USAC Midgets Set For Dirt Oval 66 Return

Kevin Thomas Jr. (5) and Tucker Klaasmeyer (27) are both expected to compete when the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series visits Dirt Oval 66 this weekend. (Jim Denhamer Photo)
Kevin Thomas Jr. (5) and Tucker Klaasmeyer (27) are both expected to compete when the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series visits Dirt Oval 66 this weekend. (Jim Denhamer Photo)

JOLIET, Ill. – It’s been 15 years since the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series last turned a lap at Dirt Oval 66, but the series is back on the three-eighths-mile dirt oval this Saturday for the Summer Slash.

Coming off a competitive Indiana Midget Week that saw five different winners in five races, Logan Seavey emerged as the champion. The defending series titlist has turned up the wick in recent weeks, finishing in the top-three in five of his last six USAC starts. In 2017 Seavey finished fourth in a POWRi event at Dirt Oval 66, leading the contingent of expected entrants for this Saturday’s event.

Tanner Thorson, who finished fifth in 2017, made a miraculous reemergence from serious injuries sustained in a March highway crash, returning to victory lane during the recent Indiana Midget Week with a spectacular win in the round at Lincoln Park Speedway after reuniting with Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian, with whom he captured the 2016 USAC National Midget driving title. He leads all of Saturday’s expected entrants with five USAC Midget wins in Illinois, each coming at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.

Those two, along with KKM teammates Tucker Klaasmeyer and Tanner Carrick, competed in that event with POWRi at Dirt Oval 66, finishing ninth and 23rd, respectively. Both reside in the top-10 of the USAC standings, with Klaasmeyer seventh and Carrick eighth. Seavey elevated himself to second in the standings, 63 behind Tyler Courtney, thanks to his Indiana Midget Week performance.

With seven different drivers scoring victories in the first 11 events of the season, it’s been a seemingly balanced year for everyone else. That is, except for series point leader Courtney, who’s notched four victories already this season, including the most recent visit to the state of Illinois, in May at Tri-City Speedway. It’s one of his two Illinois USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victories, the first coming at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Arena in Springfield in 2017.

Cannon McIntosh was the surprise victor of the first series race in Illinois this season, indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin, Ill. As the season has progressed, the Shamrock Classic win has proven to be no fluke as he’s been a consistent frontrunner throughout the season with a pair of top-five finishes during Indiana Midget Week, including a second at Gas City and a fifth at Lawrenceburg.

Chris Windom finally broke through for his first USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget win in his 102nd start in the Indiana Midget Week finale at Lawrenceburg and is fourth in the standings, just ahead of Clauson Marshall Racing teammate Zeb Wise. Wise, at fifth in the standings, is the driver highest in the standings who’s still looking for his first win this season.

Others expected to take part in Saturday’s event include Kevin Thomas Jr., Jerry Coons Jr., Chad Boat, Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal, Zach Daum, Jake Neuman, Karsyn Elledge and Tyler Thomas.

In the four previous USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races held at Dirt Oval 66, Tracy Hines won in both 2001 and 2003. Critter Malone won in 2002 while Travis Miniea triumphed for his first and only career series win in 2004.

Saturday’s event also features the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions on the card. The parking lot opens at 12 p.m. (Central), front gates at 3 p.m., pre-race party at 3pm and showtime at 7:30 p.m.