|#19 Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), the 2016 Jason Leffler Memorial winner.
(Brian Bouder Photo)
JASON LEFFLER MEMORIAL PREVIEW: OCT. 9, 2020
By: Richie Murray - USAC Media
Wayne City, Illinois (October 5, 2020).........For the seventh time, the Jason Leffler Memorial will roll off at the 1/8-mile dirt bullring of Wayne County Speedway in Wayne City, Ill. this Friday night, October 9.
The $5,000-to-win event honors the life and memory of Leffler, the four-time USAC National driving champion (1997-98-99 Midget & 1998 Silver Crown) who lost his life in a sprint car accident at New Jersey's Bridgeport Speedway in 2013.
The 40-lap main event has seen six different winners in its first six editions, and the three most recent winners are expected to compete in this Friday night's race, which will pay 50 appearance points across the board to all participating drivers and teams.
Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) enters as the defending Jason Leffler Memorial winner. In 2019, big track or small track, Courtney seemingly excelled at venues of all dimensions, including at Wayne City, the smallest track on the series' schedule, using a late-race pass to snag the victory en route to the series title. He was also 3rd at Wayne City in 2018.
Another Tyler - Tyler Thomas (Collinsville, Okla.) nearly repeated his 2018 Leffler Memorial victory in 2019, leading the first 37 laps of the 40-lap event before being passed by Courtney just three laps from the end before ultimately finishing 2nd. Ironically, Thomas led the final 37 laps to win his first, and still only, career USAC Midget race at Wayne City in 2018, earning a non-traditional sweep of sorts that year by winning his heat, his qualifying race and the feature in the same night. He's now led 74 of the past 80 laps over the past two years at the Leffler Memorial.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) was dominant during the 2016 Leffler Memorial at Wayne City, leading the final 33 laps on his way to victory. The recently crowned three-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion also finished 6th at Wayne City in 2015, and most recently, finished 7th a year ago in 2019.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) remains in the hunt for a second career USAC National Midget driving championship. The 2016 titlist resides 97 points out of the lead after two top-five runs to close out the month of September in his new ride for car owner, Tom Malloy. This Friday will mark Thorson's first Leffler Memorial appearance since 2016 where he finished 2nd. He also had a top-ten run in his Leffler Memorial debut in 2014, a 10th.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) led the opening three laps of the 2018 Leffler Memorial, then experienced contact and spinning to a stop while battling for 2nd midway through the 40-lapper. He found a bit of redemption at the 2019 race, finishing 3rd. He will return for the event to pilot Terry Klatt's No. 4B.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) is one of only four drivers to finish inside the top-ten in both of the last two runnings of the Leffler Memorial along with Courtney, T. Thomas and Justin Grant. Seavey finished 9th during his USAC National Midget championship season of 2018 and bested that with a 4th in 2019. He'll be back in the seat of the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports car this weekend.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif) is one of three drivers to record top-five results in each of the past two editions of the Leffler Memorial. Grant finished 5th in 2019 after notching a best of 4th in 2018. He also finished 4th in 2018. At press time, Grant is the lone feature starter from the inaugural Leffler Memorial in 2013 that is expected to compete this Friday, as he gets back in the RAMS Racing No. 4A.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) leads the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship standings entering the event. He finished 6th in 2019 and paced the opening portion of the 2016 Leffler Memorial where he led the first seven laps, ultimately taking home a 4th place result.
Sam Johnson (St. Peters, Mo.) scored a victory in a USAC Midwest Regional Midget event at Wayne City in August of 2019, dominating all 20 laps for his first win aboard a Midget. He's had solid results in his first two Leffler Memorial experiences, finishing 13th in 2018 and a personal best of 9th in 2019.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) returns to the seat of the Petry Motorsports No. 5 this weekend, a combo which won twice during USAC National Midget competition in 2019 and competed together for the first half of the 2020 USAC tour. Thomas finished 10th at the Leffler Memorial in both 2015 and 2018.
Two-time USAC National Midget champ Jerry Coons Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) was a top-ten finisher at the "Leffler" in 2016. He'll pilot the Central Motorsports No. 85 in this Friday's event, with whom he scored a pair of top-five finishes this summer with the series at Caney (Kans.) Valley Speedway and Red Dirt Raceway (Meeker, Okla.) in July.
Thomas and Coons join additional past Leffler Memorial feature starters, 5th in points, Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.); 8th in points, Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.); 9th in points, Andrew Layser (Collegeville, Pa.); 1989 USAC National Midget champ Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.); and Riley Kreisel (Warsaw, Mo.), a winner last weekend with USAC's Midwest Wingless Racing Association Sprint Cars at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kans.
A slew of Leffler Memorial Rookies hoping to make their first feature starts in the event include 3rd in points, Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) and 7th in points, Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.), who are among four Rookies on the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team this Friday as well as Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) and Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas).
Three-time 2020 USAC Sprint winner Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) will make his first Leffler Memorial appearance as will 2019 USAC Western States Midget champ Robert Dalby (Anaheim, Calif.), USAC western feature winner Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.) and Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), a three-time top-five finisher in his first year with the series in 2020.
They join fellow first-time "Leffler" starting hopefuls Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.), Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), Chase Randall (Waco, Texas), Aiden Purdue (Clinton, Ill.), Gage Rucker (Bellflower, Mo.), Travis Berryhill (American Canyon, Calif.) and Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.) among others.
On Friday at Wayne City, the 7th running of the Jason Leffler Memorial will also have the Non-Wing 600 Outlaws, Non-Wing Restrictors & Non-Wing Jr. Sprints on hand. Pits open at 3:30pm Central, grandstands at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm and hot laps at 6:30pm. General admission tickets are $25 with ages 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $40 apiece and $20 for age 10 and under.
It's all part of a doubleheader weekend for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship. The following night, on Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., Harvest Cup will feature the USAC National Midgets along with MSCS Sprint Cars and MMSA Mini Sprints on the card. Pits open at 2:30pm Central, grandstands at 3:30pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and hot laps at 5:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25, students (age 13-18) are $20 and age 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 apiece.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1,398, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,390, 3-Tanner Thorson-1,301, 4-Buddy Kofoid-1,292, 5-Cannon McIntosh-1,211, 6-Tanner Carrick-1,041, 7-Daison Pursley-1,005, 8-Cole Bodine-848, 9-Andrew Layser-844, 10-Justin Grant-793.
WAYNE CITY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET FEATURE WINS:
1. (1) Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson, Tyler Courtney & Tyler Thomas
WAYNE CITY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET FEATURE WINNERS:
2015: Bryan Clauson (10/23)
2016: Brady Bacon (10/20)
2018: Tyler Thomas (10/21)
2019: Tyler Courtney (10/17)