Sprintacular arrives for USAC sprints tonight at LPS
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE — Lincoln Park Speedway plays host to the final tune-up before the 31st edition of “Indiana Sprint Week” for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars this evening. The seven-race in nine evening series is a grueling battle for one of the most prestigious titles in non-wing sprint car racing. This evening will also be the opening event of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular that will feature the USAC Sprints as well as USAC’s D2 series with UMP Modifieds, super stocks and bombers.
General admission is $25 with the main gates opening at 4:45 p.m. Saturday will be round two of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular that will feature the Midwest Sprint Car Series as well as modifieds, super stocks and bombers. General admission is also $25.
Since 2013, the event before “Indiana Sprint Week” (ISW) has been held at Lincoln Park Speedway. Chad Boespflug won the opening event that year in 2013 and Jerry Coons Jr. won the next two lead up races to ISW held at the Putnamville oval. Robert Ballou was the 2016 winner at LPS and last season’s event fell victim to Mother Nature.
USAC began sanctioning “Indiana Sprint Week” in 1996 and there has only been one time that a driver that won the final race prior to the start of ISW has won the series title. J.J. Yeley picked up the victory in 2003 during a dominating season in all three fazes of USAC racing, sprint cars, midgets and Silver Crown. During that campaign, Yeley piled up a USAC record of 23 feature wins across all three divisions to become just the second drivers to win all three titles in a single season.
Dave Darland captured the lead up win at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisc. then won a pair of “Indiana Sprint Week” shows at Lincoln Park Speedway as well as Kokomo Speedway.
Undoubtedly there will be a very strong contingent of cars on hand to get their cars dialed in for one of the historic tracks on the ISW slate that opens with the newcomer track this season, Plymouth Speedway, on July 20. The series then hits Kokomo (July 21), Lawrenceburg (July 22), Terre Haute’s Action Track (July 25), Lincoln Park Speedway (July 26), Bloomington Speedway (July 27) and Tri-State Speedway (July 28).
USAC National Sprint Car Series points leader Kevin Thomas Jr. clinched the ISW points title at Lincoln Park Speedway in 2017. He does not own a USAC Sprint Car win at LPS, but he did win a sprint car race this spring during “Indiana Midget Week”. Tyler Courtney owns four USAC National Sprint Car wins in 2018, as does Kevin Thomas Jr. “Sunshine” as he has become known, is second in points, 38 back of Thomas. He placed second in his first USAC Sprint Car appearance at LPS in 2013 and was second in last year’s ISW event. Behind those two is Chris Windom, who is also 38 points back of Thomas Jr. and has reeled off back-to-back wins in Pennsylvania at Williams Grove and Port Royal to claim the “Eastern Storm” title. However, at Lincoln Park Speedway, Windom has just one top-five USAC Sprint Car finish.
Ballou can claim the best series of finishes at LPS with a victory in the 2016 edition of the “Bill Gardner Sprintacular” event for USAC. He has won two of the past three USAC Sprint Car events at Lincoln Park Speedway. Boespflug won his first career USAC victory in 2013 and is currently 10th in series points. Darland has also had great success at LPS over the years with five wins (1997, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2012). He recorded an April 21 win in a non-USAC sanctioned event at LPS.
Cars are slated to hit the track at 6 p.m. following the 5:15 p.m. drivers meeting.