Silver Bullet Series Returns to Nazareth

The USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series literally returns to its roots this weekend when it visits the paved Nazareth Speedway in eastern Pennsylvania. In 1971 Nazareth, which then sported a 1-1/8-mile dirt track on the site...

The USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series literally returns to its roots this weekend when it visits the paved Nazareth Speedway in eastern Pennsylvania. In 1971 Nazareth, which then sported a 1-1/8-mile dirt track on the site now occupied by Nazareth Speedway, hosted the inaugural event in a series which has grown into one of the most competitive in the world. Saturday's 100-mile feature event will be the the first at the Nazareth pavement although races were also held on the Nazareth dirt oval in 1982 and 1983. previous Nazareth winners include Jim McElreath (1971), Keith Kauffman (1982) and Gary Bettenhausen and Jimmy Horton (1983). With the exception of 1995 and 1996 races at Richmond, Va. won by Jack Hewitt and Jimmy Sills, this weekend's race marks the closest the series has been to eastern Pennsylvania since it appeared at Hagerstown, Md. in 1986, another Hewitt victory. The only other previous Pennsylvania Silver Bullet events were held in 1980 and 1981 at Williams Grove Speedway, won by Sheldon Kinser and Eddie Leavitt. Hewitt is the series' all-time victory leader with 21, but Jimmy Sills has led more laps of competition than any other driver. Sills, of Placerville, Calif., is one driver who can relate to the history of this weekend's race. He's driving one of two cars entered by George Snider, who finished 18th in the 1971 race. Mike Bliss of Milwaukie, Ore. will drive the other. Bliss won the 1999 series opener at Orlando, Fla. Other entered drivers with ties to the 1971 race include Rich Tobias of Lebanon, Pa., whose father Dick was 11th in the series debut, and Billy Puterbaugh, Jr., whose father was 20th in the inaugural. Tobias is one of more than a half-dozen Pennsylvania drivers set to test the Nazareth pavement this weekend. John Heydenreich of Bloomsburg, Steve Surniak of Carlisle, Brian Paulus of Mechanicsburg, Gary Hieber of Langhorne, Robin Bank of Pittsburgh and Tom Capie of Trevose are all expected to compete. Hieber started his 200th Silver Bullet event June 27 in Colorado, a feat accomplished by only five other drivers in series history, and won the prestigious "Hoosier Hundred" in Indianapolis in 1990. Heydenreich won last year's "Rocky Mountain Classic" in Colorado. Series point leader Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind., who enters this weekend's race with a 33-point lead over runner-up Russ Gamester of Peru, Ind., hopes history repeats itself this weekend. He's driving the #14 M & L Plumbing entry. Jim McElreath's winning car number in that 1971 debut was 14! Friday's Nazareth schedule includes Silver Bullet practice from 10:30-noon and 1-2 pm and qualifying at 2:30. An 8:30 am warmup session scheduled Saturday and a 15-mile "qualifying race" takes the green flag at 11 am. Saturday's 100-mile Silver Bullet feature race is scheduled to start at 5 pm.

1999 USAC COORS LIGHT SILVER BULLET SERIES STANDINGS

1.        Ryan Newman        279                6.        J.J. Yeley        156
2.        Russ Gamester        246                7.        Jack Hewitt        131
3.        Brian Tyler        222                8.        Dave Steele        127
4.        Tracy Hines        174                9.        Tony Elliott        125
5.        Robby Flock        160                10.        Jimmy Sills        124

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Series USAC
Drivers Ryan Newman , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Jack Hewitt , Brian Tyler , Tony Elliott , Mike Bliss , John Heydenreich , Russ Gamester , Jim McElreath , Brian Paulus , Tom Capie , Jimmy Sills , Robby Flock
Teams Williams