News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 15, 2010

USAC sprints conclude Action Track schedule with positive night

Joe Buckles
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — In a season that has generated its share of memorable and not so memorable moments, the sprint car portion of the 2010 Terre Haute Action Track schedule ended on a high note Saturday night.

Near perfect weather and track conditions, along with some close racing throughout the night viewed by a soild fan turnout, made for an evening that laid a positive foundation for promoters to build on in 2011.

Subbing for promoter Bob Sargent, who was busy running his weekly show at Macon, Ill., partner Reece O’Conner of Kanakee, Ill., and Kokomo Speedway had nothing but smiles for a show that took the checkered flag at about the 10 p.m. mark.

The well-prepared track surface avoided lengthy down time for track prep resulting in a well-run and timely show that once again displayed the immense driving talents of Jon Stanbrough and dominance of his FoxCo Motorsports team.

Two great nights of USAC sprint car action got underway at Putnamville on Friday night and drew to a close less than 24 hours later at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.

Despite some omnious weather forecasts earlier in the week, the two dirt track oval shows went on as scheduled rain-free.

Thats not to say that Joe Spiker at Lincoln Park and O’Conner and their hard working crews didn’t have to deal with some difficult and delicate watering decisions prior to their shows.

“Its always a gamble when you’re dealing with the weather. Guess you could say we got lucky tonight,” said Spiker. “It’s just something you learn to adjust to in this business.”

O’Conner says in his many years of staging shows at his home track at Kankaee Speedway and now Kokomo Speedway, one doesn’t make track prep decisions based on weather forecasts.

“Even if there is a 99.9 percent chance of rain we still water. Because when you don’t, it doesn’t rain,” offered O’Connor. “The weatherman isn’t always your best friend.”

He said they eleced to open up the track around 2 p.m. after early morning rain.

“We opened it [track] up so it could breath and dry up a little. The sun really saved us. By 4, we were putting water on it. It’s rolling the dice. You hope to guess right. Sometimes you guess wrong,” confided O’Connor.

O’Connor says a decision could come soon regarding their plans at the Action Track for next season.

“We’ll proably partnership with Bob [Sargent] if we do a contract. We haven’t done a contract with the [Wabah Valley] Fairgound. That’s in the middle of negoations right now.”

He will be back to prep the Action Track for the Oct. 9 SUMAR Classic for USAC then host a two-day special at Kokomo on Oct. 15-16.

• Stanbrough shines — It’s beginning to seem like old hat for Jon Stanbrough, with his repeated visits to victory lane in 2010. Back-to-back wins at LPS and THAT elevated his season win total to 19.

The modest Avon driver seems to take his sucess in stride.

“I’m not greedy,” grinned the soft spoken Stanbrough moments after his Action Track triumph. “I’m the same guy I was 20 years ago. I come to the race track with the same approach I’ve always had. You’ve got to race hard.”

That approach was never so evident than at Putnamville on Friday. Starting eighth, he was one of four different race leaders on the night, shooting past Casey Shuman two laps from the end to take the checkered flag.

Playing catchup most of the night, Stanbrough found possibly the only passing spot left on the hard slick surface in the latter stages of the 30-lapper to shot into the lead and eventually win.

He’ll return next month for the SUMAR Classic looking for a win that would tie him with the late Rich Vogler as the  winningest driver in Action Track history.

“Its not the best year we’ve ever had. We had 30 wins a few years ago but its been pretty good,” confided Stanbrough. “Even if we can’t reach 20 you can’t complain about 19.”

• Pit notes — It was a broken $12 bottom bolt on the left rear shock that ended West Terre Haute’s Blake Fitzpatrick run on an early note Saturday night.

This following a third quick qualifying run and heat race win. Sullivan’s Chase Stockon also won a heat and had a well-deserved 12th place finish in the 30-lap feature.

Fitzpatrick will now run at Bloomington and Haubstadt this weekend before shows at Lawrenceburg and a possible west coast trip to California.

• Title runs — Belated graduations are in order for Clinton’s Mario Marietta for a pair of championship runs over the summer.

On the strength of seven feature wins including those at Anderson, Illiana Speedway and Grundy County (Ill.) Speedway, Marietta won both the U.S. Speed Association and United Midget Racing Association point titles.

 A word of condolance to the family of Donna Novotney who passed away unexpectedly last week. Those who knew her well know of the many contributions her and her family have made to the sport over the years.

Joe Buckles can be reached at