BELLEVILLE, Ill. – With more than half of their schedule aligning with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League in co-sanctioned events, each showdown for the POWRi Lucas Oil West Midget League is crucial in not only the championship chase, but valued experience against the nation’s best.
Starting each year at home, the West racers come into the Turnpike Challenge with the slight advantage of racing on home turf, an edge that has proven invaluable on a handful of occasions.
Based out of Oklahoma, the POWRi Lucas Oil West Midgets have seen the likes of Christopher Bell, Tyler Thomas, Andrew Felker, Jason McDougal and countless others rise through the ranks and sour to national prominence since the league was founded almost a decade ago.
Through 14 Turnpike Challenge events, 12 of the winners have hailed from the Sooner State with Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif., being the only outsider to strike for a win when he swept I-44 last year.
Bell, who hails from Norman, Okla., has been without a doubt the most dominant figure in event history, collecting nine wins in total with four triumphs at Port City, four more at I-44 and one at Creek County last year. When it wasn’t Bell representing the Oklahoma City area in victory lane, the Tulsa contingent stepped up and delivered. Matt Sherrell of Owasso, Okla., and Jason McDougal of Broken Arrow, Okla., split Port City victories in 2016, then Jonathan Beason of Broken Arrow, Okla., beat Bell at Port City last year in a finish that became an instant classic. For Sherrell, McDougal and Beason, who all grow up racing at these tracks, it was their first career National Midget wins.
At last year’s Turnpike Challenge, a handful of Okies’ rattled off career-best results to get the season rolling. At I-44, Hank Davis of Sand Springs, Okla., scored his first podium finish behind Seavey and Bell, a pair of midget racing icons. The very next night, it was 14-year old Daison Pursley of Locust Grove, Okla., earning a then career-best finish of seventh against the national stars. Wrapping up the week at Port City, Chris Andrews of Tulsa, Okla., nearly landed on the podium with an impressive fourth-place charge.
Even Andrew Felker (Carl Junction, Mo.) grew up racing around Oklahoma and brings his own prior experience as a stepping stone to Turnpike Challenge success. The defending POWRi Lucas Oil West Midget League champion, Felker has scored four top-five finishes in TPC action and been a contender for the win in several features.
Leading into this year’s Turnpike Challenge, the local faces chasing national success will look the same, while surely an underdog will shock several and rise to the occasion. Among the many POWRi West competitors to watch include last year’s top ten points finishers. From Felker at the top to Hank Davis and Noah Gass, who tasted their own share of national success last year, to Trey Marcham, Chance Morton, Kade Morton, Blake Edwards, Luke Howard, and the countless others expected to sign-in.
Invading Oklahoma to for four nights of epic action, the seventh annual Turnpike Challenge will mark the season opener for the POWRi Lucas Oil National/West Midgets and the POWRi Engler Machine & Tool Outlaw Micros. It all begins with a practice night on Wednesday, March 25 at Creek County Speedway, followed by racing on Thursday, March 26. The series moves to I-44 Riverside Speedway for two appearances on Friday & Saturday, March 27-28, and then concludes on Sunday, March 29 at Port City Raceway.
Each night of racing can be seen live on POWRi TV, part of the SPEED SPORT Network. Additional information will be available soon.