Indiana State Fairgrounds pre-race notes

Auto Club Silver Crown Series participants for the 56th Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Friday night, May 23. The position of the 56th Hoosier Hundred on the revamped K&N Filters Silver Crown schedule is the second of 2008 on...

Auto Club Silver Crown Series participants for the 56th Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Friday night, May 23. The position of the 56th Hoosier Hundred on the revamped K&N Filters Silver Crown schedule is the second of 2008 on the dirt and the first to be contested on the traditional one mile fairground dirt tracks that have a national championship racing heritage that can be traced back to 1903!

The Hoosier Hundred has long been considered the 'granddaddy' of all of the events for the traditional upright championship dirt cars and even with a move from a long standing September afternoon date to the Friday night before the Indianapolis 500, the Hoosier Hundred remains an event every USAC driver would like to conquer at least once in his driving career. Unfortunately, last year's event was the 55th scheduled Hoosier Hundred to be held but rain just after practice and the lack of a suitable rain date forced Hoosier Hundred promoter Bob Sargent and the United States Auto Club to cancel the event and bring the 56th scheduled running of the historic race to the 2008 season.

Current K&N Filters USAC Silver Crown point leader Jerry Coons, Jr. of Tucson, Arizona comes into the 2008 Hoosier Hundred with a win under his belt at the season opening "Copper on Dirt" on the half mile at Manzanita Speedway. Coons, with pole positions at both Springfield and DuQuoin to his credit, has to be considered one of the drivers to watch at the Indiana State Fairgrounds along with his RW Motorsports teammate Mat Neely of Robinson, Illinois. Neely captured his first series win at the end of 2007 by winning the Four Crown 50 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Former Silver Crown champ Tracy Hines of New Castle, Indiana began his comeback from leg injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident early last year in fine fashion at Manzanita by placing fifth in the Tony Stewart Motorsports Maxim. Hines has several series wins to his credit including a win in the Tony Bettenhausen 100 on the mile dirt at Springfield, Illinois and two in the Ted Horn 100 on the mile dirt track at DuQuoin, Illinois. If Indiana native Hines can capture the Hoosier Hundred he would be just the tenth Indiana native to win his state's most prestigious dirt track race and the 14th man in auto racing history to win national championship races on each of the three fairground dirt miles of the Midwest. Support from General Motors in the form of Chevrolet engines should put Hines and Tony Stewart teammate Levi Jones at the front of the pack for the 56th Hoosier Hundred. Jones, a former star basketball player from Olney, Illinois won USAC Sprint car titles in 2005 and 2007 and led 99 of the 100 laps of the 2006 Hoosier Hundred before being passed by teammate Wise on the last circuit.

Wise, the 2006 USAC Sprint car champ became the youngest winner of the Hoosier Hundred in 2006 after starting from the pole for the 100-mile event. He currently drives selected ARCA and NASCAR stock car events for owner Michael Waltrip and announced recently he would attempt to contest the 2008 Hoosier Hundred for long time USAC car owner Don Fike. Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana is a three time Hoosier Hundred (1995, 1996, 2004) who became nationally known after his first win for car owner Galen Fox in the 1995 race and won the USAC Silver Crown title with Fox in 1997. Like Hines, Darland is one win shy of posting victories on all of the three dirt miles, lacking a victory at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Two time and defending K&N Filters USAC Silver Crown Series champ Bud Kaeding can't be counted out of the Hoosier Hundred picture either. The third generation driver from Campbell, California currently is second in points after a second at Manzanita and while he has several series wins has yet to post one on any of the traditional mile dirt tracks.

A couple of Indiana drivers also have a chance at a top finish in the 56th Hoosier Hundred on the 23rd, Shane Cottle of Kokomo, Indiana added his name to a hall of fame list of 100-mile national championship dirt track winners when he took first in the Ted Horn 100 last Labor Day weekend at DuQuoin. The driver of the Larry Contos owned upright is a terror in sprint cars around central Indiana and his large following would like nothing better than to join him in victory lane at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Another Indiana driver is equally adept in sprint cars around the state of Indiana and also has a large following but has yet to win one of the 100-mile dirt track events. Jon Stanbrough, also from Kokomo, has a number of top finishes in Silver Crown machinery to his credit and some front row starts as well. He could be one of the dark horse drivers for the 56th Hoosier Hundred.

Other top pilots expected to compete at the Indiana State Fairgrounds include two time Tony Bettenhausen 100 winner Brian Tyler of Parma, Michigan, Shane Hollingsworth of Noblesville, Indiana, Aaron Pierce of Indianapolis, John Heydenreich of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and the ageless veteran Johnny Parsons of Speedway, Indiana. Parsons' history in the Hoosier Hundred dates back to his debut in 1970 when he won the pole position for Louis Seymour and "JP" is the current one-lap track record holder at the Indiana State Fair mile. The sixty-three year old Parsons can break Jim McElreath's record as the oldest driver ever to start the Hoosier Hundred.

The prestigious auto race created by late Indianapolis Motor Speedway Safety Director Jo Quinn and Indianapolis businessman Roger Wolcott is scheduled for edition number 56 on May 23, 2008 at the Indiana State Fair mile. Practice is slated for 5 p.m. Eastern time, with qualifcaitons at 6 and the first race of the evening at 7. Drivers will be gunning for Johnny Parsons' one lap track of 31.379 (114.726) set in 1995, while Kenny Jacobs 100-mile track standard of 56:05.20 (106.977) has stood since 1987. Tickets can be obtained by calling Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200, the Indiana State Fair Box Office at 317-927-1482 or at Ticketmaster locations. Additional information can be found about the Hoosier Hundred at www.trackenterprises.com or www.usacracing.com.

-credit: te/isf

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Brian Tyler , Bud Kaeding , John Heydenreich , Kenny Jacobs , Johnny Parsons , Levi Jones , Aaron Pierce , Jerry Coons , Jon Stanbrough , Shane Cottle , Shane Hollingsworth , Tony Bettenhausen