Web Spotlight: Red-hot Jeff Cannon looks to win first Bettenhausen race
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent September 13, 2013 8:26PM
Updated: September 13, 2013 11:24PM
SCHERERVILLE — Local driver Jeff Cannon has been on a hot streak winning four out of his last five races at Illiana Motor Speedway.
But he’s never won the annual Tony Bettenhausen race.
He’s hoping the 52nd annual 100-lap race tonight is his good luck charm.
“I’ve been trying a long time to win this one,” said Cannon, whose only loss in the last five weeks came at the 12th annual Elmer Musgrave Memorial race two weeks ago, thanks to a rear-end issue. “I had the car out this week and it’s driving good. Winning any of the big races are special.”
He’ll be going against a star-studded field, which includes Wyoming, Mich., standout Brian Campbell, four-time champion “Fast” Eddie Hoffman, three-time winner Brett “The Jet” Sontag and two-time victor Boris Jurkovic. The 2013 late model track champion, Paul Shafer, Jr., will also be out Saturday night, shooting for his first title.
Gates open at 4 p.m. and qualifying starts at 5:30. The first flag drops at 7 p.m.
Cannon would like to forget last year’s race.
The Kouts resident was wrecked out of the 2012 Bettenhausen race by Lap 7.
“I didn’t qualify well last year,” he said. “That’s something I need to do better. The rear problem issue is under control so I think we have that somewhat in control. I need a better qualifying time and we’ll go from there.”
The race will carry a purse of more than $30,000, plus lap prize money and special bonuses from Five Star Bodies, a $100 hard charger award from Powersource Racing Engines and $100 from Power Train Technology.
Besides the super late model race, Illiana will be hosting the final round of the Street Stock North Grand Chi-Town Spectacular in a 20-lap feature on the legendary half-mile, plus Pure Stocks on the quarter-mile.”
Track media relations coordinator Tom White said it’s “the big race you don’t want to miss.”
The Bettenhausen Memorial is named after legendary race car driver Tony Bettenhausen. The Tinley Park, Ill., native made 14 starts in the Indianapolis 500 with five top 5 finishes. He died during a practice crash at the famed speedway in May 1961.
Tickets for the event are $18 for adults; children 8-12 are $5; and kids 7-and-under are free. Parking in the pits is $30.