Forty-three cars took time at the quarter-mile Gas City I-69 Speedway to launch the 32nd NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week. Come feature time, Shane Cottle found himself lined up in the 18th starting position, deep in the field.
Cottle was looking for his first Indiana Sprint Week win as, after 71 career ISW starts, the Throttle had never secured a win during USAC sprint car racing’s biggest eight nights of the season.
On Thursday, July 18 that would change.
When the feature went green, C.J. Leary took the point from his outside front row starting spot and stayed out front as the race progressed, running the top groove of the Gas City surface. Meanwhile, Cottle was working his way forward running the bottom and, in a thriller of a finish, on the last corner of the last lap pulled ahead of Leary as the two drag-raced to the line.
The finish was so close that Leary’s transponder actually registered ahead of Cottle’s on the timing loop at the finish, however, USAC rules call for the point when the front wheels cross the start/finish line, and not the transponders mounted on the back of the car, to dictate who crossed the line first.
The USAC chief scorer and race director both ruled that Cottle’s front wheels crossed the start/finish line prior to Leary’s, and Cottle celebrated the win.
Chris Windom, Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounded out the top five.
SPRINT WEEK POINTS
1 – C.J. Leary – 564
2 – Brady Bacon – 552
3 – Justin Grant – 541
4 – Kevin Thomas Jr. – 479
5 – Kyle Cummins – 471
6 – Tyler Courtney – 466
7 – Chris Windom – 461
8 – Chase Stockon – 435
9 – Jason McDougal – 422
10 – Carson Short – 392
Next up was the three-eighths mile Plymouth Speedway. Windom sat on the pole for the feature with Chase Stockon alongside. The two raced side-by-side for the first lap, with Stockon leading when the two crossed the line to complete the first lap, but a slider by Windom in turn one put him out front.
Windom led until lap 13, when Brady Bacon made a pass for the lead. Meanwhile, Tyler Courtney was moving forward from his sixth-place starting position in the Clauson/Marshall/Newman Racing No. 7BC.
A flip by Zane Hendricks on lap 19 brought about an open red. Courtney took advantage of the restart to make the pass on Bacon for the lead. Courtney stayed out front for the remainder of the 30-lapper to earn the win.
For the second consecutive night, C.J. Leary claimed the runner-up spot, with Justin Grant, Bacon and Jason McDougal making up the balance of the top five.
Kokomo Speedway was next on the schedule.
In the feature, Bacon and Scotty Weir led the field to the green, with third-place starter Chris Windom jumping into the mix to create a three-car battle for the lead on the opening lap. Weir came out on top, while Bacon, Windom and Leary began battling for the runner-up spot.
Windom finally chased down and passed Weir. After the two traded the lead, Windom led the final 11 laps to earn his 24th career USAC National Sprint Car Series victory, surpassing A.J. Foyt and Roger McCluskey on the all-time win list. Bacon came home second, with Leary, Kyle Cummins and Weir rounding out the top five.
The next afternoon, a 30-car field saw a single qualifying group, with C.J. Leary driving the Reinbold/Underwood No. 19AZ to a quick time of 14.112 seconds around the three-eighths-mile Lawrenceburg Speedway.