MAY 18, 2009 --- Saluting the late long-time owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Thursday night's 39th First Financial Bank "Tony Hulman Classic" USAC National Sprint Car race presented by Clabber Girl and Budweiser is a crown jewel for drivers battling for the 2009 USAC championship/
Cary Faas of Yorba Linda, Calif. (1992, 1994 and 1998) is the only three-time champion in race history but that could change Thursday. Avon, Ind. drivers Levi Jones (2005 and 2008) and Jon Stanbrough (2002 and 2007) each have a pair of race wins. J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. is also a two-time race winner (1997 and 2003). Yeley became the race's youngest winner at age 21 in 1997 and Terry Pletch (1999) was the oldest at age 52.
A number of youngsters will try to surpass Yeley's age victory record Thursday, including 17-year-olds Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. and Chad Boat of Phoenix, Ariz. Whitt became USAC's youngest-ever National Champion with his 2008 Midget crown and Boat became the youngest-ever USAC National Sprint race winner last year at Hagerstown, Md.
Dave Darland, winner of the "Tony Hulman Classic" in 1993, leads the series standings going into Thursday's race. He's 29 ahead of Jones, with Jesse Hockett just two behind Jones in third. Defending series champion Jerry Coons Jr. is currently fourth in the points.
Yeley holds the official one-lap USAC Sprint car track record at the Terre Haute half-mile of 19.329 seconds set in 2003, although Shane Cottle turned a lap of 19.242 seconds during an abbreviated qualifying session in 2005.
USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Dave Darland-392, 2-Levi Jones-363, 3-Jesse Hockett-361, 4-Jerry Coons Jr.-330, 5-Cole Whitt-316, 6-Tracy Hines-300, 7-Brad Sweet-300, 8-Damion Gardner-295, 9-Jon Stanbrough-239, 10-Chris Windom-209.