2020 USAC Sprint Winter Dirt Games Preview

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On several occasions over the past decade, winning at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. has served as a boon to a driver’s championship hopes and dreams.

Watch the 2020 Winter Dirt Games LIVE!

Feb. 13-15

While it’s always pertinent to get off to a solid start of the season, the rhythm stayed true to the beat one year ago with C.J. Leary. Although he bagged just two wins over the course of the season, one of the eventual 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ’s victories came in Ocala, which for the 11th time will host Winter Dirt Games Feb. 13-15.

Watch C.J. Leary win at Ocala last year:

Flashback: Ocala 2019 Night #3 Highlights


At this time last year, Leary was in a similar position as he is this year – with a new team.  This year, he’s linked up with Gene Gile Racing for the full tour and is the first driver in five years to sport the No. 1 following a championship season. The Greenfield, Ind. driver won the finale in Ocala one year ago.

C.J. Leary and the history of the No. 1:

C.J. Leary To Drive #1 in 2020


Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) finds himself in a similar boat, joining Hayward Motorsports for a run at the title after previously capturing the 2017 series crown.   Like Leary, Windom debuted with a new team a year ago and found success right off the bat at Ocala, winning the season opener in dramatic fashion.

Watch Chris Windom take the 2019 season opener at Ocala:

Flashback: Ocala 2019 Night #1 Highlights


Ione, California’s Justin Grant returns for a third season in the TOPP Motorsports No. 4, a combo which was victorious on the second night of Winter Dirt Games last year where he took control for the final two circuits following Windom’s flat right rear tire.  Grant’s picked up two victories in Ocala over the last three years after taking the finale in 2017.

Watch Justin Grant pick up Night #2 during last year's event:

Flashback: Ocala 2019 Night #2 Highlights


Three-time Winter Dirt Games winner Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) continues to recover following a major arm injury during the 2019 season and aims to return to Ocala in time for the start of the 2020 campaign.  Two of the 2015 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion’s three Winter Dirt Games victories came at Ocala in 2015 and 2016.   He holds the 8-lap and 12-lap USAC Sprint Car track records at Bubba Raceway Park.

Brady Bacon, a two-time Winter Dirt Games winner in 2014 and 2015, has displayed the ability to get the ball rolling on multi-race weekends, which he did on two occasions in the past season.  On a two-race weekend at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway last July, the Broken Arrow, Okla. native swept both ends.  In November at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, he took two of the first three for Hoffman Auto Racing.

Watch the 2020 Winter Dirt Games LIVE!

Feb. 13-15

USAC’s winningest National Sprint Car driver (62 wins) and starter (756 starts) Dave Darland is back in the saddle of the Darland/EZR No. 36D at Ocala where he previously won in the 2015 finale at the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track.   The USAC Triple Crown champ is one of five drivers expected to compete in this year’s event who raced in the first ever Winter Dirt Games feature in 2010 along with Grant, Windom, Ballou and Kyle Cummins.

USAC’s ironman Chase Stockon has won a USAC National Sprint Car feature in eight consecutive seasons.  The Fort Branch, Ind. driver snared the WDG opener in 2018 and collected a pair of 4th place finishes on the first and third nights at Bubba Raceway Park in 2019.

Kevin Thomas, Jr. seems more than primed for victory at Ocala after four 2nd place finishes in five Winter Dirt Games starts in 2019 (2 Midget, 3 Sprint).   The Cullman, Ala. native is back the seat of the KT Motorsports No. 9K.  He owns the track record in the midgets and won twice in POWRi Midget competition at the track in 2018.  His lone Winter Dirt Games victory came at East Bay Raceway Park in 2015.

Carson Short was superb in his qualifying efforts at Ocala one year ago, breaking his own track record on night one, then lowering it once again on the second night to 13.398 sec.  The Marion, Ill. driver is set to roll in a new ride in 2020, the Daigh/Phillips Motorsports No. 71p with whom Darland won at Ocala in 2015.

Watch the 2020 Winter Dirt Games LIVE!

Feb. 13-15

Taking over for Leary in the seat of the Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports No. 19AZ is 2018 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.). The six-time USAC Midget winner and 2019 night two Sprint Car Smackdown winner at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway makes his first sprint car appearance at Ocala since 2018 where he finished a best of 9th in the opener.   He took 8th and 12th in last year’s midget events at Winter Dirt Games.

Princeton, Indiana’s Kyle Cummins, who won on three occasions in USAC Sprint Car competition in 2019, finished on the podium in all three Winter Dirt Games sprint races at Ocala in 2016 with a 2nd and two 3rd place runs.  Stephen Schnapf (Evansville, Ind.) had a career-best 2nd place finish behind Cummins during Indiana Sprint Week at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. last summer.  Schnapf will return to Ocala after making his WDG debut in 2019, finishing a best of 16th on the final night.

USAC National Sprint Car winners Matt Westfall of Ludlow Falls, Ohio (2005 Eldora) and Scotty Weir of Marion, Ind. (2016 Gas City) are expected to compete at Ocala along with 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Dustin Clark of Washington, Ind. and this year’s crop of Rookie of the Year hopefuls, Anthony D’Alessio (Apollo Beach, Fla.), Anton Hernandez (Arlington, Texas) and Sterling Cling (Tempe, Ariz.) among several others.

WINTER DIRT GAMES USAC SPRINT WINS:

1. (5) Damion Gardner

2. (4) Bryan Clauson

3. (3) Robert Ballou

4. (2) Brady Bacon, Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant & Tracy Hines

8. (1) Dave Darland, Darren Hagen, C.J. Leary, Thomas Meseraull, Hunter Schuerenberg, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas, Jr. & Chris Windom

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Fast Talk: Looking at Eldora's Unique Stream

Our weekly roundtable considers action from the final weekend in May as the drumbeat intensifies for the upcoming $50,000-to-win Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway (edited for clarity and length):

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USAC Sprints Prepared for 2nd Act Sunday at I-55

They say first impressions can make a lasting impression.

Wait is Over: USAC Sprints Saturday at 34 Raceway!

One-hundred-twelve days.  That’s the wait we’ve all had to endure since the last time the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars turned a wheel in competition when the series unloads this Saturday night, June 6, for Sonny’s Market Night at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, the grand opening of a doubleheader weekend with a trip to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 the following night, Sunday, June 7.

USAC Sprint Stat Book: Return to Racing Edition

Remember back.  The last time the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars competed, we were much younger, TV’s only had three channels and a hamburger at McDonald’s cost just a nickel.

English Tops Voting for Four Stream Spots

Tanner English of Benton, Ky., topped weekend fan voting that added four drivers to the roster of June 4-6’s Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

McCarl Outduels Reutzel in Park Jefferson Finale

Unarguably one of the the most exciting main event outcomes in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 and Bumper-to-Bumper IRA Series history, Altoona, Iowa’s Austin McCarl accomplished the near-impossible on Saturday night at Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson, South Dakota, and held off two-time and defending All Star champion, Aaron Reutzel, for a first-ever Series victory and a $6,900 top prize. Originally slated to award $6,600, Kevin Rudeen of Rudeen Racing bumped the winner’s share an extra $300 to award $6,900.

Reutzel Opens All Star Points Season With Win

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Although it has been over three months since the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 last hosted competition, two-time and defending Series champion, Aaron Reutzel, left zero doubt to those in attendance at Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson, South Dakota, that the extended gap in the All Star schedule affected his focus and ability, ultimately ending his evening $6,600 richer, as well as the Series point leader. Including action that did not accumulate championship points in early February, the victory was Reutzel’s third of the 2020 season against the All Stars and the 28th of his career.

Jameson Rejoins Rattliff for Eldora Stream

Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., quickly landed a ride for the June 4-6 Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway, reuniting with former car owner James Rattliff just hours after learning he was one of the 44 drivers invited to participate in the Rossburg, Ohio, track’s spectator-free weekend that is topped by a 67-lap, $50,000-to-win feature.

Stream Invitee Has One Big Problem: No Race Car

Jason Jameson was pleased when he learned Friday afternoon that his name appeared on the list of 44 drivers invited to compete in the spectator-free Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational June 4-6 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

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