FOR THIS WEEKEND’S “COCA COLA SPRING CLASSIC”
The excitement that “IS” USAC Sprint Car racing at Eldora Speedway returns this weekend as the the stars and cars of USAC’s National Sprint Car Series converge on the high-banked half-mile oval for the “Coca Cola Spring Classic.”
USAC’s 2008 National Midget Champion Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. leads the standing going into back-to-back nights of racing Friday and Saturday, each with its own complete set of races including a 30-lap feature. Whitt won at Las Vegas, Nev. in February and added a fourth and a seventh in the other two season openers on the west coast to position himself atop the standings, just one point ahead of Dave Darland. It’s a familiar spot for Whitt, who edged Tracy Hines by a single point for the 2008 Midget title!
Few tracks have defined the essence of heart-pounding classic American open-wheel racing like Tony Stewart’s dirt shrine in Western Ohio. The track has been a staple of USAC racers since 1962 and has hosted 176 total USAC Sprint races in the past half-century. The incredible Jack Hewitt still ranks as the winningest USAC driver with 24 Eldora wins, but Darland could vault into second place all-time by himself with a victory this weekend. Darland has 11, tied with the late Rich Vogler.
Darland won last year’s “4-Crown Nationals” Silver Crown race at Eldora but hasn’t won a Sprint race there since 2000. Tracy Hines won the first two Eldora Sprints last year and Brad Sweet won the “4-Crown” Sprint. Hines pilots one of two Stewart entries (Levi Jones in the other), while Sweet competes in a Kasey Kahne entry.
Another driver to watch this weekend is Robert Ballou, who won both 2007 USAC Sprint car feature events at the Ohio oval.