The Drive for Six Tony Stewart Racing's Jones, Hines Take Aim at USAC National Sprint Car Series Championship at California's Perris Auto Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 30, 2008) -- The storyline is one that Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Levi...
The Drive for Six
Tony Stewart Racing's Jones, Hines Take Aim at USAC National Sprint Car Series Championship at California's Perris Auto Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 30, 2008) -- The storyline is one that Tony Stewart Racing's (TSR) Levi Jones has played a part in once before. But as he and the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Maxim team head to California's Perris Auto Speedway (PAS) for the first of the season's final five USAC National Sprint Car Series events, they know it's up to them to write the ending. Beginning with the 13th Annual Budweiser Oval Nationals Thursday through Saturday, Jones and the No. 20 team will look to wrap up Chevy's second consecutive USAC Sprint Series championship.
Jones, with 1,112 markers, trails series leader Jerry Coons, Jr., by two points in the championship heading into this weekend's three-day event. A lot rides on the shoulders of the two-time series champion. Not only would the title mark his third such accomplishment, but it would represent the sixth USAC National Series title for TSR since it began operations in 2003. While nothing is certain, Jones' recent track record at PAS is solid. In his last appearance at the half-mile oval, on Nov. 4, 2006, he earned a 16th-place finish. In his last six starts at the facility, Jones has earned one top-five finish and three top-10s.
TSR's Hines will also look to pad his current ranking in the USAC Sprint Series championship standings this weekend at Perris. Hines, who has won two USAC Sprint Series events thus far this season, currently sits in fourth in the standings with 1,005 points. Locked in a tight battle, as well, Hines is only 11 points out of the lead behind Coons. In his last appearance at PAS on Oct. 30, 2004, Hines finished 20th.
The three-day Budweiser Oval Nationals kick off on Thursday with a 25-lap preliminary feature. A second preliminary feature will be held on Friday with the 40-lap event finale on Saturday. Grandstands open to the public at 4 p.m. PDT both Thursday and Friday. Gates open at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Race fans can purchase tickets for the event by calling 800-595-4849, or on the Internet at www.pas.tix.com. The official Web site of the PAS is www.perrisautospeedway.com. For more information regarding the facility, call 951-940-0134.
Quote from Levi Jones, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Maxim -- USAC National Sprint Car Series
You are only two points out of the lead in the USAC National Sprint Car Series Championship standings. How does that minimal margin affect your approach to this weekend's tripleheader?
"My crew chief, Rob Hart, and I were talking about this very subject earlier this week. This is exactly the same situation we faced during the last two events of this year's Indiana Sprint Week. We knew that we had to be very heads-up and that we had to qualify well and put ourselves close to the front to start each feature event. If we can qualify well, stay out of trouble in our heat races and start up front in the feature events each night, we'll gain a few points and keep moving toward taking the point lead."
Did the No. 20 Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Maxim team build a new car to bring out west? If not, which car are you using for the next two weekends?
"We brought the same car we ran at Eldora Speedway for the Chevy Weekend in September. It's a four-bar car, which is a little different style of car than TSR has used most of the season. I've driven both coil-over cars and four-bar cars at Perris Auto Speedway in the past and I've found the four-bar car to be more to my liking. The team has worked hard to get ready for this last western swing of the year and I'm looking forward to competing at Perris this weekend."
In a perfect world, where would you like to qualify and start the heat races and feature events?
"Ideally, I'd like to qualify fourth-quick. That puts you in the fourth heat race. The track seems to get better as you get into the later heat races of the night as it's had time to get really worked in and maybe take some rubber. In the heat, a perfect starting place would be near the back of the field. For the feature, you want to start as close to the front as you can to avoid any incidents that might take place in the opening laps of the race. In a perfect world, we win all three feature events. I don't know if we'll be able to win all three this weekend, but I know that we'll have a good shot at it every night."
Quotes from Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 21 TSR/Chevy/Maxim -- USAC National Sprint Car Series
Did the No. 21 Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Maxim team build a new car for the final five USAC Sprint Series events of the season?
"We brought a car that we've had in rotation for part of the season. It's a half-mile car, as we typically build cars for different types of tracks at the beginning of the year. I ran this car at Eldora Speedway last month and we've made some minor changes to it that we believe will be really good for both Perris Auto Speedway and Manzanita Speedway next weekend. Bobby Barth (crew chief) and the team have put a lot of time into getting ready for these last few events and I'm looking forward to getting back on the track this week."
Perris Auto Speedway is a big, half-mile facility that's slightly different than any in the Midwest. What's your approach to competing at the facility?
"The format at the Oval Nationals is what really shapes your approach to this event. It's a point event and the points you earn on Thursday and Friday accumulate to determine where you start in which event on Saturday night. We've learned over the years that you don't have to be the best each night, but if you're good and consistent, you're going to have a pretty good starting spot on Saturday. We're looking to qualify near the top each night and finish Thursday and Friday's features in the top-five. If we can do so, we'll be in a great position to race in the finale on Saturday."
Is there anything unique or tricky about Perris Auto Speedway?
"It's a track that's definitely got its own characteristics. You have to pay attention to how the track changes over the course of the night. I wouldn't say it's impossible to pass, but it's definitely a hard place to get around someone. The corners are really wide in the center but not all the way through the turn, which can make it hard to make a line stick. It's a place that you definitely have to work and plan the timing on your passes."
For complete results from this weekend's USAC Sprint Series event, log on to www.usacracing.com. For information regarding TSR or Chevy, log on to www.tonystewartracing.com or www.Chevy.com.