Levi Jones Captures Second USAC National Sprint Series Championship PHOENIX (Nov. 10, 2007) -- Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Levi Jones clinched his second USAC National Sprint Car Series championship by virtue of his fourth-place finish...
Levi Jones Captures Second USAC National Sprint Series Championship
PHOENIX (Nov. 10, 2007) -- Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Levi Jones clinched his second USAC National Sprint Car Series championship by virtue of his fourth-place finish in Friday night's 25-lap Western World preliminary feature at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix. Jones' championship via his No. 20 TSR/Chevrolet/Maxim is the first USAC title for Chevrolet, which entered the longstanding open-wheel series this season as TSR's primary sponsor and engine provider.
The championship also marked the seventh USAC title for Tony Stewart the car owner, as well as his second straight in the Sprint Car division.
J.J. Yeley, Stewart's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, earned a USAC Sprint Car championship for TSR in 2003. And in a co-owner role with Bob East, TSR won four straight USAC Silver Crown championships from 2002 to 2005 with a handful of drivers that included Yeley, Kasey Kahne and Dave Steele. TSR's Sprint Car crown in 2006 came via Josh Wise, who has since moved up the racing ladder, where he's a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, competing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Busch Series.
"When I won my first Sprint Car title in 2005, it was a huge milestone in my career," said the 25-year-old Jones, who hails from Olney, Ill. "Winning a second championship this weekend means just as much as the first title did, maybe more. I am so glad we were able to finish the season this way. It's really exciting to be able to present Chevrolet with its first USAC championship. The TSR team didn't give up, and their hard work and dedication put me in a position to win at every event this season.
"It was also great to have Tony (Stewart) with us for this weekend. I really appreciate the opportunity he's given me in being a part of his team, and I'm glad I was able to win a championship for him and the guys. My family has also been behind me all season long, and having them here in Phoenix for this weekend was pretty special."
Leading into Friday night's event, Jones carried an 89-point advantage over his nearest challenger, Darren Hagen. After qualifying the No. 20 TSR/Chevrolet/Maxim in the sixth position, Jones transferred from the first heat race to claim a front row starting position for the feature event. Jones led the first three laps and took the checkered flag in fourth-place after lapped traffic slowed his advance on the final restart.
With confirmation that the title was locked up, Jones was looking forward to Saturday night's Western World finale.
"I was really relieved that the championship didn't go down to Saturday night," Jones said. "I'm glad we're able to focus on going after the victory and the money in the finale. When I won in 2005, it came down to the final night at Manzanita. Knowing that we have it won heading into tonight's race is a real confidence booster. The boss (Stewart) told me Friday night after we won to have fun and to go for the win, and that's exactly how we'll approach this race."
Stewart, who made the commute from Phoenix International Raceway to Manzanita after qualifying for the Checker Auto Parts 500k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, was obviously pleased with his race team's results.
"With Levi clinching the championship on Friday night, it really took the stress off and allowed the team to focus on Saturday night's finale," Stewart said. "I'm extremely proud of the entire TSR operation, and I believe it's a testament to our racing teams that we've been able to continue our success into this season. Levi is an outstanding driver and I'm very happy that he was able to win his second Sprint Car title as a part of TSR. When we hired him in 2006, we knew we were getting a champion.
"I'm also extremely proud to have Chevrolet as part of my open-wheel program. It's a privilege to present them with their first ever USAC championship. They've put a lot of effort and dedication into helping TSR move forward with our USAC and World of Outlaws teams, and it's an honor to have them, as well as our other sponsors, as part of this championship."