TWO-RACE WEEKEND KICKS OFF USAC EASTERN MIDGET SEASON ON APRIL 6 & 7
Story By: Richie Murray/USAC Racing
Photos By: Dan DeMarco/RacersGuide.com
Newmanstown, PA – A pair of big races within easy driving distance of one another will kick off the 2018 season for the USAC Eastern Midgets this weekend, April 6 & 7, and the two most recent champions of the division will lead the assault in the action-packed doubleheader.
Friday, April 6, the 2018 Groundbreaker event will jump start the new year for the mighty Midgets at Linda’s Speedway in Jonestown, Pa. Joining the ground-pounding Midgets will be the wingless 600 and the winged 270 Sprints. Gates will open at 5:30 and race time is set for 7:30. Last season, rain outs plagued the speedway just about every time the Midgets were on the schedule, with just one race, the last one of the year for the USAC Eastern Midgets, getting into the books at the quarter-mile. That event was a dandy, though, as Alex Bright authored a last lap pass of his teammate, Andrew Layser, to score the win by mere inches when the duo crossed the finish line.
With his top ten finish in that final race at Linda’s, Ryan Greth clinched his first USAC Eastern Midget point championship. Both Greth and Bright (the 2016 champion) will be in the field this Friday at Linda’s and on Saturday, April 7, as the clay-tossing Midgets take their broadsliding brand of motorsports mayhem to Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Newmanstown, Pa. as the speedway presents its 2018 No Wing Spring Fling.
Back in 2015, New Cumberland, Pa.’s Greth captured the very first Midget race ever run at Clyde Martin. There have been six Midget events since (four Eastern Midget and two USAC National Midget races), and Greth is still looking for his second triumph at the Clyde. Collegeville, Pa.’s Alex Bright has annexed the victories in all four stand-alone Eastern Midget races, while Tanner Thorson has emerged victorious in both of the National Midget Championship events. Anticipation for this event is high as fans and competitors alike yearn to see if this will be the race when someone other than Bright is holding the checkered flag at the end of the evening. Greth has come close to dethroning “the Phenom” a few times and he’s looking for a strong start to defend his 2017 point title.
Joining the USAC Eastern Midgets on Saturday at Clyde Martin will be the wingless 600 and wingless 270 Sprints, with a 6:00 p.m. starting time. Strong fields are expected in both the wingless 600’s and 270’s as Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway constantly provides thrill-a-minute racing for wingless warriors in those two divisions.
It will be a busy day at the Clyde on Saturday, with the speedway’s five weekly classes going through pre-season car inspection at the track beginning at 9:00 a.m. Practice for Lanco members who compete in the 600cc, 270cc, Sportsman, 125cc, and 250cc Four-Stroke classes will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The pits will then be cleared before gates re-open to race teams competing in that night’s No Wing Spring Fling.
The USAC Eastern Midgets look forward to a big season beginning with this weekend’s doubleheader at Linda’s and the Clyde. Greth notched his first championship in ’17, scoring a single feature win and lots of top five and top ten efforts. He returns to defend his title aboard the WSL Inc., Letter Works Sign Company Spike/Stanton No. 4.
Bright, who won three times and finished second in the standings last year, is armed with a new Elite Chassis powered by a Stanton SR-11 engine. He is aiming for his second point crown in the past three seasons.
The division’s Rookie of the Year in 2017, Kenny Miller III from Birdsboro, Pa., is looking to improve on his impressive fourth place finish in points. He registered just one top five last season – a third place effort at Clyde Martin – and is searching for his initial Midget triumph as he steers a Spike/ Esslinger No. 23m.
2017 was a break-through year for New England’s Adam Pierson, who often makes the long trek from his home to run with the USAC Eastern Midgets. Pierson engineered his first two victories with the club and wound up third in points. He will do battle in a Spike/ Esslinger combination in 2018.
Others expected to compete this weekend include Josh Heckman, Andrew Layser, Shawn Jackson, Christopher Dyson, and newcomer Lee Nardelli.
Nardelli purchased the car driven several times by Kyle Spence, and will make his Midget debut at Linda’s on Friday night. Nardelli is a multi-time 600 Sprint champion at Bridgeport’s Spirit Auto Center Speedway and has numerous feature wins in that class. The car is a proven commodity, as Spence recorded some impressive drives with it, so Nardelli should be a contender right out of the gate.