By Dick Jordan
A.J. Fike of Galesburg, Ill. would like to become the second driver to ever “sweep” the USAC and ARCA Illinois State Fairgrounds events this weekend when he competes in both 100-mile races on the 1-mile dirt oval in Springfield. Al Unser was the first, in 1972.
Fike won the pole for last year’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100” USAC Silver Crown race and finished fourth, then started 10th and finished fourth in the next day’s “Allen Crowe 100” ARCA Stock Car race. He is entered in this Saturday’s USAC race and Sunday’s ARCA Racing Series event presented by RE/MAX and Menards.
Fike finished second in last year’s USAC Silver Crown standings and has climbed to third in the 2010 standings on the strength of his first series victory and three other “top-10s.” He won at Iowa Speedway in May, joining his brother Aaron on the list of USAC Silver Crown race winners. In 2004 he won the pole for the “Allen Crowe 100.”
Fike will pilot the #3 Liberty Village/McGladrey & Pullen Beast/Foxco in Saturday’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100” and then switch over to the RFMS/Liberty Village #10 Ford for Sunday’s “Allen Crowe 100.”
“The two cars are totally different,” says Fike. “The Stock car is much heavier, but I really don’t change much how I driver the track from one day to the next. I like to run in the low groove and the two races will be similar, with mandatory stops in both for the first time.” Fike won the pole for the ARCA Stock car race in his first outing in 2004 and was on the pole for last year’s USAC race. “We’ve run good in both series,” he adds. “It would be nice to win both. Our Silver Crown car was perfect in Iowa (where he won in May) and if it’s that good Saturday we’ll be tough to beat. With the mid-race stop in the Silver Crown race we’ll be running flat-out the last half of the race and not having to conserve tires like we have in the past.”
Saturday’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100” is stop number six for the USAC Silver Crown cars and will be followed on September 5 by the “Ted Horn 100” at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.