Series Eastern Storm Sprint Tour preview

"EASTERN STORM" SPRINT TOUR OPENS TUESDAY AT GRANDVIEW This week's "Eastern Storm" Thunder & Lightning USAC National Sprint Car tour opens Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. and should serve as a critical segment of the...

"EASTERN STORM" SPRINT TOUR OPENS TUESDAY AT GRANDVIEW

This week's "Eastern Storm" Thunder & Lightning USAC National Sprint Car tour opens Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. and should serve as a critical segment of the 2009 series championship battle.

Four Pennsylvania races in five nights conclude Saturday at Mercer Raceway Park, which will be hosting its first USAC event. In between, Williams Grove Speedway is the Wednesday night venue and Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville is the Thursday night location.

Only 18 points separate the top-three in the USAC National Sprint car points going into the "Eastern Storm" tour. Lincoln, Ind.'s Dave Darland is atop the standings, 12 ahead of Avon, Ind. driver Levi Jones and 18 ahead of Warsaw, Mo. driver Jesse Hockett.

Darland, one of only five USAC "Triple Crown" Champions, won the Sprint championship in 1999, while Jones laid claim to the title in 2005 and 2007 and was runner-up to Jerry Coons Jr. last year. Hockett's best previous point rank was fifth in 2007.

The "Keystone State" has long been a traditional stomping ground for USAC racers. Tommy Hinnershitz won the first USAC race in Pennsylvania at the Reading Fairgrounds in 1956. A.J. Foyt is the all-time leader in terms of USAC wins in the state at 23.

Eight different drivers have won features so far in the 2009 USAC National Sprint Car series. Darland, Jones and Coons are among those. Other winners so far include Darren Hagen, Cole Whitt, Rickie Gaunt, Josh Wise and Bobby East.

Whitt, USAC's 2008 National Midget Champion, won last year's race at Big Diamond Raceway, while Tony Stewart Racing teammates Levi Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won races in 2007 at Grandview and Big Diamond respectively. Jones' teammate on the Stewart team this year is 2002 USAC National Sprint Car Champion Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind.

-credit: usac

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About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Bobby East , Levi Jones , Josh Wise , Jesse Hockett , Darren Hagen , Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , Cole Whitt , A.J. Foyt , Jerry Coons Jr.
Teams Williams