National Dirt
Tuesday, 8 August 2017


2017 "Belleville Midget Nationals" winner Spencer Bayston. 2017 "Belleville Midget Nationals" winner Spencer Bayston. Rich Forman Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

USAC’s National Midget tour of the Heartland of America served as the stage for four-straight nights of racing that played to packed houses at each stop with Saturday’s crown jewel closer at Belleville serving as the centerpiece.

Yet, the mini-series serves as a true test of who can tame tracks big and small, cushions up against the fence and others that stand tall.  From the physical bullrings of Fairbury, Nebraska and Beloit, Kansas to the legendary high banks in Belleville, Kansas, these teams witnessed it all within a span of five nights.



Patience is a virtue, so they say and, indeed, good things come to those who wait.  Tanner Thorson was the epitome of each proverbial phrase at Jefferson County Speedway’s “Tuesday Night Thunder.”

Outside front row starter Tyler Thomas ripped the top to the lead early on.  From the outset, though, defending series champ Tanner Thorson never strayed afar as he took a gamble to try and slide Thomas numerous times, coming up snake eyes on each occasion.

Despite the 40-lapper being one of the longer races of the season, for Thomas, conservation was not a viable option.  He was down a cylinder and behind the eight-ball before the green flag.

Following a caution with 17 to go, Thorson was persistent and knew he couldn’t be shackled much longer on the restart.  The moment was his this time as he got a run on Thomas down the front stretch, momentarily breaking his momentum before using another run into turns three and four to grab the lead.

From there, Thorson led the remaining 16 laps to win his first of the year over Brady Bacon and Tyler Thomas.



Rarely do we have the opportunity to accurately measure the accomplishments of racers in the midst of their careers to those who came before them.  After all, that’s what record books are for.  But, when you join a name such as A.J. Foyt in any record book, it’s certainly something worth taking a notice of.

But first, Christopher Bell had to get around Tyler Thomas who once again looked strong up front at Solomon Valley Raceway.  As Thomas began to extend his lead entering the final ten-lap stretch, his night would unexpectedly and heartbreakingly end when he biked in turn two and folded the front end.

The shakeup moved Bell to the front and, on the restart, he erased any notion of being second on this night, quickly distancing himself from USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Justin Grant in the final laps to score his third series win of the season and became the second two-time winner of the Chad McDaniel Memorial over Justin Grant and Holly Shelton.  Bell’s 20th series win equaled the victory total of four-time Indianapolis 500 champ Foyt for 31st all-time.



Every once in a while, a team discovers the perfect combination: the right driver, the right car, the right setup and the right track, all at the right time.  On night one of the 40th “Belleville Midget Nationals,” defending race winner Chad Boat and the Tucker/Boat Motorsports crew were in unison as they pulled down a tried and true, war-tested machine from the shelf that hadn’t seen action at all this year.

Right from the get-go, Boat set his compass to the north and headed to the front, getting around both Holly Shelton and Brady Bacon who battled wheel-to-wheel on the opening circuit.  On the second lap, Boat worked his way past Bacon and Shelton for the lead and, from there, found comfort in the middle of a heavy racetrack where he began to breakaway to a full second lead by lap five.

A nagging head gasket issue would tug at Boat throughout the 25-lap feature and, just after halfway, series point leader Spencer Bayston began to track down Boat as they began their ascent on a goulash of lapped traffic.

Boat arrived on the scene in turn one as Terry Goodwin and Jeff Stasa battled for position high and low.  Boat split the two before sliding up the top to gain a little bit of distance between he and Bayston.

Bayston made one final run at Boat on the final restart, to no avail, as Boat drove to victory in the same car that swept last year’s event.  Boat’s third win in a row on the High Banks at the “Belleville Midget Nationals” is something that hadn’t been accomplished since 1979 and 80 by Stan Fox.



All year long, the focus for Spencer Bayston and the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team has been winning Belleville.

After running second to Chad Boat in the 2016 Saturday night finale, then again to Boat in this weekend’s Friday prelim, the target was clear.  It included pulling out all the stops, including a new, specially-built chassis designed to take on the Belleville High Banks.

After establishing new 4-lap and 8-lap track records earlier Saturday night, the stage was set for the Lebanon, Indiana native to blaze a trail in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports machine that no other driver could keep pace with as he separated from Boat exiting turn two while teammate Tanner Thorson followed in tow, powering by Boat for second heading into turn three.  By the third lap, Bayston’s advantage was a half-straightaway and, by lap 10, the lead was a full-straight.

Dissimilar from the night before, the track was wide and vast from lap one, up on the rail in classic Belleville style.  Bayston stood on the loudpedal, never breaking stride as he threaded the needle through lapped traffic just prior to the midway.

Thorson ably stuck with Bayston in the second half, yet remained in racing purgatory, not moving forward or backward until late when Bayston carved out a two-tenth increase per lap over Thorson to over a second with under five to go.

With two laps remaining, Terry Goodwin found himself skidding to a stop at the entry of turn one.  Sixth-running Ryan Robinson entered turn one with nowhere to go, sending Robinson end-over-end into turn one.  Robinson climbed out of the car without serious injury.

A green-white-checkered finish is practically a two-lap qualifying run and Bayston was on the clock from the word ‘go.’  Incredibly, despite 38-lap old rubber and a track that had seen 38 laps of green flag action, Bayston ripped off his two fastest laps of the race on lap 39 and 40 to seal the deal for the biggest win of his career and provide car owner Keith Kunz with his sixth Belleville Saturday night victory over teammate Tanner Thorson and Chad Boat.



Heading into next week’s four-race Pennsylvania Midget Week, Bayston extended his point lead to 38 over Brady Bacon, while Shane Golobic, Justin Grant and Tanner Thorson round out the top-five.  Pennsylvania Midget Week's four races are spread out over five days at the following venues:

Sunday, August 13: Susquehanna Speedway (York Haven, PA)

Monday, August 14: Path Valley Speedway Park (Spring Run, PA)

Tuesday, August 15: Lanco's Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway (Newmanstown, PA)

Thursday, August 17: Linda's Speedway (Jonestown, PA)