PUTNAMVILLE, IN – For Shane Cottle, it started with a late-night phone call less than 24 hours earlier. For Brady Bacon, it was the turning of the tide that ended his string of misfortune and put him on course for an eventual third USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
Those were the stories that defined last year’s Bill Gardner Sprintacular at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway, where a new slate of stories will be etched in the seventh edition of the event with two complete programs for USAC, co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series, on Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3.
This Saturday night’s finale of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular will also feature its biggest payout yet with competitors chasing the $7,000-to-win prize, and $600 to start, during the 40-lap main event.
In 2020, Hodges Motorsports called Cottle asking if his plans were open for Friday night. The next day, Cottle was celebrating in victory lane with the team following his opening night win. The last-minute deal came together after the team’s original plan was to sit out the weekend. But that one phone call, as it turned out, changed the course of the weekend in a hurry.
That same night, Bacon had endured his third-straight race that featured a bout of misfortune, beginning with a crash not of his own doing one week prior at Plymouth, followed by mag issues at both Terre Haute and in the Sprintacular opener at Lincoln Park.
As Bacon stormed to the lead midway through Saturday’s 30-lap feature, and as his luck was seemingly turning, his right rear tire started going down. Fortunately, for Bacon, everything held up just long enough for him to make it to finish line winning the closest series race of 2020 with a mere 0.172 sec. separating himself and 3rd place. In the end, Bacon was all smiles, posing with his index finger pointed high to the sky in front of his completely deflated tire in victory lane.
As it turned out for Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), that was his first career USAC Sprint Car win at the 5/16-mile dirt oval. He won at LPS again in USAC Regional Midget action this past April. In just eight Bill Gardner Sprintacular starts, Cottle has finished inside the top-five on four occasions with a 1st in 2020, 2nd in 2019, 4th in 2016 and 5th in 2015. He’s also churned out seven top-tens, adding a 7th in 2016, 8th in 2017 and 9th in 2015.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), meanwhile, has three career USAC Sprint Car feature victories at LPS, two of which came in 2020, with his first coming in 2015. At the Sprintacular, Bacon added a 3rd in 2016, which had been his best performance in the event prior to 2020.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) is the lone-multi-time feature winner in the history of the Sprintacular, winning on the second night of 2015 followed by another score in the 2016 opener. Like Bacon, Ballou is a three-time LPS USAC Sprint winner in his career with a 2017 Indiana Sprint Week triumph added on for good measure. At the Sprintacular, Ballou was also 3rd in 2016 and 9th in 2018.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) is one of the six Sprintacular winners in this weekend’s field, having won it back in 2019. He also finished 2nd in 2015 and 10th in 2020 in the event to go along with an Indiana Sprint Week feature victory at LPS in 2019.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) captured a Sprintacular win during the 2018 event at LPS. The reigning USAC Silver Crown champ notched a 2nd and a 3rd in 2020 in the most recent edition in July of 2020.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) did likewise, engineering a Sprintacular win in 2017 and finished as the runner-up in both 2015 and 2019. The 2017 Indiana Sprint Week titlist took 8th on both nights in 2020.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) earned his first career USAC Sprint Car win last September in the daylight at LPS. At the Sprintacular, he finished a best of 3rd in 2015, and placed within the top-five on both nights in 2020, scoring 5th in the opener and 4th in the closer. Stockon also collected top-ten Sprintacular runs of 6th in 2015, 8th in 2016 and 10th in 2017.
A pair of USAC National Sprint Car champions are looking for their first breakthrough USAC National Sprint Car victories at Lincoln Park, including 2019 titlist C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), who was 2nd and 4th on each night of the 2020 Sprintacular, as well as 6th in 2016 and 7th in 2015.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.), the 2017 USAC National Sprint Car king, owns a USAC National Midget feature victory at LPS during the 2020 season and earned his best Sprintacular finish in 2020 with a 3rd following results of 4th in 2018 and 10th in 2016.
A.J. Hopkins (Brownsburg, Ind.) is the reigning Lincoln Park Speedway track champion and has won five features on the local level in LPS’ weekly program during the 2021 season. At the Sprintacular, Hopkins turned in his best career USAC performance with a 2nd in 2018. He also tallied a 6th in both 2017 and 2020 as well as a 10th in 2018.
Joining Hopkins are fellow 2021 LPS weekly Sprint Car winners, two-time victor Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), who was 20th in his Sprintacular debut in 2020, plus single time 2021 LPS winners Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.), Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) and Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.).
In USAC Midget competition at LPS, Seavey finished 2nd in 2019 and 7th in 2018 and was the fastest qualifier this past June during Indiana Midget Week where he finished the feature in 10th. McIntosh, meanwhile, earned results of 3rd and 6th at LPS during Indiana Midget Week in 2020.
Brayden Fox (Avon, Ind.) hasn’t won yet at LPS in his career, but he does lead the track’s championship point standings entering the weekend. The son of 1997 LPS Sprint Car track champion Brad Fox finished 17th in his Sprintacular debut in 2020.
Brent Beauchamp (Fairland, Ind.) has twice been a track champion at LPS, in both 2012 and 2017. In the most recent Sprintacular, Beauchamp was the fastest qualifier and finished 6th in 2020. The night before, he finished 7th. Beauchamp also possesses a pair of top-five finishes in the event with a best of 4th in 2018 and a 5th in 2016.
Returning to the Sprintacular this weekend are leading series Rookie Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.), 5th in 2020; 2020 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), the fastest qualifier on night one of the Sprintacular in 2020; Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.), 7th in 2019; and 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.), 8th twice in 2018 and 9th in 2020.
They are joined in this weekend’s field by past Sprintacular feature starters, Auburn, Illinois’ Mario Clouser (14th in 2020); Brazil, Indiana’s Harley Burns (17th in 2019); Pleasant Hill, Ohio’s Matt Westfall (18th in 2017); Tempe, Arizona’s Sterling Cling (18th in 2019); Pittsboro, Indiana’s Matt McDonald (19th in 2017); Bloomington, Indiana’s Jake Bland (20th in 2020); Indianapolis, Indiana’s Tim Creech (21st in 2018); Robards, Kentucky’s Aric Gentry (21st in 2020), and more.
Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.), a Rookie with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars in 2021, will return to action with the series for the first time since sustaining injuries during a sprint car crash on the final lap at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway in April. Garrett has competed locally throughout Indiana in the preceding weeks.
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 who won the 1995 and 2013 Lincoln Park Speedway sprint car track championship. 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 seventh annual Bill Gardner Sprintacular features two consecutive nights of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing on July 2-3 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 $7,000 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, and full points for all events, leading up to the night’s 40-lap feature race.
Both nights at Lincoln Park on July 2-3, the pits open at 3pm EDT with front gates opening at 5pm and hot laps at 6pm. Qualifying and racing will immediately follow. 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/3dgONXz.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-1121, 2-Justin Grant-1050, 3-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1032, 4-Robert Ballou-1005, 5-Chris Windom-930, 6-C.J. Leary-917, 7-Tanner Thorson-886, 8-Jake Swanson-859, 9-Chase Stockon-649, 10-Paul Nienhiser-612.
ALL-TIME BILL GARDNER SPRINTACULAR USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE WINS
1-Brady Bacon, Jerry Coons Jr., Shane Cottle, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull & Kevin Thomas Jr.
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)
ALL-TIME LINCOLN PARK SPEEDWAY USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE WINS
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, Chase Stockon & Brady Short
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)
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. Shane 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 RESULTS: (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 RESULTS: 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 RESULTS: Rained Out
2019 MSCS FEATURE RESULTS: 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 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 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