Bettenhausen notes: Nine Illinois drivers in USAC field

Chicago News USA

There will be nine Illinois drivers in today’s USAC Silver Crown Series Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Two very local drivers will be in the field, including last year’s ninth-place finisher Joey Moughan, as well as Korey Weyant.

Also in the field include past champions A.J. Fike, of Galesburg — who won back-to-back races in 2012 and 2013 — and last year’s Bettenhausen winner, Chris Windom, from Canton. Windom also won the Silver Crown Series points championship in 2016.

Other drivers hoping to join a select group of in-state winners include Benton’s Shane Cockrum, Shane Cottle, Kansas, Elkhart’s Chris Urish, Patrick Lawson of Edwardsville and Terry Babb of Decatur.

Since 1983, only three in-state drivers have won the Bettenhausen — including a Bettenhausen. Before Fike won in 2012, it had been 29 years since Tinley Park’s Gary Bettenhausen — the son of the race’s namesake who was killed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a crash during a practice round in 1961 — won. Tony Bettenhausen —nicknamed the Tinley Park Express —won the Illinois State Fair race in 1947, 1950 and 1951.

“This is pretty sweet,” Windom said after winning the 2018 race. “I’ve been trying to win this race since 2010 or 2011. It’s pretty awesome to do it with a lot of my hometown friends and family here to watch. It’s pretty special to win one this close to home.”

The entry list has 36 total racers. The festivities get underway with practice at 10 a.m., qualifying at 11:30 and the 100-lap feature at 2 p.m.

Past champs return

Along with Fike and Windom, there will be a total of six racers in the field who have experienced taking the checkered flag in Springfield.

Brian Tyler, of Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, has won here four times — 2004, ’05, ’08 and ’11. Kingsburg, California’s Kody Swanson, who leads the Silver Crown Series’ points standings by 71 points, won in 2014 and ’15. Swanson also has won four of the seven races on the circuit this season. Justin Grant, of Ione, California, won here in 2017 and sits second in the standings.

Also making a start is Russ Gamester, of Peru, Indiana. Not only did he win the 1998 race, but he will be making his 26th Springfield start.

Sportsman Nationals

The Sportsman Nationals have their hot laps at Noon and heat races at 1 p.m. today before its feature race on Sunday prior to the ARCA Series Allen Crowe 100. This is the 26th year the Sportsman Nationals race has been a part of the state fair lineup.

The race is part of the UMP DIRTcar series and takes short-track experts from Macon Speedway, Fairbury Speedway and the Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri and puts them on the one-mile state fair track. Sunday’s Sportsman Nationals race is 20 laps.

Ethan Schnapp won last year’s event to end Jeremy Nichols’ five-year reign.

Contact Ryan Mahan: 788-1546, ryan.mahan@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/RyanMahanSJR.

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