CJ Leary. (Photo by Blake Harris)
INDIANAPOLIS – CJ Leary last competed for a USAC Silver Crown title during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015.
Seven years later, the Greenfield, Indiana native will join the series full-time again, this time as the No.6 Klatt Enterprises pilot for all 11-point events – six curb and five. on dirt road – in 2022..
Leary has competed regularly in Silver Crown for the past five years, notably on gravel, winning victories in the 2016 Sumar Classic at Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and in the 2018 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
At the start of the offseason, Leary was working on his arsenal of sprint cars at the store when an unexpected call came in from USAC Hall of Fame winning builder, mechanic, crew chief and driver Bob East, who made an offer that Leary could not refuse.
“I think in this new business with Bob, Terry (Klatt) and Dave (Brzozowski), we’re going to work really well together,” Leary said. “With the Silver Crown race, I have a lot more experience with it, which I didn’t have a lot in the midgets. Bob has some really good things.
Leary had a brief tenure as the driver of the FMR Racing car on the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship Tour in 2019, with East being a mainstay of the team. Although the results did not live up to Leary’s or East’s expectations, there remains plenty of confidence for Leary that in “big cars” expectations will match performance.
CJ is a veteran with 38 starts in USAC Silver Crown competition. Only six of CJ’s 38 starts were on the pavement, including his first series start in 2014 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. CJ’s best result came on the same 0.686-mile paved oval with a ninth place finish in May 2015.
Despite a lack of pavement experience, which also includes a pair of Little 500 starts and trying out the latest pavement models for a while, Leary is eager to return to the Silver Crown discipline on pavement, in particular. in the mighty Klatt Race, which has won nine series of events over the years with figures like Bobby East, Kyle Hamilton and Brady Bacon dating back to 2004.
“I had to run against Bob and Terry’s car a lot, whether Brady was driving it or up to (Bryan) Clauson,” Leary recalls. “They always had a car that could win the race. In Silver Crown races there are a lot of guys who have a car that can win and there are a lot of factors that go into winning a 100 mile. I know I can do it and Bob can do it, so I’m really excited to see what we can do.
After winning a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship in 2019, Leary feels like chasing a second in a different form. While USAC Sprint Car races regularly consist of over 40 races per year with 30 laps in length, Silver Crown races only feature a handful of events ranging from 50 to 100 laps, which requires being precise. physically, mentally and mechanically every time to put yourself in a position to be the series champion, something Leary desires.
“If I could put a Silver Crown title on my resume that would be great,” Leary said. “It’s a jewel in my crown, it’s super prestigious and I’m going to give it 100%. Silver Crown racing in general is my favorite form of racing. I love racing Silver Crown cars. “
The 2022 USAC Silver Crown National Championship season for Leary, Klatt, East and Brzozowski kicks off on May 1 on the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action track with the 19th edition of the Sumar Classic, where Leary claimed his first career victory. in 2016.