Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. will try to become the first Coors Light Silver Bullet driver to win three straight series races in 14 years when the series visits Indianapolis Raceway Park for this Saturday night's "Coca-Cola 100." ...
Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. will try to become the first Coors Light Silver Bullet driver to win three straight series races in 14 years when the series visits Indianapolis Raceway Park for this Saturday night's "Coca-Cola 100."
Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio, the series' winningest driver in history, was the last to do it, taking the final four races of the 1986 season (all on dirt). Hines won the April 8 race at Nazareth, Pa. and the May 7 race at Madison, Ill. and would be the fifth driver in the 227-race series history to win at least three straight. Mario Andretti won three in 1974, Tom Bigelow won four straight in 1974 and 1975 and Rick Hood won three in a row in 1985.
Saturday's timetable of events begins with practice at 5 pm. Qualifying starts at 6 and the 15-lap "qualifying race" gets under way at 7:30. Chuck Leary holds the 1-lap track qualifying record of 119.442 mph, while Jeff Bloom set the 100-lap feature event standard of 98.728 mph in 1987.
"I feel good," says Hines. "We've been fast everywhere this year. We might have won Phoenix too but my philosophy is you have to finish to win. Last year we finished second to Ryan Newman at IRP and if we come back like we were last May, we should have a good shot at winning. It's hard to win three straight in these cars, there are so many good drivers. There's no 'magic' to it, though. I think luck is when preparation meets opportunity and we'll be prepared. Hopefully the right opportunity will present itself Saturday."
Hewitt plans to be among those trying to end the streak. "It's amazing just to put three straight "top-5s" together," he says. "We were on a roll in 1986, with the Sprint cars and Silver Bullet cars, but our car was absolutely perfect. You really need to have the stars lined up just right, I guess. It's so hard to win three straight because these are endurance races and so many things can go wrong. Plus, there are 10-15 drivers who can win at every race. We're sure going to be out to win Saturday."
Hines leads the series standings by 16 points over Brad Noffsinger, who set an ultimate series track record of 143.093 mph at Gateway International Raceway May 6. Hewitt is currently 17th in the standings but he hasn't been out of the "top-10" in the final points since 1991.
<pre> USAC COORS LIGHT SILVER BULLET SERIES STANDINGS
1. Tracy Hines 210 2. Brad Noffsinger 194 3. Brian Tyler 181 4. Dave Darland 5. Ryan Newman 142 6. Paul White 132 7. Jason Leffler 129 8. Gary Hieber 119 9. J.J. Yeley 113 10. John Heydenreich 105