Indiana Midget Week invades Lincoln Park Speedway tonight

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Darren Hagen (No. 3) and Brad Sweet (No. 49) battle for the lead during a heat race at last year's Indiana Midget Week date at Lincoln Park Speedway.


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.

The pits were packed to capacity with many of the nation's top dirt track drivers during last year's Indiana Midget Week date at Lincoln Park Speedway.

Also on hand this evening will be the pulse pounding thunder of the sprint cars along with the UMP Modifieds, which will likely include some of the state's top pilots looking for some extra racing towards the regional and national UMP points.

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

2005Series ChampionShane Cottle
Aug. 18Lawrenceburg SpeedwayJay Drake
Aug. 19Gas City I-69 SpeedwayDavey Ray
Aug. 20Terre Haute Action TrackJohnny Rodriguez
2006Series ChampionShane Cottle
Aug. 18Gas City I-69 SpeedwayShane Cottle
Aug. 20Kokomo SpeedwayBrady Bacon
2007Series ChampionJerry Coons Jr.
Aug. 9Kamp Motor SpeedwayJerry Coons Jr.
Aug. 10Gas City I-69 SpeedwayShane Cottle
Aug. 11Lawrenceburg SpeedwayKevin Swindell
Aug. 12Kokomo SpeedwayRicky Stenhouse Jr.
2008Series ChampionTracy Hines
Aug. 6Gas City I-69 SpeedwayBrad Kuhn
Aug. 8Bloomington SpeedwayDavey Ray
Aug. 9Lawrenceburg SpeedwayBrad Sweet
Aug. 10Kokomo SpeedwayBryan Clauson
2009 Series ChampionBryan Clauson
June 10Gas City I-69 SpeedwayJerry Coons Jr.
June 12Bloomington SpeedwayBrad Kuhn
June 13Lawrenceburg SpeedwayBryan Clauson
June 14Kokomo SpeedwayBryan Clauson
2010Series ChampionTracy Hines & Brad Kuhn
June 16Gas City I-69 SpeedwaySteve Buckwalter
June 17Lincoln Park SpeedwayBrad Sweet
June 18Bloomington SpeedwayShane Cottle
June 19Lawrenceburg SpeedwayTracy Hines
June 20Kokomo SpeedwayBrad Kuhn