Kahne Returns To "Turkey Night"

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regular Kasey Kahne hasn’t competed in a USAC National Midget race in more than four years but he's among entered drivers for next Thursday night's 67th "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at Irwindale Speedway.

Kahne, of Enumclaw, Wash., opened eyes in 1998 when he finished fifth in the “Turkey Night” classic at Bakersfield, Calif. and earned the Don Basile “Rookie of the Race” honors. He went on to score 11 USAC National Midget feature victories and won the 2000 USAC National Midget Championship before turning to NASCAR competition in 2002.

Kahne will pilot the Seymour Beast/Mopar for Visalia, Calif. car owner Zarounian Motorsports. In 2000 Kasey was named the USAC Silver Crown “Rookie of the Year” after finishing 10th in the series standings, driving a Zarounian car to victory at DuQuoin, Ill. He also won a Silver Crown race in 2001 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

Kahne’s USAC Midget victories include major victories in the “4-Crown Nationals” (2000), Belleville Midget Nationals (2000 & 2001) and the “Night Before the 500” (2000 & 2001).

Kahne also plans to compete in Thursday night’s Lucas Oil USAC Western Sprint race, part of the “Turkey Night” program at Irwindale, driving a Zarounian Sprint car. It will mark Kahne’s first appearance in a USAC Sprint car since a late-2002 appearance at the Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway Bullring.

Thursday night’s program includes USAC National/Western Midget, Lucas Oil USAC Western Sprint and USAC California Pavement Ford Focus events, The Midgets and Sprints compete on Irwindale Speedway’s 1/2-mile oval, while the Focuses race on the track’s 1/3-mile oval. This year’s Midget spectacular will be 98 laps in honor of the number associated with the late race organizer J.C. Agajanian, whose son J.C. Jr. again continues the “Turkey Night” traditional as this year’s organizer.

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