By Jay Hardin Track Enterprises Staff-Indianapolis (May 15, 2017)-When the May 25 Hoosier Hundred rolls around at the Indiana State Fairgrounds a number of questions will be filtering through the minds of race fans at the historic venue. Can Kody Swanson win his fourth consecutive Hoosier Hundred? Like Jackie Howerton in 1974, can one of several rookies pull off a major upset? Can defending Silver Crown champion Chris Windom win his fifth consecutive Silver Crown dirt track race and de-rail the Swanson steamroller?
Canton, Illinois native Chris Windom had a 2016 season that few others could dream of. He finished in the top 5 in every Silver Crown event last year and won three of the five events contested on dirt propelling Windom to his first national championship. Early in the year it looked as if the sprint car veteran might be knocked out of the Silver Crown title chase as his Fred Gormly mount broke during hot laps for the Hoosier Hundred. Fellow Illini Dennis McQuinn offered Chris the open seat in his famoung orange 14 and Windom ended the night with a fine fifth place run.
Two events Windom won in 2016 are still the buzz in the USAC pit area. He battled Bryan Clauson at Williams Grove to win the Horn/Schindler Memorial. On Labor Day weekend he passed veteran Jeff Swindell with three laps to go to win the Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, his first win on one of the historic mile dirt tracks. Just for good measure he won the finale at Eldora taking the point lead and title from Swanson in the process.
When owner Fred Gormly indicated he might retire over the winter, Windom went seeking a new ride and found one courtesy of fellow Illini Gene Kazmark. Kazmark, a Joliet native, hadn’t fielded a car in the series since the 2001 Hoosier Hundred. With two cars at his disposal Windom continued the 2016 momentum by winning the season opening Sumar Classic at Terre Haute on April 3, leading 51 of the 100 laps. Unfortunately his pavement mount suffered mechanical woes at Phoenix and a substitute ride dropped out in the main event, leaving him 3rd in points behind leader Swanson and 2008 Silver Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr.
Windom ran first on the historic “Track of Champions” in 2011 starting 18th and finishing 28th. He completed the 100 miles finishing 5th in his third start in 2014 and repeated the career best 5th on the Indy Mile last year. Windom faces a tough task in dethroning a driver who has won over $30,000 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the last three years and what could be the largest entry list in nearly a decade for the Hoosier Hundred.
The 2017 Hoosier Hundred takes place May 25 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Practice is slated to begin at 5 p.m. with qualifications after 6. Tickets can be obtained by calling Track Enterprises at 217-764-3200. A three day special Superticket for the full week of Indy including the Tony Hulman Classic at Terre Haute, the Hoosier Hundred, and the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway is also available at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-week-of-indy.