Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE -- Fans of USAC Midget racing have been counting the days until this evening as the national touring series invades Lincoln Park Speedway for round two of the famed Indiana Midget Week.
Last year's event at the Putnamville oval was a thriller as 40 of the nation's top midget drivers were on hand to compete for the evening's payday along with the series points title. Brad Sweet was able to hold off the challenges of Shane Cottle and Darren Hagen to capture the evening's checkered flag in the midgets.
Hagen, of Riverside, Calif. is fresh off a $20,000 victory in the illustrious "Night Before the 500" MoPar USAC National Midget Classic in Indianapolis. He also leads the series into the five-race swing of Indiana Midget Week and is searching for his first IMW title.
The competition couldn't have gotten any tighter over last year's series as the points championship was split by Tracy Hines and Brad Kuhn, who ended in a points tie. This year's edition promises to be just as exciting as the tour leads USAC through last night's opener at Gas City followed by round two at Lincoln Park tonight. The famed red clay of Bloomington Speedway is on the docket for Friday followed by a trip south to Lawrenceburg Speedway and the capper at Kokomo on Sunday.
Hagen is three points ahead of Bobby East in the current series standings, with defending champion Bryan Clauson third. Clauson won the 2009 "Indiana Midget Week" title. Zach Daum currently sits in fourth-place ahead of Hines, Levi Roberts, Jerry Coons Jr., Kyle Larson, Kuhn and Tanner Swanson.
Daum posted his first-ever USAC Mopar National Midget feature win in one of the crown jewels of the sport as he put the Daum Insurance/Weld Eagle/Fontana machine into victory lane at Tri-State Speedway for the Hut Hundred. Daum, of Pocahontas, Ill. held off Hines and Thomas Meseraull to win.
Hines also won the 2008 IMW championship and he and Shane Cottle hope to become the first three-time IMW champs. Cottle won the inaugural crown in 2005 repeated in 2006. Jerry Coons Jr. was the 2007 Indiana Midget Week titlist.
Several USAC Midget drivers did double duty in the sprint cars at LPS last year including Dave Darland, who was challenging for the lead in the midget feature before a flat tire cost him his shot. However, he made up for it by bouncing back to claim the sprint car feature. While it looks like Darland will only be running the Fike-owned midget at Bloomington and Kokomo, he has committed to running the sprint car for each of the IMW dates.
Last year's return by USAC was the first time the series visited LPS since 2005 and a huge crowd was on hand to experience the thrill of some of the nation's top dirt track drivers. The track has a rich history of racing with the USAC organization.
There have been 21 national sprint races contested at the track along with 10 national midget events, five dirt regional midget races along with three late model, two Ford Focus races as part of a total of 40 events dating all the way back to a 1979 USAC Midget win by Johnny Parsons on May 5.
The winningest drivers in USAC events at LPS include Sheldon Kinser (5), Dave Darland and Jay Drake with four each and Steve Butler, Cory Kruseman, Tracy Hines and A.J. Felker all have two wins.
General admission is $20 with main gates opening at 4:30 p.m. Hot laps will get underway at 6 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m.
Indiana Midget Week History
|2005||Series Champion||Shane Cottle|
|Aug. 18||Lawrenceburg Speedway||Jay Drake|
|Aug. 19||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Davey Ray|
|Aug. 20||Terre Haute Action Track||Johnny Rodriguez|
|2006||Series Champion||Shane Cottle|
|Aug. 18||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Shane Cottle|
|Aug. 20||Kokomo Speedway||Brady Bacon|
|2007||Series Champion||Jerry Coons Jr.|
|Aug. 9||Kamp Motor Speedway||Jerry Coons Jr.|
|Aug. 10||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Shane Cottle|
|Aug. 11||Lawrenceburg Speedway||Kevin Swindell|
|Aug. 12||Kokomo Speedway||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|2008||Series Champion||Tracy Hines|
|Aug. 6||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Brad Kuhn|
|Aug. 8||Bloomington Speedway||Davey Ray|
|Aug. 9||Lawrenceburg Speedway||Brad Sweet|
|Aug. 10||Kokomo Speedway||Bryan Clauson|
|2009||Series Champion||Bryan Clauson|
|June 10||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Jerry Coons Jr.|
|June 12||Bloomington Speedway||Brad Kuhn|
|June 13||Lawrenceburg Speedway||Bryan Clauson|
|June 14||Kokomo Speedway||Bryan Clauson|
|2010||Series Champion||Tracy Hines & Brad Kuhn|
|June 16||Gas City I-69 Speedway||Steve Buckwalter|
|June 17||Lincoln Park Speedway||Brad Sweet|
|June 18||Bloomington Speedway||Shane Cottle|
|June 19||Lawrenceburg Speedway||Tracy Hines|
|June 20||Kokomo Speedway||Brad Kuhn|