Two of the United States Auto Club's sprint car series will be in town this weekend, beginning with a "Meet the Drivers" barbecue today at Albertson's on North Carson Street at College Parkway. Drivers from the western and regional sprint car series will compete Saturday at Champion Speedway.
Local driver Amy Barnes as well as current points leader in the regional series Tony Hunt will be at the barbecue. Hunt is running a close fourth in the western series points chase. Drivers will pose for photos and sign autographs for fans, as well as mingle and answer questions. Several local drivers will be on hand, also.
"We should have a car count in the mid-20s," said series director Tommy Hunt. "We've had a pretty good car count each time we're in Carson City."
USAC visited Champion Speedway twice last season, with Brian Bullard winning the Aug. 11 race and Jeff Gardner taking the win on Sept. 15. Tony Hunt won last year's USAC Western Sprint Car Series championship. Racetracks participating in the regional series include Madera, Stockton (Calif.) and Carson City.
Barnes is looking forward to Saturday's race and hopes the series will put on a good show for everybody.
"I think I can pull off a win, to be honest with you," said Barnes. "I'm sure the other drivers will have something to say about that, but we'll give it the best shot we can.
"I'm looking forward to being with the local fans, too, and having my family and friends here. To be a local, it makes racing more fun and a lot more exciting."
Barnes married Jessie Corletto Oct. 25 and now has a 3-month-old son, Gavin. She welcomes all race fans to today's barbecue, sponsored by Model Dairy and Champion Speedway.
"We'll autograph photos, have raffle prizes, food, drinks, it will be fun."
Hamburgers are $5, steak dinner is $7. Each includes fruit salad, a drink and ice cream.
"I am so looking forward to putting on a good show for everybody," added Barnes.
The top-5 positions in the western series are held by Chad Nichols (358); Tim Barber (357); Rick Hendrix (352); Hunt (336), and Todd Ellison (328). In the regional series, Hunt has a 29-point advantage over Bullard and 35-point lead over third-place holder Shauna Hogg.
Hunt said he did lose a little momentum on the Western series tour, but with nine or 10 races left on the schedule, he's not in a panic situation.
"We're going for the championship," said Hunt. "Although there's four guys there (in the chase), which is unusual for this part of the season, it becomes more and more intense. And there is a need to be consistent and race up front." Hunt won the first regional race at Champion Speedway on May 11.
"Carson City is a tight racetrack. When you have 20 cars there is a chance of people having unfortunate circumstances because of wrong doings. But it's a fun racetrack and we like coming here."
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Meet the Drivers barbecue and car display
WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Albertson's at North Carson Street and College Parkway
COST: $5 for hamburger dinner; $7 steak dinner
WHAT: USAC Western and Regional Sprint Cars
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Champion Speedway, 1210 Race Track Road
COST: Adults $18;