An ambitious 41-race schedule was announced Monday for the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, which is expanding its number of tracks visited and races completed in 2007.

The schedule visits one of its most supportive tracks to begin and end the season, while new excursions to other facilities are to take place throughout the season. In all, seven tracks are scheduled to host at least one USAC/CRA event.

The CRA Sprint anchor track -- Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway -- kicks off the 2007 season with a 30-lap race Feb. 3, and the half-mile also closes the season Nov. 17 with the annual "Kindoll Classic." In between, Perris, which hosts 21 races overall, hosts the "Salute to the Indianapolis 500" and the 12th annual "Budweiser Oval Nationals."

Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix also will hold a bulk of CRA Sprint races in 2007. The inaugural "The Copper" will be run in conjunction with the Silver Crown and National and Western Midget Car Series Feb. 9-10, the second weekend of the season, for one of its premiere events. The "Western World Championships" are also scheduled Nov. 9-10. A host of other one-day races have also been confirmed.

Joining the schedule for the first time are two tracks. The Dirt Track at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway will have three dates at the track, two to be run in conjunction with the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile track located a stone's throw from the half-mile. Those dates are March 8-9. The third date is Oct. 27.

Also taking part is Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., which has a history of hosting traditional Sprint car racing in past years. The 3/8-mile track is scheduled for May 27.

Return trips to Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway, Ventura (Calif.) Raceway, and USA Raceway Park in Tucson, Ariz., Ventura and USA all hosted multiple races on the calendar in 2006, and will do so again in 2007, are also in order. Santa Maria

A pair of "to be announced" tracks are listed on the schedule for Feb. 24 and June 30.

"We're really excited for the 2007 season," said USAC Western States Coordinator Chris Morgan. "The quality of these tracks and number of dates should make the 2007 CRA season the most competitive it's been under USAC sanction since the series started in 2004. We look forward to a safe season, both on and off the track."

Cory Kruseman of Ventura won the 2006 championship, and will have to fend off drivers Mike Spencer and Tony Jones to defend the title. The trio combined for 15 of the 38 feature wins in 2006.

-credit: usac