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Tony Stewart Racing’s USAC Duo Prepares for The Copper on Dirt
Posted by Dirtfan_21
Tony Stewart Racing’s USAC Duo Prepares for The Copper on Dirt

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 12, 2008) – With more than a month of preparation heading into this weekend’s The Copper on Dirt presented by Sands Chevrolet event at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Tony Stewart Racing’s (TSR) USAC teams are well rested and ready to roll in USAC National Midget and Silver Crown Series competition. After making the more than 1,700-mile trek westward to compete in the two-day event at the historic half-mile facility, TSR’s Levi Jones and Tracy Hines will seek their first series victories of the season on Friday and Saturday.

This weekend, Jones and the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops team will look to start the season where they left off last November. Jones, who was crowned the 2007 USAC National Sprint Car Series champion at the facility, will seek his second career USAC Midget Series victory this weekend. Jones will also look make his first USAC Silver Crown Series start at the facility. In his last USAC Midget Series event at Manzanita Speedway on Feb. 10, 2007, Jones earned a ninth-place finish.

Jones will also change numbers in the USAC Silver Crown Series for the 2008 season, as he’ll compete in the No. 41 TSR-Paternoster/Chevy/Maxim for the first time this weekend. In a joint effort for TSR and co-owner Jim Paternoster of Oswego, N.Y., Jones will compete in the entire USAC Silver Crown Series schedule this season in the hopes of earning both the owner and driver championships.

Hines will return to Manzanita Speedway looking to reverse last year’s outcome in the USAC Midget Series event. After winning his heat race and running in the front for much of the feature event, Hines’ No. 21 TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops entry ran out of fuel, thwarting his run for a victory and eventually leading to disqualification after the car crossed the scale too light. Saturday’s season opener will also see Hines kick off a run at his first USAC Midget Series championship. Hines will also compete in the USAC Silver Crown Series event, looking to better a sixth-place finish in last year’s feature on Feb. 10, 2007.

Gates during Friday’s and Saturday’s The Copper on Dirt event, featuring USAC’s three premier racing divisions open to the public each day at 3 p.m. MST, with racing beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s USAC Midget Series feature event will be 25 laps, with the USAC Silver Crown Series feature totaling 50 laps.

TSR will also participate in a practice day for The Copper on Dirt at Manzanita Speedway on Thursday. Gates that day will open to the public at 1 p.m. MST, with practice from 5 – 10 p.m.

Tickets for this weekend’s event are available by calling 602-276-7575 . The official Web site of Manzanita Speedway is www.manzanitaspeedway.us.

Quotes from Levi Jones, driver of the No. 41 TSR-Paternoster/Chevy/Maxim – USAC Silver Crown Series, and the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Spike – USAC National Midget Car Series

Manzanita Speedway is a very fast half-mile facility. Is it a challenging place to begin the racing season?

“Manzanita is just the type of track you want to start the season. It’s big, fast and really gives you a good indication of where your programs are right out of the box. You really have to bring your A-game to Manzanita. You have to be ready to race. I’m probably more ready for Manzanita than I ever have been. We’re coming off a really strong run at the Chili Bowl and I think we’ll be able to keep that momentum up as we head to Phoenix this weekend.”

After a solid showing at Manzanita Speedway last year that didn’t end with the results to validate the work the Tony Stewart Racing team put into its preparation, is there more incentive to do well in this weekend’s event?

“Our focus is on this year’s event, we want to go out and win both the USAC Silver Crown and Midget Series events on Saturday night. Our new crew chief, Rob Hart, has been with us for three weeks and he’s been a great addition to the team. He brings a winning attitude and he expects to win and that’s going to help us tally marks in the win column for Chevy and Bass Pro Shops this season. All of the components for a great season are in place and now that leaves it up to me to seal the deal with performances on the track.”

Quotes from Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 22 TSR/Chevrolet/Maxim – USAC Silver Crown Series, and the No. 21/TSR/Chevy/Spike – USAC National Midget Car Series

After leading so many laps at Manzanita Speedway in last year’s Copper on Dirt event without getting the wins, are you looking to find the winner’s circle in this year’s race?

“I’d like to see a different outcome in this year’s event. It would be great to put a nail in the coffin, so to speak, after not getting the wins last year. It’s one of those deals where ‘would’ve, could’ve and should’ve’ come into play. But this is a new year, a new season and we’re going to focus on this weekend’s events. This will be the first time that I’ve run a Silver Crown car for TSR at Manzanita and I’m looking forward to doing so. The goal this weekend is to get a win for Chevy and Bass Pro Shops in one or both of the feature events we compete in.”

What makes Manzanita Speedway unique from other dirt tracks?

“Manzanita has a lot of variations in the degree of change it undergoes over the course of the night. Most dirt tracks go from tacky to slick. Manzanita goes from tacky to slick and then it lays rubber. It’s just another aspect of keeping up with the changing track conditions we have to be aware of.”

With several weeks since the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, do you feel you’re physically ready for a track as demanding as Manzanita Speedway ?

“Physically and mentally, I’m ready to compete at Manzanita. I’m very excited about running the Silver Crown cars. The Champ cars have the biggest cockpit and the most room in the seat. Again, everyone at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis has been great. They’ve really helped me get to where I am. I am confident that the preparation that TSR has put into this weekend, as well as my physical therapy and conditioning, will put us in a position to win in both events.”

For complete results from The Copper on Dirt, log on to www.usacracing.com. For information regarding TSR, Chevy or Bass Pro Shops, please visit www.tonystewartracing.com, www.chevy.com or www.basspro.com.
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