By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Rossburg, Ohio (September 21, 2022)………Chris Windom has already checked off several boxes on his Eldora Speedway resume entering this Friday and Saturday’s events at the Rossburg, Ohio half-mile dirt oval.
After notching a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win at the 4-Crown in 2013 followed by victories in the USAC Silver Crown division in both 2013 and 2016, the Canton, Ill. native added a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature in 2021 leading all 25 laps in a highwire, wire-to-wire thrill show that went non-stop, green-to-checker and took less than eight minutes to complete.
By doing so, Windom became just the sixth driver to win all three of USAC’s open wheel divisions at the 4-Crown Nationals in his career, joining Jack Hewitt, Dave Darland, Tyler Courtney, Jerry Coons Jr. and Kyle Larson in that regard.
Now, Windom aims to enter another stratosphere by becoming the fourth driver to win the 4-Crown midget feature in consecutive years, joining Rich Vogler (1985-86), Kyle Larson (2011-12) and Tyler Courtney (2018-19).
On tap this weekend are two USAC National Midget events at Eldora. First up is the Friday night, September 23 BeFour The Crowns 25-lapper followed by the 40th running of the 4-Crown Nationals Presented by NKTELCO 25-lap race on Saturday night, September 24.
The two programs over the two nights are intermingled. Friday’s midget program will utilize the traditional format of single-car qualifying, followed by heat races, semi-feature (if needed) and a 25-lap feature event paying $5,000-to-win, with the starting lineup based on qualifying results and heat race winners, as standard.
The format for Saturday’s midget event will not include qualifying. Instead, heat race lineups will be based on the finishing order of Friday’s event. Friday night’s feature winner will receive the one seed with the second-place finisher getting the second seed, and so on. For Saturday, those seeds, in essence, will act as the official qualifying time.
The number one seed will line up in the 6th position of Saturday’s heat race one and the number two seed will line up in the 6th position of heat race two, and so forth. From there on, the “traditional” USAC format for a three heat race format will take over with the top-five transferring/getting their qualifying time back from each of the three heat races, etc.
The fastest top-six “seeds” who transfer through the heats will occupy the first three rows of Saturday’s feature, followed by heat race winners, then the balance of the field based on their seeds, to set the starting lineup for the 25-lap finale paying $10,000-to-win.
Furthermore, Friday will be a full USAC National Midget points event awarding points for qualifying, heats and the feature event. Saturday’s event will pay points for the feature only.
At press time, Windom appears to be the only past 4-Crown midget winner in the field as well as the only driver competing in all four divisions this weekend at Eldora in USAC Midgets, USAC Sprints, USAC Silver Crown and the Tezos All Star Circuit of Champions.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) was the 2016 4-Crown feature victor with the USAC National Sprint Cars. In the midget, he’s come close as the runner-up finisher of the feature in 2018 and 7th in 2019.
Grant’s RMS Racing teammate, Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), won his first USAC National Sprint Car feature ever at the 4-Crown in 2015. He’ll try to add a midget score to the tally after finishing 9th in 2015 and 10th in 2012.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) will make a rare midget start aboard Scott Petry’s machine. Leary has won twice at the 4-Crown, once each in USAC Sprints (2017) and USAC Silver Crown (2018) but has never made a midget start at Eldora. Leary’s father, Chuck Leary, finished 10th during the 1993 4-Crown midget feature.
Reigning series champion and current point leader Buddy Kofoid eyes his first taste of Eldora glory. Four seems to be the magic number thus far for Kofoid as he finished 4th in both Eldora midget races in 2021. Back in 2019, the Penngrove, California driver finished 4th in the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car feature event at the 4-Crown.
Three more USAC National Midget feature winners will be on hand to put their skills to the test to break through at The Big E.
Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) finished 7th on Friday and 6th on Saturday in 2021 and Bixby, Oklahoma’s Cannon McIntosh grabbed a 7th on Saturday in 2021.
Meanwhile, Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.) returns for his first USAC Midget appearance of the season in a Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports ride. In three previous appearances at Eldora, he was 8th in 2017, 5th in 2018 and 2nd in 2019 where he led a race-high 20 of the 25 laps.
Making first career stops at Eldora this weekend is series Rookie and first-time 2022 USAC National Midget winners Mitchel Moles as well as Jacob Denney. Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) will pilot a car for the defending 4-Crown winning team of CB Industries. Denney (Galloway, Ohio) will drive a car for Tom Malloy which finished 2nd in both Eldora races in 2021 with driver Logan Seavey.
USAC East Coast Sprint Car and USAC Eastern Midget champion Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) will race a second Malloy car in the event alongside Denney. Bright’s 4-Crown midget experience includes an 8th in 2013 and a 10th in 2017.
Returning to the lineup after making their Eldora debuts a season ago in 2021 are Colby, Kansas’ Bryant Wiedeman (10th on Friday), Snohomish, Washington’s Chance Crum (13th on Friday), Gilbert, Arizona’s Hayden Reinbold (15th both nights) and Muskogee, Oklahoma’s Kaylee Bryson (17th on Friday).
Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) returns to the 4-Crown for the first time since 2019 where he experienced mechanical trouble and was unable to start the feature. On the other hand, Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.) will lay her eyes on Eldora for the first time this weekend.
This will be the 54th and 55th USAC National Midget events held at Eldora since Bob Wente’s victory in 1964. On Friday, it’s a full program for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, plus USAC Silver Crown qualifying and a full program for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars. Stands open at 2pm Eastern with the drivers meeting at 5pm and hot laps at 6pm.
On Saturday, it’s full programs for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, USAC Silver Crown and the Tezos All Star Circuit of Champions. Spectator gates open at Noon Eastern with a driver autograph session scheduled from 3-4 pm in the Fan Zone, followed by the drivers meeting at 5pm and hot laps at 6pm.
On Friday at Eldora, general admission tickets are $34 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Reserved tickets are $39 for adults and $9 for ages 12 and under.
On Saturday at Eldora, general admission tickets are $39 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Reserved tickets are $44 for adults and $9 for ages 12 and under.
The USAC portions on Friday night can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3OivVbj as will the entirety of Saturday’s program.