By Richie Murray
West Memphis, Arkansas (March 30, 2021)………Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will return home to race at “The Ditch,” Riverside International Speedway, in West Memphis, Arkansas on April 2-3 for a pair USAC Midget non-points, special events this weekend.
The event that bears his name, the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hometown Challenge, signals the arrival of USAC Midget to the high-banked quarter-mile, gumbo-surfaced oval for the first time since 2016.
Stenhouse will compete in this weekend’s event aboard the CB Industries No. 89. Team owner Chad Boat raced in both 2016 events, finishing 3rd and 4th in the two-night affair. Stenhouse, meanwhile, finished 16th and 9th and endured a wild flip down the back straightaway on the first night before he landed on his wheels and kept on going.
Among the other drivers expected to compete in this weekend’s events are a number of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget regulars, including three-time National winner Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) and 2018 Jason Leffler Memorial winner Tyler Thomas (Collinsville, Okla.).
Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.), Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) and Brenham Crouch (Waco, Texas) will be racing out of the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports stable while Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) will be running the family-owned Bundy Built Motorsports ride.
The Clayton Allen promoted event will feature two complete shows at Riverside on both Friday and Saturday night on the first weekend of April and marks the first time for midget competition at West Memphis in five years, a pair of races won by Tanner Thorson and Bryan Clauson. Plus, veterans Derek Hagar (Marion, Ark.), Joe B. Miller (Millersville, Mo.) and more!
The Hometown Challenge is named for current NASCAR Cup Series driver and two-time series winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The native of nearby Olive Branch, Mississippi, located about 30 miles southeast of West Memphis, cut his teeth racing at. Just this past Monday, Stenhouse finished 2nd to Joey Logano in the first NASCAR Cup race held on dirt in a half-century at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway.
West Memphis has been a family tradition for the Stenhouse family with young Ricky practically growing up at the place as he watched his father race there on a weekly basis before taking the wheel himself and going on to become the Rookie of the Year for both the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship and the AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship in 2007, and twice earning the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2011-12 and two Cup wins at Daytona and Talladega.
The “Hometown Challenge” will not pay points toward the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship due to a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car event being scheduled at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway on its traditional date on the first weekend of April – Saturday, April 3.
Only two previous USAC sanctioned midget events have taken place in the state of Arkansas, both at West Memphis in 2016. Meanwhile, Arkansas has hosted USAC National Sprint Cars on four occasions, three of which were held at West Memphis, races won by Mike Ward (1985), Brady Bacon (2012) and Dave Darland (2013).
The event will pay $3,000 to win each night and $300 to start. Gates open at 5pm CT with hot laps at 6:30pm and racing scheduled for 7:30pm both nights.
On Friday, the Midgets will be joined by Pancho’s Winged Sprint Cars as well as the Supply House Street Stocks. On Saturday, Midgets headline once again with the 360 Sprint Cars joining the card along with the Supply House Stock Cars.
Friday night general admission tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for children 6-11 and free for kids age 5 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
Saturday night general admission tickets are $25 for adults, $5 for children 6-11 and free for kids age 5 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
APRIL 2-3 RICKY STENHOUSE JR. HOMETOWN CHALLENGE PAYOUT: