Thus far in 2019, C.J. Leary has already established himself as a prime contender in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget and AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition with a bright showing in Ocala, Fla., scoring a pair of top-five runs in the midget and a victory in the sprint car.
Now, with the addition of a pavement car to the DMW Motorsports Silver Crown stable, the Greenfield, Ind. driver now has an opportunity to realize a dream in chasing a USAC Triple Crown by securing full-time rides in all three of USAC’s National Series, one of only three drivers in that boat this season alongside Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Chris Windom.
Leary is quick to credit car owner Gene Nolen for getting the ball rolling, so to speak, providing him with a rolling chassis to work with last month. Leary has spent much of that time piecing the car together to debut at this weekend’s “Memphis 100” Silver Crown season opener March 22-23 at Memphis International Raceway.
“Just to say I have a shot at running for the Triple Crown is awesome,” Leary exclaimed. “It’s a long shot, obviously, because anything can happen, but I’m going to try and do everything I can to get not one, but three championships.”
This puts the 22-year-old Leary back on the pavement in the Silver Crown series for the first time since 2015, the last time he contested both surfaces in the same season. He’s competed in three races on the hardtop, all of which came that season with results of 11th, 9th and 16th. Despite the relative lack of experience, Leary feels that he can become a contender.
“I have little time on pavement in general, so I’m hoping to get up to speed as fast as possible,” Leary said. “I think everyone will be on more of an equal playing field since it’s been so long since USAC visited Memphis. If Davey (Jones) and Mickey (Meyer) can get me comfortable in the car, and with the speed, I think we should be a contender this weekend. The pavement will be our kryptonite, I know we can win on the dirt. Confidence is key.”
Leary’s confidence on the dirt is plentiful. After all, he arrives in 2019 as the most recent winner in the USAC Silver Crown series, capturing a spectacular “4-Crown Nationals” season finale at Eldora Speedway. He also became part of the only father-son duo to capture Silver Crown victories, winning the 2016 “Sumar Classic” at Terre Haute to join his father, Chuck, the 1997 “Hoosier Hundred” winner.
C.J. accomplished both wins piloting the family’s No. 30, which has been shelved for the meantime while he takes the reins of the DMW No. 10, a car in which he debuted last year at Springfield with a strong run and nearly won the following appearance at Du Quoin, falling just short of victory, running out of fuel with mere laps remaining. Leary knows he has a potent machine, so the transition has been fairly seamless jumping from one car to the other.
“It hasn’t been that big of a transition for me,” Leary admitted. “I’ve worked with car owner Mickey (Meyer) in the past, and I know he’s always going to bring a race-ready car to the track. We’ve built a new car for this season and it’s very similar to the family No. 30. Although I’m with two new teams this season, I feel like I’m at home. The group of teams I’m surrounded by are the best in the business.”
The roaring start for Leary and DMW implanted the bug within the team to possibly chase a title. Something they hope will develop into a race-winning campaign with a shot at the championship at year’s end.
“I don’t know if DMW planned on running a full schedule or even a full dirt schedule in 2019,” Leary said. “Mickey talked about building a Silver Crown car at the Chili Bowl last year and I told him I’d be interested in driving it for him. After coming oh-so-close to getting a win at Du Quoin before running out of fuel, I think he got hooked. Mickey, Keith, Franny and Jay are all pitching in to make this deal happen this year, and if it wasn’t for them, this deal wouldn’t have a shot at the championship.”
On-track action at Memphis International Raceway gets underway on Friday, March 22, with pits opening at 10am Central, leading into a practice from noon to 4pm (Central).
On Saturday, March 23, the pits open at 8am, with practice sessions running from 10-10:30am and 11-11:30am. Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying hits the track at 11:45am. An autograph session in the main concourse is set for 12:30 to 1:15pm. Driver intros are slated for 2pm with the green flag for the “Memphis 100” set to fly at 2:20pm.
Tickets can be purchased at https://tickets.thefoat.com/MIRTickets/USAC+Silver+Crown+Champ+Car+Series+Memphis+100/tickets/event-35343/. Adult General Admission tickets are $25. Kids 12 and under General Admission tickets are $5. Single-day pit passes are $40. A two-day pit pass is $70.
The “Memphis 100” will be streamed LIVE on http://www.FloRacing.com.