USAC: Indy 500 Flavor at Foyt's "Hulman-Hoosier Hundred"
19 May 1998
A trio of 1998 Indianapolis 500 "rookies" are among the entered drivers, along with a couple of seasoned "500" veterans, all of whom are capable of taking home the winner's trophy. Troy, Ohio's Jack Hewitt, who will make his Indianapolis 500 debut at age 46 Sunday, is the all-time leader in USAC Silver Crown Championship race wins with 20 and won the "Hulman" in 1986 and 1990 and the "Hoosier" in 1986-88-89. Donnie Beechler of Springfield, Ill. is another Indy 500 neophyte who has had much success on the dirt and J.J. Yeley of Phoenix, Ariz. rounds out the trio of 1998 "500" drivers in the field.
George Snider of Bakersfield, Calif., who started 22 Indianapolis 500s through 1987, looks to repeat his 1984 "Hulman" triumph, while Johnny Parsons of Indianapolis, with 12 "500" appearances through 1996, holds the 1-lap track qualifying record of 114.726 mph, set in 1995. Snider won the inaugural USAC Silver Crown title in 1981.
A field of American open-wheel racing talent second to none will challenge the aforementioned on the fast 1-mile dirt oval which has been a staple for America's finest since the World War II. Rex Mays won a AAA 100-mile Championship race at the track in 1946, the "Hoosier Hundred" tradition began in 1953 and the "Hulman Hundred" tradition began in 1981.
Friday night's racing program gets under way with practice at 5 p.m. Qualifying starts at 6 and a 15-mile True Value "last chance" race is set for 7. A.J. Foyt's 100-mile "Hulman-Hoosier Hundred" finale gets the green flag at 8 p.m.
Defending USAC Silver Crown Champion Dave Darland of Kokomo, Ind., the 1995 "Hoosier Hundred" and 1995 and 1996 "Hulman Hundred" winner, is among heavy favorites for Friday night's race, along with defending Stoops Freightliner/USAC Sprint Car Champion Brian Tyler of Parma, Mich. and defending USAC National Midget Champion Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif.. Other top candidates for victory include 1997 "Hulman-Hoosier Hundred" winner Chuck Leary of Greenfield, Ind.; Jimmy Sills of Placerville, Calif., USAC's only 3-time Silver Crown titlist; Chuck Gurney of Livermore, Calif., a former winner of both the "Hulman" and "Hoosier" classics; 1990 "Hoosier" winner Gary Hieber of Langhorne, Pa.; last year's pole winner Russ Gamester of Peru, Ind.; 1997 USAC Sprint Car and Midget point runner-ups Kevin Thomas of Danville, Ind. and Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind.; and 3-time USAC "Western States" Midget Champ Robby Flock of Murrieta, Calif.
Kenny Jacobs set the existing 100-mile race record of 106.977 mph when he won the "Hoosier Hundred" in 1987.