TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – One night after celebrating a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory at Lawrenceburg Speedway, Chris Windom was back in the familiar setting of victory lane during the 17th running of the USAC Silver Crown Series Sumar Classic.
“It’s pretty special getting the win last night and then to come out here with a brand-new team, I really don’t know what to say,” said Windom after his victory at the Terre Haute Action Track. “I met a lot of these guys for the first time today. Gene Kazmark gave me the opportunity and gave me a great racecar to come out here and win tonight.”
Incredibly, this was Kazmark’s first entry into a Silver Crown event as an owner since the Hoosier Hundred in September of 2001 with driver Ricky Shelton. However, the car itself was a familiar commodity to Windom as it was the same car he drove to victory in his most recent series’ win at Eldora Speedway’s 4-Crown Nationals for the Fred Gormly/RPM Auto Enterprise team in September 2016.
“I’m pretty familiar with the car,” Windom said. “It’s pretty much the same exact car we won Eldora with last year. That definitely gave us a head start coming in. The guys working on it busted their tails all winter long to maintain and rebuild it and keep it as good as it was last year. It’s pretty special to be able to come out here and do this. I didn’t know exactly what my expectations were coming here since I didn’t know the guys very well, but we jelled right from the first practice session.”
Windom became just the fifth driver in the history of the USAC Silver Crown Series to follow up a win in the previous season’s final race with a victory in the season opener the next year. The only other drivers to accomplish that feat are Al Unser (1974), Tom Bigelow (1976), Jerry Coons, Jr. (2011) and Kody Swanson (2015).
In fact, dating to the 2016 Ted Horn 100 at Illinois’ DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Windom has been victorious in three-straight Silver Crown events, the 10th driver in the history of the series to do so.
The Canton, Ill., native also became the fourth defending Silver Crown champ to capture the following season’s opening race, joining Al Unser (1974), Dave Steele (2006) and Kody Swanson (2015).
The three most recent Sumar Classic winners coming into Sunday, Shane Cockrum (2015), C.J. Leary (2016) and Kody Swanson (2014) owned the lead in the first half of the 100-lap event, but by the midway point, Windom had steadily worked his way to the front from his ninth starting position, utilizing the bottom of the racing surface to make his way through the pack.
By the 50th lap, Windom chomped into Swanson’s lead. The two series champs worked the bottom after Swanson moved his line between turns three and four from the top to the bottom. Windom stuck a nose under Swanson entering turn three, inching along the inside guardrail until the exit of turn four where he was able to clear Swanson to take the top spot by a car-length at the start/finish line as flagman Tom Hansing displayed the crossed flags.
Windom had opened up a near full-straightaway lead over new second-place runner Leary with two-thirds of the race in the bag, while Swanson occupied third. With 18 to go, though, Windom’s lead had grown to seven seconds and the insurmountable advantage seemed unattainable for second on back until eighth-running Bill Rose slowed with an apparent driveline issue to bring out the caution.