DARLAND, ELLIOTT READY FOR "HEROES OF SPRINT CAR RACING CLASSIC" USAC ENDS 4-YEAR HIATUS AT TRI-CITY OCTOBER 2 "Arch" rivals Dave Darland and Tony Elliott are gearing up for the October 2 "Heroes of Sprint Car Racing Classic" at the ...
DARLAND, ELLIOTT READY FOR "HEROES OF SPRINT CAR RACING CLASSIC" USAC ENDS 4-YEAR HIATUS AT TRI-CITY OCTOBER 2
"Arch" rivals Dave Darland and Tony Elliott are gearing up for the October 2 "Heroes of Sprint Car Racing Classic" at the Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. The race, which will be presented by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa, marks the Stoops Freightliner USAC Sprint Car Series' first appearance in the St. Louis, Mo. area in four years.
Just as 1998 was Tony Elliott's "year," 1999 is Darland's "year." Elliott, of Kokomo, Ind., captured last year's Stoops Freightliner championship and was one of three drivers to score feature wins in all three of USAC's major series. Darland, also of Kokomo, Ind., is on his way to this year's Stoops Freightliner championship and is one of only two drivers to win in all of USAC's three major series (Ryan Newman is the other).
Ironically, although Darland has nine USAC wins this year and Elliott has five, the only two times they have finished 1-2 in 1999 Elliott has prevailed. Both occurred within the past month, in the August 28 Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Sprint race and the Labor Day (Sept. 6) DuQuoin, Ill. Coors Light Silver Bullet race.
Darland nosed Elliott for the 1998 Pennzoil "Indiana Sprint Week" title by a single point, then Elliott returned the favor by beating Darland for this year's Pennzoil "Indiana Sprint Week" crown. Darland's 1999 triumphs include the recent "Tony Bettenhausen 100" Silver Bullet race at Springfield, Ill., five Midget Car races and three Sprints. Major wins were the "Indiana Sprint Week" race at Putnamville, Ind. in July and the "Belleville Midget Nationals" and "Hut Hundred" Midget events in August and September.
Elliott has posted four wins in the Sprint cars, the last three on dirt, and won the September 6 "Southern Illinoisan 100" Silver Bullet race at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.
Tony Stewart won USAC's last race at Granite City on his way to the 1995 USAC Sprint Car championship. The October 2 race could be the launching ramp for yet another major star in American motorsports, with top open-wheel talent from across the country expected to compete on the fast 1/2-mile dirt oval.
Trailing Stewart to the checkered flag in the 1995 race was Jack Hewitt, whose victory at Lawrenceburg, Ind. earlier this season gave him a career total of 44, would like nothing better than to notch #45 at Tri-City. That would tie him with the legendary Larry Dickson for second on USAC's all-time Sprint Car feature winners list. Hewitt is scheduled to compete in all four segments of this coming weekend's "4-Crown Nationals" at Rossburg, Ohio, an event he "swept" last year by winning all four features in one day!
Practice at Granite City on October 2 starts at 6 pm. Qualifying is slated for 6:30 and the first race gets under way at 7:30. The "Heroes of Sprint Car Racing Classic" feature will be 30 laps.