USAC: Leary Scores Second-Straight Indiana Sprint Week Victory

RaceChaser Staff Featured, USAC 0 Comments

C.J. Leary won his second-straight Indiana Sprint Week race Monday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway. (Steve Koletar photo)

GAS CITY, Ind. — The floodgates have finally opened for C.J. Leary on the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series.

After a 140-race stretch before winning his first series race, and then nearly 30 more before claiming his second, the 21-year-old now has back-to-back wins after a late-race pass netted him his third-career win Monday night during the third round of the 30th renewal of Indiana Sprint Week presented by Camping World.

“I’ve heard it my whole career,” Leary said. ‘Once you get the monkey off your back, the wins will come easier.’ I didn’t believe them. It took me 140 starts to get my first USAC National Sprint Car victory and it took me 28 to get the second one.”

Leary blitzed around the outside of Robert Ballou with five laps remaining en route to the victory. He becomes the first driver to win consecutive Indiana Sprint Week features since Bryan Clauson in 2013.

In a race against time and Mother Nature, the Gas City program proceeded at a rapid pace and the checkered flag dropped before nightfall at 8:50 p.m. local time.

Leary began the race from the outside of the front row, but an encore performance from his Sunday night win at Lawrenceburg did not initially appear to be in the cards, as he dropped from the front row to fifth on the opening lap.

However, the second generation driver dug into the high side and went to work, as Shane Cottle zipped away on the bottom to lead the opening pair of laps.

On the third circuit, Kokomo winner Thomas Meseraull ripped the top around the outside of Cottle to claim the lead exiting turn four. Robert Ballou followed suit, making the same maneuver to get to the runner-up spot off the second turn.

Like he did two nights earlier, Meseraull hurried to the front and appeared to be in total control as he built a more than one-second lead 10 laps in.

By halfway, the frontrunners had entered traffic, where Meseraull leaned on the cushion and Ballou tip-toed around the infield tires. Running side-by-side for three-straight laps, the two shadowed one another, with Meseraull leading each time at the stripe by a slim margin.

The action would come to a halt with 10 laps remaining, as Ryan Bernal’s mount nosed into the outside turn four guardrail, necessitating a yellow and a lap 21 restart with Meseraull at the head of the class and Ballou on his tail.

However, under caution, third-running Leary made a key adjustment that would ultimately pay large dividends.

“This thing was digging hard on the top,” Leary said. We were just kind of riding along. I didn’t think we were going to have anything for them at the end really, but when the yellow came out, we adjusted on the shocks after starting off kind of tight. The car finally came to us. We adjusted from there and became a lot better.”

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