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KTJ Scores Tri-State Sprint Win


Series News Release - USAC Media


Haubstadt, Indiana (May 11, 2024) - Throughout the past decade, competitors and fans alike have become accustomed to witnessing the Rock Steady Racing number 3R perform its magic during the Spring Showdown at Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway.




First there was Hunter Schuerenberg in 2012, then Daron Clayton in 2014, and later on, Kyle Cummins did the deed in 2021. At Saturday night’s 11th running of the event on the 1/4-mile dirt oval, it was the team’s newest driver, Kevin Thomas Jr., who sealed the deal to become the fourth different driver from the team’s stable to capture a Spring Showdown victory.




Shortly following a restart, Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) chased down early race leader Mitchel Moles on lap 12, then successfully fended off the pursuit of the surging Cummins. From there on, KTJ led the final 19 laps to score his third career Spring Showdown win after previous triumphs in 2013 and 2018. No other driver owns more than one Spring Showdown win.




Overall, it’s Rock Steady Racing’s ninth USAC National Sprint Car victory at Tri-State, far and away the most successful team in that category. Fully cognizant of the resume held by the 3R at the southern Indiana venue, Thomas felt he had some weight on his shoulders to overcome.




“This is the most nervous I’ve been in a racecar in a long time,” Thomas admitted. “Especially with what Kyle has done here as a driver and them as a team. If you suck, it’s on you. So, that’s tough. But I’ve got a great deal of confidence in my team and my ability to drive a racecar. I was pumped up and I can’t remember the last time I did donuts!”




To be the man, you got to beat the man, and Thomas did just that, breaking the tie he held with Cummins atop Tri-State’s all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list. KTJ’s seventh win with the series at the track is now the standard bearer after grabbing his latest aboard the Rock Steady Racing/Inferno Armor – Eddie Gilstrap Motors – Creative Finishing/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy.




A statistic that truly grabbed Thomas’ attention in the post-race celebration was the fact that his 41st career USAC National Sprint Car feature victory equaled him with the late, great Bryan Clauson for ninth place on the all-time list.




“I might cry,” Thomas stated. “There’s a lot that goes into that, and obviously, he was a good person for the sport and what he did for it and what his family has meant to it. Being able to tie him in anything is pretty emotional but there’s a lot of hard work that goes into this for a long period of time. It took me a lot longer to get there than it has for some other people but I’m hardheaded and I’m not a good learner. So, we’ll keep digging at this.”




Starting third, Thomas slotted into second on the opening lap and immediately draped his ride to the rear bumper of pole sitter Mitchel Moles. By lap nine, the top-two found themselves just a heartbeat away from reaching the tail end of the field when the first stoppage of the feature occurred.




A five-car incident was triggered by contact between Jake Swanson and Adyn Schmidt in a battle for 13th place at the exit of turn four, sending Swanson into a spin cycle. Moments later, Swanson's car was plowed by Dustin Beck and defending Spring Showdown winner Justin Grant. Grant took the worst of it, flipping over to end his suddenly frustrating night. Scheduled to start sixth, Grant pulled off during the pace laps to make a visit to the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area with an ignition box issue being the culprit. He returned to the lineup but had to start from the back of the pack in 24th. Beck bowed out with major front-end damage while Aric Gentry and Kendall Ruble also became entangled in the mishap.




All the while, Thomas was champing at the bit, waiting to exhale and ultimately make his bid for the lead. He got his chance on a restart following a lap 12 caution for contact between Kayla Roell and Donny Brackett. Thomas wound it up on the resumption of the 12th lap and zipped around the outside of Moles for the top spot in turn two.




With the laps dwindling, Thomas was preoccupied with successfully weaving his way in and around lapped traffic. About seven or eight car lengths back, Cummins placed himself into the runner-up spot as he slid Moles in turn one with seven laps remaining. Moles swung back by to retake the position briefly down the back straightaway and into turn three, but as Moles slid up, Cummins countered and dove under to take over second, and Thomas was keenly aware of that sudden development.




“I saw the 3p was there in second and he’s going to be a real pain in my butt all year,” Thomas said. “I’m looking forward to it. He’s one of my good buddies, and that whole team over there does a great job as well. But I’m glad we started a little bit further forward than he did!”




On the final stretch run, Thomas managed to extend his lead as he continued to cut his path toward victory lane, earning the win by a margin of 2.032 seconds over Cummins, Moles, C.J. Leary and Jadon Rogers who rounded out the top-five one night after an accident at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway briefly put him in the back of an ambulance before walking away.




The win was the 27th for Hank Byram’s Rock Steady Racing team in USAC National Sprint Car competition, moving him past Daryl Guiducci’s Six-R Racing outfit for 19th on the series’ all-time entrant win list.




Kyle Cummins’ (Princeton, Ind.) last three Spring Showdown starts have placed him 1st (2021), 3rd (2023) and now 2nd (2024), which equaled his best performance of the USAC season after also finishing second last weekend at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in his Petty Performance Racing/Avanti Windows & Doors – Premier Recycling/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy. On Saturday night, he was also part of the first one-two USAC finish for Mark Smith’s Mach-1 Chassis, which Thomas also competes with.




Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) turned in his best result of the USAC season after leading the initial 11 laps and finishing third in his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Stanton Chevy, marking the best Spring Showdown finish for both driver and team.




Once again, Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) delivered the hardest charging performance of the night. The 2015 USAC National Sprint Car champion started 16th and finished seventh in his Ballou Motorsports/Suburban Subaru – Deaton’s Waterfront Services/DRC/Ott Chevy. It's Ballou’s series-leading third hard charger award of the USAC National Sprint Car season and he’s now passed a total of 56 cars in series features this year, which gives him the lead in the ProSource Passing Master points.




Justin Grant’s (Ione, Calif.) night began proficiently as he set quick time in Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying to move into 11th place all-time on the USAC National Sprint Car fast qualifying list. He surpassed Chase Stockon with his 34th career Fast Qualifier award and now ranks one behind Rich Vogler for 10th all-time at 35.






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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 11, 2024 – Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana – Spring Showdown – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval




HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.226; 2. Kyle Cummins, 3p, Petty-13.271; 3. Jadon Rogers, 17GP, Dutcher-13.328; 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3R, Rock Steady-13.340; 5. C.J. Leary, 15x, BGE Dougherty-13.348; 6. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.487; 7. Daison Pursley, 21AZ, Team AZ-13.537; 8. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-13.599; 9. Carson Short, 21m, Edwards-13.651; 10. Adyn Schmidt, 12s, Schmidt-13.828; 11. Logan Seavey, 57, Abacus-13.830; 12. Brady Short, 61m, Edwards-13.832; 13. Jake Swanson, 2B, 2B Racing-13.885; 14. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.890; 15. Dustin Beck, 75, Hensen/Rupp-13.901; 16. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-13.989; 17. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.006; 18. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-14.006; 19. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-14.024; 20. Trey Osborne, 6T, Osborne-14.068; 21. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-14.086; 22. Joey Amantea, 88J, JPA-14.144; 23. Kendall Ruble, 17, Ruble-14.152; 24. Kayla Roell, 5K, KO-14.152; 25. Donny Brackett, 4B, Brackett-14.280; 26. Hunter Maddox, 24m, Maddox-14.288; 27. Stan Beadles, 84, Beadles-14.301; 28. Michael Daugherty, 3.14, Daugherty-14.452; 29. Sam Scott, 7s, Scott-14.546; 30. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.558; 31. Nathan Seale, 1s, Seale-15.228




SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Short, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Donny Brackett, 6. Carson Garrett, 7. Matt Westfall, 8. Sam Scott. 2:16.776




ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Mitchel Moles, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Adyn Schmidt, 5. Aric Gentry, 6. Joey Amantea, 7. Brandon Mattox, 8. Hunter Maddox. 2:16.221




T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Jadon Rogers, 2. Kendall Ruble, 3. J.J. Hughes, 4. Dustin Beck, 5. Daison Pursley, 6. Logan Seavey, 7. Stan Beadles, 8. Nathan Seale. 2:16.177




CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Brady Short, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Kayla Roell, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Trey Osborne, 7. Michael Daugherty. 2:16.571




ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Matt Westfall, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Carson Garrett, 4. Joey Amantea, 5. Stan Beadles, 6. Trey Osborne, 7. Brandon Mattox, 8. Sam Scott, 9. Hunter Maddox, 10. Michael Daugherty, 11. Nathan Seale. 2:53.719


FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 2. Kyle Cummins (5), 3. Mitchel Moles (1), 4. C.J. Leary (2), 5. Jadon Rogers (4), 6. Daison Pursley (8), 7. Robert Ballou (16), 8. Brady Bacon (14), 9. Brady Short (12), 10. Logan Seavey (11), 11. Chase Stockon (9), 12. Carson Short (7), 13. Adyn Schmidt (10), 14. Carson Garrett (20), 15. Matt Westfall (17), 16. J.J. Hughes (19), 17. Jake Swanson (13), 18. Joey Amantea (21), 19. Donny Brackett (24), 20. Kayla Roell (23), 21. Aric Gentry (18), 22. Kendall Ruble (22), 23. Dustin Beck (15), 24. Justin Grant (6). NT


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 Mitchel Moles, Laps 12-30 Kevin Thomas Jr.


**Justin Grant flipped on lap 9 of the feature.


USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-789, 2-C.J. Leary-741, 3-Kevin Thomas Jr.-724, 4-Daison Pursley-633, 5-Justin Grant-620, 6-Kyle Cummins-620, 7-Brady Bacon-580, 8-Mitchel Moles-570, 9-Robert Ballou-561, 10-Chase Stockon-546.

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