Mopar Speed Tuesday, November 23, 2004 USAC M Mopar thrusts into high gear for the 64th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix Team Mopar is set to make an assault on the 64th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix on Thanksgiving night, this Thursday,...
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Mopar thrusts into high gear for the 64th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix
Team Mopar is set to make an assault on the 64th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix on Thanksgiving night, this Thursday, November 25. The event, which is promoted by the legendary Agajanian family, is touted as America's most traditional open-wheel race. Spanning 64 years and four different venues, the annual affair has transitioned from the Ascot Park Speedway to its current home: Irwindale Speedway.
The driver who can win the 100-lap feature race at the California track will be privy to career bragging rights, as the past winner's list reads like a "who's who" of open wheel racing. A.J. Foyt, Tony Stewart and Parnelli Jones are among the decorated veterans of the sport who have written their names in the Turkey Night Grand Prix's history book.
Dave Steele will seek his third Turkey Night Grand Prix victory this week, taking former winner Tony Stewart and the rest of the field head on. Tracy Hines, Josh Wise and Kyle Nicholas will also seek their first event victory on the 1/2-mile oval.
The 64th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix will get underway with qualifying beginning at 4 p.m. PST. Racing is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. PST. For more information regarding the Turkey Night Grand Prix, log on to usacracing.com
Dave Steele shoots for third Turkey Night Grand Prix win
When the No. 2 machine takes to the track at Irwindale Speedway for the 64th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix, it's a safe bet that Dave Steele will be a man on a mission. The two-time event champion will be seeking back-to-back victories in the illustrious California open-wheel race, as well as the honor of adding his name to the short list of drivers who can claim three event titles.
"A Turkey Night win would be a great way for this team to cap off a really strong first year," Steele said. "We've won several races this year, including Nazareth, Salem and Pikes Peak, but it would be really cool to win Turkey Night with this team. We've worked really hard this season to get everything in place, and I think that effort will truly show at Irwindale."
Steele and his team earned the pole award for the Mopar Twin 25's event at the Irwindale facility earlier this year. The team would like to mirror its earlier success next Thursday, and chances look good. Steele brings with him the experience that only a two-time event champion can. And the No. 2 Nicholas Motorsports machine boasts a Mopar powerplant under its hood.
"There will be several tough teams to beat," Steele said. "But we've got everything in order to be just as prepared. We've definitely got the engines to win with, as the Mopars are quick on the restart. Irwindale is definitely one place you want to have that advantage. With all of our preparation and equipment, we'll be in good shape for this race."
For more information about Steele, log on to www.davesteele.com.
Tracy Hines remains in contention for the owner's points championship
NASCAR driver Tracy Hines will return to the seat of the No. 11 Wilke-PAK Motorsports entry for the Turkey Night Grand Prix. Hines has won many high-profile USAC Midget Car Series events in his decorated career, but he will seek his first Turkey Night Grand Prix victory at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.
Hines is looking forward to returning to the seat of his Mopar-powered No. 11.
"It would mean a lot to be able to win that event," Hines said. "It would put a closure on my open-wheel career. There are going to be several guys who are capable of winning, including Dave Steele and Josh Wise, but I think we'll be in contention in the end."
Hines, who also competed in the Busch Grand National Series this season, is looking to wrap up the USAC National Midget Series owner's point championship for Wilke-PAK Motorsports in California. The No. 11 team trails owner's points leader Lewis Racing by only 21 points as the series heads to the West.
"While it's nice to come back and race in the open-wheel cars again, I really would like to help Wilke-PAK Motorsports win the owner's championship," Hines said. "That championship is a big part of why I decided to compete in the midget car series again this year. I really wanted to help win the title for Wilke-PAK and Mopar. To win would be a great way to finish up the year."
For more information regarding Hines, log on to www.tracyhines.com.
Josh Wise looks for strong finish to freshman season
The 2004 season may have been Josh Wise's first complete season in USAC National Midget Car Series competition, but when the final numbers are tallied, Wise will sit at the front of the field. Heading into the Turkey Night, Wise and the No. 20 Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team will look to wrap up the runner-up position in the series' championship.
"We're definitely pleased with our performance as a team this year," Wise said. "To start a season with a brand-new team, we've accomplished a lot. We've made some great improvements since the beginning of the year, and we're ready to apply that knowledge to the 2005 season. To come out and be second in the points in our first year, that's pretty big."
Wise and company also have their sites set on winning the Turkey Night Grand Prix, a feat that won't come easily. The No. 20 team is prepared to battle some of the biggest names in open-wheel racing in the hope of earning their first event win.
"Winning Turkey Night would by far be the best way to end this season," Wise said. "A victory on Thursday would speak volumes about how far our pavement program has come this year. Winning this race would be huge, and we feel we're up to that task. The Mopar powerplant will also be an asset to us at Irwindale, as its reliability takes the worry out of the equation. We look to work hard enough to put ourselves in a position to possibly win at the end of 100 laps."
Wise is currently second in USAC National Midget Car Series points, 168 points ahead of third place. For more information regarding Wise, log on to www.joshwiseracing.com.
Kyle Nicholas set to make USAC debut with Team Mopar
Kyle Nicholas is poised to make his USAC National Midget Car Series debut in the Turkey Night Grand Prix. Competing as a teammate of Team Mopar standout Dave Steele, Nicholas will pilot the No. 02 machine against some of the biggest names in open-wheel racing.
Not bad for a guy who recently turned 16.
"I never thought I'd be in this position at this point in my life," Nicholas said. "Three years ago, I realized that I would be eligible to compete in this Turkey Night event. We've been working for this, and we've made it happen. It's an accomplishment just to be in the position to make a debut in this series."
Nicholas will have the advice and experience of pavement hotshoe Dave Steele to his benefit during the event. He'll also have a Mopar powerplant under the hood as he takes to the half-mile oval of Irwindale Speedway.
"Dave has taken the time to teach me so much in the past year." Nicholas said. "He's really worked with me on consistency, which is the key to running well. Dave has also given me some advice about how to utilize the Mopar power, especially at a place like Irwindale. The Mopar engine will allow me to get off the corners better and down the straightaway quicker, which is what you need to have to happen. Our goal is to run to the point that everyone knows we're there."
Nicholas is the son of Bruce and Mindy Nicholas, who field the No. 2 USAC National Midget Car Series entry of Dave Steele. Nicholas has competed in both the Kenyon Midget Series and dirt sprint car arenas. For more information regarding Nicholas Motorsports or Dave Steele, log on to www.davesteele.com.