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USAC Midgets: "Night Before 500 Classic is Saturday at IRP

18 May 1998

The USAC National Midget Series visits two Indianapolis, Ind. race tracks this week as the speed capital gears up for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

The 1/4-mile dirt 16th Street Speedway hosts Thursday night's events, with a 40-lap feature scheduled. Saturday night's race is the 53rd Budweiser "Night Before the 500" Classic at Indianapolis Raceway Park's .686-mile paved oval, A 50-lap main event concludes the IRP activities.

Practice at the 16th Street Speedway starts at 5 p.m. Qualifying begins at 5:30 and the first race is set for 7. The IRP timetable calls for practice at 4:30 p.m., qualifying at 5:30 and racing at 8. Ryan Newman won last year's "Night Before the 500" Classic.

John Sluss of Indianapolis, last year's Indianapolis Speedrome Midget "Rookie of the Year," captured Thursday night's 1998 series opener at the 1/5-mile paved oval in his Ultra-Sun/Keco Motorsports/Michael Lang Engines VW. He becomes the early leader in the series standings going into the May 28 racing program at the Speedrome.

Sluss trailed series "rookie" J.D. Nash for the first 11 laps, then led the rest of the 50-lap feature to beat Dean Franklin, David Fuhrman, Brad Kuhn and Jerry McPherson. Franklin flipped during practice but returned to win the second semi and take second in the feature!

National Midget Standings: 1-Tracy Hines-128; 2-Ricky Shelton-123; 3-Jay Drake-115; 4-Jimmy McCune-110; 5-Jason Leffler-108; 6-Ronnie Johncox-84; 7-Ted Hines-70; 8-Chris Shultz-66; 9-Kevin Thomas-62; 10-Sarah McCune-57. 16th Street Midget Standings: 1-Critter Malone-49; 2-Jeff Hampton-40; 3-Roy Caruthers-37; 4-Andy Pierce-37; 5-Donnie Beechler-32; 6-Steve Knepper-31; 7-Andy Michner-29; 8-Tracy Hines-27; 9-Jay Drake-25; 10-Jerry Coons, Jr.-23. Speedrome Midget Standings: 1-John Sluss-1,000; 2-Dean Franklin-500; 3-David Fuhrman-250; 4-Brad Kuhn-200; 5-Jerry McPherson-180; 6-Shelby Howard III-160; 7-Gregg Cory-140; 8-J.D. Nash-130; 9-Dave Coffman-120; 10-Daryl Campbell-110.