By Brett Bowman
Tribune sports columnist
Weather permitting, the local racing action will kick off this weekend as the Gas City I-69 Speedway will play host to the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series on Friday night.
Last week’s scheduled opener for the bullring in Grant County fell victim to the heavy rains that besieged large portions of central Indiana.
The same weather system also postponed the Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic at the Eldora Speedway, leaving the series’ stars and cars ready to roll this weekend. Following Friday’s event, the series travels to the southwestern part of Indiana to invade the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville.
A year ago at Gas City, Sikeston, Mo., standout Hunter Schuerenberg scored the feature win and heading into this weekend, he trails Chase Stockon by just eight points (247-239) for the top spot in the championship battle. A couple other drivers to keep an eye on at Gas City are Lincoln’s Dave Darland, who always seems to flex his muscle at the track whenever USAC competes there, as well as defending series champion Bryan Clauson.
Clauson sits third in the points battle in his first year of piloting Tony Stewart’s Team Chevy Performance No. 20 that was wheeled by Levi Jones in the past and he, like Darland, has found success at Gas City in the past.
Should Darland return to Victory Lane at the track, it would be a milestone event for the Phillips Motorsports No. 71P team. Despite winning multiple events in non-sanctioned events, Steve and Carla Phillips’ team has yet to win a USAC national series event. Prior to the season Darland noted that among his multiple goals, wheeling the Phillips’ machine to a national win was foremost in his mind.
Darland sits sixth overall, just 47 points in back of Stockon as he chases his second USAC National Sprint Car Series title and first since 1999 when he was wheeling the Hoffman Dynamics No. 69. In addition to those mentioned above, look for virtually a who’s who of non wing sprint car racing to be on hand, including Shane Cottle aboard the Epperson Racing No. 2E, Tracy Hines, Brady Bacon, Kevin Thomas Jr., Robert Ballou, Thomas Meseraul, Josh Spencer, Justin Grant, Jerry Coons Jr. in the Edison Motorsports No. 10E and possibly Jones in Jeff Walker Racing’s second entry, the No. 39 Don Walker Special.
Gates open at 4 p.m. on Friday night with the first race slated to push off around 7:30. To keep abreast of possible postponements, visit the track website at www.gascityi69speedway.com.
Bolton, Kline score MCS wins
Although Mother Nature got the best of a lot of tracks over the weekend, the Miami County Speedway managed to get in its season opener on Saturday night at the Peru Fairgrounds.
When the night was over, young Kayeleb Bolton and veteran Ryan Kline found their ways to the Winner’s Circle in their respective divisions.
Bolton picked up the win in the Restrictor Class, with Thaddeus Black taking second and Deaven Bolton third. Jacob Bigger and Kyle Walker were fourth and fifth, respectively. Krissy Durr and Deaven Bolton each scored heat race wins.
Kline was victorious in the Wing Class over second-place Blane Culp. Sara Elrod, Sam Kimmel and Mark Monroe completed the top five. Culp and Kline both scored heat wins. In the Senior Class, Brian Myers won over runner-up Bob Harrington. Marion Beerbot, Bob Baker and Shawn Miller were third through fifth, respectively.
Noah Brooks captured the win in the Junior Class with Seth Ireland taking second, Jake Erickson third, Alley Toney fourth and Braxton Brooks fifth. Talented Brandon Rose claimed the Non Wing Class A-main over Kimmel, Jordan Lambert, Matt McDonald and Braiden Black. Aaron Davis was sixth.
The track will host its first points race Saturday night.
Action Track hosting Sumar Classic
The Terre Haute Action Track will host the annual running of the Sumar Classic on Sunday night in the season-opener for the Traxxas USAC Silver Crown Series, capping a busy weekend for the open-wheel standouts.
Practice is scheduled to kick off around 5 p.m. with qualifications following. The evening will wrap up with a 50-lap feature event.
Among those expected to be on hand are defending series and race champion Bobby East, Dave Darland, Shane Cottle, Tracy Hines, Levi Jones, Thomas Meseraul and Brian Tyler to mention a few.
Darland, Jones and East all are previous winners of the event.
Brett Bowman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the sports department.