TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Winning performances in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition at the Terre Haute Action Track are reserved for greatness.
None have been greater in this era at the western Indiana dirt oval than Chris Windom who engineered his eighth career series victory at Terre Haute on Friday night, elevating him into a three-way tie with USAC and National Sprint Car Hall of Famers Gary Bettenhausen and Jack Hewitt as the track‘s winningest USAC National Sprint Car drivers.
“That‘s pretty surreal,” Windom acknowledged. “I wouldn‘t have ever thought I would get to this point. To tie somebody like Jack Hewitt, who I feel like has never lost on a half-mile when he raced, is pretty cool. This place has been good to me over the years. I love coming here anytime we can and, hopefully, we can get one more win to take over the lead solely.”
Windom started third on the grid in the 22nd running of the Jim Hurtubise Classic Presented by Terre Haute Chevrolet, but quickly put himself into position to track down leader Jake Swanson on the 18th lap of the 30-lap feature, then motored away to for his second series win of the year in his Hayward Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink — Byrd — B & H Contractors — AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Mopar.
Windom entered the event as the only four-time winner of the Hurtubise Classic and left the premises as the lone five-time victor of the event in 2011, ‘16, ‘17, ‘20 and now ‘21.
It‘s been a season in which the highest of highs have both come at Terre Haute after capturing his only USAC Sprint Car victory of the season there during the Tony Hulman Classic in May.
This one was special. This place is special. And when Windom was close enough to make his move on Swanson just after the halfway point, he went all-in and it ultimately paid off with what was truly a historic Terre Haute milestone win.
“I just love this place,” Windom exclaimed. “I love the speed and the technicality of it also. Our cars are just always so good here. Jake (Swanson) was really good early on and I felt like I would catch him, but he‘d kind of pull away. When I got close enough to make a move, I had to make a move there. I knew I cleared him, but I knew it was close. Once you get to lapped traffic, it‘s really hard to get through. I wanted to clear him before we started getting into heavy lapped traffic because I knew we had the car to win.”
Swanson finished second after leading 17 laps.
“I‘m really tired of losing,” Swanson said. “The fact that we‘ve done what we‘ve done in such a short amount of time, I can‘t thank them enough for the opportunity. Obviously, it‘s frustrating, and I think we‘re due for a win. We‘re hungry for it and we‘ll just keep plugging away.”
With his third-place finish, 2015 Jim Hurtubise Classic winner Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) recorded his best finish with the series since a second-place result at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway in June.
“I came here tonight with a totally different package, trying to get my balance right and I‘ve struggled all year to get that,” Ballou explained. “It was awful, so we threw the notebook at it and got it better. With the track changing the way it did, I don‘t have my shocks exactly where I need to be and, hopefully, by tomorrow we can get a little bit better of a gameplan and can finish two spots better.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.