By Dick Jordan
Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. trails Damion Gardner by 34 points in the new USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car series standings, but Thursday’s 40th First National Bank “Tony Hulman Classic” presented by Budweiser and 500 Express at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track offers Jones a spot in the record books. A victory would make him the first four-time winner of the event and would give him four wins in six years!
Jones finished fifth in Saturday’s 50-lap race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa and is only one point ahead of Tracy Hines in the latest rankings. Hines was fourth at Iowa, while Gardner, the point leader, was seventh.
Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Ind. continued his winning ways in USAC-sanctioned racing Saturday at Iowa Speedway, leading the final five laps to win the Casey’s General Stores USAC Triple Crown Pride of Iowa USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car 50-lapper at the 7/8-mile paved oval. Clauson caught Bobby Santos on lap 46 and led to the checkered flag in his Rotondo Weirich/Benic Enterprises Maxim/Gaerte Chevy.
Santos, who had won the preceding 30-lap USAC Midget race, led 12 laps but finished second, ahead of Jerry Coons Jr., Hines and Jones.
Shane Hmiel, who broke the World’s Sprint Car qualifying record with a qualifying lap of 146.444 mph to win the pole in his Rotondo Weirich/Benic Enterprises Beast/ITI Performance, led 33 laps but lost an engine in the closing laps of the race.
In addition to Jones, former “Tony Hulman Classic” Champs expected to return for Thursday’s Terre Haute race include Jon Stanbrough (2002 and 2007), Daron Clayton (2006) and Hines (2001).
USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Damion Gardner-556, 2-Levi Jones-522, 3-Jerry Coons Jr.-521, 4-Bryan Clauson-493, 5-Tracy Hines-485, 6-Chris Windom-451, 7-Robert Ballou-442, 8-Henry Clarke-416, 9-Dave Darland-306, 10-Jon Stanbrough-284.