SILVER CROWN RETURNS TO GATEWAY SATURDAY;
LEVI JONES FINALLY GETS “HOOSIER HUNDRED” VICTORY
Illinois veteran Levi Jones (Olney) is looking forward to Saturday’s “Gateway 100” at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. as racing returns to the 1.25-mile oval after a brief hiatus.
Saturday’s 80-lap, 100-mile race is the first for the TRAXXAS USAC Silver Crown Series at Gateway since 2005 and records may fall as the track has been among the fastest in history for the “traditional” Silver Crown machines.
Jones comes off one of his greatest career victories, winning last Friday night’s “Hoosier Hundred” at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Seven years ago he led the first 99 laps before slipping behind his teammate Josh Wise, finishing second. Friday he tracked down Jerry Coons Jr. on lap 94 and led the final seven miles in his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing Chevrolet Performance/Mike Curb Maxim/Kistler.
The victory was the Stewart team’s 28th, an all-time Silver Crown series record. This Saturday the team again will field Jones and defending series champion Bobby East, who finished eighth in last Friday’s race.
Dave Steele’s 2001 Gateway record of 143.967 mph. is eclipsed only by Kody Swanson’s 146.212 mph at Iowa Speedway last year, discounting the “next-generation” cars which competed for several years.
The June 1 “Gateway 100” will mark the sixth appearance of the series at Gateway and the first event of any kind on the oval since the 2010 season. Previous Gateway Silver Crown races were won by Pat Abold (1997), J.J. Yeley (1998), Ryan Newman (1999), Tracy Hines (2000) and Steele (2001).
Pole winner Russ Gamester led the first 58 laps of Friday’s “Hoosier Hundred,” then yielded to defending two-time race winner Jerry Coons Jr. Coons slipped behind Jones on lap 94 and finished second, ahead of Tracy Hines, Shane Hollingsworth and A.J. Fike.
Prior to the race Jack Hewitt, Tom Bigelow and Tony Bettenhausen (represented by son Merle) were celebrated as new inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame.