News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Auto Racing

September 11, 2011

Windom drives away from field at Action Track

Driver leads all 30 laps of Jim Hurtubise Classic

TERRE HAUTE — Chris Windom led all 30 laps to capture the Jim Hurtubise Classic presented by First Financial Bank for USAC National Sprints at the Terre Haute Action Track on Saturday.

Windom began the night in second place in the USAC sprints points race, trailing leader Levi Jones by just 19 points. Despite Windom’s winning effort, Jones maintained a 16-point lead after charging from back in the pack to claim second place.

The 30-lap feature went off with several fits and starts, but the one constant was Windom. The Canton, Ill. driver had the answer for every restart, pulling away to a solid lead each time and was never threatened.

The race was almost stopped before it started as Bryan Clauson’s car sailed over the first-turn wall, prompting a red flag and a complete restart.

Windom led the first 16 laps, successfully avoiding lapped traffic beginning at lap 12. At that point, a yellow flag was waved for a flat tire on Jon Stanbrough’s car. Stanbrough began the race in third place in points.

Windom stretched his lead to over three seconds by lap 22, before a stoppage as Stanbrough and Shane Cottle tangled coming out of the third turn.

Again, Windom pulled ahead quickly on the next two restarts, leading to lap 26 and 28. Jerry Coons Jr. caused the yellow at lap 26 and Damion Garnder on lap 28. Gardner’s car was high on the fourth turn wall, but kept in on the track.

All the various stoppages did not faze Windom, who easily won after a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag.

Hunter Schuerenberg was in second place behind Windom through the first 28 laps. Jones assumed the second spot after a race-long charge from the rear of the field.

In the first heat, with the top five drivers transfering to the feature, Chase Stockon — a Sullivan resident — led from start to finish. Tracy Hines edged out Stanbrough for the fifth position, sending the No. 3-points leader to the B-Main race. Jonathan Hendrick got his car upside down in turn four on the fifth lap, but walked away unscathed.

In the second heat, Cottle paced the first four uneventful laps, before the yellow flag was brought out for Clauson’s car stalling in the backstretch.

Cottle led the fifth lap, but Windom reeled him in to assume the lead briefly, just before the sixth lap went in the books. Also on that lap, Coleman Gulick made a nice move going through turns one and two, passing four cars to leap into third place. The Binghamton, N.Y. driver’s luck ran out, however, flipping his sprinter as he approached the start-finish line, necessitating the red flag. Gulick was not seriously injured.

On the second restart, Cottle re-assumed his dominance to lead the final four laps to bring home the victory.

In the third heat, Dave Darland outdueled Jones through the first four laps, but the race was halted as Kevin Studley stalled on the backstretch. Jones made a move for the lead on the restart, but Darland fended him off, pulling away to lead the rest of the way.

Coincidentally, if you were paying attention, all three heat races were halted on the fifth lap.

In the B-Main, Stanbrough never trailed to win in a race without a stoppage. Stanbrough’s winning time was 4 minutes, 2.90 seconds, with the top seven finishers advancing to the feature race.

Hines was the fastest qualifier with a lap speed of 19.337 seconds, just .08 seconds shy of the Action Track record set by J. J. Yeley (19.729) in 2003.

USAC officials praised the track preparation, the best they’ve seen in quite a while. Despite very dry conditions everywhere else in Indiana, good, stick clay could be found on the track. A key reason for Hines nearly setting a new track record.

Gulick was the second fastest qualifier (19.365), with the rest of the top five being Casey Shuman (19.397), Stanbrough (19.405) and Clauson (19.482). Twenty of the 26 entrants qualified under the 20-second plateau, with Darland qualifying 21st with a 20-flat lap.

Next up for the USAC Sprint series is at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt next Saturday.

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