Eldora V: Mopar Thunder preview

HUNTLEY, GAINES TEAM SET FOR SATURDAY'S "MOPAR THUNDER" Defending "Mopar Thunder" Champion Kevin Huntley of Bloomington, Ind. and teammate Dickie Gaines of Mitchell, Ind. headline the preliminary entries for this weekend's renewal...

HUNTLEY, GAINES TEAM SET FOR SATURDAY'S "MOPAR THUNDER"

Defending "Mopar Thunder" Champion Kevin Huntley of Bloomington, Ind. and teammate Dickie Gaines of Mitchell, Ind. headline the preliminary entries for this weekend's renewal of America's richest non-winged Sprint Car race at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Saturday's event at the 1/ 2-mile dirt oval offers $166,600 in prize money, with $50,000 of that targeted for the winner.

Huntley won last year's race, while Gaines, his Roberts Motorsports teammate, won this year's USAC "Buckeye Nationals" Sprint Car title. Huntley also holds the track's 30-lap record of 104.913 mph which he set in a 1997 victory, although Saturday night's finale is a 40-lapper.

USAC Valvoline National Sprint Car point leader Levi Jones and runner-up Dave Darland are expected to provide fireworks as they continue their torrid duel for the 2005 series crown, separated by only two points! Lurking in the shadows is defending series champion Jay Drake, only 22 out of the lead! Saturday's events offer 74 points, so the series lead is definitely up for grabs.

Jones won the 2004 Valvoline "Indiana Sprint Week" title and took second in this year's ISW standings behind Cory Kruseman.

"Top-five" point drivers Josh Wise and Bud Kaeding are also expected to be among top favorites for victory Saturday. Wise currently leads the USAC National Midget standings.

Jerry Coons, Jr. also bears watching this weekend driving for the winningest team in USAC Sprint Car history the Hoffmans of Milford, Ohio. Coons is fresh from last Saturday night's tremendous victory in the famed "Belleville Midget Nationals" feature in Kansas.

Gates open at Eldora Saturday at 1 pm. Practice is scheduled to start at 5 pm, following a driver autograph session, and racing begins at 8.

USAC VALVOLINE NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1.-Levi Jones-881
2.-Dave Darland-879
3.-Jay Drake-859
4.-Josh Wise-763
5.-Bud Kaeding-737
6.-Mat Neely-687
7.-Jon Stanbrough-528
8.-Darren Hagen-443
9.-Tracy Hines-439
10.-Justin Marvel-435

-usac-

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Series USAC
Drivers Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Bud Kaeding , Cory Kruseman , Jay Drake , Levi Jones , Jerry Coons , Josh Wise , Jon Stanbrough , Darren Hagen