Nolen Racing Finishes Second in USAC Silver Crown Championship
SYRACUSE, N.Y., Oct. 10 — Nolen Racing finished second in the entrant point standings for the USAC Silver Crown division in 2015, up one position from 2014, while its driver, Jerry Coons Jr., duplicated his results of 2014 by placing second in the driver point standings for USAC's premier national division.
Those standings became official Saturday afternoon after the series' season finale during the last weekend of racing for the "Moody Mile," the 1-mile dirt oval at the New York State Fairgrounds. The historic track is being demolished and the Central New York Raceway Park is being built to take its place about 25 miles north in Hastings, N.Y.
But before that happens USAC staged its final race at the historic facility in Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, and Whiteland, Ind.-based Nolen Racing was there with its famous yellow #20 Eagle Chevy sponsored in part by KECO Coatings and Columbus Container. Coons, of Plainfield, Ind., started and finished in the same position — seventh — in the 78-lap Salt City 78, but he worked his way up to fourth and ran in the top five for the majority of the race — 69 laps.
After qualifications were rained out on Friday, the 18-car starting field was set by times recorded in a 20-minute practice session Saturday morning, when Coons ran a 33.759.
He got a great start initially when the race began on the crisp autumn Saturday afternoon, jumping into fifth place, but after more jockeying for an early yellow he was back in eighth place for the restart on lap four.
He passed Casey Shuman on that restart to move into seventh, and two laps later he passed Aaron Pierce for sixth before another yellow flew after Steve Buckwalter spun and hit the outside wall in Turn 2 working lap 11.
Coons' restart on lap 16 was a thing of beauty, as he vaulted by eventual winner Kody Swanson and C.J. Leary to gain two positions and rise to fourth. Swanson got him back on the next lap to push Coons back to fifth, and he stayed in that position through lap 42. During this time he set his fastest lap of the race on lap 39 with a 34.497.
He moved into fourth on a restart on lap 43 by passing the polesitter, Justin Grant, and then set his sights on the driver who was third, A.J. Fike. He did pass Fike very briefly on lap 65 before another caution waved and he had to revert back to fourth.
He threw everything he had at Fike on the restart on lap 69, but in the process he slid wide off Turn 2 and dropped back to sixth. He hit a bump in Turn 1 on lap 71 and Chris Windom, who went on to finish third, got by to push him back to seventh right before a final yellow flag waved. That set up a green-white-checkered finish and Coons hung on for seventh, just 0.381 of a second behind the sixth-place finisher, Fike, and 0.448 of a second ahead of the eighth-place finisher, Grant.
Swanson had a 1.184 margin of victory over Shane Cockrum at the finish. Windom, Shane Cottle, Stewart Friesen, Fike, Coons, Grant, Leary and Austin Nemire rounded out the top 10.
"We had a better car today than what we've had," Coons said afterwards. "The guys have been working hard to improve. We got up to fourth, but made a costly mistake on a restart and put us back to seventh."
Coons only finished out of the top 10 once all year in the series' 11 events. His best finish was second July 31 at Belleville, Kan. He also had one third (Terre Haute, Ind.) and three fourths (Toledo, Ohio; Brownsburg, Ind., and Springfield, Ill.) during the course of the season.
Nolen Racing and the rest of the racing world sends its sincere sympathy to the family of Tony Elliott, who tragically lost his life in a private airplane crash on Oct. 2. Elliott drove one of the team's pavement sprint cars as late as this May at the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Ind. His viewing will be held tomorrow and his funeral will be held on Monday morning in his hometown of Warsaw, Ind.
More information on the USAC Silver Crown series is available on the series' Web site at usacracing.com.
For more information on Nolen Racing, see NolenRacing.com. Fans can also follow the team on Facebook and Twitter. Companies looking to join the team as marketing partners in 2016 can get more information by calling (317) 201-0729 or e-mailing LKMRestart@gmail.com.