SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A.J. Fike made his home state proud as he backed up his Tony Bettenhausen 100 win from 2012 by going back-to-back in Saturday’s 100-miler for the Traxxas USAC Silver Crown Series at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Fike, who set fast time earlier in the day, led the field early in the race before a quick yellow for Kenny Gentry. On the restart, Fike’s original attempt was called back for picking up the pace too early. On the next attempt, Chris Windom timed it just right to jump alongside Fike into turn one and take the lead.
From there Windom led as his teammate Jerry Coons Jr. moved by Fike for second and the lead trio moved away from the field. Near the mid-point of the race they encountered traffic that proved challenging for all three, as Windom fought to hold off both challengers as he moved by them. Fike snuck past Coons in traffic along the way.
The final restart came with 19 laps to go, as Windom led Fike and Coons to the green. After getting out to a comfortable advantage, Windom saw his lead dwindle until lap 93 when Fike made his winning move down the backstretch and into turn three, finishing unchallenged for the win in the RFMS Racing/Liberty Village No. 3 Beast/Foxco.
“We fought to earn this one, and it honestly feels even better than the win last year,” said Fike. “Winning here is so special to me. I consider this my home track, and to do it in front of a lot of friends and family means a lot. I have a lot of great memories here growing up, coming here with my family, so this place is just special to me. We had a car that was good from the time we unloaded. We lost the lead to Windom when he timed that restart just right, and we just weren’t as good back in traffic. I threw a lot at our Factory Kahne shocks on that last restart, and the car really came on over that last run.”
Windom turned in his strongest Silver Crown performance to date, just missing a win in the Rotondo Weirich/Curb Records No. 17 Beast/Wallace Toyota. Coons joined his teammate on the podium in the Rotondo Weirich/Curb Records No. 27 Beast/Wallace Toyota.