Illiniois: Round 8 preview

"BETTENHAUSEN 100" CRITICAL FOR SILVER CROWN LEADERS Weld Racing Silver Crown Series point leaders Dave Steele and Josh Wise view this Saturday's "Tony Bettenhausen 100" at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield as critical...

"BETTENHAUSEN 100" CRITICAL FOR SILVER CROWN LEADERS

Weld Racing Silver Crown Series point leaders Dave Steele and Josh Wise view this Saturday's "Tony Bettenhausen 100" at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield as critical in their bid for the 2005 series championship.

Steele, the defending champion from Tampa, Fla., will seek his fourth victory of the year in Saturday's 100-miler, while Wise, a series rookie from Riverside, Calif., hopes to match his performance earlier this season on the dirt at Terre Haute, Ind. where he won the "Sumar Classic 100."

Steele has smashed several series records this season, including total career laps led, and is seeking a 15th career Silver Crown victory. All 14 previous wins have come on the pavement, however. His best dirt finish this year was a seventh at Terre Haute.

Wise, who trails Steele by 42 points with 66 available Saturday, has strung together six consecutive "top-10" finishes, including the victory at Indianapolis in May. He and Steele compete in cars owned by Tony Stewart, although Steele's car is co-owned by Bob East. Jay Drake, who also pilots a Tony Stewart entry in the series, will seek his fifth "top-10" finish this season at Springfield and ranks fourth in the current standings behind Brian Tyler.

Tyler, of Parma, Mich., might be the driver to watch Saturday at Springfield. The defending race champion has a remarkable record of coming from the rear of the field in dirt-track Silver Crown races. Last year he started 21st but led the final 53 laps for the victory!

Former "Tony Bettenhausen 100" race winners Dave Darland, Paul White and Russ Gamester also offer a formidable challenge for the point leaders Saturday.

The Springfield race is the first of three on dirt which will conclude the 2005 championship. The "Ted Horn 100" is slated Sept. 4 at DuQuoin, Ill. and the "4-Crown Nationals" serves as the finale Sept. 23-24 at Rossburg, Ohio.

USAC WELD RACING SILVER CROWN SERIES STANDINGS
1.-Dave Steele-345
2.-Josh Wise-303
3.-Brian Tyler-254
4.-Jay Drake-239
5.-Bud Kaeding-221
6.-Wayne Reutimann, Jr.-185
7.-Jason McCord-184
8.-Ron Gregory-181
9.-Eric Gordon-178
10.-John Heydenreich-178

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Dave Darland , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Bud Kaeding , Jay Drake , John Heydenreich , Russ Gamester , Eric Gordon , Ron Gregory , Jason McCord , Josh Wise , Wayne Reutimann , Tony Bettenhausen