FF: 200 races since inaugural event

TWO HUNDRED RACES AND COUNTING FOR USAC FOCUS MIDGETS INDIANAPOLIS -- USAC's Ford Focus Midget Car Series continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and over the weekend, it celebrated another mark of excellence. The 200th Ford Focus Midget ...


INDIANAPOLIS -- USAC's Ford Focus Midget Car Series continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and over the weekend, it celebrated another mark of excellence.

The 200th Ford Focus Midget points-paying race was conducted Friday at Watsonville Speedway in Watsonville, Calif., as Audra Sasselli took the checkered flag.

The Ford Focus Midget Car Series started March 6, 2002 at Bakersfield Speedway in Bakersfield, Calif. Josh Lakatos led a pack of six cars en route to the victory. Since then, the Ford Focus Series has expanded to six regional series: California (Dirt and Pavement), Midwest, Carolina/Virginia, Northeast and Oklahoma. A series at the Indianapolis Speedrome has also been established.

"The success of the USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series is unprecendented in open-wheel racing," said Rollie Helmling, USAC President and CEO. "The series, from its inception three years ago last March at Bakersfield, Calif., beginning with six cars, has been phenomenal. The fact that this year we have scheduled over 100 races and in excess had 150 participants illustrates the significant interest so many have in the series. We look forward with great anticipation to even further growth in 2006."

USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series National Coordinator Eric Bunn is enthused about the series' past, present and future.

"It took two and a half seasons for the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series to run its 100th event last year and just 13 months to run the next 100," Bunn said. "Each yeawr, the competition gets closer, and we are looking forward to our first Ford Focus driver graduating to a front line USAC National Midget Car Series team."

Added USAC Vice President Tommy Hunt, Director of Western Operations: "It's hard to believe that 200 races have been staged to date with Ford Focus Midgets throughout the United States. I'm sure many racing fans have noticed the amount of young, talented drivers who have graduated from the Focus Series and are making a name for themselves in Midgets, Sprints and even Silver Crown cars.

"This phenomenom I'm sure will continue, and USAC is very proud that this series is able to assist these young hopefuls in their quest for racing greatness," he continued.

The USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series was created to allow drivers to begin and/or continue racing in the open-wheel ranks at affordable costs. Several drivers have got their open-wheel racing start in the Ford Focus Midget Car Series, while others have revived their careers in the series. The series features cars equipped with "spec" Ford Focus Zetec 2.2-liter engines, boosting up to 178 horsepower.

The following is a list of accomplishments by drivers and USAC since the Ford Focus Series.

- Through Aug. 30, nine drivers have been crowned USAC Ford Focus Midget champions. They are Todd Hunsaker, Josh Lakatos, Chris Rahe, Bradley Galedrige, Robbie Ray, Tate Martz, Chase Scott, Brice Kenyon and Jamie Williams. Hunsaker is the only two-time Focus champion, landing the 2002 California title and 2003 California South championship.

- Seventeen states have hosted a Ford Focus Midget race. California leads overall with 90 features. Indiana is second on the list with 45 features. Other states to have held Ford Focus Midget races include Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, Oklahoma, Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachuetts, New York and Maine.

- The Indianapolis Speedrome has held the most feature events with 25, of which 22 were specific to the track's championship. Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway has hosted 16 feature events since 2002. Overall, 53 tracks have hosted at least one Ford Focus Midget feature.

- Tate Martz of Rushville, Ind. is the all-time winningest driver in Ford Focus Midget competition with 15. Overall, more than 40 drivers have scored feature victories in USAC Ford Focus Midget competition.

- A two-day National Ford Focus championship is scheduled for Sept. 17-18 at Lima, Ohio and Anderson, Ind. It will be the first National championship for the Ford Focus Midget Car Series.

- Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, Champ Car vet Michel Jourdan Jr. and Indy Racing League rookie Patrick Carpentier, as well as USAC National champions Dave Darland, Jay Drake, J.J. Yeley and Bobby East, have all taken part in a USAC Ford Focus Midget feature.

- USAC -

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Series USAC
Drivers Kurt Busch , Patrick Carpentier , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Jay Drake , Chris Rahe , Josh Lakatos , Chase Scott , Robbie Ray
Teams Williams