By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
The Independence Day holiday is the perfect time to take a step back and give thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans and to remember those that have fought to give us those rights over the years. While many celebrate with the traditional cook out with friends and family while enjoying local fireworks displays, there is also some incredible racing action slated for this week.
It all begins Thursday at the historic half mile dirt oval in Terre Haute as the USAC Silver Crown series visits for the annual "Sumar Classic" at the Action Track. It will mark the 20th anniversary of the inaugural race won by Donnie Beechler in 1995.
Kingsburg, Calif. native Kody Swanson comes into the race with a 14-point lead over Aaron Pierce and is the defending race winner after leading all but two of the 100 laps. There have been 25 cars that have been confirmed prior to the event with several more potentially joining the list on race day. Both Pierce and Swanson are on that list along with familiar veterans: Dave Darland, Jerry Coons Jr., Shane Cottle, Tracy Hines, Brady Bacon and A.J. Fike.
Darland is tied for fifth on the all-time USAC Silver Crown winners list with 14 victories, one behind J.J. Yeley. Jack Hewitt leads the all-time list with 23 career wins.
Swanson has claimed one Indiana win to this point as he scored the victory at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the Hoosier 100 on May 21. Tanner Swanson picked up the win at Lucas Oil Raceway in the pavement event with Bobby Santos scoring the win most recently at Iowa Speedway on June 20.
Thursday's running of the "Sumar Classic" Silver Crown 100-lapper will be recorded and aired at a later date on MAVTV. It will be the first time a Silver Crown Series event from the famed half-mile dirt track in Terre Haute, Ind. will air on national television and the first Silver Crown race broadcast on television since Jerry Coons, Jr. took the checkered flag in "The Copper on Dirt" Manzanita in February 2008.
Pit gates open at 3 p.m. followed by a special presentation and tribute to Don Smith behind the main grand stand at 4 p.m. A historical marker will be unveiled to honor the contributions of racing promoter Don Smith and the Terre Haute Action Track. The Indiana Racing Memorial Association (IMRA) will unveil the commemorative plaque in honor of Smith, a long-time race organzier and Terre Haute businessman. On hand to speak at the ceremony will be Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett, former Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George, USAC racing champions Pancho Carter and Dave Darland.. Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with hot laps beginning at 6 p.m. Admission for the grandstand for adults is $25 with infield passes at $15. Kids 10 and under are free.
The action shifts to Lincoln Park Speedway for Friday and Saturday night's action with the Midwest Sprint Car Series and USAC National Sprint Cars on hand back-to-back for the inaugural "Bill Gardner Sprintacular"
The weekend's races honor the memory of the late founder of the popular website IndianaOpenWheel.com.
On Friday night, the Hoosier Tire Midwest Sprint Car Series will highlight day one with a 30-lap $4,000-to-win sprint car race. The UMP Modifieds, UMP Super Stocks and bombers will also be in contention both nights for what should be an incredibly entertaining weekend of racing.
Chase Stockon is slated to hammer the 1/2 mile in Terre Haute for the Silver Crown race on Thursday, but also comes in as the most recent MSCS feature winner after claiming the June 27 race at Tri-State Speedway. He also scored the opening MSCS win of the season at Lincoln Park Speedway. Brady Short continues to lead the series point standings and has designs on winning his second series title after a 2011 win and a runner-up finish to Kyle Cummins last season. Carson Short is 33 points behind Short after placing third at Haubstadt.
Robert Ballou should have plenty to say about the results over the weekend as he is currently third in MSCS points and has been dominant in the 2015 AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series. He is the owner of seven victories in 16 starts this season and has set his sights on Tom Bigelow's season record of 14 wins set in 1977. He currently leads Stockon by 24 points with Darland 45 points back and in pursuit of his 100th career USAC National win which includes Silver Crown, Sprint Car and Midget victories. Jon Stanbrough and Brady Bacon round out the top-five in points.
Main gates open at 4:30 p.m. with hot laps slated to begin at 6 p.m. General admission is $25 with kids 10 and under always free at LPS.