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By Dick Jordan

The 3rd Annual “Gold Crown Midget Nationals” are on tap Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. and at least three drivers will have their eye squarely on the National points ramifications.

Defending Mopar USAC National Midget Champion Bryan Clauson, Darren Hagen and spectacular rookie Kyle Larson are separated by just 16 points with more than 200 points up for grabs at the 3/8-mile dirt oval just northeast of St. Louis.

All three drivers are “on the spot” so to speak. Clauson needs to protect his lead in the 2011 USAC National Drivers Championship with a $40,000 cash prize and Firestone Indy Lights opportunities on the line. Hagen is the defending “Gold Crown” champion, having swept all three nights of last year’s event. Larson is on a hot streak, having posted numerous high-profile victories in recent racing events, including a clean sweep of the September 24 “4-Crown Nationals” at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Jerry Coons Jr. will be out to regain his “Gold Crown” title, having won the inaugural 2008 event. Rain forced cancellation of the 2009 “Gold Crown.”

Thursday and Friday night prelims include 25-lap features each night and Saturday night’s finale is 50 laps.

TURN 2: Tickets! Get your tickets:Tickets for the 2011 Gold Crown Midget Nationals are all general admission and are priced as follows: Thursday and Friday ($20 each night), Saturday ($28). Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult. Gates open at 5 p.m.

TURN 3: We’ve got you covered: 2011 Gold Crown Midget Nationals t-shirts are available for pre-order now by e-mailing tricityspeedway@msn.com or calling 1-636-448-9111. They can be picked up at the track during the event. Credit cards only on pre-orders, please.

Tri-City Speedway is located in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. The track is located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO. Take exit 4 off of I-270 and then go 1/2 mile south on SR 203. For tickets or more information, you can call the track office at 636-448-9111, 618-931-7836 or 800-617-9077 or visit their website at www.tricityspeedway.net


1-Bryan Clauson-945; 2-Darren Hagen-934; 3-Kyle Larson-929; 4-Tracy Hines-828; 5-Bobby East-753; 6-Caleb Armstrong-642; 7-Zach Daum-616; 8-Brad Kuhn-612; 9-Tanner Swanson-582; 10-Jerry Coons Jr.-564.