OPENS 2009 SPRINT SEASON APRIL 10-11
The "Coca-Cola Sprint Classic Weekend" at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio is rapidly approaching and with it come the start of another spectacular season of USAC National Sprint Car racing in the Midwest.
Back-to-back USAC races are slated at the 1/2-mile dirt oval April 10 and 11 and Saturday night's race continues a long-standing tradition with the 27th running of the famed "Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic."
Tracy Hines is the defending winner of the "Branson/Larson" race which opened the 2008 campaign and he currently ranks seventh in the 2009 points after three races on the west coast.
Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. is the series leader at age 17, one point ahead of 42-year-old Dave Darland, both capable of winning the April races at Eldora. Whitt has never won there, while Darland's 11 wins there include three in the Sprint cars. Whitt won at Las Vegas, Nev. February 25.
All five of the "top-five" in the standings can claim "top-10" finishes in all three 2009 outings so far. Darland, Jesse Hockett, Jon Stanbrough and Damion Gardner trail in the points and all four have cracked the "top-10" in all three races. Hockett's best finish has been second, while Darland has a third, Stanbrough has a fourth and Gardner a fifth.
Darren Hagen, who is ninth in the latest points, won at Phoenix and continues to search for that elusive first Eldora win.
A total of 176 USAC Sprint races have been contested at the Ohio oval, beginning with Stan Bowman's victory in 1962. The list of race winners reads like America's auto racing Hall of Fame, with Jack Hewitt the all-time leader with more than a dozen Eldora Sprint wins.
Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, Calif., winner of last year's "4-Crown Nationals" Sprint feature, already has a great start to the 2009 season. He ranks sixth in the Sprint points but leads the 2009 USAC Mopar National Midget Series standings going into race this weekend in Texas.