BELLEVILLE, Kan. — official series release — TeeJay Crawford photo —
After a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s Hustle on the High Banks at the Belleville High Banks, Chris Windom sealed the deal Friday night with a wire-to-wire win in the 50-lapper for the USAC Silver Crown Series.
The Canton, Ill., driver made it his second career victory in dominant fashion aboard the Fred Gormly – RPM Auto Enterprise No. 98 Maxim/Mopar.
“After that last caution, I was just waiting on something to happen like last year. But Rob Hart gave me a great car, and I want to thank Fred Gormly and Tom Bliss for putting me in this car and giving me the opportunity to give them this win,” Windom said. “I don’t know if you can really put this place into words. I try to be steady and smooth and on the gas, and it surely helps to be out front, which was where I planned to stay all race. I finally told myself to calm down when I was basically catching the whole field, but it was kinda sketchy riding behind those guys as they’re banging off the fence, so in that sense I was happy to see the caution. I backed it way down the last couple laps with such a big lead.”
Windom took the ProSource Fast Time Award and jumped into the lead at the first corner as Jerry Coons, Jr. pressured Kody Swanson for the runner-up spot on the opening lap. Windom quickly opened up his advantage as Coons, Swanson, Justin Grant, and Shane Cockrum fell in order on the high side around the top.
Windom took less than ten laps to reach the back end of the field, but his lead only grew. At lap 20, his lead was over five seconds as Kevin Thomas, Jr., C.J. Leary, and Brady Bacon had the best battle on the track for sixth through eighth, as Windom had lapped the rest of the field already.
Grant was pressuring Swanson through traffic as second through fifth all raced together. Grant took the third spot on lap 34 just as Windom rapped the outside guardrail in turn four while working lapped traffic. He recovered and continued to build his lead.
With nine laps to go, sixth-running Thomas, Jr. tried to throw a slider on Cockrum and spun in the middle of the track through turns one and two. That erased Windom’s 14-second lead and gave Coons and Grant a chance at him, although Windom had two lapped cars between himself and them.
Windom immediately stretched his lead, but his final two laps slowed quite a bit as he crossed the line 1.297 seconds ahead of Coons, who brought home his best finish of the season while taking over second in the points in the Nolen Racing – Columbus Container No. 20 Eagle/Chevy.
“They were in a league of their own tonight,” Coons said. “We weren’t quite how I needed to be to run where he was through three and four, but even if we were a bit better, I’m not sure I had it in me to run it like he was. It can be very tough to pass here, so I knew the start would be important, and working traffic was difficult. I tried to be smart and do it right when going by those guys. Traffic may have helped me stay ahead of those guys through the race. You’re so close to the wall, and if you get a push in these cars, it’s very uncomfortable. That’s the biggest thing here, so it’s a fine line of being fast and being in the fence.”
Grant filled the podium with his best career Silver Crown finish in the Chris Carli Motorsports – Finish Line Racing Equipment No. 8 Beast/Chevy.
“This was a little tougher than I thought it would be,” Grant said. “I like places that are on the fence and slick, and then in the feature I realized just how extreme it was. It was a blast, just a lot of fun. I was trying to catch Kody, and even Jerry, in traffic just right or take advantage when he was working around them. I felt pretty good moving around. Windom obviously had us all covered, but other than that, I felt really good. Obviously, when you’re working hard and doing something, you expect to do well with it, but this is better than we expected to be out of the gate with this team, and it’s been really rewarding.”
Point leader and defending race winner Swanson finished fourth with Cockrum fifth.
RESULTS: USAC Silver Crown Series; Hustle on the High Banks; Belleville High Banks; July 31, 2015
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-50 Windom.
CREDIT: USAC Racing