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Silver Crown
Monday, 19 October 2020


#44 Danny Long, #88 Terry Babb and #23 Terry James at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. #44 Danny Long, #88 Terry Babb and #23 Terry James at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Chris Pedersen Photo


By: Jay Hardin – Track Enterprises Staff

SPRINGFIELD, IL-(October 18, 2020)--The Illinois State Fairgrounds is a place where auto racing history is made on the big dirt mile.  A Hall of Fame list of winners and participants have grace it’s hallowed grounds.  Sunday’s 57th running of the Bettenhausen was no exception and another chapter added in Springfield’s history book.

Kyle Larson had 10 career Silver Crown starts coming into Springfield and had won 3 times, Du Quoin and Eldora in 2011 and the 2020 Hoosier Hundred to raise his “batting average” to .364 after Larson started second and led the final 90 miles to post victory and sweep both dirt mile events that were contested in this pandemic altered season.

Larson becomes the 15th driver to post a victory on the "Big 3" fairground dirt miles on the schedule.  For the record, the other fourteen are Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Gary Bettenhausen, George Snider, Chuck Gurney, Jack Hewitt, Jimmy Sills, J.J. Yeley and Kody Swanson.  Of the fourteen, only four managed the “hat trick” in the same season, Bryan (who did it twice, in 1955 & 1956), Foyt (1964), Unser (1970) and Hewitt (1986).

Larson is the 11th driver to win at Springfield from the second slot.  The 90 leading miles is the most by a race winner since Swanson led all 100 in 2014.  Sunday was the 22nd race won at Springfield by a driver calling California home.  Chuck Gurney leads the California contingent with 7 of those 22 wins.  In fact, of the last 5 races run at Springfield 3 have been won by Californians.

Larson’s win was the 38th at Springfield for the Chevrolet small block V8, the 5th consecutive win and 6th overall for the Maxim chassis and the 12th for a car shod with Hoosier tires.

Larson’s winning time of 1:03:50.977 is about 7 minutes off Jack Hewitt’s 1987 standard.  However today was the fastest 100 miles at Springfield in the last 16 years, despite the 2 caution flags which slowed the action.

Despite just two Silver Crown starts in 2020, Larson managed to finish 14th in the final series standings.

Kyle is the 98th different driver to lead at Springfield.  His 90 laps led place him 36th among the all-time lap leaders at the Illinois mile.  Justin Grant is right behind with 89.  Kyle is the 51st different winner of a champ car race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the 31st different winner of the Bettenhausen 100.

For the first time ever, Springfield became the series finale and Justin Grant ran a strong third to capture his first Silver Crown Series title.

Grant’s pole was his second time starting in the top slot at Springfield yet his first fast time on the mile.  In 2015, Kody Swanson actually was the fast qualifier but a penalty dropped him to the 16th starting position, giving the pole to Grant. 

Grant’s time of 30.457 (118.199 MPH) was the 37th time the pole speed at Springfield exceeded 110 miles an hour, amazing considering Jim McElreath’s 1965 lap of 32.89 (109.456) stood for 15 years.  Tracy Hines’ 2006 one lap record of 29.305 reaches the 15-year mark in 2021.

Rookie David Gravel put on a great show for the fans Sunday and came close to being the first rookie winner since Cole Whitt in 2009.  Gravel had never driven a Silver Crown car nor on a dirt mile before, and the 2019 Knoxville Nationals champ had to start 26th after a push start relegated him to last.  Gravel really moved forward after the last restart and ran a strong second.

Maxim chassis swept the top two slots with a DRC coming in third.  A Chevy engine won, a Toyota was second and a Ford third.

Kody Swanson’s tenth Springfield start moves him into the top 50 among all drivers.

Grant’s third place run was the 55th time the polesitter has finished in the top 10 at Springfield.

The win is the first for a car carrying the number 19.

And, finally, another record was set Sunday.  The coolest reported temperature at race time was in August of 1967 when the weather service reported 61 degrees on a cloudy day when rain hung in the air.  That record was shattered Sunday.  The weather service reported a temperature of 50 degrees just prior to race time and the temperature actually dipped to 47 toward the end of the race.  However, the clouds and cool temps led to a fantastic racetrack.