Lonnie Wheatley, TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (May 1, 2022) – It wasn’t until the final handful of laps that Justin Grant found himself in command for keeps in the season-opening USAC Silver Crown event.
But after race leader Buddy Kofoid flipped on the 87th of 100 laps, Grant turned the heat up on new leader Jerry Coons, Jr., and then took advantage of a restart with four laps remaining to take command and race on to the $8,000 victory in Sunday night’s “Sumar Classic” atop the rejuvenated ½-mile Terre Haute Action Track clay oval.
“I felt like we were stroking along pretty good there towards the end, I finally found my lane,” Grant said of his drive aboard the Hemelgarn Racing/NOS Energy Drink No. 91 Champ Car. “It was just a matter of figuring out what to do with that lane.”
The 2020 USAC Silver Crown champion figured it out on a lap 97 restart, blasting past Coons, Jr., and pacing the final four circuits to claim the win.
“We were probably going to finish second either way because we weren’t going to catch Buddy (Kofoid),” Coons, Jr., explained afterward.
After starting third, Grant raced among the frontrunners throughout, chasing C.J. Leary and Kody Swanson in the early going before battling bast Swanson on a lap 20 restart and then surging past Leary on the 45th round. Leary slowed with a flat right rear tire soon after and rejoined the field at the tail after a quick change.
With Grant out front, third-running Kofoid raced past Coons, Jr., for second and then wrestled the lead away from Grant on the 58th round with Coons, Jr., making his way past Grant soon after as well.
Coons, Jr., tailed Kofoid for several laps before the Penngrove, CA, native began to slip away in his maiden USAC Silver Crown voyage.
However, Kofoid’s hands were full with a car that had lost the right torsion arm along the way that resulted in a damaged shock as well. It ultimately proved to be too much to handle when Kofoid hit the cushion and flipped in turn two on the 87th lap.
Coons, Jr., inherited the point on the restart and fought off Grant’s advances until a final caution for Kyle Robbins flew with just four laps remaining.
Grant pounced for the lead on the final restart and led the closing rounds ahead of Coons, Jr., with Brady Bacon rallying through the field from 16th to round out the podium in third. Logan Seavey finished fourth after battling amongst the top five throughout.
After his mount failed to properly fire at the outset, Emerson Axsom surrendered his 13th starting position and proceeded to charge through the field from the tail to round out the top five in his Silver Crown debut.
Bill Rose found some youthful exuberance to race from 17th to sixth while Kody Swanson slid back to seventh. Carmen Perigo was eighth with 22nd-starter Terry Babb in ninth as Leary rebounded from the early tire issue to complete the top ten.
Swanson kicked off the night by establishing a quick time of 20.410-seconds in qualifying that earned him the pole position for the main event.
The “Last Chance” Race prove to be calamitous with front row starter Ronnie Wuerdeman flipping in turn three on the opening circuit, Chris Fetter testing the new turn three and four fencing just three laps later and then Dave Berkheimer going for a turn four ride on the final round. All drivers were okay.
USAC Silver Crown “Sumar Classic”
Terre Haute Action Track – Terre Haute, IN
Sunday, May 1, 2022
USAC Silver Crown:
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: (Top-20 locked into the feature) 1. Kody Swanson, 1, Doran/Dyson-20.410; 2. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-20.573; 3. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-20.662; 4. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-20.689; 5. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice-20.765; 6. Jake Swanson, 10, DMW-20.780; 7. Matt Westfall, 54, Westfall-20.786; 8. Buddy Kofoid, 97, Lein-20.964; 9. Shane Cockrum, 71, BLS-20.994; 10. Carmen Perigo, 52, Stehman-21.011; 11. Shane Cottle, 74, Hodges-21.060; 12. Jerry Coons Jr., 55, Bateman-21.063; 13. Emerson Axsom, 20, Nolen-21.130; 14. Jason McDougal, 27, Daigh/Phillips-21.199; 15. Dallas Hewitt, 57, Hewitt-21.238; 16. Brady Bacon, 53, Five Three-21.356; 17. Bill Rose, 66, Rose-21.544; 18. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-21.559; 19. Eric Gordon, 99, Armstrong-21.593; 20. Brian Ruhlman, 49, Ruhlman-21.600; 21. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-21.632; 22. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-21.761; 23. Casey Buckman, 110, DMW-21.785; 24. Terry Babb, 88, Babb-21.927; 25. Davey Ray, 8, Cornell-22.002; 26. Chris Fetter, 89, Fetter-22.312; 27. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-22.377; 28. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-22.454; 29. Tommy Nichols, 26, Pierce-22.658; 30. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-23.115; 31. Jake Simmons, 3, Simmons-23.259; 32. Gregg Cory, 32, Williams-23.769; 33. Ronnie Wuerdeman, 33, Wuerdeman-NT (Time of 21.688 disallowed); 34. Brian Tyler, 81, BCR-NT; 35. Jimmy Light, 123, Two-Three-NT; 36. Chase Stockon, 69, Pink 69-NT.
QUALIFYING RACE: (10 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Steffens, 2. Davey Ray, 3. Terry Babb, 4. Casey Buckman, 5. Travis Welpott, 6. Tommy Nichols, 7. Gregg Cory, 8. Dave Berkheimer, 9. Patrick Lawson, 10. David Byrne, 11. Chris Fetter, 12. Brian Tyler, 13. Ronnie Wuerdeman, 14. Jake Simmons. NT
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (3), 2. Jerry Coons Jr. (12), 3. Brady Bacon (16), 4. Logan Seavey (5), 5. Emerson Axsom (13), 6. Bill Rose (17), 7. Kody Swanson (1), 8. Carmen Perigo (10), 9. Terry Babb (22), 10. C.J. Leary (2), 11. Dallas Hewitt (15), 12. Brian Ruhlman (19), 13. Austin Nemire (18), 14. Travis Welpott (24), 15. Kyle Robbins (4), 16. Shane Cottle (11), 17. Casey Buckman (23), 18. Buddy Kofoid (8), 19. Kyle Steffens (20), 20. Jason McDougal (14), 21. Shane Cockrum (9), 22. Brian Tyler (26-P), 23. Matt Westfall (7), 24. Jake Swanson (6), 25. Tommy Nichols (25), 26. Davey Ray (21), 27. Eric Gordon (27). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-45 C.J. Leary, Laps 46-58 Justin Grant, Laps 59-86 Buddy Kofoid, Laps 87-96 Jerry Coons Jr., Laps 97-100 Justin Grant.