Thomas Takes Sprint Week Turn
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It’s a long, winding road from Cullman, Ala., to the dirt tracks of Indiana, but after five years, Kevin Thomas Jr. made all of the miles he traveled worthwhile with Friday’s AMSOIL USAC national sprint car series victory at Bloomington Speedway.
Grabbing the lead on the sixth circuit, Thomas kept Dave Darland on his heels as he notched the first USAC sprint car victory of his career.
Finishing behind Darland, Brent Beauchamp claimed third, trailed by Jerry Coons Jr. and Bryan Clauson.
Following the victory ceremonies, Thomas admitted, “We’ve been struggling, struggling, struggling, looking like a bunch of strokes up here for the last five years. Then we get Bubby Jones on the wrenches, we’ve got a good sponsor and everything is looking great and this is a dream come true right now.”
Although he turned the second fastest qualifying time, Thomas’ evening went south quickly when his Blackjack Oil DRC No. 9k was turned sideways on the first lap of his heat race, collecting two other cars. Unable to restart, he transferred to the main event by winning the B Semi, giving him the eighth starting slot for the 30-lap feature..
Darland quickly jumped into the lead, but was slowed by two quick cautions. With only two laps completed, Thomas sat fifth, but then found good grip a lane higher than the leaders. He took second, passing Darren Hagen, Chase Stockon and Coons on consecutive laps, then closed behind Darland. On the sixth circuit, Thomas drove around Darland with a strong run off the second turn.
With several cautions during the race, and a red flag for Thomas Meseraull’s flip on lap 22, the closest Darland came to retaking the lead was charging under Thomas as they restarted. But Thomas was able to hold the lead, and each time opened a dozen-car-length gap. Over the closing laps, he increased the margin to a half-straightaway before Darland cut it back to 15 car lengths at the finish.
Levi Jones maintained his Sprint Week point lead with an eighth place run, while Bryan Clauson closed the margin to 11 points. Jon Stanbrough overcame a five-car first lap tangle that relegated him to the tail for the restart to finish seventh and sits third in the points, as Darland in fourth is still within 20 points of the leader.
The final two races of Sprint Week remain on Saturday at Tri-State Speedway and Lincoln Park Speedway, Sunday.
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