USAC: National Sprint Cars Hit The Heartland At I-80 & Knoxville

RaceChaser Staff Featured, USAC 0 Comments

New Mexico’s Josh Hodges will make his debut at both I-80 Speedway and Knoxville Raceway this weekend. (Neil Cavanah photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — The AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series heads to Mid-America this weekend, visiting two famed dirt tracks in the process as its drivers resume their pursuit of a season championship.

The racy I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., hits leadoff for the series this Friday night, June 2.

USAC’s sprint car history in Nebraska is surprisingly short, with the first of its five visits to the Cornhusker state coming just five years ago. This will be the first trip for the series to the four-tenths-mile dirt oval, located a half-hour southwest of Omaha.

Dave Darland is twice a winner at I-80, coming with the Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series in 2007 and 2008. The Lincoln, Indiana driver is also the only multi-time USAC Sprint winner in Nebraska, picking up both at Eagle, and is hoping to ride the wave of momentum after earning an unsanctioned sprint win at Kokomo on Memorial Day.

Chad Boespflug won in Nebraska a year ago, also at Eagle, after taking the lead on lap two and soaring to one of his six USAC victories in 2016.

The Hanford, California native aims to regain his form this weekend after a rough two-night trip to Eldora in May, where point leader Justin Grant picked up his season-leading third win while Robert Ballou, an I-80 Sprint Bandits winner in 2006, returned from injury in fantastic form on night two.

On deck a night later on Saturday night, June 3 is one of the select venues on racing’s Mount Rushmore: Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway.

Of course, the half-mile at the Marion County Fairgrounds is synonymous with the legendary Knoxville Nationals and wing sprint car racing, but this Saturday night, the wings have been grounded as USAC races into town for the ninth time ever, and for the first time since 2011.

Knoxville held its first USAC Sprint race back in 1968, when eventual two-time series champ Gary Bettenhausen took top honors, while the likes of Dick Tobias (1971), Sam Sessions (1972), Tom Bigelow (1973), Sheldon Kinser (1982), Sammy Swindell (1988) and Bud Kaeding (2010) followed up with victories of their own.

Brady Bacon took a Sprint Bandits feature victory at I-80 in 2009, and the two-time USAC National Sprint Car champ from Oklahoma was the most recent to bag a Knoxville victory in USAC’s last foray to Knoxville. He has been clawing at the door of his first series win all season in the Dooling/Hayward Motorsports No. 63.

Also hitting the highway for Knoxville is four-time and defending USAC Southwest Sprint Car champion R.J. Johnson from Arizona, who ventures to south central Iowa to make his Knoxville debut in a car fielded by Tampa, Florida’s R.J. Johnson. No, that’s not a typo.

After three straight rainouts for the series leading into this upcoming weekend’s two events, everyone’s eager to get back on their respective horses.


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