VENTURA, Calif. — Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Brad Sweet and Chase Briscoe may not be USAC National Midget Series regulars, but all four will return to their dirt racing roots during Thursday night’s 77th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway.
While running the crown jewel event may be a vacation from their regular duties behind the wheel, for all four, it will be strictly business as they each chase the checkered flag and a trophy heading into the offseason.
The quartet has earned a reputation for success in a diverse set of disciplines outside of non-winged sprint car and midget racing, yet they all still dabble in the discipline when their schedules allow.
Elk Grove, California’s Larson has five career wins on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit and was a championship contender for much of his 2017 campaign. In his two USAC Midget appearances this season, he was fast qualifier in both and comes in as a two-time Turkey Night winner, having captured the top prize in 2012 and again last year.
Less than a week ago, Bell was celebrating a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title. This week, the Norman, Oklahoma native’s focus is set on becoming a two-time Turkey Night winner, duplicating his 2014 triumph.
Grass Valley, California’s Sweet was the runner-up behind Donny Schatz in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car standings this season with five victories. However, he’s no outsider when it comes to midget racing, as evidenced by his 11 career USAC National Midget wins between 2008 and 2010.
And Briscoe was a regular on Indiana’s tough local sprint car scene in recent years, but over the past two years has made a spectacular rise through the stock car and NASCAR ranks, boasting the 2016 ARCA title and this year’s Truck Series Rookie of the Year award to his name.
For some who’ve seemingly been out of the loop in midget racing, it may seem like a tall order to jump right in and be a contender, but not in this race.
Over the past three decades, drivers who have achieved success in a wide array of series have consistently risen to the occasion on Thanksgiving night.
The late Jason Leffler was one of the most accomplished USAC Midget drivers ever, with three consecutive titles between 1997 and 1999, but by 2005 he was firmly entrenched as a regular in NASCAR’s Cup and Busch series.
Even still, the Long Beach, California driver’s only USAC Midget feature start of 2005 resulted in a Turkey Night victory.
Continued on the next page…