Hillier Hits the High Banks at Paducah: Looks for Another Strong Run Paducah, KY-- May 9, 2008--The first time that Chad Hiller saw Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky was last season as he and his team rolled through the pit gate at...
Hillier Hits the High Banks at Paducah: Looks for Another Strong Run
Paducah, KY-- May 9, 2008--The first time that Chad Hiller saw Paducah International Raceway in Kentucky was last season as he and his team rolled through the pit gate at the state-of-the-art 3/8-mile, just a few hours before he took to the track. Though he had just a handful of hot laps to get up to speed, he made the most of those and was fast right out of the box.
Having cut his teeth on the tight bullrings of his home state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest, Hillier was ready to tackle the high-banks and bested a very strong 39-car field in time trials to earn his first quick time honor with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
Hillier will have a chance to return to Paducah International Raceway this weekend, as the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series visits the track on Saturday, May 10 for a full night of racing. Hillier is not exactly sure what made him so fast right at the track last season at Paducah, but he seeks to repeat that this weekend.
"It may have been having that wall to run so close around," he said with a smile. "I was kind of used to that from running around home. It could have been a lucky lap as well, you just never. With the tough crowd that we have, you have to catch a break when you can."
Last season, wintry-like condition greeted the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in their return to the pristine Paducah International Raceway, though that did not slow down Hillier and his team. After setting fast time and running in the Top-Five of the first heat race, Hillier earned a spot in the Crane Cams Dash, where he finished a very solid sixth, to earn a third row starting spot for the 35-lap A-Feature. In the A-Feature, he ran in the Top-10 for a number of laps and late in the race battled current World of Outlaws point leader Craig Dollansky and wound up in the 13th position. Much warmer temperatures are expected on Saturday, for the World of Outlaws lone visit of the season to the Bluegrass State.
"When the air is cooler, the motor runs a little bit different," noted the driver of the DIRT Inc. Maxim. "I'm sure it comes into play with the tires taking a little longer to warm up. We do the best we can the variables that we are set with. We are hoping to do a little bit better than we did last year. We started out really well there and then backed up a little bit in the feature. Hopefully we can start out good and finish good there."
After visiting over 50 tracks for the first time last season as a rookie, Hillier and his team have plenty of notes as they return to tracks this season. Along with the World of Outlaws visit to Paducah in 2007, he raced a total of 20 times on 3/8-mile tracks and has a good baseline to look back at when they roll the car off the trailer on Saturday night. On top of that, he has the confidence of knowing that he has competed at numerous tracks and continues to hone his skills night in and night out against the toughest sprint car drivers in the world.
"It does help going back to tracks," said the second-year driver. "A little bit of the anxiety is gone and you know where to run on the race track. You don't have to guess and you can get up to speed a few laps quicker. I feel it is a benefit going back a second and third time."
While the rain has wreaked havoc on the early part of the season, Hillier and his team have took it in stride and have been busy preparing for the bulk of the schedule which begins to pick up steam this weekend at Paducah International Raceway. Facing the high banks at Paducah is always demanding on the drivers both physically and mentally and Hillier is ready to meet that challenge.
"You have to try to stay positive, that's the main thing," said the former Skagit (Wash.) Speedway track champion of the early season rainouts. "You also have to exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. It's frustrating, especially when you travel all the way across the country and it gets rained out and you have to turn around and go all the way back. Once we get back to racing back-to-back races, everyone can build some momentum."
Prior to the season, Hillier and his team set up shop in Brownsburg, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis. For a team that hails from Washington, having a home away from home during the always demanding World of Outlaws season will pay dividends and also ease their travel a bit when racing in the Midwest.
"It gives us a good central location, he explained. "Rather than have to hang out in hotels, we can drive an hour and be back home. We can cook meals for ourselves and have a car to drive around. It breaks up the hotel time, because there will be months when we are in hotels and won't be able to get home. It does help. Last year we didn't really have a home. We were in hotels until August and then were home for a week and then in hotels again. The down town hasn't been as bad, because we have had a home base to go back to."
With a busy month of May awaiting the World of Outlaws, Hillier is ready to hit the track, as the series will compete 10 times over the next three weeks, with one of the highlights of that being the return to Paducah International Raceway on Saturday, May 10. After setting fast time and running strong at the track last season, he is excited to build upon that momentum.
"I wish we were racing every night," he said. "I am looking forward to some good weather and some real good racing."
On Saturday, May 10 at Paducah International Raceway, adult grandstand tickets will be $30, with tickets for children 12-under just $5. Reserved seats are available by calling (270) 898-7469 during regular business hours. There will be an autograph session prior to the hot laps at approximately 5:15 p.m. featuring 20-time series champion Steve Kinser, along with Jac Haudenschild, Tony Bruce Jr. and Sam Hafertepe Jr.