Tanner Thorson continues the Turkey Night Tradition
Tanner talks Turkey, Hines wears USAC Crown
The Final night of racing in USAC’s schedule the 75th Turkey Night promised so much excitement with the complete Kunz Team of Toyota which included the return to dirt of Kyle Larson ,Much was expected with most fans divided on which of the 5 Kunz team drivers would take the Turkey Night and possibly the USAC Title .
Only 22 cars signed in, disappointing but the numbers had no effect on the drama and excitement that would follow.
Qualifying was team battle for fast time with Rico coming out ahead of Larson, Bell, and Thorson.Heat wins went to Sweet, Larson and Bell.
With the 98 lap Turkey night Feature closing in the main discussion was around the points and what each driver would need if he was to overtake Tracy Hines slender 27 point Championship lead .The Feature had on offer 60 points to the winner .Thomas was only 27points adrift and Thorson 33 points back. Both had strong chances to steal the Title away from Hines if he should falter or strike trouble .Abreu 50 points astern of Hines was also a slight chance if things went his way
After only 9 lapsof the Feature the pattern for the night was set when rookie Dalby spins. . Restart, 83 to go: Clauson leads Thomas Bell Abreu Thorson Hines Gardner Boat Larson Stockton Bernal Swanson Sweet.
With the Turkey on the run again Clauson ran the point while Rico Abreu was charging through. First he disposed of Bell from third then quickly did the same to Thomas Jr and started his charge after Clauson
35 laps of the Turkey Night were in the book when suddenly Clauson’s #63 stopped and in the confusion Abreu while trying to avoid Clauson flipped his racecar forcing the race to be stopped .Clauson went pit side to fix what was found to be faulty ignition and both cars would restart Clauson at the rear of the field Restart, 63 laps to go: Bell leads Thomas Thorson Larson Hines Boat D Gardner Bernal Swanson Marcham Bacon.
Thorson and Larson were quick to pounce on teammate Thomas and the pair took over second and third and the chase was on for the teammate Bell. The five Kunz casr were running line astern and at this stage a Turkey night win was becoming clear, just who would win , well that would be anyone’s guess.
Positions were changing all over the track .Damion Gardiner passed Hines for fifth while Thorson was climbing all over Bell for the race lead .Meanwhile Abreu had advanced to sixth and Clauson was back up to 11th but Clauson’s car did not seem to want to go just were BC wanted it to go and he appeared to struggling .
65 laps down and Bell and Thorson start to find traffic and it still anyone’s race .Bell and Thorson race for the lead on lap 88 .The challenge by Thorson continues until he slides past the defending Champ on lap 93. Soon after Bell catches the fence, he is unhurt but out of the race .Thorson now had to hold off the late challenge from Abreu while Larson was waiting for that small space to throw some magic at the pair .The running order with just 6 laps of the Turkey left was Thorson Abreu Larson D Gardner Thomas Clauson Hines lead lap, then Marcham Swanson R Gardner 1 lap down, then Darland Ebberts .
The drama was not yet over with 5 laps left it became clear that Abreu at a left rear going flat and he started to look after protecting his second place from Larson .Abreu headed infield on the white leaving Thorson with the win over Larson and Damion Gardner .
Tanner Thorson takes the Turkey and Tracy Hines wins the USAC Championship for 2015 and becomes the sixth driver to win the coveted “Triple Crown” with National USAC Titles now in Sprintcars, Silver Crown and Midget.
Some facts on the Championship in 2015, only three owners collected race wins Keith Kunz took 13 wins, Rusty Kunz 3 wins and Kenny Brown ‘s Boss team the first win of the season with Darren Hagen. Rain cancelled 4 meeting .Feature race wins Abreu with 5 was the dominating driver followed by Clauson and Thorson with three wins each and Christopher Bell and Kevin Thomas two wins each .
Tracy Hines won the Championship without achieving a Feature race win in the series but his ability in gathering points was his reward. No doubt Abreu, Clauson and Bell’s decision not to contest all rounds made their chase of the Championship that much more difficult.
In finishing 7th Ronnie Gardner won the Honda Western Midget Championship for the third successive year over Shannon McQueen .
Tanner Thorson ““I just had to find a way to break Christopher’s momentum to give myself a shot to win it. We weren’t as good as him if he had clear track, but if I could just find a way to get him racing, we could move around as well as anyone. I knew it was gonna be tough with those guys lined up behind me, messing with me under yellow, but I changed my line up and hit it pretty well to finish it off. This is a tough race and especially with all those great guys to race against, so to finish off our season with this one really means a lot,” Thorson said.
Tracy Hines ““It’s really just a relief to end it and do this in the final night. I’ve been running every race and chasing points for 20 years, and it just has worn me down. I’m happy to have something good to do that is involved with racing now after my driving days, and I’m happy to go out on top winning the championship in this division. It’s been a trying year at times, but we persevered and met this goal. To join such a great group of racers who have won the Triple Crown is pretty cool, as I know them all and raced against all but one, and we’ve battled with each other all along the way,” Hines said.
Results 75th Turkey Night Perris Auto Speedway
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.