By LONNIE WHEATLEY
Special to The Hays Daily News
DODGE CITY, Kan. (May 2, 2012) - In the true heyday of Indy Car racing, race fans could watch their favorite racing stars sling the mud at local tracks just weeks, if not days, before taking to the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway each Memorial Day for the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500.
While that hasn't necessarily rung true in the modern era, that will once again be the case this weekend when the USAC Mopar National Midget series takes to the dirt for the first time in 2012 with two full nights of wild racing action atop the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park in southwest Kansas.
Gearing up for the biggest month of his racing life, 22-year-old Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, IN, leads a stellar cast of competitors into this weekend's double in the wild-west town famed for Boot Hill and other western legends.
Clauson, who swept through both nights of USAC Midget action at Dodge City Raceway Park last year en route to the series championship, will embark upon Rookie Orientation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway just a few short days after this weekend's action in his effort to race into the Indy 500 field for the first time, a perk earned by earning last year's overall USAC National Driver's Championship.
While undefeated at Dodge City last year, Clauson will face a rugged field of competitors this weekend that includes Bobby East and Brady Bacon, who reached the podium both nights as well in 2011, along with the likes of Kyle Larson, Darren Hagen, Chris Windom, Tracy Hines, rookie contender Rico Abreu and current series points leader Mario Clouser among many others.
The USAC Mopar National Midgets will be joined on both nights by the IMCA Modifieds and United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds. The Poor Boy Kustomz Thunder Cars will round out Friday's card, with the IMCA Stock Cars filling out Saturday's action.
Racing action is set to get under way at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Tickets are $20 for adults each night. Seniors and Military receive a $5 discount, with children 11 and under admitted free if accompanied by an adult. Pit passes are $30 each night.
Dodge City Raceway Park is located on the south edge of Dodge City, KS, on US 283, then 0.9 miles west on US 56, then 0.1 miles south. For more information, contact the track at 620-225-3277 or check www.dodgecityraceway.com.