2024 USAC Sprints at Ocala Speedway

Results: USAC Sprint Cars Friday At Ocala

Results: USAC Sprint Cars Friday At Ocala

Results from USAC National Sprint Car Cars at Ocala Speedway on February 16, 2024.

Feb 17, 2024 by FloRacing Staff
Results: USAC Sprint Cars Friday At Ocala

The last time C.J. Leary won at Florida’s Ocala Speedway, it wound up being a very good year.

After parlaying a final night Winter Dirt Games victory in 2019 at Ocala into a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship later that season, the Greenfield, Ind. racer hopes that 2024 will bear a much similar fruit.

During Friday night’s Winter Dirt Games XV finale at the 3/8-mile dirt track, Leary took the right step in that direction by notching his first feature victory of the season, exactly five years to the day of his only other Ocala triumph, the significance of which wasn’t lost on Leary.

“This is awesome to pick up a win here,” Leary exclaimed. “It’s been since 2019 that we’ve been in victory lane here. Maybe this is a little sign of what’s to come throughout the whole season.”

Leary’s late-race surge on Friday night took him from fourth to first during the final five circuits, where he took over the point from series point leader Logan Seavey just three laps from the finish of the 30-lapper en route to victory in his BGE-Dougherty Motorsports/Altoz – Valvoline – Hornbeck Concrete/DRC/1-Way Chevy, the same 2020-built chassis he won with during Indiana Sprint Week at Kokomo Speedway in 2023.

The 23rd main event win of Leary’s USAC National Sprint Car career moved him to 28th on the all-time list, surpassing 27-time winners Rick Hood, Bubby Jones and Sammy Sessions while equaling Roger McCluskey on the 28 line.

Leary’s victory was of the resurgent variety, having collected four top-five finishes in each of his first four starts of the USAC season before tallying a distant ninth the night before at Ocala. What they thought was a possible engine malfunction 24 hours earlier turned out to be the same powerplant that guided the team to victory 24 hours later.

“We’ve been so fast and so good, but we had a little bit of an off night last night,” Leary recalled. “I thought we were having engine issues yesterday so we went through the whole thing and diagnosed it and couldn’t find anything wrong, so we just kept running it. This is probably the last night on this rebuild.”

Leary began his race from the fourth spot on the grid while, for the third consecutive event, Chase Stockon led the opening lap after starting from the pole position. However, by lap three, the man on the charge was Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier Kevin Thomas Jr. who utilized the outside line to his liking, blowing by Stockon on the backstretch for the top spot on lap three.

Thomas’ time up front proved to be short-lived as Seavey quickly reeled him in and initiated a successful turn one slide job on the fourth lap which thrusted him into the race lead.

Seavey continued to ride the high line through the middle stages of the race as he swiftly knifed his way through the thick throng of lapped traffic to gain a 1.5 second lead over Thomas. Seavey continued to trounce the field as he assembled a full straightaway lead over Brady Bacon who deftly dove under Thomas in turn two to slot into the second position with nine laps remaining.

From there, Seavey’s interval over Bacon dissipated abruptly, and with six laps to go, Bacon was within a couple whiskers of Seavey’s tail tank when both narrowly avoided disaster. Just ahead of Seavey and Bacon, the lapped car driven by Robert Bell, making his first series start in nearly three years, spun out, forcing the leaders to take evasive action in order to avoid as the race went yellow.

With six to go, Leary found himself mired in fourth on a track that became lathered in rubber. But it didn’t stop Leary from beginning to make a surge. Leary pressed Thomas on lap 26 and wedged into the third spot in turn three under Thomas to move up another spot on the pylon.

Suddenly, fifth running Justin Grant slowed with a flat right rear tire, which caused him to stop in turn one, indicating that tire wear and attrition had begun to rear its head. Grant, winner of three-in-a-row at Ocala in the past week, saw his run end with a season-low 20th place result.

On the immediate restart, Leary shot under Bacon off turn four on lap 27 to corral third and cross the line just before fifth running Daison Pursley became the next victim of a right rear tire’s demise, which went flat and forced him to a stop in turn one.

Now with Leary lined up on Seavey’s rear bumper for the lap 28 restart, it didn’t take long for Leary to flex his muscle. Sweeping wide through turns one and two, Leary loaded up on momentum and carried it with him for the entire length of the the backstretch, and ultimately, was able to scoot under Seavey off turn four to put himself in prime real estate at the front of the field.

Thinking a bit earlier that, when the rubber came, the track surface was going to be hard to pass on, Leary even proved his own theory to be incorrect.

“I think it just kind of paid off there by not being the leader at the end,” Leary explained. “Those guys kept shortening the track up, looking for the rubber, but I was able to keep my momentum up around the top and find some moisture.”

USAC Sprint Car Results Friday At Ocala

1. C.J. Leary (4)

2. Logan Seavey (3)

3. Chase Stockon (1)

4. Kevin Thomas Jr. (6)

5. Jadon Rogers (7)

6. Mitchel Moles (10)

7. Brady Bacon (2)

8. Alex Bright (14)

9. Briggs Danner (12)

10. Carson Garrett (11)

11. Joey Amantea (20)

12. Robert Ballou (16)

13. Jake Swanson (15)

14. Tye Mihocko (13)

5. Kyle Cummins (19)

16. Matt Westfall (9)

17. Tom Harris (17)

18. Brandon Mattox (18)

19. Kobe Simpson (25)

20. Justin Grant (8)

21. Hunter Maddox (21)

22. Daison Pursley (5)

23. Chase Howard (24)

24. Robert Bell (23)

25. Shane Butler (22). NT