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Sprint cars glisten under Florida sun

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THE United States Auto Club Thunder and Lightning Division traveled to Ocala, Fla., to run Winter Dirt Games V. A total of 34 cars rolled out of their trailers to compete for one of the 22 starting spots in the USAC sprint cars season-opening feature event.

The terrible weather in Indiana and the Midwest may well have something to do with the good car count. Competing in this event gave car owners a chance to curry favor with their wives and earn them points to be used when attending races the rest of

the season.

Feb. 20: Sizzling Bacon

Brady Bacon set the quick time in the Hoffman sprinter, followed by Chase Stockon of Elizabethtown, Bryan Clauson in the Tony Stewart Racing sprinter, C.J. Leary, Tracy Hines and Dave Darland.

Hines, Shane Cottle, Clauson and Robert Ballou won the heat races. Chris Windom won the hooligan, trailed by Matt Westfall, Carson Short, Casey Shuman, Shane Cockrum and Mitch Wissmiller.

The veterans who occupied the front row when the green flag fell to start the feature were Darland and Hines. Hines had the lead when they crossed the line for the first time; but by the time that the second lap went into the

books the lead belonged

to Darland.

Hines regained the lead on the third lap and held it as Clauson drove the Stewart sprinter past Darland to take second. However, fast qualifier Bacon was on his tail.

On Lap 9, Robert Ballou and Brady Short tangled, with both of them getting on their lids. When the race resumed following the flip, Clauson went to work on Hines in hot pursuit. Unfortunately for Clauson, he suffered a

flat right rear tire while chasing Hines.

From then, it came down to a two-car race between Bacon and Hines. With a clear track ahead, Bacon had stretched his lead to 2.593 seconds by the time the checkered flags waved. Hines came home second, trailed by Darland, Cottle, Stockon, Justin Grant, Clauson, John Stanbrough, Hunter Schuerenberg

and Windom.

Following the race, Stockon was satisfied with the team’s performance. He felt that they had been competitive all night and that, with a little luck, they could have been in contention for the win.

Stockon can be proud of what he has been able to do with a team that is pretty much self-financed, with his wife serving as the crew chief.

Feb. 22: ‘Out of his groove’

After the Feb. 21 show was rained out, it came down to one racing program with a $10,000 check to the winner. One team would go home with a chance of having covered their expenses. With anything less, they’ll probably go home with a loss.

Cody Swanson had the fastest car in qualifications, followed by Schuerenberg in the Nolen Racing sprinter, Windom, Clauson in the Tony Stewart Racing sprinter, Cockrum and Hines.

The heat races went to Darland, Mark Smith, Cottle and Clauson, while Hines prevailed in the hooligan.

The feature event came down to a no-holds-barred battle between Clauson in the Tony Stewart Racing sprinter and Justin Grant.

Grant and Robert Ballou started on the front row, and Grant won the drag race to the line to put the first lap in the books. Clauson made quick work of getting through the competition to get into position to pass Grant for

the lead.

En route, he buzzed past Ballou to take second. About that time, Kevin Thomas put it in the fence, bringing out the race’s first caution.

This set the stage for a battle between Clauson and Stockon that would be contested on every corner.

The race came down to a battle between Clauson and Grant during the closing laps. Although the race was interrupted a few more times for cautions, Clauson took the lead on Lap 23 and held it until the checkered flags waved following the 30th circuit.

From Victory Lane, Clauson commented, “(Grant) slid up a little, and I finally got a good run on him. I knew I had to force a mistake. He had a right to his position, so I had to get him out of his groove a little.

“Every time we got close, they went yellow, so I just kept putting pressure on him, hoping he would slip before the end.”

While Grant wasn’t happy about the near miss, Stockon was a good deal happier.

He said, “I’m happy with a third tonight. After the rain yesterday, the track was too fast to pass anybody, and position was everything.”

Old-timers reunite March 15

The 16th annual Columbus Speedway — 25th Street Raceway Old Timers Reunion will be March 15 in the Community Building at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The star of the show will be the Cummins Diesel that won the Indianapolis 500 pole in 1952. There also will be a showing of a Cummins corporate video about the designing and building of the car. Many other racing videos will be shown.

Many other racecars, both modern and vintage, will be on display. A wide selection of racing memorabilia will on display and for sale.

Vendor tables are available for $10.

For additional information, call Greg Littleton at 812-378-2060 or

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