USAC national driving champions Chris Windom, Brady Bacon and Tanner Thorson shared the spotlight, along with other 2016 USAC champions and special award recipients on Dec. 9 at the 61st USAC “Night of Champions” celebration at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis.
Windom, of Canton, Illinois; Bacon, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Thorson, of Minden, Nevada; earned national championships. Windom was a first-time Silver Crown titlist, Bacon a second-time AMSOIL Sprint Car king and Thorson the National Midget champ.
Car owner national champions for 2016 included DE Palma Motorsports of Lima, Ohio (Silver Crown); Dynamics, Inc. (Hoffman Auto Racing) of Milford, Ohio (Sprint); and Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports of Columbus (Midget).
Thorson, the Nevada native, now living in Columbus enjoyed a tremendous year driving for Columbus residents Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby. The 20-year-old won 17 midget races overall and four outlaw kart races.
“My team has given me everything I needed to put this whole season together. This season started great and ended even better. I can’t thank Toyota, Racing, TRD, JBL Audio, Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby enough for believing in me and giving me every piece that I needed to make this year possible,” Thorson said.
“Also, I need to give a big thanks to Big Al. He gave me an awesome car every time I hit the track and gave me a shot to win every weekend.”
Other Sprint Car Champions honored included Damion Gardner of Concord, California (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints); Brody Roa of Garden Grove, California (West Coast Sprints); and R.J. Johnson of Phoenix, Arizona. (Southwest Sprints).
Other 2016 champions included Ronnie Gardner of Norco, California (Western States Midget); Adam Pierson of Bradford, Vermont (DMA Midget); Gage Etgen of Celina, Ohio (Midwest Thunder Midget); Carson Macedo of Lemoore, California (Indiana Midget); Jeff Mallonee of Davenport, Iowa (IMRA Midget); Toni Breidinger of Hillsborough, California (HPD Western Pavement Midget); Jesse Love IV of Menlo Park, California (HPD Western Overall and Dirt Midget); Blake Brannon of San Jose, California (Western HPD Restricted Midget); and Chris Lamb of Colfax, North Carolina (Eastern Midget).
Maxwell Industries Micro Sprint Champions honored were Jake Hagopian of Fresno, California; Josh Ames of Rochester, New York; Joey Ancona of Concord, California; Shawn Freeland of Scottsville, New York; Jordan Jermyn of Irondequoit, New York; and Caeden Steele of Fresno, California.
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to Hoosier Racing Tire and long-time USAC car owner Gene Nolen for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles was presented USAC’s prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, recognizing his commitment to the overall sport of auto racing and his numerous contributions to USAC.
Bryan Clauson of Noblesville posthumously received the Jason Leffler Award in recognition of his intense appreciation of the sport’s history reflected in his professionalism and outstanding representation as an ambassador of the United States Auto Club, exhibiting the same standard of ideals upheld by the late Jason Leffler during his USAC racing career.
USAC’s 2016 National “Race Organizer of the Year” award was presented to Track Enterprises and accepted by race organizer Bob Sargent.
Casey Shuman of Tempe, Arizona, earned the 2016 USAC Silver Crown “Rookie of the Year” honor. Isaac Chapple of Willow Branch was honored as the AMSOIL National Sprint Car “Rookie of the Year,” and the Bob Stroud Memorial National Midget “Rookie of the Year” Award for the National Midget Series went to Carson Macedo of Lemoore, California.
Chad Boespflug was named USAC’s “Most Improved” National Driver of 2016.
USAC’s 2016 “Chief Mechanic of the Year” awards went to Rob Hoffman and Dan Launderville, who guided Bacon’s drive to the AMSOIL National Sprint Car title.
2016 Final USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car points standings: 1. Brady Bacon 2,676; 2. Chase Stockon 2,362; 3. Dave Darland 2,251; 4. Chris Windom 2,226; 5. Thomas Meseraull 2,166; 6. Chad Boespflug 2,158; 7. C.J. Leary 2,038; 8. Robert Ballou 1,919; 9. Kevin Thomas Jr. 1,419; 10. Aaron Farney 1,383.
2016 Final USAC Silver Crown points standings: 1. Chris Windom 588; 2. Kody Swanson 583; 3. Justin Grant 474; 4. Jerry Coons Jr. 465; 5. David Byrne 398; 6. Casey Shuman 386; 7. Shane Cottle 381; 8. Austin Nemire 340; 9. Joe Liguori 316; 10. Brady Bacon 268.
2016 Final USAC National Midget Series points standings: 1. Tanner Thorson 1,249; 2. Spencer Bayston 1,231; 3. Brady Bacon 1,202; 4. Chad Boat 1,162; 5. Carson Macedo 1,126; 6. Ryan Robinson 903; 7. Holly Shelton 845; 8. Bryan Clauson 720; 9. Tyler Thomas 714; 10. Ryan Greth 582.
Courtney wins indoor event
Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis won an emotional main event on Dec. 17, taking the final event of the 2016 USAC season.
Courtney, driving a midget car for Tim Clauson, the father of the late Bryan Clauson, drove to the win in the stout field of entrants in the annual Junior Knepper 55 at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Illinois.
Steve Golobic finished second, followed by Chris Andrews, Justin Allgaier and Chad Wheeler. Completing the top 10 were Tony Bruce Jr., Matt Westfall, Thomas Meseraull, Joey Saldana and Cory Kruseman.
Bloomquist wins in St. Louis
Scott Bloomquist won the first dirt late-model race contested indoors in 34 years on Dec. 17 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. Bloomquist, the 2016 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, earned $20,000 for the win. Fellow Lucas Oil competitor Don O’Neal of Martinsville placed second, followed Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce and Hunter Rasdon.
It was the first indoor race for dirt late models since 1982 when an event was conducted at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.