Terre Haute, Indiana…….Despite many strong runs at the legendary Terre Haute Action Track, a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory had eluded Robert Ballou at the Wabash Valley half-mile. After starting tenth on Friday night, he came on late and caught some good fortune to lead the final three laps and make his first win a big one, the combined “Tony Hulman/Jim Hurtubise Classic.”
Chris Windom got the jump from the pole, but Kevin Thomas, Jr. came from third to slide him into turn-two, while Dave Darland snuck along the bottom to take the lead down the backstretch after starting fifth. And Darland was gone. He built a lead of over five seconds in the first five laps as Thomas, Windom, and Hunter Schuerenberg duked it out for the second spot.
After Darland entered traffic on lap seven, Windom took the second spot on lap eight and started to cut a little bit out of a lead that had grown to eight seconds. Ballou was marching his way to the front, too, as the cushion crept closer and closer to the wall. He took third on lap ten behind Windom and stayed close until the red flag appeared on lap 13 for Mario Clouser, who flipped in turn-two. He was unhurt.
With just one lapped car behind him on the restart, Darland got out to a comfortable lead. It started to dissipate as he entered traffic again, and Windom looked to his inside as they worked traffic into turn-one on lap 23. The next time around, Windom shot to the inside in turn-one and slid up just in front of Darland with the lead in turn-two.
A lap later, Ballou moved past Darland and tried to track down Windom. He closed slightly but Windom still held a strong lead on lap 28, but he rapped the turn-two wall and Ballou swept past with the lead down the backstretch. He navigated one more lapped car and took a .844-second victory in the Blakesley Auto – TwisterX #12 Maxim/Ott. His tenth win of the season matched a number only posted eight times previously.
“Numerous times, we’ve been fast here and haven’t been able to win one. I feel like the guys who win championships win races here. It’s just a really hard place to win, and this one means a lot to me. I didn’t even know if Chris had anything for Dave, and then we got to lapped traffic and that’s when it becomes a win-or-lose deal. We kinda caught Dave together, and he slid for the lead while I caught the wall. That cost me my momentum some, but luckily it bounced back alright. I had to get by Dave fast before he left us. It’s important to keep tires under you, and I thought that was a big thing tonight. I don’t know what happened, but he got in the wall and I had just enough room to turn underneath and get past him. Sometimes, you have to have some luck, and it’s especially true coming from tenth to win here,” Ballou said.
Windom recovered to hold onto the second spot in the Rick Pollock – Bates Commodities #21x Maxim/Advanced.
“When you have Dave and Robert behind you, it’s never over up there. I just made a mistake and got out of the throttle too much, and it jumped me up to the wall. He was able to capitalize. Congratulations to Robert, but I feel like we gave one away there. I knew I had to run as hard as I could to close it out, and I just made one mistake and it cost me,” Windom said.
Darland came home third in the Phillips/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Trench Shoring #71P DRC/Foxco.
“I kinda thought it would be best to cruise the bottom through that first corner while everybody slid up to the top. I hugged the inside roll, and it worked out great. The first half the race went according to plan, but we just weren’t quite good enough toward the end. My team gave me a great race car, and we were able to bring it to a good finish. I definitely knew some guys would be coming after the restart, so I knew I had to stay on the wheel, but we just weren’t quite good enough to hold them off,” Darland said.
Jon Stanbrough finished fourth in the MP Environmental Services – AED Motorsports Products #81 Spike/J&D, while ProSource “Fast Qualifier” Jerry Coons, Jr. finished fifth in the Edison Motorsports – Crume-Evans Insurance #10E Spike/Chevy. Tyler Courtney earned the night’s B&W Auto Mart “Hard Charger Award” after climbing from 21st to finish tenth.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 18, 2015 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Terre Haute Action Track – “Tony Hulman/Jim Hurtubise Classic”
QUALIFYING: 1. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-20.490; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-20.493; 3. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-20.
552; 4. Chase Stockon, 32, TBI-20.645; 5. Hunter Schuerenberg, 11, Walker-20.665; 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 17RW, Dutcher-20.809; 7. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-20.812; 8. Chris Windom, 21x, Pollock-20.848; 9. Justin Grant, 5, Baldwin-20.869; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-20.873; 11. Shane Cottle, 57, Hazen-21.029; 12. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-21.038; 13. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-21.049; 14. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-21.065; 15. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-21.073; 16. Thomas Meseraull, 66, Amati-21.098; 17. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-21.129; 18. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-21.143; 19. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-21.165; 20. Tyler Courtney, 23E, Eberhardt-21.222; 21. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-21.356; 22. Chad Boespflug, 21K, Krockenberger-21.549; 23. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-21.595; 24. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-21.685; 25. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-21.960; 26. Lee Dakus, 75, Dakus-22.542; 27. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Meseraull, 3. Coons, 4. Farney, 5. Stanbrough, 6. McGhee, 7. Courtney, 8. Stockon, 9. Dakus. NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Short, 2. Cottle, 3. Windom, 4. Schuerenberg, 5. Robbins, 6. Bacon, 7. Andretti, 8. DiMattia. 2:49.69
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Darland, 3. Thomas, 4. Grant, 5. Hines, 6. Hughes, 7. Mattox, 8. Clouser, 9. Boespflug. 2:52.11
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Stockon, 3. Courtney, 4. Andretti, 5. Hughes, 6. Clouser, 7. Boespflug, 8. Mattox, 9. McGhee, 10. DiMattia, 11. Dakus, 12. Bell. 4:25.28
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 7. Chase Stockon, 8. C.J. Leary, 9. Brady Bacon, 10. Tyler Courtney, 11. Thomas Meseraull, 12. Hunter Schuerenberg, 13. Shane Cottle, 14. Justin Grant, 15. Aaron Farney, 16. Tracy Hines, 17. Brady Short, 18. Jarett Andretti, 19. J.J. Hughes, 20. Kyle Robbins, 21. Mario Clouser, 22. Chad Boespflug. NT
**Clouser flipped on lap 13 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-23 Darland, Laps 24-27 Windom, Laps 28-30 Ballou.