Shane Hollingsworth won his first Silver Crown race tonight in convincing fashion, winning the 55th Hoosier Hundred from the pole and leading every lap. He survived eight yellows, one red, and a relentless pursuit by Jerry Coons Jr. that ended...
Shane Hollingsworth won his first Silver Crown race tonight in convincing fashion, winning the 55th Hoosier Hundred from the pole and leading every lap. He survived eight yellows, one red, and a relentless pursuit by Jerry Coons Jr. that ended with one lap to go when Coons ran out of tires.
"Well, I think the cautions helped us run a softer tire than we usually run," Hollingsworth said. "That last caution really helped us. They kept telling me Jerry was right there, and to save our tires. When those tires goit looked like Jerry's tires went. Jerry ran a real race. You can't take away from that.
"It's pretty unbelievable right now," Shane continued. "It will take a day or two to set in. We've got a car in the Little 500 on the front row. It's been a pretty spectacular week so far. We'll see how far it goes."
For most of the race Hollingsworth was the lead in a three-car freight train consisting of him, Coons and three time Hoosier Hundred winner Dave Darland. Coons made repeated tries to pass entering Turns 1 and 3, but each time Hollingsworth held onto the single groove and foiled the attempts. Ultimately the tire-eating side of the historic Mile foiled Coons's evening. Darland, who was focused on making his tires last, eventually claimed the second spot.
"If I could have drove the car as it's capable of being driven," Darland said, "we might have had something for him. In the last five or six years here we've got a flat tire somewhere during the race and I just couldn't do that again. I had to think of the tires. Shane's tires look great. Ours still look kind of great. The rest of them don't. Tire wear here is a big issue. I just had to make sure I finished the race."
Darland has won this race three times before, and the significance of the Hoosier Hundred is foremost in his mind. "The history of this place makes this quite the event," he said. "Winning races here on the Indy mile - just running the races here. A.J. and Mario used to run this place and had some great races. We're still carrying on the tradition. I hope the fans enjoyed it."
One man who was able to pass cars tonight was Shane Hmiel, who gained 13 positions during the evening and finished third.
"My guys gave me a great car," he said. "This just shows how good it is. Jerry had a fast car. I kind of messed up in qualifying - started in fifteenth and drove to third. This is the kind of race that I love. It's just big."
The opening ceremonies of tonight's event included an invocation by two-time Silver Crown champion Jack Hewitt, who spoke in remembrance of Larry Rice. Larry, a two-time Silver Crown champion, Midget champion, Indy 500 co-rookie of the year, and broadcaster, passed away earlier this week.
The next USAC Silver Crown Race will be June 26-27 at Richmond (VA) International Raceway.