GARDNER SEEKS FIRST ELDORA WIN THIS WEEKEND IN TRACK’S “COCA-COLA SPRINT CLASSIC”
There could be 10 or more former Eldora Speedway USAC Sprint car winners in this weekend’s “Coca-Cola Spring Classic” field at the half-mile dirt oval, but AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Damion Gardner won’t be one of them.
Gardner has never won at Eldora but he’ll try to break that drought when the series visits Tony Stewart’s track Friday and Saturday for this year’s version of the “Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic.”
Gardner, of Concord, Calif., has won four of the season’s first five races and a Friday win would be historic. Nobody has ever won five of the first six, let alone six of the first seven, which Gardner could achieve with a weekend “sweep.”
A 30-lap feature is scheduled each night and drivers will be aiming at Jerry Coons Jr.’s 1-lap track qualifying mark of 14.712 seconds established in 2006.
Early-season proficiency records have always been compared to Larry Dickson’s remarkable 1968 season when he scored seven victories in his first seven starts! He did not compete in the first and third races of that campaign, however. His wins came at six different tracks – Reading, Pa. (twice), Heidelberg, Pa., New Bremen, Ohio, Winchester, Ind., Dayton, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1965 Jud Larson, one of the two whose memory this weekend honors, won four of the first six races on the schedule. Five years later Dickson won four of the first five.
Coons trails Gardner by 49 points in the latest tally. A victory by Coons this weekend would extend his car owner’s all-time USAC record for series victories. The Dynamics, Inc. Hoffman Auto Racing team has 73 career wins at present, Coons winning twice at Eldora last year, including the Four Crown Nationals.