USAC Sprints Return to I-70 Motorsports Park
Series News Release from USAC Media
It’s been more than a quarter century since USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship racing has hit the high banks of Odessa, Missouri’s I-70 Motorsports Park.
But this Saturday night, May 14, the two fixtures pair up for the first time since 1996, and this occasion once again provides a new challenge for the competition in the $6,000-to-win and $600-to-start main event.
The racing night is co-sanctioned by the Wholesale Batteries Midwest Wingless Racing Association that’ll compete in conjunction with the national series. The USAC national portion will pay full points toward the championship while the MWRA event is considered a non-points special event.
None of this weekend’s expected field of entrants have competed under the USAC banner at I-70, which had been shuttered and overrun by mother nature from its 2008 closure until its grand reopening in 2021.
Despite only hosting USAC National Sprint Car events on six occasions over the past half-century, this is, in fact, the third different iteration of I-70 Motorsports Park the series will compete on. In 1970, 1978, 1990, 1995 and 1996, the track was in a half-mile pavement configuration. In 1982, the half-mile surface was covered by dirt.
All six of those events had victories claimed by National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductees, evidence that it takes extra special attributes to conquer this place: Gary Bettenhausen (1970), Sheldon Kinser (1978), Jeff Swindell (1982), Steve Butler (1990), Tony Stewart (1995) and Eric Gordon (1996).
This weekend will feature a new first-time USAC National Sprint Car winner at I-70, which now measures as a 3/8-mile dirt oval, but retains its high banks, high stakes and high precision.
Among the leading contenders to accomplish the feat are USAC National Sprint Car championship regulars who’ve already tamed victory lane early in this 2022 season. Among them are top Rookie, two-time winner and championship point leader Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.).
Second in the standings is Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) who captured the most recent series event in the state of Missouri during 2020 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely and is a one-time winner this season in USAC National Sprint Car competition.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.), third in points, looks to slide back into victory lane for the first time since 2020 this weekend. Four-time series champ Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) enters as the most recent series winner at Ohio’s Atomic Speedway in mid-April and sits fifth in points.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has won with the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship in Missouri during his championship season of 2018 at Sweet Spring Motorsports Complex and resides sixth in the current sprint car standings.
Seventh in points, Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.), likewise, has USAC winning experience in Missouri, taking the National Sprint Car stop at I-55 in 2018.
Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), eighth in the series standings, scored a Missouri USAC National Sprint Car feature win at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley a decade ago in 2012.
Ballou, the 2015 champ, will be one of three USAC National Sprint Car titlists in Saturday’s lineup along with Bacon (2014-16-20-21) and C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), the 2019 series king, who was sixth in his last Missouri run in 2020 at Pevely and holds the 10th position in the current standings coming in.
Winning experience at I-70 comes from the USAC MWRA contingent. Wyatt Burks (Topeka, Kan.), the 2020 MWRA champ, scored a victory with the POWRi WAR Sprint Car series at the track in 2021 and finished 6th the night before. The opener of the 2021 race weekend was notched by Wesley Smith (Billings, Mo.) who traded places with Burks by running 6th on night two.
They’ll both be in the field as they vie for their respective first career USAC National Sprint Car wins. The I-70 experienced also includes Zach Clark (Olathe, Kan.), 11th and 15th in 2021; plus J.D. Black (Grain Valley, Mo.), 14th and 16th with WAR in 2021.
The majority of the field is rowing in the same boat with Saturday marking their initial I-70 experiences. That includes USAC National Sprint Car feature winners such as 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champion and 2021 USAC National Most Improved Driver Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) as well as Carson Short (Marion, Ill.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), all single-time series winners thus far.
Series regulars and first-time USAC National Sprint Car winning hopefuls in Saturday’s field will sport the likes of 2020 Rookie of the Year Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), 2020 USAC National Most Improved Driver Brandon Mattox (Terre Haute, Ind.) along with current USAC West Coast Sprint Car point leader Ricky Lewis (Oxnard, Calif.) and series Rookie Alex Banales (Lafayette, Ind.).
The USAC MWRA series provides a healthy contingent of Kansas and Missouri natives looking to hold down the fort in their backyard. That’s a group that sees 2014 WAR Sprint Car champion Chris Parkinson (Gladstone, Mo.), Chad Tye (Independence, Mo.), Dakota Earls (Independence, Mo.) and one-time MWRA feature winner Xavier Doney (Odessa, Mo.).
Veteran sprint car and midget racer Chad Frewaldt Kansas City, Kan. is in that sector as well and will race a car owned by fellow MWRA competitor Kyle Lewis for this weekend’s USAC swing. Five-time USAC National Sprint Car feature starter Mitchell Davis (Auburn, Ill.) will be in the hunt as well. They’re joined by competitors on the brink of their first career USAC National Sprint Car appearance and their first career series start, a list that includes Mark Lane (Grain Valley, Mo.), Justin Johnson (Platte City, Mo.), Chase Howard (Olive Branch, Miss.) and A.J. Gilbert (Tonganoxie, Kan.).
Saturday’s event features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship along with Show Me Vintage Racing.