WM: Youth battling age in Bakersfield Saturday

Bobby Boone and Walt Johnson are on the "hot seat" for this Saturday night's USAC MCI WorldCom "doubleheader" at the Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway. Boone trails Wally Pankratz by just 11 points in the Western Midget Car standings, while...

Bobby Boone and Walt Johnson are on the "hot seat" for this Saturday night's USAC MCI WorldCom "doubleheader" at the Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway. Boone trails Wally Pankratz by just 11 points in the Western Midget Car standings, while Johnson's deficit in the TQ Midget Car points is just 10 to leader J.J. Ercse. A total of 72 points in each series is up for grabs Saturday, with a 20-lap TQ and 50-lap Midget Car feature on tap at the 1/3-mile dirt oval.

Bakersfield Speedway has been the scene of some great point battles in recent years. Last year, Marc DeBeaumont clinched the Western Midget Car title with a fifth-place finish in this race as challenger Shane Scully failed to make the feature field. Ironically, Josh Wise entered last year's Bakersfield TQ race with a 10-point lead on Greg Edenholm but emerged with only a three-point lead after finishing 17th as Edenholm took ninth. Wise eventually won the title in the final race.

Jason Leffler and Rick Hendrix locked up their respective 1998 National and Western MCI WorldCom Midget Car championships with their Bakersfield performances too.

Boone is bidding to become one of USAC's youngest driving champions in history. He turned 19 last February, while Kasey Kahne, who already has clinched this year's MCI WorldCom National Midget Car championship, turned 20 in April. Wally Pankratz, the Western Midget Car leader, was 55 in August, while third-ranking Western Midget Car driver Danny Ebberts, still mathematically in the title chase, turned 19 in June.

By contrast, Johnson turned 40 in April, while TQ Midget Car point leader Ercse, who won the title in 1993, turned 29 in April. Greg Edenholm, who ranks third in the TQs and is still mathematically a title contender too, will be 52 this December.

Practice on November 18 at Bakersfield starts at 4:30 pm, with qualifying at 5:30 and racing at 7.

USAC MCI WORLDCOM NATIONAL MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS <pre> 1. Kasey Kahne 1,119 2. Jay Drake 900 3. Dave Darland 855 4. Michael Lewis 817 5. Tracy Hines 718 6. Aaron Fike 626 7. A.J. Fike 617 8. Clay Klepper 572 9. Ed Carpenter 557 10. Ryan Scott 491

USAC MCI WORLDCOM WESTERN MDIGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS <pre> 1. Wally Pankratz 972 2. Bobby Boone 961 3. Danny Ebberts 923 4. Thomas Meseraull 831 5. Steve Paden 769 6. Shane Scully 732 7. Bryan Stanfill 716 8. Rick Hendrix 636 9. Matt Streeter 612 10. Josh Wise 583

USAC MCI WORLDCOM TQ MIDGET CAR SERIES STANDINGS <pre> 1. J.J. Ercse 684 2. Walt Johnson 674 3. Greg Edenholm 614 4. Todd Hunsaker 588 5. West Evans 582 6. Steve Parke 417 7. Gene Godepski 408 8. Ron Wade 392 9. Ron Ahrendt 383 10. Steve Davis 327

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Series USAC
Drivers Steve Park , Jason Leffler , Kasey Kahne , Michael Lewis , Ryan Scott , Dave Darland , Danny Ebberts , Tracy Hines , Aaron Fike , Jay Drake , A.J. Fike , Steve Paden , Josh Wise , Wally Pankratz , Clay Klepper , Bryan Stanfill , Rick Hendrix , Matt Streeter , Thomas Meseraull , Ed Carpenter