After Qualifying Well, Challenges Strike Nolen Racing’s Entries In Little 500 At Anderson Speedway
ANDERSON, Ind., May 30 — Nolen Racing’s hopes were high for the 75th annual Lucas Oil Little 500 Presented by UAW at Anderson Speedway after Emerson Axsom qualified fourth and Shane Hollingsworth qualified seventh on Thursday, but challenges in Saturday’s race dropped them to 12th and 22nd, respectively, in the final standings.
Axsom, of Franklin, Ind., was only 0.377 of a second off the pole in qualifying with the Driven2SaveLives.com No. 47BC. That earned him the inside starting spot in Row 2 in the field of 33 starters lined up three abreast, right behind polesitter Kody Swanson. Hollingsworth, of Lafayette, Ind., started right behind Axsom on the inside of Row 3 in the bright yellow KECO Coatings No. 20. Both asphalt sprint cars are Beast chassis with Tranter Chevrolet V6 engines.
Things began well for the Whiteland, Ind.-based team in Saturday’s 500-lap race on the high-banked quarter-mile asphalt oval. Axsom ran in fourth place until he passed the eventual winner, Jake Trainor, for third on lap 117. He remained in third until Trainor got that spot back on lap 183.
At that point trouble struck, as Axsom fell from fourth to seventh and then pitted on lap 186 under green due to an electrical or fuel pick-up problem. He lost three or four laps before he could return to the fray, and then brought out a full-course caution on lap 192 when the car wouldn’t start after being pushed off, leaving him stranded. After being pushed back to the pits for further diagnostics and repairs, he returned to the track some 10 laps down in 18th place.
After that the focus changed to just trying to finish. Axsom moved into 17th on lap 265, and he got 16th on lap 280 after leader Tanner Swanson had apparent engine problems. He advanced to 15th on lap 309, and gained one more spot to rise to 14th on lap 322. He moved into 13th on lap 411 after the driver who was second, C.J. Leary, slowed. Axsom passed Scott Evans for 12th on lap 454, and brought the car home in that position, nine laps down with 491 laps complete.
Hollingsworth also had a good start. He passed Billy Wease for sixth on the first lap, and remained in sixth place throughout the early going, running closely between Leary and Wease. Kyle O’Gara passed Wease for seventh on lap 53, but Hollingsworth was also able to keep him at bay and remained in sixth.
Hollingsworth passed Leary for fifth place working lap 59 to draw right behind his teammate, Axsom, but Leary got the spot back on the next lap to push Hollingsworth back to sixth. Hollingsworth passed Leary once again following a restart on lap 70 to regain fifth place. Leary tried his best to get by again, but Hollingsworth held him off lap after lap and continued to run in fifth place until he regained fourth under the fifth caution period when the driver who was fourth, Trainor, made his first pit stop.
Hollingsworth pitted under that yellow too, on lap 135, from fourth place. It was a fast stop and he didn’t lose a lap, returning to the field in 13th position.
The green flew again on lap 140. Unfortunately the car’s right-front wheel must not have been tightened enough during his pit stop, and it flew off in Turn 3 and caused Hollingsworth to crash hard into the outside guardrail. The wheel bounced and hit the roll cage of the damaged car while it was stopped. Luckily Hollingsworth wasn’t hurt, but the car was too damaged to continue. He was credited with 140 laps completed.
The top 10 at the end were Trainor, Caleb Armstrong, Kody Swanson, Jacob Wilson, Logan Seavey, Dalton Armstrong, Derek Bischak, Tyler Roahrig, Brady Bacon and Davey Hamilton Jr.
Many other top runners also had problems during the race, which had one caution flag before even one lap was in the book and 15 other yellows later.
Axsom posted the fourth-fastest lap run during the race on lap 19 with a time of 11.461 seconds. Hollingsworth posted the 14th-fastest lap with a 11.579 on lap 33.
The race was streamed live by MAVTV for Flo Racing.
For more information see NolenRacing.com and follow the team on Facebook and Twitter @NolenRacing.
From left to right: Emerson Axsom, team owner Greg Nolen and Shane Hollingsworth before the start of the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway.