TULSA, Okla.—Tracy Hines doesn’t want to watch his spectacular wreck from Thursday night at the Chili Bowl Nationals.
Not only did the 2005 champion walk away, he came from the back of the C-Main, transferred into the B-Main advanced to A-Main and finished seventh in the feature on preliminary night.
But as the No 11 Wilke-Pak Motorsports midget flipped as high as the 20-foot catch fence in Turns 1 and 2 during Heat 9, Hines was just along for the ride.
“I didn’t watch it,” Hines to RacinBoys.com after the B-Main. “My eyes were closed when it was happening. I don’t want to see it. I obviously don’t know how high it was, but I know there was a long pause—what open wheel guys calls “ground-sky-ground-sky.” You hit the ground, you’re in the sky and then there’s a really long pause. So I knew I was really high.”
What did Hines see before the wreck?
“Somebody that didn’t know how to run his line,” Hines said. “They were probably running the high line and got bunched up. But the same guy that made contact with me but me in the wall before we even got to the front stretch.
“Guys are eager, but they’re still two lanes on a restart. Some of these guys, it’s hard to pass them. It’s hard to know where they’re going to go and they don’t know where they’re going to go.”
Originally, Hines thought the frame was bent beyond repair. He credits his Spike frame with maintaining its integrity throughout the additional 62 laps—and his team for massaging the car in order to race.
“We ran the C,” Hines continued. “We knew the car was still bent. We came back after the C, fixed what we thought we could. I got some help out there in the B-Main. A lot of guys crashed and gave me a lot of spots. But we’re still working on the car. I don’t know if it’s good enough to drive all the way through but we’re going to keep stabbing on it. We’ll see what happens.”
Unfortunately, the wrecking was far from over. Hines started 24th in the A-feature and quickly moved through the field. He was running 12th when he was collected in the Kyle Cummins incident. After the officials looked over the car, Hines soldiered on. All-in-all, Hines passed 36 cars en route to his seventh-place finish.
“The car held up and we got some pretty good results,” Hines said. “You always want to be better. In racing, that’s your job to want to be better. We need to get a little bit closer.”
The 46-year-old New Castle, Ind., native—and USAC Triple Crown winner—will have to advance from the B Main if he hopes to compete in his 16th A Main on Saturday.
“We’re not super great yet,” Hine said after climbing to seventh. “The guys are going to keep working on it. The driver made a few mistakes. I’m having fun. We’re closer to where we can smell the A-Main on Saturday.
“It would be cool (to win a second Golden Driller). But I’m a realist right now. It’s a crapshoot out here, and the Keith (Kunz) cars are extremely good. He’s got really good drivers in them, so we’ll see. Our goal right now is to pass cars and see what happens.”