By Richie Murray
Speedway, Indiana (September 23, 2020)………It’s one thing to win one USAC National feature in a single day, or even two, which has been achieved on an occasional basis throughout history. But winning in two (or even three) different USAC series on the same day? That’s reserved for a special breed.
The opportunity presents itself once again twice this weekend in the Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double, a two-night racing extravaganza featuring both USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars and USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets on the same event card for two consecutive nights in the state of Indiana. It begins this Friday, September 25 at Gas City I-69 Speedway and continues Saturday, September 26 at Kokomo Speedway.
While three different drivers have scored three USAC National feature wins in a single day, that record, however, is not on the table coming up, but is worth a mention entering this weekend, which for the past four decades has been reserved for the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway, which was cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The first such occurrence of three USAC National wins in one day came via Pancho Carter on a rare afternoon that featured twin 50-lap A-Mains for both sprints and midgets. On the same day! Pancho notched both midget features, scored the first sprint feature win, and finished 2nd to Tom Bigelow in the final sprint feature. It was the first time that any driver had won USAC Sprint and Midget features in the same day.
Jack Hewitt replicated the feat, and even one-upped Pancho, in 1998 at Eldora’s 4-Crown Nationals. Hewitt’s topsy-turvy season included a change away from his longtime rides in the Bob Hampshire No. 63, then was followed by his long-awaited debut at the Indianapolis 500-mile race in May, then took another turn the opposite way when he was injured in a July Sprint race at IRP.
Entering the 4-Crown, Hewitt had gone all year without a win to that point, but that all changed in one Cinderella story night, as he knocked off feature wins in USAC Midgets, Sprints and even in the UMP Modified! With the crowd buzzing and murmurs of if he could really do it, Hewitt dominated the Silver Crown finale to go 4-for-4 on the night, a feat in totality that has seen no equal since.
However, Kyle Larson came the closest, going 3-for-3 in the revamped 2011 edition of the 4-Crown Nationals, reigning victorious in the USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown races. An impressive feat by anybody was nonetheless eclipsed by the fact that the weekend marked Larson’s first ever visit to Eldora. Modifieds were not on the docket that night, but in retrospect, odds are that if they were, Larson more than likely would’ve been a contender in that too. Just a hunch.
As for those drivers who’ve won in both USAC National Sprints and National Midgets in the same day at the same track, there have been 25 such cases at press time. Hewitt, Dave Steele and J.J. Yeley are the only individuals to do it three times. Jeff Gordon and Tyler Courtney have each done so twice. Courtney has an opportunity to accomplish the feat again this Saturday at Kokomo in double-duty action.
Twelve more drivers have won in both USAC divisions on the same day just once in their career, including Pancho, Ron Shuman, Ken Schrader, Rich Vogler, Tony Stewart, Doug Kalitta, Dave Darland, Jay Drake, Jerry Coons Jr., Bryan Clauson, Tracy Hines and Kyle Larson.
One thing in common with all 17 drivers who’ve done it are that they are either USAC National champions, Hall of Famers, or in the case of Larson, a future Hall of Famer. There aren’t any slouches who magically rise up for one night and get it done like this. An achievement of this caliber is the epitome of their full body of excellence, framed within one, two or even three very special nights at the racetrack.
There are no limits on the number of entries for either of this weekend’s events. Pit gates open Friday for Gas City at 3pm ET, front gates at 5pm and hot laps at 6:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
Pit gates and spectator gates open Saturday for Kokomo at 3pm ET with hot laps at 6pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.usactickets.com as well as at the gate on raceday.
Both nights of this weekend’s Double Double, including Friday’s event at Gas City I-69 Speedway, can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.
WON USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR & NATIONAL MIDGET RACES IN ONE DAY:
5/30/1977: Pancho Carter – Salem Speedway / Salem, IN
7/4/1978: Ron Shuman – Reading Fairgrounds / Reading, PA
7/31/1982: Ken Schrader – Beaver Dam Raceway / Beaver Dam, WI
9/28/1986: Rich Vogler – Eldora Speedway / Rossburg, OH
6/17/1990: Jeff Gordon – Salem Speedway / Salem, IN
11/4/1990: Jeff Gordon – Winchester Speedway / Winchester, IN
8/31/1991: Jack Hewitt – Tri-City Speedway / Granite City, IL
9/23/1995: Tony Stewart – Eldora Speedway / Rossburg, OH
10/22/1995: Doug Kalitta – Winchester Speedway / Winchester, IN
10/4/1997: Jack Hewitt – Terre Haute Action Track / Terre Haute, IN
9/26/1998: Jack Hewitt – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
9/25/1999: Dave Darland – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
6/22/2001: Jay Drake – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
5/3/2002: J.J. Yeley – Hawkeye Downs Speedway – Cedar Rapids, IA
6/20/2002: J.J. Yeley – Fremont Speedway – Fremont, OH
8/23/2003: Dave Steele – Nazareth Speedway – Nazareth, PA
7/4/2004: Dave Steele – Pikes Peak International Raceway – Fountain, CO
7/24/2004: J.J. Yeley – Milwaukee Mile (Midget) & Terre Haute Action Track (Sprint)
8/14/2004: Dave Steele – Salem Speedway – Salem, IN
6/9/2006: Jerry Coons Jr. – Lake Ozark Speedway – Eldon, MO
8/12/2006: Bryan Clauson – Salem Speedway – Salem, IN
9/23/2006: Tracy Hines – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
9/24/2011: Kyle Larson – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
9/22/2018: Tyler Courtney – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH
9/28/2019: Tyler Courtney – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, OH