USAC Silver Crown Title Chase Heats Up at DuQuoin The 57th running of the Ted Horn Memorial at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds could see a first time winner and stands to play an important role in determining the 2007 USAC Silver Crown Series ...
USAC Silver Crown Title Chase Heats Up at DuQuoin
The 57th running of the Ted Horn Memorial at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds could see a first time winner and stands to play an important role in determining the 2007 USAC Silver Crown Series champion as the cars of the K&N Engineering sponsored tour come to Southern Illinois on Sunday night, September 2. Defending Ted Horn 100 winner Tracy Hines has been sidelined due to a motorcycle accident and is out for the year while the defending national champion seeks to hold off six men who have never won a Silver Crown title and one man who is six years removed from his USAC title run.
After the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield the favorite just may be a 19 year old from Mississippi, but the 2007 Ted Horn 100 field is wide open and at the moment only three former winners are probable entrants. The driver with the most experience in the field of drivers expected for the 57th Horn 100 is Speedway, Indiana's Johnny Parsons, the 1992 and 1995 Ted Horn 100 victor. Entering his 38th year at the wheel of national championship dirt track machinery Parsons will turn 63 on August 26 and could become the oldest driver to ever take a green flag in a national championship dirt track race on the DuQuoin "Magic Mile", but don't think for a moment that Parsons is incapable of running at the front with the younger crowd. Parsons ran 6th at Springfield and is a former track record holder at DuQuoin who ran in the top ten most of last year's race and could post a popular victory for he and local car owner Ricky Nix of Benton, Illinois. The other former winners who should be in the field include 2001 winner and 2001 USAC Silver Crown champ Paul White of Temple, Texas who is currently in the USAC K&N Engineering standings and 1998 winner Russ Gamester of Peru, Indiana. Another former winner whose status is uncertain is 2000 Ted Horn 100 winner Tony Elliot of Kokomo, Indiana. Elliot has been making sporadic appearances in the series due to family and business interests.
Most of the top ten in the USAC point standings are expected at DuQuoin led by current point leader Bud Kaeding of Campbell, California. Kaeding is in search of his second championship and took the lead by virtue of a third at Springfield. The 29-year-old third generation driver won at Tulsa in 2003 and three times in 2006 to secure his first crown. Last year Kaeding provided a stirring drive at DuQuoin making the field through the last chance race then coming from the back to finish in the top ten. Wayne Reutimann Jr. of Zephyr Hills, Florida lost the point lead after a 16th at Springfield and is 26 behind Kaeding. They are followed by Tim Barber of Bedford, Maine, rookie Cameron Dodson of Greenfield, Indiana, Paul White, Pablo Donoso of Chile, Brian Tyler of Parma, Michigan, A.J. Fike of Galesburg, Illinois, Mat Neely of Robinson, Illinois and Aaron Pierce of Indianapolis, Indiana. Nine of the top ten are expected to enter at DuQuoin (Donoso the lone exception) and of the top ten perhaps the favorite to pull off a victory outside of former winner Paul White and Bud Kaeding is the 39 year old Tyler. Tyler is a former USAC Sprint Car champion with experience in Indy Racing League, NASCAR Truck and Busch machines and is currently fourth on the all time Silver Crown Series win list with 12, the most recent coming at Richmond in June. Tyler is also a two-time winner of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Reutimann is a second-generation driver who has had mixed success on the dirt while Pierce has had strong runs on the dirt that have been cut short by mechanical woes. Barber has little experience on the dirt coming from a road racing background while Dodson, driving for NASCAR star Carl Edwards, is an unknown having just one dirt car start on a one-mile track, that coming at Springfield where he posted a 17th place finish in his first dirt track event. Just fifty-eight points separate the top eight in the standings.
Call him a favorite or call him a dark horse, but 19-year-old Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Olive Branch, Mississippi demonstrated the power of his Tony Stewart backed Maxim at Springfield when he became the youngest race winner in the 73 year history of national championship dirt track racing at Springfield on August 18. Stenhouse, ironically the substitute for Tracy Hines in the Bass Pro Shops car passed his teammate on lap 29 and captured the 47th running of the prestigious Tony Bettenhausen 100. His teammate, an Illinois native, may also be lurking in the shadows at DuQuoin with the well-funded Stewart team supporting them. Twenty-five year old Levi Jones was a star guard for the East Richland High School basketball team in Olney, Illinois during his younger days while cutting his teeth racing sprint cars in and around Indiana. Once he graduated he went racing full time and became the USAC Sprint Car champion in 2005. That title led to a seat in one of the Tony Stewart Racing cars and Levi finished second in the 2006 Sprint Car standings and nearly won the Silver Crown Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, leading the first 99 laps before being passed on the last turn of the last lap by teammate Josh Wise. Jones was in line for a top three at Springfield before losing a right rear tire two laps from the end.
Two other dark horses for their first Ted Horn 100 crown come from the state of Illinois and could become the first drivers from Illinois in nearly 20 years to post a dirt car win on the "Magic Mile". Galesburg's Fike drives on the pavement for 1996 Indy 500 winning car owner Ron Hemelgarn and on the dirt for his father Don. He has some strong runs on the dirt and has run up front at both Springfield and DuQuoin in an ARCA stock car and will in fact be pulling 'double duty' again in 2007. Twenty-three year old Mat Neely of Robinson won the finale of the USAC Silver crown Series last year at Eldora and comes to DuQuoin as one of two drivers for the RW Motorsports team that won the 2003 Ted Horn 100 with Rich Tobias.
A veteran who cannot be counted out at DuQuoin is former track record holder and 1997 Silver Crown champ Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana. Darland is a former winner of the Hoosier Hundred and a three-time winner of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield, if he could pull off his first win at DuQuoin he would become just the 14th driver in auto racing history to post a dirt car win on all three of the dirt miles in the Midwest. Another veteran who is the currently the hottest sprint car driver in the country and a former teammate of Dave Darland comes to Southern Illinois with a good chance at his first DuQuoin win as well. Jamestown, Indiana resident Jon Stanbrough has over 25 sprint car feature wins this year and has been close to unbeatable around the Midwest. Once driving Silver Crown cars for the Foxco team alongside Dave Darland, Stanbrough now has a seat with the Baldwin Brothers out of Indianapolis.
Other top pilots expected for the 57th Horn 100 include Murphysboro's Randy Bateman, Tim Siner of Dupo, Jerry Coons Jr. of Phoenix, Arizona, Shane Cottle of Kokomo, Indiana, Hud Cone of Oakland City, Indiana, Ron Gregory of Noblesville, Indiana, Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Indiana and Billy Wease also of Noblesville. Coons is a former pole sitter at Springfield and DuQuoin while Cottle led nearly half of last year's Ted Horn 100 and is an accomplished sprint car driver. Gregory is the stepson of former driver Gary Irvin, Cone drives for O'Fallon, Illinois car owner Bob Galas while Wease has backing from none other than Indy 500 winning car owner Roger Penske. Wease finished second at Springfield behind Stenhouse.
Springfield, Illinois pilot Justin Allgaier is also expected at DuQuoin and like Fike will be one of two drivers pulling double duty, each running the ARCA stock car race on Labor Day. The other Springfield driver on the entry list is Indy 500 veteran Donnie Beechler who ran second to Rich Tobias in 2003. Saybrook, Illinois' Mitch Wissmiller started on the front row alongside Levi Jones at Springfield and finished 11th. Vienna, Illinois' Derek King is the ninth Illinois driver on the Ted Horn 100 entry list and drives for the Harris brothers out of Vergennes.
A stellar field of cars and stars is expected for the Sunday night affair as promoter Bob Sargent and Track Enterprises, in conjunction with the DuQuoin State Fair present the 57th running of the auto race that celebrates the life and times of one of America's great champions, the late Ted Horn.
Ohio born Ted Horn started his racing career at the tender age of 15 in California in jalopies and soon had a crash that nearly ended his career. Breaking the promise to his parents to give up the sport he returned and crashed again and for the next several years had a non-descript career. Gradually he became more confident and experienced behind the wheel and by 1935 was able to best friend, rival and fellow great Rex Mays on the short tracks around the country. Ted's success led to a seat at Indianapolis courtesy of future automaker Preston Tucker and the Ford Motor Company. Although the cars were among the most beautiful ever constructed for the 500, a design flaw in the steering gear placement led to their demise. However it was rookie Ted Horn who coaxed his car the furthest in the 1935 "500" and in 1936 he would embark on one of the best finishing records of any driver ever at Indianapolis, never placing below fourth through his last race in 1948.
It was on DuQuoin's Magic Mile in October of 1948 that the only man to ever win three consecutive AAA National Driving titles met his demise. Horn crashed along with Johnny Mantz at the start of DuQuoin's second 100-mile national championship race and the injuries proved fatal. William Hayes and the fair board moved to have the race re-named the Ted Horn Memorial, a designation that has remained nearly sixty years.
Practice for the 57th Horn 100 begins at approximately 5 p.m. Sunday September 2, with qualifications at 6 and the 100-mile race at 8. Tyler Walker's world record qualification lap of 29.138 (123.550 MPH) will be the mark drivers shoot for in qualifying, the 100-mile time and speed are also a world record, set in 1992 by Johnny Parsons at 56:03 (107.047) in 1992. UMP Modifieds run their heat races for Monday's Best Western-Bill Oldani Memorial on Sunday night as well.
-credit: duqoin state fair