USAC SPRINTS HEAD EAST NEXT WEEK FOR 4 RACES
USAC’s National Sprint Car series makes its only trip East next week for four races expected to have a big impact on the battle for the 2009 series championship.
Pennsylvania tracks at Bechtelsville, Williams Grove, Minersville and Mercer host races in the third eastern swing in the past three years.
Levi Jones of Avon, Ind., currently second in the standings, won at Grandview Speedway in 2007, which hosts Tuesday night’s (June 2) race after rains washed out last year’s feature event at the 1/3-mile dirt oval. Jones won the recent “Tony Hulman Classic” at Terre Haute, Ind,. for the third time and is a two-time former series titlist. He and Tracy Hines will compete in cars entered by the Tony Stewart Racing Team.
Williams Grove Speedway will host its 49th USAC race on Wednesday night (June 3) after rains also precluded last year’s USAC appearance at the 1/2-mile dirt oval. The track’s USAC history dates all the way back to USAC’s inaugural year of 1956 when Johnny Thomson and Indianapolis 500 winner Pat Flaherty won Sprint races there. Billy Pauch won the last USAC Sprint race at the Grove, more than a dozen years ago (1996).
USAC National Midget Champion Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. won last year’s race at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, which hosts Thursday night’s (June 4) race. At the time Whitt was the youngest winner in series history! Chad Boat of Phoenix, Ariz. surpassed Whitt as the youngest winner in series history last year at Hagerstown, Md. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the 2007 USAC race at Big Diamond’s .384 mile dirt oval.
Saturday night’s (June 6) race will mark the debut of USAC Sprint car racing at the 3/8-mile dirt Mercer Raceway Park, which serves as the Eastern Tour closer for the first time.
So far this year, eight different race winners have emerged from the first eight races of the season, including series point leader Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind., Jones, Whitt, defending series champion Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz., Darren Hagen, Rickie Gaunt, Josh Wise and Bobby East.
Darland enters the week of races with a 12-point lead over Jones, while Jesse Hockett, who has seven “top-7” finishes in eight starts, is only 18 back of Darland.