Victory Lifts East To Silver Crown Title

Bobby East en route to victory Saturday night at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. (David E. Heithaus photo)
Bobby East en route to victory Saturday night at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. (David E. Heithaus photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Bobby East scored the biggest win of his career in Saturday’s finale of USAC’s TRAXXAS Silver Crown trail at the Terre Haute Action Track.

Racing under the checkered flag more than a half lap ahead of Jerry Coons Jr., East earned the Silver Crown driver’s championship. Russ Gamester claimed third, followed by Bud Kaeding and Tracy Hines.

Bryan Clauson’s sixth place secured the entrant title for his No. 17  RW/Curb-Agajanian team.

“It was so good,” East said as the team celebrated behind him. “I was just having a lot of fun really. That was the advice that I got today, to just go and have fun. Since Eldora, we knew we had the point lead, and there’s been so much tension on myself, we had to win it. Someone asked me how would your life be if I didn’t win it, and I hadn’t even thought of it. I didn’t want to think about losing it. I can’t believe that we won the race and won it in that fashion, but that’s just because the car was so good.”

Taking the lead from outside the front row, East’s No. 22 Tony Stewart Racing/Curb Agajanian GM Performance Maxim paced all 100 circuits and was only challenged by Clauson early in the race. Working the high groove at both ends of the Action Track, and with the last 43 laps running without caution, East steadily pulled away from Coons, and had built a 12.7-second lead at the finish.

The win gave him his second USAC title by 12 points over Coons.

East credited Levi (Jones) for a lot of the team’s success, and pointed out that Levi was helping him on the radio during the race.

“They really fine-tuned the car to have a good balance entering the corner and then make sure that it gets off good and then down the straightaway really good. Paul Kistler builds us good motors and they just really gave us a good car.”

Clauson, the fast qualifier, started inside of East on the front row, but his car stumbled at the green, allowing East to quickly get away. On the 23rd circuit, Clauson caught East in turn two, but East was able to get away in the higher groove. Suddenly Clauson’s machine belched smoke and slowed, laying a trail of oil on the straightaway, but then surged back to speed and Clauson continued to hold second. “We had a motor issue there,” Clauson reported. “We got to his bumper and were trying to pressure him. It started tying up. We were happy it kind of sustained and we ran the rest of the race down a couple of cylinders.”

Actually, Clauson was holding his breath, expecting the engine to expire at any time. On the 39th lap, the car stumbled in turn four, trapping Robert Ballou just behind him, while Coons charged past both. Clauson’s machine ran to the finish, leaving smoke in its wake on each lap.

Coons’ No. 27 RW Motorsports machine stayed with East for a handful of laps on the last restart, but slowly began giving up ground. The best battle raged behind him, late in the race, as Kaeding and Gamester worked their way toward the front, scrapping with Hines, Clauson, Brian Tyler and Ballou. After starting 11th, Gamester was the only driver working the bottom, and his efforts paid dividends in the closing laps as he claimed third.

Afterward, Coons pointed out that the title wasn’t lost in the last race, but that they were coming from behind all season long, after a crack in the radiator neck ruined a top-three finish in the first race.

“Yeah, I’m bummed, two years in a row to run second like this. But I can’t be too disappointed when we have a part failure early in the season like that. As far as tonight goes, we were a second place car. They hit it and (East) did what he had to do.”

While Coons began the night with a three-point deficit, Kody Swanson was 11 points behind in third. Swanson slipped to a ninth place finish, still holding third in the points. Tanner Swanson finished just behind his older brother, after somersaulting over the second-turn wall during hot laps and starting last after significant repairs by the Six-R team.