By RICHIE MURRAY
DU QUOIN, IL – The field for the “Shamrock Classic” is set with 48 USAC P1 Insurance National Midget teams set to do battle this Saturday, March 10 at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.
The state of Indiana leads the way with 11 driver representatives while seven apiece come from Oklahoma and six from Missouri. Five arrive from California and Illinois while two each from Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Texas have entered the third annual event on the 1/6-mile, indoor dirt oval. Alabama, Tennessee and Wyoming have one lone driver carrying the flag for their respective state.
Lebanon, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston has an opportunity to join an exclusive list that only seven individuals have achieved in their career, by capturing the USAC National Midget title, then following it up with a victory in the season-opener in the following season. Fellow Lebanon native Mel Kenyon was the first to do so back in 1967-68, followed by Jimmy Caruthers (1970-71), Rich Vogler (1983-84), Russ Gamester (1989-90), Jason Leffler (1998-99), J.J. Yeley (2003-04) and Bryan Clauson (2010-11).
Bayston is part of a Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian stable that brings seven drivers, including Californians Ryan Robinson (Foresthill), Tanner Carrick (Lincoln), Logan Seavey (Sutter), Tucker Klaasmeyer of Paola, Kans., Sam Johnson, of St. Peters, Mo. and Harli White of Lindsay, Okla., who is substituting for Holly Shelton while she recovers from a shoulder injury.
Only six drivers in USAC National Midget history have won the season opener and gone on to win the season championship in the same year: Kenyon (1968), Vogler (1978), Steve Lotshaw (1979), Leffler (1999), Clauson (2011) and Rico Abreu (2014). None of those season-opening victories occurred in the state of Illinois. However, three of them have come indoors.
Justin Grant made history last year at the “Shamrock Classic” when he became the first driver in USAC history to capture season-opening victories in both the National Sprint and National Midget divisions in the same year. This Saturday, an opportunity lies ahead for the Ione, California driver to become the sixth driver to win USAC National Midget season-opening features in consecutive years, joining Vogler (1984-85), Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1992-93), Tony Stewart (1997-98), J.J. Yeley (2004-05), Brad Sweet (2009-10).
Grant’s Clauson/Marshall Racing team has won four of the five USAC-sanctioned Midget events at the Southern Illinois Center dating to 2015, including the only two “Shamrock Classic” that have been held. He and teammate Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) as well as USAC Rookie of the Year candidate Zeb Wise of Angola, Ind. form a strong three-car Clauson/Marshall Racing lineup.
USAC National Sprint Car point leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. of Cullman, Ala. And USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. make up a stout two-car team for Petry/Goff Motorsports. Mitchell, Indiana’s Chase Briscoe, the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year, is entered to drive his own No. 5 along with standouts Thomas Meseraull of San Jose, Calif. (Joe Dooling No. 63) and Collinsville, Oklahoma’s Tyler Thomas (Tyler Thomas No. 91T).
Two-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion Brady Bacon and FMR Racing have teamed up for another go at a title run. Chad Boat, winner of six career USAC National Midget races, has entered the event as one of two drivers in the Tucker/Boat Motorsports stable along with series Rookie of the Year contender Zane Hendricks of Stillwater, Okla. Greenfield, Indiana’s C.J. Leary intends to make a rare midget start for Gray Auto, for who he made a pair of starts with back in 2015.
Billy Wease of Noblesville, Indiana has found big success in his midget racing career, winning the “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in 2006. Additionally, he’s won a USAC Midget race indoors at the Fort Wayne Memorial Coliseum in 2007. Both experiences bode well for the veteran driver as he pilots the Amanda Wease No. 12.
Wayne Lesher has entered his No. 4 for 2017 ARDC Midget champion Ryan Greth of Newport, Pa. Meanwhile, 2016 Bloomington Speedway “Indiana Sprint Week” feature winner Brent Beauchamp has entered his own familiar No. 11.
The $3900-to-win USAC Midget purse honors the memory of Bryan Clauson’s success in car No. 39 at the Southern Illinois Center over the years. The additional $900 added to the winner’s share is courtesy of Stenhouse Jr. Racing. Factory Canopies has also come aboard to pledge their support to the event.
In addition, micro sprints are on the card with a $750-to-win prize. The format will utilize passing points to lock 12 drivers into the night’s feature through the heat races, with four more from each B-Main to lock in the 20-car lineup.
The timetable for the “Shamrock Classic” begins with participant parking on Friday, March 9, from 4-7pm. Saturday’s raceday schedule begins with pits opening at 8am. Spectator gates open at 10am, followed by a “pit sweep” at 11am. The micro sprint drivers’ meeting gets underway at 11:30am, with micro sprint hot laps set for noon and their heat races immediately following. A public drivers’ meeting for the midgets is open to all race fans at 3pm in the turn one grandstand. Midget hot laps begin at 4pm with racing for both the micro sprints and midget immediately following. The night concludes with the 50-lap midget feature event.
“Shamrock Classic” tickets are on sale now at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2018-shamrock-classic-tickets. Reserved seats are $25 for the highly-anticipated event that brought over 50 of the top midget drivers in the country in each of the past two seasons, and the highest car count of any USAC National Midget points event during the 2017 season. Fans will receive a free “Shamrock Classic” event t-shirt with their purchase of a reserved ticket.
Adult general admission tickets are $20; kids 6-12 are $10 and kids 5 years-old and under are FREE! Pit passes are $30 for USAC Members/$35 for non-members. Pit passes can be purchased at http://www.tracpass.com/.
Fans who are unable to attend the event in-person can view the race LIVE on http://www.speedshifttv.com/.
For any questions regarding the event, email “Shamrock Classic” promoter Lauren Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIDGET ENTRY LIST
(48 Midgets entered as of March 5, 2018)
1K BRAYTON LYNCH/Springfield, IL (Rusty Kunz Racing)
1T TONY RONEY/Herculaneum, MO (Tony Roney)
2 RYAN HALL/Midlothian, TX (Mark Bush)
3N JAKE NEUMAN/New Berlin, IL (Jim Neuman)
4 RYAN GRETH/Newport, PA (Wayne Lesher)
5 CHASE BRISCOE/Mitchell, IN (Chase Briscoe Racing)
6D DON DAWSON II/Indianola, IA (Don Dawson II)
7 GAGE WALKER/Fairland, IN (Brian Walker)
7BC TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Clauson/Marshall Racing)
9 MATT MOORE/Bethany, OK (Hergott Racing Development)
11 BRENT BEAUCHAMP/Fairland, IN (Brent Beauchamp)
11A C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Gray Auto)
12 BILLY WEASE/Noblesville, IN (Amanda Wease)
15 KEVIN THOMAS, JR./Cullman, AL (Petry/Goff Motorsports)
17BC JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Clauson-Marshall/Matt Wood Racing)
21H SCOTT SAWYER/Bixby, OK (Kelly Hinck)
25 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ (Petry/Goff Motorsports)
27 TUCKER KLAASMEYER/Paola, KS (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
27z ZANE HENDRICKS/Stillwater, OK (Tucker/Boat Motorsports)
28 KORY SCHUDY/Springfield, MO (Jon Sawyer)
37 TERRY BABB/Decatur, IL (A.J. Felker)
37x TBA (A.J. Felker)
39 KYLE MAY/New Palestine, IN (Kyle May)
39BC ZEB WISE/Angola, IN (Clauson/Marshall Racing)
41 HOWARD MOORE/Memphis, TN (Chris Chappue)
44 WESLEY SMITH/Nixa, MO (Wesley Smith)
45 TONY LAWRENCE/Cambria, IL (Tony Lawrence)
49 ANDY BRADLEY/Bloomington, IN (Andy Bradley)
50 DANIEL ADLER/St. Louis, MO (Daniel Adler)
51B JOE B. MILLER/Millersville, MO (Jim Neuman)
56x MARK CHISHOLM/Cheyenne, WY (Fifty6x Racing)
57D DANIEL ROBINSON/Ewing, IL (McCreery Motorsports)
63 THOMAS MESERUALL/San Jose, CA (Joe Dooling)
67 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
67K HARLI WHITE/Lindsay, OK (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
67x KYLE O’GARA/Beech Grove, IN (SFH Racing Development)
68 RYAN SMITH/Kunkletown, PA (SFH Racing Development)
71 RYAN ROBINSON/Foresthill, CA (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
71½ ROBERT BELL/Colfax, IA (Robert Bell)
71K TANNER CARRICK/Lincoln, CA (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
72 SAM JOHNSON/St. Peters, MO (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
76m BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (FMR Racing)
80 JOSH HAWKINS/Whitehouse, TX (Josh Hawkins)
84 CHAD BOAT/Phoenix, AZ (Tucker/Boat Motorsports)
91 TYLER NELSON/Kansas City, KS (Jack Harris)
91T TYLER THOMAS/Collinsville, OK (Tyler Thomas)
95 CHRIS ANDREWS/Tulsa, OK (Jim Miller)
97 SPENCER BAYSTON/Lebanon, IN (Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian)
MICRO SPRINT ENTRY LIST
(37 Micro Sprints Entered as of March 5, 2018)
2 COOPER WELCH/Sheridan, IN (Chris Welch)
2R RYAN MONTGOMERY/Evansville, IN (Ryan Montgomery)
3G GARET WILLIAMSON/Columbia, MO (Garet Williamson)
3J JORDAN HOWELL/Columbia, MO (Jordan Howell)
4 TIMMY BUCKWALTER/Douglassville, PA (Wayne Lesher)
5 ZACH BODEN/Cambridge, WI (Zach Boden)
5 BRYANT PAVER/Columbia, MO (Bryant Paver)
11 ALEX MIDKIFF/Belleville, IL (Alex Midkiff)
14c CHAD ORR/Hartford City, IN (Chad Orr)
16 JAMES MORRIS/Riegelsville, PA (James Morris)
18 MICHAEL BRUMMITT/Mt. Zion, IL (Michael Brummitt)
20 MIKE VALLETTE/Ellery, IL (Mike Vallette)
21H TBA (Kelly Hinck)
21L TBA (Levi Hinck)
21M MATT MORTON/Collinsville, IL (Matt Morton)
33m RYAN MUELLER/Wildwood, MO (Ryan Mueller)
34 K.J. SNOW/Kingsburg, CA (K.J. Snow)
35 TYLER ROBBINS/St. Jacob, IL (Tyler Robbins)
37 AIDEN PURDUE/Clinton, IL (Rodney Purdue)
37F JACOB JONES/Columbia, MO (Bryant Paver)
42 EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Joe Axsom)
44 TREVIN LITTLETON/Jacksonville, IL (Greg Littleton)
49K LUKE KILGORE/Steeleville, IL (Luke Kilgore)
51B JOE B. MILLER/Millersville, MO (Joe B. Miller)
53 SEAN ROBBINS/Collinsville, IL (Sean Robbins)
57v MARK CHISHOLM/Cheyenne, WY (Matt Veatch)
71 JAKE CHEATHAM/Bethalto, IL (Jake Cheatham)
71 TBA (Paul May)
79J JACOB PATTON/Bethalto, IL (Jacob Patton)
88 B.J. GATEWOOD/Caruthersville, MO (B.J. Gatewood)
88G ABBIE GATEWOOD/Caruthersville, MO (Abbie Gatewood)
88G GARRETT HULSEY/Lone Jack, MO (Garrett Hulsey)
97 AUSTIN NIGH/Greenfield, IN (A.J. Nigh)
99 DANIEL ROBINSON/Mt. Vernon, IL (Dale Greene)
101 TOBIAS MIDKIFF/Belleville, IL (Tobias Midkiff)
711 TBA (Paul May)
880 KAMERON MORRRAL/Smithsburg, MD (Wayne Lesher)