Chris Windom is enjoying the best of both USAC worlds—sprint cars and midgets.
Windom is tied for third in the United States Auto Club AMSOIL Sprint Car standings, driving the No. 19 for Hayward Motorsports. Piloting the No. 89 for Tucker-Boat Motorsports, Windom enjoys a 107-point lead over Tyler Courtney in USAC midgets.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the driver known as "Big Daddy" isn’t slowing down. If anything, the current climate has enabled the 29-year-old Canton, Illinois, driver to concentrate on his overriding goal—capturing the USAC Triple Crown.
“It’s been great ever since we got back to racing,” Windom said. “We started off in Florida winning one of the midget races (at Bubba Raceway Park) and finishing second in the other one. So the season started off well. We’ve got the points lead in the Midget Series and we’re running third in the sprint car. It keeps going back and forth.
“But I’ve got four USAC wins—eight total wins so far. Even after the break, we’ve had as good results as when we started the year. The first part of Indiana Sprint Week didn’t go as planned, but we ran second Sunday night at Lawrenceburg, so I’m looking forward to the second half of the week.”
The transition for Windom at Hayward Motorsports has been remarkably smooth. He had serious speed in the ISW opener at Gas City I-69 Speedway on Friday. He was third in his qualifier, second in his heat race and started the feature on the front row. Windom challenged race winner Logan Seavey early but nearly flipped on Lap 3 and settled for 11th. After qualifying seventh at Kokomo Speedway, Windom finished second in his heat and ninth behind winner C.J. Leary in the feature.
Night 3 saw Windom pick up the pace at Lawrenceburg. He was fastest in his qualifier, third in his heat race and hung on to finish second to Leary in the main event. Now Windom enters the second round of ISW at Terre Haute Action Track—where he held off Brady Bacon in a barnburner back on July 1 for his second Tony Hulman Classic victory.
“We’ve always got really good cars there,” said Windom, who has six wins at the half-mile dirt oval. “I like big half-miles, so I’m looking forward to that one. But I think we have good enough equipment to win at any of the next four races.
“It’s been nice running (with Hayward). We have top-notch equipment—some of the best equipment I’ve ever had. I have Derek Claxton and Austin Wenrich working together as combo crew chiefs, and it’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off all three of us. They don't cut corners. I know every time we show up at a track, we have some of the best equipment to compete with.”
After Terre Haute, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint car series heads to Lincoln Park Speedway at Putnamville, then Bloomington Speedway and finally Tri-State Speedway at Haubstadt on Saturday for the conclusion of ISW. August sees the return of midgets as well as the USAC Silver Crown Series, if everything goes according to plan from the sanctioning body.
Prior to the pandemic, the multi-faceted racer had hoped to race a NASCAR truck at Eldora and return to IndyCar for a second attempt at the Brickyard. Despite having three weeks off early in the season, life hasn’t changed much for Windom. And without the additional distractions, he can focus on the task at hand—winning the midget title and completing the USAC Triple Crown.
Windom collected the USAC Silvercrown title in 2016 and backed that up with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car championship the following season. Should Windom earn the Triple Crown, he would join an elite fraternity that includes Pancho Carter, Tony Stewart, Dave Darland, J.J. Yeley, Jerry Coons Jr., and Tracy Hines.
“It’s a big deal leading the midget points right now, because if I could win the championship that would complete my Triple Crown with USAC,” Windom said. “It’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last 10 or 11 years. It’s my goal—to be the seventh guy to do that. It would be pretty special to put my name on that list.
“I’ve been running open-wheel cars pretty much my entire life, so it would mean an awful lot to me. It would mean a lot to my family, who supported me every step of the way and sacrificed so much for me along the way.”
With Chad Boat as his crew chief, Windom has a lot of confidence in his midget program.
“Tucker-Boat brings the best equipment—just like the sprint cars—to race,” Windom said. “We’ve won three races so far and only finished outside of the top five, I think, just once all year, and that’s like 13 or 14 races.
“The engines, the chassis, the driver, the car—everything is working really well right now. (Kyle) Larson showed up during (Indiana) Midget Week and won four of the six (races) and we got one win there. That shows you how good the equipment is, and it’s capable of winning every night. So far, we’ve been in contention to win every night. I have high hopes for the rest of the year.”