top of page
  • Series News Release

Photo Finish Win for Ballou at Eldora


Robert Ballou poses for photos in Victory Lane after his photo finish win at Eldora Speedway. Photo courtesy: USAC Media - Photographer: Indy Racing Images Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media


Rossburg, Ohio (May 3, 2024) - Robert Ballou wasn’t 100 percent sure his car would stick, nor did he even think he was close enough to take his shot on the final two turns of Friday night’s #LetsRaceTwo opener at Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.


Residing a half-straightaway back from leader Kyle Cummins as he took the white flag, Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) put his right rear tire right up next to the outside wall all the way around the half-mile dirt oval, and ultimately, tracked down the low-riding Cummins to win at the stripe by mere inches – .016 second to be precise – and pocket $10,000 for his efforts.


The margin of victory is the second closest in USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship competition during the decade of the 2020s, trailing only the .005 second margin he was on the other side of during the July 2023 Indiana Sprint Week round at Gas City I-69 Speedway in which he finished second to Justin Grant.


This time, it was Ballou’s turn to shine in his Ballou Motorsports/Suburban Subaru – Deaton’s Waterfront Services/DRC/Ott Chevy as he recorded his 38th career USAC National Sprint Car feature victory, surpassing 1977-81-82 series champion Sheldon Kinser for sole possession of 12th place on the all-time list.


Ballou’s seventh career USAC National Sprint Car triumph at Eldora now puts him among the all-time elite at Eldora. Jack Hewitt ranks number one with 13 career victories. Larry Dickson and Tracy Hines collected nine wins apiece. Pancho Carter and Rich Vogler each notched seven.


But Ballou doesn’t exactly need statistics to prove he’s elite at Eldora. He thoroughly demonstrated that once again with his 11th to first run on Friday night.


“I didn’t even know if I was going to make it,” Ballou admitted. “My car was not very good, and I was being a little girl and wasn’t very good up on it. Before that last caution came out, I finally got brave enough to run straight and it was getting faster. I was tired of getting passed and it’s been a tiresome 500 and something days.”


The win came 546 days, to be exact, since his most recent USAC National Sprint Car victory at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway in November of 2022, which translates to just one day shy of 18 months. Similar to that race, Ballou saved his heroics for the latter stages after restarting fifth with nine laps remaining of the 30-lap distance.


“When that last caution came out, I got rolling. I was trying to count the laps and I knew it had to be getting close,” Ballou recalled. “When I got to third, I’m like, ‘man, he’s slowing down but I just don’t think I can get to him.’ When they threw the white, I said, ‘we’re either going to pull out a backup car or we’re going to try and get a win.’ I sent it into three there and wasn’t sure if it was going to end up in the suites or not. But luckily, it held on.”


In a feature race with as many twists and turns as a snake in a canyon, Ballou dealt with his fair share of hurdles to overcome. Following qualifying, Ballou and his crew changed engines to a unique powerplant that has a history as long as Ballou’s entire sprint car career.


“This is the Brettnacher motor,” referring to the engine that driver Aaron Farney and their team used when he was a competitor on the USAC National Sprint Car trail. “They let me have this motor after they quit racing. It’s from 2004 when I first started racing sprint cars. So, it’s all gone full circle. Thanks to the Brettnachers and the Farney family for everything that they’ve done for me over my career.”


The main event featured five different leaders taking their turn up front. Two-time USAC East Coast Sprint Car champion Briggs Danner was the first to step out front as he led the initial three circuits from the pole position. A lap four caution resulted in a flat tire for fifth running Logan Seavey, who made a beeline for the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area under the yellow for repairs. The series point leader returned to the track, but managed only an 11th place finish, ending his series record streak of seven consecutive top-three finishes to begin a season.


Just as the yellow was displayed, Grant had surged ahead of Danner for the lead on the high side of turn four but had to relinquish the position due to the rule dictating that scoring reverts to the last completed lap. Danner resumed as the leader, but it proved to be short lived. On the lap four restart, Grant slid under Danner in turn three to take over the top spot and proceeded to lead the next nine trips.


All the while, ninth starting Max Adams was sneaking along the bottom in pursuit of his first career USAC National Sprint Car victory. Lap by lap, he edged ever closer to Grant, and on lap 13, he pulled ahead on the low line between turns three and four. During the ensuing laps, despite an issue with his right rear tire, Grant caught back up to Adams. But on lap 18, Grant slapped the turn three and four outside wall with his right rear wheel, knocking the right rear shock off, and dropping him all the way back to fifth.


By lap 22, Grant pulled into the pits with his rear wheels bouncing like basketballs.  Brady Bacon (6th) followed suit with a right rear tire issue as did Daison Pursley (7th). All returned to the field but all finished 15th or worse in the final tally.


Up front, Cummins was able to get the outside of Adams for the lead on the restart, and finally moved ahead using the middle of the racetrack on lap 23. Meanwhile, Ballou was charging, going topside around Matt Westfall for fourth on lap 24, then by Danner for third on lap 27, Adams for second on lap 29, and lastly, Cummins for the win on the 30th and final lap.


Kyle Cummins’ (Princeton, Ind.) best Eldora run to date had come during the #LetsRaceTwo opener of 2023 where he led nine laps and finished third. This time, he led seven laps and looked assured to grab his first win in the Petty Performance Racing/Avanti Windows & Doors – Premier Recycling/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy. But Ballou ultimately had something to say about that.


“That one definitely hurts a little bit,” Cummins acknowledged. “But to be honest with you, I’d rather it be the other way around. If I’m going to win, I want it to be up on the fence. I don’t want my Eldora win to be around the bottom. Even though it sucks for me, it made it exciting for the fans, I guess.”


Max Adams’ (Loomis, Calif.) previous best USAC National Sprint Car finish was a fourth at Macon (Ill.) Speedway in 2023. His previous top Eldora Speedway result came in a ninth in this event a year ago. He topped both of those marks in his first ever drive in the F & F Racing/zMax – Western Speed Racing – FK Indy/DRC/FG3 Chevy.


“That was a pleasure to drive,” Adams praised. “I’ve never ran something that good around here before. We ripped the brake caliper off early in the race, like lap one or two. We kind of rode around for a little bit with no brakes to see if we could maintain and we ended up picking cars off and got to the lead. I really didn’t want to see that last caution come out, but that’s just the name of the game. I’ve got to get better on restarts, and I’ve got to get better here later in the night. But this was awesome. I’m truly at a loss for words. I would’ve liked to have gotten the win on that one and I felt like we had a good shot at it, but third is awesome.”


During Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying, Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) recorded his 39th career Fast Time award with the USAC National Sprint Cars, tying himself with five-time series champion Levi Jones for sixth on the all-time list.



FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Robert Ballou (11), 2. Kyle Cummins (7), 3. Max Adams (9), 4. Briggs Danner (1), 5. Matt Westfall (12), 6. Jadon Rogers (19), 7. Mitchel Moles (14), 8. Carson Garrett (16), 9. Kevin Thomas Jr. (5), 10. Chase Stockon (22), 11. Logan Seavey (4), 12. Chance Crum (21), 13. Todd Hobson (15), 14. Kody Swanson (17), 15. Daison Pursley (2), 16. C.J. Leary (24), 17. Jake Swanson (8), 18. Hunter Maddox (10), 19. Brady Bacon (13), 20. Joey Amantea (23), 21. Braxton Cummings (18), 22. Justin Grant (3), 23. Zack Pretorius (20), 24. Saban Bibent (6). NT


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Briggs Danner, Laps 4-12 Justin Grant, Laps 13-22 Max Adams, Laps 23-29 Kyle Cummins, Lap 30 Robert Ballou.


USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-590, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-536, 3-C.J. Leary-533, 4-Justin Grant-452, 5-Daison Pursley-440, 6-Kyle Cummins-436, 7-Chase Stockon-428, 8-Robert Ballou-412, 9-Mitchel Moles-405, 10-Brady Bacon-396.

Comments


bottom of page