TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – official release — Gordon Gill photo — One of America’s most revered short track races – the Tony Hulman Classic – will be renewed Wednesday night at the Terre Haute Action Track.
The AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car spectacular continues a tradition begun in 1971 at the half-mile oval. George Snider won the debut and Jerry Coons Jr. is the defending champion but in between there have been memories to last a lifetime.
In addition to Coons, former race winners expected to compete Wednesday will be 2011 winner Chris Windom, 2002 and 2007 winner Jon Stanbrough, 2006 winner Daron Clayton, 2001 winner Tracy Hines and 1993 winner Dave Darland.
Coons is one of nine drivers with more than one victory in the race and, like Stanbrough, hopes to join Levi Jones (2005-08-09) and Cary Faas (1992-94-98) as the only three-time winners. Coons could also become only the third driver to win the race back-to-back. Steve Butler won in 1987 and 1988 and Jones did it in 2008-09.
Brady Bacon, seeking his initial Tony Hulman Classic win, leads the 2014 standings by seven points over Bryan Clauson, also seeking his first Hulman trophy. Darland stands third in the points, 21 behind Clauson.
At age 41 last year, Coons was not the oldest winner. Terry Pletch won in 1999 at age 52 after starting 21st. Windom became the youngest winner at age 20 in 2011.
Darland, who is chasing Tom Bigelow’s all-time record USAC sprint car feature record of 52, has the most Hulman starts – 20. He has 49 career series wins, while Hines, also chasing the all-time win record, has 46. Darland is also the only driver to win more than one race so far in 2014. Seven different drivers have won in the first eight races of this year.
The last time a race rookie won the Tony Hulman Classic was J.J. Yeley in 1997.