HEWITT AIMS FOR ...
HEWITT AIMS FOR #22 AT SACRAMENTO; TYLER-LEFFLER DUEL FOR POINTS
Jack Hewitt of Troy, Ohio will seek a record 22nd USAC Silver Crown Championship race victory Saturday night at the CalExpo State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, Calif., in the penultimate round of the 1998 USAC Silver Crown Championship - the Budweiser "Silver Crown 100."
Hewitt, though must keep an eye on USAC Silver Crown Championship contenders Brian Tyler and Jason Leffler, who are separated by only 11 points going into Saturday night's 100-miler. Tyler, of Parma, Mich., leads Leffler, with Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind. and 3-time Sacramento winner Jimmy Sills of Placerville, Calif. not far behind.
Hewitt scored his 21st career triumph September 26 in the "4-Crown Nationals" USAC program at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, a victory which vaulted him past two of auto racing's all-time champions on the all-time USAC winners list. In sweeping the three USAC "4-Crown" features (Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget), Jack elevated his total of USAC feature wins to 71, surpassing the 69 recorded by Parnelli Jones and the 70 logged by Pancho Carter in their respective illustrious careers. He now ranks seventh on the all-time USAC winners list behind A.J. Foyt (159), Rich Vogler (134), Mel Kenyon (111), Gary Bettenhausen (82), Tom Bigelow (81) and Bob Wente (79).
Hewitt's Eldora victories had additional historic significance. He became the second driver in USAC history to win three feature events in a single day, matching Carter's 1997 feat at Salem, Ind. when he won two Midget races and a Sprint race. He became the third driver in 1998 to win features in USAC's three front-engined National series - Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget (Tony Elliott and Dave Steele are the others). His 43rd USAC Sprint car victory also vaulted him past Pancho Carter into third on USAC's all-time list behind Tom Bigelow (52) and Larry Dickson (45).
Hewitt's victory at Rossburg also sets up a record-breaking possibility at Sacramento, since Jack became the 10th different Silver Crown winner this year - an all-time series record!
Hewitt comes to Sacramento with a score to settle. In 1995 he had an opportunity to become USAC's first three-time Silver Crown champion but a 33rd-lap accident relegated him to a 20th place finish and third in the final standings behind Tony Stewart and Dave Darland. Jimmy Sills went on to become USAC's only three-time Silver Crown titlist in 1996, having previously won the 1990 and 1994 crowns.
Last year, Jack was the first driver to the sidelines (24th place) at Sacamento with a broken drive line only five laps into the 100-mile race. His other Sacramento starts have resulted in a 19th place (1989), a sixth (1994) and a 20th (1996). He currently sits sixth in the 1998 point standings. Hewitt's 128 Silver Crown starts are also an all-time record and he ranks third behind Chuck Gurney and Jimmy Sills in terms of laps led.
Practice at the CalExpo mile starts at 4:15 p.m. Qualifying and a 15-mile "qualifying race" will determine the 24-car starting field for the Budweiser "Silver Crown 100."
Silver Crown Point Standings: 1-Brian Tyler-474; 2-Jason Leffler-463; 3-Ryan Newman-421; 4-Jimmy Sills-411; 5-Dave Darland-366; 6-Jack Hewitt-350; 7-Russ Gamester-316; 8-J.J. Yeley-313; 9-Robby Flock-289; 10-Dave Steele-259.