STAR-STUDDED FIELD EYES TEXAS MIDGET RACES Two hundred and ninety (290) USAC National Feature victories, thirteen National championships, six Regional championships, seven National Rookie the Year awards, seven National...
STAR-STUDDED FIELD EYES TEXAS MIDGET RACES
Two hundred and ninety (290) USAC National Feature victories, thirteen National championships, six Regional championships, seven National Rookie the Year awards, seven National Most Improved Driver awards, four Indiana Sprint Week titles, and three National Midget Driver of the Year honors are all encompassed in the field already entered for next week's USAC Midget races at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas. Throw in the fastest Sprint Car driver of all time and you have a stellar field for the first USAC Midget race in the Lone Star State in 34 years!
Gary Bettenhausen won the last USAC Midget race in Texas, a 100-lapper at the Astrodome in 1972. It's been three years since USAC visited the state, Mike Martin winning a Southwest Sprint Car race at Lubbock in 2003. A total of 55 USAC races have been held in Texas, beginning with A.J. Foyt's Sprint car win at Meyer Speedway in Houston in 1959. Foyt is the winningest driver with a dozen feature triumphs.
Forty-six years ago, Mel Kenyon, whose 111 National feature wins are the most in USAC Midget racing history, made his USAC debut just north of Thunder Hill Raceway, at Longhorn Speedway in Austin, a race won by Bob Tattersall. That was one of 22 USAC Midget races conducted in Texas so far. One of Foyt's victories came in the 1970 appearance at the Houston Astrodome.
A 40-lap feature is on tap for Saturday night (Oct. 14) at the 3/8-mile paved oval. Sunday's (Oct. 15) twilight program culminates with a 100-lap main event. Complete preliminaries are scheduled each night.
Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. is in the midst of a torrid battle for the USAC National Championship. The 2005 series runner-up has already won a pair of USAC Sprint races and three Midget features this year and leads Jay Drake of Brownsburg, Ind. by 30 points. Defending National Champion Josh Wise of Riverside, Calif. trails Drake by 29 and USAC Triple Crown Champion Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. is 18 behind Wise. All four are entered for the Texas shootout and with 148 points available, any one of them could emerge as the new leader when Sunday's checkered flag falls.
Nine of the "top-10" in the USAC National Midget standings are entered. The only driver missing is Bryan Clauson, whose injuries suffered in a Sprint car crash last month have sidelined him for the balance of the 2006 season. Clauson is expected to make a complete recovery from those injuries and is recuperating at home in Noblesville, Ind.