By BRETT BOWMAN Kokomo Tribune
---- — Rocklin, Calif., sprint car standout Robert Ballou continued his mastery in 2013 on Sunday night at the Kokomo Speedway, getting by Chris Windom in the closing laps to earn his third victory of the season.
Running around the top of the track, Ballou took the lead from Jerry Coons on the sixth lap and appeared to have things well in control. Late in the race though, Ballou chose to drop to the bottom of the track which allowed Windom to take the top spot with just five laps left in the 25-lap event.
On the final lap, Ballou went back to the top and ran down and passed Windom, much to the delight of the large crowd on hand.
“When I was running out front I was pretty much just a sitting duck,” said Ballou. “I felt like the top was going away so I went down to the bottom, but the car started to get a little loose and Windom just blew by me on the high side.
“It says a lot about this car that you can run down a Jeff Walker race car, especially here at Kokomo. This is a chassis that a lot of teams say is junk but it’s been fast. This gives us a lot of momentum heading into Sprint Week. Maybe we can run off and win 15 or so races the rest of the way.”
Windom finished second with Coons taking third. Jeff Bland and defending track champion Scotty Weir rounded out the top five. Kokomo’s Parker Price-Miller (10th), Conner Donelson (11th) and Dustin Smith (15th) all made the feature.
In the rain make-up from May 26, Wes McIntire led from green to checkered to hold off Chad Boespflug’s repeated charges to secure the first win of his career at the local oval.
“Man, I really don’t know what to say,” said McIntire. “I’ve been trying so hard and have been so close so many times the last three years. This feels so good. I can’t thank my dad [Karl] enough for all he’s done for me. Right now he’s my sponsor and my crew chief. He puts a lot of work in for me.”
Following Boespflug and McIntire to the checkered flag was third-place Weir, Bland and Logan Jarrett. Miller was eighth, Smith 10th, Donnelson 14th, Jamie Frederickson 15th, Josh Spencer 16th and Coons 17th.
It was a rough night for the area drivers. Coons was involved in a first-lap incident that also collected Windom while Jarrett suffered engine problems that ended his night. Spencer was battling fuel pick up problems in his Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery/Colescott’s Mobil 1 Express No. 66J. Frederickson’s ride was plagued by a cracked head gasket that thwarted his evening.
In the Dave Crow Memorial event for the Street Stock series, three-time defending track champion Lee Hobbs led all the way in the 25-lap event to honor the longtime fixture at the track who passed away during the offseason.
Although he never trailed, Hobbs had to hold on down the stretch as veteran Glen Gamblin scratched and clawed his way to Hobbs’ rear bumper on the final lap to finish second while Landon Miller was an impressive third. Brandon Roundtree and Eric Manning were fourth and fifth.
“I got to know Dave pretty well in around 2006,” said Hobbs. “He was a great guy to be around who did an awful lot to help everyone out here at the track.”
For Gamblin, a very close friend of Crow’s, second was a tough pill to swallow.
“I really was wanting this one,” he said. “The car got running real hot there at the end, but for Dave Crow, I’d let the car burn to the ground.”
In the Thunder Car main event, defending track champ Jason Shrout had his way en route to the 15-lap win but the battles behind him made the race one of the more entertaining of the season.
When the dust settled, Jeremy VanNess backed up his third-place run from Wednesday night with a solid second-place finish. Jason Fritz was third, Paul Minter fourth and Kory Glassburn fifth despite a flat right rear down the stretch. Zachary Paul was ninth and Josh Gamblin 11th.
The track returns to action Saturday night for the second leg of the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series Indiana Sprint Week.