DUQUOIN, Ill. – Former USAC National Midget champions Tanner Thorson, Christopher Bell and Jerry Coons Jr. are among the latest headline drivers to file entries to compete in the USAC National Midget season-opening Shamrock Classic at the Southern Illinois Center on March 18.
Thorson, the defending USAC National Midget champion, leads the five-car Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian stable into DuQuoin. The Minden, Nev., native won six features on his way to the title one year ago, and intends to kick off the year in strong fashion with intentions of becoming the first back-to-back series champ since Bryan Clauson in 2010 and 2011.
Thorson is joined on the KKM team by Spencer Bayston, who was victorious in last season’s Gas City round of Indiana Midget Week. Rounding out the KKM lineup is Holly Shelton, Ryan Robinson and rookie Tanner Carrick.
Bell, a USAC National Midget champion for KKM in 2013, will pilot the No. 21. The versatile Norman, Okla., native finished third in 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings and is also a past winner in the USAC Silver Crown Series as well as the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
Coons is one of just six drivers that are a part of the exclusive USAC Triple Crown Club that includes drivers who’ve earned a title in each of USAC’s three national divisions, Silver Crown, sprint car and midget. Coons, the 2006 and 2007 USAC National Midget champ, returns to the seat of the Petry/Goff Motorsports No. 25.
Two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature winner Kyle Cummins intends to make his USAC National Midget debut aboard the Chase Briscoe Racing No. 5. Another driver who broke through for his first USAC National win in 2016, Brent Beauchamp is entered in his own No. 11.
Andy Malpocker knows the sixth-mile indoor dirt track in DuQuoin well. Just two weeks ago, Malpocker captured a USAC Speed2 IMRA/Midwest Thunder Midget feature victory at the track during the Open Wheel Extravaganza at the Southern Illinois Center. He’ll be back for another round of racing on March 18.
A handful of Illinois natives have mailed in their entries, including 2015 Indy Invitational winner Kyle Schuett as well as longtime midget competitor Tim Siner and Daniel Robinson.