Two Nolen Racing Cars in Top Five
TERRE HAUTE, Ind., April 3 — The USAC Silver Crown series got its 2017 season off to a successful start Sunday during the 17th Sumar Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track. Nolen Racing did the same, as two of its three entries finished in the top five and a third came from the rear of the 24-car field to finish ninth.
Hunter Schuerenberg of Sikeston, Mo., passed Jerry Coons Jr. of Greencastle, Ind., on the last lap of the 100-lap race on the half-mile dirt track to finish fourth, while Coons, a USAC Triple Crown champion, placed fifth, just 0.304 behind him. Dakota Jackson of Elizabethtown, Ind., who like Schuerenberg is a USAC Silver Crown rookie, was forced to start last when his car needed to be pushed off for the initial start, but he worked his way up to ninth at the checkered for the Whiteland, Ind.-based team.
It was the first race ever for Schuerenberg's mount, a brand-new Maxim with a Tranter-prepared Chevy engine sponsored by Eddie Gilstrap Motors, Roof Bolt Xpress and Wesco Trailer Manufacturing. Coons' Maxim Tranter Chevy, which is sponsored by KECO Coatings and Indy Race Parts, marked its one-year anniversary at this race. Jackson was behind the wheel of a F5 Tranter Chevy that advertised the Peyton's Angels Indiana chapter of The Cure Starts Now Foundation.
Schuerenberg qualified 11th (24.953 seconds), Jackson 13th (25.066 seconds) and Coons 16th (25.195 seconds). Track conditions changed late in the session when Coons went out, and the majority of the times set then were slower than those recorded at the beginning of time trials. Coons also only got one lap of practice in, as a problem developed with his car and the team had to change its rear end before qualifying.
Both Schuerenberg and Coons got good starts in the 100-lapper, however, as Schuerenberg was ninth and Coons was 11th by lap three, and two laps later they were both in the top 10. Schuerenberg was eighth and Coons was ninth before the first of three yellows occurred on lap 12 when Johnny Petrozelle spun in Turn 4, and they both got one more spot at the same time when the fourth-place car of Casey Shuman retired. Jackson had moved up four spots by that point, and was running 20th.
Schuerenberg passed Justin Grant for sixth on lap 18, and Coons got around him on the following lap to move into seventh place. They were in those same positions at the one-quarter mark, but Jackson had moved up to 15th.
Schuerenberg got fifth by passing Shane Cockrum right before Aaron Pierce spun in the same spot Petrozelle had earlier to bring out the second yellow on lap 30. Grant pulled into the infield under that yellow with mechanical difficulties. Coons passed Cockrum on the restart, so two Nolen cars were fifth and sixth by lap 35. Jackson was also making great headway, as he was up to 13th.
Cockrum wiggled by Coons on lap 36 to push Coons back to seventh, but Coons got him back on lap 42. Jackson passed two more cars in that interval to rise to 11th. Two laps later Coons passed Schuerenberg for fifth. Schuerenberg faded a bit after that, dropping to ninth place. At the halfway point Coons was fifth, Schuerenberg was ninth and Jackson was 11th, but two laps later Jackson passed Mark Smith to move into the top 10.
Coons put intense pressure on the fourth-place driver, Brady Bacon, shortly thereafter, and Coons got that spot on lap 60. Two laps later Cockrum, who had been sixth, dropped back, which advanced Schuerenberg to eighth and Jackson to ninth.
Jackson stayed in ninth place until the end, but Schuerenberg started to regain the positions he'd lost. He ran in sixth place from laps 66 through 83, but after a yellow for Bill Rose, Schuerenberg passed Bacon on lap 84 to move into fifth, right behind Coons.
For the rest of the race the two teammates battled, with Schuerenberg running the high groove to try to get by Coons, who was running the low groove, and they exchanged positions on the last lap. They were both close to third the whole time, as Schuerenberg was only 0.216 behind that position at the checkered.
All three set their fastest race lap on lap 3; Schuerenberg with a 23.040; Coons with a 23.054, and Jackson with a 23.859.
Schuerenberg had the best finish among the 12 rookies entered in the event.
Jackson, who is also a rookie, had the biggest group of fans around him after the race, as many of his fraternity brothers at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology were on hand to cheer him on to his best USAC Silver Crown finish to date.
The next USAC Silver Crown race is April 29 on the pavement at Phoenix International Raceway. That will be a sort of homecoming for Coons, as he's originally from Tucson, Ariz. For that race his teammates will be Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif., and Joe Axsom of Franklin, Ind.
The team's complete schedule can be found on its Web site at nolenracing.com and its Facebook page. It's also on Twitter. For information on marketing partnerships, contact Restart Communications at LKMRestart@gmail.com.
USAC's Web site is at usacracing.com.
Post-race quotes follow:
Hunter Schuerenberg: "I'm happy with our first night out. We'll try to build on this and keep rolling. I plan on doing all the dirt races with this car. I was better up top I think. I was just trying to be patient."
Jerry Coons Jr.: "The car was pretty good. I only got one lap of hot laps in, and then we had to change the rear end before qualifying. The track slowed up during qualifying and all that put us behind, but we still got a top five."
Dakota Jackson: "I wish I wouldn't have had to start scratch, but the car wouldn't fire off. We couldn't get it out of gear. We'll have to investigate what happened there and fix it. But during the race the car was really good. I was able to make some passes. This is only the fourth Silver Crown race I've gotten to run, and we ended up pretty good with a ninth."
Gene Nolen (team owner): "It was a great night, with two cars in the top five and the other in the top 10. If we'd qualified better and wouldn't have had to start so far back, I think the results would have been a little different. But it was a good job by everybody. We're happy to have three good results in a field of over 30 very good cars."
Photo caption: Jerry Coons Jr. powers through a turn Sunday during the Sumar Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track enroute to a fifth-place finish. (USAC photo by Gene Crucean)