Defending USAC National Midget Champion Darren Hagen and five-time series runner-up Tracy Hines have something unique among drivers expected to compete in the February 17-18 USAC National Midget openers at New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Both have previous USAC wins in the Sunshine State. Hagen won last year during the USAC Sprint Car events at Ocala and Hines won the 2007 USAC Silver Crown Championship race in Homestead-Miami. Hagen scored four victories on his way to last year’s USAC title, while Hines’ 32 career USAC National Midget wins are part of his all-time leading total of USAC National wins among active USAC drivers, 83 at the close of the 2012 season!
Hines would like nothing better than to kick-start the 2013 campaign with Florida victories. His one-point deficit to Cole Whitt in the 2008 USAC National Midget points kept him from becoming USAC’s sixth “Triple Crown Champion.” Last year he again finished second in the series points to champion Hagen.
He needs to add the Midgets to his previous Silver Crown and Sprint car titles to join Pancho Carter, Dave Darland, Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley and Jerry Coons Jr. in that elusive list.
Only once in the last half-century have the USAC Midgets raced in Florida, with Josh Wise winning at Orlando in 2005. Before that, the state hosted an 11-race “Tangerine Tournament” and added four more races in 1963.
The two-night program at New Smyrna Speedway will be the first for USAC at the half-mile paved oval located about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach.