Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. and Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. captured the USAC feature events during Saturday night's grand opening racing program at the brand-new Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. The racing program was marred, however, by the death of Casey Diemert as a result of an accident during USAC Western Sprint Car practice. Diemert, 23, of Roseburg, Ore., suffered fatal head injuries when he crashed in turn three of the 1/2-mile paved oval. Diemert had competed in two USAC Silver Crown races in 1998, finishing seventh in the "Cooper World Classic" 50-miler at Phoenix, Ariz. and 23rd at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado. Steele outduelled teammate and defending MCI WorldCom USAC National Midget Car Champion Jason Leffler to win the 30-lap Midget Car main event. He took the lead from 1998 MCI WorldCom USAC Western Midget Car Champion Rick Hendrix on lap nine and led the rest of the way in his Wynn's/Ford/Beast/ASE/PRI Pink Ford to beat Leffler, Ryan Newman, Clay Klepper and Hendrix. Kaeding scored a hard-fought victory in the 30-lap USAC Western Sprint Car feature, beating defending series champion Jeff Gardner, Dave Fitzgerald, Rick Williams and Bobby McMahan to the checkered flag. Four drivers led the race, Kaeding taking the lead from Gardner on the 27th-lap and leading the rest of the way. Steele and Kaeding were also the fastest qualifiers for the inaugural race on the 1/2-mile oval. The MCI WorldCom USAC Western Midget Cars and TQ Midget Cars combine for a "doubleheader" racing program this Saturday night at the Ventura (Calif.) Raceway. A 20-lap TQ and 30-lap Midget Car feature are scheduled on the 1/5-mile dirt oval. The USAC Western Sprint Car Series resumes action on April 10 at the Madera (Calif.) Speedway. The Irwindale events were taped by Speedvision for airing April 5 at 9 pm (ET) and April 6 at 1 am (ET).


1.  Jason Leffler         100
2.  Clay Klepper         84
3.  Marc DeBeaumont         79
4.  Dave Steele         68
5.  John Starks         66
6.  Tracy Hines         60
7.  Ryan Newman         56
8.  Jay Drake                 56
9.  Kasey Kahne         50
10. Jimmy Sills         49


1.  Bud Kaeding         72
2.  Jeff Gardner         68
3.  Dave Fitzgerald         59
4.  Rick Williams         56
5.  Bobby McMahan         52
6.  Billy Felts, Jr.         51
7.  Mike Boat                 45
8.  Paul Beregszaszy         43
9.   Rick Hendrix         39
10. Todd Ellison         38