By RICHIE MURRAY
Both of this upcoming weekend’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car stops take place on a pair of Hoosierland tracks that have been a witness to over a century and a half of auto racing history.
However, Plymouth Speedway and Montpelier Motor Speedway have only played host to a combined one lone USAC Sprint Car event. A new opportunity arises and a there’s new land to claim. It all lies ahead this Friday and Saturday when a new generation of USAC stars including Justin Grant, Chad Boespflug and Chris Windom vie to take their piece of the pie.
First up is Plymouth Speedway this Friday night, April 21st where, in the past, the USAC National Midgets have made their home not only the pavement, but also on the dirt. But this will be the first foray for the USAC Sprint Car division at Plymouth on either surface.
Last June, C.J. Leary picked up the unsanctioned “Tony Elliott Tribute” at Plymouth, defeating a number of USAC regulars who are looking to get off the schneid.
Leary himself set ProSource/B & W Auto Mart Fast Qualifying time last weekend at Bloomington, but the Greenfield, Indiana native is looking to recreate the magic he found last August when he captured night number two in the “Sprint Car Smackdown” at Kokomo Speedway.
Jarett Andretti is one of the few who has past pavement and dirt experience at Plymouth. The Mooresville, North Carolina driver is having a standout 2017 season in which he sits fifth in the series standings and earned his first career fast qualifying time last Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway.
Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas, Jr. is the most recent winner of a USAC National event at Plymouth when he claimed “Midget Maynia” in May of 2015. KTJ has been solid over the last couple of weeks in a sprint car, including a 20th to 5th place run last Friday night at Bloomington.
Tyler Courtney, out of Indianapolis, Indiana, has yet to crack the top-10 thus far in the early season, but don’t count him out just yet as he and his potent TOPP Motorsports ride hope to hit their stride at Plymouth, which is located just down the road from the team’s headquarters in Rochester.
In his great career, Kokomo, Indiana’s Shane Cottle has been a winner in USAC’s Silver Crown, National Sprint and National Midget divisions. He’s also been a winner the last two seasons when the MSCS Sprints have visited Montpelier Motor Speedway, home of this Saturday’s USAC National Sprint Car stop.
Cottle took fourth in last year’s first USAC appearance at the quarter-mile. Finishing one spot ahead of him in third was USAC’s winningest National Sprint Car driver, Triple Crown champ Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana, who seeks to continue his record streak of consecutive years with at least one USAC National win to a quarter century.
Darland led the first 11 laps of the 2016 feature, but in a three-lap stretch, eventual series champion Brady Bacon drove from fourth to the front, resulting in a near dead heat at the start/finish line before claiming the lead from Darland just moments later in turn one.
With seven to go, Cummins got his right front wheel inside of Bacon’s left rear in turn two, nearly making contact, but was unable to make it stick, falling back roughly four car-lengths before a caution came out, providing Cummins with another shot.
Cummins was looking to gain an inch, a yard, anything that would give him an opportunity to gain valuable ground on Bacon at the end, but he was never close enough to mount a serious challenge in the final laps as Bacon never blinked, distancing himself from Cummins to take the victory in front of an electric, standing-room only crowd.
Plymouth’s gates open at 4pm on Friday night with cars set to hit the track at 6pm. Adult General Admission tickets are $25. General admission tickets for children age 6-12 are $10. Children Age 5 and Under are FREE with a paid adult. Pit passes: $35.
The front gates swing open for this Saturday’s event in Montpelier at 3pm with cars set to begin on-track activities at 5pm. Adult general admission tickets are just $20. Children age 12 and under are FREE with a paid adult. Pit passes are $30.
Fans who miss the action in-person this weekend at Plymouth and Montpelier can watch flag-to-flag coverage of each race a day after the event on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.