By Richie Murray
Brownsburg, Indiana (August 18, 2020)………Past Night Before the 500 winners Bobby Santos and Tanner Swanson lead the guard of entrants into this Saturday night’s 70th running of the event at Lucas Oil Raceway on August 22 in Brownsburg, Ind.
Santos (Franklin, Mass.) captured the 2006 race, one of eight total USAC victories the 2010 NASCAR Modified champion has earned at the .686-mile paved oval, along with four Silver Crown and three Sprint triumphs. He’ll be wheeling a car for the Seymour family out of Massachusetts, whose famed No. 29 raced to two Silver Crown victories with Ken Schrader at LOR in 1986 and 1989.
In eight previous NB4500 (Night Before the 500) starts, Santos has finished outside of the top-ten just once, with runner-up finishes in both 2007 & 2013, a 5th in 2008, a 7th in 2005, 8th in 2012, 9th in 2011 and 10th in 2010.
Tanner Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) was the 2010 winner of the event, and is the owner of an additional five wins at the track with the Silver Crown series. He’ll be wheeling a car for top-flite USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget team owner Scott Petry along with Kenny and Reva Irwin, parents of six-time USAC LOR National feature winner and 1992 Night Before the 500 runner-up, Kenny Irwin Jr. Tanner also collected a pair of 7th place NB4500 results in 2011 and 2013.
Tanner’s older brother, Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) has been the dominant force of late at Lucas Oil Raceway with seven career USAC National victories at the track, in a Sprint Car, Midget and five in the Silver Crown car. He won a Must See Racing Sprint Car event at LOR in June as well. In seven prior NB4500 starts, the five-time Silver Crown titlist has collected five top-tens, including a 3rd in 2010, 4th in 2008, 5th in 2012, 6th in 2009 and 7th in 2014.
Kyle Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) is a two-time victor over the last two years at LOR, enjoying victory lane time with the Silver Crown series in 2019 and again this past July in an Auto Value Super Sprint feature. A midget victory at LOR has eluded him thus far, but he has had two solid NB4500 midget results in his career, a 6th in 2013 and an 8th in 2011.
Hamilton is one of three pairs of siblings entered for this year’s race. Kyle’s brother, Nick Hamilton (Danville, (Ind.) finished 4th in his lone previous NB4500 start in 2014. Another pair of siblings, twin sisters as a matter of fact, ready for battle are Toni and Annie Breidinger (Hillsborough, Calif.). Each have made two Silver Crown appearances apiece at LOR with Annie grabbing a 10th in 2017, but has yet to make a midget start there. Toni is the winningest female driver in USAC history with 19 victories, all in Western HPD Midget competition where she was the 2016 pavement champ, while Annie collected five wins of her own with the division.
The Breidingers are also among the four females in the field along with USAC Western States Midget winner and 2017 BCRA Midget champion Maria Cofer (Macdoel, Calif.) and 2016 USAC Western States Midget Rookie of the Year, Courtney Crone (Corona, Calif.).
Ten-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winner Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) will make his return to the NB4500 for the first time since 2001 where he finished 8th. A nearly equally long hiatus from the event belongs to Aaron Pierce (Muncie, Ind.), who finished 9th in his only NB4500 start in 2002. Pierce possesses three top-five finishes in his three career Carb Night Classic starts, including a 5th in 2016, 5th in 2017 and a best of 3rd in 2018. Pierce has made 17 career Silver Crown starts at LOR with seven top-five finishes.
Kyle O’Gara (Beech Grove, Ind.) has been consistently exceptional in two career NB4500 starts with a 2nd in 2014 and a 4th in 2013. Derek Bischak (Angola, Ind.), the 2019 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year, finished 3rd in his lone NB4500 start in 2014. Three-time STARS Midget champion and 2012 USAC D1 Regional Midget titlist Jim Anderson (Joliet, Ill.) finished 17th in his only NB4500 start in 2013. He took 4th in last Fall’s Silver Crown race at LOR.
Kevin Studley (Brownsburg, Ind.) earned a top-ten finish of 10th in the 2014 NB4500 and was the hard charger in a 7th place Silver Crown run at the track in 2017. Two-time NB4500 starter Bret Sanderson (Gary, Ind.) collected a best of 6th in the 2014 feature. Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) went 21st in 2012 and 19th in 2011 in his two NB4500 starts.
Cody Gerhardt (Fresno, Calif) is planning to make his first NB4500 start on Saturday. He’s a three-time USAC champion, collecting the Western Ford Focus Pavement Midget, California North Ford Focus Midget and California South Ford Focus Midget crowns in 2010, and has made two previous LOR Silver Crown starts.
Gerhardt is wheeling a car for Western Speed Racing, the same team that won the 2005 NB4500 with driver Michael Lewis. Gerhardt’s teammate, Dylan Nobile (Clovis, Calif.), is a USAC champion himself in the Western HPD Pavement Midget division back in 2015.
Four of the top seven in points from the Northeastern Midget Association will be competing in the NB4500, including point leader Avery Stoehr (Carver, Mass.), 3rd place Todd Bertrand (Suffield, Conn.) and 5th place Alby Ovitt (Barrington, N.H.), all out of the Bertrand Motorsports stable, who’ll be joined in a fourth Bertrand car driven by Cole Carter (Brownsburg, Ind.), an eight-time NB4500 feature starter and son of 1972 race winner Pancho Carter. Jake Trainor (Medway, Mass.), 7th in NEMA points, will also be making his NB4500 debut.
A pair of Illini drivers are also set to make their NB4500 debuts, POWRi and Badger Midget series veteran Ryan Shilkuski (Spring Valley, Ill.), the 2018 production-based engine POWRi Pavement Midget series Rookie of the Year, as well as Brandon Maurer (Sherman, Ill.), a veteran of the Illini Midget Racing Series and POWRi action.
A combined 50 cars have already pre-entered for the 70th running of the Night Before the 500, featuring a USAC non-points special event for both sprint cars and midgets in the famed race to be run on Saturday, August 22, at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind.
The tradition is being renewed at the .686-mile paved oval west of Indianapolis after the event has been on hiatus since its last edition run in 2014. Midgets have been a staple of the event, dating back to its origins in 1946 at the former 16th Street Speedway, across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The festivities begin on Saturday, August 22, with pit gates/credentials opening at 7am ET. Spectator gates open at 10am, Midget practice from 10am-10:55am, Sprint Car practice 1 from 11am-11:55am, Midget practice 2 from noon-12:55pm, Sprint Car Practice 2: 1pm-1:55pm, Midget practice 3 from 2pm to 2:55pm, Sprint Car practice 3 from 3pm-3:55pm before a break at 4pm.
Action resumes with Midget qualifying from 4:30pm-5:55pm, Sprint Car qualifying from 6pm-7:25pm, then opening ceremonies from 7pm-7:30pm, followed by racing action that culminates with the $5,000-to-win Midget feature and the $10,000-to-win Sprint Car feature.
Tickets are $25 for ages 12 and up, $5 for ages 5-11 and free for ages 4 and under. Tickets can be ordered at http://tinyurl.com/y8p9vxov.
The big racing weekend kicks off Friday, August 21, with the Dave Steele Carb Night Classic featuring USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000. Pits open at noon ET, spectator gates open at 3pm, Silver Crown practice from 3pm-3:40pm, USF2000 practice from 3:55pm-4:15pm, Indy Pro 2000 practice from 4:30pm-5:45pm, a break at 4:50pm, Silver Crown qualifying at 5:45pm, USF2000 race at 6:45pm, Indy Pro 2000 race at 7:50pm and the Silver Crown race at 9pm.
Friday’s Dave Steele Carb Night Classic tickets prices are $25 for adults, $10 for children 11 & under. HARF members receive $5 off general admission when card is shown. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
Watch the Night Before the 500 LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.
MIDGET ENTRY LIST – NIGHT BEFORE THE 500:
3 Kody Swanson/Kingsburg, CA (Nick Bohanon-A.J. Felker Racing)
4 Kyle Hamilton/Danville, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 Thomas Meseraull/San Jose, CA (RMS Racing)
7K Tanner Swanson (Petry Motorsports/Kenny & Reva Irwin)
8 Jake Trainor/Medway, MA (Jake Trainor)
8B Annie Breidinger/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger Motorsports)
14 Brandon Maurer/Sherman, IL (Maurer Motorsports)
17 Alby Ovitt/Barrington, NH (Bertrand Motorsports)
25 Courtney Crone/Corona, CA (Jerome Rodela)
26 Aaron Pierce/Muncie, IN (Sam Pierce)
29 Bobby Santos/Franklin, MA (Matt Seymour Racing)
31 Derek Bischak/Angola, IN (BCD Racing)
33 Nick Hamilton/Danville, IN (Mike Hamilton)
36 Jim Anderson/Joliet, IL (Anderson Motorsports)
39 Avery Stoehr/Carver, MA (Bertrand Motorsports)
47 Cole Carter/Brownsburg, IN (Bertrand Motorsports)
48 Todd Bertrand/Suffield, CT (Bertrand Motorsports)
57K Kevin Studley/Brownsburg, IN (Studley Motorsports)
60 Cody Gerhardt/Fresno, CA (Western Speed Racing)
66 Bret Sanderson/Gary, IN (Sanderson Racing)
67 Kyle O’Gara/Beech Grove, IN (SFH Racing Development)
75 Ryan Shilkuski/Spring Valley, IL (Ryan Shilkuski Racing)
80 Dylan Nobile/Clovis, CA (Western Speed Racing)
80B Toni Breidinger/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger Motorsports)
88 Maria Cofer/Macdoel, CA (Arata Brothers Racing)
99 Mario Clouser/Auburn, IL (Guess Racing)
NIGHT BEFORE THE 500 WINNERS
16th Street Speedway
1946: Leroy Warriner & Benny Emerick
1947: Sam Hanks & Ted Duncan
1948: Eddie Haddad, Eddie Haddad & Johnnie Parsons
1949: Eddie Haddad, Eddie Haddad & Mike O’Halloran
1950: Leroy Warriner, Mike Nazaruk & Manuel Ayulo
1951: No Race
1952: Potsy Goacher
1953: Johnnie Tolan
1954: Potsy Goacher, Johnny Kay & Tony Bonadies
1955: Eddie Sachs & Forrest Parker
1956: Shorty Templeman, Shorty Templeman & Shorty Templeman
1957: Chuck Rodee & Len Sutton
1958: Mauri Wilson, Gene Force & Tony Bonadies
1959: Gene Force
1960: Jimmy Davies
1961: Jimmy Davies
1962: Jimmy Davies
1963: Mel Kenyon
1964: Chuck Rodee
1965: Mel Kenyon
1966: Chuck Arnold
1967: Mike McGreevy
1968: Rained Out
Indianapolis Raceway Park
1969: Bob Wente & Henry Pens
1970: Lee Kunzman
1971: Jimmy Caruthers
Indiana State Fairgrounds
1972: Tom Bigelow & Pancho Carter
1973: Rained Out
Indianapolis Raceway Park
1974: Tommy Astone
1975: Billy Engelhart
1976: Bob Wente
1977: Mel Kenyon
1978: Rich Vogler
1979: Jeff Nuckles & Sleepy Tripp
Indianapolis Raceway Park
1980: Mel Kenyon
1981: Mack McClellan
1982: Rained Out
1983: Ken Schrader
1984: Steve Lotshaw
1985: Nick Fornoro Jr.
1986: Sam Isenhower
1987: Nick Fornoro Jr.
1988: Jack Calabrase
1989: Jeff Gordon
1990: Jeff Gordon
1991: Mike Fedorcak
1992: Doug Kalitta
1993: Mike Bliss
1994: Ted Hines
1995: Andy Michner
1996: Kenneth Nichols
1997: Ryan Newman
1998: Dave Steele
1999: Ryan Newman
2000: Kasey Kahne
2001: Kasey Kahne
2002: Jason Leffler
2003: Aaron Fike
2004: Ron Gregory
2005: Michael Lewis
2006: Bobby Santos
2007: Kevin Swindell
2008: Bobby East
2009: Chuck Gurney Jr.
2010: Tanner Swanson
2011: Darren Hagen
2012: Tracy Hines
2013: Darren Hagen
2014: Tracy Hines
2015: No Race
2016: No Race
2017: No Race
2018: No Race
2019: No Race