USAC Midgets: Hines Claims Western World Championships Opener at Canyon

RaceChaser Staff Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Other Midgets, Sprints & Midgets, USAC, West 0 Comments

PEORIA, Ariz. — official release — TWC/Canyon Speedway Park photo —

Tracy Hines picked up his first Honda National Midget win of the year in Thursday’s opener to the “Western World Championships” at Canyon Speedway Park.

The New Castle, Indiana veteran — who sits 7th on the all-time National Midget win list — notched his 35th career victory.

Hines started from the pole but it was Zach Daum sneaking from row two to get the lead off turn-four on the opening lap, as Hines fell all the way to fifth. Ronnie Gardner raced Daum for the lead until the first of six cautions appeared on lap three.

Daum jumped to the top to protect his lead as Hines moved back up to third. Two more cautions in the first ten laps brought the lead trio back to the rest of the pack, as Hines eventually moved past Gardner for the second spot with 20 to go.

After the fourth yellow, Hines swept under Daum for the lead on lap 12. Those two raced away as teammates Tanner Thorson and Christopher Bell raced their way past Gardner. The red flag for Jarid Blondel at halfway was the final stoppage of the 30-lapper. Hines built up a huge advantage before seeing Bell cut into it in the closing laps, moving underneath in turn-one on the final circuit before Hines shut the door to take the win in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota.

“Everything was flawless with the car tonight for the feature. I fell back at first and just had to search. It was almost better that I fell back some because I tried every line and approach on that race track. It just changed so much, almost from lap to lap. It was extremely technical. Tonight was fun to race for the lead with Zach (Daum) with us being really close and running our teams almost like team cars. We’ve had a good last half of the year, especially, and I feel like our car is going as good as anybody right now,” Hines said.

Bell settled for second as he and Hines forged a tie in Honda National Midget points 62 behind Rico Abreu. Bell started seventh after failing to finish in the top-five of his heat to earn a starting spot inside the first three rows, but charged forward in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“It looked like the bottom would be the place to be, but it was so technical. If you got the slightest bit too low, you could push the nose, and if you swung it out too wide you missed the good stuff. It took me quite a few laps to get it figured out, but then we got going pretty good. If not for nearly spinning it in turn-four one lap, I think we had it. If I had been patient there, we were in good shape. We still got to him but didn’t have a great opening to pass him,” Bell said.

Thorson rounded out the podium in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“Tonight was super tricky, even though it was pretty hooked up. I can’t thank my whole team and the people who support me enough for giving me such a great opportunity. We were in position to race up front for the win again tonight, and our car was fast all throughout the race,” Thorson said.

Daum fell to fourth in the Daum Crop Insurance – Weld Wheels #5D Eagle/Stanton Toyota, and Bryan Clauson wound up fifth after starting tenth in the Fairbury Westin Packaged Meats – Curb Records #63 Spike/Esslinger.

Darren Hagen, who started the night by setting a New Track Record in ProSource Qualifying, finished eighth.

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