Stanbrough Tops Smackdown Opener
KOKOMO, Ind. — Jon Stanbrough passed race-long leader Bryan Clauson on the 29th lap to come out on top of Friday’s 30-lap preliminary Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer “Sprint Car Smackdown III” feature.
The Avon, Ind., driver made it four wins on the year in the Michael Dutcher Motorsports entry and tied Rich Vogler for ninth on the all-time AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car winners list.
Three early stoppages slowed the proceedings, and two of them swallowed legitimate race contenders. On lap-five, third-running Dave Darland and fourth-running Shane Cottle made contact in turn-four, leaving Darland with a broken front end.
Three laps later, while under red for a Brian Karraker flip, Cottle visited the work area for damage of his own. He returned to the track and came home 12th.
Shortly after that, the top running car using the cushion, Justin Grant, shot dead sideways coming out of turn-two and exited into the infield on the backstretch.
Despite all that, Clauson and Stanbrough were glued to each other up front, setting a wicked pace on an extremely fast surface. Robert Ballou came from row-four to get to third, and those three checked out on a good battle behind them.
With eleven to go, two cars slowed suddenly to bring out the final yellow. Stanbrough stuck with Clauson after the restart and looked to poke a nose under him just after taking the two-to-go. At the same time, Clauson jumped completely sideways, opening the door for Stanbrough to take the lead.
He held off Clauson for the final circuit to take the win in the MP Environmental Services – Griffin’s Propane No. 37RW Maxim/Fisher.
“I honestly didn’t know whether he messed up or what happened,” Stanbrough said. “I was running harder and harder as we got close to the end and thought I must have found something better than him and got by. It’s tough to win these races, so I’m happy to get another one. We’ve had good cars both days so far, and I’m looking forward to the day program tomorrow and that 40-lapper tomorrow night.”
Clauson came home second, moving to second in the National Championship standings in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“I just made a mistake up there. I never saw him or felt any pressure, but that was a pretty big bobble in one and two. We’re gonna need to be better to win tomorrow, but you hate to let one slip away like that. We’re chasing a third-straight championship, too, and tonight was big for that,” Clauson said.
Ballou rounded out the podium to continue his hot streak in the Deaton’s Waterfront Services – Clifton Services No. 12x Maxim/Ott.
“When you start that far back, it’s tough to get by those guys up front, especially as fast as the track was tonight. Hats off to the O’Connors – a lot of promoters would have quit, but they gave us a race. I kept it a little too free for the feature, so I was good early but not good enough toward the end,” Ballou said.
Kyle Cummins and Brady Bacon rounded out the top five.
Darland was fast qualifier.