Each year, the Turkey Night Grand Prix presents a massively talented crop of drivers from top to bottom. Among them are the Rookies who arrive to stake their claim and make their initial mark on this great race featuring USAC’s NOS Energy Drink National and Western States Midget divisions.
Nov 27-28 | 3:00 PM ET
Over the years, Don Basile Rookie of the Race honors at Turkey Night have been awarded to some of the most talented young racers in America. A glance at the list reveals some of the top names from the sport over the past two decade which include: Kasey Kahne, Dave Steele, Bobby East, Kody Swanson, Kyle Larson, and most recently, Jason McDougal in 2018.
The group consists of individuals who've made an impact in their first appearance at the prestigious race before going onto achieve big things within the racing world. This year’s rookie lineup has its own share of drivers who are on the cusp of big things themselves, along with a number of drivers who’ve already established themselves as stars in their own disciplines outside of midget racing. Gio Scelzi, a recent winner at the opening night of the Hangtown 100 is among those. At just 17 years old, the Fresno, Calif. native has already become the youngest sprint car winner in the history of the World of Outlaws, Williams Grove Speedway and Knoxville Raceway. That's all in addition to becoming the season’s 14th different winner in the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget division, winning in just his sixth career start.
Aaron Reutzel, has claimed each of the last two Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions titles and, like Scelzi, has won on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car trail in 2019. Reutzel recently made his first career USAC Midget start in November at Placerville, finishing 10th. Collegeville, Pennsylvania’s Andrew Layser is the top rookie in USAC’s National Midget series with eight top-10 finishes in 24 series starts for Clauson/Marshall Racing. Also like Scelzi, Cannon McIntosh of Bixby, Okla. is one of the five first-time winners with the USAC National Midgets this season. He accomplished this back in March of this year at the Southern Illinois Center's indoor track in Du Quoin.
Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.) won the most recent USAC Western States Midget round at Ventura in October which was his first career win with the series. Ben Worth joined Johnson as a first-time winner with the series in the opener at California’s Bakersfield Speedway. Buddy Kofoid, attempted to make the Turkey Night field a year ago, but didn’t quite make the cut. He’s back again this year as one of eight cars out of the Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian stable along with fellow Turkey Night rookie, Daison Pursley, a 2017 USAC Micro Sprint champion.
Nov 27-28 | 3:00 PM ET
Sydney, Australia’s Kaidon Brown is the 2018 Australian Speedcar Champion and won the New South Wales title in 2019. The 18-year-old recent high school graduate is one of two international drivers in the field and the only rookie.
PAST DON BASILE TURKEY NIGHT ROOKIES OF THE RACE: 1998: Kasey Kahne, 1999: Dave Steele, 2000: Aaron Pollock, 2001: Bobby East, 2002: Jerome Rodela, 2003: Ryan Durst, 2004: Brad Loyet, 2005: Kevin Swindell, 2006: Kody Swanson, 2007: Mike Murgoitio, 2008: Nic Faas, 2009: Levi Roberts, 2010: Dalton Armstrong, 2011: Kyle Larson, 2012: Ryan Bernal, 2013: Tanner Thorson, 2014: Isaac Chapple, 2015: Robert Dalby, 2016: Carson Macedo, 2017: Zeb Wise, 2018: Jason McDougal.
2019 TURKEY NIGHT GRAND PRIX MIDGET ROOKIE CLASS:
07x ®TROY MORRIS III/Bakersfield, CA
08 ®CANNON McINTOSH/Bixby, OK
08m ®ETHAN MITCHELL/Mooresville, NC
1 ®KARSYN ELLEDGE/Mooresville, NC
1NP ®TERRY NICHOLS/Delano, CA
1P ®AUDRA SASSELLI/Selma, CA
4F ®CHAD FREWALDT/Kansas City, KS
5G ®BEN WORTH/Coalinga, CA
5H ®CASEY HICKS/Platt City, MO
9 ®DAISON PURSLEY/Locust Grove, OK
9H ®EMILIO HOOVER/Broken Arrow, OK
19w ®JAKE MORGAN/Fair Oaks, CA
20 ®C.J. SARNA/Palm Desert, CA
20AZ ®SHON DESKINS/Waddell, AZ
25x ®CHASE JOHNSON/Penngrove, CA
27B ®JAKE BUBAK/Arvada, CO
c27 ®CLINT WILSON/Paradise, CA
31B ®KYLE BEILMAN/Mar Vista, CA
33p ®MIKE LEACH, JR./Orange, CA
47BC ®ANDREW LAYSER/Collegeville, PA
55 ®TONY EVERHART/El Cajon, CA
56x ®MARK CHISHOLM/Cheyenne, WY
57D ®DANIEL ROBINSON/Ewing, IL
67x ®BRITTON BOCK/Fresno, CA
71D ®BRYAN DROLLINGER/San Pedro, CA
73 ®DYLAN ITO/Ventura, CA1
78 ®MARVIN MITCHELL/Madera, CA
84 ®GIO SCELZI/Fresno, CA
85 ®AARON REUTZEL/Clute, TX
91 ®CHRIS SHEIL/Aurora, CO
97w ®KAIDON BROWN/Sydney, AU
98 ®BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA
99 ®COLTON HEATH/Marysville, WA