News From Terre Haute, Indiana


May 14, 2014

Trackside with Joe Buckles: Stockon enjoying battling with USAC’s top race teams

TERRE HAUTE — When the U.S. Auto Club sprint-car contingent rolls into the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds next week for the scheduled running of the Tony Hulman Classic, young Chase Stockon will find himself cast in the role as a pre-race favorite.

It’s a position that’s well-deserved and one that carries its own degree of pressure and challenges. But the pressure hasn’t been a burden for the former Wabash Valley resident, who not only welcomes it but rightfully looks upon it with a degree of pride and satisfaction.

Although he no longer calls the Wabash Valley his home after moving to Elizabethtown to be closer to his wife’s work place in Columbus, the former Valley resident still maintains a strong fan following, especially in Sullivan County.

Not only will he be a strong sentimental fan favorite, but the talented newcomer will join an impressive list of drivers hoping to capture the coveted Classic crown.

Entering his third full season in USAC, Stockon rightfully goes to the race track these days with the lofty reputation as serious contender to not only run up front but a driver capable of winning each time he takes to the oval.

His past success in recent years including a win locally has elevated his status to pre-race favorite at most tracks he visit these days. He currently ranks sixth in national points, only two markers out of fifth place.

Although he’s still looking for that first USAC win in 2014, his consistent top-10 showings make him a viable contender for the national sprint-car driving title.

He had hoped to get an early Classic test session with the scheduled Midwest Sprint Car Series show last month at the Terre Haute Action Track but the event fell victim to the elements. While waiting to compete in the show, Stockon took time to reflect on a fledging career that has put him in the open-wheel limelight.

He spoke on his decision to venture into what is nationally recognized as the most competitive non-wing sprint-car circuit in the country and the challenges he faces competing at such a high level.

After testing the waters at a host of short tracks across the Midwest and a run at the MSCS championship Stockon took on the bold move of branching out his comfort zone in 2009.

The first real step came when he was invited to compete in the newly formed USAC Eastern Tour series. Knowing it would offer a new set of challenges, Stockon couldn’t pass on the opportunity to showcase his talents at a broader level. He jumped at the opportunity and wasted little time heading out east.

“They [USAC] had the confidence in me. They believed in me to be a decent representative of what Indiana sprint-car racing was all about, so we put one foot in the water when we did the Pennsylvania thing,” Stockon said, looking back on the fateful decision.

He’s been a model of consistency since joining USAC full time. Over the past three seasons, he’s compiled an impressive string of 28 top-10 finishes — a run that included three feature wins. He was fourth in national points a year ago and seventh in his first full attempt at running for the points in 2012.

While he been knocking on the door, Stockon will be the first to concede moving up three more spots in the points is a tall mountain to climb.

Falling into the small independently financed base operation, Stockon faces the challenges of competing against the likes of Tony Stewart Racing and their driver Bryan Clauson.

“When things have a tendency to go south, we don’t have the resources to rebound as quickly as they [Stewart Racing] can,” Stockon explained. “Technically, they should be outrunning us. At the same time, when we outrun them, it really makes for a good night.

“Having a couple off nights [performance-wise] can put you in a hole quickly.

“You try to stay consistent with your runs. When you don’t have a full-time crew, you don’t have the luxury of just being the driver. I do the setups and motors with the help of D.J. [Orr] and [wife] Breanne is normally there with us, so it’s a small-team operation.”

To elevate his point ranking, he knows he must run better at a pair of ovals that have been stumbling blocks in the past.

“We’re slowly getting the handle on a couple of tracks we’ve struggled at, places like Putnamville and Gas City,” Stockon mentioned. “There’s tracks where you seem to run better than others. You have to shore up your weaknesses if you hope to move up a notch.”

Stockon is quick to point out he wouldn’t be in the position he is today without the backing of his sponsor and long-time supporter, Ohio businessman Tom Burkey.

“Without him we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Stockon emphasized. “It’s that simple. Running for the USAC championship is something he has always wanted to do and together we feel we have a shot at it.”

Joe Buckles can be reached by email at


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SPT072114 golf hug.jpg

Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Friendly rivals: Rachel Welker, right, hugs Cara Stuckey after Welker won the Terre Haute Women�s City golf Championship Monday morning. Watching is Welker�s caddy/dad Charlie.

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    Maybe they should play this at Valle Field. It’s called Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club Park now, but the venerable ballpark was the site of some classic high school baseball regional games in the 1970s when coach Don Jennings and Terre Haute North’s local dynasty fought off stiff challenges from the best the rest of the Wabash Valley had to offer.

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    It’s another busy week in sports. Two of the events on the schedule are the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the windup of the Show-Me’s/THGA men’s city golf tournament.

    July 21, 2014

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    Last week, the Indiana Pacers lost Lance Stephenson. On Monday, they replaced one of the NBA’s best young players with shooting guard Rodney Stuckey. It’s a swap that will make it a challenge for Indiana to win a third straight title in a division that might be the toughest in basketball.

    July 21, 2014

  • Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff

    Terre Haute North graduate Megan Ciolli Bartlett, the state’s 2001 Miss Softball and a two-time All-American at Notre Dame, is joining the Purdue coaching staff.

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  • Metro Baseball: Both North Little League teams win, move on

    With their backs planted firmly against the wall, the Terre Haute North 12-year-olds kept their Little League state championship hopes alive Monday evening with a 5-1 victory over Franklin Township.

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    Dolly’s Girl was a first-time winner in Illinois harness racing on Monday at the Edgar County Fair.

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    Chad Smith carried himself with grace when racking up victories in track and field and cross country as an athlete at Sullivan High School, and later at the University of Southern Indiana.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT 072014 OPEN INTEREST.jpg Jones leads after first weekend of men’s tournament

    Tom Jones, the defending champ in the Show-Me’s/Terre Haute Golf Association men’s city tournament, is the leader after the first two rounds of this year’s competition.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

Local Interest
High School
  • Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff

    Terre Haute North graduate Megan Ciolli Bartlett, the state’s 2001 Miss Softball and a two-time All-American at Notre Dame, is joining the Purdue coaching staff.

    July 21, 2014

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

  • ReedUK.jpg A.J. Reed makes it 5 for 5 in college baseball awards with Golden Spikes Award

    When it came down to it, college baseball’s electors agreed that there was no award Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed didn’t deserve for his remarkable 2014 season at Kentucky.
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    July 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • MVC to shift women's basketball tournament to Moline, Ill.

    The Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament will move 90 miles farther from Terre Haute beginning in 2016, the league announced Thursday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Metro: ISU-IU football game to be on ESPNEWS

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    March 12, 2010

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