With six races in a six-night span, the storylines and scenarios run rampant with the possibilities of what can and will transpire over this next week of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget racing June 16-21, Tuesday at Paragon, Wednesday at Gas City, Thursday and Friday at Lincoln Park, Saturday at Lawrenceburg and Sunday at Kokomo.
That’s why we love it, and that’s why we watch. One of the ultimate tests of racing, the 16th annual edition of Indiana Midget Week, has finally arrived.
Okay, okay, they’re not really outsiders, per se. But what makes Indiana Midget Week competition so grand is witnessing those individuals who are regulars in series outside of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget competition battling against those who run with the series on a regular basis.
For instance, Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, Calif.), who will compete in all six events of 2020 Indiana Midget Week for Tucker-Boat Motorsports as he aims for his first career title in the mini-series. He’s arguably the hottest driver in all of racing right now with five consecutive wing sprint car wins between the World of Outlaws and All Stars. But, likewise, he’s won the three most recent USAC Midget races he’s entered as well, as well as the only two he’s run in the state this year at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla.
Daryn Pittman, the 2013 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car champion, will compete in a single event at Gas City, the same place he made his last Indiana Midget Week start eight years earlier in 2012.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a former USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year and Talladega and Daytona 400-mile NASCAR Cup series winner, will compete in the first four events of IMW, his first appearance in the weeklong series since 2007.
Carson Macedo, he too a past USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year and also a World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year, will compete in three of the six IMW events at Gas City, Lincoln Park Night #1 and the final night at Kokomo.
In a taxing mini-series such as Indiana Midget Week, it’s a pleasure to see how many teams can weather the heat, the elements, the long nights and the mechanical and emotional hardships that can come with traveling and racing night-after-night. Entering this year’s IMW, 36 teams have announced their intentions to compete on the full trail throughout the Hoosier state.
WHO’S GOT NEXT
Four USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget regulars have all won feature events with the series in 2020, all of whom have had their share of total victories with the series in their careers: Tanner Thorson (15), Tyler Courtney (14), Justin Grant (5) and Chris Windom (3), and all of whom are aiming to win their first career Indiana Midget Week championship. With all having stellar seasons thus far across the board, perhaps this is their year.
BACON & KLATT
Brady Bacon is the dirt driver on Terry Klatt’s 2019 USAC Silver Crown owner championship team. This time, however, Bacon will wheel a midget for the successful Nebraska car owner whose teams have won 17 career USAC National Midget races, but none since 2012 with Bobby East on the pavement at North Carolina’s Ace Speedway.
THOMAS’ NEW DIGS
Kevin Thomas Jr. and Petry Motorsports have switched over to the DRC chassis for Indiana Midget Week after recent results that have placed the six-time career series winner outside of the top-ten in each of the past three races after producing two top-seven results in the first two events of 2020 in Ocala, Fla.
HERE COME THE CHAMPS
Four past Indiana Midget Week champs have intentions of competing during the week including the champ of the first two years in 2005 and 2006, Shane Cottle, who has pre-entered to race in the Paragon opener on Tuesday. Another two-time IMW champ, Rico Abreu (2014-15) will compete in the first three at Paragon, Gas City and Lincoln Park Night #1 before returning for the finale at Kokomo.
Shane Golobic has made it a tradition in making the annual cross-country trek to Indiana Midget Week, where he’ll contest the full series and try to repeat his 2017 IMW title. Only Cottle and Abreu have previously gone back-to-back with consecutive IMW championships, and Logan Seavey intends to become the next to accomplish the feat this year with the team that claimed the other Indiana USAC weeklong championship race last year, Indiana Sprint Week.
J-MAC IS BACK
Jason McDougal revealed his plans to move back to the state of Indiana to resume his driving career after briefly stepping back from full-time driving at the conclusion of the 2019 season. He showed little rust in his one series start at Port City this past May, qualifying 4th before ultimately falling back to 13th at the checkered and now will get plenty of extra work in behind the wheel for all six nights of Indiana Midget Week in Steve Reynolds’ and Flea Ruzic’s No. 21KS.
Of the 29 different drivers who’ve won an Indiana Midget Week feature since its inaugural year in 2005, 14 of them are entered to compete this coming week. Kyle Larson leads all active drivers with 5 victories, four behind the all-time mark of 9 set by Bryan Clauson. With the streak Larson is on at the moment, who knows? That record may very well be attainable in this six-race set. Rico Abreu has four, while Shane Cottle, Tyler Courtney and Tanner Thorson each have three. Nine different drivers possess at least one IMW triumph, including Brady Bacon, Steve Buckwalter, Dave Darland, Zach Daum, Justin Grant, Logan Seavey, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Thomas Jr. and Chris Windom.
WHAT’S ON ORDER FROM THE VENUE
This year’s Indiana Midget Week slate has taken a slightly different look than in recent years with Paragon Speedway becoming the first new track addition to IMW since Montpelier in 2016. Not only that fact, but no drivers on this year’s list have any midget experience at Paragon, creating a new ballgame for all. Forged out of necessity is the first-ever occasion in the 16-year history of IMW that a single track has hosted multiple races within the same week, Lincoln Park Speedway on Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19. This situation came about due to Friday’s original venue, Bloomington Speedway, being restricted to holding no fans due to COVID-19.
Indiana Midget Week can be a grind. And when it comes to those attempting the week for the first time, it can be the ultimate challenge in many respects. We’ve seen the potential from a few who could be contenders for a victory, and possibly a championship with the likes of Gio Scelzi, a World of Outlaws winner and USAC National Midget victor late last year at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway, plus top series Rookie Buddy Kofoid, who’s third in the overall standings after five events and has had no finish worse than 11th in that span. Daison Pursley, too, a Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate to Kofoid who has shown flashes in limited runs thus far but resided 9th in the points.
A mass of western contingent is on its way to IMW to compete throughout the entire week, namely USAC Western series champions Ronnie Gardner (2013-14-15-16-17 Western States Midget), Brody Roa (2009 California Dirt Focus Midget, 2016 West Coast Sprint and 2019 Southwest Sprint) and Jake Swanson (2017 West Coast Sprint), Western series winners Chase Johnson and Maria Cofer, plus Dylan Ito, nephew of longtime TQ Midget success George Ito.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK CHAMPIONS: (2005-2019)
2005: Shane Cottle
2006: Shane Cottle
2007: Jerry Coons, Jr.
2008: Tracy Hines
2009: Bryan Clauson
2010: Tracy Hines / Brad Kuhn
2011: Bryan Clauson
2012: Darren Hagen
2013: Christopher Bell
2014: Rico Abreu
2015: Rico Abreu
2016: Bryan Clauson
2017: Shane Golobic
2018: Spencer Bayston
2019: Logan Seavey
ALL-TIME INDIANA MIDGET WEEK WINS: (2005-2019)
1. (9) Bryan Clauson
2. (5) Christopher Bell & Kyle Larson
4. (4) Rico Abreu
5. (3) Spencer Bayston, Shane Cottle, Tyler Courtney, Darren Hagen, Brad Kuhn, Michael Pickens & Tanner Thorson
12. (2) Jerry Coons, Jr., Davey Ray & Brad Sweet
15. (1) Brady Bacon, Chad Boat, Steve Buckwalter, Dave Darland, Zach Daum, Jay Drake, Justin Grant, Tracy Hines, Levi Jones, Johnny Rodriguez, Logan Seavey, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kevin Swindell, Kevin Thomas, Jr. & Chris Windom