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 Press Release

Ballou Ignites Sprint Bandits TNT With Surprise I-80 Win

by Lonnie Wheatley

GREENWOOD, Neb. (August 15, 2006) – Making just his fourth career Wingless Sprint Car start, 17-year-old Robert Ballou of Rockland, CA, ignited five consecutive nights of O'Reilly Sprint Bandits COMP Cams Tour 'N Topless action with a surprise win in Tuesday night's Second Annual Huskerland Non-Wing Sprint Car Nationals 25-lap feature at Nebraska Raceway Park's I-80 Speedway.


After starting fifth, Ballou wrestled the lead from Bud Kaeding on the 17th round then survived a late challenge to secure the victory aboard the Don Ott-powered Gardemeyer Finish Carpentry No. 12 Maxim in front of some of the nation's top wingless aces, with Kaeding, Jon Stanbrough, Levi Jones and Shane Hollingsworth rounding out the top five.


"I just kept trying to hit my marks, I knew if I could do that things would be okay," Ballou commented in victory lane.  "It was a last-minute decision to run here tonight, I called my owner in California today and told him and I don't think he was real happy about it at the time."


Ballou's late decision to take in the opening night of the O'Reilly Sprint Bandits COMP Cams TNT Midwest Swing paid off to the tune of $4,000.


While Ballou started the feature event inside the third row, it was Kaeding and defending Sprint Bandits TNT champion Jones leading the way to the green flag.  Third-starter Stanbrough nosed into the lead on the low side entering turn one, but it was Jones riding the cushion around the track to lead the opening round.


Jones paced the early rounds, as Stanbrough and Kaeding battled for second with Ballou taking fourth from Hollingsworth on the fourth circuit.  Keading soon took command of second and challenged Jones for the point coming off of turn four on the seventh round without success, as Ballou raced by Stanbrough for third a lap later.


But Kaeding soon took advantage of lapped traffic to race by Jones for the lead on the ninth round.  Kaeding adeptly raced through a heavy pack of lapped cars a lap later, with Ballou charging into second and setting his sights on the leader.


Ballou continued his charge by sliding past Kaeding for the lead in turns three and four on the 14th lap.  Over the ensuing laps, Ballou began to slip away from the field and appeared to have an easy win within grasp when the race's first caution flew with 21 laps in the books for Lee Stark, who came to a stop in turn two.


With a pair of lapped cars separating the leader from Kaeding, Ballou's lead seemed safe until the caution flew again a lap later when sixth-running Cory Kruseman looped his mount in turn two.  And by that time, Kaeding had already disposed of the lapped machines.


Restarting on Ballou's rear bumper with just three laps remaining, Kaeding dove to the low side and challenged as the green lights flickered back on.  But Ballou rode the cushion to perfection to maintain the lead and was flawless in his drive to the checkered flag over the final circuits.


Kaeding settled for second in the event for the second year in a row, with Stanbrough taking the show position in front of defending race winner Jones and Hollingsworth.  Mat Neely crossed the stripe sixth, with Dickie Gaines, Preston Peebles II, Jesse Hockett and Charles Davis, Jr., completing the top ten.


Davis, Jones and Kaeding topped heat race action for the 28-car field, with Peebles, Ballou and Neely winning the qualifying races.


Leighton Crouch aced the 10-lap "B" Main.


Daron Clayton's night came to an early end when he bicycled and flipped in turn two while running second in the night's second heat race. 


Travis Rilat blew an engine in qualifying race action and scratched for the night.


O’Reilly Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Southern Iowa Speedway Ultimate Challenge Results:


Heat Races


First Heat (8 Laps):  1. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 2. 17-Chris Windom, 3. 21x-Dickie Gaines, 4. 38-Cory Kruseman, 5. 2b-Mat Neely, 6. 15-R.J. Johnson, 7. 55-Tony Everhart, 8. 38x-Craig Dori, 9. 1k-Kim Kennedy, 10. 29T-Travis Rilat


Second Heat (8 Laps):  1. 11d-Levi Jones, 2. 14-Jon Stanbrough, 3. 12-Robert Ballou, 4. 75-Jesse Hockett, 5. 57-Mike Martin, 6. 45-Jeff Lowery, 7. 16-Lee Stark, 8. 92-Daron Clayton.  DNS: 9x-Larry Carter.


Third Heat (8 Laps):  1. 29-Bud Kaeding, 2. 10-Shane Hollingsworth, 3. 92J-J.R. Topper, 4. 11p-Preston Peebles II, 5. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 6. 96c-Jim Cameron, 7. 0c-Leighton Crouch, 8. 70-A.J. Martin, 9. 83s-Larry Neighbors.


Qualifying Races – Top 16 in Combined Passing Points from Heats & Qualifiers to “A” Feature; Balance of field to “B” Main


First Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 11p-Preston Peebles II, 2. 14-Jon Stanbrough, 3. 29-Bud Kaeding, 4. 75-Jesse Hockett, 5. 38-Cory Kruseman, 6. 96c-Jim Cameron, 7. 1k-Kim Kennedy, 8. 55-Tony Everhart, 9. 38x-Craig Dori.  DNS: 9x-Larry Carter.


Second Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 12-Robert Ballou, 2. 21x-Dickie Gaines, 3. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 10-Shane Hollingsworth, 5. 57-Mike Martin, 6. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 7. 16-Lee Stark, 8. 83s-Larry Neighbors.  DNS: 92-Daron Clayton.


Third Qualifier (8 Laps):  1. 2b-Mat Neely, 2. 11d-Levi Jones, 3. 15-R.J. Johnson, 4. 17-Chris Windom, 5. 45-Jeff Lowery, 6. 0c-Leighton Crouch, 7. 92J-J.R. Topper, 8. 70-A.J. Martin, 9. 29T-Travis Rilat.


“B” Main – Top 6 Advance to “A” Main


“B” Main (12 Laps):  1. 0c-Leighton Crouch, 2. 83s-Larry Neighbors, 3. 16-Lee Stark, 4. 70-A.J. Martin, 5. 38x-Craig Dori, 6. 1k-Kim Kennedy, 7. 55-Tony Everhart, 8. 96c-Jim Cameron, 9. 45-Jeff Lowery.  DNS: 29T-Travis Rilat, 92-Daron Clayton, 9x-Larry Carter.


2nd Annual Huskerland Non-Wing 410 Nationals “A” Main


“A” Main (25 Laps):  1. 12-Robert Ballou, 2. 29-Bud Kaeding, 3. 14-Jon Stanbrough, 4. 11d-Levi Jones, 5. 10-Shane Hollingsworth, 6. 2b-Mat Neely, 7. 21x-Dickie Gaines, 8. 11p-Preston Peebles, 9. 75-Jesse Hockett, 10. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 11. 38-Cory Kruseman, 12. 17-Chris Windom, 13. 15-R.J. Johnson, 14. 16-Lee Stark, 15. 83s-Larry Neighbors, 16. 1k-Kim Kennedy, 17. 57-Mike Martin, 18. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 19. 70-A.J. Martin, 20. 38x-Craig Dori, 21. 0c-Leighton Crouch, 22. 92J-J.R. Topper.


Lap Leaders:  Levi Jones 1-8, Bud Kaeding 9-13, Robert Ballou 14-25.


O'Reilly Sprint Bandits COMP Cams TNT Midwest Swing Points (Top Ten):  1. Robert Ballou 150, 2. Bud Kaeding 146, 3. Jon Stanbrough 144, 4. Levi Jones 142, 5. Shane Hollingsworth 140, 6. Mat Neely 138, 7. Dickie Gaines 136, 8. Preston Peebles II 134, 9. Jesse Hockett 132, 10. Charles Davis, Jr. 130


2006 O'Reilly Sprint Bandits TNT Points (Top Ten):  1. Cory Kruseman 700, 2. Bud Kaeding 664, 3. Dickie Gaines 605, 4. Mat Neely 555, 5. Jon Stanbrough 538, 6. Bryan Clauson 536, 7. Daron Clayton 526, 8. Shane Cottle 518, 9. Darren Hagen 506, 10. Charles Davis, Jr. 427.






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