6 Breakthrough Moments from Indiana Sprint Week

There’s no bigger stage to breakout in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car racing than on than the stage of Indiana Sprint Week.  Meet these six drivers who entered the consciousness of the racing world by conquering Indiana Sprint Week on their way to stardom. Tell us which driver on this list you feel has been the most successful!

6. Bud Kaeding (2000 at Twin Cities Raceway Park)

Bud Kaeding moved from his California home in 2000 to chase the USAC National Sprint Car tour as a Rookie.  With the great heritage of the Kaeding family name behind him and an impressive resume to boot, Kaeding was spectacular in capturing his first career National win in 2000 at Twin Cities Raceway Park. He’d go on to capture a total of 17 career USAC National Sprint Car wins in his career plus three Silver Crown championships in 2006-2007-2009.

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5. Justin Grant (2012 at Lawrenceburg Speedway)

Justin Grant was fast from the get-go everywhere he went when he arrived on the USAC Sprint Car scene in the early 2010s, particularly Lawrenceburg Speedway, where in 2012, he notched his first and was in position to capitalize when leader Bryan Clauson fell to the sidelines. Nearly a decade later, he has assumed his position as one of the stars on the USAC circuit and recently returned to ISW victory lane at “The Burg” in 2019.

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4. Kevin Thomas Jr. (2012 at Bloomington Speedway)

Growing up in the state of Alabama, Kevin Thomas Jr. is one of USAC’s most unlikely stars of the modern based on geography.  When he made the move to the Midwest to pursue a full-time racing career in sprint cars, he endured a tough learning curve that ultimately paid off with his first career USAC National Sprint Car victory at Bloomington in 2012, having to pass the star of stars in Dave Darland to get the job done. Now, Thomas is a star on the USAC tour and a perennial threat to win anywhere, especially at Bloomington where he has won the ISW round on three occasions in 2012-17-19 and captured the ISW crown in 2017.

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3. Cory Kruseman (1999 at Bloomington Speedway)

In the latter half of the 1990s and throughout the 2010s, there weren’t many more west coast drivers as successful and popular as Cory Kruseman.  Coming into 1999, the Ventura, Calif. had made two previous week-long tours of Indiana Sprint Week in 1997 and 1998 that had been less than stellar for his standards. In 1999, particularly at Bloomington Speedway, the Kruser hit his stride with the first of his 15 career USAC National Sprint Car wins in his star-studded career.

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2. Tyler Courtney (2016 at Gas City I-69 Speedway)

In 2016, we still didn’t know just how good Tyler Courtney was going to be. A regular competitor with the series over the past few seasons leading into 2016 had netted the Indianapolis, Ind. driver some solid runs and the 2013 Rookie of the Year award. Following a first lap spin during the Gas City round of 2016 Indiana Sprint Week, it certainly didn’t appear to be the night Courtney would make his breakthrough performance. However, Courtney steadily picked off car after car around the quarter-mile after restarting 23rd and found himself in contention for the win in the final laps, passing his mentor Bryan Clauson for his first career USAC National Sprint Car triumph and going on to becoming a two-time USAC National champ in sprints (2018) and midgets (2019).

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1. J.J. Yeley (1997 Everywhere)

In 1997, the drivers of SCRA were revered, but their voyage to the Hoosier state for Indiana Sprint Week was a new-ish novelty at the time. Though talented, the wonder was if any of them could win on Hoosier soil against the USAC regulars.  J.J. Yeley changed all that single-handedly, winning at Kokomo and Terre Haute, then going on to claiming the ISW title in his first try which came on many tracks he was seeing for the first time ever. Yeley’s profile blew up after that run, leading him to an Indianapolis 500 start in 1998 and his placement as just the second driver (Tony Stewart) to win all three USAC National titles in the same season.

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USAC iRacing Drivers Get Set-Up for Thursday's Opener

Tyler Courtney, Buddy Kofoid and Cannon McIntosh are among USAC’s most established and upcoming stars on the track.

7 Wild Scott Bloomquist Moments from the Dream

Scott Bloomquist and the Dirt Late Model Dream have their storied histories intertwined. Bloomer has 8 (!!) Dream victories to his credit and has been a mainstay at Eldora since the first Dream edition in 1994. DirtonDirt's Todd Turner takes us on a look back at the best (and worst) Scott Bloomquist moments from Dream history.

2018 Dream Binge Watch

Scott Bloomquist won an unprecedented 8th Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in 2018. Here's a binge guide of the full weekend!

Eldora "Dirt Late Model Dream Week" Watch Guide

Miss racing? Miss the Big "E"? So do we. This week, with DirtonDirt.com's help, we dive into the heartbreaks and triumphs of one of Eldora Speedway's crown jewels, the annual Dirt Late Model Dream, held every June at the historic 1/2 mile. Enjoy our "Dream Week" theme offering on FloRacing!

FloRacing 24/7 Watch Guide (Mar 30 - Apr 5)

Another full slate of USAC programming this week! Here is what's playing on FloRacing 24/7.

FloRacing Weekly Watch Guide (3/30 - 4/5)

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Quarantine life got you feeling like a living nightmare? We've got the cure: FloRacing Late Model Dream Week! All week long, we'll be bringing you the most memorable, the most controversial and the most exciting moments from every year of the Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway, including all the moments from the inaugural running in 1994 to the epic photo finish in 2019, all in collaboration with DirtonDirt.com.

Binge Watch: Indiana Sprint Week 2010

All-Star Circuit of Champions Taking 'Week-to-Week' Approach to 2020

Eric Walls, the director of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, is as anxious to go racing as his 410 Sprint Car tour’s drivers, team members and fans. He understands, however, that he’s unlikely to hear the roar of race car engines as soon as he, and everyone else, would like due to the coronavirus pandemic that has overtaken the country.While the 410 Sprint Car series owned by former NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart hasn’t yet announced any event cancelations or postponements due to the crisis, Walls admitted this week that decisions will soon have to be made on upcoming races starting with the April 10-11 Spring Nationals doubleheader at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. He certainly wants to remain as positive about racing as he can be, but he knows the opposite will likely be the case with the series, which in 2020 has all of its events slated for live broadcast to FloRacing subscribers.“Yeah, we’d love to race,” Walls said. “But when reality sets in, let’s be honest, we’re not gonna race till May probably.”Walls is monitoring the ever-developing landscape on a “week-to-week basis,” keeping open a sliver of hope for competition to happen if the spread of the coronavirus were to slow enough for government and health officials to relax existing stay-at-home and mass-gathering orders that are keeping racetracks shuttered. But reports of positive coronavirus cases have been escalating in recent days — including in the states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania that are slated to host the All Star events scheduled for April — so a quick return to normalcy seems unlikely.“We love to race, and if we get the ‘all clear’ (from government officials), we’ll go racing,” Walls said. “But just for the safety of the fans and the drivers and everybody involved (in the running of a race), we’re gonna take this one week at a time and make sure everybody’s safe and ready to go back to action here.”Walls has been in contact with the promoters of the tour’s April events that begin with Attica and go on to Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica (scheduled for April 16), Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. (April 17), Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway (April 18), Bedford (Pa.) Speedway (April 19) and Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio (April 25). All the track operators have their facilities ready for what would be an attractive and lucrative stretch of racing for the ASCoC, but the crisis supersedes all the best-laid plans.According to Walls, the response he’s giving to All Star drivers who call looking for information on upcoming races basically tells the story of the circuit’s current status.“I’ve had a few drivers reach out to me, just for their travel plans,” Walls said. “A couple of our drivers fly to different places so they wanted to book their travel.“Not that I knew what was gonna go on as far as what the government is gonna do, but it was just my opinion to them that I certainly hope that April 10 we’re racing, but I’m a realist. I can’t see the government from state-to-state lifting this ban until later on in the season.“It’s just giving them my opinion on it and they can book their travel if they want to, but at the end of the day we’ve got to use some common sense when we’re looking at this too.”Walls is already scouring the 2020 calendar to consider makeup dates for races that might fall to the coronavirus situation. That includes the April 16 stop at Virginia Motor Speedway, a $12,000-to-win special that VMS and All Star officials worked together to schedule during the NASCAR weekend at nearby Richmond International Raceway — a weekend that NASCAR has already postponed to an undermined date.“It’s just going through the schedule to where we’re thinking racing is potentially not going to happen and trying to look down through our schedule and reschedule races,” Walls said.With the kickoff of the 2020 ASCoC season in February at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. (both tracks ran two races), Walls started his second year as the tour’s director on an uplifting note. He never could have imagined having to deal with the unprecedented crisis that has presented itself, but he remarked that some trying stretches during his rookie campaign at the helm helped prepare him for curveballs thrown at him.“If you could look into the future, I guess (Ohio Sprint) Speedweek last year really groomed me into this position this year,” said Walls, a native of Chambersburg, Pa., who now lives in Brownsburg, Ind., near the Tony Stewart Racing shop that houses the ASCoC office. “With Speedweek, it was just rain every day. We got to the point where we knew we needed to race and Speedweek was a unique opportunity (with teams in one general area), so we started reaching out to racetracks and saying, ‘Hey, it’s not gonna rain there … do you want to race?’ We just took the schedule and moved it all around and got as many races in as we could.”Calling what has come up this year “a challenging time for sure,” Walls anticipates that he will have to do some creative scheduling once again this season. Adding races at tracks that are already bringing the series back later in the season? Extending the season past the planned finale on Sept. 26 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio? Everything might have to be on the table.“It will certainly be a unique year,” Walls said. “I think from not only our series but other series as well, including USAC and the (World of) Outlaws, you’re gonna see something different that no one’s ever seen before.“Our schedule’s a little bit unique. We go to a lot of the same racetracks at different times of the year, and we can certainly throw in an extra date here or there. But just looking down through our schedule late in the season, there’s not very many open weekends. And the open weekends we have built in, they’re for bigger races so our guys can go travel to race with different series. That’s something we built in there this year for our guys to go race for some bigger money in between during the season.“To lose some big money races this early on, it’s gonna make the season rough,” he added. “But I think we’re gonna motor through it and hopefully we can get to racing by the end of April or the first of June and everything goes smooth from there on. It certainly will not just be a flip of the switch (to return to normalcy for the country), that’s for sure. If I had to guess, it’ll be a slow process of going back to full time, but we’ll be ready when it happens.”

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6 Favorite Duels From Indiana Sprint Week

The biggest stage for the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series deserves a top list of the biggest showdowns. There are no shortage of thrilling moments during the yearly Indiana journey. Sit back and enjoy the ranking of our favorite Indiana Sprint Week duels of all time!

5 Of The Strangest Moments From Indiana Sprint Week

Most moments in racing proceed in orderly fashion the majority of the time.  However, those unpredictable moments in racing are what keeps us coming back.  But even better, and more rarer, are the moments that make us crane our necks, send our mouths agape and make the ordinary moments not so ordinary in the end.  That’s the category where these particular moments fall - the ones we will always remember, but still make us scratch our heads then and now.