By RICHIE MURRAY
In 1804, Lewis and Clark departed from the eastern edge of the Mississippi River to begin their expedition of the newly-acquired land to the west.
Two-hundred and thirteen years later, names like Justin Grant, Chad Boespflug, Chris Windom and Robert Ballou depart their homelands to explore uncharted and long-lost lands with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship while Tanner Thorson, Brady Bacon, Spencer Bayston and Jerry Coons, Jr. navigate toward the Arch for their annual trek to the Illinois/Missouri state line for a USAC National Midget clash at the river.
The first stop of the “River Town Showdown” brings a USAC National Sprint Car and National Midget doubleheader to one track for one night for the first time since 2010 at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois.
Tri-City has become a traditional stop for the USAC National Midgets over the past several years. Even though Tanner Thorson claims Minden, Nevada as him hometown, he may as well have claimed a second permanent residence in Granite City, Illinois where he has spent his last five visits to the three-eighths-mile dirt oval in victory lane.
The last two seasons, Thorson swept every single night of the “Gold Crown Midget Nationals,” scoring in back-to-back fashion in 2015 and followed that up with a three-peat in 2016.
With one more victory at Tri-City, Thorson would tie a long-standing USAC Midget record of consecutive wins by a driver at a single track. Between 1983 and 1986, Vogler practically owned Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track, winning six-straight on the half-mile.
Also on tap Friday night at Tri-City are the USAC National Sprint Cars, who make their first stop at the track since 2006. Last weekend, Justin Grant pocketed his third series victory of the year in a barnburner at Eldora to stay atop the standings.
Robert Ballou made his triumphant return to the cockpit last Friday and, one night later, was in victory lane after taking night two of #LetsRaceTwo at the “Big E.”
The second round of the border war crosses the river to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Missouri. It’s been five years since the USAC National Sprint Cars took on the Show-Me State and the first ever stop by USAC at I-55.
Robert Ballou is a previous USAC Sprint Car winner in the state of Missouri and will be aiming for victory number two this weekend, but at I-55, he’ll have to contend with the likes of local racing hero Hunter Schuerenberg. Hunter claimed February’s “Winter Dirt Games” finale in Ocala, Florida, but the Sikeston native, as well as Greenwood’s Clinton Boyles, are looking to break through as the first ever driver from Missouri to win a USAC Sprint feature in his homestate.
Adult General Admission tickets are just $25. Ages 13-18 get in for $15. Kids age 12 and Under are free. Both nights of the River Town Showdown push off at the same times. Gates open Friday at Tri-City and Saturday at I-55 at 4pm with cars set to hit the track at 6pm.
Attention college students! Show a college ID at the gate and get $10 off your general admission ticket. Order your “River Town Showdown” tickets now at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2017-river-town-showdown-may-19–20 and receive a free event T-shirt!
If you’re stuck somewhere this weekend that isn’t Tri-City or I-55, don’t fret; http://www.SpeedShift.TV/ will be streaming both nights of racing live, flag-to-flag. Miss the live show or want to watch again? You’re in luck! Loudpedal.TV has you covered with on-demand coverage of all the night’s action.