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Fifty years of the Tony Hulman Classic have produced 37 different fast qualifiers, none more than Rich Vogler with three, but three other individuals have an opportunity to equal that record this Wednesday night, July 1, in a new chapter of the rich tradition of the event at western Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.
Brady Bacon, Dave Darland and Kevin Thomas Jr. are all expected to contest for a third career Tony Hulman Classic Fatheadz Fast Qualifying time in Wednesday night’s race at the famed half-mile dirt oval.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) previously set the standard in time trials in both 2014 and 2016, which just happens to be the years of both of his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car driving championships. The 2014 lap of 19.225 sec. at Terre Haute remains to this day as the one-lap track record for the series at Terre Haute. He finished 3rd in 2014 and 4th in 2016.
Darland’s two career Hulman Classic feature victories came 21 years apart in 1993 and 2014. Interestingly enough, the Lincoln, Ind. native’s two fast qualifying times in the event also came 21 years apart, in 1996 and 2017. Both resulted in top-5 finishes for the National Sprint Car Hall of Famer, a 4th in 1996 and a 5th in 2017.
Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) recorded fast times at “The Hulman” in both 2013 and 2018. Thomas finished 12th in 2013, but came up just one spot shy of a complete sweep in 2018, finishing 2nd behind feature winner Tyler Courtney after Thomas had earlier set fast time and won the first heat race.
One common thread between all three is that they account for five of the six Tony Hulman Classic fast qualifying times for the Dynamics, Inc./Hoffman Auto Racing team, most among any entrant in event history, the first of which came with Rich Vogler as the driver during the Hoffman’s first championship season of 1989.
Also interesting is that, between Bacon, Darland and Thomas, the only times they didn’t set fast time at the Hulman Classic, it was in a Michael Dutcher owned car (Thomas 2013) and Darland (2017).
The 1989 fast time by Vogler was the third and final for the legendary driver at the Hulman Classic, which leads all drivers to this day. He also set quick time in the 1982 and 1986 editions of the race. Only six times has a driver followed up a fast qualifying performance by the winning the Hulman Classic feature with Vogler being the only to do it twice, in 1986 & 1989. Pancho Carter (1975), Steve Butler (1987), Tracy Hines (2001) and J.J. Yeley (2003) are the others.
Vogler is also the only driver to set fast time on both dirt and pavement at the Hulman Classic with his fast lap in 1989 coming on the asphalt of Indianapolis Raceway Park. The Hulman Classic was held on the pavement of IRP between the years of 1988-1991 following the brief closure of the Terre Haute Action Track.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) was the fastest qualifier at the Hulman Classic in 2019 at 19.750 sec. His ninth-place finish in last year’s Hulman Classic was not indicative of his quality run that night. He was running fourth with eight laps remaining when his right rear tire went flat. After swapping it out for new rubber, Leary still managed to storm from the back of the pack to finish just inside the top-ten.
Only once has a driver recorded quick time at the Hulman Classic in consecutive years – Pancho Carter in 1975-76.
On the flip side, only two fast qualifiers have missed the Hulman Classic feature completely: Gary Bettenhausen in the inaugural event in 1971 and Bud Kaeding, who set fast time on the first lap, then sailed over the guardrail between turns three and four in 2002. Both would ultimately get redemption, Bettenhausen winning the Hulman Classic in 1974 and Kaeding, likewise, in 2012.
Pits open Wednesday at 3pm Eastern, grandstands at 4pm and hot laps at 6:30pm. Tickets are on sale now exclusively at www.usactickets.com. Adult grandstand tickets are $25 while children age 11 and under are free. Adult infield tickets are just $15. Pit passes for members are $30 for members and $35 for non-members. The Scott's Custom Colors DIRTcar Modifieds are also on agenda for the evening.
The Tony Hulman Classic and all USAC National events can be seen LIVE exclusively on FloRacing.
TONY HULMAN CLASSIC FAST QUALIFIERS:
1971: Gary Bettenhausen - Davis #2 - 24.190 - DNQ
1972: Sam Sessions - Amerling #4 - 24.740 - 3rd
1973: Greg Weld - Seymour #29 - 23.570 - 23rd
1974: Jan Opperman - Bogar #90 - 23.430 - 2nd
1975: Pancho Carter - Conger-Stapp #1 - 23.750 - 1st
1976: Pancho Carter - Conger-Stapp #44 - 24.209 - 2nd
1977: Sheldon Kinser - Gohr #56 - 24.736 - 17th
1978: Eddie Leavitt - Siebert #86 - 24.097 - 20th
1979: Sheldon Kinser - Gohr #56 - 23.102 - 2nd
1980: Dave Peperak - Robertson #77A - 22.528 - 7th
1981: Eddie Leavitt - King-Powers #51 - 22.838 - 3rd
1982: Rich Vogler - Farno #2 - 23.774 - 17th
1983: Kelly Kinser - Shields #56s - 22.797 - 3rd
1984: Johnny Parsons - Toney #5 - 23.657 - 8th
1985: Steve Butler - Briscoe #5x - 23.672 - 19th
1986: Rich Vogler - Fortune #39 - 23.374 - 1st
1987: Steve Butler - Stoops #1 - 21.841 - 1st
1988: Bob Frey - Niebel #20 - 21.882 - 4th
1989: Rich Vogler - Dynamics #69 - 20.505 - 1st
1990: Jeff Gordon - Gordon #4 - 20.296 - 3rd
1991: Bob Cicconi - Cicconi #59 - 20.858 - 4th
1992: Tony Elliott - Newkirk #17 - 21.797 - 4th
1993: Cary Faas - Faas #37 - 21.902 - 14th
1994: Derek Davidson - Davidson #63D - 21.467 - 16th
1995: Brad Marvel - Black #1m - 20.670 - 15th
1996: Dave Darland - Dynamics #69 - 21.151 - 4th
1997: Dave Steele - Vance #2 - 21.123 - 17th
1998: Kevin Doty - Chrisman #25 - 20.480 - 2nd
1999: Jay Drake - Hazen #57 - 20.896 - 20th
2000: Bill Rose - Rose #6 - 20.092 - 14th
2001: Tracy Hines - BWB #62 - 20.394 - 1st
2002: Bud Kaeding - BK #29 - 20.128 - DNQ
2003: J.J. Yeley - Stewart #20 - 19.329 - 1st
2004: Bud Kaeding - BK #29 - 21.041 - 15th
2005: Shane Cottle - Edison #10E - 19.457 - 24th
2006: Dustin Morgan - Walker-Guiducci #11D - 20.827 - 3rd
2007: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Stewart #21 - 19.446 - 5th
2008: Tracy Hines - Stewart #21 - 19.979 - 13th
2009: Hunter Schuerenberg - WBR/Six-R #07 - 20.842 - 8th
2010: No Qualifying
2011: Keith Bloom Jr. - Abreu #27 - 20.640 - 2nd
2012: Blake Fitzpatrick - Fitzpatrick #10 - 20.162 - 21st
2013: Kevin Thomas Jr. - RW/Tri-Star/Dutcher #17RW - 19.807 - 12th
2014: Brady Bacon - Dynamics #69 - 19.225 - 3rd
2015: Jerry Coons Jr. - Edison #10E - 20.490 - 5th
2016: Brady Bacon - Dynamics #69 - 20.514 - 4th
2017: Dave Darland - Dutcher #17GP - 19.895 - 5th
2018: Kevin Thomas Jr. - Dynamics #69 - 20.574 - 2nd
2019: C.J. Leary - Reinbold-Underwood #19AZ - 19.750 – 9th
ALL-TIME TONY HULMAN CLASSIC FAST QUALIFYING TIMES
2-Brady Bacon, Bud Kaeding, Dave Darland, Eddie Leavitt, Kevin Thomas Jr., Pancho Carter, Sheldon Kinser, Steve Butler & Tracy Hines
1-Bill Rose, Blake Fitzpatrick, Bob Cicconi, Bob Frey, Brad Marvel, C.J. Leary, Cary Faas, Dave Peperak, Dave Steele, Derek Davidson, Dustin Morgan, Gary Bettenhausen, Greg Weld, Hunter Schuerenberg, J.J. Yeley, Jan Opperman, Jay Drake, Jeff Gordon, Jerry Coons Jr., Johnny Parsons, Keith Bloom Jr., Kelly Kinser, Kevin Doty, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Sam Sessions, Shane Cottle & Tony Elliott