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MIDGETS, SPRINTS HEAD FOR FLORIDA OPENERS

usac United States Auto Club 2012 logoFrom Dick Jordan

USAC racing has a storied past in Florida and enters its future in the coming two weeks with National events at two ovals during the state’s biggest racing motorsports period.

The National Midgets, returning to Florida for the first time in eight years, visit New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach February 17 and 18 (Sunday and Monday) during the final buildup to the famed Daytona 500, slated at Daytona Beach February 24 just to the north of New Smyrna Beach.

The following Thursday, Friday and Saturday (February 21-22-23) finds the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Cars competing at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala.

Josh Wise won USAC’s last Florida Midget race at Orlando in 2005, while the Sprint Cars are returning to Ocala for the third consecutive year.

Race fans will be treated to both pavement and dirt racing, with the Midgets on New Smyrna’s half-mile paved oval and the Sprints pounding the 3/8-mile dirt at Ocala.

Drivers Tracy Hines and Bryan Clauson are expected to be among those competing in all five races. Hines is a former USAC Silver Crown and Sprint Champion, while Hagen earned his initial Midget crown last year. Both Hagen and Hines are former USAC winners in the state. Hagen won a Sprint race at Ocala last year and Hines won a Silver Crown race at Homestead-Miami in 2007.

Race fans unable to make the journey from the north will also be able to catch all the non-stop Sprint car action from Ocala by accessing the USAC website, usacracing.tv, where those events will be streamed live on a pay-per-view basis.

Florida USAC racing debuted in 1956 with the first-ever USAC Sprint races at West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Miami. The USAC Midgets made their Florida debut the following year with the popular “Tangerine Tournament” at eight different venues.