Published: June 29, 2013
FOUNTAIN - With the announcement of Levi Jones' retirement, teammate Bobby East slid into Jones' U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown No. 10 car.
Jones was tied for the series lead in points when he announced his retirement Friday.
East did the No. 10 proud, winning Saturday's Silver Crown race at Pikes Peak International Raceway, the second half of a doubleheader that also saw an exciting finish to the Midget series race.
East held off Jerry Coons Jr. to win the 100-mile race, leading the last 75 laps of the first USAC race at PPIR since 2005, the last year the track held major races before being closed and then sold.
The victory leapfrogged him four spots into second place.
"I got pretty loose the last 10 laps," said East, who captured the $10,000 first-place prize. "I just went as hard as I could ... from the last restart to the end."
East, who drives for Tony Stewart Racing, built his lead over the field to as much as seven seconds before A.J. Fike went crashing into Turn?4. That brought out the yellow flag and bunched the cars back up for the restart. Knowing Coons would be right behind him, East was concerned.
"My motor was restarting really good all day, so I knew I had that to help me out," he said. "They (my pit crew) had said Jerry was coming on strong at the end, so yeah, I was a little worried."
After trouble with his car early, Coons took advantage of an early yellow flag and pitted. The stop helped. He worked his way up to second place, when Fike went into the wall. After that, Coons looked to be reeling in East. But Coons noticed some sort of oil leaking, as his feet slid around on power steering fluid inside his car.
"The whole bottom floor pan of the car was covered in oil," said Coons, who has sole possession of first in the standings and an 18-point lead over East. "The last 10 laps, 15 laps, the steering started locking up. ... I couldn't turn it."
Coons did enough to hold off Tracy Hines, who took third.
But in the 25-mile Honda Midget race nobody held off Hines. As usual, Hines bided his time.
He ran third and fourth most of the race, until it counted. On Lap 24 of the 25-lap race, leader Kyle Hamilton's car stalled suddenly, blocking Darren Hagen from passing headed into Turn 4. Hines was there to capitalize, zipping past both and holding his lead the last two laps.
"Everybody knows my M.O., knows I kind of wait until the end," said Hines, who is USAC's active leader in national victories after notching number 86. "It only pays that last lap, so I kind of wait, let everybody slide on their tires a little bit. At the end it looks like I'm a half second faster and I'm really not."
Once Hagen ran into the back of Hamilton, the track opened up for Hines.
"I needed clear track," Hines said. "Once I could get clear ground I knew we would be in pretty good shape."
Hagen's second-place finish put him at the top of the points standings with 239, leapfrogging Bobby Santos and Caleb Armstrong (who finished third) by two points.