Chris Windom had plenty of patience in Saturday’s USAC Silver Crown Series Tony Bettenhausen 100 race.

Chris Windom had plenty of patience in Saturday’s USAC Silver Crown Series Tony Bettenhausen 100 race.


He had plenty of car left too.


The Canton driver became just the third from Illinois to win the 100-lap Bettenhausen race on the 1-mile dirt track, beating Kevin Thomas Jr. by 1.701 seconds.


“This is pretty sweet,” Windom said. “I’ve been trying to win this race since 2010 or 2011 It’s pretty awesome to do it with a lot of my hometown friends and family here to watch.”


Gary Bettenhausen, of Tinley Park, won in 1983. It took 29 years until Galesburg’s A.J. Fike ended that drought in 2012. He repeated in 2013.


Windom previously earned an in-state USAC win — the 2016 Ted Horn 100 at the Du Quoin State Fair. But this one came just 70 miles away.


“It’s pretty special to win one this close to home,” he said.


It didn’t take long for the race to shuffle from its starting grid.


Jerry Coons Jr. and Kody Swanson owned the front row. Swanson, who won the 2014 and 2015 Bettenhausen races and owned a five-race win streak prior to Saturday, quickly dropped to the middle of the pack.


Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant — last year’s Bettenhausen champion — and Kevin Thomas Jr. all worked their way to the front. It took Windom a little longer for him to crack the top-four, which he did by passing Coons.


“It was a really tight field today,” said Grant, who finished third, 2.012 seconds behind Windom. “Normally this is more about tire management and the sun’s a little brighter and the track’s a little cleaner — more rubbered up — so you don’t see guys racing that hard the whole race. Today, you could kind of abuse your stuff about all race. It was a little different Silver Crown race than what we’re used to.”


Windom tried to pressure the top-three drivers, but backed off to let them battle each other. On lap 82, Windom grabbed third place. Almost immediately, Shane Cockrum, of Benton, brought out a caution flag.


On the restart, Windom took second place on lap 87. On lap 92, Windom made the final lead change.


“I’ve ran enough of these races now and I’ve ran around with Kody Swanson and he falls back to ninth or 10th and rides for almost the whole race,” Windom said. “I knew the pace they were running, they weren’t going to be able to run the pace I could the last 10 laps. It worked out in our favor like that.


“This car, I knew it was good enough to win the whole race. I wasn’t going to pressure it too early and wear our stuff out . . . so I saved it just like I planned and the cautions came just like I wanted.”


On the final restart, on lap 98, Windom kept Thomas and Grant in his rear-view mirror.


Thomas took his final lead on lap 55 when Courtney slid high into the loose dirt. He kept Grant and Courtney behind him, but couldn’t prevent Windom’s advance.


“It really was (competitive),” Thomas said. “From the start, me and Sunshine (Courtney) started in the second row and getting into (the first turn), we were running 1-2, so that was pretty exciting.


“That was a fun race. Windom was back there. He was up under me at the beginning of the race. I knew he was good because where I was running was a little bit more of a dominant line and he was staying with me in the dirty stuff. When your car is that good, you’re going to be able to be patient and poke right underneath people and get the runs you need when you need to.”