WS: WM: Titles up for graps at Tucson

Tucson'S "Old Pueblo Classic" a key in USAC point races. USAC driving championships are up for grabs as the 2002 racing season winds down and three of those will be profoundly affected by the outcome of this Saturday night's "Old Pueblo Classic"...

Tucson'S "Old Pueblo Classic" a key in USAC point races.

USAC driving championships are up for grabs as the 2002 racing season winds down and three of those will be profoundly affected by the outcome of this Saturday night's "Old Pueblo Classic" at Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park.

Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind., Chad Nichols of San Carlos, Calif. and Robby Flock of Murrieta, Calif. are the respective point leaders entering Saturday's "doubleheader" at the 3/8-mile paved oval, but all three have challengers breathing down their neck. The 2002 season concludes with races November 28 and 30 at Irwindale, Calif. and Las Vegas, Nev.

Defending National Midget Champion Darland holds an 86-point lead over 2002 USAC Silver Crown Champion J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. and although the 72 points available at Tucson aren't enough for Yeley to take the lead, they could be pivotal in the battle for the title. Aaron Fike of Galesburg, Ill. has hopes of overcoming both, trailing Darland by 126 entering the Tucson events.

Nichols has only a 39-point lead over Scott Hansen of Simi Valley, Calif. in the Western Sprint Car Series, with 72 points on the line at Tucson. Behind Hansen are a bevy of drivers, also intent on unseating Nichols as the leader. Included are defending series champion Tony Hunt of Fair Oaks, Calif., (41 back), Rick Hendrix of Canyon Country, Calif. (52 back) and former series champ Todd Ellison of West Jordan, Utah (76 back), as well as Brian McClish of Santa Rosa, Calif. (110 in arrears).

Three-time Western Midget Car series champion Flock is only 37 points ahead of Danny Stratton of Fontana, Calif., while Jerome Rodela of El Monte, Calif. trails by 85 and former series champion Wally Pankratz is 104 back.

Tucson drivers Jerry Coons, Jr., Van Knill and Brian Gardner, plus Chandler's Chuck Buckman and Scottsdale's Mike Aaby, Jr. are also entered, along with 2002 USAC New Mexico/Arizona Sprint Car Champion Mike Boat of Phoenix.

The USAC National & Western Midget Car Series and Western Sprint Car Series combine for the "doubleheader" racing program at the 3/8-mile paved oval, with 40-lap features on tap for each division. Practice starts at 1 pm, followed by qualifying at 3:30 and racing at 5.

Defending November race winners at TRP are Tony Hunt (Sprint cars) and Bobby East (Midget cars). Both are again entered for the "Old Pueblo Classic."

USAC WESTERN SPRINT CAR SERIES STANDINGS

1. Chad Nichols 637
2. Scott Hansen 598
3. Tony Hunt 596
4. Rick Hendrix 585
5. Todd Ellison 561
6. Brian McClish 527
7. Tim Barber 478
8. Mike Aaby, Jr. 412
9. Mike Ford 360
10. Shauna Hogg 317

USAC NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS

1. Dave Darland 1,212
2. J.J. Yeley 1,126
3. Aaron Fike 1,086
4. Bobby East 952
5. Tracy Hines 949
6. A.J. Fike 803
7. Ron Gregory 658
8. Teddy Beach 651
9. Steve Paden 569
10. Dave Steele 567

USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS

1. Robby Flock 881
2. Danny Stratton 847
3. Jerome Rodela 796
4. Wally Pankratz 777
5. Shane Scully 538
6. Josh Wise 497
7. Van Knill 494
8. Dallen McKenney 470
9. Bobby Boone 461
10. Matt Rossi 394

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Series USAC
Drivers Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Aaron Fike , Bobby East , Teddy Beach , A.J. Fike , Ron Gregory , Tim Barber , Mike Boat , Steve Paden , Jerry Coons , Josh Wise , Wally Pankratz , Robby Flock , Tony Hunt , Rick Hendrix , Danny Stratton , Scott Hansen