BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Kyle Cummins flipped the script on his journey to victory Friday night during round six of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at Bloomington Speedway.
On Thursday, Cummins fast qualifying time during an aborted rain-interrupted qualifying session, then discovered an engine issue that prematurely ended his night before the requalifying session. Forced to find another ride to finish out the night, Cummins came up short of a transfer spot to the feature and missed the show.
One night later, the storyline was written differently despite a rocky start which saw Cummins get wiped out in his heat, forcing him to race his way into the main event through the semi-feature. Starting 10th, Cummins streaked to fourth by lap five and held steady for the majority of the 30-lap distance in the Sheldon Kinser Memorial.
However, on a late-race restart with 13 laps to go, Cummins tried a different approach, cutting a path through the middle of the quarter-mile red clay oval from fourth to third to second to first in a five-lap successive span that thrusted him into the lead and victory for the first time during this USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season aboard his Rock Steady Racing/Ultimate Predator Boats – Mid-America Safety Solutions/Mach-1/Cummins Chevy.
“The crew has been sleeping three or four hours a night, so this is pretty special,” Cummins revealed. “We’ve driven back to North Vernon (Indiana) four nights in a row after destroying a car and switching motors. Carl Thomas gave us this motor last week just in case we needed it. I really didn’t want to have to use it. I called him yesterday and he didn’t hesitate to let us run it. We owe everything to him because we wouldn’t be here. This is his motor and it’s the only one we have left.”
Starting from the outside of row five, Cummins had his work cut out for him with the top-three in Indiana Sprint Week points residing one, two and three in the running order right from the drop of the green. Pole sitter and defending Indiana Sprint Week Bloomington winner Brady Bacon skipped out to the early lead, utilizing the top shelf in turns one and two and the bottom in turns three and four to build up a 1.764-second lead in the first five laps with Leary and Grant in tow.
Bacon led a high-wire act when the time came to take on his first hurdle of the feature event just after the midway point as he raced around the outside of lapped traffic while Leary made up substantial ground, slicing Bacon’s advantage from a full second to just a pair of car lengths while Grant and Cummins resided in close quarters just behind in third and fourth.
Behind the top four, Robert Ballou was on the surge, breaking into the top-five underneath Mitchel Moles on the 18th lap just before attempting a four-wheel drift over the top of the infield tire markers, which bit him at the entrance to turn three and sent him bouncing several times before being tapped by the trailing Moles, which sent Ballou flipping over.
The ensuing restart was truly Cummins’ time to rise and shine as he placed his No. 3r right smack dab in the middle of the racetrack and powered by Justin Grant for third on lap 18, then by Leary for fourth on lap 19 all while using the road less traveled.
“After Justin’s and my deal in the heat race, he had one coming,” Cummins remarked. “So, I was trying a way to where I could at least get third and I just told him, ‘I’m not going to take anybody out,’ but I was at least going to make him think about it. When I dove in down there, the bottom stuck, so I was like, ‘it’s not too bad.’”
Following his disposal of Grant and Leary, Cummins began edging rapidly toward Bacon who denied him just barely at the stripe on laps 20 and 21, but on the back stretch on lap 22, Cummins got a drive that propelled him into the top spot by the time he reached turn three to secure his spot on the top rung.
“I feel like that was the Brady Bacon line and I passed him doing it,” Cummins exclaimed. “I thought for sure Brady was going to go to the bottom, and I just got low enough. The track was just different, and I’m not used to running the middle. I didn’t know what I was doing the last five or six laps.”
A yellow flag on lap 24 found Logan Seavey, who had worked from 23rd to eighth after opting to use a provisional, jumping over the cushion between turns one and two. As he tried to recover and keep his head above the proverbial water, his car was clipped by the ninth-running ride of Jadon Rogers. Seavey slowed to a stop, but restarted and finished 18th.
Nobody had anything to throw at Cummins following the final restart with seven laps to go as Cummins pulled away for a commanding 1.973-second margin of victory over Bacon. Grant slid his way past Leary with three laps remaining to round out the podium in third. Leary grabbed fourth while Jason McDougal made a hard-charging performance from his 16th starting position to finish fifth.
Grant’s consistency has been paramount throughout Indiana Sprint Week. The Ione, California native’s third place run was his fifth top-five in five starts this week. He carries a 49-point cushion in the Indiana Sprint Week standings entering Saturday night’s series finale at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-11.039; 2. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-11.248; 3. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-11.303; 4. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-11.306; 5. Brent Beauchamp, 11, Beauchamp-11.344; 6. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-11.488; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-11.492; 8. Dalton Stevens, 99x, Stevens-11.534; 9. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-11.547; 10. Briggs Danner, 5G, Heffner South-11.550; 11. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-11.591; 12. Jordan Kinser, 04, Burton-11.592; 13. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-11.607; 14. Jadon Rogers, 14, Engler-11.612; 15. Kevin Thomas Jr., 15K, BGE Dougherty-11.632; 16. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-11.646; 17. Travis Berryhill, 77s, Sturgeon-11.661; 18. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-11.712; 19. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-11.738; 20. Harley Burns, 16, Burns-11.749; 21. Jason McDougal, 5m, KO-11.812; 22. Brandon Morin, 98, Morin-11.835; 23. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-11.854; 24. Koby Barksdale, 16K, Knight-11.867; 25. Davey Ray, 14AJ, FattFro-11.877; 26. Shane Cockrum, 66, Amati-11.922; 27. Todd Hobson, 77AU, Sturgeon-11.962; 28. Kyle Shipley, 17GP, Dutcher-11.963; 29. Tye Mihocko, 2E, Epperson-11.991; 30. Max Adams, 37, Felker-12.039; 31. Mario Clouser, 2, Yeley/Petty-12.046; 32. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-12.081; 33. Brayden Fox, 53, Fox-12.161; 34. Tom Harris, 84, Harris-12.188; 35. Scotty Weir, 2B, 2B Racing-12.206; 36. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-12.241; 37. Geoff Ensign, 9E, Sylvia-12.292; 38. Cindy Chambers, 18c, DC-12.391; 39. Troy Carey, 45N, Carey-12.439; 40. Dustin Griffitts, 9, Griffitts-12.857; 41. Allen Howard Jr., 4u, AJR-13.073; 42. Xavier Doney, 74, Doney/Lawson-NT; 43. Hunter Maddox, 24m, Maddox-NT; 44. Dave Darland, 36D, Darland/Curb-Agajanian-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Jason McDougal, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Davey Ray, 6. Brayden Fox, 7. Allen Howard Jr., 8. Travis Berryhill, 9. Tye Mihocko, 10. Brent Beauchamp, 11. Geoff Ensign. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jadon Rogers, 2. Carson Garrett, 3. Max Adams, 4. Brandon Morin, 5. Shane Cockrum, 6. Xavier Doney, 7. Tom Harris, 8. Briggs Danner, 9. Cindy Chambers, 10. Chase Stockon, 11. Sterling Cling. NT
PIT STOP USA THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Shane Cottle, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Todd Hobson, 6. Kyle Cummins, 7. Brandon Mattox, 8. Scotty Weir, 9. Mario Clouser, 10. Troy Carey. NT
ROD END SUPPLY FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Dalton Stevens, 2. Koby Barksdale, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Matt Westfall, 5. Logan Seavey, 6. Brody Roa, 7. Harley Burns, 8. Jordan Kinser, 9. Kyle Shipley, 10. Dustin Griffitts. NT
C MAIN: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi-feature) 1. Brody Roa, 2. Tom Harris, 3. Brayden Fox, 4. Xavier Doney, 5. Cindy Chambers, 6. Dustin Griffitts, 7. Troy Carey. 1:50.97
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Brandon Mattox, 4. Jordan Kinser, 5. Briggs Danner, 6. Brody Roa, 7. Logan Seavey, 8. Shane Cockrum, 9. Brayden Fox, 10. Brent Beauchamp, 11. Tom Harris, 12. Davey Ray, 13. Kyle Shipley, 14. Mario Clouser, 15. Harley Burns, 16. Todd Hobson, 17. Travis Berryhill, 18. Xavier Doney. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (10), 2. Brady Bacon (1), 3. Justin Grant (4), 4. C.J. Leary (2), 5. Jason McDougal (16), 6. Kevin Thomas Jr. (8), 7. Chase Stockon (9), 8. Mitchel Moles (6), 9. Jadon Rogers (7), 10. Emerson Axsom (15), 11. Dalton Stevens (3), 12. Shane Cottle (18), 13. Brandon Mattox (12), 14. Matt Westfall (22), 15. Briggs Danner (11), 16. Brody Roa (21), 17. Robert Ballou (14), 18. Logan Seavey (23-P), 19. Brandon Morin (17), 20. Carson Garrett (5), 21. Max Adams (20), 22. Koby Barksdale (19), 23. Jordan Kinser (13).