(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 17, 2007): 16-year-old Chris Windom, of Canton, Ill., found challenges around every corner as he tackled a four-race schedule fit into a three-day time-span last weekend. Kicking off the weekend with the King of Indiana...
(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 17, 2007): 16-year-old Chris Windom, of Canton, Ill., found challenges around every corner as he tackled a four-race schedule fit into a three-day time-span last weekend. Kicking off the weekend with the King of Indiana Sprint Series (KISS) season opener at Gas City (IN) I-69 Speedway, Windom then traveled to Haubstadt's (IN) Tri-State Speedway for a USAC National Midget Car Series race, ending the weekend with a Sprint and Midget Car double-header, the qualifier for the "Jack Hewitt Classic" to be held on May 24th at Kokomo (IN) Speedway. Windom is competing full-time in the USAC National Sprint and Midget Car Series divisions in 2007, while fitting in any other Sprint or Midget car races in Indiana that don't conflict with the USAC National schedules.
The headliner for the upcoming weekend is the 37th annual "Tony Hulman Classic" USAC National Sprint Car Series event on the Terre Haute (IN) Action Track's half-mile, one of the most prestigious and classic sprint car races on the USAC schedule.
"Winning the 'Tony Hulman Classic' would mean a lot to me, especially with all of the bad luck we've had so far this year," Windom said of that prestigious race. "It would be great to be able to bounce back with a win there so early in the USAC season. I've run Terre Haute maybe two or three times in the past with the MSCS (Midwest Sprint Car Series), and it's really one of my favorite half-mile tracks. I think my best finish there was probably a 6th, which isn't too bad considering it's a pretty fast track. In one of my first races there, I was super fast and was coming up from the tail, making it to ninth in about five laps. A guy in front of me broke his rear end, and I ended up running over his wheel and flipping down the frontstretch. Even though that wasn't a good ending to that race, it's still one of my favorite places because I love the speed. You definitely have to be aware of what's going on around you because things happen so fast. You also have to give the guys around you plenty of room, because if you touch someone, it won't have a good result."
Terre Haute's huge event is sandwiched in between to local track events -- Friday at Gas City I-69 Speedway, and Sunday at Kokomo Speedway. Young Windom is regularly running at these facilities this year in order to get as much experience running with the "best of the best" that Indiana has to offer.
"I really like the caliber of competition at Gas City each week -- minus a few guys, it's pretty much like a USAC Sprint show," Windom explained of his weekly stop at one of Indiana's best dirt racing facilities. "The first night I got on the track earlier in the year, I really didn't know what to expect. I tried to run it like other quarter-mile tracks I've been on. By the second visit, I realized that you really need to diamond off of the corners pretty hard, and things have been a bit better for me. Running with some of the top sprint car racers in Indiana every week has taught me how to adjust to a track like that a lot faster than if I had to figure it out by myself."
Kokomo Speedway, near the team's shop in Frankfort, Ind., is also the typical weekly stop for the Windom Motorsports team on Sundays.
"I really like racing at Kokomo, although this year hasn't been too great for us there. The track typically stays good all night, with two grooves to race in. You get to run right up against the wall, and it's really fast -- probably one of the fastest quarter-miles in Indiana. Because of the banking, you can almost flat-foot it around there in qualifications. I also like the competition because a lot of the big names tend to run there on Sundays when USAC is not racing, like Jon Stanbrough and Shane Cottle, who are two of the toughest racers around. But in reality, there's about five to seven guys that race at Kokomo capable of winning every night, so it's always fun to know you are racing against the best."
In preparation for next weekend's traditional "Night Before the 500" USAC National Midget Car Series event at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the Windom Motorsports team loaded up their #17 Midget and tested at that facility on Tuesday. Similar to the first part of Windom's schedule this year, the test provided the team with numerous challenges.
"The test at O'Reilly Raceway Park had its ups and downs," Windom said of his first time in a race car at that track. "We went out at first just to get used to the car because this is my first USAC National Midget race on pavement. During our second session on the track, I was setting up the car for turn four and I'm not really sure what happened, but the car swapped ends and I ended up backing into the wall between turns three and four. The contact bent the left rear torsion arm, but didn't hurt the car too much other than that. However, it would have taken too long to fix, so I didn't get back in that car the rest of the day. I was able to get in Brad Mosen's Midget, but that car was having motor troubles, so it didn't help me too much. I eventually got the opportunity to get in Mark Jessup's car, and by the end of the day, we were running really competitive times which could put us at the front of the field when we qualify for the "Night Before the 500" race next week. We actually were turning the same times as Jessup in only one session, as compared to his 15 sessions of practice. We got better, but we still did not have a lot of time in any of the cars, which we could have used. But I'm glad we got the opportunity to get a little bit of testing in before next week's big race."