Nolen Racing's Coons Third at Terre Haute
TERRE HAUTE, Ind., July 3 — Jerry Coons Jr. was dazzling in the high groove as he finished third in the 100-lap “Sumar Classic” USAC Silver Crown race Thursday night at the Terre Haute Action Track in the Nolen Racing #20 Eagle/Chevy. His Whiteland, Ind.-based team is sponsored in part by Columbus Container and KECO Coatings.
The strong finish moved the Plainfield, Ind.-based driver up one spot in the point standings for USAC’s premier division to fourth with five races complete and six remaining. He is only three points out of third in the current point standings.
Coons was a strong contender throughout the race, and he was one of only two drivers to lead. Coons was second for most of the race, only losing the runner-up spot with about a dozen laps remaining as the track conditions changed. It was his best finish so far this year, bettering two fourth-place runs.
Coons took the green in fourth place but he got a fabulous start, vaulting into second on the very first lap. He then ran second to eventual winner Shane Cockrum for the first 27 laps. He got around Cockrum with a powerful move to the outside exiting Turn 2 and going down the backstretch to take the lead working lap 28. Cockrum stayed with him, however, and retook the lead on the following lap.
Coons remained in second place until a restart following a red flag for a flip by Joey Moughan in Turn 4 with 87 laps complete. C.J. Leary got by Coons on that restart, pushing Coons to third. Leary got the lead very briefly on lap 92, but it didn’t count because there was another yellow before that lap could be completed for a spin by Tyler Courtney in Turn 4.
Cockrum held off Leary on the last restart with six laps to go. Coons tried to use the high side to get around them both, but he had to settle for third. Other than the lap that Coons led, Cockrum led 99 of the 100 laps.
Coons was 1.455 seconds behind Leary at the end, and vigorously holding off the challenges of the fourth-place finisher, Shane Cottle. Brady Bacon rounded out the top five.
Coons qualified fourth in the 24-car field with a time of 21.277 seconds for the half-mile dirt oval. He set the third-fastest time of the race with a 22.007 on lap three.
After the race, Coons told a USAC official, “I was pretty good still in [Turn] 1 and [Turn] 2 up high, but I had to hit it just right. It was easier on the restarts coming to it at just a little slower pace. I got a real good restart on that end, but once the top went away in [Turns] 3 and 4, I couldn’t get through there at all. We have to get a little bit better, but it was a pretty good night. This is a new car to the Nolen team and to me, so we’re still figuring it out some. But we have great race cars and hopefully we’ll take what we learn into the busy stretch coming up.
“It was a good night for us,” he summarized. “We learned some things about the car, so hopefully we can continue to improve.”
The USAC Silver Crown series’ next event is at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis on Thursday night, July 23, during a busy Brickyard 400 weekend. The complete schedule, other information and live timing and scoring are available on the series' Web site at usacracing.com.
For more information on Nolen Racing, see NolenRacing.com and follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.
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(Photo credit: USAC photo by Gene Crucean)