By Dick Jordan
Shane Hmiel will be the subject of a “tribute” this weekend as the 2012 USAC Mopar National Midget Series debuts at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. Feature events are scheduled both Friday and Saturday nights and the USAC Eastern/Midwest Focus Midgets are also on the card.
USAC National Driving Champion Bryan Clauson opens his bid for a third consecutive National Midget title, an accomplishment which would put him in select company. Only Shorty Templeman (1956-58), Jimmy Davies (1960-1962) and Jason Leffler (1997-99) have been able to string together three straight championships.
Clauson will be joined by a host of America’s top short-track pilots for what will be the series’ debut at the 4/10-mile paved oval which hosted USAC Focus races last year.
Expected to join Clauson in the field at Ace Speedway are 2011 Pavement Champion Darren Hagen, former National Champ Bobby East, USAC Traxxas Silver Crown and AMSOIL Sprint Champ Levi Jones, former National Focus Champ Nick Drake, former USAC Silver Crown and Sprint Champ Tracy Hines,.2009 Rookie of the Year Zach Daum and a sprinkling of 2012 rookie hopefuls.
Hmiel, this weekend’s honoree, won USAC’s last National Midget race in the Tarheel State, at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2010.