Twelve Illinois Drivers Could Dot Entry List
Springfield, IL August 14, 2011-The golden edition of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 has serious implications for the Traxxas championship in the fortieth anniversary of the USAC Silver Crown Series. Veteran Jerry Coons, Jr. and second year driver Tanner Swanson come into the August 20 event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in a dead heat for the championship. Four former winners and several drivers from Illinois will be among the field competing for the 50th Bettenhausen trophy.
Coons, from Tucson, Arizona is the 2008 USAC Silver Crown champ and won his first 100-mile dirt track race after thirteen years of trying when he captured the prestigious Hoosier Hundred in May. Kingsburg, California’s Swanson has no wins in 2011 but hasn’t finished lower than 8th in any of the 2011 events. Swanson is part of a three car Toyota powered effort that includes three-time Bettenhausen winner Brian Tyler and Swanson’s brother Kody. Kody Swanson recovered from injuries earlier in the year to win at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in July and he scored an upset victory at DuQuoin last year.
Former winners Tyler (2004, 05, 08), Dave Darland (1997, 99, 03) of Lincoln, Indiana, Russ Gamester (1998) of Peru, Indiana and Tracy Hines (2006) of New Castle, Indiana are among the favorites in the August 20 event. Darland is sixth in championship car laps led at Springfield, third on the Springfield list for money won in championship machinery and sixth in the number of championship car starts at Springfield. He can tie a record that has stood for thirty seven years Saturday by starting the 50th Tony Bettenhausen 100 which would give him 18 consecutive championship car starts on the Springfield mile, a record set and currently held by none other than A.J. Foyt! Gamester is looking for his nineteenth start at Springfield while Tyler is sixth on the money won list in just eleven starts.
Other favorites include three time USAC Silver Crown champion Bud Kaeding of Campbell, California, Jon Stanbrough of Kokomo, Indiana,Todd Kane of Powell, Ohio, Shane Hollingsworth of Indianapolis and veteran Jeff Swindell of Memphis, Tennessee. Kaeding is currently fifth in points in search of an unprecedented fourth USAC Silver Crown and his first 100-mile dirt track win. Stanbrough has won over 150 sprint car features on Indiana short tracks and is also looking for a 100-mile dirt track win. Kane ran second at DuQuoin last year and carries the colors and number made famous by four time Bettenhausen winner Jack Hewitt. Swindell was the first driver to qualify at Springfield in under 31 seconds (1987) and has victories at DuQuoin and the Indy mile. Hollingsworth won the 2009 Hoosier Hundred at Indianapolis.
Cole Whitt became the first rookie winner of an Illinois State Fair championship race in 56 years when he qualified sixth and led all 100-miles of the 2009 Tony Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield. There could be a rookie winner from this year’s class as three drivers emerge as dark horses for the 2011 Tony Bettenhausen 100. Indiana natives Bobby East and Bryan Clauson are set to make their Illinois State Fairgrounds debuts as is California’s Kyle Larson. East is a familiar name in USAC circles having won the 2004 USAC Midget title and his father is famed car builder Bob East. East has two wins in 2011, both on pavement and is fourth in the USAC title chase. Clauson secured an lndy Lights oval ride for 2011 making his debut in that series at the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Larson, ninth in the point standings, has come on strong in USAC Sprint Car competition and won the Belleville Midget Nationals a few weeks ago. The nineteen year old Larson drives for the same car owner that took Cole Whitt to victory lane at Springfield in 2009, Springfield native Keith Kunz.
Twelve Illinois drivers could be present for the 50th Tony Bettenhausen 100 and Olney’s Levi Jones leads the home state contingent. The defending USAC Silver Crown champ is still searching for a 100-mile win on the home dirt and his Tony Stewart Racing machine has him third in the 2011 point standings. Galesburg’s A.J. Fike is a fellow Illini with a good chance at becoming the first Central Illinois driver in 45 years to win the Bettenhausen. Fike will also be driving in Sunday’s Allen Crowe 100 ARCA stock car race.
Springfield driver and fan favorite Donnie Beechler, the lone lndy 500 veteran in the field, looms as the driver with the longest tenure at Springfield having attempted to make the Tony Bettenhausen 100 as far back as 1988. Beechler’s best start at Springfield came in 1998 when he started third and his best finish of third came in 1997. He finished nineteenth in his thirteenth Tony Bettenhausen 100 start last year dropping out on lap 76 when the engine gave way. Fellow Springfield driver Mike Hess is a Powri and Badger midget champion who qualified fifth at DuQuoin last year and looks for his second Springfield start. Other drivers and teams with an Illinois connection include Chris Urish of Elkhart, Chris Windom of Canton, Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Craig Dori of Chicago, Kellen Conover of Sumne, Terry Babb of Decatur and Shane Cockrum of Benton. Benton, Illinois car owner Ricky Nix has rising star Hunter Schuerenberg of Sikeston, Missouri as his pilot for Saturday’s race.
Championship auto racing at the Illinois State Fair dates back to 1934 and motor sports as part of the fair’s entertainment lineup predates the building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 100-mile championship race, traditionally the last Saturday of the fair, was renamed in honor of Tony Bettenhausen when the two time national champion and Tinley Park, Illinois native perished in a practice crash for the 1961 Indianapolis 500. Jim Hurtubise won the memorial event for Springfield’s first three time winner in August of 1961 and since then hall of fame drivers like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Pancho Carter, Gary Bettenhausen, Chuck Gurney and Jack Hewitt have all captured Bettenhausen trophies. Nine lndy 500 winners are among the Springfield national championship race winners since 1934 and winning Illinois State Fair championship race has propelled 19 drivers to a national title.
For the first time in 76 years the 2010 championship race was postponed by rain and unable to be rescheduled. The 50th running of the Bettenhausen 100 celebrates the hall of fame career of Illinois’ own Tony Bettenhausen. Practice for the Silver Crown machines begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday followed by qualifications at 10:25 a.m. The 50th Bettenhausen 100 is slated for the green flag at approximately 2 p.m. Tickets can be obtained at the Illinois State Fair Box Office, Ticketmaster locations or from Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200.
August 20, 2011
CAR # _DRIVER/HOMETOWN ENTRANT/SPONSOR/CHASSIS/ENGINE
3 A.J. FIKE/Galesburg, IL RFMS Racing/Liberty Village – McGladrey & Pullen/Beast/Foxco
5 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving – 52 Mobile Estates/Beast/Claxton Toyota
6 BOBBY EAST/Brownsburg, IN Klatt Enterprises/Klatt Motorsports Classic Car Sales – East Enterprises/Beast/Ford
10 LEVI JONES/Olney, IL Tony Stewart Racing – Curb-Agajanian/GM Performance Parts – Curb Records/Maxim
14 DONNIE BEECHLER/Springfield, IL Dennis & Dave McQuinn/McQuinn Auto Service – Cashless Racing/Stanton/Chevy
16 TRACY HINES/New Castle, IN Lightfoot Racing/Lightfoot Racing/Beast/Gaerte
17 BRAD KUHN/Avon, IN RW Motorsports/Rotondo Weirich – Champion Brands/Beast/Toyota
19 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA Team 6R/Toyota – Team Six-R/Beast/Toyota
20 SHANE HOLLINGSWORTH/Indianapolis, IN Gene Nolen/Ray Skillman – KECO/F5/Chevy
21 BRIAN TYLER/Mount Pleasant, NC Team 6R/Toyota – Team Six-R/Beast/Toyota
22 BRYAN CLAUSON/Noblesville, IN Tony Stewart Racing – Curb-Agajanian/GM Performance Parts – Curb Records/Maxim
23 TANNER SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA Team 6R – TK Motorsports/Toyota – TK Motorsports/Beast/Toyota
26 AARON PIERCE/Daleville, IN Sam Pierce/Sam Pierce Chevy – Valvoline/Beast/Chevy
27 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ RW Motorsports/Rotondo Weirich – Champion Brands/Beast/Toyota
29 BUD KAEDING/Campbell, CA BK Motorsports/Alviso Rock – High Five Pizza/DRC/Speedway Mopar
34 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL Ken Morford/APT Powder Coating – Main Street Café/Beast/Chevy
37 JON STANBROUGH/Avon, IN Indiana Underground Construction/Indiana Underground Construction/Beast/Chevy
38 CRAIG DORI/Chicago, IL Shoestring Racing/Speedway Twist & Pup – Indy Circle Track Expo/Beast/Chevy
39 MIKE HESS/Petersburg, IL Jeff Aqualini/Petersburg Dairy Queen/Beast/Chevy
43 HUNTER SCHUERENBERG/Sikeston, MO Ricky Nix/Ricky Nix Goodyear Tire Service/Beast/Chevy
50 ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL Dan Daum/Daum Insurance/Beast/Gaerte
51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN Gary Gamester/First Financial Bank/GRP/Mopar
55 RANDY BATEMAN/Murphysboro, IL Randy Bateman/Bateman Racing – Gary’s Auto Body/Beast/Gaerte
56 DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN Foxco Motor Sports/Jarvis Enterprises – Plastic Express/Beast/Foxco Chevy
63 TODD KANE/Findlay, OH DePalma Motor Sports/Radio Hospital/Maxim/Hampshire
65 JOJO HELBERG/Rohnert Park, CA Chuck Hartenstine/Chuck’s Auto Salvage/J & J/Chevy
71 KYLE LARSON/Elk Grove, CA Keith Kunz Motorsports/IWX Motor Freight – Hoosier Tire/Eagle/Speedway Chevy
76 KELLEN CONOVER/Sumner, IL Kellen Conover/Trace Inn Restaurant – Leaders Edge/Beast/Chevy
77 CHRIS URISH/Elkhart, IL Urish Racing/Elkhart Fertilizer Services – Pacesetter Solutions/Beast/Foxco Chevy
90 JOHN HEYDENREICH/Bloomsburg, PA John Heydenreich/Kool-Fit Wear.com – Superior Tank/Beast/Brannan Chevy
91 DEREK HAGAR/Marion, AR Derek Hagar/Conrad Sand & Gravel – RE Technologies/Drinan/Dynotec
97 THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA SC Racing/SC Racing/Eagle/Kistler Chevy
99 JEFF SWINDELL/Memphis, TN RE Technologies/Red Line Oil/J & J/Roush-Yates Ford
114 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL Hardy Boys Motorsports/Quick Racing Products – Ace Hardware/Stealth/Foxco
116 MIKE MARTIN/Yuma, AZ Racing Associates/Case Contracting – Racing Associates/DRC/Wesmar
125 Sachs-Yermal Motorsports/Itrax-ICard – KVA Induction/Beast/Chevy
126 TROY DeCAIRE/Tampa, FL Sam Pierce/Sam Pierce Chevy – Valvoline/Beast/Chevy
153 TOM CAPIE/Avon, IN Capie Racing/Impact Racing/Beast/Chevy
USAC SILVER CROWN TRACK RECORDS at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
1 Lap* 8/19/06 Tracy Hines 29.305 122.846
100 Miles 8/22/87 Jack Hewitt 56:07.00 106.920