From Dick Jordan
Thursday night’s 73rd “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway concludes the 2013 USAC racing season. Drivers Christopher Bell of Norman, Okla. and Ronnie Gardner of Norco, Calif. are poised to celebrate Honda championships. Bell leads the National Dirt standings and Gardner leads the Western points. The titles would be the first for both.
Thursday’s 98-lap race continues a tradition begun in 1934 and spanning a variety of southern California facilities. After a 1996 race at Perris won by Billy Boat, it returned to the half-mile dirt oval for last year’s classic, captured by Kyle Larson.
The history of the race features many highlights, including Ron Shuman’s amazing record eight victories and Boat’s three wins in success at three different venues. Champions include Indianapolis 500 winners Bill Vukovich, Johnnie Parsons, A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones as well as USAC’s all-time National Midget leader Mel Kenyon and recent stars Jason Leffler and Tony Stewart and 2013 USAC National Champions Bobby East (Silver Crown) and Bryan Clauson (Sprint).
Clauson has established himself as one of those to beat Thursday after amassing 22 total UAC feature wins this season. That’s the second-largest single-season victory total in USAC history behind the 24 of J.J. Yeley in 2003.
Darren Hagen established the one-lap track record drivers will seek during qualifications. His pole-winning lap last year was 17.025 seconds. Hagen earned his fourth consecutive Honda USAC National Pavement title this year.
2013 HONDA USAC NATIONAL DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Christopher Bell-1,088; 2-Bryan Clauson-971; 3-Darren Hagen-908; 4-Tracy Hines-889; 5-Rico Abreu-834; 6-Jerry Coons Jr.-770; 7-Zach Daum-707; 8-Andrew Felker-691; 9-Brad Kuhn-640; 10-Tanner Thorson-614.
2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,185, 2-Jake Swanson-865, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Scott Pierovich-693, 5-Shannon McQueen-595, 6-Randi Pankratz-498, 7-Cody Swanson-458, 8-Nick Chivello-450, 9-Trey Marcham-400, 10-Rico Abreu-397.
2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,185, 2-Jake Swanson-865, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Shannon McQueen-595, 5-Randi Pankratz-498, 6-Cody Swanson-458, 7-Scott Pierovich-400, 8-Trey Marcham-400, 9-Rico Abreu-397, 10-Bryan Clauson-382.