The USAC National Sprint Car Series will be back at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway this weekend. (DB3 Inc. photo)

23 Years Later, USAC Sprints Back At Paragon

PARAGON, Ind. – July 25, 1998 marked the most recent occasion that the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series competed at Indiana’s Paragon Speedway.

A near 23-year absence from the three-eighths-mile dirt oval southwest of Indianapolis ends Sunday, April 18, with the return of the series.

Paragon has hosted 19 previous appearances by the series dating back to 1981. Steve Butler has the most USAC sprint car wins at the track, with three, while Derek Davidson won the most recent in 1998 – his first career series victory.

Funny enough, the first two USAC sprint car races held at Paragon resulted in two first-time series winners in Rick Hood (1981) and Chuck Amati (1982), while the last three did so as well, with Kevin Briscoe (1997), Bill Rose (1997) and Davidson (1998) all notching their firsts.

Seven of the 19 races have produced first-time USAC winners with those five, plus Brad Doty (1988) and Joe Gaerte (1988) also doing the same.

This Sunday’s race will undoubtedly produce a first-time Paragon winner under USAC sanction. However, numerous of the expected entrants for the event have experienced their fair share of success over the years at the track which first hosted racing in 1954.

A.J. Hopkins is a prime candidate to join the list of drivers to win their first USAC sprint car feature at Paragon. Hopkins captured the 2020 track championship there with five victories, and he won twice more back in 2019.

Dave Darland has made seven USAC sprint car starts at Paragon, dating back to his first appearance in 1987. He’s won at Paragon before, locally, back in 1991.

With USAC, he’s been a consistent frontrunner at the tricky paperclip shaped track with a third in 1994 as his best performance to go along with fourth-place finishes in 1996 and 1998, plus a pair of seventh place results in 1995 and 1997, and an eighth in 1997.

Darland set quick time during qualifying back in 1996.

Kyle Cummins has posted 12 victories at Paragon between 2003 and 2019. Winning sprint car races at Paragon is a family tradition with his father, Mark Cummins, winning in a winged sprint car there in 1990-91.

Early in his career, Chase Stockon earned the sprint car track championship at Paragon in 2008. Stockon grabbed a handful of victories at Paragon between 2005-11 before heading onto the USAC National Sprint Car trail full time starting in 2012.

Chris Windom captured the 68-lap Chuck Amati Classic races in 2010 and 2013, and one of his very first sprint car victories came as a 14-year-old at Paragon back in 2005.

More recently, Windom scored a semi-feature win and a fourth-place finish with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series in June of 2020.

Robert Ballou has earned a pair of victories at Paragon himself in both the 2015 King of Indiana Sprint Car Series race as well as the 2018 Chuck Amati Classic.

Jadon Rogers has been a frequent winner at Paragon over the last couple of years, winning twice in 2020 and four times in 2019.

Brady Short has found his way to victory lane too at Parago, with a pair of Chuck Amati Classic scores in 2011 and 2016 in addition to another victory at Paragon in 2011.

Shane Cottle has won twice at Paragon, including the 2017 Chuck Amati Classic and the 2011 KISS event. Brandon Mattox captured a Paragon win in 2013. Jordan Kinser has triumphed seven times between 2013 and 2019.

Brandon Morin has two victories at Paragon in 2012 and 2017, while Ricky Lewis in 2020 and Travis Berryhill in 2019 have each won once.

Several more of this weekend’s expected sprint car entries competed in the 2020 Indiana Midget Week round at Paragon, including second-place finisher Tanner Thorson who led a race high 16 laps. Justin Grant won his heat and finished fifth.

Logan Seavey raced from the C to the B to the A where he started 22nd and finished eighth. Kevin Thomas Jr. won his heat and finished 10th, while Cole Bodine took 17th and Brady Bacon finished 18th.

Jake Swanson, the 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series champion, also competed, but flipped during his heat race.

Harley Burns’ father, Eric Burns, won at Paragon on four occasions between 1996-2001. Brayden Fox’s father, Brad Fox, competed numerous times at Paragon and the car, the famed white No. 53, was a perennial winner throughout the mid to late 2000s everywhere, including Paragon.

They join a slew of talented individuals who’ve made their mark in the sport, including USAC National Sprint champion C.J. Leary, USAC and World of Outlaws winner Carson Short, MOWA champion Paul Nienhiser, USAC National Midget winner Davey Ray, past USAC CRA Rookies of the Year Max Adams and Eddie Tafoya Jr., plus multi-time sprint car feature winners Mario Clouser, Tye Mihocko, USAC National Sprint Car rookie-of-the-year contender Carson Garrett and more.

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