Nolen Racing's Coons Wins Pole and Finishes Fifth at Du Quoin; Schuerenberg 11th, Jackson 13th
DU QUOIN, Ill., Sept. 5 — Nolen Racing's Jerry Coons Jr. earned his second ProSource Pole Award of the year and then finished fifth in the Ted Horn 100 USAC Silver Crown race Sunday night at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. It was the sixth top-five finish in the series this year out of nine races for Coons, who drives the No. 20 Maxim/Tranter Chevy sponsored by KECO Coatings and Indy Race Parts.
The Whiteland, Ind.-based team's other two dirt-track drivers in the series, which is presented by Traxxas, also had good finishes in the 100-lap race on the 1-mile dirt oval even though they're both series rookies. Hunter Schuerenberg, a native of Sikeston, Mo., finished 11th in the No. 120 Maxim/Tranter Chevy sponsored by Roof Bolt Xpress and Wesco Trailers. Dakota Jackson of Elizabethtown, Ind., finished 13th in the No. 201 Twister/Tranter Chevy that advertises The Cure Starts Now Foundation and KECO Coatings. By finishing in the lucky 13th position, Jackson earned a contingency award from Wilwood Brakes.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., who lives in Greencastle, Ind., backed up his pole at the Aug. 19 race in Springfield, Ill., by topping the charts in qualifying in the field of 35 with a time of 31.216 seconds. Schuerenberg qualified ninth with a time of 32.024 and Jackson qualified 18th via a 32.511.
Coons fell back at the start of the feature because his car was too loose, but he was never worse than sixth. He regained fifth around lap 20 after a battle with both Justin Grant and Chris Windom. He dropped to sixth again on lap 39 when Shane Cockrum passed him. He regained fifth on lap 81 when Windom, who had been running second, pulled into the infield with a problem. Coons was 0.772 behind the early leader and fourth-place finisher, C.J. Leary, and 1.462 ahead of the sixth-place finisher, Grant, at the checkered.
Schuerenberg also fell back at the start, but he was never worse than 16th and he spent most of the race in 13th or 14th position. He and Jackson exchanged places a couple of times during the race. At the halfway point Schuerenberg was 14th, but he got 13th again on lap 51 and 12th on lap 53. In the second half of the race both of the Nolen rookies also had good battles with Dave Darland, who like Coons is a USAC Triple Crown champion. Schuerenberg got 11th for the final time on lap 89 when he passed Jackson.
Jackson started deeper in the field than his two teammates, but he was already right behind Schuerenberg by lap four and ahead of him in 14th place by lap five. Jackson was 15th at the one-quarter mark, 13th at the halfway point, and 15th on lap 75 before he eventually finished 13th.
Ironically all three Nolen Racing cars set their fastest lap of the first half of the race on lap 45, right before the third yellow. Coons was sixth at the time when he ran a 32.679. Schuerenberg was 13th on that lap, which he did in 32.971. Jackson was 15th, and he did a 32.809 on that circuit.
All three went faster later. Coons set the fourth-fastest lap of the race on lap 66 with a 32.085. Schuerenberg ran a 32.569 on lap 97 for the 15th-fastest lap time. Jackson had the 17th-fastest lap on lap 56 with a 32.639.
The season finale is Sept. 23 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Unofficially Kody Swanson locked up the driver championship with his victory at Du Quoin on Sunday. Coons is still second in the point standings. The runner-up honors will be decided at Eldora between him and Chris Windom.
Post-event quotes follow:
Jerry Coons Jr.: "We got the car dialed in great for qualifying. It just didn't tighten up enough for the feature. We were extremely loose, and fell back. Once the track took rubber we got better, but still were off. We were able to salvage a top five, so it was a decent day."
Hunter Schuerenberg: “My car was too free early on, and it just cost me too much track position. I'm glad we completed all 100 laps and got some valuable notes to make the car better the next time we come back for a 100-mile race."
Dakota Jackson: “We didn't quite have the speed that we had at Springfield, but I left like we made some changes to the car for the race that made a difference, and the result doesn't quite show how good we were.
"I was fighting brake issues for the last 25 laps or so, which made it difficult to stay consistent.
"I want to thank Gene for the opportunity and Bill, Rich, Doug and my parents for the continued support. Also thank you to Wilwood Brakes for the contingency award."
Gene Nolen (team owner): "I’m very happy with all three cars finishing on the lead lap. It’s great that all three finished; that's the second time this year."
Photo credit: USAC photo by Rich Forman