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GARDNER LEADS SPRINTS TO 4 EASTERN RACES

From Dick Jordan

Damion Gardner of Concord, N.C. finished fourth in last Thursday’s 40th First Financial Bank “Tony Hulman Classic” presented by Budweiser and 500 Express at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and has a 24-point series lead over Jerry Coons Jr. in the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint points going into this week’s four “Eastern Storm” races in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The series visits Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa. Tuesday, Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, Pa. Wednesday, New Egypt (N.J.) Speedway Thursday and Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa. Friday.

Coons, of Tucson, Ariz., scored a sensational victory in the “Tony Hulman Classic”. The victory came in a race which featured one of the most spectacular lead duels in USAC Sprint Car history and gave car owner Dynamics, Inc. of Milford, Ohio its record 76th victory. It also ended an epic battle between Coons and three-time race winner Levi Jones.

Jones, hoping to score a record fourth win in the race and third win in a row, led three different times for six laps but Coons made a daring pass for the lead on lap 28 which eventually sealed the victory in his Hoffman Auto Racing F5/Gaerte. Jones finished second ahead of Dave Darland, who came from 19th starting position in the expanded 26-car field.

Gardner and Tracy Hines, who also figured in the lead battle at times, took fourth and fifth respectively. Coons ended up leading 24 of the 30 laps for the win.

Jon Stanbrough, Henry Clarke and Justin Grant all escaped injury in feature event flips. Grant’s car cleared the wall in turn one on lap nine.

USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT SERIES POINT STANDINGS

1-Damion Gardner-613, 2-Jerry Coons Jr.-589, 3-Levi Jones-586, 4-Bryan Clauson-542, 5-Tracy Hines-541, 6-Robert Ballou-470, 7-Chris Windom-469, 8-Henry Clarke-434, 9-Dave Darland-364, 10-Jon Stanbrough-304.