Turkey Night Triumph Tony Stewart Racing's Hines and Jones Prepare for Run at Two Championship Titles in USAC Midget Series Finale at Irwindale Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 26, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) USAC driving duo of Levi...
Turkey Night Triumph
Tony Stewart Racing's Hines and Jones Prepare for Run at Two Championship Titles in USAC Midget Series Finale at Irwindale Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 26, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) USAC driving duo of Levi Jones and Tracy Hines are set to make their final appearance in USAC National Midget Car Series competition this week at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. The 68th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix is slated for Thursday at the half-mile paved oval near Los Angeles.
Turkey Night festivities kick off with practice for the USAC Midget Series and USAC Western States Sprint Car Series competitors Wednesday from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. PST Wednesday.
Hines will look to claim his first Midget Series championship on Thursday as he leads the series with 1,182 points. Hines and the No. 21s TSR/Chevy/Beast team hold a 17-point lead over Cole Whitt heading into the season finale. Hines has one Midget victory to his credit this season, as he picked up a win at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on Sept. 13. He was credited with a 23rd-place finish in last year's Turkey Night event, held on Nov. 22.
TSR's Jones will enter Thursday's event ranked sixth in the USAC Midget Series standings with 1,018 points. Jones and the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Spike team have one series victory in 2008 -- in Wisconsin on Aug. 24. In his last appearance at Irwindale Speedway, on Nov. 22, 2007, Jones finished 27th in USAC Midget Series competition. He was collected in a mid-race accident that ended his night prematurely.
Hines and Jones are also engaged in the closest USAC Super License battle in the sanctioning body's history. After 61 racing events this season, Jerry Coons, Jr., leads the super license standings with 2,343 points. Hines is ranked second with 2,337 points, followed closely by Jones with 2,334 points. With the three drivers separated by only nine points, Hines and Jones both look to take top honors, which would give them a complimentary license to compete in all three of USAC's top national series in 2009. A total of 66 points are available during Thursday's event.
Thursday's USAC Midget Series season finale at Irwindale will feature a 98-lap race. The USAC Western States Sprint Series will also compete. Gates will open at 4 p.m. PST with racing scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Levi Jones, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Spike -- USAC National Midget Series
With the tradition and prestige that are synonymous with the Turkey Night Grand Prix event, what would it mean to win this Thursday's series finale?
"The Turkey Night event is one that would be a milestone in any driver's career. The names that are on the winner's list for this event represent some of the biggest legends in open-wheel racing. I won a USAC Midget Series race earlier this year in August on the dirt and it would be awesome to win my first series pavement race at Irwindale Speedway on Thursday. Getting a win this week would definitely be a great way to end our season. It would also be really cool to put Chevy and Bass Pro Shops in the winner's circle in the last event of the season."
Tracy Hines,, driver of the No. 21s TSR/Chevy/Beast -- USAC National Midget Series
Last year at this time, you were making your return to racing after a horrific accident. This year, you'll be contending for the USAC Midget Series title at Irwindale Speedway. Is it safe to say that things have come full circle?
"Last year, I got back in the car for the first time since my dirt bike accident only three weeks before we headed to Irwindale Speedway for the Turkey Night event. All of my energy had been focused on getting back in the car and getting as much seat time as possible to prepare for the 2008 season. All of the hard work and physical therapy at St. Vincent's Sport Performance has paid off, as is evident in the fact that we're leading the USAC Midget Series championship heading into Thursday's race. We've got a slim lead in the points and I know we're going to have to work hard to not only maintain that lead, but to take the title. I'm very proud of this TSR team and I'm also proud to have Chevy and Bass Pro Shops on board as sponsors. If we come away from Thursday with the series title, it would be the best possible way to put a period on the injury I had last year and show that we've really come full circle as a team."