DUQUOIN, Ill. – USAC champions Tyler Courtney and Tanner Thorson are among the final set of entries for the Junior Knepper 55 on Dec. 15 at the Southern Illinois Center.
The entry list for the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series has soared to 74 drivers for the fourth installment of the annual USAC season-ending event.
Courtney, the newly-crowned USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car titlist, will lead a three-car Clauson Marshall Racing attack at DuQuoin alongside season-long teammate Zeb Wise and new stablemate Andrew Layser. He won the “Knepper 55” in 2016 while Wise, of Angola, Ind., became the youngest ever feature winner in USAC National Midget history at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway this past summer.
Collegeville, Pennsylvania’s Layser, meanwhile, will make his debut for CMR.
Tanner Thorson, the 2016 USAC National Midget champion, will drive the Tri-C Motorsports No. 3c at DuQuoin while Dillon Welch, who has a multitude of experience behind the wheel and behind the mic, drops the mic this Saturday to wheel Kami Ronk’s No. 99p.
This year’s stout Knepper 55 field also includes defending Knepper 55 winner Christopher Bell, of Norman, Okla., one of three entries for Tucker/Boat Motorsports alongside McKenna Haase and Tanner Berryhill. C.J. Leary has also thrown his hat into the ring, driving for NASCAR Cup Series driver Alex Bowman.
Last year’s race runner-up, Chase Briscoe and 2016 Shamrock Classic podium finisher Thomas Meseraull, plus a pair of decorated USAC National Midget champions in Dave Darland (2001-02) and Kevin Olson (1982, ’87) are also entered.
Five-time USAC Light Up the World Western States Midget champion Ronnie Gardner will make his Knepper 55 debut aboard a car for RAMS Racing as a teammate to Justin Grant, the only driver to win races in all three national divisions this season.
Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Conor Daly steps into the Jody Rosenboom No. 22CD for his second career appearance in a midget, while Kyle O’Gara, the 2014 USAC Pavement Midget champion, belts into the SFH Racing Development No. 67 for the Knepper 55.
Meanwhile, southern Illinois USAC Silver Crown star Shane Cockrum, twice a winner on the adjacent Magic Mile, will wheel the Harris Racing No. 91.
Chris Urish, a Silver Crown winner in the Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin, will drive for Tom Casson alongside teammate and fellow Silver Crown competitor Joey Moughan. Carson Short has won on the big stage before, capturing the 2016 Indiana Sprint Week round at Tri-State Speedway, and will drive his own No. 45 at Du Quoin.
Robert Dalby and Trey Marcham have each had success in the USAC Western States Midget division during their careers. Dalby finished third in series points this season and will drive for Loyet Motorsports, the team that won the second-ever USAC-sanctioned race at the Southern Illinois Center, a Midwest HPD Midget event in 2005.
Meanwhile Marcham, who led the first 17 laps of the 2017 Knepper 55, picked up three victories with the series in 2014.
Brian Shirley a standout in late model racing, will drive for Jim Neuman while winged sprint car warriors Ryan Smith, Tony Bruce, Jr. and Paul Nienhiser will all take the wheel for a rare midget appearance.
To view the complete entry list, advance to the next page.