By Richie Murray
Wayne City, Illinois………The USAC P1 Insurance National Midgets will race in the memory of four-time USAC National champion Jason Leffler this Sunday, October 21, at Wayne County Speedway in Wayne City, Illinois, for the fifth running of the “Jason Leffler Memorial.”
The event positions itself as the final Midwest series’ race this season before heading west for California to round out the year, providing fans in the area one last time to enjoy the action before the sun sets on the 2018 racing calendar.
The one-eighth-mile dirt oval has been home to the event since 2013 with such winners as Zach Daum, Daryn Pittman, Bryan Clauson and Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla., who returns as the reigning winner of the “Leffler Memorial.”
In that event, Bacon led the final 33 laps to capture an emotional victory – the first for car owner Frank Manafort and a meaningful win for USAC Hall of Fame crew chief and car builder Bob East who guided Leffler to two of his three USAC National Midget titles as well as a Silver Crown championship.
It’s been an intensely competitive season with no single driver earning more than two victories. Series point leader Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif. has won both of his races on bullrings this year at a pair of one-sixth mile venues – the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin and at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex. Sunday will mark Seavey’s “Leffler Memorial” debut on the one-eighth-mile in Wayne City.
Second through eighth in the points is a log jam involving seven drivers and five different teams separated by only 82 points. Bacon is second, 118 behind the leader, with multi-time winner Chad Boat of Phoenix, Arizona trailing in third just 12 points behind Bacon.
Indianapolis, Indiana’s Tyler Courtney (4th in points) is the most recent winner in the series, taking the checkered at Eldora Speedway in September and is one of three Clauson Marshall Racing drivers in the top-ten of the standings. All three of the CMR drivers have been in victory lane this season with Courtney taking a pair at Kokomo and Eldora. Justin Grant, the only driver this season to win in all three USAC National divisions, is fifth in the standings. The Ione, Calif. driver won in July at Jefferson County Speedway in Nebraska. Zeb Wise of Angola, Ind. (9th in points) made a spectacular return after being sidelined for two months due to injury, winning the Pennsylvania Midget Week opener at Lanco and becoming the youngest winner in the history of the series. It was the 2016 “Leffler Memorial” where the CMR team made its debut, finishing 20th with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Reigning series champ Spencer Bayston of Lebanon, Ind. has been in the same boat as Wise, suffering an injury that put him on the shelf for a little while, but returned full speed with authority in the most recent race at Eldora where he ran up front until a major shunt took him out of contention. He stands sixth in the standings along with fellow Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian teammates Tanner Carrick of Lincoln, Calif. (7th) and Foresthill, California’s Ryan Robinson (10th) also in the top-ten of the points.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. of Cullman, Ala. is eighth in points for Joe Dooling’s team which won the 2015 edition of the “Leffler Memorial” at Wayne City with driver Bryan Clauson. Thomas leads the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car standings, but has also found success in the midgets, winning at both Kokomo and at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kans.
The race honors the late, great Jason Leffler. In the late 1990s, Leffler made tracks big and small his personal playground as he raced to three consecutive Midget titles in 1997-98-99 and 19 career USAC National Midget feature wins in some of the most prestigious races, including the “Belleville Midget Nationals,” “Hut Hundred,” “Copper World Classic,” “Summer Sizzle,” “Turkey Night Grand Prix,” and the “Night Before the 500” between 1997 and 2005. Though Leffler may have been small in stature, his legacy in the sport of midget racing remains that of a giant.
The Wayne City dirt oval is a true bullring, regularly producing spectacular wheel-banging, ultra-competitive action that has become the norm on this southern Illinois soil nestled between farmland during this harvest season.
The race will be held utilizing a format awarding position advancement through the prelims. Passing points from the heats and qualifiers will seed the lineups for the feature events, concluding with the 40-lap A-Main. The event will offer 10 appearance points toward this year’s USAC P1 Insurance National Midget standings.
The $10,000-to-win event will have the pits open at noon on raceday. The front gates open at 2pm with cars hitting the track at 4pm. Adult general admission tickets are $20 and kids age 12 and under are FREE! Pit passes are $35 apiece.
USAC P1 INSURANCE MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-901, 2-Brady Bacon-783, 3-Chad Boat-771, 4-Tyler Courtney-763, 5-Justin Grant-762, 6-Spencer Bayston-756, 7-Tanner Carrick-717, 8-Tyler Thomas-701, 9-Zeb Wise-569, 10-Ryan Robinson-534.
PAST “JASON LEFFLER MEMORIAL” WINNERS: 2013: Zach Daum, 2014: Daryn Pittman, 2015: Bryan Clauson, 2016: Brady Bacon