From Scott Daloisio
PERRIS, Calif. (November 16, 2016) — Fans who congregate at the Ventura Raceway for the 76th Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix next Wednesday and Thursday, November 23rd and 24th, will have a chance to see a bevy of racing stars, including NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu, as well as two championships being decided. Spectator gates will open at 3:00 PM each day with qualifying at 3:30 and racing at 5:30.
After closing out their NASCAR seasons this weekend in Miami, Larson, who won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in August, Bell, who is one of four drivers left in Friday’s championship showdown in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Abreu, who is closing out his rookie season in the truck series, will head to Ventura for the prestigious midget race. Larson, a native of Elk Grove, California, engraved his name in the Turkey Night history books in 2012 when he won the 98-lap main event at Perris Auto Speedway. Bell, who lives in Norman, Oklahoma, won the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Perris two years ago. Popular Rutherford, California’s Abreu almost joined his good friends on the TNGP victory ledger in 2015, but a flat left rear late in the race knocked him out of contention.
Like Larson, Bell and Abreu, several other stars will be jetting in for the high profile 98-lapper. Most notably will be the four drivers still in contention for the 2016 USAC National Midget championship. Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson carries a precarious 9-point margin over Lebanon, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston going into the Thanksgiving night race. While those two have a distinct advantage heading into the finale, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon, who sewed up his second USAC National Sprint Car championship last week, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chad Boat are tied for third and still have a mathematical chance of winning the crown. Boat’s father Billy won the Turkey Night Grand Prix the only other time the race was held in Ventura in 1997 and he is one of the Grand Marshal’s for this year’s race.
While not quite as tight as the fight for the National Championship, the USAC Western Midget Series title could come down to next Thursday as well. Heading into this Saturday’s race at the Bakersfield Speedway, Corona, California’s Ronnie Gardner is 121-points in front of Hanford, California Michael Faccinto. Gardner, the grandson of Ronnie Duman who finished sixth in the 1968 Indianapolis 500, can set a Western Midget record by winning his fourth straight title. He is currently tied with legendary Sleepy Tripp who won three in a row in the early 1990’s.
Another contender in the star-studded field will be Concord, California veteran Damion Gardner. Known affectionately to his fans as “The Demon,” the slender driver sewed up his fifth USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series championship last Saturday night when he won the Oval Nationals for the third time since 2009 at Perris. Gardner, who established the land speed record of 211.59 MPH for a sprint car at the Bonneville Salt Flats two years ago, is no stranger to midget racing fans. In 2008 he won the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Three years ago, he had the Turkey Night Grand Prix in the bag when he lost a left rear wheel with five laps to go.
In addition to the midgets, the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars will be competing both nights. On Wednesday, they will qualify, race heats and main events. On Thursday, the sprint cars will come back with B-main events and a $3,000.00 to win finale.
The midgets will practice on Wednesday. On Thursday, they will qualify and run preliminary main events and the 98-Lap Turkey Night Grand Prix feature. There will be an autograph session at the track at intermission on Wednesday night.
Advance tickets for the 76th Turkey Night Grand Prix are available by calling: 805-648-7223.