By Dick Jordan
The rich tradition of USAC Silver Crown racing on the dirt returns to the Terre Haute Action Track Wednesday night with the running of the “Sumar Classic 100.” The race was not held in 2009 and the track is under new management, which debuted with last week’s highly-successful “Indiana Sprint Week” program.
The 100-lap USAC Silver Crown race continues a “Sumar Classic” tradition started at the half-mile dirt track in 1995 when Indianapolis 500 veteran Donnie Beechler was the winner. Subsequent years produced wins for Kevin Thomas, Tony Elliott, Jack Hewitt, J.J. Yeley, Brian Tyler, Josh Wise, Bud Kaeding and the defending race winner, Dave Darland, who won the 2008 race. Gary Bettenhausen actually won USAC’s first Silver Crown race at the storied Terre Haute oval, in 1980.
Kaeding, Darland, Tyler and Beechler are all expected to be in the field for Wednesday’s race, Kaeding currently leading the series standings in search of a record fourth series championship in five years!
Josh Wise holds the 1-lap track qualifying record of 20.139 seconds which will be the target for drivers Wednesday. Bettenhausen still holds the 100-lap race record of 50 minutes, 37.20 seconds, set in 1980.
No USAC Silver Crown season has ever started with four brand-new feature winners. So far all three winners this year have been brand-new to victory lane, namely Levi Jones, A.J. Fike and Shane Hmiel. That only happened once previously, in 1997 when Jimmy Kite, Pat Abold and Chuck Leary were the winners.