Tony Elliott of Kokomo, Ind. still has an open place in his trophy case. He's holding it for the "Tony Hulman Classic" trophy he hopes to snare for the first time when the 31st running of the USAC Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car race unfolds May 19...
Tony Elliott of Kokomo, Ind. still has an open place in his trophy case. He's holding it for the "Tony Hulman Classic" trophy he hopes to snare for the first time when the 31st running of the USAC Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car race unfolds May 19 at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track.
Eight of Tony's 11 previous "Tony Hulman Classic" starts have resulted in "top-10" finishes, his best finish coming in 1998 when he was third. Although he has never led the race he feels he had a great chance to win in 1998.
"I had a left rear tire go flat and we had to settle for third that year," he admits. "But I feel real good about this year's race. We've had a few problems with the car this year but we've got them sorted out and I think this is my best shot yet at winning this race. I know I have the best team out there and we are optimistic."
Elliott, who won his second Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Championship last year, has 21 career feature wins in the series including 1998 and 1999 triumphs on Terre Haute's 1/2-mile dirt track.
"It would be great to win this race," added Elliott. "The Hulman name obviously means a lot to us all and hopefully a victory in the "Tony Hulman Classic" would open some eyes at IMS, a place I'd like to be racing."
The May 19 race continues a tradition which started with George Snider's victory in the 1971 inaugural and the winners of the race make up a who's-who of American Sprint car racing, including Gary Bettenhausen, Pancho Carter, Jan Opperman, Jack Hewitt, Rich Vogler, Dave Darland, Doug Kalitta, J.J. Yeley and most recently - Jay Drake.
Drake could be Elliott's biggest threat on May 19. He's won three of the last four races at Terre Haute, including last year's "Terre Haute Nationals," and chased Elliott to the wire in last year's Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car standings.
Drake is still seeking his first USAC victory of the 2001 racing season after winning a record-tying 19 feature events last year, including the "Tony Hulman Classic" in only his second try.
Practice for the 31st Annual "Tony Hulman Classic" opens at 6:30 pm and qualifying gets under way at 7. Racing starts at 8. Former winners expected to be in this year's field, in addition to Drake, are 1999 winner Terry Pletch, 1997 winner J.J. Yeley, 1983 and 1995 winner Jack Hewitt, 1993 winner Dave Darland and 1991 champion Eric Gordon.