Kyle Larson scored his fourth Turkey Night Grand Prix victory on Saturday night. (Paul Trevino Photo)

KENNEDY: Larson’s Turkey Night Prowess

LOS ANGELES — On Nov. 25 Kyle Larson continued his amazing string of top four main event finishes in USAC Turkey Night National Midget 98-lap features.

In 11 races at three speedways (Irwindale Speedway, Perris Auto Speedway and Ventura Raceway) he has finished in each of the top four positions. He won his first TNGP at Perris in 2012 and added victories at Ventura in 2016 and 2019, before earning his fourth victory at Ventura.

Larson’s fourth place in 2011 at Irwindale earned him rookie of the race honors. He finished third and second in Perris TNGP races in 2014-15. Ventura has hosted TNGPs since 2016 when Kyle won his second TNGP. He finished second to fellow NASCAR Cup driver Christopher Bell in 2017-18 after they exchanged the lead often with memorable slide jobs.

The COVID pandemic canceled the 2020 race. Larson returned in 2021 and placed fourth; he was second in 2022.

He started 10th en route to winning the event for the fourth time this year.

As a result, in 11 TNGP features since 2011 Larson compiled the following four victories, four runner-up finishes, one third-place effort and two fourth-place finishes. He has won in Keith Kunz Motorsports midgets and in his own midget, one of three he keeps in Sacramento. 

The Purse

The TNGP purse distribution per USAC showed the feature winner received $10,000 as in 2021 and 22. It paid $6,000 in 2019 prior to COVID. Finishers ranked second through 10th received: $5,000, $4,000, $3,000, $2,500, $2,000, $1,500, $1,200, $1,150, and $1,100.

Other contributors to the TNGP purse as sponsors were: Automotive Racing Products, of Ventura, a five figure sponsor of the TNGP for many years. This year Ken Clapp and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame added $5,000 to the midget and sprint car purse.

Harold Osmer, the $10. TNGP program editor/publisher since 2001, added $900 to the purse from sale of racing books, magazines and other items at his program booth staffed by his family.

Most items came from the estate of the late Dusty Brandel, longtime president of the AARWBA media organization. Osmer said the money went to three midget and three sprint drivers who just missed transferring to their main events.

The Program

The 82nd TNGP program cover had 2022 winner Justin Grant (No. 2 RMS Racing) on the cover.

The beautiful and informative program was 34-pages and had some changes this year. All seven prior TNGP races at Ventura (1997 and 2016-2022) had individual paragraphs and color photos of the winner and an account of each race.

Jim Naylor, who has been promoting races in Ventura for 45 years, received well-deserved recognition in a seven-paragraph story. USAC National Midget 2023 champion Logan Seavey, the 2021 TNGP winner, also had a program page and photo in his blue No. 57 Spike.

Female Fliers

The Turkey Night Grand Prix had five female drivers in midgets. Three were in Keith Kunz-midgets — Jade Avedisian, Taylor Reimer and Mariah Ede. Randi Pankratz and Shannon McQueen, a CPA who announced she is retiring from racing, drove their own cars.

Four women raced in 360 ci sprint cars. They were Ede, Camie Bell, Elexa Herrera and Stevie Rogers.

More Numbers

The 26-car midget feature field had 13 teams represented.

Keith Kunz had all eight of his entries in the field. Chad Boat had all three of his cars in it, as did AME Reinbold-Underwood. Both Dyson cars made the field. One of two cars from both Dean Alexander, and from Graunstadt-Streeter made the main.

The balance of the field came from single-car teams. They were RMS Racing, Abacus, K. Larson, Rusty Carlile, Dick Woodland-Jimmy May, Willie Kahne, Pete Davis, and 2021 winning owner Tom Malloy. 

Eleven drivers raced in both midget and sprint divisions at the 2023 TNGP.

They were Ryan Timms, fastest midget qualifier and high-point sprint car driver, Carson Macedo, Mariah Ede, Brody Fuson, TNGP newcomer Chase McDermand, Blake Bower, Max Adams, David Gasper, Gage Rucker, Ricky Lewis and 2023 sprint car and midget newcomer Cole Wakim.