Eldora: Season opener preview

DRAKE OPENS TITLE DEFENSE IN ELDORA'S "BRANSON/LARSON" SPRINT CAR OPENER Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif. and teammate Josh Wise of Riverside, Calif. will help christen car owner Tony Stewart's newly-acquired Eldora Speedway in this...

DRAKE OPENS TITLE DEFENSE IN ELDORA'S "BRANSON/LARSON" SPRINT CAR OPENER

Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif. and teammate Josh Wise of Riverside, Calif. will help christen car owner Tony Stewart's newly-acquired Eldora Speedway in this Saturday night's "Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic," the opening event of the 2005 Valvoline USAC National Sprint Car Series.

Stewart acquired the track from legendary race organizer Earl Baltes at the close of the 2004 season and Drake, the defending national champion, holds the 1-lap track standard of 15.232 seconds. He also holds the eight-lap track record which will be up for grabs in Saturday's heat races.

Wise, last year's USAC National Sprint Car "Rookie of the Year," won a pair of races on his way to 10th in the series standings. He and Drake will pilot Tony Stewart Racing Mopar/Vital Express Eagles.

Cory Kruseman of Ventura, Calif., who drove a Stewart entry in 2004, returns this Saturday to drive for Keith Kunz Motorsports in one of his selected Midwestern appearances. Kruseman has moved back to California to compete fulltime there and has already won twice in this year's USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series, including last Saturday night at Perris, Calif.

Josh Ford of Camarillo, Calif., "Co-Rookie of the Year" in 2004, also returns for the Eldora opener, along with 2004 Valvoline "Indiana Sprint Week" Champion Levi Jones of Olney, Ill., 2004 HARF "Driver of the Year" Jon Stanbrough of Jamestown, Ind., USAC Triple Crown Champion Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind., and former "Tony Hulman Classic" Champion Terry Pletch of Frankfort, Ind.

Drake is also a two-time and defending champion (2000, 2004) of the "Branson/Larson Classic" and will be joined Saturday by 2001 race winner Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., USAC's 2002 National Sprint Car Champion.

Practice Saturday night gets under way at 6:30 pm and the feature event is a 30-lapper.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Cory Kruseman , Jay Drake , Levi Jones , Josh Wise , Jon Stanbrough , Josh Ford