By Dick Jordan
Darren Hagen’s World Sprint Car qualifying mark of 146.145 mph will again be on the block Saturday when the USAC/AMSOIL National Sprint Cars return to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa for the Casey’s General Stores USAC Triple Crown Pride of Iowa event.
Hagen set the mark in 2006 and has a pair of “top-10” finishes at the 7/8-mile oval, sixth in 2007 and 10th in 2009.
Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif., however, sits atop the current series standings heading into Saturday’s Iowa events. Gardner is 43 points ahead of three-time USAC National Sprint Champion Levi Jones and 47 ahead of Jerry Coons Jr., who pilots the car entered by USAC’s all-time winningest Sprint car owner, Dynamics, Inc. of Milford, Ohio.
Gardner has finished 12th and eighth in his two previous USAC Sprint starts at Iowa Speedway.
Robert Ballou of Rocklin, Calif. led all 30 laps of Wednesday night’s “Coca-Cola Classic” USAC AMSOIL National Sprint car race at the Eldora Speedway, but he escaped a last-lap challenge from Bryan Clauson to do it. Clauson and Ballou were side-by-side as the entered turn four but Clauson’s car tagged the wall and flipped. On the restart, Ballou pulled away from Jones to post the victory in his Behavior Consultants/J.C. Plew Triple X/Ott.
The Eldora race also carried the title of “Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic.” Chris Windom finished third, ahead of Gardner and Hunter Schuerenberg.
Saturday’s USAC events at Iowa Speedway also include the Silver Crown cars and the Mopar National Midgets. The Midget race is 30 laps, the Sprint race is 50 laps and the Silver Crown race is 100 laps.
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Damion Gardner-514, 2-Levi Jones-471, 3-Jerry Coons Jr.-467, 4-Robert Ballou-442, 5-Tracy Hines-433, 6-Bryan Clauson-429, 7-Chris Windom-420, 8-Henry Clarke-384, 9-Dave Darland-306, 10-Jon Stanbrough-284.