Nolen Racing's Coons Finishes Eighth at DuQuoin
DuQUOIN, Ill., Sept. 7 — Nolen Racing's Jerry Coons Jr. was forced to play defense during Sunday's "Ted Horn 100" USAC Silver Crown race at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, but he withstood the pressure and recorded his eighth top-10 finish in nine races when he took the checkered flag in eighth place. He remains second in the overall point standings with two races remaining in 2015.
Coons, of Plainfield, Ind., and the current point leader, Kody Swanson, have more top-10 finishes than any other driver in the series. Swanson finished third on Sunday and now leads Coons by 100 points, 500 to 400. A.J. Fike, who finished seventh on Sunday, is third with 355 points. He is 45 points behind Coons heading into the next-to-the-last race of the season Sept. 26 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Coons is the defending winner of that race, which he also won in 2007.
Coons qualified 12th at DuQuoin with a time of 31.801 seconds for the one-mile dirt oval, but he actually got to start 11th in the 100-lapper after the driver who qualified fourth, Jacob Wilson, withdrew from the race due to engine problems.
Brian Tyler got by Coons at the start, however, which put him back to 12th initially in the yellow #20 Eagle Chevy sponsored in part by Columbus Container and KECO Coatings. Coons moved back into 11th on lap three by passing Dave Darland, but Darland got him back on lap 10.
Coons set his fastest lap of the race on lap 17 with a 33.169, which was the 12th-fastest lap recorded. He was still embroiled in a battle with Darland at the time, but two laps later Darland retired to the infield with mechanical difficulties. That put Coons back in 11th place prior to the first of the race's three yellow flags, which flew on lap 22 after Joey Moughan stopped at the entrance to Turn 3.
Coons passed Casey Shuman on the restart on lap 27 to move into the top 10, and he vaulted into ninth on the next lap when both he and Tyler passed Fike. He was still in ninth place, about one second behind Tyler, when Tyler's car emitted smoke and brought out the second yellow on lap 37, giving Coons eighth.
Coons passed Shane Cottle on the restart on lap 41 to charge into seventh, but Cottle remained extremely close and pressured Coons relentlessly. Cottle was only about one-tenth of a second behind Coons for many laps, and finally got by him on lap 58 to push Coons back to eighth.
The pressure wasn't over though, as the ninth-place driver, Shuman, pressured Coons as intently as Cottle had. They all moved up one spot on lap 61, however, when the driver who was third, Aaron Pierce, clipped the fence and spun to a stop to bring out the third yellow flag.
Coons got another position to rise to sixth when the driver who was fifth, Levi Jones, came to a stop on the frontstretch under that yellow flag and dropped out.
Coons remained sixth until Shuman got around him on lap 71, but then Fike picked up the pressure that Shuman had been applying on Coons. With 25 laps to go Coons was seventh, 2.224 seconds behind Shuman but only 0.159 of a second ahead of Fike.
Coons tried his best to stay ahead of Fike but Fike finally passed him with 20 laps remaining to push Coons back to eighth place. Rickey Hood then applied some pressure in the late stages of the race, but Coons withstood it. On the last lap David Byrne surprised Hood by passing him, but Coons remained in eighth place and was 0.677 ahead of Byrne at the checkered.
Swanson led the first 67 laps before the eventual winner, Shane Cockrum, took command. Chris Windom was second and Swanson finished third. Justin Grant, Shuman, Cottle, Fike, Coons, Byrne and Hood rounded out the top 10.
"It was a pretty disappointing night," Coons said afterwards. "We just never got the car right. We salvaged an eighth-place finish with the help of attrition. We'll try to turn things around for Eldora."
After the 34th Four-Crown Nationals at Eldora on Sept. 26 comes the USAC Silver Crown season finale on Oct. 10. That weekend will also be the finale for the "Moody Mile," the 1-mile dirt track at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y., which is being demolished after 107 years of operation. A new host venue in New York is expected to be announced "as soon as the details are available," according to the event's promoter, DIRTcar.
More information is available on the series' Web site at usacracing.com.
For more information on Nolen Racing, which is based in Whiteland, Ind., see NolenRacing.com. Fans can also follow the team on Facebook and Twitter. Companies looking to join the team as marketing partners can get more information by calling (317) 201-0729 or e-mailing LKMRestart@gmail.com.