HAUBSTADT, Ind. – It took Kyle Cummins a decade to kick open the door that separated him from his first career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win back in July at Kokomo Speedway’s “Indiana Sprint Week” round.

It took only another two months for the Princeton, Ind., native to break through for that elusive first USAC victory at his home track – Tri-State Speedway.

Just one year after he saw his bid for a first USAC victory at Tri-State slip through his fingers after being caught up in an accident with a stopped car just five laps from the end, Cummins refused to let this one get away after taking the lead near the halfway point.

Cummins was then able to gracefully navigate his way through traffic without incident and withstood a late caution that bunched up the field to take the victory in his Rock Steady Racing/ProGlide Bearings – Tim Mason ReMax/Mach-1/Cummins in Saturday night’s “Haubstadt Hustler” co-sanctioned by MSCS.

“We had the car a little looser than we planned on,” Cummins said. “I knew I couldn’t get Tyler (Courtney) off the middle to bottom. I ran with him up top and adjusted the shocks and tried the bottom again. I could hang with him, but I couldn’t pass him. I just started hammering the top and, when he made a mistake, we were there to pounce.”

“The track was tricky,” Cummins added. “The cushion was built up probably a foot tall, so I backed the corner up a lot and tried to just catch it on the exit. As soon as it hit on exit, the car would launch and I knew there was no way somebody was going to get around us. I just kept trying to hit my marks and get through the lapped cars. I got into a rhythm for a little bit and just tried to keep clicking them off. I’ve had a yellow with one to go on both races I’ve won, so that makes it nerve-racking, but tonight was great and we took home a little bit of money. I can’t complain.”

Cummins started fifth in the 23-car starting field for the series’ second 40-lap feature of the season, while Carson Short, Tri-State’s “Indiana Sprint Week” winner two months prior, began the race from the pole position and shot out to the early lead.

It was smooth sailing for Short early on as he looked to replicate his most recent USAC visit to the southwestern Indiana quarter-mile paperclip after cruising to a healthy 10-car-length lead in the opening laps over Tyler Courtney in the second spot.

But on the eighth lap, Short’s dream of a repeat performance came to a rest upside down in the second turn after he bicycled on the high side of the racetrack, making slight wall contact with his right rear tire that tipped him over. Incredibly, Short restarted from the tail and worked his way back to a strong seventh place finish at the checkered.

Courtney inherited the lead at that point, but he had a hungry Cummins right on his tail tank for the lap-eight restart. Cummins went low while Courtney utilized the top side to pull away a bit from Cummins initially, but a bobble on the cushion in turns three and four by Courtney allowed Cummins to close, initiating an intense side-by-side duel between the two that lasted lap-after-lap.

Each time Cummins was able to edge ahead underneath Courtney exiting turns two and four, Courtney was able to successfully use the downhill momentum off the banking to beat Cummins to the stripe by a half-car length on laps 9-11.

By lap 20, Courtney was able to extend his lead to six car lengths over Cummins, but he suffered nearly the same fate as did early race leader Short, banging his right rear Hoosier off the turn-one cushion, biking the car off of its left-side wheels before all four pieces of rubber came back to earth.

As Courtney scrambled to regain control of his machine, Cummins saw the light peeking through the cracked-open door as he darted to the bottom of Courtney to sprint into the lead off the second turn.kyle cummins haubstadt

Opposed to last year’s “Haubstadt Hustler,” luck would play into Cummins’ hands this time around as misfortune found Brady Short, whose night went up in a plume of smoke in the second turn on lap 31.

The caution gave Cummins a clear field of vision, leaving just him vs. the racetrack to settle their longstanding score. Additional assistance was found with the lapped car of Dakota Jackson serving as a buffer between Cummins and second-running Courtney on the restart with 10 laps to go, thus allowing Cummins to make a clean getaway out of the gate as soon as Tom Hansing’s green flag flew.

Cummins had to survive one last round before this fight was over, having to withstand a green-white-checkered race to the finish.

Cummins dug down deep on the lap-39 restart, hammering the throttle to pull away from Courtney at the drop of the green. As Cummins cruised away to his second career USAC victory, the battle was on for second as Courtney and Cottle waged war for the final pair of laps.

As the two came out of turn four locked wheel-to-wheel for the checkered, Courtney was able to muster up enough power on the outside to beat Cottle to the line by less than a tenth of a second to grab the runner-up spot over Cottle, with Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Chase Stockon rounding out the top-five.

It was yet another solid result for second-place finisher Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, who drove the TOPP Motorsports/Maxim/Chevy to his seventh top-five and 13th top-10 finish in 14 USAC Sprint starts during the 2016 season.

“This is my fourth year coming here and this is the most frustrating place I’ve ever ran,” Courtney lamented. “It’s almost more of a relief to have a good run here. We usually have fast cars, but it’s taken me a while to figure it out as a driver. To nail it both on the setup and as a driver tonight is really rewarding. It gives me confidence that when we come back here next year, we’re going to be in the hunt. I’ve never even finished a race on the lead lap here, so running second to Kyle Cummins – one of the best ever down here – is nothing to hang our heads about.”

Shane Cottle came within mere feet of taking second away from Courtney on the final lap, but settled for a fine third-place run in his Paul Hazen/Kercher Engines – Physical Medicine Consultants/DRC/Kercher. It was the Kokomo, Ind., driver’s best run in the series since scoring a third at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway in July, 2014.

“I was too tight to run the top, so we committed to the bottom,” Cottle explained. “Then, it got technical down there, too, as the moisture kept creeping down toward the tires. It feels great to have a good run. We’ve had a handful of issues this year with motors and other things breaking; we’ve just been having all-around bad luck. To run strong tonight is a great morale booster as we get ready to head to Eldora next weekend.”

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway included Tyler Hewitt (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Shane Cottle (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Dakota Jackson [Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Winner], Aaron Farney (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat), Jon Stanbrough (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Brian Karraker (Wilwood Brakes 13th-Place Feature Finisher).

Related Posts