Ballou’s Blown Tire Hands Victory To Hines
OCALA, Fla. — Tracy Hines had just about decided he’d finish second to racelong leader Robert Ballou in Friday night’s 30-lap USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series feature at Bubba Raceway Park when Ballou’s right-rear tire exploded within sight of the checkered flag.
“I could run with him and I was trying a different line in three and four and getting better but the track stayed slick right to the end, so I don’t know if I could have pulled it off,” said Hines. “But I was about to try when his tire blew.”
The scramble precipitated by Ballou’s blown tire let Thursday night winner Bryan Clauson shoot past Hunter Schuerenberg, who he’d been battling for 20 laps, to claim second with Schuerenberg hanging on for third ahead of Chase Stockon, Dave Darland and Brady Bacon, who made a spectacular charge from 20th in the Hoffman No. 69.
Unlike the previous night, the track stayed tacky right to the end, with the cars running so fast that passing was extremely difficult.
A melee on the original start and spins on laps two and four made it hard to get the feature rolling, then Levi Jones coasted to a stop on lap 10 while running fourth for yet another yellow. The restart went OK, but three laps later Chris Windom took a spectacular tumble down the backstretch to again stop the action.
Coleman Gullick tagged the frontstretch wall on lap 13 for yet another yellow, but after that it was clear sailing to the end, with Clauson entertaining the crowd with his repeated attempts to pass Schuerenberg, attacking both high and low.
“The track was in great shape and really fast but I couldn’t quite get to the point of putting him away,” offered Clauson, who lowered the track record to 13.819 during qualifying. “But getting from sixth to second on a night like this is how you win championships.”
“Yeah, it was really fast tonight,” agreed Schuerenberg. “I just rode in line waiting for the finish.” But Hines had the best description of the event, saying, “It was pretty much like making a qualification lap every lap. I feel like I just ran 30 time trial laps. It was good for me that we had all those yellows because it let me rest.”