AMSOIL Sprints
Wednesday, 31 March 2021


Dave Darland (in white) battles Robert Ballou for position at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway. Dave Darland (in white) battles Robert Ballou for position at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway. Josh James Artwork


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Lawrenceburg, Indiana (March 31, 2021)………Reaching goals each season is on everyone’s agenda, from driver to mechanic to team owner, and all the way to how many track burgers we can feast on.  Everyone has goals.

Reaching a milestone, however, has taken the concept of goals and pushed it to another level – a historic level – the accumulation of many years’ worth of goals that have put an individual in a particular position to engrave their name as the sole, or one of the few, persons to reach a certain summit, one that few before them can claim.

Many of the current crop of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car drivers resemble that remark as they chase their own goals, and yes, milestones, as we approach the trail that leads to the bulk of the racing season.  Here are those milestones pertaining to the series we should keep an eye on throughout 2021.



In 2020, Brady Bacon joined the ranks of those with three career USAC National Sprint Car driving titles (2014-16-20).  With one more, he’d join an even more exclusive club who’ve won four or more series championships, five-time Levi Jones (2005-07-09-10-11) and four-time titlist Steve Butler (1986-87-88-90).

Also, for Bacon, it’s been nearly a decade since we’ve last seen a repeat champion, Bryan Clauson (2012-13).  His Dynamics, Inc. team possesses more entrant championships than any other team with 12, but they are seeking their first batch of consecutive titles since 1996-97.  The Milford, Ohio based team also went back-to-back in 1992-93.



Bacon, along with Tyler Courtney could make significant history in 2021 based on their dominance of a particular track.  Courtney has won four-in-a-row at Eldora Speedway since 2018 and could elevate himself into singular territory with three dates at Eldora this year on May 7, May 8 and September 25.

Bacon has double the chance to extend his streak of success at Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway.  He won at the Bechtelsville, Pa. track with the series during Eastern Storm in 2017-18-19 and has two additional shots at it this year with events scheduled for both April 22 and June 15 at Grandview.

Both records are within reach for Courtney and Bacon.  Two drivers – Jim Hurtubise at the Terre Haute Action Track (1960-1962) and Steve Chassey at Winchester Speedway (1979-1979) have won five consecutive at a single track while six others have won four-straight at the same track: Bryan Clauson at Bloomington Speedway (2013-2016), Mike Bliss at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1994-1994), Tracy Hines at Indianapolis Raceway Park (2000-2001), Robert Ballou at Perris Auto Speedway (2014-2015), Bubby Jones at the Terre Haute Action Track (1979-1979) and Dave Steele at Winchester Speedway (1998-1999).



This Saturday night, April 3, Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway will join the Eldora Speedway and the Terre Haute Action Track as one of only three venues to host a USAC National Sprint Car event for 30 consecutive seasons.  The series has successfully contested an event at Lawrenceburg every year since 1992.



Chris Windom has finished inside the top-10 of the final points standings in 11-straight years (2010-2020), which currently stands as the fourth best streak in that category all-time, a mark he shares with Don Branson (1956-66).  Only three drivers have finished inside the top-ten of the points in more consecutive years than Windom: Dave Darland (22 between 1997-2018), Sheldon Kinser (14 between 1974-1987) and Levi Jones (12 between 2001-2012).

Chase Stockon, whose nine-year streak of top-ten point finishes runs from 2012-present, is one year away from joining just seven other individuals who’ve reached the top-ten in that category.



Darland, with 62 fast qualifying times, stands just three behind Tom Bigelow’s 65 for the all-time lead with the series.  Darland passed Bigelow as the all-time king in feature victories back in 2014 and is closing on this record as well.  Darland set fast time twice in 2020.  Bacon is steadily moving up the ranks as well, just three away from surpassing Levi Jones for fourth on the all-time list.  His 37 is currently tied for 5th all-time with Larry Dickson.

A handful of others are knocking on the door for the top-ten in all-time fast qualifying times.  C.J. Leary and Kevin Thomas Jr., at 29, are just one away from Pancho Carter for 10th all-time.  Stockon is lurking just behind with 27 as is Justin Grant at 26.



A number of top Rookies with the series hail from under-represented states in the Rookie of the Year column since the award began in 1971.  Top Rookie, Tanner Thorson, aims to become the first native of Nevada to win the award.  Paul Nienhiser eyes becoming the first Illinois driver to claim the top Rookie prize since Mat Neely in 2003.  Colorado’s Carson Garrett, likewise, is shooting for Rookie of the Year award, which would make him the first representative from the Rocky Mountain state to hold the award.



Chase Stockon’s streak of consecutive feature starts, 323 and counting, are in another stratosphere, and he will continue to extend that throughout the 2021 season.  However, others are in hot pursuit to move up the leaderboard in terms of start streaks.  Windom is fourth at 174, and with 31 more, he’d have the third-longest streak of starts all-time.  Eight more consecutive starts would elevate Justin Grant into the top-five all-time.  He’s currently at 140.

In terms of overall series starts, Darland needs just 17 more to reach the unprecedented 800 start mark.  Windom (429) needs just 19 more to surpass Tom Bigelow for fourth all-time.  Robert Ballou surpassed Tony Elliott for 8th in all-time starts with his 363rd and 364th during February in Ocala, Fla.  Bacon (360) needs three more to pass Elliott while Stockon needs just 19 more to make his way into the top-ten in the record books.  Furthermore, C.J. Leary resides just 13 away from the 300 starts mark while Grant is just 16 away.



Bacon has won a USAC National Sprint Car feature in 10 consecutive years between 2011-2020, fourth best all-time, as he chases Sheldon Kinser’s record of 13 between 1974-86.  Stockon is on a similar trek at nine years with at least one win between 2012-20.  With another “W,” he’d be just one of six to win 10 years in-a-row: Sheldon Kinser, Jack Hewitt (1988-99), Darland (2005-16), Bacon and Tom Bigelow (1972-81).

Darland is head-and-shoulders at the top of the all-time feature win list with 62.  A little further back is a cage fight between a number of others trying to get into the elite club, the top-ten.  Bacon is already there with 35 which ranks 10th.  Ballou and Tyler Courtney stand one short of 30 wins, which has only been achieved by 13 drivers.  Chris Windom and Kevin Thomas Jr., at 28, are just two away from the dirty 30.



While Pancho Carter and Steve Stapp’s 40 wins together create the most successful driver/owner tandem in USAC Sprint history, two other combos are on the cusp of drawing near.  Brady Bacon and Dynamics, Inc. have won 27 times together, third all-time behind Carter/Stapp and Gary Bettenhausen/Willie Davis with 31.  Robert Ballou remains the most successful driver/owner in series history with 24 wins, which ranks fourth.



Meanwhile, the 49 series points races in 2021 is the largest slate for the series since 51 events were held during the 1977 season.  Two down, 47 to go entering this weekend’s Lawrenceburg go.