EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Prolific sprint car driver Kyle Cummins will embark on a new journey this season as a USAC Silver Crown Series competitor.
Cummins is joining forces with team owner Bill Floyd and crew chief Donnie Gentry for an entry that will compete in the dirt races on the series schedule.
A six-time AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car winner and the reigning Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Driver of the Year after his undefeated sprint car season at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., Cummins will wheel Floyd’s No. 69 on the Silver Crown trail.
It’s something that the Princeton, Ind. driver has long coveted.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Cummins said. “I’ve always wanted to run one; I’ve just never gotten the opportunity before. Bill’s always wanted one and he sponsors us on the sprint car stuff, so when he brought it up to me, I was pretty excited. It’s definitely a lot longer racing than what I’m used to, so it will be a learning curve a bit just with how the car handles, but I know he’s got basically the best car he could possibly build.
“Everything’s super nice on it, so hopefully, it won’t take us too long to get up to speed.”
Meanwhile, Floyd, who grew up in Ventura, Calif., and now resides in Evansville, Ind., takes on a new role as well, debuting as a USAC Silver Crown team owner in 2020.
Though he’s long been a part of the racing industry, as the TQ Midget track champion at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway in 1985 and as a CRA sprint car driver in the late 1980s, Floyd has always had a fondness for the big cars.
“When I moved to the Midwest in 2000, I’ve always been involved in the racing industry, but still had the desire to go racing someday,” Floyd said. “I started with the Nemire’s a couple years ago, got my feet wet dabbling in it working in the pits and I thought that there’s an opportunity here to, since I’m learning more about this, I’d really like to get a dirt car.”
In the offseason, Floyd purchased a fresh Jimmy D’s engine and a freshened up engine from Kercher, plus a Mach-1 chassis that was previously driven by Coleman Gulick and Mark Smith in the series and is the only Mach-1 Silver Crown chassis in existence.
As one of the few drivers on the USAC Sprint Car trail who utilize a Mach-1 car, Cummins hopes are for the Silver Crown car of the same make to set forth as smooth of a transition as possible.
“From where I sit and on forward, it’s going to be exactly the same,” Cummins anticipated. “I feel good in it because it feels just like the sprint car I’ve been running, but I really like the (Mach-1) sprint car. Coleman Gulick had run the Silver Crown car a couple races and, from what I’ve heard, he had pretty good speed. I don’t know yet whether they’ll act the same or not, but going to the half miles, it should be a little closer I guess than on the miles. I want to get better on the bigger tracks anyway. I feel that 100 laps around them is really going to make to me better on the bigger tracks in the sprint car as well.”
Floyd, Cummins, and Jimmie Garner, among others will be on the team’s crew, with longtime racer and mechanic Donnie Gentry serving as crew chief.
Gentry has worked on sprints, midgets and Silver Crown cars extensively, and his father, Leon, and cousin Kenny, are both veterans of the series. Gentry has vast experience working on USAC cars and is thrilled for the opportunity to work with this team.
“I’m very grateful to work with Kyle and Bill, who’s going to give us the tools we need to succeed,” Gentry said. “I’ve got experience with (C.J.) Leary and the Silver Crown stuff, and of course the sprint car stuff. Some of it carries over and some of it doesn’t. I’m just excited to work with Bill and Kyle. I’ve known Kyle’s father (Mark) for quite some time from my racing days and I’ve got a lot of respect for Kyle as a driver and the things he’s accomplished.
“I’m just really grateful for this opportunity.”
As for the story on the car, which will be a pink-colored No. 69, Floyd has an extensive history with the color and the number that harkens back to his own early years in racing.
“My background is my last name is Floyd, like Pink Floyd, and I’ve always had pink racecars,” Floyd recalled. “(Ventura Raceway promoter) Jim Naylor started that back in the 1980s with me. He’s probably painted eight or nine cars pink over the years in different capacities. Then, with me now living off highway 69, when I saw the highway 69 sign, and my numbers have always been 69, it must be destiny that I live on I-69.”
With Cummins at the helm of his Lucas Oil Center, NFP, Ted Brown’s Quality Paint & Body Shop and Audobon Auto Center ride, Floyd feels he’s got the right guy – his kind of guy.
“Kyle’s my kind of guy because he likes working on the cars; he doesn’t just show up with his helmet bag,” Floyd said. “He actually wants to turn wrenches and grew up working on and building his own cars.”