WM: Tucson recap, Irwindale preview

East Opens Tucson "Sweep" With Midget Triumph 64th "Turkey Night G.P." Thursday at Irwindale Thursday night's 64th Mopar "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at the Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway has drawn a substantial list of...

East Opens Tucson "Sweep" With Midget Triumph
64th "Turkey Night G.P." Thursday at Irwindale

Thursday night's 64th Mopar "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at the Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway has drawn a substantial list of high-profile driver entries, not the least of which is Bobby East, the Brownsburg, Ind. driver who has a lock on this year's USAC National Midget Car driving title.

East continued his successful 2004 campaign Saturday night, sweeping both ends of the "Old Pueblo Classic" USAC Midget/Sprint "doubleheader" at Tuscon (Ariz.) Raceway Park. He led all 40 laps to win the National/Western Midget race and led all but three laps of the accompanying Western Sprint Car feature on the 3/8-mile paved oval.

East and his ASE/Ford Beast/Pink Ford were trailed at the checkered flag by Ron Gregory, Tracy Hines, Cole Carter and Steve Paden. Western Midget Car point leader Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove, Calif., who will put the cap on his 2004 championship season Thursday at Irwindale, was 22nd in the Tucson race. Fast qualifier Dave Steele spun after touching wheels with Tracy Hines while battling for position.

Defending champion Dave Steele, plus Michael Lewis, Jason Leffler and Jay Drake are not the only former "Turkey Night" champions expected to compete at Irwindale, but they will certainly be among top contenders in this year's 100-lapper on the track's 1/2-mile pavement. Practice starts at 2 pm, with qualifying at 4, an autograph session at 5 and racing at 6:30. The Western Sprint Cars have a 40-lap feature, while the USAC California Ford Focus Midgets also compete in a 25-lapper on the 1/3-mile Irwindale oval.

The two victories by East at Tucson were his 14th and 15th in USAC competition this season. Included are National Midget victories in the prestigious "Belleville Midget Nationals" in Kansas, the "Hut Hundred' at Terre Haute, Ind., the "Buckeye Nationals" at Rossburg, Ohio and in the "Twin 25s" at Irwindale in March.

USAC NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1.-Bobby East-1,256
2.-Josh Wise-849
3.-Tom Hessert-681
4.-Cole Carter-670
5.-Brad Kuhn-642
6.-Ron Gregory-621
7.-Dave Steele-600
8.-Davey Ray-594
9.-Dave Darland-572
10.-Teddy Beach-556

USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS
1.-Johnny Rodriguez-1,113
2.-Jerome Rodela-952
3.-Wally Pankratz-947
4.-Steve Paden-782
5.-Robby Flock-709
6.-Dallen McKenney-706
7.-Garrett Hansen-684
8.-Matt Mitchell-600
9.-Shannon McQueen-517
10.-Tyler Brown-496

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Series USAC
Drivers Michael Lewis , Brad Kuhn , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Tom Hessert , Jay Drake , Johnny Rodriguez , Bobby East , Teddy Beach , Ron Gregory , Steve Paden , Josh Wise , Davey Ray , Wally Pankratz , Cole Carter , Robby Flock , Matt Mitchell , Shannon McQueen , Garrett Hansen