FF: Memphis: "Big M Motorfest" preview

Steele, Drake, Darland Lead USAC Series To "Big M Motorfest" At Memphis Friday & Saturday Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn. hosts the inaugural "Big M Motorfest" this weekend, showcasing USAC's Weld Racing Silver ...

Steele, Drake, Darland Lead USAC Series To "Big M Motorfest" At Memphis Friday & Saturday

Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn. hosts the inaugural "Big M Motorfest" this weekend, showcasing USAC's Weld Racing Silver Crown Series, Valvoline National Sprint Car Series and Midwest Ford Focus Midget Car Series. Friday night's Sprint and Midget races are at the complex's 1/4-mile dirt oval, while Saturday afternoon's "Mid-South USAC 100" Silver Crown race is on the big 3/4-mile pavement.

Numerous drivers are scheduled to compete on both surfaces in the events comprising the "Mid-South Open Wheel Fury," with Friday's Sprint car event, the "410 Wingless Challenge," featuring USAC drivers in a shootout against O'Reilly Sprint Bandit drivers.

Practice starts at 5:20 pm on Friday, with qualifying on the dirt oval at 6:30 and racing at 7:30. A 30-lap feature is on tap for both the Sprints cars and Ford Focuses. Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif. leads the Valvoline Sprint Car standings, while Trenton Darland leads the Midwest Ford Focus points.

Saturday's 100-lap Silver Crown program includes practice from 9:30-11 am and qualifying at 11:30. A 15-lap "qualifying race" starts at 1 pm, to be followed by the 100-lap main event.

Sammy Swindell of Germantown, Tenn, plus Texans Paul White and Murray Erickson and Oklahoma's Shane Stewart will command local interest Saturday, while Indy Racing League vets Jimmy Kite, Dave Steele, Brian Tyler and P.J. Jones are also entered, along with NASCAR Craftsman Truck vet Tracy Hines, Indianapolis and Daytona 500 vet Chet Fillip, Menards Infiniti Pro drivers Aaron Fike and Jay Drake and USAC Ford Focus lady driver Samantha Weakley, who will make her Silver Crown debut at Memphis.

Steele leads the Silver Crown standings after his victory at Phoenix, Ariz. in March, but Tyler is the defending Memphis winner, taking the 100-lapper on USAC's last MMP appearance in 2000. Steele won the first USAC Silver Crown race at Memphis in 1998 and Brad Noffsinger won the 1999 race.

Drivers will aim at Steele's 1-lap Silver Crown track qualifying record of 129.789 mph during qualifying.

WELD RACING USAC SILVER CROWN SERIES STANDINGS
1.-Dave Steele-66
2.-Tracy Hines-57
3.-Chet Fillip-54
4.-Andy Pierce-51
5.-Jason McCord-48
6.-Russ Gamester-45
7.-Michael Lewis-42
8.-Brian Tyler-39
9.-Carl Edwards-36
10.-Paul White-33

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Series USAC
Drivers Jimmy Kite , Michael Lewis , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , P.J. Jones , Sammy Swindell , Aaron Fike , Carl Edwards , Jay Drake , Chet Fillip , Brad Noffsinger , Russ Gamester , Paul White , Murray Erickson , Jason McCord , Shane Stewart