INDIANAPOLIS — Jerry Coons Jr. counted last year’s win in the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds as one of the biggest of his career.
He came back on Friday night to back it up with his second-straight victory in the 100-mile event aboard the RW Motorsports — Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil No. 27 Beast/Wallace Toyota.
“Winning this race just once and joining that list of names, that was a huge deal in itself. To come back and join the group of guys who have won it more than once, and won it back-to-back, it’s just amazing,” Coons said of his romp that accounted for 87 laps led.
Tracy Hines jumped from the front row to lead at the start, but a cluster of cautions slowed the pace and set up multiple double-file restarts. Those proved pivotal, as Coons used a restart on lap 14 to leap past Hines and take a lead he would never relinquish.
Hines, who had trouble in particular on restarts, lost a few positions as Bud Kaeding became the sole threat to Coons’ domination. Kaeding kept pace throughout much of the race, even as they left the rest of the field far behind, but a small mistake late in the race cost the Campbell, California driver any chance at the win.
“We hung right with him there a good part of the race, and then I hit the fence down on the inside of turn-four and shot myself up the track. I lost a lot of ground there and picked up a vibration, so just under-drove it from there trying to hang on. I’m not sure we had a better car than him, but we definitely have made progress, especially on restarts. It’s gonna be a learning curve year, but I’m glad we’re on the front end of it,” Kaeding said.
Back-to-back and defending series champion Levi Jones had a huge hill to climb, but after qualifying 14th, the Olney, Ill., driver climbed to a podium finish.
“We’re just trying to figure everything out with the fuel and everything. We thought we had a pretty good handle on everything, but obviously we were terrible early. We got it to where it restarted pretty well and didn’t get hot, but I think we hurt it a little at the beginning of the night. To get that far, we just had to hit some restarts and put ourselves in a decent position, and we got a good finish out of it,” Jones said.
Bobby East followed his teammate home to finish fourth with Kody Swanson fifth.
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