Eldora season opener preview

3-TIME BRANSON/LARSON CHAMP DRAKE & USAC CHAMP JONES HEADLINE SATURDAY'S ELDORA SPRINT OPENER Jay Drake of Brownsburg, Ind. hopes to become the first driver in history to win three consecutive "Don Branson/Jud Larson Classics"...

3-TIME BRANSON/LARSON CHAMP DRAKE & USAC CHAMP JONES HEADLINE SATURDAY'S ELDORA SPRINT OPENER

Jay Drake of Brownsburg, Ind. hopes to become the first driver in history to win three consecutive "Don Branson/Jud Larson Classics" when the 2006 USAC National Sprint Car Series debuts this Saturday night at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. To do so he must face the challenge of defending USAC National Sprint Car Champion Levi Jones, who will pilot the Tony Stewart Racing Mopar/Bass Pro Shops Maxim/Mopar vacated by Drake at the end of the 2005 season.

Drake won the 2000 race as well as the past two runnings and has switched rides this year. He will pilot a Hannig Construction/First Financial Bank F-5/Foxco for Terre Haute, Ind. car owner Bill Biddle in Saturday night's event. A victory would also make Drake the event's only four-time winner.

The race honors the memory of the drivers who finished 1-2 in the 1964 National Sprint Car standings. Between them, they amassed 44 total USAC victories, including five at Eldora.

Defending USAC Sprint Car Champion Jones of Olney, Ill. won last year's "4-Crown Nationals" Sprint feature at the 1/2-mile dirt oval. Defending USAC National Midget Champion Josh Wise will compete as a teammate to Jones.

Defending USAC Silver Crown Champion Dave Steele and Bud Kaeding, who competed in Saturday's USAC Silver Crown opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, are also entered at Eldora, along with USAC Triple Crown Champion Dave Darland.

Jones holds the 1-lap Eldora track qualifying record of 14.750 seconds (122.034 mph) established last September.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Dave Steele , Jay Drake , Josh Wise