Stacked Field For Junior Knepper 55

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Junior Knepper 55
Ricky Stenhouse Jr and the rest of the Clauson-Marshall Racing team are entered in the Junior Knepper 55. (Neil Cavanah Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – The Clauson-Marshall Racing juggernaut with drivers Donny Schatz, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Jason Johnson and Tyler Courtney has entered the Junior Knepper 55 USAC Midget Special Event indoor event Saturday at the Southern Illinois Center at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

The latest of the now 73 cars who’ve entered for the second annual event is highlighted by the team spearheaded by Tim Clauson and Richard Marshall.

Stenhouse, a regular NASCAR premier series competitor, is the defending winner of the Knepper 55. In last year’s event, his late-race heroics pushed him to the victory with just four laps remaining. The Olive Branch, Miss., native is no stranger to success in USAC racing with five career USAC National Midget wins to his credit in addition to last year’s triumph.

The 2007 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year has already made three series starts this season and will pilot the No. 17BC in honor of his friend and one-time roommate, Bryan Clauson.

Schatz is a nine-time Knoxville Nationals winner and an eight-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car champion. Schatz is set to make his midget racing debut on Saturday in DuQuoin aboard the Clauson/Marshall No. 15x. It will be his first appearance in a USAC-sanctioned event since an 11th place finish in a Silver Crown car at the Tulsa Fairgrounds in September of 2003.

Schatz was denied his 10th Knoxville Nationals victory this past August by Louisiana’s Johnson. Johnson, whose sprint car is sponsored by team co-owner Marshall’s Priority Aviation Services, has sights set on his USAC midget debut on the one-sixth-mile dirt bullring.

Courtney will take the wheel of the No. 7BC for CMR on Saturday night. Courtney, who recently announced his intentions to make his first run at a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title in 2017, has made a pair of midget starts with USAC in 2016, including a third-place run in the Indiana Midget series event at Boswell’s Daugherty Speedway in September.

Entries continue to pour in from coast-to-coast including two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon; versatile California racer and two-time Chili Bowl winner Cory Kruseman; four-time USAC National Sprint Car winner Thomas Meseraull; Indiana Sprint Week feature winner Brent Beauchamp and Silver Crown winner Chris Urish.

Additional drivers shedding the wing to compete at the Southern Illinois Center on Saturday include World of Outlaws regular Joey Saldana and 2006 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year Tony Bruce Jr.

Drivers who’ve made their names known to a nationwide audience outside of the dirt discipline are entered, including ARCA champs Chase Briscoe (2016) and Justin Allgaier (2008) as well as two-time American Le Mans Series titlist Chris Dyson and K&N Pro Series West winner Nick Drake.

West coast star Ryan Bernal is entered in a team car to Saldana while midget racing standouts Kyle Schuett – a winner indoors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis a year ago – and Tyler Thomas are set to hit the stage in their self-owned rides.