By Dick Jordan
The 2012 USAC Focus Midget Series debuts this weekend, with the Midwest and Eastern Series competing at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. Friday and Saturday and the Western Series at Madera (Calif.) Speedway Saturday.
This weekend’s North Carolina races are part of Ace Speedway’s “Tribute to Shane Hmiel” which also showcases the USAC Mopar National Midget Series. Saturday’s Madera program is the 9th “Gerhardt Classic” also offering USAC Western Classic Sprints, Mopar Western Midgets, supermodifieds and NCMA Sprints.
Ross Rankine, Brodie Kostecki and Keegan Walmer were USAC’s 2011 Focus winners at Madera. Kostecki ended up winning 22 total USAC features last year. Jarett Andretti and Jared Irvan dominated last year’s USAC Focus Midget racing at Ace, Andretti winning four times and Irvan twice. Andretti is the son of Indianapolis 500 veteran John Andretti and Irvan is the son of NASCAR vet Ernie Irvan.
The Ace events will award points toward both the Midwest and Eastern championships. Nick Drake won the 2011 Eastern title, although Andretti was tops on pavement. Ross Rankine, the top Midwest driver on pavement last year, also won the 2011 Midwest title.
Kostecki claimed the 2011 Western Focus title, despite Jessica Clark ending up as the top pavement driver.