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Sprint Bandits TNT Ignites Next Sunday!

[i Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (August 9, 2009)]

The annual occurrence is just one week away. Each year, somewhere right around the middle of August, the nation’s top wingless Sprint Car drivers converge upon the nation’s mid-section for a full week of Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless competition.

This year is no different, with the exception that the wingless wars get under way one night earlier with a Sunday night event (August 16) marking the first of six nights of racing over a span of seven days.

A multitude of drivers hailing from the Hoosier State of Indiana and surrounding “traditional” areas will take on the best the West can offer atop a handful of tracks throughout Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas that only host the top wingless forces once a year, offering up some neutral turn to determine the best of the best.

Indiana’s Dave Darland is the reigning Sprint Bandits TNT champion after posting five podium finishes in six events last year, including his second consecutive series triumph at Nebraska Raceway Park’s I-80 Speedway.

While Darland’s consistency netted the title, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon and California’s Robert Ballou combined to win five of the six features last August. Bacon, 18 years old at the time, strung together the initial three wingless 410-ci Sprint Car wins of his career, while Ballou topped Lakeside Speedway’s $10,000-to-win wingless classic for the second year in a row.

While Darland is the reigning TNT champion, Robert Ballou and Tim Kaeding tied for top TNT Midwest Swing honors in 2007, Missouri’s Jesse Hockett earned the top spot in 2006 and Illinois’ Levi Jones captured the inaugural TNT championship in 2005.

This year’s TNT swing opens at a new venue with Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, IA, hosting the series on Sunday night, August 16. The following night, it’s on to Nebraska Raceway Park’s I-80 Speedway for the Fifth Annual TNT Husker Nationals.

After a travel day on Tuesday, action resumes at Oklahoma City’s State Fair Speedway on Wednesday, August 19, before moving up the Turner Turnpike to Creek County Speedway near Tulsa on Thursday. The week then concludes with the traditional $10,000-to-win two-night stand at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, KS, on August 21-22.

[u Round One – Rapid Speedway (Rock Rapids, IA)]

When: Sunday, August 16
Description: 3/8-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: 0.5 miles east of US 75 on SR 9, then 0.5 miles south on South Tama St. (at the Lyons Co. Fairgrounds)
Race Time: 8:00 p.m.
Track Phone: 712-472-3742

Notes: Just a stone’s throw or two from Sioux Falls, SD, Rock Rapids Speedway hosts the Sprint Bandits TNT for the first time with the opening round of 2009.

[u Round Two – I-80 Speedway (Greenwood, NE)]

When: Monday, August 17
Description: 4/10-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: Between Omaha and Lincoln off I-80 Exit 420, then 0.4 miles north on SR 63, then west
Race Time: 7:00 p.m.
Track Phone: 402-342-3453 or 402-944-2233

Notes: Annually the site of some of the most intense TNT racing of the week, I-80 Speedway hosts the Fifth Annual TNT Husker Nationals on a Monday night this year. Levi Jones topped an action-packed 2005 TNT feature, Robert Ballou shocked the world with his first wingless win in 2006, Dave Darland gave the Trucker’s Team their first TNT win when he nipped Tim Kaeding at the line by 0.052 seconds in 2007 and then backed it up with a repeat I-80 win aboard Scott Benic’s entry last year.

[u Round Three – State Fair Speedway (Oklahoma City, OK)]

When: Wednesday, August 19
Description: 3/8-mile slightly-banked clay oval
Location: At the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds near the intersection of N.W. 10th and May Avenue
Race Time: 7:30 p.m.
Track Phone: 405-948-6796

Notes: The history-rich State Fair Speedway hosts the TNT Swing for the second consecutive year and third time overall. Levi Jones topped the ’05 TNT card, the first 410-ci wingless event since a 1988 tilt won by Lealand McSpadden. Last year, Brady Bacon captured his first career 410 wingless win in front of his home state crowd.

[u Round Four – Creek County Speedway (Sapulpa, OK)]

When: Thursday, August 20
Description: ¼-mile semi-banked clay oval
Location: Southwest of Tulsa off I-44 Exit 211 then 0.3 miles south on SR 33, then one miles west on US 66
Race Time: 7:00 p.m.
Track Phone: 918-247-6675

Notes: The bullring has hosted the TNT troops over each of the past two years and has fully lived up to expectations both times. Robert Ballou bested a field of 42 entries in 2007, while Brady Bacon outdueled Ballou to top last year’s Creek County stop.

[u Rounds Five & Six – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)]

When: Friday and Saturday, August 21-22
Description: ½-mile semi-banked dirt oval
Location: Off I-435 Exit 18, then one mile northwest on SR 5
Race Time: 7:30 p.m. on both nights
Track Phone: 913-299-2040

Notes: After four nights of $4,000 to win events, the week culminates with Lakeside Speedway’s $10,000 to win Ron Shuman Classic on Saturday night, August 22. The top four finishers in Friday night’s preliminary feature are locked into the finale. Robert Ballou has captured the top prize of $10,000, along with the much-coveted pedal car, over each of the past two years, with other past winners including Brad Sweet (2006), Bud Kaeding (2005 and 2002), Jesse Hockett (2004 and 2003), Troy Rutherford (2001) and Tony Elliott (2000).

Additional information regarding the Sprint Bandits Tour ‘N Topless series is available at