Speedway, IN -- While Bubba Raceway Park has produced just a single winner after making its debut on the schedule one year ago, the Ocala, Fla. venue itself will host numerous drivers who, themselves, have produced a chunk of victories throughout their USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget careers.
Nine previous winners are expected to compete in this year's series openers February 7-8 at the 3/8-mile D-shaped track. While Mel Kenyon's 111 career wins are practically insurmountable for any current series driver for the time being, there are current standouts on the win list who can reach their own personal milestones in 2020.
Two-time USAC National Midget champion Jerry Coons, Jr. ranks with the most victories among the batch of expected entrants for the 2020 Winter Dirt Games openers in Ocala. The Tucson, Ariz. native currently stands at 19 victories, tied with Stan Fox, Kyle Larson and Jason Leffler for 33rd all-time.
One more win with the series by Coons would equal him with the great A.J. Foyt and would also place him on another exclusive list alongside Bobby Unser as only the second driver to win USAC feature events in five decades, the first of which for Coons came during a USAC Arizona Regional Midget event at Raven Raceway in 1987. Coons has padded his stats with numerous USAC National victories in Midgets, Sprints and Silver Crown cars since the 1996 season.
Two past USAC National Midget champions Tanner Thorson (2016) and 2019 Ocala sweeper Tyler Courtney (2019) are knotted up at 13 series victories apiece. Both Thorson (Minden, Nev.) and Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) can make up substantial ground on the series win list with their next, which would move them into the top-50 all-time if they were to get to win number 14 and equal a trio of names from the early days of USAC - Chuck Arnold, Jack Turner and Leroy Warriner.
Likewise, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Logan Seavey can scale up another story on the all-time series win list with a single victory. Both currently stand at six USAC National Midget feature triumphs apiece. One more would move Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) and Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) over the threshold into the top-100 all-time and into the seven-win club along with the likes of Tommy Astone, Jack Hewitt, Don Horvath, Page Jones, Kenneth Nichols, Larry Patton, Les Scott, Len Sutton and Johnnie Tolan.
Four additional drivers have all racked up their initial wins with the series in the last year-and-a-half and appear to be capable of quickly rising up to secure more tallies in the win column on any given night. While he only plans on competing with the series on a part-time basis in 2020, Zeb Wise (Angola, Ind.) is always a threat to win and currently stands at four victories, including three in the last year.
Chris Windom earned each of his two victories just this past summer after having to wait until his 102nd career series start at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway in June of 2019. It only took about another month-and-a-half to reach win number two and the Canton, Ill. driver shall be a top contender once again this year to add onto his total.
Cannon McIntosh and Tanner Carrick were each first-time USAC National Midget victors a year ago and will be prime contenders, like Windom, to tack on first place finishes in the coming year along with series returnees Jesse Colwell, Cole Bodine and Andrew Layser or newcomers Robert Dalby, Daison Pursley, Buddy Kofoid and several others.
You can't begin to rise up the win list without getting a first one and this group is highly capable. But they'll have some of the series greats, veterans and rising talents to contend with on a nightly basis. Last year proved to be the most balanced season in terms of the different number of winners in over a decade with 14 reaching victory lane. This season appears as if it very well could shake out in the same manner. Only time will tell.
On Friday night, February 7, the drivers meeting begins at 6pm Eastern with cars getting on track at 6:30pm. The action gets underway an hour earlier on Saturday night, February 8, with the drivers meeting set for 5pm and cars on track at 5:30pm.
General admission tickets both nights for adults are $25 and $20 for kids age 11-15. Pit passes are $35 apiece. You can watch all the action live on www.FloRacing.com or listen to free audio of the broadcast on the USAC app or on your desktop or laptop at http://mixlr.com/usac-official/. You may also follow along with live timing from the event on the USAC app.
A practice night for the midgets opens the Winter Dirt Games XI festivities on Thursday, February 6, from 6-9pm at Bubba Raceway Park. Grandstand tickets are free while pit passes are $20 apiece. The Sunoco Southern Fuels Gladiators will also be on the event card with the midgets all three nights.
ALL-TIME USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FEATURE WINS
(Entering the 2020 season)
1. [111 wins] Mel Kenyon
2. [95 wins] Rich Vogler
3. [78 wins] Bob Wente
4. [63 wins] Bob Tattersall
5. [59 wins] Sleepy Tripp
6. [48 wins] Jimmy Davies
7. [38 wins] Bryan Clauson
8. [35 wins] Tracy Hines
9. [31 wins] Gene Hartley & Chuck Rodee
11. [30 wins] Dave Darland, Mike McGreevy & Johnny Parsons
14. [27 wins] Gary Bettenhausen & Tony Stewart
16. [25 wins] Darren Hagen, Parnelli Jones & Dave Strickland
19. [24 wins] Billy Engelhart
20. [23 wins] Christopher Bell, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Tommy Copp, Kevin Olson & Billy Vukovich
26. [22 wins] Bobby East & Shorty Templeman
28. [21 wins] Steve Cannon, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton & Ken Schrader
32. [20 wins] A.J. Foyt
33. [19 wins] Jerry Coons, Jr., Stan Fox, Kyle Larson & Jason Leffler
37. [18 wins] Dave Steele
38. [17 wins] Jay Drake & J.J. Yeley
40. [16 wins] Rico Abreu, George Amick, Billy Cantrell, Lee Kunzman, Bobby Olivero & Henry Pens
46. [15 wins] Don Branson & Larry Rice
48. [14 wins] Chuck Arnold, Jack Turner & Leroy Warriner
51. [13 wins] Tyler Courtney, Steve Knepper, Don Meacham, Ryan Newman, Stevie Reeves & Tanner Thorson
57. [12 wins] Danny Caruthers, Gene Force, Russ Gamester, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Grim & Ron Shuman
63. [11 wins] Kasey Kahne, Jimmy Knight, Bob McLean, Johnny Moorhouse, Bobby Santos & Brad Sweet
69. [10 wins] Allen Heath, Doug Kalitta, Brad Kuhn, Steve Lotshaw, Jerry McClung & Chuck Weyant
75. [9 wins] Billy Boat, Chad Boat, Tony Elliott & Chuck Gurney
79. [8 wins] Brady Bacon, Merle Bettenhausen, Tony Bettenhausen, Hank Butcher, Kevin Doty, Dan Drinan, Ronnie Duman, Brian Gerster, Kenny Irwin Jr, Eddie Johnson, Michael Lewis, Andy Michner & Josh Wise
92. [7 wins] Tommy Astone, Jack Hewitt, Don Horvath, Page Jones, Kenneth Nichols, Larry Patton, Les Scott, Len Sutton & Johnnie Tolan
101. [6 wins] Donnie Beechler, George Benson, Dana Carter, Bob Cicconi, Robby Flock, Nick Fornoro, Jr., Arnie Knepper, Logan Seavey, Ricky Shelton, Mike Streicher, Dave Strickland, Jr., Kevin Thomas, Jr. & Roger West
114. [5 wins] Spencer Bayston, Mike Bliss, Lonnie Caruthers, Larry Dickson, Mike Fedorcak, Burt Foland, Mack McClellan, Danny McKnight, Cliff Spalding, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. & Jerry Weeks
125. [4 wins] Caleb Armstrong, Teddy Beach, Johnny Boyd, Frank Burany, Russ Congdon, Ray Elliott, Aaron Fike, Danny Frye, Billy Garrett, Justin Grant, Mike Gregg, Jim Hettinger, John Heydenreich, Bubby Jones, Levi Jones, Andy Linden, Bobby Marshman, Roger McCluskey, Billy Mehner, Ken Nichols, Jeff Nuckles, Jan Opperman, Michael Pickens, Gary Ponzini, Davey Ray, Eddie Sachs, Don Schilling, Sam Sessions, George Snider, Dale Swaim, Kevin Swindell, Rodger Ward & Zeb Wise
158. [3 wins] John Batts, Gays Biro, Shane Cottle, Allen Crowe, Zach Daum, Bruce Field, A.J. Fike, Drew Fornoro, Gene Gennetten, Rick Goudy, Bob Hare, Bob Hauck, Jeff Heywood, Bill Homeier, Sam Isenhower, Jim Keeker, Jim McClean, Warren Mockler, Dave Moses, Earl Motter, Jerry Nuckles, Danny Oakes, Johnnie Parsons, Porky Rachwitz, Johnny Riva, Johnny Roberts, Lowell Sachs, Billy Shuman, Tom Steiner, Bobby Unser & Billy Wease
189. [2 wins] Al Alpern, Sonny Ates, Johnny Baldwin, Jim Beckley, Dean Billings, Alan Brown, Jack Calabrase, Johnny Cofer, Mel Cornett, Cotton Farmer, Terry Farrar, Joe Garson, Chuck Gurney, Jr., Kyle Hamilton, Bob Hogle, Rick Hood, P.J. Jones, Critter Malone, Jimmy McCune, Jason McDougal, Aaron Pollock, Barry Reed, Lloyd Ruby, Joe Saldana, Tom Sellberg, Tony Simon, Danny Stratton, Kody Swanson, Steve Troxell, Don Vogler, Bruce Walkup, Terry Wente, Johnny White, Tommy White, Cole Whitt & Chris Windom
225. [1 win] John Andretti, Mario Andretti, Mike Appio, Dick Atkins, Paul Bates, Harry Beck, Bud Bogard, Tony Bonadies, Dan Boorse, Don Boorse, Dwight Brown, Steve Buckwalter, Barry Butterworth, Gary Byers, Larry Cannon, Tyce Carlson, Ed Carpenter, Tanner Carrick, Dane Carter, Billy Cassella, Bill Chennault, Bill Clemons, Roy Cook, Jr., Ryan Durst, Edgar Elder, Todd Forbes, Joe Gaerte, Bradley Galedrige, Steve Gennetten, Elmer George, Potsy Goacher, Shane Golobic, David Gough, Ron Gregory, Norm Hall, Bob Harkey, Vern Harriman, Scott Hatton, Al Herman, Jordan Hermansader, Mike Hess, Jim Hines, Ted Hines, Shane Hmiel, Dean Holden, Blake Hollingsworth, Chuck Hulse, Buddy Irwin, Eddie Jackson, Van Johnson, Brent Kaeding, Bud Kaeding, Jimmy Kirk, Kevin Koch, Randy Koch, Bill Kollman, Cory Kruseman, Michael Lang, Greg Leffler, Larry McCloskey, Jim McElreath, Mel McGaughy, Cannon McIntosh, John Meyers, J.R. Miller, Travis Miniea, Russ Moynagh, Richard Myhre, Dick Northam, Hank Nykaza, Brian Olson, Danny O'Neill, Jim Packard, Wally Pankratz, Forrest Parker, Gene Pastor, Gary Patterson, Danny Pens, Jiggs Peters, Dick Pole, Richard Powell, Buddy Rackley, Keith Rauch, Dave Ray, Jimmy Reece, Bob Richards, Bruce Robey, Johnny Rodriguez, Gene Roehl, Jack Runyon, Sam Sauer, Gio Scelzi, Dutch Schaefer, Ryan Scott, Frank Secrist, Jimmy Sills, Jigger Sirois, Lee Smith, Ron Smoker, Ned Spath, J.P. Standley, Graham Standring, Jerry Stone, Tanner Swanson, Buddy Taylor, Tyler Thomas, Randy Tolsma, Leo Tucker, Bob Veith, Joe Walter, Eric Wilkins, Mauri Wilson, Doug Wolfgang & Billy Wood
-USAC Press Release
-Photo Credit: Rich Forman