By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – Jerry Coons Jr. proved to be too tough of a challenge for a 40-car field to conquer for the second straight year on Independence Day.
Coons picked up his 17th career victory in the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series to record the win in the finale of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular. He won in wire-to-wire fashion aboard the Edison Motorsports – Crume Evans Insurance No. 10E Spike/Chevy.
“It’s always a lot of fun to win with this group of guys. They’re as laid-back as they come and were still happy with me last night even after I went backwards and was frustrated. We’ve struggled a little bit with the slick stuff especially, and a lot of things fell in line for us tonight, but we were really good tonight. You’d think as long as we’ve been doing this that we wouldn’t still be learning, but I’m real happy with what we picked up tonight,” Coons said.
Coons, Chad Boespflug and points leader Robert Ballou got free of the pack before mechanical problems sidelined Ballou on the ninth lap and forced a caution flag. Once the field returned to green, the race stayed caution free for the remaining 21 circuits.
Coons built what appeared to be a comfortable lead, but Boespflug took a shot at the lead first while rocketing around the top of the track. However, he would later fade a bit as Kyle Cummins and Chase Stockon moved into contention along with a hard charging Jon Stanbrough.
With 10 laps remaining, the pack had narrowed Coons’ lead, but he would eventually hold on for a 1.057-second lead over Cummins, who had a career best USAC finish. Stockon would roar up from a 14th-place start to take third in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply No. 32.
“If this thing was a 40-lap race, I think we had a chance to win it. We got a tough draw and didn’t qualify all that well, so that put us in a spot from behind where we had to pass cars. We were able to roll up through the middle and make up most of our ground there, but even on the bottom I think we were a tick quicker than the top-two. Matt Hummel of FK Indy has gotten our shocks tuned and running really well in the slick, and (crew chief) D.J. (Ott) gave me a great car tonight that could move around to pass cars,” Stockon said.
Boespflug would finish up in fourth place in the Amati Racing – Marion Underground Construction No. 44 and Stanbrough earned the B&W Auto Mart “Hard Charger Award” for his 17th to fifth-place run.
Max McGhee would claim the IndianaOpenwheel.com fan vote award for Friday night’s exciting run. He took home a cool $1,030.
The weekend proved quite lucrative for both Joe Godsey and Tim Wright, who each repeated their feature wins from Friday evening.
Godsey powered away from Roy Bruce Jr. over the second half of the 20-lap UMP Modified feature to record another win.
Bruce led early in the A-main before Godsey was able to slip past on the bottom as Jordan Wever, Jesse Cramer, Gary Ricketts and Chad Combs.
Once Godsey got free however, it was clear sailing to the checkered flag as Bruce settled in for a second-place run ahead of Wever, Cramer and Ricketts.
The bomber feature got a bit hairy during the early stages as Dustin Colvin got upside down at the end of the backstretch and Adam Farr’s car came to rest on top of his car. Both drivers walked away, but had to head back to the pits.
Wright and Ryan Freeland wage a battle for the top spot throughout the 15 laps to the finish as Jordan Almanza and AJ Smith, who fought his way up from a 12th-place start.
Over the final five laps, Wright was able to extend his lead to a solid victory as Freeland came home ahead of Almanza for the podium finish. Smith and Kyle Krupa rounded out the top-five as Brazil’s David Wallen came up from 15th to take sixth.
The UMP Super Stock feature had the most exciting finish of the evening as Martinsville’s Steve Peeden made a final lap pass of Greencastle’s Jonathon Newgent to score the victory as Scott Carrington took third.
Newgent was in position to get his first win as he led the entire feature ahead of a talented field of cars. As he held fast to the bottom line as laps ticked off, there were a series of late cautions that put a damper on his chase for the checkers.
The final set of cautions came out with just one lap remaining as Newgent had built a several car length lead, but it was called back after a spin. The second re-start saw Newgent lead Peeden through turns one and two before the No. P3 of Peeden went to the middle of the track in turn three and pulled even with Newgent. Coming out of turn four Peeden got the momentum he needed and edged out the win over Newgent. Carrington was third ahead of Levi Godsey and Kenny Carmichael Sr.
This weekend will feature the “Slick Griffin Memorial” race with $1,000-to-win for super stocks. UMP Modifieds and bombers are also on the schedule.
AMSOIL USAC National sprint cars
“Bill Gardner Sprintacular”
1. Jerry Coons Jr., 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Chad Boespflug, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Tyler Courtney, 7. Casey Shuman, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12. Josh Hodges, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Cole Smith, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Carson Short, 17. Brady Bacon, 18. Chris Babcock, 19. Brandon Mattox, 20. Brent Beauchamp, 21. Landon Simon, 22. Hunter Schuerenberg, 23. Robert Ballou, 24. Aaron Farney.
B-main winner: Short
Heat winners: McGhee, Ballou, Boespflug, Stockon
UMP Modified feature
1. Joe Godsey, 2. Roy Bruce Jr., 3. Jordan Wever, 4. Jesse Cramer, 5. Gary Ricketts, 6. Chad Combs, 7. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 8. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 9. Sam Wray, 10. Jay Humphrey Jr., 11. David Baldwin, 12. Scott Ricketts, 13. Clint DeMoss, 14. Dan Lewellen, 15. Donald Kiger, 16. Brent Hudson, 17. Cullen Goodman, 18. JR Watkins, 19. Rory Riley, 20. Damon Harrell
UMP Super Stock feature
1.Steve Peeden, 2. Jonathon Newgent, 3. Scott Carrington, 4. Levi Godsey, 5. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 6. CJ Bryan, 7. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 8. Doug McCullough, 9. Josh Boller, 10. James Walters, 11. Paul Wright, 12. Scott Agnew, 13. James Campbell, 14. Scotty Massie, 15. Kenny Fields, 16. Chris Harcourt, 17. Cole Shoemaker, 18. Gene Barnett, 19. Larry Raines, 20. Josh McDaniel
1. Tim Wright, 2. Ryan Freeland, 3. Jordan Almanza, 4. AJ Smith, 5. Kyle Krupa, 6. David Wallen, 7. Josh Settles, 8. Mark Dickerson, 9. Megan Cavaness, 10. Chucky Walden, 11. DJ Smiley, 12. Ron Smith, 13. Bob Farris, 14. Lenny Krupa III, 15. Donald Smiley, 16. RJ Pruitt, 17. Scott Crouch, 18. Raymond Funkhouser Jr., 19. Logan Brickert, 20. Larry Hutto, 21. Cody Wright, 22. Dustin Colvin, 23. Adam Farr, 24. Jerry Hutto, 25. Travis Heramb, 26. Bobby Tarrh Jr., 27. Paul Alleyn, 28. Eric Miller