HAGEN TAKES CRA OPENER AT THE PAS, HEADS FOR "THE COPPER ON DIRT" AT PHOENIX' MANZANITA Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif. leads the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars into battle this weekend in the inaugural "The Copper on Dirt" USAC tripleheader at...
HAGEN TAKES CRA OPENER AT THE PAS, HEADS FOR "THE COPPER ON DIRT" AT PHOENIX' MANZANITA
Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif. leads the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars into battle this weekend in the inaugural "The Copper on Dirt" USAC tripleheader at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. Friday and Saturday's event, presented by Sands Chevrolet, salutes the memory of Roger McCluskey and Gene Brown and features USAC's Silver Crown Cars, National/Western Midgets and the USAC/CRA Sprints.
Hagen emerged victorious in Saturday night's 2007 USAC/CRA series opener at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, beating Danny Sheridan to the checkered flag in the 30-lap main event. The victory put Hagen atop the series standings heading into this weekend's Phoenix program.
Prelims, including heats for all three series, are slated Friday, with semi-feature and main events Saturday. A 30-lap race is on tap for the Midgets, with a 40-lapper scheduled for the USAC/CRA Sprints and a 50-lap finale for the Silver Crown Cars.
Defending USAC/CRA Sprint Car Champion Cory Kruseman, who missed Saturday's Perris opener while competing in New Zealand, will return for this weekend's Phoenix program.
Taking the lead at the drop of the green flag, Hagen led by more than a half straightaway midway through the Perris race before encountering slower traffic. Sheridan caught up and tried desperately to get by on the inside before Hagen split the slower traffic in the waning laps.
But Sheridan stuck close, weaving through the traffic for his last-lap, last-ditch effort. He ducked low in Turn 1 on the final lap, then attempted high as the pair came off Turn 4. Using momentum, it appeared Sheridan, for a moment, had a shot, but his effort failed, and instead the two made contact as they crossed under the checkered flags.
The win, which came in Mark Preistley's No. 7 Roy Miller Freightlines/Sander Engineering Bullet/Mopar, was the first for the team in the series.
Josh Ford and Jason York were involved in a violent flip on Lap 3 on the backstretch before coming to rest. Both drivers emerged from their cars under their own power, escaping serious injury.
Tony Jones, one of the favorites to win the series championship, set the night's fast time at 16.811 seconds. Mike Spencer, in his first race with the No. 50 Ron Chaffin team, broke a Jacobs ladder in his heat, the came back to finish 10th in the feature.
Rickie Gaunt finished third, ahead of Jones and Rip Williams.