Irwindale's "K&N Classic" preview

Texan Paul White will try to protect his USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet point lead when the nation's most competitive racing series continues this Saturday night with the running of the "K & N Classic" at the Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. ...

Texan Paul White will try to protect his USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet point lead when the nation's most competitive racing series continues this Saturday night with the running of the "K & N Classic" at the Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. A 100-lap race is scheduled following qualifications and a "qualifying race," completing a "doubleheader" racing program also featuring the USAC Western Sprint Cars. A 40-lap Sprint car feature is on tap and practice gets under way at 3 pm. White nearly won the 100-mile race on the 1-mile dirt oval in Sacramento, Calif. last year, then led all but the first 16 laps of Sunday's Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix to take the early 2001 point lead. The win came in his 28th series start since debuting in 1999. "I hope I'm not finished," he laughs, looking forward to the Irwindale race. "I seem to run good on tight, fast tracks so we are excited about coming back to Irwindale." He earned the "Rookie of the Race" in 1999, finishing ninth, then recorded another ninth last October. "We learned a lot the first two years," he says. "The series taught us how to work on the car and make the changes needed to run up front. We spent a lot of time on the engine and tested at Phoenix in January so we were confident that this could be a good year for us. "I actually am known for my dirt racing, but got to run a late model on the pavement in San Antonio in 1989 and 1990. I struggled and never was able to win so I really didn't have a lot of pavement experience before I came to USAC." Obviously he comes to Irwindale with a big confidence boost after beating the nation's top open-wheel talent at Phoenix. He held off defending series champion Tracy Hines until late in the race when the two tapped wheels and Tracy spun into the inside wall on the frontstretch. That left pole starter Dave Steele in the runner-up spot at the checkered flag. Steele had qualified at a speed of over 140 mph the previous day. "I think I can be a factor in the title chase," he says with no hesitation. After his Phoenix victory he brought son Brian Paul and daughter Briana to the press room to be part of the memorable occasion. Brian Paul was celebrating his fourth birthday! "I just hope I can get a good starting spot and run up front early," he added. "Then if the power companies don't elect to turn the lights out on us we should be in the hunt at the end!"

<pre> USAC COORS LIGHT SILVER BULLET SERIES STANDINGS

1. Paul White 63 2. Dave Steele 60 3. Dane Carter 54 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. 51 5. Jason McCord 48 6. Dave Darland 45 7. Tony Elliott 42 8. Russ Gamester 39 9. Ed Carpenter 36 10. Davey Hamilton 33

-DICK JORDAN

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Series USAC
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Tony Elliott , Dane Carter , Russ Gamester , Paul White , Jason McCord , Jerry Coons , Ed Carpenter