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The 2017 series champion started on the pole and led all 30 laps. He had to withstand three restarts that allowed the field to draw near and he was able to power around lapped traffic unscathed to post a 0.808-second victory in front of a big crowd assembled at the quarter-mile dirt oval.
The event was part of the annual James Dean Festival that celebrates the local actor’s life.
The last two USAC AMSOIL sprint car races at Gas City generated unforgettable photo finishes. The most memorable battle in the second edition of the “James Dean Classic” on Thursday night was the one for second place, which Tyler Courtney got on the last lap by only 0.056 of a second over Justin Grant at the checkered.
Courtney started seventh and was only second for the last few yards, using the outside to nip Grant at the line. Grant, who both started and finished third, ran in second place for the entire race before Courtney got by at the last possible second.
The top three finishing cars are fielded by different teams and have different chassis, but all are sponsored by NOS Energy Drink. Windom, of Canton, Ill., was in the Parallax Group/Goacher Racing Parallax Power Supply/Jonathan Byrd’s DRC with a Claxton-prepared Mopar engine. Courtney, of Indianapolis, was in the Clauson-Marshall/Newman Racing Spike Rider Chevy also sponsored by Competition Suspension. Grant, a native of Ione, Calif. now living in Avon, Ind., drives TOPP Motorsports’ Maxim powered by a Claxton Chevy that is also sponsored by the Bow Foundation and Challenger Construction.
Defending race winner Kevin Thomas Jr., a native of Cullman, Ala. now living in Avon, Ind., finished fourth and set the fastest lap of the race on lap four with a time of 11.909 seconds. Chase Stockon of Ft. Branch, Ind. came from eighth to finish fifth.
C.J. Leary of Greenfield, Ind., who finished just a few millimeters behind the winner of the USAC Indiana Sprint Week feature at Gas City on a Thursday in July and is the series’ point leader, was the fastest qualifier and finished sixth. Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla. ran as high as fourth but finished seventh. Jason McDougal, also of Broken Arrow, was the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger, as he came from 17th in the 23-car field to place eighth. Isaac Chapple of Willow Branch, Ind. finished ninth. Max Adams of Loomis, Calif. stepped into the famous Paul Hazen No. 57 that won the track championship last year with Clinton Boyles driving and finished tenth after starting 15th.
Although Windom led the whole way and Grant ran in second place until the end, the battles for second and third were doozies. Thomas had a little contact with Windom in Turn 3 on the first lap but he held third for the first two laps before track point leader Thomas Meseraull of Waveland, Ind. wrestled third away from him on the backstretch. T-Mez was only in third place for three laps, however, because he pulled into the infield working lap six with his car on fire. It was quickly extinguished but he was done for the night after a yellow to attend to what looked like an oil fire in the engine compartment with seven laps down. The People’s Champ, Dave Darland of Atlanta, Ind., stopped at that point too, although he was able to restart.
Meseraull’s misfortune put Thomas back in third. Thomas held that position through one restart with 24 laps down but lost it working lap 27 when Courtney slipped under him on the backstretch. The restart was necessary after Scotty Weir of Marion, Ind. spun in Turn 4 while running seventh.
Right after Courtney passed Thomas for third a final yellow waved with 27 laps complete to replace an orange cone in Turn 4 that McDougal had hit, and Courtney went on to pass Grant on the last lap for the runner-up honors.
Courtney’s drive towards the front was not easy. “Sunshine” started seventh and didn’t break into the top five until he passed Bacon on lap 16. He still had to work for it, as he lost fifth to Bacon on lap 18 and regained the spot when he passed Bacon back on lap 20. He ran in fourth from laps 21 through 26 until he passed Thomas, and third on laps 27 through 29 before he got around Grant for second at the checkered, but time ran out before he could see if he had anything for Windom. It was Windom’s first USAC sprint victory at the Grant County track in 19 attempts dating back to 2007.
More information on the speedway is posted on the track’s website at GasCityI69Speedway.com.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 26, 2019 – Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana – 2nd James Dean Classic
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.121; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 00, Whitney-12.174; 3. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-12.219; 4. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-12.299; 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-12.364; 6. Chris Windom, 5G, Parallax/Goacher-12.441; 7. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-12.479; 8. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-12.491; 9. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-12.555; 10. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-12.557; 11. Chad Boespflug, 98e, EZR-12.561; 12. Anthony D’Alessio, 01, D’Alessio-12.568; 13. Harley Burns, 16K, Knight-12.574; 14. Cole Ketcham, 41, Ketcham-12.614; 15. Scotty Weir, 39G, Goodnight-12.634; 16. Cody White, 26w, White-12.720; 17. Max Adams, 57, Hazen-12.720; 18. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-12.733; 19. Tye Mihocko, 5, Mihocko-12.751; 20. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-12.767; 21. Tyler Hewitt, 1, RL-12.830; 22. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-12.841; 23. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-12.856; 24. Dave Darland, 43m, Tibbits-12.867; 25. Shane Cottle, 19c, Cooley-12.966; 26. Dustin Clark, 75, Clark-12.996; 27. Jack James, 99, James-13.422; 28. Dustin Smith, 77, Smith-13.582.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Isaac Chapple, 4. Cody White, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Tyler Hewitt, 7. Harley Burns. 2:08.98
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Cole Ketcham, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Jason McDougal, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Dustin Clark, 6. Matt Goodnight, 7. Corey Smith. 2:03.85
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Scotty Weir, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Tye Mihocko, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Chad Boespflug, 6. Matt Westfall, 7. Jack James. 2:04.18
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Dustin Ingle, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Max Adams, 6. Anthony D’Alessio, 7. Dustin Smith. 2:04.03
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Chad Boespflug, 2. Max Adams, 3. Harley Burns, 4. Matt Westfall, 5. Matt Goodnight, 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Dustin Smith, 8. Dustin Clark, 9. Anthony D’Alessio, 10. Corey Smith, 11. Jack James, 12. Tyler Hewitt. 2:28.28 (New Track Record)
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (1), 2. Tyler Courtney (7), 3. Justin Grant (3), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2), 5. Chase Stockon (8), 6. C.J. Leary (6), 7. Brady Bacon (4), 8. Jason McDougal (17), 9. Isaac Chapple (9), 10. Max Adams (15), 11. Scotty Weir (14), 12. Matt Westfall (20), 13. Tye Mihocko (18), 14. Matt Goodnight (10), 15. Harley Burns (12), 16. Cody White (16), 17. Cole Ketcham (13), 18. Dustin Ingle (19), 19. Dave Darland (21), 20. Chad Boespflug (11), 21. Thomas Meseraull (5), 22. Dustin Clark (23), 23. Shane Cottle (22). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Chris Windom