Gamester returns to Nazareth with point lead

"I'm really looking forward to coming back to Nazareth," says Russ Gamester of Peru, Ind., the leader in the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series. Gamester missed last year's Nazareth race to pass his Indy Racing League driver's test at the ...

"I'm really looking forward to coming back to Nazareth," says Russ Gamester of Peru, Ind., the leader in the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series. Gamester missed last year's Nazareth race to pass his Indy Racing League driver's test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This weekend's race at the 1-mile paved Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway oval is round three of the 2001 series and Gamester has a three-point lead over runner-up Jason McCord going into the event, which will be broadcast on local cable television (TV2 and TV13).

"We really struggled with a brand-new car here in 1999," admits Gamester. "But I learned a lot. Nazareth is a very challenging track and you have to use your head to be competitive." He finished 10th in the 1999 race, the first for the series on Nazareth's pavement. "It won't take me many laps to refresh my memory of the track. I'll know how good we are after the initial practice laps."

Russ won the 100-lap race at Irwindale, Calif. March 24 and finished eighth in the series-opener at Phoenix, Ariz. The Irwindale victory was his fifth in the past four years and he'll seek his 90th career series start at Nazareth. He has led nine races for a total of 333 laps led in his Silver Bullet career.

Gamester's competition at Nazareth includes defending race winner and series champion Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., fresh from his USAC Sprint Car victory at Rossburg, Ohio Saturday night. Paul White of Temple, Texas, who won the "Copper World" opener at Phoenix in March, is also among top threats for victory in Saturday's 100-miler.

The field of entrants also includes former Silver Bullet champion Dave Darland, plus USAC Sprint Car Champion Tony Elliott and USAC National Midget Car Champion Kasey Kahne. Jay Drake, who won 19 USAC feature events last year to tie the all-time single-season record, is also entered, as well as pavement specialists Brian Tyler and Dave Steele. J.J. Yeley, who won Friday's USAC Sprint race at Attica, Ohio and Ed Carpenter, last year's Nazareth "Rookie of the Race," are also in the field, but they'll all have to contend with Pennsylvania's own Gary Hieber and Brad Noffsinger of Concord, NC when time trials start at 5 pm Friday.

Hieber set the 1-lap track record of 139.524 mph last April but Noffsinger owns the ultimate series qualifying record of 143.093 mph set last May at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.

Friday's practice periods are from 8-8:30 am and noon-1 pm. A 15-lap "qualifying race" is scheduled for 8 am Saturday and the 100-mile race gets the green flag at 3:15 pm. <pre> USAC COORS LIGHT SILVER BULLET SERIES STANDINGS

1. Russ Gamester 99 2. Jason McCord 96 3. Paul White 90 4. Kasey Kahne 76 5. Dave Steele 75 6. Tony Elliott 73 7. Dane Carter 71 8. J.J. Yeley 68 9. Dave Darland 67 10. Ed Carpenter 65

-USAC-

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Series USAC
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Tony Elliott , Jay Drake , Dane Carter , Brad Noffsinger , Russ Gamester , Paul White , Jason McCord , Gary Hieber , Ed Carpenter