COONS, DRAKE, DARLAND SQUARE OFF & YELEY ENTERED IN ELDORA'S MOPAR THUNDER @ THE "4-CROWN NATIONALS;" STEELE TAKES 25-LAP IOWA SPEEDWAY USAC INAUGURAL; SANTOS SETS ALL-TIME USAC MIDGET QUALIFYING RECORD Three drivers will...
COONS, DRAKE, DARLAND SQUARE OFF & YELEY ENTERED IN ELDORA'S MOPAR THUNDER @ THE "4-CROWN NATIONALS;" STEELE TAKES 25-LAP IOWA SPEEDWAY USAC INAUGURAL; SANTOS SETS ALL-TIME USAC MIDGET QUALIFYING RECORD
Three drivers will square off for the point lead in USAC's National Midget Series in this weekend's $266,000-plus Mopar Thunder @ the "4-Crown Nationals" at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Jerry Coons Jr., Jay Drake and Dave Darland are separated by just 29 points, with a 25-lap feature event set for Saturday night on the 1/2-mile dirt oval.
The Midgets share the weekend at Eldora with USAC's Silver Crown and Sprints Car series plus UMP Modified racing. Drivers at Eldora this weekend will also be competing for significant cash bonuses, with $25,000-to-win posted in all three USAC series, plus a $100,000 Mopar bonus for winning all three. An additional $25,000 Jack Hewitt bonus awaits any driver who can win all four features Saturday. Hewitt's 1998 feat of winning all four "4-Crown" features is still considered one of the sport's most amazing accomplishments.
Of the three point leaders, Drake fared the best in USAC's debut at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa last weekend. He finished sixth in the 25-lap Midget feature on the 7/8-mile paved oval, while Darland was 11th and Coons 16th.
Drake and Darland are former "4-Crown" Midget champs. Danny Stratton is the defending winner and former race winners J.J. Yeley and Tracy Hines are also expected to compete.
Yeley is making a rare USAC start. He's spent this season competing as a rookie in the NSACAR Nextel Cup Series. He's slated to drive the Ford Racing/Clorox Beast/Esslinger Ford for "Night Before the 500" Midget champion Terry Klatt of Hastings, Neb. Klatt's pavement driver, Bobby Santos III, erased a nine-year old all-time USAC Midget qualifying record Saturday in Iowa, qualifying at 143.553 mph to beat Ryan Newman's 1997 record of 143.265 set at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado.
Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. won Sunday's 25-lap Iowa Speedway Midget race driving the Toyota/Oakley Beast/Pink Toyota. He led all but two laps to beat Tom Hessert III, Tracy Hines, Brad Loyet and Josh Wise. Santos led laps one and 20 but was involved in a three-car crash on lap 24 and did not finish.