Rookie of the Year mid-season battle report

ROOKIES FROM 7 STATES LEAD MID-SEASON BATTLES FOR 2006 USAC "ROOKIE OF THE YEAR" HONORS Drivers from seven different states find themselves leading respective battles for 2006 USAC "Rookie of the Year" honors as the season ...


Drivers from seven different states find themselves leading respective battles for 2006 USAC "Rookie of the Year" honors as the season reaches its mid-point.

Indiana driver Bryan Clauson, Illinois drivers Derek O'Dell, Chris Windom and Mario Clouser, New Jersey's Sean Carman, Oklahoman Chett Gehrke, Ohio's Zach Schiff, Texan Bradley Riethmeyer and Californians Tim Barber, Chase Barber, Bradley Galedrige, Blake Miller, Michael Faccinto and Quintin Crye are atop their respective series rookie lists but many challengers are knocking on the door.

USAC's new pavement Silver Crown car has spawned some new participants and San Francisco, Calif. resident Tim Barber sits sixth in the series standings after posting a pair of third-places. Not far in arrears are Pablo Donoso, Bryn Gohn and Pete Shepherd III.

O'Dell of East Alton, Ill. has a third and two eighths in National Sprint racing but Scotty Weir looms right behind him in the standings. They are 12th and 13th in the points.

A pair of fourth-place finishes has helped Clauson, of Noblesville, Ind., maintain fifth in the National Midgets, while Brady Bacon and Levi Jones are also "top-10" drivers, Bacon with a pair of seconds and Jones with a third as his best finish so far. A victory at New Castle, Ind. and four seconds also have Clauson second in the Regional Midget points, but drivers Brian Olson, Richey Jacobs and Stephanie Mockler are close behind. Mockler, who owns the most USAC victories ever by a female driver, scored back-to-back feature wins at Mansfield, Ohio and Anderson, Ind. to open this year's Regional slate.

A victory at Tracy, Calif. and four other "top-10s" have boosted Galedrige, from Los Gatos, Calif., to third in the Western Sprints, but Nick Green, Matt DeMartini and Jimmy Pelk are all in the "top-10" in the current points.

Two seconds have helped Chase Barber, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., secure third in the Western Midgets. Greg Bragg, with four "top-fours," and lady driver Randi Pankratz seem to be his biggest challengers so far. Bragg is fifth and Pankratz ninth in the points.

Miller's consistency in the CRA Sprint cars have placed the Yorba Linda, Calif. driver 12th in the standings, his best finish a fifth. Evan Suggs, with four "top-10s," and Chad Boespflug are close behind.

Carman, of Stockton, N.J., appears unchallenged yet in the Northeast Ford Focuses, leading that series standings after scoring two thirds and two fourths.

Five "top-fives" have put Clouser, of Auburn, Ill., in third in the Midwest Pavement Focus standings, but he's being chased by "top-10" drivers Casey Riggs, Gehrke, Craig Haack and Tyler Irwin.

Gehrke, of Broken Arrow, Okla., won a Midwest pavement race at Oregon, Wis., but leads the Midwest Dirt rookie chase after a fourth-place finish in the series opener. Alison MacLeod, Nick Daugherty and Irwin, 7-8-9 in the points, could offer challenges.

Schiff, the Columbus, Ohio driver who scored his initial USAC victory at New Castle, Ind. in late-May, added another win at Anderson, Ind. in June and leads the Indiana Ford Focus standings. Irwin ranks fourth as he continues his quest for three different rookie titles.

Texan Riethmeyer, the Houston driver who won the 2005 All-American Driver Challenge, has 2006 victories at Kenly, N.C. and Shenandoah, Va. and is second in the Carolina/Virginia Focus points, but Mark Burt, with five "top-10s" and A.J. Weeks, with four "top-10s," bear watching. Burt is third and Weeks sixth in the standings.

Faccinto, of Hanford, Calif., won a race at Madera, Calif. and leads the California Pavement Focus standings. Levi Roberts, Nic Faas and Tim Skoglund are all in the "top-five" in points and will challenge as the season progresses.

A second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh have left Crye, of Gridley, Calif., fifth in the California Dirt Focus points, but keep an eye on challengers Joe Fabozzi, Faas and Thomas Gray. Gray scored a feature victory at Ventura during May.

Windom might just be the most impressive rookie so far this season, winning four consecutive Kenyon Midget features after finishing second in the series opener. The Canton, Ill. driver leads the Kenyon standings, holding off Sammy Imel and Kenny Biro, both "rookies." Imel won a race at New Castle and Biro has four "top-fours" to his credit.

"Rookies of the Year" will be saluted at the annual USAC season-ending banquets in Indianapolis, Ind. and California.


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Series USAC
Drivers Scotty Weir , Levi Jones , Tim Barber , Brian Olson , Richey Jacobs , Pablo Donoso , Nick Green , Bryan Clauson , Pete Shepherd , Bryn Gohn , Stephanie Mockler , Randi Pankratz , Chett Gehrke , Zach Schiff , Alison MacLeod , Levi Roberts , Mario Clouser , Chris Windom , Greg Bragg , Nic Faas , Casey Riggs , Evan Suggs