Silver Crown
Monday, 3 January 2022


Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) Dan DeMarco Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Speedway, Indiana (January 3, 2022)………For the first time in his career, Shane Cockrum and BLS Motorsports will chase a USAC Silver Crown championship in 2022.

The Benton, Ill. native, and fire chief for the city by trade, owns 47 career series starts since 2011, but just three of them have occurred on pavement.  Now, the four-time Silver Crown race winner is prepared to run the whole 11-race deal on dirt and pavement in the coming year for BLS, with five dirt races and six on pavement on the docket.

The dirt has been his been Cockrum’s playground in the series, winning the Ted Horn 100 on back-to-back occasions at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds in 2014-15, the Sumar Classic at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in 2015, and the Williams Grove 100 at the Mechanicsburg, Pa. dirt oval in 2021.

The 2021 victory also came in Cockrum’s first career start for the brand-new BLS team, and the instant success on the tour’s dirt tracks gave the team confidence to expand their operation to the entire schedule in the new year.

“We knew that it would be a process,” Cockrum admitted.  “We have some experienced team members, but we had a new team, so getting them to jell and get good results quickly is sometimes easier said than done.  Fortunately, on the dirt side of things, we were pleasantly surprised it came around as fast as it did, which opened this thing up and allowed us to venture into the races that it’s going to take to win a championship.”

Of course, he’s speaking of the pavement tracks, which make up more than half the Silver Crown schedule in 2022.  Cockrum’s previous series starts on asphalt have all come at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., finishing 17th in 2014 and in 9th and 17th in 2016 for Hardy Boys Motorsports.  These were moments in time Cockrum chalks up to pure learning experiences, the notes of which he’ll apply toward this venture.

“We got our feet wet in the pavement deal a few years ago and, honestly, we learned what we didn’t know,” Cockrum explained.  “So, we’ve kind of had some time to prepare and change some things to where we can contend without one operation taking from the other.  Obviously, it’s the same team for both (surfaces), but sometimes you can hurt your dirt program and help your pavement program when you’re a strong dirt team, and vice versa.  Getting all those little issues worked out and understanding each program, I think that’s what’s going to help us be more successful than we have been in the past.”

Cockrum’s pavement experience is relatively limited, estimating just and handful of Kenyon Midget appearances to go along with the three Silver Crown starts, and a few others in a variety of vehicles.  However, Cockrum feels that his style of driving lends itself to forthcoming success on both surfaces.

“I wouldn’t say my pavement experience is extensive by any means,” Cockrum acknowledges.  “The pavement car really fits my smooth and straight driving style, so I’ve got my fingers crossed, but I certainly hope my style translates and we can battle the Swansons for some wins.”

Despite his role as primarily a sole dirt competitor throughout the majority of his career, Cockrum has still positioned himself within the top echelon of drivers in the year-end Silver Crown standings.  He earned a career-best 5th place finish in 2015 and has finished 8th in 2014 as well as in each of the past two seasons in 2020 and 2021.

One thing Cockrum hasn’t had weighing on his mind in previous seasons is points racing.  But he’s been there before in championship fights, winning three sprint car track championships at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway in 2016, 2018 and 2019.  However, as a full season Silver Crown competitor now, Cockrum fully intends to retain his modus operandi of qualifying well, winning races, and letting the rest take care of itself.

“I think I’m going to try to take an in-between approach,” Cockrum laid out.  “I’m just going to try to win races and hope the points will follow.  In any series I’ve ever been a part of, our mind set has been to go win races, and if we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

In the meantime, the ever-busy Cockrum will compete in several USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship events for team owner Shane Wade.  Among the events earmarked for the team in 2022 are June’s Eastern Storm, July’s Indiana Sprint Week and the Western trip in November.  His first foray in the car with USAC will come February 17-18-19 at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park.

The new USAC Silver Crown season for Cockrum and his Maxim/Kistler dirt car begins on the dirt at Terre Haute on May 1.  The pavement beckons on May 27 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind.