MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Thus far this season, C.J. Leary has already established himself as a leading contender in USAC National Midget Series and USAC National Sprint Car Series competition.
Now, with the addition of a pavement car to the DMW Motorsports Silver Crown stable, the Greenfield, Ind., driver has an opportunity to realize a dream by chasing the USAC Triple Crown.
The DMW Motorsports announcement means that Leary has secured full-time rides in all three of USAC’s national series, one of only three drivers in that boat this season alongside Kevin Thomas Jr. and Chris Windom.
Leary was quick to credit car owner Gene Nolen for getting the ball rolling, so to speak, providing him with a rolling chassis to work with last month. He’s spent much of the time since then piecing the car together for its debut this weekend at Memphis Int’l Raceway.
“Just to say I have a shot at running for the Triple Crown is awesome,” Leary noted. “It’s a long shot, obviously, because anything can happen, but I’m going to try and do everything I can to get not one, but three championships.”
This puts the 22-year-old Leary back on the pavement in the Silver Crown series for the first time since 2015, the last time he contested both surfaces in the same season.
He’s competed in three races on the hardtop, all of which came that season, with results of 11th, ninth and 16th.
Despite a relative lack of asphalt experience, Leary feels that he can become a contender.
“I have little time on pavement in general, so I’m hoping to get up to speed as fast as possible,” Leary said. “I think everyone will be on more of an equal playing field since it’s been so long since USAC visited Memphis. If Davey (Jones) and Mickey (Meyer) can get me comfortable in the car, and with the speed, I think we should be a contender this weekend.
“The pavement will be our kryptonite. I know we can win on the dirt.”
Leary’s confidence on the dirt is plentiful. After all, he arrives this season as the most recent winner in the USAC Silver Crown series, capturing a spectacular 4-Crown Nationals victory at Eldora Speedway.
He is also part of the only father-son duo to capture Silver Crown victories, winning the 2016 Sumar Classic at Terre Haute to join his father, Chuck, the 1997 Hoosier Hundred winner.
Leary accomplished both prior wins piloting the family’s No. 30, which has been shelved for the meantime while he takes the reins of the DMW No. 10, a car in which he debuted last year at Springfield with a strong run and nearly won the following appearance at DuQuoin.
He knows he has a potent machine, so the transition has been fairly seamless jumping from one car to the other.
“It hasn’t been that big of a transition for me,” Leary admitted. “I’ve worked with car owner Mickey (Meyer) in the past, and I know he’s always going to bring a race-ready car to the track. We’ve built a new car for this season and it’s very similar to the family No. 30.
“Although I’m with two new teams this season, I feel like I’m at home. The group of teams I’m surrounded by are the best in the business.”
The roaring start for Leary and DMW implanted the bug within the team to possibly chase a title, a bug they hope will develop into a race-winning campaign by year’s end.
“I don’t know if DMW planned on running a full schedule or even a full dirt schedule in 2019,” Leary said. “Mickey talked about building a Silver Crown car at the Chili Bowl last year and I told him I’d be interested in driving it for him. After coming oh-so-close to getting a win at Du Quoin before running out of fuel, I think he got hooked.
“Mickey, Keith, Franny and Jay are all pitching in to make this deal happen this year, and if it wasn’t for them, this deal wouldn’t have a shot at the championship.”