DUQUOIN, Ill. — A Turkey Night Grand Prix winner, an Indiana Sprint Week feature winner and an All Star Circuit of Champions feature winner are among the latest of 38 entries for the Junior Knepper 55 at the Southern Illinois Center on Dec. 16.
Billy Wease, the 2006 Turkey Night winner, finished ninth at DuQuoin in March’s Shamrock Classic. The Noblesville, Ind. driver has entered for the indoor dirt race in his family-owned No. 12w.
Two-time and defending Lincoln Park Speedway champion Brent Beauchamp (2012 & 2017) has filed his entry to pilot his own No. 11 at the Knepper 55. Beauchamp grabbed a top-five at DuQuoin in March and has been strong on the tough, local Indiana bullring scene in a sprint car, where he captured an Indiana Sprint Week feature win at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway in 2016.
Justin Peck of Monrovia, Ind. is set to wheel Kenny and Reva Irwin’s No. 7K in DuQuoin. Back in June, Peck topped a stout field to win an Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions feature at Macon (Ill.) Speedway.
As entries continue to pour in daily, the field already features a talented field of champions and race winners across the board, including 2016 ARCA champion and 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Chase Briscoe, as well as two-time Indiana Midget Week champion and four-time Kokomo Speedway titlist Shane Cottle.
Former third-place Knepper 55 finisher Chris Andrews of Oklahoma is entered, along with Tony Bruce Jr., Nick Drake and Daniel Adler. Jim Neuman has entered three cars for Jake Neuman, late model standout Brian Shirley and Austin Blair.
Kyle Schuett — the 2015 Indy Indoor Invitational victor from Philo, Illinois — aims to repeat his indoor racing success from a few years back, while Chris Urish has already tamed the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in a USAC Silver Crown car back in 2013, but hopes to bring the magic indoors in his Tom Casson-owned No. 77u.
The event carries no points toward the USAC National Midget season championship, but has quickly become one of the most coveted races to win on the series calendar, annually boasting a large car count and a star-studded field to boot.
In the inaugural running in 2015, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. electrified the crowd in the 55-lap feature, coming from the back of the pack to score the victory in the final laps. In 2016, Tyler Courtney earned his first career USAC-sanctioned Midget feature victory in his first start for the Clauson/Marshall Racing team.
The 55-lap event honors the memory of one of USAC’s most accomplished car owners — Walter “Junior” Knepper of Belleville, Illinois — whose famed yellow No. 55 midgets and sprint cars raced to 58 career USAC feature victories, including 34 in sprints and 24 in midgets.
Knepper’s drivers included Bob Wente, Tom Bigelow, Mel Kenyon, George Snider, Dana Carter, Rich Vogler and his son Steve Knepper.
Nick Knepper, grandson of Junior and son of 13-time USAC National Midget winner Steve Knepper, will promote the event alongside Derek LeMaster.
The full early entry list for the Junior Knepper 55 can be viewed on the next page…