#27 Tucker Klaasmeyer and #71 Ryan Robinson battle in March at the Southern Illinois Center. (Noah Branson Photo)
DARLAND AND DALY HIGHLIGHT FIRST KNEPPER 55 ENTRY LIST
Du Quoin, Illinois………The initial entry list for the fourth annual “Junior Knepper 55” USAC Midget Special Event has been released and, thus far, 33 cars have entered the Saturday, December 15 race from the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.
Among the entries are a pair of decorated USAC National Midget champions in Dave Darland and Kevin Olson. Darland, of Lincoln, Ind., captured the 2001 and 2002 series titles in addition to his 1997 Silver Crown and 1999 National Sprint Car championships. He will drive the RMS LLC No. 36D. National Midget Hall of Famer Olson, of Loves Park, Ill., won his USAC National Midget titles in 1982 and 1987. He will climb aboard Dennis Hoppe’s No. 5H on the 1/5-mile, indoor dirt oval.
Three-time Indy Indianapolis 500 starter Conor Daly, of Noblesville, Ind., steps into the Jody Rosenboom No. 22CD for his second career appearance in a midget. Beech Grove, Indiana’s Kyle O’Gara, the 2014 USAC Pavement Midget champ, belts into the SFH Racing Development No. 67 for the “Knepper 55.” Meanwhile, southern Illinois USAC Silver Crown star Shane Cockrum of Benton, Ill., twice a winner on the adjacent “Magic Mile,” will wheel the Harris Racing No. 91.
Robert Dalby off Simi Valley, Calif. and Newcastle, Oklahoma’s Trey Marcham have each had success in the USAC Western States Midget division during their careers. Dalby finished third in series points this season and will drive for Loyet Motorsports, the team that won the second-ever USAC-sanctioned race at the Southern Illinois Center, a Midwest HPD Midget event in 2005. Marcham picked up three victories with the series in 2014.
Winged sprint car veterans Ryan Smith and Tony Bruce, Jr. will shed the wing for a night of midget racing. Bruce, of Liberal, Kans. was the 2006 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year while Kunkletown, Pennsylvania’s Smith has won races with both the World of Outlaws and the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Chris Andrews and Josh Most normally just make a single USAC Midget appearance per year, usually at the Southern Illinois Center. More often than not, they make the rare appearance count. Andrews, of Tulsa, Okla. finished third in the 2016 “Knepper 55” while Most took home seventh in the 2017 “Shamrock Classic.”
The Knepper family is once again sponsoring FREE entry for competitors to enter their midgets for the Saturday, December 15 “Junior Knepper 55” USAC Special Event at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Illinois.
After visiting https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2018-knepper-car-entry
, use the coupon code KNEPPER to enter your car for the race for no charge. The offer expires Sunday, December 9th, 2018. The complete pre-entry list for the event will be published the following day, Monday, December 10th.
The event carries no points toward the USAC National Midget season championship, but has quickly become one of the most coveted races to win on the series calendar, annually boasting a large car count and a star-studded field to boot.
Though the special event carries no points toward the season championship, it has quickly become one of the most coveted races to win. Boasting large car counts and a star-studded field, the “Knepper 55” has already produced its share of memorable moments on the 1/6-mile dirt track located inside the building adjacent to the famed Du Quoin State Fairgrounds one-mile dirt oval.
The 55-lap event honors the memory of one of USAC’s most accomplished car owners – Walter “Junior” Knepper of Belleville, Illinois – whose famed yellow number 55 midgets and sprint cars raced to 58 career USAC feature victories, including 34 in Sprints and 24 in Midgets, with drivers Bob Wente, Tom Bigelow, Mel Kenyon, George Snider, Dana Carter, Rich Vogler and his son Steve Knepper.
Nick Knepper, grandson of Junior and son of 13-time USAC National Midget winner Steve Knepper, will promote the event along with Derek LeMaster.
Last year, Norman, Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell celebrated his 23rd birthday in grand style after passing Chad Boat with four laps remaining to win the third annual running over Chase Briscoe, Shane Golobic, Boat and Justin Grant.
In 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana’s Tyler Courtney earned his first career USAC-sanctioned Midget feature victory in his first start for the Clauson/Marshall Racing team. In the inaugural running in 2015, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. of Olive Branch, Miss. electrified the crowd in the 55-lap feature, coming from the back of the pack to score the victory in the final laps.
Earlier this March, current USAC National Midget point leader Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif. won his first career USAC race in the “Shamrock Classic” at the Southern Illinois Center.
Doors open for the event at 2:30pm (Central) on December 15. A public drivers meeting will take place in the grandstands at 3:30pm. Cars are scheduled to get on track for hot laps at 4pm.
“JUNIOR KNEPPER 55” ENTRY LIST
(33 cars as of November 27, 2018)
Car # / Driver / Hometown / Team
05D Robert Dalby / Simi Valley, CA (Loyet Motorsports)
1T Thomas Chandler / Festus, MO (Roney Racing)
1z Chris Roseland / Carter Lake, IA (Chris Roseland)
2 Chris Baue / Indianapolis, IN (Baue Family Race Team)
2G Andy Gage / Whiting, IA (Andy Gage)
5H Kevin Olson / Loves Park, IL (Dennis Hoppe)
5v Jesse Vermillion / Greencastle, IN (Vermillion Racing)
6D Don Dawson II / Carlisle, IA (Don Dawson II)
7 Cody Beard / Huntingburg, IN (Cody Beard)
7x Jon Steed / Rushville, IN (Steed Motorsports)
9 Emilio Hoover / Broken Arrow, OK (Emilio Hoover)
9JR Derek Hagar / Marion, AR (Hagar/Proctor Racing)
11T Trey Osborne / Columbus, OH (Richard Osborne)
11y Travis Young / Casey, IL (Travis Young)
14x Jody Rosenboom / Rock Rapids, IA (Jody Rosenboom Racing)
15J Jeff Wimmenauer / Greenwood, IN (Bill Wimmenauer)
17B Ryan Bickett / Ramona, SD (Jody Rosenboom Racing)
18 Tony Bruce, Jr. / Liberal, KS (Team Eights)
22CD Conor Daly / Noblesville, IN (Jody Rosenboom Racing)
32 Trey Marcham / Newcastle, OK (Trey Marcham)
36D Dave Darland / Lincoln, IN (RMS LLC)
36J TBD / TBD (RMS LLC)
41 Oliver Akard / Fort Myers, FL (Dan Akard)
50 Daniel Adler / St. Louis, MO (Mike Adler)
57D Daniel Robinson / Ewing, IL (McCreery Motorsports)
67 Kyle O’Gara / Beech Grove, IN (SFH Racing Development)
68 Ryan Smith / Kunkletown, PA (SFH Racing Development)
81 Seth Bergman / Snohomish, WA (Team Eights)
81x Drew Fuhrman / Belleville, IL (The Duke Racing)
91 Shane Cockrum / Benton, IL (Harris Racing)
92m Josh Most / Red Oak, IA (Most Racing)
95 Chris Andrews / Tulsa, OK (Miller Racing)
721 Brendon Wiseley / Sand Springs, OK (MLM Motorsports)