Tony Stewart Racing Midwest events preview

Ready To Rumble Jones, Hines Ready To Tackle USAC National Midget, Sprint Car Series Action In Kansas and Indiana INDIANAPOLIS (July 31, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) and drivers Levi Jones and Tracy Hines will make a whirlwind tour of...

Ready To Rumble
Jones, Hines Ready To Tackle USAC National Midget, Sprint Car Series Action In Kansas and Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (July 31, 2008) -- Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) and drivers Levi Jones and Tracy Hines will make a whirlwind tour of the Midwest this week, as they'll compete in USAC National Midget Series and Sprint Car Series in both Kansas and Indiana.

Kicking off this week's action will be the 31st Annual Belleville Midget Nationals at the Belleville (Kan.) Highbanks on Aug. 1-2. On Sunday, after making a mad dash across the countryside, Jones and Hines will compete in the 49th Annual Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial event featuring the USAC Sprint Car Series at Salem (Ind.) Speedway.

Heading into this week's Belleville Midget Nationals, Hines is currently ranked second in the USAC Midget Series standings. He is only three points behind series leader, Bobby East. Hines' career has been decorated with many major USAC Midget Series victories but he'll be seeking his first Belleville Midget Nationals triumph this weekend. In his last appearance in the event on July 30, 2005, Hines finished fifth.

Jones has also found success at the historical facility, as he finished second in last year's Belleville Midget Nationals feature event on July 28, 2007. Heading into this Sunday's USAC Sprint Series event at Salem Speedway, Jones leads the championship standings by 47 points. Jones has three Sprint car victories to his credit thus far in 2008, and he'll also be looking to earn his first USAC Midget Series win this week. He is currently ranked sixth in the USAC Midget Series standings.

For Hines, this Sunday's race at Salem Speedway will be an opportunity for him to earn his second James/O'Conner Memorial title. Hines won the event in 2001. The two-time USAC Sprint Series champion has already won two feature events this season, having picked up two victories at team owner Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Hines enters this week ranked third in the USAC Sprint Series standings.

Levi Jones, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Spike -- USAC National Midget Car Series

No. 20 TSR/Chevy/BEAST -- USAC National Sprint Car Series (Pavement)

You finished second in last year's Belleville Midget Nationals finale. Was that a turning point for the No. 20 midget program?

"It really was. It seemed like from Belleville forward we were really on our game in the midgets, especially on the dirt. It wasn't too long after our run at Belleville that we got our first USAC Midget Series win in Wisconsin. I began to get more confident in the midget at that point and now I really enjoy competing in them. I have always liked the bigger tracks and Belleville is definitely one of the fastest we race at all season. Hopefully, we'll be able to put together a great weekend again this year and put the No. 20 Chevy midget in winner's circle and not just the podium this time around."

What is your favorite part of the Belleville Midget Nationals event?

"The town of Belleville really opens its arms up to all of the teams and fans during the nationals. It's really cool to see how much the town puts into the event as a whole. There are race transporters lining the streets and crews working on cars almost everywhere we go all weekend. The fair really adds a lot to the week too, we always try to spend some time at the fairgrounds as well. The midget nationals is one of the must fun weekends we have all season."

Coming off a top-five finish on the pavement as you head into Sunday's USAC Sprint Series event at Salem Speedway, how is your confidence level?

"This season has really been good for us on the pavement. We've had good cars and been in contention to win at each pavement race. I think that both Tracy (Hines, teammate) and I have a great chance of putting Chevy and Bass Pro Shops in the winner's circle on Sunday. Tracy has won this event before and he's been a huge help to our team in working with our pavement program this season. I also enjoy racing at Salem Speedway, it's a really fast track and usually provides us with great racing. I think the fans will be in for a great show this Sunday."

Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 21 TSR/Chevy/Spike -- USAC National Midget Car Series

No. 21 TSR/Chevy/BEAST -- USAC National Sprint Car Series (Pavement)

How large of a role does qualifying play into the outcome of the Belleville Midget Nationals?

"Qualifying doesn't play as much of a role as you might think at Belleville. The midget nationals have such a different format than a normal race that transfer spots are determined more by where you finish in the heat race. The goal is to qualify well but finish in the front of the heat. The different format makes for great racing for the fans and a lot of drama leading up to Saturday night's feature."

The Belleville Highbanks are an extremely high-banked, half-mile dirt oval. As a driver in the car, do you have a sense of how much speed you're carrying?

"Early on the race, you really don't pay attention to the speed. But as the cushion gets closer to the wall, you definitely begin to get a sense of how fast you're moving around the track. The speed is what makes Belleville a lot of fun to compete on and I know that both TSR cars will have a good chance of putting Chevy and Bass Pro Shops in the winner's circle this weekend."

What part of the Belleville Midget Nationals weekend stands out the most?

"The atmosphere that surrounds the event is a lot of fun. It's really cool to see how much the local race fans get behind the event and how much support they give to the event. The fact that the fair is part of the weekend also adds to the event. The race itself is a big deal but the fair really pumps it up even more and makes it an even larger event."

Having won the Joe James/Pat O'Conner Memorial in 2001, are you looking forward returning to Salem Speedway on Sunday?

"Salem is a historical race track that is always an exciting place to race. Our goal will be to qualify well and transfer out of our heat race to hopefully put our team in a good position for the feature lineup. Our pavement sprint car program has been doing very well this year and I'm looking forward to getting back on the pavement this Sunday."

-credit: tsr

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tracy Hines , Bobby East , Levi Jones