EVENT SHOWCASES SILVER CROWN & MOPAR NATIONAL MIDGET SERIES
Former USAC Silver Crown Champion and 2008 Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman headlines a field of USAC K & N Silver Crown drivers who will compete in Thursday night’s “J.D. Byrider 100” at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
The USAC ”doubleheader” also includes the USAC Mopar National Midget Series, with 130 laps of feature racing on tap at the .686-mile paved oval.
“Indianapolis Raceway Park will always hold a very special place for me,” says Newman. “Winning the “Night Before the 500” was the biggest race win of my career back then – it was like winning the Daytona 500 at the time. There was a huge crowd, and it was a very special moment for me and my entire family because on that night, I was the best driver in Indianapolis. That was what we had worked for since I started driving quarter-midgets when I was just 4-½ years old. For me, that was a huge night not only personally but also for my career. I feel like that race win is what helped me get to where I am today.
“I love having the opportunity to go back and race at ORP – I still have a hard time saying that because it is etched in my brain as Indianapolis Raceway Park. But getting the chance to get back to my roots and race with these guys in the USAC Series is a lot of fun. I ran in the Silver Crown race last year and finished second. The race stayed green almost the entire night, and my car wasn’t quite fast enough to catch the leader. It’s becoming a tradition that when I come out to Indy for the Brickyard, that I’m going to run in the Silver Crown race on Thursday night.”
Newman has a half-dozen career ORP wins to his credit, five in Midgets and one in Silver Crown, which came in his championship year of 1999.
Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. is the defending champion of the “J.D. Byrider 100,” leading all 100 laps of last year’s race. He also finished third in this year’s “Night Before the 500” Midget classic behind winner Chuck Gurney Jr. and runner-up Bryan Clauson, who narrowly missed winning the recent Indiana Sprint Week title after winning the 2009 Indiana Midget Week crown. East also won the 2008 “Night Before the 500” Midget race at ORP.
Gurney is seeking a third consecutive victory in the Mopar National Midgets at ORP. He also won last September at the Indianapolis oval.
Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. sits atop the K & N Silver Crown standings entering Thursday’s events, while Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind. is atop the Mopar National Midget standings. Kaeding did not compete in last year’s OPR Silver Crown race, while Kuhn finished 10th in this May’s ORP Midget feature. Kaeding holds a 21-point leader over Tracy Hines, while Kuhn’s lead over Jerry Coons Jr. is 34 points.
Hines is one of ORP’s all-time victory leaders. Among his 10 total wins are eight in Sprint cars and one each in the Silver Crown and Midgets series. Only Dave Steele and Mike Bliss (12 each) have more ORP USAC victories.