MERCED, Calif. – With Chris Windom’s USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series championship, one might say there are now seven wonders of USAC racing.
Each of the seven have reached the pinnacle of the sport by achieving a USAC Silver Crown, AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget driving title.
It’s a club that that spans multiple generations and consists of ordinary individuals who have exhibited extraordinary abilities on race tracks across America.
It’s a club that includes the most successful racers of their era; those who are apt to adaptability on any variation of track size or surface as well as any open wheel car of any size.
It’s a club that boasts the likes of Pancho Carter, Tony Stewart, Dave Darland, J.J. Yeley, Jerry Coons Jr. and Tracy Hines – all part of racing’s elite, akin to USAC’s version of the green jacket coveted by those who yearn to become a champion of The Masters.
Windom is now among those mighty few.
The Canton, Ill. native – who now resides in St. Louis, Mo. – persevered in the midget division this past season, winning four times in total, from Ocala, Fla. to Kokomo, Ind., and led the standings for two-thirds of the year in his No. 89 Tucker-Boat Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Pristine Auction/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Of the seven members, Windom has followed a similar path taken by Darland and Hines in earning series titles in the biggest cars first (Silver Crown), then topping the sprint cars and then, the smallest of all (midgets), to claim the final prong of their crown.
At 29 years old, Windom ranks right smack dab in the middle in terms of age at the time of completing the USAC Triple Crown.
Stewart was the youngest at age 24 in 1995, while Tracy Hines was the oldest in 2015 at the age of 43. Yeley was 27, while Carter was 28, Darland was 35 and Coons was 36.
In terms of experience with USAC at the time of each driver’s fulfillment of the Triple Crown, once again, Windom ranks directly in the middle. Windom’s midget title came 13 years after his first career USAC national start in 2007.
For Stewart, who debuted with USAC in 1991, it was only four years later that he captured all three national championships in a single campaign in 1995.
Hines made his first USAC national start in 1993 and completed the process of the Triple Crown 22 years later in 2015.
As for the others, Carter broke into the USAC ranks in 1970, and by 1978 he had finished up his personal Triple Crown.
Yeley made a USAC National Midget start in 1992 and completed his Triple Crown by 2003.
A 19-year-old Dave Darland cracked the starting field with USAC’s National Sprint division in 1986; his 2001 Midget title 15 years later cemented his status as a Triple Crown champ.
Jerry Coons Jr., in 1987, was a first-time USAC National Midget feature starter. Twenty-one years later in 2008, he became the newest owner of a Triple Crown.
The five-season span between Windom’s first USAC national title (2016 Silver Crown) and the completion of the Triple Crown (2020 Midget) again ranks near the middle among the seven.
Stewart achieved it the fastest, winning his first and last titles of the three divisions in a two-season span between 1994-95. Yeley (2001-03) and Coons (2006-08) performed their runs in three seasons.
For Darland, it was five seasons (1997-2001), while it was seven for Carter (1972-78) and 16 seasons for Hines (2000-15).