Jones, Hmiel Partner For DuQuoin Battle

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Levi Jones (56) drives Shane Hmiel's midget away from Tanner Swanson en route to winning the Gold Crown Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois. (Don Figler photo)
Levi Jones (56) drives Shane Hmiel's midget away from Tanner Swanson en route to winning the Gold Crown Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois. (Don Figler photo)

DUQUOIN, Ill. — Seven-time USAC National champion Levi Jones will try to build on his successful partnership with Midget car owner Shane Hmiel in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series’ second annual Battle at the Center Saturday (Dec. 17) at the Mini Magic Mile at the Southern Illinois Center.

Jones won the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., in October in his second start for Hmiel, a former NASCAR and USAC race-winning driver who was paralyzed from the waist down in a crash in October, 2010, and made a return to racing with his team last summer.

Jones set a USAC record with his fifth Sprint Car National Championship this year, breaking the record of four he had shared with Steve Butler. Jones had three feature victories in 2011. He’s won three consecutive titles for Tony Stewart Racing and also won in 2007 for Stewart. A former basketball star at East Richmond High in Olney, Ill., who lives in Swansea, Ill., Jones won his first Sprint Car title for Benic Enterprises in 2005.

Jones also has won four USAC National championships the past two years. He’s driven to back-to-back crowns in USAC’s Silver Crown division.With seven titles, he’s tied for second on USAC’s all-time list with Rich Vogler and Mel Kenyon. A.J. Foyt is first with 10.

Sprint car star Hunter Schurenburg of Sikeston, Mo., will also be competing in the Battle at the Center. He had four victories and finished fourth in the points in USAC’s Sprint Car National championship this season.

The POWRi-sanctioned and –organized non-points event has attracted an all-star cast of drivers that includes three-time POWRi National Midget champion Brad Loyet and two-time USAC Midget and overall National Champion Bryan Clauson. It will pay $5,000 to win.

The one-day Battle at the Center will feature a 40-lap main event on the fifth-mile indoor track at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.

Gates open at 3 p.m. and hot laps begin at 5 p.m. with racing immediately following. General admission tickets are $20 and children 12-and-under are free.