USAC Midgets Set To Take On Historic Kokomo
Story By: RICHIE MURRAY / USAC SERIES MEDIA
Photos By: DICK AYERS / RACERSGUIDE.COM
INDIANAPOLIS IND.- April 5, 2017- The USAC National Midget Series and Kokomo Speedway is a union that dates back to a bygone era of no cages and short-sleeve t-shirts serving as firesuits.
Over the past six decades, the track has delivered the goods when it comes to USAC midget racing on the quarter-mile dirt oval located a little over an hour north of Indianapolis. It’s the only venue, in fact, from USAC’s initial National Midget season of 1956 that remains on the series’ calendar to this day.
Jimmy Davies, Bob Tattersall, Mel Kenyon, Sleepy Tripp, Rich Vogler, Tony Elliott, J.J. Yeley, Bryan Clauson and Kyle Larson are among the names you’ll find on the track’s USAC midget winners’ list. For the 74th and 75th time this coming weekend, another name will etch his or her name as the latest to make their mark at Kokomo Speedway this Friday and Saturday during the Kokomo Grand Prix.
As if one night isn’t enough, the action will be packed into two straight nights as the series hits the outdoors for the first time in 2017. Just last month, Justin Grant captured his first career USAC National Midget victory indoors at the Southern Illinois Center, making history by becoming the first to win the USAC National Sprint and National Midget openers in the same season. His run thus far for Clauson/Marshall Racing has been nearly flawless and he’ll look to continue his run of success at a track he has mastered 10 times behind the wheel of a sprint car.
Grant will have to contend with a number of racers who are eager to put their stamp on the early part of the season. His CMR teammate, Shane Golobic, finished right behind him at DuQuoin. Arizona’s Jerry Coons Jr. and Indiana’s Dave Darland are two of the most decorated drivers in the history of the United States Auto Club and both know their way around Kokomo in any type of car.
Defending series champion Tanner Thorson got off to a rough start in DuQuoin with a 21st place result, but hopes to rebound at Kokomo along with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammates Spencer Bayston and a trio of first-time win-seekers Ryan Robinson, Holly Shelton and series rookie Tanner Carrick.
Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon got his first USAC National Midget win at Kokomo back in 2006 while Arizona’s Chad Boat led much of the series’ most recent appearance at the track in June of 2016.
In that 2016 race, Rico Abreu’s late-race magic included sliding teammate Christopher Bell for third simultaneously as second-running Spencer Bayston got sideways between turns three and four. Abreu banged wheels with Bayston, ricocheting in front of Bayston and into second-place with 10 laps to go.
A yellow for debris in turns three and four closed the gap between first and second, providing Abreu a lifeline and a chance by placing him right on Boat’s tail tank for the restart. At the drop of the green, Abreu rode the razor’s edge up against the wall as Boat matriculated the middle groove. Abreu continued to grind and grind as he pressured Boat, ultimately pulling alongside Boat in a drag race that resulted in a near dead-heat at the start/finish line on lap 22.
Abreu was seemingly shot out of a cannon each time at the exit of turns two and four, distancing himself from Boat in the waning laps to take the victory ahead of Bayston and Boat. Meanwhile, Bryan Clauson was crowned Indiana Midget Week champion for his performance throughout the five-race mini-series.