Nolen Racing Finishes First and Second In Glen Niebel Classic Thursday at Anderson
ANDERSON, Ind., Sept. 14 — Less than four months after becoming the winning car owner at the Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway after many years of trying, Gene Nolen became the winning car owner of another race he’s wanted to win since its inception: the 18th annual Glen Niebel Classic, which was held last night at the same quarter-mile oval. What’s more, two of the Greenwood, Ind. resident’s non-wing asphalt sprint cars driven by Kody Swanson and Jerry Coons Jr. came in first and second, respectively.
“Glen was a very good friend of mine, and I have to think he’d be pleased,” said Nolen after the race. “It was a great race.”
It also had a surprise ending. Coons, the polesitter, led 124 and a half laps of the 125-lap contest, but was slowed by a lapped car on the last lap. That was enough for his teammate in this race, Swanson, the fastest qualifier, to dart by and go on to win by a scant 0.290 of a second.
“I feel sorry for Jerry; they both drove a great race,” Nolen said.
Both Coons and Swanson drove Beast chassis powered by Tranter-prepared Chevy V6 engines. Their cars are sponsored in part by KECO Coatings and Indy Race Parts.
Niebel was instrumental in developing the Chevy V6 engine for short-track racing. He and Nolen partnered in many races while Niebel was alive.
Unofficially, Coons’ time on the last lap was 12.577 seconds to Swanson’s 12.267 seconds. Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., who now lives in Greencastle, Ind., set the fastest lap of anyone in the race on lap three with a time of 11.746 seconds. Swanson’s best lap during the race was lap 85 in 11.778 seconds, which was only the sixth-fastest lap run by the 22 starters. Swanson, who lives in Zionsville, Ind., but is originally from Kingsburg, Calif., was the fastest qualifier with a time of 11.337 seconds.
Following the top two Nolen Racing cars, which are based in the team’s shop in Whiteland, Ind., were the cars of Caleb Armstrong, Justin Grant and Bobby Santos III. Jacob Wilson, Kyle Hamilton, Tony Main, Kyle O’Gara and Brian Vaughn rounded out the top 10.
Coons was the eighth-fastest qualifier but started on the pole when the top-eight qualifiers were inverted. He was hounded during the first 50 laps by several other drivers, including Grant, before Swanson moved into second on lap 65.
Swanson started eighth but was sixth by lap one and fifth by lap two. He remained in fifth until lap 48, when he moved into fourth place. He took third on lap 56, second on lap 65 and first the last time they approached the flagstand on lap 125.
Coons did a remarkable job holding off all comers during the race. He survived six restarts that tightened the field behind him and gave his rivals ample opportunities to pass him, as there were six yellow flags from laps 11-13, 35-38, 65-67, 77-79, 97-99 and 107-110. Each time he held them all off.
Unfortunately Swanson had contact with Santos with 17 laps remaining, which caused Santos to spin in Turn 4. He also had contact with Aaron Pierce on lap 65, which caused Pierce to spin too. Swanson said the panhard bar in his car broke with about 10 laps to go. Despite that problem, he was still able to slip by Coons for the victory due to the lapped car getting in Coons’ way.
"It definitely was a wild race,” Swanson said afterwards. “I feel like I continue to make a conscious effort to race as the cleanest driver in the pits, and I am sorry to have come in contact with anyone. I understand that being sorry doesn't change the outcome, but I have talked to both drivers and owned up to any mistakes that I made.
"I am happy for everyone on this Nolen Racing team,” he added. “Despite any errors of mine, they deserve good finishes and to run well. It is really neat to have them run first and second at the Glen Niebel Classic, especially considering the personal history and connection shared with him by so many members of this team. I am grateful for everyone's hard work and their effort to succeed, and thankful for the opportunity to be part of it."
The team's Web site is at nolenracing.com. It also has a Facebook page and it’s on Twitter. For information on marketing partnerships, contact Restart Communications at LKMRestart@gmail.com.
Photo credit: Anderson Speedway.