TSR/Curb-Agajanian champions report
Levi Jones Nabs First USAC Silver Crown Championship Tony Stewart Racing/Curb-Agajanian Captures 2010 USAC Silver Crown Series Owner Title BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 18, 2010) -- Levi Jones clinched his first career USAC Silver Crown Series ...
Levi Jones Nabs First USAC Silver Crown Championship
Tony Stewart Racing/Curb-Agajanian Captures 2010 USAC Silver Crown Series Owner Title
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 18, 2010) -- Levi Jones clinched his first career USAC Silver Crown Series championship by finishing seventh in Saturday's 150-lap season finale at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway. He beat Bud Kaeding for the title by just two points.
Jones won the championship driving the No. 10 Tony Stewart Racing/Curb-Agajanian Silver Crown car in all nine events during the 2010 season, earning team partners Curb Records, Armor All and Bass Pro Shops their first championship in USAC's premier racing division.
The championship marked the fifth Silver Crown title for car owner Tony Stewart and his first with co-entrant Curb-Agajanian. Jones' title is also the first for a team fielded by Stewart since Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) moved into its current location in Brownsburg. Prior to Jones' triumph this year, Stewart captured four consecutive Silver Crown titles from 2002 to 2005 as a co-owner with Bob East. This championship is Stewart's ninth as a USAC car owner and his 12th overall, as TSR has three championships in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
"Being able to win this title as part of Tony Stewart Racing and with Curb, Armor All and Bass Pro Shops on the car means everything," said Jones. "Tony's (Stewart) been involved with several championships in the Silver Crown series and with us finally being able to win the first title out of his own shop with just our team working on it is pretty cool. I'm really proud of the entire TSR team and proud to be a part of this organization."
Jones' "crowning" wasn't without overcoming some major hurdles early in the year, as following his season-opening victory in February at USA Raceway in Tucson, Ariz., the team suffered some major setbacks that left them with a handful of poor finishes. In the end, TSR simplified its focus to winning races -- a strategy that played a major part in the team's title run.
"The Silver Crown championship is really big," said Jones. "I've said it before: I never even dreamed of being able to win a USAC race, let alone championships in the Sprint Car or Silver Crown series.
"The whole Silver Crown season has been a rollercoaster. We were really good early when we won the first race in Tucson, but then we broke a driveshaft at Iowa Speedway in May. The next week, we blew a tire at the Hoosier Hundred and it was at that point that we shifted our thinking into just winning races. In doing that, we qualified on the pole three times. Between the poles and number of laps led, that's where we really gained our points back."
Jones entered Saturday's Rollie Beale 150 at Toledo just one point ahead of Kaeding. Jones qualified fourth-quick and stayed within the top-10 throughout the race to finish seventh. Kaeding, who was involved in a three-car accident on lap 124, restarted the race but needed to pass Jones to win the title. Instead, he finished eighth. Jones' final point tally stood at 405 points to Kaeding's 403 points when the checkered flag fell.
"We were pretty confident in our car all day and when we got 30 laps into the race, our tires just kind of went haywire," Jones said. "I was slipping the right-rear tire and we just kept gaining more stagger. I saw Bud (Kaeding), Tracy (Hines) and Tanner (Swanson) racing really hard, two- and three-wide, inside and outside, and I was really thinking they were going to get into each other. Finally, they did make contact and I was able to come through it ok.
"Bud restarted two cars behind me after the wreck and he was definitely letting me know that he was there. I caught Bryan (Clauson) and couldn't go to the outside of him. From there, I just tried to hit my marks and was able to bring it home."
TSR's Bryan Clauson also wrapped up a stellar season as a Silver Crown rookie. He entered Toledo fourth in points with a mathematical shot at the championship. He finished fourth in the race to score his fourth top-five finish of the season, which placed him fourth in the final standings with 366 points. Clauson earned his first career Silver Crown victory of 2010 at the USAC 4-Crown Nationals Sept. 25 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
In all, the 2010 USAC season was a solid one for Jones, Clauson and the Curb Records/Armor All/Bass Pro Shops team. TSR's dynamic duo earned three total Silver Crown victories and combined for four pole awards. Jones finished the season with four top-five and six top-10 finishes while Clauson wrapped up the year with four top-five and four top-10 finishes.
Jones has driven for Stewart since 2006 and competes in the USAC Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget Series divisions for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Clauson joined TSR in 2010 and competes in Silver Crown.
Stewart, who now holds the distinction of being the winningest entrant in USAC's Silver Crown division, had time to place a congratulatory call to Jones prior to the start of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
"I am so proud of Levi, Bryan and the entire TSR team," Stewart said. "The USAC Silver Crown Series is one of the most competitive divisions in all of racing, and winning the championship says a lot about our organization. Levi came to our team in 2006 and has won three championships since he started driving for us. I'm very proud that he was able to earn his first Silver Crown title as part of TSR. He's truly developed into a champion and I'm proud to have him as part of my team. I hope he's able to wrap up his fourth USAC Sprint Car title in a few weeks, too.
"It's also great to see Bryan (Clauson) do so well in his first season of Silver Crown racing. He's not a rookie to the sport, by any means, but for him to adapt so quickly to a new team and a new type of car is definitely a testament to his talent. He had a couple of setbacks early in the season that the team was able to overcome and I'm very proud of their efforts."
Jones will return to action Nov. 4-6 at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway with the USAC Sprint Car Series. In the meantime, he and his wife, Heidi, are anticipating the arrival of their first child, due any time. Jones carries a 91-point lead over second-place Clauson as the Sprint Car Series heads into its final four races of the season. The championship battle will conclude Nov. 13 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.
WM: Series weekly racing news 2010-10-18
Series announces 2011 midget RPM limits