COONS EYES “HAT TRICK” IN MAY 23 HOOSIER HUNDRED
Only twice in 63 years has a driver been able to string together three consecutive victories in the prestigious “Hoosier Hundred,” the USAC Traxxas Silver Crown race slated May 23 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
Jimmy Bryan won in 1954, 1955 and 1956 and Al Unser scored a remarkable four in a row from 1970-1973 before taking second behind Jackie Howerton in 1974.
Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. has a chance to join that exclusive company when this year’s race is held on a new date – Thursday night – during the world’s biggest motorsports week.
The Hoosier Hundred joins Wednesday night’s (May 22) “Tony Hulman Classic” AMSOIL USAC Sprint race at Terre Haute, Ind. and Saturday night’s (May 25) “Night Before the 500” USAC Midget race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, all leading up to the May 26 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Coons won the 2011 and 2012 classics at the Fairgrounds and returns this year to again drive the RW/Curb-Agajanian Rotondo Weirich/Curb Records Beast/Wallace Toiyota.
One of only five USAC “Triple Crown” champions, Coons looks forward to the challenge: “I didn’t qualify very well in 2011,” he adds, “but we were able to get through traffic and be in the right place when we needed to. The track changes during the event and you have to make sure you protect your tires. Our car is good on restarts and the double-file restarts seem to favor us.” Jerry will pilot the same car he drove to last year’s win. “I’m pretty confident in my team and the car they give me, so we should be right there.”
This year marks Coons’ 11th Hoosier Hundred appearance. He was second in 2001 and fourth in 2003, but he knows he has plenty of competition May 23.
Three-time winner Dave Darland and 2009 winner Shane Hollingsworth are expected to be in the hunt, along with defending series champion Bobby East and others.
Coons’ task is more taunting when one considers that A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Chuck Gurney, Jack Hewitt, Darland and Tony Elliott all had back-to-back Hoosier Hundred wins but were unable to grab that elusive third in a row.