Monday, November 11, 2019

Western World USAC Midget Preview

Mooresville, North Carolina's Karsyn Elledge. (Dave Biro Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 11, 2019).........It's been five years since the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets have graced the Grand Canyon State of Arizona where they return this weekend, Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16 for the 52nd annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford, a two-night doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.

This weekend's trip to the Southwest will mark the first ever visit for midgets to the 3/8-mile dirt oval in San Tan Valley. Seventy-nine previous USAC National Midget events have been held in the state of Arizona, most recently won by Darren Hagen at Canyon Speedway Park in 2014. Mel Kenyon owns the most Arizona USAC National Midget feature victories with 7 between 1964-1980.

USAC National Midget racing in Arizona dates back to the inaugural season of USAC in 1956, and in fact, was the host of the fourth series race ever held, a 100-lapper won by Johnnie Tolan at South Mountain Speedway in Phoenix.

None of the expected entrants for this weekend's Arizona foray have ever won a USAC National Midget race in the state, including Arizonian Jerry Coons, Jr., who won his very first USAC-sanctioned feature in an Arizona Regional Midget event at Raven Raceway in his hometown of Tucson in 1987. He has won three times in USAC National Sprint Car competition in Arizona, all at the now-defunct Manzanita Speedway, including the 2007 Western World.

Coons will be joined by fellow Petry teammates Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Conor Daly at Western World. Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) is looking to return to victory lane for the first time with the series since a last-lap victory at the Kokomo (Ind.) Grand Prix in April. Daly (Noblesville, Ind.), meanwhile, was a top-ten finisher in this past May's 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Daly has made three previous USAC Midget appearances, most recently at September's BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS.

Rico Abreu (St. Helena, Calif.), the 2014 USAC National Midget champion, recently finished 4th in his lone series appearance of the season in September at Eldora Speedway. He had a 4th place run at Western World, at Canyon, in 2013 and was fast qualifier on the second night of the event in 2014. His Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian lineup is stacked with eight entries in the stable, alongside 2018 series champion Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), an April USAC Southwest Sprint Car series winner at Arizona Speedway.

July Sweet Springs, Mo. winner Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.), Tucker Klaasmeyer (Paola, Kans.), Holley Hollan (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Jesse Colwell (Red Bluff, Calif.) and sprint car standout and KKM newcomers Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Calif.) and Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) who will both make their USAC debuts with the KKM team.

Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) holds a nearly insurmountable lead in the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget standings with a 154-point advantage entering Western World. Courtney is in line to become just the third driver to capture his first career National Midget and National Sprint championships in consecutive years following Tony Stewart (1994-95) and Josh Wise (2005-06). Courtney captured the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car portion of the 2018 Western World.

Courtney will be joined on the Clauson/Marshall Racing team by two-time series winner and past Silver Crown and National Sprint champion Chris Windom who resides second in the standings behind Courtney and swept both nights in a USAC National Sprint Car at Western World in 2016. Three-time 2019 series winner and BC39 victor Zeb Wise (Angola, Ind.) will join along with top series Rookie Andrew Layser (Collegeville, Pa.).

Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) won the last time the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets were in action back in mid-October at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., his second series victory of the season. His FMR Racing teammate in the midget for Western World is Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), a two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ in his own right in 2014 and 2016 and a four-time Western World winner, three times in a 360 Sprint in 2009-16-18 and in a USAC National Sprint Car in 2010.

Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) will be debuting a new Gene Gile-owned midget at Western World after competing in the team's sprint car throughout last weekend's Oval Nationals at Perris, Calif. Meseraull was victorious in a USAC National Sprint Car on the opening night of Western World in 2017.

Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been spectacular this year in the Hoosier state, most notably at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. where he went 8-for-8 in a sprint car this season. He was tremendous in a midget there as well in October, finishing 3rd in just his third career USAC National Midget start. He'll drive a midget for car owner Jack Yeley at Western World.

Also joining on the fray are a pair of drivers who've found success on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series trail this season, including 2016 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.) for Tarlton Motorsports, a four-time winner with WoO in 2019 as well as one-time WoO winner Gio Scelzi (Fresno, Calif.) who'll once again take the wheel for Tucker/Boat Motorsports.

The Western States Midget contingent will be in force with point leader and three-time winner Robert Dalby (Anaheim, Calif.) leading the charge along with second-running Cory Elliott (Bakersfield, Calif.) and third-place Shannon McQueen (Bakersfield, Calif.).

Both nights, pits open at 2pm Mountain, grandstands at 3pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm, and cars on track at 5:30pm. Adult tickets are $30-$35, seniors are $30-$35, kids 11 and under are $15, adult pit passes are $40, kids 7-12 pit passes are $20, kids 6 and under pit passes are $10.

A practice night begins the festivities on Thursday, November 14. Adult pit passes are $30, kids 7-12 pit passes are $10 and kids 6 and under pit passes are free.

If you are unable to make it to the track, all the action can be watched live on FloRacing, listened to live on the USAC app with live timing and scoring available on both the USAC and Race-Monitor apps.


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-1,718, 2-Chris Windom-1,564, 3-Logan Seavey-1,534, 4-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,478, 5-Zeb Wise-1,435, 6-Tanner Carrick-1,287, 7-Jerry Coons, Jr.-1,274, 8-Chad Boat-1,255, 9-Jason McDougal-1,229, 10-Tucker Klaasmeyer-1,193.

USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET POINTS: 1-Robert Dalby-611, 2-Cory Elliott-575, 3-Shannon McQueen-477, 4-David Prickett-466, 5-Austin Liggett-458, 6-Ben Worth-450, 7-C.J. Sarna-400, 8-Kyle Beilman-372, 9-Jake Swanson-348, 10-Marvin Mitchell-347.

2013: Bryan Clauson
2014: Darren Hagen

1. (7) Mel Kenyon

2. (3) Gary Bettenhausen, Bobby East, Darren Hagen, Tracy Hines, Dave Steele & Tony Stewart

8. (2) Christopher Bell, Merle Bettenhausen, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton, Chuck Gurney, Jason Leffler, Roger McCluskey, Chuck Rodee, Brad Sweet, Johnnie Tolan, Sleepy Tripp & J.J. Yeley

20. (1) Chuck Arnold, Tom Bigelow, Billy Boat, Billy Cantrell, Bryan Clauson, Larry Dickson, Dan Drinan, Billy Engelhart, Robby Flock, Stan Fox, A.J. Foyt, Billy Garrett, Rick Goudy, Allen Heath, Parnelli Jones, Cory Kruseman, Kyle Larson, Michael Lewis, Jerry McClung, Bobby Olivero, Aaron Pollock, Larry Rice, Bobby Santos, Les Scott, Tom Sellberg, Bob Tattersall, Rich Vogler, Billy Vukovich, Bruce Walkup & Bob Wente