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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    

Mike Campbell

Action Photos

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 they’ve 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 wasn’t one Coons wanted to see. He noticed a faint smell of rubber, and could vaguely feel the tire blistering.


And it didn’t 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 Coons’s 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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. Drake’s 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 Drake’s time. Coons, along with Jon Stanbrough, Mike Brecht and Dickie Gaines, won eight-lap heats.

       QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Tracy Hines, 69, Dynamics-14.940; 2. Jay Drake, 62, BWB-14.941; 3. Josh Wise, 20, Stewart-14.945; 4. Daron Clayton, 92, Clayton-15.008; 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 69T, Dynamics-15.069; 6. Mat Neely, 10, R & B-15.077; 7. Mike Brecht, 20m, Brecht-15.097; 8. Ryan Pace, 44, Pace-15.160; 9. Dave Darland, 11, Walker/Guiducci-15.173; 10. Zac Osborn, 2, Reid-15.187; 11. Levi Jones, 21, Stewart-15.229; 12. Bud Kaeding, 2B, 2B Racing-15.278; 13. Kevin Huntley, 21R, Roberts-15.281; 14. Jon Stanbrough, 53, Fox-15.287; 15. Bryan Clauson, 67, Kunz-15.371; 16. John Heydenreich, 57B, Burkey-15.375; 17. Scotty Weir, 22w, Weir-15.407; 18. Shane Cottle, 10E, Edison-15.438; 19. Derek O’Dell, 11x, Farmer-15.502; 20. Darren Hagen, 71, Hagen-15.508; 21. Ron Dennis, 32, Dennis-15.593; 22. John Wolfe, 3m, Botkin-15.605; 23. Marc Arnold, 33, Arnold-15.638; 24. Dickie Gaines, 21x, Roberts-15.650; 25. Mike Miller, 82, Miller-15.689; 26. Brady Short, 36, Short-16.034; 27. Luke Hall, 34, Fenner-16.284; 28. Rex Norris III, 63, Norris-16.313; 29. Mark Hery, 40, Hery-NT; 30. Justin Marvel, 12, R & B-NT; 31. Justin Marvel, 12x, R & B-NT.
      FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Coons, 2. Darland, 3. Hines, 4. Miller, 5. Huntley, 6. Dennis, 7. Weir. 2:05.89
      SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. Wolfe, 3. Cottle, 4. Short, 5. Neely, 6. Osborn, 7. Drake. NT
      THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Brecht, 2. Clauson, 3. Wise, 4. Jones, 5. Arnold, 6. Hall, 7. O’Dell. NT
      FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Gaines, 2. Heydenreich, 3. Kaeding, 4. Hagen, 5. Pace, 6. Clayton, 7. Norris. 2:07.39
      SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Drake, 2. Clayton, 3. Pace, 4. Huntley, 5. Neely, 6. O’Dell, 7. Osborn, 8. Dennis, 9. Arnold, 10. Marvel (#12x), 11. Norris, 12. Hall, 13. Hery, 14. Weir. 3:10.23
      FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Jerry Coons, Jr., 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Jay Drake, 5. Kevin Huntley, 6. Mat Neely, 7. Ryan Pace, 8. Mike Brecht, 9. Levi Jones, 10. Darren Hagen, 11. Dickie Gaines, 12. Bryan Clauson, 13. Jon Stanbrough, 14. Bud Kaeding, 15. Derek O’Dell, 16. Shane Cottle, 17. John Heydenreich, 18. Brady Short, 19. John Wolfe, 20. Mike Miller, 21. Daron Clayton, 22. Josh Wise. NT
**Clayton flipped on lap 14 of the feature.
NEW NATIONAL SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Coons-70; 2-Hines-69; 3-Darland-61; 4-Drake-60; 5-Huntley-49; 6-Neely-47; 7-Pace-44; 8-Jones-41; 9-Gaines-39; 10-Hagen-38

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