KAEDING REPEATS AS STAR OF USAC'S "NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS" CELEBRATION Bud Kaeding and the BK Racing Team stole the spotlight for the second straight year as Champions of USAC's 2007 K & N Silver Crown Championship Series, ...
KAEDING REPEATS AS STAR OF USAC'S "NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS" CELEBRATION
Bud Kaeding and the BK Racing Team stole the spotlight for the second straight year as Champions of USAC's 2007 K & N Silver Crown Championship Series, highlighting honorees at Saturday night's 52nd USAC "Night of Champions" at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
Emcee Rob Klepper orchestrated the presentations, which included driver and car entrant champions, Rookies of the Year, Most Improved Drivers and special award recipients during the festivities in the hotel's Capitol Ballroom.
National driving champions Kaeding of Campbell, Calif., Levi Jones of Avon, Ind., Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. and James Robertson of Indianapolis, topped the list of recipients of year-end cash and commemorative awards. Each also received a "Key to the City" of Indianapolis, while Coons was honored as USAC's "Super License Champion," earning more National feature points than any other driver.
Kaeding won the K & N Silver Crown title, while Jones was the Lucas Oil National Sprint Car Champ, Coons claimed the National Midget crown for the second straight season and Robertson was the National Ford Focus titlist for the Henry Ford Sweepstakes Trophy. National car entrant champions were BK Racing of Campbell, Calif. (Silver Crown), Tony Stewart Racing of Indianapolis (National Sprint Car), Wilke/Pak Motorsports of Milwaukee, Wisc. (National Midget) and Gregg Steele of Shelbyville, Ind. (Ford Focus).
Other driving champions honored Saturday night were Ryan Kaplan of Chico, Calif. (Lucas Oil Western Sprint Car); Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove, Calif. (Western Midget); Tony Jones of Norco, Calif. (Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprint Car); Ryan Burdett of West Jordan, Utah (Young Automotive Rocky Mountain Sprint); James Robertson of Indianapolis, Ind. (Regional Midget and Midwest Ford Focus); Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. (Carolina Ford Focus); Tim Skoglund of Fresno, Calif. (California Paved Ford Focus); Nic Faas of Huntington Beach, Calif. (California Dirt Ford Focus); Jeff Abold of Pennellville, N.Y. (Northeast Ford Focus); Kyle Hamilton of Danville, Ind. (Kenyon Midget); Tim Savage of Herriman, Utah (Utah Developmental Ford Focus) Mario Clouser of Auburn, Ill. (USAC/UMARA Ford Focus) and Chett Gehrke of Broken Arrow, Okla. (Indiana Ford Focus).
Car entrant champions honored Saturday night also included Michael Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. (Lucas Oil Western Sprint Car); J.W. Mitchell Motorsports of Yorba Linda, Calif. (Western Midget); Alexander Racing of Torrance, Calif. (Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprint Car); Gregg Steele of Shelbyville, Ind. (Midwest Ford Focus); Tracy Trotter of Houston, Texas (Carolina Ford Focus); Western Speed Racing of Fresno, Calif. (California Paved Ford Focus); Faas (California Dirt Ford Focus); Pat Abold Motorsports of Pennellville, N.Y. (Northeast Ford Focus); Michael Robertson of Indianapolis (Regional Midget); Mike Hamilton of Danville, Ind. (Kenyon Midget); Savage (Utah Developmental Ford Focus), Clouser (USAC/UMARA Ford Focus) and Gehrke (Indiana Ford Focus).
Charles Maier, Director of Sports Marketing for K & N Engineering, made the presentations of his company's awards to the Silver Crown Series recipients.
Holley Performance Products, Inc. presented Earl's Fast Qualifier Awards to USAC's 2007 qualifying champions, then received USAC's Corporate Special Recognition Award from USAC President Kevin Miller for the company's involvement with USAC racing. Jason Penix, Coordinator of Marketing Outreach for the Indy Racing League, presented year-end IRL bonuses to USAC's 2007 car entrant champions.
Irish Saunders and Dennis Sherman of Hoosier Tire Company, presented distinctive Hoosier jackets to each USAC driving champion.
Miller also presented the USAC Special Individual Recognition Award to Randy Steenbergen of Print Communications for his company's long service to the racing community.
USAC's prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award was posthumously presented to Bill France Jr., whose leadership of NASCAR is well documented.
Miller presented the prestigious USAC President's Award to Bob & Pat Pierson for their exemplary work on the United States Grand Prix, for which USAC served at the host nation organizing club.
Roger Penske was named as the recipient of USAC's prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence.
Toyota Racing Development received the Jim Blunk Award for their significant contributions to the sport of Midget racing. They also presented their Toyota "Top-10" year-end cash awards to the top-10 car owners in the 2007 USAC National Midget Car Series.
USAC's "Race Organizer of the Year" award was presented to Don Kenyon of DK Promotions recognizing his "Wednesday Night Thunder" involvement as well as his presentation of the 2007 Ford Focus Nationals. USAC's Western "Race Organizer of the Year" award was presented Nov. 24 to Jim Naylor of Ventura (Calif.) Raceway..
Cameron Dodson of Greenfield, Ind. (K & N Silver Crown) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Oliver Branch, Miss. (Lucas Oil Sprint and Midget) were presented National "Rookie of the Year" awards. Robertson was honored as the Regional Midget R.O.Y. Ford Focus "Rookies of the Year" included Jordan Pennington (Midwest), Robby Josett (California), Tanner Swanson (Carolina) and Steven Intravaia (Northeast).
"Most Improved Driver" awards were distributed to Kevin Swindell of Germantown, Tenn. (National Midget), Jesse Hockett of Warsaw, Mo. (Lucas Oil National Sprint Car) and Mat Neely of Robinson, Ill. (K & N Silver Crown), plus Ford Focus "Most Improved Drivers" Mike Mohelski (Carolina), P.J. Stergios (Northeast), Dennis Howell (California) and Craig Haack (Midwest).
The Lincoln Electric Mechanical Achievement Awards went to George Snider of Bakersfield, Calif. (National), Steve Alexander of Torrance, Calif. (Western), Gregg Steele of Shelbyville, Ind. (Ford Focus) and Mike Devin of Indianapolis, Ind. (Lifetime). Tom Birky made the Lincoln Electric presentations. Snider prepared the Silver Crown cars for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Alexander worked for Lucas Oil USAC/CRA Sprint Car champ Tony Jones and Steele prepared the Ford Focus National Championship car for James Robertson.
Ford Focus Midget Car Chief Mechanics of the Year were Tyler Irwin of Polson, Mont. (Midwest); Josh MacMillan of Concord, N.C. (Carolina); Jerry Faas of Huntington Beach, Calif. (California); and Pat Abold of Pennellville, N.Y. (Northeast). Jim Rieder of Danville, Ind. was honored as the Regional Midget Chief Mechanic of the Year.
Long-time USAC official Barbara Hellyer of Indianapolis was named recipient of the USAC Winners Circle's Ross Hadley Memorial Achievement Award.
USAC Chief Starter Tom Hansing presented checkered flag awards to USAC Regional driving champions Robertson, Hamilton and Gehrke.
Second and third-place drivers and car entrants in various USAC racing series also received their year-end recognition and awards.
Joe DeFabis of DeFabis Photography, USAC's Official Portrait Studio, presented USAC Championship Photo Artwork to numerous 2007 driving champions.
Floral decorations were provided by Jockish Flowers of Indianapolis. Tim Spillman of Auto Racing Ministries delivered the invocation, while video presentations were courtesy of Dean Mills Video Productions and Dick Wallen's Racing Classics.