Stenhouse Joining USAC Midgets At Riverside

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series this weekend at Riverside Int'l Speedway. (HHP/Andrew Coppley Photo)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series this weekend at Riverside Int'l Speedway. (HHP/Andrew Coppley Photo)

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will return home to race at Riverside Int’l Speedway on April 2-3 for a pair USAC Midget non-point special events.

The event that bears his name, the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hometown Challenge, signals the arrival of USAC Midget to the high-banked quarter-mile, gumbo-surfaced oval for the first time since 2016.

Stenhouse will compete in this weekend’s event aboard the CB Industries No. 89. Team owner Chad Boat raced in both 2016 events, finishing third and fourth in the two-night affair. Stenhouse, meanwhile, finished 16th and ninth and endured a wild flip down the back straightaway on the first night before he landed on his wheels and kept on going.

Among the other drivers expected to compete in this weekend’s events are a number of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget regulars, including three-time National winner Cannon McIntosh and 2018 Jason Leffler Memorial winner Tyler Thomas.

Daison Pursley, Bryant Wiedeman and Brenham Crouch will be racing out of the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports stable while Ethan Mitchell will be running the family-owned Bundy Built Motorsports ride.

The Clayton Allen promoted event will feature two complete shows at Riverside on both Friday and Saturday night on the first weekend of April and marks the first time for midget competition at West Memphis in five years, a pair of races won by Tanner Thorson and Bryan Clauson. Plus, veterans Derek Hagar, Joe B. Miller and more.

The Hometown Challenge is named for current NASCAR Cup Series driver and two-time series winner Stenhouse. The native of nearby Olive Branch, Miss., located about 30 miles southeast of West Memphis, cut his teeth racing at Riverside Int’l Speedway. Just this past Monday, Stenhouse finished second to Joey Logano in the first NASCAR Cup race held on dirt in a half-century at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway.

West Memphis has been a family tradition for the Stenhouse family with young Ricky practically growing up at the place as he watched his father race there on a weekly basis before taking the wheel himself and going on to become the Rookie of the Year for both the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship and the AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship in 2007, and twice earning the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2011-12 and two Cup wins at Daytona and Talladega.

The Hometown Challenge will not pay points toward the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship due to a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car event being scheduled at Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway on its traditional date on the first weekend of April – Saturday, April 3.

Only two previous USAC sanctioned midget events have taken place in the state of Arkansas, both at West Memphis in 2016. Meanwhile, Arkansas has hosted USAC National Sprint Cars on four occasions, three of which were held at West Memphis, races won by Mike Ward (1985), Brady Bacon (2012) and Dave Darland (2013).

The event will pay $3,000 to win each night and $300 to start. Gates open at 5 p.m. CT with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and racing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both nights.