WM: Irwindale Turkey Night preview

68TH "TURKEY NIGHT" TAKES SPOTLIGHT THURSDAY The 68th running of one of America's most revered short-track auto races unfolds Thursday night at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. The annual "Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix" brings together the...

68TH "TURKEY NIGHT" TAKES SPOTLIGHT THURSDAY

The 68th running of one of America's most revered short-track auto races unfolds Thursday night at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. The annual "Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix" brings together the best of America's Midget racers for the final event in the 2008 USAC National and Western championships.

Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind. and Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. enter the race separated by only 17 points. Each has an agenda, Hines to secure the elusive USAC "Triple Crown" and Whitt to cap a fantastic sophomore season with USAC.

Hines already owns USAC Silver Crown and National Sprint titles and the Midget crown would stand him alongside Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley, Pancho Carter, Dave Darland and Jerry Coons Jr. as the only drivers in USAC history to win all three National championships in a career.

Whitt, who became the youngest USAC Sprint feature winner ever this summer, only to be eclipsed by Chad Boat the following night, has never challenged for a USAC title before but could become USAC's youngest-ever National champion.

Thursday's 98-lap race, honoring the memory of the late race organizer J.C. Agajanian, with whom the number 98 was synonymous, also concludes the Western Midget campaign, with Nic Faas of Huntington Beach, Calif. set to claim the 2008 championship.

One driver will also earn the Don Basile "Rookie of the Race" trophy, which goes to the highest-finishing driver making his initial "Turkey Night" feature start.

The field of entrants contains all the top USAC National and Western drivers, along with IRL and Indy 500 veterans Davey Hamilton and P.J. Jones and NASCAR stars Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler.

The race also concludes the 2008 "Toyota Challenge," led by Chuck Gurney Jr., honoring the top car owner performance in three selected 2008 USAC National Midget events.

USAC MOPAR NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Tracy Hines-1,182
2-Cole Whitt-1,165
3-Brad Sweet-1,068
4-Bobby East-1,057
5-Brady Bacon-1,041
6-Levi Jones-1,018
7-Darren Hagen-961
8-Jerry Coons Jr.-834
9-Brad Kuhn-803
10-Dave Darland-773

USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Nic Faas-1,001
2-Scott Pierovich-868
3-Robby Josett-749
4-C.J. Sarna-642
5-Shannon McQueen-505
6-Ernie Bartley III-471
7-Paul Zimmerly-459
8-Randi Pankratz-408
9-Daniel Bedford-377
10-Steve Mathews-300

-credit: usac

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About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Davey Hamilton , Kasey Kahne , Brad Kuhn , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , P.J. Jones , Bobby East , Levi Jones , Pancho Carter , Darren Hagen , Scott Pierovich , Randi Pankratz , Cole Whitt , Brad Sweet , Chuck Gurney Jr. , Chad Boat , Shannon McQueen , Robby Josett , Nic Faas , Jerry Coons Jr.