The largest and richest midget race in USAC’s 63-year history kicks off tonight at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with current stars, part champions, NASCAR drivers and one IndyCar regular.
Called the “Driven to Safe Lives BC39 presented by NOS” in honor of the late USAC superstar Bryan Clauson, the two-night event will be contested on a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 of IMS and capped off with a 39-lap A Main on Thursday evening that will be shown in a one-hour special on NBCSN following NASCAR America on Friday night.
The entry list of 118 entries is the largest ever and pays $70,000, with $15,000 going to the winner. The previous record number of cars came in 1990 with 109 entries at Turkey Night at Ascot Park.
This week’s list includes Christopher Bell, Dave Darland, Ricky Stenhouse, Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Chad Boat, Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant, Brady Bacon, Spencer Bayston, Zeb Wise, Davey Ray and current point leader Logan Seavay along with former champs Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. Tanner Thorson, Russ Gamester and J.J. Yeley. Of course Bell, Yeley and Stenhouse are competing full-time in NASCAR – along with Landon Cassill and Chase Briscoe, who recently won the Camping World Truck show at Eldora Speedway.
Conor Daly, the four-time Indy 500 starter fresh off his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Road America, is stepping out of his comfort zone again and will be making his USAC midget debut driving for Landon Stinson as teammates with Cassill. Daly hot-lapped at Putnamville’s Lincoln Park on Tuesday afternoon.
“It was different and it was dry but it was fun and I’m looking forward to Wednesday,” he said. “I was finding out about how much yaw you can run, and I learned something every lap.”
Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi had been gung-ho to hot lap Tim Clauson’s midget, but decided that probably wouldn’t fly with owner Michael Andretti.
“I really want to do it sometime but I probably shouldn’t considering Sonoma is next week,” said Rossi, who has had a great season and only trails leader Scott Dixon by 29 points going to California’s double points race that will decide the IndyCar championship. “So I’ll just come out and cheer for Conor.”
All tickets for Wednesday’s hot laps and heat races will be general admission, and kids under 15 will be admitted free with an adult. Gates open at 4 p,m. and hot laps are set for 5 o’clock. Same for Thursday, and there will be a pair of E Mains and a pair of D Mains before a C and a B Main that precedes the 39-lap A Main, which is set for 9:30 p.m.
The 5,000-seat main grandstand around the quarter mile still has seats available, and Turn 3 grandstand seats are $20. Kokomo Speedway’s Reece Connor is preparing the track, and it will be lit by Musco Lighting.