INDIANAPOLIS — As the curtain closes on the final weekend of summer, another one rises on a stretch of racing in the Midwest that will play a pivotal role in determining the next USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion.
With nearly three-quarters of the schedule in the history books, the season is coming down to a dramatic conclusion. The top seven in the USAC National Sprint Car standings have yet to hoist the series’ championship trophy and, after a three-week break to mentally prepare, those driven souls are champing at the bit to see who’s the boldest, who’s the wisest and who can put themselves in position to capture the ultimate prize.
First up is the Jim Hurtubise Classic, set for Terre Haute Action Track on Friday, Sept. 15. Hurtubise was unstoppable on the half-mile from late 1960 through the 1962 season, where he was undefeated through five races.
While no driver has since equaled that mark, Chris Windom does happen to have his own current streak of two wins at Terre Haute, albeit in two different kinds of race cars: a Silver Crown Car in May’s Sumar Classic and last year’s Hurtubise Classic, when he outdueled Chad Boespflug for the victory in a 30-lap race that saw 26 unofficial lead changes!
Windom, who’s won three times in a USAC Sprint Car at Terre Haute in his career, trails series point leader Justin Grant by 93 markers heading into a doubleheader weekend where he hopes to make up significant ground. Windom is the only driver to win USAC features at both Terre Haute and Tri-State Speedway this season.
The Haubstadt oval plays host to the $12,500-to-win Haubstadt Hustler, co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series and set for Saturday, Sept. 16.
In fact, Windom is one of 14 drivers to have won USAC National Sprint Car features at both Terre Haute and Haubstadt in his career. Another driver on that list is Alabama native Kevin Thomas Jr., who has been on a roll of late, winning half of the six features during last week’s USAC/CRA California Sprint Week tour.
Recent series champions Robert Ballou and Brady Bacon have mastered the task of winning at both tracks, as have Chase Stockon and Jon Stanbrough, who are both still seeking their first victories of the season.
Justin Grant may very well be on his way to a first USAC National Sprint Car title, but he hasn’t yet won at either of this weekend’s venues. However, his two most recent series wins have come on half-mile tracks like Terre Haute and, in his last two Haubstadt appearances, he hasn’t qualified or finished outside the top-four.
Tyler Courtney leads all drivers with five USAC National Sprint Car victories this season, including the series’ most recent event, where he collected a big payday in Sprint Car Smackdown VI at Kokomo Speedway.
Sunshine finished third in his most recent Terre Haute visit and has finished in the top-three in two of his last three Haubstadt appearances.
CREDIT: USAC Media