The 2019 season proved to be one of the most unusual campaigns in the long history of the United States Auto Club, with many twists and turns leading to the eventual final outcomes.
In the case of the USAC National Midget Series and USAC Silver Crown Series, the winner of the opening round not only went on to capture the title, they were never passed in the standings at any point during the year.
While the USAC National Sprint Car Series followed a slightly different pattern, in general, C.J. Leary got in front and stayed there.
In terms of personal milestones, Tyler Courtney, with 18 overall national wins, had the greatest single year, using that benchmark, since J.J. Yeley’s sensational 2003 season.
Additionally, Kody Swanson continued to set new marks in Silver Crown competition, in what was arguably his most impressive performance to date.
Then there was the off-season. To say that the winter months were turbulent is a vast understatement. Rarely have we witnessed so much movement among top teams and drivers.
Accordingly, in the 65th year of USAC racing, fans are going to truly need a scorecard.
The following is a dive into the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, with similar dives into the USAC National Sprint Car Series and USAC Silver Crown Series following in the next couple of days:
Deserved or not, many see the USAC National Midget Series as the true proving ground for drivers with great potential and even greater aspirations.
There is factory support, several super teams, and drivers who seem particularly fearless.
When the possibility exists for stars like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu to drop in, a simple race can become transformed into a true event.
The 39-race schedule on tap for the guts and glory gang is the busiest since 1988. It includes the increasingly popular Indiana Midget Week, Eastern Midget week, a swing through the Midwest, and ends on the west coast with a flurry of activity.
While the Hut Hundred and the Night Before the 500, long crown jewels for midget racing, have gone by the wayside, new events have gained in prominence.
While Roger Penske has taken the reins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the former grand marshal of the Chili Bowl seems to be supportive of the continuation of the BC39.
Luckily for short track open-wheel fans, IMS President Doug Boles remains one of the greatest supporters of this event, and grassroots racing in general.
Other marquee events include the Hangtown 100 at Placerville, Calif., while the Turkey Night Grand Prix will be contested for the 80th time.
New venues include a two-day show at West Memphis, Ark., where the small cars on the gumbo should make a trip to “The Ditch” a must-see event.
The midgets will also return to Indiana’s Paragon Speedway. The series last appeared at the south-central paperclip track 34 summers ago, when the late John Andretti captured his sole national win in the series.
In 2019, Tyler Courtney put two wins in the bank to start the year at Florida, and then simply waxed the field. “Sunshine” is back full time with Clauson-Marshall Motorsports and will remain the odds-on favorite to repeat as champion.
However, the departure of talented mechanic Tyler “Rizzy” Ransbottom from the team is a significant loss. Rejoining Clauson Marshall for 2020 is Cole Bodine, while we can expect guest appearances from the likes of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.