TJ’s Notes & Quotes From Friday Night at Eldora

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Sydney, OH — (06/22/2001) —

* The heat races were incredible all night at the first night of the Eldora doubleheader. In particular the third sprint car heat race that featured a spirited dual with J.J. Yeley, Bill Rose, Tony Jones, and Tyler Walker. This quartet of drivers raced three, and for a couple of laps four wide all around the Eldora ½-mile oval.

Tyler Walker made his first career wingless sprint car start on the dirt at Eldora substituting for Cory Kruseman, who flew back to California to be with his wife expecting the birth of their baby, driving for Indy 500 driver Cory Witherill. Walker was very racy in his heat race, got caught up in “The Big One” at the start of the feature, and then suffered a flat tire and retired after the restart of the feature.

“That was a lot of fun tonight”, Walker said after the feature. “They set up the car a bit loose for me so it wouldn’t tip over, but I felt comfortable right away. The winged cars get so spread out here, and without the wing you race really close. That was a lot of fun!”

Walker was on his way to work on the equipment for his Silver Bullet team when the Witherill team called him up Thursday to drive the car.

* The start of the sprint car feature had a stock car style “the big one” crash when J.J. Yeley spun in front of the field and when things were all said and done 15 cars piled in. Many teams were running around the pit area thrashing to put cars back together. Those amongst the hardest working were the teams of Bud Kaeding, Tyler Walker and Tony Jones, who are teammates, Corey Smith, and Tracy Hines.

* All of the visiting west coast sprint car drivers, Troy Rutherford, Richard Griffin, Tony Jones, and Tyler Walker, were involved in the big pile up. Only Griffin was unable to restart.

* J.J. Yeley is now a full time driver with Steve Lewis team in the 91 car, as Kasey Kahne is getting ready to focus on some road racing to further his career and will not be able to defend his USAC Midget title. Yeley had a strong run at Eldora in the Lewis midget running in the top three for most of the event with a sputtering engine that finally quit on the last lap, dropping Yeley back to sixth.

Johnny Rutherford was the grand marshal for Friday night’s race, and shared funny stories before the racing began with legendary Eldora announcer Terry Baltes.

Derek Davidson picked up a ride in the Hartman midget normally driven by Clay Klepper. Davidson broke during his heat race though in the #7 entry, and started the teams backup car with the #17 on it for the feature.

For the first time that we can remember in recent times Tony Elliott missed a USAC Sprint Car Feature on dirt. Elliott finished two spots out of a transfer position.