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National Dirt
Friday, 13 April 2018


#76m Brady Bacon & #97 Spencer Bayston battle it out at Kokomo. #76m Brady Bacon & #97 Spencer Bayston battle it out at Kokomo. Travis Branch Photo



By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Kokomo, Indiana………When the Kokomo Grand Prix arrives, it’s not unusual to see the sights of brooms in victory lane.  In fact, the two years in which the event ran to completion, one single driver has dominated the weekend by winning both nights.

This year’s edition on Friday and Saturday, April 13-14 at Kokomo Speedway provides ample opportunity for another driver to make a complete sweep.  Last year’s “sweeper,” Brady Bacon, is a good bet.  In addition to his two victories a year back, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native picked up a knack for the one-third-mile dirt oval instantly, collecting his first win as a 16-year-old in the series back in 2006.

In the last 32 years, only twice has a driver won the first two USAC National Midget races of the year at two different tracks.  That opportunity belongs to series point leader Logan Seavey, of Sutter, Calif., winner of the season-opening “Shamrock Classic” at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.  The leading Rookie of the Year contender hasn’t competed at Kokomo in USAC National Midget National competition, but does have the backing of the Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian crew, who were victorious in their last visit to the track during “Indiana Midget Week” in 2017 with driver Spencer Bayston.

Bayston, of Lebanon, Ind., came into the season as the defending series champ, but his initial foray into 2018 was eventful, to say the least, coming home with a 16th place finish.  Last year, Bayston became the 10th driver to win a USAC National Midget feature at Kokomo and go on to capture the series championship in the same season, joining Jimmy Davies (1960 & 1961), Danny Caruthers (1971), Pancho Carter (1972), Sleepy Tripp (1975), Mel Kenyon (1977), Rich Vogler (1980, 1983 & 1988), J.J. Yeley (2003), Christopher Bell (2013) and Rico Abreu (2014).

Like Bayston, C.J. Leary was a winner at Kokomo during the 2017 campaign, albeit behind the wheel of a sprint car.  This weekend, the past track champ from Greenfield, Indiana gets in the seat of TOPP Motorsports’ new Honda-powered Midget.

Dave Darland's resume includes 10 career USAC wins at Kokomo Speedway, but none yet in a National Midget event.  He did, however, win a USAC D1 Midget feature at his home track in 2011.  This time, he will be a teammate to Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., a driver who has been beating on the door for his first USAC win.  Thomas’ is out for vengeance after his most recent Kokomo USAC outing resulted in a heartbreaking second place finish on the final night of “Sprint Car Smackdown.”

The pilot who captured the last two nights of last year’s “Smackdown” was Indianapolis, Indiana’s Tyler Courtney, who quickly found his Kokomo mojo after victory lane had eluded him over the years.  Saving the best for last, Courtney slithered his way to victory on the final corner of the final lap in last October’s “Kokomo Klash” sprint car feature.  After a rough go at Du Quoin in which he missed the A-Main, Courtney hopes get straightened out when he encounters the friendly confines of Kokomo Speedway for Clauson Marshall Racing, a team whose drivers possess two of the top-four spots after strong runs in the opener, Zeb Wise (2nd) and Justin Grant (4th).

Kevin Thomas, Jr. of Cullman, Ala. has found a multitude of success over the years at Kokomo, including his “Smackdown” win and track championship in 2016.  The past series Rookie of the Year teams with USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. to form a formidable pair for Petry/Goff Motorsports accustomed to running at the front.

Along with the midgets are the Kokomo Sprint Cars, creating a bang for your buck whether you’re at the track or watching LIVE on!  Both nights, gates open at 3pm, while on-track action gets underway at 6pm.