Tyler Seeks 4th Bettenhausen 100 Victory! Parma, Michigan's Brian Tyler put himself in some heady company last year when he captured his third Tony Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last August and he can reach further into the...
Tyler Seeks 4th Bettenhausen 100 Victory!
Parma, Michigan's Brian Tyler put himself in some heady company last year when he captured his third Tony Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last August and he can reach further into the motorsports history stratosphere should he post victory number 4 at Springfield on August 22 in the 49th Tony Bettenhausen 100, the 7th of 10 events on the 2009 USAC K&N Filters Silver Crown Championship Series schedule. The 2009 Tony Bettenhasuen 100 marks the diamond anniversary of the first national championship event held on the Springfield Mile, won by Billy Winn in August of 1934.
Not only did Tyler give Toyota Motor Company their first ever 100-mile dirt track championship victory, he became just the 9th driver in the 99 year history of auto racing at the Illinois State Fair to win three or more of the coveted championship dirt car events. Tyler dominated last year's event leading all 100-miles, the 15th driver to do so in the 74 national championship events held on the one mile dirt track.
Tyler leads what could be a field in excess of 30 cars to visit the legendary Springfield Mile on Saturday, August 22 including several former winners of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 and the current top ten in the K&N national title chase. However, of the top ten only two drivers, including Tyler who is at press time third in the chase, have posted victories in 100-mile championship dirt car races.
Leading the K&N Silver Crown standings is two-time national champ Bud Kaeding of Campbell, California with a lead (at press time) of 21 over 2000 USAC Silver Crown champion and 2006 Tony Bettenhausen 100 winner Tracy Hines of New Castle, Indiana. Hines and Kaeding are joined by three Illinois drivers in search of a USAC National championship and a win at Springfield. Galesburg's A.J. Fike is fourth in the points and may pull double duty in the ARCA stock car event the next day. Young Zach Daum of Pocohantas, a regular with the Powri midget car series, is 5th in the points and made his Silver Crown debut at Manzanita in February. Daum finished 7th in the Hoosier Hundred in May in his mile track debut. Olney's Levi Jones, a crowd favorite and two-time USAC Sprint Car champ, led half of the abbreviated Tony Bettenahusen 100 in 2007 and is 7th in the 2009 USAC Silver Crown points.
Former NASCAR Driver Shane Hmeil, son of NASCAR Team Manager Steve Hmiel, is 6th after a strong mile track debut at Indy in May. His teammate, Jerry Coons, Jr. of Tuscon, Arizona is the defending USAC Silver Crown champion and currently 8th in points but still looking for a mile dirt track win. Derek Hagar of Arkansas is 9th in the standings, with Missouri's Jesse Hockett rounding out the top ten.
Veteran Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana is a three time (1997-99-2004) winner of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 and he ran a strong second to Brian Tyler at Springfield last year. The three-time Bettenhausen 100 winner is looking for his 18th overall start at Springfield, and his17th consecutive. Darland also resides third on the all-time money won list in championship machinery at the Illinois State Fair.
Jon Stanbrough of Kokomo, Indiana has taken over the 2006 winning car piloted by Tracy Hines. Young lion Shane Hollingsworth of Indianapolis, a second generation driver, won the Hoosier Hundred in May for the team which had Johnny Parsons and Tony Elliot drive to victory lane at DuQuoin and the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Elliot returns to the series, having won once at DuQuoin and twice in the Hoosier Hundred, now driving for Benton, Illinois car owner Ricky Nix. Former Springfield one-lap track record holder Josh Wise of California returned to the series driving for Carl Edwards as part of a three car operation. Peru, Indiana veteran Russ Gamester won the Tony Bettenhausen 100 in 1998 and returns for the 2009 race, also looking for his 18th start. Youngster Cole Whitt of California looks for his first ever start at Springfield and just his second on a dirt mile.
Including Fike, Jones and Daum, the state of Illinois stands to be well represented at Springfield with six or more drivers from the Prairie State figuring to be part of the entry list. Springfield's Donnie Beechler, a five time starter at the Indianapolis 500, continues his quest for a win on the Springfield Mile. Elkhart's Chris Urish surprised everyone at the May Hoosier Hundred with a strong run to sixth, his best ever series finish. Murphysboro's Randy Bateman is a long-time entrant in the Silver Crown cars while Champaign's Patrick Bruns returns for his second season in the series. Drivers coming to Springfield know they will be racing on hallowed ground, fertile Midwestern earth that has taken the best that hall of fame drivers have thrown at the mile dirt track. When Brian Tyler won his third championship dirt car event in 2008, he joined the late Tony Bettenhausen, Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Dave Darland in the three-time winner's club, while trailing legends such as Jack Hewitt (4), A.J. Foyt (4) and Chuck Gurney (7) on Springfield's all-time win list. The exclusive Springfield championship winners club includes 9 Indianapolis 500 winners (accounting for 20 Indy 500 wins), 9 national driving champions and ten USAC Silver Crown champions.
Tyler and around thirty other drivers begin a quest for racing immortality at 9 a.m. Saturday, August 22 with the start of USAC Silver Crown practice. Timed qualifications begin at approximately 10:30 with Tracy Hines holding the one lap track record at 29.305 seconds (122.305 MPH) set during qualifications on August 19, 2006. Jack Hewitt still holds the 100-mile race record of 56:07.00 (106.920) set on August 22, 1987. The flying start of the 49th Tony Bettenhausen 100 is slated for around 1:30.