Nolen Racing's Coons Finishes Seventh While Axsom Runs with Top-10 Pace at LORI
BROWNSBURG, Ind., July 25 — Nolen Racing's Jerry Coons recorded another top-10 finish in USAC Silver Crown action last Thursday night at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. Another Nolen Racing driver, Joe Axsom, ran in the top 10 and had top-10 pace during the Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic too.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., now residing in Greencastle, Ind., ran as high as fourth and finished seventh in the 100-lap main event on the 0.686-mile, paved oval in a Beast powered by a Tranter-prepared Chevy engine and sponsored by KECO Coatings. He qualified in the same position that he finished, and he also set the seventh-fastest lap of the feature.
Axsom, a rookie in this series from Franklin, Ind., qualified 11th, set the tenth-fastest lap of the race, and was running ninth when his Beast Tranter Chevy was hit in the rear between Turns 1 and 2 on lap 38, bringing out the third of four yellow flags. After restarting at the rear of the field he rebounded to 13th, but retired with 56 laps complete due to fuel pick-up problems caused by his car's damaged tail. His official finishing position was 17th in the 21-car field for USAC's premier division.
Coons ran in seventh place for the first 11 laps, and then moved into sixth place by passing Damion Gardner. He nailed down fifth on lap 18 when he passed NASCAR star Ryan Newman. He moved into fourth on a restart on lap 42 when Kody Swanson dropped from third to fifth.
Swanson pressured Coons from that point on, eventually getting by him on lap 60 to push Coons back to fifth place. The sixth-place driver, defending champion Chris Windom, then pressured Coons until Windom eventually got the spot on lap 71. Justin Grant then challenged Coons until he got by with 20 laps remaining to push Coons back to seventh, and that's where he finished.
Two drivers got ahead of Coons when lining up for the fourth and final restart on lap 98, but they resumed their proper places before the green waved. Coons was the highest-running driver who finished one lap down. He was 0.242 ahead of the eighth-place driver, David Byrne, at the checkered.
Axsom dropped from 11th to 12th initially, but he set the tenth-fastest lap of the race on lap 11. He regained 11th place when Gardner hit the wall on lap 23 and pitted. Axsom moved into the top 10 six laps later when he passed Davey Hamilton Jr.
He moved into ninth when Newman pitted on lap 37, but less than a minute later Hamilton made a mistake as they were going through Turns 1 and 2 and hit Axsom in the rear. Hamilton kept going and eventually finished ninth. Axsom pitted so the Nolen Racing crew could assess the damage, and he returned to the fray in 16th position instead of ninth. He regrouped and regained a few spots to rise to 13th, but then retired with 56 laps complete in order to save the car's engine, which was dealing with a fuel pick-up issue due to the car's damaged tail.
Coons came into this event third in the point standings and he remains in third place going into the next race, which is this coming Friday night, July 28, at Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio.
The Whiteland, Ind.-based team's 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; LORI's is at LucasOilRaceway.com and Toledo Speedway's is at ToledoSpeedway.com.
Post-race quotes follow:
Jerry Coons Jr. "We made some set-up changes. The car was better than it had been early in the race, but then for some reason it fell off. At least we tried some things and we learned some things here. Most of the top teams test here before this race. We weren't able to test here, so that was part of it.
"It was hot. The way these cars are designed, you don't get any airflow. We raced at Richmond, Va. once in the afternoon when it was hotter, but this was definitely hot tonight."
Joe Axsom: "There was contact between Davey Hamilton and I between Turns 1 and 2; he hit me in the left rear. The [fuel] tank got messed up, which caused a fuel pick-up problem, so I just brought it in rather than mess up the engine."
Gene Nolen (team owner): "We changed just about everything on Jerry's car and it still ran pretty good. We'll talk about what we want to try at Toledo, and go from there."