Hollingsworth Wins Emotional Hoosier Hundred!!! In an emotional return of the crown jewel of the USAC Silver Crown Series, twenty-four year old Shane Hollingsworth added his name to a hall of fame roster of Hoosier Hundred winners as the ...
Hollingsworth Wins Emotional Hoosier Hundred!!!
In an emotional return of the crown jewel of the USAC Silver Crown Series, twenty-four year old Shane Hollingsworth added his name to a hall of fame roster of Hoosier Hundred winners as the Indianapolis resident led all 100 miles to score his first ever K&N Filters USAC Silver Crown Series win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Friday night.
The late Larry Rice must have been watching his beloved Hoosier Hundred, the Indiana native passed away Wednesday and had not missed a Hoosier Hundred since it's inception in 1953 and one had to wonder if the1981 Hoosier Hundred winner was exerting a little influence from above.
A strong field of the mighty uprights signed into the pit gate and may be an indication series is once again on the upswing as several rookies showed promise early in the evening. Former NASCAR driver SHane Hmiel was fastest in the one hour practice session, but when qualifications began at around 6:30 the veterans of the big dirt cars secured many of the top slots as the track got faster in time trials. Hollingsworth secured the top slot as the 24th qualifier with a second lap of 31.953 (112.665 MPH), knocking defending USAC Silver Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. temporarily to the second slot. Coons would start third after final qualifier Bill Rose secured the second position, with 3 time Hoosier Hundred winner Dave Darland starting fourth.
The evening was dedicated to Rice, who won the1981 Hoosier Hundred as part of a stellar career which included three USAC titles and two runs in the Indianapolis 500, including co-Rookie of the Year in 1978. After an emotional pre-race ceremony, which included a stirring tribute from Rice's broadcast partner Gary Lee (the former voice of the Hoosier Hundred), twenty-eight starters were pushed off for the 100-mile grind.
While Hollingsworth led all 100 miles the race was extremely competitive as less than two car lengths separated the front two cars for over 90 miles and at times the front six to eight cars were nose to tail. The Indianapolis driver led from the pole at the drop of the green followed by Coons, Darland, Tom Capie and two-time USAC Silver Crown champ Bud Kaeding. Coons was never far off the tail of the Hollingsworth machine and several times tried to pass the youngster on the main chute, only to run out of room. Behind them, Brian Tyler was charging to the front in the Fatheadz Toyota-Beast as was Coons teammate Hmiel. A number of drivers had difficulty negotiating the tricky Indiana mile, the action was slowed by 9 cautions and one red flag, the red coming out just before lap 10 as Randy Bateman and Kody Swanson flipped in turn one. Neither driver was injured.
Coons brought the large crowd to it's feet several times after the halfway point trying to pass Hollingsworth but was rebuffed each time. Tires became an issue in the latter stages of the race with Tracy Hines, Jon Stanbrough, Tyler, and Derek Hagar all suffering flat tires. Coons himself brought out the last caution,the right rear on his machine went down just before the white flag was displayed, setting up a two lap dash to the finish. Hollingsworth pulled away from Darland and Hmiel to cross the line first, Kaeding held on for fourth and Russ Gamester finished fifth.
Ironically,Hollingsworth drove the same number and colors Rice had used in the series in the 1980's driving for the late Glen Neibel, and Rice had driven on a number of occasions against Hollingsworth's father, Blake, in USAC competition. Hollingsworth became the first driver listing Indianapolis as his hometown to capture a Hoosier Hundred. He also became the 8th driver to lead wire to wire, the tenth driver to post his first ever USAC Silver Crown win in the Hoosier Hundred, and the tenth driver from the state of Indiana to win the Hoosier Hundred. The victory was the third for car owner Gene Nolen.