Stewart Headlines Las Vegas Midget Entries Gardner Seeks Record-Setting Silver State Victory Tony Stewart is planning to return to the site of his initial USAC Silver Crown Championship victory November 24 as the United States Auto Club's ...
Stewart Headlines Las Vegas Midget Entries
Gardner Seeks Record-Setting Silver State Victory
Tony Stewart is planning to return to the site of his initial USAC Silver Crown Championship victory November 24 as the United States Auto Club's 2001 racing season closes with a Sprint Car/Midget Car "doubleheader" at Las Vegas (NV) Motor Speedway. Barring any delay in the scheduled Nov. 23 NASCAR race at Loudon, NH, Tony is expected to fly to Las Vegas to compete in the WorldCom Midget Car portion of the USAC "doubleheader."
Stewart's 1997 triumph came on the 1/2-mile dirt track but this time he'll be competing on the 3/8-mile paved "Bullring" as the WorldCom National and Western Midget Car Series combine for their final race of the season. A 40-lap feature completes the Saturday "twilight" program, which gets under way with practice at 2:30 pm and qualifying at 4:15. The first race starts at 5:30. Stewart, who won all three USAC National Championships in 1995 (Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget), will be attempting to score his fourth consecutive USAC Midget victory after 2000 triumphs at Phoenix, Ariz. and Irwindale, Calif. and an Oct. 13 win this year at South Boston, Va.
Jeff Gardner of Fresno, Calif. will also be seeking a share of the spotlight at Las Vegas as he tries to become the winningest driver in USAC history in the Silver State. He has four career USAC wins in Nevada, including a 1998 Sprint race in Las Vegas and is tied with Sleepy Tripp and Ken Nichols for the all-time lead. Gardner will compete in the Western Sprint Car portion of the "doubleheader," which concludes with a 50-lap feature event.
Nevada has hosted 59 USAC races to date since the club's inception in 1956. Stock car great Fred Lorenzen won the first event, a 147-mile race at the 1-mile dirt Las Vegas Park oval in 1959. The track, which also hosted a 1954 AAA National Championship race won by Jimmy Bryan, was located on the ground now occupied by the Hilton Hotel and the 1959 Stock car race was halted after 147 miles due to darkness!
USAC National Midget Car point leader Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. already owns one Nevada victory, coming in the only previous "National" Midget race which was held in Las Vegas in 1997. Other significant Nevada USAC winners have included Bobby Unser, who won the 150-mile championship car race at Stardust International Raceway in 1968; Greg Moore, who won a 1992 Formula 2000 race at Las Vegas International Speedway; Richie Hearn, the winner of USAC's 1996 Indy Racing League outing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Parnelli Jones, who won a 1966 Midget race at Golden Valley Speedway in Reno; and Davey Hamilton, winner of three Nevada Midget races including one in 1998 at LVMS.
Championships in USAC's WorldCom National and Western Midget Car Series and Western Sprint Car Series will all be finalized in the November 24 Las Vegas "doubleheader," which follows hot on the heels of similar "doubleheaders" at Tucson, Ariz. November 17 and Irwindale, Calif. November 22.