SALISBURY, N.C. – When scanning the pit area at Millbridge Speedway Monday and seeing the last name “Coons” on a 600cc micro sprint, one might have thought that young Cale Coons would be suiting up.
That’s not the case, however. In a surprising twist, it’s Cale’s father – USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. – who will be racing in this week’s TRD KKM Giveback Classic presented by Rowdy Energy.
The 48-year-old native of Tucson, Ariz., has made his name on dirt tracks across the country over the years, winning USAC national midget championships in 2006 and 2007 and adding both the USAC Silver Crown and USAC national sprint car titles to that resume in 2008.
However, he admitted Monday prior to practice for the KKM Giveback Classic that he’s “only been in a micro three times” throughout his legendary career.
“I ran the Tulsa Shootout two years ago … and was in one once last year, but that’s basically it,” Coons relayed. “It’s going to be a fun challenge, for sure.”
Coons will wheel the white No. 1 for Factor 1 East this week, the team co-managed by Brad Noffsinger and Mark Daley. It’s the four-car squad’s house car and Noffsinger believes Coons will be “just fine.”
Noffsinger added that it wasn’t his nudging that got Coons to agree to drive the car for the week, either.
“It really had less to do with me and more to do with Mark Daley,” Noffsinger said with a laugh. “Mark and Jerry are really good friends, and we needed someone driving with some extra experience, more to help us with our overall program than just for this week in particular. Luckily, Jerry was willing to come down and lend us a hand.
“We’ll be strong, I think, and you can never count out Jerry. I think he may surprise some people.”
The grand prize for winning Wednesday’s 67-lap KKM Giveback Classic feature is a choice of either $15,000 or a $5,000 check and a guaranteed Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals ride with Keith Kunz Motorsports in January.
Considering that Coons, a 17-time Saturday feature starter at the Chili Bowl, traditionally has a strong ride for the marquee midget event, his focus is on helping the Factor 1 East team grow and chasing a five-figure payday come feature time on Wednesday night.
“Hopefully we can give them a lot of reasons to leave here smiling,” Coons noted.