Showing posts with label Kevin Thomas Jr.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kevin Thomas Jr.. Show all posts

Thursday, December 5, 2019

2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Year in Review

 Three-wide at Tri-State Speedway. (Ryan Sellers Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Speedway, Indiana (December 5, 2019).........In his eighth full season with the series, youthful C.J. Leary became USAC's newest first-time champion as well as the third youngest USAC National Sprint Car driver champion behind only Bryan Clauson and Levi Jones, who were both just slightly younger at the same age of 23.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thomas Steers to Western World Night #1 Midget Score

Kevin Thomas, Jr. rides away in style after picking up Friday's USAC NOS Energy Drink National and Western States Midget victory on night #1 of the Western World Championships at Arizona Speedway. (Rich Forman Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 15, 2019).........Since his car first rolled off the trailer for practice one night earlier, Kevin Thomas, Jr. has had the propensity to be quick in a midget around Arizona Speedway.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thomas Leads Western World Midget Practice

Kevin Thomas, Jr. was the quickest in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget practice Wednesday night at Arizona Speedway. (Dave Dellinger Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 14, 2019).........Kevin Thomas, Jr. recorded the fastest lap during USAC NOS Energy Drink National/Western States Midget open practice Wednesday night at Arizona Speedway in preparation for the 52nd running of the Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Talented Crop to Double Up at Western World

#7BC Tyler Courtney won both the sprint and midget portions of September's 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora, the second time he's done that in his career. (Dallas Breeze Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 12, 2019).........This weekend's 52nd Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford at Arizona Speedway presents a unique opportunity. An opportunity to showcase versatility in both a Sprint Car and a Midget on the same track on the same evening for two consecutive nights.

Monday, November 11, 2019

USAC Sprint Car Western World Preview

C.J. Leary (#19AZ) & Chase Stockon (#32) jockey for position. (John DaDalt Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 11, 2019).........The 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title comes down to this: two events in two nights at Arizona Speedway where C.J. Leary and Tyler Courtney are engaged in a battle separated by a mere 44 points entering this Friday and Saturday, November 15th and 16th's 52nd annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thomas Repeats $25K Oval Nationals Win; Courtney Wins USAC Sprint Title On Tiebreaker

Kevin Thomas, Jr. captured his second consecutive "Oval Nationals" victory Saturday night at California's Perris Auto Speedway. (Photo Courtesy Michael Fry)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Perris, California.........It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

That about sums of the rollercoaster of emotions Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Tyler Courtney endured at the conclusion of Saturday night's Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction at Perris Auto Speedway.

Kevin Thomas, Jr. notched his second-straight "Oval Nationals" win worth $25,000, but lost the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship on a tiebreaker to Tyler Courtney who gained the one spot he needed on the final lap after it appeared as if his title chances had slipped through his fingertips just moments before.

After 40 races from coast-to-coast, and 40 laps around Perris, the 2018 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season concluded in the most dramatic of fashion, deadlocked at the top of the standings for the first time in the 63-year history of the series. It's a record that will never be eclipsed, breaking the previous closest title race from 1965 when Johnny Rutherford defeated Greg Weld by 2.5 points.

Drama, agony, ulcers, heartbreak and, ultimately, joy were just a few of the ingredients in the mix during the final lap of the 23rd annual affair, which provided us with a nail-biter of a race on the track and on the Xcel Spreadsheet which was unlike any we've seen in recent times.

As he did Friday night, Courtney jumped out front once again at the start of the main event, although it was short-lived as Dave Darland escaped unscathed after a turn four flip on the opening lap.

On the complete restart, Courtney checked out from his outside front row starting spot while polesitter C.J. Leary cleared a charging Chase Stockon in turn two to lock up the second spot where he'd remain for much of the first half. That is until A.J. Bender became the second casualty of the young feature, flipping between turns three and four on the 14th lap before walking away under his own power.

Leary was salivating with thoughts of racing fortune when action resumed, sticking right to the bumper of Courtney until lap 16 when the two went wheel-to-wheel with Leary making the pass in turn two and narrowly leading before Courtney came right back at him for the spot on the following lap. Courtney made his move for the lead on the back straight, but Leary made a charge between three and four with Courtney just barely nipping Leary for the lead at the line this time.

On the 18th circuit, Leary was able to clear Courtney again in turn two to retake the lead and instantly began to widen the gap between he and Courtney to nearly a second and looked to be the head of the class.

With 14 laps remaining, Leary led the field entering turn one, but his ride appeared to be a handful as he wrestled with his steering wheel to get the car to turn. Courtney and Thomas, running second and third at the time, ate his lead up in the flick of a switch. Just moments later, the car of 22nd running Chris Gansen slowed to a stop at the inside of turn four to bring out the yellow. During the caution, Leary pulled into the work area to replace the right rear rubber. Though he returned to the track, his bid for a win was quashed for all intents and purposes and he'd soldier on to a 15th place finish.

That now placed the top-two in points in first and second on the track. Courtney came into the feature with a nine-point advantage and the objective was clear - finish fourth or better and the title was his regardless of what Thomas did. However, at the moment, the biggest single race payday of the year was just within reach and he was keen on putting that cherry on top of the pie with just 13 laps remaining.

Thomas worked on Courtney over the next handful of laps and, on lap 33, made his move around the outside of Courtney to grab the lead. Courtney was still in decent shape as he ran second, but one lap later, Chris Windom also scooted by and, suddenly, Courtney's title bid was in a perilous state.

With four laps remaining, Stockon slipped by the suddenly fading Courtney for third while Bacon was suddenly breathing down his neck for fourth. Courtney was able to take a deep breath for a moment during the red with three laps remaining that resulted when R.J. Johnson flipped between turns one and two from which he'd walk away.

With three to go, leader Thomas and fourth-running Courtney were locked up at the top of the standings as they stood in the moment. Courtney's role was clear. Do not let Bacon get by! However, Bacon put his ride up a lane higher than Courtney on the restart and drove around him in turn two to move into fourth and put Courtney on the outside looking in from fifth. One lap later, with 38 of the 40 laps complete, three-time "Ovals" winner Bud Kaeding slowed to a stop on the inside of turn four. The ensuing restart attempt also didn't take as Max Adams stopped at the bottom of turn two.

Two laps remained for the final round of this yearlong boxing match that's seen the point lead switch nine times among three drivers. As it stood on the lap 39 restart, Thomas was up on Courtney by three markers. Once the green flag fell, two distinct races were occurring for the race win and for fourth. Thomas held Stockon and Windom in check behind him for the race lead while Bacon handled Courtney as the field passed under the white flag.

Entering the first turn, suddenly, Bacon began to slow as his fuel tank began to run dry. Courtney was right there to capitalize and miraculously moved back into fourth and into the safe zone that he needed to be in to win the title.

Thomas finished the final lap of the final race of the season in grand fashion, winning the finale for the second consecutive season and becoming the first driver since Dave Darland in 2005-06 to win the "Oval Nationals" in successive years, while Stockon and Windom finished second and third, respectively.

"Two in a row here at the Oval Nationals! To come out of this place as the winner, that's pretty humbling," Thomas exclaimed. "It's hard whenever you get those cautions late in the race. You just have to struggle on hitting the bottom. I knew I got the lead around Sunshine running the middle. On the last lap, I saw Stockon up there and I knew with the way his stuff rolls and with the way our car was working, I just straight gave up on the bottom. I was just ripping right through the middle."

Meanwhile, Courtney clawed his way back to fourth to win the title via a tiebreaker. Both Courtney and Thomas finished with 2733 points, but Courtney's 11 victories trumped Thomas' 7, thus earning him the title in the closest points race in series history. Another 2018 champion, Damion Gardner, rounded out the top-five in the finish to collect his sixth-straight USAC/CRA Sprint Car crown and seventh overall.

Tyler Courtney won the 2018 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship, equaling the number of points that Kevin Thomas, Jr. scored, but held the tiebreaker with 11 victories compared to 7 for Thomas. (Photo Courtesy Michael Fry)

"I didn't want to make it that close," Courtney said with a laugh. "We had a really good racecar tonight. It just kind of went away on us there. I couldn't stick the middle like those guys were doing, but I'd rather have luck on our side than be good sometimes. I think we had a guy upstairs looking on us tonight. We're doing all this in honor of Bryan Clauson. I'm honored to be a part of this. To come out our first year as a sprint car team and be the national champions is truly something special. It's not something many people can do, and I've got a great group behind me. I've been busting my tail to get to this step and it took a lot of people believing in me along the way. It feels like everything's paying off."

Thomas was matter of fact when it came to the title race. Just one more win - one more position, even - would have provided him just enough points toward the championship.

"For this to come all the way down to the wire and actually tie in points, that's pretty nuts," Thomas reflected. "It was a hard-fought battle all year. We tied, but he won more races. That's what got him here."

At the beginning of this season, Courtney entered new territory, exiting the TOPP Motorsports team that he had accrued so much success with over the past two seasons, to join the newly-created sprint car team owned by Tim Clauson, Richard Marshall and 1999 USAC Silver Crown champion driver Ryan Newman. The goals may have been lofty to some, but this team meant business from day one and there's no resting on their laurels according to Courtney.

"One of our goals was to be on the podium at the end of the year," Courtney remembered. "Obviously, we try to exceed our goals and we came out with 11 wins and a championship. We're going to go back to the drawing board, reset our goals, and come back and defend this title."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Perris Auto Speedway were R.J. Johnson (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner) Chris Windom (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Brady Bacon (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Dave Darland (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Max Adams (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Isaac Chapple (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Logan Seavey (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Logan Williams & Danny Faria, Jr. (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfers).

---------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL & CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: November 10, 2018 - Perris Auto Speedway - Perris, California - 23rd Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction

WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Thomas Meseraull, 77m, Michael-16.626; 2. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-16.636; 3. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-16.649; 4. Dave Darland, 12, Ballou-16.769; 5. Jason McDougal, 19s, Reinbold/Underwood-16.810; 6. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-16.823; 7. Bud Kaeding, 16, Martin-16.865; 8. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.904; 9. R.J. Johnson, 92, Sertich-16.907; 10. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-16.968; 11. Chase Johnson, 36D, Goodnight/Thomas/Curb-Agajanian-16.971; 12. Logan Williams, 5J, Jory-17.049; 13. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-17.055; 14. Danny Sheridan, 15, Johnson-17.075; 15. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-17.090; 16. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-17.158; 17. Charles Davis, Jr., 50, Davis-17.171; 18. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-17.198; 19. Tommy Malcolm, 5x, Napier-17.206; 20. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.216; 21. Danny Faria, Jr., 42, Cheney-17.289; 22. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-17.317; 23. Austin Liggett, 83, Liggett-17.334; 24. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-17.344; 25. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-17.497; 26. Randy Waitman, 90, Waitman-17.614; 27. Tye Mihocko, 5T, Mihocko-17.666; 28. Verne Sweeney, 98, Tracy-17.675; 29. Kyle Edwards, 39E, Edwards-17.699; 30. Matt McCarthy, 28m, McCarthy-17.766; 31. Jake Swanson, 34AZ, Grau/Burkhart-18.003; 32. Austin Ervine, 51, AJ-18.505; 33. Gary Marshall, Jr., 72, Marshall-19.794; 34. Frank Rodgers, 11x, Rodgers-19.942.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS / EXTREME MUFFLERS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. R.J. Johnson, 2. Adams, 3. Davis, 4. Hodges, 5. Faria, 6. Edwards, 7. McDougal, 8. Marshall, 9. Meseraull. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) / CIRCLE TRACK PERFORMANCE / ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Windom, 2. A. Williams, 3. Sheridan, 4. Seavey, 5. McCarthy, 6. Bender, 7. Chapple, 8. Rodgers, 9. Waitman. 2:53.25

CHALK STIX / KEIZER ALUMINUM WHEELS THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Bacon, 2. C. Johnson, 3. J. Vander Weerd, 4. Kaeding, 5. Liggett, 6. Malcolm, 7. Mihocko, 8. Swanson. 2:54.56

INDY RACE PARTS / BUTLERBUILT SEATS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer to the feature) 1. Darland, 2. Roa, 3. C. Williams, 4. Gansen, 5. Sweeney, 6. Ervine, 7. L. Williams, 8. R. Vander Weerd. NT

BR MOTORSPORTS / KING RACING PRODUCTS SUPER SIX DASH: (6 laps, finish order sets feature lineup) 1. C.J. Leary (#30 Leary), 2. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson Marshall Newman), 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (#69 Dynamics), 4. Chase Stockon (#32 32 TBI), 5. Justin Grant (#4 TOPP), 6. Damion Gardner (#4x Alexander). NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) FIRST SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Hodges, 2. Seavey, 3. Liggett, 4. J. Vander Weerd, 5. Bender, 6. L. Williams, 7. Malcolm, 8. McCarthy, 9. Sweeney, 10. Sheridan, 11. Ervine, 12. R. Vander Weerd. NT

PYROTECT RACING CELLS / ROD END SUPPLY SECOND SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kaeding, 2. McDougal, 3. Chapple, 4. C. Williams, 5. Gansen, 6. Faria, 7. Edwards, 8. Mihocko, 9. Rodgers, 10. Davis. 3:31.71

FEATURE: (40 laps - starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 2. Chase Stockon (4), 3. Chris Windom (8), 4. Tyler Courtney (2), 5. Damion Gardner (6), 6. Logan Seavey (15), 7. Austin Williams (14), 8. Justin Grant (5), 9. Brody Roa (10), 10. Chase Johnson (13), 11. Brady Bacon (7), 12. Danny Faria, Jr. (26), 13. Isaac Chapple (19), 14. Jace Vander Weerd (23), 15. C.J. Leary (1), 16. Logan Williams (25), 17. Chris Gansen (20), 18. Max Adams (11), 19. Bud Kaeding (18), 20. R.J. Johnson (12), 21. Cody Williams (22), 22. Jason McDougal (16), 23. Josh Hodges (17), 24. A.J. Bender (24), 25. Austin Liggett (21), 26. Dave Darland (9). NT
----------------------------
**Meseraull flipped during the first heat. Gardner flipped during the Super 6 Dash. Darland flipped on the opening lap of the feature. Bender flipped on lap 14 of the feature. R.J. Johnson flipped on lap 38 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-15 Courtney, Lap 16 Leary, Lap 17 Courtney, Laps 18-26 Leary, Laps 27-32 Courtney, Laps 33-40 Thomas.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS / SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS / RACING OPTICS HARD CHARGER: Logan Seavey (15th to 6th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Isaac Chapple

ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Max Adams

SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFERS: Logan Williams & Danny Faria, Jr.

FINAL USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Courtney-2733, 2-K. Thomas-2733, 3-Windom-2651, 4-Stockon-2343, 5-Bacon-2331, 6-Leary-2328, 7-Darland-2292, 8-Grant-2290, 9-Robert Ballou-1771, 10-Chapple-1572.

FINAL AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Gardner-1643, 2-Roa-1598, 3-A. Williams-1354, 4-C. Williams-1189, 5-Swanson-1173, 6-R.J. Johnson-1113, 7-Max Adams-1044, 8-L. Williams-976, 9-Faria-972, 10-Gansen-872.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kevin Thomas, Jr.'s Qualifying Prowess Has Turned Heads In 2018

Kevin Thomas, Jr. set fast time #1 of 14 at Ocala in February. (Dave Olson Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Perris, California.........When it comes down to the end of a nitty gritty USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car points race, you look for any omens you can spot.

You may look for a titlist in terms of overall victories - 2nd in points Tyler Courtney has 11. Perhaps it's in terms of consistency - 3rd in points Chris Windom has a series-leading 35 top-ten finishes in 37 starts.

One that kind of gets overlooked is fast qualifying times. Series point leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. has a season-leading 14 in 2018, which is 10 more than his nearest competitor. But, when you think about it, each fast qualifying time pays points - 6 points in fact. This year, Courtney has a pair while Windom has just one. All those points add up at the end of the season, not to mention that laying down a good lap sets the tone for the night and will place that driver in the top-portion of the field come feature time.

Against a field as tough as this one is, being in a position where you don't have to pass as many cars is essential. A bad qualifying lap puts you behind the proverbial eight-ball, forcing a driver to play the game of catchup all throughout the year. Plus, starting near the back puts you in more jeopardy of being caught up in an incident that takes you out of contention for feature wins and, thus, max pointage.

One of the more telling facts is that the only three occasions in which a driver has reached double-digits in fast qualifying times during a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season, it has resulted in that driver winning the series title: Tom Bigelow in 1978, Rich Vogler in 1989 and Bryan Clauson in 2012.

Kevin Thomas, Jr.'s historical 2018 season has already equaled him with Tom Bigelow's record of 14 fast times in 1978. A look inside the numbers reveals that Bigelow scored quick times at eight different tracks: Winchester and Salem four times apiece, and one each at IRP, I-70, Toledo, Sharon, Sandusky and Queen City.

Thomas, meanwhile, has done this at a record 13 different venues, repeating the feat at Bubba Raceway Park in race one and three of the 2018 season, then reeling off a stretch of quick times at Plymouth, Eldora, Terre Haute, I-80, Williams Grove, Port Royal, BAPS, Bridgeport, Bloomington, Tri-State, Kokomo and Tri-City.

Both ripped off streaks of four consecutive fast times at one point in the season. Bigelow doing four-in-row at Sharon, Sandusky and back-to-back afternoons at Salem in June of 1978. Thomas did four-straight in four nights this year during Eastern Storm at Williams Grove, Port Roya, BAPS and Bridgeport.

Interestingly, Bigelow's big qualifying year of 1978 came one year following becoming the winningest driver in the series, but coming up just shy of the title. Thomas was the winningest driver of 2017 and translated that to more "consistent" runs to put him in contention for the season title.

By no means does any of this mean it's a foregone conclusion that KT has the title locked up, but qualifying up front regularly certainly pays its dividends and will prove so once again in this week's 23rd annual Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction at California's Perris Auto Speedway. Either way, as is the case in most race you go to, you can see something that's never occurred before in the history of the series. Kevin Thomas, Jr. can be a part of that history this week.

On Thursday and Friday, the pits open at noon, front gates open at 4pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:30pm. On Saturday, the pits open at noon, front gates open at 3pm, autograph session from 3-4pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:15pm.

All three nights will be live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/ with live audio also available on the USAC app.

----------------------------------------

MOST FAST QUALIFYING TIMES (SINGLE SEASON)
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS

BY RANK:
1978: 14-Tom Bigelow
2018: 14-Kevin Thomas, Jr.
1989: 10-Rich Vogler
2012: 10-Bryan Clauson
1977: 9-Pancho Carter
1995: 9-Kenny Irwin, Jr.
2002: 9-J.J. Yeley
2003: 9-J.J. Yeley
1976: 8-Pancho Carter
1979: 8-Steve Chassey
2013: 8-Dave Darland
2014: 8-Brady Bacon
2015: 8-Chase Stockon
2000: 7-Jay Drake & Tracy Hines
2017: 7 Justin Grant
1961: 6-Roger McCluskey
1966: 6-Don Branson & Roger McCluskey
1968: 6-Sonny Ates & Larry Dickson
1970: 6-Larry Dickson & Bill Puterbaugh
1971: 6-Larry Dickson
1984: 6-Rick Hood
1990: 6-Steve Butler
1991: 6-Steve Butler
1996: 6-Dave Darland
1997: 6-Richard Griffin
1999: 6-Tracy Hines
2001: 6-Tracy Hines
2016: 6-Bryan Clauson & Chase Stockon
1962: 5-Parnelii Jones
1965: 5-Johnny Rutherford
1973: 5-Sam Sessions & Tom Sneva
1974: 5-Tom Bigelow
1980: 5-Tom Bigelow
1981: 5-Eddie Leavitt
1982: 5-Sheldon Kinser
1983: 5-Rich Vogler
1994: 5-Mike Bliss & Doug Kalitta
1998: 5-Tony Elliott & Brian Tyler
2004: 5-Levi Jones
2005: 5-Levi Jones
2006: 5-Levi Jones & Josh Wise
2008: 5-Tracy Hines
2010: 5-Bryan Clauson
2011: 5-Levi Jones
1964: 4-A.J. Foyt & Jud Larson
1967: 4-Greg Weld
1969: 4-Larry Dickson, Cy Fairchild & Greg Weld
1972: 4-Tom Bigelow
1975: 4-Marvin Carman, Pancho Carter & Larry Dickson
1985: 4-Steve Butler
2009: 4-Bryan Clauson, Tracy Hines & Jon Stanbrough
1963: 3-Don Branson, A.J. Foyt, Chuck Hulse & Parnelli Jones
1987: 3-Rich Vogler
1988: 3-Tray House & Rich Vogler
1992: 3-Jim Keeker & Robbie Stanley
1993: 3-Doug Kalitta
2007: 3-Bryan Clauson, Jerry Coons, Jr. & Levi Jones
1986: 2-Sheldon Kinser


MOST FAST QUALIFYING TIMES (SINGLE SEASON)
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS

BY YEAR:
1961: 6-Roger McCluskey
1962: 5-Parnelii Jones
1963: 3-Don Branson, A.J. Foyt, Chuck Hulse & Parnelli Jones
1964: 4-A.J. Foyt & Jud Larson
1965: 5-Johnny Rutherford
1966: 6-Don Branson & Roger McCluskey
1967: 4-Greg Weld
1968: 6-Sonny Ates & Larry Dickson
1969: 4-Larry Dickson, Cy Fairchild & Greg Weld
1970: 6-Larry Dickson & Bill Puterbaugh
1971: 6-Larry Dickson
1972: 4-Tom Bigelow
1973: 5-Sam Sessions & Tom Sneva
1974: 5-Tom Bigelow
1975: 4-Marvin Carman, Pancho Carter & Larry Dickson
1976: 8-Pancho Carter
1977: 9-Pancho Carter
1978: 14-Tom Bigelow
1979: 8-Steve Chassey
1980: 5-Tom Bigelow
1981: 5-Eddie Leavitt
1982: 5-Sheldon Kinser
1983: 5-Rich Vogler
1984: 6-Rick Hood
1985: 4-Steve Butler
1986: 2-Sheldon Kinser
1987: 3-Rich Vogler
1988: 3-Tray House & Rich Vogler
1989: 10-Rich Vogler
1990: 6-Steve Butler
1991: 6-Steve Butler
1992: 3-Jim Keeker & Robbie Stanley
1993: 3-Doug Kalitta
1994: 5-Mike Bliss & Doug Kalitta
1995: 9-Kenny Irwin, Jr.
1996: 6-Dave Darland
1997: 6-Richard Griffin
1998: 5-Tony Elliott & Brian Tyler
1999: 6-Tracy Hines
2000: 7-Jay Drake & Tracy Hines
2001: 6-Tracy Hines
2002: 9-J.J. Yeley
2003: 9-J.J. Yeley
2004: 5-Levi Jones
2005: 5-Levi Jones
2006: 5-Levi Jones & Josh Wise
2007: 3-Bryan Clauson, Jerry Coons, Jr. & Levi Jones
2008: 5-Tracy Hines
2009: 4-Bryan Clauson, Tracy Hines & Jon Stanbrough
2010: 5-Bryan Clauson
2011: 5-Levi Jones
2012: 10-Bryan Clauson
2013: 8-Dave Darland
2014: 8-Brady Bacon
2015: 8-Chase Stockon
2016: 6-Bryan Clauson & Chase Stockon
2017: 7 Justin Grant
2018: 14-Kevin Thomas, Jr.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

History In The Making: Narrow USAC Sprint Title Race To Be Decided At Perris

#7BC Tyler Courtney trails Kevin Thomas, Jr. in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car race by a mere 2 points entering the Nov. 8-9-10 Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction at California's Perris Auto Speedway. (Photo Courtesy Rich Forman)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Perris, California (November 6, 2018).........As the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars head into the season's final weekend of 2018, we're staring down the barrel of history in the making.

Only two points separate Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Tyler Courtney in the National standings with just three races remaining - the 23rd annual Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction at California's Perris Auto Speedway on November 8-9-10.

The old saying, "if the season ended today...," would make the current interval the closest finish in the history of the series. Close championship races have been more of the norm of late with six of the top-ten closest championships all occurring since the year 2000.

Last year's battle came down to the final race with Chris Windom prevailing by a mere six points over Justin Grant to lock up the title in the third-closest title race ever. None have yet surpassed the 2.5-point margin Johnny Rutherford had to close out his 1965 USAC National Sprint Car championship over Greg Weld, however.

A close title race such as this is sure to get the drivers up on their toes and the fans on their feet with each qualifying session, heat race and feature having substantial meaning. Two points is literally just one spot in the feature. Each spot in the top-ten pays three points more than the driver behind him from 70 to 43. From 11th to 20th, the dropdown is two points per position from 41 points to 23. Twenty-three points are granted for all finishers 20th on back.

If trouble befalls one or both, it could prove to be the nail in Thomas or Courtney's bid for the title. Plus, your reigning series champ and 2010 "Oval Nationals" winner Windom is just 50 points back, ready to pounce.

Without further ado, here is the list of the all-time closest points races in the history of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars. We very well could have a new number one when all is said and done this Saturday night, so get your calculators and T-Squares ready. You're going to need them!

------------------------------

CLOSEST USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACES
1. 1965: (2.5) Johnny Rutherford over Greg Weld
2. 2012: (5) Bryan Clauson over Dave Darland
3. 2017: (6) Chris Windom over Justin Grant
4. 1967: (11) Greg Weld over Sam Sessions
5. 2002: (13) Tracy Hines over J.J. Yeley
6. 2005: (13) Levi Jones over Dave Darland
7. 2001: (19) J.J. Yeley over Jay Drake
8. 1973: (24) Rollie Beale over Lee Kunzman
9. 2000: (24) Tony Elliott over Jay Drake
10. 1979: (32) Greg Leffler over Bubby Jones
11. 1987: (32) Steve Butler over Rich Vogler
12. 1991: (35) Robbie Stanley over Eric Gordon
13. 1986: (36) Steve Butler over Rick Hood
14. 1994: (43) Doug Kalitta over Tray House
15. 1992: (45) Robbie Stanley over Steve Butler
16. 1972: (47) Sam Sessions over Rollie Beale
17. 1962: (50) Parnelli Jones over Roger McCluskey
18. 1971: (55) Gary Bettenhausen over Larry Dickson
19. 2014: (56) Brady Bacon over Bryan Clauson
20. 1980: (61) Rich Vogler over Steve Chassey
21. 1998: (62) Tony Elliott over Kevin Thomas
22. 2013: (63) Bryan Clauson over Dave Darland
23. 1961: (67.8) Parnelli Jones over Jim Hurtubise
24. 2004: (74) Jay Drake over Bud Kaeding
25. 1977: (75) Sheldon Kinser over Tom Bigelow
26. 2008: (84) Jerry Coons, Jr. over Levi Jones
27. 2007: (85) Levi Jones over Darren Hagen
28. 2015: (87) Robert Ballou over Dave Darland
29. 1975: (88) Larry Dickson over Rollie Beale
30. 2006: (88) Josh Wise over Levi Jones
31. 2011: (99) Levi Jones over Chris Windom
32. 1984: (102) Rick Hood over Sheldon Kinser
33. 1995: (119) Tony Stewart over Doug Kalitta
34. 1970: (131) Larry Dickson over Gary Bettenhausen
35. 2010: (132) Levi Jones over Damion Gardner
36. 1983: (148) Ken Schrader over Larry Rice
37. 1981: (160) Sheldon Kinser over Rich Vogler
38. 1989: (171) Rich Vogler over Eric Gordon
39. 1993: (175) Robbie Stanley over Tray House
40. 1996: (176) Brian Tyler over Doug Kalitta
41. 1974: (184) Duane "Pancho" Carter over Tom Bigelow
42. 1969: (189.2) Gary Bettenhausen over Larry Dickson
43. 1966: (194) Roger McCluskey over Mario Andretti
44. 1982: (217) Sheldon Kinser over Rich Vogler
45. 1988: (222) Steve Butler over Greg Staab
46. 1978: (223) Tom Bigelow over Chuck Gurney
47. 1999: (224) Dave Darland over Tracy Hines
48. 2009: (224) Levi Jones over Cole Whitt
49. 1964: (236) Don Branson over Jud Larson
50. 1990: (257) Steve Butler over Eric Gordon
51. 1997: (289) Brian Tyler over Kevin Thomas
52. 1985: (301) Rick Hood over Steve Butler
53. 1963: (309) Roger McCluskey over A. J. Foyt
54. 2016: (314) Brady Bacon over Chase Stockon
55. 2003: (352) J.J. Yeley over Jay Drake
56. 1968: (358) Larry Dickson over Gary Bettenhausen
57. 1976: (369) Duane "Pancho" Carter over Tom Bigelow

On Thursday and Friday, the pits open at noon, front gates open at 4pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:30pm. On Saturday, the pits open at noon, front gates open at 3pm, autograph session from 3-4pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:15pm.

All three nights will be live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/ with live audio also available on the USAC app.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Thomas-Courtney-Windom Engage In Historically Tight Points Race

#7BC Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, Ind. - 2nd in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings, 34 behind Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Photo Courtesy Gene Crucean)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

The 2018 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season comes down to just five races in the month of November. That's five opportunities for things to go perfectly right and five opportunities for things to go perfectly awry. Over the years, we've seen our share of both.

Over the next two weekends, the series will indulge in the final five events of the season at Arizona Speedway on November 2-3 and California's Perris Auto Speedway on November 8-9-10. The common refrain has always been "How the west was won." But in this case, it's been "How the championship was won...out west."

Kevin Thomas, Jr. leads Tyler Courtney by 34 coming into the final stretch while the distance between Thomas and third-place Chris Windom is separated by only 62 points, the third such closest title race between the top-three at this point in the season since the USAC National Sprint Car series began concluding its season out west in 2004 - behind only 2015 (43 pts.) and 2012 (57 pts.). Since 2004, only two title races have ended with a race closer than that between the top-three - 2011 (34 pts.) and 2017 (58 pts.).

It's a tight race that could go in any one driver's favor and, since 2004, some have played out in the leader's favor while some years have featured a comeback of epic proportions. Let's dig into the stats for those years.

Between 2004 and 2006, the champs saw their lead in the standings shrink out west, but had enough of a cushion to handle their business. Jay Drake's 2004 lead dwindled from 141 to 74, Levi Jones in 2005 went from 78 to 13, while Josh Wise's fell from 113 to 88. Jones took his second title in 2007, upping the interval from 71 to 85 by the finale.

In 2008, Jerry Coons, Jr. took a miniscule two-point lead over Jones into races at Perris and Manzanita. Consistency was his magic wand down to the wire, clicking off five-straight top-fives to close out his only career USAC National Sprint Car title by 86 markers over Jones.

The following year, in 2009, Jones found himself in the driver's seat, leading Dave Darland by 27 points going into Perris and Tulare. Jones reeled off four top-fives in the final five, including a win on a preliminary night of the "Oval Nationals" at Perris to take his third title by 224. Meanwhile, Cole Whitt slipped into second as misfortune befell Darland's hopes of a second series title. Jones was back at it a year later in 2010 with a little less pressure, bumping up his lead from 91 to 179 to notch title number four.

In 2011, Jones was back at it once again, up by 44 and on the verge of a third consecutive championship. No driver of his era was more consistent in locking down a title than him and he proved it once again with a 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd and a victory in the season finale at Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif. to become the sixth, and most recent, driver to win the finale and the series title in one fell swoop, which he did by 99 over Chris Windom.

In 2012, Bryan Clauson came firing on all cylinders to conclude the season, erasing Darland's 23-point advantage that included a prelim night win at Perris. Though Darland won at Canyon to open the western swing, it is one costly night that basically determined his fate - a 17th place finish the next night at Canyon. Clauson won by a narrow margin of five over Darland despite missing a chunk of races earlier in the year due to his Indianapolis 500 commitments.

It was the Bryan and Dave show once again in 2013, but the roles were reversed this time around as Clauson held a mere 13-point lead with four to go at Canyon and Perris. Clauson got a win at Canyon, then tallied up a 7th, 4th and 2nd to win over Darland by 63.

Clauson was in contention for a third-straight title in 2014, but Brady Bacon was determined to get his first, upping his 51-point lead to 56 by the end of the swing following finishes of 2nd, 8th, 7th and 3rd. Bacon duplicated the feat in most-dominating fashion in 2016, jumping up his interval from 233 to 314 based on night-after-night of top-five runs.

Robert Ballou got his first a year later in his historical 13-win year, winning three of the final six to up the ante from 19 to 87 points over Darland to become the champ. Just last year, Windom was the next in line to become a first-time champ, deleting a 29-point lead by Grant in the western swing opener at Arizona and bringing it home by a scant six points. The top-three were separated by just 58 at season's end with a red-hot and closing Kevin Thomas, Jr. claiming third.

It seems pretty simple. The mathematical solution is to get yourself up front night-after-night at all five races. One off night could spell failure, especially with three individuals in this heated contest. And that seems to be the one thing that separates Thomas, Courtney and Windom. All have been able to finish on a consistent basis this year, hence, the reason they are at the position they're in right now. One missed setup, one bike, one night of disarray. The one who avoids those will live without regret, but will that be enough to win the title? Let's find out for ourselves, shall we?

The 51st "Western World Championships" from Arizona Speedway in San Tan Valley, Ariz. on November 2-3 will feature the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship with the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars as well as the USAC Southwest Sprint Cars.

The 23rd Budweiser "Oval Nationals" California's Perris Auto Speedway on November 8-9-10 features three-straight nights of USAC AMSOIL National & CRA Sprint Cars, concluding with a $25,000-to-win prize on the final night.

All five remaining races will all be streamed live on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/ and live audio will be on the USAC app.

----------------------------------

YEAR-BY-YEAR TOP-3 IN USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR POINTS
(Since 2004)

2004
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Jay Drake-1,480; 2-Bud Kaeding-1,339; 3-Cory Kruseman-1,304
Final Standings: 1-Drake-1,620; 2-Kaeding-1,546; 3-Kruseman-1,538
Drake up by 141 coming in, wins by 74 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 176 coming in, 82 at season's end.

2005
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Levi Jones-1,375; 2-Dave Darland-1,297; 3-Jay Drake-1,188
Final Standings: 1-Jones-1,670; 2-Darland-1,657; 3-Bud Kaeding-1,349
Jones up by 78 coming in, wins by 13 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 187 coming in, 321 at season's end.

2006
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Josh Wise-1,490; 2-Levi Jones-1,377; 3-Dave Darland-1,332
Final Standings: 1-Wise-1,773; 2-Jones-1,685; 3-Darland-1,599
Wise up by 113 coming in, wins by 88 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 158 coming in, 174 at season's end.

2007
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Levi Jones-1,232; 2-Darren Hagen-1,161; 3-Dave Darland-1,078
Final Standings: 1-Jones-1.402; 2-Hagen-1,317; 3-Darland-1,274
Jones up by 71 coming in, wins by 85 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 154 coming in, 128 at season's end.

2008
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Jerry Coons, Jr.-1,114; 2-Levi Jones-1,112; 3-Cole Whitt-1,051
Final Standings: 1-Coons-1,402; 2-Jones-1,316; 3-Tracy Hines-1,193
Coons up by 2 coming in, wins by 86 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 63 coming in, 209 at season's end.

2009
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Levi Jones-1,554; 2-Dave Darland-1,527; 3-Cole Whitt-1,448
Final Standings: 1-Jones-1,827; 2-Whitt-1,603; 3-Darland-1,601
Jones up by 27 coming in, wins by 224 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 106, coming in, 226 at season's end.

2010
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Levi Jones-1,898; 2-Bryan Clauson-1,807; 3-Damion Gardner-1,769
Final Standings: 1-Jones-1,781; 2-Gardner-1,602; 3-Clauson-1,557
Jones up by 91 coming in, wins by 179 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 129 coming in, 224 at season's end.

2011
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Levi Jones-1,324; 2-Chris Windom-1,280; 3-Jon Stanbrough-1,242
Final Standings: 1-Bryan Clauson-1,056, 2-Windom-1,024; 3-Jones-1,022
Jones up by 44 coming in, Clauson wins by 32 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 82 coming in, 34 at season's end.

2012
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Dave Darland-1,876, 2-Bryan Clauson-1,853, 3-Jon Stanbrough-1,819
Final Standings: 1-Clauson-2,087, 2-Darland-2,082, 3-Stanbrough-2,019
Darland up by 23 coming in, Clauson wins by 5 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 57 coming in, 68 at season's end.

2013
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Bryan Clauson-1,706, 2-Dave Darland-1,693, 3-Brady Bacon-1,583
Final Standings: 1-Clauson-1,948, 2-Darland-1,885, 3-Bacon-1,770
Clauson up by 13 coming in, wins by 63 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 123 coming in, 178 at season's end.

2014
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Brady Bacon-1,762, 2-Bryan Clauson-1,711, 3-Dave Darland-1,683
Final Standings: 1-Bacon-1,974; 2-Clauson-1,918; 3-Darland-1,885
Final Standings: Bacon up by 51 coming in, wins by 56 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 79 coming in, 89 at season's end.

2015
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Robert Ballou-1,902, 2-Chase Stockon-1,883, 3-Dave Darland-1,859
Final Standings: 1-Ballou-2,274, 2-Darland-2,187, 3-Stockon-2,092
Ballou up by 19 coming in, wins by 87 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 43 coming in, 182 at season's end.

2016
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Brady Bacon-2,327, 2-Chase Stockon-2,094, 3-Dave Darland-1,968
Final Standings: 1-Bacon-2676, 2-Stockon-2362, 3-Darland-2251
Bacon up by 233 coming in, wins by 314 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 359 coming in, 425 at season's end.

2017
Standings Prior To West Trip: 1-Justin Grant-2,006, 2-Chris Windom-1,977, 3-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,891
Final Standings: 1-Windom-2,290, 2-Grant-2,284, 3-Thomas-2,232
Grant up by 29 coming in, Windom wins by 6 at season's end.
Top-three separated by 115 coming in, 58 at season's end.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thomas Takes Oval Nationals; Windom Is USAC National Sprint Champ

Kevin Thomas, Jr. celebrates his win in Saturday night's "Oval Nationals" at
Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway (Photo Courtesy Mike Grosswendt)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Perris, California.........Kevin Thomas, Jr. unloaded his racecar from his hauler last Wednesday night as the man to beat when practice began for the Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction.

When the time came to roll his car back into the hauler following Saturday night's 40-lap main event, the Cullman, Alabama was a richer man - by $25,000 - and had the hardware to show for it after scoring the victory in the 22nd annual event at Perris Auto Speedway.

Meanwhile, Chris Windom emerged as USAC's newest AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion, defeating Justin Grant by a mere six points to earn his first series title just one year after capturing the Silver Crown championship. It was in late August that Windom found himself trailing Grant by 93 points and firmly believed his championship dreams had been dashed.

"Two months ago, when we got knocked out of the race at Kokomo, I thought our season was over," Windom said. "This means everything. Derek (Claxton), Billy (Grace) and I fought hard all year long for this. With Margo and Kenny Baldwin, we almost did this back in 2011. They've done so much for my career. I can't be any happier doing it for them."

Coming into this weekend, Thomas himself was a major player in the points race and was lurking in third, ready to pounce if either Windom or Grant faltered in any form or fashion during the three nights of racing at Perris. The championship wasn't in the cards this time around for Thomas, but, after being absent for the opening two races of the year, then constructing his own race team in the middle of the season, an "Oval Nationals" eagle trophy on his mantle sure is a shining testament to how strong he and his KT Motorsports/Jeff's Jam-It-In Storage - Abreu Vineyards/DRC/Speedway Chevy were down the stretch.

"This is the top of the line right here," Thomas exclaimed. "This is everything you could ever want. You run all year to get your team ready and prepped, wanting to tweak on your cars and try to get faster each and every week, then cap it all off with an 'Oval Nationals' win. That's what our goals are. It's remarkable what our team's been able to do. I'm speechless. I don't even know what to do."

Thursday night winner Chase Stockon began the race from the outside of the front row and took the high side around Grant en route to the lead on the opening lap of the 40-lap A-Main where he would remain for the first 17 circuits.

Meanwhile, eyes were also affixed to the "race-within-a-race" scenario unfolding behind the leader in which Windom entered the event just 12 points ahead of Grant in the series standings. Inside the top-ten, each spot is worth three points and Windom had to remain within at least four positions behind Grant to maintain his grip atop the leaderboard.

By lap seven, fourth-starting Thomas had cleared Grant with a turn four maneuver to slide into second. At the same time, Windom dropped back a spot to fifth after Friday night winner Brody Roa took away the fourth spot.

As most of the field ringed around the topside, Thomas found a bit lower line to his liking between turns one and two as he began to hunt down Stockon for the race lead.

"It was definitely something I was thinking about earlier when I watched the B-mains," Thomas acknowledged. "I watched R.J. Johnson roll through the middle and turn some pretty good lap times. The Yamaha cars went out there with their skinny tires and I knew that would create a little more moisture in the middle of the track. I thought I could use it to my advantage until it wore out. When I got the lead, I was using it. I was almost worried that I just didn't know when it was going to go away. I felt myself slowing up just a little bit, then I got slid, then I had to start racing a little bit harder."

Stockon was able to answer each slider cast by Thomas, but just as Thomas put the move on him between turns three and four, the yellow flag flew for the sideways machines of Tommy Malcolm and Jace Vander Weerd that came to a rest on the front straightaway.

It took just a couple laps for Thomas to be in position for another crack at Stockon, which he made stick on the 18th lap with a turn three slider to assume the race lead. Just two laps later, Grant followed suit into second past Stockon for the runner-up spot at the halfway mark.

Grant seemed to come alive in the second-half and, when Thomas began to get hung up in lapped traffic, Grant was nearly in position to take advantage. However, with traffic running high and low, the exit ramp was blocked for both and Thomas was able to maintain his advantage.

With 10 laps remaining, the table was cleared for a mono y mono shootout between Thomas and Grant sans traffic with a clear track lying ahead of them following Max Adams' misfortune into the back straightaway wall on lap 31. With Windom laying in wait in fourth, Grant found himself in the midst of two separate races, but with the single goal of winning on his mind to maximize points.

Grant stuck right on Thomas' tail and was able to slide into the lead in turn three with eight laps remaining. One lap later, Thomas employed the same tactic, but Grant countered underneath Thomas off turn four to lead at the stripe by a half-car length. Grant slid up to the cushion in turn one with Thomas just inches behind. The two made slight bumper-to-bumper contact up top. The déjà vu scene repeated itself on lap 34 when Thomas dove to the bottom of the third turn, slid up and ripped the lead back away from Grant.

C.J. Leary was back in third, anticipating his next maneuver in this sprint car chess match, biding his time before sliding past Grant into second in turn one with five laps to go. Grant came right back at Leary into turn three with a slider. The two ran out of room up against the outside turn four wall with Leary kissing the concrete twice, resulting in damage on the right front.

With four to go on the ensuing restart, Thomas was merely a sitting duck fully aware what Grant's next move was going to be. Yet, Thomas felt he had a way to retain control of his own destiny on the first and second turn end of the half-mile oval.

"The only time I think that I had an advantage is I could kind of manipulate when Justin was going to slide me," Thomas explained. "If he slid me in three and four, it was so slick down there, you couldn't cross under. If I could manipulate where he slid me in one and two, I could get the cross under and get him going down the back straightaway. As much as I wanted to race in front of me, I was still racing behind me. They say that's a big no-no, but these guys are aggressive."

As Grant slid past Thomas into one, Thomas did exactly that and turned underneath off turn two to pull even with Grant on the back straightaway. In turn three, Thomas slid evenly with Grant up to the cushion. Grant snagged the curb just enough to hinder his progress and Thomas raced away to a ten car-length lead.

Seemingly, throughout the race, each time Grant was able to pick up a spot, Windom was a like a hawk, swooping in to take another spot and get those precious three points back instantly. When one dropped a spot, the other seemed to fall back. With Grant in second and Windom third on the final lap, Windom had some breathing room to spare as Chad Boespflug slipped by for third on the back straight and Windom slotted into fourth.

Up front, though, Thomas finished off the biggest payday of his career, winning by a second with Grant, hard charger Boespflug (from 13th), Windom and Robert Ballou rounding out the top-five.

"You see the white flag and you're leading the 'Oval Nationals,' you think 'don't screw up,' Thomas said. "Don't get white flag fever. I usually never even think about it. On this night, I did. I'm just glad that it all worked out. There's a lot of great teams out here. To be able to top all of them is pretty special."

On the final laps, Windom admitted to tiptoeing around the cushion, hoping to avoid a costly mistake. Like a bend, but don't break defense, every time Grant made a move to pick up a position, Windom seemingly had an answer. Windom knew where he had to be and what it was going to take to secure the title.

Many racers such as Windom seem to have an aura that make them seem like superheroes to the average person, as if they have ice water in their veins. However, as Windom admits, a championship on the line can put a racer on edge, amplifying the meaning of a seemingly ordinary task (to them).

"I was so nervous today, I don't think I sat still for two seconds," Windom admitted. "I didn't know how good the 11 car was going to be. I just knew where I needed to finish. Starting behind him, I knew where I needed to stay. I got to fourth and I just kind of hung out there until Justin and C.J. got into each other and I got to third. I wanted no part of that battle for the lead. You want to win the 'Oval Nationals,' but I wanted to win a USAC championship. I've won the 'Oval Nationals' before. I was here to win a USAC national championship. And we did it."

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Windom continued. "I think tomorrow it will feel a little better. I've been so antsy and anxious this whole past week, coming here, taking the point lead and trying to maintain it. Once you get there, it's nerve-wracking. I can't be any happier than I am for this team. I know they wanted this just as much as I did. It just means so much."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Arizona Speedway included Damion Gardner (ProSource/Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier & Competition Suspension, Inc. 1st Semi Winner), Mike Spencer (Simpson Race Products/Extreme Mufflers 1st Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc./Brown & Miller Racing Solutions 2nd Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products/Saldana Racing Products/Rod End Supply Hard Charger), Richard Vander Weerd (Chalk Stix/Circle Track Performance 3rd Heat Winner), Logan Williams (Indy Race Parts/Keizer Aluminum Wheels 4th Heat Winner), Justin Grant (Keizer Aluminum Wheels Super 6 Dash Winners), R.J. Johnson (Competition Suspension, Inc. 2nd Semi Winner & (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).

------------------------------

USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL & CRA SPRINT CAR CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 11, 2017 - Perris Auto Speedway - Perris, California - 22nd Budweiser "Oval Nationals" presented by All Coast Construction

PROSOURCE/WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Damion Gardner, 4, Alexander-16.550; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-16.570; 3. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-16.690; 4. Jake Swanson, 92, Sertich-16.700; 5. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.736; 6. Chad Boespflug, 69, Dynamics-16.800; 7. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling/Hayward-16.852; 8. Logan Williams, 5J, Jory-16.856; 9. Mike Spencer, 4s, Gansen-16.873; 10. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-16.920; 11. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.942; 12. Austin Liggett, 56, Phulps-16.973; 13. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-16.995; 14. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-17.043; 15. Hunter Schuerenberg, 19s, Reinbold/Underwood-17.080; 16. Danny Faria, Jr., 17GP, Dutcher-17.102; 17. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-17.127; 18. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-17.135; 19. Dave Darland, 21K, Kruseman-17.148; 20. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-17.203; 21. Michael Pickens, 81, Watt-17.230; 22. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.262; 23. Mike Martin, 16, Martin-17.276; 24. Matt McCarthy, 28m, McCarthy-17.285; 25. Tyler Courtney, 23c, TOPP-17.294; 26. Kyle Edwards, 39E, Edwards-17.300; 27. Randy Waitman, 90, Waitman-17.364; 28. Dennis Gile, 13, Gile-17.370; 29. Jeremy Ellertson, 98, Ellertson-17.414; 30. Tommy Malcolm, 5x, Napier-17.452; 31. Verne Sweeney, 98v, Tracy-17.478; 32. Trent Williams, 52v, Williams-17.511; 33. Gary Marshall, Jr., 72, Marshall-18.108.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS/EXTREME MUFFLERS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer) 1. Spencer, 2. Ballou, 3. Gardner, 4. A. Williams, 5. Gansen, 6. Malcolm, 7. Chapple, 8. Edwards. 2:52.06

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI)/BROWN & MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer) 1. Boespflug, 2. Adams, 3. Martin, 4. Darland, 5. Sweeney, 6. Waitman, 7. C. Williams, 8. Meseraull. NT

CHALK STIX/CIRCLE TRACK PERFORMANCE THIRD HEAT (10 laps, top-2 transfer) 1. R. Vander Weerd, 2. Faria, 3. Johnson, 4. Bacon, 5. McCarthy, 6. T. Williams, 7. J. Vander Weerd, 8. Gile. 2:49.64

INDY RACE PARTS/KEIZER ALUMINUM WHEELS: FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-2 transfer) 1. L. Williams, 2. Courtney, 3. Swanson, 4. Liggett, 5. Pickens, 6. Ellertson, 7. Marshall. 2:53.67

KEIZER ALUMINUM WHEELS SUPER 6 DASH: (6 laps) 1. Justin Grant (#11 McGhee), 2. Chase Stockon (#32 32 TBI), 3. Chris Windom (#5 Baldwin), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (#9K KT), 5. C.J. Leary (#30 Leary), 6. Brody Roa (#91R BR). 1:41.87

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) FIRST SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Gardner, 2. Swanson, 3. Martin, 4. Gile, 5. Bacon, 6. McCarthy, 7. Darland, 8. Ellertson, 9. Waitman, 10. Liggett, 11. T. Williams. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND SEMI: (12 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Johnson, 2. Chapple, 3. C. Williams, 4. J. Vander Weerd, 5. Malcolm, 6. A. Williams, 7. Pickens, 8. Gansen, 9. Sweeney, 10. Marshall. 3:29.10

FEATURE: (40 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4), 2. Justin Grant (1), 3. Chad Boespflug (13), 4. Chris Windom (3), 5. Robert Ballou (7), 6. Brody Roa (6), 7. Chase Stockon (2), 8. Damion Gardner (15), 9. Tyler Courtney (8), 10. Logan Williams (14), 11. Mike Spencer (10), 12. Austin Williams (25), 13. R.J. Johnson (16), 14. Cody Williams (20), 15. Jake Swanson (17), 16. Danny Faria, Jr. (11), 17. Isaac Chapple (18), 18. Mike Martin (19), 19. Chris Gansen (26), 20. Dennis Gile (21), 21. C.J. Leary (5), 22. Brady Bacon (23), 23. Max Adams (12), 24. Jace Vander Weerd (22), 25. Tommy Malcolm (24), 26. Richard Vander Weerd (9). NT
-------------------------------
**Meseraull flipped during the second heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-17 Stockon, Laps 18-31 Thomas, Laps 32-33 Grant, Laps 34-40 Thomas.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS/ROD END SUPPLY HARD CHARGER: Chad Boespflug (13th to 3rd)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: R.J. Johnson

FINAL USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Windom-2290, 2-Grant-2284, 3-Thomas-2232; 4-Courtney-2166, 5-Stockon-2052, 6-Boespflug-1974, 7-Leary-1869; 8-Ballou-1820, 9-Bacon-1765, 10-Darland-1492.

FINAL USAC AMSOIL CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-D. Gardner-1547, 2-Roa-1475, 3-Swanson-1376, 4-Spencer-1212, 5-A. Williams-1058, 6-C. Williams-960, 7-L. Williams-874, 8-Adams-799, 9-Gansen-768, 10-Thomas-756.