Lonnie Wheatley, SAPULPA, Okla. (August 14, 2008) – The Fourth Round of the Fourth Annual O'Reilly Sprint Bandits Tour 'N Topless Midwest Swing evolved into a classic shootout between Oklahoma's Brady Bacon and California native Robert Ballou.
In the end, Bacon backed up his win one night earlier by emerging atop after a handful of lead exchanges in the final circuits of Thursday night's 30-lap main event atop the ¼-mile Creek County Speedway clay oval.
Bacon first surged in front on the 23rd lap but it wasn't until the 28th round that he put Mike and Megan Eubanks' Wesmar-powered Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Tripe-X in front for keeps.
Bacon and Ballou were chased to the stripe by early leader Thomas Meseraull, who kept the Trucker's No. 10 in the title hunt by gaining ten points on TNT leader Dave Darland, with 17th-starter Daron Clayton and Jesse Hockett rounding out the top five.
"It was all about track position," Bacon commented of the lead exchanges leading up to his second win on as many nights atop Sooner soil. "I thought if I could run good, clean laps around the bottom that I could keep him behind me."
What eventually became a scintillating feature event got off to a rough beginning when second-row starter Kevin Swindell dumped his mount in turn four on the opening lap.
A plague of cautions ensued in the opening five circuits before the field settled in for the battle at hand, with just a brief interruption after the tenth lap slowing an otherwise fast-paced final 25 laps.
Meseraull, piloting the No. 10 rather than No. 10T due to Darren Hagen's one-night absence, earned the pole position for the main event and outgunned fellow front row starter Hockett for the early lead.
After wading through the early laps, Meseraull set the pace until the eighth circuit when ninth-starter Ballou battled into the lead.
As Ballou set the pace in Dallas Mulvaney's MPHG Promotions No. 81 Maxim, sixth-starting Bacon worked tirelessly to get around Meseraull, a feat he finally accomplished soon after the midway point.
Bacon reeled in the leader and took over the top spot through turns three and four on the 24th lap, only to have Ballou return the favor a lap later. The scenario repeated itself until Ballou finally ran afoul of a lapped car entering turn three on the 28th lap. Ballou kept his machine going, but lost more ground to Bacon in the process than he could make up over the final two circuits.
Bacon flashed underneath Will Hale's checkered flag before a standing room only crowd, with Ballou settling for runner-up honors as Meseraull posted his top finish of the week by claiming the show position.
After missing the scales following a qualifying race win, Missouri's Daron Clayton won the "B" Feature and then charged through the field to salvage his night with a fourth place finish.
Hockett claimed fifth in the VKCC Motorsports No. 75 to stay in contention for a second TNT title, with Oklahoma shoe Dustin Morgan racing from 18th to sixth. Damion Gardner and Dave Darland both rebounded from early incidents to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, with Casey Shuman and Chris Windom completing the top ten.
Coleman Gulick, Kevin Swindell, Bacon and Meseraull earned heat race wins, with Ballou, Bryan Clauson, Meseraull and Jesse Hockett picking up qualifying race victories.
Andrew Felker flipped in heat race action and returned to make the feature cut. Justin Melton and Henry Clarke both got upside down in qualifying race action and were done for the night.
The Fourth Annual O'Reilly Sprint Bandits Tour 'N Topless Midwest Swing moves on to Kansas City's Lakeside Speedway on Friday and Saturday night, with Saturday night's Ron Shuman Classic offering up a $10,000 winner's share.
O’Reilly Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless Creek County Speedway Results:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 14-Coleman Gulick, 2. 75-Jesse Hockett, 3. 32-Casey Shuman, 4. 55-Tony Everhart, 5. 11-Justin Melton, 6. 76bg-Mike Leslie, 7. 75x-Shane Pace, 8. 52-Frank Sudduth.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 1-Kevin Swindell, 2. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 3. 17-Chris Windom, 4. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 5. 5$-Danny Smith, 6. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 7. 21k-Henry Clarke. DNS: 9x-Larry Carter.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 2b-Dave Darland, 3. 67-Dustin Morgan, 4. 92-Daron Clayton, 5. 76-Bryan Clauson, 6. 5c-Cody Cordell, 7. 81-Robert Ballou, 8. 22-Koby Barksdale.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 10-Thomas Meseraull, 2. 71-Damion Gardner, 3. 15-R.J. Johnson, 4. 5*-Gary Taylor, 5. 71k-Alex Schutte, 6. 41-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 7. 61a-Andrew Felker.
Qualifying Races (Top 16 in Combined Passing Points from Heats & Qualifiers to "A" Main; Balance to "B" Main):
First Qualifier (8 Laps): 1. 81-Robert Ballou, 2. 1-Kevin Swindell, 3. 5*-Gary Taylor, 4. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 5. 52-Frank Sudduth, 6. 11-Justin Melton, 7. 71-Damion Gardner. DNS: 76bg-Mike Leslie.
Second Qualifier (8 Laps): 1. 76-Bryan Clauson, 2. 2b-Dave Darland, 3. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 32-Casey Shuman, 6. 5c-Cody Cordell, 7. 22-Koby Barksdale, 8. 75x-Shane Pace.
Third Qualifier (8 Laps): 1. 10-Thomas Meseraull, 2. 41-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. 71k-Alex Schutte, 4. 17-Chris Windom, 5. 61a-Andrew Felker, 6. 55-Tony Everhart, 7. 67-Dustin Morgan. DNS: 9x-Larry Carter.
Fourth Qualifier (8 Laps): 1. 75-Jesse Hockett, 2. 5$-Danny Smith, 3. 14-Coleman Gulick, 4. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 5. 15-R.J. Johnson, 6. 21k-Henry Clarke, 7. 92-Daron Clayton (Disqualified: Failed to report to scales after finishing first).
"B" "Main (Top 6 Advance to "A" Main):
"B" Feature (12 Laps): 1. 92-Daron Clayton, 2. 67-Dustin Morgan, 3. 5c-Cody Cordell, 4. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 5. 61a-Andrew Felker, 6. 22-Koby Barksdale, 7. 76bg-Mike Leslie, 8. 52-Frank Sudduth, 9. 75x-Shane Pace, 10. 71k-Alex Schutte, 11. 55-Tony Everhart. DNS: 15-R.J. Johnson, 11-Justin Melton, 21k-Henry Clarke, 9x-Larry Carter.
O'Reilly Sprint Bandits TNT Creek County Speedway "A" Main
“A” Main (30 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 81-Robert Ballou, 3. 10-Thomas Meseraull, 4. 92-Daron Clayton, 5. 75-Jesse Hockett, 6. 67-Dustin Morgan, 7. 71-Damion Gardner, 8. 2b-Dave Darland, 9. 32-Casey Shuman, 10. 17-Chris Windom, 11. 21s-Charles Davis, Jr., 12. 5*-Gary Taylor, 13. 5c-Cody Cordell, 14. 4J-Jamie Passmore, 15. 22-Koby Barksdale, 16. 97-Bret Mellenberndt, 17. 14-Coleman Gulick, 18. 76-Bryan Clauson, 19. 5$-Danny Smith, 20. 61a-Andrew Felker, 21. 41-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 22. 1-Kevin Swindell.
Lap Leaders: Thomas Meseraull 1-7, Robert Ballou 8-23, Brady Bacon 24, Ballou 25, Bacon 26, Ballou 27, Bacon 28-30.
O'Reilly Sprint Bandits TNT Midwest Swing Points (Top 20):
2B Racing #2b (Dave Darland) 574
Trucker's #10 (Hagen / Meseraull) 564
VKCC #75 (Jesse Hockett) 552
Rex Foster #32 (Casey Shuman) 546
Tel-Star #5* (Gary Taylor) 532
Tel-Star #99 (Brady Bacon) 516
MPHG Promotions #81 (Robert Ballou) 515
Leffler Racing #71 (Damion Gardner) 512
Hazardous Motorsports #14 (Coleman Gulick) 496
Mark Swanson #21s (Charles Davis, Jr.) 473
Mellenberndt #97 (Bret Mellenberndt) 466
Ricky Johnson #51 (R.J. Johnson) 451
Triple Crown Racing #1 (Jones / Swindell) 447
Kruseman Racing #21k (Kruseman / Clarke) 406
Trucker's #10T (Thomas Meseraull) 398
Kevin Montgomery #76bg (Mike Leslie) 376
Windom Racing #17 (Chris Windom) 374
Cordell #5 (Cody Cordell) 362
Kruseman Racing #71k (Alex Schutte) 321
Kruseman Racing #41k (Henry Clarke) 307