If you are a dirt track racing fan like many in Indiana, the next two weeks are akin to Christmas morning as it is time for USAC Indiana Sprint Week to descend upon the state for seven dates spread over this and next week.
Drivers and fans from all over the country flock to the state in haulers and motorhomes to see some of the nation's top sprint car drivers compete for the coveted points title that highlights many drivers' resumes.
The AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series opens the 2011 Indiana Sprint Week slate with trips to Gas City I-69 Speedway on Friday, Kokomo Speedway on Saturday and Lawrenceburg Speedway on Sunday for the "Robbie Stanley Classic."
Gas City's show will also feature the Midwest Ford Focus Midget Series.
Indiana's own hotshoe, Jon Stanbrough, is the defending ISW champion and looks to repeat last year's victory at Gas City to get his defense started in style. He'll be challenged by last year's national sprint car champion, Levi Jones, who was the winner at Kokomo during last year's ISW stop. Jones also leads the AMSOIL National Sprint Car points by 71 over Stanbrough.
Dave Darland, who is one of the hottest drivers on the circuit after a win at Lincoln Park Speedway last Saturday, is currently ninth in national points and is the defending champ of the "Robbie Stanley Classic" at Lawrenceburg.
Darland leads the all-time winners list in career ISW feature wins with 14 overall and Stanbrough, who won three races in the series last year, owns 13 career ISW feature victories.
Next week will feature stops at the Terre Haute Action Track on Wednesday (July 13) followed by Brownstown Speedway (July 14), historic Bloomington Speedway on Friday and the series clincher at Tri-State Speedway at Haubstadt.
Undoubtedly the national circuit drivers will be challenged nightly by some of Indiana's top drivers at each stop of ISW.
Brady Short has virtually owned the red clay of Bloomington this summer and has piled up six feature wins, many against some of these same USAC drivers. Chris Windom already has five feature wins this year and Brett Burdette has scored four total wins and has proved his mettle at Gas City and Lawrenceburg. Shane Cottle has moved over to the Jeff Walker-owned No. 11 machine and should be tough to beat each night. Coleman Gulick will be on hand from New York and has been a front-runner nearly every night and owns two feature wins and nine top-fives.
Locally, West Terre Haute's Blake Fitzpatrick has scored a victory and has five, top-five finishes and ran well during the first half of last year's ISW. Chase Stockon also has two feature victories this season.
Many eyes will be on what happens at Terre Haute after the holiday weekend postponement of the Silver Crown event due to unsafe conditions with an incredibly dry and dusty track that halted the 100-lap feature before the first lap was completed as Thomas Meseraull flipped and several cars spun with visibility nearly at zero.
Anticipation is at an all-time high for the series with large car counts and huge crowds on hand for the races. Not only is the racing typically spectacular, but the chance to meet fans from around the country is also a special part of ISW. So come out and enjoy some of the best racing the country has to offer.
Personally I'm finally taking a week of vacation, phew! I've tried to do the work thing and then fly to remote parts of the state, but it's pretty tough to do. So this year I've done what many others do and scheduled my first vacation in what seems like forever, to hit the second half of the series at Terre Haute, Brownstown and Bloomington before returning for the weekly show at Lincoln Park Speedway. I'm hoping to send in photos/stories from each of my stops despite being on hiatus, which I guess ultimately means I'm not completely on vacation, but thought I'd share my travels with the readers!