ls Charlotte, N.C. October 10, 2011) On the one-year anniversary of Shane Hmiel's wreck in Terra Haute, Ind that left him paralyzed, Levi Jones of Olney, Ill., wheeled Hmiel's No. 56 3 Wide Life Midget to victory Saturday night in the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, IL giving Shane his first win as a team owner with RW56. It was Jones' second start for Hmiel and the first time Shane has been back to Victory Lane since the accident that almost claimed his life a year ago.
It was no easy task. Because the race paid $10,000 to win, the field was one of the strongest of the year and had close to 60 cars enter. The event is the culmination of 3 nights worth of racing, but the 56 team was behind from the beginning. Early into Thursday nights heat racing, Jones blew the engine and the team had to pack up for the night. The weekend prospects were dim until fellow competitor Zach Daum stepped up and helped out with a motor.
"We were done," said Hmiel. "If Zach and his dad Dan hadn't helped us out, we were headed home with are heads held down. Just goes to show that the USAC community is a special group of racers."
Friday night was better, with Jones winning the B feature, but without gathering points the first night, he was stuck starting in the C main on Saturday. He advanced to the A main event, but again, was starting from behind in 16th. From there, it got much better. Jones trailed pole sitter Brad Sweet for 20 laps but worked the low groove to catch Sweet for the lead on lap 21. From there it was smooth sailing for Jones and his No. 56 Three Wide Life Midget. Jerry Coons Jr. finished second ahead of Brad Kuhn, Sweet and Zach Daum.
"What a remarkable night," said Jones after the race. "To be able to win in just my second start for Shane (Hmiel) and on the anniversary weekend of his wreck is just absolutely amazing. God works is wonderful ways. The weekend couldn't have worked out any better for us. It was awesome to see Shane back in Victory Lane where he should be.