WINCHESTER “CLASSIC” HONORS USAC’S WINNINGEST DRIVER EVER!
Nobody won more USAC races than Rich Vogler. The Glen Ellyn, Ill. driver who dominated the 1980s lost his life in a 1990 Sprint race at Salem (Ind.) Speedway but his memory is honored each year at the Winchester (Ind.) Speedway and Sunday’s race continues a tradition begun in 1991.
Vogler’s 170 total career USAC victories (including National and Regional events), is eight more than A.J. Foyt and his performance in the 1980s was remarkable. Each year from 1980-1986 he led the list of seasonal winners, notching 19 victories in 1985, but he was also the biggest winner in 1978 and 1989. He was also one of Winchester’s most proficient winners, with five Sprint and five Midget wins at the half-mile paved oval.
Seven different drivers have won the last seven “Rich Vogler Classic” features and that could become eight with defending race winner Darren Hagen sidelined with injuries suffered in Saturday night’s race at Eldora Speedway.
Three-time USAC National Sprint Car Champion Robbie Stanley won the inaugural “Rich Vogler Classic” in 1991 and he added victories in 1993 and 1994. Other race winners in the Sprint cars have been Jim Mahoney (1992), Kenny Irwin Jr. (1995), Andy Michner (1996 & 1997), Chet Fillip (1998), Dave Steele (1999 and 2002), Ryan Newman (2000), Michael Lewis (2003), Dave Darland (2005), Bryan Clauson (2006) and Marc Jessup (2007). The Midgets also shared in the race history in 1992 (Irwin), 1993 (Stevie Reeves), 1994 and 1995 (Mike Bliss), 1996 and 1997 (Tracy Hines), 1998 (Ricky Shelton), 2000 (Newman), 2001 (Dane Carter) and 2004 (Teddy Beach).
Cole Whitt could be the one to watch Sunday, though. He drives for Keith Kunz Motorsports of Columbus, Ind., who have fielded the cars for the past three race winners (Clauson, Jessup and Hagen).
Whitt is currently fourth in the standings, behind leader Dave Darland,. Jesse Hockett and Jerry Coons Jr. Coons, Darland and Hockett ran 1-2-3 in last Saturday night’s “Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic” at Eldora.
Steele holds the 1-lap Winchester Sprint car track record of 128.333 mph. set in 2002.