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).
MCI WORLDCOM WESTERN MIDGET CAR STANDINGS
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
WESTERN SPRINT CAR STANDINGS
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