Despite Mother Nature’s best attempt to cancel yet another race for the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Cars, Terre Haute Action Track and Track Enterprises officials worked all day Wednesday to pump water and prep the half-mile racing surface for the 49th Tony Hulman Classic. Chase Stockon started on the front row and led wire-to-wire to win the famed rifle.
The win was big for the driver out of Sullivan, Indiana, a small town just 25 miles south of Terre Haute. After having previously won the Jim Hurtubise Classic and the Don Smith Classic, he had yet to visit victory lane in the Tony Hulman Classic. Any win at the Action Track is big for Stockon, as he is able to compete in front of his friends and family.
“We started outside front row and the only place to go is forward,” Stockon told Speed51.com. “We’ve been really good here lately but we’ve just haven’t had the finishes to show for it. The Hulman was one that’s slipped away from us a handful of years, and then to win here tonight. We’ve now won all three major USAC Sprint Car features here at the Action Track, so being from right down the road in Sullivan means quite a bit to accomplish that feat.”
It was also Stockon’s first USAC Sprint Car win since the 2018 season opener at Bubba Raceway Park (FL). After 34 top 10s in 40 races and a fourth-place points effort one year ago did not translate to wins, he was relieved to shake the monkey off his back and return to victory lane.
“The competition is ridiculous these days,” he said. “We started off really good last year and we ended the year really good. After Pennsylvania on, we had a really good stint of finishes and everything going. Those other guys are on top of their game, so we just had to catch back up with them a little bit. The racetrack was pretty badass, luckily we were able to hold on for every lap.”
It was a bad night for those at the top of the points standings. CJ Leary and Kevin Thomas Jr. came into the night first and second in points, but both drivers encountered problems during the feature. Leary suffered a flat tire with 10 laps to go while running inside the top five, while Thomas encountered mechanical problems. Leary recovered for a ninth-place finish and Thomas had an early exit after only seven laps and finished 18th.
The misfortune allowed Chris Windom to gain ground on the top two after coming into the night third in points. The only driver with multiple wins in USAC Sprint competition this year finished in second to start off a busy week that includes both USAC Silver Crown races, the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway (IN).
“It’s a good finish. It sucks to not get a win, I thought we were better than him early,” Windom said. “We couldn’t get a good restart there. We were stumbling on the restarts and he was just a little better than us toward the end there. We’ll take a second-place finish. We’ve had a lot of speed this year so far in this NOS Energy Drink No. 5G. We’ll keep plucking away and I still got a busy week ahead of me.”
Defending USAC National Sprint champion Tyler Courtney, 2015 champion Robert Ballou, and TOPP Motorsports driver Justin Grant rounded out the top five.
The Week of Indy continues with the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series Thursday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 64th and final Hoosier Hundred at the Hoosier Mile. The USAC National Sprint Cars will be in action next at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska on Friday, May 31.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com