Williams, Jory eye USAC/CRA Sprint debut

Williams, Jory eye March 6 Perris Opener "It's the only place to race," says Rip Williams of Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, where the brand-new USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series debuts March 6. Williams is among drivers ...

Williams, Jory eye March 6 Perris Opener

"It's the only place to race," says Rip Williams of Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, where the brand-new USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series debuts March 6.

Williams is among drivers hoping to claim the inaugural championship of the new series, which includes 32 events at a half-dozen tracks in California, Arizona and Washington. A 30-lap feature is on tap at the 1/2-mile dirt oval which also hosts series races on April 10 & 17, May 1 and 29, June 12 and 19, July 3, August 21 and 28, September 11 and 18, October 9, 28, 29 and 30 and November 20.

Williams, who will pilot the famed Jack Jory Stinger in the Perris opener, is no stranger to USAC racing, having competed in numerous Silver Crown and Sprint Car races and even drove a Midget in the 1996 "Turkey Night Grand Prix," which was held at Perris.

"I'm excited about racing at Perris," he added. "I'm also looking forward to competing for the inaugural USAC/CRA championship." Amazingly, Williams, who claims to have won 97 Sprint car features during his storied career, still lacks a series championship, but plans to change all that this year.

"I know it'll be tough," he says. "Guys like Troy Rutherford, Mike Spencer and Damion Gardner will be hard to beat on a regular basis, but I like the aspect of staying close to home, which this series allows me to do. Since I grew up at Ascot Park (in Gardena, Calif.) I like the tracks out here and am excited about my chances this year."

Among Williams' many Perris victories was a 50-lapper just last September, so he'll no doubt be among favorites for the March 6 opener.

Maybe more importantly, though, he sees USAC's involvement as an opportunity to foster the careers of his three sons, Cody, Austin and Logan. "I've been looking at the new Ford Focus Series and like what I see," he says. "The cost factor makes this series a great launching pad for young drivers and I was fortunate enough to get to drive one recently. It was awesome! Cody and Austin have been dabbling in quarter-midgets and it looks like this might be their next step."

Williams' USAC career so far produced a second-place finish in 1985 at Ascot Park in his first USAC feature start at that legendary oval, plus a third-place finish after posting the fastest qualifying time at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway in 1998. He also had a fifth at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in 2000. He has five career USAC Silver Crown appearances to his credit, including the 1983 "Hoosier Hundred" in Indianapolis, his latest series start coming at Sacramento, Calif. in 1997.

Williams is entering his 27th year of racing sprint cars and with that historic 100th feature win right around the corner, it appears the USAC/CRA Series will help him achieve that goal.

The Midwest is expected to be represented as well at Perris. Already planning to compete are two-time USAC National Sprint Car Champion Tony Elliott of Kokomo, Ind. and Jamestown, Ind.'s Jon Stanbrough, winner of the 2002 "Tony Hulman Classic" at Terre Haute, Ind.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Elliott , Jon Stanbrough , Rip Williams , Damion Gardner , Mike Spencer , Troy Rutherford
Teams Williams