BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – It has been more than a full calendar year since the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series has laid eyes on the red clay of Bloomington Speedway.
That drought will end when the series arrives on Sept. 11 to the quarter-mile oval.
That most recent race at Bloomington became one of the all-time classics in the near century-long history of the southern Indiana oval, which began its racing heritage in 1923.
In that race during the summer of 2019, Kevin Thomas Jr. led three different times for a total of 13 laps, but it was one final lap that decided his fate.
After swapping the lead multiple times down the stretch, on the final lap, the Cullman, Ala., native refused to lose and rocketed around the outside of Jason McDougal in turns one and two.
Thomas then locked up the bottom in three and four and raced to his third Bloomington Indiana Sprint Week victory, following previous triumphs in 2012 and 2017.
The 2012 triumph was the first of Thomas’ 27-career USAC National Sprint Car feature wins. His three at Bloomington are tied for the most among active drivers alongside Dave Darland. Bryan Clauson leads all-time with five.
Darland resides eighth in the series standings, one spot behind Thomas. The 1999 series champion’s Bloomington victories came in 2007, 2013 and 2018.
The 2018 win was the moment Darland became the first driver to reach both the 60-win mark with the series as well as 700 starts. Most recently with USAC at Bloomington, Darland finished eighth after starting 13th in July of 2019.
The wild AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car championship battle has tightened up to unprecedented portions, with Brady Bacon leading a top four that is separated by just 18 points, with fifth standing just 46 behind.
All members in that party of five have had their share of Bloomington success.
Point leader Bacon won his first career Bloomington USAC Sprint Car race in April of 2019. Chris Windom, who trails Bacon by four points, is a past series winner at Bloomington back in 2011.
Third in the standings is Justin Grant, now seven points out of the lead after heading the standings for much of the year. Grant finished third at Bloomington in the summer of 2019.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), fifth in the points pecking order, was a Bloomington USAC sprint winner in July of 2018. Chase Stockon, 18 points out of the lead in 4th, just won the non-sanctioned Josh Burton Memorial at Bloomington last Friday.
Stockon also holds the track’s 12-lap track record for USAC sprint cars.
Carson Short set quick time at Bloomington with USAC in 2017. He’s sixth in the standings. Logan Seavey has been superb in limited showings at Bloomington. Seavey, ninth in points, was third in his first Bloomington USAC sprint appearance in 2018 and second in his first USAC midget run there in 2019.
Kyle Cummins, a winner of three of the past four AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car events, nearly won the most recent Bloomington round last summer, leading a lap at the midway point, then spun to a stop while trying to avoid contact.
Shane Cottle has been a USAC national feature winner at Bloomington, but it came in a midget during the 2010 season. Brandon Mattox had his best career USAC National Sprint Car performance last summer at Bloomington, finishing fifth.
It’s been since last April that Robert Ballou, the 2015 series champion, last competed at Bloomington in USAC competition, finishing inside the top 10 in the spring of 2019.
Not only is the points race at the top of the standings heated, but so is the Rookie of the Year battle. Anton Hernandez leads Jadon Rogers by just four points entering Bloomington.
Hernandez will be making his debut behind the wheel of the Michael Dutcher Motorsports No. 17GP.
No driver owns more USAC National Sprint Car fast qualifying times at Bloomington than Bacon with five. Bacon earned the 30-lap USAC sprint track record at Bloomington in April of 2019 at 6:47.18.
C.J. Leary, who owns three career quick times with the USAC sprint cars at Bloomington, possesses the series’ one-lap track record there at 10.685 seconds.
Friday at Bloomington, pits open at 4 p.m. ET, with the grandstands following at 5 p.m. and hot laps going off at 6:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 while children age 10 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 apiece, with kids age 10 and under $15.
Bloomington Speedway Indiana Sprint Week tickets may be used for entry if they were not used for the Lincoln Park Speedway Indiana Sprint Week show.
Modifieds are also on the event card.
The Bloomington event kicks off a three-race slate this weekend for the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series. Saturday, Sept. 12 will have double features at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., on tap.