Nolen Racing's Coons Fourth at Toledo
TOLEDO, Ohio, May 2 — Nolen Racing's Jerry Coons Jr. was hit and spun into the infield early in the race, restarted at the rear of the field, and then battled back to finish fourth in the USAC Silver Crown series' season opener Friday night at Toledo Speedway. He drove the Whiteland, Ind.-based team's yellow #20 Beast Chevy sponsored by Columbus Container and KECO Coatings.
Defending series champion Kody Swanson won the pole and then led all 100 laps of the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness "Rollie Beale Classic" on the half-mile paved oval.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., now living in Plainfield, Ind., qualified seventh with a time of 15.440 seconds to Swanson's 14.978 seconds. He didn't have time to get into a good rhythm before the car that started right in front of him, driven by Kyle Hamilton, reportedly lost a fuel cable and slowed on the backstretch, triggering a chain reaction that caused both Coons and Austin Nemire to spin through the infield with six laps down. Both Hamilton and Tim Barber stopped in Turn 4, Barber due to a flat tire. Coons and Nemire were both able to restart and stayed on the lead lap, but now they were at the back of the field.
Coons put his head down and got back to work. Although Toledo Speedway is notorious for being a hard place to pass, he had battled back to ninth place by lap 33. He passed Jarett Andretti for eighth place 10 laps later, and he got seventh two laps after that by passing Jimmy McCune.
He was still in seventh when the yellow flew on lap 49 after the driver who had been second, Tanner Swanson, flipped into a catch fence rimming Turn 1 and came to a rest in Turn 2, bringing out a red flag. Luckily Swanson walked away, but the race was delayed quite a bit to clean up a fuel spill and make repairs to the fence. The first 48 laps of the race took over an hour, ensuring that Coons' track record of 110.606 miles per hour for 100 laps set in 2012 wouldn't be broken this year.
With Tanner Swanson's car done for the night, Coons was sixth for the restart with 52 laps remaining. The race was slowed again on lap 59 when Andretti and McCune tangled in Turn 4 to bring out another yellow.
Coons got fifth on lap 57 by passing David Byrne. By lap 60 Coons was still fifth, sandwiched between A.J. Fike and Byrne. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap 62 with a time of 15.742 seconds, but another yellow came out on the next lap to slow the action again.
The race resumed on lap 68 with Coons still in fifth, but both Fike and Coons passed Aaron Pierce on lap 78 to put Coons into fourth place. At that point the top two drivers, Kody Swanson and Jacob Wilson, pulled away a bit from the rest of the field. Coons took the checkered flag in fourth, 2.597 seconds behind Fike and 4.108 seconds ahead of the fifth-place driver, Pierce. The driver who spun in the same incident as Coons was involved in, Nemire, was seventh, right behind the sixth-place driver, Byrne. Dave Baumgartner, Tracy Hines and Rex Norris III rounded out the top 10.
"We had a good car tonight at Toledo," Coons said after the race. "It almost was a short night after a car broke, causing us to get hit and spun to the infield. We were very happy to come back to a fourth-place finish after that."
Nolen Racing will now get Coons' Silver Crown car ready for the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Thursday, May 21. Two days later it will tackle a Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, May 23, and then field three sprint cars in the Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Ind. that evening. Coons, Tony Elliott and Shane Hollingsworth will drive the sprint cars.
For more information on Nolen Racing, see NolenRacing.com and follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.
The team is looking for marketing partners; for more information, call (317) 201-0729 or e-mail LKMRestart@gmail.com.
More information and live timing and scoring is available on the series' Web site at usacracing.com.