The USAC Sprint Car season got underway perhaps a bit under the radar for folks who are snowed under in the Midwest.
For the first time, the non-wings were on display for the season openers during the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park on Feb. 8-10.
A field of 32 cars qualified on Feb. 8 with Brady Short of Bedford, Ind. taking the fast qualifier award in a time of 15.027 in the family owned No. 36. Bryan Clauson took second ahead of Damion Gardner, Shane Cottle and Casey Riggs.
Heat races were claimed by Shane Hmiel, Henry Clarke, Justin Grant and Hunter Schuerenberg. Riggs was forced into the B-Main after struggling to an eighth-place in his heat race and he recovered to win the race ahead of Chris Windom and Jon Stanbrough.
In the feature event, it was "The Demon," Damion Gardner, who picked up the Bubba Army Sprint Nationals victory ahead of Clauson and Short.
Gardner took advantage of first lap spins by both front row starters, Ricky Williams and Hmiel. Gardner was able to pull away over the closing laps. Defending series champion, Levi Jones finished 14th.
Indiana was well represented in the opener with the likes of Stanbrough, Short, Jeff Bland Jr., Dave Darland and Bobby East on hand.
Rain claimed night number two, but on the third evening, it was Gardner again that dominated, winning in the Pace Lighting/Eagle/Shaver machine. Gardner led all 60 laps of the two features on the 1/3 mile dirt oval.
Darland bounced back to finish second after not making the feature on the opening night and Jerry Coons Jr. edged out Short for third.
Up next for the USAC Sprint Cars is the prestigious "Copper on Dirt" race at USA Raceway Park in Tuscon, Arizona on Feb. 19-20.
In the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at the 34th Annual DART Winternationals, Dennis Erb Jr. claimed his second points championship and a $5,000 points payday. He started all six main events during the week and recorded two top-five finishes and was in the top-10 each of the nights. Martinsville's Don O'Neal claimed second in points ahead of Matt Miller, Shannon Babb and Scott Bloomquist.