Tanner Thorson Wins 75th Turkey Night GP
PERRIS, CA -RIS- It seemed that Christopher Bell on his way to a second Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix win until he jumped the cushion, smacked the wall and flipped giving the lead and the win to his Keith Kunz teamate Tanner Thorson on lap 93 of the 98 lap feature race.
Bell had claimed the lead from early leader Bryan Clauson on lap 36. Clauson had started on the outside front row and lead until engine problems caused him to slow on the front straight and Rico Abreu who was in second place ran into the back of Clauson's car and flipped on the front straight. Abreu's car was righted and was able to return to the fight. Clauson's car went to the work area where a quick repair of the ignition got him running again so he could also rejoin the race.
Bell was pursued by Kevin Thomas Jr. while Thorson ran in third. Further back Abreu and Clauson were working their way up through the field. Damion Gardner, who had started 14th was fighting with Chad Boat for sixth while Tracy Hines struggled to stay in the top 10. On lap 58 two things happened. Brady Bacon slowed and stopped and Chad Boat had engine trouble and pulled into the work area. Further back Rico Abreu had come all the way up to fifth place and Clauson was in ninth and moving forward.
On the restart on lap 63 Thorson made a determined challenge for the lead and pressured his teammate Bell hard. Behind them Rico Abreu was coming on fast and was fighting for second by lap 75. Damion Gardner moved into fifth place on lap 84 when he passed the Kunz team car driven by Kevin Thomas Jr. A perfect storm was brewing as the race came closer to its conclusion.
Then Ryan Bernal had a right rear tire come apart and parked in turn two bringing out a caution flag on lap 89.
On the restart the first three were close together and four laps later Bell had his flip in turn one. As the cars were restarted Abreu was forced off with a flat right rear tire moving Kyle Larson to second, Damion Gardner to third and Kevin Thomas Jr. to fourth. Bryan Clauson moved past Thomas to take fourth in the closing laps while Tracy Hines took sixth place and the National title by 17 points over Tanner Thorson.
Robert Dalby of Anaheim California won the Rookie of the year award with his 14th place finish in what was his first midget race.
There were three heat races which were won by Brad Sweet, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. Rico Abreu was the fastest of 21 qualifiers at 17.379 seconds.
Eight time Turkey Night winner Ron Shuman and car owner Larry Howard were the co-grand marshals of the race.
Tracy Hines and Ronnie Gardner were honored as the Honda National Midget and Honda Western Midget Champions.
USAC HONDA MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 26, 2015 - Perris, California - Perris Auto Speedway - 75th "Turkey Night Grand Prix"
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Rico Abreu, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.379; 2. Kyle Larson, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.395; 3. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.425; 4. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.428; 5. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Dooling-17.435; 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.446; 7. Chase Stockon, 25, Rodela-17.469; 8. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-17.489; 9. Chad Boat, 15x, Boat-17.498; 10. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Six8-17.577; 11. Ryan Bernal, 73x, Ford-17.587; 12. Cody Swanson, 71s, Swanson-17.644; 13. Brad Sweet, 67z, Kahne-17.645; 14. Damion Gardner, 4, Klatt-17.836; 15. Tyler Dolacki, 18, Dolacki-17.917; 16. Trey Marcham, 73, Ford-18.016; 17. Robert Dalby, 4D, Dalby-18.173; 18. Danny Ebberts, 5, Van Dyne-18.307; 19. Dave Darland, 81, Watt/Sala/Curb-Agajanian-18.433; 20. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-18.663; 21. Ashley Hazelton, 15, Hazelton-18.695; 22. Brady Bacon, 76m, Manafort-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Sweet, 2. Abreu, 3. R. Gardner, 4. Marcham, 5. Thorson, 6. Stockon, 7. Bacon, 8. Darland. 2:20.78
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Larson, 2. Hines, 3. Clauson, 4. Bernal, 5. D. Gardner, 6. Dalby, 7. Pankratz. NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bell, 2. Swanson, 3. Thomas, 4. Boat, 5. Ebberts, 6. Dolacki, 7. Hazelton. 2:22.13
FEATURE: (98 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Kyle Larson, 3. Damion Gardner, 4. Bryan Clauson, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Ronnie Gardner, 8. Trey Marcham, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Danny Ebberts, 11. Rico Abreu, 12. Christopher Bell, 13. Cody Swanson, 14. Robert Dalby, 15. Ashley Hazelton, 16. Ryan Bernal, 17. Brady Bacon, 18. Chad Boat, 19. Randi Pankratz, 20. Brad Sweet, 21. Chase Stockon, 22. Tyler Dolacki. NT
**Abreu flipped on lap 36 of the feature. Bell flipped on lap 93 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-35 Clauson, Laps 36-92 Bell, Laps 93-98 Thorson.
FINAL HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Tracy Hines-823, 2-Tanner Thorson-805, 3-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-799, 4-Rico Abreu-759, 5-Spencer Bayston-642, 6-Tyler Thomas-622, 7-Jerry Coons, Jr.-607, 8-Christopher Bell-528, 9-Darren Hagen-398, 10-Dave Darland-385.
FINAL HONDA WESTERN MIDGET POINTS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-720, 2-Shannon McQueen-491, 3-Cody Swanson-462, 4-Terry Nichols-428, 5-Randi Pankratz-392, 6-Michael Faccinto-389, 7-Trey Marcham-383, 8-Brian Gard-319, 9-Nick Chivello-262, 10-Scott Pierovich-251.
Results Courtesy USAC
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