Ocala, Florida…….Tracy Hines made it a memorable trip to Florida by finishing off the three-day “Winter Dirt Games” with his second-straight AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature win, this time coming in wire-to-wire fashion. The 40-year old New Castle, Indiana driver notched his 45th career National Sprint Car win on Saturday night, tying Larry Dickson for third on the all-time list.
After qualifying 5th, Hines started outside the front row, out-gunned rookie Tyler Courtney on the start and quickly worked to a sizeable advantage as a heavy race track made for a fast pace up front. Hunter Schuerenberg shot from row three and under Courtney for the second spot and caught Hines, applying pressure throughout the race while continually looking below Hines off turn-four.
With less than five to go, the race took a major turn as third-place runner Justin Grant came to a stop with a flat right-rear tire, while Bryan Clauson pitted for the same problem. On the restart, Schuerenberg had problems with his left-rear tire, opening the door in turn-one for Courtney, who brought Chase Stockon with him.
Hines was not to be challenged, however, winning by 1.11 seconds in the Hansen’s Welding – Motor City Auto Transport #4 DRC/Stanton Mopar.
“Our car was extremely good, so it was just my job to keep it in line. Starting up front is always good, and you have to take advantage of it when the car is good. Lapped cars were a little erratic at times, so I just had to keep from making a big mistake. We’re closing in now on Jack Hewitt on the win list (one behind him), so hopefully he’s there when I tie him like he was tonight,” Hines said.
Courtney held on for second, easily marking his best-career finish with the series in just his seventh appearance, making an early statement for “Rookie of the Year” in the All Pro Auto Reconditioning – Butlerbuilt Seat Systems #23c Maxim/Foxco.
“I was as nervous as I’ve ever been, to sit on the pole for the feature. It was a pretty great feeling bringing the field down to the green on the final night down here. The track was tricky but hammer-down, and by the end I was just trying to finish without giving up any spots. I saw Grant’s tire going down, and then Hunter must have had something wrong so I threw it in there and it stuck. This is a big confidence booster for us – we want to run as much of the USAC schedule as possible, funding-dependent, so this is a great start to what is really my first full year in a sprint car,” Courtney said.
Stockon finished off a great night, backing up the ProSource “Fast Time Award” with a heat race win before diving past Schuerenberg for the final podium spot in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
“I was just gonna try to get Courtney on the last restart because the yellow had come out right when I was passing him before, but Schuerenberg ended up having a problem and we were both able to capitalize. We definitely improved on last year down here, so it was really big for our whole weekend to end this way. We learned a lot last year, especially in the second half, and it seems like we’ve picked up where we left off,” Stockon said.
Robert Ballou bounced back from his bad luck on Friday night by finishing fourth in the Baldwin Brothers Racing – Fox Paving #5 Maxim/Kercher, while Schuerenberg saved a top-five while securing the series point lead leaving Florida in the MyLocalFordStore.com – Fatheadz Eyewear #35 Mach1/Rider.
ProSource “Hard Charger Award” winner Chris Windom won his heat before driving from 17th to finish 11th. “Rookie of the Year” contender Nick Drake was presented the Mach-1 Chassis “Hard Luck Award” after failing to finish for the third straight night, suffering engine problems while running in the top-ten.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 23, 2013 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games IV”
QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-13.936; 2. Levi Jones, 39, Walker-14.158; 3. Justin Grant, 11, Walker-14.164; 4. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-14.216; 5. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-14.221; 6. Robert Ballou, 5, Baldwin-14.230; 7. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-14.283; 8. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-14.286; 9. Nick Drake, 55, Cline-14.290; 10. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney/Anderson-14.325; 11. Mark Smith, 1M, Smith-14.330; 12. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.359; 13. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.438; 14. Chris Gurley, 12, Team Automotive-14.462; 15. Scotty Weir, 40, Hery-14.467; 16. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher/RW/TriStar-14.497; 17. A.J. Hopkins, 42G, Jackson-14.516; 18. Chris Windom, 21x, Pollock-14.554; 19. Landon Simon, 41, Stensland-14.560; 20. Shane Cottle, 2, Epperson-14.699; 21. Dallas Hewitt, 2M, Marshall-14.774; 22. Brady Short, 11P, Pottorff-14.915; 23. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-14.954; 24. Brian Paulus, 28, Paulus-15.034; 25. Brian Hayden, 77, Wingo-15.126; 26. Travis Hery, 21H, Hery-15.617; 27. Dan Statter, 59, Statter-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Hines, 3. Hopkins, 4. Leary, 5. Drake, 6. Hewitt, 7. Hayden. NT
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Courtney, 3. Short, 4. Jones, 5. Ballou, 6. Gurley, 7. Hery. 1:56.73
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Simon, 2. Gross, 3. Grant, 4. Smith, 5. Darland, 6. Weir, 7. Statter. 1:55.62
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bacon, 2. Cottle, 3. Schuerenberg, 4. Thomas, 5. Clauson, 6. Paulus. 1:55.88
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Clauson, 3. Darland, 4. Drake, 5. Weir, 6. Hewitt, 7. Gurley, 8. Paulus, 9. Hayden, 10. Hery, 11. Statter. 2:52.77
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tracy Hines, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Hunter Schuerenberg, 6. Levi Jones, 7. Brady Bacon, 8. Dave Darland, 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Bryan Clauson, 11. Chris Windom, 12. Scotty Weir, 13. Justin Grant, 14. Chris Gurley, 15. Landon Simon, 16. Brady Short, 17. Nick Drake, 18. A.J. Hopkins, 19. Shane Cottle, 20. Kurt Gross, 21. Mark Smith, 22. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 23. Dallas Hewitt.NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Hines.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Schuerenberg-182; 2-Stockon-178; 3-Hines/Clauson-175; 5-Bacon-167; 6-Darland-160; 7-Ballou-142; 8-Thomas-118; 9-Leary-112; 10-Weir-110.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: April 6 – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – Lawrenceburg Speedway