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            SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Fair hosts a pair of legendary races on the famous one-mile dirt track. The Tony Bettenhausen  100 for USAC Silver Crown cars opens the exciting weekend racing doubleheader on Aug. 16 before the 100/Allen Crowe Memorial sends the ARCA stock cars on a dirt track for one of only two times all season on Aug. 17. The traditional racing program provides a great contrast for race fans who can watch both open-wheel racing and full body stock cars.


               “We’re proud to once again bring exciting auto racing to the Illinois State Fair,’’ said race promoter Bob Sargent, who also holds USAC and ARCA races at the DuQuoin State Fair. “A fairgrounds track brings racing back to its roots. The USAC Silver Crown cars and ARCA stock cars have always brought the crowd to the edge of its seat.’’


               The Bettenhausen 100 hadn’t had an Illinois driver win it in 29 years before A.J. Fike of Galesburg took the checkered flag in 2012. When he won it again last season, Fike might have started a new tradition. He took the lead on lap 92 of the 100-lapper for the third Silver Crown win of his career. It’s hard not to get nostalgic. Before Fike, the last Illinois driver to win the Bettenhausen 100 was the namesake’s son, Gary, who won it in 1983. Gary Bettenhausen passed away earlier this year.


               The 100 is one of two races on dirt in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, joining DuQuoin as the only time the series gets off pavement. The unique events bring dirt track racers from all backgrounds.


               Last summer, Brennan Poole raced to the thrilling ARCA win in Springfield after locals Kelly Kovski, driving for Allgaier Motorsports of Springfield, and Fike were black flagged for jumping a late restart before a large crowd and an NBC Sports Network television audience. Kovski wanted to become the second Springfield native ever to win a championship race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in more than 70 years of sanctioned championship auto racing. Fike attempted to complete the weekend sweep.


               UMP Sportsman will run heats on Aug. 16 and race on Aug. 17.


               Tickets are on sale at the State Fair ticket office (217-782-1979) and Track Enterprises (217-764-3200). For each event, advance tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children 11 and under. Tickets sold on day of the race are $30 for adults and $10 for children 11 and under. Pit passes are sold race day only for $35. A two-day pass is $40. Infield tickets are sold race-day only for $20 for adults, including the $5 entry fee to the fair. Children 6-11 are $5, and children 5 and under are free.