WHITELAND, Ind., Oct. 2 — With a tenth-place finish in the USAC Silver Crown season finale Sept. 23 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Nolen Racing’s Jerry Coons Jr. secured second place in the 2017 championship for USAC’s premier series, which is presented by TRAXXAS.
The Whiteland, Ind.-based team owned by of Greenwood, Ind., is always a top contender. It finished fourth in the series in 2016 and second in 2015.
Coons had six top-five finishes in the 10-race series this year, including one podium, and he was never out of the top 10. He also won two pole positions. He finished with 562 points to the 650 earned by the champion, Kody Swanson. Chris Windom, Justin Grant and David Byrne rounded out the top five.
The No. 20 that Coons drives was second in the entrant standings, while the team’s No. 120 was seventh.
“Overall, we had a good season,” Coons said. “To have a shot to be up in the points at the end of the year, you need to have a car that finishes every race. The guys did a great job in accomplishing that. We still want to win the championship. We just need to get better in a couple areas, and I think we can be there.”
Coons’ Nolen Racing teammates at Eldora’s Four-Crown Nationals, Hunter Schuerenberg and Dakota Jackson, finished seventh and 14th, respectively, in the season finale on Tony Stewart’s half-mile dirt oval. They focus on the series’ dirt-track events, while Joe Axsom of Franklin, Ind., joins Coons at the asphalt-track races.
Despite only running partial seasons, Schuerenberg was 15th in the overall driver point standings and fourth in the rookie standings. Axsom was right behind him in 16th overall and fifth in the rookie standings. Jackson was 21st overall and seventh in the rookie standings.
Coons, a native of Tucson, Ariz., who lives in Greencastle, Ind., drives a Maxim sponsored by KECO Coatings and Indy Race Parts. Schuerenberg, a native of Sikeston, Mo., who lives in New Whiteland, Ind., drives a Maxim sponsored by Roof Bolt Xpress and Wesco Trailers. Jackson, a student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology who lives in Elizabethtown, Ind., uses a Twister chassis that provides exposure for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and KECO Coatings. All three cars’ Chevrolet engines are prepared by Tranter Engines.
Schuerenberg had the best result of the trio in ProSource qualifying at Eldora, as he placed fifth with a time of 19.903. That was only 0.333 off the pole, which was won by Swanson. Coons qualified tenth with a 20.118, while Jackson was 14th with a time of 20.434.
Chris Windom led every lap of last year’s race, and Tyler Courtney did the same this year. After starting fifth, Schuerenberg dropped to seventh initially, and he spent most of the race in seventh or eighth place. He dropped to tenth on lap 20, but was back in seventh four laps later. He was eighth at the halfway point, but he regained seventh on lap 31 after Swanson flipped. He stayed in that position the rest of the race, although he had to fight off a late-race charge by Bryne.
Coons started and finished tenth. He was as high as ninth, and he was never further back than 11th. He was only 0.239 behind the ninth-place driver, Robert Ballou.
Jackson started 14th and was scored in that position for most of the race. He was 15th at the halfway point, and he finished a full lap ahead of the driver who placed 15th.
Schuerenberg had the seventh-fastest lap of the race on lap 31 with a 19.990. Coons had the tenth-fastest lap of the race on lap 22 with a 19.984. Jackson had the 14th-fastest lap of the race two laps from the end with a 19.972.
“We had a long night at Eldora,” said Jackson. “The balance of the car was much better than last year, but we still didn’t have the speed we wanted.
“I personally got more comfortable running up against the fence, which was one of our goals, but once we got mired in the middle of the pack we just couldn’t go forward at the end of the race when our car got better.
“I can’t thank Gene enough for the opportunity this season, and hope to have the chance again next year so that we can build off of our experience this season.”
Nolen Racing also fielded a USAC sprint car for Swanson at Eldora. He started 19th and finished 20th in that 30-lap feature after placing second in the 12-lap semi.
The team’s Web site is at nolenracing.com. It also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. For information on marketing partnerships for the 2018 season, contact Restart Communications at LKMRestart@gmail.com.
USAC’s Web site is at USACRacing.com.