By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
DU QUOIN, IL – Every driver, every team has a plan when they enter the ring for 100 miles of USAC Silver Crown racing at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.
Sometimes those plans go awry and sometime those plans come to fruition. Then again, other times, the way things play out don’t fit into either of those columns. Sometimes, you must take advantage of the hand you’re dealt and see where it goes.
That was how Chris Windom’s Sunday night played out down the stretch for the topsy-turvy conclusion to the latest edition of the “Ted Horn 100.”
Not one, but two race leaders ran out of fuel during the final 13-lap stretch and the Canton, Illinois driver was poised to pounce, leading the final six laps to win his second “Ted Horn 100” in the last three years. He also became the first driver in a decade, since Brian Tyler in 2008, to sweep both Silver Crown races on the Illinois dirt miles of Du Quoin and Springfield in the same year.
Windom started eighth in the 30-car field aboard his Gene Nolen Racing/KECO Coatings/Maxim/Tranter Chevy. Meanwhile, up front, his teammate and outside front row starter Jerry Coons, Jr. notched the top spot, maneuvering around the outside of pole sitter Jacob Wilson to lead the opening six circuits.
Brady Bacon was a man in motion early on, riding the high line from the fourth starting spot to the lead past Coons on lap seven.
The race came to a halt on the 15th lap when J.C. Bland’s rear axle snapped, sending him flipping over the inside guardrail on the back straightaway nearing the entrance to turn three.
The ensuing restart was a Flying Wallendas high wire act between Bacon and C.J. Leary, both running the fence at a torrid pace as they separated themselves from the pack until the second and final stoppage of the night on lap 34 when series Rookie Austin Mundie flipped it over in turn one and walked away unscathed.
When the time came to restart, race leader Bacon’s car was unable to fire. His car was pushed to the infield without power and, being unable to restart due to a clutch issue, retired for the remainder of the evening.
That gave the lead to Leary who was a rocket right out of the box in his second race for the DMW Motorsports team, riding the high line to perfection and constantly extending his lead, up to over three seconds by the halfway point. As the laps wound down to 40 to go and 30 to go, Leary maintained a lead of between two and three seconds, with Windom in third another 10 whole seconds back.
While Windom had an inkling that both Leary and Courtney would run into issues with fuel, he wasn’t exactly sure if or when he had to turn up the wick to catch them as he remained disciplined at his own pace.
“It’s really hard in that situation,” Windom explained. “I didn’t know when to pick it up because we never got a caution. There really wasn’t a right time to. I don’t feel like I’ve really learned that until this year. You really have to pace yourself. It may not always work out but, nine times out of ten, it’s going to work out because the pace those guys tried setting there, I didn’t think was sustainable for 100 laps.”
The furious pace on the long green flag run and running the high line for the entire duration of the race would soon rear its ugly head with 15 laps remaining. Courtney began to pulley the once untouchable Leary, ultimately passing the sputtering Leary on the 88th lap exiting turn two. Leary slowed considerably, but was able to nurse his ride home the rest of the way for a seventh place finish.
Now, Courtney was in control, and he too had no hesitation of letting up anytime soon, stretching his advantage over Windom to 5.4 seconds with six laps to go just before the proverbial rug got pulled out from beneath the Indianapolis, Indiana driver and his bid to claim his first win on a mile.
On lap 95, Courtney’s thirsty engine sputtered off turn four, coasting down the front straightaway and gave way to Windom who had planned to be in contention at the end, but most probably not in the manner it ultimately did.
“I didn’t think the race was going to play out that way,” Windom admits. “I didn’t think we’d go green for that long. I thought we’d get a caution with 20 or 30 to go, then I’d be able to race them for the lead. It never came, so then I started thinking with 20 to go that, with the pace they’re setting, there’s no way they’re going to last. I got a little more nervous when there were 13 to go and they were still 13 seconds ahead of me. Finally, my spotter came over the radio and said the No. 10 and then the 97 was slowing. So, I knew it was our race to lose at that point.”
“I moved down and tried to conserve fuel then because I started getting nervous that I was going to run out,” Windom continued. These races are different every time. You never know what you’re going to get. I don’t think I’ve ever ran a Crown race at that pace for that long. I tried to manage it as long as I could. I’ve had to learn the hard way a lot of times here while leading. I’ve run out of fuel and crashed multiple times. I tried to take what I’ve learned from the past and put it to use here today.”
That experience ultimately paid off for Windom, the 2016 series champ, as he was able to bring home his eighth career Silver Crown score to move into sole possession of 14th on the all-time list. The triumph also added a third Du Quoin Silver Crown victory to car owner Gene Nolen’s list of accomplishments, previously scoring wins with Johnny Parsons in 1992 and Tony Elliott in 1999.
Same as Springfield, Windom led only a scant number of laps (15 in total between there and Du Quoin) but came away with two monster victories on his racing resume. Also similar was Kevin Thomas, Jr. finishing in the runner-up spot. Shane Cockrum took third ahead of Justin Grant with Kody Swanson rounding out the top-five.
Contingency award winners Sunday night at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds were Mike Haggenbottom (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Chris Dyson (Wilwood Brakes 13th place finisher) and Terry James (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: September 2, 2018 – Du Quoin, Illinois – Du Quoin State Fairgrounds – “Ted Horn 100”
QUALIFYING: 1. Jacob Wilson, 07, WBR-30.214; 2. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-30.286; 3. C.J. Leary, 10, DMW-30.343; 4. Brady Bacon, 6, Klatt-30.452; 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 56, Foxco-30.474; 6. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-30.605; 7. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-30.650; 8. Chris Windom, 17, Nolen-30.670; 9. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-30.737; 10. Chris Urish, 77, Urish-30.739; 11. Tyler Courtney, 97, Lein-30.744; 12. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-30.806; 13. Joe Liguori, 4, Liguori-30.847; 14. Shane Cockrum, 71, Hardy-31.077; 15. Joey Moughan, 29, Moughan-31.183; 16. Shane Cottle, 81, Williams-31.193; 17. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-31.214; 18. Jeff Swindell, 21, Swanson-31.296; 19. Austin Mundie, 47, Butler-31.408; 20. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-31.856; 21. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-31.874; 22. Bill Rose, 75, Rose-31.911; 23. Russ Gamester, 51, Gamester-31.941; 24. Brian Tyler, 12, Galas-32.199; 25. Steve Buckwalter, 53, Five Three-32.275; 26. Mike Haggenbottom, 124, Haggenbottom-32.311; 27. J.C. Bland, 5, Bland-32.340; 28. Korey Weyant, 99, Weyant-32.418; 29. Chris Dyson, 9, Dyson-32.792; 30. Terry Babb, 34, Morford-32.922; 31. Keith Burch, 24, Burch-33.090; 32. A.J. Fike, 14, McQuinn-33.125; 33. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott/Gorman-33.415; 34. Terry James, 23, Satterthwaite-33.778; 35. Jackie Burke, 33, Burke-33.807; 36. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-35.851; 37. Danny Long, 44, Long-NT; 38. Chris Fetter, 89, Fetter-NT.
LAST CHANCE RACE: (12 laps) 1. Haggenbottom, 2. Dyson, 3. Bland, 4. Burch, 5. Babb, 6. Weyant, 7. James, 8. Welpott, 9. Buckwalter, 10. Burke. 6:41.75
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (8), 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 3. Shane Cockrum (14), 4. Justin Grant (9), 5. Kody Swanson (12), 6. David Byrne (6), 7. C.J. Leary (3), 8. Austin Nemire (17), 9. Joey Moughan (15), 10. Kyle Robbins (7), 11. Mike Haggenbottom (25), 12. Bill Rose (22), 13. Chris Dyson (26), 14. Tyler Courtney (11), 15. Shane Cottle (16), 16. Jerry Coons Jr. (2), 17. Jacob Wilson (1), 18. Joe Liguori (13), 19. Keith Burch (28), 20. Patrick Lawson (21), 21. Brady Bacon (4), 22. Matt Goodnight (20), 23. Chris Urish (10), 24. Austin Mundie (19), 25. Terry Babb (29), 26. Brian Tyler (24), 27. Korey Weyant (30), 28. J.C. Bland (27), 29. Russ Gamester (23), 30. Jeff Swindell (18). NT
**Bland flipped on lap 15 of the feature. Mundie flipped on lap 34 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Coons, Laps 7-34 Bacon, Laps 35-87 Leary, Laps 88-94 Courtney, Laps 95-100 Windom.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Mike Haggenbottom (25th to 11th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Chris Dyson
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Terry James
NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Swanson-583, 2-Grant-507, 3-Windom-503, 4-Byrne-439, 5-Coons-378, 6-Bobby Santos-329, 7-Robbins-326, 8-Welpott-319, 9-Goodnight-309, 10-Nemire-286.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE September 8 – Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis – Brownsburg, Indiana – “Rich Vogler Classic”