National Dirt
Sunday, 23 November 2014


Peoria, Arizona.……Darren Hagen waited until the penultimate round of the 2014 Honda National Midget season to score his first win, and he made it a big one with the 47th Annual Sands Chevrolet “Western World Championships” at Canyon Speedway Park. The Riverside, California driver, who narrowly lost off the final corner a year ago, held on in an eerily similar circumstance on Saturday night for the $7,500 win.

Hagen led from the pole, but Tanner Thorson was hot on the trail of his first career National Midget win. He rode the high side to the lead on lap seven. Zach Daum was on the move, too, pressuring Hagen for the second spot as Thorson slipped away a bit. Daum’s night came to a sudden end on lap nine when his car locked up and stopped off turn-four.

After another quick caution with eleven laps complete, Hagen tried a new move, this time burying himself in the turn-one cushion and turning down across the track to catch the bottom of turn-two. It propelled him to the lead on lap twelve and he extended his advantage.

Rico Abreu broke a U-joint on lap 20 and darted off the backstretch, but the race went red to attend to him after the car appared to flare up. Abreu jumped out of the car but was attended to by the track crew after the unfortunate break for the National point leader.

The race’s final eleven laps went green, and Hagen was moving around through turns three and four to protect his lead. Thorson had the high side working, though, and he had a full head of steam with two to go. Through turns three and four, Hagen’s line slowed and Thorson had a run at the white. On the final lap, Thorson again was humming through three and four, but Hagen caught the bottom and shot to the line just ahead of Thorson.

It was the 24th career National Midget win for Hagen, tying him for 18th all-time with Bill Engelhart. He also extended a streak of ten consecutive years with at least one USAC National win with his score aboard the Shane Hmiel-owned Great Clips – Fatheadz Eyewear #56 Triple X/Esslinger.

“We switched to a new car, and this is definitely the way to break it in. I was definitely not letting this one get away again. I brought it all the way to the wall at the end and knew he’d have to pretty much drive over us to get the win. It’s great to take this new car with Shane Hmiel and Levi Jones and Great Clips backing us to a win right away. I’ve never been one to do donuts, but I was that excited to win this one,” Hagen said.

Thorson matched his best career finish with the series after coming home second in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“I did everything I could on that last lap. I know I was banging the chip on the last lap because I never lifted. We had a big run at it there but just came up a little bit short. Our car was unbelievably fast again tonight, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the opportunity to run this car. Keith consistently gives us a great chance to win with these cars,” Thorson said.

Christopher Bell came home third in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota and now stands 26 points behind Abreu in the battle for the season championship.

“We had a shot at him there at one point, but he was able to turn back down underneath us and take it back. It got real tough to run the top on both ends tonight, and we actually came down in three and four towards the end. It was another good weekend for us with 71 car,” Bell said.

Tracy Hines finished up fourth in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota and is only ten points behind Bell, while Bryan Clauson rounded out the top-five in the Curb Records – Jonathan Byrd’s Racing #63 Spike/Esslinger.

USAC HONDA NATIONAL & WESTERN MIDGET RACE RESULTS: November 22, 2014 – Peoria, Arizona – Canyon Speedway Park – 47th Sands Chevrolet “Western World Championships”

QUALIFYING RACE: (8 laps) 1. Tyler Thomas (91T, Thomas), 2. Brady Bacon (51s, Fly), 3. Shane Golobic (17, Nichols), 4. Casey Shuman (32, Dunlap), 5. Mike Spencer (57, Ecker), 6. Jarid Blondel (98, Blondel), 7. Isaac Chapple (52, Chapple), 8. Terry Goodwin (2G, Goodwin), 9. Nick Foster (17N, Nichols).

DASH: (10 laps) 1. Darren Hagen (56, Hmiel), 2. Tanner Thorson (67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Rico Abreu (97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Zach Daum (5D, Daum), 5. Christopher Bell (71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Ronnie Gardner (68, Johnson), 7. Tracy Hines (24, Parker), 8. Bryan Clauson (63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian).

ALSO AT THE TRACK: Shannon McQueen (7, McQueen)

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Darren Hagen, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Christopher Bell, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Bryan Clauson, 6. Tyler Thomas, 7. Ronnie Gardner, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Casey Shuman, 10. Shane Golobic, 11. Mike Spencer, 12. Isaac Chapple, 13. Rico Abreu, 14. Jarid Blondel, 15. Zach Daum, 16. Nick Foster.
**Chapple flipped in the Qualifying Race. Blondel flipped on Lap 12.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Hagen, Laps 7-11 Thorson, Laps 12-30 Hagen.
NEW HONDA USAC NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Abreu-996; 2-Bell-970; 3-Hines-960; 4-Clauson-912; 5-Daum-814; 6-Thorson-741; 7-Chris Windom-594; 8-Michael Pickens-499; 9-Dave Darland-419; 10-Thomas-395.

NEW HONDA USAC WESTERN MIDGET POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-761, 2-Trey Marcham-653, 3-Blondel-632, 4-Alex Schutte-443, 5-Chad Nichols-433, 6-McQueen-357, 7-Scott Pierovich-327, 8-Bell-324, 9-Nick Chivello-322, 10-Thorson-307.

NEW HONDA USAC WESTERN MIDGET DIRT POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-761, 2-Trey Marcham-653, 3-Blondel-411, 4-Alex Schutte-390, 5-McQueen-357, 6-Bell-324, 7-Thorson-306, 8-Scott Pierovich-288, 9-Sean Dodenhoff-283, 10-Abreu-249.

NEXT HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET RACE: November 27 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – “Turkey Night Grand Prix”