NMRA-TQ MIDGETS CONCLUDE 2017 SEASON – By Tim Kennedy
LOS ANGELES – The NMRA-TQ (three-quarter) Midget Series concluded its 2017 season with three races from September 16 to October 7 at two banked clay, third-mile speedways—Santa Maria Speedway (twice) and Bakersfield Speedway (once). Main event winners were Chuck West (twice) and rookie Jason Arnolde. The 14 event season had five different feature winners.
West, from Clovis, won ten of the 14 main events in the No. 38 Spike-Bob Wirth 750cc Suzuki owned by West Evans, his first cousin. The now seven-time NMRA champion won the 2017 driving title by 97 points (895-798) over his car owner. His prior NMRA championship years were 2002, 06, 08, 11, 12 and 15. All titles came driving the No. 38. Three-time NMRA driving champion Evans is now a nine-time NMRA car owner champion.
West is a former USAC Western States Series feature winner in the late 1970s-early 80s. He left that series to concentrate on his career. He and his wife also raised three daughters. He returned to racing and has been a major force in TQ-midget competition since 2002.
NMRA resumed sanctioning the TQ racing in 2002 after USAC (1987-2001 TQ sanctioning body) dropped TQs in favor of Ford Focus midget racing. NMRA had sanctioned TQ racing in the west from 1957-1986. Evans took charge and revitalized the reborn NMRA organization.
Other 2017 NMRA-TQ main event winners were Evans, rookie Arnolde, Chris Thomas, and Bruce Hiroshima, the 2004 NMRA rookie of the year in his own car. Hiroshima made only three of the 14 races this season because of business reasons. Thomas raced four times and Arnolde competed 11 times.
West, who averaged 63.93 points per race for the season, also won a series-high eight heat races. No other driver won more than four heats. Ten drivers won the 27 heat races contested. Sixteen drivers scored NMRA points and 15 cars earned points. Season high was 12 cars in the second race of the year.
The 2017 car owner championship was a West Evans Motor-sports one-two monopoly for Evans. His No. 38 won the owner championship by 97 points (937-840) over the No. 36 Spike/Bob Wirth Suzuki that he drove himself. Owner-driver Ace Kale, the 2015 TQ rookie driver of the year, fielded four cars in 2017 for his son and two rookies. His cars 77, 07, 77, and 7 finished in P. 4, 5, 7 and 13.
Championship trophies will be awarded at the annual NMRA-TQ championship awards dinner in early 2018. The site is expected to be in Moorpark as usual.
Three rookies competed in 2017 with NMRA. Arnolde had nine top fives and ten top tens. He averaged 55.73 points during his 11 races. He scored 613 points and placed fifth in final driver points. Don Mosley had two top fives, scored 375 points in his seven starts,and finished eighth in points. Don Brashier raced eight times, had three top fives, and scored 315 points for ninth place.
RACE 12 @ Santa Maria, Sept. 16: West won the 20-lap main event over Arnolde in an eight-car field. Scott Niven, W. Evans, Don Brashier, Ace Kale and his son Kevin Kale followed in P. 3-7. Rookie Taelor Janes, a female stock car driver at SMS, completed 17 laps in a fourth Kale car. Niven (No. 59) and Arnolde (No. 2p) won the pair of four-car heat races. West had an 86-point lead after the feature.
RACE 13 @ Bakersfield, Sept. 30: Rookie Arnolde won his first TQ main event in Rick Poe's No. 2p in a nine-car field. All nine drivers finished the 20-lap event. Evans, West, Don Mosley, A. Kale, K. Kale and Brashier completed all 20 circuits in P. 2-7. Rookie Janes and Niven logged 19 laps. Niven (in a five-car field) and Evans (in a four car field) won the pair of 8-lap heat races. West's point lead was reduced to 82 points.
RACE 14 @ Santa Maria, Oct. 7: West won his double-digit tenth 20-lap feature in his Evans Motor-sports No. 38 Spike/Bob Wirth Suzuki. P 2-6 went to Niven, Arnolde, A. Kale, K. Kale and Evans. All finished 20 laps. Paul Sanders, Taelor Janes, and owner/driver Dave Lambert, in only his third race of the season, ran 19 laps.
Brashier, in P. 10, completed 18 laps and 11th place Don Mosley had 12 laps. Eight lap heats went to Niven in a six-car event and Arnolde in the five-car second heat. All drivers in each heat race completed eight laps.
FINAL 2017 NMRA-TQ MIDGET POINT STANDINGS:
Drivers Car Owners
1 Chuck West 895 1 No. 38 West Evans 937
2 West Evans 798 2 No. 36 West Evans 840
3 Scott Niven 769 3 No. 59 Steve Parke 811
4 Ace Kale 664 4 No. 77 Ace Kale 706
5 Jason Arnolde ® 613 5 No. 07 Ace Kale 646
6 Kevin Kale 607 5 No. 2p Rick Poe 646
7 Scott Dobson 395 7 No. 70 Ace Kale 537
8 Don Mosley ® 375 8 No. 18 Scott Dobson 416
. 9 Don Brashier ® 315 9 No. 87 Doyle Mosley 402
10 Chris Thomas 255` 10 No. 40 Ed Thomas 270