38TH "WESTERN WORLD" THURSDAY-SATURDAY AT MANZANITA; DARLAND TAKES PERRIS' "BUDWEISER OVAL NATIONALS;" HAGEN, GARDNER TAKE PERRIS PRELIMS; LEVI'S LEAD JUST 9! Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. leads Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. by just...
38TH "WESTERN WORLD" THURSDAY-SATURDAY AT MANZANITA; DARLAND TAKES PERRIS' "BUDWEISER OVAL NATIONALS;" HAGEN, GARDNER TAKE PERRIS PRELIMS; LEVI'S LEAD JUST 9!
Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. leads Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. by just nine points as they head for Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. this weekend to settle the 2005 Valvoline USAC National Sprint Car Championship. The 1/2-mile dirt oval hosts the 38th Checker Auto Parts/Budweiser "Western World Championships" Thursday-Saturday.
Darland won Saturday night's 50-lap 10th Annual "Budweiser Oval Nationals" at Perris (Calif.) Speedway, slicing into Jones' lead. Jones finished 11th in the race, which paid $30,000 to the winning Walker/Guiducci team. Darland passed Rip Williams on lap three and led the final 48 laps in his Hoosier Racing Tire/Weld Wheels Chalk/Claxton, beating Damion Gardner, Williams, Mike Spencer and Mike Kirby to the checkered flag.
A total of 208 points are available at Phoenix, which also awards points toward the Valvoline USAC/CRA title. Gardner extended his CRA lead to 110 points over Cory Kruseman at Perris. Kruseman finished 27th in the 50-lap race, while Williams, who finished third at Perris, closed to within 32 points of Kruseman in the latest standings. The CRA series concludes Nov. 19 at Perris.
The Phoenix program calls for 25-lap preliminary features Thursday and Friday and a 50-lap finale Saturday night.
Perris prelims were captured by Darren Hagen and Gardner. Hagen, of Riverside, Calif., led all but the first lap of Thursday's race after passing Williams on lap two in his Vital Express/Massey Truck Repair Bullet/Snyder Chevy. Williams, Jones, Darland and Kruseman rounded out the top-five. Gardner, of Concord, Calif., posted his 21st fast qualifying time of the season Thursday and finished sixth, then caught Kruseman four laps from the finish to win Friday's 25-lapper in his Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply/Arizona Race Mart Eagle/Shaver. Kruseman, Jerry Coons Jr., Bud Kaeding and Darland trailed at the finish, followed by fast qualifier Mat Neely. Coons led the first seven laps before yielding to Kruseman.
Jones flipped during Friday night's feature, which allowed Darland to close the point gap and set up this weekend's National Championship "shootout" at Phoenix.
VALVOLINE USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SERIES STANDINGS
8.-Jerry Coons Jr.-839
VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES STANDINGS
5.-Charles Davis Jr.-1,355