TERRE HAUTE —
Jason McCord remembers how he used to watch racing, playing catch with his father on the infield during lulls in the action on the track.
And the U.S. Auto Club promoter expects that same kind of atmosphere Sunday, when the Sumar Classic 100 TRAXXAS USAC Silver Crown race presented by First Financial Bank returns to the Terre Haute Action Track to be run in daylight for the first time.
Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., with racing at approximately 1 p.m. It’s the first daytime racing at the Action Track since the 1993 Hut Hundred won by Tony Stewart. All previous Sumar Classic 100 races have been under the lights.
“We’re thinking outside the box a little bit, with kind of a throwback event,” McCord told the Tribune-Star earlier this week, noting that pits will be on the infield. “We’ll try to bridge the gap and make more connection with the fans.”
“It should be a neat weekend,” said driver Levi Jones. “You’ve got the Fourth of July weekend, it’s Sunday afternoon, there are cars in the infield … and it should be a heck of a race.”
Jones is currently fifth in the Silver Crown points race, but the Olney, Ill., driver can be forgiven for thinking he might be about to move up a little higher. He’s the defending Sumar Classic 100 champion, having won last year’s race in October; he’s the defending Silver Crown champion; and he’s the defending USAC sprint car champion, having won his fourth title a year ago.
Oh, and with six wins, he’s also the Action Track’s winningest active driver.
“I definitely love coming to Terre Haute to race anything,” he confirmed. “It’s a place where it took me forever to win [listing a number of heartbreaks], but I finally got over the hump and starting clicking off a few [wins]. It’s just a fun place to come and race.”
Keeping a dirt track in good condition during the heat of the day can be a potential sticking point for daytime racing.
“[The track] probably won’t be as fast as it was in October [for the 2010 Sumar Classic 100],” Jones said, “but it’s still one of the best tracks in the country.”
And a 100-lap feature would test any track, McCord pointed out.
“When you’ve got a 100-lap race, it’s eventually going to slick the track off,” he said. “At the start it’s going to be really good, and then it will transition and blow the dust off … I think everybody will be happy by the time it’s all over.”
A slick track or a dusty track would be preferable to a wet one anyway. Sunday’s race is the first at the Action Track this season. Rain wiped out the Tony Hulman Classic back in May.
“Everybody was in town for the 100th Indy 500, we had a great car count … everything was set up perfect [for the Tony Hulman Classic],” McCord said ruefully. “Then Mother Nature reared her ugly head.”
Past winners of the Sumar Classic 100 have been Donnie Beechler (1995 and 1997), Kevin Thomas (1996), Tony Elliott (1998 and 2002), Jack Hewitt (1999), J.J. Yeley (2003), Brian Tyler (2004), Josh Wise (2005), Bud Kaeding (2006), Dave Darland (2008) and Jones.
Jerry Coons Jr. leads the Silver Crown standings, 11 points ahead of Bobby East. East won last week’s Silver Crown race at Iowa Speedway.
Silver Crown standings
Jerry Coons Jr. 159, Bobby East 148, Tanner Swanson 147, Bud Kaeding 144, Levi Jones 141, Kyle Larson 125, Brian Tyler 111, Bobby Santos III 108, Tracy Hines 92, Zach Daum 87.
Sumar Classic 100
At the Terre Haute Action Track
Gates open — 10:30 a.m.
Practice — 11:30 a.m.
Racing — 1 p.m.
Admission — $15 for infield, $20 for bleachers, $25 for covered grandstand, $25 for family infield pass; children 12 and under free