By Richie Murray
Granite City, Illinois (August 26, 2019)………USAC’s NOS Energy Drink National Midget division has a history with Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. that goes back nearly six decades, dating to Danny Frye’s win in 1961 to Tyler Courtney’s triumph in May of this year.
Yes, the names have changed since then, the cars have changed, and even the track has changed from a half-mile to its current 3/8-mile iteration. But, the spirit, the drive, and the will to win remain the same as it ever has entering this Friday’s Brandt River Town Showdown on Aug. 30, a doubleheader that also features the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
Courtney was a dominant force in May’s race at Tri-City where he recorded the fastest lap in qualifying, then took the lead with nine laps remaining to capture the victory, one of a series-leading six this year for the point leader from Indianapolis, Ind. The following night, he was quick time again before the cancellation of the event. He also was victorious in a visit to Tri-City by the USAC Sprint Cars back in 2018.
Clauson/Marshall Racing teammate Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) was 12th in May but took that night’s USAC Sprint Car portion of the event. This year has been a breakout USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget season for the Silver Crown and National Sprint champ, earning his first two career victories with the series at Lawrenceburg, Ind. and at Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway.
No driver has won more USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races at Tri-City Speedway than has Tanner Thorson. The Minden, Nev. Driver won five-straight between 2015 and 2016, which mark his five most recent appearances at the track after missing May’s race while he was recovering from injuries sustained in a March highway accident. The 2016 series champ won in miraculous fashion in June after starting 15th in the Indiana Midget Week round at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.
Third in points is Logan Seavey, who finished second behind Courtney in May, after leading a race-high 13 laps. The three-time series winner in 2019 and reigning series champion won the series’ most recent race at Lanco in Pennsylvania. Just last Friday, the Sutter, Calif. picked up his first career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory on night two of Sprint Car Smackdown VIII at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.
Zeb Wise (Angola, Ind.) arrives at Tri-City coming off a recent string of success during Pennsylvania Midget Week in which he scored his first two wins of the season, first at Action Track USA, then again at Linda’s Speedway, both of which came in dramatic fashion. He took fourth in his first trek to Tri-City in May and now resides fourth in the series standings.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) rounded out the top-ten in May’s Midget run after leading the initial three laps at Tri-City but has run 2ndand 3rd in his two career USAC Sprint starts in 2018 and 2019, respectively, including leading six laps this year. He’s 10th in the standings with a last-lap victory at Kokomo as his best run of the campaign.
Chad Boat is sixth in the points and took fifth back in May’s event. The Phoenix, Ariz. driver broke through on the first of August for his first win of the season during Pennsylvania Midget Week at Path Valley Speedway Park and aims to close out a month in the same manner, a month in which he’s garnered eight of his nine career series victories.
Aside from Courtney, Jerry Coons, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) is the only other driver to reach victory lane in a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget event at Tri-City Speedway, doing so in 2008. He finished 6th in May, one his 14 top-ten finishes in 21 starts this season, which sees him 7th in the latest standings.
Windom, along with Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.), Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) are a trio of drivers who’ve each earned their first career series victories this season, Carrick in July at Sweet Springs, Mo., McDougal in July at Fairbury, Neb. and McIntosh in March at Du Quoin, Ill. McIntosh led all drivers as a 7th place finisher in May at Tri-City, earning hard charger honors after starting 18th. Meanwhile, Carrick took 13th as McDougal came home with a 17th.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) is one a handful of drivers set to pull double-duty Friday night in both a midget and sprint car. Leary was 8thin May’s midget main and 4th in the sprint A, earning the best average finish among the double-duty set with an average result of 6th.
The “River Town Showdown” features complete shows for the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship and B-Mods on Friday night, August 30, at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.
Registration and pit gates open at 3pm (Central). Grandstands and ticket office open at 5pm. Cars on track at 6pm.
Adult general admission tickets are $25 while children 12 and under are FREE. Reserved Top 2 Rows: $30 for adults, $5 for children 12 & under. Pit passes are $30 apiece for members and $35 for non-members.
Tri-City Speedway is located at 5100 Nameoki Rd, Granite City, IL 62040. You can reach the promotion team of Track Enterprises at (217) 764-3200 and Tri-City Speedway at (618) 931-7836. For more information, visit the Track Enterprises website at http://www.trackenterprises.com/, the series website at http://www.usacracing.com/ and the track website at http://www.tricityspeedway.net/.
Friday’s Brandt River Town Showdown will have live, flag-to-flag coverage on FloRacing. You can listen to live audio of the broadcast for free on the USAC app or follow along with live updates on https://www.facebook.com/usacracing/ and https://twitter.com/USACNation/ with live timing and scoring available on both the USAC and Race-Monitor apps.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-1,467, 2-Chris Windom-1,353, 3-Logan Seavey-1,300, 4-Zeb Wise-1,236, 5-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,234, 6-Chad Boat-1,158, 7-Jerry Coons, Jr.-1,097, 8-Tanner Carrick-1,079, 9-Jason McDougal-1,019, 10-Tucker Klaasmeyer-984.
PAST USAC NATIONAL MIDGET FEATURE WINNERS AT TRI-CITY SPEEDWAY:
1961: Danny Frye (8/17)
1966: Billy Mehner (7/17), Bob Tattersall (7/31) & Don Meacham (9/11)
1967: Mel Kenyon (6/11) & Bob Tattersall (7/30)
1968: Bob Tattersall (7/7) & Bob Tattersall (9/28)
1969: Bob Wente (7/6), Mel Kenyon (7/20) & Les Scott (9/14)
1970: Larry Rice (7/5) & Jimmy Caruthers (9/20)
1971: Merle Bettenhausen (6/20)
1972: Pancho Carter (9/30)
1984: Tom Bigelow (9/1)
1985: Mel Kenyon (8/31)
1990: Russ Gamester (5/5), Jeff Gordon (7/3) & Jeff Gordon (9/1)
1991: Steve Knepper (4/27), Steve Knepper (7/3) & Jack Hewitt (8/31)
2000: J.J. Yeley (8/24)
2003: Tracy Hines (6/4)
2005: Josh Wise (8/24)
2008: Brad Sweet (Special Event on 10/9), Brad Sweet (Special Event on 10/10) & Jerry Coons, Jr. (10/11)
2010: Bryan Clauson (6/11), Darren Hagen (9/30), Darren Hagen (10/1) & Darren Hagen (10/2)
2011: Darren Hagen (10/6), Kyle Larson (10/7) & Levi Jones (10/8)
2012: Tracy Hines (10/4) & Kyle Larson (10/6)
2013: Rico Abreu (10/3), Bryan Clauson (10/4) & Christopher Bell (10/6)
2015: Tanner Thorson (9/4) & Tanner Thorson (9/5)
2016: Tanner Thorson (10/6), Tanner Thorson (10/7) & Tanner Thorson (10/8)
2019: Tyler Courtney (5/17)
ALL-TIME USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT TRI-CITY SPEEDWAY:
1. (5) Tanner Thorson
2. (4) Darren Hagen & Bob Tattersall
4. (3) Mel Kenyon
5. (2) Bryan Clauson, Jeff Gordon, Tracy Hines, Steve Knepper & Kyle Larson
10. (1) Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell, Merle Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Jimmy Caruthers, Jerry Coons, Jr., Tyler Courtney, Danny Frye, Russ Gamester, Jack Hewitt, Levi Jones, Don Meacham, Billy Mehner, Larry Rice, Les Scott, Bob Wente, Josh Wise, J.J. Yeley