WM: FF: Early entries for Ventura season opener

Jimmy Sills latest Ventura Midget entry. It's been eight years since Jimmy Sills won a USAC Midget Car race at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway but he hopes to change that on Saturday night, March 15 as the 2003 USAC racing season gets under way at the...

Jimmy Sills latest Ventura Midget entry.

It's been eight years since Jimmy Sills won a USAC Midget Car race at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway but he hopes to change that on Saturday night, March 15 as the 2003 USAC racing season gets under way at the 1/5-mile dirt track.

A 30-lap National/Western Midget Car feature event highlights the "doubleheader" which also includes the USAC Ford Focus Midget Cars and will be featured on the Speed Channel's "Dirty Thursday" programming on Thursday night, March 20.

Sills, of Marysville, Calif., owns 13 victories in the USAC Western Midget Car Series, six at Ventura, but the last one was in 1995. Previous Ventura wins came in 1991 (2), 1992 (2) and 1993. He ranks fourth all-time in USAC Midget wins at the track which has hosted 98 races since 1986. Only Sleepy Tripp (18), Billy Boat (13) and Page Jones (8) have more.

Sills, USAC's only three-time Silver Crown Series Champion and all-time Silver Crown lap leader, admits he's facing a formidable challenge. His last Midget Car appearance came at this year's Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla. where he nearly won the Wednesday night preliminary feature and finished 18th in Saturday's climactic "A" main. At Ventura, he'll drive a Gaerte/TCR for Murray Erickson of Odessa, Texas.

"Ventura's a fun place to go, whether there's a race or not," says Sills. "The race just makes it that much better. It's a great track for Midgets and I've had some success there, so I'm looking forward to going back. Last year Murray (Erickson) asked me to bring my two-seater to Texas and help promote the races there and urged me to toss my Midget in the trailer too, so I did. I ended up winning the 25-lap Midget feature at Midessa Speedway in Odessa. At the Chili Bowl this January we ran great and it felt good to be competitive, so I'm really excited about Ventura.

"I'm really glad USAC's back at Ventura," added Sills. "The racing there is always tight, with a lot of traffic. I just hope I can stay up with these youngsters. I'm not sure if they're getting younger or I'm getting older, but they seem to have no fear. There's a lot of young talent out there."

Jimmy's last USAC Midget race on dirt came at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway in late-2000, a track which also yielded his last USAC Midget car feature win in mid-2000.

Defending USAC Midget Car Champions Dave Darland (National) and Robby Flock (Western) are also among early Ventura entries, as are 2002 "Rookies of the Year" Ron Gregory and Teddy Beach (National) and Van Knill (Western), plus former USAC Western Midget Champ Wally Pankratz and 2002 USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Champ J.J. Yeley.

Defending series champion Todd Hunsaker of Chino Hills, Calif. heads early entries for the USAC Ford Focus Midget Car race at Ventura. A 20-lap feature is planned for the Ford Focus Midget Cars.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Billy Boat , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Teddy Beach , Ron Gregory , Murray Erickson , Wally Pankratz , Jimmy Sills , Robby Flock