By Brett Bowman
Tribune auto racing columnist
When the dust settled Sunday evening at the Kokomo Speedway, a pair of drivers who have visited Victory Lane in the past at the local oval found themselves there once again while a talented up-and-comer hit the hallowed ground for the first time.
Jerry Coons Jr. had his way in the sprint car feature and Craig Walker seemed to get faster as the laps wound down to win the Street Stock main event, however Kokomo High School sophomore Kory Glassburn had to scratch and fight before scoring the first feature win of his career in the Thunder Car A-main.
Starting on the pole in the sprint car feature, Coons quickly shot to the point ahead of Wes McIntire, then set sail to lead all 25 laps in an event that went green to checkered with no cautions. The win was Coons’ first with the Edison Motorsports team while the Edison team crept ever closer to the 100-win milestone as it was the 85th feature for Monty Edison and his long-time crew members.
Although Coons made it look relatively easy in romping to the win, it was anything but according to the veteran who hails from Arizona.
“It was tough out there,” he said. “I was trying to find the quickest line around out there and it seemed like the top was the fastest place to run but there towards the end of the race some of the lapped cars were up there so I had to go where they weren’t. I didn’t have any idea where second place was at. I know there towards the end I got passed by [Logan] Jarrett and I didn’t have any idea if it was for the lead or not.
Since pairing with the Edison contingent over the offseason, Coons has high hopes for what is in the future for the team.
“I hope this is just one of many more to come,” he stated. “They are a great group of guys to work with and it’s really a lot of fun. I know that the team has had a lot of success [at Kokomo] over the years and I hope we can together. It’s really exciting to be able to come out to what I consider one of if not the top race tracks around and run each week and it looks like there are only a couple of nights that I might miss this season with USAC commitments.”
McIntire was second while Robert Ballou claimed third after posting the opening-night win and flipping hard in the second week at the track. Last week’s winner, Chris Windom was fourth with Chase Stockon following him in the top five. Gary Taylor, defending track champion Scotty Weir, Kyle Cummins, Chad Boespflug and Josh Spencer rounded out the top-10.
Local drivers in the feature included Jarrett (12th), Parker Price-Miller (14th) and Jamie Frederickson (20th).
A week ago Walker was frustrated by what he considered a poor outing. Sunday night he quieted his doubts by leading nearly every lap in scoring his first win of the season.
“I’ve got to thank my dad and Landon Miller for helping me get [to Victory Lane on Sunday]. Landon does all my motor work and he busted his [butt] to get the car ready for me to race,” Walker said.
After battling with Dave Short in the early going, Walker grabbed the lead for good on the third lap and never trailed the rest of the way. He caught a break when Short was scrapping with Miller and Lee Hobbs and nearly spun out. In correcting his car, Short clipped both Miller and Gamblin, forcing Miller from the race and Gamblin to the back of the pack with a flat tire.
In the closing laps, Walker hit his marks flawlessly to pull away from Short and last week’s winner Brandon Roundtree. A.J. Smith and Kaleb Nutter rounded out the top five. Gamblin climbed back to eighth and Miller finished 14th.
Glassburn had his finest night in the Thunder Car division on the same night that saw the most cars enter the pits.
It was just a year ago that he was in contention to win before getting nipped by a bumper by Dennis Freeland. This time around he wasn’t about to let that happen again.
With Jeremy VanNess stalking him for lap after lap, the second-year shoe never wavered as he held off VanNess and Freeland down the stretch, despite the handle going away on his No. 86JR entry.
“The car definitely began handling different towards the end,” said Glassburn of the push his car picked up in the closing laps. “I just had to haul it in a little harder. This feels good after being so close last year. I didn’t want that to happen to me again.”
Tony Bowman took fourth and Keith Crissinger fifth. Jerald Owens, who won the season-opener was seventh, Aaron Day eighth, Zachary Paul 12th, John Antoine 13th, Sharpsville’s Bob Bourff 17th and last week’s winner, Chris Hunter, 18th.
The track gets back into action Sunday night with the weekly program as well as the first visit of the season by the U.M.P. Modifieds. The action will start an hour later than usual to allow fans attending the Indianapolis 500 time to make the trek north.