By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – On the opening night of the “Bill Gardner Sprintacular” at Lincoln Park Speedway, it was only fitting that the hottest sprint car driver around picked up the victory.
Robert Ballou bolted past Dave Darland 18 laps into the 30-lap Midwest Sprint Car Series A-main and then held off a furious run from Kevin Thomas Jr. to record the $4,000 win. The victory comes on the heels of his sweep of the AMSOIL USAC Eastern Storm events in Pennsylvania in early June. Ballou has seven USAC Sprint Car wins under his belt already this summer and heads into today’s event at LPS looking to add to the total in the Tom Buch – Blakesley Auto #12 Maxim/Ott.
Darland led the first half of the race after starting on the pole as Ballou furiously gave chase running the top line to great success. Jerry Coons Jr. and Michael Gass ran in the top-five ahead of Max McGhee and Chad Boespflug.
By the 11th circuit, Ballou had moved into a side-by-side battle with Darland as McGhee and Coons duked it out for the third position. Boespflug and Cottle were close behind before a red flag came out as McGhee spun and Mitch Wissmiller was collected and turned over. Neither driver was injured in the incident as McGhee was able to re-start.
Once the field went green again, Ballou resumed his chase of Darland and would eventually overtake him on lap 18. Behind them, a serious battle had formed behind Cottle as Thomas, Jon Stanbrough and Gass were in a tight bunch ahead of Cottle.
Ballou began to build a several car length advantage with Darland, Thomas and Stanbrough in a thrilling fight for the second spot. Thomas was able to free himself from the competition and set sail for Ballou up front. On the final lap, Thomas was right on Ballou’s tail tank coming through the final two turns, but was unable to secure the spot.
Ballou claimed the win ahead of Thomas, Darland, Stanbrough and Cottle in the top-five.
Joe Godsey was a dominant force in the UMP Modified feature as he built a huge advantage by the midway point of the 20-lap A-main on the way to the win over Donald Kiger and Brian Hayden.
Godsey built a straightaway lead by the 10th lap as Jay Humphrey Jr. attempted to reel in Kiger and Hayden. While battling for second, Kiger and Hayden ran low-and-high in a side-by-side fight for the position. Godsey was able to negotiate lapped traffic down the stretch to score his first LPS win of the season.
Kiger powered home in second ahead of Hayden, Humphrey and Scott Ricketts.
The final two features of the night provided an excellent start to the weekend for Tim Wright and C.J. Bryan.
Bryan won his first UMP Super Stock feature in a car owned and built by Wright. Not long afterwards, Wright climbed into his No. 44w bomber and raced away late to gain his third feature win of the season in front of a large contingent of family.
Larry Raines led much of the super stock main event and was a mere five laps from getting his own first win before he made contact with a lapped car, which spun to force a caution. Raines was sent to the back of the field and would pull into the pits as Bryan took over the lead.
From that point, Bryan had his hands full with Josh Boller, who ran the top side into an exciting battle to the wire with Bryan. Boller would pull even with Bryan late in the feature, but Bryan was able to ride the low line to the victory with James Walters, Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Carmichael Sr. wrapping up the top-five.
In the bomber feature, Jordan Almanza and Tyler Neal were the front runners over the opening five laps with Wright closely in tow ahead of Josh Settles, DJ Smiley and RJ Pruitt.
Wright battled his way past Neal after a couple of cautions and would quickly challenge Almanza for the lead. By the eighth lap, Wright and Almanza were door-to-door for several laps before Wright was able to gain the point.
A caution flew with just two laps remaining, but on the restart Wright was able to pull away to the win ahead of Almanza, Neal, Pruitt and Settles.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature (Midwest Sprint Car Series)
1. Robert Ballou, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Dave Darland, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Chad Boespflug, 7. CJ Leary, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Tyler Courtney, 10. Aaron Farney, 11. Brady Bacon, 12. Max Mcghee, 13. Carson Short, 14. Michael Gass, 15. AJ Hopkins, 16. Josh Spencer, 17. Kyle Cummins, 18. Kurt Gross, 19. Donnie Brackett, 20. Mitch Wissmiller, 21. Hunter Schuerenberg
B-main winner: Gross
Heat winners: Darland, C. Short, Coons Jr., Cottle
UMP Modified feature
1. Joe Godsey, 2. Donald Kiger, 3. Brian Hayden, 4. Jay Humphrey Jr., 5. Scott Ricketts, 6. Dan Lewellen, 7. Roger Mills, 8. Brent Hudson, 9. Gary Ricketts, 10. Damon Harrell, 11. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 12. Rory Riley, 13. JR Watkins, 14. Josh McDaniel, 15. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 16. Michael Beatty, 17. Cullen Goodman
Heat winners: Godsey, Humphrey
UMP Super Stock Feature
1. C.J. Bryan, 2. Josh Boller, 3. James Walters, 4. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 5. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 6. Jonathon Newgent, 7. Doug McCullough, 8. Paul Wright, 9. James Campbell, 10. Chris Harcourt, 11. Scott Agnew, 12. Scotty Massie, 13. Chris Campbell, 14. Scott Carrington, 15. Larry Raines, 16. Josh McDaniel, 17. Kenny Fields, 18. Wesley Freeland
Heat winners: Raines, Bryan
1. Tim Wright, 2. Jordan Almanza, 3. Tyler Neal, 4. RJ Pruitt, 5. Josh Settles, 6. David Wallen, 7. Cody Wright, 8. Megan Cavaness, 9. Ron Smith, 10. Curt Leonard, 11. Travis Heramb, 12. Mark Dickerson, 13. Dustin Colvin, 14. Scott Crouch, 15. Eric Miller, 16. Bob Farris, 17. Bryan Hunt, 18. Donald Smiley, 19. Kyle Farr, 20. DJ Smiley, 21. Paul Alleyn, 22. Logan Brickert, 23. Larry Hutto, 24. Chucky Walden, 25. Zane Fields, 26. Jerry Hutto, 27. Randy McPeak, 28. Justin Massie, 29. Bobby Tarrh Jr., 30. Ryan Freeland