. J.J. Hughes, 6. Dustin Smith, 7. Max Guilford, 8. Dennis Gile, 9. Shawn Westerfeld, 10. Tyler Thomas. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jarett Andretti, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Matt Westfall, 6. Sterling Cling, 7. Chase Jones, 8. Matt Goodnight, 9. Ryan Barr, 10. Kurt Gross. 2:31.003
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Shane Cottle, 2. Chase Johnson, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 5. Dave Darland, 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 7. Jadon Rogers, 8. Charles Davis Jr., 9. Dakota Jackson, 10. Chris Phillips, 11. Saban Bibent. 2:34.188
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Short, 2. Max Adams, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Tye Mihocko, 6. Brandon Mattox, 7. Kyle Cummins, 8. Dustin Clark, 9. Anthony D’Alessio, 10. Steve Thomas. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Dakota Jackson, 2. Shawn Westerfeld, 3. Anthony D’Alessio, 4. Max Guilford, 5. Ryan Barr, 6. Saban Bibent, 7. Steve Thomas, 8. Kurt Gross. 2:35.712
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. J.J. Hughes, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Matt Westfall, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Jadon Rogers, 7. Dustin Clark, 8. Sterling Cling, 9. Brandon Mattox, 10. Matt Goodnight, 11. Anthony D’Alessio, 12. Chase Jones, 13. Dustin Smith, 14. Shawn Westerfeld, 15. Dakota Jackson, 16. Tye Mihocko, 17. Charles Davis Jr. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. C.J. Leary (2), 2. Chris Windom (5), 3. Brady Bacon (3), 4. Chase Stockon (4), 5. Carson Short (7), 6. Logan Seavey (1), 7. Kyle Cummins (15), 8. Justin Grant (6), 9. Chase Johnson (11), 10. Robert Ballou (22), 11. Thomas Meseraull (16), 12. Kevin Thomas Jr. (10), 13. Dave Darland (13), 14. Matt Westfall (21), 15. Jarett Andretti (8), 16. J.J. Hughes (14), 17. Jerry Coons Jr. (20), 18. Brandon Mattox (23), 19. Eddie Tafoya Jr. (19), 20. Shane Cottle (9), 21. Max Adams (17), 22. Jadon Rogers (18), 23. Tyler Courtney (12). NT
(Chase Jones flipped during the semi. Jadon Rogers flipped on lap 4 of the feature.)
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 C.J. Leary.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-954, 2-Brady Bacon-883, 3-Chris Windom-853, 4-Chase Stockon-853, 5-C.J. Leary-851, 6-Carson Short-778, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-731, 8-Dave Darland-628, 9-Brandon Mattox-570, 10-Logan Seavey-541.
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-215, 2-Justin Grant-210, 3-Chase Stockon-208, 4-C.J. Leary-198, 5-Kyle Cummins-192, 6-Logan Seavey-188, 7-Carson Short-183, 8-Chris Windom-179, 9-Thomas Meseraull-149, 10-Robert Ballou-148.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-74, 2-Tanner Thorson-58, 3-Logan Seavey-54, 4-Justin Grant-49, 5-Andrew Layser-44, 6-Daison Pursley-42, 7-Thomas Meseraull-38, 8-Jerry Coons Jr.-36, 9-Chase Stockon-35, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-35.
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Shane Cottle-20, 2-Robert Ballou-15, 3-Thomas Meseraull-14, 4-Matt Westfall-13, 5-Kyle Cummins-11, 6-Chase Johnson-10, 7-Justin Grant-8, 8-Carson Short-6, 9-A.J. Hopkins-8, 10-Chase Stockon-7.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Justin Grant
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Justin Grant
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Jarett Andretti
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Shane Cottle
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Carson Short
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: J.J. Hughes
KSE Racing Products / Irvin King Hard Charger: Robert Ballou (22nd to 10th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Dave Darland
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Dustin Clark
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Thomas Meseraull
Jim Spridgeon / Rich Murray Hard Work Award: Robert Ballou