Cockrum Eyes History as he Vies for 3-In-a-Row at DuQuoin

Shane Cockrum. (Bill MIller Photo)

From Richie Murray

INDIANPOLIS (September 2, 2016) — Two-time, defending “Ted Horn 100” winner Shane Cockrum finds himself in rarified air coming into this Saturday night’s 64th edition of the 100-mile USAC Silver Crown race at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in southern Illinois.

While there have been a pair of drivers who’ve won three and four consecutive champ car races at the “Magic Mile,” not a single driver has won in three straight calendar years.

The “Tinley Park Express,” Tony Bettenhausen, won three AAA Championship races in a row: once in 1949 and twice in 1951, though no race was held at Du Quoin in 1950.

A.J. Foyt topped them all at Du Quoin between the years of 1960 and 1964, leading 277 of the 400 total laps ran during the span. A rain out in 1962 interrupted Foyt’s domination, but the four wins in four races streak (and six total wins) remains unchallenged more than 50 years later.

The fate of drivers aiming for a third straight Du Quoin triumph has seen a checkered past over the past seven decades.

Pacific Palisades, California’s Sam Hanks would later go on to worldwide renown after capturing the 1957 Indianapolis 500, but by the mid-50s, Hanks was already the toast of the town in Du Quoin, having won the 1953 and 1954 editions of the “Ted Horn 100.” However, at the 1955 running, Sam Hanks was not in attendance.

Also not in attendance to try for three in a row in later years at Du Quoin include 1969-70 winner Al Unser, 1973-74 winner Mario Andretti and 2005-06 winner Tracy Hines, who was absent in 2007 after suffering off-the-track injuries sustained in a dirt bike accident early in the season. His replacement in the Tony Stewart Racing no. 22, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., finished second behind Shane Cottle in the series’ visit to Du Quoin.

Jimmy Bryan’s bid for three straight in the 1957 race ended early in the 100-miler. The Phoenix, Arizona native flipped upside down on the 23rd lap, resulting in an 18th place finish after starting sixth.

Gary Bettenhausen nearly won in four consecutive calendar years in the midst of a stretch of four Du Quoin victories in five showings. Gary, the son of three-time race winner Tony Bettenhausen, started from the outside of the front row by virtue of a qualifying race win earlier in the day. But, major handling problems with the car hindered Gary’s day, sidelining him with 30 laps to go and relegating him to an 18th place result while Rich Vogler cruised into victory lane.

Troy, Ohio’s Jack Hewitt came into the 1988 “Ted Horn 100,” with a run of eight wins in his 16 previous USAC Silver Crown Series starts on dirt, including the previous two at Du Quoin. Hewitt would struggle mightily on his third try, starting in the 31st position on the last row and only managing to climb to 28th before dropping out with a flat tire just 20 laps into the 100-lap race.

Perhaps Shane Cockrum will be the one to change the course of history this Saturday night when the USAC Silver Crown cars return for the 64th running of the “Ted Horn 100.” The Benton, Illinois driver is used to rewriting the record books over the years. After all, he did become the first southern Illinois driver to pull into victory lane at the “Magic Mile” back in 2014. Now, it’s his turn to become the first to win a champ car race three straight calendar years at the “Magic Mile.”

The 64th running of the “Ted Horn 100” at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds feature the USAC Silver Crown championship this Saturday night, September 3. Registration and pit gates open at 1pm. Grandstands open at 4pm. Silver Crown Practice begins at 5pm. ProSource Silver Crown Qualifying gets underway at 6:30pm. The green flag for the 100-lap, 100-mile “Ted Horn 100” flies at 8pm.