Ballou Wins Opening Night Of Vermeil Classic
Scott Pierovitch claimed the companion midget race and both drivers called their wins payback for races they have narrowly lost on the high speed, Napa County Fairgrounds half mile oval.
Ballou, originally from the Sacramento area town of Rocklin and who has been racing out of Indianapolis the last four years, grabbed the lead midway through the 30 lap race and came out on top of a three-way dogfight to claim the win. After starting on the pole,he stalked race leader Danny Sheridan as the pair weaved their way through slower lapped traffic.
Ballou pounced on the opportunity when Sheridan was balked by a slower car that crowded him at the end of the backstretch and dove underneath the leader as the cars ran three abreast into turn three.
“I gave one away here a couple of years ago, so I was glad to make up for it tonight,” said Ballou, who also said that he struggled with the car throughout the race with brake problems.
Sheridan acknowledged that Ballou’s move to take the lead was just clean, hard racing. “He drove a great race and we raced him hard,” said Sheridan, who was able to get alongside Ballou briefly but chased him unsuccessfully for the last half of the race.
”Lapped traffic was really tough tonight,” said Sheridan. “When you’re going 30 miles an hour faster than they are, things happen in a hurry.”
In the last half of the race Mike Spencer, current point leader in the USAC/CRA points battle who is gunning for an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship, challenged Sheridan for second as the top three cars weaved through the field separated by only tenths of a second. On the last lap, however, Matt Mitchell ran to the top of turn one and passed Spencer on the outside for the final podium spot.
In the companion midget main event, Pierovitch led all 25 laps from the pole to claim the win. “This is the best win of my career,” said Pierovitch,” and I’ve been waiting four years for this.” Four years ago, in the first Louie Vermeil Classic, Pierovitch narrowly lost after a wheel to wheel duel with Johnny Rodriquez in a race that saw the pair run away from the field and swap the lead at each end of the racetrack almost every lap.
Current USAC championship point leader Cory Kruseman, a Louie Vermeil winner last year, finished third after starting at the rear of the 24 car field. That march through the field preserved his points lead after he overcame engine problems in qualifying. “We pretty much struggled all night long,” said Kruseman. “We changed everything on the engine except the valve covers but eventually got a good run.”
The second leg of the Louie Vermeil Classic for midgets and sprint cars ran Sunday night on the Napa County Fairgrounds half mile oval.