DuQuoin: Notes from the 50th Ted Horn 100

Notes from the 52nd Ted Horn Memorial at Duquoin. On a warm and sunny summer day, J.J. Yeley wrote one more page in the auto racing history book on and two track records were broken Sunday at DuQuoin. Yeley, in winning the Ted Horn Memorial 100,...

Notes from the 52nd Ted Horn Memorial at Duquoin.

On a warm and sunny summer day, J.J. Yeley wrote one more page in the auto racing history book on and two track records were broken Sunday at DuQuoin. Yeley, in winning the Ted Horn Memorial 100, swept both races on the Illinois miles for the just the 21st time since 1948. J.J. pocketed over $18,000 in the process, and now needs a win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to become the 13th driver in auto racing history to win in championship machinery on the three Midwestern dirt miles.

Yeley's win Sunday was much different than his win two weeks ago at the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield, where he led wire to wire. At Duquoin, Yeley started fifth and quickly moved to third. After a hard fought battle with Jay Drake, Yeley began pressuring leader Ed Carpenter and forced Carpenter to wear out the right front tire. J.J. Sailed by on lap 49, and never looked back.

Yeley's win sweet revenge, he led 76 laps of last year's race before ignition failure ended his day. It also gave him the Silver Crown points lead over Dave Steele with two races remaining, the 50 lapper of the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora, and the 100 miler at Syracuse in October.

Yeley's crew changed tires on the lap 73 red flag, and the tire showed significant wear at the end of the event. In fact, many of the cars changed tires, and several looked very worn after the race was over. DuQuoin can be abrasive on the tires, and Sunday was no exception.

Yeley's victory was only the second for the Ford stock block in USAC competition, and the first ever at DuQuoin. It marked the first Ford win at DuQuoin since Tom Bigelow in the Leader Card machine in 1977.

Bob Sargent and the track crew had the facility in excellent condition once again, though the cushion seen last year was not as prevalent this year. By the time qualifying had ended, the racetrack had been pushed completely to the wall in the middle of each turn, and a nice patch of rubber laid down.

Normally going out early in qualifying at DuQuoin can be a curse. As more rubber goes down, the track gets faster so the later qualifiers usually have an advantage. Not this time. From start to finish the track was very fast, many drivers flirted with the track record in practice, and Eddie Carpenter took two tenths off the existing record as the 11th qualifier in line. Carpenter's second lap of 30.093 smashed Dave Darland's five-year-old track record, and is only one tenth off Robby Flock's world record at Springfield.

Carpenter has been limiting his appearances in the Weld Racing Silver Crown division, driving on the pavement for Jeff Sinden, and making one start in May at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Hoffman team. Sunday he appeared in the Zarounian 67, with sponsorship from Menard's

Driving in the Indy Infiniti Pro Series must be helping Carpenter, not only did he set a new track record in qualifying but set a blistering pace of over 115 miles an hour through the first part of the race.

The first fifty miles were run in just over 26 minutes, and the first yellow did not come out until Carpenter hit the turn two wall on lap 58 after the right front tire blew. Ed was OK, but the car in need of some repairs, which were nearly completed shortly after the race. The crew was seen installing a new front-end assembly, and it appeared the Jacobs Ladder might have been broken.

Any chance at a new 100-mile record went by the wayside, and no time was recorded due to the red flag for Jonathan Vennard's flip on lap 73.

Sunday was the 13th time in the last 20 years the Horn Memorial has been stopped for one reason or another. Many times it was to repair the old guardrail, but since the new concrete wall was erected only one race has had an official time, that in the year 2000.

Vennard, of Vincennes, Indiana had an excellent qualifying run, starting third in the Mucci-Matczak 99. Unfortunately, the car dropped back at the start, with Jonathan hitting the outer wall in turn four and flipping on lap 73. Jonathan was OK, but the car needed a lot of repairs. The team intends to run at the Syracuse mile in October.

DuQuoin's "Magic Mile" was just that Sunday, curing some ills of defending national champion Paul White and former champ Dave Darland. White had yet to post a top ten finish all year, but seemed revitalized after the lap 73 red flag and charged to fifth. Darland, who has some top ten finishes but no wins, moved closer to the top ten in points with a fourth. Dave charged from 19th to 9th in the first twenty circuits, but had trouble passing Paul White and a couple of others on his way to the front, slowing his progress.

Jason Leffler had another miserable day, after timing in sixth in the George Snider Team MoPar Beast, Jason ran with the leaders until suffering a flat tire on lap 65, and dropping out. He had no better luck two weeks ago at Springfield, struggling all day.

Dave Steele soldiered on, ending the day in ninth, but it wasn't enough as he is now 16 points behind leader Yeley. Russ Gamester gave the Stealth chassis it's best showing on a dirt mile with a second for the Peru, Indiana shoe. Gamester now sits eighth in the points.

Jay Drake looked like a real contender for quite a while, but the BWB/Hannig Beast never had the speed of Carpenter's or Yeley's mount. It appeared that Drake's car may have tightened up as more rubber got onto the track, but got better after some changes during the lap 73 red. Drake's teammate Derek Davidson posted another top ten and now sits 10th in the point chase.

Two interesting entries appeared Sunday, that of Dickie Gaines in the Mataka 31, and winner of the $30,000 non-wing sprint challenge at Oskaloosa, Iowa, Travis Rilat. Gaines looked uneasy at first but seemed to get a little more comfortable as the day went on. Unfortunately, Dickie could not transfer through the last chance race. Rilat, driving for Chuck Snyder, looked very comfortable and made the show through the semi.

The last chance race was a feature all it's own, featuring Brian Tyler, Johnny Parsons, former Horn winner Tony Elliot, Gary Hieber, Brad Noffsinger and Jason McCord. All made the show, with Noffsinger making quite a move to the front, finishing in 11th, while McCord ended the day 13th. Elliot seemed to have a mechanical problem at the end of the semi and did not last long in the 100-miler.

Tyler won the 15 lap event in record fashion, cutting six seconds off the old time and averaging 114 miles an hour in the process.

Parsons had his choice of two cars Sunday, a dirt Beast and a Beast combo car. He chose the combo car, but it never hooked up and John brushed the concrete at least once with it. In addition, his crew may have cost him a shot at making the top twenty in qualifying, they left the pit board and other assorted items atop the car and they fell onto the track when he left the pit exit. One qualifying lap was taken away for the miscue.

By making the show, Parsons and Hieber moved up on the list of champ car starts at DuQuoin. Parsons is third now in overall starts with 21, but has a long way to go to catch George Snider's 27. Johnny and Hieber each have 20 starts in the Horn 100, putting them into a third place tie with the inured Jack Hewitt.

Hewitt has been released from the hospital, and word is he intends to race again as soon as he is physically able.

Murphysboro's Randy Bateman debuted a new dirt Beast Sunday, but lost the front end in practice and hit the turn two wall resulting in a short day for the area driver.

Gus "Digger" Sohm and son Cal had their Adkins-McQueen repaired from its Springfield shunt with A.J. Anderson. As of race morning, they had no driver, but picked up ride less Donnie Lehmann from Springfield before practice. Unfortunately, the rear axle still wasn't quite straight, so they parked the car for the day.

Another driver making a surprise appearance was Toledo, Ohio veteran Jerry Nemire, whose car broke in practice.

No shows included the Hoffman 69 (once again), Billy Puterbaugh's 73, Aaron Fike's 93, and Kevin Huntley in the SC Racing 97. Dean Franklin subbed for Sport Allen in the Moore 89.

Last year's pole sitter Jerry Coons, Junior appeared to have a few bugs in the engine of the Kele 35, the car sounded like it had a miss at times during practice, and it never showed the speed it had last year. Coons qualified 14th, and ended the day in 7th.

Dane Carter had a nice run after crashing at Springfield with Tom Capie. Dane started on the tail, and was still running at the end in 16th.

Rich Tobias ran strong again until the driveline let go late in the event. In fact, the car started smoking around halfway, but Rich kept going until the car conked out.

The equipment in the division just keeps getting better and better, at least fifteen drivers could have been picked to win the 100-miler based on past performance, and seventeen cars were still running at the end, twelve on the lead lap!

While Galen Fox went home with one car intact, the other hit the turn three wall in qualifying. Brad Fox in the Foxco 53 (the former Plastic Express car of Junior Kurtz) cooked it too hard into the corner on his first lap and tagged the fence, caving in the tail and re-arranging the rear end.

Seen walking the pit area was the "One Armed Bandit" Chuck Amati. Amati, once a competitor with USAC, has returned to the cockpit of a sprint car and has been racing in Benton, Missouri. He recently walked away from a nasty crash where he got upside down. Chuck had a deal for a new Silver Crown car for this year, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

Here's hoping for a Silver Crown race at night on the DuQuoin mile next year. The Sunday heat was fairly oppressive Sunday, but that didn't stop a good-sized crowd from showing up. A night race might bring out more folks, and the beauty of the fairgrounds and the Silver Crown cars at night is unmatched.

-jh-

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Series USAC
Drivers Jason Leffler , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Dave Steele , Jack Hewitt , Brian Tyler , Aaron Fike , Jay Drake , Dane Carter , Jerry Nemire , Johnny Parsons , Russ Gamester , Jonathan Vennard , Paul White , Jason McCord , Jerry Coons , Travis Rilat , Tom Capie , Gary Hieber , Dean Franklin , Robby Flock , Donnie Lehmann , Tony Bettenhausen , Randy Bateman , Ed Carpenter