Leary Picks Up Indy Sprint Week Crown Jewel

Haubstadt, Indiana -  C.J. Leary's 2019 NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week championship run was indicative of how his entire USAC AMSOIL National Sprint campaign has unfolded thus far.

An ancient proverb states "Go forth, win races, and the points will follow." Leary is proving that to be untrue - about as untrue as the statement that the quote above is actually an ancient proverb.

Winning Indiana Sprint Week is one of the marquees, one of those items that will stand out on a racer's resume for eternity. What makes it so special is the constant challenge of overcoming adversity throughout the eight-races in ten-day trail, enduring late nights of repairs and maintenance, the camaraderie and, yes, the accomplishment, which makes it all worthwhile.

"This is the crown jewel," Leary exclaimed. "This is the one everyone wants to win. It's the hardest two weeks a racecar driver can have. It's a lot of late nights. My crew and I stayed up 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning every night getting the 19AZ prepped and prepared. We got the trophy and that's all I care about."

Leary reeled off top-flight performances night after night throughout ISW, starting from the part of the program that sets the tone, qualifying. Not once did the Greenfield, Ind. driver set overall fast time twice during ISW. Not once did he qualify outside the top-three in his qualifying group on a particular night. Only once did he not transfer through his heat race, at Plymouth, where he proceeded to capture the victory in the semi-feature.

Leary never had to start lower than seventh in any of the events, putting him in position to run at the front by virtue of rolling off the feature ready to compete at a high level. From there, his results were a staggering smattering of consistency in eight starts with a pair of 2nd place finishes at Gas City and Plymouth, three 3rd's at Kokomo, Lawrenceburg and Lincoln Park, a 4th at Bloomington, a 6th at Terre Haute and a 10th the final race at Tri-State that gave him a 12-point cushion over Brady Bacon in the final tally.

Now the owner of 21 consecutive top-ten finishes to begin the 2019 season, ever the perfectionist, Leary is not one to simply rest on his laurels. His strive to become a champ has him refusing to cut any corners or being accepting of an "off-night" every now and then. All that means in his book is a missed opportunity to gain points toward a title whether it's Eastern Storm, Indiana Sprint Week of even the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title on the line.

"I knew that if we ran on the podium every night, we'd have a good shot at winning the deal," Leary acknowledged. "We started off strong and did everything we could every night. We qualified well, we ran well in the heat races and we've only run one B-Main all year. That's a good accomplishment on its own, but I really wanted to win. What we're here to do is win races and we didn't get it done this week, so we'll have to do a little more homework and if we can get this thing to victory lane, we'll be a bit happier."

Leary's ISW title run began in heartbreaking fashion, leading the first 29 laps of the opening night feature at Gas City before winding up as the runner-up finisher behind Shane Cottle in one of the closest finishes in series history. A moment was given to vent, then it was onward to Plymouth where they'd rebound nicely with another second-place run.

Far from the finish line, but more than halfway there, this year has already proven to be a dream season for Leary and Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports. It's a combination that didn't even exist until just a handful of months ago, combining an emerging gasser from the Hoosier state with an Arizona-based team who had never competed on the full USAC National trail.

"The first time I talked to (car owner) Andy (Reinbold) was last November at the Oval Nationals (in Perris, Calif.)," Leary recalled. The next weekend, I was sitting on the beach in Ventura, Calif. waiting for Turkey Night to roll around. Andy gave me a ring and said he was interested in putting something together for the 2019 sprint car season. We got everything worked out to where we were happy. I got to bring Davy Jones along with me with me, which I think is where a lot of my success comes from, getting to bring my crew chief from last year on board. We just mesh so well together, and we have fun on and off the racetrack."

With a pair of "mini" series championships in his bank for 2019, Leary's next step is to capture a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title, which is much in the realm of possibility as he continues to knock down top-rate finishes, which is continuously adding to a 122-point lead.

"(Car owner) Andy (Reinbold) assembled a championship winning team and that's what we set out to do," Leary stated. "We won Eastern Storm and we won Indiana Sprint Week. I feel whoever can win one, if not both, ends up winning the championship. I feel pretty confident rolling into the rest of the year with our championship hopes."

History has proven Leary correct in recent years. All three drivers who've won Eastern Storm and Indiana Sprint Week in the same season have gone on to win the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title that year.

From start to finish at Eastern Storm, Leary bumped his National point lead from 32 to 59, and during Indiana Sprint Week from 57 to 122. They say ISW can make or break a team, but Leary and Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports, by all indications, are making it. Car and driver swaps have taken place in some pit areas over the past week, but this combo keeps digging their way to joining that exclusive crew of Clauson, Ballou and Windom with their methodical manner of knocking out top-fives on a near-nightly basis, and keeping it within the top-ten on an "off" night.

If an off-night and a season-worst finish by the end of July is only a 10th with already two titles under their belt, this season is shaping up to be magical for Leary and company.

FINAL 2019 NOS ENERGY INDIANA SPRINT WEEK STANDINGS:
1. (564) C.J. Leary
2. (552) Brady Bacon
3. (541) Justin Grant
4. (479) Kevin Thomas, Jr.
5. (471) Kyle Cummins
6. (466) Tyler Courtney
7. (461) Chris Windom
8. (435) Chase Stockon
9. (422) Jason McDougal
10. (392) Carson Short
11. (300) Max Adams
12. (299) Josh Hodges
13. (268) Brandon Mattox
14. (226) Isaac Chapple
15. (224) Brody Roa
16. (223) Dave Darland
17. (217) Thomas Meseraull
18. (210) Shane Cottle
19. (206) Jarett Andretti
20. (199) Scotty Weir
21. (195) Dakota Jackson
22. (147) Dustin Christie
23. (140) Brian VanMeveren
24. (112) Terry Richards
25. (104) A.J. Hopkins
26. (98) Dickie Gaines
27. (85) Stephen Schnapf
28. (85) Brady Short
29. (81) Anthony D'Alessio
30. (69) Matt Westfall
31. (64) Mario Clouser
32. (64) Jordan Kinser
33. (63) Koby Barksdale
34. (61) Brent Beauchamp
35. (54) Mitchell Davis
36. (53) Kendall Ruble
37. (52) Cole Ketcham
38. (50) Jadon Rogers
39. (50) Eric Perrott
40. (48) Dustin Smith
41. (47) Dustin Ingle & Chayse Hayhurst
43. (44) Clinton Boyles
44. (42) Critter Malone
45. (41) Corey Smith
46. (40) Matt Moore
47. (39) Nate McMillin
48. (39) Zane Hendricks
49. (39) Tony DiMattia
50. (38) Tom Harris
51. (34) Shane Cockrum
52. (30) Matt Goodnight, Matt McCarthy & Joe Stornetta
55. (28) Donny Brackett
56. (24) Kent Schmidt
57. (20) Chad Boespflug, Brandon Long, Harley Burns, Brayden Fox, Kyle Hathaway, Steve Thomas, Sterling Cling & Trey Gropp
65. (10) Dallas Hewitt, Andrew Prather, Joe Liguori, Callie Wolsiffer, Garrett Abrams, Travis Berryhill, Colten Cottle, Alec Sipes, Jesse Vermillion, Lee Underwood, Landon Simon, Josh Cunningham, Bobby Griffitts, Brad Greenup, Ryan Bond, Collin Ambrose & Aric Gentry

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Leary Picks Up Indy Sprint Week Crown Jewel