Series Manzanita tripleheader pre-event notes

"COPPER ON DIRT" OPENS 2009 USAC SEASON AT PHOENIX Jerry Coons Jr., Shane Cottle and Darren Hagen are the defending champions in this weekend's "Copper on Dirt" as Sands Chevrolet presents the third running of the USAC "tripleheader" at...

"COPPER ON DIRT" OPENS 2009 USAC SEASON AT PHOENIX

Jerry Coons Jr., Shane Cottle and Darren Hagen are the defending champions in this weekend's "Copper on Dirt" as Sands Chevrolet presents the third running of the USAC "tripleheader" at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz.

Coons won last year's K & N Silver Crown 50-lapper and went on to win the series championship. Cottle won the 40-lap National & Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprint race and followed that three months later with a victory in the prestigious ""Little 500" Sprint car spectacular at Anderson, Ind. Hagen followed his 25-lap Mopar National and Western Midget victory with wins in the "Rich Vogler Classic" and "Border Wars" Sprint races at the lightning-fast Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.

Coons returns with his K & N Silver Crown championship team, RW Motorsports of Lederach, Pa. Hagen will pilot a Midget for RFMS Racing of Galesburg, Ill., while Cottle's Sprint car status remains undetermined at press time.

Preliminary events on Friday include qualifications, heat races and 10-lap "Copper Bowl Shootouts" for each racing series on the 1/2-mile dirt oval. Saturday's semi-features will precede the 25-lap Midget, 40-lap Sprint and 50-lap Silver Crown championships.

Manzanita Speedway is one of only three tracks to host all three USAC National series in 2009. Eldora Speedway is the other to host all three on the same weekend, with its "4-Crown Nationals" September 26. Iowa Speedway is the only paved track hosting all three, with the Midgets slated June 19 and the Silver Crown and sprints on July 31.

National track records up for grabs during qualifying currently belong to Jon Stanbrough (Silver Crown -- 20.070 seconds), Levi Jones (Sprint -- 18.301) and Josh Ford (Midget -- 19.729).

Drivers winning 2008 USAC races at Manzanita to keep an eye on this weekend are Hagen, Cottle, Coons, Jeremy Sherman and Kevin Swindell. Sherman won a USAC/CRA Sprint race last March, while Swindell swept last November's "Western World Championship" sprints.

This weekend's races kick off an eight-day extravaganza of USAC racing in the west, including the Feb. 25 "Las Vegas Super Sprint Classic" in Las Vegas, Nev. and the Feb. 28 "Sokola Classic" in Perris, Calif. The events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Dirt Track and at Perris Auto Speedway include the National and Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprints and the Mopar National and Western Midgets.

-credit: --USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Kevin Swindell , Levi Jones , Jon Stanbrough , Shane Cottle , Josh Ford , Darren Hagen , Jerry Coons Jr.