The number 1 is an apt number for Kyle Larson to carry on his USAC Midget’s tail tank in this year’s 77th running of the “Turkey Night Grand Prix.” After all, number 1 is the finishing result we’ve become accustomed to in practically every racecar we’ve seen him strap into, whether it’s Monday, Friday, Sunday or any day of the week that ends in the letter “y” for that matter.
Twice over the last five seasons late in the month of November, Thursday night has been kind to Yung Money’s racing career. More on the point, a Thanksgiving night spent at a racetrack has served the Elk Grove, California native well.
As Larson steps into the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 1 on Thanksgiving night 2017, Nov. 23rd, at California’s Ventura Raceway, the 2012 and 2016 race winner has an opportunity to be included on a few exclusive lists that not even some of the best USAC and AAA Midget drivers of their era can boast about.
With another win in the TNGP featuring USAC’s National and Light Up the World Beverages Western States Midgets, Larson would become just the third driver to win at least three Turkey Night midget races in his career. It’s something that’s only been accomplished twice over the 76 runnings of the prestigious event, first by Ron Shuman, whose incomparable record at Turkey Night includes eight wins in a 15-year span between 1979 and 1993. Billy Boat was the last to do so when he won his third in three years in 1997, the last of which, coincidentally enough, came at Ventura.
Eight drivers have gone back-to-back at “Turkey Night.” Just four years into its beginning, Ronney Householder became the first to do the deed in 1936-37 at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, now the home to CBS Television City where such shows at the Price is Right is filmed. Roy Russing repeated the roar at Gilmore in 1940-41. It would be another 20 years before A.J. Foyt christened the new Ascot Park with victories in 1960-61.
Ron Shuman was Grover Cleveland-esque in his dominance for a decade-in-a-half beginning in the late-70s and running through the early-to-mid-nineties, serving two distinct, non-consecutive terms as the man in charge. The “Flying Shu” from Tempe, Arizona won four-straight from 1979-82, picked up two more wins in 1984 and 1987, then put together another two-straight years of victories for his final two in 1992-93.
Chuck Gurney was the first of two drivers to win consecutively near the turn of the decade to the 1990s. Gurney, of Livermore, California, won in 1988-89. Janesville, Wisconsin’s Stan Fox closed out Ascot in grand style by winning the finale in 1990, then dominated Saugus Speedway one year later in 1991 to become the first and only driver thus far to win consecutively on dirt and pavement surfaces. Phoenix, Arizona’s Billy Boat, whose son Chad will be competing at Turkey Night this year, is the only driver to win consecutively at three different venues: Bakersfield, Perris and Ventura. Bryan Clauson, of Noblesville, Indiana was the last to get the job done in 2009 and 2010.
In 2016, Larson, the reigning winner of the 98-lap race, became the sixth driver to win the TNGP at two different venues following his 2012 score at Perris Auto Speedway, joining the ranks of Mel Kenyon (Ascot & 605), Stan Fox (Ascot & Saugus), Ron Shuman (Ascot & Bakersfield) and Dave Darland (Irwindale & Perris). No one has touched Billy Boat’s record of three-straight at three different tracks between 1995 and 1997 (Bakersfield, Perris & Ventura).
Despite a limited USAC Midget schedule over the past few years due to his regular duties as one of Chip Ganassi’s top NASCAR pilots, Larson always takes to the dirt like a duck to water when he jumps behind the wheel of a midget. Though he lacks a tally in the USAC win column for 2017, he was the ProSource Fast Qualifier at both of his appearances this season during the first two rounds of Indiana Midget Week at Montpelier and Gas City. He was in contention to win both, finishing 3rd at Montpelier and battling for the lead at Gas City when he spun with 10 laps remaining, ultimately finishing 18th.
The November 23rd “Turkey Night Grand Prix” will be streamed LIVE on http://www.SpeedShiftTV.com/. Watch it again a day later, on-demand, at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.
Article By : USAC Racing