From Dick Jordan
Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. will conclude his historic drive to a third USAC K & N Silver Crown championship Thursday when the series partners with the USAC Mopar National/Western Midget series in the 34th Lucas Oil “Copper World Classic” at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.
Kaeding will become only the second driver in series history with three titles, matching the feat accomplished by Jimmy Sills in (1990, 1994 and 1996). Kaeding’s first two titles came in 1996 and 1997.
Bud opened the 2009 campaign with a victory in Phoenix, at the half-mile dirt Manzanita Speedway. His eight starts in his Alviso Rock/High Five Pizza Beast/Speedway Mopar have produced no finish worse than 10th.
While Kaeding’s point lead is secure, a bevy of drivers will battle for the number two ranking in Thursday’s series finale. No less than seven drivers are mathematically still in the hunt for the runner-up spot, with 66 points available and only 48 points separating positions two through eight.
A.J. Fike of Galesburg, Ill., still seeking his first career win, has an eight-point margin over Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. Fike has had a trio of “top-5s” this year, while Hines has six “top-10s” in eight starts. Levi Jones, Hines’ teammate, plus Josh Wise, Brian Tyler, Kody Swanson and Shane Hmiel are the other contenders for the number two ranking.
Dave Steele, who won five straight “Copper World” Silver Crown races from 2002-2006, holds the 1-lap track qualifying record of 142.197 mph.
Bobby East swept last year’s “Copper World” Midget and Silver Crown “doubleheader” and he is expected to be joined Thursday by former “Copper World” Silver Crown race winners Jason Leffler (2000), Tyler (1999) and Cameron Dodson (2007). Dodson’s story is remarkable, recovering from critical injuries in a highway accident last winter to come back and win in the Silver Crown cars at Iowa Speedway in July.
USAC K & N SILVER CROWN SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Bud Kaeding-363, 2-A.J. Fike-292, 3-Tracy Hines-284, 4-Levi Jones-283, 5-Josh Wise-278, 6-Brian Tyler-266, 7-Kody Swanson-250, 8-Shane Hmiel-244, 9-Jerry Coons Jr.-225, 10-Zach Daum-221.