Hillier Runs 20th in 'Knight Before the Kings Royal' ROSSBURG, OH (July 13) -- Chad Hillier and DIRT Inc. made their final preparations for one of the season's most prestigious events in Friday's "Knight Before the Kings Royal" race at...
Hillier Runs 20th in 'Knight Before the Kings Royal'
ROSSBURG, OH (July 13) -- Chad Hillier and DIRT Inc. made their final preparations for one of the season's most prestigious events in Friday's "Knight Before the Kings Royal" race at Eldora Speedway.
The World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender drove the #5C DIRT Inc. Maxim into 20th place against 49 of the best sprint car racers in the world on the eve of the Kings Royal by Crown Royal. The winner of Saturday's 24th annual race at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" will receive $50,000.
"We didn't qualify too badly and we had a good heat race, but we were just a little too snug at the beginning of the feature," Hillier said. "By the end of the feature, we were rolling around there pretty good. Twentieth is nothing to brag about, but there were a lot of good cars there. I think if we could have gotten going earlier, we would have been alright. We were good at the end, but I couldn't run as hard as I needed to at the beginning. We were able to get up against the fence and got going good at the end. We just tuned the car a little too much; we should have left closer to the way we had it in the heat. We were pretty good all night though. All in all, we felt pretty good about it."
Hillier's 124.775-MPH lap was the 23rd-fastest qualifying lap, and .419 seconds off fast-qualifier Kenny Jacobs' pace. Chad raced past Eldora regulars Dean Jacobs and Jimmy Stinson on his way to a fourth-place finish in the Third Heat Race.
"We had a really good car in the heat race," Hillier said. "We got off to a really good start on the first start, and the second start was just as good. On one of the last restarts, we probably could have gotten into third. I had a good slide going, but I wasn't sure how much clearance I had so I checked up. I didn't want to do anything stupid because third isn't any better than fourth in a heat race. If I had had a shot at second, I'd have gone for it, but (Donny) Schatz and (Terry) McCarl had gotten away from the rest of us."
Although rookie leader Kerry Madsen, Brandon Martin, Daryn Pittman, Stevie Smith and Craig Dollansky passed him during the first three laps, Hillier raced back into 19th place by the mid-point of the 30-lap main event. Chad battled veteran Dion Hindi throughout the second half of the race en route to his 21st top-20 finish of the season.
"Dion and I raced together for a long time," Hillier said. "The bad thing about it was that we got lapped. When you see a car pass you, you think it might be one that's running in the top five and you don't want to race them hard. Dion got by me, and I got back by him a few laps later when I figured there weren't any more top-five cars around. Toward the end of the race, we were catching some of the guys who lapped us."
Hillier is energized and ready for the first Kings Royal by Crown Royal of his career.
"Everybody's going to be pulling out all the stops for the Kings Royal," Hillier said. "It's the biggest race of the year, so far. We run hard every night, but it would be really good to have a good run at this one. It's my first Kings Royal, so I'm really excited about it. It's a different format, so I hope we can get into the show right out of the heat race. You just have to run every lap as hard as you can and everything will take care of itself."
Hillier gained valuable points on Chad Kemanah and Justin Henderson -- the 2006 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year and runner-up -- when they failed to qualify for Friday's "A" Feature. Hillier, who ranks 18th in the World of Outlaws standings, is 90 points behind Kemanah, 304 behind Henderson and 38 ahead of Jeremy Campbell.