FF: Ford Focus Nationals field, venues announced

DRIVERS FROM 21 STATES, CANADA & HOLLAND INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN NOVEMBER FORD FOCUS NATIONALS (Indianapolis, IN) - The USAC Ford Focus Midget Series will crown its second all-divisions national driving champion in 2006, ...

DRIVERS FROM 21 STATES, CANADA & HOLLAND INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN NOVEMBER FORD FOCUS NATIONALS

(Indianapolis, IN) - The USAC Ford Focus Midget Series will crown its second all-divisions national driving champion in 2006, adding a new name to the Henry Ford Sweepstakes Trophy.

California's Ventura Raceway and Irwindale Speedway will host the 2nd Annual USAC Ford Focus National Championship Invitational events on November 18 and 23 respectively. The North Carolina Region will host the 2007 National Championship and it will return to the Midwest in 2008.

Fueled by the explosive growth of the series, Ford Racing Technology and USAC planned to determine a Ford Focus Series National Champion since the series' inception in 2002, and Iowa's Robbie Ray claimed the championship in 2005.

"The Ford Focus Midget Series has become a recognized training ground for drivers looking to make it to the big leagues of the sport" said Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. "Providing them a chance to compete head-to-head against drivers from other Ford Focus Midget Series regions across the country makes for a very special event, You aren't going to be racing on Sunday without having first raced on Friday and Saturday nights. That's why Ford remains committed, long-term, to supporting grassroots racing programs such as the Ford Focus Midget Series."

USAC Ford Focus officials have developed a unique format for these events. The top eight drivers in points from each of the eight Ford Focus regions, along with a wild-card entrant from each region, will be invited to compete for the national championship. Each race track's event will feature a full Ford Focus Series program of qualifying, a non-qualifiers' race, semi-features, and a 50-lap feature event. The national champion will be determined by using a new USAC points system developed for the Ford Focus National Championship. The driver earning the most total points for the two races will be the USAC Ford Focus National Driving Champion.

"It will definitely give people an idea who the top Ford Focus drivers are in the country," said Robbie Ray, the reigning USAC Ford Focus Series National Champion. "It will also showcase which drivers have the most versatility because it brings both dirt and pavement into the equation. I can't think of two better race tracks for a prestigious event like this than Ventura and Irwindale. Ventura is so rich in USAC history, and Irwindale is one of the premier venues in the country for short-track racing."

Ventura Raceway and Irwindale Speedway both have a reputation for hard and competitive USAC racing, and have been regular stops in the USAC California Ford Focus Series schedule.

"A USAC National Championship is important for any driver to have on their resume, and one of our Ford Focus drivers will be joining Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, J.J. Yeley, Dave Darland and Ryan Newman on November 23rd this year," said Eric Bunn, USAC National Coordinator, Ford Focus Series. "In addition to the national championship, our drivers will be competing for more than $35,000 in posted awards for the Ford Focus National Championship Invitational weekend."

"I'm sure the competition to make the field and the enthusiasm to compete in this unique event will be tremendous," said Rollie Helmling, President and CEO of USAC. "Every series participant will be planning for these races, and race fans should definitely have them on their calendar. This format will certainly match the 'best of the best' for years to come in what has become America's fastest-growing racing series."

"The addition of two national championship events involving both a paved and dirt event is an exciting development for everyone involved," said Keith Iaia, President of SCREAM, the engine supplier for the Ford Focus Series. "These events give individuals an opportunity to compete at the highest possible level within the series, while leaving our original concept of regional championships intact. This is just one more example of the great job USAC and Ford Racing are doing to ensure the Ford Focus Series is the preferred avenue for aspiring professional drivers."

The 2.0-liter Zetec engines found in every USAC Ford Focus Midget are completely stock internally as produced on a Ford production line. SCREAM adds mechanical fuel injection, clutch and self-starter, which eliminates the need for push trucks at Ford Focus Midget events.

During the 2006 season, more than 150 Ford Focus Midgets will compete nationwide in 100 USAC-sanctioned events.

Drivers from 21 states, Canada and Holland are among the invitees for this year's Nationals, including 2006 driving champions Tate Martz (Midwest Pavement), Bobby Michnowicz (California Dirt), Jordan Noblitt (Midwest Dirt), James Robertson (Indiana), Chase Scott (Carolina/Virginia), Tim Skoglund (California Pavement) and Ryan Smith (Northeast and Florida).

In 2007 USAC anticipates further expansion of Ford Focus competition to include a Utah series, which underwent formulative construction during 2006.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Henry Ford , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Ryan Smith , Chase Scott , Bobby Michnowicz , Robbie Ray
Teams CIP