USAC Sprints: Ballou Comes From 14th to Win at Tucson, Keeps Dream Season Rolling in 2015

RaceChaser Staff Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Other Sprint Cars, Southwest, Sprints & Midgets, USAC, West 0 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. — official series release — Rich Forman photo —

The dream season for Robert Ballou continued Thursday night at USA Raceway on the first night of the Western World Championships.

Ballou drove from 14th to win his 13th AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series feature of the season, tying J.J. Yeley’s incredible 2003 season for the second-most in history.

“It’s definitely been a fun season,” Ballou said. “I have to thank the people who got me going: my parents and then when they could no longer do it, Dallas Mulvaney and Jim Plew. We have worked really hard to turn this program into something like what J.J. had with Tony Stewart Racing, and it’s cool to put up a big number like this. We obviously still have a couple things left to do. So many people have helped us make this happen, and I can’t express enough gratitude to all of them, especially Derrick Bye for all of his hard work to keep us going.”

Damion Gardner led from the pole and brought third-starting hometown driver Jerry Coons Jr. along with him, as Bryan Clauson settled into third. Coons cut the bottom underneath Gardner to lead lap two, but all eyes were on Ballou’s charge from row seven into the top five in just a few laps. Ballou used the extreme high side as he carved his way to second, but Coons was way out front.

That changed with the first caution on lap 10 and Ballou restarted right behind Coons. It seemed inevitable that Ballou would make a move for the lead, but Coons was up to the challenge. Ballou biked hard in turn one on lap 14 and lost a lot of ground, but he was starting to reel Coons in again with ten laps to go.

Behind them, ProSource/Woodland Auto Display Fast Time Award winner Brady Bacon was on the move, rolling the high side past Clauson for third at the halfway mark. Up front, Coons was flawless through the first batch of traffic, navigating his way high and low to actually increase his lead over Ballou.

Coons hit some open traffic before catching cars running the high side as he saw the five-to-go signal. With Ballou bearing down, Coons caught the turn-two cushion and glanced into the backstretch wall, setting him sideways before he barrel-rolled down multiple times. Ballou narrowly missed Coons.

With six laps to go, Ballou walked away from the field while growing his point lead to 76 in the Pacific Grass & Turf – Blakesley Auto No. 12 Maxim/Ott.

Ballou celebrates with his crew after winning Thursday's opening night of the "Western World Championships" at USA Raceway. (Rich Forman photo)

Ballou celebrates with his crew after winning Thursday’s opening night of the “Western World Championships” at USA Raceway. (Rich Forman photo)

“We changed just about everything but the driver’s seat tonight and that’s only because I own the car,” he said. “We just had to get me comfortable to run up there where it was a little chop and tough. We worked all through practice night to get better and we just weren’t very good early in the night. Finally, we had ourselves a lane up high early in the race to get up through there. We were fully committed. I’m not sure we could have gotten Jerry and I really hated to see that happen to him. He ran a great race through traffic.”

Bacon held down the second spot in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green No. 69 Triple X/Williams Mopar.

“I kinda wanted to see that thing stay in traffic because I think I was better than them at rolling the bottom when it was necessary, but at the same time I wanted to get out of it as treacherous as it was getting,” Bacon said. “Robert is so good on a track like that when it’s slick up to a rough and nasty cushion. I felt like we were pretty good, but I think we faded just a bit at the end. The track kept getting better, and I see it getting wider and slicker as it goes, so hopefully that plays into our hands.”

Clauson started his weekend much like he did last weekend at the Perris Auto Speedway “Oval Nationals,” coming home third in the B&H Contractors – Dooling Machine No. 63 Spike/Fisher.

“We were pretty committed to the bottom and it’s no secret that a big, nasty cushion isn’t necessarily my forte,” Clauson said. “The track actually cleaned up pretty decent up there, though, and Robert obviously found it quick and Jerry got up there pretty quick, too. It wasn’t quite as good below the cushion and down to the bottom as it was up top. I knew once those guys got by me, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do. I could stay close for a couple, but they just got away from us, but the longer races and the later in the week, we should get better. I haven’t ever been real great here, so hopefully we can keep at it and be in it on Saturday.”

Thomas Meseraull came home fourth with CRA points leader Damion Gardner fifth. Gardner leads that championship chase by 80 markers entering Friday night.

Bacon set a new track record in scoring the ProSource Fast Time Award, laying down a lap of 15.275 seconds in the Hoffman No. 69.


RESULTS: USAC National and CRA Sprint Car Series; Western World Championships; USA Raceway; Nov. 19, 2015

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Damion Gardner, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 8. Ryan Bernal, 9. Richard Vander Weerd, 10. C.J. Leary, 11. Tracy Hines, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. Danny Faria, Jr., 14. Brody Roa, 15. R.J. Johnson, 16. Matt Rossi, 17. Aaron Farney, 18. Jon Stanbrough, 19. Jake Swanson, 20. Cody Williams, 21. Mike Spencer, 22. Jerry Coons, Jr., 23. Chase Stockon, 24. Chris Windom. NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Gardner, Laps 3-24 Coons, Laps 25-30 Ballou.


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