Meseraull Tops Smackdown Opener

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Thomas Meseraull in victory lane. (Jim DenHamer photo)
Thomas Meseraull in victory lane. (Jim DenHamer photo)

KOKOMO, Ind. — Driving his second car in as many nights, Thomas Meseraull cruised to his first USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series victory of the season on night one of Sprint Car Smackdown VIII at Kokomo Speedway.

On Wednesday Meseraull led laps aboard the No. 23s Simon Racing entry. Thursday night he was aboard Tom Eades’ No. 47, giving the first-year car owner his initial USAC triumph.

Meseraull knew he had to put together a complete night to provide himself his best shot to collect a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win for the fifth-straight year, something accomplished only by five other drivers: Brady Bacon, Justin Grant, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Chris Windom over the same time span since 2015.

“After (Indiana) Sprint Week, we got our ass handed to us, flat out,” Meseraull admitted. “We just got beat.  It was a little unexpected.  I had to qualify a little better tonight, and I did, which put us up front.  Track position in these deals is everything.  It’s everything.”

Meseraull began his journey from the outside of the front row, but it was Bacon who took control early on, sliding from his pole starting position to the top in turn one to lead the opening seven circuits with Meseraull in tow, trailing the two-time series champ a couple car lengths behind.

The first stoppage of the night came on lap seven when the night’s ProSource Hard Work Award winner and 19th running Josh Hodges flipped upside down in turn four.

Once racing resumed, Meseraull stuck right with Bacon, and on the ninth lap, made his bid for the lead, dipping to the bottom of turn one and sliding up in front of Bacon for the top spot.  With tension high and the competition at a peak level, Meseraull knew there was no time to putt around in second.

“It was so slick to the curb, and the curb was on the wall.  It was as tall as me, I swear,” Meseraull recalled.  “It was so big out there, I knew I couldn’t waste any time.  After the red flag, we ended up parking there right off of three and realized that it wasn’t slick to the curb.  It had a big hole before the curb, like the track had gotten ate up and it had this big dip and my car was evil up there.  I’d hit it and it’d get up on two wheels. I just started going in above it in three and cheating across it and driving to the slick. That hole got Brady one lap, and I knew I had to just bomb it in there and hope to God that it would stick, and it stuck.”

Meanwhile, as the battle for the lead switched hands, fourth-running C.J. Leary biked entering on the bottom of turn one. The series point leader miraculously saved his mount without flipping or making contact, but the landing is what got him, flattening his left-rear tire before slowing to bring out the yellow.

On the 10th lap restart, Bacon went to work on the bottom underneath Meseraull for the lead in turn one, however Meseraull retained the momentum on the high side as did Courtney back in third.  While Bacon trekked the low line, Courtney stuck to the top and raced around the outside to nip Bacon at the line for second and nail down the position exiting turn two.

Courtney put the chase on Meseraull, diamonding off the third turn as well as following him on the top shelf to find a way to close the gap. On the 12th lap, though, Courtney got in above the cushion a bit off turn four, allowing Meseraull to jump away and build his lead to nearly a full straightaway (2.729 seconds) just after the midway point.

On the 17th lap, Logan Seavey slowed to a stop on the bottom of turn one, erasing Meseraull’s substantial advantage just prior to hitting lapped traffic.

It hardly seemed to make a difference to Meseraull once the green flag dropped on the restart with 13 to go where he once again utilized the high line to break away from Courtney, holding a half-straightaway advantage down the stretch with only lapped traffic to contend with in the final five-lap push.

Meseraull skimmed the outside concrete in turn two with two to go, with no tiptoeing around the outside of the lappers occurring whatsoever, as he closed out a sterling performance with a 1.339-second victory over Courtney, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon.

To see full results, turn to the next page.

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