Ocala, Florida…….Robert Ballou opened the 2015 AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship much the way he ended last season, as he fended off 2014 series champion Brady Bacon and drove away for the opening night win in “Winter Dirt Games VI.” The Rocklin, California hit double-digits in career wins as he took the Ballou Motorsports – Blakesley Auto #12 Maxim/Ott to a 2.165-second victory.
“I felt like this place owed me one after losing one with a flat tire a couple years back. We kept our deal together, and Derrick Bye kept working hard to keep this momentum rolling. We’re working with the same car that won Oval Nationals to end last year. I knew we were in a tough spot as we hit traffic, and Bacon can get off the bottom so well here. But we battled back and got by him, and that’s a great feeling,” Ballou said.
Ballou began from the pole and led early over Justin Grant & Jon Stanbrough, as Bacon battled from row three after setting the ProSource “Fast Time Award” to open the night. Bacon tracked down Ballou as he encountered slower cars on lap ten, and Bacon snuck past him to the lead on lap 12.
Ballou countered, though, and swept back past Bacon down the backstretch, holding him off as they came to complete lap 14. A lap later, Kyle Cummins stopped to bring the race’s only caution.
Ballou was unmatched after the restart, as Chase Stockon, who had just entered the top-five after falling back early in the race, began to march up on the high side. He caught Bacon and slid past into turn-one to take the second spot. In the final laps, Ballou again caught traffic but Stockon could only bite a small chunk out of his margin.
Stockon came home a strong second in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
“We have changed a lot of things since this time last year, and it felt good to get rolling on the top and go by some really good guys. Our program doesn’t get much credit when the track goes slick, so it’s satisfying to get rolling so well when the track got black. We have seen a lot of different conditions now on this track, and seem to do pretty well with all of them,” Stockon said.
Defending champion Bacon came home third in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Williams Mopar.
“This is exactly the type of track we’ve struggled with the most, so tonight was good to get ourselves closer and be in contention for the win. I was better than Robert early in the race and got to him, but he was way better than us at the end. I finally moved up high after Chase got by me, and I was better up there, but it was too late to get anything going. We’re happy with the progress we’ve made,” Bacon said.
Jon Stanbrough opened up his venture of starting his own team with a strong fourth-place finish aboard the MP Environmental Services – AED Motorsports Products #81 Spike/J&D, while Grant rounded out the top-five in the Mark Hery Motorsports – Dick’s Paint & Body #40 DRC/Claxton.
Bryan Clauson overcame obstacles in the heat to transfer from the Semi-Feature in the SST Motorsports #41 back-up car before going from 21st to 9th in the feature, earning the ProSource “Hard Charger Award.”
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 20, 2014 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games VI”
QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.454; 2. Bryan Clauson, 41, SST-14.620; 3. Shane Cockrum, 66, Wade-14.788; 4. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-14.835; 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher-14.865; 6. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-14.917; 7. Jon Stanbrough, 81, JSR-14.923; 8. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-14.974; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-15.069; 10. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-15.108; 11. Kyle Cummins, 21x, Pollock-15.122; 12. Kyle Robbins, 17R, Robbins-15.191; 13. Chris Windom, 2, Lein-15.203; 14. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-15.204; 15. Carson Short, 21, Short-15.308; 16. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-15.327; 17. Brady Short, 11P, Pottorff-15.422; 18. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-15.491; 19. Chad Boespflug, 5, Baldwin-15.537; 20. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-15.570; 21. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-15.675; 22. Casey Shuman, 21x, Barnhill/Dodd-15.702; 23. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-15.885; 24. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-15.963; 25. Brandon Spithaler, 57B, Burkey-16.151; 26. Isaac Chapple, 7G, Goacher-16.165; 27. Chris Gurley, 11, Walker-16.231; 28. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-16.250; 29. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-16.604; 30. Kent Wolters, 12x, Wolters-16.614; 31. Frank Carlsson, 20, Carlsson-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. B. Short, 3. Bacon, 4. Windom, 5. Thomas, 6. Andretti, 7. Spithaler, 8. Bell. 2:07.88
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Hines, 2. Shuman, 3. Stockon, 4. Leary, 5. Clauson, 6. Simon, 7. Wolters. 2:11.94
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Cummins, 3. Stanbrough, 4. Cockrum, 5. Swanson, 6. Gurley, 7. Carlsson, 8. C. Short. NT
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Daum, 3. Jarrett, 4. Farney, 5. Robbins, 6. Mellenberndt, 7. Darland. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. C. Short, 3. Simon, 4. Swanson, 5. Robbins, 6. Clauson, 7. Andretti, 8. Spithaler, 9. Gurley, 10. Mellenberndt, 11. Wolters, 12. Darland, 13. Carlsson, 14. Bell. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Brady Short, 7. Chad Boespflug, 8. Shane Cockrum, 9. Bryan Clauson, 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Chris Windom, 12. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 13. Logan Jarrett, 14. Aaron Farney, 15. Carson Short, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Casey Shuman, 18. Kody Swanson, 19. Zach Daum, 20. Kyle Robbins, 21. Chris Gurley, 22. Landon Simon, 23. Kyle Cummins, 24. Tracy Hines. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 Ballou, Lap 12 Bacon, Laps 13-30 Ballou.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Ballou-68; 2-Bacon-66; 3-Stockon-64; 4-Stanbrough-57; 5-Grant-56; 6-B.Short-52; 7-Boespflug-50; 8-Cockrum-48; 9-Leary-38; 10-Windom-36.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: February 21 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games VI”
– USAC Racing Press Release
Photo Credit: Robert Ballou Motorsports Facebook