Sunday, June 17 - Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!! It was the last day of our short vacation to Indiana and also the last night of the USAC Indiana Midget Week and what better place to wrap it up than at Kokomo. This 3/8 mile semi-banked dirt oval is located just outside of town with a large farm building located behind turns three and four with the pits located off turns one and two. The seating is a large wooden grandstand that extends the entire length of the homestretch and there are also pit bleachers in between turns one and two. The consession stands are located underneath the grandstand and are set up well with bins well stocked with delicious food and the best of it being the pork tenderloin sandwiches which are very thick and worth the $5 price tag. We arrived a little late after having lunch with our realtor in Crawfordsville, visiting Home Depot to check on some prices for items and traveling unfamilar roads it was 6:05 when we pulled into the parking lot. Thank goodness we had the seat saving specialist, Rich Rauser, placing a blanket down for us so we had good seats arriving at the later hour.
By 6:39 midget time trials were underway for the 33 midgets on hand with Tracy Hines spinning off a quick lap of 13.506 seconds to become the fast timer. The wingless sprint cars, one of the normal Sunday night classes at Kokomo were also on the card along with the street stocks. Twenty three sprint cars ran three heats with Bryan Clauson, Casey Shuman and Kyle Larson scoring wins on the multi grooved surface with cars running on the inside, the middle and the outside. Four heats were run for the midgets with Pennsylvania’s Steve Buckwalter, California’s dwarf or little person, Rico Abreu, looking good in the second heat. Jerry Coons Jr. out of Arizona and Indiana’s Indy 500 starter, Bryan Clauson bagging the other two heats. There were only 16 street stocks so just two heats were needed here and they were a good filler class on the evening. All heat qualifying was completed by 8:30 and a B main was needed for both the sprint cars and midgets with Nick Drake, the son of Jay Drake, winning the sprints and Mario Clouser winning the midgets. Next on the agenda was intermission with the track crew totally reworking the track in twenty five minutes.
The sprints would run their feature first and while I understand that they are the premiere division on a regular Sunday night it was to me a special night and it was Indiana Midget Week so the midgets should have been given top bill and the chance to race on the best surface possible. But it was not to be so the green flag waved at 9:33 to start the 25 lap sprint feature. Kyle Larson and Chris Windom ocuppied the first row and battled for the early lead until “Stomp and Steer” Scotty Weir swept around the outside to take the lead on lap 6 to the crowd’s delight. Just three laps later Weir caught the cushion wrong between turns one and two and slammed the wall almost flipping in the process. Windom assumed the lead for one lap until young Kyle Larson took the lead on the homestretch to complete lap 10. Though there was good racing throughout the pack Larson would not be passed though Bryan Clauson pressured him over the last several laps looking for a way by but Larson flashed under the checkered flag first with Clauson second, Thomas Meseraull third, Levi Jones coming from the fourth row to finish fourth with Coleman Gulick using the high side to advance from 15th to round out the top five.
Now it was time for the 30 lap midget feature and we were off and running at 10:17. They stayed green until lap 12 when Alex Bright tangled with Thomas Meseraull in turn one with Bright rolling to a stop. Michael Pickens, who in an earlier blog I had living in Australia but knew better that he is a Kiwi from New Zealand instead, was looking good running high and leading the race. Pickens looked strong and was threatening to repeat his win in this event from last year and trying to become the third driver in speed week to do so. Darren Hagen (Gas City) and Bryan Clauson (Lincoln Park)were the previous repeat winners in the speed week. It was not meant to be though as Pickens bobbled in turn one on lap 17 and Kyle Larson sideswiped him and Pickens was done. Larson would inherit the lead and again at the end Bryan Clauson made a serious challenge to unseat the youngster but Larson held on and became only the second driver in Kokomo Speedway history to win both the sprint and midget features in the same evening joining Chad Boat in the record books. Tracy Hines finished third with Chris Windom taking fourth and Brad Kuhn salvaging a terrible week grabbing fifth at the end. Three of the ARDC contingent, Steve Buckwalter, Alex Bright and Trevor Kobylarz made the main event but none of them finished in the top ten. Buckwalter’s 12th was the high mark for ARDC on the evening.
We decided to skip the street stock feature and visit the pit area to chat with the Buckwalters and others before heading south to Indianapolis. We left the Indianapolis Airport around 1 PM Monday and were back in Philadelphia by 3:45 and eating dinner in Quakertown by 5. It was a good week of racing overall with three good programs and two disappointing ones.
We would like to thank new National Speedway Directory owner, Tim Frost, for our two copies of the 2012 book and urge everyone that take some road trips to purchase a copy of this very useful book packed with information of every track in the United States and Canada along with dragstrips. It is well worth the investment of $10 to have this useful tool at hand when you are buzzing down the road to visit your next track.