USAC midget podium finishers - Kyle Larson, second; Eleanor Vogler; Tracy Hines - winner and third-place finisher Kody Swanson. [Joe Jennings Photo]
Santos And Hines Peerless At Lucas Oil Raceway
by Joe Jennings
Clermont, Ind. - USAC stars Bobby Santos and Tracy Hines put on peerless driving performances at Lucas Oil Raceway on Thursday evening. Bolting into the lead at the drop of the green flag, Santos never looked back as he handily won the J. D. Byrider 100, a Traxxas USAC Silver Crown Series event.
In a seemingly effortless drive, the Massachusetts native raced the RW Motorsports/Mike Curb-Agajanian/Rotondo Weirich-Curb Records/Beast/Wallace Toyota to victory. The win marked his second time in victory lane at Lucas in 2012.
No yellow flags slowed the race, although Santos backed off once when he mistakenly took lights from a passing motorist as a caution light.
Once in the lead, Santos never looked back, although he didn't have radio contact with his team nor did he see the flagger's signals as the race wound down.
"It is important to qualify well here," said Santos, who started from the pole position. "I had a really good car compared to the competition. My car ran well under me and the track held up well. But you always wonder about something going wrong, but it helps when you have such a good car."
Kody Swanson brought the Six-Racing/Jet Star - K&N Filters/Beast/Claxton Toyota to second place.
"Our goal is always to win but anything other than that isn't what we are looking for," Swanson stated afterward. "If you aren't going to meet your goal, second is about as good as you can get and it is better than third."
Bobby East advanced from the 11th starting spot to earn third place in the Tony Stewart Racing Kistler.
Behind the top three were Kyle Larson, Tanner Swanson, Jerry Coons Jr., Eric Gordon, Russ Gamester, Levi Jones and Bud Kaeding.
In points, Kody Swanson leads with 279. East is second with 259 and Coons is in third with 244.
In the 30-lap Mopar USAC Midget National Championship race, the Rich Vogler Classic, Hines powered into the lead shortly after the start and except for one slowdown period, he pulled out to extensive leads and was never seriously challenged.
Hines's victory made him the top USAC driver in history at Lucas. He now has 13 victories, breaking a three-way tie with Dave Steele and Mike Bliss. Tony Stewart is next in line with 10 wins.
The Indiana native drove the Bob Parker/Parker Machinery - Turbines Inc./Spike/Stanton Toyota.
Kyle Larson grabbed second place with Kody Swanson third. Mario Clouser, Bryan Clauson and Bobby East trailed the front-runners.
A scary crash on the opening lap of the feature brought to the field to an abrupt halt. At least six cars were involved and the machine of Adam Kramer got airborne and struck the catch-fencing before dropping back onto the track. David Byrne also flipped.
No injuries were sustained but track staff had to repair the fencing before the race could be resumed. Santos and Darren Hagen were among the crash casualties.