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Silver Crown cars getting back on track

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A couple of years ago, the United States Auto Club introduced a Silver Crown car to compete on NASCAR superspeedways. However, they had trouble working those cars into the lineup because teams already had cars they thought were perfectly good.

Consequently, those new cars were parked. Eventually, USAC returned to the old design racecars competing on tracks like Lucas Oil Raceway, Toledo Speedway, etc.

Well, those Silver Crown cars might find a home soon.

Gateway Motorsports Park at Madison, Ill. (near St. Louis) is a 1.25-mile paved oval, and it hosted Silver Crown races between 1971 and 2001. Drivers scoring wins during that period were Pat Abold, J.J. Yeley, Ryan Newman, Tracy Hines and Dave Steele.

USAC and Gateway apparently are considering a return of the series to Gateway and recently conducted a test in­volving teams from Darryl Guiducci’s 6R Racing and Steve Weirich’s RW Motorsports. The drivers involved were Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif.; Taylor Ferns of Shelby Township, Mich.; Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass.; and Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz.

During the testing speeds reached 141.764 mph compared to a track record of 143.967 set by Dave Steele in 2001. Santos won two pavement races this season at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Following the test, USAC Silver Crown director James Spink said, “We were pleased with the results of the test and the enthusiasm exhibited by Gateway management and the teams involved. We look forward to future involvement at Gateway and the excitement generated by a possible 2013 series appearance.”

A Gateway date would probably be welcomed by the entrants for exposure generated for their sponsors. In addition, tracks near Tri-City Speedway at Pontoon Beach (Granite City) would permit them to race sprints and/or midgets at Tri-City on the same road trip.

Changes on Stewart team

The addition of Danica Patrick on a full-time basis during the 2013 season has prompted Tony Stewart and Matt Borland, currently vice president of competition, to evaluate their crew chief assignments and make changes intended to strengthen the teams’ competitiveness going into the 2013 season.

The new assignments will begin this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. This will give the Stewart-Haas teams a running start on the 2013 season.

Tony Gibson is currently the crew chief for the No. 39 U.S. Army/Quicken Loans team and Ryan Newman; and he will move to Danica Patrick and the No. 10 team. He will get a jump on the season by sitting on top of the box at Texas

Motor Speedway on Nov. 4 and at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 11.

Matt Borland will assume the duties of crew chief for No. 39 car driven by Newman. This should be an assignment that is comfortable for both Newman and Borland as Borland was Newman’s crew chief for five years with Penske Racing.

Tony and Steve Addington will continue to work to find what will be needed to return the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 No. 14 car to championship form.

In announcing the restructuring, Stewart-Haas competition director Greg Zipadelli said, “We have a lot of talented people at Stewart-Haas Racing; and, as we grow, it’s important to place people in the proper roles to get the best out of everyone.

“Tony Gibson has been with Stewart-Haas Racing from the beginning and knows what it takes to build a team. His experience will be crucial to developing the No. 10 team and Danica, and the rapport he already has with Matt Borland and Steve Addington will make the communication between all three teams seamless.

“Matt Borland has had great success as a crew chief, and much of it came when he and Ryan Newman worked together. Matt and Ryan both have engineering backgrounds, and they have similar mind-sets.

“It’s a pairing that produced some very good results, and there’s no reason why it can’t produce similar results now that they’re back together. Their four races together this year will position them very well for 2013.”

Tim McKinney is an auto racing columnist for The Republic. He can be reached at 372-3936.

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