News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 20, 2010

Trackside: Positive story lines in USAC

By Joe Buckles
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Reflections on events surrounding a highly successful USAC Indiana Sprint Weeks while looking forward to a crowded schedule of events leading up to this weekend’s Brickyard 400.

Seldom do the unpredictable ways of racing generate as many positive storylines as those that emerged from this year’s ISW.

From all reports the seven-race series was run in front of near-record crowds at each venue.

Those at USAC, ISW track promoters, racers — and most importantly, the fans — couldn’t have been happier with the way the two-week stretch played out.

“The 2010 Indiana Sprint Weeks offered probably the most exciting racing we’ve seen.The racing was close every night and the crowds outstanding. It really was a big measure of success,” USAC President Kevin Miller said.

“We [USAC] have plans to exploit that success in the future.”

“I’m sure when we have our promoters workshop in August the topic of expansion for the series will be brought up. It’s something we want to build on but at the same time we don’t want to over extend ourselves or our race teams,” he added

Individually, how about the performance of newly crowned ISW champ Jon Stanbrough? Much like that of his fellow racer Dave Darland, Stanbrough’s stellar efforts all too often go unnoticed by those outside sprint car circles.

What the talented Avon racer has accomplished in recent years, and last week in particular, makes him one of the best to ever strap himself in a sprint car.

His win at the Action Track last Wednesday pushed his feature win total locally to 11. Second only to the 13 wins of the late Rich Vogler. His ISW championship came on the strength of three wins while not finishing lower than third on five occassions.

He now has ISW and King of Indiana Sprint titles to his credit with the 2010 season still in full swing. His feature win total for the season is at 14 heading into Saturday’s USAC sprint show at Lincoln Park Speedway.

And how about the efforts of the Wabash Valley’s own Blake Fitzpatrick, who notched that initial career USAC sprint feature win at Haubstadt Saturday night?

It came on the heels of a strong ISW run. One that found the young West Terre Haute driver posting four top ten finishes against the best USAC has to offer. Those who have followed his career closely knew it was only a matter of time before he broke into the winners column.

Here’s hoping that its the first of many to come. Blake is a class act and well deserving of any success that comes his way.

Veteran promoter Bob Sargent has been involved with his share of major short track promotions over the years. Watching Sargent throughout the night, it was easy to see how badly he wanted the Action Track show to come off without a hitch.

 He issued a huge sigh of relief once the checkered flag had fallen and the big crowd made its way out of the Wabash Fairgrounds.

“We’re really happy with the way the night went. We were shooting for a 10 o’clock finish. We had four red flags and still got done reasonably early [10:30],” said Sargent.

“The crowd was probably around 3,000. We had some great racing. So we’re happy. We’re building a base. Looking to the future,” he added.

Sargent took time to express appreciation for the efforts Chris Novotney offered on the night. A central figure in the promotional changes leading up to the event, Novotney made it clear he wants to remain part of racing at Fairgrounds.

“I want the fans to understand I resigned from Action Promotions not the Action Track. There’s nobody that wants to see this place [Action Track] succeed more than myself. I’m here to help in anyway I can,” he said.

The action would have shifted to tonight’s SUMAR Classic at the Action Track, but the race was postponed on Tuesday night.

The Action Track stop would have been the fourth stop on the Silver Crown circuit which has produced three different winners in as many races this season. Bud Keading will carry an 18-point lead over Jerry Coons heading the first of two consecutive nights of racing for the big car. They are scheduled to run tomorrow night at O’Reilly Raceway Park near Clermont.

It marks only the third time that champ cars have run back-to-back races on consecutive nights.

After several unsettling years and its future clouded, the Silver Crown series appears back on track.

“We’ve seen a resurgence in car counts after we brought back the old generation Silver Crown cars. We had 36 cars for the Hoosier Hundred so things are looking up,” Miller said.

The Clermont show is part of the annual Kroger Fest at ORP that also features the NASCAR Camping World Trucks series Friday night and Nationwise series cars Saturday night.

Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@verizon.net.