Hillier Ready to Tackle Eldora Chad Hillier has waited a long time to race at Eldora Speedway. He has visited the hallowed half-mile in the past as a spectator. He also has journeyed to the track as a crew member with a World of Outlaws...
Hillier Ready to Tackle Eldora
Chad Hillier has waited a long time to race at Eldora Speedway. He has visited the hallowed half-mile in the past as a spectator. He also has journeyed to the track as a crew member with a World of Outlaws team. This weekend he will get the chance to strap into the cockpit and turn his first laps on one of the most famous race tracks in the country.
Hillier traveled to Eldora last season for an event, but Mother Nature interrupted those plans. He will have two opportunities this weekend to tackle the high-banked high-speed oval, as the World of Outlaws will contest two full nights of racing on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, with the cameras from SPEED rolling. The event will be broadcast on Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Competing on one of the biggest stages in sprint car racing for the first time does not intimidate him.
"There is always the first race jitters, but I'm really excited about heading there," said Hillier, driver of the Dirt Inc. Maxim. "It's a real high-speed place. Every time we have gone there to whether to watch or work. I have wanted to race there. Hopefully the weather holds this weekend, and we get the chance to do it."
Hillier and the rest of the World of Outlaws competitors will be greeted by a resurfaced and reshaped track. Having turned wrenches at the track in the past, Hillier knows how demanding a night of racing at Eldora can be. With most of the drivers in the field having turned countless laps at the track, the new surface could be an equalizer, along with it being the second and third events with the new Hoosier National Right Rear Tire program in effect.
"Any advantage we can have is definitely a plus to us," said the four-time track champion at Skagit (Wash.) Speedway. "The guys like (Jac) Haudenschild, (Steve) Kinser, and (Joey) Saldana have raced there for years, and I'm sure they will go the extreme high part of the race track. That's always been known as the fast way around there and I imagine it will still be pretty much the same."
One advantage that Hillier does have is that veteran crew chief Tyler Swank is turning the wrenches on the No. 5C. Swank knows Eldora Speedway very well, and what it takes to be consistent from the time the car rolls off the trailer until the checkered flag falls on the A-Feature.
"Every little thing like having a veteran crew chief like Tyler who knows the track is a confidence booster," commented Hillier, who is the only driver to have won titles in all three sprint car divisions at Skagit (Wash.) Speedway, where the World of Outlaws will compete later this season, an event that will also be broadcast on SPEED.
Last weekend in Kentucky, Hillier was quickest in time trials, for the first time with the World of Outlaws. With a very solid field of nearly 40 cars on-hand, including the 27 other full-time teams with the series, it showed how quick Hillier is adapting to racing with the best of the best each night.
"We turned some good laps at Paducah (International Raceway)," he said. "It proves to us that we have everything we need to compete out here and it can be done. That question is not on my mind. We just have to work on putting 30-35 good laps together in the feature, to increase our A-Main finishes. All in all everything has been pretty good this season. We're pretty excited about going into this weekend."
With one of the largest fields of the year expected at Eldora, Hillier knows each lap he turns on the track will be vital in having a successful weekend. With large car counts all season, the rookie is getting used to racing as hard as he can each and every lap.
"It's tough out there night in and night," shared Hillier. "There are 30-40 cars out there each night, and especially at this time of the year, everyone is real hungry. It's tough, but we focus on it race to race, and not lose track of what we are trying to do, and that is to get to the end of the year. We're making the most of the chance to be out there, and we certainly do out best every night."
Eldora Speedway will mark the sixth straight race that the native of Burlington, Washington has visited a track for the first time. With nearly 70 races remaining on the schedule, he will have the opportunity to visit even more tracks that he has heard about for years. He has a normal routine of items that he checks off when he visits a track for the first time, as he looks to learn as much as he can before taking to the track in hot laps.
"I always try to look at the track and try to relate it to a place I have been to before or raced on before," he explained. "If I'm not in the first set of hot laps, I will try to make sure to watch some of the veteran guys and see how to get around there. All those guys have been to these places before, and they are on top of their game. I try to watch and see watch and see what the fast way around is, and if a guy can run it in hard, or if he can't run it in wide open. You always have to run it in as hard as you can, but you can't run it in too hard, and let it get away from you. Just learning from the best and taking notes helps a lot."
Hillier is excited for this weekend, with it being the first World of Outlaws event of the season that will be broadcast on SPEED. With the eyes of the racing world on Eldora Speedway and the World of Outlaws, he plans to go about business the same way he and his team have been all season long, as they continue to learn and gain valuable experience.
"I like to think that having the television cameras out there won't add any pressure, but it probably will a little," said Hillier. "I try to focus on not what anyone else is doing, but what we are doing, and it doesn't matter what is going on around the place. Hopefully it's a good showing, and hopefully we have a good showing as well."
The Evergreen State driver is currently third in the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. He matched his season best finish of 13th last weekend in Kentucky, and has earned a spot in the dash in two of the last three events.
"On some nights we may take a step backwards, but most nights we are taking steps forward," he said. "Once we starting racing on more than just the weekends, we will be able to build off momentum we gain the night before. We've been learning from the mistakes that we have been making. We had some motor trouble early in the year, but we seem to have taken car of all of that. We have learned what each motor likes and what each car likes. Tyler (Swank) and I are communicating better and getting to know each other's lingo. I see us taking forward strides each night."
On Friday April 13 at Eldora Speedway, tickets for those ages 16-over will be $25, with ages 12-15 just $12, while children ages 7-11 only $6, and kids 6-under will be admitted free of charge.
On Saturday April 14, tickets for those ages 16-over will be $25, with ages 12-15 just $12, while children ages 7-11 only $6, and kids 6-under will be admitted free of charge.
For more information call Eldora Speedway at: (937) 338-3815 or visit: www.eldoraspeedway.com.