Nolen Racing's Axsom Finishes Fifth in USAC Silver Crown Race Saturday at Springfield, Ill.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Aug. 20 — The USAC Silver Crown series isn’t Emerson Axsom’s primary focus this year, as he’s only doing a couple of races in that series in 2023. Anyone who attended Saturday afternoon’s Bettenhausen 100 USAC Silver Crown race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds wouldn’t have known that by his performance in the bright yellow Nolen Racing No. 20, however.
Axsom, who is currently second in the USAC AMSOIL sprint car point standings driving for Clauson Marshall Newman Racing, shook up the USAC Silver Crown set by qualifying second, just 0.024 off the pole, in a robust field of 31. Then the young Franklin, Ind.-based driver led the first lap of the race, ran in the top three for the first quarter of the race and fifth for the second half of it to finish a solid fifth for the Whiteland, Ind.-based Nolen Racing team.
It was his first race ever at this particular track.
In a car powered by a Tranter-prepared Chevrolet engine and sponsored by KECO Coatings, Axsom passed the polesitter and eventual race winner, Logan Seavey, to the outside on the frontstretch heading into Turn 1 to lead the first of 100 laps around the 1-mile dirt oval. Seavey got him back with a move to the outside in Turn 3 working lap two, but Axsom ran in second place and held off veteran Shane Cottle until Cottle got by him working lap 21.
The driver in fourth, Chase Dietz, applied a lot of pressure to Axsom at that point and got by him on the outside on the frontstretch going into Turn 1 on lap 26 to relegate Axsom to fourth, with veterans Justin Grant and Kody Swanson right behind him. Axsom not only fought them off, he slipped under Dietz in Turn 4 working lap 35 to regain third place.
Grant passed him working lap 44 right before the event’s second of four caution flags waved to push Axsom back to fourth. Swanson got by right at the halfway point, but Axsom remained in fifth place for the final half of the race to finish fifth behind Seavey, Cottle, Grant and Swanson. He was 0.497 of a second behind Swanson, the winningest driver in series history, at the checkered, and 0.714 ahead of the sixth-place finisher, Jacob Wilson.
Axsom set the fourth-fastest lap of anyone in the race when he was timed in 34.202 seconds on lap 11. He earned the second starting spot in qualifying with a time of 31.341.
“Our car was really good; I just need a little more seat time on these big mile tracks,” Axsom said afterwards. “I learned a lot. We were a little free and not as strong at the end as we were at the beginning, but overall it was a good run, and I want to thank everyone at Nolen Racing for their hard work.”
Axsom and the Nolen Racing team also plan to compete in the USAC Silver Crown race at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in Du Quoin, Ill., on Sept. 2.
The race was streamed live on Flo Racing.
For more information see NolenRacing.com and follow the team on Facebook and Twitter @NolenRacing.
Photo credits: Don Figler