Wednesday, March 2, 2005
USAC Ford Focus Midget Series to crown first national champion in '05
by Race Author
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The USAC Ford Focus Midget Series, for the first time in its four-year history, will crown an all-divisions national driving champion in 2005.
Limaland (Ohio) Motorsports Park and Anderson (Ind.) Speedway will host the inaugural USAC Ford Focus National Championship Invitational events on September 17 and 18. Future championships will be hosted by the California Region in 2006 and the North Carolina Region in 2007.
Fueled by the explosive growth of the series, Ford Racing Technology and USAC have been planning to determine a Ford Focus Series National Champion since the series' inception in 2002.
"The Ford Focus National Championship Invitational is the result of the strong growth and prosperity the Ford Focus Midget Series continues to enjoy," said Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. "A national championship has been a priority of ours and part of our long-term vision for the series since day one. Today, with over 140 registered Ford Focus Midget competitors contesting six regional championships in 2005, the time was right to bring the best of the best from each region together for an exciting weekend of racing and crown a Ford Focus National Champion."
USAC Ford Focus officials have developed a unique format for these events. The top eight drivers in points from each of the six Ford Focus regions, along with a wild-card driver from each region, will be invited to compete for the national championship. Each race track's event will feature a full Ford Focus Series program of qualifying, a non-qualifiers' race, heat races, a semi-feature and 50-lap feature event. The national champion will be determined by using USAC's points system, which awards points to drivers for qualifying, heat races, semi-feature and feature. The driver earning the most total points for the two races will be the USAC Ford Focus National Driving Champion.
"It will definitely give people an idea who the top Ford Focus drivers are in the country," said Robbie Ray, the 2003 USAC Midwest Ford Focus Series champion. "It will also showcase which drivers have the most versatility because it brings both dirt and pavement into the equation. I can't think of two better race tracks for a prestigious event like this than Limaland and Anderson. Anderson is so rich in USAC history, and Limaland is one of the premier venues in the country for short-track racing."
Limaland Motorsports Park and Anderson Speedway both have a reputation for hard and competitive USAC racing, and have been regular stops in the USAC Midwest Ford Focus Series schedule.
"We look forward to the exciting wheel-to-wheel racing action that the stars of the USAC Ford Focus Midgets will bring to our fans with the national championship race," said Dr. Jeff Jarvis, President of Limaland Motorsports Park. "I applaud the leadership team of USAC as they have developed another great racing event, and I appreciate the opportunity that they have provided Limaland Motorsports Park to participate with USAC as we have with the USAC Buckeye Nationals."
"A USAC National Championship is important for any driver to have on their resume, and one of our Ford Focus drivers will be joining Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, J.J. Yeley, Dave Darland and Ryan Newman on September 18th this year," said Eric Bunn, USAC National Coordinator, Ford Focus Series. "In addition to the national championship, our drivers will be competing for more than $30,000 in posted awards for the Ford Focus National Championship Invitational weekend."
"I'm sure the competition to make the field and the enthusiasm to compete in this unique event will be tremendous," said Rollie Helmling, President and CEO of USAC. "Every series participant will be planning for these races, and race fans should definitely have them on their calendar. We have been planning for this since the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series began. This format will certainly match the 'best of the best' for years to come in what has become America's fastest-growing racing series."
"The addition of a national championship weekend involving both a paved and dirt event is an exciting development for everyone involved," said Keith Iaia, President of SCREAM, the engine supplier for the Ford Focus Series. "This event will give individuals an opportunity to compete at the highest possible level within the series, while leaving our original concept of regional championships intact. This is just one more example of the great job USAC and Ford Racing are doing to ensure the Ford Focus Series is the preferred avenue for aspiring professional drivers."
The 2.0-liter Zetec engines found in every USAC Ford Focus Midget are completely stock internally as produced on a Ford production line. SCREAM adds mechanical fuel injection, clutch and self-starter, which eliminates the need for push trucks at Ford Focus Midget events.