Kevin Thomas Jr. Lovin' It At Fall Nationals

Kevin Thomas, Jr. was determined to be mistake-free in Saturday’s Fall Nationals at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway.

Hear from KTJ after claiming the win at Fall Nationals:


null


Exactly one week earlier at Eldora Speedway, the Cullman, Ala. native had a pair of chances to get the win. First in the sprint car feature, where he led the first 18 of the 30-lap race before slapping the turn four wall and losing the lead, then later that same night in the Silver Crown main event. He was a dominant figure in that main event, leading the first 40 circuits of the 50-lapper, but made contact with the wall again and was knocked out of the lead.

Flawless is the word that comes to mind in describing Thomas’ run down the stretch to win his second Fall Nationals in the last three years to take home the $10,000 grand prize. It was also his 27th career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature, moving him past Tony Elliott and Dave Steele for a tie in the #16 spot on the all-time list alongside Brady Bacon.

“I know our stuff’s running really well and I like Lawrenceburg already,” Thomas said.  “For us to come down here and have speed right off the bat, it’s just something we’ve been really working hard for this whole year.  We’ve had our ups and downs, got a win and struggled a little bit.  We’ve had pretty much every variation of luck and runs and what not.  It’s just nice for the hard work these guys have put in at the shop to show on the track.”

Thomas began the race from the 5th position while the two front row combatants – Justin Grant and Brady Bacon – nearly met calamity as they took the green flag. Grant got sideways at the start/finish line which dropped him back to 4th before working his way back to 3rd by the end of the initial lap. Point leader C.J. Leary raced around the outside of Bacon to lead the opening two laps.

Bacon returned with authority on the third lap and drove by Leary again to retake the lead as Grant regathered himself to challenge Leary for the runner-up spot with Thomas  just behind in fourth. Grant nabbed the second position with a turn one slider past Leary on the eighth lap while Thomas followed suit with a similar move in the same spot for third passed Leary on lap nine.

Watch KTJ 's win:

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In


Meanwhile, Bacon set a blistering pace up front, turning the fastest lap of the race just moments prior on lap six and jetted into traffic with a 2.791 second lead by lap 12 when Aric Gentry slowed to bring out the first caution. That moved the front runners out of traffic and into clean air. Bacon resumed his prowess at the front through the middle stages of the 30-lapper.

On the 18th lap, a flat right rear tire of three-time 2019 series winner Kyle Cummins necessitated another yellow flag as he stopped on the high side at the entrance of turn one. Moments later, under caution, the air from leader Bacon’s tire had deflated along with his night. This handed the lead over to Grant as a result. Bacon drove to the work area for fresh rubber after leading a race-high 17 laps. Then he restarted from the tail and made a valiant effort to race back to a 7th place finish.

The race was now in Grant’s hands with 12 laps remaining as he sought to become the first driver ever to win three consecutive USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car features at Lawrenceburg. With that said, restarting from the lead at this point can be a precarious position to reside in, and second-running Thomas felt he was in the prime spot. Grant slid into turn one on the lap 19 restart and drifted to the top of turn two while Thomas rode the lip, building his momentum as he came off the turn two banking and to make his bid for the lead with a turn three slider past Grant. But Grant countered Thomas off turn four and the pair raced side-by-side down the front straightaway until Thomas slammed the door on Grant on the bottom of one. Both drifted wheel-to-wheel up to the top of the second turn when Thomas propelled off the lip and shot away to secure the point.

“Whenever you’re at these places and you restart around the top, it opens up a lane for somebody to slide you,” Thomas explained.  “I got the luxury of being in second to witness that and seeing the run that you could get.  I just never wanted to go back to a restart because I know he’s going to throw it if he got the chance.  I just didn’t want to give him that chance.”

That chance came just a lap later after Max Adams stopped on the low side of turns one and two, forcing a restart with just 10 laps remaining where Grant took his shot but came up snake eyes as he tried to slide by Thomas in turn one.

“Our car was really good, but if you get to racing, it doesn’t really matter how good your car is, you might get shuffled back a few positions,” Thomas noted.  “I just wanted to make sure I got that jump getting into one, and our car was perfect.   I could lean up right there against the cushion, put the pedal to the floor and just go.  It was relatively simple to drive, and that says a lot for this place because it can be pretty taxing on you and the racecar and everything else.”

Thomas’ idea of an ideal track surface is slick to a cushion, and that’s exactly what he got on this night which suited himself and his car nicely as he built up a three second lead while Grant and Leary traded slide jobs for four-straight trips around the 3/8-mile dirt oval between laps 21-24.  Leary made one final attempt on Grant in three on lap 24, just narrowly missing as Grant drove around the outside to reemerge with the spot.  Leary, meanwhile, left the door open for Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier Tyler Courtney to capitalize and slide past in turn one for 3rd on lap 25.

One lap later, the most serious accident of the night occurred when first-time USAC Sprint Car feature starter Justin Owen jumped the cushion in turn four, slid down the track and collected the oncoming car of 2018 Lawrenceburg track champion Garrett Abrams who ramped over and flipped wildly as a result.  Abrams walked away uninjured.

Under red and with four laps remaining, Thomas had time to think and ponder his next move and Grant’s possible motives on the ensuing restart.  It’s a mental game of sorts to not let overthinking the situation come into play.

“Your mental state whenever you get four laps to go is to not make a mistake,” Thomas said.  “But if you think about it too long, you’ll make a mistake.  You just got to get going there, get through the first corner and then you get back in your rhythm.  That first corner can be hell.  If you make a wrong move or slip your tires on the restart, they’re going to be there to pounce.”

However, Thomas nailed it precisely, withstanding Grant’s challenge and him in the distance to battle it out for second with Courtney who pounced for the runner-up position with three laps remaining then held off Grant’s charge to retake 2nd a half-lap later in turn three.

Up front, Thomas had a comfy cushion over Courtney and a front row seat for the checkered flag where he became one of just five drivers to win at least four career USAC Sprint feature at Lawrenceburg, joining Dave Darland (7), Jon Stanbrough (5), Grant (4) and Jack Hewitt (4).  Second went to Courtney 1.26 seconds back while Grant, Leary and Chris Windom rounded out the top-five.

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway were Tyler Courtney (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Kyle Cummins (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner & Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Dustin Clark (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Chris Windom (Indy Race Parts Semi Winner), Mario Clouser (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Jarett Andretti (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Steve Thomas (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).

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

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: 

October 5 – Lawrenceburg Speedway – Fall Nationals – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval

FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-13.831; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-14.188; 3. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.195; 4. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-14.238; 5. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.261; 6. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-14.270; 7. Joss Moffatt, 5J, Moffatt/Wright-14.385; 8. Chris Windom, 5G, Parallax/Goacher-14.403; 9. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.408; 10. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-14.431; 11. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-14.475; 12. Dustin Smith, 77, Smith-14.484; 13. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-14.527; 14. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.527; 15. Scotty Weir, 39, Goodnight-14.529; 16. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-14.560; 17. Dave Darland, 43m, Tibbits-14.692; 18. Dustin Clark, 75, Clark-14.764; 19. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.773; 20. Justin Owen, 4J, Owen-14.845; 21. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-14.897; 22. Garrett Abrams, 32A, Abrams-15.089; 23. Tyler Kendall, 20K, Kendall-15.200; 24. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-15.246; 25. Steve Thomas, 20, Thomas-15.488; 26. Eric Perrott, 45, Perrott-16.494.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Mario Clouser, 4. C.J. Leary, 5. Max Adams, 6. Isaac Chapple, 7. Garrett Abrams, 8. Steve Thomas, 9. Joss Moffatt. 1:55.43

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. Jarett Andretti, 3. Nick Bilbee, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Justin Owen, 6. Tyler Kendall, 7. Eric Perrott, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Dave Darland. NT

AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Dustin Clark, 2. Scotty Weir, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. J.J. Hughes, 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Aric Gentry, 8. Dustin Smith. NT

INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Josh Hodges, 3. Garrett Abrams, 4. Dustin Smith, 5. Tyler Kendall, 6. Isaac Chapple, 7. Aric Gentry, 8. Steve Thomas, 9. Eric Perrott. 3:08.89

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 2. Tyler Courtney (6), 3. Justin Grant (1), 4. C.J. Leary (3), 5. Chris Windom (8), 6. Nick Bilbee (10), 7. Brady Bacon (2), 8. Jarett Andretti (13), 9. Scotty Weir (14), 10. Chase Stockon (4), 11. Josh Hodges (7), 12. Dustin Clark (16), 13. Mario Clouser (15), 14. Isaac Chapple (17), 15. Max Adams (9), 16. Dustin Smith (11), 17. J.J. Hughes (19), 18. Tyler Kendall (21), 19. Justin Owen (18), 20. Garrett Abrams (20), 21. Kyle Cummins (12), 22. Aric Gentry (22). NT

**Garrett Abrams flipped on lap 26 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 C.J. Leary, Laps 3-18 Brady Bacon, Laps 19-30 Kevin Thomas, Jr.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Jarett Andretti (13th to 8th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Mario Clouser

SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Steve Thomas

ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Kyle Cummins

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-2,003, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,956, 3-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,861, 4-Justin Grant-1,850, 5-Chris Windom-1,843, 6-Brady Bacon-1,837, 7-Chase Stockon-1,757, 8-Jason McDougal-1,483, 9-Carson Short-1,361, 10-Isaac Chapple-1,193.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: October 11, 2019 – Terre Haute Action Track – Terre Haute, Indiana – Wabash Clash – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval

2020 USAC National Rule Changes & Enforcements

USAC has announced rule changes and enforcements to be utilized beginning with the 2020 season for the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car, AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget series.

ProSource To Award 2020 Passing Master Award

Longtime USAC supporter ProSource is putting up a $2,500 reward to the driver who passes the most total cars during the feature events throughout USAC’s 2020 National season.

Adams Rallies to Claim Winternationals Mod Finale

null

The fifth and final night of the first week of the 2020 Winternationals kept the theme of high drama to the end well in play. With longer distance features for Street Stocks and Modifieds, story lines played out to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

East Bay Binge Watch: Everything From Mod Week At East Bay

null

As we go into the final day of Modified week at East Bay action, let's binge watch and catch up on everything we've seen so far this week. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

As we go into the final day of Modified week at East Bay action, let's binge watch and catch up on everything we've seen so far this week. 

Watch Winternationals Modified Week at East Bay LIVE!

Shane Burrows has been the leader as we approach the final day as he's taken home feature victories on nights two and four. In the Street Stock division Richie Stephens, Tim Powers, Justin Rodgers, Race McMahon, Tim Gay and James McKeown were the top six drivers in points when night 4 came to a close.

Full Results | Full Replays | Recaps

Burrows claims the Modified feature win on night #4:


Check out the night 4 heat races:


Hear from Burrows after his Modified feature win on night 4:


Burrows Doubles Down with Second Winternationals Win

null

Night number four of the 2020 Winternationals was a pivotal night for the racers in the Modified and Street Stocks divisions. When it was all said and done on Friday night, the top six in weekly points would be locked in with an automatic spot in the Saturday A-main.

Lee Brings Home East Bay Winternationals Win on Night #3

null

The third night of the 2020 Winternationals saw the third different feature winner in the Modified ranks. Tennessee racer Lucas Lee held off all challengers in the 30-lap to record the victory.

Burrows Edges Hughes for Night Two East Bay Triumph

null

For the second night in a row, drama prevailed in the running of the Modified A Main as the outcome wasn’t decided until the last lap. On the second night of the action, the winner would take the top prize by a half car length at the checkers.

Dixon Opens Winternationals Modified Week in Victory Lane

null

A chilly night greeted the hardy fans who attended the opening night of the 44th annual Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. On tap was a 25-lap main event for UMP/EBRP Modifieds and a 20-lapper for the companion Street Stocks.

Watch Guide: Winternationals Modified Week at East Bay

The 44th Annual East Bay Winternationals returns January 21 - 25 LIVE on FloRacing.com. Modifieds will race for a top prize of $1,000 on the first two nights with the Street Stocks doing battle for $400 to win for the first three nights. The winner’s share jumps to $1,500 on the next two nights for the Modifieds while the Friday Street Stock winner claims $500. For the Saturday finale, the Modified winner will receive $5,000 with the Street Stock champion getting $1,000.

Sheppard Takes Loot in Wild West Shootout Finale

Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., captured the biggest prize of the 14th annual Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout on Sunday at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, winning the $15,000 Shaw Trucking 50 finale along with a $10,000 bonus for his third victory of the miniseries.