Two Sprintacular Nights of USAC/MSCS Sprints

By Richie Murray – USAC Media
PUTNAMVILLE, IN- Kevin Thomas Jr. began his Sprintacular winning quest from the back half of the field during the 2021 event at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway.
Now, a year later, Thomas is back in form as he looks to make his season debut with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship in the eighth annual Indiana Open Wheel Bill Gardner Sprintacular, which encompasses two consecutive evenings of co-sanctioned USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and Midwest Sprint Car Series events at LPS’ 5/16-mile dirt oval on Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2.
Mired deep – 14th in the 22-car feature lineup – the Cullman, Ala. native rapidly ascended through the field, securing the lead just six laps from the finish of the 40-lap event to quench his thirst with a monumental victory.
In fact, it was an unprecedented triumph in KTJ’s career. His 13 spot advancement to the top of the leaderboard is one he estimated as a personal-best.
“I’ve never won from that far back, I don’t think,” Thomas pondered. “That was a lot of fun there, just battling through the field and doing whatever we had to do to win.”
Thomas also engineered a Sprintacular win in 2017 and finished as a runner-up in both 2015 and 2019. He most recently won at Lincoln Park’s Fast Freddy Classic on June 18.
He’s also one of several past winners of a Sprintacular feature who are vying for this weekend’s winner’s share of $5,000 on Friday and $10,000 on Saturday along with Robert Ballou (2015 & 2016), Justin Grant (2018), Kyle Cummins (2019), Shane Cottle (2020), Brady Bacon (2020) and C.J. Leary (2021).
Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) is one of two multi-time feature winners in the history of the Sprintacular, along with Thomas, winning on the second night of 2015 followed by another score in the 2016 opener.
Like Ballou, Bacon is a three-time LPS USAC Sprint winner in his career. His latest came at the Sprintacular where Bacon prevailed in the closest three-car finish of the season with a mere car length separating the top-three at the finish line on the final night of 2020.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) has finished within the top-four in each of his last four Sprintacular starts, notching a victory in the 2021 opener after starting back in 11th and followed it up with a 4th the next night. The 2019 USAC National Sprint Car champion was 2nd and 4th on each night in 2020.
Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) scored his Sprintacular victory in a stirring drive from 6th to 1st in the early stages to win the 2020 opener. He’s actually finished inside the top-five in all of his last four Sprintacular starts, taking 2nd in 2019, 1st in 2020 and a 3rd and 5th on each of the two nights during 2021 while also setting quick time in the 2021 opener.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) captured a Sprintacular win during the 2018 event at LPS. The current series point leader notched a 2nd in the event during both 2020 and 2021.
Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) finds himself in the Sprintacular winning group as well, having taken the gold back in 2019. He also added an Indiana Sprint Week feature victory at LPS in 2019. He won with MSCS at LPS in late May and owns the 10-lap USAC Sprint Car track record at LPS with a time of 2:09.325, set in 2021.
Among the individuals searching for a first Sprintacular victory are Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) who earned his first career USAC Sprint Car win at LPS in September of 2020. At the Sprintacular, he finished a best of 3rd in 2015. KO Motorsports teammate Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) made his first career USAC National Sprint Car start of any kind a memorable one during the 2018 Sprintacular when he charged from his 22nd starting position to finish 3rd.
Recent Eastern Storm champ Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) will make his Sprintacular debut this weekend after finishing 5th in his most recent USAC Sprint Car start at LPS during Indiana Sprint Week in July of 2021 and won a weekly program at the track that same year.
Leading USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year contender Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) won the track’s most recent event on June 25. Fellow Rookie Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.), like Axsom, is taking in his first Sprintacular experience.
The 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver, Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), has been 8th twice in 2018 and 9th in 2020 in his recent Sprintacular performances. Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), the 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, was the fastest qualifier on night one of the Sprintacular in 2020 and scored a 15th in that same year in the event. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) recorded an 18th in 2017.
A.J. Hopkins (Brownsburg, Ind.) is the reigning two-time Lincoln Park Speedway track champion and was victorious at LPS on the local level back in June of this year. At the Sprintacular, Hopkins turned in his best career USAC performance with a 2nd in 2018. Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.) turned in a 7th in 2019.
Hopkins is among the bevy of Lincoln Park Speedway winners this season vying for their first Lincoln Park USAC Sprint Car win. It’s a lengthy list which includes Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), who collected a Racin’ Fest victory at LPS in April and finished as the runner-up on the opening night of the 2021 Sprintacular after leading eight laps late. Lincoln Park Speedway Sprint Car point leader Geoff Ensign (Sebastopol, Calif.) has already won twice at the track this year and he’ll be joined in the field by Silver Crown standout, 2016-18-19 track champion and 2018-19 9th place Sprintacular finisher Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.), who won the April season opener at LPS while Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.) used the top shelf to win there in early May.
Track champions of Lincoln Park are prevalent throughout the field with Hopkins and Cockrum in the fold along with Fairland, Indiana’s Brent Beauchamp (2012 & 2017) as well as Fillmore, Indiana’s Brian Hayden (1995 & 2013). Beauchamp was the fastest qualifier at the 2020 Sprintacular and possesses a pair of top-five finishes in the event with a best of 4th in 2018 and a 5th in 2016.
The sons of track champions are making their waves as well with Avon, Indiana’s Brayden Fox, son of 1997 champ Brad Fox, as well as Brazil, Indiana’s Hayden Burns, son of 2000 titlist Eric Burns, in the lineup. Fox grabbed 16th in the 2021 Sprintacular. Burns, meanwhile, was a 17th place finisher in the 2019 event.
The event honors the life and memory of Bill Gardner, who passed away in July of 2014. Gardner was born and raised in Putnam County, Indiana, but you could also say he was practically raised at Lincoln Park Speedway where he was a fixture throughout his life and was a crew member for best friend Brian Hayden. Gardner co-owned a sign and graphics business and created and designed one of his greatest lasting legacies to the racing community, indianaopenwheel.com.
The eighth annual Bill Gardner Sprintacular features two consecutive nights of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing on July 1-2 at Lincoln Park Speedway with Friday night paying $5,000-to-win and $500 to start and Saturday night paying the elevated purse of a $10,000 winner’s share and $600 to start.
Friday’s Bill Gardner Sprintacular event will utilize the MSCS format, which features group qualifying as well as an H15 or Medium on the right rear and concludes with a 30-lap feature. All licensed USAC National Sprint Car drivers and entrants will receive 50 appearance points, regardless of finishing position, on Friday.
Saturday’s show will use the standard USAC format of single-car qualifying to seed the starting lineups, the use of a Medium right rear tire and full points for all events, leading up to the night’s 40-lap feature race.
On Friday, the pits open at 4:30pm Eastern, front gates open at 4:45pm and hot laps at 6:30pm, with qualifying and racing immediately following.
On Saturday, the pits open at 3pm Eastern, front gates open at 5pm and hot laps at 6:30pm, with qualifying and racing immediately following.
General admission tickets for each night are $30 apiece with kids age 10 and under are free. Pit passes are $35 with kids age 10 and under free.
FloRacing will provide live coverage for both nights of the USAC/MSCS Bill Gardner Sprintacular at https://bit.ly/3u7ID2N.
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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-967, 2-Brady Bacon-956, 3-Robert Ballou-918, 4-Logan Seavey-897, 5-C.J. Leary-889, 6-Emerson Axsom-870, 7-Chase Stockon-810, 8-Matt Westfall-718, 9-Jake Swanson-616, 10-Jadon Rogers-593.
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT LINCOLN PARK SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 7/26/2018 – Brady Bacon – 12.276 – 91.642 mph
6 Laps – 8/23/1997 – Bill Rose – 1:22.90 – 81.423 mph
8 Laps – 7/29/2001 – Bryon Walters – 1:46.75 – 84.309 mph
10 Laps – 7/29/2021 – Kyle Cummins – 2:09.325 – 86.990 mph
12 Laps – 7/14/2014 – Jon Stanbrough – 2:40.15 – 84.296 mph
ALL-TIME BILL GARDNER SPRINTACULAR USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE WINS
2-Robert Ballou & Kevin Thomas Jr.
1-Brady Bacon, Jerry Coons Jr., Shane Cottle, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, C.J. Leary & Thomas Meseraull
BILL GARDNER SPRINTACULAR FEATURE WINNERS
2015: Jerry Coons Jr. (7/4) & Robert Ballou (7/5)
2016: Robert Ballou (7/1) & Thomas Meseraull (7/2)
2017: Kevin Thomas Jr. (7/1)
2018: Tyler Courtney (7/6) & Justin Grant (7/7)
2019: Kyle Cummins (7/5)
2020: Shane Cottle (7/3) & Brady Bacon (7/4)
2021: C.J. Leary (7/2) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (7/3)
ALL-TIME LINCOLN PARK SPEEDWAY USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE WINS
6-Dave Darland
5-Sheldon Kinser
3-Brady Bacon & Robert Ballou
2-Steve Butler, Jerry Coons Jr., Jay Drake, Cory Kruseman & Jon Stanbrough
1-Chuck Amati, Chad Boespflug, Bryan Clauson, Shane Cottle, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Cummins, Brad Fox, Dickie Gaines, Jack Hewitt, Kelly Kinser, C.J. Leary, Brady Short, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas Jr. & Tanner Thorson
ALL-TIME LINCOLN PARK SPEEDWAY USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE WINNERS
1981: Sheldon Kinser (9/16)
1983: Kelly Kinser (5/25) & Sheldon Kinser (8/24)
1984: Chuck Amati (5/23) & Sheldon Kinser (7/18)
1985: Sheldon Kinser (5/4) & Steve Butler (9/7)
1986: Steve Butler (5/17) & Sheldon Kinser (8/23)
1997: Jack Hewitt (7/27) & Dave Darland (8/23)
1998: Dave Darland (7/26) & Brad Fox (8/15)
1999: Dave Darland (7/24)
2000: Jay Drake (7/29)
2001: Jon Stanbrough (7/21)
2002: Cory Kruseman (7/20)
2003: Jay Drake (7/19)
2004: Cory Kruseman (7/17)
2005: Dave Darland (7/19)
2010: Dickie Gaines (7/24) & Jon Stanbrough (9/10)
2012: Dave Darland (7/22)
2013: Chad Boespflug (7/4) & Bryan Clauson (7/18)
2014: Jerry Coons Jr. (7/4) & Robert Ballou (7/17)
2015: Jerry Coons Jr. (7/4) & Brady Bacon (7/16)
2016: Robert Ballou (7/1) & Brady Short (7/14)
2017: Robert Ballou (7/16)
2018: Tyler Courtney (7/6) & Dave Darland (7/26)
2019: Kyle Cummins (7/25)
2020: Shane Cottle (7/3), Brady Bacon (7/4), Chase Stockon (9/12) & Brady Bacon (9/12)
2021: C.J. Leary (7/2), Kevin Thomas Jr. (7/3) & Tanner Thorson
PAST BILL GARDNER SPRINTACULAR RESULTS:
2015 USAC FEATURE RESULTS: (30 laps) 1. Jerry Coons Jr., 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Chad Boespflug, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Tyler Courtney, 7. Casey Shuman, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12. Josh Hodges, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Cole Smith, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Carson Short, 17. Brady Bacon, 18. Chris Babcock, 19. Brandon Mattox, 20. Brent Beauchamp, 21. Landon Simon, 22. Hunter Schuerenberg, 23. Robert Ballou, 24. Aaron Farney. NT
2015 MSCS FEATURE RESULTS: 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Dave Darland, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Chad Boespflug, 7. C.J. Leary, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Tyler Courtney, 10. Aaron Farney, 11. Brady Bacon, 12. Max McGhee, 13. Carson Short, 14. Mike Gass, 15. A.J. Hopkins, 16. Josh Spencer, 17. Kyle Cummins, 18. Kurt Gross, 19. Donny Brackett, 20. Mitch Wissmiller, 21. Hunter Schuerenberg. NT
2016 USAC FEATURE RESULTS: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Josh Hodges, 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 9. Max McGhee, 10. Chris Windom, 11. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 14. Jon Stanbrough, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Cole Ketcham, 17. Casey Shuman, 18. Brent Beauchamp, 19. Shane Cockrum, 20. Aaron Farney, 21. Bret Mellenberndt, 22. Thomas Meseraull, 23. Logan Jarrett, 24. Landon Simon. NT
2016 MSCS FEATURE RESULTS: 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Jeff Bland Jr., 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Brent Beauchamp, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Chase Stockon, 9. Dickie Gaines, 10. Brady Short, 11. A.J. Hopkins, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. Jon Stanbrough, 14. Carson Short, 15. Tyler Thomas, 16. Brandon Morin, 17. Kevin Thomas Jr., 18. Colten Cottle, 19. Chad Boespflug, 20. Tyler Hewitt, 21. Jarett Andretti.
2017 USAC FEATURE RESULTS: Rained Out
2017 MSCS FEATURE RESULTS: 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Ryan Bernal, 4. Kody Swanson, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. A.J. Hopkins, 7. Carson Short, 8. Shane Cottle, 9. Brady Short, 10. Chase Stockon, 11. Robert Ballou, 12. Garrett Aitken, 13. Hunter Schuerenberg, 14. Isaac Chapple, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Brent Beauchamp, 17. Kent Schmidt, 18. Matt Westfall, 19. Matt McDonald, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Tyler Hewitt. NT
2018 USAC FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (5), 2. A.J. Hopkins (4), 3. Jason McDougal (22), 4. Chris Windom (21), 5. Jordan Kinser (1), 6. Thomas Meseraull (13), 7. Dave Darland (20), 8. Brandon Mattox (12), 9. Robert Ballou (17), 10. Josh Hodges (9), 11. Brady Bacon (6), 12. C.J. Leary (10), 13. Carson Short (7), 14. Kody Swanson (8), 15. Chase Stockon (11), 16. Kevin Thomas Jr. (2), 17. Isaac Chapple (23), 18. Mario Clouser (19), 19. Justin Grant (15), 20. Tony DiMattia (3), 21. Tim Creech (14), 22. Brent Beauchamp (16), 23. Colten Cottle (18). NT
2018 MSCS FEATURE: 1. Justin Grant, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Carson Short, 4. Brent Beauchamp, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Chad Boespflug, 7. Isaac Chapple, 8. Brandon Mattox, 9. Shane Cockrum, 10. A.J. Hopkins, 11. Colten Cottle, 12. Shane Cottle, 13. Jeff Bland Jr., 14. Stephen Schnapf, 15. Donny Brackett, 16. Joe Stornetta, 17. Kody Swanson, 18. Kent Schmidt, 19. Kyle Cummins, 20. Robert Ballou, 21. Jason McDougal.
2019 USAC FEATURE: Rained Out
2019 MSCS FEATURE: 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Shane Cottle, 3. Jordan Kinser, 4. Brady Short, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Dakota Jackson, 7. Max Adams, 8. Bill Rose, 9. Shane Cockrum, 10. Koby Barksdale, 11. Garrett Aitken, 12. Hunter O’Neal, 13. Clinton Boyles, 14. Stephen Schnapf, 15. Donny Brackett, 16. Travis Berryhill, 17. Harley Burns, 18. Sterling Cling, 19. Blake Vermillion, 20. A.J. Hopkins. NT
2020 USAC/MSCS NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Shane Cottle (6), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. Chris Windom (7), 4. C.J. Leary (5), 5. Chase Stockon (11), 6. A.J. Hopkins (1), 7. Brent Beauchamp (8), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (9), 9. Dakota Jackson (15), 10. Kyle Cummins (17), 11. Tanner Thorson (18), 12. Dave Darland (4), 13. Garrett Aitken (19), 14. Mario Clouser (13), 15. Jadon Rogers (23), 16. Carson Short (3), 17. Brayden Fox (14), 18. Dustin Smith (12), 19. Brandon Mattox (16), 20. Jake Bland (10), 21. Aric Gentry (22), 22. Anton Hernandez (21), 23. Dickie Gaines (20), 24. Brady Bacon (24). NT
2020 USAC/MSCS NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (8), 2. C.J. Leary (5), 3. Justin Grant (1), 4. Chase Stockon (7), 5. Tanner Thorson (2), 6. Brent Beauchamp (6), 7. Dave Darland (10), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 9. Brandon Mattox (11), 10. Carson Short (9), 11. Chris Windom (16), 12. Kyle Cummins (14), 13. Jordan Kinser (13), 14. Jonathan Vennard (17), 15. Mario Clouser (20), 16. Jadon Rogers (24), 17. Dakota Jackson (23), 18. Travis Berryhill (18), 19. Garrett Aitken (19), 20. Jake Swanson (21), 21. Max Adams (4), 22. Aric Gentry (22), 23. Stephen Schnapf (15), 24. Thomas Meseraull (12). NT
2021 USAC/MSCS NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. C.J. Leary (11), 2. Jake Swanson (3), 3. Shane Cottle (6), 4. Kevin Thomas Jr. (8), 5. Brady Bacon (2), 6. Chris Windom (4), 7. Justin Grant (10), 8. Cannon McIntosh (20), 9. Zach Daum (1), 10. Chase Stockon (12), 11. Paul Nienhiser (21), 12. Robert Ballou (13), 13. Mario Clouser (19), 14. Riley Kreisel (15), 15. Kyle Cummins (5), 16. Alec Sipes (17), 17. Carson Garrett (23-P), 18. Carson Short (9), 19. Harley Burns (14), 20. Cole Bodine (18), 21. Tanner Thorson (7), 22. Thomas Meseraull (22), 23. Ryan Thomas (16). NT
2021 USAC/MSCS NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (40 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (14), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. Brady Bacon (3), 4. C.J. Leary (4), 5. Shane Cottle (6), 6. Jake Swanson (7), 7. Tanner Thorson (5), 8. Kyle Cummins (18), 9. Riley Kreisel (1), 10. Cannon McIntosh (12), 11. Chase Stockon (16), 12. Cole Bodine (8), 13. Carson Short (19), 14. Carson Garrett (10), 15. Paul Nienhiser (13), 16. Brayden Fox (11), 17. Robert Ballou (20), 18. Chris Windom (15), 19. Mario Clouser (9), 20. Stephen Schnapf (21), 21. Collin Ambrose (22), 22. Harley Burns (17). NT