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T-MEZ TURNS IT UP AT SMACKDOWN VIII OPENER

T-MEZ TURNS IT UP AT SMACKDOWN VIII OPENER

Kokomo, Indiana.........Time after time, Thomas Meseraull has proven every time he straps into a racecar, he's a threat to win.

One night after leading 12 laps in Simon Racing's No. 23s at #GYATK Night, the San Jose, Calif. native stepped into Tom Eades' No. 47 Thursday night for the Sprint Car Smackdown VIII opener and never skipped a beat, racing to his first USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory of the year, and first for Eades, a Kokomo, Ind. native in his first year of owning a sprint car.

The win was a sense of redemption for Meseraull who had a particularly rough showing in the car during the series' most recent visit to Kokomo during Indiana Sprint Week in July where he started 13th and finished 21st. Meseraull knew he had to put together a complete night to provide himself his best shot to collect a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win for the fifth-straight year, something accomplished only by five other drivers: Brady Bacon, Justin Grant, Chase Stockon, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Chris Windom over the same time span since 2015.

"After (Indiana) Sprint Week, we got our ass handed to us, flat out," Meseraull admitted. "We just got beat. It was a little unexpected. I had to qualify a little better tonight, and I did, which put us up front. Track position in these deals is everything. It's everything."

Meseraull began his journey from the outside of the front row, but it was Bacon who took control early on, sliding from his pole starting position to the top in turn one to lead the opening seven circuits with Meseraull in tow, trailing the two-time series champ a couple car lengths behind.

The first stoppage of the night came on lap seven when the night's ProSource Hard Work Award winner and 19th running Josh Hodges flipped upside down in turn four. He'd walk away uninjured but was finished for the evening.

Once racing resumed, Meseraull stuck right with Bacon, and on the ninth lap, made his bid for the lead, dipping to the bottom of turn one and sliding up in front of Bacon for the top spot. With tension high and the competition at a peak level, Meseraull knew there was no time to putt around in second.

"It was so slick to the curb, and the curb was on the wall. It was as tall as me, I swear," Meseraull recalled. "It was so big out there, I knew I couldn't waste any time. After the red flag, we ended up parking there right off of three and realized that it wasn't slick to the curb. It had a big hole before the curb, like the track had gotten ate up and it had this big dip and my car was evil up there. I'd hit it and it'd get up on two wheels. I just started going in above it in three and cheating across it and driving to the slick. That hole got Brady one lap, and I knew I had to just bomb it in there and hope to God that it would stick, and it stuck."

Meanwhile, as the battle for the lead switched hands, fourth-running C.J. Leary biked entering on the bottom of turn one. The series point leader miraculously saved his mount without flipping or making contact, but the landing is what got him, flattening his left rear tire before slowing to bring out the yellow. Leary restarted from the tail after getting fresh rubber in the work area, and, ultimately, finished 14th, ending his streak of 21 consecutive top-tens to begin the season.

On the tenth lap restart, Bacon went to work on the bottom underneath Meseraull for the lead in turn one, however Meseraull retained the momentum on the high side as did Courtney back in third. While Bacon trekked the low line, Courtney stuck to the top and raced around the outside to nip Bacon at the line for second and nail down the position exiting turn two.

Courtney put the chase on Meseraull, diamonding off the third turn as well as following him on the top shelf to find a way to close the gap. On the 12th lap, though, Courtney got in above the cushion a bit off turn four, allowing Meseraull to jump away and build his lead to nearly a full straightaway (2.729 seconds) just after the midway point.

On the 17th lap, 7th running Logan Seavey slowed to a stop on the bottom of turn one, erasing Meseraull's substantial advantage just prior to hitting lapped traffic.

It hardly seemed to make a difference to Meseraull once the green flag dropped on the restart with 13 to go where he once again utilized the high line to break away from Courtney, holding a half-straightaway advantage down the stretch with only lapped traffic to contend with in the final five-lap push.

Meseraull skimmed the outside concrete in turn two with two to go, with no tiptoeing around the outside of the lappers occurring whatsoever, as he closed out a sterling performance in his Tom Eades Racing/Physical Medicine Consultants - 1-Way Technologies/DRC/Stensland Chevy with a 1.339 second victory over Courtney, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon.

The victory was the 10th of Meseraull's USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career, moving him past Mario Andretti, Hunter Schuerenberg and Robbie Stanley on the list and into a tie with Tony Stewart for 49th all-time.

Contingency award winners Thursday night at Kokomo Speedway were Tyler Courtney (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Isaac Chapple (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Carson Short (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Kyle Cummins (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Chris Windom (Crume Evans Insurance/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Josh Hodges (ProSource Hard Work Award), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Brandon Mattox (Saldana Racing Products/Hoosier Racing Tire First Non-Transfer), Dave Darland (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Thomas Meseraull (Elliott's Custom Trailers and Carts/Tony Elliott Foundation Winning Bonus) and Cole Ketcham (American Racing Ministries Final Semi Transfer).

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