Lonnie Wheatley, KOKOMO, Ind. (August 26, 2022) – Kevin Thomas, Jr., picked a fine time to return to USAC National Sprint Car victory lane by topping Friday night’s 30-lap preliminary feature at “Kokomo Sprint Car Smackdown XI” atop the Kokomo Speedway clay oval.
After starting third, Thomas, Jr., chased down early pacesetter Jake Swanson on the 11th round and led the final 20 circuits to snare his first USAC win since an “Oval Nationals” triumph at Perris Auto Speedway last November.
“I think I just ran 30 laps on the top,” Thomas, Jr., exclaimed in victory lane. “That was pretty fun, I ain’t done that for a while.”
Following an aborted start when Thomas Meseraull got turned around in turn two, Swanson outdueled pole starter Emerson Axsom over the opening circuit to take command from the front row outside and weathered a pair of cautions in the opening eight rounds before Thomas, Jr., motored by on the high side on the 11th circuit.
Thomas, Jr., was unstoppable the rest of the way aboard the BGE Daugherty Motorsports Schaeffer Oil/Hornbeck Concrete No. 15k DCR, surviving one caution with seven laps to go en route to the $5,000 preliminary score as he eyes a potential second Kokomo Smackdown title after topping the event in 2016.
The triumph marks a turn for what has been a tumultuous season that began with the All Star Circuit of Champions and has since found Thomas, Jr., back in non-wing action with a pair of weekly wins and an MSCS score.
“We were contemplating on the way home for it feels like the last month and a half, we were wondering when it was gonna turn around,” Thomas, Jr., explained. “Man, I was down, I ain’t been that down in a long time, it’s been trying me pretty hard. Whether it be a wing car, non-wing car, midget, that damn golf cart, it has been frustrating. I’m so happy for these guys.”
“It’s been a lot of downs, but we finally got an up,” Thomas, Jr., summed up of earning the first series win for the BGE Daugherty Motorsports team.
Swanson held down the second position the rest of the way for his first podium finish of the year in USAC Sprint Car action in a rebound from an injury sustained at Kokomo during Indiana Sprint Week.
“I wish if I had some more laps, I would have known to move up there a little bit sooner,” Swanson explained. “I could tell the bottom was wearing out and the top was probably where the race ended up. Maybe I should have gone up there and tried it, I was afraid of leaving the door open.”
C.J. Leary filled out the podium in third with Kyle Cummins crossing the stripe fourth as pole starter Emerson Axsom rounding out the top five.
Brady Bacon was sixth ahead of fellow Oklahoma native Jason McDougal with Robert Ballou, Justin Grant and Mitchel Moles completing the top ten.
The last of 43 cars out for qualifying, Kyle Cummins set fast time for the second night in a row by stopping the clocks at 12.715 seconds. McDougal , Bacon, Carson Garrett and Logan Seavey earned heat race wins with Alex Bright topping the “C” Main and then Justin Grant best in the “B” Main.
USAC Sprint Cars
Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, IN
Friday, August 26, 2022 – “Kokomo Sprint Car Smackdown 11” Preliminary Two of Two
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-12.715; 2. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-12.726; 3. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.857; 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 15K, BGE Dougherty-12.901; 5. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-12.916; 6. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-12.929; 7. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-12.935; 8. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-12.938; 9. Thomas Meseraull, 2E, Epperson-12.957; 10. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-12.963; 11. Jadon Rogers, 14, Engler-12.977; 12. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-12.985; 13. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.052; 14. Scotty Weir, 4p, Pedersen-13.064; 15. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-13.073; 16. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-13.087; 17. Jason McDougal, 5m, KO-13.110; 18. Dave Darland, 36D, Darland/Curb-Agajanian-13.115; 19. Max Adams, 17GP, Dutcher-13.162; 20. Anton Hernandez, 2B, 2B Racing-13.163; 21. Mario Clouser, 6, EZR-13.256; 22. Korbyn Hayslett, 1H, Hayslett-13.260; 23. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-13.289; 24. Parker Frederickson, 34F, Frederickson-13.318; 25. Larry Kingseed Jr., 59, Powell-13.357; 26. Zack Pretorius, 9z, Pretorius-13.372; 27. Keith Sheffer II, 86, Sheffer-13.382; 28. Jack Hoyer, 11, Hoyer-13.390; 29. Tim Creech, 2c, Creech-13.391; 30. Tom Harris, 84, Harris-13.396; 31. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-13.401; 32. Cole Bodine, 57B, DCT/Crow/Bodine-13.485; 33. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-13.495; 34. Alex Bright, 20, Hummer-13.520; 35. Dustin Clark, 75, Clark-13.535; 36. Tyler Hewitt, 57, Hazen-13.631; 37. Paul White, 1, White-13.639; 38. Riley Kreisel, 2, Yeley/Petty-13.640; 39. Dalton Stevens, 99x, Stevens-13.666; 40. Cooper Welch, 2w, Welch-14.170; 41. Derek Crane, 19WI, Crane-14.205; 42. Jack James, 99, James-14.233; 43. Tayte Williamson, 20T, Williamson-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jason McDougal, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Kyle Cummins, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Larry Kingseed Jr., 7. Tim Creech, 8. Paul White, 9. Corey Smith, 10. Derek Crane, 11. Mario Clouser. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Scotty Weir, 6. Tom Harris, 7. Korbyn Hayslett, 8. Alex Bright, 9. Riley Kreisel, 10. Jack James, 11. Zack Pretorius. NT
PIT STOP USA THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Garrett, 2. Jadon Rogers, 3. Matt Westfall, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Brandon Mattox, 6. Sterling Cling, 7. Dustin Clark, 8. Max Adams, 9. Tayte Williamson, 10. Keith Sheffer II, 11. Dalton Stevens. 2:16.55
ROD END SUPPLY FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Anton Hernandez, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Cole Bodine, 7. Parker Frederickson, 8. Jack Hoyer, 9. Tyler Hewitt, 10. Cooper Welch. 2:15.58
COUNTRY JOSH CONDER C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi-feature) 1. Alex Bright, 2. Cole Bodine, 3. Dustin Clark, 4. Corey Smith, 5. Tyler Hewitt, 6. Riley Kreisel, 7. Cooper Welch, 8. Derek Crane, 9. Jack James, 10. Paul White, 11. Brandon Mattox. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Max Adams, 4. Scotty Weir, 5. Parker Frederickson, 6. Korbyn Hayslett, 7. Sterling Cling, 8. Cole Bodine, 9. Alex Bright, 10. Jack Hoyer, 11. Tom Harris, 12. Mario Clouser, 13. Tim Creech, 14. Dustin Clark, 15. Zack Pretorius, 16. Larry Kingseed Jr., 17. Corey Smith. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 2. Jake Swanson (2), 3. C.J. Leary (5), 4. Kyle Cummins (6), 5. Emerson Axsom (1), 6. Brady Bacon (7), 7. Jason McDougal (10), 8. Robert Ballou (12), 9. Justin Grant (15), 10. Mitchel Moles (4), 11. Matt Westfall (11), 12. Jadon Rogers (14), 13. Max Adams (19), 14. Dave Darland (18), 15. Thomas Meseraull (13), 16. Anton Hernandez (20), 17. Korbyn Hayslett (21), 18. Parker Frederickson (22), 19. Carson Garrett (9), 20. Logan Seavey (8), 21. Chase Stockon (17), 22. Scotty Weir (16). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-10 Jake Swanson, Laps 11-30 Kevin Thomas Jr.