USAC Sprint Car Preview: Winter Dirt Games XII

OCALA, FL – Eight past Winter Dirt Games feature winners are set for the battle to commence when the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season launches Feb. 11-12-13 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. A dedicated practice night for the Sprint Cars is scheduled for Wednesday night, Feb. 10 from 6-9 pm ET at the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track.

Forty-four cars are projected to compete in the three-night event, representing 14 different states. The record for the most cars to participate in a single Winter Dirt Games USAC AMSOIL National Sprint event is 34 on Feb. 20, 2014.

The first three USAC Sprint Car races ever run were held in the state of Florida in February of 1956, won by Bob Sweikert (Southland Speedway), Chuck Weyant (Jacksonville Speedway) and Pat O’Connor (Medley Speedway).

The inaugural Winter Dirt Games took place at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. The series debut at Bubba Raceway Park arrived in 2011. Both events were won by Damion Gardner, the all-time leader in Winter Dirt Games wins with five.

Defending series champion Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) leads the charge for this year’s crop after sweeping both nights of Winter Dirt Games at Ocala in 2020 to up his total to four all-time Winter Dirt Games victories after previous triumphs in 2014 and 2015, all for Dynamics, Inc.


Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) is one of only two drivers in this year’s field to have competed in the very first Winter Dirt Games feature in 2010, along with 1999 series champ, Dave Darland (Lincoln, Ind.). Ballou has nabbed a pair of wins at Ocala, first in his USAC championship season of 2015 and again in 2016, while also notching one at East Bay in 2015. Darland, who has joined the Baldwin/Fox/Curb-Agajanian team for Florida this month, won in 2015 at Ocala.

Prior to Bacon, the most recent driver to score consecutive Winter Dirt Games USAC Sprint features was Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.). Courtney won the last two of 2018 at Ocala for the, at the time, new Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing USAC Sprint team, then proceeded to reel off two-straight with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets at the same track in 2019.

Along with Courtney, Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) is the only other individual who has won in both USAC National Sprint Car and National Midget competition during Winter Dirt Games at Ocala. Windom, the 2017 USAC Sprint king, won the Sprint opener there in 2019 and followed suit with the Midgets in the 2020 WDG finale. His Hayward Motorsports Sprint team won with the Midget at Ocala in 2020, driven by Tanner Thorson.

Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), the 2020 USAC Silver Crown champion, captured the 2017 USAC Sprint opener at Ocala, then celebrated victory once again there on the second night in 2019, this time for TOPP Motorsports.

C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), one of eight USAC National champions in this year’s Ocala’s USAC Sprint field, led the way to victory in the 2019 WDG closer. He’s joined the team owned by Bill Michael for the 2021 season, which won a record 39 USAC Southwest Sprint Car features and four consecutive series championships between 2013-16.

Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind) won the 2018 Ocala opener in his own car, which he stepped out of mid-2020 to race full-time for KO Motorsports. The 2019 Jason Leffler Memorial Award winner enters his 10th straight season as a full-time USAC National Sprint Car driver and carries a record 321 consecutive start streak.

A bevy of veterans are hungry for a first career Winter Dirt Games victory with the USAC National Sprint Cars. One driver, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) has already tasted victory at Ocala with USAC, but it came in the Midgets, in the WDG opener in 2020. Thorson also owns the track record in a Midget at Ocala and his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports team has been victorious there with Leary in 2019.

Same goes for Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) who swept both POWRi Midget features at Ocala in 2018. He’s come oh-so-close in the Sprint Cars there on multiple occasions, finishing 2nd in both 2018 and 2019. He does own one Winter Dirt Games USAC Sprint win, however, with that coming at East Bay in 2015.

Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been a Rock Steady performer at Ocala, finishing 2nd in both 2016 and 2020. Timmy Buckwalter (Douglassville, Pa.) finished a best of 7th in 2019, the same year in which he also set his first career fast qualifying time with the series.

Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), the 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver, finished a best of 12th at Ocala in 2020, the same as Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.), who was 12th in 2018 and 2020. USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year contender Noah Gass (Mounds, Okla.) made his first career series start at Ocala in 2019.

Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.) and 2019 series Rookie of the Year Dustin Clark (Winchester, Ind.) are all making their third consecutive Winter Dirt Games appearances at Ocala. Sterling Cling (Tempe, Ariz.) has both USAC Sprint and Midget experience at Ocala, while Kory Schudy (Springfield, Mo.) makes a return appearance to WDF and the popular Robert Bell (Colfax, Iowa) will make the tow south once again to Florida.

Half the field is a first-time Winter Dirt Games participant, including USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year contenders Paul Nienhiser (Chapin, Ill.) and Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), both of whom are teammates on the KO Motorsports team.

Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) will make his Winter Dirt Games USAC Sprint debut this month for Chris Dyson Racing. The 2020 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Rookie of the Year won the midget opener season opener at the track last Saturday at Ocala. Other first-time WDG performers include 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint champ, Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), West Coast USAC winner Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.), 2017 USAC National Sprint top Rookie, Stevie Sussex (Tempe, Ariz.), 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), recent USAC National Midget tour regular, Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) and three-time POWRi WAR Sprint Car champion, Riley Kreisel (Warsaw, Mo.).

One-time USAC National Sprint Car feature winner, Brent Beauchamp (Fairland, Ind.), will make his WDG debut for Epperson Racing, joined by fellow debuters, four-time USAC National Midget winner Davey Ray (Davenport, Iowa), USAC East Coast Sprint Car winner Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.), past USAC CRA Rookie of the Year Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.), brothers Jesse and Blake Vermillion (Greencastle, Ind.), Ohio’s Drew Rader, plus Hoosiers Chayse Hayhurst (Evansville, Ind.), Parker Frederickson (Kokomo, Ind.) and Ryan Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) as well as three-time TBARA Sprint Car champ, Floridian Shane Butler (Bushnell, Fla.) and Craig Pellegrini Jr. (Buena, N.J.).

Winter Dirt Games has routinely been a harbinger of champions, with a feature winner at Ocala going on to win the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title that same year on six occasions: Bryan Clauson (2013), Brady Bacon (2014), Robert Ballou (2015), Tyler Courtney (2018), C.J. Leary (2019) and Brady Bacon (2020).

Winter Dirt Games XII begins the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season Feb. 11-12-13 at Bubba Raceway Park. A practice night on Feb. 10 for the series precedes three consecutive full nights of racing.

On race days, pits open at 4pm ET, front gates open at 5pm and cars on track at 6pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.

Race day tickets will be available at the gate on race day. No pre-order is necessary.
For practice nights, on track action runs from 6-9pm ET. Grandstand admission is free. Pit passes are $20 apiece.

All nights of Winter Dirt Games XII can be watched LIVE on FloRacing.

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PROJECTED ENTRIES: USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CARS

2E BRENT BEAUCHAMP/Fairland, IN (Epperson Racing)

3R KYLE CUMMINS/Princeton, IN (Rock Steady Racing)

4 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (TOPP Motorsports)

5 DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN (Baldwin/Fox/Curb-Agajanian)

5G BRIGGS DANNER/Allentown, PA (Bill Gallagher)

5K KENT SCHMIDT/Owensville, IN (KO Motorsports)

5o PAUL NIENHISER/Chapin, IL (KO Motorsports)

5s CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (KO Motorsports)

5v JESSE VERMILLION/Greencastle, IN (Vermillion Racing)

6 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Eberhardt-Zirzow Racing)

7 TIMMY BUCKWALTER/Douglassville, PA (LNB Motorsports)

7BC TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing)

8m KADE MORTON/Coweta, OK (Blane Morton)

9K KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL (KT Motorsports)

12 ROBERT BALLOU/Rocklin, CA (Ballou Motorsports)

14 DAVEY RAY/Davenport, IA (FattFro Motorsports)

15 CARSON GARRETT/Littleton, CO (KO Motorsports)

17GP MAX ADAMS/Loomis, CA (Michael Dutcher Motorsports)

18 SHANE BUTLER/Bushnell, FL (Butler Motorsports)

19 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Hayward Motorsports)

19AZ TANNER THORSON/Minden, NV (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)

20 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA (Chris Dyson Racing)

20x CHAYSE HAYHURST/Evansville, IN (Chayse Hayhurst)

20G NOAH GASS/Mounds, OK (Randy Gass)

21AZ JAKE SWANSON/Anaheim, CA (Team AZ Racing)

22 CHASE JOHNSON/Penngrove, CA (Goodnight Racing)

27 CRAIN PELLEGRINI JR./Buena, NJ (Pellegrini Motorsports)

28 BRANDON MATTOX/Terre Haute, IN (Brandon Mattox Racing)

28K KORY SCHUDY/Springfield, MO (Jon Sawyer)

33m MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (Ray Marshall Motorsports)

34 STERLING CLING/Tempe, AZ (Sterling Cling Racing)

34w PARKER FREDERICKSON/Kokomo, IN (Frederickson Racing)

39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)

57 COLE BODINE/Rossville, IN (Kevin Bodine & Lynn Crow)

61m JADON ROGERS/Worthington, IN (Randy Edwards)

69 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Dynamics, Inc.)

71 ROBERT BELL/Colfax, IA (Robert Bell)

73 BLAKE VERMILLION/Greencastle, IN (Vermillion Racing)

74 DREW RADER/Findlay, OH (Drew Rader)

75 DUSTIN CLARK/Washington, IN (Dustin Clark Racing)

77FR RYAN THOMAS/Indianapolis, IN (Wingo Brothers Racing)

77m C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Bill Michael)

77w STEVIE SUSSEX/Tempe, AZ (Wingo Brothers Racing)

91 RILEY KREISEL/Warsaw, MO (DKR Motorsports)