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Coors Light Silver Bullet Series point leader Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind. and his challengers for the 1999 series championship eye this Friday night's "Shop-N-Save 100" race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Mo. as ...

Coors Light Silver Bullet Series point leader Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind. and his challengers for the 1999 series championship eye this Friday night's "Shop-N-Save 100" race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Mo. as pivotal in the battle for this year's championship. One of Newman's challengers Friday will be 1996 Silver Bullet series runner-up Kenny Irwin, Jr., who will make his second 1999 appearance in the Aristocrat Products/Raybestos Special owned by Dayton, Ohio's Johnny Vance. Irwin qualified third-fastest for the 1999 series opener at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando, Fla. but retired after just 17 laps with ignition problems. He lost the 1996 title to Jimmy Sills by just 42 points and has six career Silver Bullet victories to his credit. Newman leads Russ Gamester of Peru, Ind. by just 11 points, with 1998 runner-up Brian Tyler only six points behind Gamester in the standings. A total of 66 points are possible in Friday's events at the 1.25-mile paved oval. Newman finished third, Tyler 16th and Gamester 29th in last year's Gateway Silver Bullet event. Newman led 15 laps of the 1998 contest, while Tyler's disappointing finish, fighting brake problems, ended his bid for the 1998 series title. Gamester lasted only 22 laps last year before a broken U-Joint forced his car to the sidelines. No driver has been able to repeat as a winner in this year's Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, adding to the unpredictability of Friday night's event. Newman (Indianapolis Raceway Park) and Tyler (Orlando, Fla.) have been to victory lane this year but Gamester's best finish has been a second although he has "top-10" finishes in every race. Other 1999 race winners so far have been Mike Bliss, Tracy Hines, Jimmy Sills and Jason Leffler. Friday's events at Gateway open with Silver Bullet practice from 11 am to noon and 12:30-1 pm. Qualifying is slated for 2-3 pm and a 15-lap "qualifying race" gets the green flag at 4:30 pm. The 80-lap, 100-mile feature starts at 9 pm and will be taped by TNN for telecast at later that evening at midnight (ET). Drivers will aim for Chuck Leary's all-time series qualifying record of 141.750 mph set in 1997.

1999 USAC COORS LIGHT SILVER BULLET SERIES STANDINGS

1.      Ryan Newman     290             6.      Jason Leffler   169
2.      Russ Gamester   279             7.      Robby Flock     168
3.      Brian Tyler     273             8.      Jack Hewitt     158
4.      J.J. Yeley      198             9.      Chet Fillip     157
5.      Tracy Hines     186             10.     Gary Hieber     155

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Series USAC
Drivers Jason Leffler , Ryan Newman , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Jack Hewitt , Brian Tyler , Mike Bliss , Chet Fillip , Russ Gamester , Gary Hieber , Jimmy Sills , Robby Flock