Haubstadt, Indiana (July 27, 2019).........In a year's time, Kyle Cummins and crew have come along way. In last year's NOS Energy Sprint Week, the Princeton, Ind. driver qualified for only four of the seven features and finished in the top-ten just once.
In 2019, the storyline was redemption with Cummins qualifying for all eight features, finishing in the top-ten in seven and in contention night-after-night, finishing with a flourish after a victory Thursday at Lincoln Park, a near win Friday at Bloomington and closing out the week-plus series with a triumph in Saturday's ISW finale at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.
At Tri-State, Cummins trailed for 26 laps, working his way from the fifth starting spot to track down race-long leader Stephen Schnapf in traffic with four laps remaining to snare the win, the fourth of his ISW career and fifth ever in USAC's AMSOIL National Sprint Car division, one which was worth savoring every second.
"Two in one week feels pretty good," Cummins exclaimed. "I don't know if it's really sunk in yet. I took my helmet off and drove around there one time and watched everyone yell and scream. I just tried to take it in a little bit more than just one and done. To keep winning USAC races, that's what means something to me. When you win one or two, okay. If you keep winning them, it proves you can run with them."
Cummins came into the night's event literally unbeatable at the quarter-mile dirt paperclip with three victories in three tries thus far in 2019. He started fifth, but the initial green had was put on hold following multiple opening lap stackups, first between turns three and four involving Kevin Thomas, Jr., Donny Brackett, Carson Short and Kent Schmidt. On the next try, a melee ensued in the first turn involving Short, Schmidt, Tony DiMattia and Critter Malone.
The third try was the charm as Schnapf, making just his ninth career USAC start, shot to the lead from the outside of the front row, occupying the middle line as he passed pole sitter and west coast star Brody Roa into turn one. Meanwhile, Chase Stockon, a 2016 Tri-State USAC winner, slid under Roa for second in turn four on the opening lap.
By the tenth lap, Schnapf was already working in traffic while, in the distance 2.2 seconds behind him, Cummins utilized the low line to sprint past Stockon for second. Schnapf, a one-time MSCS winner at Tri-State in 2018, was seeking his first USAC win, but now had one of the all-time masters of the southwestern Indiana track sizing him up.
As the race crossed the halfway point, the interval between Schnapf and Cummins dropped from 1.4 sec. on lap 18 to 1.0 on lap 19 and to less than nine tenths with ten laps remaining. Once clearing the lapped car of Malone with seven to go, Cummins' runway was cleared for takeoff.
When Schnapf raced underneath the lapped car of Isaac Chapple in turns three and four with seven laps to go, Cummins was a mere single car length behind. Schnapf maintained the advantage for another full lap until, with just five laps remaining, Cummins gained ground off the bottom of turn two, sticking with Schnapf around turns three and four and missing out on the lead at the stripe by less than a wheel.
The two ran side-by-side, just feet apart for three-quarters of the following lap with four to go, with Cummins using his veteran savviness to slide off the bottom in front of Schnapf off the fourth corner to possess the lead at the line by a single car length.
Massive traffic lie ahead, but Cummins navigated through the gridlock with relative ease, sticking the bottom to roll past both Tyler Courtney and C.J. Leary with two laps remaining, lapping up to tenth, as he pulled away from Schnapf, ultimately winning by a 1.604 margin over Schnapf, Justin Grant, Stockon and KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger Brady Bacon, rounding out the top-five after starting 15th.
Cummins and Rock Steady Racing clicked at the right time during Indiana Sprint Week. The team was able to adjust and adapt when any situation arose, such as when they discovered they had a broken shock from the first four races of ISW. They were already tough at that point but took it to another level in the second half of the week, putting themselves into contention to win in each of the last three nights, culminating with a victory that may have just outdone his most recent.
"Winning Putnamville was big," Cummins explained. "I thought it was the biggest until this one tonight, being able to run (Schnapf) down and pass him without a yellow. He's a buddy of mine and I won one already, so I was thinking I'm actually going to be happy for him if he wins. The last ten laps, I just had to take it up a notch and make sure I hit every mark."
Saturday at Tri-State, the team ran a different set up than they had all year, and the same situation was at hand at Putnamville during Thursday's victory. The team is in sync and their Midas touch has car and driver's cohesiveness working like clockwork.
"When you have a bad car, you cannot be aggressive," Cummins pointed out. "When you get a good car and you can actually run with them, it sticks, and you can make moves. It just picks your confidence up. Right now, the confidence is pretty high.
Although he was a lap down at the finish, Leary's tenth place run was solid enough to earn him another crown jewel on his 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car campaign just a little more than a month after capturing the Eastern Storm title and in the midst of a USAC title run in which he currently holds a commanding lead.
Always the competitor, Greenfield, Indiana's Leary was kind of perplexed by their results at Tri-State. A consistent ISW performance that saw a pair of 2nd place finishes, three 3rd's, a 4th and a 6th in eight starts sent him into the finale with a 24-point buffer ahead of Bacon, enough to check out of the Hoosier state tour with all the loot and the hardware.
"I think the first seven nights allowed us to have one bad night here," Leary pointed out. "It really wasn't all too terrible, it just wasn't what we'd hoped for. We wanted to cap off the week with a win, but we have the rocking chair, we have the check and we have the trophy. Everybody's happy!"
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway were Justin Grant (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Stephen Schnapf (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Chayse Hayhurst (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Brady Bacon (KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger), Donny Brackett (ProSource Hard Work Award), Tony DiMattia (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer) and Critter Malone (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 27, 2019 - Tri-State Speedway - Haubstadt, Indiana - 32nd NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP ONE: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.539; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.863; 3. Kendall Ruble, 17, Ruble-13.875; 4. Stephen Schnapf, 61m, Edwards-13.939; 5. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-13.992; 6. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.000; 7. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.180; 8. Chris Windom, 5G, Goacher-14.218; 9. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.331; 10. Terry Richards, 18m, Richards-14.356; 11. Jadon Rogers, 14, Rogers-14.361; 12. Critter Malone, 7, Seven-14.365; 13. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-14.383; 14. Collin Ambrose, 36, Ambrose-14.385; 15. Dustin Christie, 75, Christie-14.407; 16. Donny Brackett, 4B, Brackett-14.561; 17. Trey Gropp, 54, Gropp-15.104; 18. Kyle Hathaway, 7H, Hathaway-15.253; 19. Steve Thomas, 20T, Thomas-15.530; 20. Eric Perrott, 45, Perrott-15.824.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP TWO: 1. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.561; 2. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.573; 3. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-13.847; 4. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-13.977; 5. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.983; 6. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-13.983; 7. Tony DiMattia, 50, TDM-14.018; 8. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.077; 9. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-14.139; 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-14.139; 11. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-14.165; 12. Chayse Hayhurst, 20, Hayhurst-14.168; 13. Kent Schmidt, 5K, KO-14.302; 14. Brian VanMeveren, 24, VanMeveren-14.371; 15. Thomas Meseraull, 00, Whitney-14.410; 16. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-14.483; 17. Dave Darland, 17c, Cunningham-14.491; 18. Scotty Weir, 42, Cheney-14.820; 19. Anthony D'Alessio, 01, D'Alessio-14.939; 20. Ryan Bond, 7R, Bond-15.367.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Brody Roa, 3. Brandon Mattox, 4. Dustin Christie, 5. Aric Gentry, 6. Jadon Rogers, 7. Carson Short, 8. Trey Gropp, 9. Steve Thomas, 10. Kendall Ruble. 2:21.92
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Stephen Schnapf, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Critter Malone, 5. Terry Richards, 6. Isaac Chapple, 7. Donny Brackett, 8. Kyle Hathaway, 9. Eric Perrott, 10. Collin Ambrose. 2:20.56
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Tony DiMattia, 4. Jarett Andretti, 5. Kent Schmidt, 6. Anthony D'Alessio, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Sterling Cling, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Max Adams. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chayse Hayhurst, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Jason McDougal, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Mario Clouser, 8. Brian VanMeveren, 9. Scotty Weir, 10. Ryan Bond. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Donny Brackett, 2. Mario Clouser, 3. Trey Gropp, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Anthony D'Alessio, 6. Kyle Hathaway, 7. Scotty Weir, 8. Steve Thomas, 9. Eric Perrott, 10. Ryan Bond. NT
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Josh Hodges, 2. Kendall Ruble, 3. Isaac Chapple, 4. Kent Schmidt, 5. Max Adams, 6. Donny Brackett, 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 8. Terry Richards, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Jadon Rogers, 11. Collin Ambrose, 12. Brian VanMeveren, 13. Mario Clouser, 14. Trey Gropp, 15. Sterling Cling, 16. Dave Darland, 17. Aric Gentry, 18. Carson Short. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (5), 2. Stephen Schnapf (2), 3. Justin Grant (6), 4. Chase Stockon (4), 5. Brady Bacon (15), 6. Jarett Andretti (10), 7. Brody Roa (1), 8. Kendall Ruble (7), 9. Jason McDougal (12), 10. C.J. Leary (3), 11. Tyler Courtney (17), 12. Max Adams (8), 13. Critter Malone (18), 14. Isaac Chapple (11), 15. Carson Short (24), 16. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (23), 17. Chayse Hayhurst (19), 18. Donny Brackett (22), 19. Brandon Mattox (16), 20. Josh Hodges (9), 21. Chris Windom (14), 22. Kent Schmidt (20), 23. Tony DiMattia (13), 24. Dustin Christie (21). NT
**Ryan Bond flipped during heat four.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-26 Stephen Schnapf, Laps 27-30 Kyle Cummins.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Brady Bacon (15th to 5th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Critter Malone
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Kevin Thomas, Jr.
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Tony DiMattia
PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Donny Brackett
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-1,519, 2-Brady Bacon-1,397, 3-Tyler Courtney-1,364, 4-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,353, 5-Chris Windom-1,335, 6-Justin Grant-1,318, 7-Chase Stockon-1,314, 8-Carson Short-1,151, 9-Jason McDougal-1,139, 10-Isaac Chapple-883.
FINAL NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA 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.
FINAL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-41, 2-Shane Cottle-30, 3-Brady Bacon-24, 4-Justin Grant-21, 5-Dave Darland-21, 6-Max Adams-17, 7-Kyle Cummins-16, 8-Jarett Andretti-16, 9-Chris Windom-14, 10-Jason McDougal-13.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: August 21, 2019 - Kokomo Speedway - Kokomo, Indiana - #GYATK Night (Non-Points Special Event)