By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE – Kevin Thomas Jr. (KT) is hitting his stride as the 2016 racing season heads into the home stretch. He’s had plenty of success in the past at Lincoln Park Speedway, including a victory in last year’s edition of the “Putnamville Clash.”
On Saturday night, KT battled his way forward after starting 10th in the 2016 edition of the “Putnamville Clash” and took the lead with seven laps remaining on his way to a stirring victory run. Thomas got past Oklahoma’s Tyler Thomas on lap 23 and powered to his eighth win of the season.
Robert Ballou, Tyler Thomas and Friday’s Bloomington Speedway winner, Max McGhee won their respective heat races. However, the B-main was a battle amongst veteran hotshoes with Dave Darland, Brady Short, Jon Stanbrough and Jeff Bland all making their way into the A-main along with Jordan Kinser.
The resulting feature lineup for the 29th running of the “Putnamville Clash” had some very fast and successful drivers with a lot of ground to make up. When the field took the green flag, Tyler Thomas powered to the lead on lap one and quickly jumped to a 10-car length lead. Pole sitter Robert Ballou was battling with McGhee after challenging for the lead for several early laps. Thomas had already worked his way into the fifth spot as Ballou and McGhee made contact. McGhee was able to continue, but Ballou would head pitside.
The red flag came out at the halfway mark as Tim Creech split a pair of 11’s in Darland and Short. However, he hopped over Short’s wheels and flipped wildly into turn three. Creech climbed out after what proved to be a nasty, cartwheeling ride. Darland had to replace a flat right rear tire and started at the back of the field.
On the restart, Tyler Thomas remained out front by setting a torrid pace on the bottom while his challengers sought a fast line to gain ground. Shane Cottle and Kevin Thomas Jr. fought for the fourth spot, but Thomas Jr. gained the position and would quickly snag the runner-up spot from McGhee.
Setting his sights on Tyler Thomas, KT reeled him in to turn up the heat on the leader. On lap 23, Thomas slipped the cushion into turn two and KT snagged the top spot. After briefly stalling out on the following lap and losing a couple spots, Tyler Thomas roared back into a challenge for the second spot. Short and McGhee provided a show for the fans while racing for third with five laps remaining.
Tyler Thomas got within a couple car lengths of KT, but was unable to challenge the Alabama native for the top spot as Kevin Thomas took home the $2,900 top prize. Tyler Thomas came home second ahead of McGhee, Short and Cottle.
In the UMP Modified Division at Lincoln Park Speedway, no one has been able to challenge Derek Groomer over the last several weeks. This weekend was no different as Groomer claimed his heat race, started on the pole of the 20-lap A-main and never looked back in winning his fourth straight feature at LPS.
Travis Shoulders started second with Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Bill Haager making up the first two rows. Upon taking the green flag, Groomer and Shoulders had a brief battle for the top spot before Groomer rolled into the lead and began to build on the advantage.
Early challengers, Jordan Wever and Randy Shuman were sidelined by lap 15 as Groomer’s lead grew. Shoulders had his own comfort area while running second as the real battle was for the rest of the top-five spots. Bill Haager had his hands full with Carmichael Jr. and Jay Humphrey Jr. fighting for the fourth spot door-to-door.
In the end, Groomer picked up another LPS win as Shoulders held down second ahead of Haager, Carmichael Jr. and Humphrey.
The UMP Super Stock feature was a thriller as Greencastle’s Doug McCullough held off a furious challenge from last week’s winner, Jonathon Newgent and points leader Josh Boller.
McCullough held fast to his preferred bottom line and was able to keep Newgent at bay for the duration of the 20-lap A-main. However, Boller picked off cars one-by-one after starting 10th. Over the final five laps, Newgent challenged McCullough both at the extreme bottom of the track and by running the middle. However, Boller shot to the top of the track away from his usual line, and made it work.
Boller battled into a side-by-side fight with Newgent, who was still seeking a strong run at McCullough. Coming out of the final corner, Boller powered to second place by a nose over Newgent as McCullough won his second feature of the season. Greencastle’s Kris Starks and Brazil’s Larry Raines completed a local sweep of the top-five.
Not to be outdone, the bomber A-main provided plenty of excitement as James Walters and Cody Wright went right to the finish line in a fight for the victory. In the end, Walters was able to snag the momentum off of turn four and won by a car length over Wright.
Justin Litton and Walters were the early leaders with Wright in tow ahead of David Wallen and Curt Leonard.
Litton led after an early re-start, but Walters and Litton were quickly door-to-door through all four turns by the 10th circuit. A caution with four laps remaining set up a final dash for the win.
On the restart, Walters snagged the top spot and Wright was hot on his bumper as Litton began to slip back a bit. Jeff Beggs took advantage of the opportunity and got to third as Jordan Almanza made his way from 13th into the fourth spot ahead of Wallen.
Over the final two laps, Wright and Walters laid it all out on the line for the win, but the final two corners decided the race. Walters gained the momentum he needed to hold off a final challenge to pick up the victory.
In the second bomber feature of the evening, Bob Farris started on the pole and held that spot to take the checkered flag ahead of Tom Courtney and Devin Wallen.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature
“29th Annual Putnamville Clash”
1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Tyler Thomas, 3. Max McGhee, 4. Brady Short, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Colton Cottle, 7. Shane Cockrum, 8. Jeff Bland, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Travis Berryhill, 11. Dave Darland, 12. Chris Babcock, 13. JJ Hughes, 14. Jon Stanbrough, 15. Jimmy Light, 16. Jordan Kinser, 17. Rob Caho, 18. Chris Phillips, 19. Tim Creech II, 20. Robert Ballou
B-main winner: Darland
Heat winners: Ballou, Thomas, McGhee
UMP Modified feature
1. Derek Groomer, 2. Travis Shoulders, 3. Bill Haager, 4. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 5. Jay Humphrey Jr., 6. Jimmie Haager, 7. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 8. Josh McDaniel, 9. JR Watkins, 10. Michael Fish, 11. Rob Brickert, 12. Josh Settles, 13. Sydney Landes, 14. Katie Lord, 15. Randy Shuman, 16. AJ Pace, 17. RJ Pruitt, 18. Jordan Weaver, 19. Gary Ricketts, 20. Dustin Beck
B-main winner: Lord
Heat winners: B. Haager, Carmichael Jr., Shoulders, Groomer
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Doug McCullough, 2. Josh Boller, 3. Jonathon Newgent, 4. Kris Starks, 5. Larry Raines, 6. Josh McDaniel, 7. Chris Harcourt, 8. Wes McClara, 9. Justin Massie, 10. Jack Cambpell, 11. Paul Wright, 12. John Shidler, 13. DJ Smiley, 14. Kenny Fields, 15. Scotty Massie, 16. Michael Clark, 17. Hayden Rogers
Heat winners: Newgent, Harcourt
1. James Walters, 2. Cody Wright, 3. Jeff Beggs, 4. Jordan Almanza, 5. David Wallen, 6. Josh Litton, 7. Curt Leonard, 8. Scott Crouch, 9. Travis Heramb, 10. Megan Cavaness, 11. Kyle Krupa, 12. Andrew Pollock, 13. Gary Hayden, 14. Chucky Walden, 15. Jerry Hutto, 16. Lenny Krupa III, 17. Jeremy Farris, 18. Jason Hunt, 19. Keivan Clodfelter, 20. Josh Presley
Second bomber feature
1. Bob Farris, 2. Tom Courtney, 3. Devin Wallen, 4. Ray Walters, 5. Greg Caldwell, 6. Alex Reid, 7. DJ Smiley, 8. Chad Nolte, 9. Matthew Grimes, 10. Zane Fields, 11. Harley Burns, 12. Chad Casassa, 13. Ryan Freeland
B-main winner: G. Hayden
Heat winners: Wright, Litton, Beggs, Walters