By Dick Jordan

Battles for “Rookie of the Year” honors in USAC National and Western racing series are heating up as the season enters its final two months of competition.

Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., Coleman Gulick of Binghamton, N.Y., David Bezio of El Cajon, Calif., Cody Gerhardt of Madera, Calif. and Connor Kassik of Lake Havasu, Ariz. appear to be top candidates for respective honors at present, but with races remaining on each calendar the challengers could overtake them.

Larson is the leading candidate in the Traxxas Silver Crown and Mopar National Midgets, while Gulick leads the AMSOIL National Sprint chase, Bezio is the top candidate in the AMSOIL USAC/CRA series, Gerhardt is atop the AMSOIL Western Sprint rookies and Kassik has a slight lead in the Mopar Western Midgets.

Larson ranks fifth in the latest Traxxas Silver Crown standings after winning the “Ted Horn 100” at DuQuoin, Ill. and posting a third in Iowa and a fourth at Springfield, Ill. In the Mopar National Midgets he ranks third in the points with victories at Bloomington, Ind. and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. He also has five other “podium” finishes in the National Midgets.

Gulick finished second at Sarver, Pa. during the “Eastern Storm” and has added five other “top-10s” on his way to 14th in the AMSOIL National Sprint points.

Bezio is 16th in the latest AMSOIL USAC/CRA points on the strength of six starts which included a sixth-place finish at Perris, Calif. early in the campaign.

Gerhardt’s AMSOIL Western Sprint Car outings have produced feature wins at Salt Lake City, Utah and Stockton, Calif. as well as “top-10” finishes in each of his other seven starts as he holds down the number four point ranking.

Kassik’s seventh-place Mopar Western Midget point ranking has been augmented by “top-10” finishes at Chico and Calistoga, Calif.

Top Traxxas Silver Crown challengers to Larson include David Byrne, Mike Larrison, Chris Windom, Darren Hagen and Shane Cockrum, while Jimmy Simpson and Kyle O’Gara bear watching in the Mopar National Midgets.

Gulick needs to keep an eye on Wes McIntyre and Andrew Elson in the AMSOIL National Sprints and Gerhardt is battling Johnny Geisler and Geoff Ensign for top honors in the AMSOIL Western Sprints.

Brody Roa is Bezio’s closest rookie pursuer in the AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints, while Chris Ennis is close to Kassik in the Mopar Western Midgets.