This race is the one and only USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour event visit scheduled during the 2012 season at Cleveland Speedway. The race will award National Championship points as well as points in the USCS Mid South and Southern Thunder regional series standings. The USCS Mid South region normally contests races in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and West Tennessee. The USCS Southern Thunder regional series consists of races in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and East Tennessee.
The special two-region challenge event is expected to bring top winged Outlaw sprint car drivers from at least six states to the track. The exotic fire breathing, alcohol burning, 700 horsepower open wheel cars weigh just 1,300 pounds, and are pound-for-pound the world’s most powerful short track race cars. The cars will fly around the track surface at speeds of more than 120 mph. It is not uncommon to see USCS sprint cars popping “wheelies” or doing wheel stands caused by the the brute force of the engines and the huge 18-inch rear racing tires.
Saturday night’s Outlaw sprint car action will feature a full program of racing in the Outlaw sprint cars that includes test and tune hot laps followed by the evening’s first sprint car race, the Goodyear Speed Dash showcasing the top six cars from the previous USCS main event in an edge-of-your-seat six-car shootout. Next up will be qualifying heat races. The evening’s grand finale will be the 30-lap “Sprint Car Wars” 2012 USCS A-main event.
Several of the Cleveland Speedway weekly racing divisions will join the traveling winged sprint car series for a full night of family entertainment. Those divisions include the A Hobby and B Hobby divisions as well as the Pony Stock and new Cruiser divisions. There will be a full program of racing action in each division. The competitive B-Hobby division will be contesting a $500 to win the Mid-Season Championship race on Saturday night as well.
Ten-time USCS National Champion Terry Gray, from Bartlett, and current 2012 National points leader Tim Crawley, from Benton, Ark., head the entry list for the Cleveland Speedway USCS Outlaw Thunder Tour event. Gray and Crawley are both among the top 25 drivers in the nation in feature wins over the past six years with well over 60 feature wins each. Crawley has won over 40 USCS contests in the past four seasons. He and Gray are both threats to win on any given night. Crawley has four USCS feature wins during the current season. Terry Gray has one feature win so far in 2012.
Additionally, entered at the top of the list is a two-time 2011 USCS feature winner, 19-year old female sprint car star Morgan Turpen from Oakland. Turpen was the runner-up for the USCS National Championship in the 2010 and 2011 title chases. Turpen was also the 2010 National Rookie of the Year. Turpen captured her career first USCS feature win at East Alabama Motor Speedway during the 2011 Randy Helton Memorial Race event. She also won a USCS main event at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, N.C., in the USCS Southern Thunder region season finale on Oct. 1, 2011. She is only the second woman to ever reach the USCS victory lane in the 16-year history of USCS competition.
Turpen is expected to be joined by several other talented young drivers who are entered including 17-year-old 2010 USCS Southern Thunder regional series Rookie of the Year and two-time 2011 USCS feature winner Eric Riggins Jr., from Charlotte, N.C. Turpen ranks fourth in the national standings while Riggins in fifth. Both are looking for their first 2012 visit to victory lane.
Joining those young guns on the entry list are at least three other past USCS Rookie of the Year drivers who are having very successful 2012 seasons. Those are 2008 USCS Rookie of the Year Anthony Nicholson, from Bartlett, who is currently in third place in the national point standings and 2006 USCS Rookie of the Year Derek Hagar, from Marion, Ark., who got his career eighth and 2012 third USCS main event win at East Alabama Motor Speedway during the series’ annual visit last weekend. The past rookie list also includes 2009 USCS Rookie of the Year Justin Carver, from Drummonds, who ranks sixth in the top 10 of the USCS national standings. Also entered are 2012 Rookie of the Year candidates Brandon Hanks, from Burlison, Kyle Amerson from Matthews, Ala., and Stacy Mashburn from Newnan, Ga.
Other notable USCS entries include: The 1998 USCS Rookie of the Year and 2004 USCS regional series Champion Johnny Bridges from Cherryville, N.C. Bridges, who is always a threat to win, will bring his rare (to sprint car racing) Roush-Yates Ford powered car to Cleveland Speedway. Additionally expected is 2010 USCS Carolina Thunder Nationals Champion and six-time USCS feature winner Matt Linder from Hoschton, Ga.
Expected entries also include veteran drivers Aubrey Black from Lookout Mountain, Ga., and three other veteran Georgia. Drivers also include Joe Larkin from Suwannee, Brian Thomas from Pendergrass and Nick DeFeo from Marietta, Ga. Bob Auld from Largo, Fla., Jeff Willingham from Ripley, Miss., and veteran sprint car racer Ray Bugg from Iuka, Miss., are also expected to compete, as is Alex Pettas from Phoenix.
Gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday and racing action begins at 7:30.