Hillier Races into Opener CHICO, CA (September 6) -- Chad Hillier opened the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions with a strong run Thursday, driving the ...
Hillier Races into Opener
CHICO, CA (September 6) -- Chad Hillier opened the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions with a strong run Thursday, driving the #5c DIRT Inc. Maxim into 14th place in the "A" Feature at Silver Dollar Speedway.
The World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender qualified well. His 12.101-second lap around the high-banked, ¼-mile oval was the 18th-fastest in the 47-car field and only .327 seconds off fast-qualifier Jason Sides' pace. Hillier earned the privilege of starting the 30-lap main event outside the ninth row by holding off fellow rookie Tony Bruce Jr. for fifth place in the Second Heat Race.
"We just needed to be a couple of spots better in qualifying and we would have been in really good shape," Chad said. "Making the inversion (qualifying in the top 16) would have made the whole night better -- it would have given us a shot at the dash. We were a little snug and got tight on the cushion on both laps, so we couldn't carry enough speed. We probably should have had the car a little freer. We weren't rolling through there very nice. But, all in all, it wasn't too bad.
"We made it through our heat even though there wasn't a lot of passing going on. It was kind of a one-lane racetrack, but we kept our nose clean and did our best. We were a little snug in the feature, too. We were pulling wheelies all night, so we'll probably bolt some weight on the front to help that."
Hillier, the only driver to win all three sprint car championships at Skagit Speedway, battled a couple of World of Outlaws veterans who have raced at Silver Dollar Speedway numerous times -- Jason Meyers and Randy Hannagan -- in the "A" Feature.
"If I drove it into the corner a little too hard and slipped up, one of them would get me and it was the same with them," Chad said. "It was just bumper-to-bumper around the bottom. The track almost raced like it was rubber-down, but it wasn't. If you got off the bottom, you hung out there in the middle. The top was just too dirty, so everybody just ran the bottom. There were some guys who managed to do some passing. Sammy (Swindell, who finished second) moved forward and they had a good race up front. On the starts -- when everybody got bottlenecked -- if you had a good, clean run, you could get around a couple. But you had to get right back in line and wait for the next caution."
Hillier's 452 points -- five behind 2000 Gold Cup winner Danny Lasoski -- put him 16th in the opening-night preliminary point standings.
"Finishing 16th in points on our preliminary night wasn't too bad," Chad said. "We would rather be eighth or 10th, but we'll just do our best with what we have Saturday."