KIRBY LEADS USAC/CRA TO "SOKOLA CLASSIC" AT MANZY ...Mike Kirby of Torrance, Calif. will try to protect his slim lead in the Valvoline USAC/CRA Sprint Car standings when the series visits the 1/2-mile dirt Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. this weekend for the "Sokola Classic."

Honoring the memory of the late USAC Series Coordinator Gary Sokola and his son Mark, who competed in selected USAC events during his racing career, the two-night program offers some of the finest short-track racing America has to offer. A 20-lap feature event tops Friday night's activities, while Saturday night's program concludes with a big 40-lapper. In addition to the normal purse monies, numerous additional awards have been generated as incentives for participants, including posted lap prize money totaling $4,000 which has been added to the purse for Saturday night.

Kirby captured the opening event in the series March 6 at Perris, Calif., the debut of USAC's brand-new 32-race series which visits tracks in California, Arizona and Washington. Seven of the 32 races will be contested at the fast 1/2-mile Manzanita oval. Jeremy Sherman won last year's "Sokola Classic" 40-lapper but did not compete in the USAC/CRA opener at Perris. Cory Kruseman, who finished second to Kirby in the 2004 opener, is expected to be among top threats for victory this weekend, along with Rip Williams, Troy Rutherford and Damion Gardner, who rounded out the "top-five" at Perris. Gardner will pilot the #50 Ron Chaffin car driven to second in last year's "Sokola Classic" by now-retired Richard Griffin.

Practice each night starts at 6 pm with the first race set for 7 pm.

VALVOLINE USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR SERIES STANDINGS 1.-Mike Kirby-68 2.-Cory Kruseman-66 3.-Rip Williams-62 4.-Troy Rutherford-61 5.-Damion Gardner-59 6.-Jason York-51 7.-Tony Jones-50 8.-Rick Ziehl-46 9.-Andy Forsberg-41 10.-Jordan Hermansader-36

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