By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – The second running of the ‘Bill Gardner Sprintacular’ managed to avoid the rain and provide a stellar weekend of racing at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Robert Ballou of Rocklin, Calif. started the Independence Day weekend with a victory in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series, leading wire-to-wire to edge Chad Boespflug and Dave Darland. Ballou would end up running third to Thomas Meseraull and Jeff Bland in the Midwest Sprint Car Series on Saturday evening.
The weekend also provided a first time victor as Cody Wright quenched his thirst for the first bomber win of his career. Wright got to the lead late and was able to hold off Curt Leonard by a nose at the finish line to cap Friday’s racing card.
There was a common theme for both sprint car winners over the weekend as both Ballou and “T-Mez” found the famed LPS cushion as their line of choice on the way to victory.
Ballou and Boespflug started the USAC feature on the front row and were wheel-to-wheel for the first lap. Ballou ripped around the rim to the lead and quickly built his advantage into a half straightaway by the fifth circuit.
By the halfway point, Ballou entered lapped traffic, which allowed Boespflug to slowly reel in the leader. With 10 laps remaining, the pair had checked out on the rest of the field as Boesplug settled into a top-side chase for Ballou. Behind them, Meseraull advanced past Josh Hodges for the sixth spot before he hammered the outside wall with the right side of his car to end his evening prematurely.
On the restart with nine laps remaining, Ballou and Boespflug went to battle for the $5,000 winner’s share. Ballou smacked the cushion in turn three to literally curb his momentum, but he was able to fend off Boespflug. As the white flag came out, Ballou found himself back into lapped traffic as he masterfully split Shane Cockrum and Bret Mellenberndt through turn three to pick up the victory. The win was the fourth this season for Ballou as Boespflug, Brady Bacon, Shane Cottle and Dave Darland.
In Saturday’s second round, even an occasional drizzle couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for a large crowd at the LPS oval as 38 sprint cars were on hand to battle for the $3,000 win.
Jeff Bland lead the early laps ahead of Brent Beauchamp, but Meseraull reeled in the leader while running the cushion as Darland, C.J. Leary and Ballou were in tow.
A caution flew on the 10th of 30 laps and on that restart it was Meseraull that rocketed into the lead before the action was halted again four laps later.
When the field went green again, Meseraull used the cushion to perfection while pulling away for the victory as Bland and Ballou wrapped up the top-three.
In the UMP Modified features, Randy Shuman passed Dustin Beck on the 11th lap of the 20-lap A-main on Saturday to pick up the victory.
Shuman started fourth behind pole-sitter Gary Ricketts, but got past Tyler Loughmiller for second and set his sights on Beck. The duo pulled away from the rest of the field with Bill Haager in third ahead of Loughmiller and Ricketts.
Up front, Shuman dove to the bottom and made his pass stick and would manage lapped traffic over the final five laps to get the win.
Friday evening it was Kenny Carmichael Sr. returning to victory lane ahead of Shuman and Jesse Bitterling, David Baldwin and Travis Shoulders.
Greencastle’s Josh Boller returned to victory lane in the UMP Stock division with a win on Friday over Doug McCullough and Larry Raines as Jonathon Newgent and Michael Clark wrapped up the top-five spots.
A night later, Steve Peeden won his fourth of the season at LPS by charging from 10th at the start to get by McCullough with six laps remaining following a restart. Peeden lead McCullough, Newgent, Boller and Chris Harcourt to the finish line.
In the bomber division, Wright held off Leonard at the finish line of a wild A-main on Friday night.
Greencastle’s Jeff Beggs and Josh Litton duked it out for the early lead before contact between the two sent them to the tail near the midway point. Jordan Almanza and Leonard took over the top spot, but Leonard would pull off the track on the 10th circuit, but would return to action.
James Walters and Almanza fought for the lead briefly before a spin would end up putting the pair to the back of the pack. Wright assumed the lead and would hold off a final challenge from Leonard heading off turn four.
Tom Cox came home third ahead of Ryan Freeland and Travis Heramb.
Saturday’s final event saw Almanza capture his fourth bomber feature of the season as he held off Beggs, Walters, Litton and Wright.
This weekend will be the fourth running of the Slick Griffin Memorial with $1,000 going to the winner of the super stock feature.
Lincoln Park Speedway
‘2nd Bill Gardner Sprintacular’
Midwest Sprint Car Series
1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Jeff Bland Jr., 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Brent Beauchamp, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Chase Stockon, 9. Dickie Gaines, 10. Brady Short, 11. A.J. Hopkins, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. Jon Stanbrough, 14. Carson Short, 15. Tyler Thomas, 16. Brandon Morin, 17. Kevin Thomas Jr., 18. Shane Cockrum, 19. Chad Boespflug, 20. Tyler Hewitt, 21. Jarett Andretti (DNS)
UMP Modified feature
1. Randy Shuman, 2. Dustin Beck, 3. Bill Haeger, 4. Tyler Loughmiller, 5. Gary Ricketts, 6. Roy Bruce Jr., 7. Jesse Bitterling, 8. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 9. Jimmie Haeger, 10. Brad Thompson, 11. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 12. David Bumgardner, 13. Josh Settles, 14. Travis Shoulders, 15. Brent Hudson, 16. RJ Pruitt, 17. Jay Humphrey Jr., 18. Dan Lewellen, 19. Roger Mills, 20. David Baldwin
UMP Super Stocks
1. Steve Peeden, 2. Doug McCullough, 3. Jonathon Newgent, 4. Josh Boller, 5. Chris Harcourt, 6. Wes McClara, 7. Larry Raines, 8. Josh McDaniel, 9. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 10. Bob Sample, 11. Jack Campbell, 12. Michael Clark, 13. CJ Bryan, 14. John Shidler, 15. Jake Leitzman, 16. David Daniels, 17. Hayden Rogers, 18. DJ Smiley, 19. Matt Jordan, 20. Paul Wright
1. Jordan Almanza, 2. Jeff Beggs, 3. James Walters, 4. Josh Litton, 5. Cody Wright, 6. David Wallen, 7. Scott Crouch, 8. Tom Cox, 9. Chucky Walden, 10. Kyle Krupa, 11. Travis Heramb, 12. Gary Hadyen, 13. Curt Leonard, 14. Chad Nolte, 15. Bob Farris, 16. Matthew Grimes, 17. Lenny Krupa III, 18. Adam Farr, 19. A.J. Smith, 20. Megan Cavaness, 21. Keivan Clodfleter, 22. Jeremy Farris, 23. Jerry Hutto, 24. Harley Burns, 25. Alex Reid, 26. Devin Wallen, 27. Ryan Freeland, 28. DJ Smiley, 29. Chad Casassa
‘2nd Bill Gardner Sprintacular’
USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars
1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chad Boespflug, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Josh Hodges, 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 9. Max McGhee, 10. Chris Windom, 11. Kevin Thomas Jr., 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 14. Jon Stanbrough, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Cole Ketcham, 17. Casey Shuman, 18. Brent Beauchamp, 19. Shane Cockrum, 20. Aaron Farney, 21. Bret Mellenberndt, 22. Thomas Meseraull, 23. Logan Jarrett, 24. Landon Simon
UMP Modified feature
1. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 2. Randy Shuman, 3. Jesse Bitterling, 4. David Baldwin, 5. Travis Shoulders, 6. Kenny Carmichael Jr, 7. Jay Humphrey Jr., 8. Josh McDaniel, 9. Dan Lewellen, 10. Rob Brickert, 11. Josh Settles, 12. Tyler Loughmiller, 13. Brent Hudson, 14. RJ Pruitt, 15. Scott Ricketts, 16. Jr Watkins, 17. Gary Ricketts, 18. Jerry Bland Jr., 19. Cole Parker, 20. Sydney Landes, 21. David Bumgardner
1. Cody Wright, 2. Curt Leonard, 3. Tom Cox, .4. Ryan Freeland, 5. Travis Heramb, 6. Lenny Krupa III, 7. Megan Cavaness, 8. David Wallen, 9. Scott Crouch, 10. Kyle Krupa, 11. Andrew Pollock, 12. Alex Reid, 13. Jeff Beggs, 14. Bob Farris, 15. Jordan Almanza, 16. Josh Litton, 17. Dan Smith, 18. James Walters, 19. Matthew Grimes, 20. Joe Cash, 21. Jeremy Farris, 22. Jerry Hutto, 23. Justin Massie, 24. Tyler Neal, 25. Larry Hutto, 26. Justin Bumgardner
UMP Super Stock Feature
1. Josh Boller, 2. Doug McCullough, 3. Larry Raines, 4. Jonathon Newgent, 5. Michael Clark, 6. Chris Harcourt, 7. Paul Wright, 8. Jack Campbell, 9. Randy Brawley, 10. Josh McDaniel, 11. Hayden Rogers, 12. Matt Jordan, 13. David Wallen, 14. C.J. Bryan, 15. Scotty Massie