By RICHIE MURRAY
DU QUOIN, IL – Racing champions Chase Briscoe and Shane Cottle are among the 30, thus far, early entries for the Saturday, December 16th “Junior Knepper 55” USAC Midget special event at the Southern Illinois Center.
Briscoe, of Mitchell, Indiana, is the 2016 ARCA champ and recently wrapped up NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors and his first series win in the finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in November. Briscoe is certainly no rookie when it comes to open wheel dirt track racing where he cut his teeth before moving into the NASCAR ranks. Briscoe made his midget racing debut at the “Knepper 55” one year ago, finishing 17th. Briscoe will compete in his own No. 5 in his second “Knepper 55” appearance.
Two-time Indiana Midget Week champ and four-time Kokomo Speedway titlist Shane Cottle has entered the event for a team fielded by Daryl Saucier and Shane Hmiel. It was with Saucier for whom Cottle won his two most recent USAC Midget features, back in 2007 at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway and in 2010 at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway. In March of 2016 at the Southern Illinois Center, Cottle, of Kokomo, Ind., led 28 laps and finished second at the “Shamrock Classic” drivng for Hmiel.
Third-place “Knepper 55” finisher Chris Andrews of Oklahoma is entered along with Tony Bruce, Jr. (6th), Nick Drake (14th) and Daniel Adler (20th). Jim Neuman has entered three cars for Jake Neuman, late model standout Brian Shirley and Austin Blair.
Philo, Illinois driver Kyle Schuett, the 2015 “Indy Invitational” victor, aims to repeat his indoor racing success from a few years back while Chris Ursih, of Elkhart, Illinois, has already tamed the “Magic Mile” at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in a USAC Silver Crown car back in 2013, but hopes to bring the magic indoors in his Tom Casson-owned No. 77u.
The Knepper family is once again sponsoring FREE entry for competitors to enter their midgets for the Saturday, December 16th “Junior Knepper 55” USAC Special Event at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Illinois.
After visiting https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-knepper-car-entry/, use the coupon code “KNEPPER” to enter your car for the race at no charge. The offer expires Sunday, December 10th, 2017. The complete pre-entry list for the event will be published the following day, Monday, December 11th.
Additionally, tickets are now on sale for the 3rd annual “Junior Knepper 55” at http://www.usactickets.com/. The race will serve as the final event of the 2017 USAC racing season. Adult general admission tickets are available for just $18 in advance compared to the $20 price at the gate on race day.
Furthermore, on http://www.usactickets.com/, you may order your “Junior Knepper 55” event t-shirt now for just $25. Sizes small through 4XL are available, but make sure to get yours soon while supplies last.
The event carries no points toward the USAC National Midget season championship, but has quickly become one of the most coveted races to win on the series calendar, annually boasting a large car count and a star-studded field to boot.
In the inaugural running in 2015, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. electrified the crowd in the 55-lap feature, coming from the back of the pack to score the victory in the final laps. In 2016, Tyler Courtney earned his first career USAC-sanctioned Midget feature victory in his first start for the Clauson/Marshall Racing team.
The 55-lap event honors the memory of one of USAC’s most accomplished car owners – Walter “Junior” Knepper of Belleville, Illinois – whose famed yellow number 55 midgets and sprint cars raced to 58 career USAC feature victories, including 34 in Sprints and 24 in Midgets, with drivers Bob Wente, Tom Bigelow, Mel Kenyon, George Snider, Dana Carter, Rich Vogler and his son Steve Knepper.
Nick Knepper, grandson of Junior and son of 13-time USAC National Midget winner Steve Knepper, will promote the event along with Derek LeMaster.
Cars are scheduled to hit the track at 4pm (Central). A format utilizing passing points will be used to seed the feature lineups.
The event will be streamed LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. You can also catch on-demand coverage of the event a day after the race on http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.
30 CARS ENTERED AS OF DECEMBER 4, 2017:
CAR # / DRIVER / HOMETOWN / TEAM
0 KEVIN WOODY, JR./Victor, NY (Buckwalter Motorsports)
0B MIKE McSPARIN/Stonefort, IL (Mike McSparin)
1cc CLAYTON CHRISTENSEN/Spencer, IA (Jody Rosenboom Racing)
1ST SHANE COTTLE/Kokomo, IN (Daryl Saucier/Shane Hmiel)
1T TONY RONEY/Herculaneum, MO (Tony Roney)
3 ALEX WATSON/Columbus, OH (3W Racing)
3B AUSTIN BLAIR/St. Louis, MO (Jim Neuman)
3N JAKE NEUMAN/New Berlin, IL (Jim Neuman)
3s BRIAN SHIRLEY/Chatham, IL (Jim Neuman)
5 CHASE BRISCOE/Mitchell, IN (Chase Briscoe Racing)
5x DANNY FRYE/St. Charles, MO (Danny Frye Motorsports)
6D DON DAWSON II/Indianola, IA (Don Dawson II)
7JR J.D. BLACK/Grain Valley, MO (J.D. Black)
9JR DEREK HAGAR/Marion, AR (Hagar/Proctor Racing)
9K KYLE SCHUETT/Philo, IL (Schuett Racing)
14R JODY ROSENBOOM/Rock Rapids, IA (Jody Rosenboom Racing)
15m SHANE MORGAN/Morton, IL (Morgan Motorsports)
15s JIM PICARDI/Mapleton, IL (Morgan Motorsports)
18 TONY BRUCE, JR./Liberal, KS (Tony Bruce, Jr.)
23LL LEE LENGEL/Wellsville, KS (Lee Lengel)
29 JOEY MOUGHAN/Springfield, IL (Tom Casson)
D33 JACOB PATTON/Bethalto, IL (Jeff & Jill Davis)
35 TYLER ROBBINS/Bethalto, IL (Tyler Robbins)
50 DANIEL ADLER/St. Louis, MO (Adler Motorsports)
55D NICK DRAKE/Sherrills Ford, NC (Troy Cline)
57D DANIEL ROBINSON/Ewing, IL (McCreery Motorsports)
66 TBA (Amati Racing)
77u CHRIS URISH/Elkhart, IL (Tom Casson)
91 TYLER NELSON/Kansas City, KS (Harris Racing)
95 CHRIS ANDREWS/Tulsa, OK (Miller Racing)