Golden Bettenhausen 100 contested at Illinois State Fair on Saturday

USAC Silver Crown Series

From Jay Hardin

The 50th running of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 won’t see a back to back
winner in 2010 but several former winners comprise part of the entry list
for the golden edition of the Bettenhausen Memorial and the 76th national
championship dirt track race held on the historic Springfield Mile as the
Illinois State fair enters its second century of auto racing.

Defending race winner Cole Whitt moved to the NASCAR K&N Series, however
three time (1997, 1999, 2003) winners Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana and
Brian Tyler of Parma, Michigan (2004, 2005, 2008) continue in their quest
for a 4th Springfield victory while Russ Gamester of Peru, Indiana (1998),
Tracy Hines of New Castle, Indiana (2006) each try to add a second
Bettenhausen win to their resume.

They are joined by three time USAC K&N Silver Crown champ Bud Kaeding of
Campbell, California. Kaeding is attempting to become the first four time
national champion in series history and ironically has
never won a 100-mile race on the dirt. In fact, nineteen of the top twenty
drivers in the 2010 USAC K&N Filters title chase should be on the
Springfield entry list on August 21. 2008 K&N National Champion
Jerry Coons Jr. of Tuscon, Arizona (2nd) is one and he could be joined by
some of USAC’s “Young Guns”as well.

Pleasant Garden, North Carolina’s Shane Hmiel is in search of the second leg
of the dirt car “Triple Crown”. Hmiel is sixth in points and had a strong
performance at Indianapolis in May, winning the Hoosier Hundred. Joining
Hmiel are the Swanson brothers, Kody (5th in points) and Tanner, from
Kingsburg, California. The Swanson brothers had the first 1-2 finish in
Silver Crown history at Berlin with Tanner getting his first win at Kody
taking second.

Noblesville, Indiana resident Bryan Clauson is a series rookie driving for
Tony Stewart. 2008 Tony Bettenhausen 100 polesitter Shane Hollingsworth of
Indianapolis also won the 2009 Hoosier Hundred. Second generation driver
Bobby East of Indiana has experience in two of NASCAR’s top three divisions
and has returned for a shot at a Silver Crown title. However, he has just
one start on the dirt miles and that ended upside down at the May Hoosier

USAC veterans Tom Capie of Trevose, Pennsylvania and former one-lap track
record holder Jeff Swindell of Memphis, Tennessee on the entry
list as well as John “Hot Rod” Heydenreich who returns to the series after
an absence.

Forty-four years have passed since Central Illinois’ Don Branson (Champaign)
pulled into Springfield’s victory lane, winning the 6th Bettenhausen 100 in
1966. 2010 could see another winner from the central part of the state as
A.J. Fike of Galesburg enters the 50th Bettenhausen as a dark horse
favorite, not only for the Tony Bettenhausen 100 but for the national title
as he is currently third in the standings thanks to a win in Iowa. Fellow
Illini Levi Jones (Olney), a pilot for Tony Stewart’s race team, won the
pole for the May Hoosier Hundred and is 4th in the points. Fike, who will be
pulling double duty for the weekend racing in Sunday’s ARCA event, and Jones
lead a contingent of Illini participants that could number at least 8 by
race day.

Hometown drivers Donnie Beechler and Mike Hess have extensive experience in
the big dirt cars on the Springfield Mile. Beechler is a 4 time starter in
the Indianapolis 500 with 5 USAC Silver Crown wins to
his credit, three on dirt miles. Hess is a two-time Powri National Midget
champion. They are joined by Elkhart’s Chris Urish, Pocohontas’ Zach Daum,
Davey Ray of Loves Park and Murphysboro’s Randy
Bateman as well as Benton car owner Ricky Nix who fields Powri Midget champ
Brad Kuhn at the wheel.

A new format greets the drivers and fans for the 50th Bettenhausen 100
replacing a format change for the 49th running last year. In 2009 the top 6
qua1ifiers were inverted at the start meaning fast qualifier A.J.
Fike had to start sixth. Cole Whitt charged to the lead from the inside
front row and led all 100-miles to become at 18 years and 2 months the
youngest driver to ever win a 100-mile national championship race at
Springfield. This year there will not be an inversion of the qualifiers;but
a ‘competition red flag’ at the conclusion of the leader’s 51st lap. At that
time all cars will be stopped in running order along the main stretch and
the crews allowed to work on the machines. Should a tire be changed on the
car the car will be sent to the tail of the field for the restart. In
addition, the field will restart in DOUBLE FILE order for the second half of
the race. The new format was used for the Hoosier Hundred in May and Shane
Hmeil gave up a commanding lead at the competition stop, changed three tires
and was forced to come from 12th on the restart to retake the lead on lap

Over 30 drivers attempt to join immortals A.J. Foyt, Rodger Ward, Mario
Andretti, Chuck Gurney and Jack Hewitt as winners of the Tony Bettenahusen
100 on August 21. Practice is slated to begin at 9 a.m. with qualifications
at around 10:30 and the 50th running of the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at 1:30.
Tickets are available at the Illinois State Fair Box Office, Ticketmaster

2010 Dirt Track Driver Roster

3 A.J. Fike/Galesburg, IL
5 Shane Cottle/Kokomo, IN
6 Bobby East!Brownsburg, IN
8 Murray Erickson/Odessa, TX
9 Derek Hagar/Paragould, AR
10 Levi Jones/Olney, IL
14 Donnie Beechler/Springfield, IL
16 Tracy Hines/New Castle, IN
17 Shane HmiellPleasant Garden, NC
19 Kody Swanson/Kingsburg, CA
20 Shane Hollingsworth/Indianapolis, IN
21 Brian Tyler/Parma, MI
22 Bryan ClausonfNoblesville, IN
23 Tanner SwansonlKingsburg, CA
26 Aaron Pierce/Indianapolis, IN
27 Jerry Coons Jr./Tucson, AZ
29 Bud Kaeding/Campbell. CA
37 Jon StanbroughlKokomo, IN
43 Brad Kuhn/Avon, IN
50 Zach Daum/Pocohontas. IL
51 Russ Gamester/Peru, [N
55 Randy Bateman/Murphysboro, IL
56 Dave Darland/Lincoin, IN
63 Todd Kane/Cortland, OH
65 Von McGee
77 Chris Urish/Elkhart, IL
90 John HeydenreichfBloomsberg, PA
97 Rob Chaney/Columbus, OH
08 Rex Norris III
114 Coleman Guilick
116 Mike Martin
141 Davey Ray/Rockford, Ii
153 Tom Capie/Trevose, PA
163 Mike Hess/Springfield, IL
199 Jeff SwindelL1Memphis, TN
991 Justin Carver/Memphis, TN