IRP II: J.D. Byrider 100 preview

Bliss, Leffler, Edwards return for "J.D. Byrider 100" at IRP It'll be like a "class reunion" of sorts at Indianapolis Raceway Park Thursday night when the USAC Weld Racing Series returns to the .686-mile paved oval for the "J.D. Byrider 100,"...

Bliss, Leffler, Edwards return for "J.D. Byrider 100" at IRP

It'll be like a "class reunion" of sorts at Indianapolis Raceway Park Thursday night when the USAC Weld Racing Series returns to the .686-mile paved oval for the "J.D. Byrider 100," part of the track's 2003 "Kroger SpeedFest."

Former series champions Mike Bliss and Jason Leffler and former series participant Carl Edwards are all among entered drivers in Thursday's race. Each has earned significant "firsts" in major racing series this year. Bliss notched his initial True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) triumph July 12 at Chicagoland Speedway, while Leffler and Edwards earned their initial NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins this year as well. Leffler won at Dover, Del. June 2 and Edwards won at Kentucky Speedway July 12.

Bliss, of Milwaukie, Ore., owns more USAC victories at IRP than any driver in history, 12, which includes five in Silver Crown competition. The 1993 Silver crown Champion will drive the Rockwell Automation Beast/Chevy entered by the Snider Racing Team, whose 15 Silver Crown victories are the all-time record. He will team with Jay Drake, who is the defending series race winner, having won at Pikes Peak International Raceway July 4.

Leffler, of Long Beach, Calif., who won the 1998 Silver Crown title, will team with Aaron Fike in Zarounian Motorsports entries for Saturday's race. Leffler will drive the Team ASE/CarQuest Beast/Wesmar. Fike set the record as the youngest winner in series history two years ago at Richmond, Va. when he was 18.

Edwards, of Columbia, Mo., will pilot the Don Ott Racing Engines/C & B Mushroom Farms Beast/Chevy for Randol Motorsports. He has 10 career Silver Crown starts and finished sixth at IRP last year.

J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz., winner of the 100-lap race at IRP in May, returns Thursday to try to protect his series point lead, which stands at 15 points over Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. Yeley has 19 USAC victories this year in National competition, tying the all-time single-season record. Pending his result in Wednesday night's USAC Midget race at Anderson, Ind., he could be aiming at the all-time record Thursday at IRP.

Practice gets under way at IRP at 3:30 Thursday. Qualifying starts at 5 and a 15-lap "qualifying race" gets the green flag at 7.

USAC WELD RACING SILVER CROWN SERIES STANDINGS
1. J.J. Yeley 301
2. Dave Steele 286
3. Tracy Hines 274
4. Dave Darland 257
5. Jay Drake 237
6. Brian Tyler 203
7. Paul White 185
8. Tyler Walker 154
9. Chet Fillip 147
10. A.J. Fike 139

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Series USAC
Drivers Jason Leffler , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Mike Bliss , Aaron Fike , Carl Edwards , Jay Drake , Chet Fillip , A.J. Fike , Paul White , Tyler Walker