WHO OWNS THE HALF MILE ADVANTAGE COMING INTO WILLIAMS GROVE?
Story By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Photo By: Cameron Neveu/USAC
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (June 13, 2019)………Of the 426 total USAC Silver Crown races contested since the series’ inception in 1971, less than 20% of them have come on dirt half-mile tracks.
Of the 83 previous half-mile dirt tracks run by Silver Crown, less than 5% of them have occurred at Williams Grove, host of this Friday’s fifth visit by the series that reaches one of the most storied tracks in the history of auto racing.
The Silver Crown schedule is one of the most versatile in all of racing with paved and dirt ovals, both small and short in stature that dot the series trail. It marks the fifth different size, shape and surface of track the series has visited thus far this year following Memphis (3/4-mile paved D-shape), Toledo (1/2-mile paved oval), Indiana State Fairgrounds (1-mile dirt oval) and Lucas Oil Raceway (.686-mile paved oval).
Some drivers have a knack for one surface over another, but some even have a decisive advantage on tracks depending on the length. Jack Hewitt was the man to beat on the half-miles in the Silver Crown Series during the 1980s and 1990s. Eldora Speedway was his personal ATM in every type of racecar he wheeled around the track, but mostly so in Silver Crown where he got eight of his nine career half-mile dirt track victories, with the other coming at Terre Haute in 1999.
However, the driver with the most dirt victories among those entered for this Friday’s race at Williams Grove is a past winner there in 2016, Chris Windom. The Canton, Ill. driver has won five of his nine series races on the halves, which have come at four different tracks: Williams Grove, Terre Haute, Eldora and Belleville.
No other driver in this Friday’s field has more than three, which were accrued by Williams Grove’s most recent Silver Crown winner in 2017, Kody Swanson. The four-time champ kickstarted his prowess on the dirt with, what appeared to be at the time, a stunning victory at Terre Haute in 2014. We’ve learned our lesson to never doubt Swanson on any type of track along the way as he’s accumulated 26 Silver Crown wins, most all-time. Later in 2014, he won on the Belleville, Kans. High Banks. However, the half-mile of Eldora Speedway remains the only track on this year’s schedule that Swanson hasn’t yet tamed.
The most recent time the Silver Crown cars were on a half-mile, C.J. Leary was lights out as he hammered away up against the outside wall to win the 2018 “4-Crown Nationals.” In fact, the Greenfield, Indiana driver’s first series win came on a half-mile at Terre Haute in 2016 and holds the one-lap track record for Silver Crown cars at The Grove entering Friday.
Ione, California’s Justin Grant hustled to a victory at Terre Haute in early 2018 for his first half-mile dirt Silver Crown win a handful of months after his first Silver Crown win, which came on the Springfield Mile in 2017. Meanwhile, for recent “Hoosier Hundred” winner Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, Ind., it was the half-mile at Eldora that served as the stage for his first career Silver Crown in 2017.
All will be prime contenders on any particular track on the schedule, but this Friday at Williams Grove, you can’t go wrong with picking one of these winners to get the job done. They’ve done it before, and they can get it done again half-mile or otherwise.
The back pit gate opens at 4:30pm Eastern, front pit gate at 5:30pm, all general admission gates at 5:30pm. Cars hit the track for hot laps at 7pm. General admission tickets are $28, youth age 13-20 are $10 and age 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
Watch Friday’s Williams Grove USAC Silver Crown race live and on-demand at http://www.FloRacing.com/. Follow along with live updates on https://www.facebook.com/usacracing/ and https://twitter.com/USACNation, plus live timing and scoring on the Race Monitor app.
ALL-TIME USAC SILVER CROWN WINS ON HALF-MILE DIRT TRACKS:
- (9) Jack Hewitt
- (5) Dave Darland & Chris Windom
- (4) J.J. Yeley
- (3) Jerry Coons, Jr., Rick Hood, Bud Kaeding, Larry Rice & Kody Swanson
- (2) Donnie Beechler, Steve Butler, Bryan Clauson, Tony Elliott, Levi Jones, C.J. Leary, Ron Shuman, Rich Vogler & Brian Tyler
- (1) Christopher Bell, Gary Bettenhausen, Shane Carson, Shane Cockrum, Herb Copeland, Tyler Courtney, Jay Drake, Bobby East, Billy Engelhart, Justin Grant, Tracy Hines, Kevin Huntley, Sheldon Kinser, Steve Kinser, Kyle Larson, Eddie Leavitt, Mat Neely, Ken Schrader, Jimmy Sills, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Tony Stewart, Danny Smith, George Snider, Kevin Thomas, Tyler Walker, Josh Wise & Doug Wolfgang
ALL-TIME USAC SILVER CROWN RACES RUN ON HALF-MILE DIRT TRACKS:
- (37) Eldora Speedway
- (19) Terre Haute Action Track
- (4) Oklahoma City Fairgrounds, Tulsa Fairgrounds & Williams Grove Speedway
- (3) Belleville High Banks, Florida State Fairgrounds, Knoxville Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Manzanita Speedway, Raceland & USA Raceway
“WILLIAMS GROVE 100” ENTRY LIST:
/ DRIVER / HOMETOWN / TEAM
6 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
8 JOHNNY PETROZELLE/Denton, NC (Cornell-Petrozelle Racing)
10 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (DMW Motorsports)
15 ®CHAD KEMENAH/Alvada, OH (Bob Hampshire)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
17 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Goodnight-Byrd Racing)
20 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Gene Nolen Racing)
24 MIKE HAGGENBOTTOM/Levittown, PA (John Haggenbottom)
31 ®DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
43 JOHN HEYDENREICH/Bloomsburg, PA (Felker Racing)
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA (Five Three Motorsports)
57 ®DALLAS HEWITT/Troy, OH (Dallas Hewitt)
78 ERIC GORDON/Fortville, IN (Armstrong/Slinkard Racing)
81 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Curtis Williams)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
97 TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Hans Lein)
® = USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender