Ocala, Florida…….Tracy Hines waited until the final lap of Friday’s 30-lap AMSOIL National Sprint Car Feature at Bubba Raceway Park to take the lead, capitalizing on the misfortune of race-long leader Robert Ballou to claim his 44th career win with the series, just one behind Larry Dickson for third all-time.
Ballou started from outside the front-row and paced the field throughout the race, running virtually mistake-free on the low side of the track as Hines tried to carve in a line around the outside. Although Hines was able to pressure Ballou throughout, it was not until catching a slower car in the final two circuits that he looked to take the lead. Ballou, who reported a slowly deflating right-rear tire, saw Hines streak under him in turn-one on the final lap just before the tire gave way.
Hines found no trouble as he crossed under the checkered flag to mark his 18th consecutive season with at least one win in USAC’s three national series, this one coming aboard the Hansen’s Welding – Motor City Auto Transport #4 DRC/Stanton Mopar.
“You gotta be there to take advantage of things like that, and we were a pretty good car tonight, so we’re definitely getting better. His tire was probably going down for a little bit, so we were fortunate. We switched to Stanton Mopar engines for this year, and it ran really well. We did some different things with our AFCO shocks tonight, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow,” Hines said.
Behind Hines, cars went all directions to negotiate Ballou’s slowing car, with the night’s fast qualifier Bryan Clauson taking advantage to steal the second spot on the final lap in the Chevrolet Performance – Curb Records #20 Beast/Kistler Chevy. Clauson picked up $100 earlier for the ProSource “Fast Time Award.”
“The track was just really fast tonight. Tracy went up there enough to get it carved in up top a little bit, but it just wasn’t enough to do much. The guys up front just don’t make enough mistakes to take advantage. It was still a great night for us, and it’s a big boost of confidence to be in the thick of things both nights to start the year on such different surfaces. We have a different identity here than the TSR before, with Beast Chassis and all, so it’s great to get off to such a great start with these guys,” Clauson said.
Rounding out the podium was Hunter Schuerenberg, who improved one spot on his night-one performance in the MyLocalFordStore.com – Fatheadz Eyewear #35 Mach-1/Rider.
“Coming off turn-two after I took the white was pretty interesting. I had a couple runs on Tracy early, but the rest of the time I was just kinda riding trying not to make major mistakes. I kinda misjudged the slower car on the last lap and gave up a spot, but we caught some luck to still take a podium. I’ve re-focused myself on winning races this year, and I feel like we can win every night, so I still want a little bit more,” Schuerenberg said.
Chase Stockon came home fourth in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher, while Dave Darland logged another top-five in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage #71P DRC/Foxco.
Just outside the top-five was Brady Bacon, who charged from 20th to sixth aboard the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 XXX/Stanton Mopar to claim the ProSource “Hard Charger Award.” Florida driver Collin Cabre was the recipient of the Mach-1 Chassis “Hard Luck Award” after flipping in the night’s Semi-Feature.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 22, 2013 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games IV”
QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-13.819 (New Track Record); 2. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-13.931; 3. Scotty Weir, 40, Hery-14.063; 4. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-14.079; 5. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-14.110; 6. Robert Ballou, 5, Baldwin-14.191; 7. Levi Jones, 39, Walker-14.311; 8. Nick Drake, 55, Cline-14.362; 9. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-14.371; 10. Chris Windom, 21x, Pollock-14.517; 11. Justin Grant, 11, Walker-14.525; 12. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.548; 13. Mark Smith, 1M, Smith-14.548; 14. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney/Anderson-14.562; 15. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher/RW/TriStar-14.571; 16. Coleman Gulick, 14, Gulick-14.672; 17. A.J. Hopkins, 42G, Jackson-14.746; 18. Brady Short, 11P, Pottorff-14.752; 19. Shane Cottle, 2, Epperson-14.808; 20. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.822; 21. Collin Cabre, 12x, Cabre-14.971; 22. Dallas Hewitt, 2M, Marshall-15.301; 23. Jac Haudenschild, 41, Stensland-15.389; 24. Chris Gurley, 12, Team Automotive-15.424; 25. Brian Hayden, 77, Wingo-15.489; 26. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-15.663; 27. Brian Paulus, 28, Paulus-15.777; 28. Travis Hery, 21H, Hery-16.766; 29. Dan Statter, 59, Statter-18.275; 30. Landon Simon, 41s, Stensland-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Clauson, 3. Darland, 4. Smith, 5. Hopkins, 6. Cabre, 7. Hayden, 8. Statter. 1:54.16
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Short, 2. Windom, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Ballou, 5. Courtney, 6. Hewitt, 7. Gross. 1:56.82
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Grant, 3. Thomas, 4. Jones, 5. Weir, 6. Paulus, 7. Haudenschild.
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Gulick, 3. Hines, 4. Leary, 5. Gurley, 6. Drake, 7. Hery.
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Drake, 2. Weir, 3. Courtney, 4. Hewitt, 5. Hopkins, 6. Hayden, 7. Paulus, 8. Gurley, 9. Hery, 10. Gross, 11. Cabre, 12. Statter. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tracy Hines, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Hunter Schuerenberg, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 8. Mark Smith, 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Brady Short, 11. Scotty Weir, 12. Shane Cottle, 13. A.J. Hopkins, 14. Robert Ballou, 15. Dallas Hewitt, 16. Brian Hayden, 17. Chris Gurley, 18. Coleman Gulick, 19. Chris Windom, 20. Levi Jones, 21. Justin Grant, 22. Nick Drake, 23. Tyler Courtney. NT
**Cabre flipped in the Semi. Windom flipped on Lap 11 of the Feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-29 Ballou, Lap 30 Hines.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Clauson-139; 2-Schuerenberg-125; 3-Darland-119; 4-Bacon-117; 5-Stockon-110; 6-Hines-106; 7-Thomas-100; 8-Ballou-86; 9-Weir-80; 10-Leary-71.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: February 23 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games IV”