Hillier Races into 11th Place in Oil City Cup Opener EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA (August 17) -- Feeling the pressure from a fellow Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender, Chad Hillier put together the second-best performance of his ...
Hillier Races into 11th Place in Oil City Cup Opener
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA (August 17) -- Feeling the pressure from a fellow Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender, Chad Hillier put together the second-best performance of his World of Outlaws career Friday on opening night of the Oil City Cup at Castrol Raceway.
Hillier, who entered the double-feature event one point ahead of Sam Hafertepe Jr., drove the #5C DIRT Inc. Maxim into 11th place in the "A" Feature to gain a 25-point lead in the battle for 19th place in the World of Outlaws standings.
The only driver to win all three sprint car championships at Skagit Speedway was fast from the beginning, recording the 14th-fastest qualifying lap in the 36-car field. Hilllier's 101.588-MPH lap around the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval was only .414 seconds off the pace set by former Selma Shell Racing teammate Paul McMahan. The outstanding qualifying lap gave Hillier the luxury of starting on the pole in the Second Heat Race.
"We could have been a little bit better, but I was the last one out (in the qualifying session)," Chad said. "We still managed to get into the inversion, so that was really good. We were actually in a perfect spot because it put us on the front row of a heat race. That's where you needed to be because there wasn't a whole lot of passing going on."
Starting inside the second row in the Crane Cams Dash, Hillier was poised to earn a front-row starting position in the 35-lap "A" Feature.
"We had a good starting position in the dash, but Hafertepe got sideways on the front stretch and drove into the side of us," Chad said. "By the time we gathered it up and got into the first turn, we were in eighth place. That was frustrating, but at least we started the feature in the first five rows."
Finishing ninth in the dash allowed Hillier to start inside the fifth row in the main event. Unfortunately, a hole in the #5C's right rear tire hampered Hillier's progress.
"We were good in the feature when we could get up to speed, but there were so many cautions," Chad said. "We were really tight on the restarts, and we got a hole in the right rear (soon after the last red period). The car was really good up to that point but, after that, it got tighter and tighter. It got down on air pressure on the caution laps, but it wasn't too bad when we could get some laps on it. After the last restart, it was tight for about four laps before it started loosening up. It wasn't completely flat; we came in with seven pounds in it. If we hadn't had some of those cautions, we would have been better off. At the start, we were getting around there pretty good. On restarts, it just got too tight after we got the hole in the tire.
"It might have helped that we raced there before. The shape of the racetrack was good for us, and we had run in that rough stuff over the years. It was a (Jac) Haudenschild-type track: the harder you ran the cushion, the better off you would be.
"Our motor ran well all night, and we caught the breaks. There have been nights when I ran 20th and probably had a fifth-place car, but we didn't have a good starting position. Our guys (Pete Stephens, Curtis Bye and Travis Van Dam) did a good job. It just boiled down to getting in the dash and getting a good starting spot in the feature."
Hillier and DIRT Inc. will return to Castrol Raceway Saturday for the final night of the Oil City Cup, then head to Chad's home track -- Skagit Speedway in Alger, WA -- for a double-feature event August 24-25.