By Dick Jordan
The debut of the 2012 USAC racing season is only a month away and defending USAC National Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson and AMSOIL National Sprint Car Champion Levi Jones are ready for action.
“Bubba’s Winter Dirt Games” presented by eBay Motors at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida is the venue for three nights of action-packed competition beginning on Thursday night, February 9 and concluding on Saturday night, February 11.
Clauson is aiming at a third consecutive NDC title, while Jones hopes to extend his record Sprint car championship success to a sixth crown. Clauson started the 2011 campaign with a win, a third and an 11th in the three Ocala races, while Jones had a third, fourth and ninth.
Damion Gardner won the Thursday and Saturday races at Ocala last season and was fourth on Friday. He’ll aim for a “clean sweep” this time around, having won four of the last five USAC Sprint features conducted in the state of Florida. His next win will make him the winningest USAC driver ever in the state, surpassing Andy Linden’s four Midget wins, a record which has endured since 1957.
“I can’t wait to get back to Ocala,” admits The Demon (Gardner). “It has that special event feeling and always gives the race fans a great show. As far as doing well in Florida I guess it relates to being hungry at the start of the season. After the layoff it’s always good to get re-charged and I’ve always seemed to do well right out of the box at new venues. Being quick out of the gate certainly puts us in the position of contending for the championship and with my team intact from last year I plan to make another run for it. I’ve heard there have been some track changes so that should make for some interesting racing.”
The Ocala races open an ambitious 45-race calendar for the AMSOIL Sprint Cars in 2012, appearing at 26 different tracks in 16 states. A special practice session and welcoming party are planned at Ocala on Wednesday night, February 8 and the Florida Mini Sprints will also compete all three nights on the 3/8-mile dirt oval.
USAC’s first-ever Sprint race occurred in Florida in 1956, with Bob Sweikert winning at Southland Speedway in West Palm Beach.
Tickets for “Bubba’s Winter Dirt Games” are now available online at www.usacracing.com. Click on the “online store” and then click on “tickets” for a special $60 three-night pass.