Hagen Hustles To Canyon Midget Score

Darren Hagen

Darren Hagen
Darren Hagen
PEORIA, Ariz. — Darren Hagen emerged atop a fiercely contested 30-lap Honda USAC National Midget feature that put the wraps on two full nights of qualifying action for the 46th annual Sands Chevrolet Western World Championships presented by Racers Advantage Store at Canyon Speedway Park.

In a race that featured four official lead changes, Hagen held the top spot the final dozen circuits and beat Brady Bacon to the line despite a last-lap bobble in turns one and two that nearly opened the door.

After original front-row outside starter Chris Windom pulled to the pit area with mechanical gremlins, Hagen moved from the fourth starting position to the front row outside and gunned into the initial lead ahead of pole starter Rico Abreu.

Abreu battled back on the high side to take command on the third round and set the pace until Hagen took advantage on a lap ten restart after an Andrew Felker stoppage brought out the caution flag.

While Bacon chased the lead duo of Abreu and Hagen in the early stages, he slipped back to fifth after a bobble on lap nine. Bacon battled back with a strong move past Abreu and Dave Darland to claim second on the 13th round and went to work on Hagen for the lead.

Bacon’s persistence paid off with a move into the lead on the 17th round, only to have Hagen battle back in front with a nice move off the bottom of turn four on the 19th circuit.

Hagen led the remaining distance aboard Shane Hmiel’s No. 56 with Okie shoes Bacon and Christopher Bell in tow. A Hagen miscue on the final lap nearly changed the outcome, but USAC pavement midget champion took the checkered flag with a 0.157-second advantage.

Bacon settled for runner-up honors for the third time in as many nights after finishing second in Thursday’s sprint car and midget features, while Thursday night midget winner Bell claimed the show position.

Abreu crossed the stripe fourth while Bryan Clauson battled forward from the 20th starting position to round out the top five.

Caleb Armstrong, who earlier in the evening set fast time for the 31-car field, was sixth with Darland, Tanner Thorson, Jerry Coons Jr., and Brad Kuhn completing the top 10.