BY CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – After two weeks of rain spoiled Saturday night’s for race fans and drivers a like at Lincoln Park Speedway, this weekend went off without a hitch.
AJ Hopkins returned to the winners’ circle in the sprint car ranks and Roy Bruce Jr. won his second LPS modified feature of the season. Defending UMP Super Stock National Champion Tyler Cain picked up a win with CJ Bryan winning the midseason bomber championship feature ahead of Adam Farr winning his first career feature in the second bomber main of the night.
It’s been a busy year for young AJ Hopkins with the birth of a daughter with as well as a move into a new house. However, he scheduled some seat time in his sprint car this weekend and pulled away over the final five laps to win over Max McGhee, Jerry Coons Jr., Chris Gurley and Scotty Weir.
Hopkins won his very first sprint car race at the Putnamville oval back in 2013 and he made a popular return to victory lane over the weekend. Hopkins piloted his Indy Race Parts, Nalon Engines, Banning Engineering, Hoosier Tire sponsored No. 14 to victory lane once again with an impressive charge.
Gurley started on the pole and held the early lead as Hopkins and McGhee were bunched tightly at the front with Coons, Weir, Josh Hodges and Kent Christian in tow. Gurley would lead into the middle stages of the 25-lap feature until a caution flew for the slowed car of Chris Phillips.
On the restart, Hopkins found his opening and ripped through turns one and two into the lead and began to build on his advantage over Gurley, McGhee and Coons, who had found a bottom line that worked for him. Behind the top-four, Hodges and Weir were duking it out wheel-to-wheel for fifth. The leaders worked their way into lapped traffic with five laps remaining, but Hopkins kept the hammer down to win by a half straightaway. The bigger battle was the one for second as Coons, Gurley and McGhee were swapping slide jobs with each other for the second spot. McGhee made his last one stick to take home the runner-up spot ahead of Coons at the finish line.
Bruce left slightly less drama to chance with his win in the UMP Modified A-main as he took the lead five laps in and held off a challenge from Kenny Carmichael Sr. to win in the Bruce’s Lawn Service, Terry Cummings Racing Engines, Don Bush Moving, Bruce’s Speed Shop machine.
Bruce had a little breathing room halfway through the 20 lapper as Randy Shuman ran second before mechanical issues sent him to the pits. Carmichael assumed the second spot as Jake Humphrey rocketed into a battle with Scott Ricketts after Carmichael got past.
Derek Groomer made his way forward into the top-six from a 12th-place start as Dan Lewllen held tight to the fifth spot. Humphrey gave Carmichael and Ricketts all they could handle over the second half of the feature as he used every inch of the track looking to gain ground. After a re-start with two laps remaining, Bruce pulled away for the win as Humphrey gave Carmichael one last challenge before settling for third ahead of Lewellen and Ricketts.
In the UMP Super Stock division, Cain had great success at LPS last season with six wins in part time action and it helped him claim the national title.
On Saturday, Cain returned to victory lane to add to the points lead he already has this season in UMP Super Stock competition.
The Seymour, Ind. native survived a caution filled feature to ultimately build a solid lead to claim the win over Greencastle’s Doug McCullough and Brazil’s Larry Raines with Kenny Carmichael Sr. and Josh Boller rounding out the top-five.
Cain started outside of Raines when the field took the green flag and he made his way to the front early and made it stick. Raines and McCullough would battle for the runner-up spot most of the A-main as Boller arrived to challenge the pair along with Carmichael. Josh McDaniel and Kenny Fields worked their way through the field for solid finishes.
McDaniel started 17th and gained 10 spots before the checkered flag while Fields gained seven spots to place eighth. Brazil’s Will Barnett was also a hard charger as he gained seven spots to place 13th.
As is often the case, the bomber A-main was the most hotly contested as Terre Haute’s Bryan was able to make a late pass of Danville’s A.J. Smith to put his Grayless Otter Creek Tire, Specialty Grafix, up Tite Security Systems, KGB Engines No. 86 in victory lane ahead of Smith, Josh Settles, Jordan Almanza and Scott Tidwell.
Smith held down the lead until there were five laps remaining when Bryan pulled even with him and the two battled to the end. Bryan was able to edge into the lead and held down the point until the checkered flag waved. Settles and Almanza fought for third until the very end. Scott Crouch was the hard charger, gaining eight spots to place 10th.
In the second bomber feature, Reelsville’s Farr picked up his first win as made a move on Greencastle’s DJ Smiley on the final lap. The two traded paint coming through turns three and four and Farr came out on top. Bobby Tarrh Jr. was third ahead of Larry Hutto and David Wallen.
Thursday evening will be the return of USAC Midget Week along with sprint cars and modifieds. General admission is $25 with kids 10-and-under free. Main gates open at 4:30 p.m. with hot laps at 6 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature
1. AJ Hopkins, 2. Max McGhee, 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 4. Chris Gurley, 5. Scotty Weir, 6. Kent Christian, 7. Scott Hampton, 8. Bradley Sterrett, 9. Mike Gass, 10. Chris Babcock, 11. Williams Frederickson, 12. Shelby VanGilder, 13. Chris Phillips, 14. Jared Chastain, 15. John Nicoson, 16. Josh Hodges, 17. Wayne Newlin, 18. Conner Donelson, 19. Hunter ONeal, 20. Matt McDonald
Heat winners: Coons Jr., Christian, McGhee
UMP Modified feature
1. Roy Bruce Jr., 2. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 3. Jake Humphrey, 4. Dan Lewellen, 5. Scott Ricketts, 6. Derek Groomer, 7. Josh McDaniel, 8. Tyler Loughmiller, 9. Jeff Deckard, 10. Brent udson, 11. JR Watkins, 12. Jay Humphrey Jr., 13. Chris Hanley, 14. Chris Schepper, 15. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 16. Doug Bryant Jr., 17. Randy Shuman, 18. Gary Ricketts, 19. Fred Grayless, 20. Damon Harrell
Heat winners: Shuman, Scott Ricketts, Bruce Jr.
UMP Super Stock
1. Tyler Cain, 2. Doug McCullough, 3. Larry Raines, 4. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 5. Josh Boller, 6. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 7. Josh McDaniel, 8. Kenny Fields, 9. Scott Massie, 10. Chris Campbell, 11. Scott Agnew, 12. Jaylen Frye, 13. Will Barnett, 14. James Campbell, 15. Jeff Starks, 16. Paul Wright, 17. Chris Harcourt, 18. Kris Starks, 19. C.J. Bryan, 20. James Walters
Heat winners: McCullough, Boller, Cain
Bomber Midseason championship feature
1. C.J. Bryan, 2. A.J. Smith, 3. Josh Settles, 4. Jordan Almanza, 5. Scott Tidwell, 6. Eric Miller, 7. Travis Heramb, 8. Ron Smith, 9. Mark Dickerson, 10. Scott Crouch, 11. Megan Cavaness, 12. RJ Pruitt, 13. Chucky Walden, 14. Donald Smiley, 15. Tom Plemons, 16. Paul Alleyn, 17. Camerson Harris, 18. Cody Wright, 19. Ryan Freeland, 20. Bob Farris, 21. Chad Weiner, 22. Justin Massie
B-main winner: Cavaness
Heat winners: A.J. Smith, Settles, Bryan, Almanza
Bomber second feature
1. Adam Farr, 2. DJ Smiley, 3. Bobby Tarrh Jr., 4. Larry Hutto, 5. David Wallen, 6. Zane Fields, 7. Tim Wright, 8. Randy McPeak, 9. Lenny Krupa III, 10. Jerry Hutto, 11. Aaron Brown, 12. Tom Courtney