NASCAR

Timing of victory is priceless

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

Shane Hmiel returned to Victory Lane as a car owner on the one-year anniversary of the accident that almost killed him.

Levi Jones won the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., on Saturday night. He was driving the No. 56 owned by Hmiel's RW56 Motorsports team in the USAC Series.

''What a remarkable night,'' Jones said. ''To be able to win in just my second start for Shane and on the anniversary weekend of his wreck is just absolutely amazing. The weekend couldn't have worked out any better for us. It was awesome to see Shane back in Victory Lane where he belongs.''

Hmiel made the trip with Jones to Victory Lane in his wheelchair. Hmiel was paralyzed last October in a crash during the US Auto Racing Club's Silver Crown race at Terre Haute Action Track.

A blown engine in Thursday night's heat races almost caused the team to withdraw, but fellow competitor Zach Daum gave them an engine and Jones went on to win.

''We were done,'' Hmiel said. ''If Zach and his dad Dan hadn't helped us out, we were headed home with our heads held down. Just goes to show that the USAC community is a special group of racers.''

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