TERRE HAUTE —
The Terre Haute Action Track finally lived up to its name Wednesday night,
providing action for racing-starved fans for the first time since 2012.
And there was plenty of it, despite temperatures that remained in the low
90s at 9 p.m. and dropped only to the low 80s by 10:15 when the Don Smith
Classic for Amsoil U.S. Auto Club National Sprint Car drivers got under way.
Kevin Thomas Jr. of Cullman, Ala., provided most of the action, leading all
30 laps of the feature to win the Don Smith Classic – and the $5,000 check
that comes with it – as part of the 26th annual Indiana Sprint Week. Thomas
leads the ISW point standings by 14 points over second-place Dave Darland
with three races remaining in the series.
Starting from the fifth position, the 22-year-old Thomas drove a black and
red No. 17RW Black Jack Oil/Maxin/Fisher to his third straight national
victory and sixth triumph of the year.
"This one, I definitely had to work for," Thomas said after most of his
post-race photos had been taken. "We got the lead pretty early [during the
first lap]. But throughout the race, I really got into some heavy lapped
traffic. It was tough to get around. They were fast enough on the bottom,
where I couldn¹t sneak under them, and they were just as good on the top."
After Thomas slid under pole-sitter Brady Bacon for the lead on Lap 1, he
kept Bacon on the chase non-stop for the first 26 laps. A yellow light on
the 27th lap, caused by Tyler Courtney¹s car stopping in Turn 2, triggered a
restart that resulted in the veteran Darland pursuing young Thomas for the
next two laps.
But Darland spun out while battling Thomas for the lead in Turn 1 and backed
into the wall, forcing another temporary stoppage of action. On the next
restart, Thomas pulled away from eventual runner-up Jon Stanbrough to earn
his way into Victory Lane.