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Brady Bacon (69) battles Justin Grant last fall at Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis. (Mark Funderburk photo)

Circle City Hosts USAC’s Indy Week Double

INDIANAPOLIS — The month of May in Indianapolis. It just feels right.

That’s where the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship resides tonight and tomorrow with a doubleheader at Circle City Raceway.

Wednesday’s event will reward the 30-lap feature winner with a $5,000 prize while the victor of Thursday’s 30-lap grand finale will take home double that, with a $10,000 check up for grabs with each event presented by Mastin & Cain Warehousing Services.

Midweek in the days preceding the running of the Indianapolis 500 is chockfull of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship racing and this May is no exception.

However, it’s a different twist this year, harkening back to yesteryear when USAC Sprint Car racing within the confines of the Indianapolis area was a mainstay during the Week of Indy.

USAC National Sprint Cars made treks to Indianapolis Raceway Park in the early 1960s just a short jaunt about 15 minutes down the road from IMS. A.J. Foyt, just two days prior to the first of his four victories at the 500-Mile International Sweepstakes, was a victor of the one and only dirt sprint car race at IRP on May 28.

After IRP’s oval was paved, Foyt continued to dominate sprint car racing there as the opening act for his Indianapolis 500 performances in the coming days. He won a pair of 50-lap USAC Sprint races at IRP three days before the 500 in both 1962 and before his second 500 score in 1964.

Two days before starting from the pole of the 1974 Indianapolis 500, Foyt walloped the field by sweeping both 50-lap USAC Sprint Car features at the Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt mile.

Foyt’s Indianapolis winning streak at the Fairgrounds concluded in 1975, not by being defeated, but rather because he had concluded his sprint car career, winning each of his last two starts for a proper sendoff to a legendary run with the series.

However, USAC Sprint Car races during the Week of Indy continued annually from 1974 through 1982 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Bigelow swept a pair of 50-lappers during his record-breaking 14-win season of 1977. For the next two years, the event expanded to triple features on the same night, encompassing two 33-lappers and a 34-lap race to conclude the evening. Lealand McSpadden, Billy Cassella and Dick Tobias were the big winners in 1978 while Bigelow, Bubby Jones and Cassella each hit paydirt in 1979.

The next to hit the jackpot during the Week of Indy in Indy awaits at Circle City’s quarter-mile oval. Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports comes in carrying an undefeated 1-0 record in USAC National Sprint Car competition at Circle City, capturing the September 2021 win with driver Tanner Thorson, who recently left the team.

In a two-car effort for Reinbold-Underwood will be Mitchel Moles, whose second-place result in his debut last week at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track caught the sport’s attention. He’ll be joined in a team car by reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National champion Buddy Kofoid.

Justin Grant has assumed the series point lead after Emerson Axsom had led them throughout the season between February and May. In fact, Grant owns the current point lead in all three of USAC’s national divisions – Silver Crown, National Sprint and National Midget – as he pursues a $300,000 payday and a rare single-season USAC Triple Crown, which only Tony Stewart (1995) and J.J. Yeley (2003) have previously completed.

Axsom finds himself in a new role as the chaser in the point standings where he presently stands second overall, five ticks back. The combination of Clauson Marshall Newman Racing and the No. 47bc won the first ever USAC feature event at Circle City, in the midget, in June of 2021 with driver Corey Day. Axsom, himself, finished fourth in that event.

Brady Bacon owns both the USAC National Midget and USAC National Sprint Car one-lap track records at Circle City, establishing the first ink in the record books with a 12.163 second lap in the sprinter in the Fall of 2021. He wound up fourth in the sprint feature that night and was third in the midget earlier in 2021.

Among Jake Swanson’s best career runs with the USAC National Sprint Cars came at Circle City when he charged from his 10th-starting spot to finish third last September.

C.J. Leary, fresh off a Don Smith Classic victory last Friday, drove a top-five result with a fifth a year ago.

Logan Seavey will make his sprint car debut at Circle City this week, but he did make a lasting impression during 2021 Indiana Midget Week by carving a path from his 22nd starting spot to finish seventh. Chase Stockon scored a 10th in the sprint feature a year back.

Robert Ballou is among the hottest drivers in the series, with five podium (top-three) finishes in each of his last five starts, including a victory in the most recent stop during last Sunday’s Tony Hulman Classic at Terre Haute. He finished 12th at Circle City a year ago.

Jason McDougal is one of the eight drivers to have competed in both the USAC Sprint Car and Midget features at Circle City in 2021. He notched an 11th in the sprint and 24th in the midget last year.

On both Wednesday and Thursday at Circle City Raceway, pits open at 3 p.m. Eastern with the grandstands opening at 5:30 p.m. and hot laps scheduled for 6 p.m.

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