WS: WM: FF: Madera Open Wheel Classic preview

Four USAC Series involved in Madera's April 18-19 "Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic" The inaugural "Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic" at the Madera (Calif.) Speedway features four USAC racing series, including the opening event of the 2003 USAC...

Four USAC Series involved in Madera's April 18-19 "Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic"

The inaugural "Fred Gerhardt Open Wheel Classic" at the Madera (Calif.) Speedway features four USAC racing series, including the opening event of the 2003 USAC Western Sprint Car Series.

The two-day racing program at the 1/3-mile paved oval showcases USAC drivers in Midgets, Sprint Cars and Ford Focus Midget Cars and will include an appearance by 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and USAC Triple Crown Champion Tony Stewart. Stewart concluded the 2002 USAC racing season with a "sweep" of the Sprint Car/Midget Car "doubleheader" at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring.

Friday night's (April 18) events include a 100-lap USAC/BCRA National & Western Midget Car and 20-lap California Ford Focus Midget Car Series feature, while Saturday night's program features a 40-lap Western Sprint Car feature and the SRL Supermodifieds.

J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. is the point leader in the 2003 USAC National and Western Midget Car Series entering the April 18 program, co-sanctioned by USAC and BCRA. Phil Goodwine of Mira Loma, Calif. leads the 2003 USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series standings after winning the series opener April 5 at Bakersfield, Calif. Rick Hendrix of Canyon Country, Calif. is the defending series champion in the USAC Western Sprint Cars.

Tony Hunt of Fair Oaks, Calif. captured USAC Sprint Car and Midget Car races at Madera in 2002, while Jerome Rodela and John Starks also won USAC Midget Car races at Madera in 2002. Rodela was named the 2002 USAC Western Midget Car "Most Improved Driver." Chad Nichols of San Carlos, Calif., the 2002 USAC Western Sprint Car "Rookie of the Year," also was victorious in the USAC Sprint Cars at Madera in 2002, while the Ford Focus Cars will be making their debut appearance at the 1/3-mile oval.

A unique aspect of Friday night's Madera events will be the 3-abreast, 33-car starting field for the 100-lap Midget Car race. It will signal USAC's first National presence at the storied track since 1987 when Billy Vukovich won a USAC Supermodified race there. Sleepy Tripp won the last USAC National Midget race at Madera, a 100-lapper in 1976.

USAC NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1. J.J. Yeley 134
2. Bobby East 119
3. Steve Paden 111
4. Bud Kaeding 100
5. Jerome Rodela 98
6. A.J. Fike 89
7. Jay Drake 88
8. Josh Wise 82
9. Van Knill 75
10. Tracy Hines 71

USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1. J.J. Yeley 134
2. Bobby East 119
3. Steve Paden 111
4. Bud Kaeding 100
5. Jerome Rodela 98
6. A.J. Fike 89
7. Jay Drake 88
8. Josh Wise 82
9. Van Knill 75
10. Tracy Hines 71

USAC CALIFORNIA (South) FORD FOCUS MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1. Phil Goodwine 127
2. Tyler Brown 123
3. Todd Hunsaker 117
4. Kevin Kierce 104
5. Josh Lakatos 103
6. Bobby Owens 101
7. Bobby McGowan 87
8. Steve Koster, Jr. 81
9. Steve Davis 68
10. Darren Hagen 68

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Bud Kaeding , Jay Drake , Bobby East , A.J. Fike , John Starks , Steve Paden , Josh Wise , Josh Lakatos , Darren Hagen , Tony Hunt , Rick Hendrix