Silver Crown
Thursday, 31 August 2023


Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) David Nearpass Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Du Quoin, Illinois (August 31, 2023)………Following the expiration of his engine two weeks ago during practice at the Springfield Mile, Shane Cockrum felt his chances at even competing in this Saturday’s, September 2, USAC Silver Crown Ted Horn 100 at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds were slim to nil.

But by happenstance due to the misfortune of Mitchel Moles, the Hans Lein ride became available for Cockrum, of nearby Benton, Ill., to drive the car in this Saturday’s 100-mile event at The Magic Mile as he chases a third career Ted Horn 100 victory.

Moles’ recent accident during a sprint car event at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway opened the door for Cockrum to substitute while Moles recovers.  Cockrum went from down and out to being dejected to not sure what direction to go to feeling like he now has an opportunity to win that is just as good than it’s been with a team of people and a fast racecar that has been a victor with the series before on a one-mile dirt oval.

“It’s a great opportunity that kind of fell in place at the last minute,” Cockrum acknowledged.  “I think the Hans Lein team did a good thing, and I’m glad they care that much about their driver.  It’s the right thing for (Moles) to get healthy and it’s cool that his sprint car and Silver Crown owners care enough about him to make sure he’s getting a little bit of rest.”

For Cockrum, missing out on racing at Du Quoin would’ve been just as much, if not more painful, than any loss he’s suffered in a race.  After all, the 41-year-old racer was born, raised and still resides about 15 minutes down the road from Du Quoin.

Cockrum’s earliest memories of Du Quoin involved watching Ricky Nix’s No. 43 champ car with the likes of Dave Feese, Bill Rose and Cary Faas behind the wheel.  Shane’s father, Cliff, annually presented the trophy to the Ted Horn 100 winner each year in victory lane, and when Johnny Parsons won at Du Quoin in 1992, a 10-year-old Cockrum was standing in the victory lane photos with a big grin on his face.

In fact, the foundation of the Cockrum family and its Du Quoin root dates back way further than that.  Cliff Cockrum, a sprint car driving master in his own right, competed with the division on the Du Quoin Mile several times throughout the early 1970s.  In fact, as a kid, Cliff and his friend, Ricky Nix, couldn’t afford a ticket to watch the champ car races.  So, they did the next best thing.  They climbed a tree up in turn four where they stayed for hours and watched the events unfold.  Decades later with Shane, the apple didn’t fall far from that turn four tree.

“I’ve been going to Du Quoin since I was just a baby,” Shane noted.  “Those were my fondest memories as a child with my parents.  There was never even a thought that I’d even have a chance at ever racing at Du Quoin, let alone competing at a high level with the best of USAC there, and certainly not winning.”

Those hard-to-fathom aspirations came true for young Shane when, as a 14-year-old, he began racing UMP Modifieds, and took his first shot at the Du Quoin Mile that same year.

Ultimately, a USAC Silver Crown car was purchased by Hardy Boys Motorsports, and Shane made his Du Quoin Mile debut in a champ car in 2011.  He took to it like a duck to water for the most part, and soon after, he was accomplishing something beyond any realm of possibility he could’ve imagined in 2014 by not only winning his first career Silver Crown race, but also winning in front of his home crowd at Du Quoin.  The endless celebration was punctuated by an impromptu jump into the infield lake by him and his crew, which as it turned out, was a little bit more than they had bargained for.

“When I jumped in, I fully expected to have to swim,” Shane remembered.  “What I didn’t realize was that I was going to come to a stop at about knee deep immediately due to it being that shallow.  I also didn’t take into account the sludge and everything else.  We all sunk into the mud up to our waist.  Then it became, ‘oh crap, are we going to be able to get out of this?’  It suctioned us in there, and I can’t say there wasn’t a moment that I panicked and thought, ‘oh, this was a bad idea.’”

Even more, Cockrum repeated the feat in 2015, and to date, is the most recent driver to win the Ted Horn 100 in back-to-back years.  Owning an incredible run of consistency, Cockrum has finished inside the top-five in all eight of his Du Quoin Silver Crown starts since 2013 with wins in 2014-15, a 2nd in 2017 & 2022, a 3rd in 2018, a 4th in 2013 and a 5th in 2016 and 2021.

His 2022 Du Quoin run included his first career Silver Crown pole award, and ended in heartbreaking manner, running out of fuel while leading on lap 86.  After fueling up, he recovered to finish as the runner-up.

With the 2022 ordeal behind him, Cockrum is poised to join the ranks of drivers to win in a champ car at Du Quoin at least three times: six-time winner A.J. Foyt, five-time winner Gary Bettenhausen and three-time victors Mario Andretti, Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Chuck Gurney and Jack Hewitt.  For Cockrum, he feels there’s just a bit of magic when it comes to him and Du Quoin.

“I’ve watched drivers go places with a certain something that they had in them that is beyond just the norm,” Cockrum explained.  “It’s where they bring something extra to the table that essentially wills them to the front.  And that’s how I feel about Du Quoin.  My greatest heroes have accomplished great things there, and certainly, I want to be in that same category.  When I roll into those gates, I feel like there’s an extra push and I feel pretty unstoppable.  I usually cross my fingers, knowing that I’ll do my job.  It’s just a matter of a lot of luck and a good racecar to bring it all together.”

The connection between Shane Cockrum and the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds runs deep – deeper than the connection between practically any racer and any particular track.  To paraphrase Al Unser Jr.’s quote after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1992, you just might hear Shane Cockrum utter similar words this Saturday, “You just don’t know what Du Quoin means.”

“For me, to have that track be the one that’s 15 minutes from home and be one of the most prestigious tracks in America, it’s a story book and I don’t know that I could ask for anymore,” Cockrum beamed.  “I’m pretty sure there’ll be one day when the Du Quoin racetrack will have something to do with my ashes being spread or something of that nature because it’s meant that much to me and my life.”



The 69th running of the Ted Horn 100 features the USAC Silver Crown National Championship along with the 29th Annual Bill Oldani Memorial Prelims for DIRTcar Modifieds.

Registration and pit gates open at 7am Central.  Grandstands and ticket office open at 9am.  USAC Silver Crown practice is slated to run from 10-11:10am.  USAC Silver Crown qualifying is scheduled for 11:30am followed by DIRTcar Modified hot laps and qualifying at 12:15pm and the USAC Silver Crown qualifying race at 12:30pm.  DIRTcar Modified heats are on tap at 1pm followed by the USAC Ted Horn 100 feature at 2pm.

Tickets will be available on race day or by calling the Du Quoin Fair office at 618-542-1535. Info and tickets can also be obtained by calling the Track Enterprises office at 217-764-3200.  Advance tickets are $25 for ages 12 and up and $10 for children age 11 and under.  Race day tickets at the gate are $30 for ages 12 and up and $10 for children 11 and under.  Pit passes are $35 for members and $40 for non-members ages 12 and up.  Pit passes for children age 11 and under are $20.





07 ®JOHN TOSTI/High Ridge, MO (John Tosti)

08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)

2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL (Patrick Lawson)

3 ®TIM SIMMONS/Cabot, AR (Tim Simmons)

6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)

8 DAVEY RAY/Davenport, IA (Cornell Racing Stables)

9 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Chris Dyson Racing)

11 ®TREY BURKE/Alvin, TX (Davey Hamilton Racing-SRG)

12 ®WAYNE JOHNSON/Tuttle, OK (Two C Racing)

15 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO (Chris Fetter)

18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)

20 ®EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Nolen Racing)

22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing)

24 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ (John Haggenbottom)

25 CASEY BUCKMAN/Chandler, AZ (C-Buck Motorsports-Eddie Sachs Jr.)

26 ®KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)

31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)

44 DANNY LONG/Bonne Terre, MO (Danny Long)

51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)

53 A.J. FIKE/Galesburg, IL (Five Three Motorsports)

69 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (Pink 69 Racing)

77 CHRIS URISH/Elkhart, IL (Chris Urish)

81 MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (BCR Group)

88 ®TREY OSBORNE/Columbus, OH (Sammy & Mouren Fetter)

91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)

92 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)

95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL (Full Throttle Racing)

97 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL (Hans Lein)

99 KOREY WEYANT/Springfield, IL (Scott Weyant)

107 JACOB WILSON/Crawfordsville, IN (Wilson Brothers Racing)

110 ®CARY OLIVER/Buncombe, IL (Cary Oliver)

111 TOM PATERSON/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)

118 ®RYAN THOMAS/Indianapolis, IN (Wingo Brothers Racing)

177 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)

555 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)

777 ®DAVE PEPERAK/Clinton, IN (Dave Peperak Motorsports)

(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender