Times Sports Editor
The USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series invades Lincoln Park Speedway this evening for one of the most anticipated events of the season as the Billy Marvel Jr. Classic is contested.
The event will also include the staples of weekly racing action in Putnamville as the UMP Modifieds, UMP Super Stocks and bombers are on the card for an intense night of racing.
The 2010 USAC National Drivers Championship is still up for grabs amongst some of the top sprint car drivers in the nation. As the series heads to LPS for the "Billy Marvel Classic," Levi Jones holds the lead with 1,717 points followed by Damion "The Demon" Gardner with 1,645 points. Bryan Clauson is third with 1,615 with Jerry Coons Jr. and Tracy Hines in fifth. Chris Windom, Henry Clarke, Dave Darland, Shane Hmiel and Jon Stanbrough wrap up the top-10 in national points.
However, what will make the evening that much more interesting is the hot streaks of a number of Indiana local hot shoes. Terre Haute's Blake Fitzpatrick comes in on the heels of a very lucrative weekend in which he won Saturday's A-Main at Lincoln Park to claim the "King of Non-wing" payday of $2,000 and then ventured to Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt and picked up the winner's share of $3,000 on Sunday. Fitzpatrick claimed his first ever at Lincoln Park Speedway last season and also won the final Indiana Sprint Week date at Haubstadt this summer. Not to be excluded are Dickie Gaines and Shane Hollingsworth, who have each won multiple times on the LPS oval.
A huge payday, thanks to a wealth of extra sponsors for the race has ballooned the purse to one of the state's best in honor of Marvel. Thirty different sponsors have each contributed $30 for each lap of the 30-lap sprint car feature, which will go to the leader of each of those laps. There were also three different $500 feature sponsorships from people who played major roles in the lives of the Marvel Family.
In the late 1960's, Marvel was the P.R. Director for Sports Headliners Inc. and worked closely with Mario Andretti and covered a number of his victories while contributing to National Speed Sport News and the family paper, Charger Auto Racing News. Mario and his wife, Dee Ann, contributed a second $500 for the feature.
The third donation comes locally from Don Smith as Marvel sold program ads, reserved parking spots, tickets and the like when Smith managed the Terre Haute Action Track in the mid-1960's. Smith has also co-sponsored the semi-feature tonight for $100 and two of the $30 feature lap prizes.
The $1,500 total donation has been distributed throughout the A-Main this evening, which should make an impressive payday for the winner of the nights' feature.
There has also been sponsored money for each of the heat race winners coming from Chuck Hulse, Dan Cotter/Mae Lindstrom, Jockish Flowers in Indianapolis, Andy and Dolly Granatelli and Beast Enterprises. First Financial has also added money to the B-main race as well.
Tonight's USAC National Sprint Car race is the first since 2005 when Dave Darland piloted Jeff Walker's No. 11 to victory lane on July 19. Corey Kruseman was a 2004 winner for Tony Stewart Racing.
General admission tickets are $20 and gates open at 4:30 p.m. with hot laps slated for 6:30 p.m.