NATIONAL MIDGET & WESTERN STATES TQ, MIDGET & SPRINT SERIES DRAKE WINS "TURKEY NIGHT;" LEFFLER WINS NATIONAL MIDGET TITLE RAINS FORCE LAS VEGAS CANCELLATION; HARRIS "DOUBLES" AT BAKERSFIELD "WESTERN" TITLES GO TO JEFF GARDNER, RICK HENDRIX &...
NATIONAL MIDGET & WESTERN STATES TQ, MIDGET & SPRINT SERIES
DRAKE WINS "TURKEY NIGHT;" LEFFLER WINS NATIONAL MIDGET TITLE RAINS FORCE LAS VEGAS CANCELLATION; HARRIS "DOUBLES" AT BAKERSFIELD "WESTERN" TITLES GO TO JEFF GARDNER, RICK HENDRIX & ALEX HARRIS
Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif. secured his second 1998 USAC National Championship Saturday night following cancellation of the USAC "tripleheader" finale at the Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway due to rain.
Leffler emerged with an 11-point margin over Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif., adding the National Midget Championship to his earlier USAC Silver Crown title.
Jeff Gardner of Fresno, Calif. and Rick Hendrix and Alex Harris of Simi Valley, Calif. secured USAC "Western" championships following Saturday night's rainout. Gardner is the 1998 Western States Sprint Car king, while Hendrix is the Western States Midget Champ and Harris repeats as the TQ Midget titlist.
Drake won Thursday night's 58th "Turkey Night Grand Prix" 100-lap Midget race at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway, leading the final 53 laps in his Willoughby Stealth/Gaerte after passing Leffler, who finished second. Jerry Coons, Jr., Dave Darland and Kasey Kahne rounded out the "top-five" at the checkered flag. Drake was the fastest qualifier in the 69-car field. Tony Elliott won the "non-qualifiers" race, while Coons and Kevin Doty won the "last chance" races. In the 100-lap feature, Ricky Shelton led the first 10 laps, Drake led the next 12 and Leffler led for 25 before Drake took over for good.
Eleven drivers flipped during the two-night "Turkey Night" program but all escaped injury.
Alex Harris captured 20-lap TQ Midget feature races both Wednesday and Thursday nights at Bakersfield in his West Valley Grinding Honda. Fast qualifier Josh Lakatos, Ron Wade, Brian Harris and West Evans trailed him on Wednesday night, while Jim Styer, Wade, Lakatos and Steve Lambert rounded out the "top-five" Thursday. Harris took the lead from Gene Godepski on the second lap Wednesday and from Styer on the 11th lap Thursday.
USAC's 1998 racing champions will be honored on Friday night, January 8, 1999, at the USAC National Awards Dinner at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, Ind. USAC's "Western" Champions were honored Sunday afternoon at the "Western States" Awards Banquet at the Showboat Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Final National Midget Standings: 1-Jason Leffler-959; 2-Jay Drake-948; 3-Ricky Shelton-828; 4-Jerry Coons, Jr.-678; 5-Tracy Hines-568; 6-Jimmy McCune-539; 7-Ronnie Johncox-356; 8-Travis Welpott-347; 9-Michael Lewis-322; 10-Dane Carter-283. Final Western States Midget Standings: 1-Rick Hendrix-572; 2-Bryan Stanfill-523; 3-Wally Pankratz-494; 4-Jason Leffler-471; 5-Shane Scully-454; 6-Steve Paden-384; 7-Bobby Boone-360; 8-Marc DeBeaumont-314; 9-Clay Klepper-300; 10-Dwayne Marcum-295. Final Western States Sprint Car Standings: 1-Jeff Gardner-723; 2-Rick Williams-697; 3-Tyler Haylett-470; 4-Tony Hunt-446; 5-Monte Faccinto-335; 6-Dave Fitzgerald-299; 7-Davey Pombo-289; 8-Rick Sipes-261; 9-Ivan Worden-208; 10-Ken Hamilton-179. Final TQ Midget Standings: 1-Alex Harris-640; 2-Josh Lakatos-434; 3-Gene Godepski-409; 4-Brian Harris-404; 5-West Evans-402; 6-Randi Pankratz-366; 7-Ron Ahrendt-338; 8-Todd Hunsaker-257; 9-Ron Wade-251; 10-Steve Parke-249.