Nolen Racing's Coons Finishes Third, Axsom Ninth at Lucas Oil Raceway
BROWNSBURG, Ind., July 25 — No one could touch the Swanson brothers Thursday night in the 100-lap Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway, but Jerry Coons Jr. of Greencastle, Ind. turned in a stellar performance to finish third in the Nolen Racing No. 20 sponsored in part by Columbus Container and KECO Coatings.
Despite not running a full schedule, Joe Axsom of Franklin, Ind. put in a solid run to place ninth in the Nolen Racing No. 120. Both cars are Beast chassis with Tranter-prepared Chevy engines fielded from team owner Gene Nolen’s shop in Whiteland, Ind.
Coons qualified third but passed Ryan Newman for second at the start of the 100-lapper on the 0.686-mile asphalt oval, as the whole field chased polesitter and eventual winner Kody Swanson.
Tanner Swanson passed Newman for third working lap four.
Coons remained between the Swanson brothers until Tanner Swanson passed him working lap 17 with a move to the inside going into Turn 3. The order of the top three never changed the rest of the night.
There were three yellow flags that bunched the field. The first flew with 42 laps down when Patrick Lawson spun into the wall between Turns 1 and 2. The pace slowed again with 15 laps to go when Shane Cottle stopped in Turn 2. Austin Nemire spun on the frontstretch with two laps to go to set up a green-white-checkered scenario, but Coons withstood the pressure on each restart to finish third, 0.468 of a second behind Tanner Swanson and 0.450 of a second ahead of the fourth-place finisher, Bobby Santos.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., set the second-fastest lap of the race on lap three with a time of 21.754 seconds. That was only 0.266 of a second off Kody Swanson’s fastest lap of the race.
Axsom started tenth in the 17-car field. Like Coons he ran his fastest lap on lap three, but Justin Grant passed him on lap eight to push him to 11th. Nemire got around him on lap nine to relegate him to 12th. He regained 11th on lap 14 when David Byrne dropped back, and he was back in the top 10 on lap 22 after he passed Nemire back.
Axsom passed Joe Ligouri for ninth place on lap 36, and he remained in that position the rest of the way. He had a 1.086-second advantage over Ligouri at the end.
Coons moved up one position to fourth in the point standings with his third-place finish.
Two races are on tap in August: Salem (Ind.) Speedway Aug. 13 and the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield on Aug. 20. The season concludes with two races in September: DuQuoin, Ill. on Sept. 3 and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio on Sept. 24.
For more information see the team’s Web site at NolenRacing.com and the series’ Web site at usacracing.com. For more information on marketing partnerships, contact Restart Communications at LKMRestart@gmail.com.
Post-race quotes follow:
Jerry Coons Jr.: “We had a little different setup tonight. We had a good car. I didn’t want to see that last yellow though. Santos was better on short runs than we were. We were better on the long runs.
“Our car was free for the whole race.”
Joe Axsom: “It was soft in the middle of the turns and loose on exit, but my race was pretty uneventful. We were better on short runs than long runs I think.”
Gene Nolen: “Jerry drove a heck of a race! He was loose at the end, but he still wasn’t bad.
“I never thought I’d be happy to finish third, but that was pretty tough. Those two ahead of us were just faster than we were tonight.”
Photo credit: Glenda Lacer