Stockon Takes THAT as Bacon Rules
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (July 17, 2016) – Chase Stockon became the seventh different winner on the seventh night of the 29th annual “Indiana Sprint Week” finale Sunday night at the Terre Haute Action Track. Yet, it was fourth place finisher Brady Bacon who, despite going winless throughout the seven races, used a string of consistent finishes to accumulate enough points to claim his first ISW crown.
Bacon’s finishes of 5th, 5th, 7th, 11th, 2nd and 7th in the first six ISW races put him in the catbird seat coming into Sunday night’s “Don Smith Classic” feature. The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver held a 15-point advantage over defending ISW champ Robert Ballou.
Due to their solid qualifying efforts earlier in the evening, both Bacon and Ballou were in an enviable position at the start of the 30-lap main event. Ballou would roll off third with Bacon directly behind him on the inside of row three.
Ballou was more than a formidable challenge to Bacon evidenced by his prowess on the half-mile dirt oval, picking up victories in the two most recent USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car visits to the “Action Track” at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
But Bacon’s mission was clear. Finish in the top-five and the ISW title was all his.
At the start, pole-sitter Chase Stockon gallantly streamed to the lead into turn one, sliding up to the high side as outside front row starter Tyler Courtney skated sideways in the middle of the corner, yet was able to maintain the position as the field shot down the back straightway.
On lap two, the red flag flew for the night’s only incident involving Englishman Tom Harris, who took a nasty-looking tumble between turns three and four. He was uninjured.
On the ensuing restart, Courtney took a run at Stockon for the lead on the bottom of turn one, but was denied, forcing him to fall back into line in the second position at the exit of turn two.
One lap later, third-running Ballou attempted a similar move on Courtney, shooting to the inside guardrail in turn three for second, but wasn’t able to make it stick as Courtney motored away to hold steady in the runner-up spot.
Meanwhile, Stockon was gone, checking out on the field for a half-straightaway lead by lap six as the drivers throughout the pack settled into a groove on the high, wide and handsome cushion.
With each position in the top-ten paying three points for every spot gained, points were of utmost importance and Ballou needed his share. Ballou began to erase the separation that was wedged between himself and second-running Courtney on lap 13 as he shadowed “Sunshine” up against the concrete.
As the two battled for their own supremacy, leader Stockon was now within an arm’s reach of Courtney and Ballou as he became hung up on lapped cars on the 14th circuit. Now nose-to-tail and running one, two, three, Stockon felt the pressure intensify as he worked to overtake the lapped car of previous night’s Haubstadt winner Carson Short.
Two laps later, with Courtney and Ballou just a few footsteps behind, Stockon was able to gain some much-needed breathing room as he slid Short to create a little separation for himself just past the halfway point.
With 11 laps to go, Ballou tried a colossal slider on Courtney for second in turn one. Ballou drifted his way toward the topside in a classic, patented Terre Haute slide job, appearing to pinch Courtney just a tad enough to slow him up. But Courtney never lifted, instead, throttling his way off the exit of turn two while crop dusting western Indiana soil into the Vigo County Fair midway to remain in second.
However, three laps later, Ballou gave it another shot. This time, he made the move on Courtney stick, slipping past the Gas City ISW winner for second. One lap later, with six to go, Bryan Clauson smoked by Courtney for the second position as well, but his stay in the top-three would be short-lived after his right rear tire blew out on lap 25, bringing out the night’s final caution and setting up a final six-lap dash for glory.
Stockon, Ballou and Courtney marched single-file at speed up against the cushion, right up next to the wall, on the restart with ISW point leader Brady Bacon behind in a distant fourth, holding stable and unwavering in his steadfast resolve.
Shortly thereafter, Stockon and Ballou broke away from Courtney, creating a two-man, two-car race for the race win.
Three to go, Ballou was closer to Stockon than he’d been all race, prompting Ballou to toss a short-slider at Stockon in turn one that came up short, but Ballou refused to be fazed, staying right with Stockon two to three links back in second.
Though Stockon was just within Ballou’s grasp during the final laps, Ballou was never quite close enough to mount a serious challenge to make the winning move. As Stockon gassed his machine sideways off of the final corner with the checkered flag in clean sight, the Fort Branch, Indiana driver had the victory in the bag, his second win at the track in USAC competition and first since 2012, followed to the line by Ballou and Courtney.
Stockon was the seventh driver to win a feature during the unprecedented, historic seven night ISW of 2016, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2001.
Bacon’s fourth place run was the centerpiece at the end of the night after he was able to garner enough valuable points to pocket the ISW title by nine markers over Ballou. In the process, it marked the ninth time the ISW champ won the series without a feature victory, joining Randy Kinser (1988), Gary Trammell (1990), Bob Kinser (1991), Tony Elliott (1999), Levi Jones (2004, 2008 & 2012) and Robert Ballou (2015).
Bacon’s title staked the claim for the traditional hand-crafted Bridgeport Rocker that is awarded annually to the ISW champions by longtime supporters John and Terri Youngs of Vincennes, Ind. as well as the $5000 top prize.
“This means a lot,” Bacon said proudly after driving the Dynamics, Inc./Mean Green – Lykins Oil/Triple X/Williams Mopar to the ISW title. “Anytime you can put an accomplishment like this on your resume, that’s pretty special. I’m glad to get another one for the Hoffman’s. This is a lot more intense place to end it than some of the other places. We’re usually good here and these guys gave me a good enough car that I could make up for some of my mistakes earlier in the week and a good enough car to keep it up front every night.
“You never know what’s going to happen at this place,” Bacon continued after delivering the Hoffman Auto Racing team its first ISW championship since Dave Darland’s one-point victory for the team in 1998. “When Bryan (Clauson) passed me, I was a little nervous, but I thought we were still good enough to get in line and not make any mistakes. I don’t think any team had the “Sprint Week” we were wanting, but we got the best of everybody else. The experience of the team helps in that situation because they know not to get too down on themselves. If you can only run 7th or 11th some night, they know to just take what we can get and move on to the next one.”
Fort Branch, Indiana’s Stockon led wire-to-wire on his way to victory in his 32-TBI Racing/Superior Tank & Trailer – Dewig Meats/DRC/Fisher. The win was an emotional one for Stockon whose career was aided by the financial help supplied by the race’s namesake: Terre Haute businessman, sponsor and Action Track promoter, Don Smith.
“This is pretty awesome,” Stockon exclaimed. “This is the ‘Don Smith Classic’ and I’ve wanted to win this one really bad. Once I knew nobody was going to get to me coming to the checkered, I was about in tears. Don Smith has been a big part of my career with First Financial Bank. They helped us out a lot and I think this win means more than any I’ve ever had. Getting through lapped traffic was tricky, trying to slide across the track and get to the top as quick as possible. I knew Robert would be back there because this is his kind of race track and he’s proven time and time again that’s he’s the car to beat here. I just drove every lap as hard as I could and hoped the car would hang on.”
Ballou, of Rocklin, California, finished second in the feature and second in the final ISW points in his Ballou Motorsports/MPHG Promotions – Blakesley Auto/Maxim/Ott. Many competitors would be satisfied with that result, but for the 2015 USAC National Sprint and ISW titlist, his 2016 ISW experience was a disappointment.
“We just didn’t have a very good ‘Sprint Week,’ Ballou said bluntly. “You have to put complete nights together to win championships and the Hoffmans deserve this the most because they did that the best. We’ve been off all week and I’m not really sure why. Chase (Stockon) was really good and Tyler Courtney was too. Both of those guys did a great job. I’m happy for the Stockons, but we just missed it a little bit tonight. We were too tight and had to settle for second.”
Indianapolis, Indiana’s Courtney rebounded from two consecutive less-than-stellar nights at Bloomington and Haubstadt after a hot start to his “Sprint Week” to earn a respectable third-place finish in both the race as well as the ISW standings in his TOPP Motorsports/Maxim/Chevy.
‘Hats off to my guys,” Courtney said. “I tore up that car at Bloomington and all we had up top was our wing car that we run. It had a non-wing front axle in it, but we pulled it out and struggled through the rest of the night. Then, we worked all day in the hot sun at Haubstadt just to get it ready, but they worked their tails off to make this the best non-wing car possible. A third tonight is one of the only things I could do to repay them for all their hard work.”
Contingency award winners at the Terre Haute Action Track included Bryan Clauson (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner), Brady Bacon (Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Race Winner), Tyler Courtney (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Race Winner), Thomas Meseraull (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner), Jerry Coons, Jr. (KSE Racing Products/B&W Auto Mart Hard Charger) and Dave Darland (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 17, 2016 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Terre Haute Action Track – “Indiana Sprint Week” – “Don Smith Classic”
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-21.051; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-21.077; 3. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-21.131; 4. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-21.192; 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4J, 4J Motorsports-21.206; 6. Robert Ballou, 1, Ballou-21.244; 7. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-21.398; 8. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-21.430; 9. C.J. Leary, 17GP, Dutcher-21.448; 10. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-21.487; 11. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-21.503; 12. Thomas Meseraull, 24, LSR-21.558; 13. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-21.714; 14. Chad Boespflug, 98E, NineEight/EZR-21.819; 15. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-21.940; 16. Riley Kreisel, 90, Smith-22.031; 17. Dave Darland, 11, Walker/Curb-Agajanian-22.065; 18. Tyler Thomas, 04, Burton-22.067; 19. Jon Stanbrough, 66, Amati-22.085; 20. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-22.138; 21. Carson Short, 21, Short-22.192; 22. Bill Rose, 6R, Rose-22.212; 23. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-22.670; 24. Tom Harris, 5E, East-22.672; 25. Chris Phillips, 6p, Phillips-22.758; 26. Mitch Wissmiller, 1w, Wissmiller-22.920; 27. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-23.035; 28. Cole Ketcham, 41k, Ketcham-23.667; 29. Steve Thomas, 20, Thomas-23.724; 30. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-25.021; 31. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR-NT; 32. Daylan Chambers, 4c, Chambers-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Leary, 3. Darland, 4. C.Short, 5. K.Thomas Jr., 6. Mattox, 7. Phillips, 8. S.Thomas. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Ballou, 3. T.Thomas, 4. Boespflug, 5. McGhee, 6. M.Wissmiller, 7. Rose, 8. Bell. NT
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Mellenberndt, 3. Stanbrough, 4. Andretti, 5. Hughes, 6. Chapple, 7. Windom, 8. Farney. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Meseraull, 2. Coons, 3. Jarrett, 4. Stockon, 5. Kreisel, 6. Harris. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Farney, 3. Harris, 4. K.Thomas, 5. Kreisel, 6. McGhee, 7. M.Wissmiller, 8. Mattox, 9. Hughes, 10. Rose, 11. Phillips, 12. S.Thomas, 13. Bell. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Aaron Farney, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Logan Jarrett, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Bryan Clauson, 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Max McGhee, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. Dave Darland, 14. Thomas Meseraull, 15. Jon Stanbrough, 16. Carson Short, 17. Riley Kreisel, 18. Jarett Andretti, 19. Tyler Thomas, 20. Bret Mellenberndt, 21. Kevin Thomas Jr., 22. Tom Harris. NT
**Harris flipped on lap 2 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Stockon.
KSE/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Jerry Coons Jr. (18th-8th)
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-1,939, 2-Ballou-1,769, 3-Stockon-1,725, 4-Meseraull-1,695, 5-Darland-1,575, 6-Boespflug-1,540, 7-Leary-1,528, 8-Windom-1,386, 9-McGhee-1,264, 10-Farney-1,089.
FINAL USAC INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-Bacon-448, 2-Ballou-439, 3-Courtney-390, 4-Stockon-382, 5-Windom-359, 6-K.Thomas Jr.-340, 7-Boespflug-336, 8-Andretti-327, 9-Coons-295, 10-Kyle Cummins-291.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: July 29-30 – Granite City, IL – Tri-City Speedway
**Richie Murray – USAC Media