Cottle Defends Horn 100 Crown as USAC Silver Crown Title Chase Heads to DuQuoin! The 58th running of the Ted Horn 100 August 31 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds promises to be battle previously unseen in Southern Illinois as the USAC K&N Filters...
Cottle Defends Horn 100 Crown as USAC Silver Crown Title Chase Heads to DuQuoin!
The 58th running of the Ted Horn 100 August 31 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds promises to be battle previously unseen in Southern Illinois as the USAC K&N Filters Silver Crown Series stars do battle on the "Magic Mile" in a race that has serious implications for the national championship. A field of thirty to forty of the big cars is expected at DuQuoin containing a projected six former winners and two Southern Illinois drivers contending for a national title along with one veteran who continues to defy time.
Affectionately known as the "Throttle" Kokomo, Indiana's Shane Cottle achieved auto racing immortality in 2007 when he became the 35th different winner of the Ted Horn memorial event, leading all 100 circuits and accomplishing a feat that eluded drivers such as Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Ryan Newman and Sammy Swindell, capturing a 100-mile championship dirt car race on one of the big miles. Cottle also became the 15th driver to win from the pole at DuQuoin and the 9th driver to lead every lap of a championship dirt race at DuQuoin.
Cottle is currently sixth in the points and is part of an epic battle for the national championship, a battle that could very well be decided at DuQuoin on August 31. Current point leader of the 2008 USAC K&N Filters Silver Crown standings is 2001 Ted Horn 100 pole winner Jerry Coons, Jr. of Tucson, Arizona. The thirty-six year old Coons currently has a forty-one point lead in the K&N Silver Crown chase and is in search of his first 100-mile dirt track victory. The former USAC Midget champion won the opener at Manzanita in February. Coons overcame adversity on August 16 at Springfield when he started last and managed a sixth place finish in the Tony Bettenhausen 100.
Coons is chased in the point standings by two Illinois drivers eager to post a national championship win on the home turf, the defending national champion and six others looking for their first crown. Tony Bettenhausen 100 winner Brian Tyler of Parma, Michigan has moved from tenth to third in the standings and is in sight of the front spot with a good result on the dirt. Tyler has some added help under the hood as he and the 6R Racing team of Indianapolis run the new Toyota V-8 developed for USAC Silver Crown competition, an engine which gained it's first ever 100-mile dirt track win at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Two-time and defending series champ Bud Kaeding of Hanford, California is still in search of that elusive mile dirt track win. The twenty-eight year old third generation finished third at DuQuoin last year but dropped out of the 2008 top ten without a pavement ride.
Other drivers in the top ten in the USAC K&N Silver Crown standings include fourth place Tracy Hines of New Castle, Indiana. The thirty-six year old Hines continues his recovery from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident last year and the 2000 series champ and two-time (2005 & 2006) Ted Horn 100 victor has been strong in one of Tony Stewart's two Maxim built machines, both constructed in the Illinois capitol. Hines has a fifth and a fourth in two races this season. One other driver currently in the top ten is second -generation driver Shane Hollingsworth of Indianapolis who won his first pole position in the series at Springfield and finished third. All of the top ten in the point standings are expected at DuQuoin.
Title contenders from the southern part of the Prairie State head a group of drivers seeking immortality on the home turf as well. Olney's Levi Jones was a star guard for the East Richland high school basketball team a few years ago but his hardwood accomplishments pale in comparison to those on the racetrack. Jones is the teammate to Tracy Hines on the Tony Stewart team and he won USAC Sprint Car titles in 2005 and again in 2007. The twenty-six year old who now resides in Avon, Indiana became the first Illinois native in nearly 30 years to start from the pole in a Bettenhausen 100 and led the first 29 laps in 2007. Jones is currently fifth in the point standings. Robinson's Mat Neely held a top ten in the points prior to Iowa and returned to contention at Springfield. Neely has a win at Eldora in the big cars and is currently the teammate of Jerry Coons.
Other Illinois pilots expected at Springfield include Murphysboro's Randy Bateman, Elkhart's Chris Urish, Champaign's Patrick Bruns, Galesburg's A.J. Fike and Springfield's Jeff Leka and Donnie Beechler. Bateman is a regular on the Illinois mile tracks, Bruns is a rookie with sprint car racing experience while Leka is an unknown in the big cars but no stranger to winning on dirt miles, he has two modified and three sportsman wins at Springfield. Beechler comes into DuQuoin with some strong runs on the "Magic Mile" including a pole in 1995 and a second in 2003. The 47-year-old Beechler ran in four Indianapolis 500 races and has sponsorship from six-time Ted Horn 100 winner A.J. Foyt! Fike is one of three drivers (including Brian Tyler) who will attempt 'double duty' by running in the ARCA stock car event at DuQuoin the next day.
Johnny Parsons of Speedway, Indiana will turn sixty-four on August 26 and won the Ted Horn 100 in 1992 and 1995. The Indianapolis 500 veteran and son of the 1950 Indy 500 winner is chasing Jim McElreath in a bid to become the oldest championship dirt car starter at both Springfield and DuQuoin and is about seven months short as McElreath was sixty four years, six months and twenty-one days when he started the 1992 Ted Horn 100. Parsons' car owner Ricky Nix hails from nearby Benton, Illinois and neither is at DuQuoin to just ride around. Parsons had a top ten finish at Springfield last year and is as capable as any of the 'youngsters' of pulling his car into DuQuoin's hallowed victory lane.
The driver that could make his mark in the history books at DuQuoin is twenty-year old Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. of Olive Branch, Mississippi. Stenhouse became the youngest race winner in Springfield championship dirt car history at 19 years, 10 months and 16 days when he won the 2007 Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fair. This year Stenhouse has teamed with NASCAR star Carl Edwards to form a potent Silver Crown team and is a Roush-Fenway development driver in the ARCA RE/MAX stock car series where he led the point standings until the Pocono event. It is conceivable that Stenhouse could become the third driver to post wins at DuQuoin in stock cars and championship cars and the first driver in DuQuoin history to do so in the same weekend! Stenhouse also occupies the tenth slot in the USAC Silver Crown title chase.
Veteran Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana is always a threat on the dirt miles yet the former DuQuoin track record holder has yet to post a win on the Southern Illinois mile. Should Darland visit winner's circle he could become the 14th man in auto racing history to post a championship dirt car win at fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Springfield and DuQuoin. The 1997 USAC Silver Crown national champion is also in the hunt for a second title, he currently sits second in the points coming into DuQuoin after a strong second at Springfield. Darland could find competition in the form of 2001 Horn 100 and 2001 USAC national champion Paul White of Temple, Texas. White returns with long time car owner Skip Matczak. Tony Elliot of Kokomo, Indiana won the 2000 Ted Horn 100 and returns once again in search of a second win. Other USAC veterans who could see the green flag at DuQuoin include 1997 winner Russ Gamester of Peru, Indiana, former track record holder Ted Beach of Donnelsville, Ohio, Jon Stanbrough of Kokomo, Indiana, Aaron Pierce of Indianapolis and Tom Capie of Trevose, Pennsylvania.
Several rookies dot the entry list and are part of an unprecedented amount of talent working their way through the ranks. Brad Kuhn of Avon, Indiana is the 2006 Powri Midget champion, Robert Ballou of Rocklin, California is currently one of USAC's best sprint car pilots as are other rookies Darren Hagen of Riverside, California and Dustin Morgan of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
With 57 runnings in the book (two were lost to rain) the Ted Horn 100 may be the oldest memorial auto race in the United States. Ted Horn was an auto racing icon of the 1940's, winning countless auto races and having an impeccable finishing record at the Indianapolis 500 which included finishes no lower than fourth in all but one race between 1935 and 1948. It is thought Ted won 23 of 24 sprint car events he entered in 1948, the year of his last of a record three consecutive national driving titles. It was during the last championship year that tragedy struck Ted Horn at DuQuoin when a spindle broke early in the second of two national championship races held on the DuQuoin mile. The October crowd saw the already crowned national champion flip violently in the third and fourth turns and the injured Horn transported to a local hospital where he passed away.
Many of the best drivers in the nation carry on a lofty standard of excellence set by the late Ted Horn and DuQuoin State Fair founder William Hayes when they visit the DuQuoin State Fair on Sunday night August 31. The night air is certain to put Tyler Walkers world record qualifying lap of 123.550 miles an hour in jeopardy while Johnny Parsons 1992 world record for 100 miles on the dirt of 107.047 is also up for grabs. Over $40,000 in cash and prizes is up for the winner of the 58th Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, qualifications are set for 6:30 with the 58th Ted Horn 100 at 8. Further information can be found at www.usacracing.com or www.trackenterprises.com.