By Brett Bowman
Tribune sports columnist
— Avon’s Jon Stanbrough and Galveston’s Craig Walker continued their winning ways Saturday night in the season opener at the Lincoln Park Speedway.
With an overflow crowd on hand to kick off the new season, Lincoln’s Dave Darland, reunited with car owner Jeff Walker in the Jam-it-In Storage No. 11, got past early leader Bill Rose on a 10th-lap restart after Jeff Bland Jr. and Seth Parker got together to bring out a red flag on the ninth lap.
A few circuits later, Stanbrough got past both Rose and Darland and set sail to yet another win, his first for his new team, the Danny Roberts/Deuce Tate/Leer Racing No. 21 that Darland drove most of 2011. Stanbrough trails just Darland and Tony Elliott in career sprint car feature wins at the Kokomo Speedway.
When the checkered flag fell, it was Darland holding off the hard-charging Bryan Clauson for second. Rose was fourth and Shane Cottle fifth after reuniting with car owner and NHRA standout Cruz Pedragon. Cottle was behind the wheel of Pedragon’s No. 75 midget a few years back when he captured the USAC Mopar Indiana Midget Week championship.
All told, there were 33 sprint cars on hand and with a few exceptions, it could have easily been mistook for a USAC National event. Casey Shuman headed up the second five aboard the Leer Racing No. 21X, while Coleman Gullick was seventh. Kevin Thomas Jr., Robert Ballou and Joshua Clemons were eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively. Former Kokomo track champion Scotty Weir was 14th and Bland, a former modified champion at the local oval, was 18th following his ninth-lap accident.
Logan Jarrett, the 2011 national sprint car non-wing Rookie of the Year, finished 11th in the B-main and failed to transfer to the star-studded feature.
Rose, Darland, Gullick and Danny Holtsclaw all posted heat race wins while Bland took the win in the B-main.
Walker, who ran the table the last two months of the 2011 Gas City season and also won at LPS during that hot streak, picked up the win in the Bomber A-main, topping Brian Sims and fellow Kokomo Speedway regular Landon Miller. C.J. Bryan was fourth and Jeff Shepherd fifth. Lee Hobbs, the 2011 Kokomo Street Stock track champion, was sixth, Ronnie Pardue seventh, Mark Smith eighth, Marlin Burns ninth and Donnie Matthews 10th.
Walker flexed his muscle all evening in the opener, also picking up a heat race win. Miller and Sims were both victorious as well in heat race action while Jeff Beggs claimed the B-main.
Matt Bex was victorious in the U.M.P. Modified main event over Wes McClara and Derek Groomer. Kenny Carmichael Sr. and Larry Lambert completed the top five. Former sprint car standout Brian Hayden, McClara and Groomer each picked up heat race wins. Brian Amos scored the B-main win.
Troy Clark, a name familiar to Kokomo Speedway fans after his performance in the Kokomo Klash last October, picked up the feature win in the U.M.P. Super Stock division.
Chasing Clark to the double checkers was Doug McCullough and Slick Griffin. Cullen Goodman and Kenny Carmichael Jr. were fourth and fifth, respectively. Clark, Carmichael and Goodman picked up heat wins and McCullough was the winner in the B-main.
Lincoln Park gets back into action next weekend with its weekly program of non-wing sprints, U.M.P. Modifieds, U.M.P. Super Stocks and Bombers. Since the Spiker Promotions group has taken the reins of the bullring in the Southwestern part of the state, the track is once again being mentioned among the better tracks around.
For the first time in a handful of years the facility will host a leg of the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series Indiana Sprint Week and the track is getting rave reviews from fans and drivers alike. For more information, visit the track’s website at www.lincolnparkspeedway.com.
Mintz, Blaney win in ASCOCS
The All-Star Circuit of Champion Series (ASCOCS) took to the dirt at the Attica Raceway Park over the weekend and Craig Mintz and Dale Blaney both walked away victorious.
In Saturday’s show, Mintz used a last-lap, last-corner pass around former World of Outlaw standout Stevie Smith to win the 40-lap feature in the Attica Spring Nationals. The finale went green to checkered and Mintz led early on only to get past by the hard-charging Smith.
With the laps winding down, Smith was out front but Mintz and Greg Wilson were mounting a charge, setting the stage for Mintz’s last lap heroics. Smith settled for second and Wilson third. Blaney and Randy Hannigan rounded out the top five.
Friday night saw the same two drivers running up front, only this time roles were reversed as Blaney got underneath Mintz in turn one after taking the white flag. Blaney then held on to score the win with Mintz right behind.
Gas City to open gates
The Gas City I-69 Speedway will kick off its 2012 season Friday night with its weekly program of sprint cars, U.M.P. Modifieds, Street Stocks and Thunder Cars.
Some big hitters are expected to be on hand in the sprint car division as many drivers are expected to use the opener as a Test and Tune prior to the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series event slated for April 20.
Hot laps should begin around 6:30 with the first race slated to push off at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit the track website at www.gascityi69speedway.com.
CBS to televise Chili Bowl
For the first time ever, the annual running of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals will be shown on one of the big three broadcast television networks.
The event, which took place in January, will be shown this Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS (Comcast chs. 7, 8). Those who tune in will get the opportunity to see a lot of the regulars who compete at Kokomo and Gas City each week. Both Darland and Cottle competed in the feature event.
From what has been written, the program will focus primarily on the Saturday finale of the event, however the previous four days of action will be shown in highlight form.
• Brett Bowman is the Tribune’s lead auto racing columnist. He may be reached by email at email@example.com or through the sports department.