USAC Sprints at Eldora Speedway Apil 1, 2006
Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic
|Dave Darland||Josh Wise||Levi Jones|
|Daron Clayton||Bud Kaeding||Derek O'Dell|
|Darren Hagen||Mopar Pits||Infield Tower|
|Scotty Weir||Rob Dennis||Ron Dennis|
|John Wolfe||Brady Short||Brady Short|
|Rex Norris III||Jon Stanbrough||Zac Osborn|
|Jay Drake||Shane Cottle||Johnny Heydenreich|
|Bryan Clauson||Kevin Huntley||Dickie Gaines|
|Tracy Hines||Jerry Coons Jr. Feature Winner||Ryan Pace|
|Ryan Pace||View of the pits||View of the pits|
|USAC Trailer||View of the pits||Mike Brecht|
|Mat Neeley||Hoffman Stable||Justin Marvel|
|View of turn 3 & back straight||View of the pits||View of turn 4 and main granstands|
|View of turn 4 and main grandstands||View of Pit Row||View of front straight|
|View of North end pits||View of center of infield||View of infield tower|
|View of infield|
|Levi Jones||Jerry Coons Jr.||Jerry Coons Jr. in Victory Lane|
|Dave Darland & Rob Dennis||Shane Cottle & Jay Drake||Shane Cottle & Brady Short|
|Derel O'Dell & Mike Brecht||Bryan Clauson||Rex Norris III & Ryan Pace|
|4 Wide Parade Lap||Levi Jones||Tracy Hines & Jay Drake|
|Darren Hagen & Shane Cottle||Jerry Coons Jr. in Victory Lane||Top 3: Jerry Coons Jr, Tracy Hines & Dave Darland|
|April 1, 2006 Rossburg,
Ohio Eldora Speedway Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic
ROSSBURG, Ohio Jerry Coons Jr. endured two different races Saturday at Eldora Speedway to become the first winner in the 2006 USAC National Sprint Car Series, the season-opening Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic.
Faced with a car he called almost a little too comfortable over the first half of the race, Coons held off a charge from teammate Tracy Hines after a blistering tire and vibration nearly cost him the point, the same position he held for all 30 laps.
The track conditions were great tonight; some of the best theyve been in a long time, said Coons, driving the No. 69OT Kroger-Tide/Bounty-Pringle F-5/Mopar owned by Dynamics Inc. to victory, his second in the series last four races.
The blowout-turned-too-close-for-comfort race started on the first lap, when Coons the outside polesitter blasted past polesitter Mat Neely as the field dashed into Turn 1. By the end of the lap, Coons had established a seven-car margin, but that cushion was immediately eliminated on Lap 2, when the caution flew for debris on the main straightaway. It was the only caution for the event.
Coons reestablished his dominance on the next green flag, and opened up a half-straightaway lead by the end of the lap. He continued to distance himself and, after lapping cars as early as Lap 9, was ahead by more than a straightaway as the race neared the halfway point.
It was then on Lap 14 that the red flag was displayed for the only time during the evening for the Sprinters. Daron Clayton, known for his high-riding style, flipped going into Turn 2, stopping the field for approximately 10 minutes.
The break wasnt one Coons wanted to see. He noticed a faint smell of rubber, and could vaguely feel the tire blistering.
And it didnt get any better on the restart either. Now faced with a vibration, Coons was unable to garner the same lead he had over the first half of the race. Neely continued to stay within a second before Hines set his sights on the front.
The New Castle, Ind. native scheduled to compete for the Hoffman Racing family mostly on pavement began reeling in the leader. Hines dropped low in Turn 3 and slid in front of Neely to take second, and was within a handful of car lengths of Coons by Lap 26.
That margin continued to dwindle lap after lap, and by Lap 29, Hines had his nose on the Coonss tail tank. The pair sat nose-to-tail on the white flag lap, and Hines made his last-ditch effort on the entrance to Turn 3.
He slid in front of Coons but drifted up enough to allow the Tucson, Ariz. native room to get back by, and Coons responded with a three-car length lead as the checkered flag flew.
It quickly got to Coons after the green flag was displayed for the final time that he needed to step on the throttle hard and when he saw Hines in second on the scoreboard, it was go time.
I got a little vibration after the red flag and just was waiting until the tire blew, but it never did, Coons said. I glanced a the scoreboard and when I saw Tracy got into second, I knew I had to go. I was just counting the laps at the end there. I figured if Tracy got along side me, he would race me clean.
The achievement was almost what Coons said big.
This place has not been a good place for me in the past, but this is a big win for me, personally, Coons said. A lot of people have worked with me here, and I have it a little more figured out.
Toward the end of last season, we changed our baseline setup, and that changed a lot of things. I wasnt sure if they (Hoffmans) would have hired me back for this season, but I think they saw that I responded with the different setup, so that really helped.
The win wasnt just big for Coons either. It was the first time in the 70-plus-year history of racing for the Hoffman family that the team finished one-two.
Trailing Hines in a similarly painted No. 69 entry were Dave Darland, Jay Drake and Kevin Huntley. Drakes fourth-place finish came after an accident in his heat race, forcing him to compete in the 12-lap semifeature, in which he took the victory.
Hines set the fast qualifying mark at 14.940 seconds one thousandth of a second quicker than Drakes time. Coons, along with Jon Stanbrough, Mike Brecht and Dickie Gaines, won eight-lap heats.
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