By Dick Jordan
Christopher Bell of Norman, Okla. and Ronnie Gardner of Norco, Calif. concluded their pursuit of USAC Honda Midget championships Thursday night at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway. They will be among 2013 USAC Champions honored at the USAC “Night of Champions” celebration December 13 in Indianapolis, Ind.
Gardner and Bell finished fifth and 21st respectively in Thursday’s 73rd “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Perris which closed the 2013 campaign for both the Honda National and Western Midget series. Bell earned the National title, while Gardner claimed both the Western Dirt and overall titles.
Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. scored his 90th USAC National race victory at Perris, becoming only the third driver to win the race on both dirt and paved surfaces. Previous dirt and pavement winners were Mel Kenyon and Stan Fox. Darland won the 2007 race on the pavement at Irwindale, Calif.
Darland started sixth and passed Andrew Felker on lap 50. He yielded the lead to Damion Gardner for laps 85=94, then led the final four laps of the 98-lap race after Gardner lost a wheel. Parker Price-Miller won the pole with a new track record but Felker led the first 49 laps.
Darland piloted the Keith Ford King Racing Products/A&A Precision Machine Spike/Fontana and was followed at the checkered flag by Brad Sweet, Caleb Armstrong, Zach Daum and Ronnie Gardner.
Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nev finished 10th to earn the Don Basile “Rookie of the Race” award.
FINAL 2013 HONDA USAC NATIONAL DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Christopher Bell-1,101; 2-Bryan Clauson-984; 3-Darren Hagen-921; 4-Tracy Hines-920; 5-Rico Abreu-873; 6-Jerry Coons, Jr.-770; 7-Zach Daum-758; 8-Andrew Felker-709; 9-Brad Kuhn-667; 10-Caleb Armstrong-650.
FINAL 2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,233, 2-Jake Swanson-907, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Shannon McQueen-608, 5-Randi Pankratz-511, 6-Cody Swanson-471, 7-Rico Abreu-436, 8-Scott Pierovich-413, 9-Trey Marcham-413, 10-Bryan Clauson-395.
FINAL 2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,233, 2-Jake Swanson=907, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Scott Pierovich-706, 5-Shannon McQueen-608, 6-Randi Pankratz-511, 7-Cody Swanson-471, 8-Nick Chivello-451, 9-Rico Abreu-436, 10-Trey Marcham-413.