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The Capital! Knoxville’s Corn Belt Clash Hosts USAC Sprints May 31-June 1




Knoxville, Iowa (May 29, 2024)………Winning a USAC National Sprint Car race at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway is reserved for greatness.


Gary Bettenhausen, Dick Tobias, Sammy Sessions, Tom Bigelow, Sheldon Kinser and Sammy Swindell have all won here and are now enshrined in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame which overlooks turn two of the famed half-mile.


In recent years, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon and Tyler Courtney have added wins of their own, and someday, their names will most definitely be called upon as an inductee to the hall of fame.


Drivers make their name at this place. Always have and always will. After all, a place christened as The Sprint Car Capital of the World has that type of presence.


An opportunity awaits this weekend’s crop of USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship talents who’ll face two full programs on Friday-Saturday, May 31-June 1, at Knoxville during the Avanti Windows & Doors Corn Belt Clash.


One year ago, Jake Swanson made the most of his opportunity by adding a monumental piece to his resume as a last lap USAC winner at Knoxville. Now, we’ll find out who’s next to make their mark at one of the most legendary dirt tracks in the world.


Without further ado, let’s check out six storylines to keep tabs on this weekend.

 


SWANSON’S LAST LAP AT KNOXVILLE WAS A WINNER


Jake Swanson’s most recent Knoxville appearance resulted in a last lap victory during the June 2023 Corn Belt Clash. Earlier that same night, Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) set quick time during qualifying as well.


Thus far in 2024, Swanson remains on the hunt for both his first feature win and his first fast time of the USAC National Sprint Car season.


However, Swanson’s latest performance on the similar dirt half-mile at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track one week ago gives some credence that Knoxville could provide that long-awaited season breakthrough.


Swanson finished second at Terre Haute last Tuesday night, leading a race-high 20 of the 30 laps before developing a hole in his right rear tire and being passed for the lead just two laps from the finish line.


 

KNOXVILLE IS BACON’S SECOND HOME


Only one driver has won more than two USAC National Sprint Car features at Knoxville Raceway. In fact, that driver has won four throughout his illustrious career. That’s Brady Bacon.


The Broken Arrow, Okla. native scored at Knoxville in 2011, then swept both nights of the Corn Belt Clash in 2019 and capped the weekend with a triumph in 2020. In 2023, he led until the final lap before developing a tire issue and being passed for the lead and the win by Jake Swanson. Bacon still managed to finish second.


In nine career Knoxville USAC Sprint Car starts, Bacon has only finished outside the top-three once. It’s a profile that features four wins, three seconds and a third, and no finish worse than 10th.


After a rough go to start the USAC Sprint Car season, Bacon has finished each of his three past starts on the podium with a 3rd at Terre Haute, followed by his first victory of the season at Circle City and a runner-up finish a night later at Circle City, which has propelled the four-time series champion into the top-five of the standings.



GRANT LOOKING TO REBOUND


Since winning his first USAC National Sprint Car event at Knoxville in 2017, Grant has reeled off finishes of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th at the Sprint Car Capital of the World, marking a rare distinction of finishing in each of the top-six spots at one point or another in his career.


This weekend, a finish of that caliber for Grant (Ione, Calif.) would be a welcome sight for the two-time and defending USAC National Sprint Car champion. Entering Knoxville, he’s finished 13th or worse in seven of his last nine outings, which has dropped him to eighth in the series standings despite already notching four feature wins to this point.


It is wise to note that, around this same point last year, Grant struggled mightily before putting it all back together to capture his second straight crown. Two opportunities this weekend at Knoxville provide that chance to kickstart his season and get back into the groove in pursuit of a third consecutive title.

 


PURSLEY ON THE VERGE


The last USAC visit to Knoxville saw a jubilant and triumphant Team AZ Racing crew celebrating in victory lane after a last lap pass for the win by Jake Swanson.


This year, Daison Pursley is at the wheel of number 21AZ, and the signs are beginning to point to a breakthrough coming soon for the Locust Grove, Okla. native who captured USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year honors one year ago.


In his six most recent USAC National Sprint Car starts during the month of May, Pursley has recorded results of 6th, 2nd, 6th, 6th, 3rd and 3rd for an average finishing spot of 4.33. In his last five feature starts, Pursley has passed an astonishing 44 cars in feature events alone!


Over the past few weeks, he won a USAC National Midget race, finished fifth in his USAC Silver Crown debut after starting at the tail, finished on the podium thrice with the USAC National Sprint Cars, and most recently, last Sunday, he was victorious in a winged sprint car at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway.


Pursley already owns a USAC Sprint Car non-points special event victory at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in February 2023. Now, he’s primed to notch USAC National Sprint Car points-paying victory number one at Knoxville.



SEAVEY IS JONESIN' FOR ANOTHER "BUBBY" WIN


Logan Seavey has already become the earliest to win his fifth USAC National Sprint Car feature of the year (May 23, 2024) since Larry Dickson on May 10, 1970. Furthermore, Seavey became the first driver since Bryan Clauson in 2016 to win five races within the first 14 events of the season.


Dickson is the only driver to win six USAC National Sprint Car features by the end of May. Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) can equal that record on Friday at Knoxville. However, no driver has ever won seven USAC National Sprint Car features by the end of June 1. Seavey can set a new record with a two-night Knoxville sweep this weekend.


If Seavey was to win this Friday at Knoxville, he’d be the first to win six of the first 15 races in a season since Robert Ballou in 2015. Similarly, if Seavey was to sweep the weekend, he’d be the first to win seven of the first 16 races to start a season since Ballou during the same 2015 campaign.


Additionally, Seavey carries a 28-point lead into round four of the Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster Series presented by Spire Sports + Entertainment. He's won two of the first three rounds of the 10-race miniseries at Volusia and Terre Haute. Justin Grant won the only other round held thus far at Eldora. At the end of the year, the “Bubby Jones” driver champion will earn $10,000 for himself and $2,500 for his crew chief.


 

A HALL OF FAME KIND OF WEEKEND


This weekend’s event is special in more ways than one. It’s National Sprint Car Hall of Fame induction weekend as eight individuals will be honored for their contributions to the sport during a ceremony on Saturday, June 1, at the Dyer-Hudson Hall on the Marion County Fairgrounds behind Knoxville Raceway’s grandstands. The doors will open at 11am Central with dinner catered by the Rib Shack at Noon. The induction festivities will follow thereafter.


This year’s 34th class of inductees includes Tracy Hines, Paul McMahan, Jon Stanbrough, Gary “Deuce” Turrill, Ricky Warner, Mark “Bones” Bourcier, Roy Robbins and Bill Holder.


Serving as the backdrop of this weekend’s Corn Belt Clash on-track activities, the modern day USAC National Sprint Car stars of today will be passing by the Hall of Fame each time they rip around the half-mile, but someday hope to stop by and have their name etched in as a Hall of Fame inductee, some of which already possess Hall of Fame credentials.



TO HALVE OR NOT HALVE


Half-miles have made up the majority of the venues throughout USAC National Sprint Car history with just a little more than half of all events held on tracks that size or larger, 15 of which have taken place at Knoxville since 1968.


At least nine drivers in this weekend’s field have won USAC National Sprint Car features on half-mile tracks, led by Brady Bacon with 19. Robert Ballou has won 16 on the “halves” while Justin Grant has notched 15, Kevin Thomas Jr. six, Logan Seavey six, Chase Stockon four, C.J. Leary four, Jake Swanson two and Matt Westfall one apiece.


Already this season, Seavey (Volusia twice & Terre Haute once), Ballou (Eldora) and Grant (Eldora) have bagged USAC Sprint Car wins on half-mile tracks.


Tom Bigelow owns the most with 50 career USAC Sprint Car wins on half-mile or larger tracks but did the bulk of his work when the entire schedule was made up of said tracks before tracks less than a half-mile were introduced to the schedule in 1981.



RACE DETAILS:


The Avanti Windows & Doors Corn Belt Clash will take place on Friday-Saturday, May 31-June 1. Friday’s feature will be 25 laps in length and pay $8,000-to-win. Saturday’s feature will be 30 laps in length and pay $12,000-to-win.


The fourth edition of the Corn Belt Clash features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, in conjunction with the USAC Wholesale Batteries Midwest Wingless Racing Association & the Western Iowa Non-Wing Sprints). Knoxville Championship 360 Sprint Cars will be on the card for Friday while the Knoxville Championship 410 Sprint Cars will be on hand Saturday.


Each night, the front gates open at 6pm Central and hot laps at 6:45pm followed immediately by qualifying and racing.


On Friday, general admission tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for ages 13-19, $5 for ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 & under. Reserved tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for ages 13-19, $10 for ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 & under. Pit passes are $40.


On Saturday, general admission tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for ages 13-19, $10 for ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 & under. Reserved tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for ages 13-19, $15 for ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 & under. Pit passes are $40.


Advance tickets are on sale at www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com.


The entire weekend of events can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/usac.



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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-996, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-910, 3-C.J. Leary-900, 4-Daison Pursley-836, 5-Brady Bacon-815, 6-Robert Ballou-756, 7-Kyle Cummins-755, 8-Justin Grant-740, 9-Mitchel Moles-733, 10-Chase Stockon-727.


BUBBY JONES MASTER OF GOIN’ FASTER PRESENTED BY SPIRE SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-233, 2-C.J. Leary-205, 3-Kevin Thomas Jr.-203, 4-Brady Bacon-178, 5-Daison Pursley-178, 6-Justin Grant-172, 7-Mitchel Moles-171, 8-Kyle Cummins-165, 9-Jake Swanson-152, 10-Carson Garrett-150.


USAC WHOLESALE BATTERIES MIDWEST WINGLESS RACING ASSOCIATION SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Wyatt Burks-1095, 2-Luke Howard-985, 3-Kobe Simpson-955, 4-Zach Clark-920, 5-Chad Winfrey-910, 6-Dakota Earls-885, 7-Junior Parkinson-875, 8-Wesley Smith-865, 9-Michael Moore-855, 10-Kory Schudy-835.



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CORN BELT CLASH WINNERS:


2019: Brady Bacon (7/5) & Brady Bacon (7/6)


2020: Tyler Courtney (7/10) & Brady Bacon (7/11)


2023: Jake Swanson (6/3)



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USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINS AT KNOXVILLE RACEWAY:


4-Brady Bacon


2-Tyler Courtney


1-Bud Kaeding, Dick Tobias, Gary Bettenhausen, Justin Grant, Sammy Sessions, Jake Swanson, Sammy Swindell, Sheldon Kinser & Tom Bigelow



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USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR WINNERS AT KNOXVILLE RACEWAY:


1968: Gary Bettenhausen (9/6)


1971: Dick Tobias (6/5)


1972: Sammy Sessions (6/3)


1973: Tom Bigelow (6/3)


1982: Sheldon Kinser (6/5)


1988: Sammy Swindell (6/11)


2010: Bud Kaeding (8/8)


2011: Brady Bacon (8/7)


2017: Justin Grant (6/3)


2018: Tyler Courtney (6/9)


2019: Brady Bacon (7/5) & Brady Bacon (7/6)


2020: Tyler Courtney (7/10) & Brady Bacon (7/11)


2023: Jake Swanson (6/3)



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TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CARS AT KNOXVILLE RACEWAY:


1 Lap - 6/3/2017 - Kevin Thomas Jr. - 18.548 - 97.046 mph


8 Laps - 8/8/2010 - Bryan Clauson - 2:38.80 - 90.680 mph


10 Laps - 7/11/2020 - Robert Ballou - 3:09.379 - 95.048 mph


12 Laps - 6/3/2023 - J.J. Yeley - 4:14.99 - 84.709 mph


16 Laps - 7/11/2020 - Robert Ballou - 5:25.068 - 88.597 mph


25 Laps - 7/6/2019 - Brady Bacon - 9:11.86 - 82.195 mph


30 laps - 7/11/2020 - Brady Bacon - 10:19.56 - 87.668 mph


40 Laps - 6/3/1972 - Sammy Sessions - 16:21.23 - 73.377 mph



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PAST KNOXVILLE RACEWAY USAC SPRINT CAR FEATURE RESULTS:


1968 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Gary Bettenhausen, 2. Jerry "Scratch" Daniels, 3. Larry Dickson, 4. Greg Weld, 5. Wib Spalding, 6. Carl Williams, 7. Mike Mosley, 8. Don Brown, 9. Don Thomas, 10. Ralph Liguori, 11. Bill Puterbaugh, 12. Rollie Beale, 13. Dee Jones, 14. Johnny Parsons


1971 FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Dick Tobias, 2. Sammy Sessions, 3. Ray Lee Goodwin, 4. Lee Kunzman, 5. Tom Bigelow, 6. Rollie Beale, 7. Gary Bettenhausen, 8. Johnny Parsons, 9. Karl Busson, 10. Jimmy Oskie, 11. Don Nordhorn, 12. Darl Harrison, 13. Larry Rice, 14. Merle Bettenhausen, 15. Joe Saldana, 16. Jim Malloy, 17. Larry Cannon, 18. Doc Dawson, 19. Greg Weld, 20. Bill Puterbaugh


1972 FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Sammy Sessions, 2. Don Nordhorn, 3. Greg Weld, 4. Tom Bigelow, 5. Billy Thrasher, 6. Rollie Beale, 7. Bob Pratt, 8. Bill Puterbaugh, 9. Johnny Parsons, 10. Larry Cannon, 11. Joe Saldana, 12. Steve Cannon, 13. Gary Ponzini, 14. Bruce Walkup, 15. Billy Cassella, 16. Karl Busson, 17. Bill Koepfer, 18. Larry Dickson, 19. Rick Goudy, 20. Charlie Masters


1973 FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Tom Bigelow, 2. Rollie Beale, 3. Pancho Carter, 4. Gary Bettenhausen, 5. Don Nordhorn, 6. Larry Cannon, 7. Lee Kunzman, 8. Johnny Parsons, 9. Sammy Sessions, 10. Jackie Howerton, 11. John Toth, 12. Ronnie Rough, 13. Mel Cornett, 14. Art Bisch, Jr., 15. Bruce Walkup, 16. Billy Engelhart, 17. Tony Simon, 18. Greg Leffler, 19. Rich Leavell, 20. Steve Shultz.


1982 FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Sheldon Kinser, 2. Rich Vogler, 3. Johnny Coogan, 4. Jack Hewitt, 5. Duke Cook, 6. Manny Rockhold, 7. Bill Robinson, 8. Steve Long, 9. Danny Milburn, 10. Jeff Swindell, 11. David Smith, 12. T.J. Giddings, 13. Buddy Wallen, 14. Jerry Potter, 15. Mackie Heimbaugh, 16. Mike Brooks, 17. Joe Saldana, 18. Jim Moughan, 19. Tim Deaver, 20. Mike Thomas


1988 FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Sammy Swindell, 2. Randy Smith, 3. Jeff Tuttle, 4. Lee Brewer, Jr., 5. Steve Butler, 6. Jerry Richert, Jr., 7. Jamie Moyle, 8. Mike Peters, 9. Rich Bubak, 10. Danny Thoman, 11. Rick Ungar, 12. Kenny Jacobs, 13. Bob White, 14. Tod Bishop, 15. Mark Shaffer, 16. Tray House, 17. Tim Monson, 18. Danny Lasoski, 19. Ray Lipsey, 20. Terry McCarl.


2010 FEATURE: (26 laps) 1. Bud Kaeding, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Daron Clayton, 4. Scotty Weir, 5. Damion Gardner, 6. Bryan Clauson, 7. Robert Ballou, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Casey Shuman, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Levi Jones, 12. Mike Hess, 13. Casey Riggs, 14. Jerry Coons Jr., 15. Jon Stanbrough, 16. Tracy Hines, 17. Kyle Larson, 18. Kyle Cummins, 19. Chris Urish, 20. Shane Hmiel, 21. Keith Bloom, 22. Ricky Williams. NT


2011 FEATURE: (26 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Jerry Coons Jr. 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Bryan Clauson, 6. Travis Rilat, 7. Hunter Schuerenberg, 8. Keith Bloom Jr., 9. Levi Jones, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Robert Ballou, 12. Hud Cone, 13. Joey Moughan, 14. Mike Spencer, 15. Bill Rose, 16. Coleman Gulick, 17. Dustin Morgan, 18. Mike Moore, 19. Wes McIntyre, 20. Damion Gardner, 21. Casey Riggs, 22. Bud Kaeding, 23. Stu Snyder, 24. Blake Fitzpatrick, 25. Justin Grant, 26. Dave Darland. NT


2017 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Chad Boespflug, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. C.J. Leary, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Kevin Thomas Jr., 8. Josh Hodges, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Brady Bacon, 11. Isaac Chapple, 12. Dave Darland, 13. Stevie Sussex, 14. Carson Short, 15. Aaron Farney, 16. Hunter Schuerenberg, 17. Dustin Smith, 18. Tyler Courtney, 19. R.J. Johnson, 20. Brody Roa, 21. Nick Bilbee, 22. Jon Stanbrough. NT


2018 FEATURE: (30 laps – starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (6), 2. C.J. Leary (3), 3. Brady Bacon (1), 4. Justin Grant (5), 5. Brody Roa (9), 6. Chase Stockon (4), 7. Robert Ballou (10), 8. Dave Darland (17), 9. Chris Windom (12), 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (7), 11. Jarett Andretti (11), 12. Chad Boespflug (2), 13. Josh Hodges (15), 14. Tom Harris (14), 15. Nick Bilbee (8), 16. Glen Saville (21), 17. Wyatt Burks (20), 18. Brandon Stevenson (13), 19. Robert Bell (22), 20. Rob Caho, Jr. (19), 21. Frank Rodgers (23), 22. Kelly Graham (24), 23. Isaac Chapple (16), 24. Katlynn Leer (18). 10:45.63


2019 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (25 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (6), 2. Chris Windom (1), 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 4. Tyler Courtney (10), 5. Justin Grant (7), 6. Ryan Bernal (9), 7. Chase Stockon (5), 8. Jason McDougal (20), 9. C.J. Leary (8), 10. Matt Westfall (2), 11. Wyatt Burks (12), 12. Wesley Smith (11), 13. Don Droud, Jr. (13), 14. Korey Weyant (21), 15. Nick Bilbee (16), 16. Timmy Buckwalter (4), 17. Josh Hodges (22), 18. Mario Clouser (23), 19. Carson Short (19), 20. Dave Darland (15), 21. Anthony Nicholson (18), 22. Riley Kreisel (24), 23. Chad Boespflug (14), 24. Landon Simon (17). 9:11.86 (New Track Record)


2019 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (2), 2. C.J. Leary (4), 3. Tyler Courtney (6), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 5. Chris Windom (8), 6. Justin Grant (1), 7. Jason McDougal (7), 8. Chase Stockon (3), 9. Ryan Bernal (12), 10. Carson Short (11), 11. Matt Westfall (9), 12. Korey Weyant (23), 13. Wyatt Burks (10), 14. Josh Hodges (20), 15. Nick Bilbee (14), 16. Dave Darland (19), 17. Mario Clouser (16), 18. Steve Irwin (24), 19. Kory Schudy (22), 20. Anthony Nicholson (21), 21. Riley Kreisel (13), 22. Chad Boespflug (15), 23. Timmy Buckwalter (18), 24. Wesley Smith (17). 11:08.75


2020 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (25 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (3), 2. Brady Bacon (4), 3. Justin Grant (6), 4. Chris Windom (9), 5. C.J. Leary (8), 6. Ryan Bernal (14), 7. Carson Short (7), 8. Jake Swanson (10), 9. Logan Seavey (20), 10. Wesley Smith (19), 11. Chase Stockon (17), 12. Wyatt Burks (1), 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. (16), 14. Nick Bilbee (5), 15. Tanner Thorson (18), 16. Riley Kreisel (2), 17. Matt Westfall (15), 18. Shane Cottle (22), 19. Don Droud Jr. (23), 20. Jack Wagner (21), 21. Brian VanMeveren (12), 22. Dustin Clark (13), 23. Robert Ballou (11), 24. Dennis Gile (24). NT


2020 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (1), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. C.J. Leary (3), 4. Chris Windom (5), 5. Tyler Courtney (4), 6. Ryan Bernal (8), 7. Carson Short (6), 8. Robert Ballou (19), 9. Chase Stockon (7), 10. Jake Swanson (10), 11. Tanner Thorson (14), 12. Riley Kreisel (15), 13. Logan Seavey (13), 14. Nick Bilbee (9), 15. Wyatt Burks (11), 16. Kevin Thomas Jr. (12), 17. Don Droud Jr. (23), 18. Shane Cottle (21), 19. Matt Westfall (17), 20. Dennis Gile (20), 21. Dustin Clark (16), 22. Wesley Smith (18), 23. Glen Saville (24), 24. Dave Darland (22). 10:19.560


2023 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jake Swanson (6), 2. Brady Bacon (5), 3. Mitchel Moles (7), 4. C.J. Leary (1), 5. Emerson Axsom (3), 6. Matt Westfall (12), 7. Chase Johnson (19), 8. Justin Zimmerman (17), 9. Daison Pursley (10), 10. Riley Kreisel (13), 11. Robert Ballou (16), 12. Wesley Smith (9), 13. Carson Garrett (8), 14. Kyle Cummins (4), 15. Justin Grant (2), 16. Charles Davis Jr. (21), 17. J.J. Yeley (15), 18. Matt Mitchell (18), 19. Chase Stockon (14), 20. Logan Seavey (23-P), 21. Dalton Stevens (22), 22. Max Adams (11), 23. Logan Calderwood (20). NT


Story - USAC Racing

Photo - Rich Forman

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