Nolen Racing's Coons Is Fourth, Axsom Seventh at Toledo Speedway; Axsom Is KSE Hard Charger
TOLEDO, Ohio, July 29 — Friday night’s Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” USAC Silver Crown race at Toledo Speedway will be remembered for its torrid pace. After 96 laps without a caution flag and a green-white-checkered finish, Nolen Racing’s Jerry Coons Jr. and Joe Axsom persevered to finish fourth and seventh, respectively.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., now residing in Greencastle, Ind., started sixth in the 15-car field while Axsom, of Franklin, Ind., started 11th. Axsom’s drive from 11th to seventh earned him the event’s KSE Racing Products Hard-Charger award.
Both men drove Beast chassis powered by Tranter-prepared Chevrolet engines and sponsored by KECO Coatings.
Coons passed David Byrne for fifth place on lap 21 and Aaron Pierce for fourth on lap 32. At the checkered flag on lap 103 he was 0.432 of a second behind the final podium finisher, reigning series champion Chris Windom. Coons, who won USAC Silver Crown races here in both 2010 and 2012, finished two laps ahead of the fifth-place finisher, Joe Liguori.
Coons set the fourth-fastest lap of the race on lap 27 with a time of 15.718 seconds for the half-mile paved oval. He ran a 15.388 while qualifying sixth.
Axsom was the highest-finishing rookie. He moved into tenth on lap 45 after a stirring battle with Justin Grant just as the eventual winner, Bobby Santos, was getting the lead from Kody Swanson.
Axsom got ninth on lap 62 after the driver who was sixth, Damion Gardner, slowed and pulled into the pits on lap 61. He advanced from ninth to seventh on lap 79 after Pierce, who had been fifth, dropped out and Axsom passed Byrne.
After Troy Thompson stopped on the frontstretch working lap 97 to bring out the event’s only caution flag and set up a green-white-checkered finish, Axsom brought his No. 120 home seventh, just 0.368 behind the sixth-place driver, Davey Hamilton, and 1.216 seconds ahead of Byrne.
Axsom qualified 11th with a time of 15.773. His fastest lap of the race was a 16.004 on lap 51, which was the tenth-fastest lap posted during the 100-lapper. His seventh-place finish was his best finish so far this season. He competes only in the series’ pavement-track events.
Coons remains third in the point standings for the series, which is presented by TRAXXAS, with four races remaining. Swanson leads with 411 points followed by Windom with 354, Coons with 339, Santos with 286 and Byrne with 286.
The next event Aug. 12 at Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind., is the last pavement race of the year. The season concludes on dirt tracks at Springfield, Ill. (Aug. 19), DuQuoin, Ill. (Sept. 3) and Rossburg, Ohio (Sept. 23).
The Whiteland, Ind.-based 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; Toledo Speedway's is at ToledoSpeedway.com, and Salem Speedway’s is at SalemSpeedway.com.
Post-race quotes follow:
Jerry Coons Jr.: "We had a good car tonight. By the time I got from our starting spot of sixth into fourth, the top three were a half-lap ahead. I don't know that we would have finished any different, but we needed a yellow to find out.”
Joe Axsom: "The feature went well until the right-front tire started going down toward the last third of the race. Our car was too tight during qualifying; that got us behind a little bit.”
Gene Nolen (team owner): "It was a good race. The problem was Jerry had a hard time getting by the 40 [Byrne] and the 26 car [Pierce]. Once we got by them we ran the same lap times as the leaders. The top three cars got a break from the flagman. He helped them with the move-over flag, but Jerry never got that help. At the end only four cars finished on the same lap. Jerry finished fourth. If he hadn't got held so far down it may have been different. Jerry drove a hard race.”