Windom Dominates Second Annual ‘James Dean Classic’ Thursday Night At Gas City I-69 Speedwayadmin
GAS CITY, Ind., Sept. 27 — Chris Windom displayed the same kind of coolness on the track as the late James Dean did on the screen in winning the second annual “James Dean Classic” for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series Thursday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
The 2017 series champion started on the pole and led all 30 laps. He had to withstand three restarts that allowed the field to draw near and he was able to power around lapped traffic unscathed to post a 0.808-second victory in front of a big crowd assembled at the quarter-mile dirt oval.
The event was part of the annual James Dean Festival that celebrates the local actor’s life.
The last two USAC AMSOIL sprint car races at Gas City generated unforgettable photo finishes. The most memorable battle in the second edition of the “James Dean Classic” on Thursday night was the one for second place, which Tyler Courtney got on the last lap by only 0.056 of a second over Justin Grant at the checkered.
Courtney started seventh and was only second for the last few yards, using the outside to nip Grant at the line. Grant, who both started and finished third, ran in second place for the entire race before Courtney got by at the last possible second.
The top three finishing cars are fielded by different teams and have different chassis, but all are sponsored by NOS Energy Drink. Windom, of Canton, Ill., was in the Parallax Group/Goacher Racing Parallax Power Supply/Jonathan Byrd’s DRC with a Claxton-prepared Mopar engine. Courtney, of Indianapolis, was in the Clauson-Marshall/Newman Racing Spike Rider Chevy also sponsored by Competition Suspension. Grant, a native of Ione, Calif. now living in Avon, Ind., drives TOPP Motorsports’ Maxim powered by a Claxton Chevy that is also sponsored by the Bow Foundation and Challenger Construction.
Defending race winner Kevin Thomas Jr., a native of Cullman, Ala. now living in Avon, Ind., finished fourth and set the fastest lap of the race on lap four with a time of 11.909 seconds. Chase Stockon of Ft. Branch, Ind. came from eighth to finish fifth.
C.J. Leary of Greenfield, Ind., who finished just a few millimeters behind the winner of the USAC Indiana Sprint Week feature at Gas City on a Thursday in July and is the series’ point leader, was the fastest qualifier and finished sixth. Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla. ran as high as fourth but finished seventh. Jason McDougal, also of Broken Arrow, was the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger, as he came from 17th in the 23-car field to place eighth. Isaac Chapple of Willow Branch, Ind. finished ninth. Max Adams of Loomis, Calif. stepped into the famous Paul Hazen No. 57 that won the track championship last year with Clinton Boyles driving and finished tenth after starting 15th.
Although Windom led the whole way and Grant ran in second place until the end, the battles for second and third were doozies. Thomas had a little contact with Windom in Turn 3 on the first lap but he held third for the first two laps before track point leader Thomas Meseraull of Waveland, Ind. wrestled third away from him on the backstretch. T-Mez was only in third place for three laps, however, because he pulled into the infield working lap six with his car on fire. It was quickly extinguished but he was done for the night after a yellow to attend to what looked like an oil fire in the engine compartment with seven laps down. The People’s Champ, Dave Darland of Atlanta, Ind., stopped at that point too, although he was able to restart.
Meseraull’s misfortune put Thomas back in third. Thomas held that position through one restart with 24 laps down but lost it working lap 27 when Courtney slipped under him on the backstretch. The restart was necessary after Scotty Weir of Marion, Ind. spun in Turn 4 while running seventh.
Right after Courtney passed Thomas for third a final yellow waved with 27 laps complete to replace an orange cone in Turn 4 that McDougal had hit, and Courtney went on to pass Grant on the last lap for the runner-up honors.
Courtney’s drive towards the front was not easy. “Sunshine” started seventh and didn’t break into the top five until he passed Bacon on lap 16. He still had to work for it, as he lost fifth to Bacon on lap 18 and regained the spot when he passed Bacon back on lap 20. He ran in fourth from laps 21 through 26 until he passed Thomas, and third on laps 27 through 29 before he got around Grant for second at the checkered, but time ran out before he could see if he had anything for Windom. It was Windom’s first USAC sprint victory at the Grant County track in 19 attempts dating back to 2007.
Young Corbin Gurley of Hebron, Ind. started eighth and won the companion 20-lap 600cc non-wing micro-sprint feature in the TEAM Volkswagen-Audi/All Star Performance/Lane Automotive No. 12. Todd Kirkman of Kokomo, Ind. finished second followed by Dylan Cromer of Flora, Ind.; Eastin Ashbroke of Marion, Ind., and Mike Landis of Logansport, Ind.
Polesitter Kole Kirkman of Kokomo, Ind. led the first 16 laps until Gurley dipped under him as they ran through Turns 3 and 4. The race ran non-stop until there were 19 laps down, and then there were not one but two one-lap shootouts after a yellow and a red flag. The yellow was for Jakeb Boxwell of Zanesville, Ind., who stopped high in Turn 4.
Chaos occurred on the next attempt to restart, however, as multiple cars got tangled up between Turns 1 and 2 to draw a red. Thirteen-year-old Darin Naida of Adrian, Mich. and Dylan Woodling of Warsaw, Ind. got the worse of it, as they both flipped hard. Luckily they got out of their damaged cars under their own power.
Naida, who was running fourth at the time, won a similar feature here on July 26. Woodling won a UMP modified feature here on May 31, but he also flipped hard in a micro-sprint feature here on July 18.
When the drivers regrouped after the red several were unable to restart besides the two who flipped. That included Kole Kirkman, who saw his second place suddenly disappear. He ended up 14th when it was all over, although his father brought home the runner-up honors at the end.
Justin Harper of Denver, Ind., who had been running third, went to the pits with a flat tire and a wrecker was called for Kevin Hapner’s car too. He had been fifth.
Gas City I-69 Speedway will close its 2019 season on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, with the first annual “Fall Festival of Speed,” which will have a colossal 11 divisions.
Saturday, Oct. 5 is reserved primarily for the open-wheel crowd, and the non-wing 410 sprint car feature will pay $2,000 to win. AVSCA sprints, open midgets, 305 winged sprint cars, MMSA/AMSA 1,000cc mini-sprints and tough trucks are also on the docket.
Stock cars are the stars on Sunday, Oct. 6, and the UMP modified feature winner will take home $1,000. Late models, super streets (sportsman), street stocks, hornets and A-class winged micro-sprints round out that card.
After that is a long, cold winter, so fans are encouraged to pack Gas City while they can. Ticket prices and starting times will be posted on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com. Fans can also follow it on Facebook (@GasCitySpeedwayOnTheGas), Twitter (@GasCitySpeedway) and Instagram (@GasCitySpeedway).
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Fatzhead Qualifying: 1. C.J. Leary, 12.121; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 12.174; 3. Brady Bacon, 12.219; 4. Justin Grant, 12.299; 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12.364; 6. Chris Windom, 12.441; 7. Tyler Courtney, 12.479; 8. Chase Stockon, 12.491; 9. Isaac Chapple, 12.555; 10. Matt Goodnight, 12.557; 11. Chad Boespflug, 12.561; 12. Anthony D’Alessio, 12.568; 13. Harley Burns, 12.574; 14. Cole Ketcham, 12.614; 15. Scotty Weir, 12.634; 16. Cody White, 12.720, 17. Max Adams, 12.720; 18. Jason McDougal, 12.733; 19. Tye Mihocko, 12.751; 20. Dustin Ingle, 12.767; 21. Tyler Hewitt, 12.830; 22. Corey Smith, 12.841; 23. Matt Westfall, 12.856; 24. Dave Darland, 12.867; 25. Shane Cottle, 12.966; 26. Dustin Clark, 12.996; 27. Jack James, 13.422; 28. Dustin Smith, 13.582.
First USAC Sprint Heat (10 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Isaac Chapple, 4. Cody White, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Tyler Hewitt, 7. Harley Burns.
Second USAC Sprint Heat (10 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Cole Ketcham, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Jason McDougal 4. Chris Windom, 5. Dustin Clark, 6. Matt Goodnight, 7. Corey Smith.
Third USAC Sprint Heat (10 laps, 4 transferred): 1. Scotty Weir, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Tye Mihocko, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Chad Boespflug, 6. Matt Westfall, 7. Jack James.
Fourth USAC Sprint Heat (10 laps 4 transferred): 1. Justin Grant, 2. Dustin Ingle 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Max Adams, 6. Anthony D’Alessio, 7. Dustin Smith.
USAC Sprint B Main (12 laps, 6 transferred): 1. Chad Boespflug, 2. Max Adams, 3. Harley Burns, 4. Matt Westfall, 5. Matt Goodnight, 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Dustin Smith, 8. Dustin Clark, 9. Anthony D’Alessio, 10. Corey Smith, 11. Jack James, 12. Tyler Hewitt.
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Feature (30 laps): 1. Chris Windom, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Chase Stockon, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Brady Bacon, 8. Jason McDougal, 9. Isaac Chapple, 10. Max Adams, 11. Scotty Weir, 12. Matt Westfall, 13. Tye Mihocko, 14. Matt Goodnight, 15. Harley Burns, 16. Cody White, 17. Cole Ketcham, 18. Dustin Ingle, 19. Dave Darland, 20. Chad Boespflug, 21. Thomas Meseraull, 22. Dustin Clark, 23. Shane Cottle.
First Micro-Sprint Heat (8 laps, 5 transferred): 1. Dylan Cromer, 2. Justin Harper, 3. Mychael Schimmel, 4. Billy Briscoe, 5. Chris Dickey, 6. Katy Waggoner, 7. Thomas Westergaard, 8. Brandon Sweat.
Second Micro-Sprint Heat (8 laps, 5 transferred): 1. Darin Naida, 2. Dylan Woodling, 3. Corbin Gurley, 4. Todd Kirkman, 5. Eastin Ashbrooke, 6. Doug Nichols, 7. Collin Grissom, 8. Abby Hohlbein (DNS).
Third Micro-Sprint Heat (8 laps, 5 transferred): 1. Kevin Hapner, 2. Kole Kirkman, 3. Jakeb Boxwell 4. Mike Landis, 5. Brett Waggoner, 6. Cody Williams, 7. Broc Miller, 8. Dawson Phillips.
Micro-Sprint B Main (8 laps, 5 transferred): 1. Katy Waggoner, 2. Cody Williams, 3. Doug Nichols, 4. Collin Grissom, 5. Thomas Westergaard, 6. Abby Hohlbein, 7. Rob McClain, 8. Brandon Sweat, 9. Broc Miller, 10. Dawson Phillips.
Micro-Sprint Feature (20 laps): 1. Corbin Gurley, 2. Todd Kirkman, 3. Dylan Cromer, 4. Eastin Ashbrooke, 5. Mike Landis, 6. Mychael Schimmel, 7. Cody Williams (penalized for jumping restart), 8. Collin Grissom, 9. Katy Waggoner, 10. Billy Briscoe, 11. Thomas Westergaard, 12. Jakeb Boxell, 13. Doug Nichols, 14. Kole Kirkman, 15. Justin Harper, 16. Darin Naida, 17. Kevin Hapner, 18. Dylan Woodling, 19. Chris Dickey, 20. Brett Waggoner.