Pocono: James Hylton preview

James Hylton to make 700th career start at Pocono ARCA 200 June 1, 2009 (MEMPHIS, TN) - The 2.5 mile triangular Pocono Speedway, nestled in the heart of the scenic Pocono Mountains, has long been one of James Harvey Hylton's favorite tracks. On...

James Hylton to make 700th career start at Pocono ARCA 200

June 1, 2009 (MEMPHIS, TN) - The 2.5 mile triangular Pocono Speedway, nestled in the heart of the scenic Pocono Mountains, has long been one of James Harvey Hylton's favorite tracks. On June 6th, Hylton will return to Pocono Speedway to record his 700th major sanctioning body career start in the Pocono ARCA 200. Hylton's storied career includes starts in NASCAR Sprint Cup (601), ARCA RE/MAX (82), NASCAR Grand National East (6), NASCAR Nationwide (3), USAC Stock Car (3), NASCAR Grand American (3), and IMSA Sports Car (1). Hylton has competed on tracks that range from New York's historic 2/10 mile Islip Speedway to the 2.667 mile high-banked tri-oval at Talladega, AL. "Throughout my career, I've raced on every surface imaginable," stated the Inman, SC Hylton, "in the sixties, we would run a 1/3 mile dirt track one day and then turn around and run a high-banked paved oval the next".

There is a three-way tie for the track with the most career starts by Hylton between Daytona International Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, and Darlington Speedway, each with 38 starts. Hylton has also recorded three starts on the 3.56 mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. There are 16 tracks on which Hylton has made 25 or more starts. These include such tradition rich tracks as Riverside International Raceway, Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway. When considering tracks with 10 or more starts, Hylton's best track performance-wise is the 1/2 mile Columbia Speedway, with an average finishing position of 4.5. Maryville, TN's Smokey Mountain Raceway runs a close second with Hylton posting an average finish of 4.8.

James Hylton made his first NASCAR Grand National start at the Old Dominion 400 at Manassas, VA on July 8, 1964. Hylton finished 19th in a 1964 Ford Galaxie and collected $100 for his efforts. "Ned Jarrett let me drive a few races in 1964 in a Bondy Long car. At the road course in Bridgehampton, New York, I was only supposed to run a few laps, then bring the car into the garage. Ned knew how badly I wanted to race, so, he put a lock on the gas cap to make sure I didn't get excited and run the whole race!" It was clear Hylton had developed a taste for speed and soon found he had the abilities of a contender.Since then, Hylton has recorded 3 wins, 147 Top-Fives, 309 Top-Tens in competition, and a month ago recorded a 15th place finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series event at Talladega.

During his career, Hylton has competed against a veritable "who's who" of stock car drivers. When asked who were among his toughest competitors, Hylton lists legends such as the Allisons, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, and singles out Cale Yarbrough. "When you tried to keep up with Cale at places like Darlington or Bristol, you pretty much had your hands full", Hylton remarks. Hylton's career has not been limited to only full body stock cars, as he has competed in four sports car races including a win in the 1970 Citrus 250. "The Citrus 250 was a NASCAR Grand American race held on the road course at Daytona," detailed Hylton, "I won it in a 1969 Camaro owned by Barry Divers and I used the skills I learned as a teenager running through the backwoods roads of rural Virginia".

In 1976, Hylton teamed up with NASCAR rival Richard Childress for the IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona. Hylton and Childress drove a specially modified 1976 Chevrolet Laguna S-3 to a second place finish in class and a 19th place overall finish in the 73 car field. "That was a lot of fun," stated Hylton, "We held our own against the Porsche and BMW teams with that big old car. At one point we even had the car in 9th place but at 3:00 am, we lost our transmission".

Hylton has witnessed many changes occur in the sport of automobile racing throughout his 700 races. "When I first started, it was still your basic Saturday night type of racing," stated Hylton, "over the years it has grown into a full-fledged professional sport." When it comes to the race cars themselves, Hylton has seen many technological and mechanical changes as well. "The big block hemi motors we ran back in the sixties had so much torque that you could almost break your neck when you accelerated," said Hylton, "but today's cars handle much better with the advances in tire and suspension technology".

Over the course of his career, Hylton has established a new standard for longevity in the sporting world. "I grew up working hard seven days a week on the farm and I've carried that philosophy with me into my racing endeavors." said Hylton, " If anyone asked me for my secret to life-long endurance, I'd tell them to eat healthy, leave cigarettes alone, and drink plenty of milk."

-credit: hm

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Series ARCA
Drivers Ned Jarrett , Richard Petty , James Hylton , David Pearson