INDIANAPOLIS — With the crossed flags behind them, the stars of the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series will turn their attention to the second half of Indiana Midget Week Wednesday night at Circle City Raceway.
The series makes its debut at the quarter-mile dirt oval located on the Southeastern side of Indianapolis.
Dubbed the John Andretti Memorial Double benefiting Race 4 Riley, the event marks the second of two first-time Indiana Midget Week events on this year’s eight-race IMW schedule. Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., which has hosted USAC midgets in the past, held its first Midget Week event Sunday.
Circle City’s race will honor the late John Andretti, a diverse star of NASCAR, Indy car, sports car and USAC racing, among other disciplines, who succumbed to a battle with colon cancer in January of 2020.
Andretti was the 1983 USAC regional midget champion racing at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Wednesday night’s program marks the first brand-new facility for the USAC national midgets since the tour debuted at Merced (Calif.) Speedway last November for a non-points race in place of the annual Turkey Night Grand Prix.
The dynamic of the unknown has several drivers believing the John Andretti Memorial Double will be a wide-open race that could produce a surprise winner — as well as a potentially jumbled finishing order when it comes to those chasing the Indiana Midget Week title.
“A smaller team like ours, we just somewhat throw the wrenches at it at times because we don’t always have the notes that a KKM or CMR would, and I think we’ll kind of do that same thing going into Circle City on Wednesday. To me, that should be no problem, because no one else will have any notes for it either,” tipped Dave Mac Motorsports’ Cannon McIntosh. “I think Robert (Dalby, crew chief) and I have done a pretty good job when coming to tracks that we’ve either struggled at or haven’t been to … just kind of taking a guess and throwing something at it and being right there with everyone. I’m optimistic.”
“I think it’s going to be interesting, for sure,” added Bundy Built Motorsports driver Ethan Mitchell. “I think everybody’s going to be on a level playing field for that one, so I think it’s going to be different than a lot of the races we’re used to during Indiana Midget Week where most everyone has notes for those tracks. It should be a pretty good race, though. Somewhat of an even race is what I’m expecting, where it’ll be about who figures it out the quickest. I’m looking forward to getting to Circle City.”
Asked if there was any track he could compare with Circle City Raceway, based on the features that have already run there, Mitchell shook his head.
“I watched that All Star race a couple of weeks ago that Sunshine [Tyler Courtney] won … and I don’t quite know what to make of the place,” Mitchell admitted. “I don’t really think I could compare it to anything, honestly. It seems like it’s almost like construction dirt … so it races really differently to me.
“I guess we’ll find out for ourselves come Wednesday exactly what we’re dealing with.”
Of note, both Tanner Thorson and Thomas Meseraull competed with the All Star Circuit of Champions in late May during a winged sprint car doubleheader at the track and are expected in Wednesday’s field.
Six different tracks in Indianapolis have hosted USAC National Midget Series points races over the years.
The original paved 16th Street Speedway began the tradition between 1956-’58; the Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt mile did so between 1972-’87; the paved indoor Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum held races between 1974-‘79; the paved Speedrome boasted events from 1958-2005; the dirt 16th Street Speedway was on the schedule from 1997-‘99; and The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway became the most recent venue to do so when it started hosting USAC midgets in 2018.
Sleepy Tripp holds the record for the most USAC National Midget Series victories within Indianapolis, scoring 11 triumphs during a six-year span between 1975 and ‘80.
Tickets for Wednesday’s race are available by clicking here.