Tony Stewart Racing Fired Up for First Round of USAC's Chevy Indiana Sprint Week Jones, Hines Ready To Roll At Opening Nights of USAC Sprint Series Action INDIANAPOLIS (July 7, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Levi Jones and Tracy...
Tony Stewart Racing Fired Up for First Round of USAC's Chevy
Indiana Sprint Week
Jones, Hines Ready To Roll At Opening Nights of USAC Sprint Series Action
INDIANAPOLIS (July 7, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Levi Jones and Tracy Hines are ready for the first round of the 2008 USAC Chevy Indiana Sprint Week (ISW). With only a few days to go until the start of the eight-race mini-series, the TSR duo has its sites set on taking as many checkered flags as possible when the green flag drops Wednesday.
With two doubleheaders and a stand-alone event on tap, the USAC National Sprint Car Series will begin its roughest stretch of the season at the newly reconfigured Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday. The series will then move on to Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway for a two-day event on Friday and Saturday. The first leg of the mini-series will wrap up at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway Sunday.
Heading into the week's five-race stretch, Jones is currently sitting in the driver's seat as he leads the USAC Sprint Series standings by a hefty 27 points. He'll look to use the eight-race mini-series to extend that lead in his quest for his third series championship. Jones has three Sprint car victories to his credit thus far in 2008, and he'll also look to earn his second career USAC ISW title. He took top honors in 2004.
For Hines, this week's racing action will be the first time since 2003 that he'll compete in the entire ISW series. The 2002 USAC Sprint Series champion has already won two feature events this season, having picked up two victories at team owner Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway. Hines enters the week ranked third in the USAC Sprint Series standings, only 60 points behind Jones.
Jones' last ISW events at Lawrenceburg Speedway saw him earn an eighth-place finish on July 11, 2007, and a third-place finish the next day. Hines' last event at the recently expanded facility saw him earn a 13th-place finish on April 21, 2007. At Gas City I-69 Speedway, Jones finished fourth in USAC Sprint Series competition on April 18, 2008. Hines was caught up in an early race accident on the tight quarter-mile that left him with a 24th-place finish. On July 15, 2007, Jones finished sixth at Kokomo Speedway in ISW competition. Hines' last ISW event at the quarter-mile facility saw him finish 11th on July 23, 2003.
This week's Chevy ISW doubleheader will kick off with two 30-lap features at the 3/8-mile, high-banked clay oval of Lawrenceburg Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday. Pit gates will open to competitors at 2 p.m. EDT with grandstands opening to the public at 5 p.m. Race fans can purchase tickets the day of the event or by calling 812-539-4700. The official Web site of Lawrenceburg is www.lawrenceburgspeedway.com.
For Friday and Saturday's 30-lap doubleheader at Gas City I-69 Speedway, gates open to the public at 4 p.m. EDT. Race fans can purchase tickets at the gate both days or by calling 765-674-6135 or 765-384-7285. For more information regarding Gas City, log on to www.gascityI69speedway.com.
For Sunday's 30-lap event at Kokomo Speedway, grandstand gates will open to the public at 4 p.m. EDT. Tickets can be purchased by calling 765-459-3877 or at the gate the day of the race. The official Web site of Kokomo Speedway is www.kokomospeedway.net.
Levi Jones, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Chevrolet/Maxim -- USAC National Sprint Car Series Dirt Car
This week's doubleheader at Lawrenceburg Speedway will be the first time you've raced at the track since it was reconfigured. What do you expect as you head there on Wednesday and Thursday?
"I'm really excited to see the track since the work has been completed. From what I've heard from other drivers that have raced there this year, Lawrenceburg is going to be one of the nicest tracks in the country that we race at with its new look. Having that type of a track in Indiana is really good for the sport of dirt track racing, as well as the state. To have a facility like this in our home state is pretty cool and I think it's great that the track is such a great part of Chevy Indiana Sprint Week."
With so many talented drivers and teams competing in the USAC Sprint Series this year, how close do you expect the racing to be?
"On any given night, you have at least 25 cars that can win. On top of that, there are at least 10 teams that could possibly win Sprint Week. This week is the toughest on our schedule all year, and we fully expect to have close racing every night. The TSR team is really prepared for the next eight races. I am really confident going into Sprint Week this year. I know that Rob (Hart, crew chief) and the guys have put in a lot of time at the shop making sure we're as ready as we can be for anything that might come at us in the next two weeks. I think that we're going to have a great chance of winning several races and the Sprint Week title this year."
Sprint Week is grueling, both mentally and physically, on teams and drivers. How do you prepare for such a demanding stretch of racing?
"I think that a lot of what can make or break a team's Sprint Week performance is attitude. You go out and do the best you can each night. Win or lose, you can't dwell on what might have worked or what should have worked if things don't go well. With so many races this close together, you get out of the car and spend some time thinking about what you need to do the at the next race rather than get down on what you think could have gone better that night. With Sprint Week, you have to move on to the next race, the next night, and put yourself in the now rather than the past."
Are you looking forward to competing at any particular track this week more so than the others?
"Actually, I'm looking forward to all eight Sprint Week races. This is the best time of the year, of the season, in my opinion. It's going to be pretty cool to run one of the first big events at Lawrenceburg since it's been reworked. Gas City and Kokomo are pretty typical Indiana dirt tracks. Even though we're running doubleheaders at those tracks, you're pretty much guaranteed that the racing surface won't be the same from night to night. All three tracks are ones that I've had some success at in the past and I'm ready to get the week started."
In terms of the big picture, where Chevy Indiana Sprint Week is concerned, do you concentrate on winning races or points?
"We're absolutely going for the wins this week. If you win races, the points will take care of themselves. With Chevy being the presenting sponsor of Sprint Week, it would be awesome to be able to put both TSR cars in the winner's circle or on the podium all eight nights. Tracy (Hines, teammate) and I both have two USAC Sprint Series wins this season. It would be great to add to both of our totals over the next 11 days."
Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 21 TSR/Chevrolet/Maxim -- USAC National Sprint Car Series Dirt Car
Of the three race tracks that Tony Stewart Racing will visit this week, which track is the toughest?
"I've not had a lot of great luck at any of the three tracks we're going to race at this year. The year started out a little off at Gas City in April but we were able to get some laps in. I've also raced at Kokomo three times already this year when we've had time off from the USAC schedule. I think that we're going to be in good shape for all five races this week, though, as the TSR team has put a lot of preparation into Sprint Week. We'll go into each event this week ready for whatever might come up."
This will be your first time at Lawrenceburg Speedway since it was reconfigured. Are you looking forward to the doubleheader?
"I'm pretty excited about racing at Lawrenceburg on Wednesday and Thursday. I've seen the track since it's been expanded and it looks like a really fast, interesting race track to race on. The straight-aways are longer. It's wider and it's got more banking that it had in the past. I think that both the drivers and fans are going to see two very exciting races this week."
How do you, as a driver, and the team prepare for an extended period of racing like the next two weeks will present?
"Most of the preparations for a long run of racing are done in the shop. The TSR team has been working to make sure the cars are ready, both primary and back-up. They've also been working to build spare parts and to make sure we have everything available that we might need as the nights of racing progress. The past week has been spent preparing parts, mounting tires and stocking the truck with whatever we might need on a day-to-day basis."
Was it good to have last week off as you prepare for Chevy Indiana Sprint Week?
"I think it was definitely good for the TSR crew to have some time at home and off the road. They were able to catch up on some rest and to spend some time with their families. For me, the week was pretty calm, as well. My family and I didn't have any big plans for the holiday and I spent much of the week working on my race car in my shop at home. I know that the team will be ready to go when Wednesday arrives and that we're going to have a great chance to put Chevy and Bass Pro Shops in the winner's circle several times in the next couple of weeks."
Which night of Chevy Indiana Sprint Week racing are you looking forward to the most this week?
"I'm really looking forward to running at Lawrenceburg on Wednesday and Thursday. It looks like a miniature Eldora Speedway since they reconfigured it. It's got a lot of banking and I know it's going to be really racy. The similarity to Eldora could be a good omen for us, as we've had success at Eldora both in the past and this season. It would be pretty cool to put Chevy in the winner's circle at Lawrenceburg during Sprint Week."
For complete results from this week's USAC Chevy Indiana Sprint Week events, log on to www.usacracing.com. For information regarding TSR, Chevy or Bass Pro Shops, visit www.tonystewartracing.com, www.chevy.com or www.basspro.com.