GAS CITY, Ind., July 23 — Shane Cottle of Kansas, Ill., only led one lap of Friday’s USAC AMSOIL national sprint car feature at Gas City I-69 Speedway, but it was the one that counted.
The two-time track champion had to qualify through the semi and he started tenth in the feature, but he charged under point leader Justin Grant of Avon, Ind. in Turn 1 on the final lap to win an eventful opening feature of the 35th annual USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week.
The event attracted 52 non-wing sprint cars and a packed house of fans to the quarter-mile dirt track between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
Defending All Star Circuit of Champions TQ midget champion Joey Paxson of Connersville, Ind., led all 20 laps of that series’ supporting feature.
USAC AMSOIL Non-Wing Sprint Cars
For the bulk of the non-wing sprint car headliner the main players were Robert Ballou of Tipton, Ind.; Grant; C.J. Leary of Greenfield, Ind., and Brady Bacon of Winchester, Ind.
Ballou, the polesitter, led the first 13 laps before Grant, who started second, snuck under him in Turn 4 to lead lap 14. Meanwhile, Leary and Bacon exchanged third a couple of times before Bacon took command of the spot by dipping under Leary in Turn 2 working lap seven.
Up front, Ballou regained the lead from Grant to lead laps 15 and 16, with a pause between those two laps for a yellow due to an errant cone on the frontstretch.
Grant repassed Ballou for the lead by dipping under him in Turn 4 on lap 17, while on the same lap Leary passed Bacon for third. But working lap 20 Leary clipped a couple infield tires in Turn 2 and slipped from third to sixth.
Bacon charged from fourth to second on lap 20, passing Leary and then Ballou on the outside on the backstretch for the runner-up spot. However, as Bacon and Ballou flew through Turn 3 with 20 laps complete they made contact, and Bacon’s car flipped hard at the top of the turn to bring out a red flag. Bacon got out of his car under his own power and marched to the frontstretch, where Ballou was parked under the red flag, to express his displeasure with Ballou. It was a sad end to Bacon’s night, as he had worked hard to come from last to earn the final transfer spot to the feature in the third heat.
Cottle didn’t even appear in the top five until lap 19, when he passed Chase Stockon of Fort Branch, Ind., for fifth. He was third on lap 20 with Bacon’s departure and Leary’s encounters with the infield tires. He got one more spot following the restart on lap 21 by passing Ballou for second, leaving only Grant to deal with further up the track.
On lap 25 Leary passed Ballou for third in Turn 1. Grant had built up a 1.191-second lead over Cottle by that time.
More fireworks were on the horizon, however. Grant’s lead was 1.313 seconds on lap 29 when Leary flipped hard on the frontstretch after contact with Ballou. Leary’s car landed upside down a little past the flagstand. Like Bacon, Leary was unhurt but angry with Ballou. After getting out of his badly damaged car Leary jogged from the frontstretch to where Ballou was parked on the backstretch near Turn 3 under the red, and kicked Ballou while Ballou sat in his cockpit, falling down in the process before a USAC official broke up the confrontation.
The red flag for Leary set up a green-white-checkered finish. Grant held the lead, barely, on the white-flag lap, but on the final circuit Cottle slipped under him in Turn 1 to post a 0.265-second victory over Grant.
“I love running the bottom here; I’ve won a lot of races around here just like that,” Cottle said afterwards.
Mitchel Moles of Raisin City, Calif., who topped Fatheadz qualifying earlier in the evening, ended up finishing third. Ballou finished fourth and Stockon finished where he’d started, in fifth place. Kyle Cummins of Princeton, Ind., was the hard charger, as he finished sixth after starting 17th.
Cottle’s winning car is the Hodges Motorsports/Hodges Automotive No. 74X, which is a DRC chassis powered by a J & D Chevy. The car is sponsored by J.B. Henderson and Ortega’s Appliance.
The series will be back at Gas City on Thursday, Sept. 22 for the James Dean Classic, when it will be joined by the USAC NOS Energy Drink national midgets.
For more information on USAC and Indiana Sprint Week, see usacracing.com.
All Star Circuit of Champions TQs
Paxson started on the pole in the TQ midget feature and led the whole race in his Tony Stewart Racing No. 1, which is sponsored by Jenmarco.com, Vance & Hines, and Acro Engineering.
Robbie Roland of Carthage, Ind., and Matt Lux of Manilla, Ind., exchanged positions, as Roland started third and finished second, and Lux started second and finished third. Two-time champion Cory Clay of Morgantown, Ind., placed fourth. Johnny Heydenreich of Indianapolis came from 12th to pass Logan Prickett of Shelbyville, Ind., on the last lap to round out the top five finishers.
Rylan Gray of Greenfield, Ind., flipped hard in Turn 4 to bring out a red flag with six laps down. He reportedly suffered a knee injury in the accident.
Kaylee Bryson of Muskogee, Okla., started sixth, passed Lux for second on lap five, and pressured Paxson until she pulled off on the backstretch with 14 laps down with a mechanical issue.
Additional Red Flags
In addition to the two flips in the sprint car feature and the flip in the TQ feature, there were three sprint flips earlier in the evening. Drivers from Lebanon weren’t very lucky, as Austin Graby of Lebanon, Pa., flipped in Turn 4 during warmups and Kyle Shipley of Lebanon, Ind., flipped in the same turn during time trials. Defending Indiana Sprint Week titlist Kevin Thomas Jr. of Cullman, Ala., also flipped between Turns 3 and 4 during trial trials.
This coming Friday night, July 29, is the “Summer Thunder Mod Madness” show featuring crate late models, street stocks, modifieds ($1,000 to win), hornets, and the USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 midgets. It’s also Hoosier Auto Racing Fan (HARF) Appreciation Night.
On Friday, Aug. 5 the track will host its “Beach Night Bash” for non-wing sprint cars, modifieds, street stocks and hornets. The Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Racing Club will also be on hand with a display and an exhibition.
For Gas City’s complete 2022 schedule and more information see the track’s website at gascityI69Speedway.com and also follow its social media outlets. The track is on Twitter (@GasCitySpeedway), Instagram (@GasCitySpeedway) and Facebook (GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas).
Gas City I-69 Speedway is located on State Road 22, approximately a half-mile west of exit 259 of Interstate 69.
USAC Sprint Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying: 1. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-11.927; 2. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-11.951; 3. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-11.965; 4. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-11.984; 5. Brent Beauchamp, 11, Beauchamp-12.007; 6. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-12.008; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-12.023; 8. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-12.029; 9. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-12.087; 10. Scotty Weir, 4p, Pedersen-12.120; 11. Thomas Meseraull, 2, Yeley/Petty-12.127; 12. Jason McDougal, 5m, KO-12.128; 13. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-12.246; 14. Tye Mihocko, 2E, Epperson-12.264; 15. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-12.306; 16. Briggs Danner, 5G, Heffner South-12.307; 17. Cole Bodine, 57B, DCT/Crow/Bodine-12.314; 18. Chad Boespflug, 2B, 2B Racing-12.324; 19. Jadon Rogers, 14, Engler-12.355; 20. Dave Darland, 36D, Darland/Curb-Agajanian-12.396; 21. Brayden Fox, 53, Fox-12.438; 22. Jake Swanson, 5T, Daming-12.486; 23. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-12.504; 24. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-12.508; 25. Dalton Stevens, 99x, Stevens-12.525; 26. Colten Cottle, 57, Hazen-12.603; 27. Xavier Doney, 74, Doney/Lawson-12.620; 28. Alex Banales, 5x, Baldwin/Fox-12.639; 29. Jack Hoyer, 11H, Hoyer-12.6n42; 30. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-12.658; 31. Harley Burns, 16, Burns-12.708; 32. Zack Pretorius, 9z, Pretorius-12.710; 33. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-12.747; 34. Max Adams, 79B, Goodnight-12.755; 35. Evan Mosley, 27, Mosley-12.765; 36. Kevin Thomas Jr., 15K, BGE Dougherty-12.789; 37. Koby Barksdale, 16K, Knight-12.804; 38. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-12.835; 39. Frankie Guerrini, 63, Guerrini-12.899; 40. Braydon Cromwell, 4x, Cromwell-12.911; 41. Kyle Shipley, 17GP, Dutcher-12.999; 42. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-13.038; 43. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-13.053; 44. Ryan Barr, 21B, Barr-13.117; 45. Travis Thompson, 7T, Thompson-13.134; 46. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-13.235; 47. Brayden Clark, 42G, Clark/Jackson-13.267; 48. Jack James, 99, James-13.396; 49. Rylan Gray, 81G, Gray-13.450; 50. Troy Carey, 45N, Carey-13.471; 51. Stan Beadles, 84, Beadles-13.591; 52. Austin Graby, 7, Lotier/Nemeth-NT.
USAC Sprint Simpson Race Products First Heat (10 laps, top four transfer to the feature): 1. Emerson Axsom, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Mitchel Moles, 4. Jack Hoyer, 5. Brody Roa, 6. Cole Bodine, 7. Kyle Shipley, 8. Dalton Stevens, 9. Brayden Fox, 10. Koby Barksdale, 11. Rylan Gray, 12. Travis Thompson, 13. Brent Beauchamp. NT.
USAC Sprint Competition Suspension Second Heat (10 laps, top four transfer to the feature): 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. Scotty Weir, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Tye Mihocko, 6. Chad Boespflug, 7. Colten Cottle, 8. Max Adams, 9. Sterling Cling, 10. Dustin Ingle, 11. Brandon Mattox, 12. Matt Goodnight, 13. Troy Carey. 2:03.61.
USAC Sprint Pit Stop USA Third Heat (10 laps, top four transfer to the feature): 1. Jadon Rogers, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Carson Garrett, 7. Frankie Guerrini, 8. Xavier Doney, 9. Harley Burns, 10. Brayden Clark, 11. Corey Smith, 12. Stan Beadles. NT.
USAC Sprint Rod End Supply Fourth Heat (10 laps, top four transfer to the feature): 1. Briggs Danner, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Jason McDougal, 5. Braydon Cromwell, 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 7. Zack Pretorius, 8. Ryan Barr, 9. Alex Banales, 10. Jack James, 11. Dave Darland, 12. Shane Cottle. NT.
USAC Sprint C-Main: (10 laps, top four transfer to the feature): 1. Max Adams, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Koby Barksdale, 4. Harley Burns, 5. Sterling Cling, 6. Zack Pretorius, 7. Braydon Cromwell, 8. Kyle Shipley, 9. Brody Roa, 10. Matt Goodnight, 11. Rylan Gray, 12. Ryan Barr, 13. Brayden Clark, 14. Jack James, 15. Travis Thompson, 16. Troy Carey, 17. Stan Beadles, 18. Frankie Guerrini. NT.
USAC Sprint Elliott’s Custom Trailers and Carts Semi (12 laps, top six transfer to the feature): 1. Tye Mihocko, 2. Shane Cottle, 3. Brent Beauchamp, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Cold Bodine, 6. Chad Boespflug, 7. Brayden Fox, 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9. Xavier Doney, 10. Dalton Stevens, 11. Koby Barksdale, 12. Dave Darland, 13. Max Adams, 14. Colten Cottle, 15. Harley Burns, 16. Alex Banales, 17. Dustin Ingle, 18. Corey Smith. 2:35.27.
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Feature (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses): 1. Shane Cottle (10), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. Mitchel Moles (6), 4. Robert Ballou (1), 5. Chase Stockon (5), 6. Kyle Cummins (17), 7. Scotty Weir (12), 8. Tye Mihocko (16), 9. Jake Swanson (20), 10. Emerson Axsom (7), 11. Briggs Danner (8), 12. Brent Beauchamp (11), 13. Logan Seavey (15), 14. Jadon Rogers (9), 15. Thomas Meseraull (13), 16. Jason McDougal (14), 17. Jack Hoyer (22), 18. Cole Bodine (18), 19. Matt Westfall (21), 20. Chad Boespflug (19), 21. C.J. Leary (3), 22. Brady Bacon (4). NT.Lap Leaders: Laps 1-13, Ballou; lap 14, Grant; laps 15-16, Ballou; laps 17-30, Grant; lap 31, Cottle.
Margin of Victory: 0.265 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: Bacon, 12.766 seconds, lap five.
Hard Charger: Cummins (17th to sixth).
All Star TQ Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Rylan Gray, 2. Matt Lux, 3. Kaylee Bryson, 4. Adam Bolyard, 5. Landon Browning, 6. Jake Kelly, 7. Connor Wolf.
All Star TQ Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Robbie Roland, 2. Dylan Powell, 3. Tate Martz, 4. Nelson Stewart, 5. Ashlea Albertson, 6. Hunter Wilson, 7. Johnny Goff.
All Star TQ Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Joey Paxson, 2. Johnny Heydenreich, 3. Cory Clay, 4. Logan Prickett, 5. Parker Leisure, 6. Hunter Rabourn.
All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midget Feature (20 laps, with starting position in parenthesis): 1. Joey Paxson (1); 2. Robbie Roland (3) 3. Matt Lux (2) 4. Cory Clay (5); 5. Johnny Heydenreich (12); 6. Logan Prickett (9); 7. Connor Wolf (16); 8. Dylan Powell (11); 9. Johnny Goff (20); 10. Hunter Rabourn (14); 11. Adam Bolyard (10); 12. Nelson Stewart (7); 13. Landon Browning (19); 14. Parker Leisure (17); 15. Kaylee Bryson (6); 16. Rylan Gray (4);17. Tate Martz (8); 18. Ashlea Albertson (18); 19. Hunter Wilson (13).
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-20, Paxson.
Margin of Victory: 3.094 seconds
Hard Charger: Goff (20th to ninth).