April 27th, 2008

Sprint Car A-Main
1. #11 Levi Jones
2. #10f Blake Fitzpatrick
3. #10e Shane Cottle
4. #5 Jon Stanbrough
5. #2b Brad Kuhn
6. #21 Jeff Bland
7. #57 Casey Shuman
8. #93 Dustin Morgan
9. #22 Scotty Weir
10. #2 Mat Neely
11. #82 Bart Grider
12. #29 Cole Whitt
13. #42 Mark Clark
14. #6 Bill Rose
15. #11 Ricky Williams
16. #10t Thomas Meseraull
17. #78 Adam Byrkett
18. #97 Bret Mellenberndt
19. #10 Daron Clayton
20. #0tt Steve Ott

Sprint Car B-Main
1. #10e Cottle
2. #10t Meseraull
3. #78 Byrkett
4. #11 Williams
5. #54 Matt Westfall
6. #167 Shain Matthews
7. #14 Coleman Gulick
8. #66 Josh Spencer
9. #71 Chad Branson
10. #32 Ron Dennis
11. #38 Craig Dori
12. #22k Mikey Kuemper
13. #22 Mike Weber
14. #39 Gary Paul
15. #51 Mike Hess
16. #7p Anthony Peterman
Dns #4 Marc Arnold

Street Stock A-Main
1. #18m Andre Missig
2. #1b Shayne Baker
3. #48 Arnie Prater
4. #11L Shane Landis
5. #17 Tristan Ramseyer
6. #62 David Jarvis
7. #56 Thurman Wines
8. #9 Glen Gamblin
9. #1 Bob White
10. #11 Ryan Hines
11. #85 Johnny Cole
12. #R1 Ryan Ramseyer
Dns #19 Josh Gamblin
Dns #89 Bobby Burton

Thunder Car A-Main
1. #7d Allen Davis
2. #2h Tim Huffman
3. #8v Chris Voiles
4. #215 Gerald Armfield
5. #92z Chantel Zimmerman
6. #19 Rick Paul
Dns #72 Brandon Sampson
Dns #12c Steve Clark
Dns #8h Chris Hunter

Jones “Jams It In” Victory Lane in season opener
Missig, Davis also collect feature wins

By Derek Fisher

The winds were cold, but the action was as hot as ever.

Kokomo Speedway opened its 61st racing season on Sunday night, picking up where it left off last October: with outstanding competition and exciting finishes.

Levi Jones, Andre Missig and Allen Davis were 2008′s inaugural winners in the sprint car, street stock and thunder car classes, respectively, with each earning an early advantage in the points chase.

33 sprint cars checked into the pit area on this chilly April evening, and Bloomington’s Jeff Bland Jr. set the tone early as he toured the oval in 12.855 seconds, good enough to best Shane Cottle’s 12.890 lap for fast time. Despite the week’s windy and fairly dry conditions, the Kokomo clay was moist and fast, as evidenced by the top 16 sprint qualifiers clocking in with circuits of 13.2 seconds or lower.

After Casey Shuman, Bart Grider, Bret Mellenberndt and Bland captured four heat races, Cottle claimed a star-studded B feature aboard Monte Edison’s Chalk 10E. Some heavy hitters such as Ron Dennis, Matt Westfall and Josh Spencer were reduced to A main spectators by the talent-laden semi lineup.

When the green flew for the A feature, it was polesitter Jones surging into the lead in the Jeff’s Jam-It-In Storage DRC ahead of Blake Fitzpatrick and Thomas Meseraull. As nearly the entire field migrated to the top side of the oval in the early going, Meseraull went too high in turn two on the fourth lap, nearly getting upside down and watching Cottle and 2006 track champion Jon Stanbrough streak past.

As Meseraull continued to fade, the top four of Jones, Fitzpatrick, Cottle and Stanbrough checked out on the field, making a four-car parade around the rim. The quartet bunched more tightly together as they increased their lead, and by the 11th lap a blanket could have covered them.

Lapped traffic came into play on the 15th circuit, and on lap 18 Cottle struck first blood and broke the train to snare second from Fitzpatrick, only to see the young Terre Haute driver regain the spot the next time around. Momentum in hand, Fitzpatrick surged to the rear bumper of Jones for the next three laps before vying for the lead off the bottom of turn four on lap 22. His slide was a wheel short, and Jones held the advantage at the stripe for the 23rd time.

As Cottle and Stanbrough continued to lurk just behind the top duo, Fitzpatrick appeared to have one last shot at the win in the final two corners when Jones was forced low by a lapped car. Jones, the 2007 USAC sprint champion, found enough mositure in the middle of turns three and four to hold off Fitzpatrick’s last charge and outdistanced the black 10F machine by a car length at the line.

“It’s always fun to come here to Kokomo, one of the best places in the country, and run on the fence,” Jones said from victory lane. “Blake [Fitzpatrick] really gave me a run for my money.”

Beyond the top four finishers, Brad Kuhn found fifth in Scott Benic’s mount. Rounding out the top ten were Bland, Shuman, Dustin Morgan, Scotty Weir and Mat Neely.

In the street stock A main event, wild action and come-from-behind drives were the order of the day.

Arnie Prater led a five-car battle of Tristan Ramseyer, Missig, Shane Landis and Ryan Hines for the first eight laps before Missig battled past for the lead. On the ninth circuit Landis spun and went to the tail, giving the fourth position to Hines. That wasn’t to last though, as Hines and Ramseyer tangled and spun together in turn two on lap 10, allowing Prater, Shayne Baker and a reprieved Landis to compromise the top four.

Baker mounted a charge over the next five laps, first circling Landis, then Ramseyer to take second behind a long-gone Missig. When the checkered flew, Baker held onto second in front of Prater, Landis and Ramseyer.

In the thunder car main event, Allen Davis only had to endure one challenge on his way to the win, but it was a big one by Gerald Armfield.

Davis led the first six laps with relative ease before Armfield, who’d gotten around Tim Huffman for second, appeared at his doorstep. Armfield dogged the leader for four laps before pulling even at the flagstand on the 12th circuit, but then spun trying to get around Davis entering turn three on the following lap.

That gave second back to Huffman, who couldn’t do anything with Davis in the final two laps and settled for the runner-up spot. Brandon Sampson finished third, while Armfield regrouped to take fourth. Scott Apple was fifth.