Former local racer wins USAC opener in Florida

Former Elizabethtown resident Chase Stockon won the 2018 season-opener for the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series on Feb. 15 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis came back to win the last two series events on Feb. 16 and 17.

Stockon, who started second, led all 30 laps for the win in holding off Kevin Thomas Jr., Chris Windom, Justin Grant and Robert Ballou for the win.

“A lot is different from last year,” Stockon confided. “We struggled so badly through the middle part of last year. We went through everything. We went through old notes, and found something we thought we were missing out on. We went back to our shock setup that we ran five or six years ago and that seemed to work well for us. It seems like the tires have been changing for us a little bit. We were pretty quick out of the gate when we switched to this tire. Again, we went back to our old notes on those and stuck with it.”

“We ended this thing last year with two wins, and throughout the offseason, we knew we didn’t want to change a dang thing,” he continued. “Joe (Devin) from DRC built us two new cars, and they’re just as good as the one we ended last season with. Whenever you get things rolling, and you’ve got a car you like, you don’t want to get rid of it, but it was time to start fresh and I think we’ve got good pieces this year.”

“We kept having so many yellows there at the start of the race, (my crew) was giving me a few pointers on where we needed to maneuver,” he added. “When we had the long green flag run in the middle part of the race, I felt my exit speed slowing up so much that, on that last restart, I decided to move back up to the top and see if I could keep my momentum built up to stay out front. I kind of noticed there, with probably five or six laps to go, it was taking rubber in the middle through the exit of (Turn) 4. I kind of found that and, luckily, had enough momentum once (Thomas) got to me to get back down to the bottom and get down in the rubber in (Turns) 1 and 2. The track conditions changing from slimy/greasy at the beginning to what it ended up being was kind of unique. When you lead the whole race like that, you feel like a sitting duck out there and don’t really know where to go. Luckily, everything went our way tonight.”

The next AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car event will be on March 31 at Lawrenceburg Speedway. For more info, visit lawrenceburgspeedway.com.

Feb. 15 feature (30 laps): 1. Chase Stockon; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr.; 3. Chris Windom; 4. Justin Grant; 5. Robert Ballou; 6. Kyle Cummins; 7. Isaac Chapple; 8. Chad Boespflug; 9. Logan Seavey; 10. Nick Bilbee; 11. Tyler Courtney; 12. Kody Swanson; 13. Brady Bacon; 14. Carson Short; 15. C.J. Leary 16. Tyler Clem; 17. Jarett Andretti 18. Landon Simon; 19. Garrett Aitken; 20. Dave Darland 21. Kent Schmidt; 22. Timmy Buckwalter.

Feb. 16 feature (30 laps): 1. Tyler Courtney 2. C.J. Leary 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr.; 4. Chris Windom; 5. Kyle Cummins; 6. Dave Darland; 7. Carson Short; 8. Chad Boespflug; 9. Brady Bacon; 10. Chase Stockon; 11. Justin Grant; 12. Mario Closer; 13. Robert Ballou; 14. Timmy Buckwalter; 15. Nick Bilbee; 16. Logan Seavey; 17. Kody Swanson; 18. Landon Simon; 19. Kent Schmidt; 20. Isaac Chapple; 21. Brandon Mattox; 22. Jarett Andretti; 23. Garrett Aitken.

Feb. 17 feature (30 laps): 1. Tyler Courtney; 2. Chris Windom; 3. Chad Boespflug; 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr.; 5. Dave Darland; 6. C.J. Leary; 7. Robert Ballou; 8. Carson Short; 9. Justin Grant; 10. Brady Bacon; 11. Logan Seavey 12. Chase Stockon; 13. Kyle Cummins; 14. Jarett Andretti 15. Nick Bilbee; 16. Kody Swanson; 17. Timmy Buckwalter 18. Isaac Chapple; 19. Mario Closer; 20. Garrett Aitken 21. Brandon Mattox; 22. Landon Simon.

New USAC AMSOIL Sprint car national championship points: 1. Thomas 227; 2. Windom 219; 3. Courtney 209; 4. Boespflug 182; 5. Leary 179; 6. Cummins 172; 7. Stockon 170; 8. Ballou 170; 9. Grant 168; 10. Short 164.

Schatz wins 4 of 5 for Stewart

Nine-time and defending World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz opened his 2018 campaign with in fantastic fashion, not only scoring back-to-back World of Outlaws victories, but also claiming four out of the five contested sprint car main events during the 47th Annual DIRTcar Nationals to score the overall Gator championship. It was a first-ever DIRTcar Nationals championship for the 40-year-old from Fargo, North Dakota.

Schatz, pilot of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing/ Textron Off Road/Ford Performance/Sage Fruit/No. 15, scored Florida victories on Feb. 7, 8, 10 and 11; two against the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 and two against the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, respectively.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Republic. Send comments to sports@therepublic.com.